Monday, December 30, 2002

Schoolhouse Punk Rock
From Revelation Records's Dec. 20 email newsletter:

A lot of people know that Revelation Records was originally going to be called Schism (a name that was later used by Alex Brown and Porcell for their new label). Not as many know that the reason the name was changed was that, according to Ray Cappo, Bold would only agree to release "Speak Out" on the new label if the name was Revelation. For those who don't know, "Speak Out" was originally going to be released by Wishing Well Records, but it took so long to come out that Ray was able to talk the guys in Bold into putting the record out on Revelation.

Who knew?

Sunday, December 22, 2002

Tower of Power
An out-of-service water tower that was built as an Art Deco monument during the New Deal is being retrofitted to house Milwaukee's Department of Neighborhood Services. Next month, the octagonal tower will be outfitted with natural gas-fired microturbines, making a one-time landmark a model for sustainable civic energy.
War Correspendents' School
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporter Katherine Skiba recently participated in a six-day Pentagon training session for journalists sent to cover military conflicts such as the pending war in Iraq. Her first-person account of the experience addresses the primary purpose of the program -- ostensibly to make journalists safer -- while countering the potential misinformation overseas by having more American reporters on the frontlines. Skiba's story also sheds some light on the realities -- and horrors -- of war, something most journalists are probably ill prepared to face.
Here Comes Fandom Claus
The Chicago Tribune features an excellent profile of a Rankin/Bass fan who's gone on to make his fandom into a cottage industry. Rick Goldschmidt, a telecommunications worker, has authored two books on stop-motion animation classics such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, manages an archive that's often drawn on for books and other projects, and consults on commercial efforts such as Rhino's recent "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town/Frosty the Snowman" soundtrack reissue. The article is a good look at how fans can become expert historians.

Registration is required to access the Tribune article.

Friday, December 20, 2002

'Tis the Season to Be... AWOL XII
Tomorrow I head to northern Wisconsin for vacation Christmas week.

While I always hope to update Media Diet while traveling, if I don't, that doesn't mean that Media Diet is dead (long live Media Diet!). It just means that it's resting.

Worst case scenario: Media Diet will be back up and running Dec. 30 or Jan. 2. Happy holidays, everyone!
Hiptop Nation II
Some random snaps around the office following Fast Company's holiday lunch.

Rock Shows of Note L
Last night was a double whammy. First up, a great pop show at the Abbey Lounge in Somerville. Shumai, the Tardy, and Seana Carmody organized a Very Indie Pop Christmas show.

Shumai, or the Secret Santas

Originally, this was supposed to be an Operators show, but the band they were trying to bring up from New York City couldn't make it, so the event was rearranged. Shumai's powerful pop was better than what I remember of their Charlie's Kitchen show. I'm sure it was the sound at the Abbey, which is quite good. Cassie O's singing was beautiful, and Don's deadpan harmony added a lot.

One half of the Tardy

The Tardy also played a good set. Jef and Steph's harmonies were better than they are a lot of the time, and the duo performed with a lot of energy. The Psychedelic Furs cover piqued some interest in the crowd, and Jef accidentally invited everyone in the bar to the Q Division party after the show.

Carmody at Sea

Last up, Seana Carmody. The rest of Seana's band was home for the holidays, and to tell the truth, I enjoy her more solo and in scaled-back settings. Her solo stuff last night was wonderful, and the special guest surprises were quite interesting. One of the women from Victory at Sea came on stage to wait in the wings hiding behind the curtain and provide occasional backing vocals. And Seana's boyfriend sat in on drums for a song. Word is he hadn't played drums in six years. "This has been a long time coming," he said sheepishly.

After the show ended, a bunch of us headed over to Q Division for the studio's holiday party. It was a little weird practicing Tuesday, mixing at the Q on Wednesday, and returning with the band last night, but it was fun. And Q Division's holiday parties are always big doings. Most of Boston's rock and pop scenes was there, and if you'd have bombed the Q last night, the music world would be at a sizable loss. Thanks to Dave, Rafi, and everyone else who made us feel so welcome!
Hiptop Nation
My Sidekick was on a delivery truck at 9:30 a.m. today, and it got here about an hour-plus ago. I've been playing with the email client settings and getting organized, and I just tested the camera. Here's a snap of Hiromi, a woman I work with.

We're entering a whole new era in Media Diet, I think.
Sad news from the Also-Rans, one of Boston's more promising indie pop bands:

After some thought, we've decided that it's time to pack it in as the Also-Rans. It's actually a decision that came easy after the Denny's departure to California. We're just not the same band without him, and pushing on would probably have been half hearted at best.

In the spirit of full disclosure, we've uploaded all of our unreleased demo tracks to our Web site. Just visit the audio page, and make with the click and save.

We're really proud of most of these recordings. Some are works in progress, some might have been re-recorded for a full-length, and a couple others are just-for-fun covers of the likes of Small Factory and the Wedding Present. We're glad to finally be able to share 'em.

Before we go, there are a few people we'd like to thank... people that really did a lot for us as a band and as friends over the course of our all-too-brief existence.

Mr. Scott Sinclair put his faith, money, and time behind us, releasing our debut EP. Thanks, Sinc, and sorry about the coasters. Keep an ear and eye out for his band, the Model Sons.

Dave Norton of and Certainly, Sir (and a ton of other former and future projects) helped us out a lot with shows and praise. It was appreciated, Dave.

Eric Masunaga & Ellie Lee deserve thanks for their kind words and support. We're grateful for the night at Oni, and the talk of future plans.

Much thanks to all the bands we shared a stage with, especially the boys from Pilot to Gunner and the Red & the Black.

To Amie and Megan goes our gratitude for the random roadie duties, the many rides, your forgiving ears, and for being at just about every show we ever played.

And lastly, our sincere thanks to our friends who stuck by us.

Happy holidays and our best to you in the impending new year.

Matt, Mary, Chris, Denny, & Brad

I reviewed the band's EP in May, and while bummed they won't see any full-length recordings, I appreciate their offering the "back catalog" for download. Don't sit on songs people!
It's an Ad, Ad, Ad, Ad World XVIII
Jonathan Cohen of Damn Fine Writing ("taking the hell out of business writing") has written a 40-page e-booklet entitled Santa Claus Vs. the Marketers. It's a bit Who Moved My Cheese-ish, but given the holidays, the state of marketing and all, the story might be a fun Christmas read.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Newsletters of Note V
Last week I received the 2002-2003 edition of Spoke & Word, Bikes Not Bombs' newsletter. An eight-page tabloid newspaper, the annual update includes features about the organizations' activities, including projects in Ghana and Cape Ann. The newsletter also offers information on Bikes Not Bombs' drop-in program, Earn-A-Bike effort, bicycle recycling activities, and youth alumni. One of the best-produced newsletters I've ever received from a nonprofit, the paper also shares a letter exchange that explains the organization's name, as well as some statistics about the U.S. military machine. Bikes Not Bombs is well worth the support of Media Dieticians.
Factsheet Life II
Factsheet 5's former publisher, Seth Friedman, doesn't maintain a blog. "I only have time for so many projects these days," he says. Regardless, Seth's been keeping an almost-quarterly schedule with an email roundup of his favorite URL's called Seth's Web Picks. Here's his Dec. 17 transmission, the "non-holiday-themed fourth installment."

Wow, I'm almost keeping a zine-like schedule here. It's only been about three months since the last installment. Mostly fun stuff this time around, but we do start off with two more serious news-type links which I check into pretty regularly.

PR Watch is a great newsletter which keeps abreast of all the many things spun by PR agencies. Their "Daily Spin" is a like Project Censored, only it's updated nearly every day.

Memory Hole offers another bit of under reported news. What Russ Kick tries to do is keep track of information after it gets wiped away by the media censors.

Another fun Google-driven information tool. More fun that factual, Googlism offers definitions of things you though were beyond definition.

A couple of fun games, sure to pick you up if you are suffering from the Winter doldrums: Wrath and Pedestrian Killer.

Found Magazine kicks ass. If you can't get a copy, their web sight is the next best thing.

TouchGraph's GoogleBrowser is a very powerful graphical website organizational structure research tool type thing.

More fun stuff.

For computer geeks only -- especially tech support guys.

A nice personal project that is generously being shared with the entire world.

Most likely you've seen this one already. Nevertheless, it's still hilarious. I find myself returning to this page every time I see Michael Jackson's name mentioned somewhere.

Reprinted with permission.

Soundtrack: D.R.I., "Dirty Rotten" LP
Technofetishism XXIV
Tracking packages is a dangerous thing. Because I now know that my Sidekick arrived in East Boston 30 minutes ago. I'm not sure I needed to know that. I'm all a-twitter!

Soundtrack: The Southern Death Cult
North End Moment XXXII
As I was walking back to the Scotch & Sirloin building after picking up lunch at Dino's, I was stopped by a man asking for directions. He needed to find a train station so he could take the T to East Boston. But what he really needed was a beer.

Today, the man had been released from prison. He had just served a two-month sentence for domestic assualt and battery. "Got into a fight with the wife," he said. Upon his release, he'd gone to a bank to withdraw some money, but then he got lost in the North End. And now, he needed a beer. "I was walking around, but every place I saw was some sort of fancy bistro."

When I began to describe how to get to a cozy, smoky, old-man dive bar past Haymarket behind the Union Oyster House, the man said, "You drink? Do you want to go get a beer?" I said no, that I couldn't, that I had to head back to work. When we got to North Washington Street, I decided that it'd be easier to point him toward North Station and the bars in that neighborhood -- like the Penalty Box, which might be open at this time of day. I also thought it might be better if he didn't see what building I worked in.

So we parted ways on North Washington Street. The man who'd just been released from prison heading to the Penalty Box for his beer. And I heading back to the Scotch & Sirloin building to eat my lunch... and write this.
Anchormen, Aweigh! XI
The Anchormen went back to Q Division last night to mix a couple more songs for the forthcoming CD, A Nation of Interns. Between about 7 p.m. and 3 a.m., we completed two songs: "Audobon Park" and "Indecision." Here are some photographs from our previous mixing session.

What's behind the grey door?

Chris, doing bass-ic tracks

Abey meet world

Knob twiddlers Tom and Rafi

Blender envy

Guitar army

Our new drummer

The new rough mixes are available for your listening pleasure -- and feedback. Looks like we'll be heading back in by the end of the month.

Oh, if you run or work for one of those record label organizations and you think the Anchormen might be up your A&R alley, talk to us.
From the In Box: Hail Santa!
A friend showed me your site. Real cool. Here is the scoop on me and my project. If you could not post my email adress that would save me a lot of problems. You know how it is. Merry Xmas! -- The Santa Is Real Tagger

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Event-O-Dex XXVI
If you don't want to venture to JP for the Mary Reillys show at the Milky Way on Thursday, here's a Somerville-side option that's also alluring:

Thursday, Dec. 19: A Very Indie Pop Christmas with Seana Carmody, Shumai, and the Tardy at the Abbey Lounge in Somerville.

I'll be there, burning brightly on both ends before I leave for a quiet Christmas week in Wisconsin.
Politically Suspect
My friend Mat took this picture at the Bazaar Bizarre.

Embarrassing, isn't it?
Sentient Friction II
Ever wonder what it looks like inside the offices of Tor Books? Ernest Lilley steps in.

Thanks to Leslie Turek.
Rock Shows of Note XLIX
After Anchormen practice at the Sound Museum, Chris, Jef, Tom, and I headed over to River Gods near Central Square for the Neptune listening party. Every Tuesday, this cozy pub hosts a listening party, as well as resident DJs drawing on people in local rock bands. Things start late, so we hung out standing in the crowded room until a corner table opened up.

Wait, you say, didn't Neptune just have a CD release party. Why, yes, they did. But Neptune has recently released two CDs, so they're celebrating in all sorts of ways. "Listening party" is a bit of a misnomer because the volume while they were spinning the disc was way too low -- and no one was really listening. Fact is, what we could hear could have been any band. Every song sounded different, and every song sounde like a different band. Not the best setting in which to listen to Neptune. It's arguable that they are first and foremost a live band, but it would have been nice to actually hear the record as record.

Still, lots of people came out, and the place was packed. Energy picked up a little around 11:30 p.m., when DJ Geisslah took the decks in the arched cubbyhole of a DJ booth. We stuck around for several records, including a Clash song that we initially mistook for Radio 4 (for shame!). Then we left, Tom and Chris home, and Jef to the Lizard Lounge for the Texas Governor show. I wasn't such a rock star. I headed home, read some of Nick Hornby's new book, and hit the hay.
Mention Me! XXV
Shouts out to Chronopolis and the Bottomless Cocktail Party.
Corollary: From the In Box: Blogging About Blogging XXXIX
Thanks for writing. It's great to hear that the ecosystem could help you out! Another good place to look for backups is the Google cache and Internet Archive, if you've been around a little while. -- Phillip Pearson

Yeah. I should've thought of the Internet Archive.
Blogging About Blogging XLI
Kiruba Shankar interviews Cameron Marlow, creator of the much-loved Blogdex. In his ample spare time, Marlow blogs himself, and it seems that he, too, misses the Harvard Square Other Music.
Music to My Eyes VI
Tilman Baumgaertel's interview with Amy Alexander, the "ubergeek" behind the b0timati0n project sheds some strong light on an interest tech-art activity. Equipped with an air mouse, mobile keyboard, and Mattel Power Glove, Amy Alexander performs live as a human search engine. By inputting search terms into her custom b0timati0n software, Alexander obtains results that she can then manipulate, animating them as psychedelic projections and other patterns. The b0timati0n Web site includes a slew of stills, as well as a couple of streaming videos of Alexander in action.
Event-O-Dex XXV
I missed Supernova, much to my chagrin, but next spring brings what appears to be a promising gathering in Vienna, Austria. BlogTalk: A European Conference on Weblogs, is a conference slated to "inventory the current and emerging uses of blogs." The first day will focus on the personal and professional blogging experience, and the second day is more technically oriented, so only one day might pique my interest. But for 20 Euro, you can't beat it. I'm considering proposing a paper.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Technofetishism XXIII
I shouldn't have checked. I shouldn't have checked! But Amazon indicates that my Sidekick has shipped. Oh, joy! They estimate that it'll arrive between Dec. 31 and Jan. 13, but I can't see how that can be right. It's Dec. 17. Maybe it'll even get here before I head home for Christmas.

Oh, Andrea. You were right this morning. My Sidekick has shipped!
Mention Me! XXIV
A hearty Red Bull shout out to Daigo Fujiwara.
Blogging About Blogging XL
Extra large is right! Large and in charge. Thanks to the help of Media Dietician Joe Germuska, Blogger's own Evan Williams, and Myelin's Blogging Ecosystem cache, Media Diet seems to be back the way it was before the big Mozilla-Blogger blowout. Thank you for your patience, too. I'm surprised how thrown I was by Media Diet getting all goofy.
These Links Were Made for Breaking? VIII
Nick Denton recently gave props to Friendster, a new Ryze-like online networking service. On its face, Friendster seems to build on the legacy of ye olde Six Degrees, but I'm slightly frustrated.

One of the biggest opportunities for building social capital is the happenstance connection, the serendipitous introduction, the random interaction. And it seems that Friendster has built in the Web of trust concept to such an extent that you can only find, view the profiles of, and connect with people you already know -- or people they know.

This is perhaps a conscious design element, but because the service is in beta mode -- when you sign up, use the codeword "coke" -- I'm not sold on the concept. While I realize people appreciate the option of determining who can contact them and how -- think Net Deva -- I'm the kind of guy who'd appreciate an "open to anyone" option. (I've requested that Denton add me as a friend. We don't know each other, but we'll see whether blind contacts of existing members has any promise.)

As things are right now, I can either invite scads of people I already know to join the underpopulated service... or wallow in a state of blissful isolation. At least Joe's my friend. But I don't need Friendster to connect with Joe. Friendster, on the other hand, needs Joe and me.
That's How the Cookie Crumbles
On the back of my T pass for January, there's an ad for a cookie personality quiz. The upshot is that if I register my T pass number online, I could win some valuable prizes and parting gifts.

There's just one problem (outside of the idea of "registering" your T pass). This promotion with the MBTA is mentioned nowhere on the Patriots' Trail Girl Scout Council's Web site.

Searching for "cookie personality" and "MBTA" yields no mention of the contest or relationship. In fact, Girl Scout cookie sale information isn't even available on any of the top pages. Using the search engine, I can track down an inside page that says the sale starts in January, but you can't order cookies online -- and it seems odd that 14 days before the end of the year, the council hasn't started promoting cookie sales on their Web site.

I know, I know, get off the Girl Scouts' collective back, but really. This is how convergence fails. Maybe the Patriots' Trail Council should take some time on Thinking Day in February and reconsider how they advertise regional cookie sales. 'Cause the promotion on this month's T pass isn't worth anyone's while. And it's disappointing that what could have been an interesting T station to the Web traffic-driving experiment fell so flat so fast.
Event-O-Dex XXIV
Mark Hurst of Good Experience is organizing what looks like a great conference in May. Gel will be a one-day exploration of what it means to create a good, meaningful, and authentic experience. Hurst's got the design elements knocked down -- the gathering will be held at the New York Historical Society, and speakers include people such as Stewart Butterfield of the 5K Contest, Andrew Rasiej of the Digital Club Network and MOUSE, and Richard Saul Wurman of TED fame. The entry fee is a bit steep for a one-day gig -- $500 -- but the conversations look promising.
Blogging About Blogging XXXIX
Thank the gods for the existence of services like Myelin's Blogging Ecosystem. The project caches select pages, and I was able to snag the source code for the Dec. 10 Media Diet entries.

Myelin saved much of my bacon just now, and all that's left is fixing the permalink and archiving code. Media Diet's almost back on the attack!
From the In Box: Mix Tapeology
Found it -- see my blog for the link... -- Joe Germuska
Coming Comics
Yesterday I got a postcard in the mail from Highwater Books' Tom Devlin announcing the publication of Marc Bell's Shrimpy and Paul and Friends. (I reviewed Bell's mini "There Is Nothing!" in March.) The first book collection of Bell's comics comprises more than 160 pages of Shrimpy, his best friend Paul, and others. There's even a 16-page color scrapbook. Can't wait to get my hands on this! Brilliant, Tom. Keep 'em comin'.
Mix Tapeology
Pure Content's Sean O'Brien mentions a June 2002 Mojo magazine article about some research done on the nature and effect of mix tapes.

Two researchers from Hamburg University's Ethnological Institute studied almost 150 mix tapes compiled by about 100 people, including an 80-year-old man. The study found that compilation tapes can be used to communicate potentially tricky emotions; that mix tape makers have an affinity for "concept" collections, in which all the songs -- though stylistically different -- share a common musical theme; and that men find the mixed tape a potent way to share emotions. Nick Hornby, come on down!

After a quick search, I can't find any Web remnants of this study. Does anyone have a lead on the text of the actual research report? Might make interesting reading.
Hail Santa!
In addition to the "Santa Is Real" stencil art that's been popping up all around Boston, my friend Hiromi reports that on Central Square, a sticker that once read the same has been, shall we say, rearranged. From her email blog:

Update on "Santa is Real"... Apparently, neighborhood hoodlums bastardized several of the stickers posted around Central Square and rearranged the letters so, now not only is Santa real, but "Satan is Real" as well.

She was particularly upset by this because the stickers had been placed at children's eye level. Just great. Now we're gonna have a new generation of preteen Satanists to contend with. Just what I needed.
Science-Fiction Spam
In the in box early this morning:

If you are a reliable supplier of the below equipment, I am going to need the following:

1. A mind warper generation 4 Dimensional Warp Generator # 52 4350a series wrist watch with memory adapter.

2. The special 23200 series time transducing capacitor with built in temporal displacement.

While these time pieces normally go between $5,000-$7,000 a piece, I am having a hard time finding a reliable supplier.

Teleport to me within the next 48 Earth hours, and I will pay $40,000 2002 U.S. cash. Please only reply if you are reliable. Send a (separate) email to me.

Funny stuff, but not funny enough to validate my email address by contacting him to learn who he is. Any Media Dieticians got the 411?

Monday, December 16, 2002

Corollary: Blogging About Blogging XXXVIII
Nothing against Blogger, and nothing against Mozilla, but I'm pretty pissed off about what's happened to Media Diet. We'll see how long it takes me to repair the damage that Mozilla did, hey?

Please forgive our appearance during construction. Any further griping will find a home in my new blog Heath's Testy Test. I'll try to spare Media Dieticians my angst.
Blogging About Blogging XXXVIII
Evan says that what happened to Media Diet is a known bug in Mozilla and that he and others are working on a Blogger workaround. Ev also says that they thought the Mozilla bug had been fixed and that the bug only asserts itself if you have specific code in your Blogger template. I guess I had that code. Fingers crossed that we'll get back on an even keel soon.
Event-O-Dex XXIII
Lots of indie rock outlets this week!

Tuesday, Dec. 17: Choo Choo la Rouge, Jennifer O'Connor, Torrez, and the Texas Governor at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge.

Thursday, Dec. 19: The Mary Reillys, the Pills, and the Tint at the Milky Way in Jamaica Plain.

Friday, Dec. 20: The Ruby Lashes, Photoflash, the Charms, and Rick Barton & the Shadowblasters at the Middle East Upstairs in Cambridge.
Blogging About Blogging XXXVII
I don't know what I just did to so drastically change the template of Media Diet, but I do know this. The Creative Commons Licensing Project is a good thing. And as soon as I can add notification of my license to Media Diet without botching the design, it'll be even better.

Seems, now that I'm poking around a little, that it's not the Commons at all, but that Blogger's templates have mysteriously stripped many of the links within Media Diet's framework. Even the Home and Archives links show up with link tags but none of the href's that certainly accompanied them previously. I'll email Evan and see what's what.
Technofetishism XXII
I know I've gone back and forth between Opera and IE as my default browser of choice, but I just downloaded Mozilla and am going to poke around with this for awhile. I really like the ability of having multiple pages open -- and being able to tab back and forth between them. Pretty nifty.
Workaday World IX
While much of Inc. has moved to New York City, some of the staff is remaining in Boston. Those folks moved at the end of last week from their old Commercial Wharf digs to the Fast Company offices. It's good that the moving chaos is over, and it's nice to hear some new voices and see some new faces in the Scotch & Sirloin building.
Mention Me! XXIII
I must say, it was an honor to have Cory make several BoingBoing posts while sitting at my kitchen table. I tracked down the lyrics to "Rubber Biscuit" on his Sidekick, and we came up with a LazyWeb challenge. It's gotta be all downhill from here.
Technofetishism XXI
OK, I caved. I just ordered a T-Mobile Sidekick so I can join the ranks of Hiptop Nation. Playing around with MacStumbler this weekend with Cory, I found that I can't really piggyback on any networks in the neighborhood because of my PowerBook's wireless reception. I might explore getting an external wireless card and RF antenna to see what's what, but for now, I think the Sidekick will be just fine.

Not since the iPod have I been so impressed by the design of a consumer electronics product. The Sidekick is basically the Web in your pocket. You can use it as a mail client -- keeping received emails on the server so you can still access them on your laptop or desktop -- and the Web browser is surprisingly efficient and easy to use. Googling from Cory's Sidekick on Friday night saved our bacon and got us to the Scrapple show. And in lieu of trucking my laptop home every night -- and then back again on the crowded T come morning -- I think that the Sidekick will meet all of my information junkie joneses. Especially since I can't really synch Pod2Go at home in the morning. Ah. Maybe it's time I invest in some of that high-speed Internet access at home. I'll need to cut some other costs to balance that, I think.

The only real problem is that the Sidekick won't ship until Dec. 24. I'm out of town until the 27th, so fingers crossed that it's here upon my return. Because seriously? I almost miss Cory's Sidekick more than I miss Cory.
Happy Birthday to Media Dieticians X
An email transmitted to Dave Farber's IP mailing list indicates that the 20th anniversary of the Net may very well be Jan. 1, 2003. Yet another reason to party like it's 2K2 come New Year's!

Saturday, December 14, 2002

Digital Drive-Through
The University of Massachusetts-Amherst's human performance laboratory in the department of mechanical and industrial engineering has developed several video animations of the as yet unfinished tunnels beneath Boston. There are three video segments, one simulating the trip east on I-90 toward the airport, and two simulating I-93 north and south. I downloaded the I-90 clip, which clocks in at 5 minutes, and the video's really pretty cool! The animation slows down near traffic signs so you can get your bearings, and the HPL team paid attention to some pretty nifty details, including a white tile design in the second stretch of I-90 tunnel and the photo-realistic representations of buildings actually along the route. My one complaint is that there isn't a soundtrack. The videos are a little long for no music. But no worries. You can always call up RadioVW.
Rock Shows of Note XLVIII
After meeting up with Cory last night -- and persuading him that he should at least check out a little of Scrapple's Christmas show, we hopped on the T and headed to Bay Village. I haven't been to Jacque's since the Queens & Zines fest I helped organize in 1997 when the folks behind Bunnyhop, Ben Is Dead, and Genetic Disorder hopped in an RV and traveled across the country. (I helped paint the basement, and I'm sad to report that they've since repainted it.) And I always have trouble finding it. True to form, Cory and I wandered around an eerily similar street corner a couple of blocks over from Jacque's before we were finally able to make our way to the space.

Upstairs, Jacque's is a drag bar. It's been an epicenter for Boston's queer community since before Stonewall, and just when you think that it and the neighborhood surrounding it would finally have figured out how to peacefully coexist, word is that people living in the area are pressuring the city and management yet again. Downstairs from the bar's stage area, in a smaller space, there are occasionally rock shows. Last night, it was the Scrapple Christmas show, a CD release party for Neptune, and a performance by New York-based Big Boote (pronounced "bootay").

First up, Big Boote, an energetic if somewhat sludgy four piece. Reminding me of a combination of Slot Machine and Double Dong, the band is fronted by a lanky, spastic singer who trades off well with the diminuitive guitarist. Lyrically, Big Boote leans toward potty jokes, but there were several interesting numbers. The duet children's song about the cow that went to the moon was awesome, and the songs in which the singer utilized various vocal styles, including falsetto, were quite interesting.

Then came Neptune. I've gone back and forth with Neptune, but last night I loved them. Yeah yeah yeah, scrap metal rock. Yeah yeah, we make our own instruments. Yeah. But last night the band opted for a less arty set and focused instead on a brash selection of their post-punk meets post-jazz Fugazi-like skronk. And the crowd responded quite well. Plenty of dancing and shaking going on as the front man held forth with dramatic flair. Brilliant! There were also more cute girls at this show than any show I've gone to in recent days. What's up with that?

Lastly, Scrapple. Oh, Scrapple and your brand of sexy popera. The Christmas show was an extravaganza indeed. The band opened with Chris and Lisa dressed in nightgowns, eagerly greeting Dave's sleazy Santa. Jef and Chris (a different Chris, lest you be confused) held forth as gangster rap-styled hoodlum reindoors. And the music rocked. Combining bluesy rock with faster almost-punk bits and musical-styled stage theatrics, this was a great way to continue to count down to Christmas. Fun!
Technofetishism XX
Whenever Cory visits, I feel a little technologically backward. As parallel as our paths might be -- and as often as they intersect -- Cory is lightyears ahead of me in terms of technology and related culture. Lightyears. So today's downloads are a little bit of catch up. Signing up for VersionTracker, I've found several goodies.

Pod2Go might be my favorite so far. This cheery little app enables you to download news feeds, weather reports, stock quotes, and other text to your iPod for reading while you're on the go. Newsfeeds include BBC News, CNN, Wired News, Slashdot, and TidBITS, and you can pinpoint your weather reports -- include sunrise and sunset times -- by ZIP code. I think this will be a wonderful tool.

PodWorks seems to improve on xPod and PodUtil's functionality and basically helps you download MP3 files from iPods to your laptop or desktop. It's shareware, so I plunked down the $12 to help the cause, but I've had some trouble launching the app so far. It might be because I'm currently charging my iPod, but I might have to contact the makers to get my money's worth.

Lastly, MacStumbler. While I wasn't able to get a wireless network connection on the big blue couch or at the kitchen table previously, Cory's been able to detect and use no fewer than eight networks in the neighborhood. He says it might be because the wireless reception of the iBook is better than that of the TiBook, but I've snagged this wireless network detector to see what's what. If I'm able to gain access to a network in the neighborhood, that will be a good, good thing indeed.
North End Moment XXXI
It's raining today, and I'm alone again in the office downloading some software and putzing around while Cory gets a massage (his back's been bothering him). In any event, before I entered the Scotch & Sirloin building, I was greeted by these little fellows, propped up in the window of the copy shop on the first floor.

What a cheery holiday hair clip! The fellas are in my coat pocket now, and I'm thinking that I might prop them up in other places to help them spread their holiday happiness.

Friday, December 13, 2002

Music in Your Mouth
Last night, after finishing Christmas cards, I spent some time on the big blue couch browsing through the Cadence Music Sale catalog in the center of the current issue of Cadence Magazine. Having just received a shipment of discs from them including Mat Maneri, Ken Vandermark, the Either/Orchestra, David S. Ware, and Jeb Bishop, I'm going to hold off on placing another order for awhile. But as I was going through the small-print catalog, I caught myself speaking out loud in bewilderment, exclamation, and question. I never talk to myself! So I captured some of my ephemeral exhalations just for kicks. Here's what I said out loud while flipping through the Cadence Music Sale. If anything, perhaps it'll give you some ideas of what to get me for Christmas.

  • "That's really weird!" (on the fact that a jazz band called Beeblebrox involved no recognizable names)
  • "How expensive is Y?" (on the price of a Han Bennink 1973 recording)
  • "Steve Beresford? Why does he play with such shit people?" (on, well)
  • "Huh!" (on Jeb Bishop's "Chicago Defenders" recording, which I just received)
  • "Hmm..." (on Hamiet Bluiett's project with Fred Hopkins)
  • "Please!" (on ensembles named after the city of Boston that don't involve notable area free jazz players)
  • "Huh!" (on a Boxhead Ensemble recording not involving Ken Vandermark)
  • "Wow!" (on the Peter Brotzmann recordings with Joe McPhee, Mats Gustafsson, and Ken Vandermark)
  • "That's seasonal!" (on the Dave Brubeck "Christmas" recording)
  • "Who are they?" (On B. Shops for the Poor's No Wave recordings)
  • "OK, John Butcher's not shit." (on Steve Beresford's appearance on "All Angels Concert")
  • "U is $11?" (on a cheap John Cage find)
  • "Oh, that's a comp!" (on a Knitting Factory Works record featuring Uri Caine, David Ware, and the Residents)
  • "Feh!" (on Tom Chapin's recordings)
  • "3W!" (on the price of the four-CD Nat King Cole "MacGregor's '41-'45" project, which features Anita O'Day)
  • "What is this?" (on the Company 91 recordings)
  • "No one should call their bands contemporary. Contemporary means shit!" (on, well)
  • "Schmoheme." (on a Boheme recording of jazz accordionist Vlad Danilin)
  • "Oh, that's a comp!" (on a Knitting Factory Works record featuring Defunkt, Eugene Chadbourne, and Arto Lindsay)
  • "That's cool!" (on the Mark Dresser soundtrack for "Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" with Dave Douglas)
  • "That's shit!" (on a band called Dr. Pop and the Noise)
  • "That's good!" (on an Ellery Eskelin recording with Mat Maneri, Erik Friedlander, and Mark Dresser)
  • "Wow!" (on the Exzoskeleton Quartet record with Weasel Walter and Shrapnel)
  • "I saw him on the T yesterday!" (on a Ken Field recording)
  • "That's rare?" (on an asterisked Michael Formanek solo bass record)
  • "Harry the hipster?" (on a self-titled Gibson record on Delmark)
  • "Yeah!" (on Mats Gustafsson records with Ken Vandermark and Kurt Newman)
  • "Hey! That's near my birthday!" (on Abdullah Ibrahim's "Ancient Africa" recording)
  • Mention Me! XXII
    Two referral log shout outs:

  • m4dbl0g lists Media Diet among their bookmarks for Personalities blogs
  • Arab on Radar includes my March 1 commentary on "Yahweh or the Highway" in their roundup of reviews
  • Blogging About Blogging XXXVI
    CIO doesn't put its new issues up on the Web to synch up with when they hit subscribers' mail boxes, so I'm at a bit of a loss. Regardless, Daintry Duffy contributes a short piece entitled "Blogging for Bucks" as part of CIO's year-end feature on ideas for 2003. And it pushed a couple of buttons with me.

    In the opening paragraph, Duffy seems to confuse blogs with discussion forums, contending that "people who visit no longer have to verbalize their vitriolic disagreement. They can chronicle their thoughts about an article ... in their own Web log ... on the site." Sure, Salon now offers blogs, but it also offers a discussion forum -- Table Talk -- a forum in which Salon readers have long been able to discuss articles and chronicle their thoughts.

    Secondly, Duffy seems to have her history slightly wrong. She claims that blogs "first gained popularity on news sites like, Slate and," but I'm pretty sure that blogs hit the mainstream and the public eye before Salon started offering its blog service.

    And finally, while Duffy spends the bulk of the piece considering how companies such as Macromedia (which was also recently covered by Wired News) can use blogs as sales, marketing, communications, and customer service tools -- which is all very true, as people who track such things (like Phil Wolff) can attest -- Duffy's conclusion that corporate blogs' potential firmly rests in marketing leaves me cold.

    The true potential for corporate blogs is not in sales and marketing. It's in knowledge management and communications, internal and external, I'd wager. If that's what marketing really is, sign me up. But Duffy's focus on marketing might lead CIO's to fall into a trap that I previously warned CIO readers about in a 1997 article about online communities, as well as in a book review of John Hagel III and Marc Singer's Net Gain, which I can't find online.

    In that review, I cautioned against confusing customers with communities -- and commercials with conversation. Duffy's piece, though short, gives short shrift to the power of conversation and community, opting instead to highlight a new way to push commercials to potential and existing customers.
    These Links Were Made for Breaking? VII
    The fine folks at RTMark recently distributed a news release about how Web activists are taking on corporate misbehavior at organizations such as Dow Chemical and Burson-Marsteller -- and how those organizations are trying to quash their online activism.

    The recent online actions criticizing Dow and Burson-Marsteller go beyond traditional parody Web sites and related online commentary, some of which I've commented on previously in Media Diet. (See The Days of Whiners and Posers and The Days of Whiners and Posers II.)

    Additional Resources:
  • Sucks 500
  • Fuck Microsoft
  • Home Depot Sucks
  • Delta Sucks
  • Prepaidlegal Sucks
  • Big Brother Is Watching VIII
    Dec. 24 is World Sousveillance Day, a Buy Nothing Day-like observance organized in part by Steve Mann, who seems to have coined the term "sousveillance. If "surveillance" is watchful vigilance from above -- the increasing proliferation of security cameras, facial feature scanners, and other surveillance technologies -- "sousveillance" is watchful vigilance from below: watching the watchers.

    Mann makes a distinction between in-band sousveillance -- subveillance -- and truly subversive sousveillance. Toll-free "How's my driving?" phone numbers on the backs of semi trucks is one thing, but sousveillance-oriented monitoring activities such as Copwatch are another thing entirely. Because more often than not, the watchers don't appreciate being watched.

    Thanks to Weblogsky.
    Music to My Ears XXI
    Justin's lady Jane is in a band called Dealership. Nice three-piece pleasant pop in the vein of the Twee Kitten kids.
    Event-O-Dex XXII
    For lack of a better heading, because this is less of an event notice and more of a look at the role that plagiarism and detourning commercial imagery plays in art. Earlier this month, Stay Free! ended its run of the Illegal Art exhibit in New York City, and it's moving to Chicago next month. Even if you don't live in either locale, you can still spend a lot of time exploring the audio, video, and other art included in the project.

    Videos included in the screenings are available for viewing online, including a Negativland video created by a Disney employee and Todd Haynes' Barbie-starred ""Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story." Visual elements include Wally Wood's notorious 1967 poster "Disneyland Memorial Orgy," Natalka Husar's parodies of Harlequin romance novel covers, the now-defunct Bunnyhop's classic Binky vs. Trix Rabbit cover that was quashed by Matt Groening, Kieron Dwyer's parody of the Starbucks logo, and Brian Boling's detourned zine Dysfunctional Family Circus.

    There's also a wonderful online bibliography of articles that touch on the topic of intellectual property, parody, copyleft, and other related subjects. Kudos to all involved!

    Thanks to Media Dietician Mike Hibarger.
    'Tis the Season to Go... Postal
    Last night, I camped out on the big blue couch listening to the Replacements and X to finish this year's Christmas card mailing. I've gone back and forth the last few years, wavering between Christmas cards and a New Year's letter to friends and family, but this year I'm kind of thinking both. Maybe. I did a draft of a Year That Was chronology last night and seem to have lost a month. What the heck did I do in August?

    In any event, last year I sent about 40 Christmas cards. This year, so far, I've mailed about 75. Why the increase? In 2001, my graduating high school class held a 10-year reunion in Wisconsin. I didn't mail old friends from high school last Christmas, but thanks to a Web directory developed by one of my classmates, I did so this year. Also, this past year, I ordered the print edition of Northwestern University's alumni directory. That hulking beast of a book helped me track down scads of old friends from college, Sig Ep, WNUR-FM, and the Daily.

    So I'm up to 75 and thinking I still need to track some stragglers down. Christmas cards are an interesting project. I'm curious what some of the folks will think about the belated outreach. I'm curious how many addresses in the alumni directories are still valid and accurate. And I'm curious how many people will take my little holiday greeting as the connection trigger it's intended to be -- and either send a reciprocal card, write a letter, or otherwise get back in touch. We shall see.

    If any Media Dieticians would like to exchange Christmas cards, we still have some time, and I still have some cards. Email me your mailing address, and I'll send you my home address. That'll reach me faster than the P.O. Box noted to the left.
    On the Blend III
    This morning, I went a little freestyle. I didn't go to the co-op last night, so I didn't have any bananas, tofu, or much OJ left. So I kind of blended up leftovers, if you will. The remainder of the orange-tangerine juice, a carrot (based on a Media Dietician's suggestion), and half a green pepper. That was the experiment. It looked like the mixture might end up a little thick, so I added some water.

    And you know what? It was too watery! I guess I'll figure out the balance eventually, but today's drink was too watery, not orangey at all... and the green pepper added an interesting undercurrent of crisp flavor. Maybe it's because I added the water. Maybe it's because I was mixing fruits and vegetables. I don't know. But it leads me to a question: What kinds of vegetables do people throw in their blenders to make juice? I was rather surprise that the Osterizer frapped the carrot so well.

    Thursday, December 12, 2002

    Corollary: Mention Me! XX

    Media Dietician Heath and Almanac Brad

    And I'm giving props to some other folks who've referenced and linked to Media Diet recently, as well. I've been browsing the referral logs more actively these days!

  • Corante on Blogging
  • Mercurial
  • Music to My Ears XX
    I just got xmarsx's new album on Atavistic in the mail from Insound, and when I popped the CD into my PowerBook, I laughed out loud at what showed up in iTunes. Even though the pieces are accurately labeled on the CD itself, it's been coded so iTunes represents the disc as a fictional soundtrack recording featuring the following pieces:

  • "Rio Loco" by Mario Mario
  • "7 Trumpets Swinging" by Brass Master
  • "In a Key of Me" by Mad Monk
  • "What Girls Can Do" by the Fashion Plates
  • "What Are You?" by What?
  • "That Dang Dog" by John D
  • "That's Spicy!" by the Z Men
  • "F Is for Funk" by Funky
  • "Instrumentality" by Salsa Land

    Kudos to Mars Williams, Kent Kessler, Greg Suran, David Suycott, Wayne Kramer, Fred Lonberg-Holm, and whomever else might have been involved in this, the first prank iTunes playlist I've experienced. Funny stuff, and the record's good to boot!
  • Death of a Salesman
    IHCOYC contributed a fantastic essay on the unnecessary evils of salespeople and the dynamics of the cold call to Kuro5hin yesterday. The writer positions salespeople as social pirates, suggesting that cold calls break the Golden Rule -- and that salespeople "prey on the social conventions that make human intercourse possible." Our essayist goes on to consider moral principles, psychological manipulation, and the culture of motivational literature that has emerged to support those who work in sales. Think Zig Ziglar. Think Og Mandino. Then wonder whether these supporters of those in sales are really apologists for something most people think might be incorrectly practiced.
    Corollary: Humor Me VII
    Word is that the new National Lampoon parody isn't that funny. I'd still like to see it.

    Thanks to Jim Romenesko's Media News.
    Games People Play II
    The Los Angeles Times reports that Playboy is working with Arush Entertainment, maker of Duke Nukem, to develop the first Playboy-branded video game. Participants in the "simulation" game -- make that stimulation, captain! -- will play the role of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. Rumor is that exciting game play elements will include trying to remember where your robe is, extinguishing your pipe before the bedsheets catch fire, chasing the Barbie twins around a mahogany desk, and standing outside the Penthouse Key Club muttering to yourself about the "good old days."

    Thanks to I Want Media.
    Clothes Whore VI
    Cliff Muskiet has developed an online gallery of historic flight attendant uniform designs. He actually owns the more than 200 uniforms on exhibit, having acquired most of them since 1993. His collection comprises uniforms from more than 130 airlines, giving short shrift to the domestic American airlines and offering a good look at global airline uniform design.

    Thanks to BoingBoing.
    Blogging About Blogging XXXV
    Yesterday, Dave Winer proposed a possible plan for a blogging convention. His remarks on adhocracy -- "every attendee has a good chance of meeting and talking with all the people they want to talk with, and so that stars can rise, so if the planners don't know who has the most interesting things to say, the users can still find them" -- are interesting because, well, he seems to neglect that there's already been a more grassroots large-scale blogging gathering this fall: BlogCon. Whatever happened at BlogCon? It kind of faded fast.

    Wednesday, December 11, 2002

    Mention Me! XXI
    CollectSports' CollectComics Web directory now lists Media Diet among its Reviews resources. I have no idea who gathers material for CollectComics or how they came across Media Diet, but it's nice to pop up in such a random place.
    Games People Play
    (or, How I've Been Spending My Time IV)
    Time to change that standing category, I think.

    In the current issue of MacAddict, the CD-ROM includes a demo level of Pangea Software's new game Bugdom 2. Based on the strength of the demo, I ponied up the $30 to buy a registration number online so I could unlock the entire game. And it's a doozy.

    In the style of A Bug's Life or Antz, Bugdom 2 features a cinematic game play in which a grasshopper seeks to reclaim his possessions. The levels that I've experienced so far involve tough-guy horseflies, some sort of spore monster, friendly chipmunks, field mice you free from traps, and -- the most fun -- stomping garden gnomes who chase you down. The graphics are extremely well done, and one of the screenshots is now my desktop image. It'll take real effort not to spend too much time exploring the world of Bugdom 2.
    Comic Book Collections III
    Not so much comic books as science-fiction fanzines, the largest s-f fanzine collection in the world, the late Bruce Pelz's 200,000-plus item collection, which has been valued at $750,000, was donated to the University of California, Riverside Library. As part of the J. Lloyd Eaton Collection of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Utopia, the fanzines will be cataloged and preserved by collection staff.
    Lost Locales
    I love stuff like this. The La Crosse (Wisconsin) Historical Society has developed an online exhibit entitled Downtown La Crosse: Then and Now. While there are only about 10 paired images that compare historic images with same-site photographs from more recent days, the side-by-side placements are particularly effective. The LCHS has also developed contextual notes and descriptions to accompany the photos, making the exhibit an excellent look at balancing history and progress.
    Sentient Friction
    These are good days, good days indeed, for new and forthcoming science-fiction novels and other books. The following are titles of which Media Dieticians should be aware:

  • As Above, So Below by Rudy Rucker (Forge)
  • Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow (Tor)
  • Little Doors by Paul Di Filippo (Four Walls Eight Windows)
  • The Man Who Saw the Glory by John Brunner (Darkside)
  • Martians and Madness: The Complete SF Novels by Fredric Brown (NESFA)
  • Pattern Recognition by William Gibson (Penguin/Putnam)
  • Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years by Bruce Sterling (Random House)
  • The Ultimate Cyberpunk edited by Pat Cadigan (Pocket/ibooks)
  • Event-O-Dex XXI
    This isn't related to the Bazaar Bizarre punk-rock crafts fair that Handstand Command helped organize last weekend. But students at the Massachusetts College of Art have been organizing their own brand of punk-rock flea market for awhile now.

    The next one runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Sunday, Dec. 15, at the Massachusetts College of Art gym, 621 Huntington Ave., Boston. It's easily accessible via the E line T; just get off at the Longwood stop. Admission is free, and you can expect scads of crafts, records, clothing, music, and more.
    Among the Literati XX
    The recently redesigned Utne has also started publishing special issues. In their Arts Extra, they announce the launch of a book club. I'm not sure whether I'll join the online discussions, but their list of recommended reading might form the basis of some of 2003's Books Worth a Look.
    Humor Me VII
    National Lampoon is back. This week, the new management team is distributing 4,000 copies of a parody of The Hollywood Reporter entitled The Hollywood Retorter. It's a classic launch prank ploy, and I'm jealous of the people working in "entertainment industry circles" who get theirs. If any Media Dieticians get a copy and don't want to hold onto it, please send it on. I'll magazinedex it.

    Thanks to I Want Media.
    On the Blend II
    I was a little wary, but based on Christine's comment about adding tofu to my morning smoothie, I did so this morning. Same mix as I've been using -- banana, orange-tangerine juice, frozen blueberries and raspberries -- but this morning adding a block of extra firm silken tofu. I had my doubts about using extra firm, but it turned out great! The tofu added more of a shake-like consistency, thickening the drink but not too much, and it added a nice earthy undertone, as well. Keep sending your suggestions. I'll keep throwing more stuff in the blender!

    Tuesday, December 10, 2002

    Rock Shows of Note XLVII
    Last Friday brought the second annual Bazaar Bizarre punk-rock crafts fair. Organized in part by the Handstand Command arts collective, the bazaar featured a wide range of DIY vendors, music provided by Punk Rock Aerobics, and a sleazy Santa with two naughty elves. I spent most of the night sequestered behind the Handstand Command table, but to be truthful, Chris and Em did all the work. I was merely a hanger on. Here are some snapshots:

    One of Somerville's finest

    Scott controlled the floor.

    Chris and Em, movin' units

    I was glad to stay behind the table!

    Looks like somebody reads ReadyMade

    Looks like somebody brought baby

    Thanks to everyone who helped organize and manage the crafts fair, as well as to all of the vendors -- macaroni album art! -- and people who came to check it out. I've got to get more involved for next year.
    Technofetishism XIX
    I'm searching for duplicate files on my PowerBook using Aladdin Systems' Spring Cleaning utility, so I'm taking some time to poke around on the Web. If you have any interesting sites and services to recommend, let me know. This could take some time.
    Event-O-Dex XX
    For the month of December, the artwork of Jef Czekaj and Dan Moynihan is being displayed at the Diesel Cafe on Davis Square in Somerville. Jef says they stayed up until 3 a.m. hanging the show. You don't have to stay up that late to check it out, though.

    And this Friday, the "notoriously big" Scrapple Christmas show is being staged at Jacques. That's Dec. 13. The show will be shared with Neptune, which is releasing a new CD that night! Maybe I'll be able to drag Cory Doctorow out to this... Fingers crossed!
    Digesting the Daily VI
    Recent editions of the Daily Northwestern, the student newspaper of my alma mater, featured several media-, technology-, and activism-related items that might be of interest to Media Dieticians. (OK, one, but I didn't include it in the previous roundup.)

    "Lord of the Rings" linguistics sparks creative U. Texas class
    Class will focus on grammar, structure of Tolkien's various unique languages
    (Nov. 19, 2002)

    If you work for a college newspaper and would like to sign me up for a complimentary subscription, please feel free to do so. My address is in the grey bar over on the left.
    Pieces, Particles XI
    The following media-related stories recently spotted in print publications might be worth a look. Heads and decks, only. Heads and decks.

    Ads Gone Mad by Janine Jackson, Extra!, September/October 2002
    Trampling the line between commercials and content

    Fairway to Heaven by Steve Kurutz, Details, September 2002
    Golden Tee is the biggest coin-op game since Pac-Man. It's secret: It's all fun, no exercise.

    The Librarian of Sleaze by Kareem Fahim, Details, September 2002
    How a guy who just loves porn -- from cheerleader flicks to amputee-fetish mags -- became a hero to a hip new museum.

    The Man with the Big Book Look by Steven Heller, Print 2002
    During the last half of the 20th century, Paul Bacon designed influential book jackets, for bestsellers particularly, that revitalized the genre.

    Narrative Drive by Leslie Sherr, Print 2002
    The best of today's annual reports are more about storytelling than financial reporting.

    Panel Play by Daniel Nadel, Print 2002
    Auteurs and small press publishers are redefining the esthetics of comic books, turning them into objets d'art.

    The Price of Porn by Ian Spiegelman, Details, November 2002
    In the hole for $10,000, one sex addict blames it all on the Internet, "a global terror network dedicated to bukkake and beaver."

    Queens of Noise by Jillian Steinberger, Bust, Fall 2002
    A passionate lady's guide to starting a record label

    What, Me Worry?, Harper's, November 2002

    Write or Wrong, DC Cans Letters, Wizard, January 2003

    If you work for a magazine and would like to sign me up for a complimentary subscription, please feel free to do so. My address is in the grey bar over on the left.
    Let's Make a Steal
    Three years ago, the US Postal Service ordered 20 million postal bins to keep up with mail automation. Today, a mere 20,000 remain in the agency's warehouses. You see, it seems that, just like shopping carts, which were also in the news recently, people don't return these cooler-sized plastic carryalls. And the USPS wants them back. The bins cost $3.25 a piece, so the non-returns add up to millions of dollars. Despite a possible $1,000 fine for misuse or theft of government property, the USPS promises not to ask any questions -- they just want their bins back.

    Monday, December 09, 2002

    The Movie I Watched Last Night XLVII
    That Touch of Mink
    This 1962 movie featuring Cary Grant and Doris Day riffs on the theme later addressed by Pretty Woman and Maid in Manhattan. A wealthy businessman is smitten by a "working-class girl" -- in this case, a secretarial type, not a prostitute -- and proceeds to woo her. Grant is at his smoothest and most collected, and Day plays a young innocent who, while also smitten, feels slightly out of her league. Of course, they end up together. John Astin, who starred as the Addams Family's Gomez, co-stars as Everett Beasley, a decidedly creepy civil service worker who tries to lord it over Day at the unemployment office. Astin's role is a highlight, as is the snappy banter scripted for Grant and Day.
    On the Blend
    I have owned a blender for the last six-plus years. It's moved with me from Chicago to Boston, and since my arrival here in 1996, it's found a home in a cabinet or on top of a refrigerator in no fewer than five apartments. And I've never used it.

    Until this weekend. Inspired by one of my hosts during the CoF Roadshow and a once-active contributor to FC:Forums, Fast Company's discussion area, I've started using the blender to make breakfast. And I think I might have discovered what I can eat for breakfast every day for the rest of my life.

    I love the idea of breakfast, but I don't like taking the time to prepare and eat it at home -- and the options for what I can pick up on the way to work aren't that inexpensive or healthy. But this, I think, is awesome. What is this? Let me tell you.

    You take a banana. You peel it. You break it into several pieces. And you put it in the blender. You pour in enough fruit juice -- it's been orange and tangerine juice so far -- to cover the banana. Then you add some frozen blueberries and raspberries. Maybe add some ice if you feel like it. Put the lid on top of the blender and press the frappe button.

    Instant delicious, healthy breakfast!

    My blender is awesome; and it's got character -- and battle scars. It's an old-school Osterizer, and a couple of the buttons have been melted. I'm not sure how. The metal plate affixed to the front of the blender that indicates what button does what is loose, but otherwise everything works wonderfully.

    If you have any suggestions for what else I might blend for breakfast, let me know. Because I've got a blender, and I'm not afraid to use it.

    Friday, December 06, 2002

    From the In Box: Pulling the Plug IX
    In response to Ed Hazell's recent essay on the Willow, a long-gone Somerville jazz club, Stu Vandermark, a contributor to Cadence, sent the following message to the Boss Improv mailing list, which discusses the Boston-area jazz and improvised music scene:

    What most people probably do not know is that the mid-1980s was the best time for jazz in Boston since the 1950s (The 1950s -- by certain measures -- was the best time for jazz in Boston and just about every other city in the U.S. as well). In my view (for what that's worth), the Willow was the most important jazz club in Boston during the 1980s. I know that sounds ludicrous to anyone who arrived here during the early 1990s or later, but it was an important place at a time when often incredible jazz of all types was pouring out of clubs around town.

    There were many reasons that the Willow was important but most of those reasons are based on two facts:

    1) No one had to pay to play. In other words, the owners of the club did not charge a booker or the musicians to perform. Right off the bat that meant that there were no economic limitations to dictate the type of music to be performed. So you had everything from two-beat to swing to the cocktail lounge singers to free players all the time. Also, the lack of economic limitations meant that there were no qualitative restrictions. Anyone from a Berklee freshman to Joseph Jarman could (and did) play there.

    2) Brian Walkley booked the place. I used to joke about Brian's misspellings in my column back then (and in fact do it again in the latest issue of Cadence). But he was completely democratic. He misspelled names without prejudice. It didn't matter whether you were Joe Smithth or Joe Muneri, you got the same treatment. The up side was that no matter who you were, you could get booked there. The only difference is that the internationally known musicians tended to be booked on Friday and Saturday nights. (Although I saw such giants as George Duvivier, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, and Jimmy Giuffre during the middle of the week.) The only difficult part for most people was getting hold of Brian in the first place. He was a busy, elusive man. As for myself, I always found him very supportive any time I put on gigs (which usually were off the wall type things -- two drummers and a bassist, three drummers, stuff like that).

    Yes, the Willow was out of the way (but it was amazing how people figured out how to pack the club two nights each month when James Williams brought his groups in, and on other "big" nights). Yes, the bar side (and that swinging door) could be noisy, but even the celebrities dealt with it (and the problem grew worse after about 1990; the juke box got louder and the bar people became less considerate). Also, one must remember that during the 1980s music in the sonic realm of Morton Feldman was relegated to academia. In other words, just as jazz performed acoustically by four or more people in Jordan Hall is a sonic disaster, Jordan Hall is the ideal place for low volume, slow-moving music. It was understood that the Willow was a jazz club. By the way (although this point is not completely relevant), invariably whenever I took European friends to jazz clubs around Boston, their favorite club was the Willow. They claimed that it best fit their image of what a "real" jazz club was like.

    But whatever good environmental and other qualities the club had in the 1980s, they were pretty much gone by the beginning of the 1990s. The piano no longer was maintained. The tape deck, turntable, and sound system had been dead for many years. The live radio shows on WERS were no more than a memory. Even the weekend gigs were dying qualitatively. By the time it closed, the only gigs that drew large audiences were the Wednesday (and later Monday) Fringe nights.

    So, yes, during the 1990s the Willow was a dump. It never was pretty. But during the 1980s it was the center of the spectrum of jazz activity from the novices to the names, month after month. One of the important side benefits of the qualitative and formal spectrum of the music performed was the openness of the musicians in Boston during the 1980s. At the Willow (and to some extent at other clubs), swing musicians would run into free players who would encounter the beboppers, and they would hang and listen to each other's music. For example, anyone from Gary Valente to Raphé Malik would sit in with the Fringe, and you might find Alan Dawson or Bill Pierce in the audience, just hanging. We are much poorer for not having the Willow (or something like it) today. -- Stu Vandermark

    Stu Vandermark is the father of MacArthur Fellow Ken Vandermark.
    The Movie I Watched Last Night XLVI
    Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine
    What a strange little movie. Trying to combine elements of James Bond and the beach movies of Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine may very well have provided some of the inspiration for more recent movies such as the Austin Powers series and Mars Attacks!. Vincent Price plays a slightly fey mad scientist who's created an army of female robots to swindle rich men out of their fortunes. Frankie Avalon himself plays a bumbling not-so-secret agent who witlessly stumbles onto the plot. Jack Mullaney shines as the dimwitted back-from-the-dead assistant Igor. And hilarity ensues. This movie is a throwaway except for its San Francisco setting and blue-screen chase scene down the crookedest street in the world -- and for the brief appearance of Funcicello in an uncredited cameo. But in the end, this B movie puts the "b" in "bad." The Supremes must have been awfully hard up to contribute the theme song.
    The Revolution Will Not Be Webified
    Before the Web is an archive of first-person accounts of interactive online technologies that predated the Web's deployment in 1992. The project's managers are looking for stories about videotext, teletext, database publishing, corporate email, BBS sysops, SIGs, chat, User Publishing, key-word search, and conferencing that predates http/html. Even though there's not a lot of lost history available yet, what's there right now is pretty interesting. One of the people involved in marketing the Source -- one of the first online services -- shares some stories about how they got the word out. And another contributor sheds light on the state of information technology venture capital circa 1982. As this online history fleshes out, it promises to be an insightful look at how people formed the foundation of what would become the Web -- and the mainstream acceptance of the Net.

    Thanks to Weblogsky.
    On the Commercialization of Content
    Rusty Foster contributed a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek screed about online advertorials to Kuro5hin yesterday. Using the recent rash of paid placement bylined articles that Sony sponsored in Salon as a launchpad, Rusty considers the economics behind short lifestyle features published as part of an advertising series. Advertorials are nothing new, but their move to the Web brings up some interesting questions. How long will it be before we're unable to determine whether an online article, discussion forum post, blog entry, or entire site itself is a paid advertisement rather than the grassroots, independent content that makes up much of the Web?

    The Kuro5hin commentary is particularly interesting when coupled with last night's Hypergene MediaBlog interview with Rusty about Kuro5hin's acceptance of text ads coupled with the site's standard comments tool. By offering readers a neutral platform on which they can ask questions about a product or service, read other people's feedback on their experiences with the advertiser, and otherwise engage with an advertising partner, Kuro5hin has taken several steps toward the Cluetrain concept of markets as conversations.

    Much of Media Diet's content is comprised of reviews, media critiques, and other commentaries. Some people send me free books, comics, records, and zines to consider for review. While I try to review everything that people send me -- it's part and parcel of the zine world's trade economy -- I like to think that receiving materials for free doesn't involve any responsibility to review something positively. If I don't like something, I'll tell you. That person might not send me anything else in the future, but that's the way the ball bounces. Were I serviced by record labels -- which I would welcome -- I might be more mindful of "protecting" that service, but again, I like to think that that wouldn't be the case.

    Additionally, creators will often respond to a review I post. Just this week, I've had a delightful email exchange with Sammy Harkham about my interpretation of his Slumber mini. And by checking the traffic logs, I know that someone emailed Paul Pope the link to my recent review of the Comics Interpreter -- a review in which I said I wasn't the biggest fan of his work. Paul hasn't touched base, but, hey, Paul, if you're reading this, send me some free stuff, 'K?

    Because I'm pretty shameless. I love getting mail, and I love being introduced to new media artifacts that align with the interests represented here. Send me a free T-shirt, and I'll wear it at least once. I'll even take a picture of me wearing the shirt and publish it here. Is that an advertorial? I think it's silly fun.
    Media Meet Space III
    The Associated Press reports that the just-that-side-of-softcore porn magazine Penthouse has begun licensing its name to "upscale" strip clubs. The first Penthouse Key Club opened in Cleveland on my mom's birthday -- what a gift! -- after a $1.5 million renovation. While the menu is mostly beer on tap, burgers, and fries, company representatives contend that the Penthouse brand stands for sex and quality.

    Now, Playboy once had a chain of nightclubs, but there wasn't any nudity -- just women wearing bunny suits. Despite the failure of the Playboy clubs, as well as the falling circulation of men's magazines (Penthouse has fallen from 5 million to 1 million.), perhaps Penthouse will learn that, to be true, sex will sell. Or at least sell burgers and beer.

    Thanks to I Want Media.

    Thursday, December 05, 2002

    Books Worth a Look IX
    These are the books I read in September, October, and November 2002.

    After the Quake by Haruki Murakami (Knopf, 2002)
    Written as responses to the Kobe earthquake in 1995, these six short stories neither challenge Murakami's longer fiction of recent years nore improves on his previous short story collection. Several of the pieces end on an up note, usually with a main character finding new or true love -- "UFO in Kushiro" and "Honey Pie" -- but for the most part, the overarching tone is one of loss or at least resolution to settle for less -- or what is ("Landscape with Flatiron" and "Thailand"). That resonance borders on remorseful realization, at least in "All God's Children Can Dance," and the stories, while not totally dark, don't dance with the sentiment or humor of Murakami's other work.
    Days to read: 2. Rating: Good.

    American Flagg!: State of the Union by Howard Chaykin (First, 1989)
    Not as lush illustration-wise or as pulp-like in its writing as Chaykin's recent work, American Flagg! still shows his fashion illustration by way of adventure hero style. Flagg works his way through a web of corruption and destruction, wending a path through stupid cyborgs, inept mayors, and talking cats. The story is left up in the air as a mysterious figure claims power and challengs Flagg, but it's clear that Flagg's among the good guys and that the good guys will win.
    Days to read: 1. Rating: Good.

    The Color of Summer by Reinaldo Arenas (Penguin, 1990)
    After watching Before Night Falls with Andrea, I knew that I had to read Arenas -- and soon. This is the fourth of five autobiographical novels Arenas wrote, and it's a good place to begin. As a gay Cuban dissident, Arenas faced multiple oppressions under the Castro regime. This novel -- combining elements of magic realism with the surreal decadence of William Burroughs -- is a comic political commentary, celebration of freedom (sexual and otherwise), and a cry for help. I wish I knew more about Cuban literature, as there are many pseudonymous and not-so-thinly veiled pastiche appreciations woven throughout. Brilliant.
    Days to read: 12. Rating: Excellent.

    Covering the '60s: George Lois, the Esquire Era (Monacelli, 1996)
    An interesting counterpoint to the 25th anniversary collection of Heavy Metal covers, this retrospective of George Lois' absolutely brilliant cover designs from 1962-1972 was done exactly how a book like this should be done. Reproducing the covers with full bleed and including commentary by Lois on the thought and creative process behind each image -- even offering the inside scoop on the political and financial fallout from some of the riskier editorial decisions -- the book is an amazing look back at one of the best decades in magazine design, as well as an appreciative design memoir of -- and manual by -- Lois. A book to be revisited.
    Days to read: 1. Rating: Excellent.

    Fifty-One Tales by Lord Dunsany (Wildside, 2002)
    These 51 short, short stories written by Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, the 18th baron of an ancient line who was born in Ireland in the late 1800s, helped form the basis of inspiration for fantasy writers in the early 20th century such as H.P. Lovecraft. The stories, fantastic fables, criticize urbanization, industrialization, and progress, combining political commentary with moral, mythic narration. Lightly humorous, the stories don't quite astound, but Dunsany's impact and importance is evident.
    Days to read: 1. Rating: Good.

    Ghosts of Boston Town: Three Centuries of True Hauntings by Holly Mascott Nadler (Down East, 2002)
    Read shortly after Halloween, this retelling of supernatural activities in the Boston area was a welcome distraction while relaxing on the coast of Maine. I appreciate the occasional geographic specificity -- the ghost in the North End, the origin of Edgar Allen Poe's Cask of Amontillado, spooks in Charlesgate Hall, and the burials in Boston Common -- but for the most part, third-person retellings of ghost stories lack a needed legitimacy and science. Regardless, this book will have me pounding the pavement looking for some landmarks.
    Days to read: 1. Rating: Good.

    Gilmore Girls: I Love You, You Idiot by Cathy East Dubowski (Harper, 2002)
    Another media tie-in novel based on six teleplays for the TV series. The adaptation of "That Damn Donna Reed" loses some of the visual punch that was in the episode where Rory cooks dinner for Dean, I'm sure, so I'm slightly thankful there's a center photo section of stills. The sense of humor and near-verbatim dialogue continues to carry the cleverness and care of the show.
    Days to read: 9. Rating: Good.

    Gilmore Girls: Like Mother, Like Daughter by Catharine Clark (Harper, 2002)
    This media tie-in adapted from five television screenplays -- including the pilot -- of this series on the WB is a welcome find before the Sunday reruns and new series begin. While I'm a relative newcomer to the program, I think Clark adapts the series well. While I'm not the biggest fan of Rory's first-person narration, the pacing of the language used in the dialogue and the almost-frantic, rapid-fire humor is awesome and represents the show's scripts well.
    Days to read: 2. Rating: Good.

    Gravediggers' Party by Gahan Wilson (IBooks, 2002)
    Wilson is a hidden gem, an extremely prolific cartoonist whose ghastly gag panels lurk like lycanthropes within the otherwise harmless pages of magazines such as the New Yorker and Playboy. These 150 cartoons are drawn from several decades of work and run the gamut -- and gantlet -- of Wilson's creative output. Whether the comics are clean line drawings or darkly colored scenes, Wilson's skewed view of the world is full of monsters -- human and otherwise. A disturbing joy to take in all at once.
    Days to read: 1. Rating: Excellent.

    Heavy Metal: 25 Years of Classic Covers by John Workman (Heavy Metal, 2002)
    Despite my general disinterest in the European genre comics that Heavy Metal -- now published by Kevin Eastman -- translates and reprints, I've got to recognize the magazine's flair for cover design. Workman, who served as the magazine's art director for its first seven years, compiles almost 300 covers by fantasy artists such as Moebius, Bernie Wrightson, Howard Chaykin, Boris Vallejo, and others. The anniversary book could have benefited from larger reproduction of most of the images and more historical perspective on the magazine's relationship with National Lampoon, its inclusion of interviews, and its attempts to move into other media. But the artwork, though cliched, is beautiful, and the covers are well worth collecting.
    Days to read: 1. Rating: Fair.

    John Collier and Fredric Brown Went Quarreling Through My Head by Jessica Amanda Salmonson (Ganley, 1989)
    These 27 stories were written between 1966 and 1985 by long-time small press contributor Salmonson, editor of Fantasy Macabre. She described these short pieces as "little horrors," and the influence of the two authors named in the title is clear. In fact, Salmonson dedicates many of the stories collected here to the authors that inspired them, including James Blish, Clifford Simak, Ray Bradbury, H.P. Lovecraft, Rod Serling, and Fritz Leiber. Despite Salmonson's transparent dependence on genre fiction, the collection communicates with the economy of a Twilight Zone episode, sharing several startling visions even if no single story stands out.
    Days to read: NA. Rating: Fair.

    Little Walks for Sightseers #16: A Walking Tour of the Shambles by Gene Wolfe and Neil Gaiman (American Fantasy, 2002)
    A guidebook to an imaginary neighborhood that survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, this pamphlet is a clever portrayal of a place that might have been. Wolfe and Gaiman detail local sites to see -- and to skip entirely, sometimes -- as well as some of the speculative history, lore, and personages that help produce the Shambles. Their descriptions are complete and their advice well-heeded. More people should pen fictional tour guides!
    Days to read: 1. Rating: Good.

    Mass MoCA: From Mill to Museum by Nicholas Whitman (Mass MoCA, 2000)
    Published in conjunction with the opening of the groundbreaking arts and business anchor in North Adams, Massachusetts, this book combines several contextual essays on the redevelopment project with photographs by Nicholas Whitman. Whitman began his photographic work in 1988, before the Sprague Electric Co. began its transformation into Mass MoCA, and the photos, which cover the 12 years between Sprague's closing and the museum's opening, ably capture the decrepit buildings that were rejuvenated, how the architects retained many of the original structural features, and the arts and technology Renaissance that's come to North Adams. One of my favorite places.
    Days to read: 1. Rating: Excellent.

    Mr. Bounce by Roger Hargreaves (Price Stern Sloan, 1976)
    I loved these Mr. Men and Little Miss books when I was in kindergarten, and it's hard not to love them now. With almost 100 different titles, the short and simple stories play off a single quality of the eponymous characters -- often ending with a flat punchline. Take this volume. Mr. Bounce, well, bounces. Into a duck pond, down the stairs, across a tennis net (several times), off of a bus, and into a doctor's cup of coffee. The doctor is able to grant Mr. Bounce a prescription to cure his ills, but in the end, the cure poses a problem of its own. Extremely quick reads, the books are most notable for Hargreave's colorful artwork.
    Days to read: 1. Rating: Fair.

    Nice Hat. Thanks. by Joshua Beckman and Matthew Rohrer (Verse, 2002)
    The shorter poems are better than the longer poems, particularly because the four- and five-line poems often repeat themselves, which leads one to think about padding and promise. The "long" poems, poems of more than five lines, fare slightly better, allowing these New York-based wordsmiths to do more with imagery and illustration. There are many good ideas here -- ideas about art, time, urban life, love, nature, and process -- but there aren't as many good poems.
    Days to read: 1. Rating: Good.

    Organizing Workspace: A to Z by Hope Lafferty ([S]pace, 2000)
    Lafferty's a living and workspace organizational consultant, and this slim volume is her alphabetical guide to cutting through the clutter in your life. Lafferty addresses your desk at work, databases, email, fax cover sheets, poverty consciousness, and your wallet, as well as other topics. I'm quite skeptical of the value of simplification guides such as this, but Lafferty makes some suggestions I'll find useful -- such as reading magazines I subscribe to the day they arrive in the mail.
    Days to read: 1. Rating: Fair.

    Out of the Ashes: Help for People Who Have Stopped Smoking by Peter and Peggy Holmes (Fairview, 1992)
    Basing this little book of meditations for ex-smokers on a synthesis of Ayn Rand's objectivism, 12-step chemical dependency treatment principles, and the work of addication counselor Joseph Zeitchick, the Holmeses have developed a personal, empowering, choice-driven self-help book. Designed to help ex-smokers realize that they are still free to smoke -- as free as they are to choose not to smoke -- the slightly repetitive book gives the power of freedom and autonomy back to ex-smokers. Not smoking isn't about restrictions, discipline, or guilt. It's about choice. And it feels better to choose not to smoke.
    Days to read: 1. Rating: Good.

    People's Park by Alan Copeland (Ballantine, 1969)
    A catalog of sorts from a photography exhibit held at Phoenix Gallery in Berkeley, California, this book recounts the reclamation, reconstruction, and ultimate destruction of the Bay Area's countercultural landmark. The more than 100 black-and-white images collected show elements of community spirit, hope, cooperation, and creativity, as well as aspects of repression, an emergent police state, protest, violence, and community-wide horror at the reaction of area authorities. Even though the promise of People's Park was in the end thwarted, this book -- and the events of April 20 to June 20, 1969 -- stand as a testament to the catalyzing creativity of community. Let a thousand parks bloom!
    Days to read: 1. Rating: Good.

    The Real Moon of Poetry and Other Poems by Tina Brown Celona (Fence, 2002)
    Celona writes poems about poetry sometimes, often giving the words she uses and writes about characteristics and the force of nature. Occasionally presenting snapshots of a scene or, in the longer pieces, delving into the thought process of the poet or poem's subject, Celona writes poetry with a clever edge and a hint of soon-disspelled darkness. I'm not quite sure what making the process so visible in her product achieves, but there are several poems here that I'll read again -- and to friends.
    Days to read: 2. Rating: Good.

    Sandbox Wisdom: Revolutionize Your Brand with the Genius of Childhood by Tom Asacker (Eastside, 2000)
    Presented in the form of a fable, this thinly written quick read suggests that business people need to take more cues from children if they're going to reclaim their creativity, productivity, and work relationships. The granddaughter of a retired executive shares lessons about enthusiasm, empathy, genuineness, attention, chaos, faith, and intimacy. Asacker addresses ground already covered, but it's a short book, and sometimes reminders are needed.
    Days to read: 1. Rating: Fair.

    The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner (Ballantine, 1972)
    Guess who my more recent science-fiction author is? John Brunner. This dystopian ecological cautionary tale is a politically pointed commentary on the decaying state of our environmental, food, sanitation, and water systems. Taking place over the course of a year, the novel weaves several parallel storylines featuring various actors in the situation -- from an absentee president and the importer of infected water filters to a mediagenic opinion leader and Austin Train, the man who could save the world.
    Days to read: 6. Rating: Excellent.

    Shutterbug Follies: A Graphic Novel by Jason Little (Doubleday, 2002)
    I ran into Little at a bookstore reading the day his book hit the shelves -- he'd biked into Manhattan from Brooklyn to see if stores were stocking it. The book's worth a bike ride. Well-designed and lavishly colored, Follies is an action-packed mystery story starring Bee, an avid photography. Previously serialized online, Follies reads better in print, as the pacing of parts requires immediate reading. It was occasionally frustrating to read the strip on the Web, but this book is far from a frustration.
    Days to read: 1. Rating: Excellent.

    The Ten Demandments: Rules to Live by in the Age of the Demanding Customer by Kelly Mooney with Laura Bergheim (McGraw-Hill, 2002)
    A conversational, constructively critical book, the Ten Demandments outlines a new approach to customer service, as well as sales and marketing. Mooney's 10 ideas, which range from "earn my trust" to "stay with me," are equal parts common sense and bright ideas. The book is peppered with sidebar examples from companies such as Netflix and Procter & Gamble, and the Voice of the Customer segments offer a good reality check straight from consumers. A breezy, well-reasoned book that, while not overly tactical, is worth considering.
    Days to read: 73. Rating: Good.

    Time-Jump by John Brunner (Dell, 1973)
    Previously, I've only read Brunner's novel Shockwave Rider, a wonderful book that presaged much of the cyberpunk science-fiction subgenre. This collection of 10 short stories brings Fredric Brown to mind and encapsulates many dark, thoughtful themes. Of special note are the Galactic Consumer Report pieces, which, while touching on aspects of time travel, wish fulfillment, and consumer research, build to an impressive crescendo. Brunner doesn't shy away from sex, either, and caps the anthology with a better approach to the "Running Man" concept.
    Days to read: 3. Rating: Excellent.

    Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman (Avon, 1964)
    I first read this comedic commentary on the sad state of public education in New York City when I was in junior high forensics. I reread it in one sitting during a recent Anchormen mixing session, and it's aged well. Kaufman's story is told through school circulars, memos between teachers, rules and regulations, a suggestion box, and other school-centric ephemera. Over the course of the novel, the first-time teacher matures as an instructor and makes a sizable impact on the teenagers in her classes. Touching.
    Days to read: 1. Rating: Excellent.

    Up the Organization: How to Stop the Corporation from Stifling People and Strangling Profits by Robert Townsend (Fawcett Crest, 1970)
    Purchased in a used book store in Manchester, NH, while on a scooter tour with Tom Asacker, this book proves that the new economy was not so new. The former executive of American Express and Avis offers cheeky, creative, and critical insights on the role and state of advertising, assistants, boards of directors, budgets, expense accounts, the Harvard Business School, investors, meetings, office parties, and policy manuals to present a "survival manual for successful corporate guerrillas" that's as valid now as it was then.
    Days to read: 3. Rating: Excellent.