Today in "No I don't want your fucking app"

Just a reminder that every time you share a link to "", I cannot smash that "Cancel" button hard enough:

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Recent TV and movies

Good Omens: The thing I will miss most about this series being over is that I cannot recall any show that was able to make me fall asleep more quickly. I think I must have started watching each of those 6 episodes 4 times each before making it through any of them. As to the show... Eh. I read the book but don't remember anything about it other than: I didn't like it much -- which was also true of American Gods. This show is not nearly as good as that American Gods show. It was American Gods Lite, maybe. Diet Gluten-Free American Gods Fun Size.

Jett: A noir that might as well be set in the Tarantinoverse, but without all of the winking about pop culture. It's brutal and great, like, Better Call Saul-level great.

Fleabag: I'm not even sure how to describe this, but it's fantastic.

All About Nina: This was really good. It started off as a pretty funny rom-com about a bitter stand-up comic (and yeah, movies about stand-up comics tend to be terrible) but just when you are settling in to that it takes a particularly brutal turn. The ending felt abrupt at first but the more I thought about it the more I appreciated that.

Archer 1999: Oh yes, right there, right there. That's the spot.

Assimilate: It's a straightforward small town Invasion of the Body Snatchers / Night of the Creeps story. It starts off seeming like it's going to be a lighthearted teen take on it, but then it starts taking itself very seriously. Pretty decent, strong ending.

Jessica Jones: I enjoyed this season more than any since the first, and certainly more than Defenders. It was an interesting choice having the Big Bad not be powered; you might think that would lower the stakes but it just showed that not all problems can be punched. It was almost as much a Hellcat show as an Alias show and that was fine with me.

I feel like all of the Netflix Marvel shows were at their core dancing around the idea of, "Yeah but I'm the good kind of sociopath with no respect for the rule of law, not the bad kind like those other assholes", but never really saying anything coherent about it. They never really staked out their position on the spectrum between, "Superheroes would be pretty fucked up, amirite?" and "We should all learn Krav Maga and beat the shit out of muggers."

I came late to Elementary, because despite Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu being pretty great, I objected to a Holmes story being just another fucking police procedural. (Despite the Holmes books having kinda-sorta invented the police procedural.) Generally, the characters and banter are good and the plots are deeply stupid. But one of the best features of this show: Joan's outfits. The reason I've even mentioning this show at all is that in a recent episode she wore dazzle hammer pants. Dazzle Hammer Pants, you guys.

NOS4A2: I guess it's "What if Happy!, but Stranger Things?" Like Good Omens, I've only stuck with it due to its powerful sedative properties. I think I've only made it 3 eps in.

In the Mouth of Madness: It had been a long time since I saw this... and even being a huge Carpenter fan, and seeing it on a big screen... I'm here to tell you that this movie is very, very, very bad. The Fog holds up much better.

Swamp Thing had only aired one episode when they cancelled it! However, that one episode is one of the strongest pilots of a comic book show I've seen. They're up to 3 episodes now, and so far it's a body horror show, leaning in the direction of The Thing or Annihilation. And guess what, apparently part of the reason that it was cancelled was that after seeing the show that they made, the producers said "Yes but what if it was... a police procedural instead?"

I'm going to blame this one on that weasel that fell into the Large Hadron Collider, too. This is the stupidest timeline, and it means that I'm never going to get to see an episode where Swamp Thing teams up with Flex Mentallo, Man of Muscle Mystery.

Black Mirror: Striking Vipers was great. Smithereens wasn't bad but I don't need to watch a TV show about my twitter feed. And Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too was fantastic. I particularly enjoyed the callbacks to how this tech was used in previous episodes, e.g. the one where the woman got uploaded into a thermostat. Of course they'd use it this way. And I'll leave you with this glorious thing:

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Netflix on a B&W CRT


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MPD/M3U8 question

Dear Lazyweb,

I have two files, 5 minutes long, MP4 video-only and M4A audio-only. I would like to hand them to the <VIDEO> tag and have it play both in sync. Is there a way to express this using an MPD or M3U8 file?

I am hoping to avoid having to run ffmpeg or otherwise parse MPEG frames or split the files. Or mux them.

I've tried a bunch of things but the MPD spec is baffling.

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The only good use for Smart Quotes, ever

Trap Quote Steganography:

Genius says its traffic is dropping because, for the past several years, Google has been publishing lyrics on its own platform, with some of them lifted directly from the music site. [...]

Starting around 2016, Genius said, the company made a subtle change to some of the songs on its website, alternating the lyrics' apostrophes between straight and curly single-quote marks in exactly the same sequence for every song.

When the two types of apostrophes were converted to the dots and dashes used in Morse code, they spelled out the words "Red Handed."

So that's clever and funny, and Google are anticompetitive dicks, but there are no winners here. Genius is straight up admitting that the thing that drives people to their site is just the lyrics, not the annotations that they provide. Google isn't cloning their annotations.

Here's the music mafia trying to quadruple-dip what they've already sold you three times by monetizing the lyrics of the songs you already bought. When you buy an MP3, it has the album artwork embedded in the ID3 tags (almost always, these days), and the lyrics should be there, too. Are they not a part of the song? Are they not the very meta-est of metadata? Yes. Yes they are.

It's as if you bought a BluRay and they told you, "Oh, the subtitle tracks are on a different disc, and that's sold by a completely different wholly-owned subsidiary". Or you bought an album and got files numbered 1 through 14, because the titles of those songs are available under a different licensing regime as a separate add-on subscription service.

If you want to see the lyrics to your music, might I recommend jwzlyrics.

Though I will note that, the site I get my data from, seems to be slacking. They only seem to have lyrics for about half of the new music I buy these days. And I believe they actually pay the mob for their lyrics feed, or they used to.

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"Reap the fatuous whirlwind."

The best thing you will see today is the expression on Peter Saville's face in this photo, from this entertaining article on the memetic history of Unknown Pleasures:

"The group asked for it to [have a white background] and I just couldn't see it. I was afraid it might look a little cheap. I was convinced that it was just sexier in black. This is a radio energy from space. Space is black."

Recommended: Designed By Peter Saville, Factory Records: The Complete Graphic Album, Koi Division.

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DNA Lounge: Wherein the Sewer Snake returns in time for Last Call to go down.

I love it when we flush a camera down the toilet. Or in this case, the drain at the back of the DNA Pizza kitchen. For those of you with the intestinal fortitude, let's dig in to the bowels of DNA Lounge and check in on the growth of our Glistening Fatburg as it is being gently nurtured in the dark places below:

If that left you feeling empty inside, then push in your stool and watch these!

(Always open with a poop joke, then move on to the legal news.)

Some potential good news for Mezzanine, and for anyone in the nightlife industry who find themselves facing off against a predatory landlord:

Supervisor Matt Haney's resolution would make it harder to turn venues into tech office space:

If passed, this measure would provide interim zoning controls in Western Soma for 18 months to ensure that entertainment venues are not converted to other uses without going in front of the Planning Commission, and if needed, at the full Board of Supervisors. [...]

"This is even bigger than the Mezzanine," Haney said. "Across SoMa, we have had a long history of nightlife and entertainment that has been the lifeline of this community and has provided tremendous culture, art, and community building to all of San Francisco. And it's in danger right now."

Haney added that his resolution would allow an added layer of oversight and accountability and bring questions of public interest and social impact to the forefront. He tied the Mezzanine's current predicament to the larger patterns of displacement and erasure of important community spaces to development, exorbitant rents, and landlord and property owner profits. Losing these venues would be "bad for San Francisco, bad for SoMa, and a huge loss that would be hard to replace," Haney said.

The machinations described in the next article are a bit confusing, but I think what it says is that the "4AM last call" thing is done for, again, because Weiner decided to throw it under a bus so that he could get a different bill passed instead, using a pretty sketchy legislative trick:

Wiener's gut-and-amend tactics: Will they return with SB 50?

As of September, "Last Call" had been voted out of both Assembly Committees to the Assembly floor, but "Sex Offenders" had been held in suspense (i.e., tabled) in the Assembly Appropriations Committee (the suspense file of the Appropriations Committee in either the Assembly or the Senate is generally a graveyard where bills go to die). So "Sex Offenders" died in 2017, at least in name.

But Wiener used a dubious legislative practice called "gut and amend" to let "Last Call" -- the live bill -- die and replace it with the dead bill, "Sex Offenders". [...]

So, presto, with a sleight of hand and a little bit of fairy dust, "Sex Offenders" had a second life after "Last Call" was gutted and amended to a completely different subject. Opposition melted away and the bill sailed through.

So in this game of procedural Three Card Monte, "SB 384" (formerly known as "SB 58?", the Last Call bill, which was moving forward, has been bodysnatched and replaced by previously-dead-but-now-zombiefied "SB 421", a bill to reduce the length of time that people who commit misdemeanor sexcrimes stay on the registry. I don't know much about that bill, but it seems to be opposed by a bunch of shitheads, so probably it's fine. But these two bills have nothing to do with each other, and this is why people say you shouldn't watch sausages being made.

(Poop joke callback)

As someone with a lot of experience dealing with liquor licensing, the following piece of performance art seems like it was made specifically for my enjoyment. Chef kiss, A+, would watch again. This process started last year and was derailed, but is now being allowed to go forward:

Trump Hotel could have its liquor license revokes because of namesake's character:

D.C. law states that liquor license applicants must be of "good character and generally fit for the responsibilities of licensure."

"Donald Trump, the true and actual owner of the Trump International Hotel, is not a person of good character," the residents wrote in their complaint, citing in detail what they characterize as "certain lies he has told, his involvement in relevant fraudulent and other activity demonstrating his lack of integrity, and his refusal to abide by the law or to stop associating with known criminals."

Lawyers for the hotel appealed and asked the board to dismiss the case on technical grounds. But this time, the board denied the hotel's request -- and this week issued a ruling that clears the way for the complaint to move to mediation or a hearing before the board.

Thank you, emolument your bartenders.


Happy Third Birthday, Zhora Salome!

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The Day the Music Burned

The vault fire was not, as UMG suggested, a minor mishap, a matter of a few tapes stuck in a musty warehouse. It was the biggest disaster in the history of the music business.

UMG's internal assessment of the event stands in contrast to its public statements. In a document prepared for a March 2009 "Vault Loss Meeting," The company described the damage in apocalyptic terms. "The West Coast Vault perished, in its entirety," the document read. "Lost in the fire was, undoubtedly, a huge musical heritage. [...]

Other newspaper accounts described damage to master recordings by little-known artists, whose names may have been cherry-picked by UMG in an effort to downplay the gravity of the loss. [...] A possible explanation for the highlighting of Dee and Shaw comes from Aronson: He says that a UMG executive asked him, the day after the fire, for the names of "two artists nobody would recognize," to be furnished to journalists seeking information on lost recordings. [...]

But the case for masters extends beyond arguments about bit depth and frequency ranges audible only to dogs. It enters the realms of aesthetics and phenomenology. Simply put, the master of a recording is that recording; it is the thing itself. The master contains the record's details in their purest form [...] "there's a big difference between a painting and a photograph of that painting [...] It's exactly the same with sound recordings." [...]

For years, what people were able to record was of greater quality than what they were able to play back. "Most people don't realize that recording technology was decades more sophisticated than playback technology," Sapoznik says. "Today, we can decode information off original recordings that was impossible to hear at any time before." [...]

For years, rumors have circulated among insiders about legendary albums whose masters have gone missing in Iron Mountain because labels recorded incorrect bar-code numbers. The kind of mass tape-pull that would be necessary to unearth lost recordings is both financially and logistically impractical.

"I've always thought of Iron Mountain as that warehouse in the last scene of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark,' " says Thane Tierney, who co-founded Universal's now-defunct reissue label Hip-O Select. "Just endless rows of stuff. It's perfectly safe, but there's no access, no possibility of serendipity. Nearly all the tapes that go in will never come off the shelf. They're lost to history." [...]

If the sole vestiges of thousands of old recordings are a few stray 45s lining the shelves of collectors -- perhaps that's not a cultural tragedy, perhaps that's a commercial-art ecosystem functioning properly.

Perhaps. But history holds a counterargument. Many recordings were ignored for decades, only to be rediscovered and enshrined as Imperishable Art. [...] "The music business intercepted about a century's worth of sounds, the vast majority of which it lost money on," says Andy Zax, the producer and writer. "Much of that music, at any given moment, may seem dated, irrelevant, terrible. The most powerful argument for preservation is simply: 'We don't know.' The sounds from the past that seem vital to us in the present keep changing. Since we don't know what's going to be important, we have to err on the side of inclusivity and insist that the entities that own our cultural history do the same."

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