Archive for January, 2010

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Volvo Courts Controversy with New Ad

January 27, 2010

volvo-ad

[Apologies for the lack of new content or interaction. Should be back in the proverbial saddle soon. Until then, enjoy this one from way, way back. The 2nd post ever here at Fancy Plans, which is mainly an Inspiral Carpets joke wrapped in a very pale Onion skin… Originally published Jan. 8, 2009.]

Volvo is placing an edgy series of ads in top magazines around the world to tout their legendary safety record. Ad team spokesman Graham Lambert says he realizes the ads may be controversial, but that, much like with the 2-4 year age group, any attention is good attention:

“If we’re looking to stand out as a car company that has cornered one facet of the market, the copy has got to be striking. Faced with crumbling economies and a worldwide slump in spending, Volvo needs to remind people that their vehicles are still the market leader in safety.”

Ad copy reads:

“If your life and the lives of your loved ones are truly our greatest riches, then placing your family into the new Volvo is the equivalent of stashing your actual riches in the rectal cavity of a rabid pit bull. And if an offset headon collision is the equivalent of attempted theft, you can be sure that other party involved will be significantly damaged. Either way, you’ll be able to metaphorically walk away and say, “Yeah, you should see the other guy.”

Volvo is no stranger to controversy, having weathered earlier attacks stemming from leaked information relating to animal testing. The leaked documents alleged that crash tests vehicles were being stuffed with rabbits before being launched head on into walls, other vehicles and over cliffs.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Bible: Inappropriate for All Ages

January 22, 2010
Noah's neighbors considering moving to the suburbs.

Noah's neighbors considered moving to the suburbs.

[Apologies for the deafening silence. Here’s another one from the archives. Originally published May 15, 2009.]

To hear Sunday school teachers tell it, you would think the Bible is chock full of platitudes and see-through parables, all based on Peace, Love, Unity and Respect. But as you actually start to read the thing, you’ll see it has as much in common with those qualities as your local rave does. Why, it’s nothing but E’d-up teens dividing their time between rubbing on each other, asking you for drugs and trying to come up with enough pocket change to split a $6 bottle of water. Only more Biblical.

The Story of Job
In what is widely viewed by prominent theologians as a “dick move,” God tortures one of his most faithful citizens just to win a bet with Satan. God says, “Job’s my dog, yo,” and guarantees that Job won’t sell him out, no matter how bad it gets.

How bad does it get? His son and daughter and a bunch of their friends have the house collapse on them and then burn to the ground. His crops and livestock are killed. He’s covered head to toe in boils and blisters and is reduced to scraping at his skin with broken pottery. His friends taunt him. His wife leaves him (at least through the rest of this story). Uwe Boll flies in to host a film festival. Satan sits outside Job’s compound in a tank, blaring Ted Nugent’s Stranglehold and Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On.

His friends and neighbors stop by and encourage him to “curse God and die.” Or at least cop a plea and ask for a reduced sentence. But Job stands by his man, much to Satan’s dismay. After collecting His winnings, God rewards Job by giving him… exactly the same life he had previously. No bonus. No home version of the game. Nothing.

Oh. He also gives him ten more kids. Cause that’s the kind of thing that makes life worth living.

The Flood
In what is widely viewed by theologians as “excessive and punitive,” God destroys the world with a flood.

First, God picks local winemaker Noah to be His village idiot and has him get busy building a ginormous boat. God also shows His contempt for the metric system by making Noah use measurements like “hand” and “cubit.”

Noah dutifully clearcuts the surrounding area, heads to Home Depot for a “Cubits to Real Dimensions” converter and spends the next 40+ years on the ultimate arts and crafts project. As if building an ark in your driveway wasn’t enough punishment, his neighbors show up just to heckle him. (“20% chance of rain, tops. You want I should get you an umbrella? The hell is that, a cubitstick?”)

After finishing the Ark, Noah kicks back with a good Merlot and waits for rain. God quickly ruins his day by ordering him to gather “two of every living creature.*” After stressing the importance of boy-girl pairing, God sets Noah to his task. “Even those creatures we’re sick of dealing with?” Noah asks. “Especially those,” God replies.

This accomplished, Noah herds his family onto the noisy, cramped and foul-smelling ark. God then proceeds to “make it rain on these hoes” for 40 days and nights. Noah’s neighbors, sensing they may have backed the wrong team, beg to be allowed to come aboard (“Let us in Noah. There must be, like, 20 or 30 cubits of water on the ground. We think.”), apologizing noisily for the “umbrella thing.”

After floating around aimlessly, the Ark finally runs ashore. God says, “Hey, Noah, my main man. How do you feel about repopulating the world through massive amounts of inbreeding?” Noah says, “That’s cool, I guess. We’re kind of sick of fucking the animals.”

Sociologists agree that this was the “tipping point” that pushed the world’s ensuing population to more than 50% stupid.

*except non-related human beings

Sodom
Once again, God’s pissed and He wants to break something. This time it’s Sodom, birthplace of the Shocker. Oh, and sodomy. He threatens to destroy the entire city unless 50 “righteous” men are found. Abraham, stoned out his gourd, says, “No problem. Those dudes are all pretty righteous.” God says, “You’ve got to be kidding me. Are you stoned? Again? It’s, like 8:30 in the morning.” And Abraham says, “It’s cool. I’ve been up all night. *giggle*”

Later, God and a more sober Abraham speak again. The word “righteous” is clarified and Abraham knows he’s screwed. He begins to work his lawyer mojo and bargains God down to one. A safe bet, since the one he’s referring to is his nephew, Lot.

God sends two angels to Sodom to warn Lot and his family of the city’s impending doom. The locals gather outside Lot’s house, demanding that he send out the two visitors so they can gang-bang them. Lot does what any gentleman would do in this situation. He refuses to send his guests out.

He refuses to send the guests out but offers them the use of his two virgin daughters. Smooth.

The townspeople refuse (this is Sodom, after all) and yell something about “banging some ass we haven’t had before,” leading Lot to believe that his daughters have misled him.

God then strikes the Sodomites blind, allowing Lot and his family to escape, and proceeds to rain fire on the evildoers. However, Lot’s wife, an avid swinger, takes a look back at all the random sex she’s leaving behind and is turned into a pillar of salt. Literally. (Even metaphorically, I don’t think it means anything.)

The Illustrated David and Bathsheba Fan Fiction Collection

The Illustrated David and Bathsheba Fan Fiction Collection

David & Bathsheba
David, king of Israel, while cutting thru the neighbor’s bushes one night, catches a glimpse of Uriah’s (one of his palace guards) wife, Bathsheba, as she bathes. Which is all she did, really, hence the nickname.

David uses his kingly powers of seduction to bang her a few times and, as often happens (especially in After School Specials), knocks her up.

He proceeds to do the honorable thing. He tries to talk Uriah into having lots of sex with his wife, starting immediately, in hopes that Uriah will mistake David Jr. for one of his own kids. No deal, says Uriah, preferring to follow the palace guidelines and stay with the rest of the guards (some speculation is allowed here).

David then proceeds to do the next honorable thing. He tells his general to take Uriah out to the next big battle and strand his non-marital-relationship-having ass way behind enemy lines.

Plan B works and David gets Bathsheba. Their new little bastard is born and then killed by a horrible disease, in accordance with the Hays Code.

Abraham & Isaac
God, bored shitless by an endless chorus of angelic praise, once again screws with Abraham. He commands him to head to Mt. Sinai and offer his son, Isaac, as a human sacrifice to Him.

Abraham, a true believer, hauls Isaac up the mountain mob-style, having him carry the wood and build the altar that he is to be killed on.

Isaac asks, with increasing paranoia, “Where’s the animal we’re going to sacrifice?” Abraham responds, “God will provide one, wink wink.”
“Why do you keep winking, Dad?”
“Ummmmmm… got some altar dust in my eye. Go ahead and get comfortable on that altar.”
“Why are you putting on those gloves, and that rubber apron?”
“I’m, uh, heading to the eyewash station, and I don’t want get my clothes bloody. Wet! Bloody wet!”

At the last moment, heaven’s governor grants a stay of execution. God says, “Well-played, dog. I thought you’d blink first, but you just had something in your eye. You ice cold, dog. Ice. Cold. Here, have a ram.”

For winning this game of “chicken” with God, Abraham received the reward of abundant prosperity and numerous children to spend it all. Full of good news and good “swimmers,” Abraham ditches his wife and heads out to marry his son’s cousin.

-CLT

Related writings on God and such:
What Jesus Can’t Save
The Real Story of Creation

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A Day in the Life of a Blogger

January 19, 2010
Ted's license plate indicated that he liked to be punched in the face repeatedly.

Ted's license plate indicated that he liked to be punched in the face repeatedly.

AFK temporarily. Here’s a blast from the past. (Originally published May 8, 2009.)
-CLT

8:07 am – Shortly after arriving at work, a co-worker says something particularly inane. You say to yourself, (or so you think) “That’s going in the blog, douche.”

Your co-worker asks, “What did you say?” You cover quickly, “I said I have a lot of work. To do. Over where…I do my work. Douche.”

Good save! Publish.

9:19 am – You decide to play chicken with the economy by writing a long diatribe on the inept management at your thinly disguised company.

I work for a large and evil software corporation whose products are nearly as omnipresent as Windows on houses.

Sneaky! Publish.

10:01 am – First break. The local food jobber’s circular contains some extraneous quotation marks. You mercilessly point this out.

Burn! Publish.

11:13 am – While theoretically working, you stumble across a Jesse McCartney fan site curated by a 12-year old girl. You rip the site creator to shreds in the comments, questioning their intelligence, correcting their grammar and suggesting her parents needed a better brand of birth control.

You then head to your blog to add a post ripping the site creator to shreds, questioning their intelligence and speculating on her family tree. You add a link to your post connecting you back to your original incisive comments.

Self-fulfilling! Publish.

12:31 pm – You read an article in the local newspaper about a horrific case of child abuse. You figure if anyone can find the “funny” in this story, you can. Too soon?

Never! Publish.

1:45 pm– You run across a great article on HuffPo. You add a couple of sentences and drop in a few F-bombs.

Original! Publish.

2:30 pm – You duck out of work early and head to the mall. You score a new hat.

Bonus! Publish.

3:12 pm – Some junk mail arrives with your name misspelled.

Idiots! Publish.

3:16 pm – Your electric bill has gone up for the second straight month! You rant about the electric company, their founders, the current political climate, the “man” in general and question the sexual orientation of all involved.

Outrage! Publish.

3:56 pm– You give an online phisher some key bank account information with the hopes that this will turn into a long series of investigative posts and prepare to go all Internet Batman on their asses.

Stay tuned! Publish.

4:41 pm– Even though a million bloggers have written a million words on the RIAA’s rampant jackassery, you see no reason it shouldn’t be 1,000,927.

Skewer! Publish.

5:17 pm – During your court-ordered stint with the Boys and Girls Club, some teenagers make some cutting remarks about your archaic slang and mock your love of 90’s alternative rock. Now you know what’s wrong with today’s youth. Everything!

Fuck me gently with a chainsaw! Publish.

6:11 pm – You make a particularly cutting remark to your (soon to be ex) girlfriend about her choice of outerwear. Her reaction is priceless.

Zing! Publish.

7:01 pm– Your evening plans of whiskey and XBox are interrupted by a bicycle-riding door-to-door religion salesman. After a scintillating conversation, wherein you agree to disagree, you barricade the door and blog about the many problems with organized religion.

Your post? Praying to solve a problem is only slightly less useless than blogging about it.

Goddamned! Publish.

8:03 pm– In a shameless effort to grab page views, you begin randomly tagging your posts with these selections: fake boobs, real boobs, fuck you, octomom, personal lubrication, Susan Boyle, mp3, Paris Hilton, Perez Hilton, free money, Nickelback sucks, conficker, swine flu, naked photos and Humor.

Your posts, of course, contain none of these things.

Zeitgeisted! Publish.

9:29 pm – While cutting through the park on the way to your weed dealer, you come across three dogs going at it in a way that would embarrass German porn stars. After three or four bong hits, you find a way to connect it to an otherwise uneventful day at work.

Dog eat dog eat dog! Publish.

10:17 pm– After drinking alone for several hours, you consider drunk-dialing your estranged girlfriend. Instead you decide to go all Charles Bukowski and rant semi-poetically about what bullshit relationships are. Chicks only dig assholes.

Fuck spellcheck! Publish.

11:30 pm – Buzzed up and hungry, you head to the local convenience store for some snacks. Your bank card is turned down and the clerk seems distracted by muffled yells originating from the stockroom. You return home empty-stomached and angry.

The bank will hear about this in the morning, but the Internet will hear about it tonight!

Bullshit! Publish.

12:08 am– Having exhausted any good ideas, you bang out a hyperbolic rundown of the day’s events and shove it into the blogosphere. After hitting F5 on the Dashboard a few times, you head to bed.

Pointless! Publish.

Tip of the cap to the many blogs that keep me entertained on a daily basis:
Sick Days
Stop Annoying Me
Fundamental Jelly
Prison Diary…
The Problem with Young People Today Is…
Your Religion Is False

-CLT

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The Stabbing Knife Vol. 4 – Bono

January 14, 2010

Not crazy. Just stabby.

[After a 2-month hiatus, the Stabbing Knife returns! And it brought presents! Nice, stabbed little presents! Awww… And yes, I have stabbed before.]

Once upon a time, there was a nice, earnest lad named Bono. He fronted a nice, earnest band who wished to make the world a better place. Or at least improve his own country where, when they weren’t warily eyeing their potato reserves, they were blowing each other the fuck up over religious differences.

Remember this guy? So young and idealistic. And turtlenecked.

But then he grew up. And so did his band. They discarded their veneer of Christianity and set out to become the Most Important Band in the World.

They sold millions of albums and made millions of dollars.

But still Bono’s heart ached.

When he wasn’t busy counting his money or shouldering the weight of the world or getting stuck in a malfunctioning lemon, he was alone in the back of his private jet, hunched over a MacBook writing screeds against Western conspicuous consumption and how to save the planet using his bold, Irish ideals and other people’s money.

And then Bono, head steadily inching its way up his own ass, caught a fleeting, non-anally blocked glimpse at the latest P&L for U2, Inc. and got righteously pissed.

And when he got angry, he got stupid.

We’re used to his manager’s stupidity. Paul McGuinness is an idiot. He’s made a number of dubious claims and attention-grabbing statements in the effort to wring a little more money out of everybody from MSN to random ISPs to Joe Downloader.*

*Not his real name.

Here’s a few choice quotes:

“I suggest we shift the focus of moral pressure away from the individual P2P file thief and on to the multibillion dollar industries that benefit from these countless tiny crimes. The ISPs [internet service providers] the telcos [telecoms companies], the device-makers.”

On Silicon Valley:

“Embedded deep down in the brilliance of those entrepreneurial, hippy values seems to be a disregard for the true value of music.”

Entrepreneurial? Hippies? ???

His theory seems to be that the Internet service providers need to pay because they’re making a ton of money trafficking in illegal downloads.

Let’s do some math: I pay $39.95/month for my internet connection. If I download 0 free music files, I pay $39.95/mo. If I download 25,000 free music files, I pay $39.95/mo. Granted, some ISPs do tiered pricing based on use, but they’re not very popular and they won’t last for long.

Here’s some more.

On Radiohead’s pay-what-you-want release:

“It’s important to remember the traditional worldwide star-making functions of the big record companies. There’s nothing on the horizon to replace that.”

Hmmm. We can just let that one go.

Here’s a beauty:

“I started to glimpse the politics of it at that stage. I hope that our politicians, our journalists, our media gain a sense of how much we stand to lose if free prevails. Ultimately free is the enemy of good. “

...and I said, "Google, find me a metaphoric picture for obtuseness..."

But now Bono’s gone and topped him. In his latest for the New York Times, Bono suggests that we look to China for the solution to pirated media:

“But we know from America’s noble effort to stop child pornography, not to mention China’s ignoble effort to suppress online dissent, that it’s perfectly possible to track content.”

Bono doesn’t need a manager. He needs an editor. He may have thrown the modifier “ignoble” in there, but he still wants the same ends, which will then allow him to justify the means. Or to put it another way, “ignoble” when it affects Bono’s privacy but rather more noble when it’s unleashed on the thieving hordes that are The Internet. 

At what point do you decide that it’s OK for you to hold up (however badly worded) one of the world leaders in “Human Rights Violated” as a solid business model, and even worse, a solid government model?

Who here thinks it would be a great idea for the government to install tracking software on every new computer? Who thinks that the government (and their best friends, big failing media) should have the keys to everything you do online? Does anyone actually feel this will turn out well? That the wrongdoers will be caught and punished and the Most Important Band in the World can begin stocking up on ivory backscratchers again?

Or will it turn into the tragic farce that is today’s mommy-state/fucked legal system that does immensely stupid things like turn “sexting” teens into child-porn possessing sex offenders?

Bono takes a moment to reflect on how truly fucked he is financially.

The overwhelming arrogance and crass stupidity of Bono’s article boggles the mind. Just because your business doesn’t run the way it used to is no reason for you to use your considerable wealth and power to try to legislate and litigate your way back into an acceptable profit margin.

Major labels: you lost. The battle is over and the only thing you can do is lash out by harassing, fining, suing and jailing random individuals. It’s not winning you any more fans and it’s certainly not cobbling together some sort of time machine to the mid-90’s jackpot that was CD sales.

And who bitches about this lost revenue the most? The richest, fattest artists. U2, Metallica, Garth Brooks, the Cure, KISS. All of them mention the “little indie bands” as if those were the ones affected the most.

The indie bands have moved on. The RIAA, ASCAP, BMI, etc. are all taking care of lining their own pockets and the top 5% of their stables.

Bono should know better. He said it himself:

“It’s not the place for rich rock stars to ask for more money, but somebody should fight for fellow artists, because this is madness. Music has become tap water, a utility, where for me it’s a sacred thing, so I’m a little offended.”

I guess he couldn’t help himself. And his advice to the movie and television industries, which he feels are next to be downloaded to death? Do the same shit that didn’t work for us, only harder and faster.

To reiterate: Bono, a singer from a country with serious anarchy leanings, recommends an all-knowing government should start following China’s lead into a bold, new era of human rights violations and privacy invasion. Just so that he and the other top 5% of musicians can finally get more of the money that they’re already getting a sizeable chunk of.

Fuck you, Bono.

Fuck you if for no other reason than you made me end a sentence in a preposition.

-CLT

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The Fancy Plans Guide to American Cars

January 12, 2010

With the recession hitting Americans in the pocketbook (and, occasionally, the groin), you need to arm yourself with as much information as possible before wandering into the nearest car dealership. Take advantage of this brief guide to familiarize yourself with some of the more popular vehicles available today, including some available yesterday.

Requires 18,000 "C" Batteries (not included)

Chevy Volt
The stillborn lovechild of GM’s on-again, off-again, frequently government-mandated love affair with electric vehicles, the near-mythical Chevy Volt boasts a 40-mph top speed and 40 miles between plug-ins.

While the American public has yet to embrace a slow-moving car that can’t go anywhere, GM (and our government) have their fingers crossed that they are only a feature-length slide show away from being converted.

Pros: Doesn’t run on pure evil fossil fuels.
Cons: Can be commandeered by any 10-year old with an RC controller.

The official Jonas Brothers' tour vehicle: guarantees virginity for life.

Pontiac Aztek
Sporting a design rejected by Hot Wheels manufacturer Mattel as “too ridiculous,” the Aztek’s odd angles and ugly-ass plastic accents appeal to the “classic gamer” type, who get all misty-eyed and nostalgic when presented with low-polygon count screenshots like this:

Featuring graphics you can cut yourself on!

Pros: Vehicle is its own anti-theft device.
Cons: Also appeals to Crocs aficionados.

Cute, impractical and surprisingly expensive. Then there's the mini-Escalade.

Cadillac Escalade
Vehicle of choice for multi-platinum rap stars and welfare recipients alike. (Note: these terms are not mutually exclusive.) The Escalade appeals to the inner showboating thug in all of us, meaning it is very popular with young, white males.

While not going through gas like Garfield through lasagna (gangbusters!), the Escalade also emits low-frequency bass mating calls that, when coupled with flashing lights and shiny spinners, often attract members of the opposite sex with low self-esteem and even lower standards.

Pros: Also available in bulletproof.
Cons: Gives police an unneccessary “head start” when racial profiling.

This Hummer shows off its patented "Fuck You" automatic parking assist.

Hummer
A symbol of American military prowess and conspicuous consumption, the Humvee is possibly the most patriotic vehicle you can buy. Although now owned by the Chinese, the new owners say they plan no major changes to the Hummer.

Unfortunately, its new heritage may adversely affect vehicle enjoyment according to J.D. Power and Associate’s latest study.

“…[n)ow when you clip a meandering mall-walker with the front bumper while jostling for a prime parking space, you may no longer feel the vicarious thrill of being knee-deep in the shit surge and running over IED-waving insurgents. This type of normally enjoyable event may instead find you empathizing with your average Tiananmen Square tank commander, as you are faced down by a solitary shopper.”

Pros: Still 1st in the “Vehicle Name with Oral Sex Connotations” division, slightly ahead of the Porsche Boxster and the Chevrolet Cocksucker LE.
Cons: Goes from 0-60 mph in 7.5 gallons.

Also available in Chartreuse, Boa and Cheetah.

1976 Cadillac Eldorado
Measuring in at slightly over 112 ft. long and made entirely out of Americans, the “instant classic” Eldorado is the vehicle of choice for septuagenarians and pimps alike. Whether meandering slowly to the nearest breakfast buffet or rounding up new “interns” at the Greyhound Bus depot, the 1977 Cadillac Eldorado defines luxury and style. (To see how the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines luxury and style, click here and here.)

Pros: 74 combined feet of front and rear crumple zones.
Cons: 35 mph top speed; blinker default setting – “Always On”

-CLT

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Heavy Rotation Vol. 31 – World Tour Edition

January 10, 2010

Hello, aloha, konichiwa and all that bullshit. We’re coming to you today from all over the damn place. Germany, Japan, Australia, France, Italy and the UK. Not a single American (or Canadian) in sight today, but we all know the best music comes from beyond, especially when you indulge a conceit or my Anglophile tendencies.

Prepare to enjoy the hell out of your Sunday. It’s Around the World in 5 Tracks with your host, CLT.

Previous volumes available here:
The Heavy Rotation Archives

Munk – No Milk (Mercury Mix)
The mysterious and German producer Munk takes Italian actress Asia Argento and heads to a low-slung dancefloor, muttering somewhat profanely about flowers (good), lemonade (not good) and milk (even worse). It would seem that something sexual/scatological is going on here, but without the key “fudge” element, one can’t be too sure.

Bonus: No Milk seems to be built on the chassis of techno one-hit wonder Nightmare by Brainbug.

The Lowbrows – Danse Macabre
Featured several weeks back with their bruising single Linda Is Tonight, the Japanese breaks & roll duo is back, taking a wheezing, doom-laden organ and some errant horns for a run through the Chemical Brothers back catalog (in particular Chemical Beats).

Of course it shouldn’t work! Why would it? But it does, splendidly, despite nearly derailing itself a few times.

Prodigy – Invaders Must Die (Yuksek Mix)
Proud Frenchman and producer Yuksek grabs the Prodigy’s robo-thuggery and beats it into something you almost wouldn’t be ashamed to take home and meet your mum.

That’s the power of a great remix for you: turning a known quantity into something unexpected, rather than just another 4/4-beaten dead horse.

Eskimo Joe – London Bombs (Sneaky Sound System Mix)
Flowing and melodic, like a danceable Coldplay, Australian band Eskimo Joe gets rubbed all the right ways by fellow Aussie producers Sneaky Sound System. Lightweight to a fault perhaps, but see if you don’t catch this tune running unattended (and with scissors!) through your head a few weeks from now.

Faux Pas – Silver Line
Something must be going on Down Under. (If it’s Sunday, it means it’s time for a lazy sexual joke. And that is one lazy joke.) Another Australian producer, Faux Pas whips up something sounding like Ulrich Schnauss backing Bjork. This truly is dreampop of the highest order.

As the blissed-out synths crash against the anchoring throb/thump of the bass, the unnamed vocalist delivers a series of nearly unintelligible syllables. As the track gathers steam, the vocals coalesce briefly before shattering brightly across the cascading layers of synth-wash below.

Bonus: his previous album has one of The Greatest Album Titles Ever: Entropy Begins at Home.

All tracks safely packaged in Benetton zip file:
Heavy Rotation 31
(link opens in new window)

[All music posted on Fancy Plans… is kick ass and too awesome to be contained. All music is also posted temporarily and, due to its high level of ass-kicking, should not be distributed without a prescription and care should be taken while operating heavy equipment or dancing around the living room (clothing optional, but do remember that the blinds are open/kids are still awake).
Should you wish to have your brilliant artistic statement forced back into confinement, please email me at 2timegrime@gmail.com. Feel free to leave a comment, as that will probably be noticed sooner.
By all means, if you like what you hear (and you will), please support the totally rocking artist(s) by purchasing some music or heading out to see them live.]

-CLT

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Whitey, JK Rowling and How Not to Operate the Internet

January 8, 2010

Un fucking good musician.

Whitey
Electro-rocker supreme and all-around good guy, Whitey has been producing high-quality music since 2004. Despite an appearance on the Grand Theft Auto IV soundtrack, this hasn’t caused him any sort of trouble in the “too much of it and what to do with it” sort of way.

In fact, he’s not even signed to a label at this moment, which is a damn shame. As Overconfident Orientalist astutely pointed out in the Heavy Rotation Vol. 30 comment thread, 1.) he’s “bleeding talent all over the internet,” and 2.) everything other than The Light at the End of the Tunnel is a Train is impossible to get ahold of.

This may be due to his lack of label support. But this may also be due to Whitey’s lapse of judgment.

Here’s the situation: Whitey’s follow-up, Great Shakes, was due to be released in 2007. However, some piece of shit publicist decided to dump his unreleased album on the internets well before Whitey was ready to release it. It’s a fucked up situation. The whole story (more or less) is here, along with a great interview, in which Whitey does not cease drinking or smoking once.

Whitey’s response was to pull the album and rework some of the songs, which would be released under a new title supposedly in 2008. As this is 2010, we all can figure out what happened. No album yet and most of his catalog is now only available in illicit pirate form.

Without a doubt, a fucked-up situation. But let’s take a look at things from another perspective…

Has also written under the name "Tits McGee."

J.K. Rowling
As the author behind the multi-million-dollar cottage industry that is magical, scar-faced teens, Rowling is also on the run from the spectre of piracy. According to an article at CNN.com, “J.K Rowling has thus far refused to make any of her Harry Potter books available digitally because of piracy fears.”

Basically, Rowling has decided that the possibility of piracy would damage her immense wealth and therefore, will not give her fans the opportunity to shower her with more money by purchasing yet another version of the same book they probably already have in hardcover, softcover and collected special editions.

This is a pretty typical response from most hugely successful authors and their respective publishers. They won’t sell e-books because 1.) they don’t like the price point, which is driven by intense competition and the lack of any real distribution cost and 2.) the pirates will win (again).

So by not providing an electronic version, Rowling has cut herself completely out of a market and wishes to lay it all at the feet of faceless, nameless internet thugs who only wish to take and take and take.

The Fancy Plans Art Department once again defines "adequate..."

“Lost Sales”
Here’s where both of these artists converge. On one hand, we have a truly talented artist who is underexposed and lacking in distribution “muscle.” On the other hand, we have J.K. Rowling. Both are concerned that their product has been devalued by being passed around the internet without a price tag.

In Whitey’s case, he decided to cancel the release of Great Shakes. Other artists have done the same when their albums were leaked. In Rowling’s case, she won’t even put the product out. But why?

Lost sales.”

Let’s say some die-hard Potterist decides to bust out the OCR software and scan in one of her books. After all the work of scanning and processing, they dump their labor of love over at the nearest Geocities LiveJournal Rowling fanclub site. Somebody else slaps it onto the nearest torrent site and the numbers come rolling back.

Rowling opens up her email one day and is alerted that 10,000 “illegal” electronic versions have been downloaded in the last day over at the Piratebay. In her mind (and her publisher’s), she has just “lost” 10,000 sales.

But she hasn’t. To assume that every one of those downloaders would have purchased a copy, if available is not just ignorant; it’s arrogant. Let’s be a little more realistic and say 5% would have purchased a copy. So she lost 500 sales.

Let’s repeat that together for clarity: SHE LOST 500 SALES. Read it again. J.K. Rowling, by not offering an electronic version of her book, lost 500 sales. She can blame it on piracy all she wants, but by not providing an e-book, all she guarantees is that she’ll never make a single dollar or pound or whatever from fans who wish to buy an electronic version.

Whitey is making the same mistake. Rather than just releasing the album and relying on interested fans to pick it up, he pulled it instead. This only guaranteed that the only version of Great Shakes available would never make him any money. His EPs are impossible to find. You can get a copy of the Individuals EP from a UK shop, purchased in pounds. That’s it. And that’s assuming the record store’s website and database are up-to-date.

He should have just released the album or sold individual tracks through Amazon or his MySpace site or pretty much anywhere that would host them (Beatport, etc.) Instead, he tries to create artificial scarcity by refusing to put his official Whitey stamp on the pirated material.

The Fancy Plans Art Dept. may now consider themselves on "adminstrative leave" pending their upcoming dismissals.

The Point to All This Rambling
The various media forces need to understand that they can’t stop or contain piracy. Thousands of small, unsigned artists are releasing their music for free and providing premium packages to earn money. Touring and ancillary businesses are the name of the game.

Authors are releasing free PDF versions of the same books they’re selling on Amazon and watching sales increase rather than disappear.

The best thing you can do in this day and age is put out a cheap (or free) electronic version of your creations as soon as possible. Sure it will be pirated. But it will also get your name out and your talent in front of eyes and ears you’ll never reach in the local brick-and-mortar store.

And please don’t give us an inferior product. Big media pushers are always tainting their electronic products with crippling DRM, bullshit EULAs and limited transferability. Why would anyone want to pay more for an electronic file that is more limited and less useful than the one they can get for free?

Why would I spend $1.29 to get a song that I can keep on only one hard drive and transfer to only one mp3 player (if that)? If I get the pirated version, I can dump it on all the mp3 players and computers in the house. I can stream it to my PS3 or move the file there as well. I can burn it to as many CDs as I want.

These industries need to stop presenting litigation and legislation as a business plan. If your future efforts in the digital market consist mainly of suing grandmothers and holding bitchfests on Capitol Hill, your industry can’t die fast enough.

Stop treating your fans as thieves and stop wishing you could turn back the clock. Make the most of what little time your industry has left. The more you attempt to wrest every dollar out of every person out there, the more animosity and contempt you earn from the next generation of disposable income.

Good luck in the future, Whitey. If anyone deserves a big break, it’s you.

J.K.: Just go count your money somewhere out of the limelight for a while and refrain from issuing ill-informed opinions. People liked you better when you were a surprising success story, rather than a petulant millionaire.

What Makes It Worth Reading All the Way Through
Another kickass track by Whitey, which can only be found on YouTube. (Case in point…)

-CLT