Archive for the ‘Random’ Category

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Recommended: The Cult of Mr Light – For a New Conception of Time

March 29, 2013

[Reposted by request. The blog this originally appeared at now links to a check cashing scam operation. NEVER LET YOUR DOMAINS EXPIRE, PEOPLE.]

I was given a copy of this album a few hours before its release by Revolving Door Records label head ƸC†OPL∆SM. It seems odd to say “given” considering the album is freely available at Bandcamp, with the emphasis on FREEly, but nonetheless I was given a few hours’ head start with the tunes. Of course, life being life, I was unable to take advantage of the advance copy, but here’s where I pay back that favor, but not before I head off on a bit of tangent.

There are a lot of netlabels and a lot of artists on those netlabels, all of whom seem to be generating hundreds of hours of music per year. At this point, my Facebook feed resembles a firehose of multicolored, symbol-laden, provocatively dressed avatars, each cranking out link after link to their stuff, their labelmates’ stuff, the stuff they listen to when not making music, the stuff they’re intending to remix/rap on/obliterate, etc. Just between ƸC†OPL∆SM (Sam Hatzaras), Nattymari (Dafydd McKaharay), Joe Royster ( Co-founder – Aural Sects netlabelspf5Ø), Mike TXTBKMatt Supa Solley (Sortahuman), Party TrashMikey Shad-do (Baku Shad-do netlabel) and the Amdiscs label, there’s more music being foisted upon the public than any one human being could reasonably be expected to listen to.

You know that old complaint about how piracy has taken away the incentive to create because nobody can make money with music anymore? Well, that’s obviously complete bullshit. This may mean those who were used to getting paid (back in the day) have lost the will, but sweet goddamn christ, it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anyone who’s been creating without the expectation of getting paid. If anything, this whole internet thing has turned them into some sort of compulsive creators and we, the people on the receiving end, are the beneficiaries of a leveled playing field, even if that means that we’ll constantly be swimming upstream against a torrent (or with torrents – piracy joke lol) of incoming music, knowing we’ll always be at least a foot under metaphoric water.

Go, just go and click this link for an example of what I’m talking about. This is the Aural Sects netlabel. Click on that link. I’m not even asking. DO IT. Click and gaze in wonderment at the almost-literal wall of album covers. Each of those represents, at the very least, two tracks to listen to. Many of those are full albums. Some are the internet equivalent of double albums. By the time you’ve finished gazing at that and reading this sentence, Royster and his conspirators will likely have uploaded another 15-track compilation and a couple of EPs and is, even as we “speak,” dumping the links into my Facebook firehose. (Abbreviated hereafter in this set of parentheses only as “FaceHose” for maximum comic effect.)

I wish all these guys (and girls) the best. Holy shit. They’re amazing. The counterargument (often delivered by the same people that think no one will create without incentives) is that if it’s for free and there’s that much of it, it must be about 90% shit. It’s a terrible argument, based more on leftover physical label elitism than on any, you know, research. Not only that, but this “counterargument” fails to take into account a little thing called “subjectivity.” One person’s 90% shit is another person’s 90% gold. Even if it is 90% shit (and it definitely isn’t), at the prices they’re charging, you can afford to bin 9 out 10 songs. You’re not going to be out of much, if anything, other than time.

That’s where I hit the wall: time. There’s no way to keep up with it all. I’ve downloaded several albums, dumped them into the mp3 player and am now making my way through them at my own pace, which is roughly 1/100th of the speed that it’s being generated. There’s some amazing stuff, some merely good stuff, a lot of average stuff and a few absolute clunkers. But all that statement means is that it’s exactly like any other genre distributed in any other fashion. Just because there’s no limited edition vinyl and radio airplay and etc. does not mean the quality of the music is any more or any less than anything else out there. The ratio of bad-to-good is no different with these netlabels as it is with other, more “acceptable” labes, whether it’s Fat Possum or Sub Pop or 4AD or Sony.

So, you have this constant onslaught of NEW STUFF.  And if you’re going to deal with it, you going to need some filters. I’m one. Other blogs are. I’m a clogged filter though, time having filled most of the holes with two jobs, a house and a family to take care of. Consequently, there’s a backlog of dozens (quite possibly hundreds) of songs I want to write about and even more albums that I’d like to review, all trapped in my filter, unable to make it further in my position as your filter. If I could limit myself to 30 words and a something-out-of-5 rating system, I might be making some progress. But when I like something, I want people to know why I like it. And if that’s not enough, I want people to understand the how of why I like it, if that makes sense, which takes even more time, because there will be pictures and links and digressions and inside jokes.

This is how I do it. “Be a music writer. It’ll be easy. You like music, right? The shit practically writes itself and there’s plenty of music out there. Easy. LOLOLOLOL. [Laughter trails off leaving only an uncomfortably manic gleam in my eye as it watches my FB wall fill up YET AGAIN.]”

But, getting back to the recommended album at hand. I was specifically given this to listen to. I had some time free up and I listened. And I was blown away.

I’m not sure why I expected less. Maybe it’s the numbing effect of running into a scrolling wall of creative effort every time I log into the Feeb. Maybe it’s the fact that between Soundcloud, Bandcamp and Youtube, these artists I’m in contact with are adding to their CVs pretty much around the clock and while they’re keeping the hose going, I can only dip in periodically and hope to come up with a winner. Maybe it’s the feeling that, while I expected it to be a good listen based on the pedigree (thus making it full of Things I Like), I didn’t expect it to be as great as it is.

Keep in mind: without Hatzaras singling me out, it would have been caught up in the firehose/loop that I’m praising/complaining about at great length. It would have scrolled by and fallen off the radar, ending up far away from my ears. Which would have been a real shame, because it’s a solid, inventive album that goes far beyond the scene that surrounds it.

The Cult of Mr. Light (Alexein P Oris and Phelyx Lambert) have crafted a stellar album and you don’t have to be tuned in to witch house, drag, icepunk, seapunk, juke, or any of a million other microgenres (each one full of unstoppable creative bastards, all attaching their own feed lines to my INCOMING FB scroll) to enjoy it. You just have to like music.

It’s essentially genre-less. Electronica, except with huge doses of acoustic guitar. Ambient, except with moments of tense propulsion. Industrial, except more prone to borrow from Italo-horror soundtracks and late-70s sci-fi-obsessed disco. It’s hardly everything to all people but it is definitely not for genre divisionists or electronica acolytes only.

Firing it up, I was hit with the first of many unexpectations: acoustic guitar. The reptilian brain recoils slightly, wondering a bit about whether this album might just be someone’s pretensions masquerading as music. (The “reptilian brain” is borrowed from someone, but I can’t remember who. P.J. O’Rourke? David Foster Wallace? Help me out here. [Use the comment thread.]) “I didn’t sign on for THIS.” I tuned down my internal dialogue and went browsing elsewhere as the track unfolded pleasantly before veering down a very dark alleyway in which lurked David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti, waiting to beat me up for my drug money and abuse me with violent sexual imagery. The reptile brain subsides.

And then thrills. Track 2, Phone Calls from God is straight up electronics, a 2-1/2 minute ominous set of oscillations, leading into another surprise left turn with Space Fanfare (see above), which finds the complementary tones of Italo-horror soundtracks and retro-futuristic space disco (Goblin vs. Gianni Rossi, basically).

Many, many more highlights follow. Neon Island is the sound of a waking dream. And not a good one. Hallucinogenic and eerie without having to resort to the cliché of doom-laden chords from the “heavy” end of the keyboard. Tribute to Glauber Rocha brings back the acoustic guitar, resulting in something almost pretty enough to play in mixed company, but still spiked with surface tension. Assassins is Middle Eastern pop falling apart on a faulty reel-to-reel, menaced by various electronic devices.

Then there’s Interzone, which really deserves a post of its own. Electronica-space-rock that scorches the earth while heading for the stars, sounding like Hawkwind with a headful of steam and a welcome sense of focus. Without resorting to a guitar-heavy sound, The Cult of Mr. Light manage to erect something that could very possibly kick out the jams, motherfuckers, if given a little shove. Or less profanely, the ultra-tight retrolectro sound of Giorgio Moroder producing Palermo Disko Machine under the influence of a fistful of amphetamines. I’ve played this one repeatedly and respectfully suggest you do the same.

The final track is an extended coda, surpassing the 10-minute mark without requiring you to a.) zone out or b.) muscle through it. There’s an underlying theme that never goes away, but does get fucked about with in a rather amiable fashion. It unwinds and recoils reflexively, circling itself and unveiling new twists every few minutes.

In summation: a fucking brilliant album and one that makes me wonder just how much other truly great shit I’m missing by being unable to keep up with my FB feed. Probably lots, if I’m honest. Which is my loss, and consequently, yours as well. But I’m trying. To everyone I pointed out way, way back in the introductory paragraphs, I’ll get to you. Really, I will. It may not be timely, but it will be… eventual… I guess. Go and download For A New Conception of Time. You won’t regret it.

/s/CLT

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Moving On

December 19, 2011

As is surely evidenced by the date of the latest post, Fancy Plans is for all intents and purposes another corpse littering the expansive backyard of WordPress.

It’s been a great ride but it’s time to move on. Here’s where you can find us now:

Minor Scratches

I’ll be blogging about music (mostly) along with added cultural detritus. Fancy Plans will be marked as [OF ARCHIVAL INTEREST ONLY].

Thanks to everyone who took time to read (and comment) on the very sporadic output at Fancy Plans.

-CLT

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CLT Recommends: Frank Black – Teenager of the Year (Part 2)

August 23, 2011

After the speedy opening romp of Pong/Thalassocracy (detailed here in Part 1), Black pulls back a bit for the next four and unwinds. The pace slows down towards “amble” and even approaches “truly laid back,” which could easily be mistaken for “coasting,” if he weren’t only six songs into a 22-song set.

3. (I Want to Live on an) Abstract Plain.mp3

An ode to wanting to be elsewhere, which is one of those vague feelings that gets under the skin like nostalgia, only with generally better results. You can’t go back. Nothing is like you remember it. However, with the right sort of wanderlust you can push forward. (Although, unfortunately, nobody ever really trusts a drifter.) Frank says “this town is dead to me,” only using better wording and imagery.

I’ve had it with this town
I never saw those shifting skies
I never saw the ground
Or the sunset rise

A bit later, he hints at the antagonism that lies underneath the unfocused (more omnidirectional than vague) “let’s blow this joint” emotion:

I’m building a frame
A place to put my ten-yard stare

But despite all the underlying tension (most of which I’m attributing to it with no assistance from the source material and a lot of self-awarded editorial leeway), the song itself is amiable, catchy and features a couple of tempo shifts, which as the album goes on become more and more common. This would seem to suggest that Frank Black’s new, um, black is tempo changes, replacing all the groundwork laid by the Pixies’ damn-near-patented “loud/quiet/loud” dynamics.

4. Calistan

This track remains one of my favorite Frank Black tunes (of ever!), not so much for the tune itself (although it does sport some rather large hooks), but because of the subject matter. There’s a dry and dusty near-Western feel to the lyrics (and the music), but what pulls me in is the border town imagery, illustrated by the Spanglish chorus.

Used to be sixteen lanes
Used to be Nuevo Spain
Used to be Juan Wayne
Used to be Mexico
Used to be Navajo
Used to be yippy-ay-I-don’t know

Note that “Navajo” is pronounced “Nava-joe” in accordance with Black’s bastardization of Spanglish pronunciations. In Spanish, the “j” would be pronounced as an “h” (as in “Jesus”)(also, as in the way that the Navajo pronounce it). Black inverts it completely by giving it the hard “j” (probably not an actual thing, this “hard j” — at least not according to prominent Englishologists), doubling the language tweakery by blowing right past the border English “h” and grabbing onto the imported Americans’ (German, Dutch, etc.) practice of pronouncing letters of “foreign” words in completely the wrong way. No doubt about it: English (especially the American version) is a tough language to glom onto, what with it’s shifting “rules” and incessant borrowing from other cultures.

So, as an immigrant, when you’re tangling with a brand new language and its odd habits of using consonants as vowels and taking sudden hard left turns at certain consonant groups and then ignoring them completely later in the sentence, it certainly doesn’t help that the word “jalapeno” or “Navajo” are part of the vernacular. Which rules do you follow? And why do adopted words seem subject to local accents? As if the whole thing wasn’t ridiculous enough (citizenship tests, et al.), you’ve now got the opportunity to further display your “not-from-around-here-ness” by completely fucking up the pronunciation of a word that shouldn’t even be let across the border without a phonetic spelling. You can’t win.

Black being a denizen of L.A. (and the citizens’ band [BUT LATER ON]), he knows his way around the mishmash (and frequently, mismatch) of blended cultures. He references pachinko parlors and karaoke while namechecking the La Brea tar pits, all the while blending things further with his polyglot chorus.

I can identify.

Growing up in El Paso, Texas, a literal stone’s throw away from Mexico, I knew all about Mexicans. (Of course, no one really uses the term “Mexican” any more. Mexicans = people from Mexico. 20+ years ago, “Hispanic” wasn’t really used much in regular conversation. Mexicans were Mexicans and Hispanics were Mexicans with political aspirations.) The culture that is a border town is (dichotomously) diversity defined, while still noticeably marked by pockets of exclusivity . It all depends on which side of town you’re on. Heading to where the money is, border towns look like inland empires (obligatory Lynch reference, yo). It’s all new money wealth and in-ground swimming pools and white teens with riced-up sports cars and bomb-ass ghetto-fab SUVs.

Head to another side of town and you’re going to need a guidebook and an Spanish-English dictionary. Of course, each side of town is equally authentic and there are a few areas where you see some dithering (a digital term! for no apparent reason!), but generally speaking, border towns are not so much “Oh, Melting Pot!” as they are a somewhat uneasy coexistence of homogeneous cultures.

But authenticity is key. You can’t get real Mexican food without real Mexicans. Ask anyone who’s lived near the border. Trying to find good Mexican food is a fool’s errand in many parts of the country. This fact was plainly expressed in a very short-lived radio ad that ran while I was living in El Paso. It proudly announced that a restaurant had “Mexican food made by real Mexicans.” There’s an underlying offensiveness to that phrase. (See also: the second part of the restaurant holdup scene in Pulp Fiction, specifically Tim Roth’s shouted instruction — “Mexicans! Out of the fucking kitchen!” Even impulsive Brit stickup men knew who was working the back of the house.)

The insinuation is that the Mexicans will never get out of the kitchen, thanks to continued racism and random oppression from the Man and while you may actually prefer to have your authentic Mexican food to be prepared by authentic Mexicans (i.e., the ones most qualified to make native food), you really don’t get to go around saying so in so many words. Hence, the ad vanished, but for my brother and I, it lives on. Forever.

If you could ignore everything else about undocumented workers, etc., it’s actually the perfect tagline. If you heard an ad touting German food made by real Germans, you’d think “Fuck yeah! Bier und Sauerkrauten FTW!” and never once be troubled by the image of fiercely nationalistic young blonds slaving over a hot, authentic Stoverevekkenkerffumuschitteren. But if you use that phrase in relation to any of the so-called “marginalized” races (for the most part, “not white” [although “White-Hispanic” hits all the buttons at once]), you get in trouble. All hail White Guilt.

But enough about le culture, and more about Frank. The track sports some steely guitar and a windblown feel that makes it the perfect summer track. Of course, this track would be equally welcome in winter, especially since the heat of lyrical imagery would be a welcome blast of hot, dusty air during those colder days. You can almost smell the melting asphalt and see the shimmering, “pool ofwater” mirage spreading across the sixteen-lane horizon.

5. The Vanishing Spies

Another song that touches on the ineffable sadness of life not being nearly as magical as it once was. As you go further in life, the number of “unexplained” occurrences drops, replaced with facts and footnotes and the scars left by Occam’s Razor.

More specifically, this is Frank’s lament (as spoken by Fox Mulder’s office backdrop): I WANT TO BELIEVE.

Give me a blip, oh
And I’ll totally flip, oh yeah, yeah
Say it’s nothing but sky
And I’ll be a lonely guy

As to who the titular “Vanishing Spies” are, Black remains coy (or rather, “noncommittal”), but you can’t argue with the wistful quality of the music. Implicitly (through the power of editorial overreach), I’d say the vanished spies are the no-longer-all-that-common alien visitations. When all the mysteries are gone, all that’s left is life that plays out like a shitty street magician, telegraphing all its misdirection and plainly showing its cards. No one wants that. Not you. Not your kids on their 10th birthday. All he wants is for someone to say it’s “possible.” It doesn’t even need to be “probable.” Is that too much to ask?

6. Speedy Marie

An unabashed love song, filled with ecstatic imagery. Black goes nearly Shakespearean with Speedy Marie, his ode to his (at the time) wife. Early on, he mentions that he “sings this romaunt.” And he does exactly that.

In the sixth track, Mr. Black’s sings “I sing this romaunt”. A romaunt is a romantic poem. And, sure enough, the song ends with a quite lovely, romantic poem directed to a woman. This last section is written and sung in the classic 14-line sonnet style, with a rhyme pattern of A-B-A-B, C-D-C-D, E-F-E-F, G-G. The lines are actually an acrostic; the first letter of each line spells out “JEAN MARIE WALSH,” presumably the Speedy Marie of the title.

To wit:

Juxtaposed in each moment’s sight
Everything that I ever saw
And my one delight
Nothing can strike me in such awe

Mouth intricate shapes the voice that speaks
Always it will soothe
Rarer none are the precious cheeks
Is the size of each sculpted tooth
Each lip and each eye

Wise is the tongue, wet of perfect thought
And softest neck where always do I
Lay my clumsy thoughts
She is that most lovely art
Happy are my mind and my soul and my heart

Now that Frank Black has made everything any guy has ever done for his girlfriend/wife/s.o. look like so much underwhelming and non-poetic drivel, I guess we (the guys) have nothing else left to do but punch ourselves in the brain for being cursed with above-average brains (at best) and see if we can somehow shoehorn one of these intricate couplets (my favorite is: “And softest neck where always do I/lay my clumsy thoughts“) into an anniversary card or singing telegram (public domain only I’m afraid — to keep costs down).

Or maybe we can just point out that Mr. Black and Ms. Walsh are now separated, as if that were evidence enough that the amazing amount of effort needed to produce this sort of loveliness is obviously a complete waste of time. Or something.

Also of note: not the first time Mr. Black has gone acrostic. There’s also Ana, which spells out a very simple message… (See the top comment.)

Until next time…

-CLT

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CLT: The Interview

July 8, 2011

Yours truly, in stereophonic (via cellphone) sound…

http://hoodcast.podomatic.com/entry/2011-07-08T07_49_39-07_00

(Starting about 23:00 in and running to about 49:00, at which point the conversation suddenly ends, but keep listening. The hosts do some nice riffing as to whose fault this actually is…)

Handy background material:

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110513/03043214263/many-killers-music-industry-analog-era.shtml

Pro tip: Bash recording industry, get interview.

-CLT

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This Explains Nothing

May 25, 2011
[Note to readers: my fishing license has been revoked. I’m not looking for reassurance. I’m trying to work something out using the few tools I have available.]

It’s been long, too long since I’ve posted anything of value in here. Well, I’ve posted plenty of stuff, mainly music-related, but no original writing. Apologies all around and apologies in advance is this piece goes long/gets weird/gets tiresome/has too many parentheses.

Quite honestly, I’m working through some weird sort of writer’s block. It’s not normal writer’s block as I’ve been doing quite a bit of work over at Techdirt. Given context and a starting point, I’m doing fine. Coming up with something on my own? Not so much.

Now I do enjoy the Techdirt gig, with all of its attendant “getting published elsewhere” glory and included perk of being able to say I write for Techdirt, something that probably will remain more important to me than anyone else but still won’t prevent me from name-dropping it frequently (often inside this very post) in hopes that it will somehow turn into a well-paying career for a respectable publisher that isn’t currently going out of business.

On the downside, it does tend to use up a lot of what I used to refer to as my “free time.” I feel bad that I’ve let this blog kind of slide, but the other thing is very shiny and new and I haven’t been doing it for 2+ years and so it kind of gets priority thanks to my willingness to be entranced by novel experiences.

(But not actual “novel experiences.” Like many others, I harbor the secret [but not so secret now, is it?] desire to write a Novel. [Capitalized so as to be easily identified as Something With Pretensions Toward Greatness.] I have some unorganized scrawlings in some notebooks and some ideas that float around, but nothing substantial, so you can all stop holding your breath. Or start holding it, and then stop, just as a favor to me.)

Let me take a moment here before this all goes downhill/sideways and tell you how grateful I am for your comments and compliments over the past 2+ years. No matter what I say from this point on, remember that.

(I’m serious. It is important that you know that I highly value your readership. Especially considering how flaky I have been lately about responding to comments and posting entertaining articles. [And nobody mention Tanager. I really need to go answer those comments. If you don’t bring it up, I won’t feel nearly as shitty as I do everytime I look in there and see the dust gathering.])

From this point on, I have nothing prepared. I am winging this in hopes that a breakthrough occurs as I ramble on, hopefully to some sort of conclusion or enlightenment.

BOLD STATEMENT OF NON-INTENT

Do you know what people hate more than poor writing? Writers bitching about writing.

Therefore, there will be no complaints beyond this point. Just positive stuff with the occasional bitterness. (Directed at nobody in particular — the best kind of bitterness. It’s the kind of unfocused bitterness that makes family reunions and office retirement parties the kind of excruciating event you wished you had the callousness to just say, “You know what, I’d rather drag my unprotected eyes across a stack of thin cardboard that’s been dipped in margarita salt than hang out here any longer.” We could say those sorts of things. We honestly could. We’d be branded “misanthropic” or “fired” but at least we wouldn’t have to make any more small talk about Aunt Whoever’s prize-winning quilt pattern or the 40+ years of middle management by the guest of honor.)

HERE’S WHAT I HAVE LEARNED FROM BLOGGING

It’s hard. It’s fulfilling. It’s sometimes scarily easy. It’s its own reward occasionally. There are way too many smart and funny people* out there. The overall ratio of smart/funny to the rest of the internet may be low, but I don’t read stupid or unentertaining blogs, so I can’t give you any stats.

*See also: the blogroll. If your name is on there, then you are who I am talking about.

Sometimes I stare at the blog and hate it for needing my help. Without me (or RF) cranking out posts, it does nothing. A week goes by and I’ve got nothing and I start to feel like a cybersquatter. “No one’s taking this name. If for no other reason, this stays live. I’ve got a brand to maintain.” (“Maintain” apparently meaning posting intermittently with a definite lack of cohesion.)

I have this blog on my RSS feeds. Why? Because it looks more professional when it shows up there. I find it inspiring. (I also find it narcisstic. But I want to try to remain positive.) The simple, clean lines of the RSS feed show up with a lot of established blogs and it feels good to me. “Look at it go! Hanging out with Marginal Revolution! And Cato@Liberty! And Techdirt! (Again. I warned you.)

Google Reader allows me to flatter myself. That’s got to be the most unintended use ever. I’m sure beta testers never stumbled across that “feature.”

POSSIBLY RELATED ANECDOTE

I used to work as a DJ in a bar. And it was fun. It was the most fun I’d had while still earning money. I could drink and play music and get paid. I did this for a few years until the management decided they wanted to chase out The Dance Crowd and replace them with The Rock Crowd, mainly to get rid of The Black Crowd.

And I played along. And then I left. I quit and moved halfway across the country to kill what was left of my soul with a nine-month stint as occasional boyfriend and stand-in dad for the last woman I dated before meeting my wife. This fell apart in 9 months or so and I returned to the town I left and reclaimed the job I left.

Why? Well, because I could. DJing is easy. Things had changed and the bar was back to at least being all-inclusive as long as sales were good. But it didn’t last. And then management made the same decision. The employees fought it but I was right back in the job I loved hating every minute of it. I was no longer a DJ. I was just some guy playing records for money, catering to a crowd that wanted to be somewhere else, working for people he didn’t respect.

So I drank more. And more often. I handled this soul-crushing, whorish job like anyone else would: I attempted to set some stuff in the employee restroom on fire and got canned.

Related how?

I’m not sure. Something about how doing the thing(s) you love can still be heaped full of suck occasionally. In the bar case, it was external. (Except for the drinking. That was all me.) Here, it’s internal. Sometimes it’s a mixed blessing. Other times, it’s hangs all over everything like an overly talkative acquaintance, hammering away at you with inanities and sucking away your inspiration. (Again, internally.) You want to do the things you love, except sometimes you can’t find the easy joy in those things. The upside is this is usually temporary.

My brain is bricked. But it will be back. It’s happened before. I’ve written my way through (once). I’ve waited it out (once). This is some of each.

-CLT

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Unpublished Correspondence V2

May 6, 2011

Sneak past my spam filter, will you? Brace yourself for an onslaught of wordiness which contains none of that important personal information you’re barely trying to capture.

Your email just W o n £ 850,000 UK Pounds in our on-going 11th Anniversary PROMO!!!

YOUR DETAILS: L u c k y # : 12-12-23-35-40-41(12),
T i c k e t # : 00869575733664,
C G P N : 7-22-71-00-66-12.

For more information Contact: Email: mrgrahambenfield_101@hotmail.com
Agent: MR GRAHAMS BENFIELD. On behalf of staffs felicitate with you!!
MRS. ANGELO COLLETTA (Promo Announcer)

————————————————————————

NOTE: Do not reply this mail, send your correspondnence to Mr Grahams as instructed.

….

Dear Mr. Grahams Benfield –

Thanks for alerting me to this promotion. I’m not too sure what the prize is but I would love to have your staffs felicitate this. Unless your UK pounds are significantly different than our American pounds, I’m going to need a lot of help hauling these 850,000 pounds to my apartment. I may also need to obtain a storage unit as I’m not sure if 850,000 pounds of anything would all fit in my apartment.

Of course, math never was my strongest subject. I suppose after conversion this prize would weigh something more manageable, but I still think I’d better take advantage of your staffs.

Not that this is important or anything, but when did you “blokes” (I hope I’m using that correctly) ditch the metric system? I didn’t read anything about it online, but I spend most of my time cruising baseball stat sites or leaving mocking comments on various Gawker blogs. All I have to say is: it’s about time. We both speak English, so why shouldn’t we be able to do a 1-1 weight conversion? It’s bad enough that I have to Google up a calculator every time I buy an import album on eBay.

Which raises another question: are you or are you not using the Euro? If not, “bully” for you! (Again, I hope I’m saying that right.) No good can come of a single currency. Prominent conspiracy theorists  have indicated that it could very well bring about the Apocalypse, and I don’t know about you but I still got some livin’ to do! Some livin’ with my new collection of … things… that weigh a lot!

Looking forward to hearing from you. Please let me know how many staffs will be available to felicitate this move. Please keep the number of women and children to a minimum. This sounds like a lot of lifting and I can’t be slowed down by people unable to keep up with me and my roommates and your guys.

If you must send women/children, please make sure that they can lift a minimum of 20 pounds, in accordance with my handwritten EOE compliance form. Please also have several copies of your most bulletproof waiver forms on hand for those who think they might become repeatedly injured during this move.

Sincerely,
CLT

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Unpublished Correspondence V1

April 14, 2011
Let’s face it. My spam blog is dead. I keep the link up under “The Side Projects” as a taunting reminder of all the dreams I’ve killed off with my lack of focus, time or ideas. At least I had the stones to publicly retire Blow by Blow. And Clifton L. Tanager is just kind of twisting in the wind.
(Oh, by the way, I do have something I’m still writing for. Check out “You, Only Awesomer!” I’m doing business as “Thomas Massey.”)
So, rather than just cross-posting or anything productive like that, I’m going to start posting my one-way conversations with my inbox refugees. (I will, of course, be cybersquatting on the tasty penis joke URL.) The spam-crafted pen is unofficially retired. Vive le spam!

Hi there,

My name is Michael

No Matter what you are selling – Hit-Booster will send targeted visitors to your website!

Within 15 minutes you will have your own website traffic generator that will bring in an ever increasing amount of hits to your websites! Automatically

This software is perfect for bringing real traffic to your site… even if… it’s an affiliate link where you have no control over the website content!

Michael –

Thanks for showing an interest in improving my business, which is still very much in its formative stages. In fact, it’s so formative as to not exist. However, l would like to not disappoint either of us at this early juncture. I have an existing blog that could use some more hits and from which I hope to springboard into a sales career.

Quick question, Michael: Do you happen to own any videoconferencing software? If so, I’d like your permission to borrow it. I don’t have a business plan per se, but would love the chance to connect with like-minded customers of yours and sort of “spitball” ideas until I come up with one.

Do you have any idea what the optimal setup for video spitballing is? I’d like to be able to see enough of the other people to be able to monitor body language and such while also being sufficiently far back as to avoid most of the spitballs.

I can’t be too far back, though. I’ll still need to clearly see the others’ eyes in case we decide to take a different angle and approach this exciting new Web 2.0 paradigm through a few rounds of Texas Hold’Em.

Also, (again, assuming you have this videoconferencing equipment, which I would assume you would, considering you seem pretty “on the ball” webwise, not to mention very “email savvy”) would it be possible to view other conference members in rotational 360-degree views? I would like to rule out any of those members who look better from the back than the front as well as those who kinda “look good from a distance.” I have a pretty busy schedule these days and I don’t want to waste valuable time cyberstalking someone who looks great from behind at a distance of 10 feet or greater.

Thanks in advance for the use of your equipment. I will have my secretary forward you the needed information as soon as he or she is hired.

I’m afraid I won’t be needing your Hit-Booster service, however. I’m a little concerned with the last paragraph and its mysterious use of ellipses and exclamation points. Usually the ellipsis would be used to build anticipation rather than making the sentence sound like a horrible bait-and-switch. I’m sure it’s just a typo but it does make me wonder who would be in the market for affiliate linking where they “have no control over the website content.” I’m sure any up and coming entrepreneur would be thrilled to show potential clients a custom website loaded with affiliate links to sketchy foreign porn sites and counterfeit iPod knockoff sales.

Sincerely,

CLT

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The Mozart Makes Us Classy

March 30, 2011

SearchLOL:

[Click to enlarge.]

-CLT

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Rescued from the Cutting Room Floor: The Best Previously Unpublished Charlie Sheen Quotes

March 8, 2011

Charlie Sheen prepares for an early morning strafing run by summoning his cocaine-serving robot.

Due to the nature of the beast that is the white, powdery monkey on Charlie Sheen’s back, many of his interviews have been trimmed to fit the time allotted. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your level of fascination with this ongoing train wreck), this means that some of Sheen’s biggest proclamations have been excised in order to fit his self-absorbed ranting into an hour-long interview format.

The following is a brief selection of quotes that never made it to the airwaves due to time constraints or some sort of editorial concern over exactly how much “crazy” they were allowed to air uninterrupted. Enjoy.

  • “I’m currently crafting a trained army of attack falcons… well, more of an air force, really…”
  • “Gary Busey? Jake Busey? Winners! Third book of the Necronomicon being written now by these gnarlingtons.”
  • “I sleep only 40 minutes a night, serenaded by air raid sirens and Norwegian black metal.”
  • “Those of us who are actually still rad are still using ‘rad’ all the time. A new wave of BMX destruction is at hand, all before you get your fuckin’ Venti whatever, yuppie.”
  • “TZ [Todd Zeile] and I have spent the last four nights cock-blocking down at the Chicken Ranch because we are insatiable and our waters run deep, my friend.”
  • “We’re also druid shadow priests. Chaotic neutral. No alignment. Take that however you will.”
  • “[Jon] Cryer is buckwheat pancakes with oat bran seasoning. He’s like Jiminy Cricket crossed with John Harvey Kellogg. I’m not sure he’s ever produced semen in his life.”
  • “It’s not a mixtape without Sister Christian. Write that shit down, Alan. Gospel.”
  • “While doing Shaolin monk training with Keith Carradine in Tenochtitlan, Mexico, we ate Alfonso Ribeiro’s heart. A warning: don’t bet on bullfights. You can’t beat the locals.”
  • “Blowing money on coke and hookers is nothing. You aren’t really spending money until you’re ordering Kharma speakers online at 3 am.”
  • “As far as I’m concerned, the only legitimate president we’ve had in the past 600 years was Thor, or as he was born, Nikolai Tesla.”
  • “Do you what makes me absolutely histrionic, absolutely batshit crazy? Just coke, bro. Just this essence. It’s the rich man’s ‘white lightning,’ man. Without it, empires fall. Markets collapse. Human life is devalued. Santa dies.”
  • “I once had sex with seven women simultaneously. It was like Jesus with the five loaves and fish but instead it was with penises and tongues. When you’re winning, doors open for you and miracles are commonplace. Commonplace enough to be almost annoying.”
  • “[To a member of the studio staff] Your mom’s like Aleve, d-bag! All day strong, all day long! In the ass!”
  • “Two albums. Both with Mojo Nixon. Next year.”
  • “I’ve been certified as a nutritionist in 14 states. 40 minutes of sleep a night leaves you a lot of downtime. I maximize.”
  • “If I go down or CBS invalidates my contract, I’ve got a whole list of Hollywood people’s real names in my lawyer’s safe. Try me, Chaim. I have data. DOB. DNA maps. For real.”
  • “Scientologists have Jennifer Grey’s real nose. I traded it for their alchemy secrets.”

-CLT

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The Future Has Ceased to Exist. Outlook: Incremental.

March 3, 2011

Likewise, the haircut has only been done "once before."

Normally, I would just link to a post like this (Bruce Sterling’s speech at Reboot 11), but it has been pointed out that Sterling’s work demands a post of its own instead of being a single-line lead-in to a bunch of arguably great songs. So a post you get. It’s long. Be careful what you wish for.

The future ain’t what it used to be. We’ve all been promised so many things: jetpacks, cars that run on tap water, an internet that operated like a shopping mall, fiber optic lines everywhere, personal robot assistants. None of it happened. In fact, nothing like that will happen. The biggest innovations are behind us. Not the largest number of innovations but the large, life-altering innovations are now something we can only look back on.

How does the future look now? Bruce Sterling says “Think small:”

[Speaking to the management of Fiat] “So if you’re going to revive this old car, you’re going to revive the next car that came after that car?” And he said no. This was an important issue and they spent a lot of time thinking about it. What they were doing was, they had introduced the Fiat 500, and they were watching the demographic groups who had picked up on the Fiat 500. And they were looking at post-consumer alteration of the Fiat 500, and then they were going to professionalize that, right?

In other words, there were young, soccer-hooligan tough guys who toughed out their Fiat 500, special little hub-caps and so forth, racing stripes. So they were going to do that.

And then there was the women’s group who liked the Fiat 500 because it was cute, and they were doing cuter versions with anime dangling dolls on the rear view mirror, and maybe some hot pearlized pink.

In other words, they were going to move the Fiat 500 into emergent demographic groups. This was the way forward. They were looking for emergent consumer groups and they were going to move the car into their social space year by year.”

This is what the future is. Specialization. The spread of everything via the internet and other cheap forms of technology has turned innovation into a succession of incremental gains. It’s hard to create industry titans from percentages and it’s even harder to predict a business’ sustainability. It’s the long tail in full effect: more people than ever are buying stuff — they’re just all buying different stuff.

Sterling is somewhat apprehensive about this, but more instructively cautionary than arm-wavingly panicky:

“I thought this is a really clever idea. I thought I’m in a society that’s going to do a lot of this. And I thought this is a terrible and scary paradigm of the future. Because it’s very difficult for us to construe that kind of activity as progress.”

He’s right. We don’t view that as progress any more than we would find shopping for paint exciting. There may be millions of colors to choose from but sooner or later it’s going to end up on the walls. And then you’ve got to live with it.

In the future, we'll all be doing whatever the hell it is you do in whatever the hell this thing is. Daily.

Tyler Cowen (of Marginal Revolution, in an interview with National Review Online) sees the future the same way — as a long plateau:

“The U.S. has seen a slowdown in the growth of median wages since the 1970s because we have eaten all the ‘low-hanging fruit’ in technology, education, and resources…  [E]ver since those gains were realized, our productivity, and hence our average income, has slowed its forward march, leaving us on a technological and economic plateau… Our more recent innovations, like the Internet, improve our quality of life but don’t show up in the material measurements of Gross Domestic Product.

So radio, flush toilets, electricity, and automobiles — a lot of very basic inventions — have spread to almost all households. [The fact that] they’ve successfully spread means the rate of growth must slow. And other than the Internet, there has not been a comparable breakthrough in technology for quite some time.”

In other words, it’s probably more exciting to be a consumer in this day and age, but not nearly as exciting to be an entrepreneur. Or an employee. There are no limits to where these tiny innovations will eventually take us, but it might be a really long (but diverse!) trip. The big stuff has already been done. The little stuff is harder to quantify:

Bruce Sterling:

“Everybody for 200 years… has known what progress means. They know what it means to be progressive and they know what it means to be futuristic.

You get more scientific knowledge, you create more tools, make more jobs, you master nature, you get more power, cheaper power, you struggle for a better life for your children, you’re looking for health, prosperity, material security, shelter, bigger, faster, stronger, knowing more. Everybody knows that’s progress. That’s not what we’re going to get.”

It sounds very nearly dystopian. It isn’t, at least not in the micro view, where the playing field for creating and marketing goods has leveled appreciably. However, in the macro view, the outlook is still very grey:

Tyler Cowen:

“…when I hear people express extreme optimism about the Internet, I say, we’ve had it in mature form for about ten years. Macroeconomically speaking, those are about the worst 10 years we’ve had since about the 1930s. I don’t blame the Internet for that — that would be ridiculous. But nonetheless, it’s yet to really kick in as a major positive moving force at the economic level. It has just a small amount. The best is yet to come.

Look at electricity in human history — it took a few decades for electricity to really revolutionize the American economy. And the Internet will be the same. At some point in the future we will arrive at a new era of low-hanging fruit.”

There’s a key phrase in Cowen’s statement, one that doesn’t get aired until much later in Sterling’s piece: “The best is yet to come.” Despite all the negative aspects of the innovation plateau, the fact is small bits of brilliance are still being created daily. In fact, life for most of us keeps getting better, even when infographics say otherwise:

[Tyler Cowen, discussing “threshold earners,” or earners whose career path has been abandoned to work in fields that are more personally meaningful or make them happier, rather than just pay higher:]

We’re seeing society grow more rapidly along the happiness or utility dimension than we had expected, and seeing it grow more slowly across the jobs-and-revenue dimension than we had expected… we’re taking a lot of our social dividend out in the form of happiness or utility — which, by the way, is harder to tax… We’re going to have slow growth and persistent, fairly high unemployment.”

The ugly news is that we’re slowly pulling out of an economic dive here in America. The bad news is that a lot of brand new jobs won’t be available. There’s no new industry popping up to absorb the losses. Worker productivity continues to increase despite the lack of workers and “business as usual” has come to mean running a “no-fat” operation.

That takes us to now. This is what we’re dealing with. Where are we going?

Bruce Sterling:

“I want to talk about the next decade… What it’s going to feel like to live through the next ten years. It does not feel like progress. However, it does not feel like conservatism either. There’s neither progress nor conservatism, because there’s nothing left to conserve and no direction in which to progress.

So what you get is transition. Transition to Nowhere, as they would call it in the Eastern Bloc. Transition to Nowhere, a very common experience in eastern European states.

…The unsustainable is the only frontier you have. The wreckage of the unsustainable, that’s your heritage. And here it is. It’s the old new. You’re in an old new structure.”

There you have it. Nothing is permanent. Everything shifts.

In the coming years, all fonts will follow rules of perspective. Even Comic Sans.

There are several industries suffering through these changes: newspapers, television, motion pictures, music. All of them are handling it badly. They don’t want to have to deal with the way things are headed, much less the way things already are.

The tech world morphs even faster. Yahoo and Altavista fall to Google. Netscape falls to Internet Explorer, which in turn continues to lose marketshare to Firefox, Chrome and Safari. Friendster/MySpace/Facebook. Rhapsody and eMusic are falling behind Spotify and Pandora.

Everyone involved has to innovate faster, across multiple platforms and ship constantly just to avoid losing ground. Not much can be tabulated in millions any more. You’re always trying to secure another few hundred users or pageviews or whatever.

It sounds like a drag. It sounds like an echo chamber of self-defeat. How long can you stay ahead before the inevitability of the longer and longer tail casts you aside?

For some industries, it’s too late. The music industry is dead. Music is more alive than ever. That’s no coincidence. There are thousands of ways to cheaply make and distribute music. The major labels want nothing to do with this. They are completely opposed to the effort needed to incrementally increase their business. They have no desire to treat their customers with respect. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel here and “piracy” is just a scapegoat.

There cheap tools and outlets are there for the movie industry as well, but they’ve decided to follow the major labels down the same dark alley. While innovators run circles around them in terms of ingenuity and effort, the movie industry rests on its laurels and waits to be legislated back into existence. There’s the constant complaint that piracy prevents them from cranking out the $200 million blockbusters they feel audiences crave.

How would they know what the audiences actually want if they give them the same set of overblown sequels every year? The audience doesn’t necessarily want that, but they’re certainly conditioned to receiving it. Perhaps if they’d just scale things down a bit, they’d be pleasantly surprised to find that not every moviegoer is interested in watching shiny things explode.

They’ll die, too. It’s already inevitable. It’s said that you can’t go broke underestimating the taste of the common man. On the other hand, you can go broke fairly quickly by underestimating your own ignorance. And that’s just two major industries. Newspapers, book publishing, television. All of these are in upheaval as well.

Our descendants will mock us from the backlit sand dunes, taunting us with their achievement of "singularity."

So, if the biggest ideas have been done and the next wave is still years away, what do we have to look forward to? It’s tough to say. The tools are out there for nearly limitless creativity and interaction. Everything is cheaper and faster than ever. Digital storage may as well be free. It’s a great time to be alive.

But it’s also overwhelming. Too much choice is just as paralyzing as too little. Too many directions to go and the clock keeps ticking. The dotcom bubble put ideas in our head that if we took a few hours to set up a website, we’d all be millionaires. It created hundreds of temporary millionaires before everything reverted back to the mean.

What we have before us is the greatest equalizer in existence: technology. Look back no more than 5 years ago and the world was less connected. Now everybody has a cellphone, or increasingly, a smartphone. Even your grandparents. Even citizens of third world countries. The revolution will be televised? Not even close. The revolution will be streamed. The revolution will be tweeted. The revolution will be uploaded to a million pages every minute.

Look at the uprisings in Africa. Everyone has a cellphone. The government kills off the internet and the message still gets through. 500 million people have a website in common. Shrug off Facebook all you want, but no one else has that many users.

50 years from now, robot brokers will buy and sell your sorry ass hundreds of times a day.

But what about “making it big?” There’s no such thing anymore. There’s “viral” but that’s never a sure money-maker. You’ll be famous before you’re rich. You’ll also be discarded even more quickly. But the upside is this: rather than the domination of a few celebs for years at a time, it will be thousands of micro-celebrities expanding and contracting.

The same goes for ideas and innovation. Nothing will be built to last, but rather to service the current need. Everything will need to alter and morph to stay relevant. The next big thing is a thousand small things, each filling a niche.

Look at me. (Take a moment to admire my chiseled features and otherworldly blue-grey eyes, which stand in stark contrast to my hefty, arm-waving avatar.) I’ve got a small blog with a core group of loyal readers. They’re great people as well, more than willing to follow me down a 2,000+ word rabbit hole. I couldn’t ask for anything more than that. There’s a one-in-a-million chance that something from here will hit it big. But I could care less.

Maybe at some point, I’ll be writing for someone else. Until then, at least I’ve got my own soapbox that I can fill with whatever on no particular schedule. This leaves me time to spam out submissions to other websites, another side benefit of technology. Ten years ago, I’d have to print these out and mail them to each publisher, waiting 6-8 weeks for a rejection. These days I can get rejected in less than 24 hours, if need be. I might bitch about things now and then, but all things considered, it’s a pretty fucking great thing.

I don’t see this one-in-a-million chance as a disappointment. I see this as opportunity, which in this day and age is prone to knocking more than once. Sterling is right: it’s both liberating and frightening, all at the same time. There’s a lot more out there that is no longer under your control, and that’s hard to give up. But in exchange, you receive an abundance of information and the tools to make the most of it.

So do exactly that. Jump in.

-CLT