Archive for March, 2009

iTunes and DRM-free music

A few months ago, iTunes went DRM-free, as you know. This is the most brilliant move they made. Here’s why:

My iTunes purchases during the DRM era (3 years): $2
My iTunes purchases since DRM-free (2 months): $203

Enough fucking said. Numbers talk by themselves.

Heads will roll

Sunday night, on the way back home from our weekly shopping I heard in the car a song on LIVE 105′s “SoundCheck” radio show. I fell in love with the song in an instant. Unfortunately, I missed the bit about who’s performing the song, so I had to wait two days for the LIVE 105 webmaster to update their page with the playlist. But hey, I now know what the song was: “Heads will roll” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. In my opinion, this track is better than their first single from their new album, and all the songs they have on their MySpace page. Another great but lesser known song from this same album is “Hysteric”.

On the same show I heard Metric’s “Help, I am alive“. Great song too, using the same musical style.

If you also enjoy that style of alternative electro-rock music, check the LoveShot too. This brand new Canadian band is giving away their first EP for free. I learned about them via Vimeo, as their first music video is shot with the EX1 and the new Canon high-end consumer camera, HF-S10 (I have blogged about the camera before, and it proves to be an extremely popular topic over at HV20.com — as it’s seen as the direct next-step over the HV series).

Update: If I die of a heart attack tonight, it will be because of that “Heads will roll” song. I can’t stop dancing like a maniac in my office. And the lyrics of the song are too appropriate:

Off with your head
Dance ’til you’re dead
Heads will roll
On the floor

Twilight, Part II

I gave the thumbs up for the Twilight movie the other day. But I have to say that I have a big problem with the novellas, especially the fourth one. Twilight was on the road to have a permanent place in my left brain hemisphere, along other sagas. Until I read the synopsis for the fourth book (spoilers below).

I immediately felt that there was trouble. All the romanticism, all the love for the forbidden, all the mystery, all what makes Twilight great, completely falls apart in the plot of the last book. Indeed, a quick read on reviews online, solidified my fears that this fourth book was not really needed and that the story should have simply be different in the third book; and should have ended the story at that time.

The fourth book is a disaster: Bella wants sex, and wants more sex, and some more too (let alone that Edward can’t handle it without injuring her because of his super-human strength). She gets pregnant, the hybrid child is killing her during a gruesome birth, and she becomes a vampire — along some other illogical and definitely non-romantic things going on.

Instead, what should have happened in the third book, is have either her father or Jacob die, and have Bella re-evaluate her desire to become a vampire. Eventually, she stays with Edward, but she grows old. The deeper meaning of the novels should have been about what it means to be human and that we don’t realize how valuable it is until the very end. There should have been no children plots (vampires have dead sperm anyway), and especially not Bella becoming a vampire — because the whole romantic thing about this story is about two different species fall in love, and the SACRIFICES they have to make to be together. What makes women’s socks rock off with Twilight is having Edward being in so much pain just so he can be with her! Women are suckers for such things! When you transform Bella to a vampire (or Edward to a human for that matter), it all becomes a pedestrian sitcom.

Hollywood is well aware of the disastrous, cheap, fourth book, and I honestly hope that they will change the story in the third movie and make it a trilogy. Completely ignore the fourth book, and the ending of the third book. Make it a different third story, one that makes sense and doesn’t crumble under its own weight. I don’t have my hopes high though.

Much disappointed. :(

Twilight

We watched “Twilight” with JBQ last night on Blu-Ray. We both really liked the movie. We liked it so much, that we also watched all the extras too, and started re-watching the movie too. I don’t believe we have EVER in our 8 years together we re-watched a movie within hours from the moment we finished watching it the first time!

The movie was very entertaining, romantic and well-paced (especially the first half). It was interesting to see that the author, script writer, director and editor were all women. The movie just felt genuine about the feelings it strives to awake. I think this is the best romantic movie I have ever seen in my life. It coupled my love for fantasy with romance elegantly (something that other boring Hollywood romantic dramas don’t do).

The movie deserved a much better average rating on IMDb. I think it’s so low (6.1/10) because the people who mostly vote on such sites are young males, and they probably felt that the movie was too girlie for them. The IMDb forums is full of smart-asses writing posts like “oh… I have my man period right now”, and another one replies “me too!”. Ultimately, I think they feel threaten somehow. Who can compete with fast, strong, handsome vampires if the girls at school only dream of such creatures — even if they don’t exist?

U.N. body adopts resolution on religious defamation

A United Nations forum on Thursday passed a resolution condemning “defamation of religion” as a human rights violation, despite wide concerns that it could be used to justify curbs on free speech in Muslim countries,” says Reuters.

Sad, just sad. A step backwards for freedom of speech. I don’t understand how the western countries allowed the fundamentalists win this one. A disgrace of a law.

Three great bands

These are three rock bands you should check out:

* Blitzen Trapper
Hailed by some as the most important independent rock band out there. Their albums make top-20 in many “album of the year” lists usually. They play alternative rock/americana music, but their skill is mostly in the lyrics. I was so surprised to see that their song “Sci-fi Kid” (legal mp3) is not very popular on iTunes, as it’s one of their best. Legally download three more songs of theirs here.

* Longwave
Shoegazing/alt.rock band. They had a contract with a major label, but they blew it somehow, they were never able to become really popular, even if their previous albums are pretty good. But it’s their latest album, released a few months ago, “Secrets are Sinister”, that makes Longwave sound amazing to my ears. This album, released under an indie label, is their best yet.

* The Raveonettes
If you like modern rock’n’roll coupled with some shoegazing, you would love this Danish duet. “Love in a trashcan” is one of my favorite songs of all time, and make sure you check out “Black/White” (only on iTunes). They have a contract with an indie label in Denmark, but it’s Sony who distributes their music in the rest of the world.

Ambient rock rocks

There is a specific kind angle to rock that I enjoy in particular. That’s ambient/progressive alternative rock. I am a sucker for Very melodic hook-y tunes that take you into another dimension without the need for psychotropic drugs. These songs have a unique atmosphere. Coldplay is one of the bands that write such music, but find below some of the lesser-known and favorite songs of mine in that genre. Check these songs on iTunes.

* Fleet Foxes – Mykonos (free, from their label)
* Feist – One Evening (I first heard it here)
* Loquat – Swingset Chain (watch a live performance of the song)
* J. Ralph – One Million Miles Away
* Midlake – Head Home
* Midlake – Roscoe
* Jane Vain & the Dark Matter – C’mon Baby Say Bang Bang (youtube)
* Loquat’s whole album “Secrets Of The Sea”
* Longwave – Sirens In The Deep Sea (and the rest of that album)
* Band of Horses – Funeral (free, from their label)
* Faunts – What I’d love to hear you say
* The Coral Sea – In This Moment’s Time
* Faunts – Memories of places we’ve never been (free)
* Elk City – Los Cruzados (free, from their label)
* Early Day Miners – All harm
* Blind Divine – Something Magical (free)
* Matti Paalanen – Here comes the rain (free)
* Radiohead – Reckoner
* Malbec – Home (new Malbec songs are free)
* MGMT – Of Moons, Birds & Monsters
* Fleet Foxes – White Winter Hymnal (free, from their label)
* J. Ralph – Thrift Shop Warrior
* Loquat – There Is A Light That Never Goes Out
* Midlake – Young Bride
* Midlake – It Covers the Hillsides
* Zoe – Corazón Atómico
* Malbec – Anwering Machine
* Malbec – Dancing The Night Away
* Malbec – Pictures In Magazines
* Brightblack Morning Light – Everybody Daylight
* Britta Persson – This Spring
* House of Fire – Don’t go to hell without me

I only wish if iTunes’ Genius could find for me more such magical music (apparently it’s algorithm doesn’t analyze tunes).

And make sure you download the Malbec EPs from their site. These guys are really cool. They also shot three amazing music videos on their own too, using a Canon HV20!

Update: Apparently, part of that sub-genre of moody alternative rock that I like so much, is called “shoegazing” (also “dream pop”). It was popular in the late ’80s and beginning of the ’90s, but it’s considered underground these days.

More useless crap from Canon

Canon’s photography department just doesn’t have a freaking clue about video. Their latest 500D shoots in… 1080/20p. Yup, 20 fps. They could offer us instead 720/24p, 720/25p and shutter speed control in addition to their 720/30p mode, and completely laying off that 1080/20p madness, and that would have made the camera much more useful and without cannibalizing their camcorder line (because there would be no 1080p mode). Prolost blogged about this twice, and there’s a long thread on HV20.com too.

Ranting about TV shows

I am unhappy with both “Lost” and “BattleStar Galactica”, among others.

The finale of BSG left me with a sour taste in my mouth. I have written all that is to be written in the discussion here. In a recap, my problems with BSG:
1. The dreaded God element.
2. Too many boring drama queens.
3. Too many loose ends because of poor planning by the writers.
4. The pointless flashbacks in the finale.
5. The technophobia in the finale.

Then, there’s the new spin off of BSG, called “Caprica“. That show, I already hate it more than anything. It’s a fucking family melodrama rather than sci-fi, trying so desperately to find the golden rule between geeks and their girlfriends. Thing is, I don’t have a girlfriend. I hope the show burns and dies.

Here’s another new show, that’s complete drama nonsense: “Kings“, on NBC. Boring like hell.

And then there’s “Lost”. Which as you know, I am a big cheerleader for. Well, I am kind of pissed off with Lost in this season. The show is just not very addictive anymore. No, it’s not because of the dreaded time travel (that drove lots of viewers away), but because of the shift in the show’s direction, and subsequent misdirection of the viewer away from the real heart of the show: the survivors.

You see, “Lost” was always about 48 survivors, and how to get away from their crash island. On season 5 instead, they killed off about 40 out of the 48 survivors, and they didn’t show us at all if Rose and Bernard survived or not. Instead, all they show us is island mythology and nothing else. We have invested FOUR FUCKING YEARS on the survivors as a WHOLE, and now it’s like they don’t matter anymore. I mean, what was the fucking point of having Jack trying to get back to the island, if there are no survivors left to save, and in order to get there he had to crash land MORE innocent people, and most importantly, not even having him ASK Sawyer once: “what the fuck happened to the rest of the people I left you with?”. Nothing! Nadda! Like there were never survivors in that island!

And don’t forget that Rose and Bernard, while not major characters, even had their own flashback episode back in season 2. They spent $4 fucking millions on that episode! We invested in their storyline too! And the writers haven’t made a fucking peep about them!!! And the actors are not listed as guest stars in the upcoming episodes either. This is simply a disgrace to our expectations. The Lost forums are FULL with questions about Rose and Bernard! Now, after 4 years, we have to somehow switch our brains towards another goal?

I often rant against the over-the-top melodrama of BSG, but Lost has lost all of its drama this season — drama which made it so successful back in season 1. Now, it’s just some crazy stuff happening, one after another. It’s like someone pushed the fast forward button.

And don’t get me started about the NUMEROUS production errors in this season. I usually find 1-2 myself for each episode, and I am not even trying. From the bad editing on Desmond’s face when he sees Ms Hawking, from the crew woman caught in the frame and appearing behind Sun! From Charlotte’s real age fiasco, to the “numbers” heard on the Ajira radio (they should not be broadcasting in 2007), this new season is just plain SLOPPY. No wonder Lost lost 25% this year in ratings. Even the actor who plays Sayid doesn’t even try anymore to hide his British accent.

You might say “well, Lost is a complex show, so errors will happen”. Sure, but thing is, “The Wire” was also a very complex show, and by God, I have never witnessed a single production or continuity error! Very solid writing, planning, and shooting. There are many people out there who say that The Wire is the best show ever. That maybe true (it’s also Obama’s personal favorite). While I enjoy The Wire, I can’t get into it too much because: a. its plot is truly depressing, and b. I don’t take drugs, so the whole ghetto thing doesn’t represent me. But aside my personal nuances, The Wire has some no-nonsense writing. Lost doesn’t (anymore). In fact, I feel that the two main Lost writers lost the plot this season.

Drifters of the deep – Cut 2

A few days ago I updated my most ‘liked’ video on Vimeo, “Drifters of the deep”. It has an updated cut and color grading, with better visual quality. HD version and download here.