Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson, "hearty condolences"

The impact is widespread. From the front webpage of Kerala's Malayalam Manorama. Who had to spread the news to grieving Malayalees. But more on that later.

MJ was pretty important to me, my youth was heavily shaped by his music. My first tape was a copy of Thriller that I stole from an uncle in Kottayam (Kerala) when I was about 5. He didn't really want to part with it, but I was a really obnoxious kid.

I was introduced to MJ around 1984 when I was really little and we were living in The Bronx. I'd stay at a neighbor's apartment who ran a sort of unofficial day care while my mom went to work. All the other kids were flipping through the channels on TV until they flipped out. They kept yelling about "Michaeljackson!" and I was confused. I sat down and saw a series of videos including "Thriller" and "Beat It". It was so frikkin cool.

Getting back to Kerala, I wanted to share some comments from Manorama's obit article. The purpose isn't really to make fun of the typos and grammatical errors (which is meaningless these days since all the comments below pretty much rival the internet language of most Americans on the internet for whom English is their first language). There's something very honest about what messages come through the linguistic and cultural divide. And I've been half-asleep copying and pasting them. The most repeated saying reflects the British English that Indians learn: "Hearty Condolences" (sometimes spelled "controlance", which I plan to use from now on).

So here's a tiny cross section of Kerala. From Thiruvananthapuram to Thrissur, from Kochi to Kozhikode, from Dubai to Dallas, TX and everywhere else.

Hareendran, Tamilnadu,
A legendary icon in the field of dance and song the world has ever seen. He won the hearts of people in the entire planet earth. He will be remembered ever. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

Harikrishnan, Thiruvananthapuram
my dear jackson your deth is a big lost in the world and my hertly bless and we have last a great pop, u ralways in my mind until my deth!HAARRYS BEAUTY PARLOUR ,TRIVANDRUM,PATTOM

Anil, Kochi,
My heartly condolenc. I never forget his song about world inveronment. it is so buitifull.

Shyam, Alleppey, are the only best...The way you make me feel,you are not 'Bad'..your life is a 'Thriller',always you may 'Rock my world'....

Rajesh, Cochin
My heartly condolenc. Its very BIG loss of our world MUSIC. and i am deeply feared about his tragedy.

Sujan, dallas usa,
HOMAGE TO THE GREAT SON OF MUSIC Dallas Malayalee Association

Anish, Tijo ,Prajith, Kochi Infopark,
My Dearest , Michle Jakson My Herty Controlence. By Wipro Guest Block Staff

Arun, Kattappana,
Hearty Condolance dear Jackson... U still moon walking through our heart.


iam very sad in this morning becs of this shock . iam a big fan of MIC . I love you MIC....

Saheer, CALICUT,
we have lost a great artist.but i cant belive his death


Babee, Kottayam
My heartfelt condolence to the king of music....we love you...

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

What are some of your biggest fears?

A while ago, Blog Owner Jonathan Airport and I were watching a reality cop show.

Cops were engaged in a road chase with some bad guy and were trying slow the bad guy's momentum.

Then the bad guy decides to try his luck with a side swipe of a cop car.

The announcer tells us that the cop's "worst fear was realized, when [The Bad Guy] rams him" with his car.

Now I know that this is a situation it would suck to be in. But we thought it was strange that the cop's "worst fear" was to be rammed by this particular man's car.

Did they meet before? With the bad guy saying to the cop, "I'm totally going to ram you with my car" and the cop is like, "that is my greatest fear, but only if you do it".

We puzzled over this. Wouldn't your worst fear be something like those nightmares where you wake up naked in class? Or about to fall off a bridge? Or being chased by an axe murderer? Or, after a while going down this line of thought, "like a rabbit stealing your penis"?

The cop tracks the rabbit through the forest. Suddenly there is a fluffy white blur near the cop's midsection. And the cop looks down with terror, wants to do something but knows it's too late.

Scene closes with cop on ground, eyes unfocused, trembling, covering his crotch with his hands, violently sobbing.

"his worst fear was realized..."

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

please don't stop emusic

The excellent music subscription service, emusic, is raising its rates and cutting the number of downloads in subscriptions. Me sad. Also, I haaaaaaate people who comment on things like this and say "BYE" to whatever thing changed something.

Full text:
As those who know me are aware, I'm an avid consumer of music. This has meant shelves of CDs that hog most of the usable wall space in my room. I've probably spent way too much (I like to think that it's nothing compared to what I would have spent on a car had I ever owned one). Partly due to the money/space issue, I've gotten over my aversion to buying mp3s and I've been an emusic subscriber for a while.

With their continuous lures of 30 day trials with 30 free downloads (of individual tracks) and a well stocked armory of records from independent labels, I couldn't resist. They use a monthly subscription model at different pricing tiers (kind of like a health club).

A big plus is these are REAL MP3s. No streaming, funky file types, or DRM. The music is paid for and the cord is cut; it is mine.

I had a wonderful thing going. 90 downloads a month for $19.99. Ridiculous. Around $0.23 a track. A 12 track album would cost $2.67. Plus, I was grandfathered in past a rate hike. Of course it couldn't last.

Then came news of the impending arrival of some of the back catalog of one of the big 4 mega labels Sony, with "labels like Arista, Columbia, Epic and RCA - that means artists including the Strokes, Bruce Springsteen, Leonard Cohen and The Clash to name a few" according to the blog post of emusic's CEO. Which is great, that would definitely lead to some pretty good gains for me.

Unfortunately, also announced was the hiking of prices and lowering of downloads per tier. No grandfather clause either. Most probably having to do with pressure from Sony wanting some real money from the deal. I'm also going to speculate that it's probably so that emusic can pad out its razor-thin profit margin.

My sweetheart deal will now be 50 downloads a month for $19.99. Around $0.40 a track. A 12 track album would cost around $4.80. Not bad at all really, but still a bummer.

What is really annoying is a classic problem I seem to have with the billing periods: making sure you get your money's worth. Since monthly accounts go by 30 days instead of the same date every month, it's harder if you are trying to make sure you are using as much of your monthly downloads as possible. Multiple times I've meant to download albums in what I thought was the end of a cycle, thus using up my remaining downloads. But sometimes I couldn't make it in time.

It's sort of like how Netflix works from the customer's perspective. You think you're getting a deal by paying $20 a month and having 3 DVDs cycling in and out. But if you hold onto the DVDs, which it seems most people do, it's not much of a deal for you (though there are no late fees). You get more bang for your buck if you use it as much as you can.

So there is the constant feeling of missed opportunity. Which I hate. A year ago emusic had the entire Rolling Stones back catalogue from 1964 - 1970. I was excited and thought about what the best attack plan was going to be. Then it was gone because ABKCO, the label controlling the music, got freaked out and pulled everything. I had downloaded nothing and looked back wistfully.

Well, I hope at least that this means the artists will be paid a better share.

So now here I am. Faced with a download cut, I look back at how many albums I could have downloaded using all 90 downloads every month. Lives could have been changed, the world's colors made that much brighter.

In closing:
So, as you can see, I'm kinda pissed (mostly at losing a rate that I had been grandfathered) but I'll live. Emusic subscribers are still getting a HELL of a deal. If you like indie music (and soon music from at least one mega-label), you are getting music at a good to really good discount than what you can get from Amazon or iTunes (again, this is IF you are using your subscription).

But as with any announcement having to do with anything on the internet has been the chorus of groaners. It's hard to know if these haters are actually individuals who utilize or interact with the subject in question since trolling has long become its own brutalist art form on the internets. The thing to do in a reaction to change is to say "BYE" or something short and similarly stupid-sounding. Hard to argue with that.

Even when it concerns awesome things like Conan O'Brien hosting the Tonight Show (some idiot on twitter actually said "Conan? Goodbye Tonight Show... YOU LOST ME!" to which I say "great" and why don't you lose yourself from society?). Or free iced coffee with a sandwich at Dunkin Donuts (for which I imagine: "I LIKE PAYING FOR ICED COFFEE. NO LONGER. EPIC FAIL. BYE DD"). Ah the rank smell of haters.