September Media Diet

TV

Evil (Paramount+; 5/5) – still great. The show is equal measure funny, scary, topical, sincere, fun, earnest, skeptical, and then above all totally bonkers. Get the free trial if you don’t already have it to watch this and …

The Good Fight (Paramount+; 4.5/5) – in its final season, I’m only two episodes in of the three released so far but am as on board with it as I ever was. I marvel at the leads in the show and the quality writing by the same crew as do Evil.

What We Do In The Shadows (Hulu; 4/5) – Still funny. Not everything worked this season but the story of the creature that clawed its way out of the torso of the corpse of Collin Robinson made for a comedically brilliant through line.

She-Hulk (Disney+; 4/5) – Tatiana Maslany. I’m not too into Marvel, especially compared with some I know, and as such a lot of the fan service goes right over my head. I’d watch her read the proverbial phone book, so I’m in for the humor and the satire of both super hero and lawyer tropes.

Maggie (Hulu; 3/5) – I looked for a light sitcom and took a flyer on it. Not mentally or emotionally taxing, just a show about people I’d like to hang out with. The episodes I did not care about were the ones the show was meant to be built on. Thus, canceled by Hulu before I even watched it.

Reboot (Hulu; 2.5/5) – I should like this show better than I do. Great cast for the most part. Judy Greer is a treasure. It has its moments, but I don’t think I’ll see this through.

I watched other things like Only Murders In The Building. I’m finding I need a new calculus for the various shows as the commercials offered, especially by Hulu, actively take me out of enjoying the content. We cut the cord from cable to streaming to end up with something far worse.

Movies

The Talented Mr. Ripley (Netflix) – Somehow I missed this or forgot about seeing it. I loved the clothes and locales. The movie lost me when it hit me over the head with the fact that I didn’t like any of the characters, well acted though they were, and didn’t actually care about what happened to them.

I might have watched other movies, but they made little impact.

Music

So much music! Check out Papa Jojo Radio for more info.

Books & Audiobooks

The Ministry For The Future, Kim Stanley Robinson – still making my way through it. It gets too heavy after an hour or two, as much as I’m enjoying it and learning from it.

Rat Girl, Kristen Hersh – reading up for a Throwing Muses piece I’ll do on Papa Jojo Radio soon.

I don’t get the band The National

※ Some people like The National. Others do not. If The National gives you joy, excellent! Stop reading here. Go do good in the world.

I’ve been listening to The National (TN) for a couple of weeks. They are headlining the Moon River festival Saturday night here in Chattanooga. Many of the acts I don’t know well, so wanted to boost my familiarity. Most of what I’ve heard I can get behind, but sadly I don’t get The National.

Somehow they never hit my radar until the Pandemic. I’m into music. I like artists that seem to be associated with TN. TN gets categorized into the “dad rock” category, presumably my wheelhouse. And yet, they never did, as I said, hit my radar. I often assume acts I don’t know hit it big in the U.S. when I was working and living overseas. It was pointed out to me that TN’s peak was well before my foreign travels began in earnest.

I’m sure I heard them as I was out and about in the world. I’m fairly certain that, when I did, I wrote each song off as coming from Crash Test Dummies (“Oh, isn’t it nice those guys are still going.”) or Coldplay (“Oh, isn’t it nice those guys are still going.”). If I heard the band’s name I’m sure I thought it was something about the nightly CBC news show hosted by Peter Mansbridge. Actually, I know I thought that at least a few times in retrospect.

Here I was these last few weeks, giving TN concerted attention. I started with asking Apple Music to play TN. Presumably, Apple Music starts with the biggest hit and goes form there. I struggled to differentiate one song from the next. I went to Reddit to see what r/TheNational had to say for newbies. The answers all boiled down to the albums Alligator, Boxer, and High Violet with other albums as the forth. Maybe they’re an album band and I need to disregard the singles, I thought.

I made it through most of Alligator, but fast forwarded through a lot of songs. Boxer wasn’t much better, but it was better. The lead song, “Fake Empire”, musically works but the lyrics and singing are bland. I got a few tracks into High Violet and gave up.

It occurred to me that maybe TN needs to be appreciated without looking at the lyrics, like early R.E.M. It helps in that the lyrics are mostly … not my taste. They’re like something Dave Matthews would write and then discard.

But the singer, Matt Berninger, seems to only have one vocal gear – dragging his baritone across the equivalent of a shopping mall parking lot. There is no change between songs and between albums. Mr. Berninger always offers the same static performance, eating the microphone while competing with the bass guitar.

I thought a comparison with the previously mentioned Coldplay or Crash Test Dummies, or Bauhaus, or Wilco, or Joy Division, or someone else would help me figure this band out. They don’t. Based on my cursory glance, the members of TN seem to be decent people who collaborate with others and help aspiring artists get noticed. I hope that’s true and wish TN all the best, not that they need my good wishes.

They’re not my jam. And that is OK. I wish I could give my pass to someone who would appreciate the show, but sadly the festival organizers forbid such things … and I want back in for Sunday.

Anniversary Edition

Remember, when an artist puts out an anniversary edition of an album you paid for 10 or 20 or 30 years, that new edition might mean the one you paid for goes away.

If what the artist puts out in their anniversary edition sucks, there is little recourse.

If you have the original LP, cassette, CD, MiniDisc, MP3 files, or whatever, you #OwnYourMedia

REQ: Local music media library organization app

Status

Dear Lazyweb,

What app is best to help me organize my far flung music files? My music library is a mess, and I need it to be less of one. This is very much a 90’s to early 10’s question, yet here I am.

Requirements:

  • Not reliant on Apple iTunes/Music or Amazon Music or Google or similar
  • Not reliant on Spotify or Pandora or similar streamer
  • Handles open and closed (but DRM-free) formats (mp3, ogg, FLAC, ALAC, etc.)
  • Properly tags files
  • Actually organizes (moves files into a file structure)
  • When uncertain, asks or leaves files to be reviewed (non-destructive)

I buy music media – LPs, CDs, cassettes. Some are new; some are used. New stuff I source from Bandcamp or artist sites or local stores.

※ I host a live radio show on WAWL.org every Thursday from 18:00-21:00 Eastern US Time (America/Detroit). There’s a story to it, one I will tell another day. I’ll also make a bigger deal about the show.

Scenarios, delivery edition

Status

One finds an unexpected delivery on the doorstep. Upon verifying it was not a forgotten purchase, the global retailer is contacted.

“Thank you for your concern,” the chatbot says. “We’ve already sent a replacement to the intended customer.”

“That’s great for them,” you say. ”But I’ve got this thing by my front door that I didn’t ask for.”

“You’re free to dispose of it,” says the chatbot.

“But I don’t want to touch it. It’s not mine. It’s not something I ordered. Can’t giant retailer send someone out to dispose of it?”

“No.”

“But what if it contains materials that requires specific handling and disposal? Are you saying that cost and responsibility is on me?”

“We contract with third parties on deliveries so there is no way for giant retailer to dispose of it. But, good news! We’ve determined that the package is fine for you to dispose of yourself. As we said, the intended recipient is getting a new delivery.”

“That response does not fill me with confidence.”

That response also does not answer the question.

If a package from one of the global retailers, delivered by one of the global delivery retailers or the local post, arrives at your door but is not meant for you and contains hazards materials, who has the responsibility for disposing of it and who bears the cost?

I would think the analogy would be someone in a truck pulls into your driveway, dumps a barrel of toxic waste in your yard, and drives away. Your home security system recorded that the truck is from Acme Trucking, the barrel had a Zephyr Chemical sticker, and you caught the dumper’s face.

Who’s responsible for the clean up? Who bears the cost?

What if the barrel was full of eels? Or rubber bouncy balls? Or micro plastics? Or a dead human body? Or pudding?

There’s no sense to calling the Sacramento Golden State (?) Warriors “Dubs” unless you’re a huge Bush 43 fan, think the problem with the overuse of Watergate is the “water” part & like dreaming about how wacky or waltz-y or wallow-y dubstep might be

Budget Culture and the Dave Ramseyfication of Money

Budget Culture and the Dave Ramseyfication of Money:

Budget culture is the damaging set of beliefs around money that — like so-called diet culture does for food and bodies — rewards restriction and deprivation, and promotes an unhealthy and fantastical ideal of financial success. …

The broader problem with budget culture is its emphasis on individual responsibility and insistence on ignoring the varying levels of access and privilege in our world. It vilifies and oppresses anyone who doesn’t live up to the ideal, regardless of their circumstances. And that ideal is, unsurprisingly, rooted in maleness and whiteness in the way many of our cultural ideals are. … 

But all we’re really doing is peddling the same worn promises wrapped in a veneer of language around “wellness” instead of “being rich.” The brass tacks of advice for financial wellness still emphasize restriction and individual responsibility, and “getting our act together” is still predicated on the fantasy of being rich. Because actually countering budget culture is a tall order, for individuals and society.

It requires: 

  • Getting comfortable not knowing the “right” answers.
  • Changing not just how you talk about money to others, but how you use money in your life.
  • Pay transparency — with your friends, communities and colleagues, and in job descriptions.
  • Seeing and acknowledging your privilege.
  • Rethinking how we compensate for every kind of labor.
  • Framing taxes as sharing privilege, not impeding personal wealth.
  • Admitting net worth is an imaginary number.
  • Creatively supporting people with financial need and protecting them from the tyranny of credit reports.
  • Reckoning with the fact that the American Dream of homeownership relies on hoarding stolen wealth.

It’s… a lot. 

It sure is.

The Sportswashing Edition

The Sportswashing Edition:

“Everyone needs money. That’s why they call it money.”

– David Mamet, Heist

Jeff here. About a year ago, news began to circulate among the golf media that the Saudis—through their Public Investment Fund, and with the fiercely unlikeable Greg Norman as their frontman—were preparing to throw an unholy amount of money at some of the current greats of the game in an attempt to launch a rival league to the PGA Tour. The news was met with a mixture of moral outrage (the word “bonesaw” often featuring prominently) and a sort of glib flippancy (“who would ever leave the PGA Tour and its AMAZING pension plan?”)

These professional athletes are employees of the Saudi Arabian government regardless of how they spin their funding.

My big take away from this nonsense, since I’m soured on pro sports of every kind, is that I have been in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia several times and it is a miserable place to be. It’s the ancestral homestead of the House of Saud, which is why it’s the capital.

It’s not safe for foreigners, especially non-Muslims. All of the locals I know advised me about where not to go ever and when to not go everywhere. Had I gone back again I would have set up a spreadsheet to keep it all clear.

That these professional sports people think it’s ok that they not only take the Saudi’s money but also launder the Saudi’s reputation is reprehensible, I was never going to watch these Saudi employees anyway.