I dreamed I was napping. Someone shook me awake; I opened my eyes, and there was the Crazy Uke. "I've been to the room where the Internet lives," he said. "You get ten thousand hits a minute. A minute, dude."
And I woke and thought: I did not fix the inconsistent font sizes in the last "money" section update.
I’ve figured out my problem. It’s not good. I’m bored. I mentioned that before, I know. But it’s that deep itchy boredom that’s dangerous in middle-aged men. Makes you quit your job and mortgage the house and start a café that sells coffee burritos. Everyone likes coffee! Everyone loves burritos! It can’t miss! Then you open and no one comes. You send out coupons, but half the people who show up don’t buy enough to cover the cost, and they want to know if it’s Fair Trade coffee. NO, you want to say, I gave them $24 worth of beads for the entire crop. But you nod, even though it’s a lie, and assure them that the burritos were shade grown, and none of the burros who bore the beans down from Juan FRICKEN’ Valdez’ mountaintop were circumcised, if that’s your particular hobbyhorse. And when the customer leaves and half the coffee-burrito is uneaten, you wonder if you misjudged the market. How could that happen? You have art by local unknown artists on the wall. You have free wif-fi, so people can come and sit for three hours and drink one cup of coffee; your music is exclusively the product of hepcat jazzmen who were photographed in black-and-white wearing shades and a suit, for heaven’s sake. What did you get wrong?
You leaped when you should have danced, perhaps. I don’t know. I’m certainly not going to do anything drastic or make any serious changes – perish the thought – because I did that once when I left Minneapolis for DC, and slammed right into things I never knew I needed until I didn’t have them anymore. So I have to be wise. I just can’t quite get used to the idea that the rest of my life will consist of scratching around the itch.
Well, I need to write a big fat book and sell it for a goodly sum and have it sell well. You’d be surprised what that can do.
But! A grand day. Sunny. The tulips are up; the trees are leafing, the birds are out and the waterfall has passed its first dawn-to-nightfall test. Many of you were with me, in spirit at least, during last spring’s ungodly contrusions over the Oak Island Water Feature. The battles with the contractor. The heart-ripping sound of the pump gasping for water. The leaks. The shoddy work. The threats of blog-enabled exposes and googlebombing. Well, today was the first dawn-to-late-night test of the system, and it works. Gnat loves it; when her friends come over, they love it. A waterfall! Amazing! The lawn is green, and will only get greener – today the fellow from the lawn service came to “blow out” the sprinkler system, something I installed years ago to keep the hill from turning into a brown desert in the plague years. All the lights work; the house is bathed in photons from sunset to the hour when most thieves have retired to their beds. May: my favorite month. Even the name grants you permission.
Well, you’ve your choice now: sit through another discussion of a long-dead TV show, or cut right to a discussion of online copyright. The latter has music, though.
Of course, there's mid-life crises, and there are mid-life crises.
Got a few kind demurrals about the crass diss of the Twin Peaks 2nd season. One reader pointed me to this positive review on Slate.
As I said before – I think – the scenes that deal with the mystery are as potent as ever. The article mentions a moment when Big Ed – a wonderful character, slightly dim but steadfast and true – describes how he ended up married to a crazy straw pirate instead of Peggy from the Mod Squad, and indeed: it’s a wonderful scene, written and acted with understated skill. And it’s ruined by cuts to Albert, the snarky FBI agent. That said: I watched one of the final episodes, the one in which we learn the Identity of Bob, and it was as good as I recall. The author notes that the scene cuts back and forth with a song at the Roadhouse sung by a “pale chanteuse,” and leaves it at that. Well, that was Julee Cruise, and the music was taken from her album, “Floating into the Night.” One of those perfect moments in pop culture – David Lynch wrote the lyrics, Angelo Badalamenti the music. (I’ve bought everything Badalmenti has ever done on the basis of that soundtrack.) When Donna-Flynn Lora-Boyle, sitting in a booth with that dullard James at the Roadhouse, starts lip-syncing the song as Julee sings it on the stage, things just all came together. Hard to describe, but you have to know the song, I suppose. Like most of the best things in the Lynchian realm, it’s mocking and deadly honest at the same time, a peculiarly dreamy tune that sounds like you’re being hypnotized by a cheerleader. One who really really thinks you’re keen. But there’s an owl on her shoulder.
Then comes the giant: it is happening again.
And then it happens, again.
After which it’s another Julee Cruise song- “The World Spins,” I think - but this one is an elegy; while it plays the camerahas found Donna, who’s no longer happy and seductive, but has begun to cry uncontrollably; and it finds Bobby, that total greaser slime we’ve hated since the pilot, and he’s struck by something he can’t name or identify. The camera goes to the red curtains. Man, it’s good.
The theme from Twin Peaks – still one of the greatest TV themes ever – has words, you know. Just like “Star Trek” and “Hawaii Five-O.” Except that it’s about the saddest song ever written. If I could write anything that perfect, I’d stop right there and take up something else. Like Coffee Burritos, maybe.
This week’s Bleat Musical Selection concerns the Digg controversy over the Forbidden String, and either that means something to you or it doesn’t. And if it does mean something, it might not.
Let me try that again. Digg, a site where the People get to elevate the links they like and bury the ones they don’t, erupted in a riot the other day when someone posted numbers that allow you to crack the copy protection on HD-DVDs. The mods stifled the post, only to find the number reposted by hundreds of inflamed members, each of whom was probably wearing his V for Vendetta mask and feeling very dangerous. The code is now out in the world, and it cannot be retracted; the monied consortiums can sue all they like, but it won’t stop people from cracking their disks. This is great news for me, because I own one (1) HD-DVD, and really want to crack it so I can load “King Kong” on my homebuilt machine and watch a crappy movie on a lousy screen. Why? Because I can.
And that’s the basic point here: they cracked it because they could. “Information wants to be free,” as the saying goes, but a crappy rip of “Fast and the Furious” is not exactly information, unless your life depends on knowing just how mindless car-manipulation action films play out. And even then I’d need a ticking-bomb scenario to justify stealing the movie, instead of walking down to Blockbuster and - harsh as it sounds – paying for the damn thing. So it a nuke isn’t going off and Jack Bauer doesn’t have a gun at your head asking you to repeat the dialogue from the deleted scenes, your justification for stealing the movie is somewhere around nil. It’s not true that people won’t pay for anything on the Internet; people have paid for 100 million things on the iTunes store alone. But I suspect these are mostly people who have a particular combination of personal traits:
They can afford it
They want it now
They grew up with the notion that you pay for things
They have a small shard of conscience lodged in the back of their head, and this shard glows hot when they make justifications for swiping a new song from a torrent instead of buying it.
For others, these are irrelevant issues – the information is a roaring river, ten trillion bits roaring past per second, and there’s no reason not to dip your cup in the stream. It still flows, undiluted, and it will flow in greater quantity tomorrow. What’s the harm? Then someone builds a dam.
It’s a legal issue, yes, indeed, yawn. That part annoys me, because you get hung up on discussions of whether it’s jake to back up the DVDs you buy. But it’s more of a character issue – a moral issue, if you wish. It may be illegal to make a copy of the DVD; why, it says on the big FBI warning that begins each show with its merry presumption of criminality. My favorite is the line about Interpol expressing interest in the matter. As though Clouseau will sidle up to you as you watch a copy of a movie, and asked if you have a lah-sance for thet Day-vuh-day. But copying is not always immoral, and morality is separate from legality. If you buy a DVD for your kid, make a copy, then use the copy when the original ends up with the sort of deep fatal gouge only small children can inflict, it’s not stealing.
Says me, Mr. Finely Tuned Moral Sensibility, anyway. Others would note that you do not buy the right to own the movie, only one reproduction. Make a copy, and you’re a criminal. That attitude makes people clench their jaws and write programs that crack DVDs like peanuts in a hammer factory.
Why does this matter? Because digital content is the future. I make that bold prediction well aware that it’s also the present. But the days of the video store are numbered – ones and zeroes, to be exact – and someday all the entertainment you buy will be digital. But you’ll own nothing but a lah-sance, and those can be revoked. Imagine every book on your shelf was locked because your license to read them had expired, or the Master Controller in your Internet provider determined that you’d violated section B subsection (302) clause 09f91102, and revoked your right to access the content. Imagine all the players are coded to check whether you license is up to date, and lock out your licensed media for reasons you can't decipher. Puts a hell of a crimp in family movie night.
Who will be to blame? A sclerotic industry that couldn’t figure out a way to maintain its profit levels in the new paradigm, and every dork who can’t be arsed to pay for cable but downloads the shows he wants to see anyway. And for every noble dedicated anti-statist idealist who wants to protect us from the concentration of media power and content control, I swear there are ten who’d post the security door codes for a nuclear power plant if they could, shout down their critics as censors, then hold a contest to embed the codes in a LOLcats picture. Because nothing really means anything, in the end. It’s just keystrokes, joysticks, pizza and wanking.
A longer and more cerebral evaluation of the situation, written from a different perspective, can be found here. Make up your own mind; I'm still in a pox-on-all-houses mood.
Anyway, since the controversy was about Digg as much as the code, this week’s music is “Diga diga doo,” by Irving Mills and his Hotsy Totsy Boys. This tune was recorded on July 27, 1928, when Mills – a music publisher and manager as well as a songwriter, singer and bandleader – was 34. He lived until 1985, which means that this fellow – who was 17 when the Titanic sank – quite possibly saw “Ghostbusters” when it came out, and thought: I like that Bill Murray. I’ve always liked that Bill Murray, ever since his old days on Saturday Night Live.
Anyway, here’s the song! It does not contain the numbers.
Quirkage here. See you tomorrow!