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It was going to be the fifth year in a row.

Another forgettable non-musician, having survived the gauntlet of self-important judges and self-regarding “music” execs, was being set up to clinch the 5th UK Christmas no. 1 in five years. And all thanks to Simon Cowell and the X Factor music-creation system.

For a fifth year, instead of a real tune, a real band with a career either already developed behind them or promisingly ahead of them, what was essentially a contest-winner got to see what it felt like to have a Christmas no. 1 single, while the rest of the UK are deprived  of actually having a decent tune for Christmas.

Then a group started on Facebook proclaimed “ENOUGH!” And positing that, if as many members of the social network got together and downloaded Rage Against the Machine’s killer 1992 song Killing in the Name, music fans might just be able to shoehorn in a real band with actual values, their ranks smelted from musical ability, originality and, god forbid, THEIR OWN SELF-PENNED TUNE!!!

It not only seemed an underdog pipe-dream, but was presented even to be immoral by spokespeople and the media – the campaign was hailed as “mean” by pneumatic hair-factory Cheryl Cole, and “stupid” by none other than “ruiner of all things good” Simon Cowell. It was as though the predominant mass opinion, gauged by its voting of anything but the gifted but ultimately puppet-like Joe McElderry (whom I sincerely hope gets into theatre and music for real as soon as he can get clear of the X Factor’s contracts) was somehow rude in thinking it had a choice, and an obvious choice at that.

But…

Rage’s tune prevailed by some 50,000 downloads. This morning all the papers are tattooed with the face of Zach de la Rocha screaming into a mic on the stage at 2007’s Coachella gig that saw the band’s first performance after reforming. It’s a thrill for an alternative metal fan like me to see such a blatant hijack of mass media by the very thing it seeks normally to ignore with comfort.

However, a lot of noise is being made about the supposed Pyrrhic victory the #RATM4xmas movement has achieved, given that SyCo, the record company whose name so well reflects Cowell’s music machinations, is itself owned by the same fatcats at Sony who own Rage’s 1992 self-titled release, and Killing in the Name by proxy.

This however is not the issue – we are all fundamentally aware that around four corporations own every last outlet of traditional broadcast media. Hey, Telegraph and co. – good argument – those masters own the rest of you as well. Is that supposed to be some kind of argument in favour of simply sitting back and accepting the inevitable crap, or is it rather a cue to fight it, even if the battleground is still within the frame of reference of music sales? Well, that’s what it became.

It’s not about ownership and never really was, although the music industry’s conglomeration is certainly what led to this garbage being over-promoted in the first place – this was in fact a fight against the predictable mechanisation of the charts.

Why do you think the X Factor is even SCHEDULED to be on at this time of year? The show’s process sought to ingest a long-standing cultural phenomenon (the Christmas number 1) into its already overstuffed portfolio of money-making avenues. And, even if for just one year, the UK’s citizens retorted with “Fuck you I won’t Buy What you Sell Me!”

It’s not a character-assassination. It’s not a random rejection of one song for another. It’s not even a rejection of the X Factor per se. It’s a rejection of mediocrity being built into the system. It’s an extra votebox on the X Factor, one that votes for neither candidate, and votes AGAINST the show’s fallout on the charts itself.

So Fuck you Simon Cowell – and fuck you Barbie – for saying it’s a “mean” move. “Mean” is to further distort the musical landscape with cross-promotional garbage and trickle-down syndication. “Stupid” is how you’ve treated the British Public, playing on the same emotional associations that makes voting so popular in politics (and the act of voting in either sphere really does as little in the long-term for your own visions of the music industry as it does for the world of politics.)

In all reality you think it’s mean because we voted against your efforts to get a Christmas number 1 by proxy, since Simon can’t sing and Cheryl’s sales, while still deplorably overpowering, weren’t going to cut the mustard this Yuletide.

Maybe next year you can try again with a 14-year old singing On the Road Again by Willie Nelson.

And maybe next year we’ll try again by gunning for Good Friends and a Bottle of Pills by Pantera.

Merry Fucking Christmas. I really mean it.

-Hypernation

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Michael Jackson is dead. This is the kind of news that affects you, even if you were not a fan.

The King of Pop died following a heart attack in his LA home amidst weeks of rehearsals for his comeback tour at the O2 in London. He was rushed to UCLA Medical Center in a coma by paramedics following a 911 call from his home. Daily Press were amongst the first to report that the police had confirmed the death to the media, in what had until then been a speculative rush of information on the star’s condition. Even Rolling Stone had not been sure of the news. The BBC at 11.54 Greenwich Meantime were still unsure of the status, deeming Jacko to be merely “gravely ill”, whilst reporting that some US media were claiming he had died.

In what must be a first for Wikipedia, the page on Michael Jackson was down at 11.45pm London time, swarmed by fans checking for updates.

Michael Jackson's Wikipedia Entry

Michael Jackson's Wikipedia Entry

Google’s automatic News search results for Jackson still showed other unrelated stories, bizarrely one involving the Hulk actor Lou Ferrigno who had been training Jacko ahead of the tour that was meant to put behind Jacko the years of child abuse allegations and public trials. Youtube’s Suggest feature reckons it all won’t happen for another 6 months:

Youtube is 6 months out of date

BREAKING NEWS: Jackson will die in 6 months!!! QUICK!!!!!!

American pop culture just shrank significantly in a few days. It’s been probably the biggest week for celebrity deaths in the last…well, ever. Ed McMahon, another staple of American cultural life like Jackson, passed away just 2 days ago. All-American icon and original Charlie’s Angel Farrah Fawcett died within only a few hours of Jackson. And as I write this, word has it the only one I’ll really miss out of the bunch, Jeff Goldblum, has apparently died, falling to his death on the set of his latest movie. Manolith reports:

According to reports from a New Zealand newspaper – and lots of action on Twitter – actor Jeff Goldblum died early this morning after a fatal fall. The alleged death occurred while on set in New Zealand when Goldblum fell over sixty feet off a nearby cliff. As of yet no other news source has picked up the story, so it’s probably false. That said, he is currently filming a movie titled, “Morning Glory“, but no word on where it’s filming.

Last.fm statistics and Spotify listening behavious are probably already reflecting thousands upon thousands of fans tuning the knob to “Michael Jackson Radio.” In a few hours millions of messages from fans will be pouring in all over the news. The Obituaries will be awkward, as editors and sub-editors struggle not to be seen to be speaking ill of the dead whilst trying to remain fair to the facts that belie the closetted Neverland bad dream of his later life.

Cue the biography machine. The shitty paperback “Maximum Michael Jackson” hack jobs that were going to come out anyway with a chapter on his death stapled onto the end. Then in 6 months to a year the big ones will arrive, and stay firmly on most bestseller lists for a good while.

And documentaries. And Youtube videos of bawling fans. Of course.

So goodbye then Michael. You were one troubled guy, and there’s quite a few people who would want to moonwalk on your grave. You bought your way to freedom the way only someone with your money could. But the music kicked the world’s ass right out of its pants. Thousands of today’s acts either sound JUSTin like you, or wouldn’t even be in the music industry unless they’d wanted to be pop stars like you were. You were MTV’s first black artist, as well as one of its most successful white ones. You’re one of the big reasons why Motown-infused Soul made it into mainstream pop, and why its renaissance now in the form of Destiny’s Child and Beyonce, Duffy and Justin Timberlake is actually one of the few welcome nostalgia-cycles. And holy shit, you were one hell of a dancer.

Jackson is apparently survived by no-one, seeing as every fucker on the planet appears to be shuffling off their mortal coil today, severely hamstringing my ability to keep editorial reign over this article.

Stanhope Jail

A brief Myspace update at 3am today on Doug Stanhope’s Myspace profile seems to put his present location in a Brazilian jail on drug charges.

Details are sketchy but the site administrator is asking for any expertise to be thrown his way.

The law in Brazil is a funny one when it comes to possession. In 2008, possession for personal use was effectively depenalized according to this article:

http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/538/brazil_appeals_court_drug_possession_no_crime

The most interesting line is this one:

In his opinion in the case, Judge José Henrique Rodrigues Torres said the law criminalizing drug possession for personal use was invalid because it violated the constitutional principles of harm (there is no harm to third parties), privacy (it is a personal choice), and equality (possessing alcohol is not a crime). “One cannot admit any state intervention, mainly repressive and of penal character, in the realm of personal choice, especially when it comes to legislating morality,” he said.

The ruling applies only to Lopes, but can be used as a precedent in other court proceedings. There is no word yet on whether the Brazilian government will appeal.

The ruling comes nearly two years after Brazil changed its drug laws to depenalize — but not decriminalize — drug possession for personal use. Under that law, drug possession is still a criminal offense, but penalties are limited to fines, fees, education, and community service.

Anyone with connections, expertise or any sage advice should get in touch with his street team at doug@dougstanhope.com ASAP.

Well here’s to hoping he gets out. Partly because nobody decent should be in prison.

And mostly because I’ve got non-refundable tickets.

It’s a mystery to me why so many artists keep releasing their worst songs from their albums to the public. In fact it’s a completely weird thing that we still release singles at all. Considering no-one cares about what used to be called “The Hit parade” anyway, it seems downright old-fashioned that we bother marketing albums that way at all.

Some would argue that it’s a neat way of getting a taster of the album out to the public before the whole thing drops. A few factors scupper that point – for one, a release date is now nothing more than a wishful thinking fiction. Every album in the last 3 years (and most movies) leak anywhere from a few days early to a whole month (think of Origins: Wolverine, which made it to our screens more than a month ahead of time in the form of a perfect quality Workprint, albeit with unfinished special effects…not to mention the perfect quality final releases that make it weeks ahead of time courtely of some little pirate (or collection of pirates) called Axxo) – and while we’re talking marketing, wouldn’t it be cleverer to use interfaces like iTunes, that allow individual song purchases, to market individual tracks from upcoming releases instead? You could allow users to pick which song they want to have ahead of time. It’s not going to adversely affect piracy, which is GIVING away ALL the tracks ahead of time.

The other problem is that, as stated at the beginning, the best songs don’t seem to be the ones that are slated for singledom – now, that’s obviously subjective, but many people will agree, and most likely it’s not the band’s fault – Labelheads tell them to make one Radio Friendly garbage bag so they can get “the name out there” at the expense of the band’s real musical identity.

Days of The New released what was squarely the worst track on the Orange album, Touch, Peel and Stand (What does that even mean?) and THAT track made them a household name. Nickelback went one further and not only release garbage singles all the time but an entire back-catalogue of twattery usually worse than the singles themselves. Here, have a rock in the face, Chad. But hey, at least their singles match their albums in consistence, you have to hand them that (preferably handed to them wrapped in a dog-shit covered pipe-bomb whilst actually saying the word “LOL.”)

So on to Eminem‘s Relapse, an album I’ve been waiting for for over 2 years (ever since everyone thought it was going to be called King Mathers.) First off, the album is easily his best release since The Marshall Mathers LP. It’s also one of only a few interesting rap/hip-hop releases in the last 5 years (the others for me being Saul Williams’ Niggy Tardust, Talib Kweli’s Eardrum, El-P’s I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead and Just Plain Ant’s Dig Deep (the most unknown of the pack, and the most low-key too.)

Problem is, the four singles (Yes there’s FOUR of them – 3am, We Made You, Crack a Bottle, Old Times Sake) are so fucking weak. The production value behind the beats and loops sound like they’re around $8.46 including VAT – and although the flows on 3am and Old Times Sake are up to scratch, all four feature Eminem’s new heavily annoying “half-Arabic-half-Reggae” rap style – and given that it’s so pervasive in every single, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the whole album is sung in comical spaz style. But it’s not.

There are more than a handful of songs on the album that singlehandedly justify buying the whole thing. They are My Mom (more stories about his “neglectful” parent), Insane (more stories of abuse and incest”, Hello (a dark track about rehab and psychosis), Same Song and Dance (an ode to a girl Em’s Psychopath is about to kill), Medicine Ball (A song to the world at large, labelling it his therapeutic playground), Beautiful (the same register as Toy Soldiers but instead focussing on his troubled artist life) and the most explosive track of all, Underground – a twisted 6 minute11 second anger explosion filled with orchestral strikes and counter-rhythmic guitar pluck loops – basically it’s fucking incredible. And it’s all topped off with the first funny Ken Kaniff skit since The Marshall Mathers LP – it even features tap dancing whilst singing a pastiche of We Made You with the chorus line “I Don’t have to Rape You.

So that’s at 7 untouchable songs plus the decently passable 3am (backed by a very good video) and Bagpipes from Baghdad (despite the “Arapic”, although it’s in context here). Given that 5 more Relapse tracks are skits (and very good ones at that), that’s more than half an 80+ minute album that’s completely fantastic. So to pick the 3 hands-down worst tracks plus 3am is pretty shitty odds considering the wealth of quality on offer for promotion.

In short, don’t let the outmoded marketing of singles, or poor song choices thereof, put you off – this album is very very strong indeed. I can’t wait to see what Relapse 2 has to offer.

Fact: Alice in Chains is more important than your family.

This week Jerry and the gang released the very first snippet from 2009’s Alice in Chains Album, as yet untitled – a stray riff embedded in the Week 6 studio footage which can be found here.

It’s a a facestomping cracker of a track that instantly reminds you what great fun the band was in its heyday.  Heck even towards the last breath of the original line-up the band put out great unparalleled tracks, all two of them in 6 years. Give me that over 6 years of radio-friendly horseshit any day.

Just that 10 second snippet hands-down beats GnR’s overbloated but passable “Chinese Democracy.”

Apparently William DuVall coughed slightly during a rehearsal too, and that ended up being better than “The Spaghetti Incident?” But Guns ‘n Roses fans all agree on that anyway.

Then things got spectacular, as Sean Kinney clipped a corner with his car on the way back from the studio.  Everyone at the scene agreed it was the best piece of percussion since Cyro Baptista’s “Beat the Donkey”.

The album’s gonna fucking rock.

So I posted a handy tip on getting Flash to work in Google Chrome on a locked down computer a while back. As a test to see if the install had worked, I directed Users to a certain Rock Astley video. Here’s the total number of clicks in the intervening time:

youtube.com/watch?v=oHg5SJYRHA0 1,137

Happy Christmas, Astley fans!

LOL Rickrolled

LOL Rickrolled

It’s official – fundamentalist Christian Republican idiots who have never seen another country, don’t read any newspapers, instead quoting Starbucks cup-renderings of stupid things that DEMOCRATS have actually said, and don’t even own a passport apparently are not good enough to be in charge of the large complex machine of the US government and the international ambassadors. Apparently that’s below par these days.

Listening to Barack Obama’s acceptance speech was oddly strange – where is all the stuttering? Where are all the grammatical errors, vacant stares and little chuckles that reveal a lack of understanding. Where is that deer-in-the-headlights blinking? This doesn’t sound like the US President I’ve come to be used to and loathe…something’s wrong…wait a second! They put someone competent in charge!

Yes, against all odds, after 8 years of inept, blind flailing in place of actual leadership, Americans have elected a man who’s middle name is Hussein, and last name looks like “Osama”, whilst simultaneously kicking out that classic American trope, the rich white ignorant frat-boy who can’t name or even point out major countries on a map of the world, a world he believes would be around 6 thousand years old.

But two unfinished wars, an economy in crisis, the biggest national deficit (achieved in just 8 years) following Clinton’s biggest surplus, a lack of even cursory geographical knowledge, the first and only US mainland attack following what is either a false flag operation or at best deliberate mismanagement of freely-available national security intelligence, and the US Nation finally told the Republican monster machine: “FAIL.”

As Michael Moore said ‘ “8 years was long enough. 8 WEEKS was long enough.”

The New Google Chrome browser.

The New Google Chrome browser.

Everyone hates the administrator. FACT. They block the best sites, and stop you from installing loads of ace stuff on your boring old work computer.

So when I installed the brand new Google Chrome on my work PC (for some reason I can, although loads of other executable files are disallowed) I, a humble internet user, went straight to Youtube to test out loading times etc.

However, Flash needs to be upgraded, and I get a nasty little message telling me I need the latest player.

When I download the file in the link, I get a similarly nasty warning from my PC that I am not allowed to install ‘executables’ like flash player. So no Youtube, no A.viary applications, or anything remotely flash related (seemingly 84% of all online content…)

Here’s how you get round that. Cue evil laugh.

1. Download this xpi file.

2. Then rename it to .zip. It’s a special archive file of only the plug-in bit of the flash player app from adobe that interacts with your browser.

3. Extract it with Winzip to a place you’ll remember. (I did it to My docs but it can go anywhere.)

4. Grab the flashplayer.xpt and NPSWF32.dll files. Copy them (Right click, copy)

5. Head to C/Documents and settings/”YOUR USER NAME”/Local Settings/Application Data/Google/Chrome/Application/Plugins/ and copy your files in there.

6. Close and restart Chrome

7. Go to Youtube and try it out.

8. I also put the files in this location to cover my bases but I think its unnecessary:

C/Documents and settings/”YOUR USER NAME”/Local Settings/Application Data/Google/Chrome/Application/”File with a load of numbers instead of a title”/Resources/

You’re welcome Internet. After all you’ve done for me.

PS: LOL you got rickrolled.


Jim Carlson: Not a master of Irony or socio-mathematical  abstractions

Landover Baptist is a humorist site dedicated to satirizing the garish, perpetually max-volume Americana that is modern Western Christian Fundamentalism in all its glory. See the blog roll for the link.

So when, in our “internetravels”, we stumbled across this site whilst on a search for the abomination that is Professor Giraffenstein (explanation here), we had to admire how a serious Christian site calling for Landover to be shut down could sound so VERY much like Landover itself.

Brilliantly, Jim Carlson the Christian even proclaims himself a ‘Game Theory’ subscriber on his website.

Game Theory, popularized by that guy from A Beautiful Mind and made use of extensively in the Cold War by some of the most right-wing people in America’s short history, asserts that humans are, in essence, only motivated by self-interest, and there is no such thing as altruism. For more, shut up and watch this:

Then again, you have to admit that ‘Do unto others as you would have done unto you’ is purely self-interest based. Certainly makes the whole Christianity thing sound a lot less lofty and a lot more…well…selfish.

Anyway, after a lot of lunging about misunderstanding big ideas, Jimmy-babes turns his attention to those ironic chaps at Landoverbaptist, accusing them not only of lampooning his beliefs (upon closer reading Landover is actually ridiculing organized religion’s own hypocrisy and hate mongering rather than dogma and doctrine) – but also of actually wanting to trick people into thinking they were a real Christian site. At the same time!

Here’s what can only be described as “the” tirade against this apparent double-attack on morality that is Landover Baptist Church. How many howler fallacies can YOU SPOT?

“The Internet was created by the United States of America – a Christian nation [ref. 1, 2, 3] – and should not be used to spread anti-Christian, secular, or non-Christian propaganda and hate speech. This is our Internet, and we should exercise our position as its owners and as the guardians of civilization to stop its misuse.

“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists but by Christians, not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

– Patrick Henry, American Patriot
“Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord [i.e. Jesus Christ] one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth In Witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names…”

– Article VII, US Constitution

For this reason, this website was created to try and stop one of the more vile and dangerous misuses of the Internet: using it to mock Our Lord Jesus Christ, His teachings, and His followers. And one site in particular stands out in need of stoppage: Landover Baptist.”

Rest Here:

So, tongue firmly in cheek, we sent Jim Carlson, apparent owner of the site, this:

=-=-=

Dear Jim,

I’d like to congratulate you on your hilarious and well-crafted parody of a tract against the site Landoverbaptist.org. You had me laughing so hard I almost wretched. You are a comedy genius!

Particularly enjoyed the irony of writing in the voice of a Christian fundamentalist (who would believe in the Garden of Eden, talking snakes, Cain having sex with his mother, a boat full of animals etc) thinking Landover was out to scam people into ‘believing’ their stories. A brilliant irony sir!

From the moment you started with ‘The Internet was created by the United States of America – a Christian nation’ I was on the floor laughing. This is exactly what an ignorant fundamentalist would say!

Of course you and I know that Tim Berners-Lee, an English scientist, created the world wide web (in the form of HTTP) whilst working with CERN in Switzerland (any idiot with access to the net itself would know this in a second, of course) – your brilliant parody allows for the blindness of those true believers who don’t check facts, but just assume something that fits with their agenda! AMAZING WORK!

Quoting Patrick Henry actually made me wet myself a little too – as everyone with an iota of historical awareness know, Henry confined his wife in the basement of his house for her remaining years before she died alone, making him a complete monster in the eyes of history. Putting him up on your ironic article made me cackle like a witch. You are too much sir!

Quoting Article VII of the Constitution was a great move too – not only because the meaning of ‘he Year of Our Lord’ has nothing to do with religion, more the way they used to actually say the year, but more so because of the fact it was signed by George Washington, who also said:

“Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be deprecated.” – [Letter to Edward Newenham, October 20, 1792] – I laughed til I stopped. Then I laughed some more.

Thanks for your article on Landover by the way, I have bookmarked it, subscribed to their newsletter and have promoted it on my site. I have also put your site on my blog as a brilliant and inspired example of modern satire on the web. My readers will hopefully have the god taste to shower you with praise as well, for you are very very funny.

All the best from admiring humour fans,

Everyone at The Hypernation

=-=-=-


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