Monthly Archives: February 2009

Culture-Jamming, In the–

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The premise behind this website that I came across today is that “Everything’s funnier. In the butt.” Crass? Maybe, but it’s kind of true. I certainly laughed out loud (though I didn’t ROFL, I should add) several times when I was looking through the submissions.

The idea, for this site, is that if you slap an “In the butt” sticker on something, you’ve immediately made it funnier. For the low-low cost of just $5, you can make EIGHT things funnier! Eight! Of anything! Because everything’s funnier in the– well, you get the idea. I’d be interested to know if the creators of the website consider the end-result of their stickers culture-jamming. It could definitely qualify– it has the same effect as spraying a Banksy-esque stencil on the side of a building or on a billboard.

Culture-jamming, however, usually has some, erm, deeper motivation behind it than just pure comedy. Since the creators of the website only claim to be angling for some giggles, I find it a bit hard to accept it on the same level as more serious artists. On the other hand, “Everything’s more poignant– In the butt” isn’t quite as catchy of a tagline. Thoughts?

On a completely unrelated note, I was surprised to discover that the “1,000,000 Strong For Colbert” Facebook group was still around, today. I’d assumed (foolishly, it appears) that after Colbert dropped his election bid, the group would collapse. It’s lost about 300,000- 400,000 members, but it still has almost 1.2 million. As of 2:19 am CST, however, there has been both a wall-post and discussion board posting within the past eleven minutes. A lot of the wall-posts are spam, but discussion board remains alive as a forum to discuss explosive political topics with complete strangers, ad infinitum. I don’t get it, but then again, I don’t really get forums either, and those are among the most popular things on the internet.

The music is a little different today. I’m listening to MF Doom, so I wanted to share something with him, and what better than DangerDoom, his collaboration with Danger Mouse. It’s not technically a mash-up album, but Danger Mouse is one of the most important people in the history of mash-ups (I’ll share his most important work some other time), so it seems fair.

In all the tracks, Doom provides the vocals, and Danger Mouse makes the beats.

Benzie Box

The Mask

Old School, ft. Talib Kweli

Some of the tracks might not have the intros, but if you want the rest of the album, it’s pretty easy to find on the interweb.

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Telefon-Skulptur

Image Copyright Rune Guneriussen

Image Copyright Rune Guneriussen

Update: The telephones have been moved. They are no longer lined up in formation in front of the television. Instead, they are occupying all of the free space in the hall closet, awaiting their magnificent fate (which has yet to be determined, of course). Upon perusing the internet today, however, I came across a Boingboing Gadgets post that showed an image by the Norwegian artist Rune Guneriussen. He, of course, has more phones to play with than I do, but he still has an impressive display. Rather shamelessly, I have ripped several photos from his website, which I’ve made into a Vuvox presentation for your enjoyment:

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Of course, since this is infringing on several laws, if the artist wants me to take this down, I will immediately. I don’t have much else to share today, but I still welcome suggestions from the readership as to what my telephones should be used for.

Speaking of copyright violations, here are a few more for you.

This first track is weird. But I’m kind of in to it.

I doubt 2 Black 2 Strong meant for this second track to sound like this, but I like it.

This final track is another one from my iTunes archives. It’s a fantastic mix, but I like a different version when it comes to the very last bit. I’ll share that some other day.

Digital Rescue

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Technology saved me, today. Last night I was out collecting audio for a story I had to write for my Convergence Journalism class, and I made a fatal mistake:  I didn’t monitor my recordings. It’s a rookie mistake, and though I’d like to say I have no idea how it happened, I do. I was cocky. I assumed all my connections were good, my levels were high, and my mic placement perfect.

I don’t know if it was a lesson inflicted upon me by the gods who were tired of my arrogance, but over half of my recordings were either (almost) indecipherable or they didn’t record at all. It’s a tricky balance– in an interview, I find that people are more often at ease when my headphones are off, but wearing them at the time of the recording is the only way to guarantee that I’ve captured the audio on tape. In two cases, I left them off because I was overly confident, and in the other, because the woman looked nervous.

My audio equipment, though capable of producing great sound, is a little funny. I use a video camera as the tape deck, and a hand-held or shotgun mic , which is plugged into it. Since DV (the digital video format) records audio at 1511 kbps, it’s even better quality than CDs, so the recordings sound absolutely fantastic… When it works. (By comparison, most mp3 files come in around 128 kbps, so the quality is more than ten times higher.)

The converter cables I have to use to hook up the shotgun mic to the camera make for a tight fit, since the camera is rather compact and doesn’t have very secure connections. Therefore, if I don’t make sure the cable is really squeezed in there, it can come loose, and the audio won’t record. That’s what happened in two of my interviews, and the result was that the captured audio sounded like this:

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As you can tell, it’s garbage. Even if you crank the volume, you can hardly hear anything.Luckily, due to the magic that is digital audio processing, I was able to recover most of the audio. It sounds a little like it was on AM radio, but it’s at least reasonably understandable now:

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If I spent more time on it, I’m sure I could make it even better. Isn’t technology grand? The other recording was completely un-salvagable– I’d forgotten to press record. Even Soundtrack can’t fix that stupid of an error.

Speaking of digital audio, here’s some of a more melodic variety.

This first track features a familiar vocal track, but with a fun twist to the accompaniment.

Continuing the fun theme is this second track. It’s a pretty straight A vs. B, but it stays fresh throughout.

This final track is a fun one too. The chorus may raise an eyebrow, but that usually happens with this style of mash-up.

Color Copy

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I admit it– the subject of this post is ripped directly from Kanye West’s blog. I hadn’t read it before last night, and I’m really quite impressed with it– there’s tons of good stuff. It’s broken down by category, and while I’d known he was into fashion (and music, of course), I was delighted to find all the cool art and design he was posting. There’s some controversy as to whether or not West actually writes his own blog, but I don’t really care. As long as there’s interesting content, they’ve got my vote.

Anyway, the “cool thing” that I wanted to share was this video, which is apparently a “chromatherapy” art installation called “Patachromo,” by the French artist SuperBien:

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Chromatherapy is controversial itself, as it’s widely regarded as pseudoscience. There are arguments for the power of color on the psyche and body, but the detractors’ main point is this: chromatherapy is nothing more than flashing colored lights on someone. That may be, but I’d like it. If there were a series of colored lights above my bed that pulsed above me as I fell asleep, I bet I’d be more relaxed. You never know! If nothing else, it makes for a beautiful installation piece. If anyone can find this as a screen saver, let me know.

For the music today, I have three more from Norwegian Recycling.

The first track features “I’m Yours” again, but this time with an A vs. B structure to the song, against Akon.

I couldn’t get this second track out of my head all day, so I’ll share it with you. It has a really fun, kind of dorky attitude that fits the vocals perfectly.

My mouth literally fell open when I first heard this final track. It’s just a very basic A vs. B mash-up, but the instrumental track is a part of my very soul. Bonus points to whoever figures out what it is first (Roxy and Gabe don’t count).

PS– Whoever reached this site by searching for “how to draw a gorilla in a battle form,” I hope you found what you were looking for. Chances are that you didn’t, but I’ll make sure to include something along those lines in the future.

Expansion

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Today, though you wouldn’t know it unless I told you, this blog is moving into a brave new world. I’ve invited my old friend Daniel to share his thoughts as another contributor to this blog. I think this is an important for a few reasons:

1) It gives this blog a life beyond the confines of the class I started it for. I’ve gotten pretty hooked on this stuff. What started out as a little experiment in a class has turned into a daily adventure of searching for things to share with the community who reads this, no matter how large or small it may be. I’d like this to become, in some way, a continuing effort, and expanding the authorship beyond myself (especially when I’m off in the woods for long swaths of the summer) is one way to do that.

2) It gives the blog an alternate perspective. One of the biggest problems I have with blogs, and why I initially avoided writing one, is that it’s often just the limited view of one person. Just take a look at the injustice that I heaped upon The Monkees, which commenter Kelly called me out on. Blogs everywhere have these kinds of gaffes, mostly because one person can’t be expected to know everything. Daniel has already expressed some differing opinions on some of the issues I’ve posted, so it will be refreshing to see more of a dialogue open up. Hopefully it will inspire people to comment, as well!

I hope this change is exciting to everyone else as it is to me. I think you’ll appreciate Daniel’s particular expertise at finding interesting things on the internet– I have for years.

In honor of our new author, I’ll address one of his concerns, and post some songs from different source. I first heard of Norwegian Recycling through Daniel, and his songs are really incredible.

I don’t remember all the different songs in this first track, but there are eight of ’em. Anyone who can manage to make that many tracks lay together well is a genius, as far as I’m concerned.

It may sound obvious, but mashing a hip-hop song with the track it sampled in the first place sounds awesome. Especially if the track is as famous as Beautiful Girls. This second track has that, and more.

This final track also features a song that blew up the airwaves in the summer of 2007, but interestingly, I’m Yours wasn’t officially released until 2008. The internet spread it prolifically prior to that, however, and its final release was actually significantly different than the earlier track. Just an extra little tidbit.

PS– The image for the post is the Google Images result for “Norwegian Recycling.” I don’t know how it’s related, but I like it.

A Spoof

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You’ve all probably heard of Freecreditreport.com. Their name is genius, of course, because it’s so easy to remember. The real reason the service is so popular, though, is their commercials. They’re catchy and short– just what jingles should be. They’re also almost everywhere on cable. At my apartment at at home, I just watch over-the-air network stuff, so I hadn’t really heard of them, but whenever I go to my neighbors’ apartment, one of the commercials is guaranteed to come on the TV.

The service has generated a fair amount of controversy, however, since if you don’t opt-out of a trial program (which the user is required to take) within seven days, there’s a $14.95 monthly fee. Don’t ask Verizon, it isn’t free. There are various different forms of recourse being taken against the service, but the following one is my favorite.

Since Freecreditreport.com is kind of a “big fish,” “little fish” like ordinary people have a tough battle ahead of them if they’re to bring it down. Instead, some are getting back to their cynical roots, and attacking the company through culture-jamming. What’s most memorable about the company? Their jingles. How can people attack the company best? By messing with the jingles. Dan Louisell does just that:

 This post is going to be short tonight, since I have much to do, and more to sleep.

I’ve been listening to Kanye West’s 808’s And Heartbreaks, so he’s the theme of tonight’s music.

I auditioned two different songs using the same Kanye vocals, but this first track had a nicer pop sound to it.

There’s a lot going on in this second track, in terms of audio elements. It’s usually a disaster when a DJ leaves too much of the original track when they mash it with another, but this one pulls it off surprisingly well.

The weird little instrument that chimes in about a third of a way into this final track is weirdly grating, but the rest of this track is absolutely wonderful.

New Tools

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Today was abnormal for a weekend day: I actually came across all sorts of multimedia tools, as opposed to just sleeping all day. I attended the second day of the Illinois College Press Association conference, and was able to attend a session that gave us tons of tools we need to get around the particular shortcomings of College Publisher. It’s refreshing, because I’ve been made legitimately angry by the horribly outdated multimedia tools that we’ve been stuck with. Now, I’m not blaming those bad tools for all of the shortcomings of the website, but they certainly don’t help.

One of the really cool tools we were shown was Vuvox. I’ve been slightly anti-Flash on this blog, but only because it’s annoying to a blogger– I can’t link to content within the site itself. Vuvox is cool though, because it creates a lightweight flash slideshow presentation within the website itself. Here’s an example that I threw together quickly:

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Cool, no?

Another site we were shown was Wix. Wix makes free and quick Flash websites, and though I don’t like trying to link to them, I can’t avoid the fact that Flash looks better than anything else on the web. Whether or not it’s easier to code than HTML/CSS (I don’t know, I’ve never tried), it always looks like more work went into it. Loads more. I’m contemplating using Wix to run my Convergence Journalism class’ website, but I’ll have to work out the bugs. It’ll probably be a mix of our current content manager and these Flash tools, whatever is the most efficient/good- looking.

Two more short thoughts, and they’re both Facebook-based. The first is just a matter of confusion. Take a look at this image that was in a Facebook advertisement on my sidebar today: 6002243224597_1_791bfe59

Apparently whoever made this image put a phone’s keypad onto the body of a Canon Digital Rebel DSLR. Usually camera phones work the other way, but hey, if someone invents this, it’ll be handy to… Um… Somebody with really large pockets. I just don’t know what they were thinking. It’s a curious idea, though, I’ll give them that.

Also: I’ve commented on the vapidity of social networking sites, but I was crushed (crushed) to see that a friend de-friended me on Facebook today. It hurts surprisingly much for such a small, relatively meaningless thing. I guess it depends on who it is, but it never feels great.

Enough Facebook. Here’s the music.

I don’t feel good posting this first track… It feels like sacrilege of some kind. The Beatles are just so much better than the Monkees. They do sound good together, though. Probably because the Beatles taught the Monkees everything they know.

Speaking of cheesy bands, this second track features Green Day.

This last track is a long ‘un. It’s got a great groove, though.

PS– My (horrible) method of keeping track of which mash-ups I’ve posted is to download them and search my iTunes for a track I’m suspicious about double-posting. The problem is that I don’t download all of them, so a bunch slip through the cracks. I also haven’t cleaned up my desktop in a while, so now it’s covered with two weeks of mash-ups. What a mess.