an oddity, really. they used a real studio audience for the fake talk show sequences.
an oddity, really. they used a real studio audience for the fake talk show sequences.
I would just like to draw attention to the fact that the poster for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) totally apes the poster for The Breakfast Club (1985).
I think that deserves some recognition.
“Love, Factionally.” Evan Kindley’s detailed review* of Carl Wilson’s re-released Let’s Talk About Love is definitely worth a read.
*Here, of Jonathan Sterne’s contribution to the new volume.
How Not To Sound Like A Fool When Talking About Mastering, Vinyl, CDs, etc.
Today, I posted a mini-rant on Facebook around the old, current and perpetual audio medium war. It was inspired by a posting by Oliver Wang on his great blog Soul Sides. Here is that entry. I agree with the entry, but the resulting comments from it on various Facebook threads exhibited that there are certain technical issues that are still misunderstood by many. I posted most of the following off the top of my head earlier today, and I was kinda blown away by the positive response. So here it is, with some slight changes and amendments to make it a little less sloppy
- Mastering vinyl from digital sources doesn’t universally suck, nor does it suck at all. It’s the majority of people who have no clue and/or no care for what they’re doing while mastering modern vinyl that suck. The issues that make these vinyl issues suck may easily be a different issue than any digital source or the vinyl part altogether. It could be the player. It’s often cheap headphones or speakers.
- CDs and MP3s are not the same thing — especially 128kbps encoded MP3s. If you equate the two in an argument about “digital” media sucking, you’re a goddamn fool.
- Actually, any debate about the “sound quality” of a certain medium is doomed from the start. “Sound quality” is far too vague a term, yet it’s a phrase that’s all too easy to blurt out. If it’s ever brought up in an argument, either clarify the phrase, or end the argument.
- High-end open reel-to-reel tape has a better frequency range than both vinyl and CD. If you want to brag about Massive Frequency Superiority, show off your 2-inch tape machine instead of your turntable or high-end CD/DVD player.
- Vinyl does not have a wider frequency range than CD audio, for practical purposes. Vinyl can handle higher frequencies than 20kHz, but these are frequencies humans can’t hear. Vinyl does more poorly with low frequencies — circa 20Hz — than CD because of rumble. That’s not vinyl’s fault. That’s your turntable cartridge’s fault. More to the point, it’s the turntable owner who needs to get a more boomin’ cartridge. Either way, CD audio frequency ranges are pretty much the same as vinyl, but without any contact-media complications
- Vinyl’s technical advantage over CDs is its resolution. (Think of frequency range as the range of the color palette, and resolution as how detailed and life-like the painting looks.) Vinyl does not quantize its sound reproduction, which CDs and digital sources do, by definition. However, vinyl is only superior in resolution if the mastering source has equal or higher resolution, such as high-end reel-to-reel tape. That said, that same sound source as uncompressed 16-bit or preferably 24-bit digital audio is barely audibly inferior to reel-to-reel to most people. If the digital source is a low-bit-rate MP3, that MP3 will almost certainly sound better than the vinyl mastered from it.
- A vinyl release with minor flaws can easily sound inferior to a well-done CD.
- A CD release with minor flaws can easily sound inferior to a well-done vinyl release.
- In the case of the latter two, you may blame the artist, the mixer, the studio, the mastering engineer, the record label, whatever. But don’t blame the medium.
- Replace “vinyl”, “turntable”, “cartridge”, and “rumble” above with "cassette", "cassette deck", "playback head", and "tape hiss" respectively, and you have all you need to know about cassettes vs. CD as well — more or less.
- Most people like the packaging and feel of holding a vinyl release than a CD release or MP3 release, for reasons of rumination, visual art aesthetics, and ergonomics. This is a perfectly valid opinion to uphold. It is no more than an opinion. Yet, that opinion is holding major economic sway these days, whether you like it or not. And "sound quality" has zero to do with vinyl’s high media profile today — except for when you buy and complain about horribly mastered vinyl, in which case go to the first bulletpoint.
"don’t blame the medium"
I do want you to think about the culture of our criticism, because I feel like it’s ever more beholden to a kind of blind posturing that wants to stop it from saying anything useful or true. Let’s go ahead and call this posturing The Game.
The Game is largely played by people who are white and/or middle-class, and much of it involves trying to outmaneuver one another about precisely that fact. At the heart of The Game is fear and loathing and boredom concerning the possibility of being bourgeois. Being bourgeois is The Game’s great sin, and it is often referred to using the code word “white.” If you can’t avoid this sin by virtue of being working-class or Ghanaian or something, your best bet is to deftly corner the market on wary “whiteness”-based critiques of anything that smacks of being bourgeois. The critique will try to present itself as an incisive dismantling of class/race/privilege, but at its heart it will just be “oh noes bourgeois.” The great paradox here, of course, is that The Game is itself an incredibly bourgeois pastime, but never mind that (…)
Jessica and Vampire Weekend aside, this bit is Still Very Relevant.
I’m enjoying, though that isn’t the right word, Simon Head’s Mindless, which despite its stupid post-Gladwellian subtitle (“Why Smarter Machines Are Making Dumber Humans”) is mostly about the “working class-ization” of white collar and service work via Computer Business Systems (CBS’s), and the…
Lots of good food for thought here from David.
Don’t say you don’t remember, if you were there…
So yesterday I took a slew of photos from the August 1988 issue of Musician magazine, the same issue that contained the Gina Arnold story on indie rock finances I shared out last week. These photos, though, were of a number of the ads throughout. And they were very of the time…
It takes lots and lots of time to process each video, but we’ll update the list below each time a new one is ready.
Last week, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon had two bits become big hits online: Emma Stone winning a lip-sync battle, and Kevin Spacey singing a ragtime version of “Talk Dirty to Me.” These were great, but were also clearly very well-rehearsed; the funny part of Stone (and Fallon) lip-synching wasn’t that they were terrible, it was that Stone absolutelynailed the fast-rap part of Blues Traveler’s “Hook.” In his interview, Spacey talked about obsessively practicing for the ragtime bit. They worked because there were no fuckups.
This is a giant stylistic shift from the style of late-night shows that stretches roughly from Letterman through Stewart. These shows were characterized by their looseness and willingness to fuck up, and acknowledge the fuckups. That looseness felt revolutionary at the time, and was a legitimate break from the obsessive showmanship of what came before. But it’s gotten a little stale. When Conan O’Brien first went on the air in 1993, his self-deprecation was a savvy response to widespread doubts about his competence. Twenty years later, it feels like schtick, and not a little sad. Fans still love it (think Jon Stewart eating baconnaise) but it’s certainly long past its sell-by date.
In Tina Fey’s Bossypants, she summarizes a lesson she learned from Lorne Michaels as “Never cut to a closed door,” meaning that small technical fuckups make the audience lose confidence in the show, and become less willing to laugh. It was a lesson abundantly on display on30 Rock, where scenes were precisely paced and every apparent flaw turned out to be wholly deliberate. It helped make that show (relatively) successful, and it seems to be working well for Fallon, too.
There’s an argument to be made that Fallon represents a sensibility born out of the millennial generation, although he himself isn’t one. That’s a little true: certainly the web values trying too hard way more than not trying at all. And trying too hard seems to be legitimately more radical than its opposite at this point.
But instead of going with generations, it seems more useful to say that the sensibility originated in a particular time and place: SNL in the 00s. Fallon and Fey became the Weekend Update hosts in 1999, and Fey presided over an era of SNL in which the tone changed radically from individualistic to collective. The show relied less and less on individual cast members repeatedly playing the same characters and more on sketches where the cast got to play off one another. That’s very much on display with Fallon’s Tonight Show, too: the point is not Fallon doing wacky things or bringing in wacky characters but Fallon doing funny things with the guests, or with the band. It’s working for him, but more importantly, it’s working for the show as a whole.
One exceedingly minor contribution that others have probably already mentioned: does this represent a shift in late night promoland and/or celebrity PR machinery toward further insulating the star from doing anything off-book while allowing them to appear wacky and spontaneous? Maybe it’s not a radical shift, but you see faux-“viral”-looking aesthetics across the promotional landscape nowadays, in which heavily scripted bits are given the superficial veneer of amateurism (aka the KFC Double Down ads, in which the spokesperson’s arm is extended toward the camera to mimic self-videography).
Even though the Leno/Carson model of late night talk show is very, very different from the Letterman/Conan model, the thing that unites them is that there’s never a question about who’s in charge (no matter how self-deprecating Conan acts, he’s a total control freak). Seems like Fallon’s schtick is more aligned with fandom than hosting. More “OMG I get to perform with [celebrity]” than “so what brings you here tonight?” Which fits perfectly within a YouTube moment of DIY fan productions, but also plays right into the hands of agents/handlers/managers, etc.
Where Fallon fails in this mission (and why I can’t watch) is that he draws too much attention to himself during the parts he’s not good at: the interviews. The constant giggling, omnipresent affirmations (‘yeah!’ ‘totally!’), and cokehead excitability are an affective abundance of Fallon’s fandom performance that’s probably impossible for him to restrain (or he’d have done it by now), but are interminable to try and watch.
John Durham Peters, ‘Speaking Into the Air.’
This quote can make me cry if I let it.