Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

[READ: June 25, 2022] The End of the World is Flat

I received this book at work and was instantly intrigued by the title and the blurb that described “A comedy featuring Christopher Columbus, a tech billionaire and a local delusion.”

The book opens with Christopher Columbus waiting to be given the go ahead to sail around the globe.  His flat earth sailors all believe that they will fall off the edge of the earth, but Columbus is convinced otherwise.

Then the story jumps to the present. Mel is the head of the charitable company called Orange Peel.  Mel single handedly created and developed orange peel with a singular goal in mind: to get anyone involved with maps (from teachers to Google) to stop using the Mercator map which is inherently flawed both in design and in the way it makes South America look less significant.  Rather, they should use the orange peel map projection (it looks like four small ovals attached to each other).

If you don’t know what any of this refers to, its worth looking into the history of maps to see just how wrong our standard (Mercator) understanding of the globe is.

When Google agreed to change their usage of the Mercator to the Orange Peel she feel that her job was done.  Mel had created a small but influential company and yet they had completed their goal–there was nothing more for them to do.  She intended to quietly close up shop and give everyone an excellent reference.

But the board that Mel had hired to look after things for her had other ideas.  They didn’t want to end things there, so they asked her assistant Shane to meet with a billionaire who had an idea for the next stage of the company.

While Mel was talking to Google, Shane was talking to tech billionaire Joey Talavera who is married to Crystal Vardashian.  The last name there is a non too subtle jab at someone (although Crystal turns out to have a level head and some good ideas.  But I’m not sure if Talavera is supposed to be someone or other.

Anyhow, Talavera talks to Shane, shows off his amazing house (one of his houses) and then says he wants to dump a lot of money at Orange Peel to promote his own cause.

Back in the boardroom when Mel saw the proposal (just before she walked out) she thought it was a joke,  But the board saw money in it and so, they agreed to take on Joey’s idea.  Which is that they world is flat and everyone knows it–but higher up people are working to keep it under wraps. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MR. BUNGLE-The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo (2020/1986).

In 1986, Mr. Bungle released a demo tape called The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny.

In 2020, after a reunion tour of sorts, the band rerecorded the album, with some slight personnel changes. Original singer Mike Patton was still there as was masterful guitarist Trey Spruance and bassist Trevor Dunn.  But they had two impressive guests stars (who also performed live with them), Scott Ian (from Anthrax) on rhythm guitar and Dave Lombardo, drummer extraordinaire.

And thus they re-recorded the initial demo.  Fans of Mr. Bungle’s later genre bending work would be a little disappointed because this was pretty much a heavy heavy metal record.  But it is Mr. Bungle so you know there’s gonna be some weird stuff too.

The only song they don’t play from the original is “Evil Satan” which is more or less a goof anyway.

“Grizzly Adams” opens the album with a very pretty guitar instrumental. Spruance really shines with this moody, weird piece.  But even when the full band joins in in the last 30 seconds, it doesn’t prepare you for the heaviness to come.

“Anarchy Up Your Anus” is old school metal–heavy guitars with an Anthrax/Slayer vibe.  There’s even a lengthy scream after the opening drum fills.  This song has an opening narration by Rhea Perlman.  Yes.  Rhea Perlman.  The narration comes from the Chilling, Thrilling Sounds Of The Haunted House Disney album (on the demo they just played the audio from the record).

“Raping Your Mind” is out of sequence from the demo (it was originally song 6).  It continues with the heavy Anthrax-like riffage and some serious drumming.  There’s a cool middle moment where there’s two guitar solos and just bass and drums in the back–there’s some seriously wicked guitar soloing going on.

“Hypocrites /Habla Español o Muere” was originally a longer song, but they decided to shorten it and add this humorous cover of the Stormtroopers of Death song.  The title is mentioned in the first few seconds, then after 30 seconds, the song jumps into a bit of “la Cucaracha” and then segues into “Speak Spanish or Die.”

“Bungle Grind” is really heavy with some classic mosh sections and faster riffage.

“Methematics” is a new song.  It’s a bit more standard heavy metal and not so much early thrash until the double bass drums kick.  There’s lots of parts including a classic punk style in the middle.  This is more akin to the later, adventurous Mr. Bungle, but at 8 minutes it is a little long.

“Eracist” is another new song.  This one is great.  Really catchy with some good old fashion metal riffs and chanted chorus.  There’s a seriously heavy middle section, too.

“Spreading the Thighs of Death” was the third song on the demo.  It’s some good fast thrash with wicked chord changes and massive double bass drum.  There’s some really wild guitar soloing too.

“Loss For Words” is a Corrosion of Conformity cover.  It’s a pretty serious cover version.  Patton’s vocal delivery is even a little different.

“Glutton for Punishment” is another new song that fits into the classic riff an thump thrash.  There’s a whispered vocal part where you can actually hear the words!  And a fascinatingly fiddly guitar solo that left me wondering how he did it.

“Sudden Death” ended the demo and ends this as well.  A heavy chugging riff and super fast thrashing–it’s impressive that they can keep it up for seven plus minutes.  I rather liked the “yes/no” chanting at the end.

This album isn’t for everyone (as most Mr. Bungle albums aren’t).  But it does show off some quality old school metal and some serious skill for a band covering themselves 30 years later.

[READ: March 24, 2021] Zed

I saw this book in Barnes & Noble and fell in love with the cover.  I made sure to look for it at the library and was pretty psyched when it came in.

And I was pleased as soon as I started reading.

Set in the not too distant future, one tech company, Beetle, dominates the world.  I thought that Beetle was pretty inspired name.  It could be Apple (who have a connection to The Beatles, with Apple Records) and it looks a lot like the word Google, although I suppose it is probably closest to being about Amazon–with their online assistant Athena.

Nearly every citizen (the book takes place in London, but Beetle is global) wears a BeetleBand which monitors everything you do–like a Fitbit or Apple Watch on steroids.

It tells you when you are stressed or when you should hydrate or that you shouldn’t have that donut.  Indeed, everything is now really “smart”: fridges, doors, cars.  Everything in your house is monitoring you. And everyone has a Veep, a personal assistant who does everything for you (except for physical things, since it has no body). You pay for all the best stuff in Beetle bucks–the cryptocurrency that replaced actual  money as the dominant currency.  If you didn’t convert your pounds, euros or dollars, when the rate was good, you’re just stuck.

When the book says everyone, it’s really mostly everyone. There are some people who can’t afford such extravagance.  People who don’t work for Beetle get paid in regular money which isn’t very useful.  There are also neo-Luddites who want nothing to do with Beetle.  But they are carefully monitored by Beetle.

Most people work and communicate in a virtual world with avatars that are some version of themselves.  And most importantly, every person has a Lifechain–the algorithm that determines the longevity and happiness you should experience.  This predictions are pretty much never wrong and everyone uses them to judge people–employers, police, etc. Everything you do, every decision you make changes our Lifehchain, which changes you likelihood of doing x y or zed. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KURSTIN x GROHL-“Sabotage” (The Hanukkah Sessions: Night One” December 10, 2020).

  Producer Greg Kurstin (who I have not heard of) and Dave Grohl (who I have) decided that, rather than releasing a Christmas song this year, they would record eight covers of songs by Jewish artists and release them one each night for Hanukkah.

“With all the mishegas of 2020, @GregKurstin and I were kibbitzing about how we could make Hannukah extra-special this year. Festival of Lights?! How about a festival of tasty LICKS! So hold on to your tuchuses… We’ve got something special coming for your shayna punims. L’chaim!!”

The first night is a ripping version of Beastie Boys’ Sabotage.

As the only Rock and Roll Hall Of Famers with a lyric about kugel, we thought it would be a shanda to not kick off this party with New York’s (and Abraham’s) finest…known by some as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abedenego, known by others as Ad-Rock, Mike D, and MCA…known by their Imas and Abbas as Adam Horovitz, Mike Diamond and Adam Yauch… Beastie Boys!

Kurstin plays synth (the bass is not quite as cool sounding as the original, but is otherwise pretty spot on).

Grohl plays drums and sings.  The singing is hilarious because he does his best Beastie Boys vocal style, including a tinge of an accent.

The video is done in one take, including a moment where Grohl drops his drumstick (the video mockingly points this out).  But he manages to get it back without any real damage to the song

This is a fantastic introduction to this enjoyable new tradition.

[READ: December 11, 2020] “Must be Peopled”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fifth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

You know the drill by now. The 2020 Short Story Advent Calendar is a deluxe box set of individually bound short stories from some of the best writers in North America.

This year’s slipcase is a thing of beauty, too, with electric-yellow lining and spot-glossed lettering. It also comes wrapped in two rubber bands to keep those booklets snug in their beds.

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check back here to read an exclusive interview with the author.

It’s December 11. David Burr Gerrard, author of The Epiphany Machine, kindly requests that you un-tag him from that photo.[Click the link to the H&O extras for the story].

This story was hilarious and dark at the same time.  It was an opportunity to live out a perverse fantasy and then to see what doing so would send back your way.

The narrator says that he and Kate often joked about ranking friends’ baby pictures from cutest to ugliest.

I mean, who hasn’t?

Anyway, Kate has left the narrator, so he is now going to start ranking.  Publicly.

He begins by saying “Maryanne Jameson is the curtest baby on my feed Congratulations, Maryanne!!!!”

Within seconds many people have liked the post–primarily Maryanne’s mom and her friends.  (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: half•alive-Tiny Desk Concert #879 (August 12, 2019).

This is one of the more fun Tiny Desk Concerts I’ve seen.  I didn’t think I knew half•alive but I recognized one of the songs from the radio.  They had just released their debut album, so I guess they are a New Artist.

Formed in Long Beach, Calif. in 2016, half•alive is a band with a clear vision and gift for design, not just in the earworms they write, but in their entire presentation, with often-matching outfits and carefully selected color schemes.

The band, fronted by singer and guitarist Josh Taylor, didn’t try to squeeze in any costume changes, but they do play three songs from their debut album.

 It wasn’t at all surprising to see and hear the care they took to make their Tiny Desk debut a memorable one.

On “RUNAWAY” Taylor sings in a kind of slacker deadpan chattering style (but catchy).  It’s quite a surprise when he sings a rather impressive falsetto in the chorus.   J Tyler Johnson plays a groovy Wurlitzer.  This is the only song with strings (Emiko Bankson: violin; Callie Galvez: cello)

I was really surprised to find that I’d heard “still feel.” before as I didn’t know this band’s name (and never knew what the song was called).  Joshua Taylor plays guitar on this song a wicked wah wah riff.  Johnson switches to bass and plays a cool funky riff throughout.  In fact this song has a massive disco feel and the falsetto vocals in the chorus really sell it

For this song, the strings have been replaced by Jordan Johnson and Aidan Carberry credited with choreography.  For this song one of them reads a book while the other is playing with a Rubik’s cube.

Well before arriving for this performance, the three guys in half•alive asked for the exact dimensions of the space behind Bob Boilen’s desk. Known for their live shows, with elaborate, synchronized dancing and costume changes, the group naturally wondered how they’d pull everything off in such a cozy space.

Their solution? Have the dancers sit for the performance. The choreography, now restricted to the width of two chairs, was incredible. You’ll see how it all works on the final song

The final song is “ice cold.” a new track from the band’s just-released debut full-length, Now, Not Yet.  For this song, drummer Brett Kramer switches Septavox while Johnson is back on Wurlitzer.  Taylor switches to acoustic guitar, but honestly who can even tell what’s happening musically because Jordan Johnson and Aidan Carberry have created an elaborate choreography.  Whenever they are on camera its impossible not to look at them.

I’m not sure if the song is any good, but I’ll be they’re a lot of fun to see live.

[READ: August 31, 2019] Crowded

I’m not sure what attracted me to this book.  The cover was certainly interesting and the visual style was cool.

But I’m so glad I read it because it is a funny (and violent) story that is all an elaborate take on crowd sourcing and social media.

The first chapter opens with a dialogue on the Dfender app. Charlie Ellison has hired Vita to Dfend her.  It turns out that someone has posted a bounty on her head on the Reapr app.

Charlie explains that she started the morning by cleaning her house for a couple who were Padhopping it for the weekend.  Then she drives for both Muver and Drift.  Then she loaned out her car for the day on Wheelsy and rented out a dress on Kloset.  Then she took a job on Dogstroll and on Citysitter *(the children seem unlooked after).  She ended her day by taking a job from Palrent to sit with an old man who feeds pigeons.

She hooked up with a guy at the bar before bed and snuck out in the morning.  That’s when the first person tried to kill her.

It was an old lady with a gun.  Charlie threw her coffee in the woman’s face, took the woman’s little dog and ran away because that’s when the second person tried to kill her.

Vita shows her the Reapr app and that the reward for killing her is over a million dollars. (more…)

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