Late in 2008, shortly after the election, the higher-ups pulled the trigger on the Sirius-XM channel merger. This happened quite without any real warning for those of us who were, y’know, listening to the stations at the time. Even then, though, there had been warning signs. My personal favorite station, The System, was running on dismally short autopilot cycles; the centrist, reasonable politics channel POTUS was skewing a bit more confrontational and the hosts disappearing without so much as a by-your-leave; and the alternative oldies station, Lucy, had issued a scathing and downright mean-spirited final live show the Saturday before that, honestly, I wish I had heard.
Needless to say, once the merger actually happened and everyone on the XM side discovered that the reasons they picked that service over Sirius in the first place were going straight into the trash can, ain’t nobody was happy.
Part of the reason I’m harping on this three years later is because I’ve cancelled and reopened my satellite subscription a couple of times since then, and most recently it was offered to me as part of my new car. I’d been listening to the stations they chose to “replace” my old standbys with, and while I can appreciate how some of them are back to a listenable state (POTUS is far better now that they have the election to focus on again, except for the atrociously bad call-in show in the afternoon), others are still just as wretched as if not worse than before (the decades stations are godawful messes and the electronic stations are missing the trance/progressive music that made The System special). What stations are good are ruined by virtue of having predictable and short autopilot cycles, meaning you can tune in to Classic Vinyl at X each day to hear the exact same damn song. This could all be excusable if Sirius wasn’t doing their damnedest to make people think there never were those stations before the merger and to belittle people who want them, or at least their format, back.
I’m all for change. I appreciate that there’s always going to be a maturation process. But when you have a good thing that half of your customer base likes, don’t just yank it out from under them. Put another way, the “merger” felt more like a “takeover” for those of us on the XM side. It probably was, in all honesty, but that just means it never should have been called as such.
It could be, though, that having worked in radio and having an appreciation for a strong stable of music directors like XM did, I could just be taking this a little harder than others. But I still think that I have a point in my outrage, and I still think that unless Sirius shapes up and flies right by the time I get done with this audiobook (I’ll almost certainly be done before the free trial runs out), they don’t deserve my money.
This may be one of the most awesome rock performances ever. I’m not even kidding.
Essay Week 2010 runs from Sunday, July 25th to Saturday, July 31st. Every year I take a week and write about some topics of interest to me that run slightly more serious than the usual fare on the blog. That’s not to say that games and anime won’t enter into it, but the predominant theme is that this week skews a bit more literary than epistolary. After a bit of a hard-edged start, we move to a more fluid topic.
A few years back, Mike Doughty, lead singer for Soul Coughing, released a cover of Kenny Rogers’ iconic song “The Gambler”. The cover transposes the song to a more alt-rock style, leaning more heavily on the drums than the original (which was dominated by acoustic guitar), and it drops half of one of the narrative verses in favor of starting with the legendary and infinitely-memorable chorus. In many respects the cover is good, but it loses something in the retelling, particularly without the missing section.
“The Gambler”, at its core, is a fairly standard country-western song. ( Country as a rule tends to be more narrative than other genres… » )
This is Bad. Eurogamer discovered some stuff about the upcoming Michael Jackson game that they just couldn’t keep In The Closet, and because they had to Say Say Say it, I’m finding the game looks better than The Man in the Mirror could have ever thought. Specifically the DS version, which looks to borrow some of its gameplay elements from Ouendan or Elite Beat Agents. On reading this, though, I cried, “Eurogamer, The Way You Make Me Feel about this game leaves me Speechless.” Honestly, Diana (I assume the author’s name was Diana), you obviously Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ by comparing this game, which might not be appropriate given that MJ’s Gone Too Soon, to the Dangerous duo of EBA and Ouendan. You make me feel Dirty, Diana, ’cause I Remember The Time Ubisoft did Raving Rabbids for the Wii and how buggy it was. They Don’t Care About Us, Diana, and that makes me wanna Scream.
Then again, it’s Human Nature to assume the worst, and if you don’t view the world as Black or White, there’s still the possibility that this game could be a P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing). Really, since we are talking about some of the greatest pop music of the twentieth century (despite MJ’s weirdness prompting his calls to “Leave Me Alone!”), I’m willing to give Ubisoft the benefit of the doubt This Time Around. I’ll likely be at the store at the Break of Dawn to pick it up, Jam it in my portable, and– hopefully– be the first person I know to Beat It.
I started off this post with a rather poor attempt to review BT’s latest album, These Hopeful Machines, but as you can no doubt see, I’ve scrapped it. The reasons are many, but mostly they boil down to “I’m not a music reviewer, so anything I say is going to be hopelessly shallow and pedantic”, and “even if I was a music reviewer I literally cannot find the words to describe how this album makes me feel beyond ‘profoundly reflective’, but that’s mostly for personal reasons completely unrelated to the album itself”. I suppose the best I can do, really, is to say that it’s really good, and that anyone who likes electronic music is going to absolutely love it.
If that in fact turns out to be old news, then blame Amazon. I know I do.
Anyway. The word “hope” is a bit appropriate this week, as it turns out, as the Apple WWDC came on Monday and the big video game hoopla, E3, is next week. In both cases the internet has done what it does best: ruined the surprises. We knew about the iPhone 4 months ago, and “leaks” are coming faster and faster as the console “pre-conferences” come closer. I’ll cover these two events one at a time.
First, the iPhone. I found Penny Arcade’s assessment of the technical difficulties a bit… well, anticlimactic. I mean, come on. We all know what really happened. Grey Davis was accompanied on the altar by the employees responsible for the foulups, and together they were all sacrificed by The Jobs to The Beast That Has Naught But Two-Dollar Bills, He Who Thirsts For Quicksilver And The Blood of Interns, Great Bearded Geek With A Thousand-Dollar Computer, W’oz-Loggoth. For Gabe and Tycho to whitewash this just shows you how far lost they are in The Dark Faith of Cupertino. That said, the iPhone 4 was, literally, nothing surprising. I don’t mean that in light of the advances that were known based on the Gizmodo leak, and I don’t mean that it wasn’t technologically impressive. It was, in all respects, exactly what I was betting the 4.0 version of the iPhone would be when I signed on for the 3G two years ago.
See, the only people really getting bent out of shape are the fanbrats who are, either willfully or through sheer stupidity, failing to realize that the iPhone is not a computer and is not beholden to the same product lifecycles as one. It is a smartphone, and as such the decision to purchase or to skip it must be made from that paradigm. Phones are updated on an almost weekly basis. I’ve lost track of how many “phone X running Android-/Palm-flavored OS version Y is now available on carrier Z” posts I’ve seen in the last year. Hell, I couldn’t tell you how many I’ve seen this week. The point being that it doesn’t matter which phone you buy, or which platform you commit to. You need only blink before something “better” comes along. If you’re going into the iPhone, or an Android handset thinking that you’ll be hip and completely up-to-date, think again. Also please hit yourself on the head with a hammer, repeatedly, until the stupid leaks out of your ears. It’ll be a gray color, you’ll know it when you see it.
I can’t speak for everyone, and I certainly can’t speak for someone who’s taking this opportunity to jump from iPhone to an Android set. Who I can speak for is myself, and I’m going by the same rules I’ve had for cell phones since the very beginning– altering them, in point of fact. I started with a fairly basic clamshell phone back in early 2004, and limited myself to one upgrade per year until I made the jump to the iPhone two years ago. I did so knowing that I could not keep up that pace, and that it was entirely likely that I would not need to– remember, the first-gen iPhones shared in a lot of the features that the 3G version did back in ’08. It was not an altogether wild leap to assume that it would be merely one year between each version of the phone, and it turned out that I was right. The 4.0 handset has features that I want, and makes upgrading an attractive option– and since I was planning to do so anyway, there’s no problem. (If the 4.0 had, in fact, not been announced this year– I would have waited until the end of summer– I’d have gone to the 3GS for the extra storage space anyway.)
As for people dealing with the advertising and marketing campaign surrounding, well, all of Apple’s products, I refer you to the dissertation available on this weblog dated the twenty-eighth of February, Anno Domini Twenty-Ten, and shall leave it at that.
This ran a bit longer than I expected, and got a little ranty and preachy near the end. I’ll skip the E3 discussion until tomorrow, but I have a lot to say about that, too.
Happy birthday, mom. I’ll call ASAP.
In 2002, I started what would eventually become the capitalized “The Collection” from some pretty humble beginnings: I had a single “CD tower” of Playstation 1 and 2 games, probably about four feet tall and barely a foot wide. I also had a handful of boxed up retro systems, and maybe a dozen or so anime DVDs (with a modest amount of VHS tapes as well). Obviously, I expanded; as most of you all know, I also had to sell off roughly 95% of my games and anime during a downturn between jobs. Today, the Collection is the largest it’s ever been, and it’s in no danger of having to be sold off anytime soon.
I don’t like to brag– particularly not about stuff that I own– so that’s not the purpose of this post. Most folks don’t see their piles of video games and movies and suchlike as collections– they see them, primarily, as just “stuff”. If they want to get fancy, they may refer to it as a “library”. Really, though, these are cop-outs: if one is really serious about becoming a collector, then there can never be a point where you just have a pile of discs. You have to start early, so that it doesn’t get away from you. I’ve been throwing around terms like the Reclamation List and all that for years now without really explaining the thought process behind it all; I figure, now that the majority of the work is behind me, it would be a good time to take a look at how I built up even this modest collection and how I go about expanding it.
I should note, though, that it’s perfectly okay if you don’t want to be a collector of DVDs, games, whatever. That’s fine. It’s not something that everyone can do or has an interest in doing. The thing is, of course, that some folks out there do want to be collectors, and there’s some stuff that I wish I knew when I was setting out. That’s the purpose of this post (actually, by the time I’m done, it’ll probably feel more like a lecture).
So, without further delay, let’s start with ( The Ten Commandments Of Collecting… » )
In the end, taking up media collecting as a serious hobby can be rewarding and fun, but it can also be really nerve-wracking if you’re not prepared for it. Obviously, I’m not setting myself up as an authority or anything, but these are all just stuff I’ve found out since starting the Reclamation project. It all comes down to what you get out of it; if you want it just to have it, or if you want it to watch/read/play it all at some point.