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Thursday, March 05 | The Bleat.

If I may: we’re closing in on 5K comments, and I just want to say you guys are wonderful. It’s joy to read them. Thanks;  you’ve made the site 10X better. Here’s to 10K!

Legislator wants to ban Barbie.

Eldridge says he feels that Barbie and other dolls like her “promote or influence girls to place an undue importance on physical beauty to the detriment of their intellectual and emotional development.”

I know, it’s funny, because it’s stupid and podunk, and Iran does it too, ha ha, and because surely there’s a Republican maroon out there in a state legislature who wanted to ban her because she was sold alone instead of prepackaged with a husband. (If not, the mere suggestion that this could happen would be equal to it actually happening.) The specifics are absurd, and the story will go nowhere, but it still made my ire bloom. Now and then it seems that  banning is all they can do. It’s all they seem to want to do. That’s the problem with a free nation: you can’t make yourself significant by granting freedoms, so you spend your time looking for freedoms to restrict in the name of a greater good, and there’s always a greater good. In this case some muddle-headed tripe about Sending the Wrong Message, which would be a sufficient means to keep local stores from making money off the sale of a doll, and send customers out of state to Amazon. Providing the dolls aren’t stopped at the border.

As long as we’re worried about sending messages: it  sends an excellent message to let kids know that something that might encourage doubleplus Ungoodthink can be taken away by the state because you might draw the wrong conclusions. Especially while watching to the Barbie Princess and the Pauper DVD, where Princess Barbie yearns for a life of reading books, and Slave Pauper Barbie wants a life where she can work for herself instead of the old lady who lives off her labor.

Idiot.

Sorry; if I’m a bit . . . uncharitable towards my betters, it’s partly because there’s a rejiggering of the school districts going on around here, and there are mutterings of sending kids in our neighborhood to a different school. One mom noted that they might let kids stay in the same school where they’ve been since kindergarten, but they wouldn’t provide bus service anymore.

I have the feeling that a letter announcing this change would note that they regret the inconvenience.

We tried the new TelePrompTer today – not the real thing, but a jury-rigged version that works just great. No more looking at the laptop. This will be a great improvement. Here’s an iPhone photo of the view from the anchor desk:

newsbreak

We’re shooting on the surface of Venus, it seems.

Virgin USA is closing all of its stores. I visited the one in Denver last summer, and noticed a few things:

1. It had no customer restroom

2. It didn’t have the CD I wanted. Not that I really wanted the CD anyway. I haven’t bought a CD in half a decade. I hate CDs. Not because of their antiseptic sound,  but because they take up space. When they first came out they were the sign of a modern sophisticate, of course; as I’ve said before, the scene in “9 1/2 Weeks” where Mickey Rourke pushes a button and the disc tray slides out was the movie’s tech equivalent of Kim Bassinger. We all wanted it. (I know they’d been around for a while, but they were high-end gear, I believe; most of us put the CD in the top.) Then you got wire racks to show off your collection of digital music. That’s right, digital. It uses lasers. Like they will have in space. For WARS.

CDs ruined record stores. Before you could flip through the albums in peace; they made a soft, vaguely leathery sound  as you rifled through the bins. CDs turned every record store into the sound of a hundred boxes of dominos dumped down the stairs. CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK. And they came in tall plastic sleeves that may have fit the old record bins, but made every CD look like it was on stilts. I didn’t miss records, though – not that much of an audiophile. But I liked the album art, the pleasure of seeing they’d spent money on a sleeve with lyrics (which often meant the band was coming off a successful record, and had spent the last year in a booze & coke haze which would make this album a slab of sludge), and the ability to slit open the album with a fingernail, or guitar pick. CDs  had to be stabbed, hacked, peeled, pried, and cracked to get at the nut.

Mostly it was the space issue, though. A few years ago I exchanged all the old “jewel” boxes for “slimline” ones. They went into the garage. The records are all gone. Everything lives on hard drives, and I like it that way. Apparently I’m not alone; hence Virgin’s demise. To think they could have reduced the store’s size by 90% and offered USB ports for downloads.

To think that the grandest, largest book store or music store will some day be the size of an ATM. And probably just as common.

I shed a tear for Tower, since that was the preferred spot to play hooky when we worked at 2000 Penn in DC. They had a video store on the other end of the building, selling my other hated medium, VHS tapes. How many years did it take before we stopped marveling over renting movies and recording TV shows, and started tapping our toes when the tape went into the slot? COME ON, LOAD ALREADY.

When I visited the Virgin store, by the way, it was empty. They had some cheap DVDs for sale, though, and I thought: I don’t care if they’re ten bucks, I can rent it from Netflix.

I don’t even want to own DVDs anymore. It’s probably a psychological disorder: corporeal medium avoidance syndrome.

Busy day – XM radio deal, column thing, and no time to do Curious Lucre. Sorry! Well, maybe some time, but later in the day. In the meantime: Lance Lawson Thursday over at buzz.mn! Enjoy.

 

71 Responses to Thursday, March 05

  1. ak13820 says:

    I was an avid Barbie collector as a kid. My primary Barbie lived in her own apartment and worked in an office. Having your own apartment was the height of grown-up privilege to me, probably because I came from a crowded house and shared a bathroom with four siblings. Anyway, the idea that Barbies filled my head with negative images of women is absurd. I would’ve been far more confused by today’s dimwitted PC-ism or those hideous Bratz creatures.

    I miss record stores. In high school, Hegwisch Records in Calumet City, IL, was the place to go. It was allegedly owned by the mob, which explained why you were never given a receipt for anything. You got your LP, took it up to the Big-Pussy-Bonpensiero-looking guy at the counter, who grunted at you, and took your cash. We would spend hours there looking through the records and discussing which black t-shirts we were going to buy. I don’t know if the mob connection thing was actually true, but it gave the place a unique atmosphere.

  2. Glenn says:

    I’ll chime in here: I also prefer to buy CDs for the notes, artwork, and backup-ability. This is even more the case with classical music and any sort of “greatest hits” or uber-special remaster version of pop/rock/jazz stuff. Still, I impulsively buy some things via Amazon’s excellent download service (that’s how I expanded the Xmas catalog this past holiday season, e.g.) and like others here I also usually go for a cheap used copy of something in the Amazon Marketplace.

    As for storage, I’ve ripped everything and, like James, got rid of the large jewel cases to great reduce the collection’s physical footprint. Instead of slim plastic replacements though, I bought 5000 archival-quality plastic sleeves ($25?) and 5 Ikea CD holder boxes (“Mackis”). So far so good.

    Never been a movie buff, so I don’t own very many DVDs at all and most of those are concerts.

  3. dan says:

    Never trust people who want to ban things. They’re either looking to find
    something to sacrifice to an angry mob so they look good OR they want
    to ban everything and just haven’t worked their way through the list yet.
    On a happier note: I like CDs, mostly for sentimental reasons. I have fond
    memories of buying my first CDs on a shopping trip with my mom c1991.
    I only buy them now if a song I want is unavailable through any other
    means. Even then all I do is rip the contents and shove them in the iPod.

  4. thomas tucker says:

    glenn- where did you get those plastic sleeves? I’m in the process of transfering cd’s to ipod, and want to store the cd’s.

  5. Spud says:

    I’ll add to the “hear hear’s” for CD’s and DVD’s, though there’s not much music or many movies that I like enough to spend +$10. I do NOT trust downloaded content, where you either have to deal with DRM or a possible “bug” happens to latch on and infest your computer. The music companies screwed themselves over with their DRM policies and I doubt they will ever recover.

    Good to hear you stand up for Barbie movies. My daughter has a few of them and they’re better than I expected. If you don’t mind the CGI animation, the stories are OK and the music is pretty good. It keeps her attention too, which is not such an easy thing.

    [Best album for "cleaning" - Eat A Peach, Allman Bros. It had a nice textured paper, lighter colors inside, and you could listen to extended Duane Allman and Richard Betts solos.]

  6. thomas tucker says:

    Spud- I’m glad you reminded me of that album. Now I have to go obtain it.
    I still love Midnight Rider.

  7. roger h (bgbear) says:

    CD/DVD Storage.

    These are cool, designed for DJs. Comes with numbered sleeves for indexing. We use them at home and my wife makes a Filemaker index.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Aluminum-510-CD-R-DVD-Storage-Case-w-Sleeves-DJ_W0QQitemZ360135452584QQcmdZViewItemQQptZBI_Blank_Media?hash=item360135452584&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1240|66%3A2|65%3A12|39%3A1|240%3A1318|301%3A1|293%3A1|294%3A50

  8. Spud says:

    Oh yeah – I liked visiting the Tower store in Philly (South St.?) during my brief stay in Pennsylvania. They had several floors you could roam. There was also a great comic book store close by, an Italian ice stand and an outstanding gyros take-out that had some mouth-watering souvlaki sandwiches. Of course you could walk down a few blocks to cheese-steak heaven and Market St. too.

    For those who are interested in making backup copies of their CD’s, I would suggest you check out Full Lossless Audio Codec, or the .flac extension. It’s a little more work than ripping to .mp3, but you only lose a little fidelity you have on the original CD (.wav) yet still have a compressed file.

  9. Spud says:

    thomas tucker:
    Check out Wolfgang’s Vault (don’t have the URL memorized!). All you have to do is give them your e-mail address and you have free access to stream a ton of good music, including the Allman Bros. concert at Fillmore East that’s on the “Eat a Peach” album.

  10. thomas tucker says:

    btw, does anyone know how long it’s estimated that the music on cd’s will last?

  11. DaveInAz says:

    If it’s Beethoven, it’ll last another 500 years. If it’s a boy band, it’s already fading. If it’s Cher, it’ll keep going away and coming back forever.

  12. Patrick says:

    Another good thing about LPs was all the goodies that sometimes came with them. Someone had mentioned the MONSTROUS rolling paper from the Cheech and Chong album (I heard one also came with “Up In Smoke.”). I remember reading about how the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper” album came with cutouts of the band with their Sgt. Pepper uniforms that could be stood up, some iron-on badges, and a fake mustache. I remember going to a flea market one time and seeing some pictures hanging up in one of the booths that had the Beatles. The guy working the booth kinda knew it was them, but didn’t know anything else about the pictures. I recognized it immediately: They were pictures from their video for “I Am The Walrus”, which probably came with every LP copy of “Magical Mystery Tour.” I told him what they were, and he thanked me. I wish he had given them to me, or sold them to me. I recognized it mainly due to the costumes they wore, and the artwork on Ringo’s bass drum.

    .egassem eht raeh nac ,oot ,uoy taht os ,ylwols sdrawkcab drocer eht nrut neht ,no ti tup ylisae dluoc uoy ,mubla na no egassem sdrawkcab a tuoba (eurt nevorp netfo saw hcihw) romur eht uoy sllet enoemos nehw taht si sPL htiw gniht (looc rehtar dna) doog rehtonA

    Heard on “Empty Spaces” from Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”:

    !enohp eht no s’eniloraC !regoR .tnoflahC ,mraF ynnuF ehT fo erac ,kniP ot rewsna ruoy dnes esaelP .egassem terces eht dnuof evah uoY .snoitalutargnoC

    In order to do that now, you have to run it through your computer, download the “Reverse Speech” program, and try to sync it up.

  13. hpoulter says:

    And speaking of LP fun – remember Monty Python’s “Matching Tie and Hankerchief”? That was a three-sided album! One side was cut with two concentric spiral grooves, so depending on where you dropped the needle, you got one of two album sides. Try THAT with your mp3.

  14. DaveInAz says:

    HA! I have “Matching Tie and Handkerchief”, and an operating turntable! I remember being confused by that for a while… thanks for the reminder, hp!

  15. The Left likes to say that the Right want to intrude into your bedroom.

    Meanwhile, the Left is riffling through your kid’s toy chest.

  16. RLR says:

    I still buy CDs, and I avoid buying most current e-music. MP3, AAC, and the rest of the codecs are still lossy. Plus, with a CD I can always rerip and reencode to a new format without losing a single bit.

    When they start selling FLACs, then I’m in.

  17. Rob says:

    Meh. I’ll miss my Virgin Megastore (The one over in Orlando). It was a short walk away from where I worked, I got discounts, they always a good supply of fun books (Including a slew of Lileks books) and they had good coffee.

  18. Jerry Ray says:

    Now that you mention it, Rob, I remember buying _The Gallery of Regrettable Food_ at the Times Square Virgin Megastore during a NYC vacation a few years ago. My girlfriend and I took turns reading it aloud in the hotel room at night, handing it to each other when we started laughing too hard to continue reading.

  19. Emily says:

    I want realism Barbies.

    Student Barbie (she had to get to all those careers somehow). Student Barbie has a backpack full of books and eight papers to finish.

    Newlywed Barbie. She and Ken aren’t talking because of what he said about her cooking.

    New Mother Barbie. Her waist is non-existent and she never gets to sleep.

    Yeah, I know. The girls will never go for those.

  20. Dave (in MA) says:

    Never a mother, to my knowledge. Which is its own sort of propaganda, when you think about it.

    If Barbie had a kid, it’d probably look like GI Joe, because Ken, well… you know.

  21. Bill says:

    One thing to note about Virgin’s demise is that they weren’t UNprofitable, but rather that, even in this market, the owner of the store’s locations realized they could make more money leasing the spaces to another tenant rather than continue to run Virgin.

    So while the stores weren’t hemorrhaging money like say, GM, it’s entertaining when in the middle of a recession you can still make more money leasing real estate out to other tenants than by keeping the store currently occupying the space open.

    The slots Virgin occupied in San Francisco and Denver are fairly prominent ones, so I don’t doubt they’ll be filled fairly quickly, to say nothing of the NYC location.

    That piece having been said, I pity the future of music.

    Yes, I’m one of those who believes LP CAN (doesn’t ALWAYS, but under ideal conditions CAN) sound better than CDs, but there’s no doubt that MP3s sound WORSE than CDs. Except for brief flings with 8-track and cassette, this is the first time a music format is being superseded by one that actually sounds WORSE.

    In an era when the studio decks on which recordings are mastered arguably have never sounded better, the distribution medium is sounding worse.

    I beiieve there’s unappreciated irony in that.

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