Monday, December 28, 2009

Verizon Broadband Wireless Still Sucks

I've been using Verizon Broadband Wireless on and off for about four years now. I always sign on when I travel, then cancel soon after because the service is so bad.

Verizon Broadband Wireless is not "scary fast." It's slow. Disconnects are frequent. Sometimes every few minutes. This was true with their PC card. It's true with their USB modem.

Only use it if you have to. I'm using it now, and I hate it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Amazon Kindle and Sony eReader Self-Publishing

Last year, Amazon introduced its Kindle ebook. This year, Sony introduced its ereader, which Barnes & Noble is marketing under the Nook name.

I expect consumers to support only one format, and I think Amazon's Kindle will win. I certainly hope so.

For one thing, Amazon makes it easy for authors to self-publish their books, articles, short stories, scripts, poems, whatever, on Kindle. One need only open a Kindle account. You upload your book, and set the price, and it becomes available on Amazon.com.

Amazon requires a minimum price of 99 cents. They take 35% of what you collect.

I've uploaded two of my novels onto Kindle: Vampire Nation and Manhattan Sharks.

I priced them at $1.99. I uploaded Vampire Nation in late June, and Manhattan Sharks only last week.

It's easy. Any author can do it.

Sony only recently opened itself up to self-publishers. I've yet to upload anything onto Sony, but by and by.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

In Praise of 1980s "Concept Music Videos" and Literal Music Videos

I've long been a fan of Meat Loaf, Bonnie Tyler, and Jim Steinmen (who wrote the best songs for both those singers).

I also remember the peak of music videos, the early 1980s. Back then, singers didn't have much influence in music videos, rather, the director was king. This was because singers didn't understand this new format, while directors did.

And one of the leading music video auteurs was director Russell Mulcahy, who established many of the format's early cliches: smoke effects, widescreen black bars, objects breaking in slow-motion.

Mulcahy did "concept videos," as opposed to "performance videos." Concept videos emphasized an abstract, metaphorical interpretation of the music, in which the singer, and the lyrics' literal meaning, was downplayed or even ignored. Performance videos focused on the singer (e.g., Michael Jackson's Thriller.

As singers came to understand the format, they took charge -- taking charge of "their own music" as they saw it. I think that spelled the death of music videos as an art form. Allowing singers to control "their" music videos is like allowing film stars to control "their" films. A film is collaborative. The actors and music composer play a role, but the director should take the lead.

Mulcahy directed many of Kim Carnes's videos, and Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart. Brilliantly abstract, metaphorical concept videos.

I've just discovered satirical "literal music videos," which redo the lyrics to match the images. This naturally works better (is funnier) with concept videos, rather than performance videos.

And naturally, there's a "literal music video" for Mulcahy's Total Eclipse of the Heart.

Yes, I think it's hilarious. It's been years since I've seen the original video, or even listened to the song. But seeing its "literal" parody, aside from inspiring laughs, also makes me appreciate Tyler, Mulcahy, and Steinmen that much more -- and wish it was the 1980s all over again.



Here's a concept video from the early 1990s. Meat Loaf singing I Would Do Anything for Love, written by Jim Steinman. The "literal" interpretation.



And here's the original Total Eclipse of the Heart.



And the original I Would Do Anything for Love.