The test of the greatness of a critic is in two things: firstly, do you feel as if you understand the art better for their insight, and, second, have they explained their love or hate of the thing in such a way that you have a good idea whether you’ll enjoy it. Roger Ebert wasn’t a critic that I always agreed with (his review of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang managed to point out all the bits that I loved about the movie while explaining how those things left him cold) but who gave me a greater understanding of the movies and of the artistry of the medium.
His political and social offerings weren’t particularly welcome from my corner, but I always believed that he had a right to voice those opinions and use his podium how he saw fit. He carved out his own space in every medium that he chose from television and newspapers to books and social media; most admirably, he did it honestly, bluntly, and on his own terms.
He critical eye will be missed.Read the obituary.
No matter what anyone hoped for, the ruling against ReDigi this week was unsurprising. Their approach to resale of digital files– in specific, your iTunes catalog– may appeal on an emotional level, but it never looked good on a legal level. That is, most people continue to confuse the “fair” in “fair use” for something that has nothing whatsoever to do with the reality of digital musical sales.
Here’s a bit of the ruling as reported by CNet:
“Courts have consistently held that the unauthorized duplication of digital music files over the Internet infringes a copyright owner’s exclusive right to reproduce,” Judge Sullivan wrote. “However, courts have not previously addressed whether the unauthorized transfer of a digital music file over the Internet — where only one file exists before and after the transfer — constitutes reproduction within the meaning of the Copyright Act. The court holds that it does.”
I would suggest that there is an easier way to look at this: when you purchase digital music, you haven’t bought actual ownership of the music. All you’ve done is license that music for your own personal use (indeed, at some point, I’m pretty sure that someone will have to test the heritability issue to find out if your spouse or children or pet, depending on how you’ve written your will, can actually assume ownership of those files after you’ve passed away– my guess is that a strict answer will be “no” but the pragmatics of policing the chain of custody will prove too difficult for enforcement). With a CD, a similar license is purchased but is tied to the actual ownership of the physical device carrying the music– and when you sell that physical device, you’re also selling your rights to “ownership” of the music therein.
The question of how courts view things like transfer of digital files and how copyright violations can occur when groups of people access the “same” file were answered largely when MP3.com lost early court battles to the big music companies. Their scheme was just as careful and thoughtful as ReDigi, but their arguments failed. Rational or not, the precedent already exists for this decision. Indeed, Apple admitted as much when it made its big contribution to the record companies in return for launching iTunes Match, a service with a tremendous similarity to the way MP3.com worked.Read the original.
When you live a certain kind of life– the kind of life that leads you to run around telling everyone that “happiness is overrated,” for example– you find that your idea of beauty might not match the rest of the world’s.
Take this song, for example. “War Memorial,” from Mark Lanegan and Duke Garwood, is a melancholy song filled with disturbing imagery and death. In less careful care, this might have become something overwrought and dramatic, but these two keep the tone strangely light, even ethereal.
Lanegan’s voice–often a deep rasp– floats quietly through the gentle sweep of the music in a way that doesn’t even hint at his work in rock bands Screaming Trees and Queens of the Stone Age. For a man with such an earthy voice, “War Memorial” borders on the miraculous. Of course, for fans familiar with his solo work, this will come as less of a surprise: studied melancholy is a bit of a specialty. For newcomers, the good news is that there is more than a decade of incredible music to discover.
But let’s start with this little gem.
Call me crazy, but I think Randy Travis might have a drinking problem.
For what it’s worth.
Not a band that I’m familiar with, but I like the noise-rock aesthetic.
If you find yourself interested, you can download the studio single here and check out the web site for more information about their new album, Inside Your Wave.
For the record, this was a much braver step than anything Anderson Cooper could have said or done in announcing his sexual orientation. With Cooper, the reaction was predictable: he’s a white guy working in television and the son of Gloria Vanderbilt. His sexual orientation had been a matter of speculation for years. Not only was no one surprised, but there was very little danger in his admission.
Frank Ocean, on the other hand, is a black man whose industry (black, urban music) has been dominated by misogyny and homophobia. It was a real risk to his career to admit to having had same sex relationships.
Hollywood makes “brave” movies about sexuality and race all the time. They pat themselves on the back for their “bravery,” they give themselves awards to celebrate their bold statements, and never seem to recognize that there was nothing particularly brave about, say, Brokeback Mountain. It was a good movie, amazingly well-acted, and well-directed, but it wasn’t a risky career move for anyone involved. It was a play for awards and critical praise from the audience that mattered: the filmmakers’ peers.
Frank Ocean’s peers haven’t, in the past, shown such an open mind to homosexuality in their ranks. From AllHipHop.com:
I have to give Frank Ocean his props for coming out of the closet and announcing to the world that he’s a gay man. While he’s not a Hip-Hop artist as has been asserted in the mainstream, he’s an affiliate. With that said, he’s a representative of the ever-changing times in urban music and general music.
And, reading the comments in that posting, you’ll see the risk that Ocean has taken.
Me, I continue to not care at all about other peoples’ sex lives. As long as they aren’t abusing animals, abusing children, or abusing the unwilling, it doesn’t much matter to me who they sleep with. Generally, I think that these sort of pronouncements should be treated with apathy; if we all cared a little bit less about who other people slept with, the world would be a better place.
This time, though, I’ve got to give some credit to the gentleman for showing some real courage.
A quick postscript: The same folks on my Twitter feed who were making a big deal out of Anderson Cooper’s announcement last week are strangely silent about this. I would confess to disappointment, but I would first have to have been surprised.