Zoilus by Carl Wilson

Archive for March, 2009

You Say You Want a ‘Revolutions’?

March 31st, 2009

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I’ve posted more than once in the past about writer/director Jacob Zimmer’s laboratory-theatre troupe Small Wooden Shoe and their series Dedicated to the Revolutions. In the past three years, they’ve done a set of seven shows about various “revolutions,” most scientific (Copernican, Darwinian), some socio-technical (Industrial, Information), all derived from an unfinished school assignment from Zimmer’s childhood. Tonight at Buddies in Bad Times theatre, they begin a two-week run of the final show in the series, which attempts to synthesize all seven previous performances into one, “demonstrating the difficulty of demonstrating the effects of progress on our lives.”

It’s an effort to think through paradigm shifts and how they affect our lives, an attempt to make the ghost of C.P. Snow just a little happier, and also a shot at having some serious-minded but light-hearted fun. Fans of Trampoline Hall, show-and-tell, Bad Bands and other hybrid performance events should feel at home. People who know a lot about science might possibly find themselves a bit impatient - as might some people who don’t, but maybe not, I haven’t seen the show yet.

I will very soon and report back to you. Meanwhile here are previews and interviews about it from The Globe & Mail, NOW, Eye, MaRS blog, Time & Space and One Big Umbrella.

Blended, Chopped & Screwed

March 26th, 2009

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In answer to the question on the cover above, it seems that Britney has at least outlasted Blender. This morning I got an email from one of my editors there, Jonah Weiner, giving me the news, which was a nice courtesy, considering that I’ve only written a handful of reviews for the magazine. This is the first time that a publication I actually work for has joined the print-media death march, though I’m sure it won’t be the last. (Though to those who wonder, despite the layoffs I am fairly confident The Globe and Mail will survive for the forseeable future.) My sincere condolences to all the staff and to Blender readers.

The shocking part is that I had figured Blender was the most commercially savvy one in the music-magazine market - they built their business on photos (especially of scantily clad pop starlets), best-ever/worst-ever/most-outrageous sorts of lists, titillation and trivia, backed up for credibility with a review section full of some of the best working music writers struggling (for a good paycheque) to squeeze wit and insight into tiny little capsule reviews. I hated its glibnesss, but it wasn’t snobby - it was pro-pop, pro-hip-hop and pro-indie all at once - and it certainly seemed saleable; if even they can’t survive, I’m not sure there really is a music magazine market. Curiously, a lot of the more niche-oriented publications - rap magazines and metal magazines in particular - seem to be doing well still, when I thought they’d probably be the most easily displaced by fan sites and blogs. Perhaps cliqueishness (and even snobbishness) is actually a safer marketing bet?

I still think there is room in the market for one more readership-oriented music publication, one aimed at the same audience that buys books about music. Something close exists in the UK (Mojo and, to a degree, The Wire) but a North American one might bring less of that musty British muso feel - like a general-interest version of No Depression, a great mag that was hampered by the narrowness of its “alt-country” focus. (ND continues to live online and as a twice-yearly “bookazine”.) Given events like Blender’s closing, though, I am less hopeful of ever convincing a publishing company of that idea. Sigh.

PS: Does this include the Indian edition of Blender, which I just discovered 5 minutes ago? If not, I want a subscription.

Everything’s Coming Up Tommy (Edison)

March 25th, 2009

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In response to my interview on this week’s Spark show on CBC radio about music and technology, in which I talk about ringtones, mp3s and the like, John Meyer sent me this link to a relatively new project rating the sound of various media - which concludes that listening to a 16kbs mp3 is the fidelity equivalent of listening to a wax cylinder! How steampunk, kids. (Maybe the Decembrists are on to something with their annoying neo-Edwardianism after all.) Any comments from audiophiles, anachronists and audio-anarchists?

This is so not like sexting

March 17th, 2009

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Today Peli and I talked about Gossip Girl, Britney, poptimism and finding a happy medium between Bourdieu and Adorno or something like that.

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The Tech of the Hesperus

March 17th, 2009

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I talked to Nora Young of CBC Radio’s tech program Spark this morning about ringtones, MP3s, computer speakers, iTunes, Auto-Tune and all the other gadget-adjustments that are changing the sound of pop music. In shorter form, it’ll be part of their special music-themed March 25 show (re-aired on March 28) but, impressively, you can already listen to the full interview today on their site.

Speaking of tech and transition, you may have heard the newspaper business is having a rough week. Those who take this blithely because they assume that Twitter is going to take care of everything - or that, for example, somehow the same job can be done by the 20 reporters the now-online-only Seattle Post-Intelligencer is retaining as by the 165 it formerly employed - might benefit by reading this Globe & Mail Focus piece by my colleagues Sinclair Stewart and Grant Robertson (which I edited). I also recommend the Clay Shirky piece on “Newspapers & Thinking the Unthinkable” on the parallel between the Internet revolution & the Gutenberg one - only this one of course is much, much faster. The conclusion I draw from both is that, yes, newspapers are mostly doomed (I think weekend papers remain a viable model for now at least), but no, nothing exists to replace them. And we may be in for a rough decade, democratically, until something emerges that can.

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A Big Steaming Mug of Ogre Milk

March 15th, 2009

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Fake photo by Torontoist now replaced by real photo from The Colbert Report.

Hi everyone. That hiatus was a bit longer than intended. Back to regular Zoilus business this week, but first a couple of links and notes from my psychic-teevee jaunt.

First, in case you missed it, here is my interview on the Colbert show in a link for Canadian viewers and here it is for the Yanks.

A lot of folks have been asking me about the experience, and it’s difficult to sum up, except to say that it was very positive. [... continued after the jump ... ]

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After these messages

March 3rd, 2009

I’ve got a review on the Globe and Mail site right now of the new book Apocalypse Jukebox: The End of the World in American Popular Music.

The details of the many exciting papers and panels at this April’s EMP Pop Conference on the theme of “Dance Music Sex Romance” are now posted, including mine.

Otherwise, I’m on the move this week - see below for the reason. Torontonians, some folks are gathering on Wednesday night upstairs at The Pilot on Cumberland St., to watch the Colbert show but also listen to some live music and readings, featuring my friends Laura Barrett, Angela Rawlings, Andrew Kaufman and Sean Dixon plus MC Sean K. Robb. Doors at 9, entertainment at 10, TV at 11:30. Here’s the Facebook page - I didn’t organize it but I appreciate it.

See you, as they say in the teevee biz, “after the break.”

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