Amoeblog

The future of Blu-Ray

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 9, 2008 09:05pm | Post a Comment

Batman
This town needs an enema
The Dark Knight was released today (December 9th) on DVD and Blu-Ray. It will, no doubt, be yet another enormously popular title on DVD -- but for Blu-Ray, it's being viewed by some as a make-it-or-break-it title. You may've noticed Blu-Ray commercials are beginning to sparingly pop up on TV. This is part of a curiously cautious, last ditch effort to boost the troubled format's fortunes. Last Christmas, sluggish sales of HD DVD resulted in that format's extinction the following spring. Some thought that Blu-Ray, as the victor of the so-called format war, would benefit from a sales boost from cautious buyers who'd been waiting to see what format triumphed. But instead Blu-Ray player sales dropped 40% in the first month of the year, then plateaued before dropping to less than half their peak sales not long after. Like LaserDiscs before them, Blu-Rays offer superior quality at a higher price but appeal only to a niche market. It remains to be seen if this market can grow sufficiently to keep Blu-Rays viable.

Monet's Japanese Bridge Japanese Bridge at Giverny photo

Happy Repeal Day

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 5, 2008 02:23pm | Post a Comment
Today marks the anniversary of the 75th anniversary of the repeal of prohibition in the US. From 1920-1933, hooch went underground because a bunch of Christofacists wanted to legislate morality. Proving that the church and state have never been terribly separate, these teetotalers decided that, even though Jesus liked to turn water into wine, what's good enough for the Messiah isn't good enough for us. Hollywood used the opportunity to make a lot of movies which focused on moonshining, bootlegging, rum-running and speakeasies. So, crack open a cold one and consider watching one of these flicks.

Thunder Road Baby Face MorganBugsy Malone
  Her Kind of Man

Incendiary Blonde Lucky Lady The Moonshine War
  Night World

Queen of the Night Clubs  Slight Case of Murder  This Earth is Mine

What, No Beer?

Krampus

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 5, 2008 10:07am | Post a Comment
Last year I posted an entry about St. Nicholas and the rather unsavory company he keeps. Child murderers, demons and hags (oh my). Well, the Krampus proved very popular, earning me another nickname that has stuck around throughout the year.

The Krampus is a demon that, with the approval of kindly St. Nick, terrorizes bad children and apparently lusts after the ladies. His chief implements of torture seem to be a switch and a tongue which would embarass Gene Simmons. This is designed to frighten children into behaving well. Germanic peoples have always understood that the best way to rear children is by keeping them terrified of the consequences of bad behavior. My mother used to get on the phone to call "The Nanny," a character who rammed food down the throats of ungrateful children with her thorny stick. I credit my continued membership in the Clean Plate Club to these threats.

Der Struwwelpeter der struwwelpeter illustration

If you've never read Der Struwwelpeter then you don't know what you're missing. It's a childrens book which uses stories and wonderful illustrations to suggest that misbehavior is likely to end in disaster and even death. It's a wonderful tool.

So, enjoy these Krampuses, have a happy St. Nicholas Day and behave or die!

Krampus studying the globe Krampus flyingKrampus in motorcycle
First Krampus scours the globe. With many means of travel available, hiding is futile.

Lil Slim

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 1, 2008 03:15pm | Post a Comment
Lil Slim

Lil Slim was one of the first artists to be signed to Cash Money Records. After a series of underground classics, he parted ways with the label. A couple of years later, CMR signed a multi-million dollar deal with Universal and the label's star, Juvenile, carried the new roster to success whilst Lil Slim receded into the shadows.

Hollygrove

Lil Slim lived way out in the 17th Ward on New Orleans's western edge in Hollygrove, a small, lower middle class neighborhood that also was home to Big Boy (and later, No Limit) artist, Fiend. Representing the Apple and Eagle intersection, he brought his raps to audiences at Club 49, where he performed alongside UNLV and Soulja Slim. One day, Ziggler the Wiggler introduced them to Mannie Fresh, a young DJ from the 7th Ward who'd gained a measurable degree of local fame with rapper Gregory D. Shortly after, Lil Slim was introduced to Baby and Slim, brothers and co-owners of the fledgling Cash Money Records label. They signed Lil Slim and recorded his first album in Baby's kitchen.
The Game Is Cold
The album was The Game is Cold (1993). One highlight is "Hoes I U's 2 Sweat." Another is "Bounce Slide Ride," a Bounce classic in the vein of DJ Jimi and Juvenile's "Bounce for the Juvenile" which name-checked Juvie and echoed his taste for Reeboks and Girbaud. Lil Slim's style was sing-songy, reggae-informed, repetitive and heavy on chants -- somewhat similar to Pimp Daddy, UNLV and early Juvenile. One thing that set him apart was his exaggerated Yat accent, in which the familiar interjection "Ya heard me?" sounded like "Ya hoidz me?" Cash Money was then primarily a Bounce label and a good deal of the lyrics amounted to little more than calling out wards and projects. Expecting lyrical complexity outPowder Shop of Bounce is missing the point, however, and the album is emphatically danceable. Its Intro and Outro tracks allowed Mannie Fresh to cut snippets of Slim's already sparse prose and make them almost completely abstract.

His sophomore release, Powder Shop (1994) moved a bit more into a more narrative, Gangsta territory, creating a Gangsta/Bounce hybrid made popular by his labelmates, UNLV. Some of the highlights include "Eagle St. Bounce," "True to the Game" and "Powder Shop," the latter about a heroin operation. Like a lot of early-'90s New Orleans rap, heroin is the drug most often referenced -- which is a bit unsettling, especially when the rest of the rap world was melloThug'n & Pluggin' lil slimwing with Indo, Chronic and gin 'n' juice. I guess all that dope in the Grunge scene had to come from somewhere. Listening to it now, it's shocking how much Lil Wayne and, even more so, (Young) Turk owe to his sound.

Continue reading...

What is the deal with Somalia?

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 26, 2008 01:35pm | Post a Comment
Somalia in the news
If you're like me, you may feel like the media only provides confusing, fragmented glimpses into what remains, by and large, an obscure part of the world that makes regular appearances in the news regarding (usually) famine, war or piracy. And yet, the newscasters seem perfectly content to repeatedly ask, "What's going on?" and "Why do they kill us when we bring aid?" and (most inexcusably stupid) "Aren't pirates a thing of the past?" Yet they seem content merely to ask and never to attempt an answer. So, in the face of another wave of gawking, 30 second snippets provided by the news, here's my humble attempt to shed a little light on the region; one where long-simmering tensions and colonialist pressure have caused the Somali people considerable strife and difficulty for centuries, with no hope of apparent change in the future. And yet, I hope the music and cultural bits I've thrown in will provide a balance to all the misery.

Horn of Africa Horn of Africa 70

Introduction
Somalia's history (and the horn of Africa, for that matter) for the last few centuries has been a familiar history of extreme hostility and violent retribution. Begrudging neighbors are made pawns of European powers and played against each other with suffering resulting on all sides. Somalia, whilst one of the only countries with only one ethnic group, has never very unified. Originally the Somali people organized themselves on the coasts of the mostly barren country in tiny city states (and later, after conversion to Islam, Sultanates). 

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