New Dinosaur Jr. album shatters my worldview

Beyond goes on sale on Tuesday. This is a big deal to me. Dinosaur Jr. is the best band of the 80's, hands-down. The three albums where it was J., Lou, and Murph, well, they made an emo-boy like me very happy as I went through my nineties, slowly unraveling their psychic bullshit, as Lou and J. went their separate ways.

They're back together now to make money, and you can't fault them for that. The tracks on the new album so far seem alright, though you can tell they're all older now. "Almost Ready" works, and I still can't believe J. let Lou sing a "Dinosaur Jr." song again after all the crap that went down.

Is it any good? These reunion bands tend not to make new albums. Personally, Lou's turn on the one track I've heard sounds good, but it's still not vintage. It seems like a reunion album, and that's okay with me. The Guardian article quoted above casts it in a poor light, sort of. Not sure.

I'm still waiting for a new Pixies album, one that will never come because they know better. Still, I'm disappointed they weren't willing to push the nostalgia one step further, and feel free to piss off their diehard fans. For that, I consider them weak and complacent.

But, I'm glad Lou and J. made a new record. I will buy it on Tuesday from iTunes.

Of course, I don't really believe it, so I've gone back to listen to "Poledo" off of "You're Living All Over Me" which may as well be the first track off of Sebadoh's first album. And, Sebadoh's first album is the one disk I would take with me if I knew I was going to be on a desert island.

I've always been a Lou kind of guy, until he went way too emo for my tastes. He's a more interesting song-writer, and I used to eat up every single tape I could find of his. When I lived in New England, you could find homemade tapes of his on sale at Newbury Comics.

I can appreciate the tension between him and J., given that I had my own rifts with other men in my late teens/early twenties. Of course, my frenemy of late high school died in a motorcycle accident, so I never had the chance to make up with him. I wish I could. He was a great guy, and for some stupid reason (a girl) we had a falling out. I wish he and I had had the chance to talk about bands like Dinosaur Jr., and how their reformation means something.

Life is short. I keep saying that. And it's true. You don't get to wake up every day in perpetuity. It comes to an end. Every day is precious.

I've stopped listening to music, for the most part. I didn't make it to the Trans Am concert. I made up excuses, and I'm sure they were valid. I think, though, it has something to do with not wanting to admit I'm older now, not wanting to admit that I don't know where music fits in with a lifestyle where I work 12 hours a day, every day, even weekends. How did I end up here? Why do I keep making up excuses?

The Dinosaur Jr. reunion just reminds me that people can at least for a little while give up their pigheadedness. We think we're so scattered, but we're so connected, and we have to figure out


The reports of podcasting's demise may be exaggerated

One of my Google News alerts is "podcasting", which you cna imagine seeing as how I run the Charlottesville Podcasting Network. My anecdotal reading on the news trend on podcasting is that the medium had an initial flurry of optimistic and enthusiastic stories two years ago, followed by a series of gloom and doom articles.

And now, the trend seems to be cycling back the other way. Here's a sample of articles from today's alert:

Podcast Is the Next Step in Broadcasting (Daily Nexus student newspaper)
They're Not Just Play Things (Chicago Tribune)
Fast selling iPods make podcasting popular (Arizona Star-Tribune)

The long view is going to support my notion that podcasting, and whatever it evolves into, will be an important way to get information about the community. That's why I formed CPN and will contine to maintain it, even as I take my new job with Charlottesville Tomorrow.

I'm always looking for volunteers to assist me. There's a lot to learn, and I've got a lot to teach about audio production. Drop me a line if you're interested.


Tragedy at Virginia Tech provokes reflections

Like many of you, I've been glued to the media today. I first heard about today's horrible tragedy when I got the daily news briefing from WVTF. There was something about a shooting at Virginia Tech. This was just after my news shift, and I was in the process of disconnecting myself from the Internet for a tiny break. I had planned on walking my dog. So, it went to the back of my head.

I don't really consider myself to have much of a connection to Virginia Tech anymore. I graduated with a degree in history and political science in 1995. I made myself leave the summer afterwards, because I had seen so many people just stick around town, caught in the gravity well of a lovely, quiet small town. While I enjoyed Blacksburg, I hadn't had the best of experiences at the school. I always regretted not applying to the University of Virginia, and I had my first career disappointment when the upstart college newspaper I ran went out of business.

I don't know why I chose Virginia Tech. Part of it had something to do with liking a girl who had been admitted there on early decision. I even went out with her once or twice, but it didn't go anywhere.

Of course, I've been back to the school several times since graduation. Various football games, nostalgia trips, and of course, I've been there as a reporter. In October of 2001, I went to a press conference on homeland security issues with then Governor Gilmore. At that time, the nation was reeling in uncertainty, wondering what was going to happen next. And today?

Well. I don't know. I'm kind of numb after scouting around for every single detail I could find, trying to figure out what I would do if I was on the ground as a reporter. I was writing imaginary newscasts, figuring out angles, trying to understand the timeline so that I could ask further questions.

At about 12:00 today, I learned along with the rest of the country just how many people were dead. I couldn't believe it when I saw double digits. The numbers jumped so quickly from one to twenty. I scoured everything I could looking for confirmation. How could this be? Was it real? Was it over?

I've been on the edge of tears several times today, when the enormity of today's proceedings became clear to me. I lived for two years in Pritchard, right across from West Ambler-Johnston, where the first shootings occurred this morning. The girl I liked lived there, on the fourth floor.

I spent so much of today trying to remember which building Norris was, and if I ever had a class there. Rather, if I ever skipped a class there.

The strange thing is, the power of it all was much stronger before I turned on the television. Once I started seeing the same repeating loops on CNN and MSNBC, it became a job of sorts. Trying to figure who who was reporting what, what was wrong. I watch the same footage again and again, one other echo of September 11, 2001, when for the longest time we didn't know anything, and they didn't know anything, and so we all watched the same scenes again and again.

Except this time, it was my school, my university. The farther I get from my time at Tech, the more I fond I get of the place. When I lived in Canada, I managed to watch one game on CBS. This was when Michael Vick was the superstar who took us to a National Championship game. I loved seeing a glimpse of my dorm room in the establishing shots before and after commercials.

This time was not the same experience. This is not how I wanted to see the beauty of the Hokie stone on national television.

My prayers go out to the families of those who lost someone today. That's about all I can say, really. There's nothing that can be done, except maybe for all of us to try to be understanding of everyone else. What prompted the as-yet-unnamed assailant to do this? I don't know. And I got sick of the television people speaking in generalities with school shooting experts.

But you know, they're just doing their jobs, trying to tell people what's going on. If I'm to really live the homily I just wrote in bold, then I have to come to terms with that. At heart, all of us are just people who want to get through our lives with as much happiness and security as possible.

The actions of one man took that right away from 32 other people today. By the time it comes to do the news again in seven hours, that number may be larger. Certainly, people who escaped with their lives are also not going to have an easy time of it.

We live in a mad, uncertain world. We're all bundles of nervous insecurities. Does it have to be this way? I don't know. I do know that it's important to remain optimistic that we can fix the problems of the world, despite the evidence to the contrary. I love being alive. I figure other people around me are as well. I love feeling joy, and feeling connected to other human beings, and feeling that I'm part of something special - existence.

The tears still aren't coming. I've also stopped checking websites. I'll wait until morning, because I don't know if I can do anymore right now.

Major tragedy at Virginia Tech...

One of the worst school shootings happened today in Blacksburg at Virginia Tech. The Roanoke Times is reporting twenty people dead. I'm shaking. This is where I went to school. I'm only blogging to give the link to the Roanoke Times coverage... Warning. Some of the pictures are awful...



WNRN: Newsreaders wanted immediately

As regular readers of this blog may know, I'm news director at WNRN, and thus responsible for getting news readers behind the microphone. More importantly, I'm responsible for getting volunteers to give up some of their time in order to be on the radio. I'd like to make the case once more for why you should at least consider this opportunity.

Newsreading is an awesome responsibility, and the model at WNRN is one with a lot of merit. Citizen/volunteer news readers, making sense of the world and writing quick blurbs so listeners can be informed about what's going on. More people should know how to do this, so that they can know exactly what goes into a good newscast, and what the "news" actually is. That will then allow them to demand more from other outlets.

To read the news, you must be fair, objective, and thorough. Newsreading at WNRN is not an opportunity to have your own personal soapbox. Many a volunteer has been let go for doing this.

WNRN has thousands of listeners each morning. These folks are mostly seeking music to get their day going, but the station has a commitment to keeping its listeners informed. That's where you would come in.

We do 10 newsbreaks each morning, and three in the afternoon. In the morning, that means you need at least three sets of stories, each to be delivered in less than ninety seconds.

The first story of any set is a local or state story, followed by a national, and then an international story. I know more about what's happening in the world then I used to.

As WNRN keeps getting bigger, the definition of a local news story also changes. We're now on in Richmond, Lynchburg, Lexington and Harrisonburg in addition to Charlottesville. The station is only going to increase its reach.

So, why should you consider volunteering? Well, if you're interested in the world, and letting other people know what's going on, this is a great way to help others.

The Hook had an article this week in which Ralph Nader described the poor state of local news. I'm not saying that what we do on WNRN is the solution. But, I am saying that if you think local news is bad, this is your chance to at least understand some of the pressures under which news is made.

Thanks to cvillenews.com, I've been closely reading the ongoing controversy regarding how NBC29 treated one of their anchors. I'd like to think that some of the people who are most passionate in their criticisms would step forward and spend time in this position.

I don't watch local television news, because the commercial model sensationalizes the news. Radio news is much different, and it's an art form that is sadly underrated in American society. You have the same need for brevity, without the crutch of using images to tell your story. That means you need tight, concise writing.

If you step up to the plate and consider becoming a volunteer, you'll get the necessary training. I'll share my experience with you.

Please forward this entry on to anyone you think might be interested. I'm looking for high school students, college students, people in the work-force, the self-employed, the retired, anyone with an interest in broadcast journalism.

Please contact me via this blog for more info, or feel free to ask questions in the comments.


Test of yet another player - Podzinger

Podzinger is a neat way to search for content inside of podcasts, either audio or video. Of course, you can find material posted to the Charlottesville Podcasting Network through here as well. They make ad revenue off of my content with absolutely no way for me to get at any of it.

The odds of someone coming across this material and then subscribing to my feed are very low. So, how does one aggregate an audience? Does the multiple platform have serious holes?

But more importantly, can I use their technology somehow to enhance the delivery of my product? Let's try that player first. If you're reading this in an RSS reader, I suspect you'll have to come to the site, but I could be wrong.

"washington irving" Charlottesville Podcasting Network - Original Knickerbocker: The Life of Washington Irving

If you like American history, this is a very interesting show. Listen, however you choose to do so.

Edit: Interesting. The URL it provides for the content is the podzinger URL. This would not be so bad if I could at least get some URL that points back to my site. That doesn't exist here. I just searched podzinger for "Live Arts" and on the entry for "The Good Times Are Killing Me" there's nothing that links back to the individual URL where this entry exists. They do offer a link to the direct download of the mp3, however.

What to think? I'd like to hear from others if podzinger.com is actually of any use.


Douglas Adams and the Multichannel Future!

The new science fiction magazine Darker Matter is using a forgotten interview with Douglas Adams as the source material for a new three-part series with the creator of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. If you're a fan of Adams, it's well worth taking a read.

There are lots of words of wisdom to be had here, but I was very interested in how the article draws out the idea that Adams was ahead of his time, operating in multiple formats on multiple platforms. Hitchhiker started off as a radio show, and quickly became a record, a book, and a television show. Adams described how each medium had different traits.

Moving from radio to television, you can take most of the words with you. When you move on to the big screen, you have to start leaving some of the words behind and filling the gap visually, because film is primarily a visual medium. It becomes a different thing. I wasn't certain that could be done until I saw the stage show.

That quote is from the second part of the series. The links in this article are to the first. I came across this through TVSquad.


CPN passes two years and 1,000 posts

I've not written anything to mark the two year anniversary of the Charlottesville Podcasting Network. Nor have I written anything about our passing of 1,000 posts. So, this is the post that satisfies those requirements.

I had planned to record a podcast to celebrate 1,000, but couldn't find the time to finish it. Things have been busy over the past two years, and I'm pleased with the results.

I've just begun CPN's first off-line marketing campaign of our history. Be on the look out over the next week for fliers that will go up over town. Every week for a month I'm going to print one out that lists three or four of that week's events.

We've also begun posting events from the U.Va Law School as well as the Miller Center for Public Affairs. I'm hoping to recruit new volunteers to record more community events. I'm no longer able to go out in the evenings, mostly because I wake so early to work at WNRN. If you're interested, please contact me. And, if you think you'd like to start your own podcast, I'll help as much as I can.

You'll also notice that in the sidebar of this blog I'm beginning to showcase various feeds, including CPN. There's also currently cvilleblogs.com and TV Squad. I'm going to begin adding other blogs where I often comment. Blogger has made some interesting changes that make it easy to customize blogs, using widgets to accomplish this task. I'm a fan!

Now it's back to producing podcasts from Coy Barefoot's Charlottesville--Right Now. Coming up in the next 72 hours, interviews with Liz Securro, David Toscano, Andrew Burstein, and Rick Britton. What the topics are, I don't know. As I said, I've got to produce them, first!


Trans Am plays Satellite Ball Room on April 11

Trans Am is playing the Satellite Ball Room on April 11. Ryan Murphy has a fun interview with them in the Cavalier Daily. I'm a fan of the band, but I've not kept up as I've gotten older. And, of course, the idea of going to see a show these days fills me with fear, rather than a sense of giddy anticipation. Sometime in my late twenties I decided I didn't like going to see live shows. I suspect I know why this is, though I don't know if I want to really write it down.

One of the only cassettes I still play from time to time is Trans Am's first album. I got a copy from my friend Jeff at the tail end of a Rope Goat Clan session he shared with me. Murphy describes in his article how the band came about as a reaction to Pearl Jam and other grunge bands tinged with prehistoric emo.

"We hated Pearl Jam and insisted on playing hard rock without an emotive vocalist getting in the way," [band member] Manley said.

I've really got to overcome my fear of going out and just attend this show. It's been difficult to imagine much of a social or night life for myself with the ever-present demands of family and business. But, this upcoming Wednesday, I really should stop making excuses and just go and enjoy the damned show.


VABook 2007: The Trials of Lenny Bruce

I recorded several events at the Virginia Festival of the Book, including this event on Lenny Bruce. This was held at the City Council chambers. There was no tech on duty, so I plugged into their board and ran sound. Most people who set up sound in public events don't pay attention to how the audio sounds in headphones. They only care about how it sounds in the front of the house. So, I would say the sound quality on this is better than most podcasts of panel discussions.

Anyway, this entry is really a test of the Odeo player. Odeo isn't really alive. The management is waiting to sell it to a buyer, but no one really sees much value in it. And this is a shame, because there's a lot of stuff on here, and Odeo is a good way to browse through things. It's also an easy way to get an embeddable player.

But no one uses it! I think this is because there really isn't that much demand for audio-only presentations. Audio got skipped over by video, which currently is what most people want to do when they've decided to spend their leisure time at a computer.

Most press these days seems to be down on podcasting. I'm kind of down on it myself, too, because there is only a small market in the US for intelligent radio.

At least, that's how it is at the moment. A major obstacle for podcasters is creating the habit. Shorter pieces tend to do better. The Live Arts spots do well,because people are notified of them via the organization's e-mail list.

I've temporarily suspended the news headlines podcast I was doing, mostly because it took up way too much time. I've been overworked of late, and I needed to make some space for some other things.

I've also been recording fewer pieces. I just don't have the time anymore. There's definitely a lull in interest at the moment, though we just posted our 1,000th podcast. I am committed to continuing building the site, but I also am going to need to recruit new volunteers and podcast partners.

The world has changed a lot since Lenny Bruce died. This sentence does not necessarily have anything to do with the rest of this comment, but I felt it was important to bring it back to the title.


Radio program on differences between English and Scottish humor

As Virginia celebrates its 400th anniversary, Britain is marking 300 years of union between England and Scotland. The BBC is marking the Act of Union with a series of programmes, including one I just listened to about the differences between English and Scottish humor. In general, both countries have a lot to laugh about class, though that's markedly more so in England.


More experimenting with Flash players

Yes, I know, it looks incredibly unprofessional of me to post messages such as this one letting people know that I still am looking for more ways to implement audio. I'm not a programmer, but I am trying a few things out to make it easier for people to hear some of the audio I've helped record in the last few years.

powered by ODEO

(I can't get my custom player to work, so I will leave this one up from Odeo, which seems to be updating again. I guess it's still alive?)

To make this a real blog entry, I will say something about my day. I slept in today until 9:00, which is a very long time these days. I was at WNRN four days this week. I've also been very busy. Crazy busy. And there could be some interesting changes ahead for me.

Today we went to Maharajah for lunch, and then the mall, and then the pet store. We bought a new leash for Billy. His other one went missing. Billy is also going to get shorn tomorrow. He's incredibly wooly at the moment, very matted.

I am going to work well into the evening, and then a busy day tomorrow. What's your day going to be like?