Category: media


Fifty and then some

August 10th, 2009 — 12:01am

So dchud demonstrated the right way to publish the list of shows you’ve seen, which I’d been dwelling on since Genie hit me on That Site I Hate with the recent meme.

Now I regret not having kept better track of dates and venues, and I wonder what shows I’ve forgotten altogether. Stream-of-consciousness order, not chronological or priority, wheat and chaff alike. Nothing I don’t remember seeing (and hopefully nothing I remember but didn’t actually see).

High School, embryonic

  • Eric Clapton
  • The Who
  • Rush

College, curious

  • Primus/Fishbone
  • Guns n’ Roses
  • Faith No More
  • Allman Brothers
  • Stanley Jordan
  • Velocity Girl
  • Shudder To Think x2
  • Aleka’s Attic
  • Matthew Sweet x2
  • Mekons
  • Obituary
  • Fugazi
  • Seaweed
  • Archers of Loaf
  • William Hooker
  • Sugar
  • Belly
  • Lollapalooza ’91: Jane’s Addiction, Nine Inch Nails, Living Colour, Butthole Surfers, Fishbone, Henry Rollins
  • Lollapalooza ’92: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Ministry
  • Lollapalooza ’93: Primus, Fishbone, I have no idea what the hell else
  • WHFStival ’93: Matthew Sweet, Belly, Velocity Girl, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin

Young adulthood, voracious

  • Fugazi (maybe a dozen more times?)
  • Dismemberment Plan (probably a dozen)
  • Jawbox (five or six?)
  • Burning Airlines (also five or six)
  • Stereolab (x4)
  • The Make-Up (x3 or 4)
  • Blond Redhead (x 3 or 4)
  • Superchunk (x 3 or 4)
  • Bob Mould (x3 or 4, plus one as Bob Mould Band w/Archers of Loaf)
  • Low (x 3 or 4)
  • Yo La Tengo (x 4)
  • Prince (x 3)
  • Polvo (x 2 or 3)
  • Matthew Sweet (x 2 or 3)
  • Godspeed You Black Emperor! x2
  • Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (x 3)
  • Mr. Bungle x 2
  • Hot Snakes x2
  • Trans Am (x2)
  • June of ’44 (x2)
  • Dirty Three x 2
  • Shellac
  • Air Miami/Tuscadero
  • Faraquet
  • For Carnation/Storm and Stress
  • Pavement/Silkworm
  • The Ex
  • Butter 08
  • Tortoise + Oval
  • Pan Sonic
  • Orbital
  • Bill Frisell
  • R.E.M.
  • Ted Leo
  • Jenny Toomey
  • Sunny Day Real Estate/No Knife
  • Sleater-Kinney
  • Kerosene 454
  • Rocket From The Crypt
  • Tindersticks (w/Elliot Smith, at least I think that was that show)
  • Spinanes
  • Mark Robinson/Phil Krauth
  • New Pornographers
  • Wire
  • Arlington’s Indie Rock Flea Market ’94, ’95: Eggs, Edsel, …?

Post-kids: old, jaded and lazy

  • Touch & Go 25: Shellac, Big Black, Scratch Acid, Monorchid, The Ex, The New Year, Pinback, !!!, Seam, Calexico
  • Boredoms
  • Tim Berne’s Bloodcount
  • Mary Timony/Medications
  • Akron/Family (x3)
  • Mastodon
  • Shellac (x2)
  • Gojira

2 comments » | media

The three most grotesquely clichéd lines, given their context, in the TV series pilot I just watched (paraphrased lightly if at all)

January 12th, 2009 — 12:35am
  • Upon receiving a scientific explanation: “In English, Professor…”
  • Protagonist, being offered undesired help: “We aren’t going to be doing anything…”
  • Thwarted authority figure: “I’ll be watching you…”

Comment » | media

Two weak analogies, and hating bad things

January 7th, 2009 — 1:06am

So after half-a-year being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the cross-country move and by life with the two small excellent tyrants we brought with us, I’m trying to be more civilized again, which means, y’know, communicating with humans. As I mentioned a bit ago, I’m pro-Twitter; Facebook, on the other hand, I well and truly hate in the special lathered way that nerds can loathe technology that offends us by failing at the things we care about most. [I’m convinced that this strain of nerd-hate for badly designed things is the source of most or all great inventions, but I’ll talk about that some other time.]

For whatever reason, two analogies that occur to me regularly are:

Facebook : Extroverts :: Twitter : Introverts

and

Facebook : Windows :: Twitter : Unix

The former analogy is driven by the one-way nature of Twitter following and the simplicity of their model, which put so much less burden on the target of one’s interest than the seventeen infuriating ways that Facebook flaps its annoyances in your face when somebody decides to enter your sphere.

The latter analogy is less complete, and driven mainly by my complete inability to grasp what the hell Facebook is actually supposed to be offering me at any time; it seems directly patterned after the typical Windows model of endless gray dialog boxes, each offering slightly different permutations of a subset of whatever you think you’re trying to do, and now with an extra layer of whooshy visual noise slathered all over it. FB doesn’t get within a time zone of “do one thing, and do it well”; it’s a weird walled-garden mockery of the real Internet, a joyless replica of AOL and Prodigy and all the other obsoleted competitors.

I can’t completely defend my irrational and entire loathing for the FB. God knows I haven’t ultimately spent that much time trying to navigate its baffling cryptic shit-pile of an interface (though, god also knows, it’s been more than enough), and I’ll grant that maybe I’m just doing it wrong. But I’m sticking to my guns in re: hating it, despite having re-activated my account today (killed in a fit of biliousness a few months back) because people I like joined up. The awful creepy targeted ads; the dozens of insultingly moronic ‘applications’ constantly fapped in my face (how many god-damned quizzes can you people do in a given day?); the grotesquely disingenous combination of blocking useful information before ‘friending’ but burying you in infinite inane detail post-‘friend’ing… how the christ did these half-wits end up winning the social network sweepstakes and a license to print money, when so many other crap sites have failed tracelessly?

So: why not join twitter? The barrier is very low; it just doesn’t demand a lot of you before you can start flinging quickie aphorisms at me (by web browser, or various small client programs, or from SMS or iPhone apps). Think of it as a micro-blog, or as a group instant messaging session that’s asynchronous and particularly easy to involve others in. You can just say stuff; I’ll be listening at @aboyko.

Nevermind the hypocrisy/absurdity of writing 500 words on this stupid topic, never you mind it a bit.

Comment » | media, technology

On virtualization, my basement, and Garageband

March 5th, 2008 — 12:27am

In my house there are four people, and four computers, some fixed in place and some laptops, and I think it’s the case that all the necessary technology exists to make this situation a great deal less awkward and fiddly than it is today. One should expect to be able to migrate an active session, including running applications and data, from the iMac upstairs to the laptop over there; the family’s data should be centrally and commonly accessible, with a home directory available everywhere. So where do we stand?

The good news is that the computing industry has, in many ways, caught up with where IBM was 30 years ago, and so we have cheap and ubiquitous virtualization. But we haven’t generally reached the understanding they had, that it’s much more useful a metaphor to consider an “operating system” a hosting environment for applications, rather than as the literal and original definition as the interface layer between hardware and applications. In theory, virtualization renders that distinction obvious and transparent, but it’s obscured by the fact that we’re still running home computers that are conceptually the same as they were 25 years ago, and, whether Windows or Mac, we’re still bound to the notion of the hardware as significant; it takes about a minute spent with Windows to recognize that it’s obsessively about the hardware and your interactions with it — little USB icons, and hard drive icons, and a constant need to care about the components in the ugly box on the desk.

Until fairly recently it still felt obscenely profligate to indulge the idea of “virtual appliances” — applications bundled in a virtual machine, pre-configured and ready to run in a private copy of the operating system — at least, obscene to those of us who’d spent formative years struggling to shoe-horn applications into shared servers that, even if not overtaxed in physical resources, were inevitably rendered a mess by the necessary intricate configuration management needed to keep the myriad applications and configurations from stepping on one another. Ten years ago, it was perfectly reasonable for a half-dozen web developers to work concurrently on a single desktop-grade machine with a half-gig of RAM, given some mildly fancy footwork with “virtual host” configurations in DNS, and in Apache, and in Tomcat… it was never pretty, but in the best cases it managed to work. So it’s been hard to adjust to the notion that the overhead of even a lightweight OS distribution, replicated for each application, could ever be less than gross inefficiency. But the distributions get lighter (see Ubuntu Jeos, “Just Enough OS”) and more to the point the machines have grown so massive, so quickly, that it’s a false economy to quibble about the cost of partitioning a server’s applications into virtualized appliances. Solaris’s Zones, which provide the maximally lightweight implementation of this notion by virtualizing the OS around a common kernel, rather than virtualizing the hardware stack, make this economics plain — a typical machine can host hundreds if not thousands of zones at trivial incremental cost. So it’s a lazy or shortsighted administrator indeed, at this point, that resorts to spending time figuring out how to make applications coexist, given ample solutions for isolating them in clean OS instances, from hardware virtualization (Sun’s LDOMs, IBM’s LPARs) to software hypervisors (VMWare/Xen/KVM/etc/etc/etc/) to OS virtualization (Solaris zones, Linux virtual servers). (Thus it’s all the more ironic that the worst cases I’ve seen, in the last few years, of Unix servers with configuration management nightmares, with over a decade’s accumulated cruft of configured applications interdependent on ancient versions of tools nobody remembers installing, are inevitably AIX machines on IBM p-series machines, which support hardware virtualization and thus could have avoided the problem years before a Linux/x86 machine had a comparable solution.)

At any rate, there’s no mystery as to what we can expect to see in the next few years — desktop-grade computers with more cores than we know what to do with, enough RAM to cache an HD movie, and virtualization tools that approximate VMWare ESX’s all-out stance. So how’s this all help my kid and his iMac? Well, first: why wouldn’t any interactive session be likely to occur in a VM, given technology that can hot-migrate a running VM from one host to another? On a gigabit network, transferring an entire running VM image from upstairs to downstairs still shouldn’t take more than a few minutes; and after 10G Ethernet becomes commonplace (and how long could that take — a few years at most) the wait would cease to matter. So freeze your Garageband VM session upstairs, and retrieve it downstairs, on the laptop; close the laptop and take it to the coffee shop. From that view, the traditional approach of switching usersm as in Windows and OS X, is symptom of the familiar historical configuration management problem — why should I and my son share the same Applications folder, just because we both sit at the same terminal? Why should my tools, and my entire OS configuration, not float from box to box?

Of course, given a dozen cores and a dozen GB of RAM, a single machine could, in raw horsepower, serve even a very large family using thin clients of some kind or other. But this is complementary to the notion of portable VMs floating around the house, not contradictory — in normal use, everything could run on the basement 16-core monster, and only migrate to the laptop when heading over to the library.

Anyhow, bafflingly, the biggest barrier I can think of to reaching this point in the next half-decade is, bizarrely, the simple fact of Apple’s restrictions on virtualizing Mac OS X, a problem purely of license rather than technological. If one were willing to inflict Linux or Solaris on one’s family, such scenarios are probably reachable soon, but as long as OS X only runs on native hardware, the floating-VM notion will have to wait for Apple to catch up.

Comment » | media, sysadmin

Tim Berne’s Bloodcount @ An Die Musik, Baltimore MD, 2008-02-09

February 11th, 2008 — 12:28am

So I went out last night to An Die Musik in Baltimore to see Tim Berne’s Bloodcount (w/Chris Speed, Jim Black, and Michael Formanek), which purportedly is the second of three shows they’re playing for the first time in a decade. The first show they played on this micro-tour was in NYC on February 3rd, and I never found any written reactions to that show, so I feel obliged to at least mark in this medium that I actually went out at night, for roughly the second time in several years (not counting Fort Reno shows), because I am a lazy chump.

It turned out to be a great venue — the second floor of a commercial row house in Mount Vernon, filled with about 80 floral easy chairs. I only saw the second set, which ran about an hour, made up of two pieces (I think around 15 min and then 45 min, or so). It was everything I hoped it would be, and, never having seen them play before, it cleared up some of my bafflement as to how they operate — their music has always seemed to guided by a inexplicable alien logic, but they turn out to be regular mortals after all, though bizarrely talented. They fed my short attention span with their ability to switch idioms on a dime (Jim Black: holy crap), but in the scope of long-form compositions, that read like a series of cinematic episodes stitched by that inscrutable logic. I do wish I’d seen the first set too, on the premise that it would have better helped me figure out what was composed and what was improvised; certainly, given how long they’ve been playing together, how skilled they are, and how clever I ain’t, it’d take me some time to figure out.

As a child of the Virginia suburbs, I’m still not accustomed to thinking of Baltimore as being as close as it is now that I’m in Silver Spring. An Die Musik book a nice calendar, and though I’ve always lazily put it off as being too far to bother, there’ll be no more of that.

Next month: Akron/Family, again. Are they actually the greatest live band around, right now, or is it that I just haven’t been going out for a couple of years?

Comment » | media

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