Being a parent is scary. Starting from essentially a blank slate, you are required to take a new human life, keep it alive, and teach it to function in society. Before #fatherhood, I never considered the now-daunting concept of teaching someone with a 50-75 word vocabulary how to use a toilet.
But there is a reason people do it, outside of Darwinian survival. That fear and self-doubt is the entry fee for some of the most rewarding experiences I can think of. Kids pick up things you don't, or that you demonstrate unintentionally. And they know what they like, and form these opinions far earlier than I initially expected.
So when our toddler asked unprompted to play "my house" during dinner, my heart exploded with joy. Usually, song requests in our house involve wheels on buses, or rain going away, or some variation on a standard that stars Elmo. But during our drive-time commute dance parties, I control the radio. And I understood immediately that this request was for Daft Punk Is Playing At My House, the first track from the eponymous debut of LCD Soundsystem. The seed is now taking root.
So I want to thank James Murphy for teaching my son how to say the following words and phrases:
huh-OW-OW! (the open)
set them up (ooo ooo ye-ah)
let them go!
If you would like to celebrate with me, here is a link to the album version:
I risk a todder fit if I switch it up, but I prefer the live cut:
In many ways, Gamergate is an almost perfect closed-bottle ecosystem of bad internet tics and shoddy debating tactics. Bringing together the grievances of video game fans, self-appointed specialists in journalism ethics, and dedicated misogynists, it's captured an especially broad phylum of trolls and built the sort of structure you'd expect to see if, say, you'd asked the old Fires of Heaven message boards to swing a Senate seat. It's a fascinating glimpse of the future of grievance politics as they will be carried out by people who grew up online.
The day after "Endless Appetizers" was announced, I went to TGI Friday's in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Sheepshead Bay. I wanted to challenge the hubris of a company co-opting the infinite for a marketing gimmick. I wanted to demand accountability from copywriters.
I wanted to call their bluff and eat appetizers until they kicked me out, to seek the limit of this supposedly limitless publicity stunt.
But no matter what my relationship to Pokémon is now, I can’t deny that it was one of the driving forces in my nerdy life. And like any fanboy or girl who has ever played the original games, Pokémon was singular in that it provided me the first life-altering choice in my young life: Which of the starting Pokémon—Squirtle, Charmander, or Bulbasaur—should I pick? It felt like a digital “Sophie’s Choice,” with any decision rendering two Pokémon forever un-catchable, destined to be used against me by my rival.
...We can’t all be grand visionaries. We can’t all be Picassos. We want to make our business, make our art, sell it, make some money, raise a family, and try to be happy. My feeling, based on my own experience, is that aiming for grandiosity is the fastest route to failure. For every Mark Zuckerberg, there are 1000 Jack Zuckermans. Who is Jack Zuckerman? I have no idea. That’s my point. If you’re Jack Zuckerman and you’re reading this, I apologize. You aimed for the stars and missed. Your reentry into the atmosphere involved a broken heat shield, and you burned to a crisp by the time you hit the ocean. Now we have no idea who you are.
You can't restart the internet. Trillions of dollars depend on a rickety cobweb of unofficial agreements and "good enough for now" code with comments like "TODO: FIX THIS IT'S A REALLY DANGEROUS HACK BUT I DON'T KNOW WHAT'S WRONG" that were written ten years ago. I haven't even mentioned the legions of people attacking various parts of the internet for espionage and profit or because they're bored. Ever heard of 4chan? 4chan might destroy your life and business because they decided they didn't like you for an afternoon, and we don't even worry about 4chan because another nuke doesn't make that much difference in a nuclear winter.
BEST NEWS OF THE YEAR THAT CANNOT BE TOPPED, EVEN IF I WAS AWARDED THE POWERBALL JACKPOT BY A RECENTLY-RESURRECTED J. H. CHRIST
A healthy baby Pilch is on the way. It's a boy.
Hey, there's a St. Vincent in the music and movie section! Not pictures or articles though. Maybe next year.↩
I've already declared that we are a Lego Movie family. Not a Frozen family.↩
Some Deer Tick fans popped up in front of us at the beginning of their set, affectionately referred to as Tick Heads. I have never seen someone's mind constantly exploding from that close for that amount of time. They clearly could not contain their enthusiasm, and were escorted away before the end of the set.
The Vogue does not know how to make a Tom Collins (maybe just the one bartender). We stuck with whiskey coke after that, considering the band:
Craig Finn almost looks out of place at first but makes it clear that he is having just as much fun as you are, which makes the whole show pretty refreshing. Read more about it here (about halfway in, just past the part about bookshelves).
Hold Steady fans are generally unthreatening. Lots of plaid button-ups and thick-rimmed glasses. There were some d-bags in the front that were watching ESPN on their phone, literally less than 10 feet from the mics. Disappointing, but they weren't jumping around and throwing elbows and screaming, so whatever.
I have been experimenting with the various streaming music offerings, since it is the future of music consumption.1 Due diligence seems to be the only way to differentiate these rapidly-changing and -improving services, so here we go. Time for another table post.
Google's music app is pretty great, and when the All-Access part was released it seemed like the perfect complement to complete the service. In my opinion it is no longer doing what the All-Access part is meant to do - helping me discover new music. I guess in the most basic sense, I have heard some songs on there that I had not heard before (not memorable enough for me to bookmark them or add them to a playlist though).
The major feature of Google Music is that you can upload your own library of songs, but people forget that this is not part of the paid service; you can do this for free. Paying just adds the ability to play songs that you did not upload, and roll them into its sub par4 radio stations. Regardless of whether I keep the All-Access service, the music locker facet is invaluable and the best implementation I have seen.
Spotify is probably the biggest player in this space right now (I admit I did not give it a lot of credit on the first draft of this post), but it seems like a mess. I still cannot figure out how to add songs to my library without putting them in a playlist. This must come from years of managing a large library, but I do not want to organize my collection this way. Their radio offering seemed just OK - I tried it again for this first time in months (my starred playlist station) and hit the same 2 albums 5 out of the first 6 plays (The Suburbs and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, but still).5
Pandora is kind of in a different boat, but I have used it several times over the past year. The algorithmic muscle of Pandora is great but the idea has yet to be fully realized. The fact that it can only pull from a library of 900k tracks6 limits its usefulness as a recommendation engine. The ads are a bit frequent, but not quite enough to warrant paying.
And the winner is...
Rdio seems like the front runner to me. It has many of the same top-flight features as the other two services, but with a little more attention to detail. The design is fantastic, and the organization is much more straight forward than Spotify. It feels much more social within the service than GMusic, but hitching to a Facebook account is optional rather than mandatory7. The radio recommendations can be adjusted between "familiar" and "adventurous," depending on what you feel like listening to.
There is one feature Rdio has that GMusic and Spotify definitely do not: the queue syncs between devices. This means when you start listening on another device, you are on the same song in your playlist or station. This detail by itself is nearly enough reason to switch.8 You can also mark items for download to your mobile device from the web player, which I know Google can't do.
The only gripe I have seen about Rdio is that it does not advertise its bitrate. Spotify and Google stream at 320 kbps on wi-fi, and Pandora is something like 160 kbps unless you buy a subscription. My argument is that if I hear something that I like but is low quality (on terrestrial radio or over a cellular connection), I am going to purchase it in a high quality format (CD, FLAC, vinyl - audio quality is a rabbit hole in itself). Things that are in a low bit-rate that I don't need to hear again are not a problem. Moot point.
So there are my thousand-plus-word thoughts on the state of streaming music (Beats Music not included, because it is too new). TL;DR: Google Play's best feature does not require the paid version, and Rdio is the intuitive, good-looking underdog with a can't-lose attitude that wins my pick for best streaming music service available.
The second footnote of this link mentions Plex, and while they have a media server, it doesn't support some basic music player functions, like playlists. I am sure this will be remedied in the future, but until then it is behind all the rest of the services listed here. ↩
Matching with Rdio requires WMP or iTunes, which sucks because I actively avoid both. I don't think Spotify is as strict on sources. ↩
This basically means no for Android. The only last.fm scrobblers I have tried read from the system audio player, which then catches all the podcasts I listen to as well. It would get the job done, but it is also really annoying. ↩
The quality of the radio is a function of the feedback you give it, and only gets better over time. It did get better, but the quality definitely plateaued much sooner than I would have liked. This could be a function of what I listened to on the service, but Rdio and Pandora are both still improving their suggestions in my opinion, with roughly the same amount of feedback. ↩
It does not help that their web player seems to be blocked at my place of employment. Desktop player is (or was) fine, but I have never successfully started their web player. ↩
The largest library for comparison belongs to Spotify, which has over 20 million tracks. Google and Rdio are not far behind. ↩
The best social analogy I have heard is Spotify : Facebook :: Rdio : Twitter. Yes, I have lots of friends on Facebook, but there are few that share my music taste. ↩