The Midget Faints Again: How I Spent My Holiday Vacation 2005

What better way to welcome 2006 than with R. Kelly’s Rapera, “Trapped In The Closet”? Have you seen this? It’s 12 music videos strung together into a complex tale of infidelity featuring a midget under the sink (who is sleeping with a girl named Bridget, of course) and that dude that plays Omar from The Wire. It is, without question, the greatest music video of all time; it makes Thriller look like Steamboat Willie. I’ve always said that my aesthetic amounts to loving “large amounts of talent spent on something asinine” and believe me, this fits the bill. You *must* see to believe. Here’s my one-sentence review: This is going to take me forever to memorize. Here’s hoping they add a “Rapera” category to the Academy Awards. Listen to an excerpt here.
We hit Hope Springs for three nights and I did a little reading:
a) The Big Sleep. I’d never read Raymond Chandler before. I liked it, though it wasn’t what I was expecting. There isn’t much of a mystery, really. He gets hired for a job, the job gets solved pretty early on, and the story just sort of unravels in front of you. I think the gist is: Phillip Marlow is a cool dude. Which he is. So that’s ok.
b) The Search. John Battelle‘s book about the history of Internet search. In the first 50 pages, I thought this was terrible. Luckily, it gets far more interesting and the writing much less annoying by the middle of the book, when John finally gets into the meat of things. It’s an interesting telling of a story I mostly already knew. Ties lots of things together and fills in some blanks. Glad I read it.
c) Everything Bad Is Good For You. Steven Johnson attempting to convince that pop culture isn’t making us dumber, it’s getting far more complex as we are getting smarter and smarter, asking for more challenging media experiences. There’s no question that Max Payne is more complicated than Pac Man, and that The Sopranos story lines are more complex than Hill Street Blues which was more complex than the (completely linear) Dragnet. Especially convincing was his assertation that kids don’t stare at TV because they’re lazy, but because it’s actually the most stimulating thing in the house. If they were truly lazy they’d be staring at the walls, but they’re gravitating toward the thing which actually exercises their mind with visual puzzles. I bought this book after seeing it on Red Burns‘ coffee table at NYU.
d) The Big Picture: The New Logic of Money and Power In Hollywood. I skimmed the shit out of parts of this book (mostly the parts about movie production post-green-light and before distribution), but I really dug the parts about the economics of Hollywood. Hollywood is a crazed, ego-filled beast, like the music industry with more distribution channels and bigger numbers. Reading this made my mind even more obsessed with the creation of a Free Market for Digital Media, which is coming and will fundamentally change the media industry and likely our lives (both for the better, IMHO). It’s incredible that the book makes basically no mention of this change save for the *very* last sentence, but it was a good history lesson and snapshot of where the industry is now.
I also finished all but the last chapter of The World Is Flat, which is absolutely inspiring and fantastic and every single person interested in seeing their children compete in the global marketplace of tomorrow should read this. But I’m sure you’ve heard that from others already.
I took a bike ride with Geoff and had a White Christmas of sorts. Clouds abouve the ocean, as seen from the mountains. No skateboarding. Saving my knee for the snow.
Playlists have taken over my life. I’ve taken the book The Mojo Collection and I’m basically making a playlist out of the whole thing. Think of it as a starter music collection. I’ve finished the 50s through 1971. Open these playlists in Yahoo! Music Engine:
That’s more than 100 hours of music for ya. There are definitely some omissions, both because Mojo doesn’t nail every single album and because Yahoo! Music Unlimited is missing many albums, from Beatles and Zeppelin to Beefheart and The Stooges. But it’s still a pretty good view into the more than 2M song collection of Yahoo! Music. I especially like the earliest two playlists. Some real gems in there (Nina Simone, Etta James, Mahalia Jackson) that I wasn’t familiar enough with. I’ll try to finish making playlists out of the book sometime in my lifetime, though it might not happen until next holiday break.
Happy 2006, y’all. Here’s sending kind thoughts and joyful wishings your way.

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