Thursday, January 27, 2005

Chasing Music's Tail...

As has been reported in Online Music Sales Increase Tenfold in 2004 :: Internet World and elsewhere, online music sales has arrived in a big way. But one has to wonder if this would have happened if the appetities of music fans not been whetted by Napster and other P2P systems. Probably not.

I quit using Kazaa when the lawyers got involved. But the attraction was never free music. Rather, it was access to the largest library of recorded music in history.

I play in a roots music band, and I often used Kazaa to search for material to cover. I ran keyword searches on "truck," "train,", "drunk," and other such terms, and came up with some great stuff, including a very cool, very old song called "You Drink Too Much" by a group called the Chicago Black Swans, of which Big Bill Broonzy was a member (according to what little information I could find).

These days I enjoy using iTunes for the same reason. The selection is certainly not as vast as what was available during the heyday of P2P -- I haven't found anything by the Chicago Black Swans. But that will change over time as the music industry in general acclimates to this new environment. After all, free of both the limitations of shelf space and the geographic realities of retail, there's no reason not to make everything available. Somebody will buy it.

Journalist Chris Anderson covered the exciting new realities of book, music, and video retailing in an excellent article (The Long Tail) in the October edition of Wired. According to Anderson:

Unlimited selection is revealing truths about what consumers want and how they want to get it in service after service, from DVDs at Netflix to music videos on Yahoo! Launch to songs in the iTunes Music Store and Rhapsody. People are going deep into the catalog, down the long, long list of available titles, far past what's available at Blockbuster Video, Tower Records, and Barnes & Noble. And the more they find, the more they like. As they wander further from the beaten path, they discover their taste is not as mainstream as they thought (or as they had been led to believe by marketing, a lack of alternatives, and a hit-driven culture).

As Big Martha over in D Block says, "That's a good thing."

Monday, January 24, 2005

Advice for the homemaker If you fry, don't dry

In our home our tiny kitchen is adjacent to the laundry room. By "adjacent" I mean that you can flip an omelet with one hand while adding fabric softener to a load of delicates with the other.

So the other day my wife was cooking breakfast while a load of laundry was tumbling in the dryer. A few hours later I got out of the shower and grabbed a freshly laundered towel, expecting the springtime fresh scent of detergent. Instead my towel smelled like a pound of fried bacon. We took the obvious course of action, but it turns out that a terrycloth, lettuce, and tomato sandwich is far less appetizing than it sounds.

Sometimes it just doesn't pay to multitask.

Friday, January 21, 2005

CLEAR! Gettin' Hoggy with it

One does not dine at an establishment called Hoggy's with an expectation of finding a menu replete with sprouts and tofu. My expectations were realistic, but still I was unprepared for the unabashed orgy of cholesterol and carnivorism that is the Hoggy's experience.

When the onion ring appetizer arrived we were astonished to see that it consisted of about two dozen rings the size of bagels. Just being near them I could feel my arteries clogging.

My pork tenderloin was breaded, fried, and the size of a hubcap. It rested on an avalanche of mashed potatoes. What with the cornbread and the cole slaw, I gave up before consuming two thirds of my dinner. My waif of a daughter could barely lift her pulled pork sandwich, and I was in such a swine-induced stupor that I have no recollection of what my wife ordered, only that there was a lot of it. The food was very good, actually, but it's the kind of stuff that makes you want to go home and do sit-ups until you pass out.

The Hoggy's menu offers a free t-shirt to anyone who can successfully meet The Hoggy Challenge. This involves chowing down "a half slab of ribs, BBQ 1/2 Chicken, Puled Pork sandwich, two side dishes & cornbread." I have no idea what the t-shirt looks like, but I wouldn't be at all surprise if it features two carefully placed circles and a slogan that says "Place defibrillator paddles here."