Neo-Radio: Rock Meets NPR

As FM rock radio has become stale and repetitive, NPR has seen listenership soar 65 percent in the last five years. The music stations are beginning to take notice with the emerging format called “neo-radio.” Ironically enough, NPR covered it, explaining that neo-radio is characterized by knowledgeable DJs, a broader playlist (5,000 songs vs a typical 400), fewer and therefore more valuable commercials, more committed listeners, and perhaps most shocking, a calmer, quieter approach that’s more akin to NPR than shockjocks.

What’s that song?!

OK, this happens to me all the time. I’m walking through a store (today it happened to be Best Buy) and suddenly I realize I’m nodding my head to the music playing over the store speakers. I try to catch a few words of the chorus, but thanks to the general noise of the store I barely manage a few snippets. I end up walking away slightly annoyed because I know I’ll never be able to figure out what song that was and track it down.

This has happened many times before and it happened again today. The song was being played in Best Buy, it was some hard rock song with female lead vocals (no, it wasn’t Evanescence). I caught something in the lyrics about ‘capturing my heart’ or something to do with ‘my heart’. I know, not too specific, but what can you do?

Anybody know any solutions to my musical dilemma?

UPDATE: (July 19, 2004) It was “Followed the Waves” by Auf der Maur. The line was “my heart lies to you.” I found it after reading about Melissa Auf der Maur’s debut album in Paste magazine. The fact that she played bass for Hole and Smashing Pumpkins made me think she just might be the artist I’d heard in Best Buy. Bingo.

Bugs in my Apple

Bugs in my Mac Studio DisplayMy Mac has bugs, though not the kind you might expect. My 17 inch Studio Display has a few little insects crawling around in the translucent and hollow feet. They look like grains of rice in the picture, but they’re definitely insects, and they’re definitely alive. One is frantically crawling around as I type after several minutes of inactivity.

What I want to know is how did the bugs get in there? I can’t see an obvious opening and the insects sure can’t find a way out. They seem to have forgotten how to use their wings and keep trying to crawl up the slippery plastic sides, which isn’t working.

What I’m really concerned about is the insects dying and being on permanent display in the feet of my studio display. How ugly is that? Perhaps this is part of the rationale behind Apple’s new displays.

Monkey Mayhem

Lincoln Park Zoo's Regenstein Center for African ApesWhen the zoo says don’t pound on the glass, they mean it. And now they’re giving chimps a way to fight back. Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo opened a new habitat for apes that lets chimpanzees touch a panel and shoot harmless blasts of air at unsuspecting visitors.

The new feature should help people and primates interact in a safe way. Though Chicago’s not the first place to let monkeys fight back. The Los Angeles Zoo lets apes pull on ropes to ring bells or spray water at visitors. Now who’s being watched?

Reality Film

Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 made $23.9 million in its opening last weekend, making it the highest-grossing film of the weekend and the highest-grossing documentary ever (not including IMAX or concert films). Just like TV, reality is in.

“Documentary filmmakers have started to tell good stories, interesting stories, and have realized the word documentary should not be synonymous with castor oil,” Moore told AP in a piece about the rise of the documentary.

In addition to Moore’s election year success, he held the previous record for a documentary with Bowling for Columbine and had a rare hit with 1989’s Roger & Me. But Moore’s not the only one. This year’s Super Size Me, last year’s Spellbound, 2002’s skateboarding documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys, and 2001’s Winged Migration have all seen multi-million dollar success.

Top 100 Spiritual Movies

Though flicks like The Passion of the Christ and Saved! are the latest rage, spirituality has long been explored in cinema. Arts & Faith — an online discussion board for film critics, including a few reviewers — has released a list of their Top 100 Spiritually Signifcant Films, listed in alphabetical order (link via bloggedy blog).

Some well loved and expected choices are there, including The Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, The Apostle, Tender Mercies, Dogma, and The Passion of the Christ, among others. But there’s also a few surprises, including Groundhog’s Day, The Star Wars Trilogy, Fight Club, Life of Brian, and Blade Runner, among others.

It’s an interesting way to spark dialogue about spirituality in film.

Plain Layne Hoax

The City Pages ran an intriguing story this week about a fictional blogger who duped quite a lot of folks. Plain Layne seemed like a real person living in the Twin Cities and blogging for an audience of 5,000 since September 2001. After the site mysteriously vanished earlier this month, eager audience members banded together to piece the story together.

Turns out a 35-year-old man with a wife and two kids from Woodbury fooled thousands of online readers into thinking his 27-year-old lesbian character was real. Odin Soli considered the whole project “an experiment in creative interactive fiction” and claims he’s not planning to turn the publicity into a book deal. Jason Kottke calls it realtime fiction.

While the original Plain Layne site is no longer live, a few excerpts and a short explanation can be found on Soli’s new site. The excerpts quickly prove how convincing Layne must have been.

Thoughts on Harry Potter

Nevermind. I did finish Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire last night. I stayed up until 1:00 a.m. to pull it off (more proof of what happens when Abby’s not around). In my defense I’d reached the final climactic chapters, and once you get that far there’s no turning back.

Interestingly enough, this morning I read the announcement about the title for not-yet-written sixth Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. No release date has been set yet, so I can imagine we’ll have to wait at least a year.

As I finished The Goblet of Fire last night my head was spinning with thoughts and ideas about the world of Harry Potter. The Goblet of Fire is very much the Empire Strikes Back of the series. The bad guy comes back for real, the good guys are thrown into disarray, everything’s up in the air. Certainly there are no ‘Harry, I am your father!’ revelations, but it’s a pretty dark ending that left fans dying for book five.

Personally, I like The Goblet of Fire and The Prisoner of Azkaban the best. The first two books seemed like lame attempts for the bad guy to come back. It works in book one, but it felt like a repeat in the second book. I like The Prisoner of Azkaban so much because the plot has such a twist and for once in the series it’s not this elaborate plot of Voldemort regaining power (though it certainly has elements of ‘Harry, I am your father’). It’s gutsy for a series to do a book without its main villain, and even cooler that the book came out so well.

I like The Goblet of Fire because it raises the stakes. It’s another wild plot full of twists and turns, and this time it’s not some half-baked plot of the bad guy coming back to psuedo-power. It’s the real deal.

Part of what I like about the Harry Potter books is that Rowling packs so much into them. Yeah, each book is even more ridiculously longer than the last one, but she’s not wasting time with unimportant ventures. Almost every detail comes up again later. Any spell, creature, potion or magical object mentioned in the early chapters is bound to come up again.

I also love some of the deeper themes in the books. There’s some of the obvious stuff about good vs. evil, love, sacrifice, friendship, etc., but I like some of the more complicated stuff as well. The Goblet of Fire hints at some of the methods for fighting evil. One such method was to fight evil with evil, to authorize the good guys to use deadly force against the bad guys, to do just about anything to ensure safety, though not necessarily justice. Contrast that with headmaster Dumbledore’s belief in the second chance. While the book was written before 9/11, it has interesting parallels to how we fight the war on terror.

And I also love that Harry’s just a teenager who likes a girl but can hardly talk to her, gets nervous tests and trials, and likes to avoid homework.

New Harry Potter Title Announced

Coincidentally, the morning after I stay up re-reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, author J.K. Rowling announces the title of the upcoming sixth Harry Potter book in the seven book series: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Rowling is still in the process of writing the sixth book and no release date has been set.

The announcement was made on Rowling’s new flash-heavy web site, which includes plenty of fun extras for fans, including details that didn’t make it into the books (a deleted scenes for books?).