Saturday, September 28, 2013

Alanis Morissette sued; 'How soon can I use the word?'

So, Alanis Morissette is being sued by her ex-nanny. It's a news story, it features Alanis Morissette. So, around the newsrooms of the world, Clippy from Microsoft Word pops up saying "it looks like you might want to shoe-horn in the word 'Ironic' here, regardless of how inappropriate it might be".

Can anyone resist?
The Province can't wait, kicking off the headline with the words:

Isn't it ironic? Alanis Morissette's nanny claims in lawsuit she was given no breaks, no overtime pay
In a bout of metairony, The Province's slogan is "It starts here". But even so, you'd have hoped they'd have managed to make it through to the lede before blowing their "ironic" gag.

Does someone want to see if they can hold it in a little longer?

The Vancouver Sun is next up, and manages to make it to paragraph two before deploying:
The former nanny of Canadian pop star Alanis Morissette is suing the singer claiming she wasn’t paid overtime or given breaks.

The legal documents — obtained by — are ironic because Morissette, 39, presents herself an earth mother with with a strong social conscience.
The inability to restrain itself from throwing 'ironic' into the pot is almost offset by the attempt to justify the word the ironic being there, but... well, when you're trying to describe the serving of legal papers as "ironic", you're on awkward ground. (Both the Province and the Sun seem to be working from the same basic source material, by the way, so it looks like The Prov took the decision to up the irony quota.)

Time for the Daily Mail to have a go.
Alanis Morissette's former night nanny sues singer for $130,000 as she claims she was denied meal breaks
Good start.
Alanis Morissette has been sued by a former nanny who claims she was not paid overtime and forced to work 12-hour overnight shifts without breaks.

The lawsuit was filed by former nanny Bianca Cambeiro on Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court and seeks $30,000 in unpaid wages and $100,000 in damages.

Cambeiro was the night nurse for 39-year-old Alanis and her husband Mario Treadway and worked three to four days a week from 9pm to 9am, according to the lawsuit.
You're doing it, Mail.
Cambeiro said she was paid $25 an hour and was seeking $30,000 in unpaid wages.
She also was seeking $100,000 in damages claiming she suffered emotional distress.
Messages sent to Morrissette's representatives seeking comment were not immediately returned.
Well done, Mail. You made it through without falling into the trap. Let's just hope that your commenters don't turn up and spoil everything.
crosis, Widnes, United Kingdom, 9 hours ago
Isn¿t it Ironic? Actually no - just like in your song it is a series of avoidable events that make no sense whatsoever.
So, let's get this straight, crosis. You know there's nothing ironic in the story, but decided to post anyway to stress that there was nothing ironic going on.

Still, kudos to the Mail for holding out even if its readers couldn't cope.

The thing is, though, there is an appropriate Morissette track to use to rustle up a headline here. Rader, show 'em how it's done:
She Oughta Know…Better! Alanis Morissette Sued By Former Nanny For $100K
Thank you. We'd also have accepted something based on 'bitter little pill'

Friday, September 27, 2013

NME experiments with micropayments, possibly

So we know from the ABC figures that take-up of NME's digital edition is a little slow, which appears to have spurred the magazine to try a different way to monetise its digital content:

NME is to trial charging for online access to articles for the first time, asking readers to pay a modest 69p for this week's cover story on the indie four-piece Haim.

The magazine is dipping its toe in the world of online payments with the one-off experiment, but insiders insisted there are no plans to erect a full paywall around

From Wednesday, it will cost NME readers 69p to read an "enhanced digital" version of the cover feature on Haim – 30p cheaper than one of the San Fransisco band's singles on iTunes. The rest of the website will remain free.
This makes a degree of sense - keeping the feature articles off the site to protect magazine sales has been understandable, although hasn't worked, so a different approach makes sense.

And the magazine still has some great writers and access to interesting people, so trying to leverage some money online off the back of that makes sense.

On the other hand - sixty nine pence for a single article? MediaGuardian might describe it as "modest" but it looks more like the sort of price only a fan would pay. If you could take or leave Haim, or were merely Haimcurious, you'd head off to discover their other, free interviews, surely?

And if the idea is that people who like Haim very much will happily fork over 69p to read their words, there's a bit of a threat there to the NME that I'm not sure it's thought through. Because if I managed Haim, and knew the NME was going to be making money from selling unique digital content that Haim have helped create, I might consider that my group should get a share of the profits.

It's not like the magazine, where Haim are getting exposure to the wider NME audience, and can think of it as a marketing jaunt. This is a sale which takes place, inarguably, because of the presence of Haim in the product.

It might just be a dead question though - as there's nowhere obvious on the NME website where you can buy the thing. There's no mention on the homepage; no mention on the digital download page; not a word on the Haim page or on the 'inside the NME this week' page.

Perhaps the experiment has already been abandoned; because if it's still going on, I think we can predict there's only going to be limited take-up.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Kurt Cobain's house on the block now on the block

Oh, Sarah Beeney. Oh, Martin off of Homes Under The Hammer. You think you know how to add value to property, but have you ever managed to make a $67,000 house increase in value to $500,000?

All you need to do is have Kurt Cobain grow up there. And maybe update the tired carpet in second bedroom.

Cobain's mother is selling the place, mattress and all:

"We've decided to sell the home to create a legacy for Kurt, and yes, there are some mixed feelings since we have all loved the home and it carries so many great memories," Cobain's sister, Kim Cobain, said in an emailed statement.

"But our family has moved on from Washington, and (we) feel it's time to let go of the home."
Martin off Homes Under The Hammer writes: Of course, not every developer can have Kurt Cobain in the attic bedroom adding value, but later in the programme we'll be meeting Kevin and Keveena to see if their plan of installing Eddie Vedder in the family bathroom has helped them make a profit on their Camberley terrace house."

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Engineerobit: Mike Robinson

Andy Kershaw has mentioned on Facebook that Mike Robinson, who engineered shedloads of Peel Sessions down the years, has died.

Helen McCookerybook tells a great story in Ken Garner's In Session Tonight book where, tired of producing sessions on ageing equipment, Robinson deliberately made the sound louder and louder until the speakers blew. Blown speakers, it appeared, was a reason the BBC would allow the money for a replacement. They wouldn't spring for new ones if they were just knackered.

Gordon in the morning: Hair piece

Behind Gordon Smart's paywall this morning, those readers who have dipped into their pockets to get in will discover that Lady GaGa has worn a crazy wig.

You could have spent that money on sweets, you know.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Godspeed You Black Emperor not thrilled to win Polaris Prize

Godspeed You Black Emperor won the Polaris Music Prize. Hold on before you nip down to Smiths to pick out a Congratulations card, though... they're not happy:


hello kanada.
hello kanadian music-writers.

thanks for the nomination thanks for the prize- it feels nice to be acknowledged by the Troubled Motherland when we so often feel orphaned here. and much respect for all y’all who write about local bands, who blow that horn loudly- because that trumpeting is crucial and necessary and important.

and much respect to the freelancers especially, because freelancing is a hard fucking gig, and almost all of us are freelancers now, right? falling and scrambling and hustling through these difficult times?

so yes, we are grateful, and yes we are humble and we are shy to complain when we’ve been acknowledged thusly- BUT HOLY SHIT AND HOLY COW- we’ve been plowing our field on the margins of weird culture for almost 20 years now, and “this scene is pretty cool but what it really fucking needs is an awards show” is not a thought that’s ever crossed our minds.

3 quick bullet-points that almost anybody could agree on maybe=

-holding a gala during a time of austerity and normalized decline is a weird thing to do.

-organizing a gala just so musicians can compete against each other for a novelty-sized cheque doesn’t serve the cause of righteous music at all.

-asking the toyota motor company to help cover the tab for that gala, during a summer where the melting northern ice caps are live-streaming on the internet, IS FUCKING INSANE, and comes across as tone-deaf to the current horrifying malaise.

these are hard times for everybody. and musicians’ blues are pretty low on the list of things in need of urgent correction BUT AND BUT if the point of this prize and party is acknowledging music-labor performed in the name of something other than quick money, well then maybe the next celebration should happen in a cruddier hall, without the corporate banners and culture overlords. and maybe a party thusly is long overdue- it would be truly nice to enjoy that hang, somewhere sometime where the point wasn’t just lazy money patting itself on the back.

give the money to the kids let ‘em put on their own goddamn parties, give the money to the olds and let them try to write opuses in spite of, but let the muchmusic videostars fight it out in the inconsequential middle, without gov’t. culture-money in their pockets.

us we’re gonna use the money to try to set up a program so that prisoners in quebec have musical instruments if they need them…

amen and amen.

apologies for being such bores,
we love you so much / our country is fucked,
godspeed you! black emperor
But other than that... it's quite the honour.

I really think we should try to get them to win something at the Brits, so they can say this into James Corden's face.

Bono misses the point on tax, presumably deliberately

So in his big Observer interview at the weekend, Bono took the opportunity to address U2's "efficient" tax arrangements, and explain why he isn't a shitty, cash-nuzzling hypocrite. Go on, Bono:

The other persistent criticism is about the band's decision to offshore part of their income through the Netherlands to avoid tax. Was it not hypocrisy for you to try to hold the Irish government to account for its spending while going through fairly exhaustive efforts to avoid paying into the Irish exchequer yourself?

It is not an intellectually rigorous position unless you understand that at the heart of the Irish economy has always been the philosophy of tax competitiveness. Tax competitiveness has taken our country out of poverty. People in the revenue accept that if you engage in that policy then some people are going to go out, and some people are coming in. It has been a successful policy. On the cranky left that is very annoying, I can see that. But tax competitiveness is why Ireland has stayed afloat. When the Germans tried to impose a different tax regime on the country in exchange for a bailout, the taoiseach said they would rather not have the bailout. So U2 is in total harmony with our government's philosophy.
Now, what this is is a fair attempt to defend the Irish government's relaxed approach - you make tax-paying a thing that becomes a matter of choosing where you wish to pay tax, you must accept that some people will choose to pay tax elsewhere.

What it doesn't do, though, is even begin to address the charge that Bono and the boys make that choice.

"If people leave their front door open, they shouldn't be surprised if people steal their televisions" isn't a justification for stealing a television, it just explains the context in which you're walking down the street with someone else's Viera under your arm.

Furthermore, it really doesn't explain why you'd feel justified in telling people what to do with the valuables you hadn't pinched.

So, okay, Bono: you've established that the Irish Government might accept that what you've done is to be expected. Can you have another go at explaining why it was right?

Gordon in the morning: Jessie J votes for modesty

Gordon Smart has an interview this morning with Jessie J, where she attempts to bring the sort of 'let's keep things positive, everything's for the best' approach she used for judging on The Voice to the vexed question of Islamic dress.

"As an artist I try and be controversial and I have been a bit offensive at times. I have a view on the burka and I'm sure a few of the Muslim girls and their families would have a view of me on stage in next to nothing!"
Some of the families have a view of Jessie J writhing half-naked on the stage. The others bought cheaper seats and only had an obscured view.

Jessie, can you solve the problem of centuries of religious injunctions about the modesty of women, perhaps by pulling a statement that sounds like it's been lifted from a Disney song out of the air?
"I remember while I was at school some of my Muslim friends talked about a handful of people spoiling things in every culture. Hatred or hurt or pain isn't specific to a religion.

"I think it's a matter of acceptance. The one thing the world has to accept is everybody is different. What is normal to us is different and unusual to somebody else."
Expertly swerving the question at the heart of the issue - is it a choice, or is it enforced - Jessie J has just moved us straight to the hug at the end.

More interesting, surely, is the quote that kicks off the piece. Let's look at that again:
As an artist I try and be controversial
Wearing crop tops; making Top 40 pop; doing shows for charidee and tea-time telly. Yes, I can see the Vorticist influence there.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Eurovision 2014: New rules

There was a lot of consternation over the voting during this year's Eurovision song contest - mostly amongst people who think think this sort of thing matters.But the organisers are going to put a stop to wrongdoing:

Eurovision organisers have announced changes to the song contest's jury rules, amid allegations of bribery.

From next year, the names of each country's jury will be revealed ahead of the competition in an effort to increase openness and accountability.
Isn't that going to make it easier to work out who you're supposed to bribe?
For the first time, individual juror scores will also be published immediately after the final.
And won't that just make it easier to check that you've got what you've paid for?

Rewinding Rewind The Tube

Channel 4 did an 80s night on Friday, and like most 80s nights, it was unrecognisable to anyone who lived through it.

A 15 to 1 remade as a jokey celeb gameshow in a studio which looked like Thomas Edison's torture chamber missed the point of a programme where the only thing that mattered was the questions; 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown's sole concession to the theme appeared to be Jimmy Carr wearing a mullet wig for two seconds; Alan Carr - Chatty Man featured those 80 icons Jessie J and Matthew Fox, but probably had a Rubiks Cube on set.

That just left Rewind The Tube, yet another official history of the programme which, supposedly, put an end to this sort of hagiographic genuflection to the past. At some point, there will be a programme that really explores the series, but instead this was the standard 'it was unlike anything before or since and mostly was about sex and shocks'.

The trouble is, even on its own terms this official history made no sense.

Paula Yates was supposedly a complete outsider - and yet she got the job off the back of getting rock stars to pose in their knickers. Which is hardly something an outsider would be able to do.

The guests were the sort of people you'd never see on staid old Top Of The Pops - except here's Glenn Gregory, talking about having done Pops before The Tube.

Before The Tube, there was no programming which allowed young people to address the horrors of Thatcherism - but this claim is illustrated with clips of young people on a different programme talking more directly about unemployment.

The Tube gave a platform to striking miners to kick over the traces. Hang about, though, this footage shows that it was The Redskins, not the producers, who brought a miner on to the set; and when he attempted to make a statement, his microphone was meekly cut by the gallery.

In order to work in an anecdote about an exploding car stunt, Rewind The Tube had to hope you didn't stop to think how 'Jools Holland driving around America meeting the people from his childhood record collections for what felt like months' looked a bit like the sort of self-indulgent travelwank middle-aged TV executives have been enthusiastically green-lighting since Logie-Baird got back from the patent office.

Oddest of all was the bid to try and claim Band Aid as a Tube thing - "nearly all the artists were Tube-related" ran Tim Healy's voiceover. Which is true; but given you've been trying to frame the series as the home of cultural outsiders, how could what was the original Rock Royalty Potluck fit into that narrative in any sensible way?

The clips from the final Tube really nailed the story that wasn't being told - Duran Duran, U2, Tina Turner bidding the show farewell. The legacy of the Tube was as much Q Magazine as Network 7.

The suggestion that The Tube came from nowhere and was like nothing else on TV is also vexing. It must rankle with the people who made Tiswas - which had ripped up the idea of well-organised, linear television while Jools was still working out how to play four-bar blues on a school recorder - but also ignores Malcolm Gerrie's ITV kids pop show Razzmatazz. Out the blocks over a year before The Tube, Razzmatazz was pretty much The Tube fuelled by tartrazine and midget gems rather than booze n coke.

Curiously, for a programme celebrating a show about live performance, there was very little live footage - indeed, whenever a musical discursion was called for, they went more often for a clip of a pop video. Did we hear anything about how The Tube was running against the MTV-fuelled promo tide of the times? No; but then if we had, it might have thrown too much light on how the ballyhooed "launching" of U2 relied mostly on shoving Live At Red Rocks into a tapemachine and pressing play.

There was a load of good stuff on The Tube; but there were also a lot of editions where it was blessed relief when Peter Sissons turned up with Channel 4 News. For every Frankie Goes To Hollywood doing the sex, you'd have to sit through an overlong giggly-but-awed interview with Paula Yates helping George Michael launch his solo career, Go West playing the same song forever, and Paul Young sweating into the camera.

The upshot? Rewind The Tube conceded that the most famous moment on The Tube wasn't on The Tube, and wasn't even on Channel 4. But it never really pursued the question of why a show that could call on a-list musicians and had access to the hottest upcoming comedians is mostly remembered for a trailer and something said by a presenter.

There's a great story to be told about The Tube. I fear, though, we'll just get another half-dozen of these every five years or so. The Tube would never have treated The Tube like this.

Gordon in the morning: Ending JLS

Is it worth paying the money to ease behind Gordon's purple rope, into the payzone, to discover how JLS intend to mark the end of the band?

Drinks and high jinks for JLS farewell
Some sort of party, then? I'm surprised insights like this can be contained behind a wall.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Show us how to die well, show us how to let it all go

Normally, it's all too easy to giggle at the X Factor stars who rage at the dying of the light, but James Arthur has just made me feel a bit sad:

James Arthur admits he will be very ''disappointed'' if there isn't a good reaction to his new single 'You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You'.

James Arthur will be crushed if his career flops.

The 'X Factor' 2012 winner is nervous about fading into obscurity after experiencing initial chart success, a fate which has befallen previous winners of the talent show, and hopes his new single 'You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You' will be a hit.
What makes this so heartbreaking is that when I was reading the summary of this story, I thought he was one of this year's contestants, not last year's winner.

He's crossed into the fade-out, and doesn't even know yet.

Rihanna does her bit to hustle lorises to extinction

Rihanna has been off in Phuket - presumably to put as much distance between her and that awful River Island range as possible - and managed to wade into a massive screw-up.

She had her picture taken with a loris, gleefully uploading it to Instagram.

It's not as cute as it sounds. The Bangkok Post explains:

Local wildlife advocates have alerted authorities to the picture of Rihanna with the slow loris, which is sometimes illegally used as a photo prop in tourist areas. The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNWPC) has responded by urging residents to help identify where Rihanna was pictured holding the slow loris.

DNWPC deputy director-general Theerapat Prayurasiddhi yesterday said he would send officials to look into accusations of wildlife abuse if he receives specific information about where animals are being used as photo props.
There are some zoos which have been licenced to use lorises in this way, but even that is a terrible thing to promote - especially when endorsed by an international pop-star, as it all feeds into the horrific loris pet trade which is harming the creatures' chance of survival. Primates Not Pets explains just what a nasty trade Rihanna is helping:
After being snatched from the wild, slow lorises have to suffer a painful procedure to prepare them for their lives as pets. Their teeth are often cut off with nail clippers or pulled out with pliers to prevent the loris from injecting venom into its handlers and future owners. This cruel mutilation can leave the loris suffering from infections, and often results in a slow and painful death.

But their torture doesn’t end there, with the lorises exposed to stressful conditions until they reach their owners. If intended for the international trade, the loris can be transported in overcrowded conditions with poor ventilation. The stress placed on the animals during this transport stage results in a mortality rate of between 30% and 90%. If the lorises remain in their native countries like Indonesia, they are taken to illegal animal markets where they can be exposed to extreme heat.
But, hey, Rihanna. Cute Instagram shot.

This week just gone

The most-read September stories:

1. Salon worries about people thinking The Boss is too old
2. RIP: Tommy 'Cosmon' Cosdon
3. Maradonna praises Noel Gallagher, perhaps
4. Universal puts paid to Smiths/Shulz mash-up
5. City Of London heaps award on Bob Geldof
6. Vince Gill takes on Westboro Baptist Church
7. Bieber approached to dress in tights, hang around with older man
8. Charles Moore not over the Sachsgate thing, then
9. Was a $1000 wedding expensive?
10. Peter Saville designs Kanye West logo

A bumper week for new releases:

Bill Callahan - Dream River

Download Dream River

Traams - Grin

Download Grin

The Naked & The Dead - In Rolling Waves

Placebo - Loud Like Love

Download Loud Like Love

The Wedding Present - Live 1992

Manic Street Preachers - Rewind The Film

Download Rewind The Film

Sebadoh - Defend Yourself

Download Defend Yourself


Download MGMT

Elvis Costello & The Roots - Wise Up Ghost

Download Wise Up Ghost

OMD - Night Cafe

Download Night Cafe