Monday, September 28, 2009

Couple of snide reviews

IO9 on FlashForward just about nails it ("Subtlety, thy strong point isn't FlashForward"). Be warned that this is the kind of review that's basically a synopsis with commentary (which sounds like a value judgement but is really just description). (Other people have pointed out how the kangaroo is equivalent to Lost's polar bear - apparently there's even an Oceanic Airlines billboard somewhere in FlashForward's first few minutes.)

MSNBC on the Fame remake is amusing and the kind of thing that seems deadly accurate even if I haven't seen the film and likely never will - didn't like the original so a watered down remake is even less appealing (and hey isn't that what Glee is for?).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

46 Essential Rock Reads

Some LA Times bloggers recently came up with a list of 46 Essential Rock Reads that's pretty decent. (I've read 14.) No explanation of why 46 or even why various ones were chosen (they can't think Goldman's Elvis is actually good can they?) but still you could do far worse.

And of course the point for the rest of us is to show how knowledgable we are by pointing out the omissions so:

Geoffrey Stokes Star-Making Machinery: Inside the Business of Rock and Roll - A start to finish look at the creation and release of an album that's surprisingly remained unique almost three decades later. There are plenty of retrospective looks and some odds 'n' ends such as the documentary Metallica: Some Kind of Monster but this is a real inside look that should have inspired more.

Nick Tosches Hellfire: The Jerry Lee Lewis Story - One of the key rock biographies that doesn't just make cultural connections but sees a big picture that most writers never even realize might be there.

Mark Shipper Paperback Writer: The Life and Times of the Beatles, the Spurious Chronicle of Their Rise to Stardom, Their Triumphs and Disasters, Plus the Amazing Story of Their Ultimate Reunion - A novel that imagines a different ending for the Beatles and in the process dissects and sorts through the concept of stardom. And then it closes with one of the saddest endings you'll ever read.

Dave Rimmer Like Punk Never Happened: Culture Club and the New Pop - Maybe not rock exactly but pop dynamics have rarely been this exposed.

David Toop Ocean of Sound: Aether Talk, Ambient Sound and Imaginary Worlds - Even less rock here but a key work for wandering through sets of overlapping and conflicting ideas that motivated so much post-war music.

Bob Dylan Chronicles: Volume 1 - Isn't this far more important (and just plain interesting) than Tarantula?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Stupid Web Tricks: Slideshows

I'm seeing these with more frequency, the kind of thing where we're promised 10 Hottest Megan Fox Photos or 15 Best Serbian Horror Films but instead of a full list we have to click through all of them to even see what they are. Now the Fox Photos yep that will be clicked but most of us are going to start snoozing for other slideshows.

Recently I found one that shows what a bad idea this is. Foods Your Dog Should Never Eat sounds like it should be very important if you want a healthy, happy dog. But there's about 18 of these (the rest of the 27 slides are an ad and some further explanations) which means not many people will get to an unexpected one like #12 Persimmons, Peaches, and Plums because they will have lost interest around #6 or #7. (Well I lost interest around #2 but I'm guessing people who actually have dogs will be a tad more motivated, at least until they see it's mostly familiar stuff.)

So the slideshow design undermines the entire point of an article such as this. What most readers need is the full list and quickly find things they don't know or maybe more info on ones they weren't sure about. Instead the slideshow forces needless and counter-productive interaction.

But while I'm on this page might as well point out that the design clearly shows how little interest WebMD has in this article anyway. The actual text is far smaller than the accompanying photo, in fact is smaller than the adjacent advertisement. Looking at the entire page the text isn't immediately obvious but almost an afterthought (which might in fact be true).

The article itself doesn't live up to the title. The section about not eating raw eggs for instance is very clearly not a "never" item and the parts about sugar and fat are just ridiculous (and also not even remotely a "never"). So we go from genuine warnings about dangers at the start and end up with a cliched diet with fruits, vegetables and cooked rice, just the sort of thing that people who don't enjoy food push in the mistaken belief that it's more healthy.