Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

One Take To Get The Music Right: A Chat About The 78 Project

For the past year, Alex Steyermark and Lavinia Jones Wright have led The 78 Project, a New York-based operation that aims to create an archive of the whole of contemporary American folk music using 1930s-era recording equipment. Inspired by the field recordings of Alan Lomax, Steyermark and Jones Wright use Presto machines that directly transcribe the recordings onto an acetate disc—it's a one-take, one-track recording technique. These sessions, which so far have included such musicians as Rosanne Cash, Richard Thompson, and Loudon Wainwright III, are also filmed and posted online as part of a web series. The two recently completed a recording circuit in the South, and [...]


Meet The Folks Behind The "Mr. Wizard's A Dick" Video

With almost 350,000 views in its first two days, the video “Mr. Wizard's A Dick is blowing up like a lousy chemistry experiment. The video compiles three minutes of Don Herbert, aka Mr. Wizard, correcting and acting curmudgeonly to the young guests on his show (some of the instances taken out of context). It's very, very funny—and, incidentally, a nice reminder of a time when Nickelodeon showed good educational programming. I contacted the video's creators, writers Mike Schuster and Diane Bullock, and Mike and I had this brief chat.


Wham!'s "Last Christmas" Is the Most Horrible Holiday Song Ever Made

Christmas songs are designed to be catchy, annoying and vaguely reminiscent of winter. The most successful are horrible holiday earworms, such as "Wonderful Christmastime" and "Heat Miser/Snow Miser." But one song is so overplayed and over-covered and so mediocre to begin with that it makes the rest sound like "White Christmas." Its recent exclusion from the A/V Club’s recent list of worst Christmas songs is a gross injustice to the holidays and to musicdom in general.

"Last Christmas," written by George Michael and first performed by Wham! in 1984, is a wallowing mess of a song. It mistakes self-indulgence for closure. It contains a synthy falseness [...]


The Ken Burns Defect: Looking Back At 'Baseball'

In 1994, four years removed from The Civil War, Ken Burns created Baseball, an eighteen-and-a-half hour (or "Nine Inning") documentary on the national pastime. In anticipation of Tuesday's premiere of The Tenth Inning, his four hour epilogue, I went back to watch the original in its entirety.