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Archive for the 'nerdy' Category

Pogue Covers HDTV

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

We’ve had our big screen LCD television since the summer, and boy, do we love it.  Of course, that’s not saying much, since our previous television was purchased by myself and my college roommates in 1998 for $100, and had awesome green and purple spots if you watched for more than 30 minutes.  But we have the television, we have the surround sound, and it’s perfect.  And the Yule Log, broadcast in HD, looks totally awesome.

I came across another great David Pogue article in the Times today, in which he gets a Best Buy employee to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about HDTV.  I figured I’d know all the answers, but I’ll be honest: this one got me.

Q: OK, how about this one: 720p or 1080p?

A: These are measurements of how many fine lines make up the picture.

You’d think that 1080p is obviously better than 720p. Trouble is, you won’t get a 1080p image unless you feed it a 1080p signal — and that’s hard to come by. There’s no such thing as a 1080p TV broadcast (cable, satellite, anything), and won’t be for years. Even most games, like Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, generally send out 720p (or less).

So the *only* way to get a 1080p picture on a 1080p set is to buy a high-def DVD player (Blu-ray or HD DVD). That’s the only way. *** Xbox????

[D.P. adds: Even then, you won’t see any difference between 720p and 1080p unless you sit closer than 10 feet from the TV and it’s bigger than 55 inches or so.

And even then, you’re not getting any additional sharpness or detail. Instead, as CNET notes, you’re just gaining the ability to move closer without seeing individual pixels: “In other words, you can sit closer to a 1080p television and not notice any pixel structure, such as stair-stepping along diagonal lines, or the screen door effect (where you can actually see the space between the pixels).”]

Q: But a 1080p set costs a lot more than an identical 720p set, doesn’t it?

A: Yeah.

[D.P. adds: At this point, he showed me two plasmas, same brand, same size, same model line, mounted one above the other: one 720p, the other 1080p. The fancier set cost $2,000 more — and the image quality was pixel-for-pixel identical.]

You learn something new every day.  (Like I probably paid too much for my 1080p television.)

Meeting Of The Morons

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

They said it would never happen (as Amy said: "I didn’t think you two were allowed to be in the same place at the same time. Like some national security thing"), but indeed it did.  And it wasn’t gay at all, you jerks.





























Okay, so it was a little gay.

I spent about 30 hours at Posh Jefito Manor in beautiful New Hampshire.  I found Jeff in a bunker by a swamp, covered in empty bottles of Jack Daniels, muttering something about website backups.  Once I got him cleaned up, though, I found that he was quite hospitable, and only snarled at me once when I put his CDs back in the wrong alphabetical, chronological order.

The Captain and Tennille on an autumnal frolic

In all reality, I had a fantastic trip and got to spend some quality time with Jeff along with his wife and daughter.  We did a lot during my brief trip, including a viewing of the documentary Into The Night:  The Benny Mardones Story (review forthcoming) and some other projects that will make it to the web at some point.  And for all of you concerned about the future of the best music blogger on the Internet, I can’t spill all the details yet, but I can assure you that it won’t be long before he’s back ruling the web.  In the meantime, you can still read Jeff on a daily basis by checking out some of his music reviews at Bullz-Eye or his news posts at Rotten Tomatoes.

Thanks again to the Jefito clan for being such gracious hosts.  Hope to do it again soon!

Update Yo’ Feeds

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

If you receive updates on this site via RSS, I thought now would be a good time to let you know that I’m using some new feeds.  The old feed is still active, but won’t be for long (and think of all the crappy music you’ll miss) – so please update your RSS reader or whatever.

JasonHare.com entries feed: 


JasonHare.com comments feed:



New Barenaked Ladies, DRM-Free, Cheap!

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

I still owe you a post about the two Barenaked Ladies albums, Barenaked Ladies Are Me and Barenaked Ladies Are Men, narrowing down the best songs to one cohesive album.  I suck.  In the meantime, though, I just came across this news, which is pretty interesting:  Barenaked Ladies Are Men is the first of many albums from their management company, Nettwerk, to be uploaded to Amie Street.  As Michael Arrington from TechCrunch says: Bands and labels upload music, which is downloadable in DRM-free MP3 format. The price always starts at free, and as more people download the song, the price starts to rise, eventually hitting $.98. Higher priced songs are by definition more popular, and I’ve found that anything over $.50 or so is pretty good music. 70% of proceeds go to the band/label, and Amie Street keeps the rest.

Pretty interesting, no?  I’m pleased that BNL are leading the way here – convincing artists that consumers aren’t thieves.

As of this post, songs were priced between $.50 and .$95.  Check it out!

CHART ATTACK! #15: 1/16/88

Friday, January 19th, 2007

It’s Friday, and here we are again for another edition of CHART ATTACK!  As I’ve said before, 1988 is my favorite chart year of the ’80s; I know each of these songs (as well as songs 11-20, I’m sure) by heart.  So let’s take a look at the charts as they appeared on January 16, 1988!

10.  Is This Love – Whitesnake  Amazon iTunes
9.  Faith – George Michael
  Amazon iTunes
8.  Tell It To My Heart – Taylor Dayne  Amazon iTunes
7.  Candle In The Wind – Elton John  Amazon iTunes
6.  Hazy Shade Of Winter – Bangles  Amazon iTunes
5.  Could’ve Been – Tiffany  Amazon iTunes
4.  Need You Tonight – INXS  Amazon iTunes
3.  The Way You Make Me Feel – Michael Jackson  Amazon iTunes
2.  So Emotional – Whitney Houston  Amazon iTunes
1.  Got My Mind Set On You – George Harrison  Amazon

10.  Is This Love – Whitesnake (download)  Well, I’ll be damned.  Although I’ve never heard a Whitesnake song other than this one and "Here I Go Again," I figured the band had other big hits on the Hot 100.  These two are essentially their only big ones.  I guess the reason I remember them being HUGE in 1987, and much more successful is because their 1987 album Whitesnake sold over 8 million copies – probably due in part to Geffen A&R man John Kalodner, responsible for a zillion successful records.  Tawny Kitaen in the video probably didn’t hurt either.

9.  Faith – George Michael  This was the last week that "Faith" held a spot on the Top 10.  But don’t feel bad for George Michael – "Faith" entered the Top 10 on November 21, 1987, nearly two months’ prior, and "Father Figure" entered the Top 10 only a few weeks following this one.  We covered "Faith" in the week of its Top 10 debut in Chart Attack! #9, so head there if you’d like to read more about the song.

8.  Tell It To My Heart – Taylor Dayne  So I’m at a party in…I guess it must have been ’98 or ’99.  We’re up in the attic of this frat house, and the hosts have hired a DJ.  He’s playing all the current songs ("Feels So Good" by Mase, por ejemplo), and "Tell It To My Heart" comes on.  I sing every. single. word.  And that was the first time that I truly realized: if I could only rid my brain of things like the lyrics to Taylor Dayne songs, I’d be so much more useful to the world.

"Tell It To My Heart" was Dayne’s first hit, and although it didn’t pass #7, her following five consecutive releases hit the Top 10.  If you’d like a reminder of how some music videos are just locked in a time capsule, reminding us of all the things we’d like to forget about the ’80s, "Tell It To My Heart" is a good choice – watch it here.  I remember hearing her singing voice and having no idea where she came from…but then I heard her speaking voice and realized this woman definitely grew up on Long Island.

Some people have encouraged me to rip Taylor Dayne to shreds.  I’m not going to do it, but if you’d like to figure out their reasons, you can check out her website or her video blog at YouTube, specifically this video.  I encourage you to watch it and randomly hit "pause" on any facial expression.

7.  Candle In The Wind – Elton John  Sadly, my first exposure to "Candle In The Wind" was through this version of the song – but I can’t be blamed.  After all, the original wasn’t even released as a single in the U.S. back in 1973, when it was included on the excellent Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – only as a single in the U.K., where it reached #11.  And it’s even more frightening to think that there’s a generation who only know "Candle In The Wind ’97."  The version released here is from the album Live In Australia, which was recorded with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.  It’s an interesting album, both excellent and terrible: excellent because in order to make full use of the orchestra, Elton went back into his early records and pulled out fantastic songs like "The King Must Die" and "The Greatest Discovery," and terrible because Elton never sounded so bad: years of drug abuse led to nodules on his vocal cords.  I’m sure some of our readers in the radio biz can attest to "Candle’s" popularity in 1987 – I know it was played constantly in New York at the time, and eventually reached #7.  10 years later, the updated version topped the charts for a good 14 weeks.

6.  Hazy Shade Of Winter – Bangles (download)  What do they call it when you hear the cover before the original, and since it’s the cover you heard first, you wind up preferring it to the original?  Oh yeah, in this case, that’s probably called "blasphemy."  Sorry, folks, but it’s true.  I heard the Bangles version before the Simon & Garfunkel version, and I really like the cover better.  Produced by the Bangles themselves and included on the soundtrack to the movie Less Than Zero, the song became their third song to reach the Top 10.  This remains one of my favorite covers.

5.  Could’ve Been – Tiffany
  I had this album.  I don’t want to talk about it, except to say that this song eventually hit #1 for two weeks, so it wasn’t just me.

4.  Need You Tonight – INXS  …but I also had this album, which kind of redeems me, doesn’t it?  I always thought "Need You Tonight" was a freaking awesome song, from the drum part that sounded like nothing else on the radio, to that simple yet unquestionably catchy guitar riff.  And I don’t think it should ever be played without "Mediate" directly following.  This song hit #1 for just a week, as it was knocked off the top by…"Could’ve Been." 

3.  The Way You Make Me Feel – Michael Jackson  In the comments section of last week’s Chart Attack!, we began discussing some of the better songs off of Thriller and Bad.  This song wasn’t mentioned either way.  Thoughts?  Personally, I think it’s a great song, back when Jackson could still write, produce and record and not suck at all three simultaneously.  This was also a period of time where you could see Michael Jackson lust after a woman in a video and almost believe him. 

Speaking of the video, it’s pretty stupid.  Michael chases after this hot girl who’s clearly not interested, and continues to pursue her at the insistence of his street buddies.  It comes very close to an encouragement of gang rape.  She resists his advances, even though she’s charmed by him, thanks to the support of her female friends (including LaToya, who Michael thankfully ignores this time).  However, the final dance sequence, with Michael and his buddies gettin’ down under the streetlights, convinces her that he really is the right guy for her.  She confirms it by meeting him under those lights, and…hugging him.

Like I said, a stupid video.  However, as is often the case with Michael Jackson, once he starts dancing, it’s hard to focus on anything else.  Say what you want about him – he’s still an unbelievable dancer.  You can even forgive him for lip-syncing both "The Way You Make Me Feel" AND "Man In The Mirror" at the 1988 Grammies once you see him move.


2.  So Emotional – Whitney Houston
  I don’t know why I like it.  I just do.  (Before you think this is some lame admission, you should know that’s the opening line of the song.)  "So Emotional" hit #1 for one very brief week – the first week of the year – but it allowed Houston to tie the record for most consecutive #1 hits, which was six, held by the Bee Gees and the Beatles.  With her following single, "Where Do Broken Hearts Go," she set the new record.

"So Emotional" was another result of Houston’s successful collaboration with producer Narada Michael Walden, who is responsible for so many of the songs you wish you could forget, such as Houston’s "How Will I Know" and "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" (among many), Starship’s "Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now," and…two songs with Taylor Dayne.  Of course.

1.  Got My Mind Set On You – George Harrison  Well, I think it’s safe to say that nobody saw this coming.  Almost 24 years after he had his first chart-topping hit with The Beatles ("I Want To Hold Your Hand"), Harrison inexplicably found himself holding the top spot this week.   Granted, it was only a week, but it remains the last #1 song in the U.S. by any Beatle to date.

A cover of the song released in 1962 by James Ray, "Got My Mind Set On You" was – like so many of the songs in the Top 10 during these years – assisted by a memorable video.  Harrison wasn’t really the star of the video, in which he simply sat in a chair, in a mansion’s library, and strummed guitar directly to the camera; the library was the star, with moving furniture and animal heads.  MTV played the hell out of this video, which was actually the third video produced for the song: version 1 focused on teens in an arcade, version 2 was a typical band video, and version 3 was the one that we all know and love.  Plus, it has an obvious stunt double doing a dance break…although when I was 10 years old, I was very impressed with George Harrison for being a Beatle AND doing a back flip.  Beat THAT, Ringo!

And that’s the end of another Top 10!  Join me next week for yet another edition of CHART ATTACK!