September 28, 2004


Reasons To Be Cheerful, Pt. 3

Besides the cheerful fact that we'll be electing a new president in November, there's a lot of great pop culture in the air -- and that's making me extremely cheerful.

I've already told you about the new Elvis Costello album, The Delivery If you haven't guessed by now, I'm a wee bit obsessed with the man. But, hey, name one other musician, other than Dylan, who has consistently made original and often quite good music for more than 2 decades (and Elvis will reach the 3 decade mark in a couple of years). C'mon, name one.

And I've also mentioned Brian Wilson's Smilewilson , an album that was originally scheduled to be released 37 years ago. Was it worth the wait? I'm still on the fence about this one. I would have preferred the original Beach Boys recordings to be augmented rather than having Brian and The Wondermints recreate everything (The Wondermints can truly sing and Brian sounds better than he has in years...but he and the Boys sounded a lot better back in '67). At the very least, thanks to this new version, true obsessives can now probably piece together their bootleg snippets of Smile and come up with a close approximation of how the album would have been if it had been released back in the day.

Here's what else will be making me happy soon:


heart (Oct. 1)
heart (Coming Soon)
(even if these 2 films suck, we'll always have these wondeful trailers)


Tanner on Tannerjack(Tuesdays in October, Sundance Channel) Loved the original series; don't see why this one won't be just as brilliant.
The Office Christmas Partyxmas(Oct.21, BBCAmerica, but I'm not sure if it's new or just a "special")

Lost abc(Wednesdays @ 8, ABC) Actually, I haven't seen this yet but thanks to TIVO I hope to soon. Hear it's more than decent.


Tom Waits: Real Gone tom (Oct. 5th)

Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus DVD stones (Oct. 12)

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds: Abattoir Blues/Lyre of Orpheus nick (Double Disc out Oct. 26)

Marianne Faithfull: Before the Poison marianne (collaboration with PJ Harvey, Nick Cave and others; import currently available)
Lucinda Williams williams (2 Disc Live set; no release date -- she's still tinkering, as usual)
Stealers Wheel: Ferguslie Park ferg (reissue of neglected follow-up to the eponymous debut which brought us "Stuck in the Middle with You"; import only)
The Kinks: Are The Village Green Preservation Society village (reissue of their masterpiece on 3 discs; import only) Finally, the great, lost "Misty Water" is available on CD. Now if only "When I Turn Out The Living Room Light" could see the light of day...

Finally, I was going to include the 25th Anniversary edition of The Clash's clash London Calling, but I honestly cannot recommended it unless you have a lot of extra cash to burn (or if you never "upgraded" your original vinyl pressing). The 2nd CD, the legendary "Vanilla Tapes", is just that: Vanilla. I was expecting alternative versions (much like the excellent 2nd CD of Elvis Costello's recently re-reissued "Get Happy", but these are just pretty much bad rehearsals (with a couple of exceptions). The extra DVD documentary almost makes this reissue worth it (especially the footage of insane producer Guy Stevens), but it's ultimately a lot less essential than the previously released "Westway to the World" doc by Don Letts.dvd But then again, if you're an obsessive completist...

Actually, "Turn Out The Living Room Light" is on The Kinks BBC Sessions CD...

And it's not a live version, it's the original. It got thrown on there 'cause it was done for a BBC show.

Cool, eh?

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Computer News
Google plans instant-messaging system, report says

Google Inc. is set to introduce its own instant messaging system, the Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday, marking the expansion by the Web search leader into text and also voice communications.

Citing unnamed sources "familiar with the service," the Los Angeles Times said that Google's Instant Messaging program would be called Google Talk and could be launched as early as Wednesday.

Google Talk goes beyond text-based instant messaging using a computer keyboard to let users hold voice conversations with other computer users, the newspaper quoted a source as saying.

A Google spokeswoman declined to comment on the company's product plans.

If confirmed, the combined computer text and voice-calling service would put Google in competition with a similar service pioneered by Skype, which has attracted tens of millions of users, especially in Europe, to its own service.

Separately, independent journalist Om Malik on his blog at pointed to technical clues that suggest Google is preparing to run an instant messaging service based on an open-source system known as Jabber.

Jabber technology would allow Google instant message users to connect with established IM systems that also work with Jabber, including America Online's ICQ and Apple Computer Inc.'s iChat, Malik said.

"This is the worst possible news for someone like Skype, because now they will be up against not two but three giants who want to offer a pale-version of Skype," he wrote.

Earlier this week, Google said it was branching out beyond pure search to help users manage e-mail, instant messages, news headlines and music. It introduced a new service called the Google Sidebar, a stand-alone software program that sits on a user's desktop and provides "live" information updates.

Over the past year or so, the company has expanded into e-mail, online maps, personalized news and more.

The product push comes as rivals Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Time Warner Inc.'s AOL are all pushing to upgrade existing instant messaging systems and expand into new Internet phone-calling services.

Google's moves take it beyond its roots in Web search and closer to becoming a broad-based Internet media company.

With instant messaging, Google would be breaking into a market in which its major competitors boast tens of millions of subscribers to their established instant messaging services.

America Online, with its AIM and ICQ brands, counts more than 40 million IM users in the United States alone. Yahoo has around 20 million and Microsoft's MSN Messenger numbers some 14 million users, according to recent comScore Media Metrix data.

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