Linkdump for June 25th through July 16th

An automatically generated list of links that caught my eye between June 25th and July 16th.

Sometime between June 25th and July 16th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

Archie vs. Pulp: Common People (Again)

Apparently something has changed at UMG, and they’ve decided that graciously allowing fans to use bits of their artist’s music in projects like this _isn’t_ kosher, because this morning I got notice that my video was blocked worldwide.

Slightly over a year ago, I found an inspired bit of silliness which replaced the text from an old Archie comic with lyrics from Pulp’s “Common People.” Deciding to continue the silliness, I used iMovie to put the audio of Pulp’s song under some simple ‘animation’ of the altered comic panels, and uploaded the end result to YouTube. At the time I did this, YouTube’s draconian audio scrubber that the music groups use to try to assure that we only listen to and enjoy music in ways that they approve of told me this:

Dear Member:

This is to notify you that your video Archie vs. Pulp: Common People has been identified as containing content that may be owned by someone else. The material identified in your video, the person claiming ownership of the material, and the policy they have designated for its use on YouTube are detailed below.

Material Copyright Holder Policy Countries
Audio from PULP-COMMON PEOPLE UMG Allow Everywhere

If the policy listed is “Allow,” you do not need to take action.

All seemed fine — though the song had been recognized and flagged, UMG had an ‘allow everywhere’ policy, so the video was fine. I thought that was nice, and thanked them in my blog post and on the YouTube page.

Apparently something has changed at UMG, and they’ve decided that graciously allowing fans to use bits of their artist’s music in projects like this isn’t kosher, because this morning I got a somewhat innocuous sounding email from YouTube…

Your video, Archie vs. Pulp: Common People, may have content that is owned or licensed by WMG.

No action is required on your part; however, if you are interested in learning how this affects your video, please visit the Content ID Matches section of your account for more information.

…which didn’t sound too horrid. My video “may have content” they own, “no action is required,” if I want to know how this affects my video, etc. Well, sure I wanted to know how this affected my video, so I went to YouTube, and found out that this affected my video quite a lot: it doesn’t exist anymore.

Your video, Archie vs. Pulp: Common People, may have audio content from COMMON PEOPLE by PULP that is owned or licensed by UMG.

As a result, your video is blocked worldwide.

What should I do?

Use AudioSwap to replace the audio in your video with a track from our library of prelicensed songs. After you swap, your video will be available globally.

Under certain circumstances, you may dispute the copyright claim from UMG. These may be any of the following:

  1. the content is mistakenly identified and is actually completely your original creation;
  2. you believe your use does not infringe copyright (e.g. it is fair use under US law);
  3. you are actually licensed by the owner to use this content.

Great. So I can replace the audio with different music — which wouldn’t exactly make sense — or I can enter the dispute process and try to convince someone that my use is Fair Use. I believe it is, but I’m guessing I’d probably end up on the losing end of that conversation.

And, of course, I don’t have the original iMovie file, so I can’t re-export the video to find some other way of hosting it.

However…

When I loaded my blog post, it seems that the block wasn’t totally implemented yet, as the embedded version of the video was still active (though I don’t expect this to last very long). After switching the video to High Quality to make sure the best possible version was downloaded to my computer for playback, a little bit of digging into Safari 4’s Web Inspector gave me the Google Cache URL of the video.mp4 file. A quick copy-and-paste of that URL into Safari’s URL bar, and a few moments later, the video file was sitting in my Downloads folder.

So, once again, after an upload to my webserver and through the magic of self-hosting, the video lives!

[flashvideo file=files/2009/04/archiepulp.mp4 /]

As before, credit where credit is due:

Watching the Watchmen

Since I can only spend so many hours a day tossing resumes out across the ‘net before I start to go buggy, I decided to take a few hours out of the day and head out to catch the matinee of Watchmen. I got home a bit ago, and I’m going to see what I can do as far as getting my thoughts down. Perhaps a little jumbled, but so it goes.

Since I can only spend so many hours a day tossing resumes out across the ‘net before I start to go buggy, I decided to take a few hours out of the day and head out to catch the matinee of “Watchmen“. I got home a bit ago, and I’m going to see what I can do as far as getting my thoughts down. Perhaps a little jumbled, but so it goes.

First off, a few thoughts on what came before the movie. Remember when you would go to a movie, find your seat in a relatively hushed theater, and have a nice few quiet moments before the movie? Heck, at this point, I’m nostalgic for the stupid advertising slideshow we got for a few years, rather than the constant, loud bombardment of noise and flashing lights we get from the moment we step in the theater these days. Of the many reasons why I don’t go see movies in the theater these days, the advertising barrage is a big one.

This time, I scribbled little notes on my iTouch as the drivel went by…

Last House on the Left“: Ugh. So not interested.
Worst thing about going to the movies these days: the stupid Kid Rock/National Guard music video.
E*Trade’s freaky talking babies don’t benefit at all from the big-screen treatment. Oh, and I get _two_ of those ads. Yay.
Knowing” still looks interesting.
The Kia Soul hamster wheel commercial was cute, but will probably get old fast if it goes into wide release on TV.
Hmm…the “no calls during the movie” blurb has been updated to “no calls or texts.”
Previews:

  • Wolverine“: Okay, so this one could be fun. Still likely a rental for me.
  • Angels and Demons“: Another rental.
  • Star Trek“: So, so, so nice on the big screen! This one, I’m there on opening weekend, if not opening night.
  • Public Enemies“: Looks intriguing. Good cast, good director, could be worth seeing. Again, though, I put it on the rental pile.
  • Terminator Salvation“: I just can’t get excited about this. Much like how (in my universe) nothing exists of Highlander beyond the first film, nothing exists of Terminator beyond T2.
  • Observe and Report“: Oh, dear god, another mind-numbingly stupid mall cop movie? And to make it worse, it’s the last trailer we get, so after a lot of geektastic goodness, we’re left with a bad taste in our mouth (almost literally, any movie that features vomiting in the trailer is guaranteed not to get my money) before the main event. Nice job of programming, dolts.

And now, Watchmen.

First off, the good: it’s an incredibly faithful screen translation of the comic book, even with the changes made to the ending (no big spoiler there — that changes were made has been well-known, it’s what those changes are that have been kept more-or-less secret). From an artistic and technical standpoint, the film is astounding. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see someone make an attempt at a mashup between the comic book’s boxes and text and the movie’s images once the DVD comes out and they can get good screengrabs. You’d be able to stay incredibly close to the original work, save for the last issue. Very, very nicely done.

The casting was also incredible. Most of the cast were actors I didn’t know very well, if at all, but who fit their characters beautifully. I also got a kick out of seeing some old favorites pop up, including Max Headroom himself, Matt Frewer, as Moloch. Spot-on perfect.

That said, the movie ended up leaving me cold. It’s not at all that it’s a bad movie — as I just said, on a technical and artistic level, it’s amazing — it’s just that it completely failed to engage me, and in quite a few scenes actively repulsed me. I’ve been trying to work out why, and I think it boils down to two main points: first, that while I enjoy the original graphic novel and recognize it’s importance to the geek world, it was never the “event” for me that it was for many other geeks my age; second, I find that as I get older, I’m getting less and less desensitized to overly realistic depictions of violence.

To the first point: I’ve never been a huge comic geek. I don’t have anything against comics at all, I’ve enjoyed reading many, have a few collections and graphic novels in my library (Watchmen, V for Vendetta, The Dark Knight Returns, Marvel 1602, and the entire Sandman series being the standouts), but I was never hugely into either reading or collecting them (with the sole exception of The Tick, of which I still have the first ten issues — first prints of 2-10, and the second printing of issue one — carefully preserved). While I’d heard about Watchmen many times, I didn’t ever read it until I picked it up a few years ago, and even now, I’ve only read it twice: once when I first bought it, and once again last week. Because of that, while I find it a good read, and have read enough about it over the years to recognize it’s importance to the comic world, it doesn’t hold any particular personal importance for me. Good book, worth reading, that’s it.

To the second point: Yes, Watchmen is a violent book. I know this, and I wasn’t expecting there to be a strange lack of violence in the movie. However, I was more than a little put off by just how much, and how graphic, violent imagery there was. In some instances, it was simply the director being faithful to his source material. In other instances, though, the movie actually ended up being quite a bit more graphic than the original work did, and not simply because of the transition from drawn artwork to live action.

The rest is going beyond a cut, as I’m quite likely going to be more than a little spoileriffic here. If you’re reading via RSS or on Facebook, stop now or don’t whine. ;)
Continue reading “Watching the Watchmen”

The New Me

Last week sometime, I was brainstorming with ways to personalize the design of my site a bit while still working within my limited artistic and design sensibilities. On a whim, I emailed Shari to see if she might be willing to sketch a version of me that I’d be able to work into the design somehow.

Last week sometime, I was brainstorming with ways to personalize the design of my site a bit while still working within my limited artistic and design sensibilities. On a whim, I emailed [Shari][1], a comic artist whose blog I’ve been reading and whose artwork I enjoy, to see if she might be willing to sketch a version of me that I’d be able to work into the design somehow.

[1]: http://sharii.com/ “Shari Chankhamma”

Shari was kind enough to agree, and since I didn’t have a particular image or pose in mind beyond knowing that I wanted to be wearing a Utilikilt, I directed her to my [Narcissism][2] set on Flickr and let her go to town.

[2]: http://www.flickr.com/photos/djwudi/sets/1326981/ “Flickr: Narcissism”

A day or so later, Shari sent me a first set of preliminary sketches. There were a number of versions of ‘me’ that looked very promising, but down in the middle of the page was a funny little very anime-style version that she’d dubbed the ‘Valiant Camera Warrior’ which I got a big kick out of. When I wrote back to confirm that I liked the direction she was heading with the sketches, I also mentioned how much I enjoyed the Valiant Camera Warrior.

A couple days later she sent me the final artwork…and I was _floored_! Not only has Shari come up with an incredible comic version of ‘me,’ but she went ahead and inked the Valiant Camera Warrior as a bonus! I’ve worked the artwork into a few different places into the site design now, but under the cut are larger versions of her work.

Continue reading “The New Me”