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Month: March 2004

See ya

The next five or six days will see very few updates, since I will be wallowing in the sybaritic capitalist glory that is Walt Disney World. Say g’night, Gracie.

Monday Mashup #33.3 RPM: Partridge Family

I will not be around this Monday, so there will be no Monday Mashup. This is tragic! To compensate, I will satisfy the legions of people (all two of you) who kvetched about not getting your Partridge Family. Fine! Here’s your precious pre-fabricated pop band.

I know nothing about the Partridge Family other than that they travelled around in a school bus and sang. Or lip-synched, one or the other. Anyhow, I’m sure there was music and travel involved and on that thin, tenuous reed must our mashups be built. Oh, wait — for the research-minded, there’s an episode guide. Hey, Ray Bolger played the grandfather, so there’s a Wizard of Oz connection.


Looking back on the Dean campaign, I was dead wrong about how effective the campaign was at turning online energy into real world results. Despite the number of people willing to go out and do things in the real world, Dean didn’t win. He did raise a whole lot of money, and blogs continue to prove effective as money-raising avenues. However, they do that by getting lots of Internet-savvy people to contribute. Even in fund-raising, nobody bridges the gap between the Internet and normal retail politics.

This matters because — back to Dean — you need good retail politics to win. This may change someday. It has not changed yet.

Until the gap is bridged, blog politics will remain an echo chamber. Sometimes it’ll be a left-wing echo chamber and sometimes it’ll be a right-wing echo chamber, but either way it’s not like anyone’s deciding to change their vote.

Counter-argument: the gap has been bridged already. Trent Lott! But Trent Lott was not taken down by bloggers, he was taken down by journalists who chose to pay attention to bloggers. Atrios did the heavy lifting; the Washington Post used the lever he provided.

This suggests that the whole concept of bloggers as pundits is flawed. Perhaps blogs are more useful as information gatherers. This whole adopt-a-journalist thing (which seems to have petered out) may well miss the effective path; perhaps the energies would be better spent feeding corrections back into the media rather than attempting to rebel against it.

The thing of it is, journalism as a field has spent quite some time establishing a reputation for reliability. A somewhat tattered reputation these days, but still. If you in the general sense want people beyond your immediate circle to believe the things you write simply because you said them or because they agree with them, you need that kind of institutional reputation.

Since there is no transitive principle of reputations — people will not trust the Internet more simply because they trust journalists less — it seems not unlikely that the best way to bridge the gap is to piggyback on the media. Kevin Drum going over to blog for the Washington Monthly is the sort of thing I’m thinking of, although that’s not so much piggybacking as it is being co-opted. What you really want is a major newspaper or TV news show identifying blogs as original sources of valid information.

Of course, this is just speculation and the gap is going to be bridged by complete accident. It’s not like Dean knew he was going to raise record amounts of money on the Internet until the wave hit him.

Monday Mashup #33: Neverwhere

Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere has been a novel, a BBC miniseries, and may one day be a movie. Right now, however, it’s going to be a mashup.

At the basic level, it’s a story about a fantastic world underneath the city. I personally find that the Underground puns are fairly significant, because they help link the wildness of the world to the reality of the city — without those allusions, goofy as they can be, the real London would have less meaning. It’s not just a fantastic world beneath the city, it’s a fantastic world that mirrors — perhaps echoes — the city.

What else, what else? Door is deposed nobility, which could be fun to play with. The Goblin Market is cool. The Marquis de Carabas is the kind of figure one might well like to use. Ditto Croup and Vandemar… heck, lots of cool characters.

By the by, we’ve added another gaming meme — the excellent Wednesday Weird — to the gamememe mailing list. Every time a meme from here, the Weird, or Game WISH gets posted, subscribers to gamememe get an email. It’s the easy way to keep up on your meme postings.

Kai Summer

[More character noodling. This is for Rob’s Starchild game.]

“Is that Summer or Strummer?”

“Eh, you know, whatever…”

Kai Summer is immensely young, and the heavy overcoat he wears — down to his ankles, collar turned up to his ears — does nothing to hide this. It accentuates his slender frame, skinny like the loosely knotted tie he sometimes wears. His ragged boots swallow his feet whole. You could drop him into a Chicago winter and he’d vanish like he was just another bad poet with too much pride to work retail and not enough time to live.

I’ve never seen him without the overcoat off stage.

On stage, though, he’s someone else. He doesn’t get any bigger, but he uses his guitar to carve electric lines through the air in minor keys that owe more to madness than to music. If you squint just a little you can see a shimmering field of music around him like an aura of sound. I’ve noticed that people playing with him don’t get too close. I can’t blame them; I’d worry about getting sliced in two by a stray power chord.

It is trivial to say that he is the best guitarist of his generation because at the ripe old age of 17, he is the first guitarist of his generation. Perhaps in the end, if Mother doesn’t have her way, he will be known merely as the man who found the possibilities. Perhaps someone else will be the man who developed them.

But I wouldn’t bet on it.

He is playing tonight at the Broken Metronome. He told me the other week that he hopes to jam with Mary Pagan someday. It’s the first personal confidence I’ve ever heard from him. Mary? Are you out there? Can you hear me? This critic thinks you should make Kai’s dream come true.

From Lester Shots’ “Beating the Minutes” column in the ChicaGO alternative wheneverwecan.