"You paranoid Berkeley shiksa Feminista!"

Special features will include audio commentaries from series creator Aaron Sorkin and director Tommy Schlamme on five key episodes, including the Pilot, What Kind of Day Has It Been, Take This Sabbath Day, In Excelsis Deo (which features additional commentary from co-executive producer and director Alex Graves) and Celestial Navigation (with additional commentary by co-executive producer and director Chris Misiano), cast and crew interviews, 2 behind-the-scenes documentaries (The Primaries and The West Wing Inauguration), behind-the-scenes footage from the first season (including Capital Beat and Sheet Music), deleted scenes, the Gag Order outtakes and bloopers reel, the Off the Record featurette (outtakes from various cast and producer interviews) and more.
All for $60. Which, at today's exchange rate, is $40 less than I paid for the UK bare-bones releases (slaps forehead).

currently playing: Pulp - Lipgloss

The League of Extraordinary Links!

Admittedly, most of the people who care about this will probably know about it already, but Lauren Laverne is standing in for Phill Jupitus on 6music at the moment. If you're up between the hours of 0700-1000 BST (0200-0500, EST fans), you could do a lot worse than tuning in.

A new side to affirmative action. Rumours that Ann Coulter will be on UNC's reading list next year remain unconfirmed at this point…

Europe goes to the moon (albeit rather slowly)!

The power of Photoshop!

Paul Newman is Fair and Balanced.

Design magazines that are hideously expensive, but look extremely cool :-).

Finally, from today's Google ads: tickets to the Chapel Hill Springsteen concert start at $125. And go up to $390. Ouch. Amusingly, the hall I was staying in last year is less than 100 meters away from the stadium, so I imagine the new occupants will have a good night on September 15th (ideally, they should throw a listening party).

currently playing: Saturday Looks Good To Me - Alcohol

Home Taping Is Killing The Music Industry (Part 234)

The record industry's constant carping about the dangers of the EVIL INTERNET PIRATES today received a small setback, at least here in the UK. It turns out that 228 million albums were sold from June 2002-3, a 3% increase on the year before, and an industry record. Huzzah!

Of course, the companies still aren't happy. Their complaints seem to centre on two things: the single market is still doing really badly, and their profits have taken a dive due to high discounting. There's not too much to say about singles that I haven't said before; they're a dying market and even if the Internet went dead tomorrow, I'm not sure that single sales would increase all that much. The profit complaint, however, is a little disingenuous. The BBC article says that album prices have fallen to £9.79 as a result of price reductions. From today's interest rates, this is roughly $15.50. When I was living in Chapel Hill, the albums I bought varied in price from $12.99 to $15.99. The front page of fye.com (personally, I'd recommend Schoolkids or CDAlley, but they don't have prices on their websites to illustrate the point) shows that many new releases are being sold for prices as low as $11.99. So I can't feel too sorry for the industry, as the decline in profit only shows that they're not gouging the UK market quite as much as they did in the past.

currently playing: Mogwai - Xmas Steps

Their Numbers Are Legion

currently playing: Ultrasound - Floodlit World

Pretty Pictures

Before.

After.

currently playing: Beck - Runners Dial Zero

Fair! And! Balanced!

Death to trademarks!

(Also: the nicest cease-and-desist letter that you'll ever see)

currently playing: Björk - I Miss You

Hold On...

currently playing: Altered Images - Bring Me Closer

Turn Us All To Mutiny

While standing in line for entry to last night's concert, I remembered just what I'd missed from UK venues: the unmistakable stench of urine. It's good to be back. Or something.

No pictures, this time, as the Mean Fiddler policy is to stamp on your camera with big hobnail boots if they discover one (having said that, a few people did manage to smuggle them in, but there wasn't anything like the comedy of people bringing in video cameras like in America). Amusingly, the PA was playing Life Without Buildings "The Leanover" as everybody was having their tickets examined. It's strange that I first heard it two weeks ago, and now I'm hearing it everywhere.

The LA2 is a split-level affair, so you can watch groups from the balcony, if you desire. Being something of a purist in these things, I decided against that option, and made my way to the stage, ending up in the second row. Hurrah!

First band on was Klang. Nice enough, but nothing I haven't seen or heard before (as has been pointed out many times, my collection of bands featuring female vocals is varied and comprehensive). Next up, Electrelane. This is where I realise I may have made a slight mistake. I'M IN THE SECOND ROW OF AN ELECTRELANE PERFORMANCE! HELP! The first sonic booms of the bass guitar confirm that I'm in trouble. People in the first three rows clutch their heads as the low frequency sonics hit the back of their brains. The guy behind me develops a nosebleed. Seriously.

It's actually the first time that I've seen Electrelane, and they don't disappoint. The aforementioned Death-bass, a guitarist who bears a slight resemblance to the esteemed Ms. Laverne (now hosting trashy satellite dating shows, but once part of the Band of Champions that was Kenickie), plus lots of groovy keyboard action. I do prefer it when they don't sing, though. They're more intense without words.

Sleater-Kinney come out at around 9:30pm (UK concerts tend to start and finish a little bit earlier than the American ones, I've found), and immediately storm into a blistering "Oh!"

[At this point, we leave the relatively calm and collected manner of this entry so far for a bit of breathless gushing. Please stand by. — Ed.]

OH MY GOD! CARRIE IS WEARING MY BELT! MY BELT! MYYYYYYY BBEEEEEEELLLLLLTTTTT!!!

[*smack* Sorry about that, readers. He's under orders not to do it again. — Ed.]

Ahem. It's at this point that I'm given another culture shock. You see, the audiences at the Cat's Cradle were a little different. Sedate is the wrong word, as there was much dancing, but it never quite got to the point where serious injuries could result. However, back in Britain, there's a certain class of drunken [first syllable of Buckminsterfullerene, rhyming fans] that decide they really deserve to be at the front of the crowd, and that no-one can stop them in attaining this goal. Cue lots of pain for those unfortunate enough to be in their way (i.e. me). This is especially bad if you're already hemmed in to the point where you're close enough to smell the hair of the girl in front (recently dyed blue, for those of you who were wondering about the previous entry), but you can't step back because there's a girl jammed behind you, blowing smoke from her cigarette onto the back of your neck. What about the sides, I hear you ask? I couldn't even lift my arms up without striking several people, so that wasn't much of an option either.

Anyway, the band played much the same set as when I last saw them, playing most of their current album "One Beat", throwing in two new songs, "Giraffe" and "Entertainment", and a smattering of songs from their previous work, including the pirate-themed "The End of You" (the only track from "The Hot Rock" that they played, sadly). Highlights included Corin's teasing version of "Words And Guitar", "One Beat" as an interpretive dance number, and the stomp and glam of "Step Aside". Plus! Janet with an industrial fan! Carrie dances like a rock God once more (but disappointingly without the cool shuffling)! She invites everybody to the after party, only to trip up on the rather British place name; "We don't have names like Rathbourne back in America."

I don't enjoy myself quite as much as last time, due to all the pushing and pulling. I felt obliged to keep an eye on the girl beside me; while I am sure that she was fully capable of looking after herself, she looked extremely close to fainting after the third song, and her small stature meant that she was being thrown around like a hockey puck. She was rather annoyed by this, but her attempts to stop it weren't going very well, so I attempted to absorb most of the momentum from her assailants. Unfortunately, I ended up behind a girl with very long dreadlocks, so for the final two songs I was lashed by coarse bunches of hair. Ow.

Part of me was tempted by the idea of the after party, but when I was in the queue outside, I was in front of the people who were doing the organisation, and it sounded like a "too cool for school" affair, and sadly, I wasn't. Anyway, I had a train to catch, and while it's reasonably acceptable to go to a concert by yourself (although, as it has been four years since I went with someone else, it would be nice to go with someone again), going to a party alone is a little out there. Plus I didn't have enough money for the ridiculous amounts of alcohol that would be required before I had the courage to join a dancefloor that included Janet, Corin, and Carrie.

Was it as good as the Cat's Cradle gig? No, there was something special about that, maybe because it was the first time I had seen them live, maybe Carrie's dance steps, maybe the fact that I had an exam the next morning (did well in it too!), or maybe it was that it lasted until 2am and that the walk back to Chapel Hill from Carrboro was fantastic. Nevertheless, it was still a great concert. And rather a surprising one, considering that their latest album was never officially released here. Hopefully the sell-out of this mini-tour will change that.

currently playing: Electrelane - Long Dark

Hmm

I appear to have remnants of blue hair dye in my nose.

currently playing: Sleater-Kinney - Step Aside

I Rely On Oxygen (Sleater-Kinney II)

Wow.

currently playing: Sleater-Kinney - O2