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Don’t Be Fooled

April 2008

Volume I

In This Issue

Review of Cloverfield Fiction: Jose vs Ned, Cities

Poetry: Trees That Don’t Burn End Result: Power Noise a history The DVD War Rages On

A Literary Rag www.issuu.com/dontbefooled/docs/vol1


End Result:

Power Noise

lins. The effect is quaint to today’s ears, but it was an important first step away from the mainstream.

There has always been experimentation in music and visionary performers seeking to push the envelope. For the purposes of this examination we will only start with Russolo and then leap ahead to an important event in the late 1970s. In 1979, London-based record Running parallel to popular society, industrial label Industrial Music (whose slogan, “indusmusic has evolved in recent past to produce trial music for industrial people,” inspired the the genre known as power noise: a multiculcreation of an eponymous new genre) began tural fusion of distorted electronic music and angst-rid- to assemble a number of experimental music groups. These bands were also using machinden, poery and electronic equipment to create mulitically aware lyr- sic or distort their recorded sounds. Cabaret Voltaire focused on dance tracks and impleics set to mented tape loops in their songs, effectively a danceable beat. replacing warm-body musicians who would In a myriad have manually achieved a similar effect. The of splinter antisocial performance art group Throbbing Gristle created a profoundly difficult aural landgenres of scape with offensive and challenging mesnegligible sages set to a seemingly random cacophony. distinction, power In this group, Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson’s role was to manipulate recorded tapes during noise remains faith- performance. Laurie Anderson would refine this technique a decade later with an instruful to its influences and originating structure. To appreciate where and what power noise is ment resembling a cello with a tape head on now, one must first understand where it came the bridge and magnetic recording tape for from and how it evolved from electronic music of the previous four decades which itself ultimately emerged from mechanical experimentation almost a full century ago. Luigi Russolo may be considered the originator of electronic music. A painter and composer in the Futurist movement, he attempted to redefine or enhance the popular understanding of what music could be. In 1913 he wrote a manifesto, “L’arte de Rurori” or “The Art of Noises” in which he delineated a philosophy asserting that the noise of industry itself (machinery, factories, construction, etc.) had cultivated an aesthetic appreciation for it in people. For his argument he grouped traditional musical instruments into four categories: metal winds, woodwinds, bowed instruments and percussion. His manifesto suggested the further possibility of music within noise, and he believed developing technology would enable a musician to facilitate this exploration. Though his own hand-crafted experimental instruments were destroyed during World War II, recordings of his compositions have survived. His polite little musical compositions are punctuated with static, steam and running engines at judicious intervals amid clarinets and vio-

Major Wax Trax! Performers Front 242 KMFDM Meat Beat Manifesto My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult The KLF Laibach Front Line Assembly Photos: Center Left: Luigi Russolo with the Intonarumori noise machines. Top Right: Skinny Puppy Bottom Opposite: Kraftwerk


Power Noise cont.

Bands like these formed the post-industrial movement of the ‘80s, which may be considered a less groundbreaking iteration than its predecessor genres, yet it still carried the evolution of the sound along. No examination of industrial music may be made without citing Einstürzende Neubauten. This group formed in April of 1980 and, truer to Russolo’s theory of noise-as-music, turned noise from the incidental background and forced it into melody and rhythm. Their music featured white noise, power tools, discarded machinery (including a passenger jet engine) for percussion, and raucous, distorted vocals. They collaborated with a record label briefly, but found it too limiting and swore they would never do it again. Their prior recordings were as freeform and haphazard as their live performances sounded to the uninitiated ear. Following closely in their footsteps, two decades later, would be Minneapolis’ own Savage Aural Hotbed. This percussion-heavy quartet welded their own instruments, rigged an assortment of machinery to be amped for sound, and even designed their own Theremin. Rather than using traditional chord structure, percussion-heavy music like this relies on relative tones that come from large and small instruments, from a splay of rebar at varying lengths to repurposed canisters of Freon. Post-industrial was brought into mainstream awareness in the ‘90s with bands such as Nine Inch Nails and Ministry. Originally a perky little synthpop outfit, Ministry’s music became more elaborate and furious over the years. To this day, lead singer Al “Alien” Jourgenson refuses to acknowledge his band’s first two albums, tacitly declaring them non-canon. Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails developed a lucrative interpretation of postindustrial and released a series of albums, each one capitalizing upon the most commercially rewarding tracks of the one preceding it. Inspired by these acts, the corporate juggernaut Marilyn Manson cashed in and extruded the industrial concept even further from its core. Where Throbbing Gristle designed contentious music difficult for anyone to receive, Marilyn Manson’s marketability was in making the listeners feel as though they were dangerous and aggressive. Although commercial artists attained considerable profit while attempting to borrow the “bad-ass” cachet of original industrial music, they did so at the expense of any useful experimentation. Meanwhile, the underground movement held the course and splintered further into factions dedicated to one aspect or another of the components of industrial music. German electronica pioneers Kraftwerk coined the term Electronic Body Music (EBM) to describe the physically oriented turn their own music had taken. Previously, their music had been likened to the effect of humanity seeking to redefine itself through electronic instrumentation. Front 242 and Nitzer Ebb developed the more danceable EBM genre and inspired many other bands (which, unfortunately, sounded very much like one another). Skinny Puppy’s performance art and political messages went down another path, to be emulated by Chicago’s surreal and violent Thrill Kill Kult. The Wax Trax label attracted and collected musical artists whose common defining traits included remixing songs, distorted vocal effects, and recorded samples. Down the

other path, Tommy Boy Records represented the more dance club-oriented industrial/electronica variants like EBM (a band named after its own genre) and Information Society. We can understand three things about the development of industrial music from the late ‘70s to the late ‘90s: (1) most industrial music is meant to be danced to in a club, (2) every stage of the genre’s evolution splintered into dozens of specialized subcategories, and (3) the greatest leaps in the music’s development came at the hands of performance artists rather than straight musicians. After the ‘90s, post-industrial further branched out into such specializations as noise industrial, splatter industrial, aggro industrial, power noise, psytrance, and psychotronic. Each of these, as with industrial, focused upon one aspect of their music and elaborated upon that point, or was formed as the love child between post-industrial and other musical influences. Power noise is a combination of the latest iteration of post-industrial, UK-originating drum & bass, and break-core (which itself is an industrialized version of drum & bass). Power noise is characterized by a “militaristic” 4/4 time signature driven by a distorted kick drum effect, with the melody of the song being secondary to the pounding, relentless rhythm. In common with its industrial roots, many of these acts only see airplay in niche clubs or inconvenient time slots on college radio. Bands such as Noisex and Dulce Liquido hail from New York and Mexico, respectively, but many more (power noise and industrial in general) originate in Germany. Their songs tend to feature lyrics that revolve around alarmist social and political perspectives. German artists in particular tantalize themselves by focusing upon their nation’s World War II atrocities, and by creating agitprop songs of irony and self-loathing. Music of such a dark and cathartic atmosphere indeed appeals to an audience that considers itself similarly oppressed by the mainstream. The subdivision of genre will be inevitable, but it seems that power noise has stayed nearest the ideals of its industrial origin. Noise effects merely augment the melody and percussion, rather than standing alone as instrumentation as per Russolo’s vision, but even that sits as the happy medium between unrestrained noise and classical melody. Further, power noise has retained its basic structure despite assimilating external influences, allowing for a diversity of sound without a loss of identity. The future of power noise will assuredly fail to continue its name. Concerning the offspring of sounds power noise produces, if the past is any indication, one strain will likely pick up its progenitors’ traditions while coloring it with musical theory and concepts yet to be realized.•

-Christian Fredrickson


Citiesa novel excerpt The uncomfortable silence between the two men thickened. Brent cleared his throat and James inhaled sharply through his nostrils, lingering on the smell of gin and the faint scent of decay from the sea. “What is your novel about?” Brent asked. Both men were fully aware of the polite disinterest which loaded the question and its response, as James was equally aware of Brent’s barely mild curiosity in his own question as James himself disdained another requisite to summarize his own work. For this, he answered merely, “It’s set in Prague.” “Prague!” Brent marveled, “Have you been?” James explained that he had returned from eighteen months abroad just a year ago where his novel had been festering viral in him, yet he had only begun writing since his return. He carried a spiral-bound stenographer pad with him everywhere, etching out the words with obscenely meticulous longhand. For this and several other reasons, he explained, those of which included he could not write without cleanliness around him, well-fed, showered, and having had sexual release of some sort in the course of his morning; the course of his novel had been laborious at best. “You must have a deadline,” Brent asked with false worry. “A publisher, an editor must want it soon after so much time.” “I don’t worry myself about it,” James yawned, “I can always find another if they tire of my working process. I hate to be rushed.” Brent was about to follow the natural course of inquiry toward the managing of James’s income, but felt it rude to ask. Noticing this, James easily provided him his answer. “I don’t have to worry about the money, you know. I have as much time as I want.” James told him the name of his family, whom he knew Brent, with his historical bent, would recognize. Indeed, Brent’s eyebrows raised and he repeated the name to which James nodded with pride. Brent had read mentions of the family in the footnotes of war texts; he knew the surname to be synonymous with some of the most vulturous war profiteers recorded. James looked pleased as Brent tried to control his expression of disgust at the practice. “I’m sorry, it’s just that I,” Brent cleared his throat, “I come from a military family.” “So you find my lineage disgraceful,” James taunted. Brent tried to reverse the direction of his statement, but to little success. James was unfettered and let Brent tactfully change the subject. “How was Prague?” Brent asked, self-consciously thickening his voice. “Prague!” “Yes, Prague, how was your research?” “Prague is filthy, but it is with the filth of centuries, not carelessness,” James described. “The history it wears darkens the boots and the minds of its inhabitants. European women, of course, wear it best. And the cathedrals. I had views of both from my flat. At night, the pub at the base of the cathedral would open to let the ex-pats flow in like cheap piss beer. It’s wonderful. Do you travel?” “At times. It’s harder now with the children than it was at the beginning with Kaitlyn and I.”


“They will do that, so I hear.” “We were able to take them to New York this spring. I went to a Holocaust symposium for work and Kaitlyn took them to the Met. It’s good for children to get out in the world, I think.” “Certainly,” James agreed, stretching his long shoulders and letting the conversation fade as Brent’s eyes scanned the waterfront for his wife and Adrienne.

Thoughts of cities arose between them.

To Brent, the city was to man as the temple to a god. He marveled at the strong hands, the sense of unity, and the idealism of the cosmopolitan. He gazed upward to the steel beams; the windows reflecting skies dotted with aircraft, the graces of human labor and was comforted. In cities, he saw strength that was to him the greatest evidence of his own natural state of virility. He did not see the adornments of the cathedral, the moss writhing between the bricks, or the delicacy of the glasswork. He saw the stone arches wrought with the perfect balance of tension, the careful construction that spoke of potent ancestry and proud history. Brent saw the current work of historical scholars as arrogantly dissecting his heroes like grade school frogs, pinning them back in their posthumous vulnerability to pull apart their insides with reckless disregard. Brent never realized that his deep admiration of history was never to the great men themselves, but simply to his own ideas of them unmarred by human truth. For this, Brent protected them with a fatherly blindness. Brent left the history books lining the shelves of his home largely unopened, as though pulling back the covers were akin to grave robbery. At the mention of New York, James turned an inward grimace. He felt nothing but contempt for the violent certitude of the high-rise buildings, for they gave only the trompe l’oeil of conquering the sky. They were to him nothing but juvenile aggression. Their grand scale would not prevent them from falling, from being eventually reduced to unsightly and inconvenient rubble, deny it as they may with illusions of strength. He had only slightly greater sympathy for the great cathedrals of Paris and Prague, for, in their beauty, they appealed to his own skeptical sensibilities. James believed in nothing but the value of the aesthetic, as he thought man’s creation of temporal elegance to be his greatest condition to raise him above his human mess fleetingly before his inevitable falling. To James, a building should be nothing but elegant if it is to exist at all. “Yes, Prague,” he murmured, “Go there if you get the chance.”•

-Stacey Garratt

www.staceygarratt.net


Cloverfielda review After listening to so many negative reactions towards “Cloverfield,” I questioned what everyone expected. To me, it sounds as though there are individuals out there who expected this movie to be on par with “Taxi Driver” or maybe “Apocalypse Now.” This won’t be so much a review of the movie as it will be an answer to those of you who have reviewed this movie based on criteria you should not expect this movie to exhibit.

I would expect to find that those not familiar with J.J. Abrams or any of his previous work would have a negative response to this movie. If you are not familiar with him or any of the material and marketing that led up to this movie’s release you should not be allowed to review this movie. Maybe this criterion is a bit too demanding, but if you are going to a film like this, you should know what to expect.

Abrams has had a recent series of hits lately, including the addicting and successful ABC television series “Lost.” Abrams’s “Lost” is filled with mystery, suspense and action, has been critically acclaimed, and has even received an Emmy for “Outstanding Drama Series.” Just like with the series “Lost”, Abrams did a lot of viral marketing leading up the release of “Cloverfield.” He released false news articles, created false companies and even backed them up with Web sites. All of these releases included bits and pieces of puzzles for fans to try and figure out what the monster might be. With all of his projects, Abrams is changing the way we think about our movie and television experiences by spearheading this new form of viral immersion marketing.

This is a fantastic monster movie, and leaves just enough to the imagination for everyone to really get themselves scared if they are willing. If you go into this movie expecting any sort of intellectually spellbinding story or riveting performance by the parties involved, than you ain’t as smart as you think you are. Let me tell this to all the art house snobs out there: this is not, nor will it ever be, a movie for you to experience. If you go to see this movie, you are only willingly subjecting yourself to something you will believe to be sub-par for the sole reason of holding your precious nose up in the air and condemning this film and its makers. Now go watch “Dead Man” with the rest of the AV kids. All that aside, this was a tremendously fun movie. I loved it, and while I wouldn’t give it a perfect review, or rate it anywhere near my favorite movies of the year, I will definitely own this movie once it’s released.

“Cloverfield” starts out as one might expect, hurrying through the pre-action dialogue, character building and establishing relationships so that it can move towards the true heart of the film. Although the acting is nowhere near amazing, I must admit that this first little portion of the film was a bit engrossing. We learn

about the tragic love story between Rob (Michael Stahl-David), and Beth

(Odette Yustman), as well as Rob’s brother Jason (Mike Vogel) and our off-beat cameraman, Hud (T.J. Miller).

After this short introduction the action commences. The movie does a wonderful job of surprising its audience even though we know the monster is coming, and it is at this point that Rob begins to make a series of unfortunate decisions for himself as well as his friends. This is where all of you intellectual moviegoers who accidentally wandered into this movie begin to get upset. I swear by all that is holy, this is what drives me bat-shit insane about you people. Here is my point: going into a movie like this, you should expect to suspend your belief just a little bit. It’s okay. All bitching aside, this movie would have done itself quite a service if it had cut out Beth, the movie’s pathetic attempt to be a love story, and made Rob and everyone else wander through the most dangerous parts of the city for some other reason than finding out if Beth is okay. I know I’ve just ranted about suspending your belief, but I never for one second believed in Rob’s overpowering love for Beth. Nor did I believe all of these strangers would go gallivanting around the chaotic city in search of some girl. I had no problem believing that Hud would have continued to film throughout all the mayhem, I had no problem with the longevity of this incredible camera’s ability to remain powered and functional, and I never once had a problem believing that a monster had just attacked New York. But for the love of God, someone please relinquish this movie of its one and only deterrent: the love story.

The creators are as much at fault here as all the other jackasses who wanted something more from this movie. Your movie is not going to win awards, but god-damn is it going to entertain me more than most movies will ever dream of doing. That’s all I really wanted in the first place. So I got over the pathetic little 20-something love story, and let myself become submersed in the chocolate, oozy center of this film, being its mystery, suspense and horror.

You ain’t as smart as you think you are… Aside from that, the adventure that takes place was a spellbinding account of several people trying to survive while running through a city consumed by chaos. The viewer is left in the dark just as much as the cast, which only helps add to the suspense. From the pitch black subway tunnels they venture through while being chased by the monster, to the skyscrapers they climb, which by the way are in danger of being knocked over by the monster, I was on the edge of my seat for the entire ride.

I walked out of the movie knowing I would absolutely have to see it again, and hoped that the second viewing would give away more of its secrets. J.J. and his entire crew do a great job of making me want more, and I guarantee that if you follow my simple set of rules you will too. You may even find yourself, as I did after the movie, staying up way past your bedtime and scouring the Internet for more of Abrams secrets regarding this tremendous adventure. •

-A.J. Osterkamp


Sitting in a quiet restaurant, Ned slowly stirred his drink. Jose was sitting on the table. Almost as if he were talking to himself, Ned whispered “Wow, how did I let Kozlowski talk me into a blind date? Stupid…Stupid…Stupid. These things never go well.” Sitting there, Jose can only think, Hey buddy, you’re thirty now; no more speed dating sessions under the neon light of a Miller sign. You’re supposed to be Respectable now. Yes, with a capital R and no, it’s not because of the phone calls from your mom every night. You know, the ones you think I can’t hear, the ones always ending with ‘You’ll die a grandmother. Yes…yes. Yeah I promise.’

Amid his musing, Jose missed the arrival of Ned’s blind date, Sarah. Jose was so surprised when she sat down he jumped right off his perch on the table top. As the lady picked up Jose off the floor and passed him back to Ned, she said, “Sorry ‘bout that. You’re Ned right? I’m Bill’s friend, Sarah. Nice wallet.” That’s how it all started, with two simple words, “nice wallet.” No one had ever called Jose nice before. He was made at a crafts class fifteen years before by Ned. Constructed out of coarse rawhide, Jose had gained the kind of shine that comes from long hours of being sat on and sweated on. Shiny with a gentle butt-shaped curve. When Ned had finished making the wallet he had cruelly branded the name Jose into the confused receptacle’s backside, Ned’s high school nickname, writ large on the wallet. A durable wallet by anyone’s standard, but few people would call it nice. **

Holding a dozen long-stemmed roses, Sarah cooed, “Ned you shouldn’t have!” “What, I should have gotten you two dozen instead?” In a funk, Jose thought to himself, Ask him where he got the money for the flowers.

Seemingly ignoring Jose, Ned said, “Let’s go get some dinner, baby. I got a C-note burning a

hole in my pocket.”

Hmmmf, it is more like thirty bucks, you schmuck. Where you going to take her? Mickey D’s? You’re a class act all the way Ned.

Three months had passed since that first night in the bar. While Ned was certainly changing for the better (he no longer had conversations with his mother that ended with the promise of progeny), Jose was in a downward spiral. Three months was a long time for the poor wallet to suffer from a common crush inflamed into a nasty case of passion. Jose wondered if they had a shot that could clear it up. How could a wallet compete with Ned? Yeah, Ned was a putz, but he was a putz with two legs, two arms and a voice. In Jose’s mind, these were assets that were hard for him to overcome. Suddenly it hit him. He had one thing going for him that Ned could never hope to have: surprise. There were only whispered stories of one other wallet long ago that turned against the person that provided cash for it to hold and a pocket to sit in. Alabama Slim, the legendary gator-skin wallet from Idaho. Revolt was a big step and Jose was not sure he could do it. Everyone knew wallets settled for whatever their person decided to give them, but Jose wanted more though. He spent the rest of the night thinking about his options. **

The next day Jose watched from his perch as Ned cooked breakfast, then sent Sarah on her way to work. Jose could never say what finally pushed him to the brink. Maybe it was the ghostly scent of Sarah’s perfume as she walked out the door that morning. Some would say it was the goofy smile on Ned’s face that pushed the plucky wallet too far. Whatever it was while mulling over last nights epiphany Jose thought to himself, What is holding me back? If Ned can’t hang on to Sarah, is it my problem? Should I even let it bother me? Hell no. Carpe Diem, a rolling stone gathers no moss, all is fair in love and war, blah, blah, blah. If Jose was going to win the heart of Sarah, he would need a battle plan. To win a war even an undeclared war you had to confuse and confound the enemy, in this case, Ned. Right then


Jose made his move and crawled out from underneath the papers hiding him from view. Looking around the room, Sarah finally noticed Jose sitting on the coffee table. Ned was fussy about dressing, so Jose had plenty of time. Wishing he had a voice so Sarah could hear him, Jose thought, Come on, pick me up. Open me, you know you want to. Look at me! A wallet whose owner is out of the room. What’s in me? Scooping up the wallet, Sarah opened it as if she were holding a very old and valuable book. That was when Jose knew he had her.

The first thing to greet Sarah’s curiosity was a folded napkin. A pique of jealousy flashed across her face. Pulling out the napkin and opening it, Sarah saw that it read, “Bamby 612874-7875.” Momentary jealousy became a red swath of anger. Raising her voice to be heard, Sarah leveled her steely smoking gaze at the bedroom door. “Ned, can I ask you a question?” Walking out of the bedroom, Ned saw Sarah sitting on the couch. Shielded by ignorance, Ned did not notice the mystic eye daggers flying his way. Missing their mark, the ocular assassins flew harmlessly over Ned’s head as he continued getting ready to go out. Oblivious to the danger he was in, Ned responded, “Sure baby, what’s up? Hey, do you know where I put my keys?” “Who is Bamby?”

Sarah gave Ned her best your-life-depends-onthis-answer look. Looking up from the hunt for his keys Ned noticed the look on Sarah’s face for the first time. Level gaze, no smile, verging on icy. Like a dog sensing an impending earthquake, Ned’s hackles rose. “Who?”

A level and icy stare down turned to dangerous and suddenly hot, hot, hot. Even Jose could read Ned’s mind right then. One sentence writ large; “Uh-oh, wrong answer…”

Looking like she had been given a big game license to hunt the ever-wiley and elusive North American boyfriend, Sarah said,

“Bamby: who is she, why do you have her number, and more importantly what was it doing in your wallet?”

Jose knew Ned was at a loss for words. He had never met anyone named Bamby, let alone gotten her number. With a hint of whimper in his voice, Ned could only say “Ummm, well, would you believe I don’t know?”

That was when Jose saw Ned look down at the coffee table. Jose could see the look of confusion on his face since he had left Jose on the dresser earlier today. Jose wondered how

he liked the interesting new feature marring the sweat-glossed wallets’ side. Bisecting the letters of the name “Jose” was a neat circle that for all the world looked like a condom ring worn into the leather. Ned never carried one in his wallet, so he had no idea where it might have come from. “Believe you? No! What else do you have in here?” Scooping up Jose, Sarah opened him once again. He thrilled to her touch. If only Ned were not such a cheap bastard I might have been made out of creamy soft calf skin, the better to tickle your fingers with my sweet sweet Sarah. Opening Jose once again the first thing that Sarah found was a picture sticking up from the bill pocket. Looking at the picture Sarah saw that it was a tall dark sultry brunette. Just the kind of woman that might be named Bamby with a y. “Who is this? Is this her? Is this Bamby? And if you’re not cheating on me, why do you have a rubber in your wallet?”

With a tone of desperate confusion, Ned cried out, “A rubber? Wait a minute, someone is setting me up. I have never seen that woman before in my…” Ned did not get enough time to answer before Sarah opened the change purse inside Jose. As she did a big heavy square headed key fell out onto the coffee table with a thump like the authority of a judge’s gavel.

Sarah scooped up the key before Ned in his confusion could reach the coffee table. Holding it up both of them saw clearly emblazoned on the side, “Motel 6: if found please return postage paid to P.O. Box 77, Minneapolis, MN. 55403. Have a nice Day!” Watching with the anticipation of a wallet thinking he was going to win the lottery, Jose thought to himself that the key was a nice touch. Sarah flung the hotel key at Ned and with the most venom she could muster hissed “Bastard, you bastard.” Firmly locked Sarah’s steely clutch as she rose from the couch Jose thought, “Let’s get out of here. I got forty three bucks in me lets go get a bottle of wine a pint of Chubby Hubby and leave the schmuk to his misery.”

Sarah, making a be line to the front door turned at the last moment and said. “You’re a bastard and my mother warned me about you. Here’s your phone number you sleeze!” That was when the world came crashing down. Sarah raised her arm and threw Jose with as much force as she could muster. Flying end over end across the room Jose felt as if he had been slapped as he struck Ned square in the face. He could only yell “Nooooooooooooo!” over the sound of a slamming door.

-Paul Learned


The DVD War Rages On

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, a war raged in American living rooms. This war ruined lives and changed history as we know it. I’m talking about the war between VHS and Betamax formats. This war divided consumers: they were with either Beta or VHS. People in the Beta camp argued that Beta had superior image and sound qualities, while the VHS camp believed that the smaller VHS format was much more convenient for consumers. Eventually, VHS ended up winning the battle of the home video formats, but not before breaking the hearts (and wallets) of the proud Beta owners. Currently, a similar war is being waged in the home video market: HD DVD versus Blu-Ray DVD. In order to make sense of this new format war, a clarification of the corporate factions behind the two formats is in order. In the HD camp there’s Microsoft and Toshiba. Toshiba created the HD DVD format, and Microsoft fully endorses HD. Microsoft cited several different reasons for backing HD: one reason being that when the formats first came out, Microsoft decided that Blu-Ray’s 50 gigabyte (GB) version was “nowhere in sight” compared to Microsoft’s 30 GB capacity storage. Additionally, HD guaranteed managed copy, which allows a computer user to copy a movie to a computer hard drive so it can be beamed around the house. But the main reason for Microsoft’s endorsement is that HD DVD’s are easier to manufacture than Blu-Ray’s BD-ROM. In the Blu corner is Sony and Apple. Sony created the Blu format in order to compete with Toshiba in the high definition video market. Apple, Microsoft’s main rival, has fully endorsed the Blu-Ray format because it implements Sun Microsystems’ Java software, which has built-in interactive features. This software allows for greater interactivity between the product and the consumer. The main reason for the Apple endorsement is that Blu-Ray discs take a lot less time to

upload: HD DVD discs take roughly a minute to upload to a computer, whereas the Blu-Ray discs take only 45 seconds. The average consumer is probably asking, “What exactly is the difference between standard DVD and the high definition formats?” Well, for one, the high definition players have a blue laser that reads the discs, as opposed to the red laser that standard players use to read standard DVDs. The blue laser on the high definition formats has a smaller wavelength, thus it can store more information. It also enables the picture of the DVD to achieve a clear high definition transfer, which results in a clearer, sharper picture. Another question that the average consumer is asking is, “What are the differences between Blu-Ray and HD DVD?” The first difference is in how the image is represented. For HD DVD, the transfers are done on 1080i resolution, whereas Blu-Ray transfers are done through 1080p resolution. In this area, Blu-Ray was lagging behind HD DVD for some time, but it’s now starting to catch up. At first, HD DVD was reported to have a clearer and sharper image than Blu-Ray, but in recent months Blu-Ray’s 1080p image has caught up to HD DVD’s. Another difference is that BluRay discs can store a lot more content onto their discs than the HD DVD discs. For HD DVDs, a single-layer disc has the capacity to store approximately 15 GB of content. A duallayer HD DVD disc has the capacity to store 30 GB of content. For a single-layer Blu-Ray disc, the capacity is 25 GB of content or 50 GB for a dual layer Blu-Ray (a standard DVD can only hold 4.7 GB of content per disc). But HD DVD has an advantage over Blu-Ray in that it has a few more virtual features available to the consumer. Chief among these is the “in-movie experience” which presents filmmaker commentary and behind-the-scenes footage that seamlessly branches from the main feature. Meanwhile, Blu-Ray answered with what it calls “The Blue Wizard.” This feature goes one step beyond HD DVD’s in-movie experience by allowing the viewer to create a custom play list of scenes and bonus materials. This feature also allows supplemental material to be watched interactively as a pop function that overlays the playback of the main feature. Audio quality is equal between both formats, although HD DVD uses the Dolby Digital Plus tracks for their sound mixes while Blu-Ray uses the uncompressed PCM 5.1 soundtracks on its discs. These are two different formats but they amount to the same overall sound quality.

Cont.


A smaller difference between Blu-Ray discs and HD DVD discs is the packaging. Sony uses the “hard coat” form of packaging for Blu-Ray that protects the disc from being scratched and damaged. This makes the Blu-Ray discs more durable than the HD DVD discs. Both the HD DVD and Blu-Ray formats have many different models of players on their side. In the HD DVD corner, there’s the Xbox 360 video gaming system. This video game console plays Xbox video games as well as HD DVD, but in order to play the HD DVD’s, you need an to buy the HD DVD player for the system which hooks up via a USB interface. This system is exclusive to HD DVD. The Toshiba HD DVD players are the HD A1 and the more costly HDXA1. In the Blu-Ray corner, there’s the PlayStation 3 video game system. This system plays PlayStation 3 video games as well as Blu-Ray discs. The upgrade model of the PlayStation 3 also has Internet access. Samsung also has the BD-P1000 that exclusively plays BluRay DVDs. So, what is the current status of the high definition format war? Recently, Blu-Ray has scored a number of victories in its favor: Warner Bros officially announced that it was going to be exclusively backing the Blu-Ray format instead of HD DVD. Losing the support of the largest movie studio in the U.S. struck quite a blow to the HD camp. Warner also has more DVD releases than any of the other major studios. This means that Blu-Ray will have a lot more titles available in their catalog, a fact that will sway consumers into buying more Blu-Ray players and discs. Paramount, another major movie studio, has also announced that it will be switching exclusively to the Blu-Ray format.

In response to these announcements, Toshiba has announced that they will be cutting the prices of all HD DVD players in half and lowering the prices of their DVD titles. This will help keep consistent sales. But, as Dan Ackerman, senior editor at the technology Web site C-net said, “The format war ended when Warner Bros announced their support for BluRay… it means effectively that HD DVD has lost. • -Andrew Lillion

On the Web… Official Blu-ray Web Site: www.blu-ray.com Official HD DVD Web site: www.thelookandsoundofperfect.com


Trees That Don’t Burn Driving in the flatland dawn, blue and green searching questions in the dark stubble of his morning jaw. The face was not the face I had in my mind last night watching the water pike, certainly different than in the yellow pool too neon to see my own reflection even in the still-unbroken brown of the bottles on the floor. Looking deeper for the familiarity— something of unbearded men in subways, of spilled absinthe on my speckled carpet, of Brooklyn rooftops, of late night confessions with closed basement windows while the rain scratches like lonely dogs. “Are you all right?” he asked. “I’m fine, really, just nervous is all.” (Not wanting to talk about the knots you get in your shoulders from throwing rocks at your identity, and the weird claustrophobia of the miles from here to Minneapolis.) I found a receipt on the console with his haiku about the falling blossoms and singalongable the start of the drive south, remembering the tiny green lizards of the late 80’s valley, the fucking of Basho’s grasshoppers, of the kind of trees that don’t burn in fires. Later he would teach me the Japanese word for reconciled sadness and I would tell him that this was like that dream about drowning when you realize you’re too deep to resurface and stop fighting on your back and watch the calmness of the way the waves hit the water.

-Stacey Garratt


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