Friday, February 25, 2011

Oscar Picks

I don't care if you all think I'm one big F-A-G quee-ah for doing this, but I thought it'd be fun to make some Oscar picks. You guys all picked your favorite albums of the year, but I'm not as into music as you guys are (though I'm getting there). Movies are my music.

Best Picture: 127 hours

How do you make an interesting movie about a guy trapped by a falling boulder, all by himself? Watch and see- it was a good one. The popular favorite choice is the King's Speech, which I thought WAS good, but not great. It'll probably win because of the accents and period piece costumes/ art direction. If the Social Network wins, I may boycott Facebook in protest. It was another good movie, but not Best Picture worthy.

Best Actress: Natalie Portman- Black Swan

Black Swan was nowhere near the best movie of the year, but it probably would not even have been made without Natalie Portman. She WAS this movie. Her descent into utter madness is rivaled only by Russel Crowe in A Beautiful Mind. I am admittedly biased towards Ms. Portman (I think my crush has officially crossed over from the playfully entertaining to the criminally obsessive), but this was a performance for the ages.

Best Actor: Colin Firth- The King's Speech

The King's Speech would have been nothing without his performance. When his Prince Albert (hehe), affectionately called Bertie by family and friends, would mount a podium for an official royal speech, you could almost SEE his throat swallowing itself in stutters. Honorable mention: James Franco- seriously, watch 127 hours.

Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo- The Fighter

I'm not sure how to describe her performance- gritty, determined, anything but cliched, as a mother trying to do well by both sons, whose interests conflict. She was essentially a mother choosing between sons. A powerful performance. Possible upset: Amy Adams- The Fighter. Hard to say who was better in this movie, but my gut picks the conflicted mother over the commited girlfriend. Possible upset #2: Hailee Steinfeld- True Grit. She stole the show in a re-make of a John Wayne western while sharing screen time with Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon. Need I say more?

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale- The Fighter

If you've ever met a crack head, you would feel how accurate his performance is, down to every tic, voice inflection, and manic diatribe. Furthermore, his performance as a crackhead is all the more powerful when you consider that he also plays the all-American vigilante anti-hero Bruce Wayne. His range as an actor is impressive.

Best Director: David O. Russel- The Fighter

Three out of the four main characters in this movie are nominated for an Oscar (Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Melissa Leo). The fourth is Marky Mark, who can bring a lot of interesting projects to the screen (silver or small) as an E.P., but is somewhat lacking as an actor. I have to assume the common denominator was the director, who made a mediocre story into a great film by virtue of the actors' performances, without a big budget or elaborate costumes.

Moral of the post- Scott, you aren't the only one who reads this site (or makes overly long posts, for that matter). Must see movies of the year include 127 Hours, The Fighter (much better if watched with your brother), True Grit, The King's Speech, The Social Network (I love a good smart ass), Black Swan (but only once- it was creepy).

Also, if you can check your macho male ego, see No Strings Attached, possibly the most underrated comedy since Death at a Funeral (British version). It's probably the best movie to cover previously undocumented topics (friends with benefits/ fuck buddies) since Knocked Up. And it's vulgar as shit and you see Natalie Portman in vaious states of undress (see above).

How's that for "keeping it Shanty", young Rustic?


Thursday, February 24, 2011

To Jimbo B, et al.

This is that commercial I was talking about. Good stuff.

P.S. Am I the only one who looks at this site anymore?? Where have you assholes been?!?!?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

Apparently this fella runs around with the mumford crowd...

Johnny Flynn.

Love it.

Here is a 'head scratcher' of a theory... LCD Soundsystem content

A clear narrative emerged pretty quickly in the wake of last week’s LCD Soundsystem ticket fiasco. Annie Lowrey tried and failed to get tickets when they went on sale at 11am on Friday, but was foiled:

Had something gone awry? I quickly checked Twitter. Nobody—really nobody, it seemed—had gotten through. Perhaps there was a problem with the site?

No. As it turned out, the show had sold out within seconds. It is just that professional ticket resellers, otherwise known as scalpers, had scooped up the bulk of the seats. Within minutes, hundreds of them were available on StubHub and other secondary markets where sellers can charge whatever they want. Tickets with a face value of $49.50 were going for 12 times that—with some coveted spots in the general-admission dance area going for thousands of dollars.
How did they do it? With bots. Computer systems—not particularly sophisticated ones, either—submit tens of thousands of requests for tickets the very instant they go on sale, crowding regular folks out.

This story seemed to be confirmed by LCD Soundsystem itself, with a profanity-laden posting blaming scalpers for the problem and presenting new shows at Terminal 5 as the solution. As Lowrey puts it, frontman James Murphy “realized he had an ace up his sleeve. He flooded the market, adding shows, upping ticket supply, and hopefully pushing prices down.”

For anybody who loves both music and teachable moments in microeconomics, the subject was irresistible. Lowrey’s post was followed up by Matt Yglesias, who drily declaimed that “optimal allocation of LCD Soundsystem tickets requires demand-responsive ticket pricing” if scalpers aren’t going to end up collecting rents. And Rob Cox, after looking into the matter, concluded similarly that what we’re seeing here “offers a strange insight into the laws of supply and demand”.

But in fact the story of these shows is much murkier than all this pop-economics punditry would have you think. Bob Lefsetz, who has real-world experience of how tickets are sold in practice, says that far from selling out 13,000 tickets at the public on-sale date, LCD Soundsystem in fact only sold 1,000. He notes:

James Murphy could publish exactly how many tickets go on sale to the general public, but he doesn’t want to. No act wants to, they’re afraid of the public outcry. This information is available to acts, but they don’t want to disseminate it.

After publishing his analysis, Lefsetz then mailed out a letter he received which lays out an intriguing counternarrative. What if the MSG show has not, in reality, sold out at all? The conspiracy theory goes like this: LCD Soundsystem’s promoter, Bowery Presents, owns Terminal 5. By holding back most of the MSG tickets, secondary-market prices would be sure to skyrocket. The way that MSG is structured, the coveted general-admission area in front of the stage is actually pretty small, which means that it’s quite easy to generate a handful of headline-grabbing offers of tickets for sale at $10,000 apiece or more. If they wanted, LCD’s promoters could even put those offers up themselves, and then encourage the band to complain in public about the exorbitant prices.

After getting everybody’s attention by artificially clamping down on the supply of MSG tickets, LCD’s promoters can then easily sell out four or more shows at their own venue, Terminal 5, which by coincidence just happened to be unbooked in the run-up to the MSG gig. Given all the buzz that this activity creates, the unsold MSG tickets can then be quietly disposed of on StubHub and other secondary-market sites.

I suspect that there’s more than a little truth in the conspiracy theory. For one thing, the number of tickets available on StubHub did not actually increase appreciably after 13,000 tickets were purportedly sold out in seconds. On top of that, we’re in mid-February already; it’s definitely weird that Terminal 5 was set to be completely dark from March 20 through March 31, with the exception of a single show on March 25. And it’s even weirder that no one — no one at all — got public tickets for the MSG show when they supposedly went on sale en masse: the only people who have gotten tickets in the primary market did so on the pre-sale dates or through tickets allocated to American Express.

The fact is that concert promoters, like art dealers, are fiercely protective of the asymmetric information advantage they have over the general public. Bowery Presents, the promoter of these shows, knows full well how many tickets were sold to the MSG show, and when. But they’re not releasing that information, because it’s very much in their interest for everybody to believe that 13,000 tickets sold out in a matter of seconds.

I don’t think that’s possible. Bots are sophisticated, to be sure, and anybody familiar with high-frequency trading on stock exchanges knows how quickly financial transactions can take place electronically. But Ticketmaster is not set up as a high-frequency exchange, and indeed puts up obstacles designed to make it harder for bots to buy lots of tickets quickly.

On top of that, bot-wielding scalpers had no particular reason to believe that LCD tickets would become hugely valuable on the secondary market, given that the band had never played a show of remotely MSG’s size in the past. I can see them buying a few hundred tickets over the course of 15 minutes or so; I simply don’t believe that they bought more than 10,000 tickets in the space of less than 15 seconds. I don’t believe they wanted to, and I don’t believe they’re capable of doing that even if they did want to.

People sympathetic to the band, like Rob Cox, claim that LCD Soundsystem and its promoters didn’t understand the economics of scarcity when they put the MSG tickets on sale. I, by contrast, think they understood the economics of scarcity all too well — and successfully used it to generate buzz and publicity. What really happened here, I think, is akin to the IPO of back in 1998, where the supply of new shares was so tiny that the price soared from $9 to $97 on the first day of trading. In turn, that generated lots of headlines, and ensured that the number of people who had heard of the website increased by orders of magnitude.

Supply and demand for concert tickets aren’t static numbers which then get reflected in prices. There are complex feedback loops here too: scarcity and price mechanisms can feed back into increased demand for tickets. Certainly this story has meant a large increase in the number of people who know that LCD Soundsystem is playing its last-ever gig at MSG in April. It’s surely naive to think that all the second-order effects here were completely unintended.

Monday, February 14, 2011


The new Radiohead album "The King of Limbs" will be available for download this Saturday. You can pre-order it now. The concept of pre-ordering an MP3 is new to me, but what the hell do I know, anyways...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

toubab at the old rock house


Fans of Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros...

Give this one a shot. A song from Alexander Eberts solo album coming out next month.

Oh Shit! Save Me, Bruce Willis! Save Me!

Jason, this is right up your alley.

This article also references use of Deep Impact to change the trajectory of a previous comet in 2005, which I don't recall hearing anything about. Then again, we were pretty drunk back then. More on that here: