Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Archive for December 20th, 2012

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

You messed it up.

Yes, you.

You read Instagram’s new Terms of Service and, despite a general improvement for users’ rights, you got confused, as Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom explained:

Legal documents are easy to misinterpret.

He was going to add “for illiterate dumbasses like you”, but legal made him remove that.

Well, your whining worked, you inconsiderate buffoon. Instagram is rolling the advertising section back to the October 2010 version:

Going forward, rather than obtain permission from you to introduce possible advertising products we have not yet developed, we are going to take the time to complete our plans, and then come back to our users and explain how we would like for our advertising business to work.

But because you whiners can’t read (cf. Systrom’s comment above), you’re making it worse for yourselves. Bryan Bishop of The Verge explains:

The proposed tweaks made it very clear that advertisers, for example, couldn’t just stick their logo on one of your photos and use it as an Instagram ad. The language the company’s going back to is so broad that such use isn’t out of the realm of possibility — and in that sense today’s development is actually a loss for users.

Well, I hope you’re happy.

Die Standing Up

Jonah Weiner wrote a truly wonderful profile of Jerry Seinfeld:

Beneath the surface, Seinfeld says, much of his act concerns “the pointlessness of life itself. I’ve got jokes where I’m saying your life sucks, your possessions are garbage, you’re not important.” Larry David, to whom Seinfeld remains close, told me, “Jerry doesn’t get enough credit for his misanthropy — it’s why we get along so well.”

There’s a lot in here, but the takeaway is a man who truly loves what he does, and realizes just how fortunate he is to be able to explore that to an infinite degree.

The Best Albums of 2012, Edition 8: ‘Allelujah!

‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! — Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Ten years after their last record together, the collective is back with the massive sonic experience you’ve come to expect from Godspeed. Their previous effort, Yanqui U.X.O., remains their most difficult in their catalogue, largely because it’s just so damn slow. On ‘Allelujah!, they’ve assembled two tracks of roughly twenty minutes’ length, shuffled between two of less than ten. This makes for a much improved pace.

“Mladic”, the album opener, is as massive as you’d expect. It’s symphonic, with a few individual movements that shape it over its length. The build takes over six minutes, but the rewards are satisfying as only that kind of delay can make them. After a frantic middle quarter, there’s a delightful feedback-driven segment, which makes way for a Junkanoo-sounding outro, without horns.

“Their Helicopters’ Sing” (yes, with the apostrophe) is the shortest track on the record and, with detuned bagpipes galore, it had better be. It’s hard to listen to. The droning sounds in the background are sheared by the aforementioned bagpipes. It’s good. It’s painful, too.

That’s okay — the guys in Godspeed are thoughtful enough to follow it with another symphonic guitar-and-drums piece, “We Drift Like Worried Fire”. For me, this is the highlight of the record. The methodical, metronomic guitar work is complemented by the swirling violin that slices through the broadness of the sound. This piece sounds distinctly more story-driven than “Mladic”, the other lengthy piece on the record. There are (obviously) no lyrics, but there are clear sections which point to aspects of a plot.

The album closer, “Strung Like Lights at Thee Printemps Erable”, echoes “Helicopters'” in its tempo and droning quality, but it’s more textured than the latter. There’s depth to this track, especially as the final song. After a solid minute of feedback and noise, it calms to end in what sounds like bells at the end of a massive tunnel. It’s a subtle reminder that this record was the product of a breakup of the band, and many years of searching for their significance, relevance, and meaning. It’s a reminder that they might take ten years to make their next album, so listen to this one and cherish it.