Robin Sloane – In praise of the terrible live stream

Robin Sloane:

The terrible live stream is precious because, of all the formats available to us now, it selects least. It resists the narrative compression of “news.” It shows a scene that, for all its intensity, is mostly slow-moving and confusing. It forces us to sit through the in-between minutes that an editor would cut. The live stream, uniquely among formats, is free to be muddled and boring, with no clear storyline and no assurance that This Is All Going Somewhere.

The Winter of Weird Al [link]

Steven Hyden, for Grantland:

In the past, Weird Al’s timing was perhaps his greatest asset. Right when the culture seemed to be tiring of a particular song or artist, the Weird Al parody would appear. It was the sign of an artist reaching “we love you, but we also can’t stand you” stardom. But that timing now seems rather, well, sluggish, and this has caused Weird Al to drift back into a crowded field. Now that the release of Mandatory Fun completes Yankovic’s record contract, it seems wise to explore more expedient alternatives.

When I asked Yankovic if it still made sense for him to make albums in the future, he was eager to steer the conversation back to the record he had already made and was trying to promote. But in spite of the hemming and hawing, he was pretty clear about what’s next.

“I don’t want to draw any hard lines in the sand, because I’d like to leave all my options open, but I’m feeling like this is probably my last conventional album,” he said.

I think it was Richard Nixon who said “if you’ve lost Weird Al, you’ve lost the traditional music sales model.”

Darke vs. Johnson: The Fight for America’s Ears

Over at The A.V. Club, Rowan Keiser has a solid post about how things have changed (and not changed) for men’s soccer in the United States - with an emphasis on who we’ve been listening to when we watch it on television:

If you flipped on ABC or ESPN for a World Cup match this year or in 2010, you were almost certainly greeted by an announcer with an English accent. For the four World Cups prior, between 1994 and 2006, ESPN had used American voices like O’Brien—but the decision to change announcers wasn’t merely an aesthetic one. The networks took sides in an ongoing war over the nature of American soccer, where announcing is one of biggest battlegrounds about whether the sport should be Europeanized “football” or reflect a home-grown American soccer. It’s a conflict that encompasses media culture, fan culture, and even the overall philosophy of U.S. Soccer’s attempts to improve the national team.

Read the rest, then come back here. For my money, Ian Darke puts the rest of the ESPN World Cup announcers to shame when it comes to play-by-play (and the less said about Gus Johnson’s efforts to this point, the better). I don’t watch enough (read: any) MLS to know if there are any home-grown announcers up to the task yet, but I do hope that 4 years from now, when the World Cup is on Fox, we hear from some talented American voices.* Or at least some other voices that have more to contribute than just a smart-sounding accent.

* Can a voice be talented? Also, anybody think Gus is capable of getting good at this by 2018? He was atrocious in that Atletico/Real Madrid game a couple months ago.

The Lost-and-Found Legacy of Barbara Ringer

Amanda Levendowski at The Atlantic put together a great story about a woman who should be much better-known:

I came across a quote a few weeks ago—one that so perfectly encapsulates the outdatedness and skepticism surrounding copyright law—that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen before: “The 1976 Copyright Act is a good 1950 copyright law.”

It was attributed to someone I didn’t know: Barbara Ringer.

She was one of only a few women in her graduating class at Columbia Law School back in 1949. Just after graduation, she took a position with the Copyright Office as an examiner, where she determined the registrability of applicants’ submitted works. When she wasn’t busy working her way up through nearly every position at the Copyright Office, Ringer was drafting the Universal Copyright Convention, attending international copyright conferences, and teaching at Georgetown Law Center as the university’s first woman adjunct professor of law.

She conducted empirical research. She published her work in law journals. She even wrote the article about copyright law for the Fifteenth Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

And then I realized that I did know her. We all sort of know her: She was one of the lead architects of the 1976 Copyright Act. I went to law school to become a copyright lawyer. I had read her copyright law. I’d taken classes about her copyright law. I’d even written about her copyright law. And yet, I had never heard a word about her.

Has the World Cup really been that good? [link]

International football is actually all about glory. There’s money in it for Sepp Blatter and his mates at FIFA but it’s not a serious business like European club football; livelihoods and futures don’t depend on the result. Why try to grind out a nil-nil draw and win on penalties when the whole world is watching? Why not try to score more goals than the other team?

I’d have been predisposed to enjoy Nick Hornby’s World Cup sum-up anyway, and then he went ahead and declared Belgium/USA “probably the best World Cup match of the 21st century”.

Time makes fools of us all.