June 28, 2011

Sloppy Photoshop Mistakes, Part MMCXXVIII

Today's victim is, sadly, rock star Polly Jean Harvey. Witness, Mojo Magazine (grayscale) vs. Blurt Magazine (color):



Now, nothing against Blurt—the reason I picked up this copy was because it was packed with not only PJ, but Explosions in the Sky, Panda Bear, Drive By Truckers, and a weird sub-David Foster Wallace ripoff of an over-the-hill '80s fossil-metal cruise.

But seriously, their photo editor was clearly preoccupied. For (admittedly unequal and unscientific) comparison, I present the same portrait of Ms. Harvey as shot by Seamus Murphy. I can't find the original, and the grayscale version that ran in Mojo has obviously been altered too—for color and contrast and a few more things—but the Blurt version has a few no-nos that shouldn't have passed the art director's desk unnoticed. First, the individual images:

Mojo (a little heavy on the stark contrast, but otherwise ok):



Blurt (color errors and amateurish editing tool abuse):



Weird hair color errors:



Sickly yellow (as opposed to warm) skin tone:



Finally, is erasing two stray hairs worth some glaringly bad Clone Stamp tool errors? Yikes.



…and yeah, I know it's not fair to compare color image errors to a grayscale image (especially since the rest of the images in the Blurt feature are just fine!), but when an image is taken to grayscale in the right way, you should be able to see as much if not more detail than when the image is colorized.

What's weird is that the online version looks just fine. I don't think the designer was incompetent here—just lazy. Maybe they had somewhere infinitely more fun to be than…uh…carefully playing with PJ Harvey's face. Obviously, for me that's no contest.

June 20, 2011

This Was So Much Easier When I Was Cruel



Like most of the other songs on its parent album (yes, the year-long series of shame continues), this pulpy beast of blood and guts cannot be taken nearly as serious as it seems to take itself. But by all that is great and holy, I tell you this: when I was 19 and pretty and dumb, U2's "So Cruel" was the most perfectly melodramatic tearjerking thing to deafen myself with on a muggy April night as I lay inert on the floor of a Chico State dorm room while the girl who usually occupied that dorm room (and who'd just dumped me that weekend) was somewhere else, allegedly for her own safety.

Naturally, I felt like shit—1996 was one epic pile-up of suck—but I have no idea if it was really about her, or about the other girl who'd dumped me on Valentine's Day earlier that year, or about getting myself thrown out of my dad's house the previous Christmas—but I played this song over and over as I waited for the sun to rise so I could shlep my ass to the train station for the bus home (yes, the bus home—it was too early for trains). It's a long fucking bus/train ride from Chico to Santa Barbara. Oh, the humanity. Sometimes I wonder how on earth I ever survived being 19.

I should have thought "I'll write a novel about being 19 some day," and of course I eventually did just that, but 19-year-olds don't usually think that far into the future—especially hyper-pretentious suburban white male American dorks whose favorite album is "Achtung Baby" instead of something more dude-bro/macho like "Master of Puppets."

Of course, things are darkest right before they are most awesome, as my subsequently brilliant career in design/wordsmithery/rockstardom eloquently proves. I found many more eloquent and biting breakup songs to wallow in, by infinitely superior songwriters and musicians. I even stopped being angry at that girl after about, oh…four years (that's right, waaaay before Facebook, kiddies), but she got off easy—because I haven't spoken to my dad in about 13 years, and I will never, ever, EVER go back to fuckin' Chico.

Okay, okay, never say never—but if I ever DO pass through that godawful town again, I'll bring more money, cause all she wants to do is…

Ah, hell with it. Life's too short and I got dishes to do.

June 05, 2011

Cracker & Camper Van Beethoven at Indie West Fest in Ventura



Quickie post for the Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven set we saw yesterday at the VC Fairgrounds. Cloudy/drizzly day (guess it's time for June gloom) didn't dampen anything permanently, but the general vibe of the closing hours at the inaugural "Indie West Fest" gave off a distinctly "is this it?" feeling. The staff people were all very pleasant though, and I hope they do it again next year.

Anyway, David Lowery & Co. did not disappoint; instead of each band playing their most popular album in full (which they'd been doing on the recent "Key Lime Pie/Kerosene Hat" tour), they went for oddball and/or loud choices (there was lots of bleed from the other stages).

Camper Van Beethoven went with an early-80s set: Mao Reminisces, White Riot, Wasted, Shut Us Down, R&R Uzbekistan, Sad Lovers Waltz, Ambiguity Song, Take the Skinheads Bowling, We're a Bad Trip, Tania, Eye of Fatima 1 & 2, Seven Languages, Pictures of Matchstick Men, Club Med Sucks, and Interstellar Overdrive.

Fifteen minutes later Cracker did a shorter, louder, and career-spanning set of their own: Movie Star, Teen Angst, 100 Flower Power Maximum, The World is Mine, Hand Me My Inhaler, Friends, Eurotrash Girl, Lonesome Johnny Blues, One Fine Day, Gimme One More Chance, and Low.

So, that's Costello and Lowery gigs within weeks of each other. A Dylan show would hit the trifecta, but on 7/14 (when he's at the SB Bowl) we have other plans.

About the photo: it's a promo shot for the original Cracker/Camper reunion tour from early 2000, in which Jonathan Segel, Victor Krummenacher, and Greg Lisher joined David Lowery, Johnny Hickman, Kenny Margolis, and Frank Funaro to make a sort of Cracker Van Beethoven supergroup. We saw them twice on that tour.

Oh, one more thing: there's finally an audience-quality bootleg of the Coach House Cracker/Camper show Bryn and I saw last year on the Archive: Camper set | Cracker set

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