Friday, February 26, 2016

Musical Interlude: Die Krupps' Gladiators (1991)

Irony is writing a blog post on distraction-free writing, only to get distracted from writing.  The article in question is sidelined for the next day or so as new information comes in.  Until then, I present to you the following musical interlude.

Another of my CDTV-era favourites is Die Krupps.

I discovered DK back in the early 90s, having heard of them via a magazine review of their Tribute to Metallica EP.  The reviewer (probably a Metallica fan) absolutely trashed the EP, so I knew it was something worth hearing.

It took me a while, but I eventually found a copy of Die Krupps' Enter Sandman CD single.  The CD had two versions of the title track (both were alright), but what really stood out for me was their version of Metallica's song One.  I never really cared for Metallica's version until then, but DK's cover really made me appreciate the song.

Die Krupps soon made it into my regular rotation, and I began collecting their albums.

Gladiators, as heard above, went largely unnoticed by myself until recently.  While dismantling my lab late last summer, I popped their album Metalmorphosis of Die Krupps into the player and hit play.  I would habitually skip through most of the second half of the album to get to the last two tracks, and never really gave tracks like Gladiators, Neue Helden, and Tod und Teufel a fair shake.

I was in the middle of dismantling a Sun serial port multiplexer for Project Torquemada when the second half of the album came on.  In the middle of a delicate operation and with the remote out of reach, I couldn't get up to skip through the aforementioned songs.  I was too absorbed in what I was doing to pay much attention to Risk, however halfway through the next track (Gladiators), I found myself bopping along to the song as I unscrewed the hex sockets from the serial port, then started singing along with the refrain "We are gladiators!".

I let the rest of the CD play out, and am glad I did.  I don't know what I had against those songs initially, but it was clear I'd never given them a chance to grow on me.

They are now part of my regular "hacking" soundtrack, played whenever I'm deeply involved in a build or repair job.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Audience Participation Time: Never Let Your Magazine Run Dry (part three)

I've had a little over a year to really experience the digital age, insofar as it applies to magazines... and to be honest, I don't like it.

My initial impression was favourable, and for a few months I enjoyed having Wallpaper and Azure with me wherever I went.  I received an email from Zinio every month, letting me know my latest issue was ready for download.  My Issuu feed updated every time I logged in, and I found a number of great magazines there.

Everything was great, until I dropped my Kobo Vox e-reader on the floor, which somehow reset the stupid thing back to its defaults... wiping everything I'd downloaded.

Being an older tablet/e-reader, I wasn't able to download the latest versions of a number of apps - Zinio being one.  The old version that came bundled with my Kobo would no longer download my magazines, and newer versions wouldn't work.  I was still able to use the online Zinio reader on my XP laptop at home, as well as my Windows 8 laptop at work, so I didn't swear too loudly.

I continued like this for a few more months, but once my Zinio subscriptions ran out, I didn't renew them.  Now, that's not to knock Zinio - they offer a great product and their support is top notch - but it was pretty clear where my heart lay... in print media.

I resumed buying print magazines a few months ago, after I got tired of reading digital mags on my computer.  Sure, the quality of the digital variety is great and I don't have to worry about accidentally tearing it, someone writing on it, getting coffee stains on it, etc, but it's just not the same.

What I don't like about digital magazines is you can't leave one out on the coffee table.  You can't lend it to someone.  You can't draw mustaches and beards on the female athletes, or Hitler mustaches on all the politicians and businesspeople.  There's no sense of wonderment when you find one in a box in your closet.  There's no scent.  You don't get free rub-on samples of cologne in them.  Worst of all, you have no physical artifact to leave to posterity.

Call me an anachronism, but I prefer the real thing.

Which brings us to the Audience Participation part of our show...

I've put up a poll in the upper right sidebar of my blog.  It runs until Midnight, March 1st, and it's aimed at those of you who still buy print magazines.  For those who still enjoy print magazines, I'm curious about how you prefer to buy them.  Specifically, I'm curious to know if you prefer to support local businesses by buying magazines in-store, or if you prefer to support the publishers directly by subscribing to magazines.

Legal note: This poll is for my own curiosity, and I'm not acting on behalf of any demographic, research, Law Enforcement, or marketing agencies.  I will not share (or sell) results with any third parties, this is purely for my own amusement.

Let me know what you think!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Cabaret Voltaire: Walls of Kyoto (Live 1982)

This is it... this is the song that got me into Cabaret Voltaire back in the early 90s.

At the time, I was into bands like Ministry, Front 242, and had just gotten into Front Line Assembly.  I first learned of Cabaret Voltaire while reading the FAQ for the Usenet newsgroup, where they were mentioned as pioneers of the genre a number of times.  Ever curious, I embarked on a fruitless search for their CDs at the local music shops.  Nobody had ever heard of them, and, by chance, I found a copy of their live album, Hai!, for 99 cents in the HMV bargain bin.

I got it home, popped it into my Commodore CDTV, and gave it a listen.  My first impression was not a favourable one... in fact, I think my exact words were "What the fuck is this?  This sucks!"

I remember thinking how absolutely grating Walls of Kyoto was, and how it took effort to listen to the tune.  But one day a week later, I found myself in a weird mood, so I decided to expend the effort.

I was on the CDTV, checking my messages on a local BBS, and I was taking a lot longer than normal.  So much longer, that the Ramones CD I was listening to in CDTVPlayer had ended.  I grabbed Hai! and decided to give it another chance.

I let the CD run without actively listening to it... it was, after all, meant to be background noise as I went BBSing.  I let the CD run its course and thought "Well, that wasn't too bad...".

The next day, I listened to the CD again while on my daily pilgrimage to our local 7-Eleven, and found myself enjoying the music.  The CD soon made it into my regular rotation, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I still listen to the album on my iPhone once in a while.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Dividing the Audience, or Six Point Oh is the Place to Go!

The Warring States of Flux, Denial, and Mind have signed a formal treaty and have become one again, as Conceit and Sociopathy 6.0.

What does this mean for you?  Well, you'll have two of my blogs to follow instead of just one.  Or you can pick one (or neither) to follow.  Either way, we're cool.

"So, what made you decide to reopen C&S when you just started blogging again on State of Grace?", you might ask.

A fair question indeed.  The short answer is, "Why the Hell not?"

The long answer is a drawn out, meandering affair full of reflection, angst, desire, questionable intent, and proper spelling... I'll spare you the details, just accept that it is.

"But CJ," you go on, "what does this mean in terms of content?"

First off, I dropped the nickname CJ a long time ago.  I use my real name now.

In terms of content, for now both blogs will largely be the same, with perhaps minor stylistic differences (I'll probably swear a lot more here).  I'll do my best to keep multi-part posts on the same blog, however.  As time goes on, each blog will take on its own character again.

The real reason, however, is that I resurrected Nadia for the umpteenth time and am keen to establish our partnership again.  I started Conceit and Sociopathy using Nadia, so it seems only fitting that I do so once again.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Change of Address Card

Update your links and feed URLs, folks!  Conceit and Sociopathy/The Warring States of (et cetera) has moved.

The blog's new, final home is here at State of Grace.  I got to work an hour early this morning and was rather bored, so I figured, "Why wait until Easter.  Do it now!" and made the requisite changes.

All the old content has migrated to the new site, which is now open for business (while under construction).

Stop by for a visit!


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Uneasy Truces and Warring States

It looks as though my long-time domain,, has finally been bought.  From the looks of things, it's one of those fucking robo-blogs that seem to pop up from time to time.  Whoever bought the domain is also posting using the name "conceitedjerk".  Just to make things perfectly clear: it's not me, it's not my site, and it's got nothing to do with me.  Whoever is using that name can have it as far as I'm concerned.

I'm not upset - I relinquished the domain a couple of years ago when I decided to divest myself of my former alter-ego/alias, Conceited Jerk.  I continued to use the nickname in vintage computing circles until now, but it's time to let it go.  Mostly because I need a change (I have been using the alias for over twenty years), and partly because I don't want to be associated with this new

To reflect this recent-but-not-recent change, I'm also killing off Conceit and Sociopathy - the title, not the entire blog.  For now, the blog's new title (subject to change without notice) will be The Warring States of Flux, Denial, and Mind.  New name, same BS.

I will also be changing the URL for this blog as well, look for an announcement on Google+ after Easter (I've given up Social Media for Lent)... or wait until your links no longer work.

Since I'm sure none of you are wondering about the blog's new name, there's no deeper meaning in the title (I pulled it out of my ass).

Things around here are in a state of flux, however:  I've recently killed off my Facebook and Twitter accounts for good.  I found I spent more time interacting with my friends and family on Facebook than in real life, and then again interacting with stupid memes and quizzes more often than those friends and family!  

Twitter I largely outgrew; not the app, mind you, but the people I followed.  Not only that, but I found myself wanting context rather than passive-aggressive headlines.  I'll miss updates from the one New York activist whose Twitter account I followed (@lsarsour), but that's pretty much it.

I'm keeping Google+ though.  I can use italics (and bold) when I post.

I've also killed off my computer hobby.  Short of maintaining a small home server running Solaris, a couple of vintage machines, and a couple of Unix/Linux machines, I'm onto other things... but more on that later.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Draught, Bottled, and Canned

You know, it's funny... I felt an indescribable urge to blog yesterday, absolutely irresistible, and had no idea why.  I had essentially lost interest in blogging, yet somehow I felt compelled to write yesterday's post.

As it turns out, yesterday marked the eighth anniversary of Conceit and Sociopathy.  That's right, kids, I've been posting this crap for eight bloody years!  That's like fifty-seven in blog-years!

Looking back, I've outlasted a number of other, more popular (and probably better written) Winnipeg blogs, some of whom served as my inspiration to start a blog in the first place.  Then again, I never did know when to quit...

So, on that note, I'm soldiering on.  Our tenth anniversary is less than two years away!

The first thing I did this morning was purge the blog of the dozens upon dozens of drafts sitting in my posts queue.  Canned the lot of them.  Some were articles I'd started writing years ago whose intent was long forgotten; others were organized outlines of posts, others were notes I'd jotted down about something I was thinking of posting, some were pictures whose context was lost, and some were rants that I'm glad I never posted.  I've kept them around all this time, thinking I'd eventually salvage the majority of them, but after careful consideration, decided it was time to begin anew.  I've changed a lot and grown as a person in the intervening years, and doubt I could ever do the original intent justice.

Besides, like Welcome to the Darkest Corners of my Mind (aka Conceited Jerk Dot Com) before it, this blog was started on a whim, without formal plan or direction.  It wasn't about anything, it was just me being me, taking advantage of the internet as a publishing medium, usually while drunk.

So, raise a glass and let loose your cheers, and let's drag this out another few years!