Category: Reviews

Smell of Books Fails the Sniff Test

Smell of Books: Classic Musty ScentThe latest innovation in ebook technology isn’t digital, it’s aerosol.

At least that’s what the DuroSport Corporation would have us believe. The company has just released an “aerosol ebook enhancer” called Smell of Books.

The first question that comes to mind is, why? Who would possibly want the smell of books in a can?

Apparently some people *really* like the smell of books. In fact, “the smell of books” has become something of a rallying cry among print book loyalists in their fight against the insurgency of ebooks. If ebooks suddenly smelled like print books, paper sniffing luddites would have one less reason to avoid them.

When you think about it, it’s surprising that Smell of Books is coming from a fringe company like DuroSport instead of a tech leader like Amazon. What’s more, DuroSport’s approach appears to be uncommonly clever. The company has managed to enter the ebook business while neatly sidestepping annoying technical challenges like device compatibility and DRM.

Unfortunately, as with previous DuroSport products there’s a huge gap between the clever idea and the problematic implementation. In reality Smell of Books doesn’t live up to its promise. (more…)

The Lies of The Hold Steady and Drive-by Truckers

“Rock & roll means well, but it can’t help telling young boys lies.” That’s the line. I was one of those young boys who got lied to. Who desperately believed each and every one. The lies started thirty years ago, and they’ve never really stopped.

And last night at the Wiltern Theatre in the heart of a rainy Los Angeles, they were being told again in a way that I haven’t seen in years, as The Hold Steady and Drive-by Truckers put on one of the best rock shows that I have ever ever seen in my entire life.


A First Look at YouTube on TiVo

When we talk about “convergence” here at Loper HQ, what we aren’t talking about is getting our internet, cable and phone from the same evil multinational corporation.

Instead, we mean devices that combine several formerly disparate functions into a single, easy-to-use interface. Like, of course, the iPhone, which Tim Gaskill declared this weekend to be the greatest thing ever made.

While the iPhone is most certainly a major step in portable convergence, there hasn’t yet been a device in the home video space that allows me to watch a combination of internet video and recorded TV with a single, easy-to-use interface.

You know, the One Box.

One Box to rule them all
One Box to find them
One Box to bring them all
And in the darkness bind them


Some Links May Be NSFW: The 2008 GayVN Awards

GayVN Header.My friend Melissa Gira Grant and I recently attended GayVN Awards, the biggest gay porn industry awards show. Both of our tickets had been gratis through our office jobs, hers as a consultant at the St. James Infirmary (an occupational safety and health clinic for sex workers) and mine as a webmonkey for NakedSword (a hardcore streaming gay porn website). It’s one of those weird, neat little perks of my place of employment, which is otherwise an office job like most any other.

We’ve got health insurance and mysterious 401K paperwork and a sign above the kitchen sink asking people to please wash their damn dishes and cliques and birthday cards passed around and we go on the occasional “team-building” outdoor excursion or out for lunch around the holidays. Except, you know, our raison d’etre is pornography, so we can use dirty words in office emails and it’s perfectly okay to put up pictures of naked hunks if one is so inclined. Best of both worlds.

(Sidenote: my new favorite adjective is “hunky.” It’s often used in movie blurbs, as well as episode synopses for our webcast The Tim & Roma Show, i.e. “Tim and Roma are joined by hunky Jason Adonis…” I have no idea why, but it makes me laugh every single time.)

Sometimes we need to de-porn the office for a sensitive visitor (like one of our “straight” web design clients, or the boss’s nephew), and even though the relaxed corporate culture allows me to decorate my workspace like the gloomy, media-saturated teenager I’ve never stopped being, there’s no nudity on my walls. Three (count ’em, three) Marilyn Manson posters, sure, magazine covers from Bizarre and Fetish and Skin Two as well as one-sheet movie posters for both Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me and Cronenberg’s Crash, both of which are among the most sexually outré films of the nineties, but no porn. Because, really, that would just be tacky.

Melissa’s actual day job is writing for Valleywag, and in addition to Medialoper I write for the Eros Zine (or at least I did, until it folded this week). Our post-modern ironic-yet-sex-positive credentials were solid. Granted, to get in the door all that mattered was that we had our tickets in hand. Like David Cross said, indie hipster cred won’t buy you a house in the country, and at a hundred bucks for regular tickets (and two hundred for my “industry” ticket), we wouldn’t have been there if our bill wasn’t footed.


What a Swell Party This Is: Three Moustache Rides at the Castro Theater

Castro Marquee.The Midnites for Maniacs series at the Castro Theater in San Francisco aims to “emphasize dismissed, underrated and forgotten films,” usually in the form of double or triple features. Not all the movies are dismissed, underrated and/or forgotten, but I’m the first to admit that not all the movies we do at Bad Movie Night are necessarily bad, either. (Though some, like Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights, are so horrifyingly bad as to defy any sort of rational description.) Though they frequently unearth genuine obscurities like Skatetown, U.S.A or Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, for what’s probably is a combination of practical and nostalgic reasons the movies tend to be teen or horror movies from the early eighties. Which is cool, and I got to see a 70mm print of Tron because of Midnites for Maniacs, so it gets nothing but the love from me.

This sort of show is always more fun when grouped into themes, and tonight’s was Burt Reynolds: At Long Last Love, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and Smokey and the Bandit. I was mostly there to see At Long Last Love, legendary among film buffs as one of the most critically reviled films ever made, mortally wounding director Peter Bogdanovich’s career. Whether or not it was one of the worst movies ever in addition to being the most hated made was difficult to say, since few people saw it during its brief theatrical run, it’s never been released on video, and it only played on teevee a few times.

For better or worse, its reputation was kept alive by the Brothers Medved kicking it when it was already down in their insufferable books The Golden Turkey Awards and The Fifty Worst Movies Ever Made (the latter of which was directly though unintentionally responsible for the (re)discovery of Ed Wood in the early eighties). As lost films go, it’s only slightly less mysterious than The Day the Clown Cried. More people have seen At Long Last Love than The Day the Clown Cried, but that isn’t saying much.