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February 12, 2008 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-02-12

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - 5

DVDs today,
coasters tomorrow

The magnitude of my problem
lies somewhere between
global warming and the
nonexistence of McDonald's break-
fast at noon.
Multiple goods are replacing
something I
am excessively
invested in, and '
I don't know
whattodo about
it. You see, I've
amassed about
400 DVDs, and f
they're slowly
beginning to MICHAEL
look like audio PASSMAN
cassettes circa
1992. HD media
are here, and I'm seemingly left with
little more than a colorful coaster
collection.
The problem here is twofold.
First, HD media look and sound a lot
better than DVDs, and they're damn
hard to resist if you've got access to
an HDTV. Secondly, there isn't a sin-
gle HD format worth fully investing
in yet. Blu-ray and HD DVD are both
totally viable and equally incompat-
ible with one another, which spells
trouble for anyone looking to get the
most out of a her 1080p TV set.
But even if you're 400 discs deep
in last-generation media, the signifi-
cant issue here is the latter, because
simply deciding to upgrade to HD
content is the easy half of the deci-
sion. In the battle for the dominant
HD format, Blu-ray is, by most
accounts, the leader going into the
clubhouse on Saturday - if you're
into bad sports analogies - but HD
DVD is only a few shots back and
isn't totally out of it. Sorry, I'll stop.
Anyway, it's certainly notamatter
of which next-generation format is
the best - because quality is rarely
the arbiter inthese sorts of situations
- but even that's not an easy thing
to parse out. As far as disc space is
concerned, Blu-ray discs hold 50 GB,
while HD DVDs hold only 30 GB.
However, because resolution doesn't
differ between the two formats, Blu-
ray's 20 GB advantage isn'tcproviding
a better viewing experience, just the
possibility for additional content. In
fact, because many Blu-ray players
- unlike HD DVD players - fail
to meet the updated standard for
video commentaries and pop-up fea-
turettes, Blu-ray is currently offer-
ing less bonus content.
It seems that in a rush to keep up
with HD DVD's launch, the Blu-ray
brain trust pushed out slightly hand-
icapped Blu-ray players at the begin-
ning of the format's run. The idea
was to release two more updates to
the format without really telling any-
body and have the platform finalized
in a few years. This is problematic,
though, because there's the potential
for old Bi-ray-certified players to
beincompatible with Blu-ray discs a
f'ew years down the road. It's all way
too confusing, and nobody seems to
know what's goingto happen. Mean-
while, HD DVD creators got their
shit together before releasing their
product - and that's why HD DDs
offer more than their Blu-ray coun-
terparts at the moment.
Yet retailers are ridding them-
selves of HD DVD players and the
format is looking like Betamax 2.0.

But it actually makes sense.
Oneofthemostfrustratingaspects
of the HD media war - from a con-
sumer's standpoint - is that this was
never a battle between the formats; it
was a slapfest between distributors.
"Transformers" is on HD DVD. "Spi-
der-Man" is on Blu-ray. Invest based
on your favorite summer blockbuster
--that's basically the logic consumers
were left with. Actually, it was more
like choosing between "Transform-
ers" and everything else, because,
with significantly more to offer,
Blu-ray will likely prevail. MGM,
Sony, Disney, 20th Century Fox and
a number of others are only produc-
ing Blu-ray discs, while HD DVD's
only main backers are Universal and
Paramount, which might decide to
pull out. A few studios produce both
Blu-ray and HD DVD, but studios
are slowly, picking sides. By August,
Warner Bros., too, will be Blu-ray
exclusive. It's basically decided.
(I also have a half-crazy theory
that Blu-ray was destined to win
because its name sounds far more
advanced than HD DVD does. HD
DVD sounds like a minor upgrade of
DVD, whereas Blu-ray sounds like a
new, futuristic format that may or
may not involve holograms or other
equally crazy shit. It's Sega CD ver-
sus PlayStation.)
There's still another format lurk-
ing in the mix, though. Xbox 360 and
now Apple - through its recently
revamped Apple TV - offer HD
movies for download, but only as
rentals. These movies are 5-6 GB,
cost $3-4 and, while rated slightly
Gen-X meet
Generation HD
below HD DVD and Blu-ray in terms
of quality, still meet HD standards.
Because HD downloads are still not
available for purchase (it's a space
issue), they're not yet a viable alter-
native to Blu-ray and HD DVD. But
in a few years time, they will be.
From an economic standpoint,
downloads make a lot of sense. Cur-
rently, new releases on Blu-ray and
HD DVD cost roughly $30, which
isn't cheap. But by cutting the costs
associated with a physical product
and offering the option to remove
extra features many consumers
don't want, HD downloads can be
substantially cheaper.
As of now, though, they're not
an option. But it's where the indus-
try should be in the not-too-distant
future. And this is the real issue with
both HD DVD and Blu-ray: They're
both, in a sense, dated before they
even go mainstream. We're in a
weird transitory statewherephysical
media's presence is diminishing, yet
new, enticing disc technology is just
becoming popular. So do you really
want to invest in another disc when
it's almost guaranteed to be second-
rate technology in a few years time?
I'm not sure I am. I've already got
enough coasters.
Passman is always open to
new golf metaphors. E-mail him
atlmpass@umich.edu

What happens when you toilet paper your room.
B1RITISH IINVASION

Overlooked indie
group shines on
new disc
By SASHA RESENDE
Daily Arts Writer
Few bands can singabout melt-
ing icecaps and Eastern Euro-
pean migration

without com-
ing off as half-
assed activists.
For British Sea
Power, such
issues serve as
a subtle fram-
ing for the
anthemic gui-
tar riffs and
eccentric musi-

British Sea
Power
Do You Like
Rock Music?
Rough Trade

cal arrangements that define the
band's earlier work. Complete
with gimmicky stage names,
including singer Scott Wilkin-
son's nomenclatureYan, the band
created a loyal fan base through
its impassioned live perfor-
mances. After years of dodging

Pixies comparisons, the British
indie-rock quartet has come into
its own with its third full-length
release, Do You Like Rock Music?
Recorded with a team of pro-
ducers in Montreal, the Czech
Republic and the English coast-
line, the album stays true to the
split duel desire to educate and to
entertain.
The majority of Do You Like
Rock Music? is comprised of
catchyrockbeats caughtbetween
singer Yan's impassioned vocals
and his bandmates' calculated
tension. The-album's first single,
"Waving Flags," recalls Arcade
Fire's "Wake Up," complete with
a rousing chorus and triumphant
drumbeats. Addressing the topic
of economic migration, Yan asks,
"Are you of legal drinking age? /
On minimum wage? / Well wel-
come in." On the equally catchy
"No Lucifer," a delicate arrange-
ment of strings underscores a
series of chants and power-driv-
en guitar riffs. The track is per-
meated with biblical references,
but its words take second stage
to the song's beauty. The band
clips of the actual stand-up acts,
sandwiching them between tour
bus footage and unfunny inter-
views with the comics themselves.
For a movie with "Vince Vaughn"
and "Comedy" in the title, it's
astonishing how dull it is.
Vaughn, the tour's emcee, is
only visible for about a fifth of the
film's screen time. Not sur-
prisingly, he anchors the fun-
niest bits taken from the tour.
In an openinguskit, he and Jon
Favreau mess around with
Justin Long, and in another
scenehereenactsanold"after-
school special" movie onstage
with friend Peter Billingsley
("A Christmas Story"). Most
of the film, though, is focused
on the relatively unknown
comics who tour and perform
at each venue. The best of the
bunch is Ahmed Ahmed, who

returns to its rock-based roots on
"Lights Out For Darker Skies," a
bold, six-minute long adventure
into guitar-based experimenta-
tion. While each of these tracks
is distinctive, they all build onto
one another, fitting the album's
general flow of powerful guitar
strings and spacey vocals.
The hypnotic opener "All In It"
marks a majestic start to an album
brimming with lush choruses and
grandiose guitar riffs. On the
track, Yan is accompanied by an
entourage of chanting vocalists
who continually repeat that they
are "all in it," and ready for the
record to begin. The song cre-
ates the atmospheric tension that
resonates throughout the entire,
album. This effect is achieved
with the use of cello, viola and
studio tools that sustain the back-
up vocals that accompany most of
the record's tracks.
British Sea Power loses some
of its characteristic raw power
on its slower ballads ("No Need
To Cry"), which are more like-
ly to inspire burning lighters
than pumping fists. A similarly
uses his Egyptian heritage as the
jumping-off point forhis act.Atthe
other end of the spectrum, John
Caparulo's "Blue Collar Comedy"-
inspired humor seems stale and
out of place.
It's clear that "Wild West"
means well, and there's a good-
hearted segment where the com-

slowed-down beat on "Open
The Door" is complete with an
appealing crescendo that sounds
like an uncanny tribute to Scot-
tish indie-pop kings Belle &
Sebastian. The record is broken
up by an unnecessary instru-
mental track, which effectively
separates the. album's harder
rock-based tracks from its qui-
eter closing pieces. The album's
yawn-worthy, eight-minute
closer is another misguided
choice. The song is filled with
several minutes of filler static in
an attempt to tie inthe album's
opening and closing tracks.
Rather than building upon the
tension created in the previous
songs for a climactic finale, the
band chooses to close with a
failed attempt at an epic ending.
After years of standing in
the shadows of fellow rockers
Arcade Fire and Radiohead, the
band has finally staked its own
original sound on Do You Like
Rock Music?, proving that it's not
merely a fan of the indie-rock
genre, but maybe an understated
pioneer.
ics hand out free show tickets
to Hurricane Katrina refugees.
Unfortunately, the film suffers
from a lack of actual stand-up,
and from wrongly assuming that
the mere presence of comedians
on screen is enough to hold an
audience's interest.
ANDREW LAPIN

ARTS IN BRIEF

Film
Not enough Vaughn
or comedy in film
"Vince Vaughn's Wild West Com-
edy Show: 30 Days and 30 Nights
- Hollywood to the Heartland"
At the Quality 16 and Showcase
Picturehouse Entertainment
Here's the thing about comedi-
ans: most of them are only inter-
esting when they're being funny.
The problemwith "Vince Vaughn's
Wild West Comedy Show," a docu-
mentary chronicling the "Wed-
ding Crashers" star as he and his
friends tour the countryside in
summer 2005, is that it doesn't
understand this simple fact. Direc-
tor Ari Sandel shows only short

FST REE CTPT A LTTU
PRAcTICE
aTEST
FEBRUARY 16, 2008
Tests ar e In Anea
aunnu-A
GMT93A U
*R:2OP U

~TE RI1mi
512 E. William t 734) 663-3379
WEEKDAY
HAPPY HOUR
at bar only
-< m..

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