TV-PGFebruary 5, 2004: Nothing much is happening, so we're just putting together novelty iTunes Music Store playlists. Meanwhile, Steve goes off on Disney during Pixar's quarterly earnings conference call, and Apple has registered trademark rights to put its logo on lingerie, veterinary apparatus, and medical lasers...
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"The Sound... Of Silence" (2/5/04)
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Listen! Hear that? No, seriously, listen really carefully. Hear it now? No? Well, neither do we. That's how quiet things are right now. Forget about drama; we'd settle for an SEC filing. Another freakin' design award. Anything. Instead, though, it's been so quiet that even the crickets are apparently comatose with boredom.

But that's okay, right? Because we make our own fun down here at the AtAT compound! Why, we have it on good authority that with nothing but pushpins and an eraser, we can make a little pig! But why raid the office supplies when we've got the iTunes Music Store to play with?

Yesterday we mentioned in passing that faithful viewer djsteve had purchased a track that cost him the "best 99 cents [he'd] ever spent." The joke, of course, was that it was the second track from The Whitey Album by Ciccone Youth, which consists of a minute and three seconds' worth of silence. To tell you the truth, while we're amused by the fact that Apple is charging 99 cents for a song full o' nothing, we're even more amused by the fact that said track contains the usual digital rights management code to prevent you from playing it on any unauthorized systems. And the most amusing thing of all, of course, is that the song has a thirty-second preview.

Well, as it turns out, the Ciccone Youth track is by no means the only all-silent untune for sale at the iTMS; faithful viewers ben, Scott Levin, and Michael Wyszomierski contributed their own suggestions, too. And you know how Apple recently added a bunch of "iTunes Essentials" playlists to the store, such as "Cover Songs" and "'70s AM Radio Classics"? Well, we've compiled all the silent tracks we managed to scrape together into the first AtAT Essentials playlist, "To Be Played At Maximum Volume." Since we lack the power to add playlists directly to the iTMS, you'll have to buy each of these tracks separately, but here ya go:

  1. "(Silence)" by Ciccone Youth, The Whitey Album (1:03)

  2. "Silence" by Bill Schaeffer, Grain of Sand (1:56)

  3. "(Silent) [1]" by Slum Village, Trinity (Past, Present, and Future) (0:04) [EXPLICIT]

  4. "Silence" by Guster, Keep It Together (0:30)

  5. "Silence" by Pat, Message from a Manchild (0:59)

  6. "(Silent) [2]" by Slum Village, Trinity (Past, Present, and Future) (0:04) [EXPLICIT]

  7. "Silence" by Dean Taba, More Is More (1:00)

  8. "(Silent) [3]" by Slum Village, Trinity (Past, Present, and Future) (0:07) [EXPLICIT]

  9. "Silent Track" by Robert Earl Keen, Walking Distance (1:01)

Note that three of those tracks, the ones by Slum Village, are labeled EXPLICIT. We've listened to them, and we have to agree: combined, that's the dirtiest fifteen seconds of utter silence we've ever not heard. It's so dirty, it's like Handel's Messiah, only, you know, quiet. So for those of you who can't handle EXPLICIT silence, go ahead and substitute these, instead-- they're the same Slum Village tracks, only CLEAN (and, for some reason, titled without parentheses):

  1. "Silent [1]" by Slum Village, Trinity (Past, Present, and Future) (0:04) [CLEAN]

  1. "Silent [2]" by Slum Village, Trinity (Past, Present, and Future) (0:04) [CLEAN]

  1. "Silent [3]" by Slum Village, Trinity (Past, Present, and Future) (0:07) [CLEAN]

And there you have it: nine tracks of professionally-encoded silence-- a total of six minutes and forty-four seconds of the yawning void, all yours for just $8.91. And if you like, you can even keep the EXPLICIT tracks in the main playlist, add the CLEAN ones at the end, and get fifteen bonus seconds of silence for just $2.97 more! Talk about your seven minutes in heaven, right?

It's just a shame that "15 Minutes Silence" by Deuter, as pointed out by faithful viewer Rob Hulson, is an Album-Only purchase. Especially since it is, for some reason, sixteen minutes long...


 
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A Semi-On-Topic Zingfest (2/5/04)
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Ahhh, so that's why things have been so quiet with Apple lately, Stevularly speaking: Mr. Jobs is a little busier than usual with his other gig as CEO of Pixar. You already know that Steve announced the unsuccessful conclusion to ten months of Pixar-Disney negotiations last week, and unsurprisingly, that topic reportedly came up an awful lot during Pixar's quarterly earnings conference call last night, at which Steve fielded questions from analysts, reporters, and his own CFO. Rather than bore you with all the piddling details, we've condensed Steve's diverse points and observations on the matter into a single, simple distillation of why he says the Disney talks broke down: Eisner's a grade-A ninny.

Oh, what the heck-- we will give you some details, because some of them are just too good to pass up. Faithful viewer Boesterific notes that a Reuters article can fill you in on most of the dirt, like Steve crowing about the LA Times reporting that Eisner had told Disney's board of directors "not to expect a blockbuster" when Finding Nemo came out; Eisner reportedly felt that Nemo would flop, giving Steve a "reality check" when it came to Pixarian demands during contract negotiations. Eisner, needless to say, was so far off-base with that prediction that he was actually playing badminton two counties over.

As for whether post-Mouse Pixar films will be hurt by the loss of Disney's "marketing prowess," Steve said nuh-uh, and managed to lay in a little smackdown at the same time: "Not even Disney's marketing and brand could turn Disney's last two animated films... into successes. Both bombed at the box office." Oooh, burn. He's also not a fan of Disney's case of sequel fever: "We feel sick about Disney doing sequels because if you look at the quality of their sequels, like 'The Lion King 1-1/2,' 'Peter Pan' sequels and stuff, it is pretty embarrassing." (It's well-known that Disney has been pushing for a Toy Story 3, and artistic objections aside, under the current contract terms, sequels don't count towards Pixar's contractual obligation to deliver two more features to Disney.)

Meanwhile, Disney's response-- meaning, of course, Eisner's, as he hides behind the corporate name-- has been to issue a statement expressing disappointment that "Steve Jobs has grossly mischaracterized" the contract negotiations, and stating that "it's also sad and unfortunate that he has resorted to insults and name-calling in the wake of the disagreement." Ooookay, there, Mr. I-called-Steve-a-Shiite-Muslim. Is it just us, or is watching Eisner try to take the high road in this crisp little snipefest sort of like watching a hippo try to squeeze into a pair of size 5 snow pants? It's an unnatural act and no one's buying it for a second, but hey, at least it's fun to watch.


 
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Apples, Undies, & X-Rays (2/5/04)
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Since there isn't much happening of deadly urgency in the Apple realm right this second, how about we take a mellow poke around in the databases of the United States Patent and Trademark Office? C'mon, that's always good for a laugh. Besides, faithful viewer Badtz Maru came across something kinda nifty when digging around in there the other day, and while it's not exactly a timely issue, it's still one of vital importance if you're ever going to get to buy those Apple Underoos you've been wanting all your life.

Try this: go to the USPTO's search page, click the link to "New User Form Search (Basic)," enter "78156809" as the Search Term, set the Field menu to "Serial or Registration Number," and then click Submit Query and see what it's for: Apple has trademarked its logo for use on "footwear; headwear; shirts, t-shirts, sweatshirts, jogging suits, trousers, pants, shorts, tank tops, rainwear, cloth bibs, skirts, blouses; dresses, suspenders, sweaters, jackets, coats, raincoats, snow suits, ties, robes, hats, caps, sun-visors, belts, scarves, sleepwear, pajamas, lingerie, underwear, boots, shoes, sneakers, sandals, booties, slipper socks, swimwear and masquerade and Halloween costumes."

It's the "lingerie" entry in particular that struck us as intriguing, in a hideously unlikely sort of manner. Now, you know how the whole trademark thing works; the categories are pretty general and it's always best to cover all your bases, so this doesn't by any means imply that Apple is scant days away from selling Apple logo lace teddies. More's the pity, too, what with Valentine's Day barely more than a week away; Apple could have made a killing from the frisky Mac nerd demographic by selling semi-retro translucent edible underwear in Blueberry, Lime, Strawberry, Grape, and Tangerine. (We can just see the pitch meeting: "What do you mean, it's a 'dilution of the brand'?! Just taste them!")

But hey, if underwear's not your thing (don't worry, we won't tell anyone), there's more. Take a gander at the trademark record with serial number 78156920 and you'll find that Apple has also registered trademark rights to use its logo on "medical, dental and veterinary apparatus and devices used for research, diagnostic or therapeutic purposes; medical recorders; cardiovascular equipment; X-ray apparatus for medical use; radiation therapy machines; medical imaging, scanning and digitizing devices; medical equipment used for analyzing, annotating and matching DNA sequences; laser pointers and lasers for medical use; ultrasonic medical diagnostic apparatus, X-ray photographs for medical purposes; computer-assisted optical imagers and image analyzers; parts and fittings for all the aforesaid goods."

Oooh, all kinds of good stuff there! Cardiovascular equipment? Is Apple going to co-brand an implantable pacemaker? Once again, it's missing a golden opportunity with Valentine's Day coming up so soon. (That's a heart joke, son. Never mind.) Personally, we're focusing in on the "dental and veterinary apparatus" bit, ourselves. Who wouldn't have perfect dental hygiene habits as long as there was an Apple logo electric toothbrush around? And your cat hasn't really been spayed until it's been spayed with the Apple iNeuter. Oh, the possibilities...


 
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