Thursday, 11/30/23

"For Your Consideration" version of "The Killer" score is online

Films of all shapes and sizes get nominated for awards like the Golden Globes or the Oscars - and part of that nominating process involves wooing the voting members of the organizations that operate these awards shows. In the past, that usually meant a physical copy of the film and the soundtrack, labeled "For Your Consideration" - sometimes accompanied by related goodies. For example, when Mank was marketing to the awards crowds, autographed copies of sheet music (some were real autographs, some where just printed) started floating around.

What's interesting about "For Your Consideration" versions of film scores, to me anyway, is that they're often different from the commercial release. In the FYC disc passed out for The Social Network, some of the mixes were different, and there was even a track that never made it onto the score that was released on CD, BluRay and vinyl.

For that reason, as well as their scarcity, these FYC discs fetch big bucks on the secondhand market. But we live in an era of streaming now, and so in lieu of mailing a bunch of plastic to people, studios just post FYC versions of scores online for consumption. Yeah, yeah, here's the link to The Killer score as submitted to the folks who are considering who gets nominated for the awards. It's slightly different from the commercial release, as expected. If you're clever, you can inspect the network traffic or the page source code and get links to the MP3s that are being streamed.

You can also just visit this forum and click on the direct links. And if somehow this is your first exposure and you like what you hear - drop $12 on the high fidelity lossless version on Bandcamp.
Wednesday, 11/29/23

Old news is still news

The way this site was originally built, when you got to the bottom of the front page news, there was a link to a set of monthly archives. It was a straightforward user experience - you got to the end of the news, you wanted more, you clicked thorugh. This worked out pretty well early on - it was a page of links that I manually updated each month, and eventually I kind of automated it, but after a decade or so, it become unwieldy to display, and I was generating links to archive pages where there hadn't actually been any news posted. It was kind of a mess.

I neglected this archive page in favor of a Site Search feature, which certainly helped locate things if you knew what to look for, but the experience of reading things in chronological order was lost. At one point, I reached out to followers on Twitter and asked for suggestions for handling the display of the kind of data I had here, and someone suggested imitating the experience of the Wayback Machine on - which those first two links demonstrate. I loved the idea, but just did not have it in me to come up with the code to pull the appropriate data out of the database, and display it in that format. It's the kind of work that I could probably dictate to an upstart front end developer, and work with them to built out, except it's not simple work, and I don't have the budget to pay what's appropriate for that kind of work.

This is, of course, the part of the post where I talk about ChatGPT. Only a little bit - the details are better left to a personal blog post that I'l never write. Suffice it to say that with a little bit of guidance and some manual tweaking, I have created a more informative, browsable view of the Hotline News archives. I'll tweak the style more later, but even as it currently stands, you can see the slow decline of Front Page stories as we followed the crowds to Twitter. You can see how in 2018, there wasn't a single post on the website - to be fair, the site administration was struggling to run properly, which drove a lot of volunteers off, and the site languished further as a result.

I've got more work to do - I'm parsing some very old, pre-content-management archive pages, so that they'll not only appear in the graphs, but will also be searchable, finally. And as a finishing touch, I was planning on reviving the archives that Greg from ETS had rebuilt and hosted. was the site that convinced me I would never run a NIN news site. Too much work, I thought. Correctly. But when the updates stopped, it left a sizable gap on the internet. SeemsLikeSalvation, by Evan Moore, filled the gap pretty well, but I felt that it went beyond the scope of what I was interested in, and tended to publish rumors and the occasional hoax, which ultimately inspired me to work with folks from #nin99 to start this site. At some point, fell prey to bitrot, as the dynamic elements of the site stopped working - mostly the news archive. One day, I was poking around, and found an exposed folder with the raw data behind the site, which is what we eventually used to re-create the archives that were hosted on ETS. But then that server died!

Having solved a lot of my own archive problems, I wondered if it made sense to revisit the old archive files, when I discovered that is working again, all these years later. It looks like it went back online sometime post-pandemic. It's a wonderful, hermetically sealed pre-Y2K website (the top of the page says "local time: 11 29 123 // 20:52:57") and I'm glad to see it's back.

I was going to wait until I had my own archives in better shape before I made this big post, but honestly, seeing the old site back online had me thinking, just put it out there. I'll have more improvements coming along the way, and keep your eyes peeled for the launch of a fun little project I've been putting off since 2020, involving Halo 5.
Thursday, 11/09/23

Support your local library

Martin Atkins shared news that he is back in possession of a very early NIN demo tape, which he reportedly sold on eBay a decade ago. He hasn't shared anything beyond that - apparently if you visit his Museum of Post Punk & Industrial Music in Chicago, and ask nicely, you can have a listen in-person. But that's not what this post is about - not really.

When Martin shared this information, he said the tape was from November 1986. Now, look. I'm in my mid-40s, I'm giving a presentation on citizen archaeology in Colonial Williamsburg next year, and by day I eat, drink, and breathe something called "headless commerce" (don't ask!) - there are so many things I have filled my brain with throughout my life.

But I also know there's no way Trent Reznor was writing "Nine Inch Nails" on cassette tapes in 1986. I pushed back - are you sure you didn't mean 1988, and in return I was given very specific information: Trent played sax on stage with Brian Brain when Mr Atkins' tour stopped in Cleveland, and he had the day off the following day, and when they were hanging out at a BBQ with the owners of the Phantasy nightclub, Trent gave him a tape. I was initially impressed by this level of detail, and even though I still knew the date was wrong, the prospect of having Martin Atkins vouching that Down In It was written and recorded before Skinny Puppy had released Dig It in the US was enticing - all those snark-ass rivetheads who wrote NIN off 34 years ago, what if I could convince them they were wrong!

Armed with some keywords that I knew would help me chase this down, I stumbled across The Cleveland Public Library Digital Collection. I'm not sure how long this has been online, but someone made the effort to scan local publications such as East Side Daily News, Plain Press, and... Scene, a biweekly magazine covering the local music scene. And it's searchable!

That, friends, is how I came across a 1985 mention of "Pennsylvanian Trent Reznor" joining the lineup of a band called HOT RODNEY. I was slightly disappointed to learn that Hot Rodney very quickly was renamed to The Innocent. But as I continued through the search results, I discovered a nearly play-by-play documentation of Trent's career in Cleveland, joining a few bands, and then going solo with Nine Inch Nails. (so much fodder for the NIN Wiki)

Thank you, Cleveland Public Library! Upon discovering these things, fearing irrationally that they might vanish off the internet at any moment like so many other things I've archived, I transcribed a couple of interviews, as well as some of these career updates, and put them in our article archive. That archive still looks like butt, and isn't great to navigate, but click through to either Interviews or General News, and scroll all the way to the bottom.

It's just the text of the interviews here, and not nearly all of the band updates. You'll have to head to the library digital archives for that, and if this is your kind of thing, it's totally worth it. Especially for things like a grainy photo of the staff of The Right Track studio, where Pretty Hate Machine was recorded. More than that, it was a nice reminder that there used to be little print magazines left out at bars and venues, printed every month, or every two weeks, with interviews, articles, and gossip about who's in Exotic Birds this week - alongside ads for local recording studios, lists of upcoming shows at the local clubs, and more. I miss that kind of thing, and wonder if it could even exist on the same scale today.

Anyhow. Martin Atkins conceded in private that even though 1988 feels way too late, I was right about the date.

The score to David Fincher's The Killer finds its mark

Though it made an early appearance on streaming services, I don't use those, so it wasn't until a few minutes ago when my phone alerted me that Bandcamp had a new release from Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross that I clicked through and grabbed my copy of the original score to The Killer.

15 tracks long - including the music from the trailer - there's about 52 minutes of rich, textural music here. And, of course, some thumpy bangers. But you don't have to take my word for it. Listen to the latest release from TR&AR wherever you listen to music. And, of course, you can as of tonight catch the film on Netflix, if you haven't had the opportunity to see it in theaters.