Thursday, December 25, 2008

Petit Papa Noel

Spending the day at my mom's, listening to all the old albums that we do every year as we open presents and make Christmas dinner, I was suddenly reminded of a French carol that I've always loved, ever since I was a child: Petit Papa Noel, as sung by the West German 70's supergroup Boney M (who are best known here in North America for their singles Rasputin and Rivers of Babylon).

I've spent much of my holiday completely preoccupied with it, thinking about how awesome it would be if Alizée recorded a version of her own...which then quickly spun off into my imagining what other cuts might appear on a hypothetical Christmas album. Les Anges Dans Nos Campagnes? Check. Mon Beau Sapin? Check. Alizée covering Madonna's cover of Eartha Kitt's Santa Baby? Oh, yes please.

Is it too early to tell Santa what I want for next Christmas? And does anybody have an email for someone at Jive/Epic? Because I think I may be onto something here...

OK, just so you don't go away thinking this post was completely bereft of any actual Alizée content, here's an awesome Christmas video by Matrix5060. Watch it quick, though, because who knows how long it'll be up before he takes it down forever?

I hope you all had a wonderful day with your families, and that everybody got what they wanted this year and more, regardless of what holiday you happened to be celebrating. Best wishes to you all in the year to come.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

'Twas the Drop Before Christmas...

Should anybody be concerned that I’ve completely given up on Op Drop in the midst of all this navel-gazing about how well the blog is (or isn’t) working, never fear: I’ve just spent most of the afternoon and evening turning the Toronto Eaton Centre into a virtual minefield of Alizée DVDs. (But y'know, the good kind...where accidentally encountering one leads one to the delightful discovery of a beautiful and talented chanteuse, and not to one being blown to smithereens.)

Though the wall-to-wall crowds of holiday shoppers made it difficult to carry off in the stealthy manner to which I’ve become accustomed, the response seemed quite promising. None of the discs I dropped today appeared to stick around for very long, with several of them actually being picked up within seconds of my having dropped them. It’s nice to think I may have just given several dozen strangers the gift of a new favorite song artist this Christmas!

(Incidentally, if you happen to be one of those several dozen strangers, and you’re dropping by to see what this whole Op Drop thing is all about, welcome! Please feel free to have a look around, check out some links to learn more about Op Drop and Alizée. And don’t forget to say hi in the comments or the ShoutBox!)

I have another smallish drop planned for Wednesday, in which I plan to scatter discs behind me like a trail of breadcrumbs (albeit sexy French ones), as I make my way back to my mom’s place for Christmas Eve. And then potentially another on New Year’s Eve a week later, depending on where I wind up this year.

And then it’ll be time for Op Drop to settle down for a long winter’s nap—or a least a short one—as I finally set aside some downtime to retool the blog into whatever it’s going to become, incorporate some improvements into the disque itself (which I’ve put off for months now), and possibly embark on another Alizée-related project that I’ve been considering for awhile.

So no worries, folks. The end of Op Drop isn’t on the horizon just yet. If anything, it’s just getting started. Stay tuned!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dear Texans...

Yet another oddly appropriate image created by Ruroshen from the Alizée
forums. I fear I am going to have to start paying him royalties, soon.

In my continuing quest to understand just what the heck is going on with the Op Drop blog, and how I can best take advantage of it with an eye towards promoting Alizée, I took a quick look tonight at what Google Analytics had to say about the blog's traffic since last Saturday.

Of the visitors I've had since then, nearly a full third of you are coming from Texas. Visitors from the Lone Star state outnumber visitors from all of Europe by nearly four to one. And while it still boggles my mind that I actually get visitors from Europe, I still find this awfully curious. Is there a secret underground Alizée fan movement happening in Texas that I should be aware of? Because if you guys need some support in running an Op Drop or two down there, I am so here for you!

Seriously though...if one of you kind Texan folks could write me and clue me in, I'd be awfully obliged. Because it's a Scooby-Doo mystery to me right now as to what's bringing you all here.

Californians, I'm looking at you, too.

On a somewhat related note, want to hear my favorite Google search string through which someone has stumbled onto Op Drop so far?

"Does Alizée have any sisters?"

Whoever it was spent quite a bit of time on the blog, too. Hilarious. I hope they found what they were looking for!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Op Drop: A New Hope

This is a very dry post. Here is a cool picture of Alizée to help get you
through it. (Courtesy of Ruroshen from the Alizée America forums.)

It’s been almost a month since I last posted here, and I should probably explain why. While it’s partially due to real life just getting in the way—November and December are just about the busiest time of year in my line of work—it’s mainly because I wanted to test a theory I had.

The theory is that Operation: Disque Drop isn’t working…or at least, isn’t working as intended. And it’s pretty well been proven correct.

See, thanks to Google Analytics, I’ve been tracking the blog’s visitor stats for a little less than two months. In that time, I’ve done two major Op Drops—the one I split between York University and the Toronto Eaton Centre, and another along and around the route of the Toronto Santa Claus Parade, my single largest one-day drop to date—as well as a few minor ones here and there, mainly at other malls and holiday events around the city. And while the blog’s traffic is fairly steady, getting anywhere from five to twenty visitors a day, regardless of whether I post or not…the problem is that very precious few of them are actually from Toronto.

In fact, over the past month, of the 246 people who visited, only 12 came from Canada…and of those, not even half are from the Greater Toronto Area. And most of those are showing up during a lull between drops.

So where are the majority of the blog’s visitors coming from? The United States, oddly enough. Most of my views by far are coming from Texas, Florida, Minnesota and California, with a few visitors here and there from Illinois, New York and New Jersey. I also see a decent amount of traffic from Germany, Poland and France (but not from Corsica, sadly), and a bit from Belgium, Spain and Mexico. Even folks from Uganda and Tunisia have stumbled across Op Drop!

Now, while I’ve deliberately chosen to run Op Drops at locations around the city that could be considered tourist attractions, it’s a pretty good bet that not all of these people were vacationing in Toronto last month, found a disc and followed it here. Most of them appear to have either found it via Google, or followed a link from aw’s Alizée blog or the YouTube video I posted back in September. (Almost a full third of you, though, are coming to the site directly from your bookmarks, or typing the URL into the browser, which surprises me.)

All this suggests to me four things:
1) The people that are finding Op Drop disques aren’t visiting the blog.
2) The people that are visiting the blog aren’t doing it because they found a disque.
3) Dropping disques or not appears to have no impact on the number of visitors.
4) …but, oddly, whether I post or not doesn’t appear to have an impact, either.
This is a bit of a Scooby-Doo mystery to me, and to be honest, I’m not sure what to do with it. I am pretty sure that the focus of the blog is going to change somewhat, though…and, in fact, may stop being a blog altogether.

More to come as I think this through. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Welcome, Santa Claus Parade visitors!

Welcome and bienvenue, visitors from the Toronto Santa Claus Parade! Thanks for joining us here at Operation: Disque Drop, a one-man (so far) grassroots fan effort to spread awareness of Alizée and grow her fanbase here in North America. If you or someone you know found a DVD in an inconspicuous place somewhere on or around the parade route, and that disc led you here, thank you for proving that this crazy idea might actually work!

I hope you enjoy your first exposure to the wonder that is Alizée. If you haven’t already, I invite you to explore your disque and open your mind to some new music. I think you might have just found your new favorite artist! Then, in either the Shoutbox to the left or in the comment section of the blog below, let us know how and where in the convention you found it, what you thought of it, and what you're going to do with it next!

If you’d like to learn more about Alizée, and interact with other North American fans on the web, the absolute best places to start are Alizée America, Alizée Forum and Lillytown USA. All three communities are filled with fun and friendly fans who absolutely love welcoming new converts, and would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have. Links to other Alizée sites on the intertubes, including her official MySpace, Facebook and YouTube pages, can be found in the upper left-hand margin of this page.

If you’re curious about Operation: Disque Drop (or ‘Op Drop’ for short) and what it’s all about, you can either check out the archives down at the bottom-left of the page, or start here at the first post and work your way forwards. If you have any questions that I haven’t answered exhaustively in the blog—I know, I know, I tend to run off at the mouth, a lil’—please feel free to again either leave a comment, or shoot me an e-mail at

Thanks again for visiting. I hope you enjoy your stay!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Alizée - Mademoiselle Juliette

Mademoiselle Juliette is the second of fourteen clips that appear on the DVD of Alizée videos and performances I’ve been distributing through Operation: Disque Drop.

Although it comes second on the Op Drop disque, Mademoiselle Juliette actually marks a number of ‘firsts’ in Alizée’s career: it was the premiere single from Alizée’s third studio album Psychédélices, released just over a year ago, and the first her fans had heard of her since she almost completely disappeared from the public eye nearly four years earlier. It was also the first track she released on her new record label, RCA Records. But perhaps most significantly, Mademoiselle Juliette was the first single in Alizée’s career to be released without the guidance of her former mentors Mylene Farmer and Laurent Boutannat.

To paraphrase the blurb on Lili’s official website, all Lolitas have to grow up eventually.

Produced and composed by Alizée’s husband Jérémy Chatelain, with lyrics by Jean Fauque, Mademoiselle Juliette casts Alizée as Juliet Capulet in Shakespeare’s drama Romeo & Juliet, portraying her as a girl who’d much rather party and have a good time than concern herself with the ongoing feud between the Montague and Capulet houses of fair Verona. The video shows her being led away, unconcerned, from her fateful balcony rendezvous with Romeo by a mysterious masked woman in black, through a decadent masquerade in a medieval castle…one attended only by beautiful young women. As Lili and the ladies lounge, party and dance the night away, poor Romeo is left cooling his heels on the balcony all by his lonesome, waiting for Juliet to come back…seemingly forever.

Once again, we turn to the fine people of Alizée America for an English translation of the lyrics, as well as a discussion of their meaning.

Despite being quite the departure in style and substance from Alizée’s previous hits, Mademoiselle Juliette was a modest success in France and parts of Europe, debuting in thirteenth place on the French singles download chart, and at number 22 on the France Top 100 Singles chart. In Mexico, it reached 49th in the Mexico Top 100 singles chart, while the video captured the top spot on the MTVLA show Los 10+ Pedidos. It was also featured at number 138 in a countdown of the 150 most important videos of the channel’s first fifteen years.

The reason why Mademoiselle Juliette comes second on the Op Drop disque, despite being the first single off Psychédélices, is simple: though I do enjoy both the song and the video, and Alizée both sounds and looks terrific throughout, I genuinely don’t like it as much as Fifty-Sixty. The latter just has more bounce, an oomph to it that MJ is lacking. Despite being a song about a young girl who’d rather party than get caught up in pointless drama (as opposed to one about a model led to the heights of fame who then slides into obscurity), Juliette simply feels heavy and almost stern next to the outwardly playful and melodic Fifty-Sixty. Apparently, partying in the face of tragedy is serious bidness.

Forgive the armchair quarterbacking, but if it had been up to me, I would have reversed the release order of the two…which I guess I kind of have, at least as far introducing new fans to them via Op Drop is concerned. (Actually, all things being equal, if it had been up to me, I would have released Lilly Town ahead of both of them, as it’s easily the catchiest track on Psychédélices…but that’s neither here nor there.)

One interesting thing to note about Mademoiselle Juliette is the similarity the video bears to a pair of other clips that were released later this year: Don’t Speak French by Girls Aloud, and I Kissed A Girl by Katy Perry. Don’t just take my word for it, either: check out the post “Trend Setting Alizée” on aw’s Alizée blog, and let him drop some science on you.

Coincidence? You be the judge.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Alizée - Fifty-Sixty

Fifty-Sixty is the clip that leads off the DVD of Alizée videos and performances I’ve been distributing through Operation: Disque Drop.

The second single to be released from Alizée’s third studio album Psychédélices, Fifty-Sixty tells the story of a young model under the guidance of Andy Warhol at the height of his influence in the 1960’s, who foolishly believes Andy’s pronouncement that she is the most beautiful model of all. Inspiration for the song has been attributed to the real-life stories of Edie Sedgwick and Nico (who is also referenced by name in the lyrics), both of whom were protégés of Warhol. The music for Fifty-Sixty was composed by Alizée’s husband, Jérémy Chatelain, who also contributed to the lyrics written by Jean Fauque.

You can find a translation of the lyrics as well as an in-depth discussion of the song’s meaning here, courtesy of the good folks on the Alizée America forums.

Fifty-Sixty was the obvious choice to kick off the disque, and not only because it’s Alizée’s most recent video. I also think it’s a fair embodiment of who Alizée is as an artist, and serves as a great appetizer for the banquet to come: catchy, poppy, and breezy on the surface, which belies the depth of the melancholy tale told by the lyrics, of a model brought to the height of fame only to slide into obscurity. The video itself is fun and adorable, heavily influenced by both American pop art and Japanese animé in turn. And she looks absolutely gorgeous throughout—what more could one ask for?

The video featured on the disque is the actually only first of three that were produced as part of Fifty-Sixty’s promotion. Two more were produced for remixes of the single—a slower, more melancholy version by David Rubato, and a techno reimagining by Rolf Honey. You can see the entire trilogy on Wisteria Song’s Psychédéclips website, or on Alizée’s official MySpace page, where you can also find the awesome Nellson remix and acappella versions of the song.

Though Fifty-Sixty hasn’t enjoyed even the moderate success of Mademoiselle Juliette in France, due in large part to a botched release and general lack of promotion, it has charted in Mexico and even achieved the number one spot on MTV Latinoamerica. It also spent much of the spring and summer battling it out with Gregory LeMarchel’s Restons Amis for the top spot on Radio Atlantis’ weekly Hit Parade countdown. The recent rumors of Alizée’s move from RCA Records to Jive/Epic have included hints of renewed promotion for the single under her new management, so perhaps we’ll see a resurgence of interest sometime in the near(ish) future.

Finally, it’s worth noting that several fans have interpreted the lyrics of Fifty-Sixty as a possible metaphor for Alizée’s own rapid rise to stardom at a young age, as well as her relationship with her former mentors, Mylene Farmer and Laurent Boutonnat, with whom she parted ways prior to the production of Psychédélices. Though it’s purely fan speculation—which Jean Fauque has apparently gone on record as denying—there’s certainly a number of interesting parallels which could be drawn.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Anatomy of an Op Drop III: School Daze

This is the last of three posts taking us through the process of last Thursday's Op Drop, from beginning to end. In the first post of the series, I talked about the Design phase--specifically, in the case of this drop, the design of several promotional stickers I've started putting up in my travels, in addition to dropping disques. In the second post, I wrote about the Build phase, and how I'm oddly entertained by the process of burning, labelling and packaging disques in preparation for an Op Drop.

Now onto the third and final phase...

Phase III: Drop

The drop phase of any operation is naturally the most exciting, especially when I’m operating in a new venue like I was last Thursday. Disque dropping isn’t just a matter of laying an Alizée DVD down on every available surface, all willy-nilly. There’s a very subtle science to it…at least the way I do it, anyway.

I’ve talked a little bit before about the ‘rules’ I’ve set for myself where a successful drop is concerned:

I should probably explain that—I mean, who cares if a half-dozen of my fellow comic geeks notice me dropping it, right? One of them might even be motivated to pick it up out of curiousity. The only explanation I can give is that it violates my personal “rules” of disque dropping as I’ve come to think of it. Discovering one in a random public place is meant to be kind of magical and mysterious…like coming down the stairs on Christmas morning and finding presents in the empty stocking you put up the night before. Getting caught in the act of a drop…I always feel like it robs it of its mystique, somehow…like Batman fighting crime in broad daylight, or something. There’s also the fact that I’m painfully shy around strangers—particularly cosplaying cuties in extremely abbreviated outfits—which makes having to explain a bungled drop somewhat akin to slow torture, but that’s neither here nor there.
It’s not just enough not to be noticed, though. While it’d be easy to pick an out-of-the-way spot away from crowds where I could drop a disque without being seen, the chances of that disque actually being picked up in the near future are slim to none. The trick is to balance the desire to perform an inconspicuous drop against the need to drop the disque where it will be noticed. It can be a tricky business, especially when running ops in very public places like the Eaton Centre or the ACC…or in the brand-new venue that I chose today.

After my random encounter with a Alizée-curious college student two weekends ago, it struck me that I’d overlooked possibly the best potential drop sites that the city had to offer—its colleges and universities, all of them full to bursting with young people with ostensibly open minds eager for new experiences, and all of them keen to get in on the ground floor of the ‘next big thing’ before their friends do. With this in mind, I did my best to disguise myself as a college student, packed up my disques and stickers, and trekked out to my first target of opportunity…my alma mater, York University.

It was weird being back on campus after so long away, to say the least. I’d chosen York first reasoning that, as the school with which I was most familiar, it’d be the one I’d be most comfortable in. Boy, was I wrong. A lot’s changed at York since I left there (mumblemumble) years ago…and I’d forgotten what a pain it was to find my way around even when I was a student there.

Fortunately, my main targets—the Student Centre, the libraries, and the main lecture halls—were all still where I’d left them, more or less, and were just as crowded as I remembered. Unfortunately, they were also a lot smaller than I’d remembered…which, if I were a better writer, I’d be able to parlay into some kind of deep and insightful metaphor for growth or life experience, or something.

It took me less than two hours to distribute just over half my payload. As drop opportunities (or “dropportunities”, as I’ve taken to calling them...clever, no?) went, though, I’d more or less saturated the main buildings, and not enough time had passed for many disques to be picked up yet. (I’ve learned from experience that it can sometimes take up to three or four hours, even in a very crowded venue, for somebody to take the bait.) I’d either have be outright blatant about it, self-imposed rules be damned—dropping disques in plain sight on occupied desks and tables in the library and cafeteria, which seemed a little gauche—or try my luck at some of the outlying buildings.

I opted for the latter, reminding myself in the process one of the things I’d hated most about going to York—much of the campus seems to act like a wind tunnel, making walking from one remote building to another in the fall and winter an absolute bitch—but didn’t perform more than a couple more drops, given how empty these buildings seemed by comparison. I retraced my steps back to the main buildings, shivering all the way, replaced the few disques that had been picked up in the interim, then headed out with about fifteen disques left in my bag.

Eager to lose the rest of them—as well as the stickers, which I’d completely forgotten about while I was at York—I zipped down to the Eaton Centre, which as become my go-to target of choice, lately. Being a Thursday afternoon, the mall was only moderately busy compared to the weekend, so it took a few circuits…but by five o’clock, my bag was empty of disques, and every bank of payphones in the mall had at least one of the new Alizée stickers adorning them. I headed back home, leaving a trail of stickers in my wake on the city’s transit system, until I finally slapped up the last one on the inside of the bus shelter on the corner of my street.

Forty stickers and forty disques dropped, all told. Added to the sixty disques I'd dropped the previous weekend, I've met my self-imposed quota of a hundred disques dropped for the month. Not bad for a lone Alizée evangelist! And from what I can tell from the few stickers I've been able to check on since, the majority of them seem to be holding up pretty well. It'll be interesting to see what kind of impact they have on the blog's stats in the days and weeks to come.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Anatomy of an Op Drop II: A Different Definition of 'Fun'

This is the second of three posts taking us through the process of last Thursday's Op Drop, from beginning to end. In the first post of the series, I talked about the Design phase--specifically, in the case of this drop, the design of several promotional stickers I've started putting up in my travels, in addition to dropping disques.

Phase II: Build

Building up a stockpile of disques prior to a drop is probably the most tedious part of the process, but I still find it strangely enjoyable, in the same way I really dug the crafting professions when I played EverQuest or World of Warcraft. It’s oddly satisfying for me to take a pile of components or raw materials, process them so they’re usable, and then assemble them into a stack of finished products that are more than the sum of their parts. It’s not quite the same high I get from the design phase, and it doesn’t carry the visceral thrill of a successful drop, but I still dig it enough to keep me from getting bored, at least so far.

I’ve streamlined the process quite a bit over the past few months, which has thankfully cut down on the time and effort I have to put into the build phase. (The message on the first ten Mark I disques I dropped, for example, was printed by hand on each and every one of the sleeves…which, you can imagine, took awhile.) It’s pretty well a one-man assembly line, with me running from one station to another as required. The PC I have set up in my living room handles burning the DVDs, while the one I have set up in the bedroom prints the labels and stickers. The coffee table between them serves as the assembly area, where—in between running from one computer to the other as they finish their tasks—I’ll slap the labels onto the DVDs and clamshell cases, and stack the completed disques. Assuming that both PCs cooperate (and I remember to set a fresh disc burning once I’ve removed a completed one, which I don’t always do), I’m usually good for about ten to twelve disques an hour…which means that a drop like Thursday’s can take upwards of three or four hours’ worth of preparation to pull off.

I usually have something playing in the background to keep my mind occupied while I’m in build phase. To get me in the mood, I generally either start out listening to one of Alizée’s albums, or I’ll put on one of the Lili DVDs in my collection—En Concert, my own copy of the Op Drop disque (yes, I kept one for myself!), or another disc I’ve put together of interviews and television appearances, like Fun TV or Stars à Domicile. If these can’t inspire you to do your damnedest for Alizée, you’re either clinically dead, or may in fact be an android and/or cyborg that’s incapable of feeling human emotion.

Between me and my kid brother—who I coerced into helping when he dropped by my place unexpectedly on Wednesday night, when I was deep into Build mode—we managed to get forty disques and forty promo stickers made up before he'd finally had enough, and we called it a night. Though he's decidedly not an Alizée fan, and has actually kind of frowned on the amount of time, money and effort I've sunk into Op Drop so far, even he was impressed by the pile of completed disques we'd amassed on my coffee table.

"All that work, and tomorrow you're just going to leave them all in random places for strangers to pick up," he said, pulling on his jacket as he prepared to head out.

"That's the plan, yeah."

He shook his head at me. "There has to be a better way to do what you're trying to do."

"There probably is," I admitted, "but until I figure out what that is, this is manageable for one person. At least I'm doing something. And besides, it's fun."

He cocked an eyebrow at me as he opened the door to my apartment.

"Dude, your definintion of fun," he said as he stepped out into the hall, "is way different from mine."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Dramatic Interlude: Two evangelists meet on a train...

For your consideration, a dramatic re-enactment of an incident that took place during my morning commute today, with apologies to Jehovah's Witnesses everywhere:

A pair of smartly-if conservatively-dressed JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES step onto a subway train, each holding a stack of pamphlets. As the doors close behind them and the train begins to move, they split from each other, each heading for a different end of the car. The younger of the two, an attractive young lady, approaches DISQUE, a twenty-something male on his way to work. Disque glances up as she approaches, and removes his headphones. A pair of TEENAGERS sitting across the aisle from Disque watch their exchange with interest.

D: Hi, can I help you?
JW: Hello there. Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal lord and savior?
D: No. Have you accepted Alizée Jacotey as yours?
JW: I’m…sorry, who?
D: Alizée Jacotey. She’s a singer from France. Here, this is her.
(D pulls a sticker out of his pocket and hands it to JW.)
JW: (smiles) She’s very pretty.
D: She has an incredible voice, too. Would you like to hear one of her songs?
JW: No, that’s OK, I—
D: You really don’t know what you’re missing. Here, let me play ‘Ella Elle L’a’ for you. It’s practically gospel, you’ll dig it.
JW: I don’t think…listen, have you ever given any thought to your soul—
D: You want soul? I’ve got a blues remix of one of her songs on here, too.
JW: No, listen…
(JW tries to hand back the sticker, along with one of her pamphlets)
D: Oh no, you keep that. I’ve got plenty. You see the URL on there? I’ve got a blog, you oughta check it out.
JW: O…kay.
(Uncomfortable beat as JW draws the pamphlet back to her.)
JW: Would…you be interested in learning more about Jesus?
D: Would you be interested in learning more about Alizée? I have a free DVD I could give you, here—
(Disque pulls his backpack into his lap, unzips it, and begins digging through it.)
JW: Ah…no, that’s OK. I, uh, think this is our stop…
(The train exits the tunnel into a subway station. JW signals her companion, and turns towards the door.)
D: Nono, here!
(D jumps up and thrusts a DVD at JW, who looks at it like it’s carrying the bubonic plague.)
D: You should play this at your next meeting or revival, or whatever! Your friends will really get into it. It might seem a little suggestive at points, but overall—
JW: I’m sorry, I have to go.
(JW hurries over to her companion, and hustles him out the door onto the subway platform. D calls after her as the doors close behind them.)
(D shrugs, and sits back down as the train begins to start back down the tunnel, watching as JW and her companion have a very animated discussion on the platform. One of the teenagers leans forward, laughing.)
T: Dude, that was awesome!
D: Thanks. Either of you want a free DVD?

And scene...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Anatomy of an Op Drop, Part I

My kid brother surprised me by dropping by Casa Disque Drop last night while I was right in the middle of building up my stockpile in preparation for today’s Op Drop at an undisclosed location. Though he’s been hip to the whole Op Drop thing for awhile, having discovered a previous cache of disques a couple months ago whilst rooting around for something to eat, he’s always dismissed it as ‘that part-time job you pay to do, for that French chick who isn’t even aware you’re doing it’…which, to be honest, is a pretty fair assessment.

Surprisingly, though, as he watched me carry out the one-man assembly line of burning, labeling and assembling disques, he showed a genuine interest—almost fascination—with the amount of time and effort that goes into an Op Drop, even before I actually drop the first disque. I managed to corral him into helping—and, by extension, into watching En Concert, which was playing while we worked—and as he labeled one disque after another, it occurred to me that I haven’t really said much about the preparation phases of a successful drop, and often gloss over it in favor of talking about the event of the drop itself. As my kid brother learned last night, though, that’s really only a third of the story.

So here’s the first of three posts, taking us through today’s drop from start to finish. He seemed to find the behind-the-scenes stuff interesting, so maybe you will too. And even if you don’t…enh, at least I got a couple of days’ content out of it.

Phase I: Design

I haven’t fiddled with the design much since the Mark IV DVDs debuted, either in terms of content or the look of the disque and it’s packaging. In the earliest days of Op Drop, though, the disques were constantly evolving. It’s partly due to me never being truly satisfied—even the Mark IV’s, which are vastly superior to earlier iterations of the disque, could stand to be improved on—but mostly because it’s the part of the process I think I enjoy most. I like using my brain (and my rudimentary PhotoShop skills) to figure things out, overcome obstacles and learn new ways to do things in order to improve the end result. It’s easily the most time-consuming part—which is why I haven’t gotten around to designing a Mark V yet—and it usually involved a great deal of trial and error (along with a fair amount of creative use of naughty words), but the hours honestly fly by when I’m in design mode. If not for my poor grasp of mathematics and complete ignorance of physics, I think I probably would have been happiest being an engineer of some sort. Ah well…in another life, maybe.

Eager to get back to the drawing board, but lacking the necessary time and energy to commit to building a Mark V from the ground up, for this drop I decided instead to design a series of stickers I could slap up on public telephones, bus shelters and subway stations in my travels to and from the drop location. I had tons of raw materials on hand: the sticker sheet I use to print the round labels for the disc face and the back of the case also include cut-outs for two 1 ¾ ” x 4 ¾” stickers, and I’ve been stockpiling them for just such an occasion. I whipped up about ten different designs, but the two I settled on for the purposes of this drop were these:

Pretty spiffy, huh?

The URL type on the vertical sticker is a little small, granted, but as I was mainly sticking these next to windows on subways and busses (extremely close to the rider’s face) and on bus shelters (which allows for the reader to get reeeeeal close), I figured I could get away with it. Any larger, and I would have had to shrink the image to accommodate it…but it’s such a striking, iconic visual that I wanted to keep it as large as I could. After all, as aw will tell you, people looooooove that Tinkerbell tattoo

Though it’s simpler in design, and not quite as iconic, I think the horizontal sticker might actually be more effective in its own way. The type’s bigger for one thing, and the image (while smaller) features Alizée at her most fetching, doing that thing she does—I think it drives home the point pretty clearly that she’s a singer, and a pretty fabulous-looking one at that. These were mainly used on public phones, paper towel dispensers in restrooms, and on signage at subway stations.

The stickers have proven to be the perfect size for my purpose. The only problem is that the adhesive on them isn’t really meant for what I’m doing—the stickers are relatively easy to peel off with a minimal amount of effort. Still, even if they only stay up for a day or two, they’ll have done their thing. It’ll be interesting to see how many remain when I swing back to check on them.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mélodie du Vent...

Dropped yet another 20 Alizée DVDs today, most of them in and around the main entrance of the Air Canada Centre a few hours prior to Madonna's second sold-old concert there. If, by chance, you happen to be one of Madge's fans who discovered a disc and followed it here, I'd love to hear what you thought, either in the comments below or in the ShoutMix box to the left. I'd be especially interested to hear a hardcore Madonna fan's impression of Alizée's covers of La Isla Bonita and Hung Up--I tend to think they're fairly awesome, but I'm a little biased, after all...

Overall, that makes sixty disques total for the weekend, with a career total that's approaching almost 400. Given that I started in July--and didn't really get serious about it until about mid-August--that works out to around 100 discs a month. Not bad for one guy working alone on a shoestring budget, huh? I'm also seriously considering following LTNY's lead and branching out into other promotional materials, as well--mainly stickers that I could slap up on subways, lampposts, telephone booths and construction sites (of which there are several in downtown T-dot, what with condominums going up like weeds down there).

I also have another drop planned for this Thursday, inspired by my encounter with a Lili-curious college student on his way back to school last Thanksgiving weekend. This could prove to be the most daring Op Drop to date, so stay tuned for a tale of action, intrigue and suspense!

In the meantime, speaking of LTNY, check out this awesome YouTube clip posted by Jordy of Alizée Forum, in tribute to Ben and his crew of hard-workin' New York City boys, which incorporates footage from their glorious two-day assault on the Lili-heathens in Times Square:

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Alizée, Zack & Cody, Madonna, and me

It turns out that the bus ride from Montreal to Toronto I took earlier this week as I returned from my Alizée-cation may have been a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it allowed for a random encounter with (and apparent conversion of) a Lili-curious college kid on the bus helped me to rediscover my sense of purpose…but on the other, it also exposed me to the kind of high-quality germs and contagions that only eight hours trapped in a big metal tube with over a hundred strangers can provide.

I got back on Monday evening, and went to bed with a little tickle in the back of my throat. By the time I got up for work seven hours later, it felt like my entire respiratory system had been buffed with heavy-grit sandpaper, with all the shavings left to sit in my lungs. Like an idiot, not wanting to be “that guy” who calls in sick the first day back from a long weekend, I decided to tough it out and go into work, regardless. Fortunately, someone far wiser than me had the good sense to send my sick ass home by two, before I infected the entire floor with whatever brand of typhoid I’d brought back from Montreal with me.

I wound up being out until Friday, on doctor’s orders, turning what was already a four-day work-week into a day-and-a-half work-week. Ostensibly, I was supposed to spend my sick days recuperating, pointedly avoiding the operation of heavy machinery and/or other activities that require intense concentration or a high degree of mental alertness, at least according to the labels on the horse-tranquilizer pills my doctor prescribed. But daytime TV, quite frankly, blows…and even the most dedicated of Lili-fans can only watch Stars à Domicile and 1H avec Alizée so many times in a couple of days before he begins to get antsy.

…which is how I suddenly wound up with a stockpile of about 40 Mark IV DVDs by Saturday morning (where previously I’d had none) accompanied by a pretty intense sensation of cabin fever. Though I’d originally planned the next Op Drop to occur on a weekday (for reasons that will become evident when I reveal where it takes place), and I wasn’t yet in 100% top disque-dropping form, I nevertheless threw the whole lot in a bag, and hopped the subway bound for the Eaton Center. After all, what is illness to the body of a knight errant? What matter wounds? For each time he falls, he shall rise again, and woe to the wicked!

*cough* Sorry, Man of La Mancha moment. Won’t happen again.

It went well, if a little more slowly than my previous expeditions to TEC. Some dude from The Suite Life of Zack & Cody was holding court on the main floor for most of the day, signing autographs for what looked to be a bajillion starry-eyed tween-aged girls, who were lined up from here to Terra Haute, messing with traffic patterns and forcing me to detour around them several times. Security was naturally also a lot more prevalent than normal as a result, and by the time I made my third circuit around the floor, I was quite plainly on their radar, eliciting more than a few raised eyebrows and pointed stares from security guards and concerned parents alike. Though I’d only managed to successfully drop about half my payload, I reckoned it best to cut my losses and get the hell out of Dodge, lest I inadvertently wind up on To Catch A Predator, or something.

Instead, I hopped back on the subway, intending to go a little farther south, and hit up some of the more heavily trafficked stations downtown—both the Argos and the Toronto FC were playing the last home games of their respective seasons today, so I knew the stations closest to the Rogers Centre and BMO Field would get pretty busy once the games let out. On a whim, I also decided to check out what was going on at the Air Canada Center, seeing as how it’s virtually right next door to Union Station…if the Leafs were playing tonight, it might be worthwhile dropping a few disques in and around the ACC as well.

Well, it turned out the Leafs weren’t playing at the ACC tonight…but Madonna was.

Holy. Crap. Only if Tinkerbell herself had suddenly appeared before me to whack me upside the head with her magic wand would I have considered it more of a good omen. I’ve written here before about the Alizée-Madonna connection, and how much of an inspiration Madge has been and continues to be to Lili. So how cool would it be to turn a few Madonna fans onto Alizée? (Answer: it would be hawsome.)

It was still a few hours before the concert, but already it was pretty busy…and the dudes who were looking out for the Zack & Cody dude had nothin’ on the security guys at the ACC. Still, I managed to unload all the disques I had left—sadly, only eight—in some fairly prime locations in and around the entrance of the ACC (which was as far as I could go without a ticket). Though it was less than ten disques total, I still came away feeling like it was biggest drop I’d done to date.

And the best news? Madonna’s there again tomorrow night, for a second sold-out show. And Op Drop is definitely going back, this time armed with more disques.

Stay tuned…

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

An Alizée Thanksgiving Miracle (or: How Op Drop Got Its Groove Back)

I think she'd look cute in Claymation, actually

(Blogger's Note: I honestly feel like I ought to be starting this post out like a letter to Penthouse Forum--Dear Op Drop, I never would have believed something like this could really happen, until it happened to me--because the story I'm about to relate just seems a little too sacchrine and conveniently-timed to be true, like something out of one of those old Rankin-Bass holiday specials. All it needs is a little blonde elf who longs to be a dentist. If I was reading it myself instead of writing it, I'd be tempted to doubt its authenticity...and I honestly wouldn't blame you if you did...but I promise you it really did happen this way, more or less. Sometimes, life just imitates art made with stop-motion puppets, I guess...)

So, on the spur of the moment, I decided to go visit my sister in Montreal for the Thanksgiving long weekend. The reasons for this were threefold:
a) She moved to Montreal from Toronto almost a year ago, and I was the only one of her close family and friends who hadn’t been out to see her, as yet.

b) I hadn’t been to Montreal since I was about 13 years old, and even then it was only for a few hours, en route to Quebec City.

c) She doesn’t have an internet connection at home, and seriously bummed and confused by the events of last week, I needed a serious break from all the Alizée drama of last week. An Alizée-cation, if you will.
All-in-all, it was actually a pretty cool weekend. I got to see the sights, practice mon francais a little (leveling it up from Feeble to Awful in the process), eat too much, dance too much, and drink juuuuust enough. Not a bad way to spend three days.

Though I’d intended for it to be a completely Alizée-free weekend—even going so far as to create an Lili-free playlist on my iPod for the bus ride over—naturally this didn’t work out as planned. Being in a predominantly francophone city made it awfully difficult not to think about everybody’s favorite Corsican, especially when my sister asked how on Earth my French had gotten so good, all of the sudden, when I’d shown almost no interest in it in school. (“Good” being a relative term here, of course—I still can’t conjugate irregular verbs worth a damn, and verb tenses are completely beyond me.) By the end of my first afternoon there, I was surreptitiously checking out every music store we went into on Rue St. Catherine (the main shopping drag downtown) to see if I could find some of Lili’s albums, and maybe “position” them a little better for greater visibility.

It turned out to be for naught—I’ve had better luck finding Lili’s albums in the wild in Toronto, sad as that is to say—but all the same, so much for the Alizée-cation. By the time we got ready to go out that night, I was all excited to request a song or two from Psychédélices (even going so far as to bring my iPod along in case the DJ didn’t have the album handy), only to discover that none of the clubs we went to were actively playing francophone music. I begin to see why she doesn’t have any fans in Montreal—all they apparently play out there is American Top 40. Arrgh.

As we headed back to my sister’s place, I began inwardly cursing the fact that I hadn’t brought any disques with me to slip the DJs and show them what they were missing…and the thought made me give my head a shake. I’d decided to be done with all that, at least for awhile…hadn’t I?

As it turned out, I actually had brought a few disques with me, albeit unintentionally: repacking my bag for the trip home this morning, I discovered three ‘undropped’ disques hiding in the bottom…probably ‘reclaimed’ disques from the Fan Expo op that I’d tucked into the wrong compartment. As I got into the taxi, I idly wondered if I should try dropping them at the bus terminal, but came to my senses and remembered that would be a pretty good way to get myself arrested on suspected terrorism charges in this day and age. (I did leave one hidden in my sister’s DVD collection, though more because I think it’ll freak her out than out of any genuine belief that it’ll convert her into a Lili-fan.)

Completely giving up on whole Lili-embargo thing, I listened to En Concert and Psychédélices on repeat on the bus ride home as I played Iron Man on my PSP, until my iPod’s battery finally gave up somewhere around Guelph. Tiring of the game (which is sadly only so-so) and needing some tunage to get me through the last four hours of the trip, I checked out what I had loaded on the PSP’s memory card, and was pleasantly surprised to find the rip of the En Concert DVD still there from my very first op drop back in July. I settled back into my seat to watch that, instead…only to notice, about an hour in, that the kid in the seat behind me—dressed in skater-punk-chic—was occasionally leaning forward to watch over my shoulder.

Clearly embarrassed that I’d caught him, he stammered out an excuse that he hadn’t known PSPs could play movies, and was now thinking of getting one for his regular trips back and forth between home and school. We struck up a converstation as I showed him some of the features and explained how you could rip DVDs and FLV files to the PSP to watch on the go, as well as mp3s. He asked if he could test-drive it, so I let him borrow it for the rest of the trip home. He fooled around with the game for maybe ten minutes or so at most (like I said…only so-so), and asked if I had Madden or NBA Street (which I do not) before finally switching over to En Concert.

“Hey!” he said, about two minues in. “She’s singing in French?”

“Yeah…” I said somewhat hesitantly. “She’s done some stuff in English—a few of the mp3s on there are English versions, but’s it’s mainly French, yeah.”

He blinked, then shrugged. “Cool.”

And with that, he sat back and watched the whole thing, with his eyes glued to the screen from beginning to end. And although I made a point of trying not to study him like a tagged water buffalo in the wild on Animal Planet, I did manage to catch him bobbing his head in time to the music, and even snickering at points. Once En Concert was done, he leaned forward to nudge my shoulder.

“You got any more videos?” he asked.

“Not on the PSP, no.”

“Oh,” he said disappointedly as he handed it back over. “Thanks, man.”

“No problem,” I said. “Here, have this.”

“What’s this?”

“It’s a DVD I made,” I explained, as I handed him one of the Mark IV disques I had left over. “More videos. Like, an hour’s worth.”

“Oh, cool,” he said as he took it from me, then flipped it over to read the label on the back, and frowned. “You hand these out? Do you work for her, or something?”

“Kind of,” I shrugged. “Not really. It’s just a thing I do…that some of her fans are doing to make her more well-known over here…grow the fanbase a bit, y’know?”

“Oh, so she’s not Canadian? I thought she was from Quebec or something…with you coming from Montreal and everything…”

“Nono, French…like, from France. Well, Corsica actu—”

“Oh, that sucks,” he cut me off with a sigh, and I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe he was hoping I could set them up, or something. “Well, I can show it to some friends…”

“That’d be awesome. Do any of them play WoW?”

He frowned again. “Yeah, I think so. Why?”

“Show them the fourth one first. It’ll blow their minds, if they haven’t seen it already.”

“Cool,” he said again, then tucked the disque into his backpack. “Thanks.”

We pulled into the bus terminal in Toronto about fifteen minutes later, so we really didn’t get a chance to talk again except to nod our good-byes. Stupidly, I never thought to ask his name, or give him mine, and I completely neglected to point out the website address…but it’s all over the labels and the title screens of the DVD, so hopefully he’ll drop by at some point, and let me know what he and his friends thought.

And that’s the story about how, thanks to a random encounter on a bus on Thanksgiving Day, Op Drop managed to get its groove back.

All it needs is a snowman voiced by Burl Ives, and I think it'll be ready for prime time.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Where do we go from here?

I had a long and fairly verbose post worked up about the continuing fallout of yesterday’s announcement, and how the last twenty-four hours have affected Alizée’s international community of fans. Halfway through, I realized I was just regurgitating things that had already been better-said by others elsewhere, and trying to frame them with a completely unnecessary rundown of the events that led us here…which, if you’re an Alizée fan reading this, you’re probably already well aware of.

To sum up in as few words as possible, then: things are, unsurprisingly, pretty much a mess. Fans are turning on Alizée. Fans are turning on each other. Baseless speculation over the true reason behind the postponement is running rampant. Whatever small amount of momentum we may have built up here in North America appears to have been dashed, at least for now, as a number of previously-stalwart fans have been left questioning why they’re investing so much, when they’re getting so little in return. Cooler heads are attempting to prevail here and there, counseling calm and patience until we receive some kind of explanation from Alizée herself…but twenty-four hours later, she remains silent on the subject, while posts even remotely critical of the decision continue to disappear from her official MySpace…which is only serving to feed the cycle of anger and recrimination.

In short, it ain’t pretty.

In light of all this, I’ve spent a good portion of the day wondering about the future of Operation: Disque Drop. I’ve been going back and forth all day on whether or not I ought to hang it up, or at least suspend it for the time being. Not out of malice or anger towards Alizée, mind you…far from it…but just because now is clearly not the right time to be trying to lure new North American fans into fold, not with the community in the state it’s in at the moment. Though the quixotic in me is howling that, now more than ever, it’s important to stand up and be counted…that times like these are what make ordinary men into heroes, just because they staunchly refuse to give up in the face of adversity and find a way to persevere …I can’t deny the fact that the problems we’re facing aren’t going to be solved by throwing more fans at them.

(Or maybe…are they? If low ticket sales are truly the culprit behind the sudden rescheduling…maybe? I dunno…there’s so much that’s not clear, right now.)

I still want to help Alizée to succeed in some way, very much so. I’m just not convinced that putting CDs or DVDs into the hands of random strangers is the best way to do it, right now…and I’m at a complete loss as to what else I can do.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I heard the news today, oh boy...

'Nuff Said...

So yesterday’s post was kicked off with an allusion to the old Chinese proverb ‘May you live in interesting times’. More of an actual curse than a blessing, it’s essentially ancient wisdom’s equivalent to the more contemporary ‘Go to hell!’, with the clear implication being that ‘uninteresting times’ are bound to be far more peaceful and life-enriching.

Continuing in that vein, it’s certainly an interesting time to be an Alizée fan…and probably even more interesting to be Alizée, herself. I haven’t been around very long, myself, but from what I’ve seen of the dizzying highs and disparaging lows of the last year, it must make the four years of near-total radio silence that preceded it seem positively tranquil by comparison.

Hell, just the last month alone has been an emotional roller coaster, as we:
  • launched ourselves into a dizzying spin of voting and promotion for her nomination at Los Premios MTV 2008
  • threw our arms in the air with abandon (and a little trepidation) as information began to surface about Alizée’s work on her forthcoming jazz album…wait, jazz album?
  • were plummeted back to earth as the story about the jazz album proved to be false, or at least incorrect, inasmuch as it referred to an altogether different—and quite male, thank you—Alizé, entirely
  • began to pick up steam again as more award nominations were announced, and the date for her highly-anticipated concert at Le Grand Rex on October 23rd—Alizée’s first concert in France in almost five years—grew ever closer
  • trembled a little as apparent glitches on Le Grand Rex's website gave way to rumors that the aforementioned concert was actually in danger of being canceled or postponed until the spring due to low ticket sales
  • soldiered on in the face of uncertainty, operating on the assumption that no official word on the subject could only be good news, and busied ourselves making plans, whether we were going or not
  • were dropped into free-fall as word began to trickle out little by little that tickets were no longer up for sale, and that the concert was actually being postponed due to a scheduling conflict with an appearance with an upcoming awards show in Mexico
  • left our stomachs behind as the news was confirmed, with retailers offering ticket refunds to those who wouldn’t be able to attend the rescheduled date of March 28…a mere three weeks before the initial scheduled date of October 23rd; and
  • finally hit the ground with a resounding thud, as the date for the upcoming show was changed—quietly, and without fanfare or explanation—on Alizée’s official MySpace page.

In short, Space Mountain ain’t got nothin’ on being an Alizée fan right now.

I’m not one of those directly affected by the decision to postpone—though I might have been, if a lengthy and unexpected bout of unemployment in July and August hadn’t precluded it, and might still be if the stars align for me between now and the end of March—so I don’t really feel like I have the right to sit in judgement of it, or the logic behind it, either way. Instead, I’ve watched quietly from the sidelines as word got around, and other fans began to react.

Some have reacted with disgust, anger and bitter disappointment, claiming that Lili and her minders have gone too far this time in their disregard for her fans—particularly those still on the hook for international flights and expensive accommodation arrangements—with a few going so far as claiming to have washed their hands of her for good. Others, though equally disappointed, have responded mainly with worry and concern, both for the well being of Alizée herself and that of her career, and are vowing to hang tough with her and remain true fans through the hard times. And at least one fan, whose opinion I’ve come to respect, has effectively shrugged and written the whole thing off as ‘Alizée being Alizée’

Two points everyone seems to agree on, though: first, that an awards ceremony seems like a pretty flimsy excuse to hang the postponement on, leading to speculation of another, possibly more sinister reason behind it; and second, that they’d really, really like to hear something by way of an explanation from Lili herself.

Perfectly valid and understandable reactions, all. Can’t come down against any of them, really, especially when I kind of tend to agree with all of them at the same time…but then, I said I wasn’t going to pass judgement.

Two things about today really did bum me out, though, more than anything else...

The first was reading a heartfelt post from Jenny (aka HR087) on Alizée’s MySpace expressing her heartbreak and confusion over the decision, yet reaffirming her undying support for Lili no matter what…and then coming back a few hours later for an update, and seeing that poor Jenny’s post had been deleted, along with several similar posts from other fans expressing their frustration. Now, I don’t know Jenny personally, but from the posts she’s made on MySpace and Alizée-Forum, it’s clear to me that she’s a) the sweetest, most enthusiastic Alizée fan that German engineering has to offer, and b) has been eagerly anticipating the concert for the past several months. (Her MySpace avatar is a picture of her gleefully displaying her tickets, for crimminy’s sake!) Seeing her post deleted like it never happened, in what I can only assume was an attempt at damage control…ugh. Just ugh. So very disdainful of her feelings—and the feelings of the other fans whose posts were expunged, of course, but hers in particular—that it breaks the heart.

And then there was this post on the Alizée America forums from Snatcher42, he of Operation: LTNY whom first inspired me to begin this mad crusade of mine, in emulation and support of his own:

Regardless it's a terrible excuse, none are right on the 23rd. I'm sure low ticket sales are the real reason. Can't say how sick it makes me feel. I'm speechless, and really don't feel like spending more energy on her. I'll always be around, but with news like this...

It's just not worth going out of one's way to promote or do Alizée things anymore when we get so little in return. I won't point fingers, it doesn't matter who's at fault, that's just how it is. I'm out $1500 on this trip, but worse still is the wasted time and effort.

Man…when words like this come from the keyboard of a fan as dedicated as Snatcher, it heralds interesting times, indeed. Let's hope that Alizée proves to be up to weathering them.

(OK, that went on a lot longer than I intended…but I guess I had a lot more to say on the subject than I thought. If you feel similarly moved to say a little bit yourself—especially if you’re one of those who’s been shut out from expressing yourself via Alizée’s MySpace—please feel free to comment below. All viewpoints are welcome here—angry, supportive, neutral, whatever—so please don’t hold back. Just try not to belittle somebody else’s, alright? Let's keep it friendly.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Alizée, Petula Clark, and the Impossible Dream

Well, that was certainly an interesting week…in the Chinese proverbial sense of the word…

My apologies for having been so suddenly absent, Op Drop fans, but real life caught up with me in a big way in the first week of October, leaving precious little time for blogging, disque-dropping, and even less vital activities such as sleeping and eating. Not only have things started to ramp up at the brand-new job, but my cousin’s wedding caused a truly impressive number of distant relations from abroad to descend on the city like good-natured locusts. Life since the wedding has been a non-stop whirlwind of busy workdays and even busier weeknights spent entertaining strange visitors from afar.

Finally, though, the last of them has been bundled off to the airport—and are probably somewhere over the prairies even as I write this—and life can finally get back to what passes for normal around Casa Disque Drop. A few days too late, sadly…the unexpected abundance of family gatherings completely put the kibosh on my plans for another massive Op Drop at this year’s Nuit Blanche citywide art festival, as I simply had no time to prepare. But on the bright side, playing tour guide for a week opened my eyes to a few more potential targets for future ops that I’d previously overlooked.

I also made the unexpected discovery that I’m actually carrying on a family tradition of sorts, as it came up in conversation that my oldest uncle headed up the Toronto chapter of the Petula Clark fan club in his late teens and early twenties. Though my mom and aunts brought it up at the wedding simply to embarrass him in front of his wife (who was naturally unawares), I cornered him at the bar a couple hours later, and began peppering him with questions about it. How had they operated? How many members did he have? What kind of promotion did they do? Did they actively try to convert non-fans, and if so, how did they overcome the cultural and language barriers?

“You do know that Petula Clark sang in English, right?” he asked.

“Uh, yeah…but, hypothetically speaking, how would you have overcome them?”

“You’re strangely interested in this,” he observed, bemused. “Are you a Petula Clark fan?”

“Nonono,” I stammered. I looked back over each of my shoulders, then leaned forward conspiratorially. “I’m, um…well, I’ve been doing this thing…”

And that was how I took him into my confidence, revealed my secret identity, and proceeded to spend the next twenty minutes telling my fifty-seven year-old uncle all about Alizée and Operation: Disque Drop. He was pretty obviously amused by the idea, but surprisingly impressed as well. And when I was done explaining myself, he said something that really struck me.

“What you’re doing is quite literally quixotic, in the truest sense of the word. You’re tilting at even bigger windmills than I did…at least Petula already had a hit single and a following, here.”

I must have had a strange look on my face, because he paused and frowned. “Sorry, do you not know what ‘quixotic’ means?”

Boy, did I. Don Quixote has always been a personal hero of mine, moreso even than Batman or Iron Man, who up until now have been the patron saints of Op Drop. Like them, Don Quixote was just an ordinary man—and an old man, at that—who nevertheless took it upon himself to don a suit of armor and begin a one-man crusade against an apathetic populace, like one of the chivalric knights of old. And in his case, it was all done in the name of an unattainable beauty, the Lady Dulcinea del Toboso.

I’d never drawn the comparison before, but you have to admit, it kinda fits.

My uncle made me promise to burn a disque for him before he left. I handed it to him right before he got on the plane, and he promised to watch it on his laptop on the flight back to Vancouver. Somewhere over the prairies, I suspect he’s being converted into a Lili-fan even as I write this…which would be cool, as he’s somebody who really “gets it”, y’know?

It’s not the hundred disques I was hoping to get dropped at Nuit Blanche, but I think I’ll chalk one up in the ‘win’ column all the same.

Take that, Petula Clark!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Reminder: Alizée America MTVLA Vote-athon - Sunday Sept. 28 @ 10 AM EST!

This is just a reminder to all and sundry that Ruroshen from the Alizée America forums is hosting an all-day MTVLA voting marathon community chat this Sunday, September 28, starting at 10 AM eastern time, and going as late as people are interested.

From Ruro's post over at AAm:

OK folks, the Alizée America MTVLA Vote-athon has officially been scheduled to begin at 10 AM EST on Sunday, September 28, 2008. Please join us as we support, amuse, entertain, console and generally try to keep each other sane throughout a day-long marathon of Lili-voting madness. Chat and interact with fellow Alizée fans from across America and (hopefully) around the world as we spend the day voting en masse to push Alizée to victory.

You can find the Vote-athon’s page on TalkShoe here:

—from here you’ll be able to join the community call once it goes live on Sunday morning. Before you can join, you’ll first need to sign up on TalkShoe, and download the TalkShoe Live client. Registering is free, downloading the software is free, and joining the call is free as long as use the ShoePhone VOIP that’s built into TalkShoe Live. (You can also call in via phone or Skype, but this will cost you money, so try not to do that.)

Click here to watch a few short videos explaining how TalkShoe works:

I recommend that you have a headset and mic handy if you’re planning to join in on the voice call…but even if you don’t (or if you’re just shy), you can still participate via text chat, or just lurk and listen in as you vote right along with us.
(The more people who participate in the voice call, though, the more fun this will be!)

I’ve deliberately set the call to “public” so that anybody can join, so please don’t hesitate to invite others to join us. Alizée fans old and new from any site, forum, nation and walk of life are welcome and encouraged to join in the madness. Please just be aware that the primary language of the call will naturally be English, and that we’re going to try to keep the profanity down to a PG level. (I really don’t need any emails for angry mothers in Guatemala, thank you.) Don’t let that scare you off, though—we’re a friendly bunch, and I guarantee that you speak English far better than most of us speak your language.

Also, please note that although the default length of the call is 120 mins, we’re actually able to go as long as we want. Everyone but me will be able to drop-in and drop-out at will—I’m the host, so I have to stick around for the duration—which means you can come and go whenever you please. Come and hang out as often as you like, for as long or as little as you can.
So please drop in even if you can only stay for a few minutes—every vote for Lili counts, and those of us running the marathon will appreciate the infusion of fresh blood!

And I think that’s everything…! Please let me know if you guys have any questions or concerns, and I’ll do my best to address them as quickly as possible! Thanks, and hope to see you on Sunday!

I'm sadly not able to be there--my cousin clearly has his priorities messed up and has elected to get married that day, instead--but it sounds like a good time for a good cause. Even if you can only swing by for a little while, I'd recommend you check it out! How often do you get to geek out about Alizée with real, live people and help her out at the same time?

Man, I wish I could be there. Stupid cousin...

Meet the Candidates, Part II

There's just five days left to vote for Alizée at Los Premios MTV 2008 (the Latin American MTV awards) , and ensure she takes home the trophy for 'Mejor Artista Nuevo Internacional' (Best New International Artist). Remember, you have to vote in all the categories (not just Alizée's) in order for your vote to count.

Not sure who else to vote for? Op Drop can help. Check out this second post in a series which shares a little of my own voting strategy (such as it is), with more outtakes from my promotional YouTube video.

Op Drop recommends...

Although she's competing against Alizée in 'Mejor Artista Nuevo Internacional' (boo!), the gorgeous Miss Perry is also nominated in the category of 'Cancion Del Ano' (Song of the Year), which I frankly think she deserves. Perry's unbelievably catchy and controversial song I Kissed A Girl took the world by storm this summer, to the point where you couldn't get away from it if you tried.

And then there's the small matter of the video, which is quite frankly--and you'll forgive the blogger a moment of maleness here--undeniably hawt. (The fact that it kinda sorta plays like a more risqué version of the Mademoiselle Juliette video to me only accentuates its hawtness.)

Ahem...uh, moving on...

Yes, because it's MTV, they actually have a category for 'Mejor Musica de un Videojuego' (Best Music of a Video Game). I haven't played the majority of the games in this category, including Rock Band--I know, I know, blasphemy--but I was pretty obsessed with Guitar Hero III for several months back at the beginning of the year. Though I'm not sure which one Alizée would prefer to play, I do know which one I'd prefer to see her play:

You just know she's gonna six-star Through The Fire and the Flames, here...assuming the guitar doesn't melt first. Yum.

Er, let's continue, shall we?

Seriously. How do you not vote for someone who has the audacity to go through life with Doctor Krapula as their stage name? He's nominated in the category 'Mejor Artista Central' (Best Artist Central). Fortunately, his music is not only much better than his name would have you believe, it actually kinda rocks. Check out his videos for BAM and El Pibe de mi Barrio to see for yourself.

More recommendations to come tomorrow. For now, I have a strange compulsion to dust off Guitar Hero III...and maybe watch En Concert again...

I can't imagine why.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Meet the Candidates, Part I

Only six days remain before the voting closes for Los Premios MTV 2008, the Latin American version of the MTV awards...less than a week in which to help Alizée triumph over the likes of Katy Perry and the eeeeeevil Jonas Brothers, and be crowned as 'Mejor Artista Nuevo Internacional' (Best New International Artist).

Regular readers may recall--because I've only mentioned in every single post since--that I created the above YouTube video to promote Alizée at the MTVLA awards, and to explain in plain English exactly how one could go about voting for her. The key is not to just vote for Alizée, but to vote in all the categories in order for your vote to count. The problem is, not only is this kind of a pain in the butt, but most of the other categories are filled with artists who are unknown to North Americans like myself.

Who to vote for, then? Once again, folks, Operation: Disque Drop is here for you. Allow me to drop some science on you, and share a little of my own voting strategy with the following outtakes from the aforementioned YouTube video.

Op Drop Recommends...

OK, not so obscure and kind of a gimmie, but I thought we'd warm up with a really easy one first, and work our way down to the really hard ones. Nominated in the categories 'Mejor Artista Pop Internacional' (Best International Pop Artist) and 'Mejor Ringtone Musical' (Best Musical Ringtone...seriously, there's an award for this?), Madonna is arguably the most recognizable nominee to most North American voters. (Unless, of course, you're a twelve year-old girl with a crush on Joe Jonas.)

Though personally I'm not a big fan of her later stuff, Madonna has served as a major influence on Alizée and her music since the age of five. Lili has done covers of both La Isla Bonita and Hung Up (both of which appear on the Op Drop disque), and samples Music in the 'new' version of Moi...Lolita that she performs on the Psychédélices tour. And as aw has speculated on his blog, she may even have drawn inspiration from Madonna's video for Deeper and Deeper in creating the song Fifty Sixy. There's no questioning the fact that Alizée would vote for Madonna, since Alizée is kind of the point of all this, we vote for Madonna.

I mean, screw Tokio Hotel anyway, right?

Next up...

A little more obscure, at least to North Americans, but also a nominee with an Alizée connection...for me, anyway. See, I stumbled across the video for Belanova's single 1, 2, 3, Go! in a post they'd made on Alizée's offical MySpace page a couple of months ago (back when embedding videos on her page was still allowed), and absolutely fell in love with it. Bouncy and fun, with an awesome bassline, it's one of the few non-Alizée tracks to see heavy rotation on my iPod in recent months. And the video is cute.

Nominated in the categories 'Artista Del Ano' (Artist of the Year), 'Group O Duo' (Group or Duo), 'Mejor Artista Pop' (Best Pop Artist), 'Video Del Ano' (Video of the Year), and kinda/sorta in 'Mejor Fan Club' (Best Fan Club), Belanova is one of the few nominees I can genuinely say I'm voting for on you'll see when we get further down the list, here.

For example...

Seriously. That's a pretty kick-ass hat, man.

Actually, since I began voting in this thing, I have bothered to do a little research into the artists I've been voting for (often with the flimsiest of excuses), and I've discovered that Café Tacvba is one I can genuinely get behind...if only because their video for Eres perfectly captures what it was like to be me at twelve years old. I guess some experiences are universal. Café Tacvba is nominated in a bunch of the same categories as Belanova, but is my choice for 'Mejor Artista Alternativo' (Best Alternative Artist).

More recommendations tomorrow. Until then, get out there and rock the vote for Alizée!