Art Attack's day job is as a clerk in a sheet music store. Now, people come in and they want a song, and if the song is really popular, say Adele's "Rolling in the Deep," then getting just that song is no problem. However, there are hundreds of thousands of songs in print for commercial sale, and there is simply no way to make any money selling them all one at a time. So publishers publish collections of love songs, '80s songs, country songs, whatever, and the vast majority of songs in the world are only available in these collections.
This practice extends to all walks of life, and usually we don't mind having to purchase a larger work for just a single part, but sometimes the deal is a real gyp. Here are the five worst offenders we've come across in our time.
One of the brightest things we've seen a video game publisher do was when EA included a one-time download code for the original American McGee's Alice, originally released only on PC, with the PS3 version of the sequel, Alice: Madness Returns on PS3. This kind of thing seems so simple and brilliant that it's kind of embarrassing how often this opportunity is missed.
Case in point, PS3 players who want to experience the awesomeness of the original Portal after enjoying Portal 2 are out of luck. The only way you'll get that opportunity is by purchasing a $60 mix-tape of Half-Life episodes and Team Fortress 2 called The Orange Box. Half-Life we've always been sort of ambivalent about, and Team Fortress looks fun, but is there any particular reason we have to buy the collection?
Portal 2 was one of the surest bets of 2011. Its success was assured. By all rights Valve should've given PS3 players a freebie by downloading the original, or hell, selling a special edition that contained both. It might have helped add some play time on one of the shortest modern adventures in gaming.
We'd just been fired from Cinemark when this sad bit of marketing happened, so we'll explain in detail. Fun fact, we've been fired from various jobs for insistence on wearing KISS make-up, dangling off a balcony several feet in the air for fun and calling our supervisor a roosterdick motherfucker. Just amusing little diversions on our road to being a respected journalist, kids.
It's hard to explain this concept in the age of YouTube, but we'll try. People got as excited about movie trailers in the olden days as they do now, but when Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace came out, most people were still reduced to going to the actual movies to see them.
Being that the Star Wars prequel was one of the most anticipated films ever, the studio knew that just the trailer alone would put butts in the seats. Now, rather than doing something sensible, and not at all unholy like creating a five-minute trailer, with some supplemental behind-the-scenes stuff and just charging people the price of a movie ticket to see that -- and believe us, people would totally have done it -- they decided to put the trailer on two films.
The first was Wing Commander, which wasn't as bad as having your pants turn suddenly into five honey badgers, but was still not a very good film experience. The other... Baby Geniuses. Seriously, Hollywood, you attached the first taste of something a large group of Americans was believing was the New New Testament to a poorly thought out space opera and a bunch of crappy CGI used to disguise poor writing? Why on Earth would you... Oh. Jesus, do you think they were trying to warn us?
We've covered this previously in the films that we still own a VCR in order to watch, but we did finally break down and buy the David Lynch: Lime Green Set in order to own a good quality version of Industrial Symphony No. 1. Lynch's stage musical totally changed our perception of performance and theater, and we cannot recommend it enough.
As a collection of Lynch's works, the Lime Green Set is awesome; we aren't going to argue with that. It contains all kinds of things that even dedicated fans are likely to have missed over the years, as well as full versions of Eraserhead, Wild at Heart and Blue Velvet. We're glad we own it, but...
$300. We spent two months of electricity, a month of health insurance, a payment on our car, a PlayStation 3, take your pick, to own one single disc of the entire collection, Oh, we've watched the rest. If you're going to drop that kind of ridiculous money on something like that, you'd damn well better watch it, but they could've sold this at a much less insane price.
We know we're not alone in our family's tradition of listening to "Alice's Restaurant" on the way to Thanksgiving dinner. At almost 20 minutes long, the hilarious story song is the perfect tune to lighten up the mood as you head out to the old-people reservation to hear your father pontificate on how the country sure has gone downhill since his day while eating enough meat and carbs to induce our favorite brand of coma.
After we got iPods and iPhones, we wanted to get a nice copy of the tune through iTunes for the annual listening. Annoyingly, while every other track on Arlo Guthrie's debut album Alice's Restaurant is available as a single, the title track is not. You have to buy the whole album.
Look, we see what's going on. They're hoping to spread the love of Guthrie's other work, but they're doing it completely backwards. You hear a song by an artist, if you like it you want to hear more. Since iTunes' entire reason for existing is so you can have any one song you want at the push of a button, we can't help but feel Guthrie is just being pissy.
Pretty much any short story collection that contains an entry by Sookie Stackhouse creator Charlaine Harris could go on this list, but we always enjoy hearing from Kim Harrison and Patricia Briggs and the three of them usually end up in these kinds of things together, so it's not all bad. Night's Edge is a different kettle of fish.
The Harlequin paperback contains three paranormal romantic tales. The first two are titled "Didn't Read," and "Don't Give a Shit," and the third is "Dancers in the Dark," a brief story about two vampire dance performers. It was heralded by our good friend Dallas as the best Sookie short story in existence, but it was damned difficult to find.
After Sookie Stackhouse blew up, obviously Ace Books wanted to get as much stuff that had been written in that universe out there where people like us could throw money at it, but Harlequin wouldn't give up the rights to the story, and on top of that they let the collection go out of print for years. It's finally back in print, and we found it at H-E-B, of all places, in time to make a nice little stocking stuffer for the Wife With One F.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.