Saturday, February 19, 2005

Baby , you're no good

Hey, tell us how you really feel.

I am in the book-buying business (albeit the nonfiction end), so I can say that a good review is really important. I rely on reviewers to tell me when a book is a new viewpoint in its the field, when it puts concepts into an accessible framework, when enough people will know about it that our undergrads and faculty will want it available.

And yet, I can’t quote a single good review. But the truly malicious bad review sticks with us. It’s the "Tonstant Weader fwowed up" and "can’t sing, can’t act, can dance a little" which earn a place in our hearts. (Or Art Campbell, stage and screen reviewer for NBC-4 DC, looking in the camera after the Sheena Easton – Raul Julia production of Man of La Mancha crying "A singer who can’t act! An actor who can’t sing! Easily the most painful theatrical experience of my career!")

And so I give you this review of "Afterburner." Sacha Zimmerman seems to think that this is a very, very, very bad book. The review includes lines like “her latest addition to the best-seller list, is simultaneously foul, saccharine, and cloying.” But here’s what catches my eye:

Even the sex isn't hot; it's vulgar (the words "marinated" and "juice" are used way too often).

Now maybe I cook too much, but “marinate” does not seem to me to be a sexy process. “Juice” might be up to an individual aesthetic sense, but “marinated”?


So I suggest here, for the benefit of the Internet, the following list of erotic and nonerotic kitchen terms. For the purposes of really screwing up my search ranking, I encourage your input.
Muffin tin

Cast Iron Skillet
Au jus
Loaf pan

Oh God. My mom reads this website. Hi Mom. How’s Dad?

Anybody know a good therapist?

Monday, February 14, 2005

Like a worn-out recording of a favorite song

The lyrics meme answers are up; have a look and see how you did. I know some of them were pretty obscure, and some were pretty short, and this is very hard to do without melody or at least rhythm but… seriously, not one person got the Bob Marley reference? I know it’s not one of the radio-friendly hits, but… people, there’s some remedial reggae in our future. And I do know how to find most of you.

And speaking of filling in holes in our musical knowledge, Pepsi and Apple are running the Free Singles On iTunes promotion again. (Can't stand the ad campaign this time, but I digress.) This is what put me on the iTMS bandwagon in the first place… I hit very close to my 1 in 3 free songs, and to cash them in you need a username and an account, and then you just add one album to your shopping cart to see what happens, and it’s all over.

The funny thing is, I don’t even like Pepsi. I’m a Coke guy through and through. In a pinch, I’m a Pepper, but only Pepsi and Diet Pepsi are running the contest. (And, apparently, Mountain Dew and Sierra Mist. Ick.) It doesn’t matter, though, because most of the time, I drink juice at lunch and soda water or beer at home.

Wow. So, as Sir Winston (apocryphally) would have it, we know what I am, and the price seems to be a 33% chance at a 99 cent song.

I ought to just do the math… 5 Pepsis a week from now until about May, minus the 1/3rd which pay for themselves with the free song. So take the money I’d spend on the losers, hit iTunes for a major binge, and get on with my life.

And I would, but I’m on a winning streak.

The point of this, though, is that I’ve got some free songs, and I was planning on grabbing up some guilty pleasures. Specifically, I’m not too proud to say it, I headed straight for the Janet Jackson section looking for “Control,” “Nasty Boys,” and “Rhythm Nation.” 0-for-3. Only Janet’s newer stuff is available. Feh. That catalog has come a long way, but there’s still a long way to go.

As long as I’ve mentioned Janet, let me recommend Richard Thompson’s last word on the halftime debacle. That's a link straight to the MP3. Is it work-safe? Depends where you work. And how loud you laugh (or curse my worthless soul).

Friday, February 11, 2005

One Generation Got Old, One Generation Got Sold

TRP has been asking questions about privatizing Social Security (specifically for defenses from the Democratic don't privatize and Republican do privatize side. Apropos of which, Ev Erlich had an interesting analysis of the policy and political options which the Democrats should be considering on NPR's Morning Edition today.

It's worth a listen. In part, it's real world West Wing stuff, as much about how will the policy play with different groups as what will it actually do. You could hear Josh Lyman giving this editorial. But the idea gets really interesting at the end, where Erlich suggests that the existing Social Security network be left in place, but an additional 2 or 3 percent withholding be levied on paychecks, which would be directed into effectively a traditional IRA, under the complete control and ownership of the individual.

My comments about Social Security are already on TRP's site; to summarize, Social Security only makes sense as welfare, and that's how we ought to treat it. Treating it like a savings account is simply foolish.

The economist in me likes Erlich's proposal. It continues to pay for welfare for the old, and it creates savings for the vast numbers of people who don't have 401(k)s at work and never quite get around to putting money in an IRA on their own. It creates wealth in private hands which ought to ultimately reduce the pressure on this Ponzi scheme of a system. At its heart, this is a good idea.

Unfortunately, there's also a lot of folks out there who will see this as another Big Government Liberal Tax. And there are a lot of people out there who aren't saving for the future because they really don't believe they can afford to. (I've been one, ducking the HR folks because I couldn't afford a TIAA-CREF withdrawl from my paycheck... through the first half of the market run-up of the '90s, sadly.)

So once again, the Democrats stand there and say "eat your spinach" and the Republicans sing "Dad is great, give us the chocolate cake." I still don't know what the answer is, but I'm afraid this good idea is probably D.O.A.


Now scroll down a post and play the lyrics meme if you haven't already. Answers on Sunday.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine

Since approximately November, I’ve been using a gimmick I stole from somebody’s blog, which I now can’t find and therefore can’t credit. (Bad librarian. No biscuit.) I’ve started titling my posts with song lyrics. This is a great little mental game for me and it absolves me of the actual work of coming up with an original title. (I’m guessing that you’ve already picked up on this shtick, being the cultured and intelligent group you are.)

Of course, this begs a quiz. How’ve you been doing identifying these? These are really tiny snippets of lyrics, and some of them are pretty obscure, so I’ve handicapped them with point values. Some should be blindingly obvious, and there are one or two with hints in the original posts. I figure just about anybody should be able to get 2 points. There’s a theoretical maximum of 92.5 points on the quiz, but I’m pretty sure it’s unattainable. Somebody might hit 77.5, but I’d be shocked.

General rules: Leave a comment naming the artists and the titles of the songs you recognize. Take bragging rights if you’re the first person to name one. Alternately, tally up your points and just assert your score. If the lyric hits you like a maddening earworm but you have to Google the specifics, take half-credit. Words in parentheses are my edits; really, those should not be confounding.

Everyone reading this is encouraged to play. Come out, come out, wherever you are. If you think the scores aren’t fair… well, maybe Lemming and TRP want to convene an Academic Review Board. But I doubt it.

The Quiz:

  • If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine (4 pts)

  • And you need a fire to sit beside while the winter winter weaves on its cloak (8 pts)

  • Through light projected he can see himself up close (5 pts)

  • That would be roaringly funny (5 pts)

  • Won't you help me sing? (2 pts)

  • Don't like your prayer; it's worse than a vice (15 pts. 30 if you did not live in the DC metropolitan area in the mid 1990s. Bonus point if you can make a convincing argument that I’ve transcribed this lyric wrong.)

  • One song that would steal our hearts before they turn into silver and gold (7 pts)

  • If there was one I could receive in (5 pts)

  • Twelve Drummers Drumming (0.5 pts... I mean, come on)

  • Razzle-Dazzle Them (1 pt)

  • Friends and relations send salutations (2 pts)

  • Diamonds in the snow sparkle (4 pts. Bonus point if you can name the artist on the cover version I adore)

  • Take another little piece of my heart, now, (Buddy) (0.5 pts)

  • Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow (0.5 pts)

  • It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas (0.5 pts)

  • Five to one, baby. One in five. (1 pt)

  • And so it's your (birthday), and what have you done? (0.5 pts)

  • Tiger Tiger Woods, y’all (5 pts)

OK, these aren’t lyrics, but they’re cultural references:

  • I am (not) Tiger Woods (3 pts)

  • If his chest had been a cannon, he would have shot his heart upon it (8 pts)

(On Live Journal, they call this the Lyrics Meme, and you're encouraged to try something similar if you run a blog/LJ. If you decide to, let me know and I’ll come play.)

Answers in a week, unless everybody I know posts sooner.