Wednesday, 8 June 2005

Musical theft

Nick and I are pondering who—if anyone—Radiohead was ripping off on The Bends, as a followup to the Coldplay discussion from Monday. Please post any comments, if you have them, at his place.

Monday, 6 June 2005

Quote of the Day

The Minor Fall, The Major Lift on some erroneous chronology in the New York Times:

Coldplay’s powers of suck are so all-encompassing that they extend out backwards through time, influencing bands that actually predate them.

þ: Nick Troester, who also finds other aspects of the article to be amusing.

Wednesday, 11 May 2005

Truly disturbing

I didn’t realize “Oops! I Did It Again” was a cover. Amazing what you can learn in the blogosphere. (þ: OxBlog)

Update: Another cover by Britney also gains disfavor.

Sunday, 8 May 2005

My life in a nutshell

From a recent email exchange at an ungodly hour (slightly paraphrased from memory):

Me: I’m listening to Avril now.
Student: I like Avril’s stuff. Her music isn’t bad either.
Me: Avril has stuff?

Never did get an answer to that one…

Saturday, 30 April 2005

Right hemisphere

Of late I’ve been making a vague attempt to broaden my appreciation of various things artistic and musical. A couple of students have pointed me in some different musical directions; here’s what I’ve added to my collection lately:

Last, but not least, one of my students this past semester in American government is in a band called Enursha with a spiffy new website. (I have some other musician students but I don’t know if they want me plugging their stuff!)

Friday, 29 April 2005

Hedwig and George Street

My generally-nonexistent social life had a brief blip Thursday night: Kelly and I saw Hedwig and the Angry Inch at Hal and Mal’s (muy excellente), and followed up by meeting Kamilla and Andy at George Street where a couple of acts were playing and a fair share of the Millsaps political science majors were partying. Fun and merriment were had by all, I do believe.

No doubt frequent commenter Scott will chime in to provide his review of George Street. For my part, I thought it was a pretty nice place, though the $5 Bass on tap seemed a tad steep (maybe I'm too fond of Oxford prices).

Wednesday, 27 April 2005

Ode to ugly chicks

As the web’s resident critic of pop song lyrics, I appreciate the sentiment behind Jesse McCartney’s Beautiful Soul, but I’m not sure the chorus is exactly what your object-of-smittenness wants to hear:

I don’t want another pretty face
I don’t want just anyone to hold
I don’t want my love to go to waste
I want you and your beautiful soul

In other words, McCartney wants to have a homely girl who doesn’t believe in the use of birth control. Then again, maybe I’m just reading too much into his use of the phrase “I don’t want my love to go to waste”...

Thursday, 7 April 2005

Butt Dance

I don’t know what’s sadder: that Jenna Bush was at a party doing the “butt dance,” or that this is the first I’d heard of this phenomenon, which according to the New York Post is performed “when the deejay plays the 1988 hit ‘Da Butt,’ by E.U.”

Come to think of it, it might also be sad that this is the first I’ve heard of this 1988 “hit.”

Update: Those of you jonesing for a copy of this classic hit need look no further than the soundtrack of School Daze, for the low-low price of $5.99 at

Thursday, 17 February 2005

Morissette ends own musical career

Brian J. Noggle points to news that Alanis Morissette has taken U.S. citizenship. Since the entire raison d’être of her musical career was to fill her label’s Canadian content quota, I expect her musical career (what little of it remains) to come to a screeching halt.

Sunday, 13 February 2005

Nineteen, nineteen eighty-five

Brian J. Noggle helps Bowling for Soup answer one of the rhetorical questions from “1985.” But when did Ozzy become an actor?

Wednesday, 19 January 2005

You're so yesterday

Michelle Malkin didn’t like one of the inaugural events:

I would not expect to hear profanity at any Hilary Duff event, let alone an Inaugural Youth Concert hosted by the Bush twins.

No, but you’ve got to figure that at least you’d have some $1 well drinks and a 2-for-1 deal on Jägermeister. (rimshot)

Besides which, if I somehow ended up at an Fuel concert where the opening act turned out to be Hilary Duff, I’d be quite likely to shout “WTF” at the top of my lungs. Poor event planning indeed.

Thank you; I’ll be here all week. (þ: Protein Wisdom)

Friday, 14 January 2005

Reports of Clapton's death have been greatly exaggerated

Clapton has been a favorite of mine for well over twenty years now. The article below seems a little odd to me, since I take the opposite view of Clapton’s work in recent years. From 1974 to 1994 he was largely marking time, rather than using his talent to good effect. Don’t get me wrong. He had numerous good songs (“Motherless Children”, “Crosscut Saw”) during the time, and the best of them, like the two I listed, were covers of old blues standards.

In 1994 he released ”From The Cradle”, a fabulous album and the best he had done since the early 1970s. With the exception of Pilgrim, he’s done pretty well in recent years. Me & Mr. Johnson is a particularly good addition to his recent work.

Clapton’s now working on a Cream reunion and if I lived in London I would probably attend. The critic below is way too, er, critical, in my view:

I don’t think there’s an artist of Eric Clapton’s stature (and we’re talking about someone who’s jostling around at the Jimmy Page, Stevie Wonder level of things) who has urinated so ruinously over his own legacy. Why is it that David Bowie can spend decades releasing tosh, with seemingly no effect on our estimation of his ‘great works’, and yet Eric Clapton seemingly has the power to do things which make us despise the whole creature.

We could easily have forgiven him for getting tangled up with Phil Collins in the mid-1980s (that whole the August / Behind the Mask no-jacket-requiredy era) but it was when he started “doing the blues” again that it all started to stink. I remember hearing one of his Royal Albert Hall blues get-togethers on Radio 2 (I think). It was the 1990 one, which had Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray and Jimmy Vaughn on guitar (how many cooks do you need to spoil the blues?) and Phil Collins on tambourine.

Tuesday, 21 December 2004

Great Googly Moogly

Today would have been the 64th birthday of Frank Zappa.

Some take the bible
For what it’s worth
When it says that the meek
Shall inherit the Earth
Well, I heard that some sheik
Has bought New Jersey last week
‘N you suckers ain’t gettin’ nothin’

“The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing,” from You Are What You Is.


Sunday, 12 December 2004

All I want for Christmas is an answer to this question

Finals are now mercifully over. Unfortunately, I forgot to use my Professorial Powers of Evil to ask my tuned-into-the-Zeitgeist students the question that’s been bothering me for the past two weeks: what’s the deal with Lindsay Lohan? No, really, I mean it. Anyone?

Friday, 26 November 2004

We don't need no education

Well, maybe they do: they should have secured the royalties agreement in advance. I guess it was just a matter of time.

A group of former London state school children who sang on Pink Floyd’s 1979 classic “Another Brick In The Wall” have lodged a claim for unpaid royalties.

Twenty-three teenage pupils from Islington Green School secretly recorded vocals for the track, which became an anthem for children with the chorus “We don’t need no education.”

On hearing the song, the headmistress banned the pupils from appearing on television or video—leaving them no evidence and making it harder for them to claim royalties—and the local school authority described the lyrics as “scandalous.”

I grew up hearing the song and managed to learn to appreciate education. I’m even pursuing a doctorate. Which reminds me: total derivatives of implicit functions SUCK! They seep out of my head after a few hours and I have to revisit the damn things every two days.

Wednesday, 10 November 2004

Donna don't preach

You know, I was all for this whole Iraq War thing… but, goshdarn it, Madonna’s opinion pushed me over the edge. No Blood For Oil! But, you know, they make the plastic in CDs from oil… Help me, I’m confused! (þ: memeorandum)

Saturday, 30 October 2004

Worst and Best Cover Songs

Via Brad DeLong, Graeme Thomson at The Observer has a list of the ten worst cover songs ever.

Somehow he managed to make the list without including William Shatner’s awful spoken word rendition of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” Tiffany’s cover of “I Saw Her Standing There,” or Van Halen's cover of “Pretty Woman.”

Prof. DeLong asks about the best cover songs ever. Here’s the beginning of my list.

  1. Twist and Shout, by the Beatles.
  2. All Along the Watchtower, by Jimi Hendrix.
  3. Midnight Special, by Creedence Clearwater Revival.
  4. Hurt, by Johnny Cash.
  5. Istanbul Not Constantinople, by They Might Be Giants.

Friday, 29 October 2004

Johnny loves Vivian

About two weeks ago, a cedar bench on which an eighteen-year-old cadet at Brooks Air Force Base carved “Johnny loves Vivian” in 1951 was discovered on the San Antonio River Walk, in front of the La Mansion hotel.

“Vivian” was the seventeen-year-old Vivian Liberto, a student at Saint Mary’s Catholic School. The Air Force cadet was Johnny Cash. Vivian later became Cash’s first wife, for whom he wrote I Walk the Line.

Sunday, 24 October 2004

The sound of my own wheels

Just got back from an enjoyable evening downtown at the Buffalo Nickel album release party; the band’s style is an interesting blend of country and rock-and-roll, fitting in either “urban country” or “southern rock” depending on your preferred nomenclature, and I got to meet a few new people and unwind a bit with good company.

Tuesday, 19 October 2004

Mix tape nostalgia

My wife found an eleven-year-old mix tape that I made for her when we were first dating.

Side A:
The Beatles, Revolution
The Rolling Stones, Ruby Tuesday
David Bowie, Candidate
King Crimson, Matte Kudasai
The Who, Odorono
John Lennon, Imagine
Bob Mould, Sunspots/Wishing Well
Ween, Don’t Laugh (I Love You)
Pixies, Here Comes Your Man
The Who, Bargain
Frank Zappa, Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance
David Bowie, All Saints

Side B:
Peter Gabriel, The Feeling Begins
The Who, Squeeze Box
The Rolling Stones, Brown Sugar
David Bowie, Big Brother
Butthole Surfers, Hurdy Gurdy Man
Brian Eno and John Cale, Spinning Away
Velvet Underground, Sweet Jane
Ween, Marble Tulip Juicy Tree
The Who, Behind Blue Eyes
Frank Zappa, In France
King Crimson, The Sheltering Sky

Looking back, I’d say my musical tastes have remained fairly consistent. I don’t listen to music as much as I used to, but The Beatles, The Who, Bowie, and Zappa are still frequently in my CD player. And I still think that the Eno/Cale album, Wrong Way Up, is the best album of the 90s.

The only group on the list that really didn’t age well for me is Ween. I threw in The Pod about a month ago, and all I could think was "I used to listen to this noise?"

Do kids these days, with their MP3s and their iPods, still make mix tapes for their girlfriends/boyfriends?

Monday, 20 September 2004


Brian J. Noggle is oddly intrigued by this Maxim photo shoot of Avril Lavigne. Mind you, compared to Michelle Branch she’s a prude…

Friday, 17 September 2004

International pricing

Lynne Kiesling notes that the British consumer goods price markup is a pretty standard practice—the “dollar sign becomes a pound sign” policy is, and has been, quite common over the years, even as the exchange rate has varied between near-parity and 2:1.

The fact that VAT is built into British prices, while state sales taxes are not incorporated in the “sticker” price in the U.S., accounts for 17.5% of the price differential—in the case of iTunes, about half of the difference between U.S. and British pricing, depending on the day’s exchange rate. Perhaps more interestingly, the remainder of the difference between U.S. and U.K. prices is about the same as the difference between British and Euro-zone pricing (which would also incorporate the quasi-standard European VAT rate), which seems to suggest that British adoption of the Euro would reduce consumer goods prices substantially, and thus significantly improve Britian’s GDP at purchasing power parity.

Wednesday, 28 July 2004


Silly observations that don’t really deserve their own posts:

  • Yesterday in Ann Arbor was cold, rainy, and dreary—to the extent I actually had to switch on the heat in my apartment last night, lest I freeze to death (good thing I decided to have the gas switched on after all). Today, on the other hand, it’s around 80° and sunny, and supposed to stay in the 80s through the next week or so. Weird.

  • Maybe I’m getting old or something, but there’s something very disturbing about a current pop hit which has a chorus about a sexual technique. Particularly when it’s performed by someone best known for singing the theme to Disney’s “Kim Possible.” (What may even be more disturbing is I can’t figure out what sexual technique it is.)

  • Not to start a big brou-ha-ha like the recently-raging conflict over the relative “hotness” of libertarian women, but I‘ll put any five randomly selected young Mississippi women (18–35) against a comparably-selected slate of native Michiganders any day.

  • Would anyone know who Ashlee Simpson was if it weren’t for her sister?

Tuesday, 27 July 2004

The vagaries of radio waves

I can’t quite figure out why the bit-error rate of the terrestrial signal from a XM repeater seems to float in and out of tolerance; most of the time, it is right around 3, but it has short bursts up to 25—what’s annoying is that anything over 10 makes it lose signal. (It also only seems to produce a usable signal if I put the antenna within a 10 square-inch area of my office.)

Maybe next year (if I return) I should request a south-facing office.

Thursday, 15 July 2004

Ammo dump

Uh-oh. It seems Laura and I are headed for a disagreement over the merits of Avril Lavigne. For what it’s worth, I do find “Sk8er Boi” to be a deeply annoying song. I realize this won’t really redeem me in Laura’s eyes, mind you.

More ammunition here. But if you really want to know what pop sensation I truly have a “thing” for, click here and forever hold your peace.