Question of the Day: Can’t Get You Out of My Head

31 08 2006

What song or lyrics are stuck in your head at the moment? What album is it from?
Submitted by Lox Ly.

Every morning, it seems, I wake up with some relic of a song—usually an 80s song—banging around in my head. It’s gotten to the point that some of my coworkers will ask what Radio Jay was playing when I woke up. Sometimes the answer is scary. For instance, a couple of days ago, I had this little snippet from, gulp, an Air Supply song on my mind:

I’m all out of love, I’m so lost without you
I know you were right, believing for so long
I’m all out of love, what am I without you
I can’t be too late to say that
I was so wrong

Ewww. Frightening, huh? And that same refrain stuck with me for most of the damn day.

Today was better, as I woke up to a Simply Red song:

Money’s too tight to mention
I can’t get an unemployment extension
Money’s too tight to mention

I went to my brother
To see what he could do
He said brother I’d like to help you
But I’m unable to
So I called on my father, my almighty father
He said:

Money’s too tight to mention
Oh money, money, money, money
Money’s too tight to mention
I can’t even qualify for my pension

What will tomorrow bring?



30 08 2006

I’ve been too busy lately to provide you with any links. What kind of blogger am I, anyway?

Let’s get right to it:

1.) At Slate, June Thomas has an appreciation of Billie Jean King—one of the great tennis players, one of the great rebels, one of the great oddballs of our time.

2.) Language Log‘s Mark Liberman starts off a post today by mentioning the different words we Americans use to describe the dried mucus that sometimes collects in your eyes overnight (in my dialect, that stuff is called “sleep”). Before I knew it, though, Liberman was telling me all about swearing in Finnish. Great stuff.

3.) I’ve been interested in manatees for a long time, so I enjoyed this week’s long NYT article on the species. The manatee may not be as smart as the dolphin, but it’s “good at what it needs to be.” And manatees apparently have, of all things, a very good sense of touch.

4.) Design Observer asks whatever happened to, Oregon.

5.) Towleroad has the details on La Tomatina, the Spanish summer festival that had 40,000 people participating in a one-hour tomato fight. Cool pictures.

6.) Tyler Green of Modern Art Notes reports on a successful guerilla wedding at the not-ordinarily-wedding-friendly Met. Hee.

Question of the Day: Home Sweet Home

29 08 2006

What is your browser’s default home page set to?
Submitted by Kelev T. Cat.

Google. You’re yawning now, aren’t you? But, hey, it loads quickly! And it’s inoffensive. And sometimes it’s Michelangelo’s birthday or something and the Google insignia is really cool. And I’m boring.

What would you suggest?

Question of the Day: I’m reading (or about to read)…

27 08 2006

What books are on your nightstand?

I’m currently reading a sci-fi novel, Altered Carbon, by Richard K. Morgan. I don’t usually read science fiction, but I saw a favorable review of AC a couple of years ago and the book went into the queue. (It takes a long while for a book to bubble to the top.) I like it because it’s as much an old-fashioned detective novel as a sci-fi novel. When I started it, I kept having to re-read paragraphs just to figure out the “science” behind AC‘s universe. Soon though, I was just enjoying the murder mystery—or, at least, the kind of murder mystery in which the victim is still alive. (Really.)

It took me a few hundred pages to warm up to the “hero,” Takeshi Kovacs. I want to root for him, and—at least in some respects—the novel sets the reader up to do so. On the other hand, in one particular scene, Kovacs committed such startling violence that I wasn’t sure for awhile whether I wanted him to win in the end. How sympathetic is a leading man who generously and wantonly levels “Real Death” (as opposed to the not-so-real death suffered by the murder victim) to many who don’t even really stand in his way? Not so much. So I’ve still got some doubts about Takeshi Kovacs. I’ll let you know what I decide in the end.

What might I pick up next from the nightstand? I’m not sure. I haven’t read Joan Hess’s Malpractice in Maggody, the latest in one of my favorite series of cozy mysteries. (I’m actually a bigger fan of Hess’s other series, the Claire Malloy novels. Shouldn’t one of those be coming out soon?) I also recently picked up Miss American Pie, a memoir by Margaret Santor; I heard Santor interviewed on NPR, and I was completely taken with her stories of coming in age in 1970s Alabama. Other options: A Mathematician at the Ballpark, Philadelphia: A 300-Year History, and a biography of Nobel Prize winner Sinclair Lewis that I’ve been intending to read for years.

Question of the Day: You Gotta See This

26 08 2006

Short Cuts
What movie would you really recommend renting or seeing this weekend?

Well, I suppose I should pick something life- and society-changing like Brokeback Mountain, but that’s just too obvious. And having seen it fairly recently, I’m sure, you already know that love is a force of nature.

So I think I’ll go for something you may have forgotten—or, even, never seen: Short Cuts. Short Cuts was a 1993 release from Robert Altman, the well-known, well-appreciated director of Mash, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Nashville, The Player, and Gosford Park, among others. Short Cuts is his masterwork. It’s an adaptation of short stories by Raymond Carver, and it’s shot in typical Altman style. There’s an ensemble cast; noteworthy, plot-progressing music; and an almost dizzying (but not really!) array of subplots that dart around one another and, thanks to Altman, semi-connect. The film is actually three hours long, but it just whizzes past you. Really.

The cast includes Jack Lemmon; Julianne Moore; Matthew Modine; Jennifer Jason Leigh; the late Chris Penn; Robert Downey, Jr.; Frances McDormand; Lily Tomlin; Tom Waits; and many others. And among that “many others” is the brilliant Tim Robbins, who—I might add—was and is the sexiest man on the planet. It’s an incredible cast, and you almost wish you had more time with each and every one of the actors.

What’s the film about? Well, it’s about real life—the nuts and bolts of everyday life. It’s about 1990s Los Angeles. It’s about living in a crazy world that doesn’t allow us to interconnect. It’s about what it takes to make people feel.

Short Cuts was unfortunately overshadowed in 1993 by another excellent film, Schindler’s List. If you haven’t seen Short Cuts, you should absolutely rent it. There’s a fairly recent Criterion Collection DVD issue that gives the film its due, too.

Question of the Day: Bring Back the Snack

25 08 2006

Are there any snacks, food or candy that are no longer made that you desperately miss?

“Desperate” is such a strong word. But there are definitely food items I miss. Pepsi Kona comes to mind. I found Pepsi Kona (in 1996?), I guess, as it was being test-marketed in the Philadelphia area about the time I moved here. It apparently didn’t catch on, but I thought it was delicious. It was, of course, a cola-coffee hybrid sort of like the current Coca-Cola Blak. I enjoy Blak, but I think it’s a touch too strong on the coffee taste (vs., duh, the cola taste), and I also think there’s a false note in Blak’s coffee flavoring. To me, Blak tastes a little too much like artificial coffee flavoring.

Pepsi Kona, by contrast, was just the right mix of cola and coffee. You got the cola, you got the coffee, and everything tasted real. I couldn’t believe no one seemed to agree with me. But I’m a weirdo.

Or, given Coca-Cola Blak, maybe Pepsi Kona and I were just a little bit ahead of our times.

Question of the Day: In Heavy Rotation

25 08 2006

What albums are in heavy rotation for you right now?

(Pre-Script: This is a Vox QOTD from earlier in the week that I intended to answer but just never finished. It was a busy, awful, busy, awful week!)

After several months, I’m still crazy for Morrissey’s Ringleader of the Tormentors. The whole album is pretty tasty—or whatever the sonic equivalent of “tasty” might be—but three songs are always welcome in my earbuds: “Dear God, Please Help Me,” “You Have Killed Me,” and “The Youngest Was the Most Loved.” “You Have Killed Me” gets me right in the abdomen (in a good way!). It sounds like the mournful-but-beautiful Morrissey I fell for in the 1980s, and the lyrics make me think of the Soulmate-Who-Got-Away I only just mentioned:

As I live and breathe
You have killed me
You have killed me
Yes I walk around somehow
But you have killed me
You have killed me

And there is no point saying this again
There is no point saying this again
But I forgive you, I forgive you
Always I do forgive you

Yeah, he killed me. Yeah, I still walk around. Somehow. And yes, I do forgive him. (Ok, that last sentence was a partial lie. But only a partial one.)

What other albums am I enjoying right now?

  • The soundtrack from Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man is awfully good, and I’m not even one of those Leonard Cohen cultists. It’s just hard not to like a collection when the artists include Teddy Thompson, Rufus Wainwright, Beth Orton, Nick Cave, and Antony. Hmmm. Teddy Thompson, Rufus Wainwright, and Antony? You think I might be gay?
  • Local-but-suddenly-gone-sorta-bigtime-artist B.C. Camplight’s Hide, Run Away—a poppy, smartly-written album.
  • Gomez’s How We Operate: How 1973 should have sounded. (I’m really not quite old enough to have a good opinion about that. Really.)
  • Passover by The Black Angels: More 1973. Am I going through an acid-rock phase?
  • Fundamental by the Pet Shop Boys: It’s what all the gay boys are listening to.