Saturday, May 13, 2017

My Exchange With The Brians From Volcano Vinyl

...wherein they make me internet famous...

I listen to podcasts during my commute, and I love interacting with podcast hosts on Twitter. Some respond, some don't, and I guess it's the younger generation that are most interactive. Recently I checked out Volcano Vinyl, which has a cool premise: these two musicians with record collections listen to a whole album and discuss it in real time. We had the following exchange:

Here is the episode in which they address me, as I might have predicted, as a dude. (I have since updated my Twitter bio.) They were super nice about it, though, and just seemed genuinely glad that someone is listening and has ideas about it.
Below, I continue my response, which obviously cannot be contained by 140 characters.

Again, I'd like to thank you guys for being so nice about my snarky tweeting. Everything I have to say is all in good fun, and no offense is meant, but that doesn't mean my tweets always come across that way. Now, to clear up my slight disingenuousness: Your podcast was not the ONLY inspiration behind the #OffMyLawn tweet. I also had in mind the many many episodes of Gilmore Guys that I screamed at in my car on my way to/from work for the past year or two. So there's that.

I have a lot to say about all this, but I will try to limit my remarks to A) answering the questions you posed on vv074 & B) constructive criticism. Everything is a matter of taste, and podcastland is a wild west landscape where there are no rules, so I'm not implying that there's anything wrong with the way you're doing the show. I just want to share my reactions to the episodes I heard, and hope you find some of it useful.

I discovered VV through Player FM, which is the app I listen through. (I guess they suggested it to me because I recently fell in love with "The Life of a Song," which I highly recommend to EVERYONE.) The first episode of yours that I listened to was vv059: Get the Knack, and I was put off by your insistence that "My Sharona" is the only song anyone knows from it. I was about 10 years old when that album came out, and I remember singing along with "Good Girls Don't" on the radio (which is pretty disturbing when you think about it). I submit as further evidence that the immortal "Chipmunk Punk" album included not one, not two, but THREE Knack songs from their eponymous debut. So there!

Next, I decided to try vv019: Hot Buttered Soul by Isaac Hayes. I thought I would be more in my element there, because I'm not familiar with it: it came out the year after I was born, and there wasn't a ton of R&B in my house when I was growing up. (I've since tried to make up for that.) Thanks to Google Play Radio though, I had heard his version of "Walk on By." I believe it was that song that prompted my tweet: I couldn't believe you weren't aware of the Bacharach&David/Dionne Warwick songs of the 60s, "Walk on By" arguably being the most famous (others include Alfie, Do You Know the Way to San José, I Say a Little Prayer, The Look of Love, etc). I realize I'm being completely unreasonable here: you didn't grow up with 70s AM radio, and you can't be expected to know what you don't know. Even as I'm yelling at the sound system in my car, I'm laughing at my own ridiculous attitude. However, you kept remarking that the choices Hayes was making were "bold for a debut album," and then found out halfway through that it wasn't his first album. I just think if you had hit the wiki before you recorded the episode, your opinions would have been better informed, allowing you to dig in deeper with your observations. But then I kind of think, "Who cares? You found out, and we all got to listen in on the learning experience, and anyway, exactly how much do you need to know before you listen to an album, and..."And now my head hurts.

At this point, I'll list the other eps I've listened to, and try to wrap this up.
vv048: Desperado (do NOT get me started on the Eagles. They were my favorite band for the first 15 years of my life. I have no objectivity. But for the record, Glenn Frey was from Detroit. And they are NOT cheesier than Fleetwood Mac! Come at me!)
vv69: Chillin' by Force MDs (but you knew that)
vv001: Toto
vv002: Mirage
vv070: Yeezus (dunno if this counts b/c I got partway through & couldn't take any more)
vv007: Rio (I loved Sing Street, btw)
vv073: Boston (ended up yelling at you during this one because TWICE you both missed lyrics in the chorus that had been repeated 80x! I was like, "Am I the only one listening here?!" Then again, maybe that was Toto. It's all a blur now.)
vv074: Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School (hilarious that this was my episode because I own it on vinyl, or at least I used to. I gave most of my records away.)

I'm not a musician, so I appreciate the stuff you guys notice about the individual instruments & choices being made. Of all these eps, I most enjoyed the Fleetwood Mac & Boston, and I don't think it's coincidence that you guys knew something about their music beforehand.
So the bottom line is that, in my for-what-it's-worth opinion, your show is at its most enjoyable when your opinions are well-informed. Which probably means I should listen to episodes with later-era albums, but man, I hate post-80s music like poison! Did I mention I'm old?

Saturday, November 3, 2012


When I was little, I was taught that there are some things money can't buy. The Mayor of NYC obviously doesn't believe that, but after the events of this week, I know it's true. For many people here on Staten Island, money can't buy enough gas to keep a generator going or get their families across or out of town, away from the sewage in the streets. Money can't buy a meal or warm socks or a cup of coffee from stores that have no electricity. I know a lot of marathoners got stranded here, and that sucks, but everyone should know that the fault for that lies squarely with the mayor, who is so blinded by greed that he foolishly entertained the idea that this race should happen, not only for a fleeting moment, which should be the lifespan of a foolish idea, not only for an hour, but for FOUR DAYS. If he had been sensible enough to say, on Tuesday, "Hey folks, sorry about the marathon, but the whole idea is ridiculous," then those runners could have changed their plans. Instead, they're stuck here, because of one man's greed. I know many people would disagree with my premise, and say it's the mayor's money that keeps him above the fray, but I would love to see him stuff his pockets with cash & try to walk through Midland Beach or South Beach or New Dorp Beach right now, and see how far it gets him. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Girl Date with Bern

Bern & I went to the Met today, & for some reason she seemed to find half of everything I said brilliant. I was dropping eloquence like mad, yo. So here is the official list of my quotable quotes from our outing. 1) I was never that interested in Gertrude Stein, but as someone who feels like my only talent is liking stuff... I mean, she made a career out of it. She's an inspiration! 2) I love Seurat, but it's clear he had OCD or something. 3) Saw a ton of medieval shit in France. Brittany was lousy with it. 4) You can't go wrong with Impressionism. If you meet someone who doesn't like Impressionism, cut their head off, because they're a devil. 5) I love having crushed macarons in my bag. It's so refined & trashy at the same time. Honorable mention: Bern gets the credit for "Float like a duck." You had to be there. Finally, and possibly the greatest thing I have ever said or will ever say in my life: We went to P. J. Clarke's, not realizing that on a Friday evening it would be jammed, so we squeezed our way back to the dining room & took a table even though we really wanted to drink (we had munched on macarons all morning & eaten a healthy but overpriced lunch at the Met). So when the waitress asked to take our order, I said: We'll have a bottle of prosecco and a shrimp cocktail.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Wherein I Am Forced to Drink the Kool-Aid Known as The Hunger Games

I'm not going to bother with a fancy review. This is just me typing up the notes I made on post-its while reading. Yes, I am that much of a dweeb. I won't even insult you with a spoiler alert; everyone and their mother has been there and back already. And if you haven't read it, you've at least seen the ads from the movie, not to mention internet memes, and from those you can pretty much figure out anything that might have been remotely spoilery. I've indicated page numbers where I bothered to write them down.

1. Hey honey, we make bread; let's name our son... Peeta! I hate stupid names. That's why I don't read fantasy. Also because I hate multi-book series. So this is 0 for 2 already.
2. Why is it officially called the "Hunger Games?" Isn't that bad for P.R.? Shouldn't they call it the "Happy Fun Time Games?"
3. Did they have stylists just so there could be a movie without people saying "Why does their makeup look so good while they're hunting each other?"
4. Do they literally have no drivers on the chariots? Doesn't seem possible. I'm seriously having a hard time picturing this.
5. I didn't get the "Rue" thing till she pointed it out. Had to cram some Ophelia shit in there, didn't ya?
6. Why does she agree to train with Peeta (89)? I find it strange. Only reasons I can think of (1) She wants to see how tough Peeta is (2) She wants to max her training time
7. Yeah no shit the Gamemakers scored her high. How stupid are we supposed to be?
8. Rue is clearly Black. I can't believe people had problems with the casting.
9. End of Part One. WHAT? Peeta's crush is... Katniss? I hate when these moments end chapters, like they're supposed to be big revelations, even though the reader has known them from page four.
10. I feel like I've been hating on it a lot, but there are features and moments that I find endearing. I like how in some ways she's a typical YA heroine, except she has to kill kids. It's pretty amusing.
11. Pretty cool how that kid blows up in her face right off the bat (150).
12. Was Peeta comparing Katniss to his harpy bitch of a mother when he said, "Give my mother my best?" I'm not blaming. Just curious.
13. They collect the dead during the game? In Battle Royale they wait till it's all over, which makes more sense to me.
14. Exactly what advantages do they get from sponsors? I feel like I'm missing something.
15. Peeta joining the Careers pack. I freely admit I did not see that coming.
16. There are cameras, but are there mikes? Why does no one ever fuck with them?
17. With the Gamemakers and sponsors, I feel the Hunger Games is to Battle Royale what reality television is to reality. I may flesh this idea out in a Goodreads review. Or not.
18. Wow. Kinda shitty that she's letting her rivalry with Peeta overshadow helping her family (189).
19. God, when was the last time I tasted a honeysuckle?
20. I want Rue to turn out to be a psycho killer that destroys them all. Is that wrong? (200)
21. Why can't the Careers just get more supplies from their sponsors?
22. More Ophelia shit (237).
23. Rule change?! Why the fuck would they want to do that? And... aren't they the only pair left?
Okay, no, the pair from District 2 is alive, but the reason still doesn't make sense.
24. I hate this kind of stuff (261). When she won't let him finish "If I die..." It's bullshit. Even if you say "Don't talk like that," or whatever, you still let the guy finish that sentence, if only for your poor reader! And then how is she going to feel if he does die, and she can't even do whatever the fuck it was that he wanted her to do? Stupid.
25. Why do the Gamemakers send so much rain, when the result is no one killing each other?
26. Isn't this a kind of prostitution (302)? It's creeping me out.
27. All this kissing - how gross is their morning breath?
28. I like what she says about Foxface dying from Peeta's ignorance (324). It's kind of a mindfuck.
29. The mutts being the dead tributes struck me as incredibly stupid.
30. Would it really have fucked up the Capitol if they had gone out in double suicide? I have my doubts. If the point of the Hunger Games is to show their power by taking the children, why not just kill 'em all?
31. I really don't want there to be a Twilight-style rivalry between Peeta & Gale... and why do they both have such girly names?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ides Eve

I didn't watch Jeopardy yesterday, but apparently the final "answer" was a Shakespeare question; "something about Ophelia." I heard this from one of my Juniors, who was pleased with himself - and a bit surprised - that he was able to get it while none of the contestants did. He said, "I did process of elimination: I read Romeo & Juliet, I read Julius Caesar, and I read Macbeth, so I knew it wasn't any of those. I said, What's left? Hamlet!"
To paraphrase the Bard himself, I haz a happy. Enjoy those Ides of March!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Do I think Gatsby is a hero?

John Green has a great video about the first 6 chapters of The Great Gatsby. He calls for viewers to answer the question "Is Gatsby a hero?" in the comments section. Boy did I run out of space on that fast.

Long answer: Gatsby is most definitely on a quest. Nick at one point says he "found he had committed himself to the following of a grail." The Holy Grail is an interesting symbol for the American Dream, as is Daisy: the Grail is of course an object of spiritual value, (Hello! it's "Holy"), but it also holds great monetary value (at least it was believed to be all gold & jewelly until Indiana Jones’ Last Crusade came along). Similarly, Daisy can be seen as a valuable object (she's filthy rich, & every guy seems to want to possess her with the possible exception of her cousin), but there is also an intangible something about her that transcends all that. 
The knight who would seek the Grail had to be pure of heart. Nick makes this comparison because he sees something pure & innocent in Gatsby, even though that innocence might just be his incredible naivete in believing that he could ever be part of that “old money” society. I think Gatsby & Nick both saw something spiritual in that dream, the way the American Dream is so often talked about in noble terms (no matter where you come from, you can achieve greatness if you try hard enough) when on another level it’s just as Eddie Izzard described: get all the money in the world, stick it in your ears & go PHTHHHHHH!!
So the question really is: Do we agree with Nick?
I think I do. It’s really hard for me to argue with a narrator, no matter how hard I try.

Short answer: Yes. I should have said that first & saved you the TL;DR.

Counter question: Did The Catcher in the Rye make oblique references to Gatsby? (Hint: the answer is yes. Because I think so, and I’m the teacher. Nyah.)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Greatest Song Ever?

This one has been a long time coming, at least a week or so. I thought if I sat on it awhile the mania would pass and it would come out less hyperbolic. Let's see if that worked.
This is something I experience very rarely, but it happens: a song that has always been around, in the background, in bars, at parties, maybe even department stores, I couldn't possibly estimate how many times I've heard it in almost 20 years, but it's definitely more than a dozen, and somehow in all those times I heard it, it never registered that THIS IS THE GREATEST SONG ON THE PLANET.
Okay, that may be pushing it. But it is definitely a PERFECT SONG.
Scroll down if you want to know which song I'm referring to. Otherwise, stay with me and see if you can guess.
It's a love song, and one thing that makes it a perfect love song is the music. It's ebullient, euphoric, utterly poppy, just three and a half minutes of unbridled joy.
But hey, I had heard the music for years & never realized it was the perfect love song. My theory is twofold: partly that there are other songs by the same band that sound pretty similar, and partly that I never listened to the lyrics.
Now that's just weird for me. I'm all about words. Every song that I ever loved, I loved for the words. Why oh why didn't I just listen to them?

Tell me this isn't a love poem to rival Shakespeare or E. E. Cummings:

when i see you sky as a kite
as high as i might
i can't get that high
the how you move
the way you burst the clouds
it makes me want to try

when i see you sticky as lips
as licky as trips
i can't lick that far
but when you pout
the way you shout out loud
it makes me want to start
and when i see you happy as a girl
that swims in a world of magic show
it makes me bite my fingers through
to think i could've let you go

and when i see you
take the same sweet steps
you used to take
i say i'll keep on holding you
my arms so tight
i'll never let you slip away

and when i see you kitten as a cat
yeah as smitten as that
i can't get that small
the way you fur
the how you purr
it makes me want to paw you all
and when i see you happy as a girl
that lives in a world of make-believe
it makes me pull my hair all out
to think i could've let you leave

and when i see you
take the same sweet steps
you used to take
i know i'll keep on holding you
in arms so tight
they'll never, never let you go

I know, right?

So I've been listening to it over & over & over again. I sing it when I'm riding the bike sometimes, although Poe's "Amazing" is still my favorite for that :)