Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Coolness and Passion Index

"It may be too hard to tell whether an artist is cool, but we have all sorts of ways to tell that an artist is definitely not cool. For instance, if lots of listeners really don’t want people to know that they are listening to a particular artist, then that artist is probably not too cool."
By examining "unwanted scrobbles" data from, a blogger tries to make sense of what's uncool in popular music. (What is a scrobble?) The conclusion?
"It is hard to be cool and female."
No two ways about it. Most male music fans don't care to collect music by female performers and bands. The only exceptions might be in genres like Jazz, country and folk.

I know, some of you will be eager to drop the names of Janis Joplin, Grace Slick, Joni Mitchell at this point, but I can't say I have spent any significant amount of time listening to them.

The Coolness Index.

On a similar note, the same blogger looks at a "Passion Index" to understand "which artists generate the most passionate listeners". While the math is clearly not perfect, the Beatles win hands down. (Their former rivals, the Rolling Stones are actually ranked below, get this, Gorillaz.)

But how might "passion" be linked to music sales? Do Gorillaz actually sell more than the Stones? Can Sigur Ros really sell more singles and albums than Led Zeppelin? I doubt it. But it is an interesting bit of insight.

How much longer before even the Beatles and Pink Floyd drop out of this list, just like Elvis? Another fifty years? A hundred years? Or are they destined to forever remain on such an index, like Beethoven and Mozart?

The Passion Index

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Kokko's Bonfire

"Kokko, kokoa koko kokko kokoon. Koko kokkoko? Koko kokko, Kokko, kokoa kokoon!"

Via the delightful Futility Closet, a little lesson in Finnish.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Line Maroing

Fellow geezer J.A.P started this:
"Lines – lines from songs - that you think are great. Or maybe almost great. Or maybe just lines that stick in the mind."
The million-dollar question is, do I skip the obvious sources and lines or stick to them? I am not sure but I will NOT quote from "Like a rolling stone". Done. To. Death.

I have to kick this off with a line from a more recent band that has entered my Great Line Database:

"Are we human or are we dancer?"

It is a genuine head-scratcher, lyrically and grammatically. It could also serve as a zen koan and is a sort of a companion to another line written more than 40 years ago by the Beatles, which is also a favorite of mine:

"you may be a lover but you ain't no dancer"

"God is a concept by which we measure our pain"
"How can I go forward when I don't know which way I am facing?"

"I have tended my own garden for much too long"
(one of the most underrated songs in the S&G songbook)
"Phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust"
"I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die"
"I'm goin' to California where they sleep out every night"
(I know, it's not profound or anything, but it's a line I love.)

"Maybelline, why can't you be true?"
"Crusin' and playin' the radio, with no particular place to go"

"She whispered in his ear "Exactly Odo Quasimoto"
(John Prine is a genius. Please listen to "The Missing Years" album if you are not familiar with his music. You *will* thank me later.)

"your cracked country lips, I still wish to kiss" (Of all Dylan lines, is there one more precise and evocative than this? Of course there is.)
"Yes to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free"
"We are stardust"

"Water in the milk from the hole in the roof where the rain came through" (Waylon Jennings is my man)
I'm wishing, Lord, that I was stoned" (*the* saddest song about Sundays. Period.)
"Sitting on park benches like bookends" (though, to be sure, "Parsely, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme" is their most quotable album)
"I saw a shadow touch a shadow's hand" (a pretentious Paul Simon lyric, but the line's been seared in my brain)
"I am 22 now and I won't be for long" (a *serious* teenage crush will forever be associated with this song and album. Ahh, teenage.)
"and after all, we're only ordinary men" (pass me the doobie, brother)
"Have no fear for atomic energy"
"You can fool some people sometime, but you can't fool all the people all the time"
"Wake me up before you go-go"
(stop smirking - it is *almost* a good line)
"it's a long way to the top if you want to rock 'n roll"

Damn, I can do this all day :) So I will end with my *most* favorite line:

"And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make"

P.S.: Not *one* Cole Porter line? Yes, but only because it is unfair competition.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Geeta Nagar Needs Your Help

Via the Griff Man's blog (and MumbaiHelp), a request for assistance:
"The high tidal waves on 24th July destructed several homes at Geeta Nagar, the largest slum in Navy Nagar and washed away roofs and huts of more than a hundred poor people.

Please contribute rice, atta, sugar, tea leaves, pulses and also bedsheets, and clothes for men, women, children.

Any help is welcome."

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Day In The Life In The Park

Neil. Punk bastard.

Here he is, in London's Hyde Park last month, performing "A day in the life". To sing the bridge and to do the "aah, aaaaaah", he's joined by the guy who co-wrote all those fun bits :)

Neil and Paul McCartney share a microphone, Neil breaks guitar strings with much glee which seems to delight Paul and after the noisy crescendo (classic Neil), they go on to play a little tune on a vibraphone.

All in the course of one song.

I freaking heart Neil.

(Can't be sure, but the two of them look a little too blissed out...some backstage smoking, perhaps?)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Wildlife Harakiri Program Continues

Remember the baby deer? I don't know how, but I seem to have turned into this powerful Beast Magnet. It's like being in a "In Soviet Russia" joke. The animals, they brake for me.

This morning, a big wild turkey tried to shuffle off the mortal coil by placing itself in front of my (moving) car. Watching it run was like watching an extremely pregnant woman participating in a 100-meter race against her wishes. Funny, yes, but ultimately painful.

The bird made it OK. I gave it an angry stare in the rear-view mirror while silently mouthing "Thanksgiving 2009". No coffee was spilled.

Now I wait for the suicidal wildebeests, misanthropic dolphins and sad woolly mammoths.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Moonhead Jam

How cool was this planet in 1969?

It was so cool that during BBC's coverage of the moon landing on this day in 1969, they had Pink Floyd, a band later celebrated for its tight connection to our beloved satellite, provide live music to the landing. (I hope someone from ISRO is reading this. Guys, if you need some mixtapes when your 'nauts bounce around that rocky, dusty surface, call me. I will gladly do that job for free. Keeping fingers crossed.)

David Gilmour's blog, which is NOT written by him so don't go all fanboy there, has a video of the so-called "Moonhead" jam. (Via The Lede)

Isn't it just brilliant that something as new as space travel and something as old as blues music can belong together?

Friday, July 17, 2009


What Amazon did recently is just plain shitty: it deleted copies of George Orwell's 1984 from everyone's Kindle. (Doing it to any other title would have been just as bad, but.come.on. Not 1984.) Something to do with copyright issues between Amazon and one of the publishers of 1984.

Like so many other book lovers, I too have indulged in an occasional rant or ten against Amazon's Kindle. Even with recent announcement of the new pricing, I am not clear why I should get one. (Not that I am in the market...) But when you work in the tech business like I do, you do feel vaguely ashamed at sounding like a bit of a Luddite. I mean, if I can't accept changing trends, why do I expect my customers to behave differently?

For me, the biggest obstacle with the Kindle is that it takes a perfectly great product, aka the book, and turns it into what is described in the software world as a "proprietary platform". A Kindle is a platform on which you download, read and store books (and is not the book in itself).

If the last 3 decades of Information Technology has taught us anything, it's this: the the one who builds the platform is the victor. Apple, Microsoft and now Google, they are all fighting for that right to build the next platform. With the platform come the cool software applications and before you know it, you are tied to one provider.

That is the *only* game in town. Hence, Amazon wants to create a "reading platform". The trouble is, platform providers wield too much power. They decide what can and cannot run on the platform. They decide how things will work on the platform.

Amazon deleted the book because it could.

But what all this means is I don't have to go through the trouble of drawing up the pros and cons of buying a Kindle. The fact that Amazon can "unsell" a book only makes the argument in favor of buying "real" books that much more compelling.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Beatle On The Rooftop, Circa 2009

Talk about a full circle. Paul McCartney in NYC yesterday playing, not on the Ed Sullivan Show of course, but ON the Ed Sullivan Theater. Close enough, right? CBS has put up a rocking, tight little, five-song concert video.

I'm still kicking myself for not knowing about this sooner. I've seen Paul live on stage before but watching him play on a rooftop would have been so cool.

Related: Letterman is on a roll. (I suppose Conan will now have to summon George's spirit to play some rooftop in LA to beat Letterman's ratings?)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Unchanged And The Unchanging

A poem by Wallace Stevens and a wonderful bit of transcendental commentary on the poem by Space Bar:
"In other words, only one who can see and hear without modifying what is seen or heard, can see things as they are. The only quality one must possess is the quality of not overlaying what is external with the cloth of thought – ‘not think’ but merely behold, merely listen. Be both unchanged and unchanging."
Yes I know, it somehow feels wrong to be reading a poem about snow and "junipers shagged with ice" in July. It's July, for crying out loud! It's a happy 83 degrees outside. The "frost and the boughs" business is still five months away. Shoo! Shoo!!

Also, read the Wiki on the poem. (Caution: contains the words "epistemology" and "Nietzchean thought" which make you feel smarter than you really are.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Contrarian View On Asia's Future

On the Foreign Policy magazine website, a provocative piece on Asia:
"'s a gross exaggeration to say that Asia will emerge as the world's predominant power player. At most, Asia's rise will lead to the arrival of a multi-polar world, not another unipolar one."
" thinking about Asia's future, let's not get ahead of ourselves. Its economic ascent is not written in the stars."
If you work in the technology sector, please go start a flame war on FP's site over the author's take on the lack of innovation in Asia and the quality of engineers in India and China ;)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Original Killer App

Searching for music online is the only cure for those long summer afternoons when you feel you have surfed to the very end of the Internet. (There *is* an end. You do know that, right?)

Cnet has a neat little post on search engines that only look for music. I was pleasantly surprised by the results on all the engines. Give them all a spin and see for yourself.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Who Will Mourn An Accountant's Death?

Allen Klein died a couple of days ago.

I found an absolutely fantastic site that tracks the economic history of the Beatles. Read that linked page about what Klein did for the Beatles. Among other things, the Beatles' royalties went up from 6 cents per sale before 1966 to 39 cents per record between '66-'69. Sweet mother.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Not To Touch The Earth

The levitation of Jim Morrison's girlfriend (link to a single photo; Jim Morrison doing a P.C. Sorcar)

Don't ask. I have no idea what that picture's all about. It is trippy, silly and funny.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Best Obituary Ever

Christopher Hixson, Nancy Hixson's son, was kind enough to include this bit of information in the comments: This link goes to a version of the obit with page breaks.

Nancy Lee Hixson is not a name most of us recognize, but her obituary, a self-penned one, is worth reading for so many reasons. For example, her description of herself as an "indifferent housekeeper".

Then this:
"She also enjoyed a long life of unmentionable adventures and confessed she had been a rebellious teen-aged library clerk, an untalented college student on scholarship, a run-away Hippie, a stoic Sunday School teacher, a Brownie leader, a Grange lecturer, an expert rifleman, a waitress, a wife once or twice, a welder, an artist, and a writer."
I know, starting the week with an obit is not exactly the motivation boost you were looking for but this actually might do the trick. (Stop bitching and moaning about the lack of indentation in the linked page. I am sure you have Notepad or Word on your computer.)

Also, don't forget to read the guest book and also this article in the same newspaper.

Nancy Hixson, RIP.

(Link via the Blue)

Saturday, July 04, 2009


Using Rubik's cubes to make two iconic album covers: Abbey Road and London Calling. (Link opens to a video; Via MetaFilter)

Note: The artist, Jonathan Levine, has an exhibition in NYC. Here are pictures of other album covers on display.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Whizzz! Boom! Bang! Meh.

"...the professional fireworks display is an exercise in pomposity, aggression, triumphalism, and hubris. The pyrotechnician—and, more importantly, his patron—intends to ornament the night sky beyond the powers of God himself. He means to inspire awe for little purpose other than to demonstrate his power."
From Slate.

The best fireworks display I saw was one Fourth of July, several years ago. It had been raining all evening and by the time it was dark, the fireworks were occurring behind a thick wall of cloud. It was like a high-concept, prank art project. You had ten thousand billion people, all looking up at the sky and, by force of habit, emitting a disappointed, low-intensity "oooh" at nothing.