4.01.2005

Parting Words

While my ALOTT5MA brethren and I have decided this joint venture was not working out, I did want to take a minute to thank those people who had so many kind words to offer:


I do want to correct an earlier typo: when we said in our joint announcement that we had "found the main ingredient", it should have read "found The Main Ingredient".

The staff apologizes for any confusion.

Finally, obviously, thanks to Scott, Tung and Ann for making all this happen. We tried. Maybe next year?

POSTCARD FROM THE GREAT MAGNETIC FIELD: Welcome to the alt.housers, glad to have you. Every time there's a blogsolidation and I get a new audience, I like to let everybody know about the greatest cultural crime in American history: the failure to put Black Sabbath in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Here's the scorecard, and I will brook no dissent:

1. Black Sabbath invented alternative rock. Sure, we might have gotten there through punk, but we didn't. Without Black Sabbath, there would be no Nirvana (via no Melvins), no Black Flag, no Pearl Jam, no Bush, no Creed, no Smashing Pumpkins, to name a few. Sure, some of that would be a good thing, but we didn't keep Simon and Garfunkel out just because of the Indigo Girls, did we? And for fans of the MC-5 who want to claim paternity for modern rock: please go back to bed.

2. Black Sabbath made protest rock accessible to non-hippies. Let me get this straight. Dylan's "Masters of War" is a trenchant commentary. Sabbath's "War Pigs" is a comic book fantasy? Listen to the two songs -- similar structure, lyrically and musically, except that War Pigs has the elegiac coda with the chilling crescendo finish, and of course is better done. Also, not that this is the only important thing, it's far more enduring and popular among everybody but critics. And I haven't even brought up Sabbath's other protest/issue songs -- Children of the Grave, Snowblind, Hand of Doom, etc.

3. Black Sabbath pioneered the heavy-metal ballad. "Laguna Sunrise" and "Changes," both on 1972's Volume 4, basically invented the sub-genre. "Laguna Sunrise" is a beautiful and simple acoustic guitar duet. "Changes" is a mopey breakup song. Both played completely against type, making it okay for tough guys to cry on future vinyl. No Sabbath, no "Every Rose Has Its Thorn." What would you do without "Every Rose Has Its Thorn"?

4. Black Sabbath invented cartoon devil-worship. Before Sabbath, you might get tarred and feathered just for saying something like "that Satan fellow, well, in my book he's okay." After Sabbath it was okay to go on the Muppet Show and make a deal for Miss Piggy's soul. No, it's not an urban legend. You may not like this, but you cannot deny the important cultural role that cartoon devil worship acceptance has played in our society.

5. Black Sabbath invented smokers' wing style. Remember when you were in high school and those guys used to hang out in the parking lot with puffy hair and mustaches and leather jackets with the sleeves pushed up to their forearms? Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler invented that. As far as I know, there are still guys standing in the parking lots today with that same look. It spread rapidly -- to John Oates, to Bucky Dharma, to Weird Al Yankovic. By the mid-80s you couldn't swing a cat at an AOR promotional convention without hitting a DJ sporting that style. That has to count for something.

6. Even when off its peak, Black Sabbath was great. When bands fire their original singers, they tend to get terrible quickly. Sammy Hagar sucked the fun out of Van Halen, and don't get me started on Gary Cherone. Joe Lynn Turner ruined Richie Blackmore's Rainbow. Not Sabbath. After Ozzy went solo, they picked up huge-voice/tiny man (inside and out) Ronnie James Dio for two really good albums (Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules) and a passable live album (Live Evil). When Dio was too much of a jerk to deal with, they signed up former Deep Purple frontman Ian Gillan, who was, surprisingly, amazing. This trio is like the heavy-metal equivalent of the Three Tenors. The only other exceptions to the don't-replace-your-vocalist rule, as far as I can tell, are Iron Maiden and Squeeze.

Meet the Nats, Step Right Up and Greet the Nats

David Brooks recently explained his moral dilemma regarding whether to become a Washington Nationals fan. Unable to make a decision, he goes into the baseball season "adrift and uncertain, tempted by my lowdown cheating heart, caught between a lifetime love and an enticing new fling."

His "lifetime love" happens to be the Mets, so I can't blame him for his apparent willingness to abandon them for the upstart Nats.

My decision, however, involves so much more. You see, I'm a Philadelphia Phillies phan, born and raised in the City of Brotherly Love. And, given their long history of success, it's not so easy to give up the Phightin's.

But I, too, feel the tug of getting in on the ground level of a new team, with a storied history of its own.

Ok, I've decided.

Go Nats!

Knoxville Can Wait

Without question, these are the bloggers we need to assimilate. I especially like the work these upstanding gentlemen are doing.

Hey, what's the big idea?!

Let go of my blog! I don't know if you readers understand what is happening, but these clowns have invaded my personal, autonomous blog. Please help me!

The Break's Over, H.O.V.A.

We came. We saw. We conquered.

Prof. Ann Althouse thought she could resist. We warned her. She mocked us. We won.

First Madison; Los Angeles, Fort Washington and Knoxville, watch out: we're coming for you.

Sure To Be As Successful As OK Cola

In yet another example of the sort of bold synergy that gave rise to this merger, Google has decided to move forward into the hydration industry. Google Gulp (beta) comes in four delicious flavors. Want to know how to get it? Click here.

Friday Spies ©

I used to do this weekly feature over at my old blog every week, and I hope to continue the practice here, perhaps even getting my new co-bloggers into it. Anyway, here we go:

1. Have you ever been in a car wreck?

Yes, actually. And I'm quite embarassed (and still a bit hurt) about it, which is why I never mentioned it before. It wasn't really a wreck, per se, but rather a tragic one-car incident on private property. I was backing my ex-girlfriend's father's Chevy Tahoe down his very long, unpaved gravel driveway. The gravel, combined with the size and weight of the Tahoe, kicks up a great deal of dust, so you can't really see anything in front of or behind the truck when you're on the driveway. This presents obvious problems.

The specific problem for me on this particular occasion was that my girlfriend's aging border collie, who was chained to a large oak tree out by their shed, ended up in my path and could not hobble out of the way in time. I never saw her.

2. Sunrise or sunset?

Sunrise, hands down. There's nothing I like better than getting up early in the morning, when it's still dark out and still cold, and venturing out into the chill pre-dawn air to watch the sun rise over the river. The quiet solitude lends itself well to reflection before the business of the workday clouds my mind. Plus, I get to exercise, read the paper, and have a cup of coffee all before I have to walk to work.

3. If you could change, amend, delete, or pass one law, what would it be?

I'm not too fond of the portion of the First Amendment precluding the establishment of religion. I think the separation of church and state isn't all that it's cracked up to be. If we, as a majority of Americans, believe that our lives should be guided by a higher being, what's wrong with acknowledging that and allowing it to control the way we govern our country? Former Senator John Danforth, a Republican and an Episcopal minister, recently argued that Republicans should keep religion out of their politics. I think the opposite. Not only should they keep doing what they're doing, but Democrats would do well to take up a similar strategy.

4. What is your favorite single article of clothing?

I have an old Mr. Rogers-style cardigan that I'm rather found of in the winter. Now that it's getting warmer, however, I'm going to have to say my pair of madras shorts.

5. If you could/had to spend the day hanging out with another blogger (one you don't already know), who would it be and what would you do?

I'm going to state the obvious and say that I'd like to spend the day with Howard Bashman. He seems smart, funny, and very knowledgable about a wide variety of topics, so I think we would have some interesting conversations throughout the day. Plus, as a top-notch appellate advocate, I'm sure he could give me some beneficial practice tips. We'd probably have a light lunch in downtown Philly, tour the Constitution Center, and then head off to a Phillies game.

And I Was So Looking Forward To My Scalia, Standing Atop The Lyrics To "Officer Krupke"

But, sadly, Prof. Ross Davies, a good friend to many posting here, has cancelled the Green Bag Supreme Court bobblehead series in order to honor his colleagues instead.

The Michelle Boardman doll may not do as well on EBay as the Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Sorry, Michelle -- just saying, is all.

"There is no spoon" . . . but I just got my TiVO

New co-blogger Adam has swallowed the red pill and sees that TiVo is basically the Matrix:

The only path to revolution lies in confronting the evil which exists before us, to see every day the banality of unsifted popular culture and recognize that which should lay beyond peradventure: we are not in control, and no $299 device provided by these same corporations can make it so.
He closes with an inspirational:
Who's with me?
Well, but I just got my TiVo and I haven't had a chance to amortize that "lifetime of the machine" subscription fee yet. . . .

Oh, all right. Down with TiVo!

The Underrated Randy Jackson

By now, everyone knows the stereotypes: Paula Abdul never says anything critical about the "American Idol" contestants, and Simon Cowell is the mean one. I've come to appreciate the underrated role that Randy Jackson plays as the other judge. No longer do I see him as the cliched "dawg, it was airight for me" one.

I've cracked the Randy Jackson Code:

1) How many times does he say "Dawg" when he greets you? This is very important. The more times he says "Dawg," the more he wants to put off the subtle trashing he's about to administer. So one "Dawg" is good, two are okay, but more than that and you're in trouble.

2) Does he say "I don't know man"? This is another form of delay and is also a bad sign.

3) Does he say "Wow"? This one cuts both ways. If he says "wow" and wipes his forehead, it's bad, but if he says "wow" and shakes his fist two times, it's good.

It's time for the Dawg to get noticed.

Jealousy, Turning Saints into the Sea

So, new new wave rockers The Killers are being sued by a former drummer who claims that he wrote their hit song "Mr. Brightside." It's a frivolous claim from what I understand, and not all that interesting. What is interesting, however, is how the interview with frontman Brandon Flowers deteriorates into an old school rock burn of fellow punks The Bravery:

"Look at a band like the Bravery. They're signed because we're a band," Flowers said. "I've heard rumors about [members of] that band being in a different kind of band, and how do you defend that? If you say, 'My heart really belongs to what I'm doing now,' but you used to be in a ska band. I can see the Strokes play or Franz Ferdinand play and it's real, and I haven't gotten that from the Bravery. I think people will see through them."
That there's some strong words from a Vegas bellhop whose band is just an amateurish collage of Blur, Pulp and the Cure. Before you knock others for ripping you off, take a good look in the mirror, and in the 80's section of your local record shop.

If I'm Being Perfectly Honest Here

I've decided to scrap my TiVo.

It's not that I'm watching too much tv. It's that I'm not watching enough bad tv. Television is designed to be passively enjoyed -- you sit down, you flip around the dial until something you like comes on, and, yes, you sit through the commercials. This is all part of our shared cultural experience from birth until a few years ago -- the idea that You Are Not In Control; The TV Controls You.

To employ DVR technology is not to give the viewer control but only the similacrum of control; we still live in a world controlled by corporations, in which advertising dollars dictate what programming is available to us. To deny that reality through TiVo is tantamount to denying reality itself, weakening our resolve to overthrow that superstructure. TiVo in effect creates a virtual and invirtuous reality, making us cocooned sleepers stacked in pods no longer cognizant of the extent to which our subservience to the dominant paradigm has been preordained.

The only path to revolution lies in confronting the evil which exists before us, to see every day the banality of unsifted popular culture and recognize that which should lay beyond peradventure: we are not in control, and no $299 device provided by these same corporations can make it so.

TiVo was founded by America Online. Inc. Institutional Venture Partners, NBC Multimedia, Inc., New Enterprise Associates, DIRECTV, Inc., Sony Corporation, Vulcan Ventures, Inc. and TiVo employees. Does that sound like liberation of the consumer or just another form of slavery?

Who's with me?

For Immediate Release

PHILADELPHIA/IOWA CITY/WASHINGTON/NEW YORK/CHICAGO/PARTS UNKNOWN: After plotting relentlessly in long fortnights, our overlooked 'logs synchronize on this day. This is the right day on which to announce that A List of Things Thrown Five Minutes Ago (itself the result of a merger), The Yin Blog and Life, Law, Libido have combined to form one entity, heretofore known as Tung's Minutes of Five Things More Libidinal. We plan to bring you all the whimsy you already know and love that a group of lawyers, lawprofs and clerks can produce, only more so this time now that we've found the main ingredient. Should market share increase, we look forward to a hostile takeover of Prof. Althouse's blog as well.

Please continue to enjoy us here.