14 September 2006
Or you can just call them "alternative"

Stories are circulating that leftish radio network Air America Radio is flirting (in a nonsexist manner, of course) with bankruptcy; if they do in fact go under, their affiliates might find themselves scrambling for new programming.

The following formats might draw comparable, or even higher, audience numbers:

  1. All Def Leppard, All The Time
  2. The British Invasion: Songs of the War of 1812
  3. American Idol Rejects
  4. Emergency Alert System tests
  5. Disco Karachi (live from Pakistan)
  6. The Expurgated Howard Stern *
  7. Radio NASCAR
  8. Pat Buchanan's All-American Radio Xenophobe
  9. The Golf Channel
  10. Paul Harvey saying "Good day!" every twenty seconds

* At an estimated fourteen minutes per day, this alone would not be sufficient to fill a daily schedule.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:20 AM)
28 September 2006
It's off to the Elephant Bar

Press release, Wednesday: The Republican National Committee today announced that its Site Selection Committee has voted to recommend Minneapolis-St. Paul to host the 2008 Republican National Convention.

The following somehow missed the cut:

The Democrats are reportedly split; their top choices include Caracas, the Gaza Strip, and Noam Chomsky's back yard.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:36 AM)
1 October 2006
The shuttlecraft is up on blocks

Gene Roddenberry's idea for Star Trek was inclusive and embracing: the Federation was open to all. (Well, except Romulans, Klingons and such, and even the Klingons came around eventually.) It seems inevitable, therefore, that at some point there must have been a redneck or two at Starfleet Academy. You'd spot him on the bridge immediately:

  • He hangs fuzzy dice over the view screen.
  • He refers to the Mutara Nebula as a "swamp."
  • He has the sensor array repaired with a bent coat hanger and aluminum foil.
  • He says "Yee-Ha!" instead of "Engage."

Just let the Borg try to assimilate that.

(Via Dr. B.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:11 AM)
3 October 2006
Accounting for tastes

Terry Teachout's Cultural Convergence Index is simple enough, yet fiendishly complex: there's no obvious, or even concealed, pattern to it. As the man himself explains:

Are there other critics whose taste is as predictable as that? Sure — bad ones. And how can you tell they're bad? Precisely because they are that predictable. Taste is not an ideology. It's a personal response to the immediate experience of art. If your responses to new or unfamiliar art are wholly predictable, it means that instead of allowing experience to reshape and refine your taste, you're forcing your perceptions into the pigeonhole of your pre-existing opinions. That's the opposite of what a good critic does.

Sometimes, we like things because, well, we like them, without regard to whether it fits into some particular school or tradition or era or whatever. The true value of the Teachout Index, I'd say, is that it reminds us of this fact without having to slap us in the face with a damp carp.

John Salmon of Mystic Chords tried his hand at the Index today, which is what prompted this post.

And if you're wondering if I were going to do this, you're about twenty-seven months behind: see Vent #397 for my own results. (I agreed with Teachout roughly half the time.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:30 PM)
4 October 2006
Crank it loud when I'm gone, Sean

Crank it loud when I'm gone:

The Research for the Bereavement Register poll found these to be the songs most frequently requested for funerals in Britain:
  1. Goodbye My Lover - James Blunt
  2. Angels - Robbie Williams
  3. I've Had The Time Of My Life - Jennifer Warnes and Bill Medley
  4. Wind Beneath My Wings - Bette Midler
  5. Pie Jesu - Requiem
  6. Candle In The Wind - Elton John
  7. With Or Without You - U2
  8. Tears In Heaven - Eric Clapton
  9. Every Breath You Take - The Police
  10. Unchained Melody - Righteous Brothers
  11. Danny Boy [traditional]

"Every Breath You Take"? Seriously? Has anyone ever actually listened to this song? Sting supposedly once said it was a metaphor for government surveillance, and I want dead family members watching me about as much as I want Alberto Gonzales watching me, which is to say Not Much.

Inasmuch as I am aging at an appalling rate — one whole year every twelve months or so — it's probably time for me to pick out a playlist to celebrate my own demise. I think it ought to have things like this:

  • (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - The Rolling Stones
  • Mystery Train - Elvis Presley
  • 7 Rooms of Gloom - Four Tops
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy - Alice Cooper
  • When I'm Gone - Brenda Holloway

And I'd be much obliged if someone dug up Nat "King" Cole's "That Sunday, That Summer." It bears no actual resemblance to life as I know it — but oh, how I wish it did.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:08 PM)
9 October 2006
While the world worries

The Top Ten Good Things about the North Korean nuclear test:

  1. Keeps the DPRK from being demoted to the Axis of Feeble
  2. Japan contemplating new, improved Godzilla
  3. Pyongyang, as a member of the Nuclear Club, is now liable for back dues
  4. Opportunity to recalibrate Richter scale
  5. South Korean arms trade profitable again
  6. It will take 10 years to save up enough aluminum cans for a second test
  7. Test site may actually be warm this winter, unlike rest of country
  8. President Ahmadinejad of Iran no longer a lock for Dork of the Year
  9. Beijing now wondering why they actually backed these loons
  10. Finally got that idiot Mark Foley off the goddamn front page

(Disclosure: I have not quit my day job.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:36 PM)
28 October 2006
What's your Southern sign?

Bound to be one of these:

OKRA (Dec 22 - Jan 20) Are tough on the outside but tender on the inside. Okras have tremendous influence. An older Okra can look back over his life and see the seeds of his influence everywhere. You can do something good each day if you try. You go well with most anyone.

CHITLIN (Jan 21 - Feb 19) Chitlins come from humble backgrounds. A Chitlin, however, will make something of himself if he is motivated and has lots of seasoning. In dealing with Chitlins, be careful, they may surprise you. They can erupt like Vesuvius. Chitlins are best with a Moon Pie but Catfish or Okra are O.K. too.

BOLL WEEVIL (Feb 20 - March 20) You have an overwhelming curiosity. You're unsatisfied with the surface of things, and you feel the need to bore deep into the interior of everything. Needless to say, you are very intense and driven as if you had some inner hunger. You love to stay busy and tend to work too much. Nobody in their right mind is going to marry you, so don't worry about it.

MOON PIE (March 21 - April 20) You're the type that spends a lot of time on the front porch. A cinch to recognize the physical appearance of Moon Pies. Big and round are the key words here. You should marry anybody who you can get remotely interested in the idea. A Chitlin would be a good mate but it's not going to be easy. You always have a big smile and are happy. This might be the year to think about aerobics. Maybe not.

POSSUM (April 21 - May 21) When confronted with life's difficulties, possums have a marked tendency to withdraw and develop a don't-bother-me-about-it attitude. Sometimes you become so withdrawn, people actually think you're dead. This strategy is probably not psychologically healthy but seems to work for you. You are a rare breed. Most folks love to watch you work and play. You are a night person and mind your own business. You should definitely marry a Armadillo.

CRAWFISH (May 22 - June 21) Crawfish is a water sign. If you work in an office, you're hanging around the water cooler. Crawfish prefer the beach to the mountains, the pool to the golf course, and the bathtub to the living room. You tend not to be particularly attractive physically but have a good heart.

COLLARDS (June 22 - July 23) Collards have a genius for communication. They love to get in the melting pot of life and share their essence with the essence of those around them. Collards make good social workers, psychologists, and baseball managers. As far as your personal life goes, if you are Collards, stay away from Crawfish. It just won't work. Save yourself a lot of heartache.

CATFISH (July 24 - Aug 23) Catfish are traditionalists in matters of the heart, alt hough one's whiskers may cause problems for loved ones. You Catfish are never easy people to understand. You run fast. You work and play hard. Even though you prefer the muddy bottoms to the clear surface of life, you are liked by most. Above all else, Catfish should stay away from Moon Pies.

GRITS (Aug 24 - Sept 23) Your highest aim is to be with others like yourself. You like to huddle together with a big crowd of other Grits. You love to travel though, so maybe you should think about joining a club. Where do you like to go? Anywhere they have cheese, gravy, bacon, butter, or eggs and a good time. If you can go somewhere where they have all these things, that serves you well. You are pure in heart.

BOILED PEANUTS (Sept 24 - Oct 23) You have a passionate desire to help your fellow man. Unfortunately, those who know you best, your friends and loved ones, may find that your personality is much too salty, and their criticism will affect you deeply because you are really much softer than you appear. You should go right ahead and marry anybody you want to because in a certain way, yours is a charmed life. On the road of life, you can be sure that people will always pull over and stop for you.

BUTTER BEAN (Oct 24 - Nov 22) Always invite a Butter Bean to a party because Butter Beans get along well with everybody. You, as a Butter Bean, should be proud. You've grown on the vine of life, and you feel at home no matter what the setting. You can sit next to anybody. However, you, too, shouldn't have anything to do with Moon Pies.

ARMADILLO (Nov 23 - Dec 21) You have a tendency to develop a tough exterior, but you are actually quite gentle and kind inside. A good evening for you? Old friends, a fire, some roots, fruit, worms, and insects. You are a throwback. You're not concerned with today's fashions and trends. You're not concerned with anything about today. You're almost prehistoric in your interests and behavior patterns. You probably want to marry another Armadillo, but a Possum is another somewhat kinky mating possibility.

(Found at Meep's; Meep notes, "Astrology is going to be just as apt when using Southern icons, Greek symbols, or Chinese interpretation of animals." Disclosure: I am an Armadillo, once wed to a Crawfish. Coming out of our shells was not a strong point.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:59 AM)
16 November 2006
A Colonel of truth

News Item: Colonel Sanders is shedding his white suit jacket for a cook's red apron. The smiling Colonel is featured against a red background that matches his red apron with the name "Kentucky Fried Chicken." KFC had dropped "fried" from its name and logo over a decade ago as it expanded its non-fried menu items to appeal to the health conscious.

Top Ten Other Expected Restaurant Changes:

  1. Taco Bell purchased by AT&T
  2. Sonic Drive-In moves headquarters from Oklahoma City to Seattle
  3. Federal Trade Commission rules that Long John Silver's is "not all that long"
  4. Carl's III spun off
  5. Union fails to organize Cheesecake Factory, dessert cart subsequently outsourced
  6. Burger King outed, was a queen all along
  7. New European Union rules prohibit Olive Garden from describing itself as "Italian"
  8. Chuck E. Cheese moves upscale, will now be known as Charles Edward Wensleydale
  9. Popeye's Chicken adds spinach to menu after nasty note from King Features Syndicate
  10. Donald Trump buys McDonald's, restaurants to be rebranded "The Donald's," new slogan: "I Deserve a Tax Break Today"

(Posted before lunch.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:37 AM)
25 November 2006
Old jokes

Top Ten Advantages of Turning Fifty-Three:

  1. Not dead yet
  2. Age and year of birth ('53) actually match, sort of
  3. Nobody says a word if you go to bed at 10 pm
  4. Mid-life crisis should be over and done with by now
  5. "Distinguished" to "dorky" ratio goes up a couple of percentage points
  6. Still likely to get a few bucks from Social Security before it goes completely broke
  7. Ability to feign maturity improving all the time
  8. Younger women will speak to you, so long as you don't actually try to date them or anything
  9. Can shut off cell phone without worrying about missing something
  10. Almost to the point where being carded might bring discounts

Not all of these will apply next year.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:22 AM)
14 December 2006
Olfactory seconds

News item: Jimmie Johnson, 2006 winner of the Nextel Cup Series and reigning champion of its premiere race, the Daytona 500, has signed on with Elizabeth Arden as national spokesperson for the Daytona 500 Fragrance for Men.

Top Ten Sports Fragrances Rejected By Elizabeth Arden Before Choosing "Daytona 500":

  1. Mark Cuban's Hissy Fit
  2. Scarlet Billows by Curt Schilling
  3. Portrait of the Artest
  4. Foul Balls
  5. Ground-Rule Doublemint
  6. Hai Sticking
  7. This Is SportsScenter
  8. Jeter After Dark
  9. Anywhere Within Six Feet of John Madden
  10. balco: the barry bonds experience

Not available at a store near you.

(Suggested by Deadspin.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:46 PM)
29 January 2007
So go get in line already

News item: Microsoft's long-awaited Vista operating system will become widely available to consumers tonight — and the world will be watching to see how well it sells. Vista, the latest version of Windows, officially hits shelves at 12:01 Tuesday morning.

Top Ten Essential Features of Windows Vista:

  1. Supports Windows Media Player 12, which automatically taps your PayPal account and sends the contents thereof to Sony/BMG

  2. New speech feature laughs at you when you try to install it over Windows 98

  3. "PlaysForSure" upgraded to more humanistic-sounding "PlaysIfWeFeelLikeIt"

  4. It will be at least a year before you have to install Service Pack 2

  5. New industrial-strength Windows Genuine Advantage package sends 2500 volts directly to your mouse if it detects you're using a pirated copy

  6. ActiveX controls replaced with more masculine ActiveY

  7. For security purposes, all Administrator accounts automatically forward to one guy in Redmond

  8. New Registry setting allows optional Cornflower, Magenta, and Chartreuse Screens of Death

  9. System Restore offers new "Random" toggle

  10. Instead of being three years behind those Macintosh wussies, you're now only two years behind

Bring lots of money.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:33 PM)
6 February 2007
Just a Falcon minute

News Item: Ford Motor Company will rename its slow-selling Five Hundred model the Taurus, a name that Ford had previously used for a car that became the nation's top-seller, company officials said Tuesday.

Top Ten Names Also Considered for the Ford Five Hundred:

  1. Three-Eighty After Rebate
  2. Flathead
  3. Not A Lincoln
  4. Fonda
  5. Felcher
  6. Festivus
  7. Excrescence
  8. Prefect
  9. Fairmont II
  10. Camry (hey, they're desperate)

(Via Jalopnik.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:39 AM)
13 March 2007
More tribulations, fewer trials

News Item: Court TV is changing its name, look and logo as part of a network overhaul planned for later this year. The network, acquired by Time Warner and folded into its Turner division during 2006, will no longer be called Court TV as of Jan. 1, 2008, and will revamp its daytime trial coverage and add in prime several new reality series (or, as the network and others, like A&E, prefer to call them, "real-life series").

Top Ten Proposed New Names for Court TV:

  1. OJTV
  2. The Thug Channel
  3. Disembodied Headline News
  4. F!
  5. The Repellent Will Please Rise
  6. American Idolatry
  7. Xtreme News
  8. The Anna Nicole Memorial
  9. TCM (Turner Classic Madmen)
  10. Fox Family

(Seen at Gawker.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:27 AM)
12 April 2007
Five rules for a great box set

Courtesy of the Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons Enthusiasts and Historical Society of the United Kingdom:

  1. A great set should have all the hits.

  2. A great set should have value added for fans who have earlier collections.

  3. A great set should represent the full spectrum of a group's styles and the complete range of its experimentation.

  4. A great set should cover a group's entire career.

  5. A great set should have great liner notes.

Of the boxes I have, the one that hews closest to this particular line is Phil Spector's Back to Mono 1958-1969 box, issued by Abkco back in the Pleistocene era (okay, 1991) for an appalling $80 list and now widely available for about a quarter of that. (Disclosure: I paid $65 for mine.) Departures from perfection: the essays by David Hinckley and Tom Wolfe (yes!) are seriously readable, but while they capture Phil, they give the actual music semi-short shrift — and would it have been so hard to toss in just one of the infamous throwaway B-sides like "Tedesco and Pitman"?

Oh, and the sound is kinda fuzzy, and, as per the title, mono only. (Then again, Spector's bounce-and-keep-bouncing recording technique doesn't lend itself particularly well to stereo mixing, though most of the hits did appear somewhere in stereo at one time or another.) And yes, Spector made records throughout the Seventies, but they were either (1) remarkably unsuccessful for some reason or (2) done on behalf of various Beatles and therefore not available for a compilation.

Nominations for Great Box Sets will of course be happily accepted.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:44 PM)
20 April 2007

News Item: An Oklahoma City police officer accused of sending pictures of his penis from his cell phone to a female officer's cell phone has been put on administrative paid leave, a police spokesman said.

Top Ten responses to receiving a picture of an Oklahoma City policeman's penis on one's cell phone:

  1. "I'm sorry, I was expecting a private dick."
  2. [muffled giggling]
  3. "I have the right to remain silent."
  4. "I guess with that, it's not really sexual harassment, is it?"
  5. "That's no place to hang a donut."
  6. "How many banks got robbed in the last couple of minutes?"
  7. "See my answer at