Does This Ever Happen to You?
For a few years now, whenever I go out downtown (that's DC for you newer readers, if there are any), I get stared at. Not by everybody, though. It tends to be younger folks. Not kids, but people in their mid-20s or so.
I'm not this fabulous-looking guy, and I'm not astonishingly ugly or funny-looking--in fact I think I'm pretty generic--so I'm pretty sure it's not my appearance. The only possibly non-generic about me is my overall size. I'm a pretty big guy. But even then, I'm not some super hulk, I'm just bigger than average. Certainly nothing to rivet the attention of strangers.
I think they think I look like somebody. Is it somebody famous? Is it just somebody they know? I'm not sure.
For those who think I'm just all full of myself and imagining things, I present this example, which has actually happened more than once:
I'm standing at a rock show at one of the fine local venues. Perhaps enjoying a beer. A couple of 20-something white professional-looking types are standing nearby. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice that one of them keeps looking at me. Like, a lot. Like he WANTS me to see him doing it so I'll look directly at him. When I don't look over directly, he enlists one of his friends to determine if I'm "him." The friend may be skeptical, or he may agree. It hardly matters. I'm the subject of a certain amount of observation and discreet finger pointing amongst the first guy and his friends until the main act comes onstage.
What the fuck is that? Even at shows where I don't actually overhear someone ask a friend if I'm "him," I often catch people trying to get a better look at me.
If I go to a busy hipster-friendly restaurant, there's a chance that I'll catch someone craning from behind their menu or their date at another table to get another look at me.
Here's the kicker in all this. I really don't look like anyone in particular, except maybe my equally not-famous brother-in-law a little bit. Even that's not that close a resemblance--we could be cousins, or we could be what we are: totally unrelated--but it's been mentioned. But I can't for the life of me figure out who people are expecting to see in Adams Morgan or on U Street or at the rock clubs that I could resemble. I have to assume this person is famous enough, at least in those circles, to cause people to forget their manners and stare. Who the hell could it be? Stumped, I tell you.
Am I so narcissistic that I'm imagining all this (though I did not imagine the two times I actually heard someone ask someone else if I were "him"), imagining that people find me mysterious and handsome or something? Am I just one of those people that looks like "somebody," though you can't place who I resemble?
I suppose it's kind of fun. It's a puzzle for both me and the starer--am I whoever? Who is whoever? But I'd really like to know who the hell I'm supposed to be--there might be a free beer in it if I could successfully cultivate the right look. So next time you're trying to figure out if that guy at the hipster bar, rock show, restaurant is --insert famous name here--, please go over and ask. It might be me, and I'm dying to know who I'm supposed to be.
Too Young to Die?
I was perusing Fark.com for the first time in eons, and I only got a couple of links in before I needed to come write.
There was a link to this: Top 50 Musicians Who Died Too Young
I love this kind of thing--pretty much any top whatever list about music will catch my eye, and of course will bring a lot of opinions out. So this one was right there.
Let me start out by saying that I'm not a sentimentalist, and I'm not all mystical about death--it happens to everyone eventually, and being dead doesn't confer any "untouchable" status that protects you from commentary or ridicule. So if you're real sensitive, and don't want to hear (see?) someone slag off your favorite dead artist for some stupid-ass reason, stop reading. Don't come crying to me after. Actually, go ahead and cry to me, but make sure you do it in my comments. Also note that I tried to stay at least a little bit away from judging the actual quality of the music these folks purveyed. Even if I didn't like Selena, her music was popular with a lot of people, so who am I to say she sucks?
So anyway, I brought up the list and the first person on it was Robert Johnson. Died young, I'll give you that. But I really need to know--how'd he make the top 50? I'd probably be more likely to put him in the "Top 5 artists everyone swears is a genius though they've never actually heard a recording of him" list, or maybe the "Top 5 most-owned, least-played box sets of all time" list. Personally, I'm not a huge fan, and I'm a definite blues fan (yes, I own the box set, and no, I don't listen to it often). I don't like that scratchy old Delta stuff all that much, but I know good from bad, at least. Yeah, he's pretty emotive. A couple of his songs have stood the test of time pretty well (Sweet Home Chicago and Cross Roads Blues most notably) in the hands of other musicians, too. But often if you listen to the original stuff, you'll find a lot of interpretation has gone into the more modern or popular versions--you'd hardly connect Johnson's recording with the Cream version of Crossroads, for example. Finally, what the hell is this guy doing on a list of otherwise popular musicians? With the possible but doubtful exception of Sid Vicious, he's the least-mainstream musician on the list.
The next few didn't bother me (though Charlie Parker is flirting with to "Top 5 most unheard genius list" for popular music fans--but I actually like what I've heard at least).
There's a three-way cheat at number 6, putting Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper together, presumably because of the difficulty in separating the body parts. I think it's always a bit of an insult to put the Bopper in with those other two. Buddy Holly was churning out hits at a serious clip, and it looked like Richie Valens was on the same track. The Bopper had Chantilly Lace, and that's about it. As far as I know there wasn't much else in the pipeline there. But somehow he's Top 50 instead of a one-hit wonder because he croaked in the presence of greatness.
Then the list gets good and solid for quite a bit, up until number 19 which is Cass Elliot. That one I don't get. She was essentially a backup singer for John Phillips and Denny Whatsisname's songwriting, just like Michelle Phillips was. I think you really have to be a standout singer to make a list like this without any material of your own, and as I understood it they wouldn't let her join initially because she wasn't any good. There's some probably-apocryphal story that she became a great singer after getting hit over the head in a bar or something, but I kind of doubt that one. Backup singer. Not Top 50 anything.
Number 21 is another plane crash three-fer, this time with Lynyrd Skynyrd. I don't know if Skynyrd would really classify as a true Top 50 act, but I like them plenty, and the plane crash definitely killed the band.
Sid Vicious is 22. Should not be on the list. He was a crap musician at best. Yeah, I liked the Sex Pistols just fine, but he had nothing to do with what made them good. I'm not sure he's even on any of the records, except maybe late live stuff. His own work is crap. Largely talentless junkies die all the time, and they don't make Top 50 lists. Off the list.
Number 26, John Belushi. Not. A. Musician. Blues fan, sure. Singer, sort of. Musician? Not that I know of. Off the list.
Number 29 is where it starts to get ugly, I think. Ricky Nelson. He died at 45. Not old, but WAAAAAY past his last hit. How many hits did he even have? Three? I don't think you should make the "died too young" list if you were demonstrably done making important music long before you died. I'll just go ahead and say the list should also have shitcanned these folks too: Andy Gibb (#30--geez!), Jerry Garcia (#35--let's face it. His music was on "repeat" since about 1970), John Denver (#40), Carl Wilson (#41--also, backup singer, though a beautiful voice, and how come his brother Dennis isn't on the list?), John Entwistle (#44--not exactly the songwriting power of the band, and long past contributing), Maurice Gibb (#45--he died a long way after disco did, unless he was writing hit songs for other people still--which isn't impossible, but I don't know about it), Robert Palmer (#47) and Rick James (#50). Rick fuckin' James. I'm sure he'd have made the list without Dave Chappell's help. I almost added number 43, George Harrison to the "was really over long before he died" list, but ultimately decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.
So anyway, I've opened up a lot of room on the "Top 50 Died-too-young" list. I was going to ask for additions, but maybe I should just ask for suggestions to get it down to 25 instead.
Anti-Bamboozlement is a new feature here, that will happen whenever I feel like it, that will point out how people in the world use logical fallacies and other techniques to convince good, ordinary people like yourselves of something other than the truth about themselves, their products or their companies.
Case number 1: I saw and article on Yahoo! with this headline:Man sues Microsoft over alleged Xbox 360 glitch
For the most part, there was nothing interesting about the article—the guy claims that Microsoft rushed the product to market, and that it has a fatal design flaw that causes it to overheat and lock up. Microsoft won't comment on pending legal action (leaving one to wonder what they CAN comment on, given the number of things they're being sued for all the time).
But before they were sued, according to the article, they had a couple of things to say, and I quote:
Complaints about the problem surfaced quickly on gaming enthusiast Web sites after the Xbox 360 debuted on November 22.
Console owners reported that some systems had crashed during regular use as well as during online game play using the Xbox Live service. Problems included screens going black and the appearance of a variety of error messages.
At the time, a Microsoft spokeswoman told Reuters: "We have received a few isolated reports of consoles not working as expected."
She declined to say how many reports Microsoft had received and said that calls reporting the issue to the company represented a "very, very small fraction" of units sold. (Italics added)
Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the November 22 timing of the product release pretty much guarantee that the majority of the units sold are Christmas gifts? Doesn't that kind of mean that the majority of the units sold to date haven't even been played
How much you wanna bet that the calls reporting the issue skyrocket on, say, December 26-31? How much you wanna bet that the Microsoft spokeswoman was well aware of that?
Don't believe every claim you read, kids.
Welcome to the world that we live in
This from the Yahoo! News:Pope May Abolish Limbo
Based on what?
Some new proof that no such thing exists?*
An overwhelming sense that, totally unlike other Catholic teachings, it seems unfair to consign otherwise-innocent unbaptized babies' souls to anywhere other than heaven?**
An email from God that, hey, you guys had that wrong for the last thousand years, and I've been meaning to tell you but never got around to it?***
Religion is stupid.*Because there's so much proof for the rest of their stuff, right?
**Yep, no other Catholic dogma seems unfair. Nope, I mean, just look how fair the church has been to women over the years. Oh, and scientists. And Jews (though they HAVE backed down on that one since the Inquisition and WWII). How unpopular does a teaching have to be to get removed from the Catechism? The church's positions on abortion and birth control are astonishingly unpopular (and widely ignored by so-called Catholics), but I haven't heard any news about those getting the axe.
***This is a joke, of course. I'm pretty sure God communicates via messages on water towers, faces in the smoke of the twin towers, or cryptic appearances on Hispanic foodstuffs, so maybe the church just missed it.