Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Lazy Links

Just a few items of interest or of complete disinterest. You be the judge.

:: I forgot to do an Image of the Week this week, so take your pick from what might be the greatest Internet picture gallery ever. This is just a collection of incredibly tacky book covers from bad romance novels, bad sci-fi novels (what's usually called "skiffy"), and bad porn novels. My favorite is Awakening of Jenny, which bears the hilarious tag line:

She had a woman's face and a woman's body but she had never known a woman's passion.

I almost want to read some of these books.

(via PZ Myers)

:: If there's one thing I wish Buffalo had that the Midwest has, it's the Hardee's chain. For those unfamiliar with Hardee's, it's a fast-food chain in the Midwest that has, to my knowledge, responded to the healthy-eating craze with a guffaw and another dollop of lard in the fryer. There's so much fat in their food that the plumbing in the Hardee's buildings themselves frequently have to undergo angioplasty -- but my God, they've got some good burgers there.

And now I see via Mr. Sun that Hardee's now has something called the "Monster Thickburger". Yes, I'd eat one. But I'd only do so after fasting for three days beforehand, and I'd spend the three days afterward eating nothing but apples and water.

:: The collection of whining fanboys known as the Ain't-It-Cool-News Jedi Council recently reconvened (here and continued here), and they even have some new whines. Instead of George Lucas being a raper of childhood, now he's an abusive husband and Star Wars fans are the abused wives. Personally, I think a more apt descriptor is that George Lucas is a guy who makes movies and whining Star Wars fanboys are nitwits, but that's just me.

:: Ever wonder what a soda pop flavored to taste like green bean casserole would taste like? Sure you do.

:: Ever wonder if the old sci-fi TV show Battlestar Galactica had a fiercely loyal fan following? Sure you do. (Read the posts by Eric Paddon.)

:: Random disclosure of something: I've always had a soft spot for the pop music of the 1980s, since that's when I grew up and first started listening to pop music. And my favorite 80s song is the Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart cover of Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready". I love these lyrics:

People get ready
There’s a train a-coming
You don’t need no baggage
You just get on board
All you need is faith
To hear the diesels humming
Don’t need no ticket
You just thank the lord

People get ready
For the train to jordan
Picking up passengers
From coast to coast
Faith is the key
Open the doors and board them
There’s room for all
Among the loved the most

There ain’t no room
For the hopeless sinner
Who would hurt all mankind just
To save his own
Have pity on those
Whose chances are thinner
Cause there’s no hiding place
From the kingdom’s throne

So people get ready
For the train a-comin’
You don’t need no baggage
You just get on board !
All you need is faith
To hear the diesels humming
Don’t need no ticket
You just thank, you just thank the lord

I'd love to see the video again -- it was filmed in sepia tones, with Beck riding a train to the station where Stewart was waiting, intercut with closeups of people with very weathered faces. Not much of a description, I know, but damn, I love that song.

:: Drew Vogel doesn't think very highly of Colin Powell, apparently. I've often wondered about Powell myself -- just to what extent he was working with people whose beliefs he did not share, and to what extent he was pushing his own beliefs aside. There's some fascinating stuff there, I bet.

UPDATE: A couple of extra items.

:: This profile of Oklahoma Senator-elect Tom Coburn is kind of frightening. What gets me is this part, at the very end:

"I didn’t do this (run for the Senate) because I necessarily wanted to come back up here, I did this because I thought I was supposed to," he explained Monday, attributing his decision to "an impression in my spiritual life that that was something I should do."

How come God never seems to tell liberals to run for office? Is the Big Guy that partisan? Should future printings of the King James version refer to the Heavenly Father as "God (R-Heaven)"?

:: Nick Mamatas on waiting in line behind Bart and Milhouse. Or Beavis and Butthead. Or Potsy and Ralph. Or Lennie and Squiggie. Or...you get the idea. This is pretty funny.

:: In the course of linking an article she wrote on the young generation of orchestra conductors, Jessica Duchen singles out Semyon Bychkov as someone she particularly enjoyed talking to. She mentions Bychkov's wonderful Russian accent, and I concur: I met Maestro Bychkov way back in 1988, when he was the music director of my own Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. After the concert was done (Brahms's Second Piano Concerto and Dvorak's "New World" Symphony), I headed backstage with my program book in hand, and found Maestro Bychkov sitting in the "green room" enjoying his post-concert cigarette. He looked tired and unsurprisingly sweaty*, but he was gracious enough to give an autograph to a fairly nervous high school senior. He made some standard chit-chat, asking me if I was a music student (I was) and encouraging me to keep coming to concerts (I did) and to keep with my music (ummmm....), and then he signed the program after actually going across the hall to track down a pen.

What I remember most about that particular night, after the experience of meeting Maestro Bychkov, was that during the second movement of the Dvorak, the Buffalo audience was inexplicably seized by some kind of mass bronchial infection, to judge by the shocking amount of coughing and throat-clearing. It was very distracting, especially during the symphony's slow movement, in which there are numerous pianissimo passages. It was so distracting, in fact, that when the movement was done, Maestro Bychkov actually turned to the audience and scolded them for coughing so much. Then he turned back to the orchestra, seemed to think for a moment, and then turned back to the audience again; and this time he said: "For those of you who missed the second movement the first time we played it, we will now play it again." And so they did.

* Say, has anyone ever studied the sheer athleticism required by orchestra conductors? Conducting whilst garbed in formal wear and brilliantly illuminated by spotlights is a pretty strenuous task. I wonder if so many conductors live to their ripe old age simply by virtue of doing two hours of aerobics three nights a week.

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