Saturday, September 11, 2010

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009


My late grandmother always thought I loved Michael Jackson's music. I think she got that impression because I used to listen to my cassette tape of Bad over and over again when I was a toddler. As I grew older, my grandmother would still make the same comments, except I'd brush off the idea as if to say "pshaw, I'm SO past my Michael Jackson phase..."

Now, a couple of decades later, I am a bigger fan of his music than I have ever been. "I Want You Back" never fails to put a big smile on my face, I still shiver a little bit when Vincent Price speaks at the end of "Thriller," "Billie Jean" still makes me want to go home and practice my moonwalk, and "Beat It" makes me want to go have a knife fight (kidding).

In all seriousness, it's truly unfortunate that he became the tabloid and urban legend fodder that he was prior to his death. Sure, he was odd. No one argues that he grew into a very strange, possibly crazy man-child. He may have even committed some pretty terrible crimes...

But he was also the King of Pop. He held that title in an era when it actually meant something, back when Kings reigned for more than the life of a few singles. He made music that changed my world, the world of music, and, as great music does, the world in general. And for that, I will be eternally grateful.

Rest in peace, Michael Jackson.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Finally: New F Trains!

About an hour ago, as I stood on the platform of the Herald Square subway station, waiting for the downtown F Train, I never would have thought my ride home would have been so pleasant as it turned out to be, especially in the light of the recent mammoth fare hikes. But then, as I saw the approaching lights of the train, everything changed...

At first, I thought, oh no... It's one of those weird out-of-service trains. But then I paused as I noticed the glowing red lights above the front window of the leading subway car... Perhaps it was an errant 2 train? 6 train, perhaps? Then, it came closer... and I saw it:

With a gasp and a full-toothed grin, I beamed at the approaching loveliness! At long last! The MTA gods have deemed the F line fit for new trains! Even as the sleek, new doors slid open and I was greeted with the pleasantly articulate female voice, which proclaimed that yes, indeed, this was 34th Street, Herald Square and that you could transfer to the N, Q, R, V, or W trains, I could hardly believe that my wildest public transit wish had come true.

The interior was so well lit, the ride was so smooth, and the automated voice cues were so easily understood that, for a few moments, I thought I must've somehow been magically transported onto a 6 train. While I was somewhat disappointed to find out that, no, magical transportation was still not a reality, I was overJOYED to discover that I was still sitting on a Brooklyn-bound F train, slinking stealthily and steadily towards my destination.

Ah... It almost made me forget the extra $20 I'm going to have to spend... every... month.... to ride this... majestic people mover...




Wednesday, March 11, 2009

MP3s Are Destroying Music

Sigh. It was bound to happen, I suppose...

A professor out at Stanford University named Johnathan Berger has been conducting an informal study every year for the past 6 years. The subject of this study? Students. The purpose of the study? To find out what quality of music they prefered. In a letter to Gizmodo, Professor Berger described the experiment:

Students were asked to judge the quality of a variety of compression methods randomly mixed with uncompressed 44.1 KHz audio. The music examples included both orchestral, jazz and rock music. When I first did this I was expecting to hear preferences for uncompressed audio and expecting to see MP3 (at 128, 160 and 192 bit rates) well below other methods (including a proprietary wavelet-based approach and AAC). To my surprise, in the rock examples the MP3 at 128 was preferred. I repeated the experiment over 6 years and found the preference for MP3 - particularly in music with high energy (cymbal crashes, brass hits, etc) rising over time.

Yep. You read right. Kids these days actually prefer the sounds of overcompressed mp3s to uncompressed CD-like audio. I mean, I'm all for compression... It certainly has its uses, a lot of which are good. But actually preferring the sizzle and crackle of digital overcompression to clear, uncompressed audio?? Ugh...

One thing's for sure... My kids are being raised FROM BIRTH (or beforehand, possibly) on uncompressed music. Hm... I better keep these old CDs around...


Thursday, February 05, 2009

A Sure Fire Way to Feel Better About Yourself

There are those of us who have really unfortunate, awful things happen to them. Medical issues, family issues, job issues... Those things generally suck and it's very difficult to feel better after suffering through a real tragedy.

...Then there are most other people, who don't have some horrible event happen, but rather have to suffer embarrassment or shame due to some "little" incident. For those people, there are sites like

Here, ordinary people like you and me can share and comiserate about some of the terrible (but not too terrible) things that have happened to us. Or, you can just laugh at all the poor shmucks who submitted their stories. ...But let's face it, we all have a "fuck my life" story to contribute, don't we? Here are a few choice selections:

Today, my girlfriend dumped me proclaiming she wanted someone more like her "Edward". I asked her who Edward was. She held up a copy her "Twilight" book. She was talking about a fictional vampire. FML

Today, my wife left me the following voicemail: “Alex, last night was amazing. You took me to places I’ve never been to before. I can’t wait to see you tonight after work.” My name is Rob. We haven’t had sex in two years. FML

and my favorite (because it's happened to me):

Today, after a late night at the bars, I stepped into my building's elevator with a Chinese man who was carrying a plastic bag. Without thinking I said, "Oooh, are you still delivering?" His response, "I live here." FML

Are some of these made up? Who knows... Probably. But hey, if you can't suspend your disbelief long enough to have a good laugh at these mini-stories, well... I dunno. Lighten up, man!


Monday, February 02, 2009

"OK" Vs. "Awk"

Whenever people write “ok” I always imagine it being pronounced phonetically, instead of “oh kay.” So it's always funny to me when people write it multiple times (e.g. "ok ok ok") because I just imagine them saying "awk awk awk."

Try imagining it the next time someone chats or e-mails you "ok ok ok."

I bet you'll laugh.