Re: Applying a double dose of sanctimony directly to your anus

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About ten years ago, I came home to find two rolls of Cottonelle on the doorstep of every house on my street. They had just started making the rippled stuff and were apparently doing a door-to-door promotional. I thought it seemed absurd, but it turned out that toilet paper was great. I haven't bought another brand even once in the past decade.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 8:46 AM
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We're agreed that there are only really two quality categories--"fine" and "not fine"--correct? You're not claiming the ability to rank along a continuous range, are you, Apo?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 8:55 AM
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Our supermarket recycled paper is perfectly adequate. Recycled stuff doesn't have to be punitively abrasive; although I agree, it often is.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:05 AM
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At my high school, the bathrooms were stocked with Envision® toilet paper. With legions of teens taking truly inspired shits, the Envision® brand played no small role in the school's robust Fine Arts programming.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:09 AM
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Recycled toilet paper? Yuck. Are there little recycled dingleberries and smears already on it?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:20 AM
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FL - You're absolved. Seventh generation makes many products we buy and like but their TP is not among them. In fact, many major brands that don't claim recycled content actually have some but refrain from advertising it precisely because outside the "green" market (maybe 5% but growing) it's counterproductive because of experiences like yours.


Posted by: froz gobo | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:21 AM
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I've bought Seventh Generation dish soap before, but we switched back because it didn't do a very good job of cleaning, so we'd have to use twice as much water and soap.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:22 AM
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And reasons like 5's attitude above.


Posted by: froz gobo | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:23 AM
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2: All I'm saying is that, at the time, it was the best toilet paper I'd ever used. And having found one I liked, I've not felt the need to go doing further field research. My experiences in public restrooms and other people's houses haven't produced any contenders for the title.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:23 AM
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"Say, what brand of toilet paper do you buy? I really enjoyed it. No, I mean I really, really enjoyed it."


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:25 AM
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9 - The best nature-made TP is a Tulip Poplar leaf; too bad you just got rid of your lifetime supply. Tree killer.


Posted by: froz gobo | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:26 AM
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9: Apo's anus has been co-opted by The Man. Free-spirit mullet Apostropher wouldn't have used Cottonelle.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:27 AM
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FL's butt may be unusually sensitive because of non-standard use.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:34 AM
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I actually like Seventh Generation toilet paper. IMX, soft and ripply can be gentle, sure, but weak and pilling. In any case, the kind most recommended by doctors for anal health is the flat, uncottony kind.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:39 AM
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AWB's butt may be unusually insensitive because of non-standard use.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:40 AM
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a line in the constitution of the Iroquois Confederacy

That's Haudenosaunne to you, white man.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:47 AM
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Maybe you should eschew paper altogether, Labs.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 10:02 AM
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I doubt you could get the "Travel Bidet" past airport security.


Posted by: froz gobo | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 10:11 AM
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Whole Foods' own 365 brand of recycled toilet paper is perfectly fine, not rough or hard like a lot of brands. And everyone really should use recycled paper products whenever possible. According to this, North Americans use fifty pounds of tissue paper per person per year. That's kind of nuts. It's not being sanctimonious to worry that you're literally flushing your planet down the toilet.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 10:34 AM
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Gahh. Normally reading the comments makes me envision sophisticated wits around a virtual table trading bon mots. Like the internets own Algonquin round table. Now I'm envisioning something else. And it's gross.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 10:36 AM
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It's not being sanctimonious

I'll be the judge of that.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 10:36 AM
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Remember, for example, that massive consumption of paper products leads to increased deforestation, and increased deforestation is yet another factor leading to the rapid buildup of greenhouse gases and advanced climate change. But the looming specter of climatological apocalypse isn't going to hold your attention nearly as well as ass jokes, so I'll leave you to that.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 10:38 AM
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Do we get bonus points for using recycled ass jokes?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 10:39 AM
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I've lost count of how many times Labs's ass has been recycled, and I'm still enjoying it.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 10:41 AM
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Something's getting hotter, but it's not the planet.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 10:44 AM
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25: WTF?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 10:46 AM
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I checked Standpipe's blog: apparently "I've lost count of how many times Labs's ass has been recycled, and I'm still enjoying it" has sexual overtones that might be expressed via a temperature metaphor.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 10:48 AM
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You're going to make his head explode.

Trader Joe's housebrand is also recycled and isn't very rough.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 10:49 AM
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I've just checked Standpipe's blog again, and Labs's ass has never been hot.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 10:51 AM
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I *knew* I should have held out for Trader Joe's.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 10:52 AM
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3 makes me wonder if there's some rule about recycled, crunchy, environmmental products that says they have to advertise their crunchiness. Like if the detergent worked as well as the bad-for-the-environment brands, it would lose its aesthetic. Sort of a cilice for the enviromentally conscious set.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 10:54 AM
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22: Moving away from the ass jokes, how come they're still making paper out of trees instead of some annual-plant fiber? I mean, the hemp people are obviously largely motivated by the desire to smoke dope (which, to be clear, I'm all for), but there's got to be something, hemp or not, that you plant in a field and cut down every year that you can make into paper as well as trees.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 10:55 AM
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I have so little storage space in my bathroom that I've limited myself only to brands that are sold by the individual roll, which unfortunately rules out Trader Joe's.

I hate the super-soft, cottony, multi-ply kinds. Feels like wiping your ass with a blanket.


Posted by: cerebrocrat | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 10:57 AM
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3 makes me wonder if there's some rule about recycled, crunchy, environmmental products that says they have to advertise their crunchiness.

Absolutely. The primary motivation for most people's environmental concerns is their desire to suffer. You don't think they're going to tell you that, though, do you?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 11:03 AM
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It is a shame that our societal dirtyhippiephobia is so wide and deep, because my understanding is that hemp would make a very good alternative to wood pulp in terms of environmental impact. And I say this as a result of some conversations with a salesperson from one of the big paper wholesalers, not just having read the latest pro-hemp flyer handed out in front of Whole Foods

Speaking of pro-hemp flyers, it was interesting and a little annoying to see how the predictable array of dirty hippies turned up to the Sicko preview last night to bother people in front of the theater.


Posted by: cerebrocrat | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 11:03 AM
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31: I had that thought too, since the 7g stuff was so bad that I wondered if the badness was actually part of the appeal. Along those lines, I'd guess that you have to be pretty eco-pure (or have significantly different paper preferences) in order for a move from charmin to 7g to be the most efficient pro-environment thing you could do.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 11:03 AM
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I was in the toilet paper aisle at my local environment-raping capitalist mart the other day and noticed something odd. Maybe five years ago, every single brand of toilet paper (with the exception of Apo's beloved Cottonelle, I believe) had a picture of a baby on it. Now: no babies.

Discuss.


Posted by: Magpie | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 11:09 AM
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37: Babies no longer have financial decision-making power in the home.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 11:12 AM
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Babies got too expensive, so they started using virgin forest wood to make toilet paper instead. You can still get the pure baby fiber stuff at Trader Joe's.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 11:13 AM
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37: While recycled babies do make for soft toilet paper, there is now substantial evidence that use of such toilet paper may increase the likelihood of all manner of pathologies.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 11:13 AM
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Damn you, Apostropher!


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 11:14 AM
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Abrasive toilet paper: the new hair shirt.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 11:14 AM
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37: Marketers realized pitching the product to people who can't wipe their own asses was ineffective.


Posted by: Ubu Imperator | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 11:15 AM
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stras has it right. What next, defending celebrities who don't recycle?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 11:28 AM
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the hemp people are obviously largely motivated by the desire to smoke dope

Industrial hemp, by the standards of today's THC-rific bud, is totally not smokable, dude. Hippies may be dirty, but they have some standards.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 11:32 AM
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Industrial hemp, by the standards of today's THC-rific bud, is totally not smokable, dude

Jesus! Will you cut it out with the facts! The hippies obviously want the hemp, to smoke, precisely because it's so abrasive to the lungs!

Sheesh.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 11:39 AM
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Its true: there is one category where dirty hippies have, shall we say, high standards.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 11:42 AM
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45: My understanding is that the lack of industrial hemp now is for reasons pretty much identical to the original destruction of the industrial hemp market. Lobbying (then cotton, now timber), and particularly by people who have realized how effective the war on (some) drugs approach is for them. From everything I've heard from industry people, if you could scale it up large enough hemp pulp operations could replace most paper product needs with better, cheaper, trivially renewable product. It would destroy the current pulp industry though, and the timber companies aren't exactly set up for this sort of farming.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 11:44 AM
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32: Aside from hemp, kenaf seems like a promising alternative; there was some talk a few years ago about planting it in southern NM, but I don't know how that turned out. I suspect the main problem is that we still have plenty of trees and the timber companies have a lot of political influence.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 12:08 PM
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Here in Oregon, we use TP made from old-growth pulp and trimmed with the down of spotted owls, and we smoke medical-grade reefer. Plus, the timber industry's got our environmental policy by the balls, so not so much industrial hemp around here. I'd be willing to bet I could find Tibetan prayer flags made of hemp in Portland, though.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 12:15 PM
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It would be a blessing if they could make toilet paper out of kudzu and bamboo.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 12:31 PM
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You fucking wusses. 7th Gen t.p. is perfectly adequate for its intended use, which is wiping your ass. Demanding virginal tissue of the finest possible quality for depositing your shit on is a sure sign that you deserve to be first up against the wall.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 12:32 PM
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Look, it's purely an engineering thing, B. Rippled toilet paper is functionally superior to flat, smooth toilet paper, for the same reason that it's easier to wash your face with a washcloth than a pillow case.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 12:36 PM
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You want your toilet paper rippled? Crumple it in your fist before wiping. Voila.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 12:37 PM
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Note: I am led to believe that women use toilet paper for more bathroom tasks than men do. I have no opinion on what sort of tissue works best on non-butt parts, for lack of testing facilities.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 12:39 PM
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Soon, we'll use three simple sea shells, as prophesied by the cinematic masterpiece Demolotion Man


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 12:40 PM
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Demolotion s/b Demolition

I guess.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 12:41 PM
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54: I now hold your opinion on this topic in the same light that Farber holds most of our opinions on Israel/Palestine, and Ogged holds w-lfs-n's opinions on sports.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 12:42 PM
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55: It's true. I also use it to blow my nose.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 12:43 PM
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Let me focus the ire of both apo and B by noting that this is a load of crap.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 12:51 PM
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I don't like rippled toilet paper. 7th g's soaps are fine as long as you're not using it to wash dirty dishes, which usually have too much grease, so you end up using lots more soap, which means you're going through the bottles at a rate of about three to one of the evil brands. Eco-friendly laundry detergents are great, especially if your skin is allergic to pretty much everything.

43: This would make sense, except that now a lot of the brands have puppies on them.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 12:55 PM
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60: The review, the books reviewed, or both?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 1:05 PM
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The review. I'm no Clinton apologist, but come on.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 1:06 PM
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20: How about sophisticated wits around a virtual Algonquin round table trading toilet jokes? Or maybe a virtual, numerically-enhanced Three Stooges routine?

This is the Third Millennium. Think outside the box!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 1:10 PM
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I blow my nose using non-hygenic reusable handkerchiefs.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 1:10 PM
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I missed what you're seeing. It seemed like a long essay that concluded, "Who can know?" Not a great review, but mostly because it didn't say anything.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 1:11 PM
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61: And bears, and queens, and cute little doodles -- much more diversity in toilet paper illustration than just the puppies. The babies were on EVERYTHING five years ago.


Posted by: Magpie | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 1:12 PM
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B again wins the internet in the strong opinions about absolutely everything category.

I say that anyone who can't wipe clean with a single square of single ply, is a bad person.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 1:13 PM
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"I blow my nose using non-hygenic reusable handkerchiefs."

Your own handkerchiefs, Jackmormon? Or of passing men?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 1:14 PM
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Rabelais discussed buttwipe in great detail. As I remember, he concluded that the neck of a live goose is best.

The Sixteenth Century was the Golden Age of toilet jokes.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 1:15 PM
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Tim, two things:

(a) I hate to play the cheap counterfactual trick, but only a female politician would be subjected to this sort of "what an enigma!!1!" treatment when similar things could be said about pretty much anyone else running. Only with her do these banalities become important and worth pondering.

(b) there was no there there in Whitewater, which Kolbert somehow forgets to mention. Wen Ho Lee and Clinton should each get one of Gerth's testicles as a consolation prize.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 1:15 PM
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I also use it to blow my nose.

The distinction between ultra-soft facial tissue and ultra-soft toilet tissue is among the finer indicators of late-stage capitalism.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 1:16 PM
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63, 66: There's no reason for a noncommittal review of a shit book.

Hillary strikes me as a zero in the mysterious category and a zero in the sinister category. She's a hard-nosed DLC Democrat, period. WYSIWYG.

Slamming politicians for ambition, opportunism, and deviousness is like claiming that water is wet. Even Paul Wellstone played a few games, and this was after he'd committed himself to being a voice crying out in the wilderness.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 1:21 PM
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69.---I bought a pack of giant men's handkerchiefs about five years ago, and after shredding a few, and giving one or two away to damsels in distress, I have two left. I also "inherited" four or five fancy emboidered linen ones that belonged to my grandmother, or maybe my great-grandmother.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 1:23 PM
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I say that anyone who can't wipe clean with a single square of single ply, is a bad person

Laugh, but I knew someone who tried to impress this policy on her housemates. Less a conservation issue than a control issue, obvs.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 1:23 PM
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61: FWIW, I am quite fond of BioKleen's dish soap and laundry detergents. They clean well, don't have annoying artificial fragrances, and agree with my skin.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 1:23 PM
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And what Emerson said.

Hillary's working hard with a tough hand. Take the "did you sleep with Vince Foster?" moment: if she reacts emotionally, she's a crazy lady; if she doesn't, she's Mike Dukakis. But Kolbert goes after her for carrying on with her job after some nobody acts like an ass.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 1:24 PM
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but only a female politician would be subjected to this sort of "what an enigma!!1!" treatment

Mmm. Don't know. The authorized biography of Reagan is broadly hated by the Right because the author took--to extreme lengths, even defending the invention of a best friend for Reagan on that ground--the same position on Reagan.

(That's not to say that her gender won't be used against her. The "will she be tough enough" and, worse, "the will voters believe she will be tough enough" stories are overtly about her gender, and really, really bother me.)

there was no there there in Whitewater

I heard someone (who seemed reasonably credible, though I can't remember who it was) claim that (a) Gerth did the first Whitewater story, but not much else--the WP was responsible for most of the movement, and (b) people in the Clinton camp, at the time, and even now, thought that the story was legitimate and--while they weren't entirely happy with Gerth--that Gerth's story was basically fair.

How much of the above is being driven by my genuine distrust of her people, I don't know.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 1:25 PM
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The review. I'm no Clinton apologist, but come on.

Agreed. I got more and more annoyed as the piece went on. It seemed less a book review and more an editorial about how carefully managed and unknowable Hillary is.

Also, while toilet paper should, indeed, be made of recycled materials for the obvious reasons, there's no need to turn up one's nose at ripples and cottony softness.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 1:26 PM
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74 When my mother died we found about a hundred cloth napkins of various sorts, including nice lace antique napkins. All of them were fifty years old, and some of them may have been more then a century old. But napkins apparently don't appreciate with age. We gave them away for rags.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 1:27 PM
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But Kolbert goes after her for carrying on with her job after some nobody acts like an ass.

I thought she was using that to demonstrate a positive characteristic--HRC is self-sacrificing to get the necessary job done.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 1:27 PM
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Tim, my sense is that Gerth kept the Whitewater story alive for a long time, that he did some unscrupulous things in doing so, and that he's a dick, but I can't remember where I heard this. It was fairly recent and on the internet, which really narrows it down.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 1:27 PM
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HRC is self-sacrificing

true, but not in the straightforward sense. Isn't K's main point that HRC has sacrificed her "self" in service to her ambition?


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 1:29 PM
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It seemed less a book review and more an editorial about how carefully managed and unknowable Hillary is.

New Yorker book reviews are pretty much always like this, though. I agree that this was a particularly bad one.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 1:30 PM
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80.---That's too bad, Emerson. If any more turn up, send them to me!


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 1:31 PM
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Right, but (IIRC) she's being explicitly compared to other politicians, who are described as being other-sacrificing. Of the two descriptions, I think I'd chose the one ascribed to Clinton (though I would prefer to avoid either).

(Full disclosure: I have an imaginary relationship with Kolbert. And Colbert. It gets pretty freaky.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 1:34 PM
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I have an imaginary relationship with Kolbert.

You mean that's what you named your RealDoll?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 1:38 PM
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trouble with toilet paper?

here's my solution.


Posted by: john patrick | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 1:52 PM
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Patrick's explanation of Spanish present test looks useful too. A Renaissance man.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 2:39 PM
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Wow, I'm impressed both with John P's target-shooting rhetoric (I can't wait to use the targeting stream to lock on target) and the way the link has "bidet 2000" in my head to Pulp's "disco 2000."


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 2:52 PM
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My favorite part of the Hillary review was the discussion of the Senator's various name choices. I'm wondering "So what?" But then the author explains the significance:

In a political culture like ours, where character supposedly is all, this sort of fuzziness is obviously a problem.

Huh?

And because I read this article on the Internet, I can't even offer an evaluation of how it works as toilet paper.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 3:18 PM
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I second 89. JP's map of Spanish verb conjugations is exceptionally handy. Click over if you speak even a moderate amount of Spanish, everybody.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 3:38 PM
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Apparently, Sheryl Crow was joking when she said that in order to prevent climate change, we shouldn't use more than one square of toilet paper.

I can't stand Trader Joe's toilet paper anymore. Call me Mr. Fussy Butt, but I gotta go to Magpie's Enviro-Raping Capitalist-Mart (which, btw, is union) and get the good stuff made from babies.

Please call me Mr. Fussy Butt?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 5:37 PM
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Cheryl always double-crosses you. Always. I hate that woman.

She also whines when you can't go top speed for 50 miles at a stretch like that other guy can, even with his one-nut handicap. She's an insatiable bitch.

One square. That's all you need.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 5:48 PM
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Fucking Trader Joe's. I've been dying for a TJ's down her for years--more than a decade--making due with the occasional stop when I'm in Boston or elsewhere in MA to get my fixes. Then a couple of weeks ago the SO got a phone call from an old friend she hadn't heard from in a while, who now evidently works in some relatively prominent position with them. When the SO mentioned in passing that we were really hopeful that someday a store might open here, her friend said, "Oh, we'll never expand into Rhode Island." She didn't elaborate, and the conversation went on, and I have no idea if it's true, but: fuck, man! They have stores from Hyannis to freakin' Hadley, not to mention in (oh the humiliation) West Hartford and Providence is beneath them? That's cold. If it's some state regulation thing, they could just open a store on the MA line and watch the cars with RI plates roll in. I'm actually over a lot of their yuppie junk food products, but the lemon verbena soap they sell is killer. I needs it. It doesn't help that Whole Foods sells a very similar bar at about twice the price.

Um, I like the very generic Scott's brand. Gets the job done.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 5:53 PM
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Hey Witt,

Give me a minute or so and I'll put up my preterit tense map.


Posted by: john patrick | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 6:01 PM
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¡Pluscuamperfecto, pluscuamperfecto, pluscuamperfecto!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 6:11 PM
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Take that, R.I! Ha! You tiny state!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 6:49 PM
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Ok, grammar fans, the Preterit Tense map is up. Knock yourselves out.

Stanley @ 97,
Pluscuamperfecto forms are all totally regular. Haber (imperfect) + past participle. You know all your irregular past participles, don't you sweetheart?


Posted by: john patrick | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 6:58 PM
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93: Right! The Greatest Generation was smart enough not to bring home European toilet paper after WW2, we should honor their memory and sacrifices by using the good soft stuff.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 6:59 PM
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Do you do French?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 7:02 PM
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99: Yeah. It's just fun to say "pluscuamperfecto." Thanks, though, corazón.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 7:10 PM
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John Emerson @ 101

I would do the French present tense for a small grant. I don't know it off the top of my head since it was so long ago. You wouldn't need it for any of the other tenses, except maybe the passé simple...


Posted by: john patrick | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 7:21 PM
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I'm so glad to have a new reason to hate all of you virgin toilet paper users.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:07 PM
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Since the blog is rife with commenters this evening, it seems a great time to bleg. So: I need a new metronome. I have this one, which sucks because it turns on while in my stickbag and the batteries thus die.

Any recommendations? I'd like something easily portable, preferably with a headphone jack. Any of you disparate musicians got a favorite rhythm-method device, as it were?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:08 PM
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Come to think of it, I bet apo's using disposable diapers, too.

Why do you hate the earth, apo?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:08 PM
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Dammit, B., I'm trying to ask a serious question here.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:09 PM
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105: I use something pretty similar to this one, but prettier.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:22 PM
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Also handy because you don't have to sit there holding down a button to set the tempo.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:23 PM
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I bet apo's using disposable diapers

I use the potty like a big boy.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:25 PM
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108: cool, pdf. Is that a turn-dialy one?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:25 PM
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95: That's the toilet paper I grew up on!

This comment brought to you by a very boring Saturday night.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:27 PM
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108: Also, just curious: I must've missed it. What instrument do you play?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:28 PM
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This comment brought to you by a very boring Saturday night

112: Toilet paper and metronomes; the Mineshaft clean-up squad; tick-tock, wipe-wipe, tick-tock; Labs pants, distantly, in a corner.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:31 PM
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pdf is teh elite pianist.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:33 PM
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I use the potty like a big boy.

I thought big boys used the side of the house.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:34 PM
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This comment brought to you by a very boring Saturday night

Word. This is how I'm supposed to avoid work? Toilet paper and metronomes? Bah.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:50 PM
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Yeah, there are men trying not to work here. Help us out, people.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:54 PM
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I play the digital piano. I got tired of real ones. They're not as mechanically or musically reliable, and they're much, much, much more expensive except at the lowest ends.

To take advantage of this digitality, and because I suck at practicing efficiently, I'm currently writing a program to help me practice. It will help me divide up a piece of music into sections, and then display the sections to me in the order I need to practice them and tell me how well I played them. Sort of like DDR. Those interested should watch my blog for an eventual release. Maybe a few weeks? Maybe a couple months? Only His Noodliness knows.

This long comment thanks to me being tired of programming for the night. It's 11:00 in Texas.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 9:55 PM
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I've recently entered the future, in that I now use skype to talk on videophone to my family while I am far away. I can play peek-a-boo with Joey all the way from Hawaii! Jet packs are sure to come any day now. But now that I am in the future, there are *unforeseen social consequences*. For instance, is it socially acceptable to eat on a videophone? Will I ever get over the urge to look my own face in the little box rather than the face of the person I am talking to in the big box?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 10:12 PM
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120: Starting on page 146.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 11:28 PM
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oh shit, that's right. I've read all of that. But in Infinite Book, they give up on videophones altogether.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06-23-07 11:29 PM
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105: There is no metronome like a Dr. Beat.

116: Big boys piss on the corpses of their enemies.

120: Socially acceptable to eat, socially desirable to drink a cocktail. You will never get over the urge to look at yourself, and if you'd ever been in a restaurant with mirrors on the wall, you'd already know this. Socially unacceptable to websurf while your video correspondent bores you. In a related note, a question of my own: should I take comfort in the fact that my father is still sharp enough to notice boingboing.net reflecting off my glasses and call me out on it?


Posted by: cerebrocrat | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 1:54 AM
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re: 105 and metronomes, I use:

http://www.newcastlemusic.co.uk/common/moreinfo.asp?ID=337

Probably wouldn't suit your needs though, no headphone socket. Also, the metronome sound isn't the most pleasant. It does the job though and is also a decent tuner.

If I was really really having to work on something that I was struggling with the timing of, I'd probably use a software metronome.

re: 119

Have you read that guy's book on piano practice? Actually, I can think of a couple, Charles Rosen's book Piano Notes is great and very interesting on being a musician in general. But, I meant this:

http://www.sinerj.org/~loyer/PianoBook/piano-practice-a4wide-10pt.pdf

Quite interesting, even for me as a non-pianist. Has some interesting discussions of breaking pieces up into smaller parts and then 'looping' for practice that would fit with your software plans.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 2:31 AM
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Stanley, I like this kind a lot. No headphone jack, tho. You could just bring your laptop along and count on the venue having wifi. ((Do you use a metronome at gigs? I didn't know drummers did that.)


Posted by: Clownaesthesiologist | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 4:21 AM
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123: -120: Yes, 'cause IMX* people who used to be reasonably sharp know when they're losing it. Being able to be on top of things is an important part of their self-definition and any loss scares them badly.

(So far, n=4, including me as we play with the BP meds)


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 6:39 AM
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124: I remember reading that a long time ago. I decided that the parts that aren't already being taught by good teachers are, sadly, mostly bullshit. The guy's a crank. Though I don't remember it being nearly so long. 235 A4 pages at single-spaced 10 pt. Wow.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 9:26 AM
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Then again, pretty much all of piano teaching is crankish.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 9:45 AM
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re: 127

Yeah, quite a bit of it seemed cranky to me, but other bits were good sound advice. Some of which, I got some good use out of in my guitar practice regimen [this is more a sign of the poverty of my thinking about instrument practice than it is of the worth of that particular document].

The Rosen book is very good, btw. And he really *can* play.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 10:01 AM
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You know, I started reading it again, and from the perspective of a novice, it's probably much more useful than it is harmful. So I suppose I could recommend it. It was just that I was skipping over the parts I already knew and agreed with when I read it the first time.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 10:08 AM
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Then again, pretty much all of piano teaching is crankish.

It is? I don't deny it may be so. Do people not like just plain Hanon exercises? I grew up on that.

But I suspect y'all are talking about something completely different. I should maybe look at the links provided and so on before asking dumb questions.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 10:15 AM
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Franz Liszt was an intuitively brilliant pianist who revolutionized the instrument, but he had no conscious awareness of how he did what he did. One of his students learned his methods by watching him carefully while he played and developed a teaching program from that.

I wish I liked Liszt's music. From the biographical stuff I've read, he seems to have been an unusually generous and sweet-tempered guy. The Liszt Wiki is very well done.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 10:15 AM
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Speaking of instrumental teaching, guitar teaching in general is utterly hopeless. Both classical and non-classical music on the guitar is, in my experience, badly taught and not very well understood even by professional teachers.

And there are huge barriers between classical and non-classical players and technique. To the extent that when I took classical lessons a few years back I was stunned to find what seemed to me quite shocking lapses in my tutors knowledge because she was a 'pure' classical guitarist who had never tried anything else. If you'd asked her to play, say, a Gm7 chord, she literally wouldn't have known how.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 10:17 AM
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131: To be more specific, there is very little explicit communication or debate on the highest levels about the right technique, and there's very little scientific inquiry into the matter, so there ends up being no orthodoxy about the right way to do things. As a result, most teachers don't know how to teach well, even in theory. Among the better teachers, things start turning into cults of personality. The teacher-student relationship is overly authoritarian, because teachers are overconfident in their own teaching methods, especially given how little empirical basis most of them have.

I hope, by making a program that will give piano performances specific grades, it will be possible to actually quantify the progress of students and thus to test the efficacy of different pedagogical techniques. I might get around to that someday. But mainly I'm doing my program just for me.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 10:46 AM
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Huh. Scanning the early pages of the Piano Book .pdf file linked in 124, there's this: "there are more reasons why music should never be separated from technique."

I realize I'm talking at cross-purposes here. I haven't played for many years, and I doubt it's like riding a bike.

But I was classically trained for something like 8 years as a youngster by a series of institutionally-affiliated, or certified, piano teachers, and yeah, it was all about technique.

The result was that while I became pretty damn good by the time I was 16, I was deeply dispirited to know that I couldn't improvise to save my life. People said: you play piano? Oh, play us something, let's jam! Uh, no, well, not really.

I think I go on about this because the rigorously-trained thing can become a pattern. I subscribe to it. I did it philosophically. One needs the proper tools to do the work.

I'll leave it at that. Except that pdf23ds talking about "quantifying" the progress of students strikes me as hugely interesting, bizarre.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 11:04 AM
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135: That piano pdf Matt linked is just as guilty of taking the "classical" part of "classical piano" completely for granted as all of your 8 years of teachers did (and my 11 years of teachers). My program pretty much does the same thing. It assumes there is one ideal performance of a piece, for a given performer and a specific interpretation. (You tell it exactly what that ideal performance is, down to the exact velocity and length of every note, and it compares what you play to the ideal.) That's quite close to the way classical pianists are trained, so I don't think my program is that bizarre--at least, not more than classical piano in general.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 11:12 AM
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That's a helluva program. In case it wasn't clear, I'm not objecting on the face of it: it's a teaching tool, right?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 11:27 AM
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Ability to jam is something I thank the Suzuki method for. My technical ability is strictly from nowhere; but my ear and musical memory are really well developed. If I can hum a song I can play it and play around with it, though granted it takes some practicing before I will be able to play it fast and without uncorrectable mistakes. I suck at practicing though; practice for me means, play some songs, noodle around with scales and improvised melodies, have a go at reading music, for a half hour or so or until I get tired of it. Exercises? What are those?


Posted by: Clownaesthesiologist | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 11:29 AM
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My son did both classical and pop, and a little jazz, and he was amazed at how crippled and limited his classical friends were.

In my experience you can't even count on classical instrumentalists to be music-lovers. In the worst (not all) cases an entire symphony can be reduced to scattered technical difficulties -- "the ninth leap in bar 127" or something like that.

My son's bass teacher disliked me for reasons like this.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 11:32 AM
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137: Yeah, I was just using "bizarre" as an excuse to keep talking about myself. Basically, I suck at practicing, because a lot of it is bookkeeping (like which passages need work, when you last practiced X passage, how many repetitions to play) and I want something to do all that for me.

A second goal is for it to have a really good editor, so you can experiment with different ways of interpreting a piece without having to be limited to your technical ability, and you don't have to put emotional energy into recalling that interpretation during practice. Making that kind of editor natural to use is something I've never seen done before.

139: I've looked around for some book on a methodical way to develop improvisational ability, but haven't really found anything good. I wish there were something like that. Back when I was working on it, I started doing basic chord analysis on piece I play, and I would just try to start hearing the chord progressions and transpositions as I play instead of just the melody and phrasing. I didn't stick with it, but that might be a good method. It seems to target my weaknesses pretty specifically, as opposed to random playing around, which is probably really inefficient.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 11:40 AM
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139:

In my experience you can't even count on classical instrumentalists to be music-lovers.

Emerson, as always with the overblown overstatements.

I'm not a classical instrumentalist, mind you, but I like what I call musicianship in music. That may be technique that blows me away -- I think of King Crimson here, anal in their way but not much, they just know their fucking instruments and do incredible things with them, and it's been known to make me fall over. But it may also be apparently cheesy musicians who weave sound.

I am listening to Ricki Lee Jones right now.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 11:58 AM
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really inefficient

But fun...

I can't speak to piano improvisation because I don't know how to play piano; but improvisation on violin seemed to come pretty naturally from (1) listening to a lot of folk music and later on, jazz and bluegrass; (2) developing my hand-ear coordination to the point that I could play pretty naturally the melody I was hearing, similar to being able to hum or sing a melody. The missing piece from a piano perspective is chords -- I frequently have no idea what chord I am playing inside, which I guess would be a good thing to know if I were sitting at a keyboard.


Posted by: Clownaesthesiologist | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 12:00 PM
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I've been appalled, Parsimon. What's overblown about that? You must still be mad because I said mean things about analytic philosophy. (I just read Putnam's two recent books on ethics and philosophy. Good, but they don't go far enough.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 12:02 PM
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The result was that while I became pretty damn good by the time I was 16, I was deeply dispirited to know that I couldn't improvise to save my life. People said: you play piano? Oh, play us something, let's jam! Uh, no, well, not really.

That's a problem most classically trained musicians have. Improv is a skill just like any other and needs to be learned. However, the strong technique you've already got from classical playing is a pretty strong grounding to start learning to improvise [except on guitar, where classical guitar technique is totally different from the technique you'd use on an electric guitar].

re: 140

There are loads of good jazz improv texts. Levine's is the standard piano one, I think. The Aebersold material is OK too. Then you have people like Bergonzi and others who've written good jazz improv manuals.

I can give you more specific references if you like. I may even be able to email you some PDFs if you want [I have some jazz improv material in PDF form].

Fwiw, I'm only an 'advanced beginner' as far as jazz improv goes. I can play pretty fluently over swing-era changes, and do a pretty good Django impression. However, I'm not great over faster bop-era stuff.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 12:02 PM
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Joni Mitchell used some unusual guitar voicings which she apparently just picked out by ear. She didn't know any of their names.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 12:03 PM
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143:

Appalled? Is fine, I guess. I think the people who are describing this phenomenon among classically trained musicians are speaking somewhat personally, so emphasizing the distress is unnecessary.

You must still be mad because I said mean things about analytic philosophy

Ancient history. I'm surprised you remember it. What you said wasn't news to me, so I'm not mad at all.

For what it's worth, though, the formal-training issue does carry over between music and philosophy. The best analytically-trained philosophers become able to improvise. Which is why we study Wittgenstein!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 12:15 PM
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144: Levine's book looks pretty interesting, though I'm more interested in pop and (classical) romantic improvising than in jazz. I wonder how transferable the skills are.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 12:33 PM
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I remember everything, Parsimon, and bide my time for months and years.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 12:52 PM
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Gawd, please don't do that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 1:09 PM
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143:

I just attended to this:

I just read Putnam's two recent books on ethics and philosophy. Good, but they don't go far enough

Didn't know Putnam was still putting out, as it were. I actually took some courses with him; one was miserable, the other was excellent (Wm. James & Wittgenstein, which turned into a sort of turning point for me, mind-bending).

Well, but I never later followed his, what was it, realism with a human face? thing. Not dismissing, just wasn't in my purview. The gentleman is not a slouch, but I never looked to him for direction, so if he doesn't go far enough in whatever your own project is, I dunno.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 1:24 PM
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re: 147

Pop improvising? You mean like the sort of solos you get on average pop tunes? Principles are the same. Just simpler -- instead of playing 'the changes' the solos tend to stick to a single key/scale/mode and make heavy use of pentatonics.

Given that a huge amount of pop derives ultimately from a couple of standard progressions and/or the blues it doesn't take much to learn how to improvise over it. Actually on guitar you could probably improvise over more or less every rock/pop tune ever written if you know the major scale and the minor pentatonic. I assume the principles are the same for piano.

re: 145

As far as I know, she does know a fair bit, actually. However, she chooses to play most of the time in altered tunings, where there isn't much point in thinking in terms of names. The shapes change each time you use a different tuning so easier just to think in terms of the shapes themselves rather than worrying about what best to call them. I'd be surprised if many guitar players who make heavy use of altered tunings think in terms of named chords.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 1:57 PM
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I read an interview in which another musician asked her what a certain chord she played was, and she just answered "Ignorance is bliss".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 2:19 PM
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Joni: Good luck with that.

other musician: Don't you speak music?

Joni: You tell me.

other musician (this part is important): Then how do I talk to you, if we have no common language?

-----
That said, guitar is very different from keyboards.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 2:26 PM
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Improvisation used to be a bigger part of classical music (or Western art music, or whatever you want to call it) than is commonly known, up until the second half of the 19th century. It is still a key skill for organists.

I'd be surprised if many guitar players who make heavy use of altered tunings think in terms of named chords.

I think this is right; slack-key is the only exception I can think of.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 2:35 PM
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Think, think, think.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 2:36 PM
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re: 153

In my experience, guitar players are very good at talking to other guitar players (and bass players) about music. There's a shared vocabulary. It's just sometimes not the same shared vocabulary used by instrumentalists from the wider classical tradition, or from jazz.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 2:43 PM
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And the vast majority of guitar players can tell you the chord they are playing is a G, or G7 or a D minor or whatever. But, as mentioned, those terms cease to make much practical sense for those players using altered tunings.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 2:46 PM
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156: Honey, I was joking to a large extent.

I had a conversation with a drummer a while ago -- I'd missed their gig the previous night in favor of some silly other thing -- I was regretful and asked how it went and everything.

He said he/they had some timing problems, he was frustrated; as a member of the bass team, he has to work with the bass player(s) and other drummers, and they were too slow or too fast at times, and he didn't know what to do.

I said: You must develop an eyebrow raising and lowering system in order to communicate with them onstage! Lift your left eyebrow to say: slow the fuck down!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 3:04 PM
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re: 158

Zappa notoriously had a fairly complex system of body-language signals for his band. Head-wiggle meant 'go into a reggae back-beat for this section', other ones for slowing down or speeding up, etc.

Timing is everything in rock bands. After leaving high school, I used to play with a bass player who knew almost nothing about music. To the extent that when new bass parts were being written for the band I was in, I had to learn them, and then teach them to him in pure physical terms '5th fret, second lowest string, for 4 bars' etc. But his timing was absolutely top-notch. He sounded absolutely bloody great, in concert with a drummer. You'd never have known he had a near total mental block on everything else.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 4:47 PM
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159: as did James Brown; pretty much all of his dance moves, and some of his vocalizations, sent messages to the band, including the holding up of fingers to let band members know how many hundreds of dollars they had just been fined for fucking up.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 4:52 PM
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Thanks to all for the recommendations. (Clownæ - I don't use a metronome at gigs; it's just hard to hear sometimes without an earpiece, and I'd rather not stare at the blinky light the whole time.)


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-24-07 5:31 PM
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I came home to find two rolls of Cottonelle on the doorstep of every house on my street

Wow, you must have had a couple dozen rolls once you'd gathered them all up.


Posted by: cw | Link to this comment | 06-25-07 7:40 AM
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