Re: "You gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em..."

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Hmm. I don't know that country music is really going for a laugh that much. I think of current country songs more often going for some kind of moral or religious lesson. My dad is awesome, my kids make me well up with proud tears, thank a soldier, Jesus is the reason I didn't die in that car crash, etc.


Posted by: stroll | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:11 AM
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But yes there are the "funny" ones, and the rowdy-trouble-maker ones.


Posted by: stroll | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:12 AM
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Totally non-serious answer: I wonder if it's that country music tries to be wholesome. I love the U.S. almost as much as my truck and so when I knocked up my girlfriend we got married like a man and woman should and went back home where people knew us back in the days when stores were closed on Sundays and now I'm singing the annual wedding song about how much my little girl's grown up.

Not a lot of room for singing about sex, so there's lots of room for word play.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:13 AM
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You're thinking of Since His Penis Came Between Us, aren't you?


Posted by: Charlie | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:13 AM
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Hayes Carll is funny and touching country.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:16 AM
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Country musicians still think of themselves in the mode of entertainers, song and dance men. It makes sense of them to get a TV show (Johnny Cash) open a theme park (Dolly Parton). Tell jokes and do little comedy sketches in their shows.

Rock musicians mostly think of themselves as Tortured Artists. Cobain couldn't have a TV show. Lennon wouldn't open a theme park (allthough he did take over the Dick Cavett show for a while.)


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:18 AM
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Hasn't anyone in the McCain campaign thought that the whole "Maverick" theme is setting him up for some Kenny-Rogers-based jibes when anything, like pulling out of Michigan, happens that makes it look as if he's in retreat?

Do you honestly think that's an effective punch (with more than 0.5% of the population)? And I say that as a Kenny Rogers fan.

I think 6 is right about hte rest of your post. Country musicians are more likely to be "entertainers" than "artists". Jokes are entertainment and not art.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:24 AM
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Another example: country musicians still look back to Bob Wills, who for a while had a band named after a corporate sponsor (The Light Crust Dough Boys.) When he broke off with the sponsor, he started selling his own brannd of flour.

The role of radio variety shows can't be neglected either. The Carter family. Bob Wills again. They all had radio variety shows where they told jokes, read ads, etc.

In general, the formula for country music allows you to build an entire song around a single pun or simily. This is even true for religous & moral tunes. (Jesus is on the main line, tell him what you want.)

Bob Dylan didn't do stuff like that.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:24 AM
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8 simily
wrong thread


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:26 AM
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7: I dunno, I'm not a country fan, but the James Garner TV show is a childhood memory for me. I'd bet a whole lot of people know the words to the song and associate it with the word "Maverick" (which, of course, isn't in the song.). I'm not saying it's a big deal, but I bet it'd draw a widespread snicker.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:28 AM
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"She thinks my tractor's sexy" - is that supposed to be sexy or just seriously informative?

Country is this great little (actually, it's big) niche genre. It's a great escape from everday music.


Posted by: Katie | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:29 AM
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"Save a horse, ride a cowboy!"


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:33 AM
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10: what, exactly, is the verbal jab you're contemplating? Maybe I just lack imagination. "Yes, McCain is a Maverick, and like the great songwriter Kenny Rogers, he know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em, which is why he's pulling out of Michigan." Surely you've got something better than that in mind, but I'm not sure what.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:33 AM
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So, why's rap (often) funny? Rappers don't do variety shows,although I guess they run less to the tortured artist type than rock musicians.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:33 AM
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Not a lot of room for singing about sex, so there's lots of room for word play.

A lot of Irish/Scottish trad music is like that -- there's a whole genre of longish songs with only very short or no choruses that consist of a lot of fairly intricate and very funny (certainly, funny when you are really drunk) word play.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:34 AM
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Not a lot of room for singing about sex

Less true than it used to be; there are a lot of coded (or uncoded) references.


Posted by: Klug | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:36 AM
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They're better than the longish maudlin ones about starving babies, btw.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:37 AM
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13: I give. It wouldn't be funny at all. Actually, what happened is that Palin's maverick maverick maverick routine started me humming, because my brain works like that, and then I started wondering about funny country music and figured it would work as an intro.

Look, I'm out of practice, I haven't been blogging much. (Liveblogging donating blood right now, actually -- I had an argument this morning that didn't end up taking any time, so I walked in to the courthouse blood drive.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:39 AM
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My son and I had a chat about this last month when we went to the R&R HOF. Specifically when we went from the theater playing Help! in continuous loop to the one showing the Doors at the Hollywood Bowl.

You'll never hear surf music again.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:45 AM
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There's a lot of generalizing about country music going on here, is what I think.

I don't know how many people associate the word with country music, but I'm certain that there will be widespread 'maverick' fatigue by November as Palin aggressively pushes the brand (to put it ironically, since mavericks are unbranded). Last night she stopped just short of calling McCain Maverick McMaverickson, the mavericky super-maverick.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:46 AM
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20.2 gets it right. I'm just now realizing that I have no idea what "maverick" means. It's some sort of feral horse or cow, I think. Time to go look it up.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:49 AM
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The maverick thing is annoying me, too. Isn't that something like "cool" that other people can call you, but if you start saying it about yourself, you kind of automatically disprove the assertion?

Look, Ma! I'm a maverick. Are you watching? Did you see me do that mavericky thing? Don't you think I'm such a maverick?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:50 AM
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(On the plus side, the maverick bit should make life pretty easy for Tina Fey's writers... )


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:51 AM
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I put in my personals ad that I'm a maverick, I have class, and I know how to treat a woman. The expected tidal wave of responses did not materialize.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:51 AM
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My teenage kids at first ONLY liked funny music. They moved from Tom Lehrer and Weird Al to Jonathan Coulton to They Might Be Giants. Now, they'll also make room for the quirky, like the Decemberists. Maybe they should have been listening to country all along.


Posted by: Grant | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:51 AM
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Here we go again on the House bailout vote...Pete Stark is giving a fiery speech against it. Unfortunately, though, I think it will pass.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:52 AM
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22 is right, but McCain hasn't called himself a "maverick", has he? It's a fair thing for Palin to say about him (although I agree she said it about 100 too many times for her own good).


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:53 AM
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I think it is safe to make generalizations about coutry music. It is a unified tradition, with interlocking tropes, formulas and influences, backed by largely the same production & distribution networks for decades.

about the only thing to beware of is generalizing from contemporary country and pre-1960s country. The 60s had a big effect on things.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:53 AM
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27: Acceptance speech:

You know, I've been called a maverick; someone who marches to the beat of his own drum.

Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:54 AM
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Oh, and Governor? There already is a team of Mavericks, and I hope they sue you for trademark dilution after you lose.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:55 AM
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"I've been called" and "I am" are very different, Minivet.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:56 AM
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21: The point of brands was so that ranchers could sort out their cattle from everyone elsel's. Some smartass named Maverick decided that his brand was going to be no brand at all -- if a cow had no brand, that meant it was his (allowing him to claim all the accidentally unbranded cows). "Maverick" then got to mean an unbranded cow generally.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:56 AM
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Re. funny/verbal word play, I'm going to say it's b/c of the blues.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:56 AM
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27: I know he did in their joint interview with Katie Couric. Something like, "You can't expect a couple of mavericks to agree on everything." I'd swear he used it in the debate with Obama, too, but I might be making that up.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:57 AM
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Good point, B. Rock music certainly wasn't influenced by the blues.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:58 AM
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33: Yeah, actually the question isn't "why is this in country?" buy "why isn't this in rock?"

The role of wordplay in the Blues, along with traditions like the dozens, explains the endurance of wordplay in rap pretty well.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:58 AM
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McCain hasn't called himself a "maverick", has he?

Repeatedly. He does it all the damn time, and the dodge in 31 is totally bogus. Someone tells you they've been called a genius. What do you think they're telling you?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:59 AM
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34: I think that line was from Palin, last night. No?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:59 AM
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31: Indeed. That's right, Ice Man, I am dangerous ...


Posted by: Charlie | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 8:59 AM
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and takes out an ad calling himself The Original Genius, and then comes on and says 'I approve of this message.'


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:01 AM
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My question is, what the hell kind of name was Maverick in the first place? The eponymous Samuel Maverick seems to have been of English stock, but the name sounds like something continental.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:02 AM
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McCain hasn't called himself a "maverick", has he?

He's spent millions of dollars on advertisements to tell America that he's a maverick. I think that counts. (And he approved the message!)


Posted by: Gabriel | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:02 AM
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I think that line was from Palin, last night. No?

Absolutely, she used it last night. And seeing as nothing but pure, unrehearsed originality springs from her lips, clearly the line must never have been used before...

(That's doubly why I found it irritating in the debate last night -- not just that it's a stupid line, but because it's a completely stupid refrain.)


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:02 AM
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36: Hey, that gives me a theory. Maybe it's the youth aspect of rock? Rock is an essentially teenage genre in a way country and blues aren't, anld verbal cleverness, regardless of how goofy and dumb it ends up, is largely a matter of adult craftmanship.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:03 AM
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"why isn't this in rock?"

Because of hair bands. (Queen being an exception, but then, they're all gay and shit.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:04 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:05 AM
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Charley: yes, obviously McCain is shamelesly embracing, exploiting, and perpetuating his "maverick" image. I wasn't really disputing that. I was just wondering (and doubting) whether he ever asserted it of himself.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:05 AM
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47: Yes; he did in the debate last week, for heaven's sake, Brock.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:06 AM
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This post is (sorry LB) silly. What other genres of white-identified popular music were you thinking of? Swing? There's plenty of indie rock that tries to be funny in its twee and irritating way, there's plenty of old-time rock 'n roll that's funny, or at least trying to be (my ding-a-ling? Louie Louie?). There's plenty of punk bands that wrote funny songs. I can think of at least half a dozen examples of funny rock songs off the top of my head. The issue at hand, I think, is that a lot of the rock on the radio is classic rock, or classic rock derived, and if there's one thing every wanky musician with a guitar was able to learn from Led Zeppelin, it was that when you're singing about Hobbits it's imperative to take yourself very seriously, which precludes too much funniness.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:07 AM
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Shit, I can think of plenty of funny dance tracks, and those barely have lyrics.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:07 AM
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Shorter 49: Hair bands.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:08 AM
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44: and yet once again rap trips up your theory. Perhaps the ways of black people are just inexplicable.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:09 AM
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51: yes, B. Your vaguely cryptic 45, once unpacked, vaguely pwned part of my 49. I agree with you.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:10 AM
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49: Maybe. It still seems as if there's a lot more funny, as a percentage of total output, in country than in rock. (White-identified-genres was dumb -- I was looking for a better catchall term than rock, because I didn't want to get into a conversation I would find incomprehensible about whether rock included indie, or pop, or whatever the hell else.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:14 AM
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Sifu, take a trip to Cleveland, to see who has pwned whom.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:15 AM
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Shit, I can think of plenty of funny dance tracks, and those barely have lyrics.

But could you make a mix of funny rock/pop songs? I've wanted to do that, and it's more difficult than it sounds (particularly if you stick to the one-song-per-artist rule). There are plenty of somewhat funny songs, but they don't necessarily go together.

Whereas I wouldn't be surprised if someone put together a mix of humorous country music.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:15 AM
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Jokes are entertainment and not art.

!

So, does humor belong in music? Based on "Fun and Games with Don and Doyle", I'd say "yes".


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:16 AM
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52: Huh. I know nothing about rap, but it doesn't seem as inherently teenage to me; teenagers listen to it, but that's different.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:17 AM
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WHAT DO YOU MEAN, WHITE-IDENTIFIED GENRES OF POPULAR MUSIC?


Posted by: OPINIONATED CHARLEY PRIDE | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:17 AM
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54: but I think the fact that you would find part of that conversation incomprehensible is part of the problem; you're talking about whether or not there's more that's funny in country vs. a very narrow slice of the rest of music. Which, probably, because that very narrow slice of the rest of music is kind of pompous and self-important a lot of the time. But because that slice of music plays an outsized role in crappy commercial radio and popular culture among the white, college educated, and over thirty-ish, you're conflating it with a much larger slice of the rest of music.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:18 AM
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Richard Thompson has some funny songs.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:18 AM
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55: oh, I saw the P(wn)BS documentary.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:19 AM
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I don't have any idea what 58 is trying to say, but I'm sure it's flat wrong.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:19 AM
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Bitch is basically right. You can see humor draining out of rock through the 60s, but it is not until Black Sabbath that you see bands that are completely humourless (yet, ironically, the most preposterous of all rock bands.)


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:19 AM
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Which, probably, because that very narrow slice of the rest of music is kind of pompous and self-important a lot of the time. But because that slice of music plays an outsized role ... you're conflating it with a much larger slice of the rest of music.

This is exactly right.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:21 AM
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Took a minute to find it:

OBAMA: I just want to make this point, Jim. John, it's been your president who you said you agreed with 90 percent of the time who presided over this increase in spending. This orgy of spending and enormous deficits you voted for almost all of his budgets. So to stand here and after eight years and say that you're going to lead on controlling spending and, you know, balancing our tax cuts so that they help middle class families when over the last eight years that hasn't happened I think just is, you know, kind of hard to swallow.

LEHRER: Quick response to Senator Obama.

MCCAIN: It's well-known that I have not been elected Miss Congeniality in the United States Senate nor with the administration. I have opposed the president on spending, on climate change, on torture of prisoner, on - on Guantanamo Bay. On a -- on the way that the Iraq War was conducted. I have a long record and the American people know me very well and that is independent and a maverick of the Senate and I'm happy to say that I've got a partner that's a good maverick along with me now.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:22 AM
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64: I'm pretty much convinced that Black Sabbath was fundamentally a in-joke.

Most preposterous is a hard fought title by a strong field, though.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:23 AM
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Most preposterous is a hard fought title by a strong field

Emerson, Lake, and Palmer in a rout.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:25 AM
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60: Again, maybe. I bow to none in my opinion of my own musical ignorance, but the funniness gap was recognized by a number of commenters who can't all be as clueless as I am. I may be misdescribing it, but there's something there.

63: Oh, here I'm stretching. But if you wanted to take rock back to it's origins, there's some sense in which you'd end up with a song about a teenager at the prom. First love, teenage angst -- that's rock, Rap (watch me generalize from a position of absolutely total ignorance) isn't nearly so much about teenage emotionality -- the cast of characters in rap is young people, maybe, but young adults, living independently.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:25 AM
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And Sifu is right. There's loads of joking and wordplay in `rock', just not the (tiny percentage) you'll hear on typical `rock' radio stations.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:26 AM
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I've got a partner that's a good maverick along with me now.

The "good maverick" phrase is sort of amusing. I read "good" as something like "well-behaved" or "compliant" -- "a good kid" -- which, of course, is a silly modifier for "maverick."


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:26 AM
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Richard Thompson was pretty definite about being out of the blues-based rock mainstream and drawing on specifically British roots. It cost him millions and possibly tens of millions of dollars, and he's wry about it. I've never heard a RT song that seems at all teenage or college age either. It's always been adult music, and that's a much smaller market.

It's the essential butthead element of rock that he misses. He writes plenty about buttheads, but he can't write as a butthead the way Jim Morrison, to name the champion, could. Randy Newman and Frank Zappa had the same problem. Thompson surpasses them, though, because his music isn't so relentlessly satirical.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:27 AM
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49 and 60 make me think Sifu really doesn't listen to much country music. Sure there's humor to be found in any genre, but if you're looking for a whole song build around a bad pun, your best bet is the country station. The jokey verbal wordplay is orders of magnitude higher there than anywhere else, with the possible exception of rap (where the wordplay is tends more towards "clever and humorous" and less towards "jokey").


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:27 AM
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68: I dunno Styx is coming on strong.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:27 AM
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Now, if you wanted me on board with your point, you could talk about how both country and (some kinds of) hip hop are narrative forms, which suit themselves better to humor than more-repetitive, dance-oriented styles of music, which mainstream rock is, albeit much bastardized.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:29 AM
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66: I've got a partner that's a good maverick along with me now.

Now I'm imaging "maverick" as a sexual position.

And sorry, laydeez, but while I agree that breaking the glass ceiling will be a good thing, but I can't just lie down and let millions of good jokes wither untold.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:30 AM
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A few of you are cheating: if it's not on mainstream commerical radio, it doesn't count.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:30 AM
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Continuing, but when you find songs with extended narratives in any genre, they're just as likely to be humorous as they are in country.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:30 AM
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I once heard a country song that was entirely built around some cleverly deformed proverbs. Total joke piece.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:30 AM
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if it's not on mainstream commerical radio, it doesn't count.

you miss most of the best of every genre with that constraint.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:31 AM
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It goes back generations. One of the few songs my dad ever mentioned was a Grand Ole Opry song called "I'm my own grandpaw" about intermarrying (not quite inbreeding) families in the Kentucky hills. (Bill Wyman and his son probably sing it at private gatherings).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:33 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:34 AM
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But because that slice of music plays an outsized role in crappy commercial radio and popular culture among the white, college educated, and over thirty-ish, you're conflating it with a much larger slice of the rest of music.

Okay, but then you can just rephrase the question as, "Why does radio segregate humor so sharply by genre?"

Unrelatedly, I once offended someone by saying, "Country music is all about being cheated on, rap music is all about doing the cheating." I'm sure they thought I was implying over-generalized character flaws in the underlying group of fans, but I wasn't, and I still think the statement is true.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:35 AM
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76: While I would take issue with the assertion that you are doing anything to foster the dissemination of "good" jokes, I have to agree that something about the way McCain talks about his running mate comes off as less evocative of a professional partnership and more, well, dirty old man?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:35 AM
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sorry, laydeez

I, for one, am willing to declare a moratorium on OMGTHAT'SSOSEXIST where Palin is concerned. For the most part, anyway.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:39 AM
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Labs-baiting. I think most of the Smith's songs are intentionally humorous.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:41 AM
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85: Why?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:41 AM
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"Girlfriend in a Coma" and "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" are very serious, thoughtful works of art, md.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:43 AM
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Sifu is moving the goalposts. If you tune into a range of commercial stations (not college rock) you'll find the most humor on the country stations. If you're a buff you can collect millions of examples disproving LB, but that's missing the point.

In non-country pop during the Sixties a lot of the funny stuff was countryish, e.g. Ray Stevens and Roger Miller. But I think that that dwindled a drug use increased. (BTW, if you're looking for a Ray Stevens-Roger Miller cover band, I know Stevens' nephew who's inherited his whole songbook. 500+ songs. I live to drop the big names).

I tend to feel that my tendency to wisecrack whenever possible has incapacitated me for much of modern life. When my brother was dating he found that joking around confused his suburban, new age, therapy-oriented dates and made them uncomfortable.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:44 AM
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87: Because I loathe her, mostly. But if pushed, I could rationalize it by pointing out that she herself totally exploits her femininity (former beauty pageant contestant, ffs), plus her position on reproductive rights, and that therefore she's asking for it.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:44 AM
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And funny rock songs are never based entirely on a gimmick, like country songs often are.

The drinking bone's connected to the party bone. The party bone's connected to the staying-out-all-night-long. She won't think it's funny and I'll wind up all alone, and the lonely bone's connected to the drinking bone.

Etc. I know my pop country music, buster.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:45 AM
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John, maybe your brother just has bad taste in women.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:45 AM
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And funny rock songs are never based entirely on a gimmick, like bad country songs often are.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:47 AM
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Is it still over?
Are we still through?
Since my phone still ain't ringing, I assume it still ain't you.
I've half a mind to take the time to find somebody new,
But I'm not so sure that I'm still over you.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:47 AM
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If someone here wants to argue that Zappa was capable of buttheadedness, I'm willing to listen to his arguments.

Another problem with Zappa is that his particular pastiche was new, and many of the elements in his pastiche were new to pop, but by being ore ambitious he went into competition with the big boys of classical music and jazz, and I never felt that it worked.

Captain Beefheart is a strange case, super-witty but not very funny.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:48 AM
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Sifu is moving the goalposts.

Sifu didn't move them, LB didn't specify large commercial radio.

So it's a different question, but interesting. Since US commercial radio is basically driven by what, 3 people these days? Why have they decided on those particular emphasis within genres.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:48 AM
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therefore she's asking for it

Welcome to the dark side, B. We've been saving a seat for you.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:48 AM
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Perhaps Emerson's brother's taste in women is like a gimmicky country song.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:48 AM
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And funny rock songs are never based entirely on a gimmick

TMBG's entire career is based on a gimmick.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:49 AM
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You know what's even more serious than Black Sabbath? Black Sabbath in Latin.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:52 AM
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99: But they never really did become giants, did they.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:52 AM
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I wonder if it's just that rock/pop places a higher value on originality, and it can be easier to tell jokes while riffing on familiar structures.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:52 AM
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92: No, he was playing the field and settled down with a nice country girl who likes to joke.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:52 AM
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102: I think that's a lot of it, on a superficial level.

Also I always enjoyed the fact that the most macho, repress-your-emotions culture in the United States writes the weepiest, sappiest love songs possible. (Although R&B has a lot of equally impossibly weepy bird-chirpy sap-fests out there.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:56 AM
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104 was to Nick's comment.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:57 AM
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I love 104 to 103.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:57 AM
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Heebie will do anything to avoid seeming to agree with me on that, because that would mean that she'd been wrong. And she has to keep her rightness intact for marriage.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 9:59 AM
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she has to keep her rightness intact for marriage

She broke her rightness horseback riding.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:01 AM
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I don't want to do the search for one of those dildo-saddle contraptions at the moment. Pretend I did, and linked to it, and said, "It was one of these."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:02 AM
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12 to 108.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:03 AM
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Shorter B (90): Because I loathe her, therefore she's asking for it.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:03 AM
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Jimmy Buffet has a whole lot of funny songs. But I think he's kind of cross-over. "Why Don't We Get Drunk and Screw?" is a hilarious song, but certainly has a country twang.

Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen probably also fit into that category.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:03 AM
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They play Buffet on many (most?) country radio stations. There's certainly a cross-over fan base.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:06 AM
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Barenaked Ladies seem like total jokers. (And I love them for it.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:07 AM
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115: yes, they are (even more so earlier on). Crash Test Dummies, too, although they're not-quite-one-hit-wonders.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:09 AM
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LB,

I had an argument this morning that didn't end up taking any time, so I walked in to the courthouse blood drive.)

Arguments and giving blood? Wow, not much of a day. I'll give you a pass. If you were here I'd treat you to a movie or something. Your life sounds grinding.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:09 AM
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Doesn't breaking the glass ceiling entail liability to normal, gross verbal abuse?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:09 AM
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Yes, Bearnaked Ladies are indeed a perfect example, and if fully half the songs on pop radio were by bands with lyrics like theirs, LB wouldn't have a valid point. But they aren't, so she does.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:10 AM
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"Love Stinks" - J. Geils Band
About 1/3 of Alice Cooper's discography
Most of the Dead Kennedys' discography
Most of the Ramones' discography
All of King Missile's discography
"Life's Been Good" - Joe Walsh
"Big Balls" - AC/DC
"Werewolves of London" - Warren Zevon
"Ballroom Blitz" - Sweet


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:11 AM
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Tripp was gone then, but LB's earlier life (only a few months ago) was unbearably grinding and we're all happy she's out of that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:11 AM
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"Why Don't We Get Drunk and Screw?"

A mashup of that and Ice-T's Girls L.G.B.N.A.F. would be awesome, and could promote racial healing.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:12 AM
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120: I think that's the point behind the `commercial radio' restriction.

The whole thing doesn't work without that. Even then, some of this stuff slips through.

Thinking of it as a radio phenomena, rather than a music phenomena, makes a bit more sense.

Not that radio matters anymore.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:13 AM
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Shorter B (90): Because I loathe her, therefore she's asking for it.

I think it's actually closer to "Charles Krauthammer doesn't deserve to be set on fire--that's a horrible thing to do to another human being--but that doesn't mean that I'm obligated to piss on him to put it out." Which seems fair enough.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:13 AM
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Probably pwned above, but Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys is given to some pretty witty wordplay.

Mecca dobbers and betting pencils, indeed...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:14 AM
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Charles Krauthammer doesn't deserve to be set on fire

You pussy.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:14 AM
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My taste in Country Music came about listening to my Mom play her electric guitar and sing country music from the 50's and early 60's. When I got her music books I saw that her selection was mostly the tunes with only two chords, G and D, with nary a troubling C or the dreaded F in sight, bless her heart.

I learned to hate those songs, but the words sunk in, and I can rattle off some pretty funny titles to Country Western songs if anyone wants to hear them.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:15 AM
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"Werewolves of London", really, apo?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:15 AM
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119: Most of those are cult bans, except AC/DC, Alice Cooper, and Walsh.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:15 AM
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pretty witty wordplay

Tom Waits and Elvis Costello, as well.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:15 AM
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When I got her music books I saw that her selection was mostly the tunes with only two chords, G and D, with nary a troubling C or the dreaded F in sight, bless her heart.

Those are great. A friend used to have one of those "10001 Songs for Buskers" books. They make EVERYTHING playable with just 4 chords. Sinatra songs?* No problem.

* which in the original would be fully of all gnarly 'jazz' chords changing about twice per bar.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:16 AM
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Most of those are cult bans

Only King Missile. And maybe the Dead Kennedys.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:17 AM
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and I can rattle off some pretty funny titles to Country Western songs if anyone wants to hear them.

I knew someone tragically unsuited to his upbringing in a small, isolated town who would occasionally rip off a list like that or sing a few rounds of `there's a tear in my beer' when people were a bit low. There's some great titles.


Nobody should be afraid of an F chord.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:18 AM
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When I need a little advice about Saddam Hussein, I turn to country music.


Posted by: Poppy Bush | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:18 AM
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There are some great titles, even.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:18 AM
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"Werewolves of London", really, apo?

You don't think it was written with humorous intent (whether it was achieved is, of course, a different question)?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:19 AM
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64: I'm pretty much convinced that Black Sabbath was fundamentally a in-joke.

It's pretty clear from hearing them speak that there is some truth to that. Also, early Black Sabbath have so much awesome embedded in the riffs that they don't NEED humour.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:19 AM
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109: google "sybian".

Brock's commercial radio restriction is retarded. Welcome to 1962!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:19 AM
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Apo, you live in a cult town. It's one of the Colorado Cities of cult music, like Madison WS or Evergreen College. You no longer have a concept of mainstream.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:20 AM
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Apo, you live in a cult town. It's one of the Colorado Cities of cult music, like Madison WS or Evergreen College. You no longer have a concept of mainstream.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:20 AM
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King MIssiles is the only one you could really get away with labelling `cult band', JE.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:20 AM
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No, the whole point of that was that the argument was short (like, approximately nonexistent, it's getting decided on the papers) and stress free, so I had time to slack off and go donate blood. (Which I don't mind at all -- I do it a fair amount because I figure it's about the lowest effort, easiest, unambiguously good thing to do out there. Go lie down for half an hour and then eat some cookies, and pat yourself on the back for saving a life.)


Posted by: Lizardbreath | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:20 AM
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Nobody should be afraid of an F chord.

Start there, and before long you'll be into b5 substitutions and quartal harmony. It's a slippery slope.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:21 AM
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I read an interview with one of the hair bands, maybe Def Leppard. They themselves were totally tongue and cheek and loved "Spinal Tap" to death, but not their audiences, I don't think.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:22 AM
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141 to 116. And I like Sifu's 'narrative' theory -- that feels right to me.


Posted by: Lizardbreath | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:22 AM
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According to report, Matlock was kicked off the Sex Pistols for learning a new chord.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:23 AM
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re: 143

Def Leppard are pretty pompous.

[I saw them back in the 80s]

But yeah, quite a few hair bands have a fairly well-developed sense of their own absurdity. There was stuff going on in interviews that I read as a teenage metal fan that now I recognize was the piss being gently extracted but which I missed at the time.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:24 AM
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I like "there's a tear in my beer".


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:24 AM
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Nobody should be afraid of an F chord.

I know, but to this day, even after all the advice about fitting the guitar strings closer to the fret my hand hurts after too many F chords.

Sure, some real lessons would probably fix that up, showing me the proper hand position, but doggone it my Mom never took no lessons.

I suck at golf too, for the same reason.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:24 AM
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Start there, and before long you'll be into b5 substitutions and quartal harmony. It's a slippery slope.


... a slippery slope to awesome.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:25 AM
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I feel like we need more examples of the kind of country music we are talking about, just to keep the comparisons straight. I've been thinking about songs like "All my exes live in Texas" and "Drop kick me Jesus through the goal posts of life."

Comparisons to Elvis Costello don't seem appropriate here.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:25 AM
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144: LB, don't encourage that person. it's bad enough that he's locking Blume up in his cupboard forever, along with his seven earlier wives.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:25 AM
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And I like Sifu's 'narrative' theory -- that feels right to me.

Maybe that's the root of it. Art-rock bands nearly killed the narrative approach for rock with concept albums.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:27 AM
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LB,

No, the whole point of that was that the argument was short (like, approximately nonexistent, it's getting decided on the papers) and stress free,

Dang you are earnest. Bless your heart! I was making a pun on the word "argument." Yeah, I know, puns are low, but they seem to be one of the only forms of humor that don't hurt anyone. Except those hearing them, I guess.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:29 AM
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I know, but to this day, even after all the advice about fitting the guitar strings closer to the fret my hand hurts after too many F chords.

People are usually pressing too hard. Or they are using a cheap guitar with the nut cut far too high.

Most people press too hard, actually. it's worth experimenting with 'buzz' to get your pressure down. Start fretting absolutely as hard as you can, really force it, then slowly ease off the pressure relaxing all the time until eventually the note starts to buzz. Back the pressure back on a fraction. That's all you need.

That amount of pressure is usually less than most people play with. Most people also don't know how to use 'arm weight' so that most of the force needed to fret the strings isn't really coming from the fingers.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:30 AM
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re: 149

Heh, yeah, of course.

I am a [not very good] jazz player myself. Or trying to be. But it is a slipper slope -- you learn one dom7, and then you realize you need to learn another 12 voicings or inversions before you can play properly.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:31 AM
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154 is exactly right. When teaching beginners, I usually demonstrate how I can play the chords without my thumb on the neck at all, so they really don't need to be holding on for dear life...


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:31 AM
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But yeah, quite a few hair bands have a fairly well-developed sense of their own absurdity.

All of them, I guess. Without that, they would have spontaneously combusted long ago. (Seriously, Cobain could have used a little of that, and I basically liked his stuff.)

Country songwriter talk about "the hook" -- one line in the song that grabs the listener and drags him in. It can be a verbal gimmick of many different kinds, not necessarily a joke. (The author of "Don't get hooked on me" was looking for a hook, when AHA! he had one. It's sort of like "the bridge" in James Brown and Led Zeppelin.)

Blues has hooks and jokes too, buth the stuf that got picked up by Blues Revival and rock seems to have been the less-funny stuff.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:31 AM
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Brock's commercial radio restriction is retarded. Welcome to 1962!

Oh, I think the observation is every bit as true about non-commerical-radio music. It's just that, since the amount of non-commercial music is unbounded, there's no meaningful way to talk about proportions of humorous and non-humorous music. What's one-half of an infinite number? The commerical-radio limitation was meant only as a proxy in order to make the conversation intelligible.

Again, people keep bringing up examples of humorous rock/pop music as if they were pertinent. No one is disputing that there's plenty of humorous rock and pop, and I think everyone understands you could keep rattling off examples all day. It's the relative importance of those examples to the overall genre that's at issue.


Posted by: Brock Landesr | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:32 AM
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JE: nah, `the bridge' and `the hook' are different things, and pretty standard terminology in songwriting more broadly.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:33 AM
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Comparisons to Elvis Costello don't seem appropriate here.

Listen to Costello's country cover album Almost Blue, and they'll make more sense.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:34 AM
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||
Like Anne Lamott, it kills me that Molly Ivins isn't here to write about this campaign:

It breaks a girl's heart to know that Molly Ivins does not get to have a go at the Republican slate this year. I can see that big, rosy, sunflower face watching this all with astonishment and roaring with laughter. Ivins -- the legendary buckaroo populist, journalist, freelance hell-raiser and freedom fighter -- would be pounding her fists on the arms of her easy chair, stomping her feet as if listening to live bluegrass.

She would have had such a ball with Sarah Palin -- the trooper scandal, her love of moose (between buns), the flamboyantly botched television interviews, the bravery of people who hunt wolves for sport, from the air. Even though Molly was a Texan -- who would have been on guard for the sneering tone of liberal criticism toward anyone with a gun or a double-wide -- she still would have obliterated Palin as a faux populist wingnut with a tanning bed instead of a heart. She would have made great hay with the capacity of certain politicians to reinvent themselves in entirely new realities, as newfound populist Brotherman McCain has done, and his desperate, icky laugh of contempt might have raised some worries for her.

|>
Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:35 AM
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re: 156

Yeah, I can play barre chords on a classical guitar [with a 5mm action at the 12th fret] without the thumb on the back of the neck. I'd been playing years before I discovered it [from reading somewhere or other] and once I'd worked on it a bit, most of the left hand tension and the regular over-use injuries I used to get were gone.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:35 AM
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159: What I meant was the way songwriter terminology got dragged into the lyrics.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:36 AM
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Here's a pretty good list of titles of country music novelty songs.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:36 AM
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158: regardless, commercial radio is a terrible, unrepresentative set to work with.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:36 AM
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I was thinking of learning classical guitar but it turns out I would have to stop chewing up my fingernails. Not gonna happen.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:37 AM
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Classical music has the lowest amount of humor.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:38 AM
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I am a [not very good] jazz player myself.

I flirted with it years ago, but studies etc. squeezed music out for ages. So I guess I'm an ex-not-very-good jazz/fusion player or something.

I was teasing mostly though, I agree about the slipperly slope. You can get by playing lots of stuff with a pretty rudimentary theory & set of chords, but once you open that lid there is an awful lot of stuff to make work together.

Going from `This is in G, so I'll play that pentatonic over it' gets you through what, 80% of rock and roll, without embarrasing yourself too mcuh . Getting from there to modal shifts over changes (key? what key) or whatever is a bit of work.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:38 AM
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Sifu, why must you destroy music threads? On any music thread, your contribution consists of "this is wrong because you failed to reference every single subgenre I've ever heard of." Which I can see has the advantage of restricting the list of valid music opinions to those of one Mr. Tweety.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:38 AM
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159: I really should learn the more precise definitions of a lot of these songwriting and musical terms someday. I have some idea of what a number of them mean, and use them on occasion to describe music, but it's really been luck alone (and the politeness of my fellow conversers) that's stopped me from making an utter ass of myself through misuse by now.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:38 AM
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162: I think that's pretty typical. I play with far too much tension for years, too.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:39 AM
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re: 166

Some people play without nails. In the early 19th century there was a big debate about whether you should play with nails. There were opposing schools.

The nail school won out.

I found once I started taking classical lessons that the process of learning to play classical made me stop biting my right hand nails. Only the right, though. I still chew the others.

I took classical lessons about 6 years ago, coming to it late, and even took a few exams. Technically I reached the minimum standard for music college entry [although the _actual_ applicants to musical college are generally light years above that official standard].

One of the best things I ever did, actually. Learned so much and discovered so much great music.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:39 AM
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I love 164.

"One Day When You Swing That Skillet (My Face Ain't Gonna Be There)"

"Did I Shave my Legs for This?"


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:40 AM
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Haydn is the classical musician most likely to be funny.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:41 AM
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3

... I wonder if it's that country music tries to be wholesome. ...

Not a lot of room for singing about sex ...

I don't think these are true although I suppose it depends on what you mean by "wholesome". Is Folsom Prison Blues a wholesome song?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:42 AM
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169: I don't think that's fair, Walk. Commercial radio is a pretty terribly narrow sampling, and has strong biases that may be quite independent of the underlying musics & genre.
Some genres (forget subgenres) and it's fans have pretty much always operated outside of commercial radio, but dismissing them out of hand is silly in a conversation about music. Constraining the conversation to pop radio is fine, but it's a strong constraint.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:42 AM
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*Walt. weird typo


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:42 AM
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175: yes.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:42 AM
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re: 168

I have a blog on jazz guitar. With some lessons and vids that I've been recording. It's mostly focused on pre-bop styles -- swing, gypsy jazz, etc. I've been writing up and recording some stuff on turning from basic triad harmony to swing improv.

I'm not an expert. I can't play over fast bop tunes at all unless they have a single key centre.

I'm OK in the Charlie Christian/Django sort of swing vein, though.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:43 AM
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169: because I am filled with hate, Walt. Seriously, though, commercial radio is, as mentioned above, programmer by like three people nationally, and just isn't a good microcosm of the US pop music landscape.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:43 AM
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172: Thanks for telling me that. Maybe there is hope for my fingernails.

I don't need to be good at classical guitar, I just need to be good enough to set an example for my son. I have great plans for developing in him the musical talent I never had. Why have offspring if not to saddle them with the burden of your own broken dreams?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:44 AM
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180: Except for the fact that commercial radio was the main gatekeeper to financial success in music between 1965 and 2000.

The radio restriction is perfectly rational. For four decades it was how people heard new music.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:45 AM
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156 is interesting. I had to give up playing guitar because of chronic tendonitis in my left hand. I wonder if I learned to play with less pressure in my left hand if I could take it up again. What's the trick, exactly? Just lean hard with your right elbow?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:45 AM
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Classical music has the lowest amount of humor.

There's some funny stuff, but getting most of it requires more familiarity with the various idioms than a person can reasonably be expected to develop just for a few laffs.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:46 AM
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Stravinsky has some really funny vocal+orchestra pieces.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:47 AM
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179: hey, nice.

I found my interest in the `technical' side of that waning when the rest of my life was full of technical details. On the rare occasions I had to play, I just wanted to belt something out, not think about it. So for a little while I was thinking about that stuff, but it was a long time ago now and would be a real struggle (never had it solid enough to really set) for me now.

These days I don't do much more than bash out songs on an acoustic, occasionally playing around with voicings and rapidly bemoaning how badly out of playing shape my hands are now

I'd like to read your swing stuff!


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:49 AM
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re: 183

Assuming you are right handed and fretting with the left hand:

try playing a barre across all 6 strings.

You'll probably have to pinch quite hard between the thumb and forefinger to fret it. Then try letting the weight of your fretting arm sort of 'sink' into the fretboard. Its harder to describe than to do. Think about sort of 'pulling' the forearm in through the guitar neck, as if you were pulling down on a cable at the gym or something.

if you get the angle right, and the tension right in your hand and forearm the pressure on the strings is coming from the weight of your arm and from the big muscles in your arm more than the tension in your hand.

With a bit of practice on tension you can get to the stage where you can play without the thumb on the back of the neck at all. Not that you do, but you could, because the left hand isn't applying a lot of muscular force.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:50 AM
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182: but even that doesn't tell the whole story, except for certain genres of music at certain times. Shit, there hardly was hip hop on the radio outside of New York until the 90s, and yet it still became massively popular.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:52 AM
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re: 186

http://swingtobop.wordpress.com/

It's not great -- the vids were a bit hurried and I can see mistakes and flubs and general timing things going on. I haven't linked to it before because it's really a work in progress.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:53 AM
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For four decades it was how people heard new music.

If you're constraining yourself to only the most mainstream of pop and country and r&b, sure. And to certain sociio-economic groupings. But only then.

Which does make for an urban/rural split. Punk, new wave, blues, metal, reggae, early hip hop, electronica, etc. etc. etc. These never had radio play as a significant vector, yet are significant sub-genres or genres.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:53 AM
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There is plenty of hilarious (intentionally, even, not just the Hobbit stuff) 60s rock. Cf. the Tuli Kupferberg oeuvre.*

(I met him at the bar at CBs. He was there seeing a band composed of some folks Rob and I went to college with.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:55 AM
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Thanks ttaM!

What do you use to generate your chord diagrams, out of curiosity?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:55 AM
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If you restate LB slightly, just say that commercial country is funnier than other kinds of commercial music.

My word "cult" may have been too strong, but only three of the bands in #119 were ever national headline acts.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 10:58 AM
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192: Hey, I went to school with his son.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 11:00 AM
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My word "cult" may have been too strong

If by `too strong', you mean `ridiculous', sure.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 11:01 AM
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180: But you could take that point in interesting ways, rather than just the implicit boast that LB knows fuck-all about music, unlike you. For example, why do those three people only play unfunny music? Does only unfunny pop music sell? Is unfunny pop music better at selling soap? Do country music stations have more diversity? (My casual impression is no.) Why do country music stations, who face the same commercial pressures, play more jokey songs?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 11:03 AM
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re: 192

A think called Quick Chord, which is free. However, it doesn't do flats. Which is getting to be a problem.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 11:05 AM
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197: ah. ok, thanks; that sounds a bit constraining. I've been looking recently. There is a LaTeX package which I may end up using rather than anything interactive. If I had a little more time I might write something interactive that output pdf's or whatever. I suppose I could gain the time by not commenting here.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 11:07 AM
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196: I thought I was, here and there. Oh well; now I'm in class, so feel free to ignore me and get back on track.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 11:08 AM
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194: I think you mean 191? If so, was his son very odd yet very smart?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 11:10 AM
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200: If I say that he blended in pretty easily at the school we both went to, that sounds like I'm disagreeing with you, but I'm not. If you see what I mean.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 11:12 AM
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195: I granted Alice Cooper, Joe Walsh, and AC/DC. Apo granted me King Missile and maybe the Dead Kennedys. I have to concede Sweet and J. Geils; I guess I just never found them memorable. As far as I can tell, despite their influence the Ramones and Warren Zevon were never as successful commercially as they may have deserved.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 11:21 AM
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re: 198

yeah, I've thought about the various LaTeX tools. I'll probably end up using something else, though.

It's on hiatus the blog until the end of october anyway.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 11:21 AM
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201: Now I am intrigued! Walden?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 11:21 AM
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The Fugs survived in Portland as the Holy Modal Rounders, the Clamtones, and possibly other bands.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 11:24 AM
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175: Oddly, yes. Shooting a man in Reno just to watch him die is acceptably wholesome (he's in prison, he feels bad.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 11:24 AM
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204: Nah, Hunter. It's a (roughly) public magnet high school in NY. Admits a very selective group of highly intelligent students, and educates them in a manner that's mysteriously effective in (a) getting all of them into the most impressive colleges in America and (b) never doing anything noticeable again for the rest of their lives. For a school of its apparent stature, we've got the most pathetically obscure population of alumni conceivable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 11:25 AM
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205: The Holy Modal Rounders were nursery music for my niece and nephew. They managed to mortify my mother in a department store by singing about "magic mushrooms and singing bears, indian visions that'll curl your hair."


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 11:26 AM
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203: If I find/make anything useful, I'll let you know.


despite their influence the Ramones and Warren Zevon were never

This is true. The Dead Kennedys is another difficult one -- what does really big in a (sub-)genre without much commercial interaction mean?

Pretty quickly we run into question of what `big' means --- the velvet underground were vastly more influential than any number of short live arena-rock acts, but never made much commercial splash.

I guess what I was objecting too was that I think of bands with a "cult" following as a very different thing than a band with limited commercial success.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 11:27 AM
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207: Ah! Everyone one I know who went there (which now includes you! Sis too?) is very smart indeed.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 11:28 AM
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||

The House just passed the bailout bill.

|>


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 11:29 AM
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210: Indeed.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 11:31 AM
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Whoops, the indeed was to "(Sis too?)" rather than the remainder of 210.


Posted by: Lizardbreath | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 11:31 AM
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Oh, don't worry LB--we already got your "indeed" to the rest of 210 up in 207.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 11:36 AM
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One of the few songs my dad ever mentioned was a Grand Ole Opry song called "I'm my own grandpaw"

We have a version of that on one of Iris' CDs (one that also includes Freakwater doing a superb "Little Red Riding Hood.")


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 11:36 AM
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We need a bailout thread! Obama delivered the Democrats, the Republicans ignored McCain, Bush, and Boehner. To me this is a strong sign that the Republicans are falling apart and the Democrats taking over, but a bad sign about the Democrats.

A bittersweet victory indeed.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 11:37 AM
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despite their influence the Ramones and Warren Zevon

I'm gone to Detox Mansion
Way down on Last Breath Farm
I been rakin' leaves with Liza [*]
Me and Liz clean up the yard
Hey!

[*] Minelli.

Why do country music stations, who face the same commercial pressures, play more jokey songs?

Because country is culturally Southern and rural so they can get away with hokey, particularly since 'not taking yourself seriously' is a widespread cultural motif AND the common tradition of what you would call old time folk music where that style of jokiness was widely practiced.

max
['Warren Zevon just post-modernized it.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 11:41 AM
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The bailout makes me want to burn shit down.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 11:46 AM
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The Holy Modal Rounders were nursery music for my niece and nephew

Awesome. There's an old tavern here where they were in residence around 1970. The upstairs is a hotel now, with rooms named after HMR songs.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 11:47 AM
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a strong sign that the Republicans are falling apart and the Democrats taking over, but a bad sign about the Democrats

Yep. Which do you want first: the good news or the bad news?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 11:56 AM
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49 if there's one thing every wanky musician with a guitar was able to learn from Led Zeppelin, it was that when you're singing about Hobbits it's imperative to take yourself very seriously

If only they had taken their lesson from Leonard Nimoy's rendition of "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins"!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 11:57 AM
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Modern Ska music has all sorts of goofy songs. And not just lyrically funny - horns plus reggae beat = awesome musical silliness.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:00 PM
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'Not taking yourself seriously': this is where my brother and his suburban, new age, self-help dates failed to communicate. To them every joke was a symptom.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:00 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:03 PM
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207: Huh. All this time I thought you went to Stuyvesant.

The bailout passed, eh? Hmm... that might explain the sudden 2.5% drop in the market. Wait, no it wouldn't.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:03 PM
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I've wondered whether the stock market crash and commercial paper freezeup might not have been a capital strike intended to bully Congress into voting yes.

Someone here said months ago in a different context that Goldman Sachs is the real American government. Clinton said as much, not naming any specific institution: "My job is to keep the bond markets happy".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:06 PM
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I probably said something elliptical about it once, hoping to dodge comments like Brock's 214, and Stuy is by far the most prominent similar school. We had a somewhat pathetic 'rivalry' with them, which I believe they were mostly unaware of (rather like the way University of Chicago undergrads view Harvard, and vice versa).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:06 PM
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The House just passed the bailout bill.

Speakin' of which, would "Bad Karma" or "Trouble Waiting to Happen" be the better Zevon tune for this particular moment?

max
['Or maybe "Even a Dog Can Shake Hands"?']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:14 PM
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I'm not sure if we're really still discussing LB's original point, but Brock's 118 speaks for me pretty well:

Yes, Bearnaked Ladies are indeed a perfect example, and if fully half the songs on pop radio were by bands with lyrics like theirs, LB wouldn't have a valid point. But they aren't, so she does.

And the claim that either early rock n roll or later, 1960s, rock featured much humor at all is simply bizarre. For example, Buddy Holly, whom I would put in the top 5 Founding Fathers of rock, doesn't have a single funny song that I can think of - and he came from a very country place. A lot of rock n roll was fun, but not funny, and certainly not in the hokey, explicitly jokey way that country is and was. "Louie Louie," which Sifu inexplicably cited, features no jokes whatsoever (unless "me gotta go," in a song written in Caribbean idiom, makes you titter). The Kingsmen played it as a raucous, fun song, but there are no joke there. "Lollipop" seems like it might be a jokey song, but it's not - the *pop* sound effect is funny, and there's a metaphor ("sweeter than candy on a stick"), but again, no jokes.

The point isn't that there are NO jokey rock/rnr songs, but that they are a small part of the genre - novelties, IOW. The same cannot be said about country music - and this has held steady for decades, and all sorts of artists (from Johnny Cash to Garth Brooks, and I'm pretty sure even Hank).

The remaining question is which, if any, other genres rely so heavily on broad humor. People cited punk bands, but when you think "punk," do you really think "ha ha?" Ska seems like a possibility, and when you really start subdividing, you'll surely find some (SoCal postpunk - totally!). Rap/Hip-hop is defined by wordplay, whether clever, euphonic, or humorous, so it's hardly surprising there. But for other genres, I don't know. Maybe musicians who make dumb jokes are simply drawn to Nashville, and so the other genres are at a disadvantage..


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:22 PM
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227: Heh. Yeah, Stuyvesant was certainly the school we ran into more often here in Illinois. The only other school I knew of was Bronx Math & Science, because my mom's side is from the outer boroughs.

The NYC magnet schools seem to do a really good job. Chicago's don't seem to have established anywhere near the same track record, though it seems that Northside High School is starting to get a good reputation. I guess that's partially because they're mostly so new. Even Whitney Young only dates back about 30 years.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:23 PM
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And I really can't think of reasonable jokey subgenres of rock. There are some very good bands who revel in wordplay and joking narratives, but no subgenre seems dominated by them.

I'd say post-punk, given bands like Les Savy Fav and XTC, but it's such a poorly defined catch-all subgenre, and it also includes some of the least jokey bands out there (I was going to say Interpol, but then remembered that their last album included a song called "There's No I in Threesome").


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:28 PM
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154-156, ttaM and soup,

I bet you guys are right about pressing too hard. My current guitar is pretty good, actually, not the top but not a cheapo either.

It would make sense that I squeeze too hard. I'm pretty much a shot putter and, for example, I could never get the soft touch in basketball. I've got fast twitch muscle fibers all around. I can never throw a bowling ball slow enough, either. This never came up with French horn, cause nimble fingers are not needed.

Good advice about playing without the thumb. Sitting here I can't imagine doing that. I don't doubt you. I'm just saying that fretting without the thumb is very far from where I am at. Now you've got me looking forward to tuning up the old 6-string. I bought new strings last spring and was thinking I should take it up again but got too busy over the summer doing yard labor.

So thanks, I'm gonna be belting out "Shovelen Coal, Shovelen Coal" real soon now and tormenting my own kids!


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:28 PM
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They've been stable for a long time, which does a lot for their reputations. I don't know how far back Stuy and Bronx Science go, but at least the '30s. And Hunter is if anything older, although it's only let boys in since the '70s.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:28 PM
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a capital strike intended to bully Congress into voting yes

I don't remember who made the analogy to the scene in Blazing Saddles where Cleavon Little is holding the gun to his own head, taking himself hostage, but it's spot-on. I agree with Bave. It makes me want to start burning shit down.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:31 PM
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On guitars, I bought my son a cheap second-hand guitar when he was young, with the intention of getting him a better one if he showed an interest. That was a mistake; the cheap guitar had problems and was frustrating to play, and he almost quit. A beginner doesn't need a virtuoso guitar, but you want a reliable, easy-to-lay guitar and should pay for it.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:32 PM
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re: 232

I'm a fairly heavily built bloke, too, as the terrible vids on my linked blog will show. That might even make it easier for you rather than harder.

Definitely try the 'buzzing' trick, working until you are only pressing just a tiny fraction harder than the threshold for buzzing. Also, look at your finger tips, you might find that the reason the notes are buzzing isn't the tension in your hand but the angle of the fretting surface on your fingers. If you have big hands its easy for the fleshy pad of one finger to slightly catch the adjacent string.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:32 PM
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re: 235

Yeah, definitely. Although these days, really good quality instruments are available at incredible prices. What you can buy now for 200 or 300 dollars is unbelievable. There are 250 dollar guitars that are good enough that you could easily play nothing else for years.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:34 PM
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Bailout thread? Please? Call it "Obama's bittersweet victory".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:35 PM
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187: ttaM

That is brilliant! Seriously, it is a paradigm switch for me and not in the cliche way. You make me want to rush home and try it.

I love the internets!


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:36 PM
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Bittersweet or Pyrrhic?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:38 PM
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I've been thinking of the Blazing Saddles analogy constantly over the past two weeks.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:43 PM
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ttaM,

I think your 237 and my 239 raced here. Thanks for the advice.

I hear you on the instrument front. Last week my wife sold her HS French Horn at a fraction of what it could be worth, but it is just an OK model and she sold it to a public high school, so that is close to being a charity.

It is amazing how attached musicians can get to their instruments. Personally I'm holding onto my Holton Farkus until the bitter end. Yeah, "Farkus," what a name. The thing is the tone is incredible. It makes difficult things easy to do.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:43 PM
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Apo, the reference is to Silverman's bittersweet "raped by a doctor" experience (above somewhere).

I can see a few individual Republicans in the House saving their sorry asses by demagoguing this, but I can't see McCain using it effectively against Obama. He's need massive media cooperation to swing that, and he doesn't seem to be getting it; and the media are pro-bailout.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:44 PM
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I knew a guy whose entire basement was full of instruments and amps, often classics. He had it climate-controlled, I think. instrument connoisseurs make win connoisseurs seem sensible and frugal.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:48 PM
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I tend to savor my wins because they are so rare.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:51 PM
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Chicago has a rivalry with Northwestern, LB, of which the latter is mostly unaware. Get your facts straight before posting nonsense to unfogged.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:51 PM
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I prefer my wins well done.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:52 PM
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It's OK to post nonsense to Unfogged as long as you have your facts straight first?


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:54 PM
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Chicago has a rivalry with Northwestern, LB, of which the latter is mostly unaware.

Really? What on earth for? The professional grad schools are the only parts of the two universities I can think of that are even in the same ballpark (in spirit if not necessarily academic caliber).


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:55 PM
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Yes, Otto.

PMP, I think owing to geographic proximity.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:57 PM
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||
I'm at an AT&T store trying to decide whether to replace my busted phone with an iPhone. You are my typing guinea pigs.

|>


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 12:58 PM
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Will this do as a sample of my typing?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 1:00 PM
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Get the iPhone! It commands you! Keep our economy strong!


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 1:00 PM
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I've heard bad things about the second generation, Kraab.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 1:06 PM
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One of my character flaws is that when something bad happens, my curiosity to see what happens next gets the better of me. Within a week of Bush winning in 2004, I thought, "Now at least we'll find out if he'll really take us to war with Iran." So now we'll see what happens when you give the Secretary of the Treasury who is also the former head of Goldman-Sachs, $700 B of taxpayer dollars.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 1:09 PM
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It's OK to post nonsense to Unfogged as long as you have your facts straight first?

Wait, when did Unfogged start requiring people to get their facts straight? Man, they'll never let me comment anymore!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 1:09 PM
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254: The worst thing I've heard is that the speed isn't up to what people hoped, but I think it's as fast as what I've got now.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 1:29 PM
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re: 244

I have a lot of friends with fairly extensive guitar collections. They sound absurd until you realize that a dozen really top-notch guitars costs about as much as a decent family car and no-one thinks people are odd for owning a car.

None of mine are expensive. I could replace any of them for 500 dollars or less. I do have a nice vintage amp, though [which I luckily didn't pay anything like its true worth for].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 1:31 PM
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But aren't large parts of the UK like the US, where you can't really get around without a car? (But you can get around fine without a guitar)


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 1:37 PM
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re: 259

Depends. I've never really lived anywhere where you absolutely had to have a car. I've had a car for 2 years in the past 17 [when I passed my driving test].

The friends I know who have extensive guitar collections mostly own cars, anyway. But they own cheap second hand cars that are functional. The extra disposable income that might have gone on a nice new or nearly new car, goes on guitar toys.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 1:40 PM
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206

Oddly, yes. Shooting a man in Reno just to watch him die is acceptably wholesome (he's in prison, he feels bad.)

He feels bad about being in prison. So "Bonnie and Clyde" is a wholesome movie because they die in the end?

How about ain't going down ('til the sun comes up) ?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 1:47 PM
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LB, I seem to vaguely remember an article contrasting a couple NY magnet schools, saying that one turned out kids who went on to be big names and one turned out kids who went on to be happy. I'm not going to do anything as ridiculous as find the article (Gladwell?), but I will hope that if I did, Hunter is the latter school that.

I remember the article because I have rough stereotypes about the LA jr high magnets of twenty years ago.

Also I always enjoyed the fact that the most macho, repress-your-emotions culture in the United States writes the weepiest, sappiest love songs possible.

Same thing for Koreans. Most fucked-up macho violent culture I've ever been around, most painfully saccharine love ballads (which they listen to with tears streaming down their faces) in Asia. (By report. I couldn't understand the lyrics.)


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 1:47 PM
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It's funny: there are lots and lots of genuinely non-wholesome country songs (where hyper-sexual or otherwise). James is just picking comically silly examples.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 1:54 PM
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Wait, Kraab, don't you work with one of the other carriers, somehow? I guess it's not a loyalty-rewarding position...


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 1:59 PM
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there are lots and lots of genuinely non-wholesome country songs

Most of Hank Williams, Jr. early work, for example.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 1:59 PM
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246, 249: Siding with PoMo here. Really? The undergrads I knew/taught at Chicago thought of the Northwestern students as, say, much happier than they were, and preppier, taking their communications classes, with their sporting teams, but it certainly never crossed their minds that the NU kids were anything like their academic peers.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 2:08 PM
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but it certainly never crossed their minds that the NU kids were anything like their academic peers

I realize I risk alienating several people here with this comment, but of the U of C grads whose paths I've had the pleasure to cross in person, none seem to have ever considered the possibility that anyone from any other institution could have ever remotely been their academic peer. As a result, I have tended to assume all U of C grads are snobs -- a prejudice that I have struggled, with some success, to overcome.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 2:17 PM
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We're not all snobs. Some of us are better than that.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 2:20 PM
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268: Seriously, when a few people here referenced being U of C alums, I was sort of surprised -- "Really? But s/he seems so nice!"


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 2:22 PM
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267: As far as prejudices go, it's not a terribly inaccurate one. But they're good folk!

I think part of it is that the school has a tradition of unabashed scholarship. No one really feels embarrassed about having gone to U of C in the way that seems common among Ivy Leaguers or Stanford alums. The only other schools I can think of that feel quite as unapologetically academic and high-achieving are the nerd schools like MIT or CalTech, but they definitely don't have the humanities heft of U of C.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 2:25 PM
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None of mine are expensive. I could replace any of them for 500 dollars or less.

I have one that would be expensive to replace these days but that's more luck that anything. I was hand built by a local guy nobody had heard of, and I bought it at a shops going-out-of-business sale pretty reasonably. Nowadays people have heard of him, and he's got a waiting list and a $5k minimum or something ridiculous. It's aging nicely, anyway.

Ironically it's my acoustic/fingerstyle guitar and that was what I did the least of when I played regularly. My electrics were all beat up old knockoffs, and I've a cheap classical.

I agree how amazing what you can get for a few hundred dollars is these days. I'm paranoid of traveling with the above one now I know how much it would cost to replace, so I'm thinking about buying a guitar to fly with and bash about .


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 2:41 PM
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from any other institution could have ever remotely been their academic peer.

I've run into this attitude elsewhere. It's always pretty stupid, but the amazing thing is when people hold onto in the face of contrary evidence. The best can really say about places is in terms of averages. Smart people really ought to understand at a gut level this isn't telling you too much about individuals.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 2:44 PM
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Wait, Kraab, don't you work with one of the other carriers, somehow? I guess it's not a loyalty-rewarding position...

AT&T Mobility, the one and only unionized wireless carrier in the U.S., happens to also be the one and only carrier of the paradigm-shattering iPhone.

Remember, folks: Everything happens for a reason.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 2:48 PM
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I'll have to get on the stick finding U of C psycho killers for recent than Leopold and Loeb. Ahmed Chalabi isn't exactly a psycho killer.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 2:56 PM
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That's a, ah, interesting take on the carrier choice, SK.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 2:56 PM
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273: Weren't they also the most eager to hand everything over to the NSA?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 2:57 PM
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373: I feel better about AT&T's actions in re. wiretapping immunity. A little.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 2:58 PM
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272: For the record, I wasn't approving of this particular attitude among U of C students. I am just reporting it.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 2:59 PM
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Also, get the iphone! You will not regret it. I'm deeply in love with mine.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 3:00 PM
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Kraabie, I spent the last couple of days in a hotel where the annual meeting of the National Association of Manufacturers was taking place (for the rest of y'all, the NAM is one of the most dedicated foes of cardcheck unionization and the minimum wage, among other issues).

You will be pleased to know that whenever I found myself mingling in the lobby or standing at the urinal next to one of them, I hummed "The Internationale", "Solidarity Forever", or "Which Side Are You On?"

I'm not sure any of them got the dig, but it sure made me feel good.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 3:08 PM
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re: 271

My electric is 'vintage', I suppose. It's an early 70s Japanese copy of a Gibson. Those are collected now, the so-called 'law suit' guitars. However, mine is badged with the name of the UK importer rather than with the more collectible (Ibanez) headstock badge. It's the same guitar made in the same factory but less desirable. That plus the fact that mine is a couple of years earlier than the most collectible ones means that I paid about $350-400 for mine, whereas the desirable ones can go for quite a bit more.


One day I'll get a classical hand made. If the cash fairy arrives:

http://www.vintageguitar.co.uk/item--Gary-Southwell-A-Brazilian-Rosewood-2004--Southwell.html


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 3:14 PM
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278: yeah, I wasn't thinking you were. I can understand how people come to looking down on other schools (justifiably or no) in general. What's really weird is when they can't get over the bias even when they've met the person and worked with them and factually know they're really good. Which is something I've observed otherwise intelligent seeming people do.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 3:19 PM
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280: Maybe I'll crash their next meeting as the ghost of Joe Hill. BOO!!


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 3:20 PM
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My electric is 'vintage', I suppose.

Yeah, I got a Japanese strat knock-off much the same. I doubt it's worth much, but it was really a pretty good deal for about $400.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 3:20 PM
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Although these days, really good quality instruments are available at incredible prices.

This is probably true for just about everything except for drums (because there's like a billion pieces you have to buy individually) and pianos. Well, classical pianos, anyway. More pop-ish songs don't require as much from the instrument in most cases. Not quite as true for woodwinds or saxophones. Those things are complicated!


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 3:21 PM
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University of Chicago serial killer William Heirens. Still in jail.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 3:24 PM
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282: Yeah, I don't have any experience with that end of the prejudice, but was speaking only to my impression of their feelings wrt Northwestern. They definitely think of NU as "the other good school" in the area, and envy them a lot things (their campus, what the UofC kids perceive as NU's J. Crew-catalog bonhomie), but think of themselves as the "serious students."


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 3:24 PM
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Here's a union question. Why can't unions form even without the support of a majority of employees?


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 3:25 PM
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276, 277: Yeah, sad to say, AT&T and Verizon gave in faster than a . . . something that gives in really fast.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 3:25 PM
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286: I still prefer L&L, with all their ubermenschian homosocial zing.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 3:25 PM
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288: They can (as "associations"), but the employer doesn't have to recognize them and they don't have any collective bargaining rights.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 3:28 PM
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re: 285

String instruments are still insanely expensive.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 3:29 PM
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ubermenschian homosocial zing

Best swing band name EVAH.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 3:29 PM
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287: I think this is really fair, if only because pretty much everyone I know who went to Northwestern felt exactly the same way about the two universities.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 3:34 PM
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re: 293

Sung to the tune of this:

http://www.deezer.com/track/triskaidekaphobia-T1340808


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 3:36 PM
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||

Everyone who is curious about how all those bad home loans got made should check this out. (Via Ezra.) Best explanation I've seen.

|


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 3:42 PM
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didn't read the whole thread yet, but: pop and rock separate in the 60s with the rise of the Album as Important Statement: Moody Blues to Stones to Zeppelin to Dylan are all making Art.

Country never makes this move (with a few peripheral exceptions Willie Nelson: we might call these folks "outriders" or even, hmmm, "mavericks"). If you were gonna get more sociological you could talk about country's relationship to the 60s at this stage.....If you're not making Art, you're not ashamed of corny jokes or Tin Pan Alley tropes.

There's a great little Gary Snyder poem which begins "I went into the Maverick Bar in Farmington, New Mexico..."

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poem.html?id=177249


Posted by: lurker | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 3:44 PM
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So you could organize an association at a workplace with the eventual goal of forming a union?


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 3:49 PM
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296: Our resident winger is urged to read it.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 3:53 PM
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298: You start with only a notion. But if you can get money, you make it into a concept. And later turn it into an idea. Then an association, with the eventual goal of forming a union.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 3:56 PM
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Wow, I thought ideas were cheap. How naive I was!


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 3:58 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 4:12 PM
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301: No, talk is cheap. Ideas'll cost you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 4:21 PM
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296 299

A lot of overheated blather but not a lot of numbers. Here is a report on a study which concludes that sort of thing (in fact owner occupied housing in general) was not the biggest problem. I have some doubts about the methodology but it is better than just repeating a few horror stories. As I said before I don't doubt you can find examples of sympathetic homeowners in trouble, I doubt how representative they are.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 4:28 PM
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299 - Do you know what you are, John? You're a recidivist. Do you know what a recidivist is? A repeat offender.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 4:37 PM
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266: not academic rivals, no.

You can witness this in the beginning of the shitty scavhunt documentary from 2004.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 4:39 PM
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It's a good thing I blew out my knee & cannot walk without screaming, or I'd never have time to read Unfogged.

10: LB, for shame - the Maverick theme song is as follows:

Who is the tall, dark stranger there?
Maverick is the name.
Ridin' the trail to who knows where,
Luck is his companion,
Gamblin' is his game.
Smooth as the handle on a gun.
Maverick is the name.
Wild as the wind in Oregon,
Blowin' up a canyon,
Easier to tame.

Riverboat, ring your bell,
Fare thee well, Annabel.
Luck is the lady that he loves the best.
Natchez to New Orleans
Livin on jacks and queens
Maverick is a legend of the west.
[repeat]

As you can see, several uses of the word. Tho' why McCain wants to associate himself with a riverboat gambler...

95: John - I once got to see Zappa at the Boston Globe Jazz Festival. Roland Kirk came out and jammed with the Mothers. It was brilliant. They were last on the bill and no one wanted them to stop.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 4:40 PM
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I'd swear I know the Kenny Rogers song from watching the TV show -- have I simply lost my mind? This is always a possibility, of course.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 4:42 PM
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298

So you could organize an association at a workplace with the eventual goal of forming a union?

Actually you are an union with many rights under labor law. You just don't have exclusive bargaining rights.

Open-Source Unionism.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 4:45 PM
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LB- they made a made for tv movie about the song- starring Kenny Rogers!


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 4:46 PM
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Huh. Which I apparently saw, and conflated with the James Garner show in my head. My apologies to everyone who was confused by the post -- it in fact made no sense.

(I sincerely hope all of the TV I'm talking about happened in the 70s -- if I'm this confused about stuff I watched as a teenager, I probably need medical help.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 4:49 PM
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I'm not as think as you crazy I am.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 4:50 PM
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304: But James, aren't you one of the ones talking about how minority first time buyers and fraudulent first time buyers are at the root of the problem, and telling us how important it is to zing them for fraud?

Whereas according to the piece you have linked, it's mostly (fraudulent?) speculators in complicity with (fraudulent?) middlemen in complicity with the big lenders. But that's what everyone else has been arguing.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 4:51 PM
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See what happens when you do your homework in front of the tv? You confuse Kenny Rogers with Rockford. Pay closer attention, LB.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 4:52 PM
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You can witness this in the beginning of the shitty scavhunt documentary from 2004.

I'm almost curious enough to try to figure out where my copy of that is. Actually, no, I'm not nearly that curious.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 4:57 PM
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309: That's pretty interesting.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 5:08 PM
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313

But James, aren't you one of the ones talking about how minority first time buyers and fraudulent first time buyers are at the root of the problem, and telling us how important it is to zing them for fraud?

No. I have been arguing against the view that the defaulting mortgage holders are innocent victims because for the most part I don't think they are. The root of the problem is the housing bubble which created a sort of infectious madness. The bad and fraudulent loans are a symptom of the fact that the bankers had lost their minds not the root cause.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 5:12 PM
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Florida fraud.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 5:14 PM
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A lot of overheated blather but not a lot of numbers.

He has plenty of evidence of wrongdoing by lenders and pretty good evidence that the wrongdoing by lenders was worse than that by borrowers. I agree with your disappointment in his failure to measure the magnitude of it, given how confident he is that it's the root cause.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 5:23 PM
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306, 315: One year, back in the late 90s, "David Foster Wallace" was an item on the ScavHunt list. He was such a good sport about it -- even though the day ended with his having to unplug his phone and flee the IL State campus. He told the first folks who got in touch with him that he would sign a paper saying he had gone to campus with them and swear to everyone that he had, but no, he really didn't have time to actually go with them.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 5:27 PM
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I thought the CJR article, which I read a few days ago so I might not remember it exactly, explicitly does not say that wrongdoing was the root cause of the mortgage mess. The argument is that fraud has been undercovered in the press and must have had some impact, not all of the impact.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 5:28 PM
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James, everything I remember you saying on this topic has been of the "blame-the-borrower" type. As far as I can tell, there was complicity all the way to the top. If "the housing bubble" and "infectious madness" were the agents, then maybe nobody was to blame! They can all plead insanity, even the genius bankers earning millions a year.

James, did you never, ever say anything about Fannie May and Freddie Mac loaning to minorities being a big part of the problem? Because I think that that I remember that you did.

My money's on predatory lending tacitly encouraged by big finance as the most important cause. Presumably that elicited a bit of predatory borrowing, but considering the customary helpless-beggar relationship of borrowers to creditors, I think that it's ludicrous to talk much about borrower fraud.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 5:45 PM
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Today they didn't have any rotten muskmelons, so I bought a nice firm one. It was mediocre at best -- not very sweet, not very aromatic, too firm.

And in a stunning move, I've registered www.thetrollblog.com. Developing.......


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 5:54 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 5:55 PM
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And my sister's gay friend gave her 20 lb. of venison. He's an avid, only slightly swishy hunter.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 6:10 PM
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325: How are things on the PUMA sister front, Emerson? My students love both of your Aunties, even though one was a jade. (That is what the father of the kid she said knocked her up the first time said when confronted: "My son never did favor the jade.")


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 6:38 PM
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I'd like to be under the sea
In an octopus' garden in the shade
He'd let us in, knows where we've been
In his octopus' garden in the shade

I'd ask my friends to come and see
An octopus' garden with me
I'd like to be under the sea
In an octopus' garden in the shade.

Kinda has a nice ring to it.


Posted by: (O)CT(O)PUS | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 6:43 PM
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I'm making discreet inquiries, oud. One of my brothers got very irate with her and I'm trying not to increase the tension. Mostly, I'm not sure I want to know.

I did check and Aunt Liz was not the first woman hanged in the New World. That would have been a really feather in our familial cap or [something] on our escutcheon.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 6:43 PM
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Is this the bailout thread? Can we talk about how much money so far? Today's 700 billion, in addition to the other recent, if more modest (if that is not too ludicrous a term), bailouts...is anyone keeping track? The sum total must be staggering.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 6:46 PM
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I begged for a bailout thread. I think that the masters of the blog are sick of political threads. My suggestion for the post title was "Bittersweet", after Sarah Silverman:

"I was raped by [Barack Obama], which is bittersweet for a [Democratic loyalist]."


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 6:50 PM
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328: No, and in fact when she was hanged, she was with 3 or 4 other women, I believe, nearly all of whom were being hanged for infanticide.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 6:51 PM
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There is no bailout thread. It's hard to be sure because it's all apples and oranges. The government has already lent lots of money, and guaranteed certain other debts, so in the worst case it could lose a lot of money, but that worst case is probably unlikely. The bailout money, on the other hand, is the maximum amount of debt the government can hold at one time (I think; I've become confused between the different plans) -- that means the government can lose more than $700 billion.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 6:52 PM
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Aunt Liz was not the first woman hanged in the New World. That would have been a really feather in our familial cap

It's the Cotton Mather sermon that sets her case apart. A real mark of dishonour.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 6:54 PM
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333: Both Aunties got a Cotton Mather sermon. Auntie Hannah got several, in fact.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 6:55 PM
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A secular liberal and free spirit, back in the days when being a secular liberal was a capital crime. The real Hester Prynne.

There's got to be a way of making money off this. Maybe blackmailing the Emerson Society.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 6:57 PM
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Thoreau did a Hannah piece too, which I haven't read.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 6:58 PM
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I think Krugman is saying there will probably need to be another bailout before the inauguration.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 6:58 PM
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New thread!

[Please read this post and all other posts with the same basic text as if they were "New Snake!" as delivered by Kevin McDonald in this.]


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 6:59 PM
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336: He did. Someone else too . . . maybe Fennimore Cooper? He calls her a "hag."


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 7:00 PM
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Krugman.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 7:03 PM
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Oudemia: You also had a Puritan aunt who was hanged?


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 7:03 PM
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With all due respect, bless their hearts, Unfogged management is fascist.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 7:03 PM
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No, my hanged aunt had a sister who became a heroine by scalping eleven Indians. There's a statue somewhere.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 7:05 PM
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322

James, everything I remember you saying on this topic has been of the "blame-the-borrower" type. As far as I can tell, there was complicity all the way to the top. If "the housing bubble" and "infectious madness" were the agents, then maybe nobody was to blame! They can all plead insanity, even the genius bankers earning millions a year.

Your memory is selective. Perhaps mine is as well. It is possible everything I have written is not perfectly consistent.

James, did you never, ever say anything about Fannie May and Freddie Mac loaning to minorities being a big part of the problem? Because I think that that I remember that you did.

I linked to an article in the Village Voice making this case. I believe there was political pressure on F&F to weaken lending standards. F&F did weaken their standards repeatedly which was a big part of the reason for their failure. However there was also pressure on F&F to weaken standards to increase loan volume and market share. It is difficult for an outsider to untangle the causes particularly since the political pressure for F&F to increase lending to poor and minority borrowers provided a convenient argument for weakening loan standards even if that was not the main motivation. In any case the failure of F&F is just part of a larger problem.

My money's on predatory lending tacitly encouraged by big finance as the most important cause. Presumably that elicited a bit of predatory borrowing, but considering the customary helpless-beggar relationship of borrowers to creditors, I think that it's ludicrous to talk much about borrower fraud.

Pushing loans on people with no ability to repay doesn't fit qualify as "predatory" in my view. More like "stupid". And stupid lenders attract predatory borrowers.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 7:06 PM
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Trollblog. I plan for there to be a head troll, several resident trolls, and occasional guest trolls.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 7:06 PM
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341: Puritan aunt? Nooo. Papist on both sides and fresh off the boat. (Hanged, possibly. Lots of unionist radicals and republican troublemakers.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 7:06 PM
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that means the government can will lose more than $700 billion.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 7:07 PM
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I think that our mutual understanding is at its apogee, James, whatever that means.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 7:09 PM
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Papist on both sides and fresh off the boat.

Yeah, that's what I thought. But then I misread something, which Emerson has since cleared up.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 7:10 PM
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Fascist we may be, but we're responsive fascists. Your bailout thread is ready.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 7:13 PM
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Another possible ancestor of mine was hanged for burning his mother. His dead mother testified against him in a dream someone had and that may have been the decisive testimony. Link.

Cornell is the ancestor of a group of my cousins I've never met, but probably not mine. But I can hope.

Being of illustrious ancestry is both an honor and a burden. I try to be gracious, and to fulfill the hereditary duties incumbent on me.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 7:15 PM
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Whew! says MC. I was getting to like Oudemia, too! That would have been horrible.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 7:17 PM
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Being of illustrious ancestry is both an honor and a burden.

Heavy lies the crown, John.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 10- 3-08 7:33 PM
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350: LB makes the threads run on time.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 5:04 AM
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