2018.05 minutiae

  • Melissa Auf der Maur is a Canadian musician who replaced Kristen Pfaff as the bassist for Hole and years later replaced D’arcy Wretzky as the bassist for the Smashing Pumpkins.  In 2004 she released a solo album.  I was mystified to discover that I didn’t like it.  I didn’t dislike it, but it just didn’t do anything for me; when songs from it came up on Pandora I couldn’t bring myself to click the thumbs‑up button.  But I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t like it.  It wasn’t like she’d unexpectedly gone jazz odyssey on us—​the record sounded exactly like the sort of thing I usually listen to.  It was just that, you know how there are some albums where all the songs sound pretty similar but some are awesome and others are skip tracks?  These songs were all skip tracks.  Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I should like this record.  When Youtube and Spotify and the like made it possible to listen to music on demand, I made a point of calling up the album at least once a year to give it another try.  Every time, I would think, “Hmm, that particular song doesn’t really work, but the sound is a winner, so let’s try the next song!”, and a dozen iterations later I would think, “Well, better luck next year.”

    Anyway, after updating my Hot 100 last month I discovered that a number of the artists featured on it had released new material in the previous four years, so while I was listening to some of those records I pulled up the Melissa Auf der Maur record as well.  And this time I loved it!  I spent the first half of this month basically listening to it on repeat, and then I discovered that she put out a second solo album in 2010, and while that one wasn’t quite as good, I’ve still had it in heavy rotation.  I don’t want to oversell this: neither record has vaulted into my personal pantheon, and I don’t even think any of these songs will feature in the next edition of the Hot 100.  I concede that the vocals are hit‐and‐miss and that the lyrics are often marred by over‐rhyming à la the Beatles’ infamous “It’s Only Love”.  Still, it’s kind of crazy.  Like, I know it takes a long time for music to click for me.  My favorite album, Fino + Bleed by Die Mannequin, I had to listen to every day for a month before I even liked it.  That may add up to more cumulative listening time than I gave the Melissa Aur der Maur albums.  But calendar time counts too, and for a record to suddenly click after fourteen years is a hell of a thing.

  • I started a Pandora channel based on these two albums to see whether anything new would come up, but it did the usual Pandora thing and said, “Hmm, if you liked this song then I bet you would enjoy listening to KROQ in 1996” and composed a playlist accordingly.  My search for a “please do not just play big radio hits because I am looking to discover new music” button continues.  One new twist is that the channel seemed to be a broadcast from one of KROQ’s “block party weekends”: each time a new artist came up, it’d play at least two of that artist’s songs back to back.  Which is why I laughed when the next song to come up was “Ready to Go” by Republica.  “Ha!” I thought. “That band’s a one‑hit wonder! What’re you gonna play for the second song?”  The answer, to my astonishment: “Ready to Go 2010”.

  • I am already frustrated by the bureaucracy at the university where I’ll be pursuing my teaching credential, so I can only imagine how much worse it would be if I had kids, given this email I received:

    Applications for Fall 20148 childcare are currently being accepted

    That’s quite a waiting list!

  • I wouldn’t mind seeing AI researchers develop a spoiler avoidance system more robust than a mere keyword filter.  Considering that we’re now living in a world where you can’t read a discussion thread about politics or sports or cooking or anything without having the entirety of Infinity War quoted at you, it’d be nice if someone could whip up a browser extension that somehow knew that, yeah, this message may not actually mention the title of the movie, but the joke it is making is a play on some of the dialogue, so let’s block this, along with the eight hundred other messages making the same joke.  The one saving grace is that I will almost certainly have forgotten all these spoilers by the time I finally get around to watching the movie in 20148 or whenever.

  • Though it seems to have already been forgotten given the speed of the news cycle, just a few days ago there was a bit of a kerfuffle over a tape of Bill Gates sharing some tidbits about the walking garbage fire that is Donald Trump: how he left a gathering in order to return ten minutes later in a helicopter in order to make a big entrance, how he went on and on about Gates’s daughter’s physical appearance, how he asked (multiple times!) whether HIV and HPV were the same thing, etc.  Some remarked (between Infinity War spoilers) that these comments would certainly get under Trump’s skin, since Gates is richer than Trump.  In fact, this hierarchy was at one time so well established that in the 2002 Popcap game Big Money, the second‐highest rank players can receive is Donald Trump; the top rank is Bill Gates.

  • I’m done making Australian desserts, but with the new season of my beloved Masterchef Australia underway, I’ve been cooking some of the recipes that have appears in the past few weeks.  So far the winner has been the mushroom bruschetta submitted during a team challenge—​the judges described it as “one‑dimensional”, but it went up on tenplay.com.au anyway and I liked it.  My attempt to make Loki’s dosas was a colossal failure, as both the dosa mixture and the chutney came out as a paste.  Chloe’s Ghanaian stew was in the middle—​not bad, but pretty much identical to every other West African stew I’ve ever tried (and not as good as Madhur Jaffrey’s).  The most interesting outcome was when I tried making Nigella Lawson’s chocolate and olive oil mousse.  The combination of chocolate and olive oil was not to my taste at all, and after a few spoonfuls I’d had enough.  But I didn’t want to waste all that food, so even though the mousse was supposed to be eaten at room temperature, I put it in the fridge.  It was much better the next day!  Most chocolate improves dramatically in the fridge, I have found, even though most connoisseurs say exactly the opposite.  Guess I’m not a connoisseur.

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