Addenda, On music, spring 2008

Updates on my music notes from last week:
1. Jon Pareles agrees with my Madonna observation in this weekend’s New York Times Arts section, although he takes it more positively than me: “It’s the kind of album a record company longs for in the current embattled market: a set of catchy, easily digestible, mass-appeal songs by a star who’s not taking chances…. Her grand statement on ‘Hard Candy’ is nothing more than that she’s still around and can still deliver neat, calculated pop songs.”
2. When I tell other “AI” watchers David Cook is dweeby, they look at me in shock. Which tells me two things. One, that a Simon Cowell-anointed series of appearances on national television, coupled with some honest to goodness talent, does wonders for one’s public impression. And two, that his combover is really good.
3. Seriously: new music from the Odds! Go listen!

links for 2008-04-29

On music, spring 2008

1. I figured out this morning my disappointment in Madonna’s 4 minutes: she’s running with the pack. Timbaland and Justin Timberlake are ringers, sure shots, contemporary 2007-2008 American pop.
Yawn. I loves me the Timbalake output, but not in this context. This is not the Madonna who brought Eurodisco and gay culture to pop, who helped define music video, who discovered or promoted talent ranging from William Orbit to Alanis Morissette to Ali G. Madonna’s new track suggests that, for the first time, she isn’t ahead of the game. Which, as a near-50-year-old mother of three, perhaps she doesn’t have to be. But it’s a game-changer for her, and not in a positive way.
2. I’m watching “American Idol” this season for the first time (Amy’s fault), and I have two observances. First, that it truly is a popularity contest–Carly Smithson was by far more deserving than the pretty-boy and flaxen-haired competition that remains.
Second, and more importantly, David Cook is my hero. If that guy wins, man, it’s like a dream come true for a million dweeby high school guitar god wannabes. Gotta love a guy who name-checks Big Wreck and Patrick Swayze on his national profile.
3. Seriously, have you listened to the New Odds yet? Brendan Benson could learn a thing or two from Craig Northey, I tell you what.

links for 2008-04-22

What I learned on the Internet today

So much new knowledge:
~ The Close Door elevator button doesn’t do anything except pacify impatient riders.
~ Clarins, my former employer, who has sworn for years that it wants to remain independent, is installing a new CEO as the son of the founder steps down, throwing his and his brother’s majority family ownership into long-term question.
~ Lancome, Orlane and Sisley, three major beauty brands, were all founded by different generations of the same family. (Side learning: reading T Magazine online is abhorrent.)
~ The infamous waiting list for Hermes Birkin bags doesn’t exist.
~ And, not least, this taste-test of dogs’ preferences for gourmet treats versus good ol’ Milk-Bones. No spoilers here.

links for 2008-04-11 and 12

Prewar detail

We moved into our apartment one year ago Sunday. To commemorate the occasion, I made a narrative collage of some of the many lovely details of our century-old home, which we strived to reveal wherever possible.
Our apartment is full of little surprises that make it fun to occupy: patterned glass transom windows, thick solid-wood doors and inlaid wood floors, the huge Magic Eye peephole, restored leaded-glass bathroom windows, and call buttons for the maid/butler in the dining room floor and master bedroom door frame, which make us marvel at how space has changed: once upon a time, our relatively humble 1000 square feet or so housed an owner and his help.
The collage can be viewed here. Enjoy it. We do.

links for 2008-04-08 and 09

Recently on AIAIO

Fun with focus groups, on the Ai blog.
I’m fascinated by this turn of events (read the post, then come back here). An interviewee took a gift card from our office manager and left without investigating why it was handed to her. A paid job interview! For her, the golden goose has surely arrived.
At the same time, this isn’t an impossible scenario to understand, and our interviewee does get some benefit of the doubt. She was handed the card; she didn’t swipe it on her way out or anything (unlike the mystery visitor who made off with our Wii controllers last fall). Poor Katie was obviously too busy to explain, so the interviewee took off. She may have figured it was a lovely parting gift, like Rice-a-Roni for a game-show contestant.
Still, who does that?
We spent this morning wondering what, if anything, to do. Do we contact the interviewee about the gift card? Let her keep it? Let her keep it but tell her, so she knows what happened (and present her with an ethical dilemma about returning it)? We don’t want to rock the boat too much–we liked the candidate, and we’d be in a tough spot if we hired her and she wasn’t in on the joke. Yet it also presents an ethical question: whether we should hire someone who takes a gift card without stopping to clarify why.
The Ai blog is a happy fun place, unlike my soul-searching moral compass of a journal, and we’ve had a lot of company goodness this week:
~ Ai at the circus—as advertised
~ The new guy—a great essay by our most recent hire