Sorry, can’t talk right now.

Busy hitting “refresh” over and over at the Italians Do It Better site.

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This is in or around being an obsessive record-collecting dope (with exceptional taste in music and design).

Seriously; you should look into this label. $5 for a CD? $10 for a record (on color vinyl, with free download, of course)? Free downloads of like half their catalog (or more) over at Soundcloud? Sweet DIY/glam analog/photocopy-style graphic design and really fun, sharply-crafted and overall awesome music?

How is the mainstream music industry collapsing when this model exists?

(Oh, wait; I forgot—greed, aggressive short-sightedness, suing the people they should have been figuring out how to appeal to, and giving today’s limos and lunches priority over staying in business tomorrow. Easy to overlook.)

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Important office plasticware update: controversy in the breakroom.

So, I encountered this setup recently:

plastic who

Now, I want to make it clear that the spoons shown here are spoons in the size and shape of every other regular plastic spoon you’ve ever run across. They’re not soup spoons or sporks—strictly normal, everyday plastic spoons; just like the silhouette on the dispenser there.

This is objectively perplexing, because the question that immediately springs to the mind of any rational person is: “What, plastic spoons are ‘multi-purpose’ Swiss army knives, somehow, but plastic forks and knives are just… what; jerks? In what desperate world is this possibly true?”

But beyond the immediate, knee-jerk bafflement it inspires, this nomenclature also implicitly undermines the iron-clad validity of the hierarchy I laid out in this breakroom breakdown, vis-a-vis the logical order of plastic-ware usefulness.

I’ve given all this some further thought, and I would contend that even if forks are not “multi-purpose” (and I’m certainly not conceding that they are), knives—as I went to great pains to point out in the above-mentioned post—are just as good at cutting solids as they are at stirring liquids. (In fact, they’re more likely to be better at stirring than at cutting, if you think about it.)

What do you think? Where do you stand on the relative usefulness of office breakroom plastic utensils? Please do not tell me.*

In closing, I guess the clear conclusion here is that the jury is still out, and opinion is divided. The conversation continues. I’m keeping an ear to the ground and will probably not be updating this blog with any further developments unless they’re genuinely hilarious.

*Seriously; if you even start to reply, think about what you were about to say and imagine yourself hearing someone else say it. That ought to do it.

Hear the drummer get wicked.

You have to hear this; it’s remarkable. Yes; this is the song that ?uestlove has identified as the first song to use a breakbeat sample.

Yes, it’s the song that signaled the return of Yes from its own ashes (aided by an upstart crow, beautified with the feathers of Buggles), as it launched itself into the 1983 pop charts with this off-kilter, melodramatic pop nugget—a world away from its closest Top 40 predecessor (“Roundabout,” from 1971; it reached #13—you may have heard it once or twice if you’ve been in a bar or a car in America).

But I can offer a gleaming, chrome-plated guarantee that you haven’t noticed the sole, singular, standout deviation from the song’s otherwise immaculately snap-to-grid whiteness: the fleeting little fill, in which drummer Alan White (whose name I am not making up; only UK prog-rock could provide this kind of class-A material) goes brazenly off-brand to get bafflingly, adorably, joyfully and unabashedly jiggy. It’s a moment endearing and intimate in its brevity; a daring spark of humanity amidst the robotic hum of the Yes machine as it churns through its motions.

It’s the pre-teen riding with no hands up to his crush’s house, and then gripping the handlebars when he reaches her driveway. It’s the high-school skate rat executing a perfect ollie and then trading his deck for a tie. It’s a flash of genuine emotion, immediately smothered and subsumed into the charging golem that is The Yes Comeback Hit Single. But it’s there, man—and for about 1.5 seconds, it gave ‘em hell. The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long. And you have burned so very, very brightly, Roy Alan.

You’ll have to listen closely—it flies past before you even notice it’s going down. You can almost feel the iron fist of Jon Anderson reaching into the mix and clamping down on White’s wrist, as his velvety soprano vibrato intones: “Not here, Alan. By Jove, man—we’re English. This is not what we do.”

Get down—sound of the funky drummer! (It’s at like 4:52-53, but the Youtube fidelity makes it extra subtle; close your eyes at 4:48 and relax—you’ll know it when you feel it.)

Note: Holy Christ! I had never seen this video before. When I wrote the above, I was going strictly by the album version. This video is some serious bullshit.

Toyotas of Massachusetts: Family Values vs. Keeping it Green.

It’s hard to wrap my head around this car and what it’s saying to the world—a Prius with a smugly superfluous vanity plate and a Christian fish thing. It’s a red state/blue state paradox; like a Dr. Laura show on NPR. It’s freaking me out, but I like it.

prius christ

I appreciate the way it comes off as a more genuine, real-life, walking-the-walk embodiment of what this car (which I used to see on the way to work) is telling everyone:

triangular logic crew

The Prius comes off sort of like the clean-lines, grown up version of the Camry’s jaded, apathetic splatter, doesn’t it?

Either way, both cars are clearly tools for telling people something about their owners; at the minimum, the message seems to be: I care.

How much they care, and about what, are less clear, but one thing we can take away from these two pictures is that the owners of these cars would probably find one another irritating.

Critic vs. Nihilist: Setting the Stage

For reference, re: where the below conversation began. My 2010 year-end musical “wrap-up” for the Boston Phoenix. Review at your leisure; strictly optional.

12:44 PM Dan: You may be confused – I don’t think 1337 5P3@K overlaps with texting so much

12:45 PM me: Meh; it’s all the province of The Kids, to me (which I realize is not accurate, but my giving-a-rat’s-ass circuits can only handle so much these days)

Dan: I IMPLORE YOU TO GIVE A RATS ASS

me: TAKE A NUMBER

Dan: (no I don’t)

12:46 PM “Vampire Weekend? Fuck off”

me: “Well, at least someone finally said it.”

Dan: “uncredentialed opinion-havers (‘sup, bloggers)”

12:47 PM me: credibility is dying on the vine here people

Dan: ANDREW GRAHAM HAS BEEN WRONGED

12:48 PM me: heh heh heh—that’s not my message here.

I’m sticking up for society as a whole & music in particular.

my rat’s ass! my precious rat’s ass!

12:50 PM Dan: I still find your love for “credentials” perplexing

me: internet populism is a mixed blessing, at best, I feel.

12:51 PM I do believe that a filter of some kind still merits preserving

12:53 PM Dan: right, but a filter based on whose standards? Good writing or interesting perspectives are more important to me than whether or not the New Yorker thinks the person is “credentialed”

12:54 PM me: absolutely; but the “good writing and interesting perspectives” wheat don’t automatically stand out in & of themselves, from the vastly disproportionate levels of chaff out there—

12:55 PM Dan: and that’s where the Phoenix comes in?

me: so I’m not saying a source has to be credentialed by the New Yorker for validity—I’m saying that a source that serves as an umbrella for content, with a clearly perceptible mission/philosophy/purpose behind it—

or even just evident competence in the category/subject matter—

12:56 PM is more appealing to me than the idea of sifting through pages of google search results, etc.

I’m not voting to shut anything down—I just wish the internet &/or presences that inhabit it would step up a little—

accountability, accracy, etc.

12:57 PM (um, “accuracy.”)

(etc.)

Dan: So it’s more of a Protestant work ethic kind of thing?

12:58 PM me: could be… I guess, just not letting “quality” &/or “attention to facts” just passively slip by the wayside in favor of “hey! I have a thought! I have a web connection!”

12:59 PM Like, for example—this stuck in my mind enough that I was able to track it down by the use of a word I found to be so inaccurate that it really bugged me: http://drownedinsound.com/releases/15697/reviews/4141115

1:00 PM *quote:* “Let’s take ‘I Don’t Feel’ for starters. It kicks off like an enraged Tina Turner fronting Huey Lewis and The News: “I hear the footsteps drop and I knock on the doooooor!” she cries, in what is honestly the most vulgar opening five seconds of any song I’ve ever heard in my life.”

1:01 PM Fact 1: Those lyrics are not the actual lyrics; clearly the reviewer listened to them only once, or on a crappy system/pair of headphones. But there they are, representing the song/artist/album.

Fact 2: Either this writer does not know what “vulgar” means, or s/he is a puritan who shouldn’t be writing about non-classical music.

1:02 PM Because there is nothing whatsoever “vulgar” about any part of the song being described, from the first five seconds to the rest of it.

1:03 PM So: Who’s in charge here? It’s the double-edged sword; everyone can do it, so everyone does. Everyone wants to be in the spotlight (the byline, the voice); nobody wants to do the boring stuff (the editing, the fact-checking), etc.

1:04 PM Being right/accurate/factual is SOOOO BORING compared to being awesome & having people listen to you. So what’s the web going to look like when facts & other boring stuff start to disappear & wikipedia is more awesome than any stupid old encyclopedia?

ET

CETERA

just saying.

Dan: perplexing

reviewers, media, and the masses have been wrong and inaccurate about nearly everything since forever

1:05 PM internet is just the new medium.

me: true—but I’m talking about raw numbers going up across the board, in terms of content—

Dan: I remember a Reader’s Digest article I read in 6th grade that purported to contains shocking Black Sabbath lyrics

1:06 PM me: while “credible sources” (newspapers & other outlets with at least an on-paper commitment to truth, accuracy, etc.) disappearing in the landslide.

Dan: They were absolutely factually incorrect, and formed the basis for the commentary that was the remainder of the article

1:07 PM me: Right, exactly—imagine that, times every blogger or web commenter or wikipedia “editor” with an idea or thought

Dan: Similar laments were probably heard when Steve Gutenberg invented the printing press

me: (or an agenda)

Dan: and ultimately, what’s your beef? That the masses will be misled?

1:08 PM fuck them anyway

me: who do you write a “letter to the editor” to, to complain about a wrongly-reported incident or factual error, when there’s no editor?

Dan: you don’t, you send an email to the writer

me: well, yeah—that’s basically it; “history” (as accurately as it can be managed to do so) is worth preserving.

Dan: perception is reality

1:09 PM me: right—the writer—the “uncredentialed” person with no responsibility or obligation to correct anything, as opposed to the representative of an organization with accountability as part of its basis for existence.

1:10 PM I realize that I’m championing a set of corporate entities like newspapers, etc., here—but it’s the concept underlying them that I still feel has merit, however the execution goes down.

Dan: this is my whole point—the credentials and the basis of accountability is meaningless

me: but it shouldn’t be, is my point—

Dan: GOING TO EAT LUNCH PEACE OUT

me: just giving up on the idea of preserving facts & accuracy because there’s no reliable precedent (arguably) is…

a big mistake.

1:11 PM HAVE A GOOD LUNCH PEACE

Judge mental.

godjudge

I fully acknowledge that I’m not getting the whole story, but—based on their overall demeanor and physical appearance—when I see people with tattoos, shirts, bumper stickers and/or sweet airbrushed vehicle art that reads, “Only God Can Judge Me,” I generally have the impression that these are people who God would probably judge pretty harshly.

Office rocker.

I was a temp for eight years. I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire, off the shoulder of Orion. Paranoid bosses muttering “Hezbollah” when someone brown comes into reception. And kittens. Posters and posters of kittens.

This next song is called “You Can’t Recycle the Paper That the Paper Comes In.”

It goes like this:

Oh, you can’t recycle the paper that the paper comes in

I know you think you should be able to

But it says right on the paper that you can’t

And the trash can is right next to the recycling bin

So why is this so hard for you to manage

…Time to die.

Office surprise.

I love the charming, even adorable optimism that quaintly radiates from the little sections in grocery stores where they have Sharpies and Post-It Notes and little boxes of paper clips for sale—like, literally, with actual price tags on them.

They must know that everyone’s office has that stuff for free. Right? I mean—they have to be aware that we all get these things at work.

Office pace.

The Hierarchy of Plasticware

If you’re fortunate enough to work in an office that provides it, the official rank of plastic eating utensils is as follows:

1. Forks.
Everybody uses these. Most food you bring from home or order in will require one, unless it’s a sandwich, in which case you can skip ahead to some other post, Dagwood. The higher the plastic quality, the better the fork, but even the floppiest trash-polymer budget option can generally cover the basics.

Forks are office lunch currency; the lingua franca of the mid-day meal. If you’re out of forks, you’re going to be making do with a spoon and, more than likely, swearing. Because spoons just aren’t built for fork work.

2. Spoons.
This is the catch-all utensil. Necessary for soup and able to stand in for the fork, in a pinch. It’s not as regularly called into service as the fork, since office desserts lean toward cake (as opposed to ice cream) and soup is a fairly sporadic lunch item, especially in the summer months.

The spoon does have the advantage of being able to do double duty more readily, though. Soup or ice cream with a fork? Not on my watch, punk. General Tso’s chicken or secretary’s birthday cake with a spoon? Not ideal, sure—but not really a big deal, either. Spoon’s just hanging out, cool with whatever. Thanks for the assist, guy. Hey, mind if I turn you sideways and kinda saw through this steamed carrot? Great.

3. Knives.
Sorry, who? Oh, right. I remember you from the time I tried that new coffee shop and they didn’t put the cream cheese on my bagel, but threw a little plastic tub of it in my bag, instead. I think that was the last time we ran into one another. Uh, how’ve you been? Listen, I’m running late. You take care, pal.

Nobody cares about knives at work. Except for that one dink who actually cuts up his pizza like he’s the Prince of Douchylvania or whatever, you use them once in a blue moon. If there are no knives, you’ll still be able to eat your lunch just fine. Knives are the lifeguards of the break room beach; you sort of want them around just in case, but as long as you’re doing it right, you’ll never need them.

4. The point of all this.
Why do people stir their coffee with spoons? How asinine is that? Ever notice that spoons run out way faster than they should? And everybody knows that Cheri the office manager doesn’t like to put in orders until all the plasticware is running low, which means—well, you know what it means. Eating your ice cream with a goddamn fork and drinking your soup like you’re some kind of mental deficient. What is this, the Downton Abbey blooper reel?

Solution:
Stir your coffee with a knife, breakroom brainiacs. This ain’t rocket scientry.