The Architectural Dance Society

too much typing—since 2003



New site: (it's also in the title line...) Please update your links - thanks!

movin' on up...

No, it's not exactly a deelux apartment in the sky (or even the Upper East Side) - but this is the (second)-last post at Blogger. I'm moving to WordPress. Primarily because of this.

I'd rather not find out a bunch of my entries have disappeared (so far, it looks like they haven't). It'll take me awhile to update all references...and unless Blogger deletes them, all entries will remain here (because hell of cross-referencing) - but no new posts here.

Everything (except this and the last, place-holding entry) is now at my new digs. If you've bookmarked or linked to this site, please change its URL to Thanks.


a deep and troubling mystery!

What is the deal with institutional clocks? In the classroom I'm working in this semester, the wall clock has been wrong, differently, every day so far this semester...but always by approximately exact-hour intervals (in other words, it might say 5:11 when it's actually 10:11). The two nearest clocks in the hallway are also incorrect - and different both from one another and from the clock in my room, but also wrong by exact hours.

This is something I've noticed about institutional clocks, in schools, universities, and the like, for years...and it baffles me. In the rest of the world, setting a clock is no big deal: it runs accurately for a good long time, and sure, once in a while someone might forget which way to move it when Daylight Saving Times comes or goes, and so for a while it might be two hours out of whack - but that's easily corrected. What doesn't happen is random, arbitrary shifting of the time such clocks tell.

There seems to be some centralized (or at least distant) control for institutional clocks...since, as I'm sure you've all observed, when they're wrong, sometimes they suddenly start progressing rapidly forward or backward. Presumably someone somewhere is causing this to happen. But that still doesn't explain why such clocks are so prone to going wrong...or why when they do so, they're so often wrong by exact-hour intervals.

One more thing: these are the same kind of clocks whose minute hands creep backwards for a second before advancing...a phenomenon well-known to clock-watching test-takers, causing momentary heart attacks as if they will never get out of that room.

idiot politicians not just homegrown!

It's good to know that people other than Americans can elect or appoint absolute morons to political office. Here, for example, is Martin Mullaney, councilor in Birmingham (UK) and head of that city's "transport scrutiny committee," on why Birmingham is eliminating apostrophes from its signage: "they confuse people. If I want to go to a restaurant, I don't want to have an A-level in English to find it." For those who don't speak British, an "A-level" is roughly equivalent to high school (except in Britain, it usually means you can actually read).

This is mind-boggling. One does not need a high-school degree to comprehend the use of apostrophes. I do not understand why people find them so confusing. (At the bottom of this post, isolated so as not to bore those of you who do know how to use them, is a brief guide to correct apostrophe usage.) The other reasons Mullaney adduces for coshing grammar on the head in Birmingham are equally ludicrous: apostrophes confuse GPS systems and cause people and emergency services to get lost (no, they don't, as the article points out...Mullaney clearly is not a member of the reality-based community), and they are "old-fashioned."

All hail the modern illiteracy!

While it's true that names like "St. Paul's Square" have a slightly fusty (and, to Americans, very British) air, so what? Shall we rename them all as "InterCorporate Way" to be all modern and entrepreneurial?

Sadly, apostrophes' defenders are presented as if they're little old blue-haired ladies fussing over seventeen cats and condemning "strong language" such as "gosh-darned." I suppose there are more important things in the world - but why encourage further ignorance and illiteracy?

(How to use apostrophes: 1. In contractions, to denote missing letters, as in "don't" for "do not," "let's" for "let us," "it's" (only!) for "it is," etc. 2. To denote possession: the object that "possesses" receives an apostrophe followed by an "s" in most cases: the ball of the dog = the dog's ball. If the possessor is plural and ends in an -s, simply append an apostrophe: of a group of politicians, the politicians' idiocy. Some hold that if a singular noun or name ends in -s, only an apostrophe is sufficient, while others argue that -'s is still required. The second option is certainly not wrong, so err on the safe side. 3. Other uses: here's where confusion arises, I think. The main vector of confusion re apostrophes is "it's/its": possessive pronouns do not use apostrophes, even though some of them end in -s and otherwise look like the sort of word formed by adding an apostrophe and an "s." But this confusion is easily clarified: "it's" is always "it is" - remember that, and you're good. Also: some use apostrophes to pluralize letters or numerals or capitalized abbreviations (i.e., "he has 1,000 CD's"). The second, at least, is pointless.)


taxing the light fantastic

Apparently, there was some sort of "foot-ball" game played today?

To continue imposing my grossly un-American lifestyle on the rest of you, I will be posting about some pretentious postmodern art consisting primarily of stuff you can buy at hardware stores.

In a curious case, a British court has ruled that, while some Bill Viola video installations and a Dan Flavin light piece could be regarded as "art" when it came to assessing their value, they were to be regarded merely as "electrical devices" when it came to deciding tax rates and whether customs duty needed to be paid (artworks are exempt from the latter and pay lower rates on the former). This seems both contradictory and rather nakedly self-serving, as obviously a collection of fluorescent light tubes, plugs, switches, and the like are worth relatively little in themselves but become much more valuable once they are assembled into a Dan Flavin piece. I'm at a loss as to exactly when that collection of objects - "electrical devices" at the moment they were subject to the higher tax rate and customs, "works of art" when it came time to assessing their value to determine those tax rates and customs duties - magically was transfigured.

Perhaps it's sort of like Heisenberg's cat: the objects both were and weren't art simultaneously, until the proper authority ruled.

The real problem pointed out by the article is that, as in many other areas (intellectual property being an obvious one), the categories defined by the law lag behind actual practice. By now, many artworks cannot readily be defined as either "painting," "print," or "sculpture" - and it is this fish/fowl issue that flummoxes the British courts and led them to their rather metaphysical flourish.

Or maybe it was some sort of curious scientific/legal pun: light, after all, is both particle and wave, and both artists' work involves light.

Adam Sandler's gonna make a movie about all this, I'm sure.


whoa, whoa - slow down you guys, I can't keep up

I guess I should have expected this, after the Wrens made and ate a soup that contained samples of Robert Pollard's hair and fingernails: they've just made available for download two entire new songs in the last week or so!

Of course, once again (as with "In Turkish Waters" and "Pulled Fences"), the new, untitled song posted at Magnet Magazine's site a week or so ago is the same as "Marked Up," posted at Stereogum. It's even the same recording this time.

So no, the Wrens haven't premiered four new songs online in the last few months...only two. Cheating bastards. It's that kind of sneaky repackaging that ensures that in twenty years, the chief economic output of the state of New Jersey will be endless permutations of the Wrens' scanty catalog.


opportunity missed

A few days ago, I noticed that the Oriental Theater was playing four movies. The order may not be correct as billed on their marquee, but the four movies were The Wrestler, The Reader, Doubt, and Milk.

It is my firm belief that whenever an array of movie titles can be formed into a comprehensible sentence, they should be so arranged; thus it is that this slate of films presents a tragically missed opportunity:



Slang King!

Fans of The Fall know that Mark E. Smith has a peculiar way with language and in particular has a cracked way with song and album titles. So it's no surprise that a long-running thread on Ye Olde Fallnet assembles fake Fall song titles, albums, and even artwork.

Some of my favorites (all peculiar spelling and punctuation is intentional):

"Of Their Phalanx! Episode 7#"
"The Flaxen"
1919 Disco Man
Addendum: Rot
Adherents of Debris Field
Aerobics Instructor vs. Zeitgeist
Ailerons Deployed
Are/Am Chaotic
Bar Code Formulate
Batwalk Nacht
Blank Fizog
Burstwich Arse Fiend
Castle Vernacular
Cat Gut Violator
Chamber of Errors
Chipping Machine Ranger (Cut Up)
Claimant IV's Insights
Cogent Discourse Tits Up in Ditch
Cornwall Dross Horse
Cough It Up, Functionary
D. Crypto-Knight
Daft Song
Drag Man in Gdansk
Dream-Coitus w/Cooking Show Presenter
Factotum* If Applic.
Fall Title Authentification Protocol
Final Represented Qty.
Flaccid Plumber in Accrington Pub
Gallic Trophy-Haulage Inc.
Gaza/Conflate 78
Hairline Plenitude Assessment Board
I Cudgel Sky Saxon
I'm an Inter-Mingler
Krieg Walker-Stassen!!
Larcenist's Last Redoubt
Lost Guitarist in Pudding Shoppe
Manxchester Extent(acle)
MES Channels Dead Poetaster
Met Hasselhoff
My Malt Shuffle
Oblong Vector
Paltry Return on Service Rendered
Peg and Awl Fornicants
Physicks Defied at Last
Pilf en Rectifier
Pist M'Self
Pith of Chasm
PRCLJJ.3 (Oort Cloud)
Ring-Tone Slattern Not Without Appeal
Schlock Cartel (& Its Pitfalls)
Shift-Key Curses
Sloven After Kid Pouch.
Stept-Up! Trail-Forth!
The Hatred of Ombudsman Fowler
Tit Fuck Hash Key 7
Vix. Waned Sheik
Whelk Legion
7'23" Whatever Was Near Mic

I believe these tracks would be assembled onto the following albums:

And Within
Conjoined Twin Emulsifier
Crooked Gap in Eiger
Defeat the Retina - AKA The Exposure of Infinity
Marrow Transplant Rejection Queue
Partisan Slump Chronickle
The Frictionary E.P.

And here are a few of my own:

Shite Natterer (Sans Prefix)
Petomane Horse
The Winch/Whinge Retrograde
I'm Not Fookin Morrissey Am I
Flak Jacket
Drink-Reich Blighter
The Arse Whisperer
Cabin Essence*

* Not a cover...just another song that happens to have this title, which is rather MES-like if you think about it.


because you needed to know

You know the movie referenced in the first season of 30 Rock...the one whose title no one could pronounce? It turned out to be The Rural Juror...but until now, the name of the actual titular character has never been revealed.

It is "Earl Wuhrer."


utterly, thoroughly, obliteratingly gobsmacked

I've heard unlikely or obscure tunes muzak'd before...but unless the original song borrows a melody, I believe that today, I've topped everything along such lines I'd heard before: today, in a relatively upscale suburban mall, I heard a muzak version of The Bonzo Dog Band's "Canyons of Your Mind." The original is (as you can hear if you listen) obviously goofin' on Elvis, particularly his big, dramatic ballads - but, as usual with the Bonzos, is built on a solid song underlying the broad, comedic antics (including The Worst Guitar Solo In The World).

Seems as good a time as any to celebrate the Bonzos, a band that lays a fair claim to have been the main influence on Monty Python, and thereby an indirect influence on much of the comedy that follows. (In fact, Bonzos co-leader Neil Innes wrote many songs and much incidental music for the Pythons - and later went on to write most of the music for the immortal Rutles.) "Rhinocratic Oaths" is the most Python-esque song in the Bonzos' catalogue, and it demonstrates as well the peculiar warping of a particularly British strain of jazz.

The voice you hear is Viv Stanshall's (later rather well-known for the narration at the end of the first part of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells ("plus...tubular bells!"), itself a wry joke on the Bonzos' own "The Intro and the Outro," which features a rather odd series of, uh, guest musicians.

But let's not limit the Bonzos to inventing Monty Python: hell no, they invented heavy metal, too. Don't believe me? Listen to "Mr. Apollo" (this mix is gorilla-enhanced).

But not all is fun and games in the Bonzos' world. Neil Innes occasionally veered disturbingly toward writing genuinely affecting, moving songs - such as "Ready Mades" (covered years later by The Condo Fucks - at least I think that's the band's name...), which, among other things, tells the sad tale of a man who arrested for something he put on display. (I'm pretty sure this song takes place directly around the block from Penny Lane.)

Back to that muzak'd version: Devo sort of did this, but I always thought it'd be a brilliant idea for The Residents to hire a genuine Muzak arranger (cap'd this time because I'm referring to the actual corporation - even though I believe they've long since changed their name) to arrange several of their tracks...but making sure to preserve as many odd chords and rhythmic structures as possible. I'm pretty "Santa Dog" would sound fantastic arranged for a hundred strings and more french horns than could be drowned in the biggest Vegas fountain.

The Bonzo Dog Band:
"Canyons of Your Mind" (Tadpoles, 1969)
"Rhinocratic Oaths" (The Doughnut in Granny's Greenhouse, 1968)
"The Intro and the Outro" (Gorilla, 1967)
"Mr. Apollo" (Tadpoles, 1969)
"Ready Mades" (Tadpoles, 1969)


of course, of course

Our current slate of Netflix DVDs includes episodes of the Cadfael series originally broadcast on British TV, and since that series is set in the 12th century, it's no surprise there are many horses. And we recently bought the DVD of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog - and all decent people know and fear the name of Bad Horse, the Thoroughbred of Sin.

We're also re-watching The X-Files...and the last episode we watched was the second part of "Terma," part of which is set in Russia...and features guards riding horses.

I began to detect a trend here - so I said to Rose that it was a bit curious, and I'd know something was up if there were a horse in the next DVD we watched...which seemed unlikely, since it was from the first season of 30 Rock.

Fans of that show know what's coming, of course: in "Corporate Crush," Liz Lemon opens the door to her office to find...Tracy Jordan, and a horse.

I'm not sure what this is all about. (Although, come to think of it, at a department meeting yesterday, my voice was, in fact, a little hoarse.)

Addendum: And, I just realized that two of the four items above also refer to...Thomas Jefferson! More mystery...


unless you're insured by Mutual of Omaha

About a month ago, someone on the Robyn Hitchcock mailing list mentioned that he'd had a dream in which Hitchcock was on David Letterman's show and announced that he was about to premiere his new song, called "(Here's One I Bet You Wouldn't Want to Meet) In the Wild." Unfortunately, our dreamer couldn't recall how the song went - so I decided to write the song instead.

The first problem was that rather unwieldy title: how to make it scan? I played with it for a while, and came up with what I hope is a viable solution. The wordiness and staccato rhythm dictated some of the rest of the song's texture, with a lot of rapid-fire words. The lyrics came pretty quickly - I think the idea is quintessentially Robyn, in some ways similar to "Lions and Tigers" - although figuring out how to sing them presented more difficulty!

It seemed as if the music should be relatively simple, so I stuck largely to conventional chord sequences and rhythms (with a few tricks thrown in to make things interesting). The most fun was coming up with actual guitar parts as opposed to just strum-strum-strumming away. Some day I might even practice often enough to be able to play them reliably and consistently. Editing magic!


Here's one I bet you wouldn't want to meet in the wild
The scent of raw meat between the politician's teeth
Slavering over a shivering child

At home we find it best to try to keep them in line
Some jingling coins and some velvety loins
Makes them forget they're already dying

Oh Mr. Perkins, you've such a glaring white smile
But don't mind Jim, so secretive and grim
You'll have alligator shoes in a while

Here's one I bet you wouldn't want to meet in the wild
With a sleight of wrist and the invisible fist
He's anointed the bank vaults in his castles in the sky

Clipped wings and a nice little perch will be fine
And yesterday's news is covered up with rotting food
You won't smell it if you just keep on buying

Here's one I bet you wouldn't want to meet in the wild...

(The bridge, incidentally, refers to this program, and urban legends like this one.)

Monkey Typing Pool "(Here's One I Bet You Wouldn't Want to Meet) In the Wild" (2009)



The weirdest thing about the news coverage of Barack Obama's impending inauguration - or maybe, the weirdest thing about my view of Obama - is that every time the media refers to Obama as "the first black president," I'm somewhat taken aback. I mean, of course I'm aware that it's tremendously significant that Obama, as an African-American, was elected president...but for me, it's so much more present in my mind that he is, say, a thoughtful man, an intelligent man, a reasonable man, that the fact that he's black recedes into the background. (Of course - as nearly everyone reading this probably already knows - I'm not black, and I suspect that if I were, Obama's blackness - and the significance of his being elected to the highest office in the nation as an African-American - would be far more present in my mind.)

It's not that I "forgot" he was black...or that I'm "colorblind"... But for myself, at least, once the primaries began to shake out and it was clear I'd end up choosing between Obama and Hillary Clinton, the qualities that stood out for me in making Obama the superior choice loomed independent of his race...and in fact, the qualities that turned me against Clinton (I was never exactly in her camp...although I surely would have voted for her had she been the Democratic nominee) were related to Obama's race: the way her campaign used similar subtly racist demarcators to position herself for white, working class Americans as "normal" and "known" versus Obama's purported status as political outlier, cultural elitist, and untested unknown. The way those attributions tied cleanly to certain unpleasant racial notions, and the way Clinton attempted to exploit certain voters' discomfort with Obama, repulsed me from her campaign...and even though I was aware of the extent to which her campaign (and, of course, far less subtly, McCain's) worked racial metaphors and assumptions, I still found myself weighing Obama's qualities on a scale that somehow all but erased race as having any input.

I should say too that the views of certain conservatives about Obama...the ranting about "socialism," say - seem to me to be not much about race, and more about a generational or cultural shift, of which Bill Clinton was the first signifier, in which an older, hierarchical order gives way to a more egalitarian, inclusive order. Race is certainly among those qualities leveled by this new order...but more important is the way it assumes such issues as being negotiable. Contrast that to Cheney et al....who clearly believe, it seems to be, in a natural order of things wherein some people (almost invariably, "some men") are simply better suited to rule than other peoples...and certain surface traits, seemingly unrelated to leadership potential, function to predict leadership capabilities (or, maybe more accurately, such peoples' ability to get along and go along with the old, entrenched orders).

The simplest, shortest way to sum all this up is that I've always viewed Obama politically - as a politician, as someone whose politics were far more amenable, far more practical, than Bush's...and, even though I knew those politics were far to the right of mine (and who knows how much of his rightward positioning is genuine and how much is politicking?), the fact that he seems the sort of man to weigh evidence rather than rely on faith or prefab labels, that in itself is enormously hopeful. I have no doubt he'll disappoint me sometimes, perhaps frequently...but I also have little doubt that when he does so, he'll have reasons for it, reasons which will either be spelled out or be essentially transparent. He is not doctrinaire by any means...but neither is he unprincipled. And it's that latter quality that most recommends him to be: though he recognizes politics as the art of compromise, he realizes also that artless and thoroughgoing compromise is not politics, but surrender...something else entirely.


oh dear...

If you are very, very bad, and you're a singer, when you die, you will go to Karaoke Hell...where you are compelled to sing your hits with horrifyingly cheesy rearrangements, courtesy of a demon specializing in such torture. His name is Bill Gates.

Pitchfork has linked to several extraordinary renditions of well-known songs, as "performed" by Microsoft Songsmith, which analyzes a vocal part, then comes up with what it thinks is a suitable instrumental background. The Van Halen track is particularly evil, while the Police...well, as the Pitchfork writer pretty much says, it's all that Sting deserves.