Listener challenge: 3 degrees of cover version separation

Here’s a well-known song, along with two cover versions that are both wildly different from the original and from each other.

I love all three versions.

I’ll make a bet with you: pick four random people (your co-workers look bored, don’t they?).

Without telling them the song or the artist, play the Otis Redding version for two of the people (individually), and the Shockabilly version for the other two (also individually).

Let the song play until each person is able to name the song, if they can.

I bet people catch on to the Shockabilly version first.

Try it and let me know. And if you have an idea for future blog posts in this vein, let me know that, too. 


10 Things You Do Not Know about the Musical Group the Daft Punks Because You Are Way Uncool

The cover of the Daft Punks’ first LP, when they were a quartet. They are now a threetet.

The Daft Punks were pioneers of the musical genre.

The Daft Punks are from France but always sing in American.

The Daft Punks were named after a founding member who was the original creative genius behind the band, but who went mental from too taking much acid and wound up dropping out to start a hedge fund: his name was Little Steven Daft Punk.

The Daft Punks only want to blend into the woodwork, which is why they just wish people would stop staring at them in their shiny custom-made robot costumes already.

If the Daft Punks fall in a forest, no one will hear it, but only because it hasn’t been leaked to one of the trendy music blogs yet.

They have a new album out, but you’d never know it, because the Daft Punks live by the axiom, “It’s best to hide your light under a bushel.”

The Daft Punks employ a man whose only job is to lubricate their organs.

In addition to the genre, the Daft Punks invented sliced bread.

When they are not being totally awesome, the Daft Punks lay around being merely fantastic.

The Daft Punks do a killer version of “John Henry,” but will only play it as the fourth encore for an especially cool and deserving audience, which so far has never happened.


How a dream made Maxine Nightingale the soundtrack to my day

Another example of involuntary mnemonics.

I woke up this morning realizing I had had some vivid dreams during the night. 

I almost never remember my dreams. Based on my unscientific research, that seems to be a dude thing. I know lots of women who can recall their dreams in exquisite detail. My much better half can not only tell me what she was wearing in her dreams, she can tell me what “that guy” in her dreams—who was me, but wasn’t me—and everyone else, was wearing. 

But what happens with me is, as soon as I start trying to recall my dream, all of the details go flying out of my conscious mind, leaving me at most a few diffuse scraps of dream to hang on to. 

And that’s what happened this morning. I thought, “Whoa, that was some intense dream,” and immediately I started grasping in vain to remember it, even as I could feel my internal hard drive being wiped clean.

But what I did hold on to was that this was an Odyssey dream—a dream where the object for me was to try to return to my power base. Not necessarily home, but someplace I had been earlier in the dream.

And right then, this song started playing in my head: 


No kidding. For reals.

Sounds of the game: the transcript

“On March 7, the (MLB) network will try to take a leap in audio, televising a spring training game between the Indians and Diamondbacks in which up to six players a team will wear microphones.” NYT: Airing the Sounds of the Game on MLB Network

Indians vs. Diamondbacks, top of the first

18:03:27 Catcher mic: (clears sinuses)
18:03:29 Catcher mic: (expectorates)
18:03:30 Umpire mic: Thanks, Izzy. I just cleaned that plate.
18:03:33 Catcher mic: (belches)
18:03:35 Umpire mic: Again, lovely.  
18:03:42 Batter mic: Afternoon, gents.
18:03:44 Umpire mic: Hey, Parksy.
18:03:46 Catcher mic: (indecipherable utterance)
18:03:59 Umpire mic: Hey, whenever you’re ready. We have until October.
18:04:04 Batter mic: Is it OK with you if I adjust my batting gloves? Would that be all right, for Christ’s sake?
18:04:10 Umpire mic: As long as it occurs in this lifetime.
18:04:13 Batter mic: Is this how it’s going to be all season with you? I thought we were friends.
18:04:16 Catcher mic: (grunting noise)
18:04:20 Umpire mic: Totally agree, Izz.  
18:04:23 Batter mic: OK, whatever.
18:04:29 Umpire, catcher, batter mics: (ball hitting mitt)
18:04:30 Umpire mic: Hraw! Low.
18:04:56 Umpire, catcher, batter mics: (ball hitting mitt)
18:04:57 Umpire mic: Hrawp! Low.
18:04:59 Catcher mic: (exclaimed indecipherable utterance)
18:05:02 Umpire mic: Excuse me?
18:05:04 Catcher mic: (indecipherable grumbling)
18:05:07 Umpire mic: I thought so.
18:05:22 Umpire, catcher, batter mics: (ball hitting bat)
18:05:28 Umpire mic: Y’all got lucky there.
18:05:31 Catcher mic: (indecipherable)
18:05:35 Umpire mic: He just got under it.
18:05:39 Catcher mic: (belches)
18:05:42 Umpire mic: (sighs)
18:05:45 Umpire mic: OK, batter up. Let’s go.
18:05:53 Batter mic: Hey.
18:05:57 Umpire mic: Hey, Jonesy.
18:06:00 Catcher mic: (indecipherable utterance) 

My interview with a vampire, excerpt #1

In 2007, while attending an National Public Radio fantasy camp, Andrei Codrescu assigned me the task of conducting a “man in the street” interview. In a florist’s not far from the Howard Johnson’s where the camp was being held, I met Guillermo Estefan Hernan Cortez Villegas de Potosi. The thoughtful, courtly manner of this quiet flower shop owner struck me as being from another time. How shocked I was to learn that Hernan Cortez Villegas de Potosi was a vampire well into his fourth century of un-life. Herewith, the first in a series of enlightening, expectation-smashing excerpts from my interviews with this extraordinary being. 

On night people—Interviews with a vampire #1 (mp3)