October 2011

U2's Albums: From Best to Worst

Are you like me? Do you secretly like U2?

 

I’m about to reveal one of my deepest and darkest secrets: I like U2. No, I’m not being coy; I’m not secretly trying to tell you that I have a crush on you. I’m trying to say that I like one of the most mainstream bands on the face of the planet. 

That said, just because I like U2 doesn’t mean that I like all of their music. I’m more old-school and prefer much of their older music, which seems to be the norm for people of my generation. I came across an article in Slate today which ranks U2’s albums from best to worst. I don’t know if it’s a generational thing or not, but I actually found myself agreeing with many of writer Eric Hynes’ opinions about U2’s music. 

Cell Phones of the 80s

 

Someone on Reddit turned up this 1980s Motorola ad, and it's absolutely wonderful. How much do I love it? Let me count the ways:
 
1. It's so somber!
 
Why so serious, Motorola? Somehow, the narrator's ponderous, overly-serious voice only makes the whole thing seem sillier. I suppose they decided that if they wanted to try and convince people of something that seemed as ludicrous as "cell phones will one day take over the world," they had better use the most serious voice-over ever. But in reality, it just makes it seem like an ad for Gray Poupon. Particularly the shots with the classy expensive cars being driven by white-haired white guys dialing their big-ass car phones!

Songs of the 80's: Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car"

 

Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car" got a dusting-off and a surprise boost up the charts earlier this year, thanks to an amazingly talented young man named Michael Collings who blew away the judges in "Britain's Got Talent" with his version of the song. I don't actually know how he did in the competition, I don't watch the show, I just happened to catch the YouTube video of his performance, which is pretty amazing.
 
Listening to the original song now, as a much older person, what strikes me most about it is how damned sad it is. Everyone's making plans to escape, but no one ever does. The narrator of the song dreams of driving away from her life in someone else's fast car. She doesn't even have a fast car of her own. 
 
"Is it fast enough that we can fly away?" she asks.

Things The Internet Killed: My Great Recipes

 

I had completely forgotten about My Great Recipes and its ilk until it was mentioned recently in an Ask.Metafilter question. This was just one of many different subscription services, all of which only "worked" in a world where there was no instant, pervasive access to the entire world's information. A world in which, if you wanted to know something and did not have the reference book on hand, you had to go to the library to look it up.
 
In such a world, what happens when you want to make a new recipe? Why, you need to have that recipe. These days you can just Google "Chicken Diane Recipe" and get dozens of results. In the 1980s, you had to check your recipe books, or the file of recipes you had clipped from magazines. Or in desperation, to call your friends and family and ask if they had the recipe.

Stirrup Pants

 

Stirrup pants were an item of 1980s fashion that were as mystifying as they were ubiquitous. These were leggings which had an elastic strap attached to the bottom cuff. You slipped the strap over your foot, so that it rested right in the middle of the arch of your foot.
 
The first mystery here is, these solved an issue that no one had. Has anyone ever complained about their leggings not staying down? It's just not a problem. At least not to the extent that you would need to attach elastic and secure the buggers to your feet, anyway. 

Steve Jobs, the 1980s Apple ][e, and Me

 

In a weird and very real way, I wouldn't be who I am today without Steve Jobs. It was his "aggressive marketing" of the Apple ][ and the Apple ][e in schools which gave me my first experience of computers. Prior to that, both of my parents owned computers, but I wasn't allowed to touch them. Much less to play with them. I might break it, they said. (They were probably right, by the way. And it's not like either of them had any idea how to use the things.)