(originally published here)
Speak: Orators, Mutes, and Everyone In Between
“Actions speak louder than words”: in Speak, I take that cliché, flip it, reverse it, and prove the reverse to be true. With the help of time-tested theories from Adam Smith, Plato, Martin Luther King Jr., Martin Luther, Michel Foucault, my mother, the Wright brothers, and Tyra Banks, I find that people who speak tend to have more advantages than people who don’t. Also, I interview MIT physics professor Janice Copley, who tells me that body movement rarely matches the amplitude of a spoken word. So my theory seems to hold water. But you don’t have to use this idea if you don’t want to.
The Missing Link: Why Children Have the Power
Using behavioral economics and PBS viewership statistics, I prove that children are actually smarter than adults. Case studies will include: trends in Girl Scout cookie sales in the 1990s; Shirley Temple (both the child actress and the non-alcoholic cocktail); and kids who watch TED talks. From these unique yet universally applicable stories I conclude that children have power over adults in every respect, and therefore the United States must reform its education system. How? I don’t know — give me a break! I think this idea is pretty good.
Pinnacle: How The Tops of Things Get There
In this book, I explain the fascinating common thread between the tops of things, like: cherries on sundaes; hair on heads; lampshades; penthouses; stars on Christmas trees; oils, fats, and sweets on the old food pyramid; and chimneys. Okay I’m gonna be totally honest I just took some Nyquil and Sudafed and I don’t even know where I’m going with this. You don’t have to use this one.
To Sleep, To Dream: Nyquil and Sudafed
You don’t have to use this one.
Anonymous asked: is it bad that I find you really attractive?
Not at all! Unless, erm… I don’t know… nope, no ‘unless,’ it’s totally fine. And I’m very flattered.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is making me hate pop music.
On “Together” by Disclosure ft. Sam Smith, Nile Rodgers, and Jimmy Napes
What made Settle so engaging is that Disclosure avoided doing what that album’s title suggested. “Together” promises thrills — Sam Smith’s luscious voice; Nile Rodgers being wielded with care for once — but ends up sounding rushed; there’s a noticeable lack of dynamics in the production, and the song checks out after its second verse. It ticks the boxes adequately, but nothing more.
On “In Your Eyes” by Inna ft. Yandel
There’s an intriguing assertiveness behind the “I want your body” hook, but it’s sacrificed for the central conceit of Inna “dancing in your eyes.” Meanwhile, Yandel is completely unintelligible. Overall, it’s a lyrical mess, which would be par for the course for a standard Europop number like this, but the vanilla production can’t elevate it.
On “The Art of Letting Go” by Mariah Carey
The rub lies in how the song doesn’t totally let go; when the drums pick up, it’s only for a brief moment before they fall out and Mariah concludes with, “It ain’t easy, baby.” So many uplifting anthems ignore the fortitude required to let go of someone, to push a problem out of mind — especially when somebody is flinging your world around, watching as you fall. Contrivances like the vinyl noise and the maudlin string section let it down, but “The Art of Letting Go” has an emotional resonance that makes it a cut above most ballads.
Also today on the Jukebox: my first time doing the editing! I’m filling in on Tuesday for the next few weeks. It’s strange to be on the other side – anxiety sprang up when I had to face three sets of eight blurbs and decide what phrases to cut, how to arrange the blurbs, and figure out what the writers were trying to communicate. I think I did… all right for my first try. As someone who’s always written and rarely edited (including my own work; my first drafts are almost always final drafts, unfortunately), I wonder whether I’m somehow screwing up by excising good lines or leaving in bad ones. But for now, all I can do is trust my instincts and make edits as I see fit.