Measuring the Unmeasurable: Ranking One’s Favorite Music, Part III

In June and September of 2021, I wrote the first two essays in a series on the evolution of the methods I use to rank my favorite tracks (a term I prefer to “songs”). These essays presented the history of the 309 individual “mix” cassettes, videocassettes and CDs I constructed between August 1981 and August … Continue reading Measuring the Unmeasurable: Ranking One’s Favorite Music, Part III

Crafting the “Soundtrack” to my Interrogating Memory book

In 2005, Rupert Holmes published his second novel, a murder mystery called Swing. Being, well, Rupert Holmes, he also wrote and recorded an accompanying seven-track CD of swing-inflected music; both are well worth finding. The combination, meanwhile, led him to quip, “I’ve been singing songs from my new book.” In the past month, I received … Continue reading Crafting the “Soundtrack” to my Interrogating Memory book

Another Surrealist Epic Post-Thanksgiving Poem

I begin with a correction: the following epic poem is technically Dadaist, not Surrealist. Two years ago…well, two years ago everything was different. Outside of places like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) and the National Institutes of Health (“NIH”), almost nobody had ever heard of COVID-19. The race for the 2020 Democratic … Continue reading Another Surrealist Epic Post-Thanksgiving Poem

Measuring the Unmeasurable: Ranking One’s Favorite Music, Part 1

I recently updated a data-based discussion of my cinematic “guilty pleasures,” adding a comparison of “most-acclaimed” and “my favorite” films from a given year or years. In so doing, though, I side-stepped the question of determining with something approaching academic rigor just what my favorite films are, relying solely on my gut to select a … Continue reading Measuring the Unmeasurable: Ranking One’s Favorite Music, Part 1

A Surrealist Epic Post-Thanksgiving Poem

Since we first started hosting Thanksgiving dinner in, I believe, 2012, I have been responsible for the epic cleanup. As with all good rituals, it started as a one-off: I put Nell and the girls to bed and said good night to the last of our guests to leave with the understanding I would finish … Continue reading A Surrealist Epic Post-Thanksgiving Poem

Always Just What I Needed: Ben Orr, Ric Ocasek and The Cars

I wrote these sentences in my Father’s Day 2019 post. The 24-hour Howard Johnson’s in Medford was a regular late-night hangout for AC (among others) and me before it closed on December 31, 1998. It got to be a habit that on nights I did laundry in the basement laundry room of our apartment building, … Continue reading Always Just What I Needed: Ben Orr, Ric Ocasek and The Cars

Organizing by themes V: Popular music

This site benefits/suffers/both from consisting of posts about a wide range of topics, all linked under the amorphous heading "data-driven storytelling." In an attempt to impose some coherent structure, I am organizing related posts both chronologically and thematically. While I have told many stories from my life (and those of my ancestors), I rarely discuss … Continue reading Organizing by themes V: Popular music

Pete Shelley, RIP; or my life in punk and new wave

As I walked into my office this past Friday afternoon (December 7), I vaguely noticed our eldest daughter sitting on the sofa reading. Firing up my computer, I turned on iTunes. The 9,560 tracks contained there are sorted by artist, so I only needed to scroll down to the end of the B’s. I clicked … Continue reading Pete Shelley, RIP; or my life in punk and new wave

A Musical Mosaic

When I enrolled at Yale in the fall of 1984, I was undecided between majoring in political science or mathematics. A less-than-stellar experience in Math 230—required for freshman mathematics major—quickly decided me: political science, it would be. Luckily, two courses I took sophomore year taught by Professor Edward Tufte—Data Analysis for Politics and Policy and … Continue reading A Musical Mosaic