Dept. of Records

It’s been a pretty good Tour so far this year, with two records of note.

The first came a few days ago, when Eritrean rider Biniam Girmay became the first Black rider to win a stage. The reaction in his team car is pretty great.

Then, today veteran rider Sir Mark Cavendish won the 5th stage of the 2024 Tour de France. Aptly, the Manx Missile won in a sprint, 16 years after he won his first stage.

Until today, the record for Most Stage Wins in the Tour was held by cycling god Eddy Merckx, a Belgium rider who dominated the sport in the 60s and 70s. He won the Tour 5 times outright, and bagged the points prize 3 times and the mountains award twice, all on his way to winning a stunning 34 stages, a record he set 49 years ago. (I could go on and on here, but suffice it to say that Merckx dominated cycling in a way that really exceeds the huge footprint Jordan left on basketball, or that Tiger had on golf. He won everything over and over, in a way that no one has been able to approach since, partly because cycling has become enormously specialized. Cavendish has the stage win title now, for example, but he’s a sprinter and has never been in contention for the overall Tour.

Here’s some video. The speeds are in kilometers, but it’s worth noting that they finished uphill, into the wind, at forty miles an hour.

The table on the TdF records page is pretty wild and VERY stable. Aside from Cav today, you have to read down the list to the current 13th place rider to see a date in the 21st century (Marcel Kittel, who won his 14th in 2017).

The only other currently active rider (aside from Cav) is wonderkind Tadej Pogačar, currently tied for 16th place with 12 wins (including Stage 4 of this year’s race).

That number will go up; Tadej is only 25, and is the odds-on favorite to win in Paris this year. Not for nothing, but he’s the closest thing to an all-around threat we’ve seen since Merckx — he’s won the TdF outright twice, and in both years ALSO won the Mountains classification. He’s also won the Giro, and sits at top spot of the UCI road racing rankings. He’s compared to Eddy so often there’s a whole section of his Wikipedia article about it.

Will he beat Cav? I’m fresh out of crystal balls, but it’s pretty easy to imagine a world where Tadej ends up in the top 5 (which would require 23 wins). He’s only 25, and racing stays viable into one’s 30s. (Cadel Evans won the Tour at 34 back in 2011.) If he stays healthy, and wins at his current pace (so, call it 2.5 or 2.75 stage wins per tour), then Cav’s record won’t last past the mid-2030s.

But that’s a big if.

Dept. of Unlocked Catalog Memories

My 80s youth was awash with catalog companies. In the absence of the Internet, paper-based distance-shopping was immensely popular! There were tons of these; the most well remembered were firms like The Sharper Image that eventually became a sad mall store, but my old favorite was the DAK catalog — which, somehow, I forgot about entirely until I saw this blog post that’s been sitting in an open tab for six months.


Joe Stands Alone

Something interesting came up the other day: in conversation elsewhere, I learned that Joe Biden is the ONLY member of his generational cohort (“The Silent Generation,” born between 1928 and 1945) to ever be President, and given the age of that group it’s likely none will follow him.

After Ike, POTUS was always a member of the so-called “Greatest Generation,” born between 1901 and 1927. They fought the war, hence the name. So, after Ike — a member of the prior “Lost” generation, born in 1890 — we had a parade of Greatests for thirty years:

  • JFK, born 1917, took office in 1961, and turned 44 his first year in office
  • LBJ, 1908, 1963, 55
  • Nixon, 1913, 1969,56
  • Ford, 1913, 1974, 61
  • Carter, 1924, 1977, 53
  • Reagan, 1911, 1981, 70 (which was a huge point of discussion at the time)
  • GHWB, 1924, 1989, 65

Then we skipped the Silent folks entirely, and the Boomers took over for nearly another 30 years:

  • Clinton, 1946, 1993, 47
  • GWB, 1946, 2001, 55
  • Obama, 1961, 2009, 47
  • Trump, 1945, 2017, 71

It’s only then that a member of the Silent cohort got elected, in what was really a black-swan electoral event in lots of ways — absent the very specific factors of the 2016 race, it’s easy to imagine a world where no Silent gets elected at all. Instead, Joseph R. Biden, born 1942, was inaugurated in 2021, and turned 79 his first year in office.

It seems clear he’ll remain the only Silent to ever sit in the Oval.

That got me thinking: Why?

Turns out? Numbers. The Silent cohort was comparatively small — especially compared to the groups that came before and after. There are lots of reasons for this, but the biggest ones are probably the Depression and the War depressing birth rates.

Pew suggests the Silent group was “only” about 47M births; compare that to the Boomers at 76M.

All this points me to an uncomfortable realization: my own cohort, GenX, is also a small group sandwiched between two much larger generations (the Boomers and the Millennials). That could lead to the Oval skipping us, too. :(

Oh well.

Books of 2024, #6: Babel by R. F. Kuang

You’d think I’d get tired of hating books the SF critics love, but here we are again.

Babel is a mess. It’s yet another coming-of-age tale in SF, which is something I’m getting really tired of across the board; I mean, is it impossible for authors to imagine something interesting happening to adults? Fine. Whatever. If that was the only thing I disliked, this would be a different post.

The basic argument is that our point of view character (Robin) is a half-Cantonese youth orphaned by a cholera outbreak. Predictably, he’s “rescued” from poverty by an English academic, who adopts him as his “ward” and takes him back to Oxford to join the fictional Translation Institute there.

In the world of Babel, a sort of magic exists based on the user of silver bars engraved with matched-pairs of words in translation. The effect is derived from the tensions and implications inherent in translation. This is clever, but not NEARLY so clever as Kuang clearly thinks it is; one serious shortcoming of the book is an ENDLESS PARADE of footnotes describing this-or-that matched pair. Often, the footnotes are in untranslated Chinese, because I guess why not?

But even this bit of babble isn’t the main problem with the book. Publisher’s Weekly says it better:

Publishers Weekly negatively reviewed the novel, saying, “Kuang underwhelms with a didactic, unsubtle take on dark academia and imperialism.” They explained, the “narrative is frequently interrupted by lectures on why imperialism is bad, not trusting the reader or the plot itself enough to know that this message will be clear from the events as they unfold. Kuang assumes an audience that disagrees with her, and the result keeps readers who are already aware of the evils of racism and empire at arm’s length. The characters, meanwhile, often feel dubiously motivated.”

This is something I’ve joked about before as “Rand’s Disease.” Like lots of bright kids, I read Atlas Shrugged in high school. Ayn Rand’s books are notionally novels, but they’re not REALLY. What they are are long tirades about her philosophy masquerading as fiction. The characters are wooden and poorly fleshed out. Motivations are questionable. Reactions are bizarre. This is what happens when your priority is something other than the novel itself.

Kuang falls prey to this at every turn. Her characters are wooden and shallow. Motivations are sketchy at best. They all feel like sock puppets in a pantomime about the evils of colonialism. I’d say “cut out the endless rants and you’d have something,” except absent the pages and pages of anticolonialism I’m not sure what would be left.

And yet: it won the Nebula. I think SF people just must not care very much about the actual craft of fiction, and consider Big Idea shit to be the higher value, because holy hell this is a problem I run into a LOT when I read an “award-winning” SF text. In Babel’s Nebula year, it beat out the drastically better crafted Nona the Ninth, for example. Reading backward in the list of Nebula winners, I see only 7 genuinely excellent novels in the winner slots since 2020 (Butler’s Parable of the Talents; Gaiman’s American Gods; Chabon’s Yiddish Policemen’s Unions; Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl; Leckie’s Ancillary Justice; Jemisin’s The Stone Sky; Wells’ Network Effect).

Others obviously disagree, but I think my takeaway is that the Nebula isn’t a good indicator for quality for ME. (The Hugo list is marginally better, but there’s other issues there.)

What we talk about when we talk about the Stones

So geriatric oldies act “The Rolling Stones” played here on Sunday. I’ve seen them before, most recently 30 years ago, and candidly it was already a bit hard to swallow 50+ Mick preening about when Clinton was president. At 80, it’s damn near a novelty act — and a gradually sadder and sadder one, given that at this point only Mick and Keith remain of the band that gave us the string of groundbreaking records in the late 60s and early 70s. Wyman has been retired since 1993. Charlie Watts has been dead for two years, which is hard to fathom.

Sure, they have Ron Wood as the “new guy” with half a century behind him, and that’s not NOTHING, but he’s also not on the good material. He joined because Mick Taylor had left, and his exit crippled the band creatively — at least, compared to what they accomplished with him. Taylor was in the band from Let It Bleed (1969) through I’s Only Rock And Roll (1974); that era includes Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main St. The Stones songs you know are overwhelmingly from 1974 or earlier, with some exceptions, and a GREAT chunk of their best material happened with Taylor on 2nd guitar.

In keeping with that, of the 18 songs they played Sunday, 11 were from 1974 or earlier. The newer tracks include 2 each from 1978’s Some Girls (“Beast of Burden” and “Miss You”) and 1981’s Tattoo You (concert favorite “Start Me Up” — realistically speaking, their only true hit since 1974 — and “Little T&A”).

The Tattoo You tracks are, at this point, 43 years old; they were also the youngest songs played aside from the obligatory sampling of last year’s Hackney Diamonds. Even with the new tracks in the mix, the average song age Sunday is old enough to schedule a colonoscopy. If you drop the 3 youngsters as outliers, the average age shoots up to 53.

Anyway, he’s a review — and setlist — from the other night, written by my pal Andrew. He’s awesome. It’s a fun read, even allowing for my snark about these octogenarians and their nostalgia tour.

Here’s something worth noting

(This whole post h/t to Dorman.)

Louis Gossett, Jr., died today, at the age of 87.

Something interesting about Mr Gossett is that when he won his Oscar for Supporting Actor for An Officer and a Gentleman, he was only the third African-American person to win an acting Oscar of any kind. (Edit: a previous version of this post incorrectly stated he was only the 3rd Black winner of any Oscar at all, and that’s not true; Isaac Hayes won Best Song in 1973.)

Most famously, Hattie MacDaniel won for Supporting Actress in 1939 for Gone With the Wind. A Black person would get a statue again until Sidney Poitier won Actor for Lilies of the Field in 1963 (which was his second nomination in the category; he’d been there in 1958 for The Defiant Ones.

And the next Oscar after that was 19 years later and Mr Gossett.

There’s a lot at the aforementioned link, but your timeline of Actor category wins is:

No. Year Category Actor Film
1 1939 Supporting Actress Hattie McDaniel Gone with the Wind
2 1963 Actor Sidney Poitier Lilies of the Field
3 1982 Supporting Actor Louis Gossett, Jr. An Officer and a Gentleman
4 1989 Supporting Actor Denzel Washington Glory
5 1990 Supporting Actress Whoopie Goldberg Ghost
6 1996 Supporting Actor Cuba Gooding, Jr. Jerry Maguire
7 2001 Actor Denzel Washington Training Day
8 2001 Actress Halle Berry Monster’s Ball
9 2004 Supporting Actor Morgan Freeman Million Dollar Baby
10 2004 Actor Jamie Fox Ray
11 2006 Supporting Actress Jennifer Hudson Dreamgirls
12 2006 Actor Forest Whitaker The Last King of Scotland
13 2009 Supporting Actress Mo’Nique Precious
14 2011 Supporting Actress Octavia Spenser The Help
15 2013 Supporting Actress Lupita Nyong’o 12 Years a Slave
16 2016 Supporting Actress Viola Davis Fences
17 2016 Supporting Actor Mahershala Ali Moonlight
18 2018 Supporting Actress Regina King If Beale Street Could Talk
19 2018 Supporting Actor Mahershala Ali Green Book
20 2020 Supporting Actor Daniel Kaluuya Judas & The Black Messiah
21 2021 Supporting Actress Ariana DeBose West Side Story
22 2021 Actor Will Smith King Richard
23 2023 Supporting Actress Da’Vine Joy Randolph The Holdovers

I don’t watch every year, but I absolutely remember 2001 with crystal clarity. Denzel and Halle, on stage together, was electric.

Additionally, in terms of the biggie awards, Steve McQueen won Picture for 12 Years a Slave. No African American has ever won Director despite nominations by John Singleton (Boyz n the Hood), Lee Daniels (Precious), Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), Jordan Peele (Get Out), and Spike Lee (BlacKKKlansman).

Voyager is dying.

In 1977, we humans did something audacious. We launched Voyager 1 towards the outer planets, with an idea that maybe we’d get more. It was the second craft, after its sibling Voyager 2, to fly past Jupiter, and was the first to take close-up photos of Jupiter’s moons when it arrived there some 18 months later. By 1980 Saturn was in its sights, where it gave us the first images of Titan and Tethys.

By the end of 1980, it entered what NASA referred to as its “extended mission,” flying ever father from Earth. In 1990, just before its camera shut down forever, its operators pivoted it to take the famous Pale Blue Dot photograph, about which Carl Sagan said:

That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

Voyager was built in the 1970s, with the technology available in those years. Over time, the radioactive isotopes it uses for energy have decayed, as they are wont to do, and with that decay came a gradual loss of power. Systems had to be shut down, one after the other, including the aforementioned camera (though one wonders how much of a loss that was; where it is, there is nothing to see).

It left the Solar System 14 years ago, and kept going. They thought we might get a solid 3 years out of it, and yet here we are, four decades later, talking about it.

Voyager 1 is the farthest spacecraft from Earth, and the margin is not close. It is some 15 billion kilometers away now. Radio signals from Earth take some 22 hours to reach it. The reply takes, of course, another 22. That record is unlikely to be broken; as noted here, there are only two others in the race: Voyager 2 and New Horizons, and due to mission parameters both will likely die well before they exceed Voyager’s distance.

Voyager, though, is dying. In December the data stream back from it — data that spent 22 hours in transit — became gibberish. Nobody knows why; it could be a thousand thousand things, but there is no way to fix it. CrookedTimber continues:

Voyager Mission Control used to be a couple of big rooms full of busy people, computers, giant screens. Now it’s a single room in a small office building in the San Gabriel Valley, in between a dog training school and a McDonalds. The Mission Control team is a handful of people, none of them young, several well past retirement age.

And they’re trying to fix the problem. But right now, it doesn’t look good. You can’t just download a new OS from 15 billion kilometers away. They would have to figure out the problem, figure out if a workaround is possible, and then apply it… all with a round-trip time of 45 hours for every communication with a probe that is flying away from us at a million miles a day. They’re trying, but nobody likes their odds.

So at some point — not tomorrow, not next week, but at some point in the next few months — they’ll probably have to admit defeat. And then they’ll declare Voyager 1 officially over, dead and done, the end of a long song.

(See also: It’s Quieter in the Twilight, and excellent documentary from last year about the folks still working on Voyager.)

Of course, even dead Voyager will continue moving, forever, unless it hits something. It’s not pointed towards any star we know, but that could change in a long enough time scale. After billions of years (yes!), our Milky Way galaxy will collide with its neighbor, Andromeda. From this article:

After those 5 billion years, modeling is tricky. That’s when the Milky Way is due to collide with its massive neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy, and things get messy. “The orderly spiral shape will be severely warped, and possibly destroyed entirely,” Oberg said. The Voyagers will be caught up in the merger, with the details difficult to predict so far in advance.

Meanwhile, the vicarious sightseeing continues. Oberg and his colleague calculated that in this 5-billion-year model-friendly period, each of the Voyagers likely visits a star besides our sun within about 150 times the distance between Earth and the sun, or three times the distance between the sun and Pluto at the dwarf planet’s most distant point.

Precisely which star that might be, however, is tricky — it may not even be a star we know today.

“While neither Voyager is likely to get particularly close to any star before the galaxies collide, the craft are likely to at least pass through the outskirts of some [star] system,” Oberg said. “The very strange part is that that actually might be a system that does not yet exist, of a star that has yet to be born.”

Two Star! A forgotten 1990s Fox sitcom…


This is the photo they used for the criminally short-lived Two Star sitcom Fox put together in the early 1990s. They fucked up the scheduling FOUR DISTINCT TIMES, each time putting it opposite absolute juggernauts from the legacy networks (e.g., at one point, CHEERS), and so only 6 episodes aired. More’s the pity, Fox has refused to release it on home video or streaming, so even those six are really only available on grainy dubs from VHS. There are RUMORS of a Halloween special, but even 30 years later no footage has leaked.

KNOWN EPISODES (fall, 1992)

1.01 PILOT: A trio of string musicians busking on a nameless city corner are harassed by the local constabulary, and meet some other targeted musicians en route to court — leading to a supergroup! The only episode to feature the character JERRY onscreen, though he appears as a voice-only role from offscreen occasionally in later episodes. ANTHONY BARILLA guest stars as a musician’s rights activist.

1.02 “Shy One Girl” When DEBRA goes missing under mysterious circumstances, the gang must rescue her or lose their gig playing a live score to Harold Lloyd’s 1924 film “Girl Shy.” Peter Falk cameos, but not “in character” due to rights issues.

1.03 “Two Bass Hit” CHRIS has trouble when his upright bass is wrongfully accused of assault. Clearly the nadir of the (available) episodes, the thin plot’s issues are compounded by a offensively casual treatment of the underlying crime. Rumor has it this script was retooled from a completely different property, but no real details are available. BARILLA appears again, but this time as a prosecutor, which is jarring given that both characters play the accordion.

1.04 “Sins You Been Gone” During a workshop for a new work based on the Seven Deadly Sins, MARGARET discovers her cello can open a portal to hell, but only if out of tune in one specific way. ANDREW SHUE, later of “Melrose Place,” guest stars as an inexplicably upbeat and bumbling Satan obsessed with Beanie Babies.

1.05 “Titus Gone Mad!” Attempting to cram the plot of Titus Andronicus into a 22-minute sitcom proved a worse misstep than episode 3,. Deprived of creative control, the stars were prisoners of their contract and give it a try (though the knowing looks from JOHN and CATHY make it clear they’re not happy), but the resulting mess marks the point when the network started getting cold feet. Ironically, the soundtrack here proved one of the groups’ bigger hits at the time, and has eclipsed the memory of the episode entirely. Paulie Shore guest stars as Titus.

1.06 “Man or Muppet?” After a confusing altercation at an east side diner, KIRK is transformed into a muppet by a disgruntled waitress who dabbles in the occult (Fairuza Balk). The gang seeks reconciliation with her coven, but KIRK isn’t entirely UNHAPPY as a thinly-veiled analog of Henson’s Animal.

Man, what I wouldn’t give for a print of the Halloween, variety-show-style special!

The least surprising words in this article are “Caswell” and “Dallas”

A Dallas-based restaurant group is opening a “female-forward” joint called Postcript over in River Oaks. It’s very, uh, pink.

However, there’s something a bit odd about the management of this joint:

PostScript has been touted by its Dallas-based hospitality group GAP Concepts as “female-forward,” which the restaurant is demonstrating by boasting a very pink interior, paintings of butterflies, a see-and-be-seen area called the “Princess Table” and a button that summons champagne to a guest’s table.

With that in mind, GAP Concepts is led by Veeral Rathod and Obi Ibeto, both men. They tapped two men—noted Houston chefs Bryan Caswell and JD Woodward—to run the kitchen. Jeb Stuart, also a man and the former general manager of Coltivare, is overseeing the wine program, and fellow men Mike Sauceda and Steven Ripley will serve as bar manager and general manager, respectively.


The point, just to bring it home, is this is a restaurant designed for women with a very male leadership team. When asked about this, a representative for PostScript said the restaurant “has a well-balanced team across all positions with diverse talents. Right now, they are actively building up the senior leadership, specifically seeking awesome female perspectives.”

Uh-huh. Just not, apparently, in any of the actual leadership roles.

“Joy will in time find you.”

Nick Cave is perhaps the pinnacle of the “if you know, you know” artist. He’s kind of been quietly there now for decades, producing a staggering amount of material; his creativity and work ethic are remarkable. If he’s new to you, the most likely times you’ve heard his music are perhaps this sequence in one of the final Potter films (“O Children”, from the 2004 double album Abattoir Blues/Lyre of Orpheus), or, in a very different vein, at the end of the long tracking shot sequence from the first season of True Detective (“Honeybee Let’s Fly To Mars,” from his side group Grinderman).

Cave started out as a loud, post-punk rock and roller — not for nothing is he considered something of a godfather to goth — but as time passed, his material became a bit more contemplative. He wrote prose and screenplays and film scores, branching out in a way that honestly middle aged musicians quite often do not. In 1999, he married the former Susie Bick, a fashion designer and model whom you’ve doubtless seen in record stores, since it’s her on the cover of The Damned album Phantasmagoria, from 1985. (Later, she’d appear on the cover of Cave’s own record Push the Sky Away.)

All of this is context.

A year after they married, Susie and Nick had a pair of twins, Arthur and Earl. Nick also had a son from a previous relationship, Jethro, born in 1991.

Eight years ago this July, Arthur Cave fell from a cliff near Brighton, in England, where they lived. Grief for Arthur is the through-line on the two most recent albums from Cave and his band, the Bad Seeds: 2016’s Skeleton Tree, already in progress when he died, and the 2019 followup Ghosteen. Both are achingly beautiful, searing portraits of grief, loss, and hope, with a depth and power that always leaves me complete stunned. They are the work of musicians at the height of their powers, inspired by a profound and elemental human state.

This is still context.

Cave has run, since 2018, a site called The Red Hand Files. People write in; Cave responds publicly.

Earlier this month, someone wrote in:

Not a question at all.

On Sat the 30 December my beautiful 16yo son Murray took his own life. He was contacted online by what he believed was a girl he knew. He was extorted and then panicked, hanging himself. He was a wonderful guy who drew beautifully, played guitar and was a straight A student. He was private person and hated being the centre of attention. His world would have crashed around him at the thought of sexual pictures with his peer group. Our hearts are broken, literally agony.

The song we have chosen for the reflection piece at his funeral on Friday in the Cathedral is Distant Sky. In that space it should sound magnificent. I certainly hope so.

In writing this it helps to feel the reality of where we are as a family. We will keep going but fuck me it’s hard.


Cave’s response is beautiful and perfect, and it closes with words I wish anyone struggling with grief would carry with them. You should go read the whole thing, but those closing words are:

Be kind and patient and gentle and merciful with one another. Stay close. Hold firm. Forgive. Grief prepares the way. Joy will in time find you. It is searching for you, in the impossible darkness, even now.

Love, Nick

Well, this is kind of fun

Four years ago today, I shared this news story on Facebook with the comment “Isn’t this how Contagion started?”

We had no idea. It begins:

A never-before-seen virus that sparked an outbreak of viral pneumonia in the Chinese city of Wuhan has now killed one person and spread to Thailand via a sick traveler.

On Saturday, January 11, officials in Wuhan reported that a 61-year-old man died January 9. Testing indicated he was carrying the virus, which researchers have confirmed is a novel strain of coronavirus.

Gore-Tex is Meaningless

I think it’s common knowledge now — or SHOULD BE — that Pyrex hasn’t been Pyrex in a long time. The old promise of Pyrex — that you could take it from the stovetop to the freezer without fear of thermal shock — was abandoned when Corning sold the brand in 1998. One must go elsewhere for actual borosilicate glass (which is what made the Pyrex of old Pyrex).

BUT! Here comes a new let-down. Outdoorsy folks the world over trust something called GoreTex, but the truth of the matter is this: Gore-Tex isn’t Gore-Tex anymore, either, because the OG version of Gore-Tex had Teflon in it, and Teflon isn’t something you really want to be selling in the 21st century.

Instead, the “Gore-Tex” you buy today is probably exactly the same breathable, waterproof membrane that Gore’s competitors were using before Gore’s patent ran out 25 years ago. Gore-Tex only maintains its market position because, candidly, Gore is super vindictive and protective of their now-meaningless brand, and punishes outerwear makers who stray too far from the light.

Canadian motorcycle retailer Fortnine covers this (as relates to moto jackets but it cross-applies to any other kind of jacket) in this video, which is pretty fascinating and worth your time. (10 minutes, but it works fine at 1.5x.)

Let’s Talk About Backups: 2023 Edition

I posted on FB yesterday about a serious crisis a client company of mine. The short version is that a computer of theirs melted down, and only then did they discover that while the database WAS creating regular backups, those backups were stored ONLY ON THAT SAME COMPUTER, and were thus just as lost as the rest of the data from that system.


I mean, I say “oops,” but in many cases this would also be a “please gather your things and leave your badge on the desk” kind of situation for whomever made that choice. It’s inexcusable in a professional environment.

But you know what? It’s also inexcusable for your personal data.

People ask me, so this is how I manage my personal and professional data security. Just accept that someday, something is going to go badly and irrevocably wrong, and take steps to protect yourself now — and this means more than one mechanism.

  1. Basic Local Backup. I use a Mac, so I have access to Apple’s excellent Time Machine feature. A cheap USB drive is plugged into my laptop, and the Time Machine process keeps that drive up to date with a versioned backup of everything on my laptop. You can “scroll backwards” in time to recover a version of that document you want from today, or from last Thursday, or whatever. It’s VERY powerful, and to date the ONLY one of these mechanisms I’ve ever had to use in a crisis. I do not know what options exist for this on Windows, but if you’re on a Mac you are a FOOL if you’re not taking advantage of this.

  2. Device Sync & Mobile Access. I use Dropbox a LOT. In fact, I have two accounts — one personal, and one with my company. All my active work files are in one of those accounts, and sync (encrypted) through the cloud so I can access them from my phone, or my iPad, or from my backup laptop. This isn’t precisely a backup mechanism, but it’s a powerful way to give you access to data in multiple places, and to make it easy to continue to work if your main machine fails or freezes up or whatever. There are now several competing tools for Dropbox-like behavior, like iCloud and OneDrive and whatnot, but I don’t trust ANY of them like I do Dropbox. Dropbox costs money, but it’s worth it.

  3. Online backup. I’ve used many systems over the years for this, but the current one is iDrive. It’s a little technical; I’m told that Backblaze is a simpler choice for people who don’t do Computer for a living. With these services, you point the local software at a folder or folders, and it uploads your data to an (encrypted) online backup for you.

  4. Periodic images. On a Mac, at least, it’s pretty easy to create a complete clone of your main drive, OS and all. I used to do this regularly, but I’ve fallen out of the habit. If you have critical data, though, and you’re going light on one of the other three methods, maybe fold this in, too. Be aware, though, that just keeping a recent copy of your data isn’t going to protect against file corruption that doesn’t show up quickly. I lost some photos this way about 20 years ago; this is why most real backup tools do versioned backups that allow you to recover files as they were in the past.

So, Chet, ever had to USE one of these?

Glad you asked. I’ve definitely used the versioning available in Dropbox and Time Machine to recover from a file level screwup of my own doing, but the only time I’ve needed a backup in a catastrophic way was when we were robbed in a smash-and-grab incident several years ago. Our backyard was unsecured, and my laptop was visible through the sliding glass door. They were in and out in probably a minute, and I was out a laptop — but they left all the stuff plugged INTO the laptop (including the charger, LOL).

I’m insured, of course, so I just went to the Apple store to buy a replacement. I plugged it in, and then plugged my Time Machine drive into it and told the Migration Assistant to treat the backup as the source. In an hour or two, it was as if nothing had ever happened — even my browser windows were in the same place.

Absent Time Machine, I still wouldn’t have lost anything — then as now, I was using several other mechanisms — but it would’ve been MUCH more hassle and taken MUCH more time and effort. Those paths need to exist, though — what if they’d taken the drive? Or what if the house had burned down? Or ….

Now, go and do likewise.

Nile Rodgers is a merchant of JOY

This six-song set at NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts is maybe the finest, tightest concert you’ll ever see. And it’s in an office.

To be fair: they brought a horn section.

Rodgers, if you’re somehow unaware, is a GIANT of American music. He wrote, co-wrote, or produced SO MUCH music you know by heart even if you were never specifically a Chic fan (about which: you should be). Wikipedia kinda sums up his impact: “The co-founder of Chic, he has written, produced, and performed on records that have sold more than 500 million albums and 75 million singles worldwide.”

The set:

  • “Le Freak,” by Chic, from 1978.
  • “I’m Coming Out,” originally recorded by Diana Ross in 1980, but written and produced by Rodgers and his longtime bandmate and musical partner Bernard Edwards (who sadly passed away in 1996).
  • “We Are Family,” a 1979 hit recorded by Sister Sledge, written and produced by Rodgers and Edwards.
  • “Get Lucky,” the Daft Punk hit from 2013, which you may or may not know was a colaboration with Pharrell and Rodgers.
  • “Good Times,” the 1979 Chic hit that has become one of the most sampled songs in American music — and, not for nothing, was one of the FIRST; a sample of it underlies “Rapper’s Delight” which came out the same year.
  • “Let’s Dance,” the Bowie song from 1983, which Rodgers produced and plays guitar on.

Oh, and there’s a surprise appearance by a little ditty written by Rodgers for a beloved late 80s film somewhere in the middle. :)

Make time. You won’t be sorry. Play it loud.

Old Dudes Bring The Noise

Anthrax and Chuck D bring the noise, again, and have Lost No Steps. This performance is part of the 40th anniversary for Anthrax, in case you weren’t feeling old enough yet.

(The original collaboration, from 1991, is here. Watching it now, I realize you can date a given Anthrax performance by the length of Scott’s goatee — kinda like the width of Johnny’s lapels in old Tonight Show reruns.)

Toni Basil is fucking EIGHTY YEARS OLD

This is being passed around quite a bit right now, and it’s true: “Mickey” artist and longtime choreographer Toni Basil was born on this day in 1943. And yes, it’s alarming to find out the artist of a song of your youth is an octogenarian, but! there’s more here.

Mickey” was a hit in 1982. This means that the simple, almost throwback song was released when Basil was already almost 40, and nowhere near the young ingenue she appeared to be in the video. I mean, well done to Ms Basil, but it’s a thing, and it means she was nearly a generation older than we assumed she was when she became quote-unquote famous.

Turns out, though, that she was almost 20 years deep in a fairly accomplished entertainment career when became a one-hit wonder (lol). Like, per Wikipedia, she was a lead dancer in the 1964 film “Pajama Party,” and appeared in the Elvis-vehicle “Viva Las Vegas” that same year. By the mid-60s she was in demand as a choreographer, and released her first single in 1966.

If you review the top hits of 1982, another female artist near the top is Joan Jett, who was only 24 in 1982. Billy Idol is only 3 years older than Jett. That’s more what we expect of pop artists, and that’s why we all blithely assumed she was in their cohort, and that’s what sets us up for this “holy shit Toni Basil is 80” moment.

Instead of being shocked at her age, though, be impressed by her resume — a resume already pretty impressive BEFORE her “one hit wonder” 41 years ago.

I will never tire of the story of Wojtek

Wojtek was a Syrian brown bear who somewhat famously “served” in the Polish military during WWII. I mean, the scare quotes are probably not required; he absolutely did mimic his soldier caretakers, and that included saluting, marching, and literally carrying ammo crates, which sounds a lot like literally serving to me.

For bureaucratic reasons, he was also officially conscripted first as a private, and later promoted to corporal, so yeah, he served. After the war, he retired to a zoo in Scotland, where he lived until 1963. Animal behavior blogger “Why Animals Do The Thing” has more pictures, which are kind of amazing.

It’s possible, though, that my favorite thing about this story is his wikipedia page, and specifically the set of categories he belongs to. They include:

  • List of individual bears; and
  • Poles in the United Kingdom

On Not Knowing

I’ve been in the software game for 30 years now. I’ve seen some things.

One of the things I’ve seen is the gradual degradation of technical capability in IT departments. When I joined this world, there was little divide between people who built software and people who ran information systems; they had many of the same skills, and careers would often move through both spheres.

That’s not really the case anymore. Software people just build software, and remain (generally speaking) technically proficient and often quite bright. However, the other side of the house is in disarray. IT departments are now often overrun with people who have never done anything hands on at all, or who have very very minimal technical ability. This is trouble, and leads to meetings with a WHOLE BUNCH of people who are deadweight while two or three people who can actually engage with the material have a conversation.

(That said conversation is frequently interrupted by the know-nothings with worthless contributions should be taken as read.)

But wait! It gets worse!

I have a customer now who has taken this a step even farther by outsourcing the not-knowing to a third party. I suppose this makes sense, because you can get external people to not know things for far less money than hiring internal people to not know these things.

We must engage these third party people to ensure there’s a proper headcount of know-nothings in any given meeting; often, we must reschedule to ensure that precisely the correct parties are included — we may have someone on the call who does not understand Active Directory, sure, but we ALSO need a resource who does not understand SQL Server, and they’re offshore, so we have to reschedule.

Obviously, too, the lack of knowing generally allows the rampant metastasis of Policy, which always thrives in environments short on knowledge. Such policies are often at odds with reality, and so we must carefully explain why one cannot, for example, do the IT equivalent of declaring mathematical truths by legislative fiat.

(Yes, that link describes an event from 1897, but don’t get cocky; legislative bodies the world over continually try to impose back doors on cryptographic systems that would somehow only ever be usable by “good” people, which makes no more sense than setting π = 3.2.)

Rescued from Facebook: In which I prattle on about Hogan’s Heroes

Here I am, being an Old, but bear with me.

I grew up watching “classic TV” reruns. They ran ALL THE TIME in the afternoons, owing largely I suspect to the lack of content available at the time. Obviously MASH was the king, but a longtime ever-present option was Hogan’s Heroes.

Even late GenX folks may not remember, but this weird little sitcom — it ran from 1965 to 1971, and was waning in syndication by the time I went to college — about a German POW camp was kind of delightfully subversive, and the cast included some pretty wonderful actors. The most famous after the show was probably English actor Richard Dawson, who went on to game show fame with Match Game and Family Feud, but the bench was much deeper.

John Banner played the loveable, oafish, somewhat dim Sergeant Schulz (“I know nothing! NOTHING!”). Banner was born Johann Banner to Jewish parents in Austria-Hungary, in an area that is now part of Ukraine. He fled Europe in 1938, when Hitler annexed Austria, and eventually enlisted in the the Army Air Corps. Banner died young (by modern standards) at 63, back in 1971.

The camp was run by the imperious but only marginally competent Colonel Klink, played by German-born actor Wener Klemperer. He and his family emigrated to the US in 1933, where his father was the conductor of the LA Philharmonic. He acted in the thirties, but joined the Army when the war began. When Hogan’s Heroes came along, he accepted the role only if the Colonel was to be played as a fool incapable of succeeding; the writers obliged. He lived to be 80.

What moved me to write this today [which was, at the time, 17 November 2022] was the news that Robert Clary, the French actor who played the diminutive Corporal LeBeau and the last surviving principal cast member, passed away at the ripe old age of 96 yesterday.

What I had not appreciated was that Clary — born Robert Max Widerman — was a Holocaust survivor. Born in Paris in 1926, he was the youngest of 14 children. He was already singing professionally by the age of 12 — but then, of course, the war came to France.

In 1942, at 16, he and his family were abducted by the Nazis, and he was sent to the camp at Buchenwald. His parents and 10 of his siblings were sent instead to Auschwitz, where they were murdered. Clary survived, he believed, because he could entertain his SS captors. He was liberated in 1945, and was able to resume his entertainment career successfully enough that he made his way to Hollywood and TV immortality in Hogan’s Heroes.

Oh look. They’re still at it.

The most hilarious thing about the new video from octogenarian nostalgia outfit The Rolling Stones is how it is comprised almost exclusively of historical footage of the band — interposed with a lovely blonde doing a Tawny Kitaen impression in a convertible — presumably because images of three Skeletors tested poorly with focus groups.

Anderson, Evaluated

I present here the revised, post-Asteroid definitive ranking of Wes Anderson films, from best to worst.

I will not be taking questions at this time.

  • Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
  • Rushmore (1998)
  • The French Dispatch (2021)
  • The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
  • Isle of Dogs (2018)
  • Bottle Rocket (1996)
  • Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
  • The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
  • Asteroid City (2023)
  • The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

“Every Cheesecake Factory looks like what would happen if a time-traveling Italian artisan drew ancient Egypt from memory.”

Vox ruminates on the phenomenon that is The Cheesecake Factory. Bits:

Plainly describing what a Cheesecake Factory looks like to someone who has never been to one may cause them to think you’re lying or trying to trick them. That’s what happens when you invite someone to imagine the unimaginable. Who would expect that you could walk from your local mall right into a place where Egyptian columns flank Greco-Roman accents, where mosaics buttress glass fixtures that look like the Eye of Sauron? With soaring ceilings, interior palm trees, and faux-wicker chairs (but, somehow, no water feature), it is a factory only of chaotic phantasmagoria.


In my informal survey of Factory fans, it wasn’t just the memories that stood out, but the absolutely stunning variety. “It’s the ultimate our-group-can’t-agree-on-a-place restaurant,” said one responder, “A mall food court with table service.”

Patricia Lockwood on DFW

This whole piece, about The Pale King and Infinite Jest, is great, but this paragraph in particular is fanTAStic:

Time​ will tell who is an inventor and who is a tech disruptor. There was ambient pressure, for a while, to say that Wallace created a new kind of fiction. I’m not sure that’s true – the new style is always the last gasp of an old teacher, and Infinite Jest in particular is like a house party to which he’s invited all of his professors. Thomas Pynchon is in the kitchen, opening a can of expired tuna with his teeth. William Gaddis is in the den, reading ticker-tape off a version of C-Span that watches the senators go to the bathroom. Don DeLillo is three houses down, having sex with his wife. I’m not going to begrudge him a wish that the world was full of these wonderful windy oddballs, who were all entrusted with the same task: to encompass, reflect, refract. But David, some of these guys had the competitive advantage of having been personally experimented on by the US military. You’re not going to catch them. Calm down.

The final three paragraphs are outstanding as well, but I won’t steal their thunder by copying them here. Just go read the whole thing.

(Lockwood noted here previously, on John Updike, back in 2020; in my long years of failing to blog books, I realize I never wrote here of her memoir Priestdaddy from 2017, which is excellent and worth your time as well.)

The Importance of Keeping Everything

So I’m doing some biz travel this week, for the first time in a LONG time, and I was concerned my usual briefcase, iconic though it is, wasn’t going to get it done this time. I need to carry a few more things than usual, and it can get cramped.

But then I remembered something in a closet. I have an original Land’s End “square rigger” briefcase that’s basically the same form factor, but a little bigger — big enough, for example, to hold the collateral I need to carry. I pulled it out, and realized just how old it was — it was a gift from my mother when I was in college, probably in 1990 or so. I remember having it in the dorm, and I moved out of the dorm in spring 1991, so earlier than that for certain.

It’s got a reasonable but not unseemly amount of wear — especially for something this old — but then I found a kind of time capsule in it. The bag, like many, has a luggage tag that take business cards.

The one showing was for a job I left in 2001, but the card design dates from probably 1998 or 1999.

Behind that card is my business card from a job I held from 1994 through early 1997.

And behind THAT card is a handwritten one with my address from Tuscaloosa on it. I left Tuscaloosa in 1994.

IMG 4385

Books of 2023, #10: Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Wow. No kidding, this is the best “big idea” SF I’ve read in a really really long time. It won some awards (back in 2015 when it was published), but not enough of them by my lights.

The basic setup here is that, in the nonspecific future, humanity realizes that the damage done to the Earth is cascading and irreversible, and so as a way of saving the species ambitious terraforming projects are undertaken at apparently-viable extrasolar planets. Obviously there are all very far away, and there’s no magic FTL drive on offer, so cryosleep is the answer.

This means a long gap between “let’s go out there and terraform” and “let’s go move there,” and of course politics gets in the way. The mission is started, but before anyone can actually establish a colony on one of these worlds, infighting and nation-scale wars more or less knock humanity back down the tech ladder quite a ways.

While life on earth drifts backward, though, the terraforming folks are doing their work. On one planet — Kern’s world — the idea was to seed it with monkeys infected with a beneficial nanovirus (the plot-driving handwavium here) that allows for generational learning and accelerated development. Cool idea!

But! As that monkey-seeding was being undertaken, the station is struck by a weapon from a rival Earth faction, killing all the monkeys — and releasing the nanovirus to infect another formerly earthbound species: Portia labiata.

Thousands of years later, we pick up the tale with two parallel threads.

The first is with successive generations of now-intelligent spiders as they evolve from effectively a tribal existence to the basics of a spacefaring (or at least satellite-capable) civilization. What does intelligence and technology look like for an uplifted spider?

The second POV is aboard a ship of pilgrims from the new, second round of Earth-based intelligent humans. They have independently developed space travel; previous Earth tech is mostly impenetrable to them (and far beyond their ability; they refer to all that as Old Empire stuff). As before, they’re seeking a new home, and have become aware of the terraforming project at work on Kern’s world.

The problem with “big idea” books is that sometimes that’s all there is. I find books like that dissatisfying. I was NOT dissatisfied here. Tchaikovsky does a great job of exploring the universe he’s created, and coming up with really fascinating turns that nevertheless still fold into the story in organic, elegant ways. Both spider and human confront and move through a variety of challenges as the book marches towards the obviously inevitable conclusion (ie, who gets to live on Kern’s world?).

One very cool aspect here is the way he uses points of view. For the humans, it’s kind of conventional: We have some set of “Key Crew” of the pilgrim ship who slip in and out of cryosleep over time, which allows one — a classicist (meaning he studies “Old Empire” stuff) named Holsten — to be our main eyes and ears for their tale. This consistent POV is a great means of continuity, and also allows the Tchaikovsky to emphasize how alien a “baseline” human has become vs. the generations eventually born on board the ship.

But, as I said, that’s the “normal” part. On Kern’s world, our point of view is nearly always from a spider named Portia, but each time we switch back to the spider narrative it’s a later spider with the same name. Again, the timeline of this book is at least 2,500 years, and we follow the spider civilization through a number of crucible moments and existential threats. The series of Portias have associates with recurring names as well. This may sound weird but it works REALLY well. I was super pleased with the conceit; it gave the story continuity without complicating things with a long list of names you’d read once and lose.

Tchaikovsky has written a really wonderful example of what Big Idea SF can do and be. It’s probably not going to surprise you that you find yourself on the spiders’ side in the inevitable conflict, which is a neat trick when the other side are the last remaining humans. What may surprise you is the degree you find yourself reflecting back on the themes built into the story, and interwoven between the two narratives; by the time you get to the end, you’ll realize the somewhat surprising conclusion was where the book was going all along. It’s a lovely moment.

Anyway, this book isn’t small — it’s 500+ pages long, but reads quickly.

Here’s the Wiki page. There are two sequels, and I’m sure I’ll get to them before the year is out.

Dept. of Wild Threads

This morning, over my coffee, I was reading some articles I’d put off. I’m a fan of SNL, and my friend Theres maintains a TV blog with her own recaps and discussions of various shows, including SNL.

I read through her post on the Travis Kelce episode from a few weeks ago (and she’s right; he was way funnier than you’d expect), but was kinda stunned to discover that the “posed dead body at the funeral” skit was taken from something that is currently being done in New Orleans. See here.

The “wild thread” part of this comes deep in the linked NYT article:

Ms. Burbank’s service was the second of its kind that Mr. Charbonnet had arranged, and the third in New Orleans in two years. But there have been others elsewhere, most notably in San Juan, P.R. Viewings there in recent years have included a paramedic displayed behind the wheel of his ambulance and, in 2011, a man dressed for his wake like Che Guevara, cigar in hand and seated Indian style.

“I never said it was the first,” said Mr. Charbonnet, who mentioned the 1984 funeral of Willie Stokes Jr., a Chicago gambler known as the Wimp, who sat through his funeral services behind the wheel of a coffin made to look like a Cadillac Seville.


I know that name. I know it because Stevie Ray Vaughan had success with a song about Willie the Wimp back in the 80s, and until this morning I was sure it was just a Blues Tall Tale. I mean, who has a “Cadillac coffin?”

Apparently, Willie did.

Pulling on that thread

The other day I was reminded, for some random reason, of a great scene from the 2007 film Charlie Wilson’s War wherein we get a really lovely confrontation between Philip Seymour Hoffman‘s character (and real life CIA officer) Gust Avrakotos and CIA administrator Henry Cravely (whom I’m not sure was real or not) played by John Slattery:

The piece of this that sticks in my memory is the moment, at the end of his rant that starts about a minute in, where Gust finishes his rant with “…and I am never, ever sick at sea.” Weird flex, right? But cool in the moment.

But in seeing this scene again, I remembered that I’d heard it before, from Alec Baldwin back in 1993, in the underrated neo-noir Malice. Here’s the scene; it’s worth going with the whole clip to get context (and a late performance by George C. Scott), but Baldwin’s bit starts at about 3:00. Here, he’s a high-powered and egotistical surgeon accused of malpractice due to arrogance:

There it is again: “I am never, ever sick at sea.”

That’s a weird line — I mean, it’s great, but it’s odd once and super odd TWICE in very similar contexts, which is enough to tickle my brain into a bit of research. Two things immediately came to light:

First, that the line is a reference to Gilbert & Sullivan’s 1878 H.M.S. Pinafore; and

Second, that the screenwriter on both films was one Aaron Sorkin.

Sorkin is a documented G&S nerd — so much so that he wove references thereto into the fabric of his best known work, the award-winning TV show The West Wing. In season two, he even literally ENDS an episode with the main cast singing along to a song from (yep) Pinafore.

Books of 2023, #8 & #9, in which we resample Harlen Coben

After a long but tiring vacation trip out west, I found myself unwilling to delve into the Serious book I’d brought, so at the Palm Springs airport — a curious place, to be sure; its interior is mostly outside — I bought a random airport thriller.

I chose it against my better judgement, because it was by Harlen Coben. I’ve read him before, and even written about it here; his first Myron Bolitar book was pretty much derivative crap that I’m sorry I spent time on.

Even so, his book was the least stupid looking option on the shelf, so that’s how I ended up reading Win. Spoiler: I couldn’t put it down, and read the whole thing in our flights back from California. The titular Win is Windsor Horne Lockwood III, a side character from Coben’s Bolitar series.

In my prior post, I noted how slavishly Coben apes the superior work of Robert Parker. His hero is a Spenser-type character, surrounded by a Spenser-type supporting cast. Instead of Susan, he has his own improbably attractive and brilliant girlfriend. And instead of the wonderful Hawk, Bolitar’s morally-flexible unstoppable badass partner is Windsor Lockwood — a visually slight, obviously patrician scion of a hugely wealthy family who has, of course, done Sekrit Agent work or whatever, and steps into the fray when ugly things need doing.

But, sue me, those sorts of characters are kind of my kryptonite, and a book with Win as the main character seemed like it might be fun. And it was! Like I said, I read it in essentially one sitting.

This gave me a thought: Had I misjudged Coben? Should I sample him again? I mean, in the interest of Science and all that, of course. So I went over to our local mystery bookshop and picked up another Coben: Fool Me Once, from 2016.


Fool Me Once is an absolute shitshow of a book. It was hard to finish. It’s stuffed with unearned turns of events and a grossly insulting ending that should have earned Coben a public shaming. Jesus, it’s terrible.

so yeah: skip Coben. Win might be fine, and I guess if he returns to Lockwood I might sample it — but from the library; no way I’m paying MONEY for this guy’s stuff again.

Books of 2023, #7: Empty the Pews

Empty the Pews is a collection of essays from people who have, for various reasons, left religion. Obviously some leave authoritarian cults, but others leave for more basic reasons: the church denies them identity and humanity. The church fails even cursory examination. The church, well, fails.

It’s pretty fine. I thought I’d have time to write more about it, but that impulse has been overcome by events and now probably won’t happen. But it’s a great effort, and one I’m glad I read.

Callin’ out in transit

R.E.M.’s Murmur was released forty years ago yesterday, on 12 April 1983.

Even though I wouldn’t find them for another couple years, it’s from this root that all the great music of my youth grows. These songs remain like cool, cool water to me. For the best part of 40 years, a copy of Murmur has never been far away. For more than 20, it’s literally ALWAYS been on my music player of choice.


The oddest tribute record I’ve ever seen

Somehow, back in 2021, I completely missed the release of The Metallica Blacklist, a multi-artist tribute to the elder statesmen’s 1991 album.

What’s weird about this set, though, is how they settled the “who gets to do which song” debate that I assume underpins every such tribute record. This time, the remit was “hey, fuck it, just do whichever song you want.” This led to (a) a huge collection; it has 53 tracks spread across 4 discs (I mean, if you buy it)… but all 53 of those tracks are versions of the twelve songs from The Black Album.

There are six versions of “Enter Sandman,” for example (including one from Ghost) and a full dozen of “Nothing Else Matters” — including contributions from Phoebe Bridgers, Dave Gahan, My Morning Jacket, Darius Rucker, Chris Stapleton, and a weird all-star recording from Miley Cyrus collaborating with Yo-Yo Ma, Elton John, Chad Smith, and Robert Trujillo. I mean: dang.

The upshot is that this is probably not something you’d sit and listen to at once — I mean, I like this kind of stuff, but even I don’t want to listen to twelve covers of the same song back to back. At the same time, the lack of scarcity brought on by a streaming-first world (again, 53 tracks, so a pre-streaming physical version would’ve doubtless been prohibitively expensive for most folks) means there’s space here for some wildly different, very experimental versions of these songs.

That’s cool.

Anyway. Carry on.