Did you know that? I didn’t until recently. “Snake oil” has become a byword for useless and even harmful products that are marketed on the basis of false claims. When you call something “snake oil,” you’re saying it doesn’t live up to its hype. There is a lot of snake oil in modern life: spiritual snake oil, political snake oil, organizational and corporate snake oil, even conspiracy theory snake oil. Bullshit abounds under many brand names.
Play it again, Sam. And again. And again. And again.
Recently I had the chance to borrow a friend’s vacation home on an island. It was a great break, very refreshing … up until the drive home. It was a long one, most of a day. I left around 4 am and kept going until midnight.
I am not normally one to listen to music in the car, but around 6 pm I needed something upbeat just to ensure that drowsiness didn’t set it. The car I was using happened to have satellite radio, so I began to explore the range of channels. Most of them weren’t my cup of tea, but I did find a sequence of stations playing pop music by decade: ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, and one called Pop2K for the years after that. The last four stations were the ones that I focused on, since I was listening to the radio still in those decades, and it was kind of fun to take a drive down Memory Lane.
I would switch from ‘70s to ‘80s to ‘90s to ‘00s music continually until I found an oldie that I enjoyed. Often there was nothing for several minutes that I recognized, so I sat and studied the differences between the decades—acoustic guitar gave way to electric guitar gave way to synthesizers, and then acoustic guitar came back around with the new millennium.
Have you been taking your state-approved gullibility pills? Let’s take a test to see how effective your dosage is …
The High Priest of Country Music
This was the sobriquet of a performer who had fifty-five #1 singles in his career, of whom Wikipedia says that he:
… was an American country music singer. He also had success in the rock and roll, rock, R&B, and pop genres. … Although never a member of the Grand Ole Opry, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
Peter Schickele once quipped that the lute is a beautiful instrument, but that you won’t hear it if there is another instrument in the room—even if the other instrument isn’t actually being played! One seldom hears lute music on classical music programs, probably for this very reason: the delicate sound of the lute is simply not “good radio,” in the same way that a chess match would not be “good TV.”
In his marvelous monograph, Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, Jerry Mander develops many fascinating points, one of which is: it is in the very nature of the medium to exclude certain kinds of experiences from public attention. Television takes a three-dimensional reality and flattens it into the two dimensions of a screen. Subtleties are easily lost. The senses of touch, smell, and taste are eliminated. Only that which is outsized and overly-dramatic makes for interesting programming: tight shots of faces, fast-paced action, conflict, and exaggerated sexuality. Events full of nuance that might be compelling when witnessed in person lose their luster when televised. A moonrise in the desert, a child and a dog napping together, the waves at the beach—there is no cable channel for these things, unless they were to get juiced up with a soundtrack or frequent jumps to new angles. TV is best for conveying scenes of strife and passionate sex, sports or violence. Continue reading “Otohelminthiasis—Part 2: Not Quite My Tempo …”→
I’ve been MIA here at POM over the last couple of months due to an unusually heavy schedule of business travel. A couple of Saturdays back, on the final day of my last trip, I woke up feeling great. I had slept well (rare for me in a hotel), the constant rain of the previous few days had let up and the sky was bright blue. Above all, once I completed my morning commitment, I would be on my way home. I was walking on sunshine …
I ran down to the car to fetch my dress shoes. It was a short walk from my room, down the elevator, through the lobby, and over to my car in the parking lot. By the time I got to my car, I was in a blue funk. “Dear Lord!” I thought, “What just happened?”
Mark’s recent post, Fake events of my lifetime, got me thinking: what news stories of the past left me feeling … unconvinced? A certain incident immediately popped into mind. Either I am an insensitive lout who is pitilessly digging up a family’s grief, or I have put my finger on an old school hoax—one from the days before cellphone videos and crisis actors. You help decide …