Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


The home stretch

Filed under : Life in general
On May 28, 2012
At 10:00 pm
Comments : 5

As you can tell from the relative sparseness of posting lately, there’s not much going on these days about which I can write, so, alas, empty space. There are just a few weeks left of school and I am trying to get a handle on the end of my first year in a new job and career. I am very, very lucky to have chosen something which allows this breathing room, but on the other hand, the gig is so intense, I’d probably keel over without it.

Summer plans are going like this:
If I get a grant for which I applied, two weeks working on curriculum. If not, two weeks working on curriculum without a grant.

A week at Carnegie-Mellon to study robotics. Fun! I love robotics. I love learning. I have never been to Pittsburgh. Naturally, I’m taking the train.

After, I am going on to Cleveland to see the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, something I’ve always wanted to do. Because it’s getting tacked on to the professional development portion, all I pay is the fare from Pittsburgh to Cleveland and the hotel. Woot!

I am trying to fit in a trip to see a dear friend, and a place I have never been. I mean, I will go, I just have to find the best time around her and my schedules. It will be awesome. I do not think it will be a train trip, though.

The Great Real Estate Hunt. I think this will take up a lot of the summer, but it has been revised somewhat. As soon as it comes together a bit more, I’ll be able to talk about it without seeming insane. As insane.

Decluttering! I must declutter, whether I sell this place or not. After ten years in one apartment, you accumulate stuff without having reason to get rid of anything. Soon, you are stepping over piles of things to reach other things. Not good. This summer. This.summer.

Books! I have a lot of books I want to read. I need a hammock and a view, but maybe I’ll just sit in the air-conditioning and look at that spot on the wall that needs a picture but I never decided which one after the remodel.

Seeing people. Do you live here? Want to see a movie or have coffee? Or hey, do you want to visit? Come visit! You can tell me what to do with that spot on the wall.

And of course, The Open. David Nalbandian lost today at the French. I just hope he hangs on long enough to allow me to see him lose live in August.

So there you have it. I probably won’t have much in the next few weeks unless some other musician dies. By the way, Donna Summer was my favorite singer when I was in elementary school, the same age group I teach now. I didn’t understand any of her lyrics but I love love loved her music. My siblings wouldn’t let me play her records on their turntables because she was disco. As an adult, I got her greatest hits and play them whenever I feel like it! So there. Which is a good thing, because there is a freedom to her music, a “be happy and do what you like” vibe. We could all use some of that, am I right? RIP.

This was my favorite song by her back then.


Goodness gracious!

Filed under : Music
On May 9, 2012
At 12:45 am
Comments : 7

And one more Beastie related thing. If you are like me and are a nut, A NUT, for music copyright cases (I don’t know why, I have been obsessed with this since I was literally a child looking things up in the library; I have written about this before), there are few more interesting cases than Newton v. Diamond. This is the case regarding the sample you hear right at the beginning of Pass the Mic and underlying the rest of the song, which is by an obscure (to me, anyway) jazz flutist named James Newton. It’s a really fascinating case both from a legal and a human standpoint. There’s no question that the snippet of Choir, Newton’s song, is heard within Pass the Mic because the sample was cleared. The band licensed the rights to the actual performance, though, and not the composition which is a separate thing. So, one, the song someone wrote as a series of notes on paper that anyone can read and play, and two, someone’s recorded performance of it. They felt the notes in question were not unique enough to be a copyrighted work and never bothered to license it. The court agreed and Newton lost.

But more than legal issues, there is always the human drama of someone who has written something that you’ve never heard of, who probably has a day job (Newton is also a professor of music), who writes something that becomes part of a huge, successful enterprise larger than himself and doesn’t get to share the spoils. Often, the most famous thing about this person is their case against the rock star (see my post about UB40 and Deborah Banks. Deborah who?). Newton, from what I’ve read, was outraged by this, especially after the Beastie Boys’ legal team then went after him for their costs in the case.

In a case like this, whenever I hear the song after I read about the lawsuit, I am haunted by the sample forever. And this sample is somewhat haunting as it is. I think this is why it’s my favorite Beastie Boys song. Or maybe it’s the way they say the title of this post right after.

Actually, it could be a tie with Paul Revere, which I also like for personal reasons. Here are my reasons. Once, in the first year of working at my last label, the general manager of the label, who was (and is) a powerful woman in the music business, happened to walk by my office while it was on the radio. In a perfect moment, she popped in and rapped the line that came on just at that second, “I’m Mike D and I get respect!” It was kind of awesome and to this day, I always hear that line in her voice.

Or maybe it’s Hey Ladies because it’s funky.

If you are the same kind of nut as I am, here are some links:

This is the greatest repository of music copyright cases. Do not start with it if you have somewhere to go that day.

This is the entry on Newton v. Diamond.

Here is a snippet from Pass the Mic and one from Choir to compare. Pass the Mic has some other interesting samples, as well, but none with court cases.

Here is the greatest book you will ever read on a music copyright case and its human drama: a case that dragged on for years, bankrupted a record label, and involved some of the biggest names in the music industry. The story is told entirely in documents, both legal and otherwise.

Title comes from:

Edited May 9 to add:
And it goes on. About 14 hours after I wrote this there was this news:
Beastie Boys Sued Over Decades-Old Sampling One Day Before MCA’s Death

Also, see this fascinating article from Slate on the topic:
Was Paul’s Boutique Illegal? How dumb court decisions and bad laws have made it all but impossible for musicians to sample the way the Beastie Boys used to.


Yo, I house you!

Filed under : Food,Music,New York City
On May 6, 2012
At 10:00 pm
Comments :Comments Off on Yo, I house you!

Apparently, I only post on Sundays now. Who knew it would come to this?*

*I probably did.

Here are some thrilling, scintillating updates. I’m talking to you, people having trouble falling asleep!

1. How the same half lives: I have been going to open houses and some of the apartments have been empty and some not. The ones that are not all share a similar theme to my current apartment, that is, they are stuffed to the gills. With some of them, you can’t open the closet door without the stateroom scene happening to you. The one I saw this afternoon took the cake, though. This woman had inserted into every available space a piece of furniture meant to hold things. Sometimes, there were shelving units affixed to the smallest empty square of wall space. The brokers always apologized for this in a way that made you feel they hated their clients. “Of course I would have gotten rid of these things…” they say helplessly, voices full of disdain. I am considering leaving a recording device somewhere in my clutter when this inevitably happens to me.

On the other hand, it has really inspired me to declutter somewhat.

2. I made these fabulous things recently.

Lemon-ramp butter – I have been consuming loaves of bread so that I can have something upon which to slather this. Are ramps everywhere? If not, maybe leeks?

Tres leches cake – really improbable as I am not a cookie dunker. I do not like liquid in my baked goods and am not fond of whipped cream. But this is awesome! I call it “Three Lactaid Cake.” It’ll be perfect for Shavuot.

3. School is almost over! The end is in sight. I have been planning my break including some travel, some learning, and probably a lot of house-hunting and/or selling.

4. I was never a big Beastie Boys fan; I think they reminded me of all the immature prankster Jewish guys I knew in my real life. But they outgrew that, mostly. And I forgot until this weekend how many songs of theirs I knew and liked. This song was a big part of my early teen years. They played it late night on my station, WLIR, I guess because of the profanity. When Beastie Boys later came out with License to Ill, I remember thinking, “this cannot be the same people as that Carvel song, can it?” RIP, MCA.

Title comes from Beastie Boys – Cooky Puss: