Monday, February 28, 2011

AltaVista, uh, Dogpile, uh, Ask Jeeves, uh...

I was reading on Yahoo about baby names and what they say about a culture – whatever to that. However, something that jumped out at me as interesting is the lists of states that have the most unique baby’s names (quantified as the lowest percentage of babies born with names in the top 10 for that year).

Read for yourself, if you like:

[ babiesinfrontierstateshavemoreunusualnames] – who knows if this link will work in 5 minutes…[Not really a link, you'll have to take out the space after livescience/]

Let’s take a look at what the top names were for 2009, from

Boys: #1 Jacob, Ethan, Michael, Alexander, William, Joshua, Daniel, Jayden, Noah, #10 Anthony

Girls: #1 Isabella, Emma, Olivia, Sophia, Ava, Emily, Madison, Abigail, Chloe, #10 Mia

A quick “It’s Not Ice Cream Anymore” analysis says that biblical names are popular for Boys (at least 6 of 10 from the bible); however, girls names are influenced by pop culture (as I interpret Isabella #1 as being influenced by Twilight’s main character, Isabella Swan. There are a few popular actresses with the name Emma: Emma Watson, Emma Stone, Emma Roberts. Same for Olivia: Olivia Wilde, Olivia Munn.). I think you get the picture

So, back to the lecture at hand, the states with the most unique baby names:

Boys: #1 Hawaii, Wyoming, Louisiana, Idaho, Oklahoma, Montana, Colorado, Nebraska, Washington, #10 Oregon

Girls: #1 Hawaii, New Mexico, Mississippi, Nevada, Georgia, Wyoming, Arizona, Alaska, Maryland, #10 South Carolina

HI, WY appear on lists for both names

In contrast, these are the states with the least unique baby names, or highest percentage of top 10 names:

Boys: #1 New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, West Virginia, Maine, New York, Tennessee, #10 Kentucky

Girls: #1 Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, West Virginia, North Dakota, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Kentucky, #10 Iowa

NH, RI, WV, MA, CT, KY appear on lists for both names.

I get that New Englanders are thought of as “stuffy” and “no fun” and therefore only give their kids names that other kids have, but it was a surprise to see West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Dakota and Iowa on the chez trendy list.

The biggest surprise to me was to see Louisiana on the list of uniquely named people. The article was pointing out that people that name their kids something unique is popular in the frontier states (something that mostly holds true for boy names, but not for girl names – 4 of the 10 states for unique girl names are in the south (i.e. not on the frontier).

LA’s place on this list of frontier states might have to do with the following (my opinion):

1. Southern LA’s, not including the City of New Orleans, isolated and cultural differences from the rest of the South and US

2. New Orleans’ population is somewhat known for names being passed down (lots of girls named Anne or Marie/a, lots of boys named Jr, III, IV, etc.) as well as a fair amount of ethnic names.

3. The unique heritage of Louisiana (which also ties directly in with the prevalence of ethnic names)

I welcome alternative ideas, or thoughts about the post in general.

Generally the post title was inspired by the article being found originally on Yahoo!.  All of these (with the exception of "uh") are the names of search engines I used to use.  I was an AltaVista man for the longest time and I generally eschewed Yahoo!...until there were things I couldn't find on AltaVista, that I could find with Yahoo!.  It's pretty much the same story of how I started using Google, and why it's my (and 91% of online users) top search engine.  There's also another slightly more clandestine joke here, and it's that in reference to "back to the lecture at hand" - a lyric from a Dr. Dre song on the 1992 album The Chronic...and the cadence of the post title is sort of in reference to another track on that same album, "The $20 Sack Pyramid" (e.g. EnVogue...uh, uh...Halle Berry...uh, uh...etc).

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Some Kind of Monster


I was reflecting on the Metallica album “Load” a few days ago and I had some thoughts I’d like to share.

What got me thinking about it is Betty and I pulled “Guitar Hero: Metallica” out of the mothballs, where it’s been for at least 6 months, and started playing. Her favorite Metallica song is “Nothing Else Matters”, which we played at least once. I don’t know which Metallica song is my favorite (there are so many good ones), and I think it has changed over the years, but I was enjoying playing songs from the “Load” album, particularly King Nothing.

That’s what caused me to reflect on the “Load” album, which led me to think about a quote I read somewhere on the uh, internets (have no idea where), some time ago where someone was talking about what a shame it was that James Hetfield’s best vocal years were wasted on the “Load/ReLoad” era.

Here is a little of my history with Metallica. I remember watching Mtv in the early 1990s and seeing the videos for The Unforgiven and Enter Sandman, and possibly others and liking them, but I wasn’t really a Metallica fan. And although not a fan, I do remember the circumstances under which I bought the Black album (eponymously titled “Metallica”) in 1996, over 5 years after its release in 1991. I bought it because some girl liked it…but that’s a long story.

Anywhain, I listened to that album over and over and began to really like the album. So much so, that later in 1996 when Metallica released “Load” I acquired a tape of it from a friend who had both the tape and the CD. I probably preferred the tape because I had a tape player in both the house and car (factory tape player in the 1983 Oldsmobile Cutlass).

So I think the entire time I owned the tape I only listened to Until it Sleeps because that was the hit single off of this album, and that’s just the kind of Metallica “fan” I was then.

However, at some point later I became a bigger Metallica fan…because by the time the movie Old School came out in 2003 I already had the 1986 album “Master of Puppets”. But real fan-dom really came after I went to my first Metallica concert in November 2004. Before the concert I picked up (i.e. was given a burned copy by a friend) Metallica’s latest CD, “St. Anger” – the new album associated with the 2004 Madly in Anger with the World Tour. After the concert in November I got the 1983 album, “Kill ‘em All” – Metallica’s first, for Christmas.

So by this time I had 4 Metallica albums Kill ‘em All, Master of Puppets, Metallica and St. Anger. Over the next 4 years, I would also acquire 1984’s “Ride the Lightning”, 1988’s “…And Justice for All”, “Load”, 1997’s “ReLoad” and 1999’s “S&M”. In 2008 if you bought a ticket for Metallica’s newly launched World Magnetic Tour, which I did, you received a free copy of their new CD, “Death Magnetic.”

I seriously doped up on Metallica music leading up to the 2008 show. It was my goal to know any song that they played at the 2008 concert. I mostly succeeded, with the exception that I didn’t recognize the intro to Damage, Inc from the “Master of Puppets” album. I also didn’t recognize Last Caress (which I had not heard before), a cover of The Misfits’ song. Other than that, I was satisfied with how all that went.

But it was in that doping for the show, that I rediscovered (or probably more accurately “discovered”) 1996’s “Load” album. I found out that there are 7 out of 14 tracks that I really liked. Ain’t my Bitch, 2 x 4, The House that Jack Built, Until it Sleeps, King Nothing, Mama Said, and Ronnie are all quality tracks from this album – and the others I haven’t really listened to recently enough to really say if they’re good, average or turkeys.

Here’s what else I have to say about the “Load” album: it was revolutionary. I didn’t realize it at the time, but consider that when Metallica released this album it came along with an image change. And that idea is well and good, except when you consider that the band was gaining in popularity, each new album was outselling the previous one, and their latest effort before “Load”, “Metallica (the Black album)” is the 25th top selling album of all time. Higher than Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” and The Beatles “Abbey Road”. To change your image at a time when you are super popular is quite a bold and risky move. I mean, now members of Metallica could afford to send their kids to private schools, and could fund their own 401k’s as well as some IRA’s (traditional and Roth), and generally live on easy street. And it would be very tempting to continue capitalizing on that success. But Metallica didn’t.

They cut their hair, and changed their sound. In text it doesn’t seem revolutionary, but it was. The most influential band in the genre changed their ways and who was to say whether or not they would continue to be a success.

And I think in light of the Black album, “Load” is considered a failure. “Load” sold fewer copies than any other Metallica album with the exception of 1983’s “Kill ‘em All” (all 4 successive albums would sell fewer than “Load”). But I think that it’s just not accurate to consider this album a failure. It has many good songs on it. Classic albums can be made with 2-3 hits on it – “Load” had 2 #1 tracks and 2 other top 10 tracks. I think at this point some accused Metallica of “selling out” but I think it was brazen to make such a change, and I think it was a success. No album since has been as good as “Load”, and although you could say that “Load” was the beginning of the end of mega-albums for Metallica, it doesn’t take away from “Load’s” 5 million copies sold, and several hit songs.

Although I can’t quantify my favorite Metallica song, here are my favorites by album in chronological order:

Kill ‘em AllJump in the Fire (Anesthesia is #2)

Ride the LightiningFade to Black (For Whom the Bell Tolls is #2)

Master of PuppetsMaster of Puppets (Orion is #2)

…and Justice for All - …and Justice for All (Harvester of Sorrow is #2)

MetallicaThe God that Failed (Enter Sandman is #2)

Load King Nothing (The House that Jack Built is probably #2, although it could be 2 x 4)

ReLoadThe Memory Remains (Fuel is #2)

St. AngerFrantic (St. Anger is #2)

Death MagneticAll Nightmare Long (Suicide & Redemption is #2)

And as you might have noticed I have ranked #2 three instrumental songs. For me music, or metal isn’t all about lyrics. Songs that rock can do so independent of lyrics. As far as their instrumentals go, I think Orion is the best, then Suicide & Redemption – but the reason I like S&R is because unlike Orion, which plays like a song without lyrics, I can’t imagine S&R with lyrics. It’s so complex…it’s like several songs cohesively brought together. There are several “battles” of what I perceive to be suicidal tones and themes then overtaken by redemptive melodies in the song…it’s just a beautiful song.

And I personally rank the albums:

1. Metallica – top seller, every track is good and listenable. It’s #25 all-time for a reason. This album opened the band up to a lot of fans (like myself) that otherwise wouldn’t have been drawn in. There are many bands out there like “Munchausen by Proxy” but without albums like this they stay in obscurity.

2. Master of Puppets – second only to Metallica. I’d like to make it first, but Metallica is just too good. But it is a close second (if that means anything)

3. Ride the Lightning (and closer to #2 than its #3 ranking indicates) – I wanted to make this album #2, but MoP has no bad tracks. RtL has lots of great tracks, but some are only good. MoP is great front to back.

4. Load – read above if you’re confused about how and why I feel about this album.

5. Kill ‘em All – this album could be higher, but I really don’t like the early vocals. If they re-recorded this album it might be 1 spot higher

6. Death Magnetic – a return to “old” Metallica ways. I like the long instrumental intros and long music breaks. A great opening track – it really lets you know in a hurry what you’ve gotten yourself into. They also opened the 2008 NOLA concert with the opening track from the album, a great move.

7. …And Justice for All – and I’m sure this will draw ire from Metallica fans everywhere but there’s nothing on this album that jumps out at me and says “love me”. I know this album has “One” and “Harvester of Sorrow”, but those just aren’t my favorite tracks. For instance I like 2 x 4 or The House that Jack Built from the “Load” album better than any track on this album. I will admit, though, perhaps this album is somewhat lost on me because I wasn’t a Metallica fan when it came out. Although RtL is similar, but in my opinion is ranked higher because it has better songs (to me).

8. ReLoad – which is not to say that it’s bad, it’s just not as good as any of the rest. I think this one might get a little more credit than St. Anger because it was originally planned as a double album with the tracks from “Load”. They should have just waiting until 1997 and released “Load/ReLoad” as a double album as originally planned. That theoretic double album would be #5-#6 on my list if they had.

9. St. Anger –Even Metallica would admit this, I’m sure. Because when they went on tour for this album, when they played NOLA, they only played the title track from this album. When they toured for Death Magnetic they played like 5 tracks. I agree with Fuel52 in his 2006 analysis (from a discussion we had) that this album had to be made in a cathartic kind of a way. It doesn’t matter that it finds itself near the bottom of the list, it was something they needed to make for themselves…and I’m with that.  And although this was somewhat of an attempt to go back to the "old" Metallica ways, the incorporated changes, made this album seem like a 3rd Metallica that was different from the old  "Creeping Death" Metallica but also different from the new "I Disappear" Metallica.

The post title is a little tongue-in-cheek as it is both a song from "St. Anger" and a reference to how long this post is.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Just had to tell someone


 And since no one reads this, I figure this is just as good a place as any.

I was on the phone with a good friend and I was asking him if he knew about the website "Linkedin".  I have 21 connections on Linkedin to people from work or consultants I deal with on a semi regular basis.  It's sort of like facebook only it's just for business.  Seems like facebook could completely quash this company by starting "facebook for business". 

I guess that's neither here nor there.

Anyway I asked this friend if he had ever heard of Linkedin and he said, "yeah, it's like facebook for dildos".  I can't stop laughing about that.  So funny...

I wouldn't post this to facebook since I'm friends with such a diverse crowd (some of whom might be offended by such statements), so here it will remain.  Funny and unlaughed at (except for by me).

This same friend also suggested to me once upon a time that the batter they use to fry pickles in could be marketed as "Dill Dough".  I also thought that was a winner.  It's also what inspired the pictures.