Saturday, September 25, 2010


VH1, the channel that used to play music videos, recently released their list of "100 Greatest Artists of All Time," as voted on by today's so-called artists. The list is a joke, of course, as by "all time" they mean "the rock era," as no one bothered to mention Frank Sinatra, George Gershwin, or J.S. Bach. Even taking the list as a rock-era list, however, there are some issues. 

VH1's top 10 "greatest artists" were as follows:
1. The Beatles
2. Michael Jackson
3. Bob Dylan
4. Led Zeppelin
5. Rolling Stones
6. Jimi Hendrix
7. Prince
8. Elvis Presley
9. James Brown
10. Stevie Wonder

It's hard to argue against the Beatles heading the list, of course, but there's a lot wrong otherwise. I mean, there' no way Michael Jackson ranks over Dylan or Elvis, and there's really no justification for Prince to be in the top ten at all. It's really indefensible. 

The problem, as I see it, is defining "best." It's just too subjective. My "best" isn't going to be the same as yours. Heck, my own definition of "best" will probably differ from day to day, depending on how I'm feeling about things.

So, given that most of the artists interviewed for the TV show talked about how big an influence a given artist was on them, personally, I'd like to change the criteria and suggest a list I'll call the "Top Ten Most Influential Artists of the Rock Era." Here's who I'd choose:

1. The Beatles
2. Bob Dylan
3. Elvis Presley
4. Chuck Berry
5. Berry Gordy
6. Phil Spector
7.Aretha Franklin
8. Madonna
9. Joni Mitchell
10. Rolling Stones

Note that these aren't necessarily my ten favorite artists, or even the ten I'd call the "best," however that's defined. Instead, these are the ten who I think most influenced the music of the era.

As to specifics, I'd agree that it's debatable whether Dylan was really more influential than Elvis, but that's the way I see it; Mr. Zimmerman really influenced the way songwriters wrote. As to putting Joni Mitchell on the list, while she's obviously not as talented as Dylan and the Beatles, she influenced and inspired several generations of female singer-songwriters. (Without Joni, no Jewell -- which I'll forever hold against her). Same thing for putting Aretha on the list; she inspired the creation of the female vocal diva, which rules to this day. (Without Aretha, no Celene Dion -- again, I hold this against the Queen of Soul.) And the same for Madonna -- I'm not a fan, but it's obvious that Lady Gaga and her ilk are.

I put Phil Spector and Berry Gordy on the list, even though they're not performers, because as producers they strongly influenced the sound of the music of the 60s and beyond. Gordy, of course, helped create the Motown Sound, which led to the Philly Sound, which led to just about all soul and R&B music of the past 50 years. Spector's Wall of Sound influenced everybody from Brian Wilson to Bruce Springsteen to U2, so he gets on the list easy.

The others are fairly self explanatory. The Stones, while not my personal favorites, influenced generations of bad boy rock and rollers, as well as the punk and grunge movements. Chuck Berry pretty much invented rock and roll and defined R&R guitar, so there's no way he's not on there. Dylan, as noted, changed the way songs were written, so he's a given. Then there's the Beatles, who head up any list no matter how it's defined. There was pop music before the Beatles and pop music after the Beatles, and that's just he way it is.

But that's just my opinion; reasonable minds may disagree.

Thursday, September 09, 2010


Everybody hates taxes. Their taxes, anyway. But we all love what our taxes buy — public schools, police and fire protection, snow removal, etc. We don’t want any of these things taken away, but we also don’t want our taxes raised. It’s a glaring inconsistency. 

Frankly, I like having the snow plows clear my street in January. I like having music classes in our high school. I like having police and fire protection. I’m willing to pay for these things. Now, if those costs go up (and they have and will), then we have to pay more for them — which means increasing taxes, one way or another.

That said, I’m never happy for my own taxes to increase, but as long as everybody’s paying their fair share, I can live with it. What I can’t live with are people much wealthier than I who don’t pay their fair share. Hell yeah, raise the taxes on the wealthy — or at least remove the unwarranted tax cuts that the Bushies gave them during the last administration. 

People who earn two, three, ten, twenty times more than I do can afford to pay a little more in taxes. Try raising those taxes first before you raise taxes on the rest of us. Then, if we still need increased taxes to pay for the necessities that we like and need, then by all means do so. That’s part of our public duty — paying for the services we use.

But that's just my opinion; reasonable minds may disagree.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Kindle Update

As if I didn't dislike the Kindle enough as-is, my brand-new Kindle broke just 24 hours into use. (The screen went all wonky.) So I not only don't like how it works, it simply doesn't work. What kind of piece of crap is that? (Or is it simply more proof that Amazon should stick to selling other people's stuff, instead of trying to make their own; they're really kind of sucky as a tech hardware company.)

But that's just my opinion; reasonable minds may disagree.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Just got a Kindle yesterday, for a project I'm doing. I am not impressed. 

This thing has horrible readability in low light (why not add a backlight?), annoying reverse blink whenever you change pages, and relies too much  on the small and virtually unreadable keys on the keypad. Along the same lines, the interface to the Amazon Kindle store is in extremely small, unreadable, and unresizeable text. (As you can probably tell, I'm big on the unreadability thing, especially as my eyes age -- small type doesn't work well in my apparently dark and dreary world.) 

I'm not tethered to any particular container; I care more about the content than how it's delivered. But the Kindle makes reading somewhat less enjoyable, at least to me. Bah.

But that's just my opinion; reasonable minds (or people with better eyesight) may disagree.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Here's a great  example of how NOT to do great customer service. 

Regarding the iPhone 4's reception problems, Steve Jobs says (1) It's a faulty design, but (2) Everybody else does it, too, and (3) Not too many customers complained, so (4) We'll give you a cheesy looking "bumper" as a quick and dirty patch, but (5) If you don't like it, we don't want to sell you one, anyway, so there. 

What an arrogant S.O.B.! Combine this with the signal strength bars thing (they've been lying to us since day one -- you're okay with that, aren't you?) and the rash of iTunes Stores hacks (Got a problem? Contact your credit card company, not us), can one imagine a consumer company with a WORSE attitude towards the customer? Hey, we're Apple, love it or leave it, chump. We don't have to provide any customer service -- you'll buy our stuff just because it looks cool.

Honestly, would any other company get away with this crap? I'm having big problems justifying upgrading my current iPhone. Why should anyone buy any product from this arrogant, self-centered bunch of assholes?

But that's just my opinion; reasonable minds may disagree.