Category Archives: Music

Favorite Media



  • Adaptation
  • Amélie
  • Being John Malkovich
  • Groundhog Day
  • Moonstruck
  • My Fair Lady
  • Princess Bride
  • Tampopo


  • 12 Angry Men
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • All About My Mother
  • Amadeus
  • Baadasssss!
  • Beautiful Mind, A
  • Before Sunrise
  • Bernie
  • Black Book
  • Blue is the Warmest Color
  • Casablanca
  • Cinema Paradiso
  • City of God
  • Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover, The
  • Cyrano de Bergerac (Depardieu)
  • Dangerous Method, A
  • Departed, The
  • Do the Right Thing
  • Ed Wood
  • Elephant Man, The
  • Elmer Gantry
  • Experimenter
  • Fargo
  • First Reformed
  • Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The (Swedish)
  • Goodfellas
  • Inherit the Wind
  • Ikiru
  • Jackie Brown
  • Jules and Jim
  • Kinsey
  • Liberty Heights
  • Lighthouse, The
  • Like Water for Chocolate
  • Lives of Others, The
  • Lust/Caution
  • Master and Commander
  • Miller’s Crossing
  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • Mud
  • My Left Foot
  • Network
  • Nightcrawler
  • Pan’s Labyrinth
  • People vs Larry Flynt, The
  • Pianist, The
  • Punch Drunk Love
  • Romance & Cigarettes
  • Royal Tenenbaums, The
  • Scenes from a Marriage
  • Separation, A
  • Straight Story, The
  • Take This Waltz
  • Three Kings
  • Truly, Madly, Deeply
  • Two Family House
  • Vicky Cristina Barcelona
  • Witches of Eastwick
  • Zed and Two Naughts, A

Sci-Fi / Fantasy / Horror / Documentary / Other

  • Arrival
  • Contact
  • Dark City
  • District 9
  • Downsizing
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, A
  • Ex Machina
  • Fly, The (1986)
  • Her
  • Inception
  • Let the Right One In (original)
  • Lobster, The
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Marjoe
  • Prometheus
  • RoboCop (1987)
  • Solaris (2002)
  • Sorry to Bother You
  • Starship Troopers
  • Sweeney Todd
  • Synecdoche, NY
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • Total Recall
  • Truman Show, The
  • WALL- E

TV Shows

  • Altered Carbon
  • Big Mouth
  • Brooklyn 99
  • Black Mirror
  • Cosmos
  • Good Place, The
  • Knick, The
  • Office, The
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Star Trek: TNG
  • Wire, The

Lyrical Abstraction Scale

1 – Chant the ingredients of a box of pasta

2 – Marin Marais – “Tableau of a Bladder Operation” (straightforward catalogue of events)

3 – Bob Dylan – “The Hurricane” (straightforward editorial)

4 – 50 Cent (featuring Olivia) – “Candy Shop” (thin metaphor)

5 – Beatles – “Blackbird” (riddle-like text, but more straightforward than “Who by Fire”)

6 – Leonard Cohen – “Who by Fire” (riddle-like text)

7 – Don McLean – “American Pie” (difficult metaphors throughout)

8 – Counting Crows – “Omaha” [highly abstract, but with recognizable patterns and possible theme(s)]

9 – Beatles – “I am the Walrus” (intentionally abstract)

10 – Ella Fitzerald – “One-Note Samba” (scat vocal)

“Tableau of a Bladder Operation”

“Operation de la taille” was the the medical procedure for removing a bladder stone by cutting (taille = cutting in French). For a perineal lithotomy (removal of a bladder stone), the patient was tied into the position used in modern medicine for the gynecologic exam and still called the “lithotomy position.” Jacques Beaulieu (Frère Jacques) performed 4,500 perineal lithotomies including several in Paris and Versailles. He may have been the surgeon who did the operation to which Marais is referring. Because the operations were performed without anesthesia, speed was of the essence. William Cheselden, (1688-1752) considered the greatest lithotomist of all time, reportedly performed perineal lithotomies in 53 seconds. Given this, it’s possible that the operation in Marais suite is intended to depict the procedure in real time.

–Mai-Lan Broekman, MD, VdGSA News, Sept. 2006

View of the surgical apparatus
Trembling of the patient
Resolution to climb the operating table
Arrival at the top
Lowering of the operating table
Serious reflections
Arms and legs are tied
with silk ropes
The incision is made
The surgical forceps are inserted
The stone is pulled
The patient almost loses his voice
Flow of blood
The ropes are untied
The patient is transported onto his bed
The recovery
L’aspect de l’appareil.
Frémissement en le voyant.
Résolution pour y monter.
Parvenu jusqu’en haut.
Descente dudit appareil.
Réflexions sérieuses.
Entrelacements des soies
entre les bras et les jambes.
Ici se fait l’incision.
Introduction de la tenette.
Ici l’on tire la pierre.
Ici l’on perd quasi la voix.
Écoulement du sang.
Ici l’on ôte les soies.
Ici l’on vous transporte dans le lit.
Les relevailles.

Song for Kelly Clarkson

I just wrote a new song about Empowerment that I think would be great
for Kelly Clarkson.

I call it “Strongerer (What Doesn’t Weaken You)”:

What doesn’t weaken you makes you stronger
Or, maybe leaves you the same as you were before
Or, tires you out temporarily — like exercise — but ultimately makes you stronger (or just generally improves your cardiovascular system)

And then there are things that may not kill you, but will probably
make you weaker, like diabetes, anemia,

Malnutrition, AIDS, head injuries, broken pelvis, heavy blood loss, alcohol abuse, psychological trauma, smoking, watching pro sports, obstetric fistula,

Syphilis, Michael Bay, hepatitis, getting shot in the guts, bulimia, back injuries, periodontitis, osteoporosis, stroke, heart attack, poverty, chronic migraines….

Yael Naïm’s “Paris” with Hebrew, Romanized Hebrew, and English


ברחתי למקום אחר כל כך מהר הכי רחוק שרק הצלחתי ואני בפריז
Barachti lemakom acher kol kach maher hachi rachok sherak hitslachti veani bepariz
I ran to a different place so far / As far as I could / And I’m in Paris

האורות דולקים אפור ועננים אני שמחה וטוב לי אבל כל כך קר לי בפריז
Haorot dolkim afor veananim ani smecha vetov li aval kol kach kar li bepariz
The lights burn grey and clouds / I’m happy and feel good but I’m so cold / In Paris

מסתובבת סחור וסחור בסמטאות קסומות מכושפות בולעות אותי אני בפריז
Mistovevet schor uschor besimtaot ksumot mechushafot bol’ot oti ani bepariz
Turning round and round in enchanted spell bounded alleys swallow me / I’m in Paris

בניינים יפים אתם זקנים ואצילים כל כך אבל האם תחממו אותי בפריז
Binyanim yafim atem zkenim veatsilim kol kach aval haim techamemu oti bepariz
Beautiful buildings you’re old and so noble / But will you keep me warm / In Paris?

Loin de ma maison à Paris
Far from my home, in Paris

באתי עד לכאן להסתנוור קצת אשליה יפה שלי נסי לתפוס אותי אני בפריז
Bati ad lekan lehistanver ktsat ashlaya yafa sheli nasi litfos oti ani bepariz
I came here to get a bit blinded / Beautiful illusion of mine, try to catch me / I’m in Paris

שוב הולכת לאיבוד חלום עצוב אני כבר מפורסמת ושומעים עלי כאן בפריז
Shuv holechet leibud chalom atsuv ani kvar mefursemet veshom’im alay kan bepariz
Getting lost again / Sad dream. I’m famous already / And they know of me / Here in Paris

עכשיו הקול שלך לוחש לי מרחוק אני מתגעגע בואי תחזרי אלי כבר מפריז
Achshav hakol shelcha lochesh li merachok ani mitgaagea boi tachzeri elay kvar mipariz
Now your voice is whispering to me from afar / "I miss you, come back to me already from Paris.

אני אוהב אותך אני אוהב אותך אני אוהב אותך אני אוהב אותך ופריז
Ani ohev otach ani ohev otach ani ohev otach ani ohev otach vepariz
I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you and … And Paris"

Loin de mon amour à Paris
Far from my love, in Paris

אם כל כך טוב לי פה אז למה שוב אני בוכה ומשתגעת
Im kol kach tov li po az lama shuv ani bocha vemishtagaat
If it’s so good for me here then why am I crying again?

Oui je suis si heureuse alors pourquoi la nuit je pleure?
Yes, I am so happy, so why am I crying at night?

מתגעגעת בפריז
Mitgaagaat bepariz
Longing in Paris

שמש מאירה אותי מהחלון ועוד מעט ארגיש כבר את החום
Shemesh meira oti mehachalon veod meat argish kvar et hachom
Sun awakes me from the window and soon I’ll feel the warmth

המטוס נוחת ואין כבר עננים האושר מחלחל שוב לתוכי שלום פריז
Hamatos nochet veeyn kvar ananim haosher mechalchel shuv letochi shalom pariz
The plane is landing and there are no clouds / Happiness percolates into me again / Goodbye Paris

Pretty Maids All in a Row

Today, while watching the first episode of the second season of Californication, I noticed one of the characters refer to several lines of cocaine as “pretty little maids all in a row.”

Naturally, I thought of the Joe Walsh-penned classic “Pretty Maids All in a Row” and, naturally, I then went on a ‘Net hunt for cocaine slang with which I’m unfamiliar. (In fact, this includes all cocaine slang beyond the word “blow.”)

In my hunt, I discovered this:

Yes, it’s John Landis talking about a movie I didn’t know existed.

So, anyway, I kept looking around, but, if anybody else has called lines of cocaine “pretty maids in a row,” they sadly either tucked it into some secret place on the ‘Net or, worse, did not even bother to put it on the ‘Net.

Perhaps some wise person will find this post someday and explain the reference in Californication. Maybe there’s a commentary track out there where somebody talks about it. Maybe somebody remembers an interview with Joe Walsh where he touches on this important matter. Maybe it’s the first time cocaine and Joe Walsh have ever been connected. Except, of course, that the album Hotel California was itself based on the often drug-fueled excesses of certain Californians. (And, of course, Walsh has spoken publicly about his past drug addiction.)

“Noche de paz”

According to the Internet, a person named Federico Fliedner translated the German song “Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht” into a song called “Noche de paz, noche de amor” in 1871. The Danish Cartoonists are big fans of both paz (peace) and amor (love). This altered version remains in Spanish as a small tribute to Fliedner’s welcome improvement.

Noche de paz, noche de amor
Sin enojo, sin temor
Todo levanta a sus semejantes
Criminales e inocentes
Hacia la luz de razón
Hacia la luz de razón

Noche de paz, noche de amor
Sin enojo, sin temor
Enemigos olvidan ofensas
Buen amigos se abrazan
Todo extiende la mano
Todo extiende la mano

* * *

Night of peace, night of love
Without anger, without fear
Everyone lifts his neighbor
Criminals and innocents
Toward the light of reason
Toward the light of reason

Night of peace, night of love
Without anger, without fear
Enemies forget offences
Good friends embrace
Everyone extends a hand
Everyone extends a hand

Music by Smith/Helminski

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