A boring dream

Last night I had a dream. In my dream, I was eating a sandwich. It was some kind of turkey loaf. While I ate, our dog was sitting besides me looking at me the whole time. Even though I was hungry, I decided to give most of the sandwich to the dog.

I woke up for a minute, thought to myself “Giving the food to the dog… I’m a nice guy”, and went back to bed.

Dashboard Confessional

Another example of terrible user interface. The automobile dashboard. Here is the what it looks like in my car (a 95 Ford Probe):

Probe Dash

It’s pretty clear how to read it, right? Speedometer/odometer on the left, tachometer on the right.

Now here’s the dashboard of our other car (’01 Passat):
pass

Each and every time I drive this car, I get mad at the manufacturers. How hard is it to screw up a dashboard?

1) Quick how fast are you going? I don’t know, because I always look at the tachometer first. Why would they put the tach on the left? The most important thing goes on the left. It’s more important to know how fast you are going than how fast the engine is going. This isn’t a matter of opinion. Just about every country on earth reads from left to right. So the important facts go on the left.

2) Why on earth would they express the tach in hundreds of rpms, rather than the standard thousands? The only thing that does is make it so that the tach is expressed in the exact same units as the speed. It couldn’t be worse if it they had set out to intentionally confuse the driver.

Here is the dash of the rental car I happened to be driving after my accident:

Now that’s an interface! The most importan information is up front and center, and the circle is even accented to draw the eye there even more strongly. A terrifically clear font. There is zero chance of confusing one readout with another.

The Passat has another feature, that many other cars seem to share nowadays. Below is a picture of the window controls. Which way do you press a button to bring the window down?

Who the heck knows. There is no natural mapping. This is because they chose to put all the buttons on the horizontal plane of the door, rather than on the vertical door itself. And it’s not as if the icon helps matters. Can you see how that is a picture of a window? You might as well print a Magic Eye image there for all the good it does.

Speaking of icons, how about the lock buttons above the window controls? The lock picture is a picture of a key, and the unlock button is a picture of a car with a door open. At least that’s what I think, it could equally well be interpreted as a word balloon that says “Unlock here Stupid American!” in heiroglyphics.

Aerosmith Top 10

As I suggested, getting my Aerosmith Top 10 would be an interesting exercise. It was. I ended up with 20 contenders, so I just arranged them in tiers. As a special bonus, I have links to .mp3s of all these.

Update: Some search engine decided it was cool to have people coming here to get their illegal .mp3s. The blog went down three times for excessive bandwidth use. Thanks. So I’ve removed most, or all, of the links.
Update 2: The jerks crashed me again, so now I’m taking off all links. Sad.

The first album I ever got was Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits. In 6th grade, this and The Beatles ‘Red Album” were all that was being played as we all learned about Rock and Roll during recess (back in those days you could make it to age 11 without being exposed to rock music every day). When my birthday rolled around, I asked for the Asmith of course. (Asmith and Aerofuckingsmith are both preferred versions of the band name, I knew that at 11). After I got it, my older brothers tooks me aside and explained the facts of life to me. Parents could get me bikes, clothes, stuff like that. When you wanted some rock, talk to the brothers. At any rate, I played that greatest hits album thousands of times over the next couple years. To this day, I still think of Back in the Saddle as “first song, side 2”.

The next phase was seeing them live. It was my second concert. (My first one, Bob Dylan w/ Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers was very good but I had no idea who Bob Dylan was at the time.) It was 1986 in the stadium where the Patriots played. It was a hell of a show. There were 3 opening bands, one of them being Yngvie Malmsteem. The poor guy. He’d be playing his heart out, using all his energy to win the crowd over, then the screen would show Joe wiping down his guitar and everyone would go nuts. I also saw my first mob action, as tens of thousands of fans rushed through the cops to the open area on the field. But I digress. The point is that Aerosmith live is amazing. They were great then, and they still are. They played a song I had never heard called Seasons of Wither. I was blown away. The next day I bought Get Your Wings, and I was hooked all over again. I’ve seen them around 10 times, which in my book is respectable dedication while still having a life.

No discussion of Aerosmith is complete without a mention of Funk Soul Cousin (as I now dub him), he is truly hardcore. He has Aerosmith tatoos. He’s seen them 50+ times. He has all their signatures multiple times, and I think at various times they have all signed on his actual body. I have seen him on MTV in a sleeveless shirt shivering in the freezing snow for hours on Storrow Drive waiting for the boys to show up for the release party. Now that’s dedication. (By the way, his favorite Asmith song is Uncle Salty.)

Anyhow, let’s get on to the meat of this post, the top 20. Each group is in no particular order.

11-20:
Walk this Way (would have been higher years ago, I’ve grown sick of it)
You See me Crying
Jaded
Taste of India
Lighting Strikes (That’s right, with Jimmy Freakin’ Crespo)
Hoodoo/Voodoo Medicine Man
What it Takes – This deserves a special mention for the guitar solo, one of favorites ever. The reverse bends on that sing so purely… this is around the era where Joe Perry really started improving his guitar playing. He’s become amazing at bending to the exact right note at the exact right speed, he’s become an expert slide guitar player, he’s learned how to work outside scales — his toolbox gets bigger every year. He’s gone from being a great sloppy bluesrock guitarist to being a great guitarist.
Toys in the Attic
Lord of the Thighs – A great song title. On the same album as Pandora’s Box. They don’t name ’em like that anymore, no they don’t.
Last Child

6-10:
Dream On (orchestral remake)- The original was a great song. It didn’t age that well for me, so I’m including the orchestral version they did with Michael Kamen at one of the MTV things.
Spaced
Kings and Queens
Hangman Jury – I saw them 5 or so times on the Permanent Vacation tour. This was always the highlight. The lights would go off. Then a vague light would appear on the stage, and cross my heart, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry would be sitting onstage in rocking chairs, and I’m not kidding here, Steven would have a little table on the side with a glass of iced tea, and they would sit on the porch and do this song. Just wonderful.
Full Circle – I mentioned previously the New Year’s Eve show. I think it was going into 1999. Aerosmith has traditionally done New Year’s Eve shows every year in Boston, and they’re always great. I think one of them was used in the taping of the video for Angel. Through the good graces of Funk Soul Cousin, we were in the 3rd row. I’ve rarely been in the front rows for a show. If you never have, you should. It’s a whole different show when you’re that close. There were two highlight. One was during Sweet Emotion. Joe Perry was playing on semi-automatic. He was looking around with a strange smile on his face. He turned and looked right at me and FSC and gave a look that said “Hey you two, look at me. I’m Joe freakin’ Perry. I’m in the best rock band on earth, I’m kicking ass on the guitar, and I’m the happiest man on earth. Damn, I am so cool.” FSC and I agreed with him. The other highlight was during Full Circle. Right at midnight, they unleashed balloons from the celing. They brought out all the wives, girlfriends, crew and roadies, turned the lights up, and we all sang the chorus over and over again while the balloons came down and everyone kissed each other. (Not FSC and me. We watched the girls in front of us kissing. The front rows at good rock shows are dominated by incredibly hotties (un)dressed at their best. It can get very distracting.) Below is a pic from that show.
Aerosmith, New Years Eve


1-5:

Train Kept a Rollin’
Sweet Emotion
Seasons of Wither
Woman of the World
Back in the Saddle

I’m surprised at myself that I have nothing to say about the top 5. I’ve played these all so many times, I barely need the record. I went to the bank yesterday and Back in the Saddle was playing on the radio. As I went to the ATM, I was still singing it to myself. I got back in the car 90 seconds later, and as the car and radio came on, I was perfectly in sync with the song. Try that sometime, you’ll be surprised how hard it is to do.
You’ll notice most of these songs are from the early years (before the first greatest hits album). All of the top 5, and 8 of the top 10. My older brothers simply do not acknowledge the existence of Aerosmith after 1985. I wouldn’t go that far, but there is sure a big difference between the eras. (The difference has a lot to do with drugs, most of the bands I love had their creative peaks during drug years. That will be another post.)

In the meantime, enjoy these mp3’s, and go get yourself a copy of Get Your Wings and Toys in the Attic! You won’t regret it!

I am such a badass
Your blogging author gets down with his bad self all those years ago. Notice the shirt, 1986 Done With Mirrors tour.

The Music Must Change

I grew up on the immortal WBCN. When they changed formats (I forget the name of their new format, alternocrap or something), I switched to WZLX. Now I switch between “Dave FM” and 96.1, both of which play generous helpings of the music I like.

One tradition I love is the Memorial Day top 500 countdown. Being a rabid Who fan, I would wait to see how well the boys did. I have distinct memories of an awful weekend of long sweaty manual labor spent tarring our driveway, and then getting yelled at for doing it wrong and having to do most of it over. The only redeeming part to that weekend was the radio. The Who always got in the top 10 with Won’t Get Fooled Again, and there was a good shot that Baba O’Riley, Behind Blue Eyes, or Pinball Wizard would also be in that year’s top 10. Of course, everyone was playing for second place, it went without saying that the number one song would be Stairway to Heaven. The number one Song Remained the Same. (I hope y’all are getting the bad music puns I’m throwing in here.)

Then changes came. Growing up, the radio station was very upfront about ranking them as the “best 500”. Then over the years, it changed to the “top 500”, then to the “most requested 500”. Wussier and wussier.

Which brings us to the current day. 96.1, the local classic rock station “counts down you 496 most requested songs”. OK, ignore the typo, what’s an “r” between friends? Ignore the most requested songs, which makes the results as valid as your typical internet poll. No, what really gets me is the 496. Ya see, it’s like saying “For 96” or “For 96.1”, get it? Do ya get it? Huh huh, do ya get it?

Here is the top 10:
10 BACK IN BLACK – AC/DC
9 COLD AS ICE – FOREIGNER
8 WISH YOU WERE HERE – PINK FLOYD
7 CARRY ON WAYWARD SON – KANSAS
6 FOREPLAY/LONG TIME – BOSTON
5 ENTER SANDMAN – METALLICA
4 ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER – JIMI HENDRIX
3 LAYLA – DEREK & THE DOMINOS
2 STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN – LED ZEPPELIN
1 DREAM ON – AEROSMITH

What is up with Stairway being at #2? Now I’m a big Aerosmith fan (the New Years Eve show I saw from Row 3 is one of the highpoints of my life), but c’mon. C’mon! Dream On is just not in the same league as Stairway. It just ain’t. It’s just plain wrong to argue otherwise. Not only would Dream On not make my top 10, it might not even make my Aerosmith top 10. Hmm… maybe that should be my next post.

And — Foreigner!? Kansas!? Are you #@$@!!! serious!? They correctly put Boston’s best song up there instead of More Than a Feeling, but it’s pretty questionable to put it at number 6. If you’re going to mess with the classic top 10, you got to bring some serious heat. Enter Sandman is a great pick, but the rest is just heresy.

(BTW, The Who had 8 songs in the countdown, 3 in the top 100.)

A bunch of good links

Random items of interest I’ve come across lately (sorry if the links don’t work. Get a membership to Salon, it’s worth it):

A Meterman steals hundreds of thousands of dollars, quarter by quarter.

Tennesse forgets to pay the phone bill, finance commisioner gets stuck in elevator, can’t phone for help.

“Crazy old coot” repeatedly calls 911 to report a pizza place that won’t deliver to her.

1000 lb guy loses half of it. “I really don’t know, and I really don’t care,” he said when asked what would be his ideal caloric intake.

Another brilliant piece by The Poorman