Great Moments in Magazine Journalism

In his Entertainment Weekly TV Watch synopsis of Tuesday’s American Idol, Michael Slezak wrote:

Can we all raise our lighters in unison for the most convincing rocker chick to ever grace the Idol stage? Yes, it’s Allison Iraheta, who took ”Give in to Me,” a completely obscure album track from Jackson’s Dangerous album and delivered it with such passion and confidence, I felt like I should call Ticketmaster and let them retroactively charge my credit card a couple hundred bucks just for the privilege of hearing her.

That’s a critique. Which I agree with. I can’t imagine reading something like this in print — it’s too heartfelt about something too small — but online, it is possible.

What Makes A Good Student?

One of my Chinese teachers — the one who sold me my cell phone — said I was a good student.

“Why do you say that?” I asked.

She didn’t quite understand the question. “Number 1: You work hard. Number 2: You work hard. Number 3: You work hard,” she said.

She had never heard the joke about how to get to Carnegie Hall (“practice, practice, practice”). The joke is one of those convenient and reassuring lies. The real way to get to Carnegie Hall is 1. Ability to play well (based on practice, no doubt). 2. Charisma. 3. Money. See Judith Kogan’s brilliant Nothing But the Best: The Struggle For Perfection at the Julliard School for more about this. A few years ago I went to the Julliard bookstore and asked them about this book. They hadn’t heard of it!

Musical Question

Browsing through the many cell-phone-music videos on YouTube I came across this demonstration of an IPhone piano program. The demonstrator first shows the range of the instrument, then plays Chopsticks, then plays . . . what? A piece I’ve heard many times but can’t place.

What impresses me so much about the mystery piece is how urgent it sounds. Somehow the composer has figured out what makes something sound urgent. It reminds me of a note Robert Caro, the biographer, has posted above the desk where he writes: “Is there desperation on the page?”

More. It’s Clocks by Coldplay. Thanks so much, Sam and Jeff! Only now do I manage to see that the song is identified in the comment section of the video.