Saturday, March 31, 2007
I'm trying out poll code in the sidebar. There are 12 choices now for your favorite Memphis barbecue restaurant. Let me know in comments if any of the places have closed or if I leave anyone's pick out of the poll.
UPDATE: Voting seems to have stabilized at 79, so I'm closing that one down and posting the results here. There was basically a 3-way tie between Central BBQ, The BBQ Shop, and Cozy Corner. The Rendezvous and Tops each garnered about half the support of each of the top 3.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Andropause is a medical phenomenon, similar to the female menopause, that can affect men between the ages of 40 and 55. Unlike women, men do not have a clear-cut signpost such as the cessation of menstruation to mark this transition. Both, however, are distinguished by a drop in hormone levels--estrogen in women, testosterone in men. The bodily changes occur very gradually in men and may be accompanied by changes in attitudes and moods, fatigue, a loss of energy, sex drive and physical agility.
Newsweek weighed in this January with a piece called "Is Male Menopause Real?" Here's a teaser to that:
With men, it's much more gradual. Levels of a man's main sex hormone, testosterone, begin to drop as early as the age of 30. Instead of plunging over a few years, the testosterone levels drop very slightly (about 1 percent) each year—for the rest of his life. This change is so gradual that many men may not notice any effects until several decades have gone by. Yet, by 50, 10 percent of all U.S. men have low levels of testosterone. By 70, more than half are testosterone deficient.
Do the progressively lower levels of testosterone cause symptoms in a man, the way lower levels of estrogen do in a woman? There is no doubt that they can, but it can be very hard to tell.
Finally, we go to the Harvard Men’s Health Watch for "Is There a “Male Menopause”: Will Hormones Help?"
Testosterone has many direct effects on the male anatomy and metabolism. It is responsible for the deep voice, increased muscle mass, and strong bones that characterize the gender. It stimulates the production of red blood cells by the bone marrow. It also has crucial, if incompletely understood, effects on male behavior; it contributes to aggressiveness and is essential for the libido or sex drive, as well as for normal erection and sexual performance. Testosterone stimulates the growth of the genitals at puberty, and it is responsible for sperm production throughout adulthood. Finally, and for most men unhappily, testosterone also acts on the liver, raising the production of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
The first is on CNN.com: "Perimenopause: Hormone ups and downs can last years." A tidbit:
Perimenopause can begin as long as 10 years earlier [than menopause], but women often fail to connect irksome symptoms to the beginning of "the change." For example, an important first clue may be sleep difficulties, which affect about 30 percent of women. Other symptoms may be more familiar, such as intense irritability, decreased libido and mood fluctuations, often for women who've never experienced moodiness before.
The second article is from Harvard Women's Health Watch: "Perimenopause: Rocky road to menopause." As you might imagine, coming from Harvard Medical School, this article goes into more scientific detail but is quite comprehensible and very valuable. Here's a sample:
[P]erimenopause (peri, Greek for “around” or “near,” + menopause) is an extended transitional state.
. . . .
Perimenopause varies greatly from one woman to the next. The average duration is three to four years, although it can last just a few months or extend as long as a decade. Some women feel buffeted by hot flashes and wiped out by heavy periods; many have no bothersome symptoms. Periods may end more or less abruptly for some, while others may menstruate erratically for years.
Men would do well to be aware of perimenopause. The next post will be about "male menopause." Ladies, you should be aware of that too.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Recently, Luther and Cody's proud mom, Mary Lindsay Dickinson, sent out an email telling her friends that Luther had been written up very favorably in Rolling Stone. I must have saved a link out of that email that I just got around to checking out. I found some samples and tracks on the Net, their official site, their MySpace site, their Rolling Stone site, and their YouTube channel.
This post is my way of giving a tiny bit back to these young men for keeping my spirits buoyed during a very difficult time for me. Plus, they are beautiful people in the hippie sense. Let's just get right to it with this embedded video:
Thursday, March 22, 2007
US sales of music compact discs plummeted 20 percent in the first three months of the year as downloading of songs continued to knock the underpinnings from record studio revenues.
. . . .
Consumers are sending a message to artists that "while you may have put a lot of thought into the sequence of the album, I only like these three songs," said digital music industry analyst Michael McGuire of Gartner Research.
"It comes back to consumers being in complete control of their media experience, and that is not going backwards," Gartner told AFP while discussing the drop in album sales and the rise in single-song track purchases.
"This is a tough business being a record label because they have to find new sources of revenue."
So if record labels are going to have to get into digital distribution despite losses due to piracy, and since the costs of distributing music this way are so much lower than they have been traditionally, what use is a record company to the musicians and consuming public?
Musicians can avail themselves of this cheap new technology to get their music heard; and the consuming public can decide which new sounds they like, enough to hear more of and tell their friends about.
There is no need for a musician to come up as part of the Disney Mouseketeer team, owned by the media conglomerates, before getting the chance to set the world on fire with a hip new ditty.
There is no need for the consuming public to have their own tastes be just an afterthought to trend-marketing corporate types in Los Angeles, who work for media conglomerates who own or pay payola to nationwide chains of radio stations and so-called music television networks.
Seek out new music beyond what the media conglomerates try to force-feed you. Support that music directly, and tell your friends about it.
What's really so great about former Mousketeers Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears? They're more manufactured celebrities and hoofers than great singers or musicians. They're the kind of product the media companies can make large reliable profits from, out of your pockets.
Remember, Video Killed the Radio Star. Now, reality TV has killed the video star.
UPDATE: Big acts throw labels for spin.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Lamar, hopefully I won't have to make fighting the Fords a priority in 2008, rather than working for your defeat at the polls for this vote.
Same for you, Bob. See you in 2012....
Friday, March 09, 2007
The turning point is hard to pinpoint. But after 30 years of growing popularity, rap music is now struggling with an alarming sales decline and growing criticism from within about the culture's negative effect on society.
I always found it difficult to call rap "music," because the synthetic drum beats and the spoken doggerel verse so outweigh the minimal role of pitched instruments in rap recordings. To me, the term "rap music" is an oxymoron, an inherently contradictory pairing of words like "jumbo shrimp."
I consider rap to be in part the child of punk rock, in which genre the "musicians" didn't have to be able to play very well and the "singers" didn't have to have pipes. The Roland and Akai MPC-series beat boxes eliminated the need for a live band to assemble and back up a "rapper." So rap became very easy and cheap to produce. It wasn't necessary to sell many units to recoup production costs and make a profit. A rapper could sell enough units out of the trunk of his car in the 'hood to build a reputation. Also, crack dealers and pimps with pockets full of cash could get in the game, often as producers.
Much has already been said about the effects on listeners' minds of the drug and thug and 'ho' content of rap "lyrics." My focus in this post is on the lack of true musicality in this genre of recordings and my personal annoyance at being subjected to rap through the mass media and through over-loud car audio systems. However, as a criminal defense attorney in Memphis, the home of Hustle and Flow, I have been situated to see some effect, particularly of gangsta rap, on the thinking and actions of young people in the streets and then in the court system, not to mention on the victims of their violent crimes.
Nothing lasts forever. There have been and always will be forces driving the production and consumption of rap. I don't believe in censorship, either. But I am damned glad if the rap trend has indeed run its main course and we can get back to real singing, more poetic lyrics, and accomplished and creative musicianship. Al Green records from more than 30 years ago are still selling surprisingly well and sound as fresh and good as the day they were recorded. I doubt we'll be able to say the same about Three 6 Mafia.
Friday, March 02, 2007
The idea is to persuade others of the correctness of your views, not to preach to the choir of partisan epithet-slingers who already agree with you.
belt buckles promoting drugs/guns
metal bottle openers
fingernail clippers and files
flashlights over 4"
fishing hooks and lures
large safety pins
rat tail combs
screws, nuts, bolts, nails
clothing promoting drugs or guns
tape or voice recorders
tools of any kind
If you have any of these things on your person, the security guards will make you take them outside (back to your car) and leave them, or you can choose to have them confiscated permanently and go on inside.
Additional tip courtesy of Wintermute: Arrive at 201 early enough to get through the line of people at the metal detector stations and get to your designated courtroom. Being late can result in your bond being revoked.