Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Watching SparkNotes

I'm always curious about the Google searches that bring people to Orange Crate Art. Many are right on the money -- e-mail to professor, for instance. Some are interestingly wrong: how to make a cootie cather comes up again and again, because of a reference to trumpeter Cootie Williams and a sidebar link for Willa Cather. (It's catcher, catcher, I want to tell these seekers.) A rather sad Google search that I noticed this afternoon:

sparknotes for movies

Monday, February 26, 2007

Derrida's archives

The Los Angeles Times reports that philosopher Jacques Derrida sought to use his archives as a bargaining chip to quash a sexual harassment charge against a vampire expert:

When a vampire expert allegedly seduced a tipsy [University of California at] Irvine student four years ago, he inadvertently set off a chain of events that now jeopardizes the school's control of a dead philosopher's prized archives. The story came to light after UCI announced last week that it would drop a lawsuit against the widow and sons of philosopher Jacques Derrida. . . .

Buried in the news that UCI would resume negotiations with Derrida's family was a mysterious footnote: The feud over his archives was sparked by a letter Derrida sent to UCI shortly before his death.

According to multiple sources, Derrida wanted UCI to halt its investigation of a Russian studies professor, Dragan Kujundzic, who was accused of sexually harassing a 25-year-old female doctoral student. So he tried to use his archives as leverage to derail the case, they said.
What I find most striking in this account is Avital Ronell's comment on Derrida:
"Toward the end of his life, he enjoyed the same status as Aristotle among the ancients, and every perception of injustice was routed to his desk," said Avital Ronell, a Derrida protege who teaches at New York University. "Even as he was crawling with fatigue, he put himself in the service of those seeking his help and needing the strength of his prestigious signature."
Injustice in this situation would seem to me to be the use of academic power and prestige to influence the resolution of a harassment charge. Ronell's characterization should look ironic to anyone who knows (or in my case, remembers) Derrida's Limited Inc, which is, among other things, a deconstructive inquiry into the power and prestige of signatures.

All of the LA Times article is worth reading, including details from court records of opera music, photographs of Moscow, and Transylvanian wine.
A philosophical view of sex (Los Angeles Times)
More info: The LA Times article draws no connection between Derrida and Kujundzic and leaves the impression that news of Kujundzic's situation somehow made it to Derrida's desk. Kujundzic has in fact written about Derrida and curated a UC Irvine exhibit of his work. A 2002 publication of the UC Irvine Libraries characterizes Kujundzic as a friend and colleague of Derrida's for "many years."
UC Irvine Libraries Newsletter (2002)

June 27, 2018: Very strange: by 2009, Avital Ronell’s comment, which lives on at several websites, had disappeared from the online article.

In a 2007 Chronicle article (behind the paywall), Ronell describes Derrida’s friend and colleague in less than noble terms: “‘This guy had nothing better to do than to ask Jacques for help.’”

A related post
Prestigious signatures

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Paula Scher on design

Graphic designer Paula Scher, on the "second" that it took her to design the Citi logo:

How can it be that you talk to somebody and it's done in a second? But it is done in a second; it's done in a second and 34 years. You know? It's done in a second and every experience and every movie and every thing of my life that's in my head.

Paula Scher, a short film by Hillman Curtis
You can see Paula Scher's original sketch of the logo here:
Moving to the Big Citi (Pentagram)
[Thanks, Marjorie.]

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The inverse power of praise

A few paragraphs from an article by Po Bronson that any parent, student, or teacher might benefit from reading:

For the past ten years, psychologist Carol Dweck and her team at Columbia (she's now at Stanford) studied the effect of praise on students in a dozen New York schools. Her seminal work -- a series of experiments on 400 fifth-graders -- paints the picture most clearly.

Dweck sent four female research assistants into New York fifth-grade classrooms. The researchers would take a single child out of the classroom for a nonverbal IQ test consisting of a series of puzzles -- puzzles easy enough that all the children would do fairly well. Once the child finished the test, the researchers told each student his score, then gave him a single line of praise. Randomly divided into groups, some were praised for their intelligence. They were told, "You must be smart at this." Other students were praised for their effort: "You must have worked really hard."

Why just a single line of praise? "We wanted to see how sensitive children were," Dweck explained. "We had a hunch that one line might be enough to see an effect."

Then the students were given a choice of test for the second round. One choice was a test that would be more difficult than the first, but the researchers told the kids that they'd learn a lot from attempting the puzzles. The other choice, Dweck's team explained, was an easy test, just like the first. Of those praised for their effort, 90 percent chose the harder set of puzzles. Of those praised for their intelligence, a majority chose the easy test. The "smart" kids took the cop-out.

Why did this happen? "When we praise children for their intelligence," Dweck wrote in her study summary, "we tell them that this is the name of the game: Look smart, don’t risk making mistakes." And that’s what the fifth-graders had done: They'd chosen to look smart and avoid the risk of being embarrassed.

In a subsequent round, none of the fifth-graders had a choice. The test was difficult, designed for kids two years ahead of their grade level. Predictably, everyone failed. But again, the two groups of children, divided at random at the study's start, responded differently. Those praised for their effort on the first test assumed they simply hadn't focused hard enough on this test. "They got very involved, willing to try every solution to the puzzles," Dweck recalled. "Many of them remarked, unprovoked, 'This is my favorite test.'" Not so for those praised for their smarts. They assumed their failure was evidence that they weren't really smart at all. "Just watching them, you could see the strain. They were sweating and miserable."

Having artificially induced a round of failure, Dweck's researchers then gave all the fifth-graders a final round of tests that were engineered to be as easy as the first round. Those who had been praised for their effort significantly improved on their first score -- by about 30 percent. Those who’d been told they were smart did worse than they had at the very beginning -- by about 20 percent.

Dweck had suspected that praise could backfire, but even she was surprised by the magnitude of the effect. "Emphasizing effort gives a child a variable that they can control," she explains. "They come to see themselves as in control of their success. Emphasizing natural intelligence takes it out of the child's control, and it provides no good recipe for responding to a failure."

In follow-up interviews, Dweck discovered that those who think that innate intelligence is the key to success begin to discount the importance of effort. I am smart, the kids' reasoning goes; I don't need to put out effort. Expending effort becomes stigmatized -- it's public proof that you can't cut it on your natural gifts.
That last paragraph helps me understand why so many college students regard their abilities as innate and unchangeable. Self-proclaimed "A students," who have no doubt been told again and again how smart they are, often fail to realize that an A in a college class might require some greater expenditure of effort. More numerous, in my experience, are students who say that they "can't write," that they "suck" at writing, that they're "no good" at English, as if their ability were, again, unchangeable, beyond their control, and not a matter of dedicated practice and increasing mastery.

Bronson's article also helps me understand why so many students shut down when facing a difficult job of reading. It seems to me so obvious -- poignantly obvious -- that reading literature requires and rewards effort, that making one's way into a poem or novel requires a real investment of time and a willingness to proceed, as John Holt puts it, "on the basis of incomplete understanding and information," with the confidence that things will later become clearer. That investment of time involves thinking and rethinking, making and remaking assumptions, marking up the book, circling back to an earlier line or passage in light of a later one. I like to show my students how readers annotate poems -- the page turning into a Talmudic assemblage of older and newer commentary. I like to explain now and then how my understanding of a poem has changed and deepened over time. And I like to rely upon voices more authoritative than my own:
Oprah Winfrey: "‬Do people tell you they have to keep going over the words sometimes‭?"

Toni Morrison: "‬That,‭ ‬my dear,‭ ‬is called reading.‭"
Or as William Carlos Williams says in the poem‭ "January Morning,‭"
            I wanted to write a poem
that you would understand.
For what good is it to me
if you can't understand it‭?
                        But you got to try hard‭ --
Trying hard, I realize, was what my parents always encouraged me to do. "Do the best you can" was one refrain of my childhood -- a lot more helpful for the work of learning than "You're so smart!" (My own children too know that they should do the best they can.)
How Not to Talk to Your Kids: The Inverse Power of Praise (New York)

Related posts
Andrew Sullivan on self-esteem
Good advice from Rob Zseleczky
John Holt on learning and difficulty
Zadie Smith on reading

And from flickr.com: Shakespeare annotated (A photo by murky)
[Thanks to Elaine Fine and Stefan Hagemann for pointing me to Po Bronson's article.]

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Australia shifts to compact fluorescent bulbs

From today's New York Times:

Australia looks ready to become the first country to phase out incandescent light bulbs in favor of more energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs, as part of its drive to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

The Australian environment minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said Tuesday that he would work with the states to get rid of incandescent bulbs by 2009 or 2010.

"The most effective and immediate way we can reduce greenhouse-gas emissions is by using energy more efficiently," Mr. Turnbull said. "Electric lighting is a vital part of our lives; globally, it generates emissions equal to 70 percent of those from all the world's passenger vehicles."

Australia Is Seeking Nationwide Shift to Energy-Saving Light Bulbs (New York Times)

Related posts
An Inconvenient Truth
Wal-Mart's Bright Idea

W. H. Auden centenary

Wystan Hugh Auden was born on February 21, 1907, and died on September 23, 1973.

Let your last thinks all be thanks:
praise your parents who gave you
a Super-Ego of strength
that saves you so much bother,
digit friends and dear them all,
then pay fair attribution
to your age, to having been
born when you were. In boyhood
you were permitted to meet
beautiful old contraptions,
soon to be banished from earth,
saddle-tank loks, beam-engines
and over-shot waterwheels.
Yes, love, you have been lucky:
Sing, Big Baby, sing lullay.

From "A Lullaby," April 1972

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


"As far as I'm concerned, an 'artist' is someone who paints pictures, just as a 'doctor' is someone who fixes your knee."

Previous "Overheard" posts

John Ashbery and Fred Astaire on The Mike Douglas Show

In a dream:

I was watching the start of the The Mike Douglas Show, the daytime talk show that I watched countless times after school as a kid. The guest host for the day: Fred Astaire. Also appearing: the poet John Ashbery, who was going to read a poem entitled "Dedicated to Fred Astaire." And coming up later in the show: "A special feature on language-poetry and experimental music."

That would have been some Mike Douglas Show.

As I ponder this dream, it occurs to me that Philadelphia, for many years the home of The Mike Douglas Show, is now the home of PENNsound, a spectacular archive of recorded poetry housed at the University of Pennsylvania. And a few years back, I watched an online broadcast of John Ashbery at the U of P's Kelly Writers House.

But how does Fred Astaire fit in? Elaine Fine thinks that a wonderful television clip might be in the background of this dream.

The Mike Douglas Show (Wikipedia)

PENNsound (University of Pennsylvania)

John Ashbery at the Kelly Writers House (University of Pennsylvania)

Fred Astaire sings, Oscar Levant plays (YouTube, via Musical Assumptions)

Monday, February 19, 2007

"Giant Steps"

Michal Levy's 2001 animation of John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" is a thing of beauty, and as vivid a demonstration as possible of the architecture of a jazz solo. (As I learned while browsing her site, Levy is also a saxophonist.)

Giant Steps, a film by Michal Levy (michalevy.com)

John Coltrane, tenor saxophone
Tommy Flanagan, piano
Paul Chamber, bass
Art Taylor, drums

recorded May 5, 1959
(Baby steps, giant steps: How many children in 2007 still learn to play "Mother May I?", the game that is the source of Coltrane's title?)

Sunday, February 18, 2007


"It looks like bacon with my glasses off."

Previous "Overheard" posts

Saturday, February 17, 2007

PowerPoint and the war

In corporate and government bureaucracies, the standard method for making a presentation is to talk about a list of points organized onto slides projected up on the wall.

Edward Tufte, "The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint"


Here may be the clearest manifestation of OSD's [Office of Secretary of Defense] contempt for the accumulated wisdom of the military profession and of the assumption among forward thinkers that technology -- above all information technology -- has rendered obsolete the conventions traditionally governing the preparation and conduct of war. To imagine that PowerPoint slides can substitute for such means is really the height of recklessness.

Retired Army Col. Andrew Bacevich
You can see several of the slides here:
Iraq War Plan Assumed Only 5,000 U.S. Troops Still There by December 2006 (The National Security Archive)

Related reading

Andrew Bacevich (faculty profile, Boston University)

"Delusional" Iraq plans envisaged only 5,000 troops by now, group says (CNN)

A Prewar Slide Show Cast Iraq in Rosy Hues (New York Times)

Edward Tufte, The Cognitive Style of Powerpoint (edwardtufte.com)

Friday, February 16, 2007


Wikipedia on toast:

Toast is often buttered.

Toast (Wikipedia)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Calvin Trillin on marriage

Calvin Trillin, talking about his book About Alice, a memoir of life with his wife Alice Trillin, who died in 2001. The two were married for 36 years:

I wrote once years ago that long-term marriage is now intertwined in the public mind with the music of Lawrence Welk. You really sort of have branded yourself a square if you've been married a long time and write about it in anything other than a list of atrocities or what various people did to each other in the marriage.

I don't feel embarrassed by having had a happy marriage. I feel a little bit embarrassed about the idea that I know something about it. I guess there are industries in this country based on the idea you can know something about it, or you can learn about it or something, but I think an awful lot of it is just luck.

Calvin Trillin talks about About Alice (PBS NewsHour podcast)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

"Ice and Snow Blues"

I'm gonna build me a castle, out of the ice and snow
I'm gonna build me a castle, out of the ice and snow
So I can freeze these barefooted women 'way from
     around my door
That's the first chorus of Clifford Gibson's "Ice and Snow Blues," recorded in New York City on November 26, 1929. This lyric is one of the most striking blues conceits I know, a surreal image of the singer-guitarist in a frozen Xanadu. Barefooted women, keep out!

As I learned by chance this afternoon, the ice-and-snow conceit did not originate with Gibson. Pearl Dickson's "Twelve Pound Daddy" (recorded in Memphis, December 12, 1927) has it too. It happens that I have this song on Frank Stokes' Dream: The Memphis Blues, a compilation LP that I bought as a young blues fan, 35-or-so years ago:
I'm gonna build me a castle, out of ice and snow
Lordy, out of ice and snow
So when my blues come around, I can freeze them
     from my door
I wonder whether the weather in November 1929 inspired Clifford Gibson to make ice and snow the starting point for a new song. On Monday, November 25, 1929, the New York Times had an item with the charming title "Mercury to Rise Today: Bears Rake Leaves Into Den as Snow Falls in Palisades Park." The paper noted a Saturday "cold snap that sent New York into its heavy overcoats and covered much of the remainder of the country with snow and frost." Was Gibson making his way from St. Louis to New York during that cold snap? Did he get off the train in New York with this unusual blues conceit in mind? Did a recording engineer suggest doing a song about the weather?

Today's weather brought Clifford Gibson's song into my mind, as I'm typing in a house that's covered in ice and snow. There are no barefooted women outside though -- or inside either. My wife Elaine is here, and she's wearing socks. Happy Valentine's Day, Elaine!

[Above, a tree in the front yard.]

Clifford Gibson (1901-1963) was a brilliant guitarist. His 1929-1931 recordings are available on one CD: Complete Recorded Works, 1929-1931. (Included: A killer duet with Jimmie Rodgers, the Singing Brakeman.)

Pearl Dickson's "Twelve Pound Daddy" can (still) be found on Frank Stokes' Dream: The Memphis Blues, 1927-1931 (Yazoo Records).

It was a page from Michael Gray's The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia that alerted me to the Pearl Dickson connection: Background on "Ice and Snow Blues" (Amazon Online Reader, Amazon account required).

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Julia Child and Rachael Ray

My daughter, whose does a great Rachael Ray imitation, will like this commentary, by chef Anthony Bourdain:

Where the saintly Julia Child sought to raise expectations, to enlighten us, make us better -- teach us -- and in fact, did, Rachael uses her strange and terrible powers to narcotize her public with her hypnotic mantra of Yummo and Evoo and Sammys. "You're doing just fine. You don't even have to chop an onion -- you can buy it already chopped. Aspire to nothing . . . Just sit there. Have another Triscuit . . . Sleep . . . sleep. . . ."
From a longer commentary on Food Network personalities:
Nobody Asked Me But (ruhlman.com, via kottke.org)
September 6, 2011: That link is gone, but the commentary lives on at the Internet Archive.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Levenger Pocket Briefcase, revised

In the mail this week, the latest Levenger catalogue, offering three styles of the Pocket Briefcase®. The Pocket Briefcase is a beautiful object, but an expensive one (the standard model sells for $38). A simple modification brings much of its utility to all. Behold the Pocket Briefcase revised:


A portable, pocket-sized leather writing pad and a supply of 3 x 5 cards can become your indispensable tools for on-the-go thinking.


   binder clip
A^portable, pocket-sized leather writing pad and a supply of 3 x 5 cards can become your indispensable tools for on-the-go thinking.
Yes, the Pocket Briefcase revised is the good old Hipster PDA.
Hipster PDA (43 Folders)
Levenger Shirt Pocket Briefcase

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

How to get up early

Lifehack has a very useful post today on how to get up early -- to be specific, at 5:00 a.m.

[Note to self: The tips offered could also help with getting up at 6:10 a.m.]

How to start your day at 5:00 a.m. (Lifehack.org)

Related post
How to be a morning person

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

"It is snowing."

A prose-poem from Pierre Reverdy (1889-1960):


Il neige sur mon toit et sur les arbres. Le mur et le jardin sont blancs, le sentier noir et la maison s'est écroulée sans bruit. Il neige.



It is snowing on my roof and on the trees. The wall and the garden are white, the path black, and the house has given way without a sound. It is snowing.
Reverdy's poems are often extremely difficult to translate. This one isn't. The only word that poses difficulty (for me) is écrouler. My little paperback French-English dictionary gives "to collapse," "to crumble," "to flop (as in a chair)." My ancient Harrap's Shorter is more helpful; it gives "to collapse, fall in, give way, tumble down." I like the idea of a house giving way to the snow. What about bruit? Noise seems too noisy here. For sans bruit, Harrap's gives "noiselessly, quietly." An adverb in this poem though would be too decorative. "Without a sound" goes better with the stillness of the scene. ("Without a sound," oddly enough, is Babel Fish's suggestion for sans bruit.)

I once brought "Souffle" into a grade-school class that I visited each month to share some poetry. I read the poem a couple of times and asked the children what sort of feeling they thought the poet had about the snow. I thought I would hear something about mystery and silence and stillness and whiteness. No; the mood of the poem, they said, was excitement. Why? Because Pierre can go out and play in the snow! It made me happy that those children thought of a poet as someone just like them.

[Note: Mary Ann Caws' bilingual edition of Selected Poems offers the same translation of "Souffle." But the above translation is mine. I didn't peek.]

Monday, February 5, 2007

"Baby, It's Cold Outside"

It is. It's 11°F outside (3°F with the windchill). Here are four versions of Frank Loesser's song, via YouTube:

June Carter Cash and Homer and Jethro
Rock Hudson and Mae West
Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews
Fred MacMurray, Ann Miller, and Dinah Shore
The recording of the song can be found on Ray Charles and Betty Carter (1961).
"Baby, It's Cold Outside" (Wikipedia)

Beware of the saurus¹

Reading an essay from a college freshman many years ago, I came across a sentence that baffled me — it referred to "ingesting an orange." I crossed out "ingest," wrote "eat," and wondered why anyone would've written otherwise. At the time, it didn't occur to me that my student had very likely started with "eat," only to cross it out and substitute a word that seemed somehow better — lofty, less plain, more imposing.

Since then I've taught many students who seek to improve their writing by using "better" words. Their revision strategies focus on replacing plain words with big, shiny ones. Such students usually rely on a thesaurus, now more available to a writer than ever before as a tool in many word-processing programs.

But dressing up a piece of prose with thesaurus-words tends not to work well. Here's why: a thesaurus suggests words without explaining nuances of meaning and levels of diction. So if you choose substitute-words from a thesaurus, it's likely that your writing will look as though you've done just that. The thesaurus-words are likely to look odd and awkward, or as a writer relying on Microsoft Word’s thesaurus might put it, "extraordinary and uncoordinated." When I see that sort of strange diction in a student's writing and ask whether a thesaurus is involved, the answer, always, is yes.

A thesaurus might be a helpful tool to jog a writer's memory by calling up a familiar word that's just out of reach. But to expand the possibilities of a writer's vocabulary, a collegiate dictionary is a much better choice, offering explanations of the differences in meaning and use among closely related words. Here's just one example: Merriam-Webster’s treatment of synonyms for awkward.

What student-writers need to realize is that it's not ornate vocabulary or word-substitution that makes good writing. Clarity, concision, and organization are far more important in engaging and persuading a reader to find merit in what you're saying. If you're tempted to use the thesaurus the next time you're working on an essay, consider what is about to happen to this sentence:

If you're lured to utilize the thesaurus on the subsequent occasion you're toiling on a treatise, mull over what just transpired to this stretch.
¹ Not the dog.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Whitney Balliett (1926-2007)

The jazz critic Whitney Balliett died yesterday. His style, like any distinctive style, is easily parodied, but there is no better writer to convey the sound of jazz. Here is one sample, from a long piece on Charlie Parker:

Parker had a unique tone; no other saxophonist has achieved as human a sound. It could be edgy, and even sharp. (He used the hardest and most technically difficult of reeds.) It could be soft and buzzing. Unlike most saxophonists of his time, who took their cue from Coleman Hawkins, he used almost no vibrato; when he did, it was only a flutter, a murmur. The blues lived in every room in his style, and he was one of the most striking and affecting blues improvisers we have had. His slow blues had a preaching, admonitory quality. He would begin a solo with a purposely stuttering four-or-five note announcement, pause for effect, repeat the phrase, bending its last note into silence, and then turn the phrase around backward and abruptly slip sidewise into double time, zigzag up the scale, circle around quickly at the top, and plummet down, the notes falling somewhere between silence and sound. (Parker was a master of dynamics and of the dramatic use of silence.) Another pause, and he would begin his second chorus with a dreaming, three-note figure, each of the notes running into the next but each held in prolonged, hymnlike fashion. Taken from an unexpected part of the chord, they would slip out in slow motion. He would shatter this brief spell by inserting two or three short arpeggios, disconnected and broken off, then he would float into a backpedaling half-time and shoot into another climbing-and-falling double-time run, in which he would dart in and out of nearby keys. He would pause, then close the chorus with an amen figure resembling his opening announcement.
From New York Notes: A Journal of Jazz in the Seventies (New York: Da Capo,1977)
Whitney Balliett, New Yorker Jazz Critic, Dies at 80 (New York Times)

Friday, February 2, 2007


"I mean, come on -- you have a dozen women. Make THEM do it!"

Previous "Overheard" posts

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Bookstore music

I have little tolerance for what I call "bookstore music" -- the tepid, unobtrusive stuff one hears when browsing in Borders. And nothing seems to say "bookstore music" more plainly than "Norah Jones." Jones is, in truth, a distinctive singer (her "Don't Miss You at All," a lyrical setting of Duke Ellington's "Melancholia," is one of the most moving recordings I've ever heard). But she's being marketed as background music. Here, sentence by sentence, is Borders' pitch for Jones' new CD:

With its laid-back beauty, sly musicianship, and honeyed singing
"Sly"? "Honeyed"? Those adjectives grate. Given the sexy overtones in this opening phrase, I wonder whether "its" was originally "her."
Norah Jones' latest album is as comforting as a summer breeze on a winter day.
It's odd to refer to an "album's" singing, which strengthens my suspicion about "its" and "her." And in light of global warming, I'd think twice about calling that breeze "comforting."
On Not Too Late, Jones shares in the writing of each track
One doesn't write tracks; one writes songs (or fugues, sonatas, symphonies, and so on).
for a personal recording
I'm not sure what defines a "personal recording," but given the ability of great singers (Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra) to make songs their own, composer credit is hardly necessary for a "personal recording."
that indulges her honky-tonk side.
"Honky-tonk" startles a bit: suddenly I smell cigarette smoke in the summer breeze, a breeze that is now even less comforting than it was when it was reminding me of global warming.
It's a lovely set
"Lovely," on the heels of "honky-tonk"? Ah, what lovely honky-tonk! This CD promises to be all things to all people.
that sounds perfect whether you're enjoying a dinner party or the Sunday paper.
Yes, middle-aged listener, you there with the newspaper spread all over the living room, this CD's for you. You want music that's comforting, but you too have a honky-tonk side waiting to be indulged. And yes, it's the 21st century, in which music is mere background to accompany other, more important endeavors, like sipping a latte, or doing the crossword puzzle, or browsing in a bookstore.

Would this CD still sound "perfect" if one were just listening to it, and not practicing continuous partial attention?