Oct. 22, 2003

Elliott Smith (1969-2003)

Yet another genuine musical talent has left this earth too soon.

Singer-songwriter Elliott Smith died yesterday in an apparent suicide. He was only 34 years old.

Over the last few years, I’ve enjoyed Smith’s last two releases, XO (1998) and Figure 8 (2000) — they’re full of gorgeous vocal harmonies and impressive guitar arrangements, and I was really looking forward to his next project. But now he’s gone.

After learning of the tragic news, I suddenly realized that I’d been listening to Figure 8 yesterday, on the day of his death. It’s sadly appropriate that the final song on that final full-length album happens to be a somber piano instrumental titled, “Bye.”

Bye, Elliott. Thanks for your music.

[ No. 68 ]

Photo credit: Sweet Adeline / DreamWorks

Oct. 17, 2003

OK, back to sports for a moment. Professional teams from Philadelphia have been so utterly disappointing in recent years that I’m reduced to rooting for underdog teams from other cities — and here are the not-so-surprising results.

The Chicago Cubs hadn’t won a World Series since 1908, the year before my grandmother was born. Earlier this week, the Cubs held a three-run lead in the eighth inning of Game 6 in the National League Championship Series, but gave up eight runs in that inning and eventually lost to the Florida Marlins in seven games.

Similarly, the Boston Red Sox hadn’t won a World Series since 1918, the final year of World War I. Earlier tonight, the Red Sox held a three-run lead in the eighth inning of Game 7 in the American League Championship Series, but gave up three runs in that inning and ultimately lost to the New York Yankees — truly an “evil empire” with a ludicrous $164 million payroll and 26 World Series titles to date.

I’m not a superstitious person, but these playoff games really make me wonder if those curses against Chicago and Boston are indeed real.

However, on a positive note, compared to the unimaginable frustration of the Cubs and Red Sox, the Phillies can be considered a recent success story. Their last (and only) World Series victory took place in 1980, during my lifetime!

[ No. 67 ]

Oct. 12, 2003

Baffling consumer product of the moment: Celine Dion perfume.

It’s not a joke, apparently, but the reliably hilarious writers at The Onion have already published a parody news story about the singer’s entrance into the fragrance industry.

Personally, I can’t imagine why any woman would spend her hard-earned money on a perfume from Celine Dion, who has already earned $305 million from selling the most sappy, irritating, over-the-top ballads since Barbra Streisand.

[ No. 66 ]

Oct. 8, 2003

Looking over the last few posts, I realized that this site has become obsessed with sports (and more specifically, losing teams) in recent weeks. So, let’s switch gears and talk about something else, shall we?


I haven’t had much formal training in graphic design, but I know this much — the new VH1 logo (seen at right) is easily the ugliest one I’ve seen in years. The letter V is performing an absurd back flip, the numeral 1 is displayed backwards for no apparent reason, and even the color scheme is garish.

After only a few minutes of searching the Web about this eyesore, I discovered a random weblog posting that includes many negative comments about the logo from professional designers. (Glad to know that I’m not alone in my amateur opinion.) I was also surprised to find that the logo’s designer posted her own comments in defense of her work — she didn’t make a terribly convincing argument, but I’ll give her points for bravery in the face of criticism.

Somehow, it seems appropriate that VH1 launched its new identity in conjunction with its pop-culture series, I Love the 70s.* Most of the prevailing designs of that decade — think plaid suits, shag carpets, and boat-sized cars — were incredibly gaudy, so the new logo actually works when paired with a 1970s-themed show. But in any other context, the design is a miserable failure.

* Note: This is really nitpicky, but I also noticed that the VH1 copy editors omitted the apostrophe from “’70s” in the series title. I guess correct punctuation is as unimportant as effective design to this particular network.

[ No. 65 ]

Image credit: VH1