Yuck My Yum

I heard the phrase “Don’t yuck my yum” on a radio show a few years ago, and it really captured how I feel about a lot of things. I’ve always liked quirky offbeat stuff: Doctor Who, anime cartoons like Speed Racer, Battle of the Planets, and Tranzor Z, and a wide range of music in various styles that aren’t exactly popular: Frank Zappa, Belle and Sebastian, Herb Alpert, and Elvis Costello, to name just a few.

When I started working on music for my latest collection of songs, I had that phrase in my head, and I was thinking it would be fun to record a song called “Yuck My Yum” in a style that might sound a little passé to contemporary ears but that some people would nonetheless enjoy. I’ve always loved the sound of trumpets in songs, especially tracks like Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass’s rendition of “A Taste of Honey,” which I can also admit has the vibe of a 70s game show.

But that’s the whole point of the song–and of the EP as a whole. It’s okay to like something weird. And it’s also okay to not like it, as long as you don’t make someone else feel bad for liking it.

Of course, there’s also the line about Damian Smith breaking all of my toys. Damian is actually an extremely gifted plein air artist, but when I knew him, we were very young, and he did have a tendency to break my toys once in a while. Not out of malice or anything. He just got a little carried away sometimes. I suppose I could have said “Damian Smith broke some of my toys,” but it wouldn’t have had the same effect. Also worth noting, Damian was, as I recall, a big Tranzor Z fan.

Oh, and I’m pretty proud of the fact that I rhymed Miyazaki with roller hockey. There really was a contingent of kids who played roller hockey in my neighborhood when I was growing up, and I never joined in the fun. Technically, I wasn’t watching the films of Hayao Miyazaki at the time, but had I known about them, I probably would have.

David Byrne Agrees with Me!

Yesterday I wrote a long-ish post about Philip K. Dick’s The Man in The High Castle and how it examines the ways in which context determines our sense of reality. Coincidentally, I heard a piece on the radio this morning about how David Byrne (yet another of my musical heroes, whose How Music Works is an amazing book) has recently developed an immersive theater experience called The Institute Presents: Neurosociety! that does something very similar to what Dick is doing in The Man in the High Castle. If you’re curious, here’s the piece I heard:

Monkeys vs. Humans

I’ve long believed that monkeys are smarter than humans, and now I can prove it. Over the weekend, I heard a report on Marketplace Money about Yale researchers who had trained a capuchin monkey named Nick Nack to use money in order to figure out how the world economy ended up in the toilet. Among other things, the report noted that the researchers had tried to teach the monkey about branding, with very limited success:

“They offered him two kinds of cereal, the same in every way except one came in a container with a picture of a clover on it and the other had a picture of a moon on it. The cereal was also the same price. And it turned out the branding didn’t matter much to Nick Nack. He went for each about the same number of times.” — Marketplace Money

In other words, Nick Nack, who is a monkey, didn’t care what the package looked like. As long as the cereal was the same, he was happy to fork over his hard-earned cash.

Meanwhile, in the world of humans, Coca Cola is facing criticism for changing the design of its holiday cans. According to the Wall Street Journal, the American public is in such an uproar over Coca Cola’s latest holiday can, which features silvery polar bears against a white backdrop, that the company is “switching back to its time-honored red” barely a month after making the change:

“While the company has frequently rung in the holiday with special can designs, this was the first time it put regular Coke in a white can. Some consumers complained that it looked confusingly similar to Diet Coke’s silver cans. Others felt that regular Coke tasted different in the white cans. Still others argued that messing with red bordered on sacrilege.” — Wall Street Journal

My main concern here is with the “others” who felt that regular Coke tasted different in the white cans. Needless to say, Nick Nack (who, again, is a monkey) would not have made the same mistake.

Of course, if Nick Nack had any taste whatsoever, he’d probably spit out the Coke after his first sip and save his money for a good Malbec, but given the details we have, two things are clear:

  • You can change the packaging of a product, and monkeys won’t care.
  • You can do the same thing to humans, and we’ll go apeshit.

Which makes me think I should probably hire a monkey to manage my money. But since I don’t actually have any money, I’ll just have to settle for waiting on the coming ape revolution* to end all of our financial woes…

*Side note: Some people believe in the coming zombie apocalypse. Personally, I’m more of an ape revolution kind of guy. I guess I’m just an old romantic at heart.