Re: Vos Cerveaux

November 29th, 2007

Whilst carefully avoiding the completion of “My Beige Bear” I found myself distracted by a little side project. I’ve always wanted to record a couple of the hits in other languages just to see what would happen. Jeremsoft (who is French, and judging from the name, an AI) sent me a French translation for “Re: Your Brains” just out of the blue, and while I don’t speak fluently enough to understand everything in it, I caught enough clever translation choices to make me think it was pretty good.

I took a few years of French in high school but never got very good at it. So I spent a lot of time this week mimicking Jeremsoft’s recorded pronunciation, reading a phoenetic version supplied by Rhiannon, eliding syllables past the point of reason, and eating as many snails as I could. While recording I couldn’t help but notice an opportunity in the third verse for a reference to “Alouette,” that famous old French song about plucking feathers off a bird. My first ever joke in French! Vive me!

The result is this new version of Re: Your Brains for French speaking zombies everywhere (yes, even Canada). I hope zat you like eet.

Re: Vos Cerveaux

Special French lyrics can be found here.

Doug Morris, Old Person

November 27th, 2007

There’s a profile of Doug Morris, CEO of Universal in December’s Wired. You may read the summary of it on the New York Magazine blog if you’re short on time, especially since they have already pulled the best quote wherein Morris explains why the music industry didn’t just build their own digital distribution network when Napster first popped up and scared everyone:

“There’s no one in the record industry that’s a technologist,” Morris explains. “That’s a misconception writers make all the time, that the record industry missed this. They didn’t. They just didn’t know what to do. It’s like if you were suddenly asked to operate on your dog to remove his kidney. What would you do?”

Personally, I would hire a vet. But to Morris, even that wasn’t an option. “We didn’t know who to hire,” he says, becoming more agitated. “I wouldn’t be able to recognize a good technology person — anyone with a good bullshit story would have gotten past me.”

Wow. This is a CEO? At a record label, now? It’s really true, the reason the labels are so lost in this new world is because they are run by people who are on the other side of the digital divide. They can’t even figure out how to HIRE someone to help them work these newfangled “computing machines.” I bet Doug Morris still has trouble dragging and dropping.

China Newsweek

November 26th, 2007

If you scroll down to the bottom of the front page today at China Newsweek’s site you’ll see a picture of me and a link to an actual article in actual Chinese. I knew this was coming and did the interview and everything; still this is very surreal and strange to me, like a dream in which you’re in your own house but it doesn’t look like your house, and then your toast turns into a flying saucer and you explode. You know, just as an example.

Even if you don’t read Chinese you can kind of figure out the article from the untranslatable english words: “Jonathan Coulton…Thing a Week…Baby Got Back…Hip Hop…Sir Mix-a-Lot…Radiohead…In Rainbows…” you get the idea. Actually, if you read just the english words, there’s kind of a battle between me and Radiohead near the end, which is hilarious.

Freakonomics Reader Questions

November 22nd, 2007

Over at the Freakonomics blog they’ve posted my answers to reader-submitted questions. I think I wrote too much – who do I think I am, Robert Redford?

Robert Redford Is Not a Native Speaker of English

November 21st, 2007

I am not making this up. Here is what it says on page one of the Sundance Christmas catalog (I mean “Holiday Catalog”). This is supposedly a message straight from Robert Redford. And I quote:

“Holidays again. Forgive me while I dodge the rumble of the million footed throngs that have succumbed to the marketing ether for Christmas and its days.

Holiday. Can we, without disappointing the children and others who long for the surprise of gift giving, just look to a different value to digest, wherever you are? Those details that are natural and sometimes hidden? That have a satisfying and long lasting lifespan? Things that you miss when you’re away? That when someone might remind you, you say, oh yes, how wonderful. And of course the most vivid of details: loved ones who are there in body and spirit.

Happy holidays from all of us at Sundance.”

Wait, what? It’s like he snorted a bunch of pulped Christmas cards and fragments of them shot up into his brain, and then he got really high, punched an intern in the face, and dictated this – IN CHINESE. Seriously, what happened here? $100 to the first person who can explain this to me.