Monday, April 04, 2005

Hence the expression, "Cost does matter"

Say what you will about the current state of financial compensation for victims of tortious acts, but at least we don't live in the age of King Alfred. I'll let that one sink in for a moment... Lobbyists for tort reform would point out that the judicial system often hands out arbitrary and exorbitant amounts of money for conceivably minor injuries. This is mostly the case in America, where judges prefer non-pecuniary damages (a.k.a. happy-feely damages) in the millions of dollars. Canadian judges tend to avoid such high rewards almost categorically, but there is a similar pressure to reform the system. Not so with King Alfie.

A simple google search will tell you he was a renowned monarch who ruled Anglo-Saxon England from 871-899. That's enough history. Case law, on the other hand, will tell you what ingenious system ol' Al had for doling out damages for personal injury: he priced body parts! From a 1978 Canadian case concerning recovery of losses:

"This was the ancient 'bot,' or tariff system, which prevailed in the days of King Alfred, when a thumb was worth 30 shillings."

You can imagine what kind of mess this left at early Anglo-Saxon supermarkets, where they had to deposit quarters to take a shopping cart and quarters weren't invented yet.

This lovely bit of anecdotal evidence was in a bit of Torts reading I had to do for tomorrow. I made sure to highlight it. This is indicative of perhaps the biggest change I've gone through since starting law school. Not that I now read before class, but that I use a highlighter. I've never been what you call a "highlighting man." Perhaps its a leftover mentality from my years in English Lit, but I always made sure never to mark up a page. My feeling was two-fold: first, if this is a novel I really like, when I read it again in years to come, I don't want to be reminded of how this narrator signifies the prevailing economic conditions of the blah blah blah. Second, conceited though this may sound, I felt that when I write in the pages of a book, I want it to be my book, and my story. I fully intend to write the Great (Country Where I Reside) Book when I'm older, so don't scoff. (I have the title already.)

Speaking of titles, I heard via the web that the Dandy Warhols' new album is out in September, bearing perhaps the coolest album title in recent memory: Odditorium, or The Warlords of Mars. There is something fascinatingly arrogant about a double title, and I think the Dandy's have earned it. I would argue that the band is on a similar trajectory to R.E.M. They've made albums so far in the same vein as that legendary group, procuring melodies by unconventional means and carving out a distinctive sound. They haven't yet made their Automatic for the People, but the Dandy's last album - Welcome to the Monkey House - sure made a good Green.

I don't draw the comparison between the two bands lightly, I just hope Courtney Taylor-Taylor (yes, that is his name... and yes, he is a he) has the foresight to lay off the music when they get eleven albums in. For proof of the Dandy's sonic greatness, check out the tracks "Good Morning," "Cool Scene" and "I am Sound."

Blimey, enough music/law/history talk for one blog. My fingers ache from typing, and these precious babies are worth a lot!


Thomas said...

1. The Dandy Warhols peaked with Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia. You are obviously too young to know this - hence your enduring fascination with the now faded Pearl Jam.

2. The only band to not peak yet, with a discography of at least four albums, is Radiohead. I expect their magnum opus sometime over the next two albums.

3. R.E.M. are so 1993.

4. The Arcade Fire has the talent and the vision (whatever that means) to be the GREATEST BAND OF ALL TIME, surpassing even the lofty heights set by The Carpenters.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for giving me a free law school education. Paying tuition is for suckers.

Lawyerlike said...

Rebuttal re: Dandy's "peaking" with 13 Tales from Urban Bohemia:

The continuing string of commercially successful singles that the Dandy's have produced would negate the proposition that the band peaked with "13 Tales."

"Bohemian Like You" is arguably the Dandy's "Losing My Religion." Catchy, upbeat, and not without a controversial music video (R.E.M.'s dying angels to the Dandy's naked waiters.) This would make "13 Tales" their "Out of Time" album, in keeping with my theory.

This song, of course, was followed by the hugely successful single, "We Used to be Friends." If my contention is correct that this album, "Monkey House," is their "Green," then that song would be their "Orange Crush."

I will, however, entertain the argument that "13 Tales" has more in common with the success of "Automatic for the People," and that "Monkey House" is more aptly described as the Dandy's "Monster." This due to the fact that "13 Tales" is, if nothing else, a sublime distillation of the classic Dandy sound, as was "Automatic" for R.E.M., whereas the electronic dabblement of "Monkey House" has more in common with the rock curveball that R.E.M. threw with "Monster."

However, this concession is predicated on the notion that R.E.M.'s actual peak was "New Adventures in Hi-Fi," lending further weight to my argument that the Dandy's are still on their upward swing. This, of course implies by default, that "Odditorium/Warlords" will constitute a Dandy high watermark.

Rebuttal re: Tuition being for suckers:

To wit, cushy government jobs are for suckers.

I await your responses, if you can muster one!

Anonymous said...

While I love both bands, I don't know that the Dandys have the longevity of REM. However, I wholeheartedly agree that Hi Fi is the latter's best work.
Also, given that Radiohead seem in no hurry to re-enter the realm of commercial releases now that they've filled their record quota, their prophesied magnum opus may consist of pre-recorded mechanical blips delivered from the boomboxes of troubadours wearing 100% ethically produced Noam Chomsky t-shirts.
And I'll STILL try to buy it.

Thomas said...

You just argued that the Dandys couldn't have peaked with 13 Tales because they continued to sell records. For this you must revoke your Music Snob Membership immediately. This also means giving back your Crystal Turntable of Destiny, and your Pitchfork of Power.

Further rebuttal by comparison:

50 Cent sold 1.1 million copies in four days.

Although props for the extended REM/Dandys comparison. Next assignment: Radiohead/U2.

Anonymous said...

Re: money = awesomeness in music
Ryan, what were you thinking? That is a specious argument, and you know it! Need I remind you that Backstreet Boys and NSYNC were breaking sale records all the time? As was Britney Spears. Remember 1st year philosophy? If many people think something is right or good, it does not necessarily follow that it is.

Anonymous said...

re: suckers

Pre-ordering HPo is for suckers

Lawyerlike said...

Re: the both of youse.

My point was not that the Dandy's are selling more, (which I doubt they are, or ever will) but just that the quality of their songs are consistently getting better.

C'mon, "We Used to be Friends"?? That's kickass!

Re: H.Po.

Never speak ill of Harry. Ever!