yes, he looks like the unholy spawn of sacha baron cohen & Â joseph fiennes.Â

is here. I really do feel awful saying mean things about music. I feel less awful criticizing books, for some reason. Maybe that’s because you can often listen to a snippet of music online and figure out if it’s to your taste, whereas with books you don’t know it’s good until you read the whole thing. (When it comes to children’s books, at least, I disagree with that famous author — I forget who — who said, “One does not have to eat the whole egg to know it is rotten.” Who said that, again?)

Sure, sometimes you can smell the stench of eggy badness immediately. But sometimes you can’t. And I want to know if a book is worth my and my kids’ time! It seems to me that very few consumer-mag reviewers talk about books (at least books by non-celebs) that suck. I want the precise delineation of suck. For instance, I’m always looking for a great Jewish kids’ book, not just ANY Jewish kids’ book. I’m not a cheerleader for Jewish books. I see myself as an advocate for parents, not publishers — better to read an incredible secular book than a crappy Jewish one.

For instance, look at Menorah Under the Sea, by Esther Susan Heller. I was pretty specific about its flaws on goodreads: We don’t care about the main character, a marine biologist; we don’t really learn about the science he does; the book is clunkily written and seems to randomly switch tenses. I hope the author writes great stuff in the future. God knows I’ve written a lot of dreck myself, and yet I sometimes get it right.

But with music, I feel horrid when I say I don’t like something. Maybe I trust my own taste less? Or I’m more comfortable acknowledging that reasonable people can disagree about what’s good?

Even the CDs I thought were unlistenable are listenable by SOMEBODY. And my point about whether adults really have to like kid music, and vice versa, stands. I may make loud gagging noise at some of the discs I received this year, but my kids might not, and God love ’em. I recall a time when The Hardy Boys, starring Shaun Cassidy and Parker Stevenson, was the BEST FRIGGIN THING EVER ON TELEVISION, and I would not want my parents telling me Great Performances on PBS was better. What did they know. What do I know.


  1. Fawn December 22, 2009 at 10:52 am

    Ok, so considering that I think both Sascha Baron Cohen and Joseph Fiennes are unholy hot, I know what CD I’m buying.

  2. Dyske January 15, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    I loved your Podcast. You sound great on it.

    I’m sure you will be appalled to hear this, but my daughter loves listening to Hannah Montana’s music. Well, the really appalling part is that I also like her music. My musical taste has always been strange. I’m a big fan of the Minimalist composers, and I’m a huge fan of John Cage. I was so passionate about Avant-Garde music that I took many classes at the Juilliard School at night, and tried for years to compose my own music. I’ve never really been into Rock music, and have virtually no appreciation for Rap. But for some strange reason, I’ve always liked music written for teenage girls. It started with listening to Debbie Gibson in college. I find it disturbing myself, but at least for now, it’s convenient because I can enjoy listening to Hannah Montana with my daughter.

  3. marjorie January 18, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    I do not sneer! I’m glad you have music you and your kid can share! I love the soundtrack from Clueless — that’s kinda teenybopper, right? Hm, I like Lady Sovereign, who was barely out of her teens when my way-cooler-than-I dewy youthful sis-in-law introduced me to her work in 2006?

    Our whole family loves the soundtrack to Avenue Q, btw. It’s got some Bad Words and Adult Themes ™ but they sail over Maxie’s head. Josie gets some of ’em now — not all — but dang it’s awesome.

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