Sometimes you work with what you have. This is a tale told exceedingly well by those who were there, about how He-Man ended up riding a tiger in the toys and TV series. If you had any doubts about the cold, commercial cynicism behind Saturday morning cartoons, this should cement that impression for you.
(Click the link in the tweet or the image to watch the accompanying short video)
If you take it out of its cartoon context, I imagine we’ve kind of all found ourselves there: forcing something we have on hand to do a job it was never intended to do, and praying for dear life that it will work out.
An uncomfortable glimpse into the future.
(click the image or this text to play the video embedded in the tweet)
Maybe it should be inspiring and hopeful that there are already hacks like this, but for some reason it’s more chilling than hopeful to me. Incentives start as voluntary, but it would be easy to imagine a system where they are built in to the structure of the offering such that while they’re not actually required, they’re practically required of the masses for all intents and purposes. And then once systems are tied in to things like personal step count monitoring, it’s a short hop to incentivizing all sorts of desired behaviors and tying them to cost/fee structure. On one hand, there’s a bit of “human life always finds a way” in this image, but on the other, there’s the sinking feeling that we’re on the cusp of needing more and more hacks to keep institutionally orchestrated intrusions at bay.
Paula Abdul’s reflections on Elliot Wolff. Three years ago around this time, music writer and producer Elliot Wolff was reported missing after heading out for a solo camping trip in Santa Fe. Wolff was the creative genius who wrote and produced Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” and “Cold Hearted” among many other top 10 hits. His body was discovered shortly after an unsuccessful search operation. I came across his story last week, and poked around a while to try to find out what happened to him, which isn’t fully explained in the few newspaper articles from the time.
I haven’t gotten any more details on the cause or circumstances of his death, but my search was rewarded with a video clip of Paula Abdul’s tribute to Wolff, from the ceremony celebrating his life in August of 2016. The smartphone video was recorded by an attendee and to date has less than 1,000 views. In it, Abdul describes first hearing the songs, and the care Wolff took in teaching her how to sing-speak the fast parts.
It’s really something to be able to experience the texture of personal history with bits like this. They’re exceedingly hard to find and the main search tools aren’t really set up to point the way to them. This one was buried in the Twitter timeline, and I had to do a few advanced searches to unearth it.
Among the other things I found remarkable about Elliot Wolff’s life:
He studied physics in college, at the University of Maryland
Got his first gig as the musical tour director for Peaches and Herb in the late 70’s
Played keyboard for Chaka Khan
According to his site, prior to his writing achievements, Wolff auditioned for and earned a spot in Frank Zappa’s band. Given Zappa’s exacting standards, many would consider that the pinnacle of musicianship. Wolff turned down that opportunity in order to pursue songwriting. That decision seems to have worked out ok for him.
Those are the bananas I found for you this week. You can hit “reply” to this email and it will go only to me. Special thanks to: Shawn R., Baron C., Bill B., Becky A., and Terri and Don C. for supporting these bananas. You can do the same if you like by sending me a cup of coffee.