Friday, September 25, 2009

Contemplating U2

Here is a confession that should surprise no one: U2 is, by far, my favorite band, and have been since high school. And I've seen them on every single tour since I've been old enough to drive myself to wherever it is that they are playing. So it should surprise no one that I will be attending their concert here next week.

In gearing up for said concert, one of the music critics at the Washington Post posted a blog ranking the 12 U2 studio albums from worst to best. Here is his list:

12. October (1981)
11. How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2004)
10. POP (1997)
9. No Line on the Horizon (2009)
8. War (1983)
7. All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000)
6. Rattle and Hum (1988)
5. The Unforgettable Fire (1984)
4. Boy (1980)
3. Zooropa (1993)
2. The Joshua Tree (1987)
1. Achtung Baby (1991)

At first I thought this list was dead wrong, but now I'm not sure. Like them, whether I rank Achtung Baby or The Joshua Tree as #1 or #2 depends on the day and whether I'm leaning towards dark and ambient or earnest soul-searching. As for the rest, I'd probably put The Unforgettable Fire as my #3, and move Rattle & Hum into the top 5. And I liked How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb a lot more than some of the other newer records. But they're clearly right on one thing: Generally speaking, newer (as in post-1990) U2 < older U2.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Observation #5

Often, when someone goes to a new hairdresser, the hairdresser will try to upsell them on additional services -- for example, hair color. After the customer politely declines, asking "Are you sure that you don't want to cover the gray?" will not work to change the customer's mind, and will, in all likelihood, reduce the hairdresser's tip.

Friday, September 04, 2009


Compromise is a tricky, tricky thing in interpersonal relationships. Somewhere, there's this line demarcating things that are negotiable and things that are inherently part of who we are, and in the process of trying to satisfy the others in our lives, we can lose track of that boundary.

I think that this is why I'm no good in relationships: I am both unyielding and too willing to compromise. I hold myself and the people I love to very high standards and I have very high expectations -- ideas of the way things should be. At the same time, I am all too willing to give the people I love whatever it is that they need, without necessarily thinking about how it may negatively affect me -- until, of course, I suddenly reach a point when I stop to wonder what it is that I'm getting in return. Once you get to that point -- the point where you start keeping a ledger -- the whole thing is doomed.

I can't even begin to count the number of times I've found myself thinking that some of the choices and compromises that people make in the service of their relationships are too exacting, and I wonder whether I could ever bring myself to do it, day in and day out. I like to think that for the right person, in the right circumstances, no compromise is too great -- but I'm not sure if that's really true.