choosing the right questions
by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


There is a website called Ask For Cents. One day you will have to pay for the service, but for the moment it is free. The gist is this: If you email a question to, a human being will email you back an answer. Usually, in fact, you get two answers. And usually within minutes. The question-answerers are users of Amazon's Mechanical Turk service, and are being paid a few cents for every question they answer.

The answers aren't vouched for, aren't necessarily true. They're simply answers. And you can ask them whatever you like: advice on love, driving directions, gift recommendations, Excel problems.

Some questions I have asked, for you, dear readers (all q & a's, throughout this post, are true and real and from

q: If Kelly Clarkson's 'Since U Been Gone' was a fish, what fish would it be?

a: Flatfish

q: What is your favourite song, what animal would it be if it was an animal, and if that animal could talk what would it say?

a: My favorite song is "Daniel" by Elton John. This reminds me of a dog and it could talk it would say "I miss you".

q: Why should people have 'guilty pleasures' in music? Isn't the pleasure you take from one given song as legitimate as the pleasure from any other?

a: From a perfectly pragmatic point of view, the popularity of something has no bearing on itself the thing itself, assuming that the thing is macroscopic and does not change with observation. So it's absurd to judge anything by its popularity.

q: What is hip-hop?

a: Hip-Hop is music that makes you want to drink 40s drive an escalade and commit felonies.

As you will doubtless have observed, Ask For Cents is also - given Said the Gramophone's rather unconventional taste in aesthetic descriptors - a most beautiful source of music writing.

And so here we are.


Gene Vincent - "I'm Goin' Home (To See My Baby)".

q: If Gene Vincent's song "I'm Goin' Home (To See My Baby)" was riding a vehicle, what kind of vehicle would it be? And where would it be going?

a: A huge, purple semi on its way to San Francisco. (Source: imagination)

The beginning of the song is a trick. You think it's a blues tune, that we're going to circle round and round, listening to the lonesomeness of that electric guitar. But no, no no. Oh no. Because then the drums storm out of the closet, the saxophones pop out from behind the furniture, keys are grabbed from the hook by the door - and out we go, all piled in, heading crosscountry. There is a cactus by the on-ramp, sunlight in the air, not a cloud in the sky.

q: If Gene Vincent's song "I'm Goin' Home (To See My Baby)" were a meal, what would that meal be? Would the saxophones eat the same thing as Gene, or something else?

a: The meal would be a turkey. The saxophones would eat the same thing as Gene. (Source: Gene Vincent)

[buy (thank you "P")]


Young People - "Your Grave". It's night, there's an open window, and the curtains are waving, slow-slow, in the breeze. Watch, watch, watch, til' the watching becomes a trance and the curtains become a lesson.

Young People are here just bass, guitar, voice, and a strange circulatory system of beats in the deep, buried background.

A blues that you can't put your finger on, can't keep track of; just something you'll feel one night, after which you'll spend years waiting to feel it again. I think of a tiny hotel-room in Hull, Quebec, friends falling asleep, dawn just suggesting itself. The sliding door to the balcony is open and it's cold.

A constellation: Vincent Gallo, Cat Power, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Liars.

Bits and pieces.

q: In the Young People song "Your Grave," what is the electric guitar saying at the end?

a: It is singing the lyrics of Morphine's "Do Not Go Quietly to Your Grave":

Listen young people I'm 74
And I plan to live 60 or 70 more
Yeah I've been all around I've done a few things
And I spent a few nights on the floor, oh!



Moistworks, that finest of mp3blogs, is doing the extraordinary: Writers Week(s). Including contributions by Jonathan Lethem (!) and Christopher Sorrentino, writing about songs.

At Amazon, you can buy a Badonkadonk Land Cruiser. The reason I point it out is the reviews.

How to make Garfield funny: remove his thought balloons. (My favourites: 1 2 3 4)

Posted by Sean at February 17, 2006 3:00 AM

Love Lethem's 'Disappointment Artist' essay collection. And if you scroll down far enough, there's a Geoff Dyer bit too. Currently listening to a sweet Jane Birkin track from there. How did I miss this blog before? Thanks for the link, Sean.

Posted by dymbel at February 17, 2006 6:06 AM

for the record, garfield has never been so funny.

and future career for Sean in random-question-answering?!

Posted by ru at February 17, 2006 6:22 AM

You can even, of course, ask AskForCents to comment on this post. As I did. And the response?

A smidge eccentric, and beyond my comprehension of music :) I like how you use the service, though... I think it's creative, even if I don't "get it" LOL

Posted by Sean at February 17, 2006 9:36 AM

Great post today!

Posted by Andy at February 17, 2006 10:07 AM

yeah, wow, great post. that service rules. and i would love to volunteer for them.

Posted by dan at February 17, 2006 1:46 PM

Wow, that askforcents thing is pretty creative. Interesting idea.

Posted by Red Ruin at February 17, 2006 3:27 PM

I read your "BLOG" every day....dont understand it, but read it. I also read Robin's "BLOG" and understand it,
Luv ya !!

Posted by Zaidie Ben at February 18, 2006 9:42 AM

Yay for Zaidies! And welcome, MeFites.

Posted by Sean at February 18, 2006 10:26 AM

I do what I can.

Posted by "p" at February 19, 2006 5:33 PM

I love that "Ask For Cents" thing - I have asked a few questions and they always leave me smiling....thanks for sharing the neat stuff and music that you do.

Posted by (Aunty) Debbie at February 20, 2006 8:54 PM

Q: When did The OC jump the shark?
A: The OC jumped the shark when Lindsay came on the show as Ryan's love interest and Caleb's unconfirmed biological daughter in the 2nd season. It was all downhill after that.

This service seems pretty accurate so far.

Posted by Joe at February 20, 2006 9:30 PM

well color me sadly unimpressed; not for your clever blog-by-proxy idea, but with the easily pigeonholed stereotypes writing back from Askforshit: Vegas money bets they're probably thirtyish white dudes who first encountered Morphine when they went to the Horde tour and realized they hated the crowd they'd been hanging with while attending U of Maryland. Young People makes you think of Morphine? Could you be more retarded? And the answer about hip hop -- if it's an attempt at humor, oh how it belies unconscious racism, unfunny as it is in light of so much hip hop about outer space, politics, and pychoanalysis.

Sorry. I'm mad all the time. Great blog, by the way. For the little it's worth, I've taken myself live also:

Posted by J Frank Parnell at February 21, 2006 11:16 AM

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about said the gramophone
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about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

Jeff Miller is a Montreal-based writer and zinemaker. He is the author of Ghost Pine: All Stories True and a bunch of other stories. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Say hello on Twitter or email.

Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.

Site design and header typography by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet. The header graphic is randomized: this one is by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet.
Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
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our favourite blogs
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Back to the World
La Blogothèque
Weird Canada
Destination: Out
Endless Banquet
A Grammar (Nitsuh Abebe)
Ill Doctrine
A London Salmagundi
Words and Music
Petites planétes
Gorilla vs Bear
Silent Shout
Clouds of Evil
The Dolby Apposition
Awesome Tapes from Africa
Matana Roberts
Pitchfork Reviews Reviews
i like you [podcast]
Nicola Meighan
radiolab [podcast]
CKUT Music
plethoric pundrigrions
Wattled Smoky Honeyeater
The Clear-Minded Creative
Torture Garden
Passion of the Weiss
Juan and Only
Horses Think
White Hotel
Then Play Long (Marcello Carlin)
Uno Moralez
Coming Up For Air (Matt Forsythe)
my love for you is a stampede of horses
It's Nice That
Song, by Toad
In Focus
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The Rest is Noise (Alex Ross)
My Daguerreotype Boyfriend
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blue skies turn black
montreal improv theatre
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