Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Mr. Loaf speaks for Dr. Moore

I've been in close touch with my brother lately. In part, because it's Valentine's Day, and we always send each other Valentine's cards. In part, because I know from Mom that he's having trouble with his girlfriend these days, and I thought he'd need the pick-me-up.

My brother and I have always been pretty close. We fought like rabid dogs after my parents got divorced, but once he hit 6 feet, it all worked itself out. Mainly, because I realized he'd seriously would kick my ass if I kept bugging him. Usually, when my brother and I are together, we make random allusions to stuff that happened to us as kids. For example, I sent him the following picture in my last e-mail to him.

He got a good laugh out of that. I won't go into the gory details of that one. Maybe another time.

Anyway, chatting so much with my brother makes me think of Meat Loaf, the singer/actor who appeared in award-winning films such as "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and "Fight Club."

His name was Robert Paulson.

The year that Meat Loaf released his "Bat Out of Hell II" album was the same year my mother married her third husband. My mom's third husband wasn't a particularly nice guy, so my brother and I were usually holed up in my brother's bedroom. He had a TV and Super Nintendo in his room, so many hours were spent playing Super Mario Kart and listening to music.

For Christmas of 1993, my brother and I each got our own copy of the "Bat Out of Hell II" cassette, though I think what actually happened was that my brother got two copies and gave one to me. Or that's what happened with the Cake album. Hell, I don't really remember. Anyway, "Bat Out of Hell II" was the album that had the 12 minute song, "I Would Do Anything For Love, But I Won't Do That." The joke between my brother and I was always, "Do What Meat Loaf? What won't you do?" Though, I think everyone in America made that joke.

I'm trying to write a workshop paper right now (with 1 week's notice) and with all this thinking about my brother, it seemed like the "Bat Out of Hell II" was just the right album for working like I'm on fire. Lots of bad-ass rock ballads about Rock & Roll, wasted youth, bad sex, cheerleaders, and motorcycles. If that isn't inspiration for a crappy workshop paper, then I dunno what.

The lyrics for the songs on this album are freakin' great. For example, in his "Life Is A Lemon, and I Want My Money Back," Meat Loaf declares,

What about your school?
Its defective!
Its a pack of useless lies

What about your work?
Its defective!
Its a crock and then you die

True genius.

Jim Steinman wrote the lyrics to the songs on this album, as well as to some of the mega-hits from 80's goddess Bonnie Tyler, but damnit it's Meat Loaf who knows how to deliver.

For the past few days, I've been reading a really well-written and informative research paper written by Moore and Boyer in 1985. It tells the story of integrating a linear decision procedure into a theorem prover. Moore and Boyer do two things right with this paper. First, they do a good job of raising general issues of system integration, using their case study as a motivating example. Second, they write the paper in a tone that's entertaining to read. It's like I'm having a coffee with Moore, and he's just telling me about his adventures with a particular theorem prover. And sometimes, they've got a little bit of snark that is so professionally delivered,

Readers troubled by our selection of such a simple and old-fashioned decision procedure are invited to reflect upon the fact that an instantaneous oracle for deciding linear arithmetic problems like those above would increase the speed of our theorem prover on typical program verification problems by less than 3%.

Admittedly, I'd like to see a research paper written by Meat Loaf. The above passage from Boyer and Moore, if written by Meat Loaf, may be something like,

Readers who think we ought to be fast,
Have got a hell of a lot to learn,
And can shove it up their ass.


StyleyGeek said...

I realise this is totally beside the point of your post, but it's made me all hungry for meatloaf.


FemaleCSGradStudent said...

Actually, me too. I have a fantastic recipe for meatloaf. But in my usual cooking fashion, it's one I made up, and for which I have no exact quantities recorded. But it involves ground beef, ground turkey, carrots, onions, portabello mushroom, and Worcestershire sauce. Mmm. tasty.

Tracy said...

The Berenstain Bears image left me so temporarily dazed, particularly because I thought I remembered that cover, that I (gullibly?) Googled it. Then I felt better.

Also, I checked out Moore's site for just a bit; I'd say he has more going for him than an admirable snarky writing style. I really admire that he loudly proclaims, "None of this work can be considered mine alone." He also seems to have an interesting teaching style, encouraging students to "spend your time in class thinking, not writing." Maybe not everyone in academia sucks?