Call her whenever

E-MO-TION by Carly Rae JepsenIt was absolutely inevitable that I’d buy this album: the very first single, the hyperenergetic “I Really Like You,” would have knocked my socks off, had I had socks on at the time, and the second, the evocative “Run Away With Me,” was enough to get me to pony up for the iTunes Store preorder. Besides, Carly has a certain, um, visual appeal. (Who gave her legs like that? Said she could keep them?) Even if E-MO-TION were more of the same writ five times over, I knew I had to have it, preferably in Apple’s proffered Deluxe Edition with three bonus tracks.

It’s not more of the same, except in the broadest of senses: the worldview here is consistently that of a young woman with stars in her eyes and hearts and flowers on her mind. (By no coincidence, this is very much my own mindset: my inner nine-year-old girl could easily grow up to be someone like this.) It doesn’t at all hurt that Jepsen sounds about ten years younger than the 29 she is. And while there are no fewer than twenty-two producers listed here, normally a sure ticket to Disasterville, somehow E-MO-TION sounds like it was recorded in a couple of marathon sessions over a weekend or two, instead of in dozens of places over a year and a half. As Taylor Swift did with 1989, Jepsen has adopted a 1980s pop sensibility for the duration; while Swift is the sharper lyricist, Jepsen crafts better melodies, perhaps more important to that Eighties vibe. And even the two songs into which Jepsen presumably had the least input — “Making the Most of the Night,” a collaboration with Sia, and “LA Hallucinations,” written with Jepsen’s Vancouver neighbor Zachary Gray of the Zolas, still sound like pure Carly Rae. (“Boy Problems” — and isn’t that the purest girl-group title you ever heard? — brings in both Sia and her producer Greg Kurstin, neither of whom overwhelm the proceedings.)

And I must give some space here to Billboard’s Jason Lipshutz, who notices a phenomenon in the musical press:

E-MO-TION, led by the singles “I Really Like You” and “Run Away With Me,” is so good that many are already deeming it the Pop Album of the Year, and because none of its tracks have remotely taken off at Top 40 radio (which would lead one to believe that the album is not going to be a massive seller upon its release), those same people are anointing CRJ the Underrated Pop Artist of The Moment.

Top 40 radio, of course, lacks video. “Run Away With Me,” which did even not register on Billboard’s Hot 100, has over five million YouTube views. Remember what I said about visual appeal? And while I’m not in a position to judge whether Carly Rae Jepsen is indeed underrated, I’ll happily deem this the Pop Album of the Year, at least for the first two-thirds of the year.


That’s not a sword

“Now this is a sword.” Peace through superior firepower, they always say:

It happened this past Friday night [14 August] at the Perry Market in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Two unknown juveniles ran into the store, one of whom was brandishing a sword or very large knife.

The unknown man holding the sword ran behind the counter to demand cash, and that’s when the store clerk reached for a blade of his own: a full-length scimitar.

And just like that, battle was joined in the aisles of a Pittsburgh corner store — for a few seconds, anyways.

Security-camera video, intermixed with TV coverage, at the link. The perp, once he saw that blade coming for him, fled.

(Via R. Francis Smith.)

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Son of Random Rants

If you suspect that this has been done before, well, you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that it’s been done again.

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A girl who once had a dream

Yukiko Okada — call her “Yukko” — always wanted to sing. She’d appear at any audition for anything, hoping to get a break; at sixteen, she finally broke through on one of those TV talent shows and was signed to Japan’s Sun Music Productions.

It didn’t hurt that she had That Look:

Yukiko Okada stretches out

Yukiko Okada in a swimsuit

Her first single, “First Date,” came out early in 1984; her third, “Dreaming Girl,” was enough to win her Best New Artist in the annual Japan Record Awards. It’s — well, listen for yourself:

Why, yes, it is vaguely reminiscent of Tracey Ullman’s cover of Kirsty MacColl’s “They Don’t Know.”

Sponsorship and television deals followed, and Yukko was on her way. But something, somewhere, went terribly wrong:

Okada was found with a slashed wrist in her gas-filled Tokyo apartment, crouching in a closet and crying.

And then two hours later:

[S]he committed suicide on April 8th by jumping off from the roof of the Sun Music building. She was only 18 at the time. Her suicide made headlines and sent shockwaves across Japan. To top it off, several fans of hers followed suite. It caused such a commotion that the term “Yukko Syndrome” came into being to connote follow-on [copycat] suicides. That year (1986), the suicide rate in Japan jumped to an all-time high.

In 2002, the song “Believe In You” was rescued from the vaults and given an orchestral overlay, becoming Yukko’s last single. If only she’d believed a little more in herself.

She would have been forty-eight today.

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Drop and give me $75

I was unloading groceries at the checkout stand this afternoon when something in my left thigh decided it wanted my attention and promptly knocked me to the ground, or at least several inches closer to it. If you’ve ever had anything that hurt like a son of a bitch, this is the son of a bitch it hurt like. For a moment I regretted not having bought a fresh bottle of Advil.

It can’t have been too severe: I was somehow able to walk, albeit haltingly, and I didn’t notice anything unusual-looking when I got home. Still, walking it off did not make it go away, and I may have to dip into my secret stash of Lortab if it doesn’t lighten up in the next couple of hours.

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Hideosity afoot

We may or may not have had this discussion before:

“Peep toes are a bit of an issue to get just right. Open it too much & make it too shallow and it looks odd. Make the gap too small and it, well, looks like this.”

Open-toe pump by Narciso Rodriguez Fall 2015So says Cristina of ShoeTease in her roundup of “The Ugliest Shoes from the Fall 2015 Runways,” referring to this particular Narciso Rodriguez number as the “one eyed shoe monster.” The gap here is apparently suited only to women with an enormous big toe, wide enough to fit that particular hole, and the others basically too insignificant to notice: think Rihanna or Taylor Swift or Zooey Deschanel. Not that I can imagine any of them actually wearing this. (Well, maybe Rihanna: she’s kind of experimental these days.) Someone with a distinctly longer second toe — I’m looking at you, Reese Witherspoon — shouldn’t even be in the same room as this shoe.

That said, this wasn’t even close to the worst shoe in the list, so you really should Read The Whole Thing. (And the picture she snagged does justice to the “monster” description.)


Speaking of loops

This supermarket chain stands firmly against the vigorous circular motion:

One probably should not assume that J. Random Customer actually realizes this.

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Here we go loop-de-loop

Ouroboros to the white courtesy phone, please:

Europe”s “Right to be forgotten” laws have come to an apex of dumb: The UK’s Information Commissioner’s office has ordered [pdf] Google to remove links to stories about Google removing links to stories. My brain hurts.

If it’s an endless loop, does it truly have an apex?

And apparently “endless” is the operative word:

“The commission does not dispute that journalistic content relating to decisions to delist search results may be newsworthy and in the public interest,” Deputy Information Commissioner David Smith wrote in a statement, acknowledging that the IC was asking that Google block access to legitimate journalism. Smith continued: “However, that interest can be adequately and properly met without a search made on the basis of the complainant’s name providing links to articles which reveal information about the complainant’s spent conviction.”

Smith fails to mention how the IC will handle purging news stories about the news stories about purging the news stories about purging news stories, or how it will handle purging news stories about purging news stories about the news stories about purging the news stories.

Barbra Streisand was not available for comment.

(Via Greg McVerry.)

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Innocent guilty pleasures

The contradiction here derives from the very title of this Guardian piece: Readers recommend: songs so bad, they’re good — results. One of the songs singled out for kindly abuse is a favorite:

Moving on to lyrical flaws, we find the Floaters with the deeply idiotic “Float On.” Musically it is a perfectly serviceable soul tune, but the more you listen to the lyrics, the less sense they make.

Then again, a good slow jam doesn’t depend on words, and “Float On” is a good one:

Of course, if you listen to the entire twelve-minute LP track … but never mind. Don’t go there, unless you really want to.

Cheech and Chong, who never saw a “there” they wouldn’t go to, lampooned this unmercifully:

Disclosure: It was this or “Wishmaster” by Nightwish.

(Via Fark.)

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The noncorporeal girl of my dreams

Something I said four years ago:

Given Siri’s lack of physical form — all those apps look alike to me — I’ll almost certainly impute wholly-unwarranted characteristics to her, such as a sense of humor.

And maybe, it seems, a trace of actual wisdom:

Bless you, autocorrect.


We get results, slowly

From a mid-January day, thirteen years ago:

The wind is up, but otherwise it’s an absolutely gorgeous day, the sort that the gods throw in once in a while to obscure the fact that it’s the middle of winter and we should be freezing our keisters off. It never occurs to them to toss a mid-January day into the sweatbox of late August, but you know how gods are.

Low temperature yesterday in Oklahoma City: 50° F. The coolest it’s ever been in August, if “ever” = “since 1891”: 49° F.

I’ll take that with a smile.

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Quote of the week

Last week, the Telegraph ran an article on actress Ariel Winter, 17, who after several years of back pain due to her huge, um, tracts of land, opted to have herself trimmed back two cup sizes. For a civilian comparison, the newspaper also interviewed Gadgette editor-in-chief Holly Brockwell, who’s now a comfy C after losing “massive albatrosses,” and several commenters dumped on her, not so much for getting the NHS to pay for her surgery — we’re talking serious pain, folks — but for potentially depriving them of the view. She wrote up a nasty rebuttal to them, but then admitted on Twitter that she wasn’t sure she wanted to go with it. We talked her into it, and here’s some of it:

If you woke up one day and your testicles were the size of melons, would you proudly show them off? Would you endure the pain in your spine and the overt stares because hey, you’ve got massive balls? Or would you go immediately to your doctor and beg for help from the NHS for the heavy, swollen, painful masses on your front?

Are you really, actually suggesting that Ariel Winter and I, and all the other women with comically oversized mammaries, should just deal with it because they give you a bit of a semi-on when you see us on the bus? Do you really think we’re ever going to get naked with anyone who’d say our scars (pale, silver, almost unnoticeable) are ugly? Do you really think we care if you find us less sexy now?

Yes, my breasts are way smaller now than they were before — and they’re also a lot smaller than they were after I had the surgery. Do you know why that is? Because it’s quite hard to do any exercise with the equivalent of two bags of sugar hanging on your chest. Now I’m free to do anything I want, so yes, I’ve lost weight. I can run up the stairs without holding my chest tightly. I can walk without feeling seasick from all the bouncing. I can go to the pool without feeling people’s eyes all over me.

I can live.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that quite the nicest bewb job I’ve ever seen was done for exactly these reasons, and I never had any reason to look for the scars.

Holly’s last words on the matter will probably stick with me as well:

Well, Angry Internet Men, your comments almost made me reconsider that. Almost. And then I remembered — you’re just sad, faceless dudes on the internet. I will never meet you, I will never care about you, and you will never get to see my beautiful C-cups in real life. Because if there’s one thing I don’t need in my world, it’s more boobs like you.

So there.

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This dress is not for you

To say that the classic Hervé Léger bandage dress is form-fitting is to say that summer is warmer than winter: it’s beneath even Captain Obvious to mention. (If you’ve forgotten what they look like, it’s something like this.) That said, it’s still possible to shoot off one’s mouth about such things:

Some people just aren’t very nice. They try — oh God, they try — but sooner or later, the mask always slips. I’m not saying people who work at the luxury end of the fashion industry are any meaner than those who work in other professions, but I am saying they’re more blinkered. Over-paid, over-indulged and over-protected, some lost touch with reality a very long time ago.

Pity poor Patrick Couderc, brought back to reality with a jolt via that classic, tried-and-tested means of a P45. The former UK managing director of MJH Fashion, the London-based licensee of the Hervé Léger brand, was dismissed after telling a Sunday newspaper that “voluptuous” women and women with “very prominent hips and a very flat chest” should avoid the bandage-style dresses for which Hervé Léger is most famous. Then, after complaining that the style had become popular with reality TV stars (admitting he “refuses to give free dresses to celebrities if they are judged to lack sufficient class”), he topped off his body-shaming snobbery with a final dig at lesbians. “If you’re a committed lesbian and you are wearing trousers all your life, you won’t want to buy a Léger dress. Lesbians would want to be rather butch and leisurely.”

This latter, of course, runs afoul of the First Rule of Holes: “Stop digging.”

The corner office, of course, disavowed the entire exchange:

Parent company BCBGMAXAZRIA Group says it is “shocked and appalled” by Couderc’s comments: “The brand celebrates sensuality, glamour and femininity without discrimination.”

But that doesn’t mean they’re making a dress for you:

I don’t know which is sadder: that the people in charge of these companies feel this way, or that we, the customers, are so completely unsurprised. “A fashion designer who’s openly misogynistic and has no regard for any woman not built like a 2×4? What a shock,” was one typical comment on the internet, in response to Couderc’s comments. But then, as anyone who’s a size 18 or big-breasted or big-bottomed will attest, high-end designers have been practising body discrimination for aeons. It’s why they don’t stock clothing in your size.

And this outburst by Couderc is not likely to make them start, either.

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The walrus, he is not

This is another reason why, as Abraham Lincoln used to say, you can’t believe everything you see on the Internet:

All You Need Is Love t-shirt featuring Yoda

“Love, all you need is.” It perhaps isn’t the way Yoda would have said it; it is, nonetheless, what he would have said.

(Via Roger Goode.)

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We serve further

I mentioned that I was testing out the new American Express Serve card, a prepaid debit card with the usual Amex bennies and a meager $12 annual fee (billed at $1 a month), and there are ways to avoid that fee with certain usage patterns.

Now comes a variation on the Serve theme: good old-fashioned cash-back bonuses. The news release:

American Express announced Serve Cash Back, a new prepaid debit Account option that will earn Accountholders 1% cash back on purchases. Consumers who spend in line with the 2012 – 2013 U.S. Department of Labor national averages for gas, groceries, dining out, clothing, transportation and entertainment using the Serve Cash Back Card could potentially earn more than $400 annually when earning 1% cash back.

For those who do spend that way, this sounds like a pretty sweet deal. I don’t. And the cash back is somewhat offset by a higher fee: $5.95 a month. Still, people allergic to debt are likely a growing market, and you can’t blame Amex for wanting a piece of it.

Historical note: The original green American Express card, still available for $95 a year, is a true charge card; you pay it off each month. I ran with one of those throughout the 1980s. It is curious to me that I still remember that card number, but can’t remember my current one.


We deprecate your punctuation

For the last twenty years or so, I’ve been rendering the em-dash (and the occasional en-dash) with — mostly because I could never remember how to spell the damned entities. (And typical usage around here has spaces around the dash, which is neither technically nor typographically correct.)

WordPress, as of version 4.3, has decided that I will no longer get away with —. It’s converting that string on the fly to —, which is a correct em-dash in Unicode, and it displays the way I want it to display. Only thing is: now I wonder what else WP is doing behind the scenes.

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