Songs that mattered

The Big Question on the back page of The Atlantic: “What is the most influential song of all time?” Lots of interesting answers, and two picked Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”: Rhett Miller of the Old 97s, which doesn’t surprise me, and Carly Rae Jepsen (“Call Me Maybe”), which does. Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! comes out for Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on the basis of sheer ubiquity: even old pharts like me know it. Still, I have to follow the lead of “Weird Al” Yankovic, who justifies the Trashmen’s “Surfin’ Bird” this way:

Not many people had the courage to equate the word with the bird back in those days, but now it’s a widely accepted fact.

Except, perhaps, by James Lileks.

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Close your eyes and pick a target

Congressional Republicans, miffed that their Democratic counterparts got to screw up an entire industry — health care — with the least possible GOP input, are now looking for an industry they can screw up themselves. The lucky recipients of this attention? The nation’s songwriters:

Last week, Senate Republicans introduced their version of the Songwriter Equity Act, with much ado, at Nashville’s famous Bluebird Cafe. Some well-known Nashville songwriters were there to promote the legislation. So were music-publishing and royalty-collection companies. Everyone used carefully poll-tested phrases like “level the playing field,” “road to fairness,” “fair market value,” and “unsung heroes.”

And what will this act actually do?

The proposal in Congress would do two things, primarily, both aimed at increasing the amount that accrues to songwriters (and thus music publishers and [performing rights organizations] like ASCAP and BMI). The first would be to expand the criteria the rate court judge could consider when determining the fair performance royalty rates, notably adding the performance rates paid to musicians and record labels (though SoundExchange).

The second thing would be to urge the three-judge Copyright Royalty Board to scrap the 9.1 cent mechanical royalty in favor of rates that “most clearly represent” the fair market value. The CRB currently is asked to determine rates based on what “would have been negotiated in the marketplace between a willing buyer and a willing seller.” The new language would add that the CRB should also take into account “marketplace, economic, and use information presented by the participants,” as well as the royalty rates paid out for “comparable uses and comparable circumstances under voluntary license agreements,” like film and television.

The CRB already has an essentially impossible task: that theoretical “willing seller” does not actually exist. Once a songwriter has permitted one use of her song, the compulsory license kicks in: anyone who pays the mechanical royalty, the 9.1 cents (up to five minutes), gets to use that song. Throwing in “marketplace information” will almost certainly mean a variable scale based on existing sales, meaning that the new kid starting out will get less, while the old pro collects more. (Why, yes, it does sound like the [cough] Affordable Care Act, except in one regard: it’s possible to read the whole thing.)

Still, there are some things that can’t be permitted to stand:

And yet Pandora is hardly rolling around in a roomful of gold. (Incidentally, that’s the wrong Twitter ID for Pandora.) Let’s hope these GOP guys and The Industry can come up with something that works — but if I’m writing songs, I’m not putting a down payment on anything until I see something tangible coming in.

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A marked absence of seamen

I really did not need to see this while polishing off a bowl of stew. (I do spectacular, if untidy, spit takes.)

Tourism ad for Key West: Not a dinghy in sight

(Page 57, The Advocate, June/July ’14. If “dinghy” goes right over your head, Professor Ruth Wallis will set you straight, so to speak.)

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Hello, Aunt Zelda

Beth Broderick is best known to some of us as Zelda Spellman, one of the aunts keeping watch over Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, which ran for seven years as part of ABC’s TGIF lineup. I stumbled across this picture, with the caption “Bad Dates,” and, well, it had to be here.

Beth Broderick in Bad Dates

Bad Dates is a hilarious play by Theresa Rebeck; I saw it locally at CityRep in ’06, starring Stacey Logan. It’s easy to imagine Broderick in this role. (And yes, there’s a reason she’s holding a shoe.)

More recently, Beth’s done an episode of Melissa & Joey, reuniting her with Sabrina herself, Melissa Joan Hart.

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The Scrutinizer sneaks in

As always this time of the (half)year, I run my finger over the print on the auto-insurance bill and compare notes with last time.

This time around, it’s gone up $26.10, distributed thusly:

  • Liability (injury): up $3.50.
  • Liability (property): up $7.80.
  • Uninsured motorists: up $0.20.
  • Comprehensive: up $11.20.
  • Collision: up $3.40.
  • Road service: no change.
  • Rental reimbursement: no change.

This is after the application of applicable discounts, which increased $5.60. I’m not complaining. You might well ask why I’m still carrying collision on a 14-year-old car; I figure, it’s a relatively small fraction of the total premium, and the actual value hasn’t quite bottomed out yet, one of the (marginal) advantages of buying a semi-luxo brand.

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Ayapa, when the walls finally fell

From a couple of springs ago:

The Ayapaneco language, one of several dozen tongues indigenous to Mexico, is down to only two speakers, and they aren’t speaking to one another.

Well, they are now:

A centuries old language that was close to extinction has been saved after the last two speakers decided to end a feud that has lasted decades.

Manuel Segovia, 78, and Isidro Velazquez, 72, stopped speaking to each other after a disagreement and it was feared that Ayapaneco could die out.

Ayapaneco is spoken at Ayapa, a village six miles east of Comalcalco, in Tabasco, Mexico.

I had mentioned that work was continuing on a dictionary of Ayapaneco; Vodafone has jumped in with a Web site and an adopt-a-word program.

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Kindred spirits, once removed

I was perusing the logs Sunday afternoon, what with Monday coming up and Monday meaning yet another list of strange search-engine queries to be posted, and I discovered an incoming link from wizardchan.org.

In the wake of 4chan, I tend to be somewhat cautious around anything -chan, but curiosity would not leave me alone, so I went to the source, and found this explanation:

Wizardchan is a Japanese-inspired image-based forum (imageboard) for male virgins to share their thoughts and discuss their interests and lifestyle as a virgin. The name of our website is inspired by the term wizard, a meme of Japanese origin that means 30-year-old virgin. In contrast to other imageboards, Wizardchan is dedicated exclusively to people who have no sexual experience and may be NEET or hikkikomori.

I am disinclined to mock these guys, having been within shrieking distance of “been there, done that”; my own period of activity, so to speak, was the middle third of my life, and nothing much happened on either side of it. And the discussion thread in question (which links to this page here) is a bit more thoughtful than I had anticipated. These are not generally vindictive souls, though you can hear the frustration from time to time; their rules seem eminently reasonable. (Compare to, say, this ill-tempered wretch.) Still, I wonder how I managed to miss this site, and “You can’t read everything,” while true, isn’t much of an explanation.

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Fark blurb of the week

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Geezers rule

A scribe for Sports Illustrated was ready to predict the Thunder in seven, until the word came down that Serge Ibaka wouldn’t be available for the series; he then amended his prediction to the Spurs in six. In vain will you point out that the Thunder are younger and, Ibaka aside, healthier: Tim Duncan, who once drew a DNP-OLD, calmly knocked down 27 points in 29 minutes, and Tony Parker, playing through a hamstring strain, turned in a double-double (14 points, 12 assists). The Spurs treated the paint like it was their own, and the Thunder led only twice: at the very beginning, and with 4:44 left in the third quarter, after which it would be more than four minutes before they made another shot. At 2:13, with the Spurs up by 21, Scott Brooks waved the white flag, and San Antonio claimed Game 1, 122-105. Sixty-six of those 122 points, you should know, were scored in the paint.

This is the pair of numbers that jumped hardest from the box score: the Spurs had 28 assists and 9 turnovers, the Thunder 19 and 16. Clearly OKC was moving the ball, but not moving it particularly well. And while Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook accounted for just over half the Thunder scoring (28 and 25 points respectively), the only other starter to score was Kendrick Perkins with 5. Derek Fisher, who is probably almost old enough to have dated Tim Duncan’s babysitter, led the bench with 16. Nick Collison, who started in place of Ibaka, missed three shots, snagged two steals, and bled from two different locations. Reggie Jackson, usually viewed as the Mighty Spur-Killer, turned in a decent, if hardly lethal, 13 points.

“How did the Spurs do?” is usually easily answerable just from two lines, those of Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobili. (You already know what the Senior Citizens can do.) Both turned in solid work, Leonard knocking down 16 points and collecting two steals, and Manu going 7-12 in his capacity as Sixth Man of Your Dreams. The Spurs shot 50-87 for 57 percent, more than ten percent percent better than the Thunder.

Game 2 is Wednesday in San Antonio. The guy who said “Spurs in six” might have been off by one.

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Neither pink nor white

From the last time we were talking roses, which would be, oh, last week:

There is a bush in the same flowerbox producing deep reds, but it’s at the far end of the box, on the east end, about 16 feet away. If there’s some crossbreeding going on, color me impressed. (And that bush is currently producing lots of red, but red only.)

It occurs to me that “deep reds” demands more description than that, and since this doesn’t need to be 1000 words long, here’s an actual picture:

Red, red roses

Okay, maybe there’s just a hint of pink. And this bush, the closest to the house and therefore most likely to be shaded, has produced nothing for a couple of years.

(If you should so desire, resized versions reside at Flickr.)

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Mopzilla 2

My one and only complaint with the Libman Tornado Mop, added to my collection of household tools last month, was that “the instructions are a bit obtuse.” They are even more so when it comes to the humdrum task of detaching the head for cleaning purposes. In the video I pointed to, Suzy Homemaker simply tosses the head into the washing machine. Surely I can do this, right?

The answer, we now know, is “Sort of.” The process is not in the least intuitive. Fortunately, there is, yes, a video:

Got it. I think.

While pricing replacement heads on Amazon, I found this possibly apocryphal product review:

What you have here is a reasonably-priced mop refill for the quality Libman Tornado. But what I learned is that, despite its name, you should not try to use this mop refill during an actual tornado. I was carried to another trailer park where I was almost eaten by a coyote.

Yeah, but you were in a trailer park in the first place. That was your first problem.

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There’s a sausage joke here somewhere

In the future — which, I suspect, means some time in the next half-hour — everything will be explained in infographic form. For instance:

An argument for marriage equality using breakfast as a metaphor

This series of syaffolee tweets, which began with a retweet of the above (from Jeffrey Levin), provides some, um, food for thought:

I don’t think the apt comparison is between pancakes and fried eggsit’s probably more like an actual breakfast vs. a cup of yogurt. Or skipping breakfast entirely.

And for the people miserable with hunger pangs, they want other people to be as miserable as they are.

I routinely skip breakfast, but you probably already guessed that.

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Contains no feldspar

I took just enough chemistry in my younger days to be able to snicker at the organic-produce bins; I mean, it’s not like the alternative is inorganic produce, cobbled together out of stray minerals or something. Still, it hasn’t kept me from actually buying out of that bin now and then.

Then I picked up this bundle of organic bananas from Chiquita, sourced from somewhere in Ecuador. The usual green-plastic ribbon was in place, but now it’s bilingual: not only does it tell you “Organic Bananas,” but also, in French, “Bananes Biologique.” Hey, they’re “biological,” unlike that lump of stuff two bins down for twenty-five cents less. Who can argue with that?

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Strange search-engine queries (433)

If you’re just now arriving for the first time — well, what took you so long? This weekly feature celebrates the weirdest and wackiest search strings used by actual Googlers and Bingers and such to get to this very site. I do this because, well, it beats the heck out of coming up with a think piece on a Monday morning.

john green and holt mcdougal:  The fault, dear Brutus, is in Amazon’s database.

fun hourglass:  If it’s like those “fun size” candy bars, it runs out of sand in about a minute and a half.

erath and comanche county scanner news may 9 2014 5:40 pm:  What happened? Someone rob the only liquor store in Stephenville?

“good news about olds”:  It’s like the deal with Hummer: if you ever get another one, you must assume that it’s been used.

halloween “boys dressed up as girls” catholic:  Doesn’t sound like any of the Catholics I went to school with.

define curmudgeoncoot:  You’d know this from Words with Friends, if you had any friends.

do you drive a mazda 626 with the O/D button on or off:  Remember when we first discovered people too dumb to drive a stick? Now we have people too dumb to drive an automatic.

odds of 1in 4 quadrillion from publishers clearing house are outlandish:  But not necessarily inaccurate.

what other vehicles have radiator that fits 1993 mazda protege standard trans:  So you’re removing a component full of rust, and replacing it with a used component from a junkyard. What’s wrong with this picture?

What is the meaning of “Make it a date”?  Now see, this is why you’ve never been on one, and never will.

hold vilgub:  I’ll thank you to hold your own damn vilgub.

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@yukitupalready

Last year, comedian Sarah Millican was nominated for a British Academy Television Award, and thereby hangs a tale:

Last year, I was nominated for a Bafta. Me. The quiet girl at school. The awkward girl at college. The funny woman at work. A Bafta. And in a genderless category too. Alongside the entertainment greats: Graham Norton, Alan Carr and Ant and Dec. It felt ridiculous but I was thrilled. I’ve been nominated for awards before (even won a couple) and it really is the best. If winning is chips and gravy then being nominated is still chips. Lovely, lovely chips.

It’s an honor, as the Americans say, just to be nominated.

My friend and I danced into John Lewis knowing that a) they have lots of mini shops in there, and b) I can fit it into most of them. Fancy expensive designer shops are out for me as I’m a size 18, sometimes 20, and I therefore do not count as a woman to them.

We knew which one was the right one as soon as I swished back the curtain and both my friend and I oohed.

Always a good sign. This is the actual outfit:

Sarah Millican at the 2013 BAFTA Television Awards

Then the bottom — no, not that bottom — fell out:

Loads of friends and family had texted the expected “You were robbed”, which I wasn’t but they’re my friends and family so they’re supposed to think that. Then I went onto Twitter and it was like a pin to my excitable red balloon. Literally thousands of messages from people criticising my appearance. I was fat and ugly as per usual. My dress (the one that caused ooohs in a department store fitting room?) was destroyed by the masses. I looked like a nana, my dress was disgusting, was it made out of curtains, why was I wearing black shoes with it. I cried. I cried in the car.

I’m sorry. I thought I had been invited to such an illustrious event because I am good at my job. Putting clothes on is such a small part of my day. They may as well have been criticising me for brushing my teeth differently to them.

This may be, as some of you may have already discerned, the single worst aspect of social media: you hear from a lot of individuals you have no desire to hear from, and they will happily tweet things to you they would never, ever say to your face.

The 2014 television awards are tonight. Once again, Millican is a nominee. But she’s not going:

[S]o I was invited back to the Baftas. Nominated again, indeed. But sadly I am working that night. But if you have tickets to see my show in Buxton on 18 May, you may see me making my point anyway.

(Via this Caitlin Moran tweet.)

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CDO

Yeah, that’s me, though not necessarily in that order.

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