From Italy with love

I was thumbing through the musical archives around here, and did not find this song:

You may remember Domenico Modugno from such hits as “Nel blu dipinto di blu,” known to everyone these days as “Volare,” which won two Grammy Awards and sold something like 20 million copies worldwide. That was in 1958. “Io” dates to 1959, and it deserves some kind of recognition for its short title, which in English is “I.” There exists a French lyric, under the title “Moi,” but the English version has a completely new set of words:

Released in 1964, this was Elvis’ biggest chart hit of that British Invasionary year, though it stopped at #12. And that was the song I found while thumbing through the archives.

RCA Victor 47-8440 presents a puzzle: two different picture sleeves (albeit with the same picture), one of which indicates “Ask Me” as the A-side, the other giving top billing to “Ain’t That Loving You Baby,” written by R&B stalwarts Ivory Joe Hunter and Clyde Otis and recorded back in 1958, which charted separately at #16.

Someone needs to get on the ball and knock out a piece on all the records Elvis did that originated in Italy. Two come immediately to mind, both of relatively ancient, hence public domain, Neapolitan origin: “It’s Now or Never,” a reworking of the standard “‘O sole mio,” which first appeared in 1898, and “Surrender,” based on “Torna a Surriento” (“Come Back to Sorrento”), from 1905.

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You belong to me

Ah, San Diego, where the weather is usually wonderful and the happenings around town are often inexplicable:

With many wondering whether the Chargers are leaving Qualcomm Stadium for Los Angeles, San Diego’s other major sports venue — Petco Park — has become the subject of a bizarre ownership controversy sparked by a mentally ill man who filed a simple document.

Derris Devon McQuaig took legal title to the downtown ballpark away from the city and the Padres two years ago by walking into the San Diego County Recorder’s Officer and submitting a properly filled-out deed transfer.


The ownership is supposed to be: City of San Diego, 70 percent, Padres Limited Partnership 30 percent.

County and city officials have been quietly trying to remedy the situation ever since, but a felony fraud case against McQuaig was dismissed last week after a judge ruled he’s not mentally competent to be prosecuted.

Because no actual sale or transaction took place, government officials and real estate experts say there’s essentially no chance of McQuaig taking control of the property, which was recently appraised at $539 million and is slated to host its first All-Star game in July.

But McQuaig has created a legal and bureaucratic nightmare that could be perpetrated on any property owner if someone decides to target them by casting doubt on their title in this way.

Meanwhile, McQuaig resides in a Home for the Bewildered State Hospital in San Bernardino County, and the assessor’s office back in San Diego says that well, McQuaig did what the law requires:

“As long as he’s crossed his t’s and dotted his i’s and filled in the blanks sufficiently on the grant deed, we’re required to record it. He had no legal authority to transfer Petco Park to himself, but it becomes part of the public record.”

Some day this incident will be a comic opera.

(Via Vice Sports.)

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Able was I

I grumble rather a lot about winter weather in this town. (Then again, I also grumble rather a lot about the weather in spring, summer and fall. This is, I think, the case for everyone who doesn’t actually live in San Diego, and for some who do.) Then again, no matter how bad I have it, it’s usually possible to find some place that has it worse.

Welcome to Elba, Alabama, population 3900 or so:

Flooding in Elba Alabama 2015

(Photo by Melissa Hudson, via WTVY, Dothan, Alabama.)

This town has been regularly beaten down by the Pea River:

The Lincoln flood of 1865, named for the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in the same year, was the first to destroy the town. Another devastating flood occurred in 1929 when the river crested at a depth of 43.5 feet (13.3 m) early on March 15. Airplanes were used to drop supplies to the completely inundated town. There was only one death from the flood, an African-American man named “Phoe” Larkins. A child born at the Elba Hotel during this flood was named “Noah Tucker” after the biblical character Noah. Vivian Harper received the Theodore N. Vail Silver Medal for her heroic actions during the flood.

A levee was built around the town in 1930. Flood gates were erected and drainage systems improved. Floods continued, however, with especially severe inundations in 1938, 1959 and 1975. The worst flood ever recorded in Elba occurred in 1990, with a river crest of 48 feet (15 m). The levee broke and Whitewater Creek overflowed into the town. Elba was completely flooded for four days, and the town was nearly destroyed. More floods struck Elba in 1994 and 1998.

The Pea is up around 41 feet right now. Flood stage is 30 feet. Hell of a Christmas present, if you ask me.

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A Boxing Day gift

Turkish actress Selen Soyder was born on this date in 1986. She’s done several soaps, and in 2007 she was named Miss Turkey, going on to the Miss World pageant, where she didn’t place.

Selen Soyder poses

Selen Soyder by the pool

About three years ago, she cut a single called “Dance Again [Hareketli].” No official video was made, but someone put a video together based on existing pictures of her, plus oversized captions lest someone extract them.

More recent photos were assembled into this video:

She seems to stay out of the news, though there was one incident where she is supposed to have stolen the boyfriend of another actress.

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Just another number

Asks the person in shadows: “My IQ is 131. Can I get into MIT?”

Ten answers on Quora so far, but this is the one that resonates with me, from Doc Searls:

You don’t have an IQ. Nobody does, because intelligence isn’t a quotient. It is the most personal of all human characteristics, and is as different in all of us as our faces and voices.

For the nothing it’s worth, my known IQ scores have an eighty point range. (Got most of ’em from my Mom, who taught in the same school system.) All they measured, if anything, was how tired or awake I was, and how much I enjoyed or hated being tested at some point in time. And none of them mattered, except to those attempting to classify me — and all of them failed.

Remember, that’s what IQ tests are for: classifying people.

There are pundits who will take issue with Doc’s explanation, arguing that classification of this sort is exactly the tool they’re looking for, but for the nothing it’s worth, I spread several scores over a 60-point range, and I couldn’t tell you which one, if any, was “accurate.” It certainly didn’t seem to have much bearing on subsequent education or employment.

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Quote of the week

Cobb considers the source of various anti-Islamic noises:

I am actually encouraged by the loudmouthed divisiveness of our diversity. Americans talk much more shit than a little and we entertain incredible fantasies of violent retribution. And yes when we do so it’s with Uncle Sam rolling up his sleeves. All of us talk this kind of Quentin Tarentino talk from time to time. Getting medieval on somebody’s ass is part of the lexicon. But it’s also something Americans don’t actually do, unless and until it’s war. And war is something Americans don’t enter into lightly.

So we will continue our loudmouth faux bigotry and insult people’s mothers, telling them to kiss the ugliest parts of our body politic. But we won’t do anything violent. We live deep in rhetorical hatred and violence every day, and we never forget the mentality. But American life is far too pleasant for us to take all that talk seriously. When somebody is actually crazy enough to put those words into action, we’re all shocked. So it’s difficult for most American to conceive of Daesh’s motivations as anything but desperate, stupid insanity.

This, of course, does not mean that desperate, stupid insanity is not a factor; but it does suggest that the situation is a bit too complicated to fit into a sound bite, no matter how vicious that bite might be.

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Predictive smartassery

Christmas morning, I was bleary-eyed and running about 60 percent brain function, but I still managed to come up with this:

No response. (Too early, you think?) Then, an hour later, this showed up:

Bless you, Mr Harvey, sir.

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Take one tablet

One week and one day with one low-end tablet. How does it work? Pretty well, actually, but it’s not exactly the answer to anyone’s prayers.

Okay, maybe the prayers of Jeff Bezos.

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What goes around, and around

I’m betting you remember something like this:

Columbia House ad

It probably won’t be exactly like this, but it’s (almost) back:

Cue up the sound of a record rewinding: Columbia House, the once-famous mail-order business that sold CDs for a penny, is looking to relaunch by selling vinyl records.

John Lippman, who bought the brand out of bankruptcy this month, revealed the plan in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. Citing millennials’ enthusiasm for vinyl, he said, “You can see a yearning and an interest to try a new format.”

Columbia House dates back to 1955, when Columbia Records, then a CBS subsidiary, saw an opportunity to market to customers who didn’t live near full-line record stores. The Columbia Record Club — RCA Victor and Capitol followed them quickly into the market — became the Columbia Record & Tape Club, and finally Columbia House. It somehow survived all manner of changes in the music industry, including the bloody dismemberment of both Columbia and RCA Records, but finally collapsed earlier this year.

(Via Fark, which notes: “This is not a repeat from 1979.”)

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Chicago-brand coal

It appears that the Thunder were actually on the Naughty List; the contents of the team stocking turned out to be bituminous and kind of crumbly. The visiting Bulls opened the game with an 11-point run. OKC came back, as OKC often does, coming within two at halftime. But Chicago outscored the Thunder 32-16 in a perfectly dreadful third quarter, and several subsequent comebacks stalled. The Bulls get the season sweep, 105-96, leaving Billy Donovan and 18,203 spectators to wonder what the heck they just saw.

Mostly, they saw inadequate execution. The Bulls were five percent better on their shooting, collected five more rebounds, and went 18-20 from the stripe. (Oklahoma City was 16-23; six of those seven misses were authored by Russell Westbrook in an evidently shaky hand.) Nor did it hurt the Bulls that slumping Derrick Rose looked a lot more like non-slumping Derrick Rose today, scoring 19 with little drama. (Okay, he fouled out in the last minute. It was over long before that.) And they did all this without either Mike Dunleavy or Joakim Noah.

Meanwhile, the Thunder pushed the limits of inefficiency. Westbrook’s 26 points took 23 shots and 13 free throws to make; he was 1-7 from outside. Kevin Durant’s long ball was similarly lacking (1-6), though KD ended up with 29 points. With offensive deficiencies all over the place — Anthony Morrow didn’t score until the fourth quarter, although admittedly he did hit two treys in succession — OKC was forced to go to lineups with no discernible defense, enabling the likes of Jimmy Butler to knock down 23 points without breaking a sweat. Enes Kanter got a double-double, because of course he did. But the Bulls had two: Taj Gibson and, of course, Pau Gasol.

The Nuggets will trudge through the snow and ice to play here Sunday night. Denver is just back of Utah for ninth place in the West; however, they are not known for playing like a ninth-place team, especially here.

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Wild and wilder

In 2014, Time named Australian (via South Africa) singer Troye Sivan, then nineteen, as one of the year’s most influential teens, right up there with a couple of Jenners. I missed that, and also his spiffy single “Wild,” which briefly Bubbled Under the Billboard Hot 100 in the States. I mention him here because (1) that is a spiffy single and (2) because Rebecca Black — it is Friday, after all — has put out a cover of it:

RB’s version apparently isn’t out as a single, but it’s getting a fair number of upvotes at YouTube. There’s what I think is a clumsy edit near the end, and I am weary of that whole bee-stung lips thing, but I’ll take stuff like this wherever I can get it.

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Still needs work

I have never actually had in-dash navigation in a car. Gwendolyn has a place for a nav screen, under a lid on top of the center stack, but it’s my understanding that they didn’t actually get any installed until the following model year, and while it could theoretically be retrofitted, assuming the parts could be found, the price would be somewhere between prohibitive and ridiculous.

And anyway, the concept is apparently a long way from being perfected. In the February Automobile, Ronald Ahrens discusses an issue with the nav system in the new Audi A3 e-tron:

The test car had voice-activated navigation, which worked well for one driver but evidently needed a stronger sarcasm detector for the other.

I figure fixing this will give VW Group something to do while they forget they ever built any diesels.

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Of hippos and homunculi

This song is as old as I am, but it (unlike me) never actually gets old:

She got one, too: a baby hippo named Matilda, who after the presentation went to live in the Oklahoma City Zoo, and made it to the ripe old age of 48; moving Matilda and her younger beau to Walt Disney World in Florida was apparently more than the old(ish) girl could take.

In 1960, Gayla Peevey, under the name “Jamie Horton,” cut this little ditty for a small New York label:

I don’t think she got one of those. (Peevey graduated from San Diego State, taught for several years, then ran an ad agency. She’s still around at 72.)

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Happy something or other

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Gutless supreme

This “1975 Oldsmobile Donk on 28s Forgiatos” is offered on Craigslist:

1975 Oldsmobile for sale

Seller’s description, unedited:

Runs good music loud has matts competition speakers, was in rides magazine and Marreece Speights from the Nba golden states warrior owned it previously before me any more questions give me a cal

What is a donk, you ask? The person from Urban Dictionary:

Any POS late 80’s or early 90’s American heap (preferably an Impala) that has large enough wheels installed until it resembles (and rides and handles like) a Conestoga wagon. This is done so it sits up high enough so as to be at the same eye level as the Playas with real juice ridin in their Escalades. Adding in a bad candy paint job and Wal-Mart sub box completes the transformation. With no money left over for necessary suspension and brake upgrades, the lifespan is limited to a few drug runs or the first Police chase, whichever occurs first.

Twenty grand, and this donk can be your donk. And hey, he almost spelled “Marreese” correctly. (“Speights” is correct.) But no, it’s not actually a Cutlass; this is the larger Delta 88 Royale, offered with the Olds 350 (175 hp) or the big-block 455 (215), with catalytic converters and mandatory single exhausts. And Forgiato 28s on eBay run about $3000.

(Via Susannah Breslin.)

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O go, O go, Emanuel

Meanwhile in Chicago:

A protest and march is planned for Christmas Eve, aiming to disrupt shopping on Michigan Avenue while calling for changes at City Hall.

Protesters are urging people to shop elsewhere as they try to get Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s attention and ultimately force him to resign. Protesters held a “die-in” Tuesday night outside [Emanuel’s] office … then they left City Hall and marched downtown.

Dave Schuler thinks this will not work:

Does Mayor Emanuel really care about the retailers? Are the retailers in a position to press him to resign?

If they really wanted to get rid of Rahm, they’d start demonstrating against Hillary Clinton. He’d be gone in 60 seconds.

Well, 90, anyway.

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