Can kicked slightly further

I wasn’t all that surprised to find a Washington Post app on my tablet; the tablet came from Amazon, and Amazon chair Jeff Bezos is the owner of the WaPo through his Nash Holdings operation. Six months, no charge. This is the follow-on deal offered me:

We hope you are enjoying your 6 months of free access to The Washington Post. Your limited-time trial will expire on June 17, 2016.

In order to continue enjoying the same access to The Washington Post, we would like to offer you the following special subscription rate: 6 months for only $1.00. Once your 6 month promotion comes to an end, your subscription will continue to renew for just $3.99 monthly.

Since Amazon has been dealing on lots of things, even sacred Prime, lately, I suspect the price this December might actually be a tad less than $3.99. I mean, I wasn’t expecting any kind of discount at this point.

Comments (5)




Not to be confused with the Crackers

You (by which I mean I) gotta love this:

Since you asked, the Montgomery Biscuits are in the Northern Division of the Southern League (!); they’re the Double-A farm club of the Tampa Bay Rays. (On that Friday, the Biscuits rode a five-run second inning to a 6-3 victory over Jacksonville.) Wikipedia advises that “during games, biscuits are shot from an air cannon, into the stands.”

The Biscuits won back-to-back Southern League championships in 2006 and 2007, both times defeating the Huntsville Stars, who in 2015 relocated to become the, um, Biloxi Shuckers.

Comments (4)




No static at all

Rather a lot of us grew up in circumstances like these:

If you were born a few years before the era of Teen Death Songs, as I was, you might remember when AM radio stations played music. The greater fidelity of transmission and reception provided by FM radio put an end to that, of course. Yet some of the hits of the early Sixties don’t sound quite right in high fidelity. They seem to have been designed to be heard on tinny, staticky AM radios … specifically, the sort of radio that was built into the dashboard of a 1965 Chevy Caprice.

The result is a seeming loss of authenticity when those early AM radio hits are reproduced on modern equipment. The listening experience just isn’t the same. Why, to this day I can’t abide hearing “Walk Away, Renee” in remastered digital quality sound. My wife, that heretic, suggests that it might be because of the wear and tear fifty years of sitting in front of a computer monitor has put on my ears, but I know she and all my other friends are just trying to make me paranoid, and I’m not going to let them!

For what it’s worth, there is no known original stereo tape of the Left Banke’s third single, “Desiree”; all versions in release are the 45 single mix. That said, the “Renee” version linked seems a bit more heinous than usual.

And that said, rather a lot of Sixties records were cut specifically with auto audio in mind. For (one very big) instance:

In his still essential Motown history Where Did Our Love Go? Nelson George writes, “Motown chief engineer Mike McClain built a miniscule, tinny-sounding radio designed to approximate the sound of a car radio. The high-end bias of Motown’s recordings can be partially traced to the company’s reliance on this piece of equipment.” They knew people would be listening on their car stereos and on their transistor sets and they were going to do what it took to make their songs sound good and memorable. Even if you couldn’t put your finger on it, when a Motown song came on, you knew it.

I have a copy of “Dancing in the Street,” carefully de-noised, painstakingly remixed, and lovingly remastered. It has about one-sixth the impact of the mono single.

And I may as well admit here that our local Top 40 AM station had a simulcast on FM. The FM was a little cleaner, but not enormously so; more to the point, AM radio sets of the era were simply better than they are now. When seemingly all the music started moving to FM, receiver manufacturers found the idea of cheaping out on the AM sections irresistible. I have Bose audio in my car. CDs are great, FM is fair to good depending on station practice, and AM is not much better than an old Princess phone. Yet there are still some good AM sets to be had, if you look around.

More worrisome is the prospect of being stuck with remasters hereafter:

Last fall, we wrote about the record labels moving on from streaming companies to instead suing CBS over its terrestrial radio operations playing pre-1972 songs as well. CBS hit back with what we considered to be a fairly bizarre defense: claiming that it wasn’t actually playing any pre-1972 music, because all of the recordings it used had been remastered after 1972, and those recordings should have a new and distinct copyright from the original sound recording. As we noted at the time, an internet company called Bluebeat had tried a version of this argument years earlier only to have it shot down by the courts (though its argument ignored the whole derivative works issue).

Now, in a somewhat stunning ruling, the court has agreed with CBS that remastered works get new copyrights as derivative works of the original. You can read the full court order here [pdf]. The court, correctly, notes that for a work to get a new copyright, it must show originality beyond the initial work — and that originality “must be more than trivial.”

Will somebody at whoever the hell has the rights to the Mercury/Smash catalog now order a new version of “Desiree”? I’d bet on it.

(With thanks to Roger Green.)

Comments (5)




When greatness calls

Muhammad Ali, we remember, had a decidedly activist side:

“I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.”

Some found this disquieting. But Ali was working with ideas, not with buzzwords: no matter what he said, kidding around or deadly serious, he was never just going through the motions. And even when he told you he was The Greatest, he knew, and would willingly acknowledge, that there was Someone Even Greater.

A little bit of bombast, a whole lot of humble:

And the President said exactly the right thing:

He wasn’t perfect, of course. For all his magic in the ring, he could be careless with his words, and full of contradictions as his faith evolved. But his wonderful, infectious, even innocent spirit ultimately won him more fans than foes — maybe because in him, we hoped to see something of ourselves. Later, as his physical powers ebbed, he became an even more powerful force for peace and reconciliation around the world. We saw a man who said he was so mean he’d make medicine sick reveal a soft spot, visiting children with illness and disability around the world, telling them they, too, could become the greatest. We watched a hero light a torch, and fight his greatest fight of all on the world stage once again; a battle against the disease that ravaged his body, but couldn’t take the spark from his eyes.

That spark lives on, even as the man who brought it travels to a higher plane.

Comments (2)




Tried and retried and true

It wasn’t her idea, but Fillyjonk has gone back to a normal thermostat:

The new one is not programmable or wi-fi linkable, but I am okay with that. I figure fewer brains in the thing means less chance of those brains getting scrambled by power blips. Also, I used the programmable feature for a while when I first had the thing, but I quickly learned that if we had a power outage of anywhere from 30 seconds to five minutes, the thing “forgot” what time it was and I had to reset the clock, and if the power was out for more than five minutes, the thing forgot ALL its programming and I’d have to go through and painstakingly reset the times (there were four times per day: wake up time, leave-house time, return-home time, bedtime) and the temperatures for them. And the thing would default to a temperature of 85 F (if the ac was on) or 60 F (if the heat was on) if it lost its programming and you didn’t reprogram it. So that would not be too cool when you were away for an extended time.

It was 1953 when Honeywell introduced the T-86, better known as the “Eyeball,” thermostat. It is programmed by turning a knob to the desired temperature. More than that, I will not ask of a thermostat. Yes, they do make the fancier stuff. I don’t care.

Comments (3)




We got your counterexamples right here

Everybody and her sister knows Rule 34 of the Internet: “If it exists, there is porn of it — no exceptions.”

They say you can’t prove a negative, and maybe that’s true, but there are at least 34 known exceptions to Rule 34. Now whether they will remain exceptions, we do not know.

(Via Selena Larson.)

Comments (5)




Meanwhile on Choctaw Ridge

“It was the third of June, another sleepy, dusty Delta day…”

Everything you know about Bobbie Gentry starts with that one line, and of course you know the song:

That half-raspy belle-but-not-of-the-ball voice of hers became instantly recognizable, and it saw her through a few smaller hits on the way to oblivion.

Bobbie Gentry for Top of the Pops circa August 1968

Bobbie Gentry goes slightly wild

This is about the place where I’d insert a recent picture. But here’s the catch: there aren’t any recent pictures. Some time after her 1978 single “He Did Me Wrong (But He Did It Right)” failed to catch on, she withdrew from the public eye almost entirely.

Neely Tucker went looking for her:

Bobbie Gentry lives about a two-hour drive from the site of the Tallahatchie Bridge that made her so famous, in a gated community, in a very nice house that cost about $1.5 million. Her neighbors, some locals and some real estate agents know who she is, although it’s not clear which of her many possible names she goes by.

And no, we still don’t know what was being thrown off that bridge before Billie Joe consigned himself to those muddy waters. There was a film sort of based on the song, but there’s no reason to suspect it’s canon; it’s not even spelled right. Nor is the death of Billie Joe the worst thing that ever happened on the Tallahatchie; Emmett Till wound up there, and he was murdered.

(I am indebted to Roger Green for turning up that B&W picture, which apparently the BBC had in one of its libraries.)

Comments (2)




Swag of a sort

Back in February, I reviewed Sabrina Lentini’s second EP, which is titled, um, Sabrina Lentini. (My Google-Fu is legendary.) I’d been part of the crowdsourcing process, and at my level, I got not only five downloadable tracks, but actual hard copy plus an autographed photo, when she got around to it.

She’s gotten around to it. Girl goes through Sharpies like I go through Advil. It’s an actual, properly pressed CD — none of that CD-R stuff — and it’s got credits and everything. The 5×7 color glossy is amusing: she’s working a camera that looks to be at least 50 percent older than she is. (The back contains the cryptic message “Sabrina hi-res IMG_6318.jpg,” probably left there by the place that printed all these up.) Forever Daisy Music, her publishing and production operation, has a cute logo — it’s on the CD label — apparently drawn by someone who bought a lot of late-Sixties records from Elektra.

The songs, of course, are as good as ever.

Comments




An actual Trump success

Warren Meyer has kind words for Donald Trump’s International Hotel Las Vegas:

I have in the past been a fan of his hotel on the strip in Las Vegas. The hotel provides a screaming good value (you can almost always get a huge discount off rack rate) for an exceptionally nice room in a good location — and in a non-casino hotel to boot. I used it for years as a low-cost location for manager meetings. The staff there is great — the only problem is one has to look past the tacky gold gilding on everything and the goofy Trump-branded swag in the gift shop. I will add, though, apropos to this post, there is no way on God’s green Earth that this hotel makes money, at least if it is paying all of its capital costs (it is possible there was a bankruptcy at one point where Trump said “you’re fired” to the bondholders). If you ever stay there, by the way, it has the best view of the strip in Vegas because it is right at a bend and can look straight down the street. Ask for a high room on the south side.

Curious about the lack of casino — hell, even Chevron stations in Vegas have slots, or so I’ve heard — I went searching, and turned up this quote:

“We have no problem getting a gaming license, but we wanted to do something different here,” said Eric Trump, Donald and Ivana Trump’s third child. “We wanted a true luxury resort experience. It’s hard to have a high-quality product when you walk into ‘ding, ding, ding’ and there are people walking around in Hawaiian shirts with big plastic drink mugs.”

And while there doesn’t seem to be a specific bankruptcy, there were lawsuits, which were resolved in Trump’s favor.

Comments (1)




The path of yeast resistance

Brian J. polishes off about one-half of one percent of a jar of Vegemite:

I mean, I grew up in poverty, but my family was not poor enough to serve this.

I’m blessed to have grown up in a bountiful land where one can go pick food from outdoors instead of a desert surrounded by twenty-foot-long crocodiles.

The wikihistory of Vegemite is that an entrepreneur wanted to make a food out of industrial by-products. And he did it.

God help me, I saw in the Wiki entry that they use it as a pastry filling. I suspect that the Australians do this to keep other people away from their doughnuts.

You know why Australian rules football is so vicious? The winners get a Vegemite sandwich. The losers get a year’s supply of Vegemite and a sixty-DVD Paul Hogan complete film set.

This is not unlike Steve Harvey’s reaction:

“Sounds like a pesticide. That about damn near what it tastes like.”

Comments (2)




Next time don’t be so silly

And now, a can of silly string subjected to a hydraulic press:

Don’t try this at home, especially if you live in Southington, Connecticut.

(Via HelloGiggles.)

Comments




Turn on your radio

Ontogeny might not recapitulate phylogeny the way we once thought, or at least the way Ernst Haeckel thought, but pop music parallels a whole lot of cultural evolution:

When there’s war, either actual or likely, you get nice bright shiny happy music — rock in the 50s and 60s, disco in the 70s, techno in the 80s, hedonistic tween pop now. But when things are great — as in the 1990s — you get songs about how awful everything is (grunge, nu metal). The only caveat here is that you have to look at what’s actually on the charts, not just what you think is going to be there — Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane never sniffed the top 10, and the only Doors songs to do so were treacly pop crap like “Touch Me.” Acidy stuff was there, but most “Sixties” music shared chart space with, and usually lost out to, crap like “Harper Valley PTA” and “Sugar Sugar” (the top song of 1969, the very year of Woodstock!).

“Somebody to Love” hit #5 in Billboard, and “White Rabbit” made it to #8, which may explain why Surrealistic Pillow, the Airplane album that contained them both, topped out at #3. However, this was a short-lived phenomenon at best; JA’s third-biggest hit, “The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil,” stopped two slots short of the Top 40, and nothing else came close to that. (We will pretend not to notice “We Built This City,” an inexplicable #1 for the de-Jeffersoned “Starship” in 1985.) The chart history of Jimi Hendrix contains no zingers, even brief ones: Hendrix’ much-loved reworking of Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” stalled at #20, and “Purple Haze,” which everyone thought of as Jimi’s Big Hit, died at #65.

And while viewing that last paragraph, you should keep in mind that I have always had a taste for treacly pop crap, dating back at least as far as, oh, “Johnny Angel.”

Comments (4)




Tronc

Un tronc peut désigner:

  • un tronc, la partie principale de la tige d’un arbre, en botanique;
  • le tronc, partie centrale du corps humain contenant la plupart des viscères, en anatomie;
  • le tronc cérébral, une structure du système nerveux central situé dans la fosse postérieure du crâne, en neurologie;
  • un tronc sympathique, une partie du système nerveux périphérique, innervant les viscères;
  • le tronc brachio-céphalique, une artère du thorax irrigant le membre supérieur droit et la tête, en angiologie;
  • le tronc cæliaque, une artère abdominale irrigant le foie et l’intestin, en angiologie;
  • le tronc basilaire, une artère du crâne irrigant le cervelet et le tronc cérébral, en angiologie;
  • un tronc, la partie d’un solide comprise entre deux plans parallèles, en géométrie;
  • un tronc, une tirelire installée dans une église pour collecter les dons;
  • les troncs célestes, un élément du cycle sexagésimal des anciens calendriers chinois;
  • Saint-Tronc, un quartier du 10e arrondissement de Marseille;
  • Le Tronc, film de Bernard Faroux et Karl Zéro

Il est un nom très stupide pour un propriétaire de journaux.

(Avec nos remerciements à Nancy Friedman.)

Comments (2)




Vacuum abhorred

Four hundred miles down Interstate 35, there’s the uncomfortable arrival of reality:

Surprising exactly nobody who is not an economic retard, black market ridesharing has popped up to replace Uber and Lyft, which famously quit Austin after voters sustained onerous regulations imposed by the city council. So reasonable regulation and corporate oversight is now eclipsed by no oversight. But we got international humiliation out of it so that’s something.

I include this for the benefit of the members of our local Whining-American community, who simply can’t understand how our own little metropolis (population 630,000, about two-thirds that of Austin) is failing to keep up with the Texans. Then again, we are surely awash in economic retards.

Comments




Worst. Color. Ever.

It goes with nothing:

Pantone 448 C

And yet it has a purpose:

Pantone 448 C, or “opaque couché,” is a greenish brown-gray that looks like it spent a few decades in a sewer. If you find it unpleasant, that’s the point.

The Australian government hired research agency GfK to redesign cigarette packaging in 2012, and they determined (with seven studies and 1,000 regular smokers) that this was the most deterring color to pair with the anti-smoking graphics.

Probably because they thought it looked like the inside of somebody’s lungs after three packs of Winfield every day for forty years.

Comments (3)




A page from my past

Actually, this is a current page, but it was seriously pertinent to me back in the 1960s:

Bishop England High School has been providing a Catholic, college preparatory education to thousands of young men and women of varied backgrounds since it was founded in 1915. Students graduating from Bishop England make a mark on their world through leadership, achievement, and service — skills learned as part of the Bishop England experience. BE’s ability to prepare young men and women into adults who are critical thinkers, who understand the importance of human dignity and empathy, who respect themselves and others, and who live their faith through action, depends on the support of many — teachers, religious leaders, alumni, friends and family — giving their time, talents and resources.

Gifts to Bishop England, large or small, help ensure that the tradition of a Bishop education can remain strong and that qualified students are able to pursue a secondary school education here regardless of their ethnic, religious or socio-economic backgrounds. As you contemplate your personal support of BEHS, please know that every gift is important and every gift makes a difference in the lives of our students.

I remember how we scraped for tuition when I was enrolled. Having looked at the current rates, I don’t know how anyone scrapes for them: a year now costs about as much as two years of regional state universities where I live now, and that’s before the tuition hikes go in to cover for the 15.9-percent funding cut they’re getting this year.

So yeah, I sent a few bucks to the old high school. It isn’t the first time.

Comments (1)