The power to reason away

Life imitates the Doobie Brothers:

Some time ago, I was talking to a woman about this wonderful, romantic week we’d spent together on a beach and she said, “Meh. I got sunburned so badly on that trip.” So the week that I have kept close to my heart for years as a near-perfect moment with someone is just, to her, that one week where she got sunburned. I cannot say that I was not angry with her for feeling that way. But only a borderline personality would fail to see that she has a right to her own opinion. The problem is that when I heard that opinion, it changed how I felt. So now, that week will live in my memory not as The Week That I Slept Like A Contented Infant Next To My Soul Mate As The Children Played Outside On The Sand but as The Week That I Put 1,340 Miles On My Porsche And Scraped The Nose Of It In A Parking Lot.

Now imagine that in Michael McDonald’s voice. I know I can.

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An unlikely tail

Still, there it is at the bookstore:

Who has two legs and would do something like this? This guy.

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Oh, and Hernando says hello

Debelah Morgan, thirty-eight this week, long ago faded from public view. She started out in gospel — she was teaching gospel choir at the college level while still a teenager — and the last we heard from her was the Let the Worship In/Champions Live 2 set five years ago. In between, though, a lot of things happened to her, including bouncing from Atlantic to Motown and back to Atlantic again.

Debelah Morgan photo by Roy Zipstein circa 2000

Debelah Morgan album art

That second stay at Atlantic produced this nifty dance number, based rather blatantly on “Hernando’s Hideaway” from The Pajama Game. (TPG composer Jerry Ross and lyricist Richard Adler are duly credited on the label.) It doesn’t use anywhere near all of Debelah’s reputed five-octave range, but damn if it isn’t catchy.

There are dozens of songs called “Dance With Me”; Debelah got hers to #8 in Billboard towards the end of 2000.

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Prepared for the worst

When I got home today, I found a standard #10 envelope by the front door, hand-inscribed “Dear Neighbor.” I figured it had to deal with one of two things that someone must have seen: my faceplant by the curb this morning, which didn’t seem too worrisome — someone offering to help in the future, maybe? — or my brief(less) stargazing experience from last night, which probably wasn’t so good.

(There is a nonzero probability that someone may have murmured “Thank God, we thought we were the only ones!” Still, nonzero does not mean a long way from zero.)

Of course, it turns out to be neither, but a flyer, a much-photocopied cover letter from one “Jennifer R.”, and a pair of tickets to this:

International Youth Fellowship (IYF) USA and Gracias Choir will be back on the road to present the 2015 Gracias Christmas Cantata US Tour across 25 cities from September 19th to October 16th. Christmas Cantata features 3 dynamic stages filled with cherished carols, gorgeous sets, and an eternal message of hope wrapped in one huge, breathtaking show.

Admission to Christmas Cantata is FREE but each performance is first-come, first-served and seating is limited. So find a Christmas Cantata tour stop near you, and request your tickets now. You can also make a donation to our US Tour and reserve your seats without waiting in line!

Come celebrate the true meaning of Christmas with Gracias Choir and IYF: the birth of love, hope, and happiness in each and every one of hearts. #BringTheJoy

Everybody has a hashtag these days. [sniff]

The local showing is Saturday night (10/10) at 7 pm at the Civic.

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Going for maximum meta

And the snake takes another yummy bite of tail:

Who didn’t see this coming? (Besides me, I mean.)

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The lark at break of day

Fortune and Men's Eyes by Jennifer HallI’ve had this particular album since it came out; I played it a couple of times, forgot about it for several years, but now and again something will happen to remind me about it and spur me to dig it out of the stacks. Yesterday another of those somethings took place, and I decided to follow up, since so far as I knew she never made another album.

Fortune and Men’s Eyes, a title borrowed from a Shakespeare sonnet, came out in 1987, produced by the reliable Alan Tarney; two singles were issued, one of which, “Ice Cream Days,” showed up in the soundtrack to Bright Lights, Big City in 1988. It’s a period piece in the best sense of the word:

Jennifer Hall, it turns out, is the daughter of British film director Sir Peter Hall and French actress/dancer Leslie Caron; she’s 57 now, and goes by Jenny Caron Hall — at least, for her artistic ventures: she’s done a fair amount of freelance writing for various English publications under the name Jenny Wilhide, the surname she shares with TV writer/producer Glenn Wilhide.

Really tangential: Wilhide’s grandfather Glenn Calvin Wilhide was director of design for Black & Decker.

Note: There exists a 1989 Eurodance number called “Don’t Say Goodbye,” credited simply to “Jennifer,” which sounds enough like JCH to justify its mention here.

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Life in Non-Drowsy Land

Saturday night, about five minutes before midnight, I extracted the little blue-green tablet from the card, and began my first test of Belsomra (suvorexant).

  • 12:00:  A book at bedtime.
  • 12:15:  A couple of yawns; I abandoned the book and turned off the light.
  • 1:45:  Still awake, and barely even drowsy.
  • 2:15:  Got up and cranked up the computer.
  • 4:00:  Went back to bed.
  • 4:45:  Last time I remember seeing the clock before sunrise.
  • 7:20:  Sunrise.
  • 7:25:  Discovered I’d pitched a pillow onto the floor.
  • 8:30:  Actually got around to retrieving the pillow.
  • 10:55:  Crawled out of bed.

Obviously I did get some small quantity of sleep, with various interruptions, out of this deal, but its onset was so long delayed from the time the pill was taken that I question whether it contributed anything.

Dosage: 10 mg. The prescribing information contains enough Scary Stuff to suggest that 10 would have been a heck of a lot safer than 20.

I will try again next weekend, perhaps on Friday night. I am not, however, particularly hopeful. The Holy Grail of sleep tabs — works in 15 minutes, disappears completely in six hours — has yet to be approached, let alone found. I will say this: it’s a wholly different dream function. Instead of the bad urban-fantasy stuff I find with Ambien, I got a bad memoir. Not really an improvement, but perhaps less frightening.

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All plop, no fizz

As usual this morning, I walked down the driveway toward the curb to fetch the newspaper. (I am one of those people who actually would prefer an afternoon paper, but the ten or twelve of us who still exist don’t count for much.) As usual, it was positioned on the section of concrete with the sharpest slant.

They say “Use your knees, not your back” to pick up stuff. If they had knees like mine, they never would have said such a thing. The Monday paper being generally smallish, I had a long way to go, and calculating the geometry of the matter, I spread my feet apart a few inches to buy some vertical. And then, having seized the paper, I unaccountably pitched forward, two, three steps, and wound up washing my face in the morning dew.

The fact that I was able to get up from this was heartening, or at least not leading to despondency. I dusted myself off and headed for the shop, figuring I can use the time at that traffic snarl around Penn Square to report that I wasn’t going to be in by 6:30.

No phone.

Evidently when I pulled myself off the ground, the little so-and-so stayed behind. I made a modestly mad dash in the opposite direction, retrieved the device, and started over. Okay, it was closer to 6:45. I can live with that. And they’re going to have to, you know?

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Strange search-engine queries (504)

It seems unreasonable to me that there should be 504 of these over a ten-year period, while there have been only 266 Popes in two thousand years. Then again, we don’t want to be changing Popes every seven days, either.

the reality television show wife swap exchanges the matriarchs from two very different families and films the result:  Kinda makes you wonder how it lasted for more than a season.

what happened to rebecca black:  Last I’d heard, she’d gone to Taco Bell.

mongoose agency:  So far, they have only the one mongoose, though they’d like to have more mongeese. Or is that “mongooses”?

lateral mobile shelving sioux falls south dakota:  You didn’t, um, accidentally build a shelf, did you?

hot girl serving beer:  Let’s hope it’s cold beer.

ariana grande having sex:  Shucks, I’d be happy if she’d just bring me a cold beer.

intravenous wine:  As a matter of fact, I like beer.

food for supper:  Highly recommended. In fact, most people actually prefer food for supper.

ay lav yu:  Wouldn’t “I <3 U” be easier to type?

shimshit lawyers:  That’s not how you spell “shyster,” although it probably ought to be.

a day full of fun dvd:  Preceded by half a day of previews, promotional material, outright commercials, and FBI warnings.

tamara is a content developer at moon loop inc:  Wonder what it takes to make sure our developers are content.

fiorina pantyhose:  You can’t assume someone will serve well in an elective office just because she has long, smooth, shapely, carefully crossed legs.

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Moon over Surlywood

Two conflicting urges here. I did want to get some sort of photographic record of the Big Fricking Bloody Moon Eclipse Thing while it was live; on the other hand, I have enough Sixties hippie left over inside me to insist that astronomical phenomena should be enjoyed in one’s most natural state.

Resolved, of course. Shot just over my roof, this is the Big Fricking Bloody Moon Eclipse Thing, and apparently nobody noticed the unclothed chap standing on his driveway — which is amazing, given my lack of suntan and consequent monstrously high albedo.

Super Blood Moon 2015

A somewhat embiggened version resides on Flickr for the moment.

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Sheer balls

Everything you’ve ever heard about “jailhouse lawyers” was leading up to this:

An inmate who escaped from a high-rise federal jail in Chicago has an unusual theory on who’s to blame: He says the government was negligent in enabling the breakout, so he sued for $10 million for damages.

The 7th U.S. Court of Appeals said in a Friday ruling that Jose Banks “gets credit for chutzpah.” But a three-judge panel at the Chicago-based court tossed his 2014 lawsuit.

“No one has a personal right to be better guarded or more securely restrained, so as to be unable to commit a crime,” the ruling said.

I think it’s probably reasonable to assume that Mr Banks was under a lot of stress during his escape:

In a 2012 jailbreak, Banks and a cellmate rappelled 17 stories down on a rope fashioned from bed sheets and dental floss, then hailed a cab. Banks, now 40, was caught within days and his cellmate within weeks.

Banks’ suit says the damages he suffered from the escape included the trauma of dangling on the makeshift rope in fear of his life.

On the upside, the jail now has an explanation for that sudden upsurge in dental floss consumption.

(Via Fark.)

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Just what the doctor ordered

Okay, this wasn’t strictly a prescription, but still:

CAABOH, incidentally, stands for “Crazy As A Bag Of Hammers.”

Background on this mysterious medicine:

Pharmacy technician Dee Vivian was having a normal day working at Shoppers Drug Mart in Sooke, British Columbia when a dad came into the store with an adorable request. He was designing a bottle of “monster spray” for his daughter, Mya — who was having a hard time getting to sleep at night for fear of creepy crawlies lurking under her bed — and asked if Dee could print a label to make the product look more official.

Not only did Dee oblige, she totally tricked out the spray bottle, covering it with labels to give the illusion that it was prescribed by a doctor. Someone shared a photo of the amazing monster repellent bottle on Reddit, and it’s amazing. “Spray around bedroom at night and before bedtime and repeat if needed,” the instructions advise. One sticker says, “Shake Well,” while another says, “May cause dizziness or drowsiness.” Drowsiness was definitely the goal, so these selections couldn’t be any more perfect.

Coolest dad ever, right? And you just try that with any of the humorless prescription-pushers on this side of the border: you’ll be lucky to get away with a $75 copay.

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Life at subsonic speeds

There was a reference to this event in Jim Theobald’s The Mammoth Book of World Records (London: Constable & Robinson, 2015), and I simply had to go looking for more:

The stars of Norway’s National Knitting Evening did not break a world speed record for stitching together a sweater on Friday night [1 November 2013], but they did set a viewing milestone for the NRK2 phenomenon known as Slow TV. About 1.3 million people tuned in to the broadcaster to watch four hours of knitting discussion, followed by 8.5 hours of “long, quiet sequences of knitting and spinning,” network exec Rune Møklebust tells me. That’s on par with a previous Slow TV show about firewood, and slightly more than the one that followed a 7.5 hour train journey. But market share was up dramatically to 15%. Viewers watched an average of four hours of the program which ultimately went to 13 hours, four more than planned. Møklebust says there is already demand for another — and possibly longer — knitting night.

So far this year, Slow TV has presented one program: a 200-minute lecture by Professor Frank Aarebrot on the subject of World War II. It drew a 21.4% share. The complete list of programs contains, yes, links to actual video (although the National Knitting Evening video is split into two parts).

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Can I get an Amen?

I’ve got to say it’s all right:

The Songwriters Hall of Fame is adding a new honor to its annual Induction & Awards Gala. Beginning in 2016, the Curtis Mayfield Award will be included in the organization’s scholarship program. The first presentation will take place next June in New York City.

As announced by Hall of Fame president/CEO Linda Moran, the Curtis Mayfield Award will recognize a promising singer/songwriter “whose work reflects the inspiration, spirit and soul” of the late R&B/soul pioneer. Mayfield, inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2000, wrote more than 1,700 songs during the course of his career. The singer/songwriter/musician’s catalog includes such iconic songs as “People Get Ready,” “Keep on Pushing” and “Superfly.”

“It’s time to celebrate and re-evaluate Curtis’ legacy,” says his widow Altheida in a statement. “He was a genius who always stood on his own.”

To celebrate, one of the lesser-known Impressions tracks, always a favorite around here:

Sandwiched between “People Get Ready” and “Amen,” “You Must Believe Me” didn’t chart as high as either (#15 in Billboard), but it stood out pretty well from the flood of British Invasion stuff in that happy year of 1964.

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Not on your formulary

In fact, I don’t know how anybody affords this stuff at all:

A U.S. drug company is taking the Canadian government to court for its attempt to lower the price of what has been called the world’s most expensive drug.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals has filed a motion in Federal Court, arguing that Canada’s drug price watchdog has no authority to force the company to lower its price for Soliris.

The medication is approved to treat two rare blood diseases that affect about one in every one million people. A 12-month treatment costs about $700,000 in Canada, while in the U.S. it costs about $669,000.

Wikipedia contributes this little factoid:

Alexion tested the drug for rheumatoid arthritis, which afflicts 1 million Americans. The trials failed. But if it had worked for arthritis, Alexion would likely have had to charge a much a lower price for this use, as [it] would have to compete against drugs that cost a mere $20,000.

In other news, $20,000 a year is now considered “mere.”

I have been known to complain about a drug that costs me $75 a month. I don’t even want to imagine a drug that costs $75 an hour.

(Via Fark.)

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The Nissan Maxima, argues Jack Baruth, is an anti-halo car:

  • Customer comes in to see the Altima
  • Customer sees Maxima with giant SALE banner
  • Customer compares price of discounted Maxima with less-discounted Altima
  • Sees that Maxima is a better deal
  • Doesn’t really like the Maxima
  • But he’ll be damned if he’ll pay just as much for an Altima as he would pay for the Maxima he doesn’t want
  • Customer leaves, buys a Camry, which is what his wife wanted him to do anyway

Conclusion: Nissan doesn’t need this car. But somebody does:

The company that most needs a Maxima is Nissan’s own sub-brand, Infiniti.

“But wait,” you say, “Infiniti’s brand values don’t include some big Fail-Wheel-Drive barge.” I assume you’re kidding, dear reader. Infiniti has no brand values whatsoever. It’s always been a grab-bag of whatever Nissan had sitting around the Japanese showrooms. The original Q45 was a Nissan President — although, to be fair, the idea of the Q45 was certainly on Nissan’s mind when the President was being developed. The Q-cars that followed were rebadged Nissan Cimas with virtually no US-market development. The G35 that took over as the “heart of the brand” was a Skyline. Only the FX-thingys were really meant from the jump to be exclusively Infinitis. The current lineup is a dog’s breakfast of awkward-looking SUVs and the Q50, which is lovely inside but doesn’t really exude much sporting intent.

And if they push it over to the Infiniti side of the business — as they did between 1997 and 2003, so there’s precedent — it has a chance of justifying a $40k price point, something it can’t do as a Nissan. Besides, it would kill off all that “four-door sports car” crap once and for all. I drive a 2000 with an Infiniti badge; it does have four doors, and it’s definitely a car, but it’s sporting only in the sense that it’s not the sort of anti-sporting vehicle for which General Motors was so famous for so long. If you can imagine an Oldsmobile Cutlass Semi-Supreme with better dampers, you have the I30/I35. If they bring it back as a Q40 or something, I’d have to seriously consider buying one.

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