Meanwhile, back on the shelf

“Stranded in the Jungle” by the Jayhawks came up in the shuffle the other day, and I got to wondering why I wound up with their version, and not that other one by the Cadets, or that other other one by the Gadabouts — because none of them corresponded exactly to my late-Fifties memory of the song.

So I did my darnedest to visualize the 45 label, which turned out not to be Flash (Jayhawks) or Modern (Cadets) or Mercury (Gadabouts), but an anonymous cover label called “18 Top Hits,” so named because they were packaged three to a bag, three songs to an EP side, no artist ever mentioned. I have no idea who did their version of “Stranded in the Jungle,” though that recording was pretty much steam-cleaned and pushed a couple of notches toward pop, away from R&B. (Which may explain why I wound up with the Jayhawks recording, which is pretty hard R&B despite its hilarious premise.) The arrangement, I recall, was closer to that used on the Cadets disc, though the vocals were whiter than white, whiter than Pat Boone’s shoes, and in a Pat-erific move, the line in the last verse about “the man ain’t no good” was rendered grammatically correct.

I remember exactly one other “18 Top Hits” recording, a cover of “Mutual Admiration Society,” from the 1956 musical Happy Hunting, on which Teresa Brewer had the hit.

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When you’re down 3-0, you’ve got nothing to lose, and Houston, for the most part, played tonight as though they’d been informed that the Toyota Center would be set on fire after the horn. Oklahoma City had run up a 13-point lead late in the second quarter; the Rockets cut that to seven at halftime, and utterly flummoxed the Thunder in the third, jumping out to a seven-point lead of their own. If there’s a single stretch of playing time that epitomizes this game, it’s from 6:53, when James Harden had to sit after picking up his fifth foul, to 3:16, when OKC called its next-to-last time out. During this period, the Thunder gained essentially no ground. But no white flag was raised; at 1:42, Kevin Durant sank a trey, then rebounded a Harden miss and turned it into a dunk to pull OKC to within two, and that’s where it was at the end, 105-103, when a Reggie Jackson driving layup didn’t go and Serge Ibaka couldn’t stick it back.

So the Rockets live for another game, which will be Wednesday at the ‘Peake. Radio guy Matt Pinto made a crack about Harden’s non-standard double-double: 15 points, 10 turnovers. (More impressive: Chandler Parsons, 27 points, 10 rebounds; Omer Asik, 17 points, 14 boards.) Not quite so many treys — but a better completion ratio — for both sides: 12-27 for the Rockets, 11-25 for the Thunder.

As for Durant, you know that five-point burst I mentioned earlier? That gave him six for the quarter. Still, KD finished with 38 on 12-16 shooting, and Jackson, Kevin Martin and Derek Fisher (again!) made it into double figures, though I’d bet you anything Reggie wasn’t keeping count on that last drive to the rim.

And so it goes. See you day after tomorrow.

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Feline precision

Up to now, I’d been successfully ignoring Lana Del Rey. No more:

And yes, there’s a reason for that Jaguar F-Type.

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A distorted reality

Roger’s counting down his favorite Sixties albums, if you consider “Sixties” to be defined as 1961 through 1970. This definition is less eccentric than my own, which runs from November 1963 through May 1969, mostly for personal reasons, and anyway the 21st century started in 2001, not 2000, so there.

Reflections by Diana Ross and the SupremesAt #127 he lists Reflections, a 1968 Supremes LP, and notes:

There is this Motown compilation I have on LP, and I think it was Mary Wilson who said, in the intro, that the title tune is a “weird, weird song.”

Which indeed it is. “Reflections,” the single, issued with the portentous Motown catalog number of 1111, had all sorts of weirdness running through it: Atari-esque bloops and bleeps here and there (in the stereo mix, bouncing between the channels); billing revised to “Diana Ross and the Supremes,” which may or may not have had something to do with Florence Ballard’s dismissal; and an absolutely horrible edit right before the outro, presumably to keep the song from going over three minutes. (You can hear it here at about 2:36, which doesn’t correspond to the actual record time because of various YouTube matters.) Further, Motown’s star production trio, Brian and Eddie Holland and Lamont Dozier, were about to head out the door; the Reflections LP contains their last three Supremes singles. (“Forever Came Today” is the last, and you can’t tell me that title didn’t mean something.) The full track, which Motown eventually put on a compilation CD in 2004, runs 3:18 and ends cold: no fade.

Then again, “1111” matters mostly because Berry Gordy’s first actual hit for the Motown operation was actually licensed to another label: his sister Gwen’s Anna label, on which it was, yes, #1111. (The original release, on Tamla 54027, got some regional buzz, but Anna had national distribution courtesy of Chess.) I leave for the experts the question of why Tamla’s numbering system went 101, 102, 54022.

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Gaggle it

If you live in, say, Micronesia, you may not have much exposure to the Canada goose (Branta canadensis), a bird so generally despised in these parts that its Wikipedia page has a whole section devoted to “Relationship with humans.”

Said humans, of course, have a tendency to strike back. Enter — into Madison, Wisconsin, anyway — the GoosInator:

“The goal is to make life uncomfortable for geese, who see it as a predator,” said Hefty, the city’s conservation supervisor who test-goosed the remote-control predator last fall and then recommended its purchase.

The GoosInator — the orange color, the large painted eye and cartoonish big, pointy, toothy snarl are details guided by university studies, the inventors say — is the newest of several tools the Parks Division is using to “manage” the geese, a perennial problem.

And now, to harass a goose:

Couldn’t happen to a nicer bird, and let’s face it, there are nicer birds.


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Strange search-engine queries (378)

All ready at the crack of dawn — and frankly, dawn ought to let us get a few more minutes of sleep, don’t you think? — it’s your weekly visit into the weird world of search strings, as found in this site’s weekly visitor list.

james harden rigged:  And that’s quite a rigging he has, too.

w6161xa bitten by duck initial encounter:  Yeah, like you’d want a second one.

jorgen von strangle gay sex story:  I’m sorry, I was busy laughing at “Jorgen von Strangle,” a name too silly for all but the lamest fiction.

When you need a new transmission do dealships put in new ones or rebuild ones?  A new one is at least $6,000. What do you think?

can i change my transmission from electronic to the cable transmission mazda:  Not a chance. You’ll need the old one rebuilt, inasmuch as a new one is at least $6,000.

what are the reasons a transmission is slipping mazda 626:  You need a new one. Actually, you need a rebuilt one, inasmuch as a new one is at least $6,000.

what is a gougery:  A place where one goes to get gouged, of course. You don’t happen to need a transmission, do you?

why doesn’t someone run against chairman rocky barrett potawatomi:  Beats me. The tribe is having legislative elections in late June, but only two seats (I think) are being contested.

Aubrey Mclendon screwed OG&E:  Well, that explains the smiles on their faces.

snert hagar how do you spell that:  According to my mom, who would have been 85 yesterday, it’s T-H-A-T.

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A shattering development

Bill Quick is looking forward to the deployment of Google Glass:

I waited years for decent speech recognition, and now I use it all the time. I waited years for ebooks and ebook readers, and people told me I was nuts, they would never catch on. I’ve been waiting years for interfaces like Google Glass, and people still think they’re a fad that will never become popular.

They will. And eventually, you will buy them, or something like them. But by that time, I’ll have had mine for a good while. And I’ll still be saying, “I told you so.”

Let the record show that he indeed told me so.

If I envy anyone here, it’s the 30-year-old who latches on to it, simply because I have to marvel at the wondrous stuff that awaits her at age 60. (And would theoretically await me at 90, assuming I’m going to make it to 90, which is not necessarily the best of bets.)

Bill’s read Robert Scoble’s review, and you probably should too.

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Unanswered sprayers

As a general rule, I don’t think much of vandals. Now imagine what I think of illiterate vandals:

Hassan Ahmed, the imam of the Grand Mosque, said he was the first member of his congregation to see the vandalism because he was first to arrive at the house of worship on Saturday.

He said vandals painted the words “Hale [sic] Satan” along with a four-letter profanity and a racial slur on the mosque’s exterior. He said the vandals also drew a phallic shape on the building.

I’m sure Satan is hale, even hearty; it’s not like he has to exert himself, given his abundance of minions, but it’s a pride thing, you know?

This sort of, um, undocumented decoration is most commonly the work of the local Tagging-American community; however, no self-respecting tagger would turn in such sloppy work, so I’m having to believe that this is the work of some pissed-off drunk guy. And I’d hate to think that there are pissed-off drunk guys nearby; the Grand Mosque is just about one mile from the palatial estate at Surlywood.

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No artificial coloring

Regular readers will be aware that I tend to be unimpressed with most of the President’s Big Ideas, but this comparatively smallish idea of his strikes me as seriously ingenious:

President Barack Obama revealed the strategy he and First Lady Michelle Obama use to keep their daughters away from tattoos:

“What we’ve said to the girls is, ‘If you guys ever decide you’re going to get a tattoo, then mommy and me will get the exact same tattoo, in the same place, and we’ll go on YouTube and show it off as a family tattoo’,” Obama said.

“Our thinking is that might dissuade them from thinking that somehow that’s a good way to rebel.”

Well played, Mr. President.

(Via Pejman Yousefzadeh, who calls it “a brilliant stratagem.”)

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The name of this band is [blank]

Are we running out of band names? Maybe:

One can imagine that 20 years ago, any garage band could have any name it wanted — or no name at all. The only reason a band really needed a name was if they were going to gig or record or tour. Let’s say 10 percent of those bands ever left the garage. Today all those bands are on Bandcamp, and they can’t be on Bandcamp without a name. These sites, including Myspace, which has 14 million acts, have inflated the demand for band names.

Or maybe not:

[W]hile the internet aids the perception that band names are harder to come by (they’re also changing, says Chris Johnson, who’s noted fewer one-word band names than multi-word ones), it’s not because English is running out of words. There are still vast numbers of words that can be stuck together, as well as a number of patterns or templates, some of which haven’t been become institutionalized as genre cues yet, that can be used to expand the permutational choices. Surely your one-word choice (Blue) will be taken, so modify it (Big Blue, Super Blue, Pink Blue, Really Blue, the Blue) or build a phrase (Big Blue Fly, Big Blue Road, Big Blue Popsicle, Big Blue Big). From a little bit of recursion, you could name a million bands and still bequeath a list of a million more to your rock-and-roll grandchildren (though those names will probably be longer).

All that Blue stuff got me thinking about this song:

Earworm potential: near maximum. And “Big Blue Wave” is the title; the band is named Hey Ocean! You may have seen them here.

(Via this Nancy Friedman tweet.)

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There was wild speculation about what the Thunder would be like without Russell Westbrook, simply because no one’s ever seen the Thunder without Russell Westbrook: he’s played every regular-season game, every playoff game, since he signed his rookie contract. And when Houston jumped out to an early 9-3 lead, everyone’s worst suspicions were confirmed. The rest of the first quarter, though, went 36-10 OKC, and the lead ballooned to 26 in the second. The Rockets would not take this lying down, and gradually whittled away at that lead: to 17 at the half, to only four after three quarters, and to zero at the 5:46 mark. Houston finally regained the lead, 94-93, with 3:45 left, and was up 99-97 three minutes later. What happened after that is the stuff of legend: Kevin Durant put up a trey which backrimmed, then frontrimmed, then somehow actually dropped. Then Derek Fisher swiped the ball from James Harden, drew a foul, and sank two free throws. With the Rockets down three, Harden sensibly went for the easy two; at the 0.08 mark, Reggie Jackson earned two freebies, Carlos Delfino’s last-second trey wound up in Jackson’s hands, and the Thunder won it, 104-101, to go up 3-0 in the series.

But damn, did those Rockets show some pluck. Harden once again led the parade with a nice solid 30; Chandler Parsons checked in with 21; Delfino’s 11 and Francisco Garcia’s 18 accounted for most of the bench points. (Both Kevin McHale and Scott Brooks played nine men.) Houston showed off some serious defense, swiping the ball six times and blocking 12 shots, four by Omar Asik, who’s expected to do that sort of thing, and three by Garcia, who isn’t. On the downside for the Rockets, Patrick Beverley was a trifle subdued, and Jeremy Lin was clearly unwell.

Still, Thunder blue came through. Durant got a whole 44 seconds of rest in 48 minutes, and still put up 41 points while gathering 14 rebounds. Serge Ibaka stepped up his offensive game: 17 points to go with 11 boards. And Jackson, apparently not at all flustered by getting an actual start, scored 14. (Okay, maybe a little flustered; he managed only one assist and turned it over three times. Then again, Westbrook used to turn it over three times in a quarter and nobody said a word.) And wily old Derek Fisher, spelling Jackson, was good for nine and a team-high +14.

As for Westbrook, he had his operation today, and he’ll be fine. Eventually. I mention purely in passing that Thunder castoff Nate Robinson scored 34 points in 28½ minutes before fouling out, as the Bulls edged the Nets 142-134 in triple overtime.

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Not a punk rocker

At twenty-two, Sheena Easton pulled off a major accomplishment: she sang the theme to a James Bond movie and appeared in the title sequence to do it.

Today she’s fifty-four, and still singing. A shot from a Chilean tour in 2008:

Sheena Easton on tour

And she appears to have come to grips with that whole terrifying No Longer Young business. From a review of a Las Vegas performance in 2005:

Easton has shed a few pounds since the Hilton days and still has the charisma that separates enduring performers from one-hit wonders. “Maybe we have lost touch along the way,” she teases the crowd. “I used to think I had to stay frozen in time,” she adds later. But she discovered, “No amount of Botox will keep up.”

Wisdom received.

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When you hope both sides lose

Received from the local cable provider:

We know you’re concerned about the availability of KFOR (NBC affiliate) and KAUT (FREEDOM 43 TV) on Cox’s cable lineup, and I want to reassure you that we’re actively negotiating to continue offering it to our customers. Cox is fighting for you and trying to ensure that we are able to continue offering KFOR and KAUT at fair and reasonable terms.

The dispute between Cox and Local TV, KFOR and KAUT’s parent company, is all about how much you, the customer, should have to pay for the ability to see free over the air broadcast TV on your cable lineup. Local TV is holding its signals hostage by refusing to grant Cox permission to offer it unless we agree to pay 300% more than what we currently pay today. We don’t think that’s fair, especially in this economy.

Especially, you know, since these are local over-the-air stations, and therefore must be offered on the lowest-priced service tier.

As for Local TV itself, its owners are trying to fatten it up for market:

Oak Hill Capital Partners has put its Local TV LLC stations on the block.

Station staffs are being alerted across the Local TV footprint. The group says the process may take up to a year, and told staffers to go about their business as usual in the meantime.

What better way to jack up the price than to be able to show a hefty bulge in cash-flow projections?

At some point during my lifetime — and I’m pushing sixty, so it’s not that far off — both these business models will have been rendered irrelevant. And I’m not taking bets on who, if anyone, is going to survive the Coming Television Shakeout.

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Further Upsetsy

Thursday’s item on that proposed “Internet sales tax” drew a sharp response from Mark Alger, who declared it wholly unconstitutional based on a passage from Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution: “No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state.”

He expands on this reasoning thusly:

Congress does not have the authority to permit the states to collect sales taxes on goods traveling between states. Note that the actual text of the Constitution refers solely to the goods themselves and make no mention of the location of the businesses or individuals shipping or receiving. Only that the goods be carried out (that’s what “export” means — to carry out) of one state.

And furthermore:

It might be argued that states may collect taxes on goods imported to the several states, except that only Congress has that power, and may not delegate it, and, at least for commerce within the United States, any good imported to one state must first be exported from another, and the taxation of that transaction is forbidden by the above provision.

Bottom line: You can’t enact this scheme without actually amending the Constitution. Then again, relatively few members of Congress pay anything more than lip service to the Constitution, and then only when they need it to support their own positions.

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Neither inspiration nor perspiration

The Mirror headlined its piece on the Turner Prize shortlist this way: “See nominees’ work including dead dog, grave shopping list and even some paintings”. In keeping with this theme, Bill Quick titled his post linking to that piece “I Just Can’t Imagine Why People Think the Western Cultural Ruling Classes Are Decadent, Untalented Schmucks.”

Coincidentally — at least, there’s no Turner reference therein — this commentary from a fanfic author turned up the same day:

If you’re not willing to break a sweat, you’re probably not going to the Olympics… I think what has happened is that people have found it is easier to make impressive-sounding arguments that something is art, than to make art. Those who are adept at these arguments out-compete people who are skilled at art. They’re able to produce their “art” and their arguments faster than people who work hard at it. In an academic environment, where there is no consumer market to speak of, what eventually dominates is whatever viewpoint is most advantageous to the most artists in the debate. As most artists aren’t the best, most of them prefer arguments that imply that they are in fact as good as anybody else, and could produce great art if they just had a moderately-clever idea.

Particular offenders cited: painters of monochromes — think Yves Klein — and John Cage, for 4’33”.

Personally, I tend to interpret “most advantageous” as “most likely to obtain grants,” but maybe that’s just me. And I must herein admit to contributing a defense of 4’33”. There’s even a mention of Yves Klein, though not for his monochrome paintings.

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Hier c’était jeudi, aujourd’hui c’est vendredi

Once in a while, Rebecca Black takes questions from her Tumblr followers. This one made me laugh:

screenshot on a friday, how many messages do you get, like on average telling you it's friday?

Then again, she tweeted this yesterday:

Quelle surprise.

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