Eighteen days

I had an idea for a mixtape (on CD, but work with me here), and the first thing I did was run a database query for Charting Songs Mentioning Friday, 1950-1994. Got 14 hits, which seemed reasonable, so I proceeded across the calendar:

Friday: 14
Saturday: 42
Sunday: 56
Monday: 28
Tuesday: 11
Wednesday: 8
Thursday: 5

2 1/2 WeeksOf those five Thursday tunes, incidentally, only one mentions Thursday in its actual title: “Sweet Thursday” by Johnny Mathis, which I didn’t have on the shelf. I had no problem with doing more recent songs, but it was apparent that I was going to have to do some shopping as well.

Two hours and three dollars later, I wound up with 2½ Weeks, which runs Friday through Thursday, Friday through Thursday again, and then Friday through Monday. This last segment is technically not a half a week, but four-sevenths, but at this point, I’m not overly concerned with rounding errors, if you know what I mean, and I think you do. And no, I didn’t hunt down the Johnny Mathis track.

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Unpredictive text

Can’t argue with this at all:

Damn you autocorrect!

Even dumb phones like mine do irritating mortarfoaming things like that.

(Via FAILBlog’s WIN!)

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Eat your peas or else

I am always amused to hear about how the Evil Capitalists control us all down to the nth degree, how our every move is dictated from the boardroom.

KingShamus solves for the value of n, and it ain’t much:

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never walked into a Wal-Mart and seen the old dude greeter whip out an AK-47 to make the customers get the sale-priced cheese doodles. Old Navy doesn’t threaten folks with ten lashes tied to the yard-arm if they don’t immediately purchase a pair of cargo shorts. No realtor I’ve ever met has been armed with anything stronger than a fierce territorialism and an ambitious go-getter attitude.

Which is not to say that Big Business never gets its way, of course. But more often than not, when it does, it’s because government at some level has cleared the way: there are few things in life J. Random Plutocrat likes better than regulations that keep upstart competitors from cutting into his market share. For instance, ask anyone trying to save money on a casket in Louisiana.

So I am more than a little distrustful of any effort to “correct” the perceived excesses — or deficiencies — of the market: someone’s trying to move the goalposts, and he’s likely brought his own referee.

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Tears dry on their own

The very first time I heard her name mentioned, it was on the Spectropop mailing list back in ’04. It went right past me.

Two years later, on that same list, came the next reference, titled “Shirley Ellis > Amy Winehouse”:

Check out her new video here … the “Clapping Song”isms, the bells, the strings, the legs, the sudden end — it’s all too fantastic for words.

As a long-time fan of Shirley Shirley Bo Birley, I of course immediately sought out the video, and that was enough to propel me to this bit of effusiveness:

[T]hem thar Intarwebs have made finding music a lot more interesting, and I’ve even got a possible Favorite Single for this year, and it hasn’t even been released yet: “Rehab,” a glorious Sixties-soul tune by Amy Winehouse, who wasn’t even thought of in the 1960s… As reworked Sixties soul goes, this might be the best I’ve heard since Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer.”

“Rehab” was eventually released to great acclaim and big sales. We all know what happened after that. An extremely-unfortunate remark by yours truly in the summer of ’09: “Let’s hope she makes it past 27.”

Which she didn’t. Damn.

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Personal continental drift

For many years, American Express used the tagline “Don’t leave home without it.” For the first time ever, being with it has made me appear to have left home.

I snagged one of the new Amex prepaid cards for the purpose of stashing small amounts of cash which I could later expend on trifles. Up to now, it’s thrown no one for a loop.

Then I tried to buy an MP3 from Amazon with said card, and they sent me back a stern lecture to the effect that music downloads are offered only in the United States. Huh?

Working theory: All Amex cards start with the same two digits (37), but the next two digits denote the particular card series, some of which are issued outside the US. I’m thinking that Amazon has a list of known (to them) Amex card ranges, which hasn’t been updated to include this newish series. I pitched that theory to their customer-service robot, which is presumably working on the problem. I probably should have mentioned that the iTunes Store handles it with no issues at all.

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Another point on the learning curve

Ingvild Waerhaug on Vedic art:

Vedic Art is shared through an oral tradition given from teacher to student. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the well known guru and teacher of meditation, received these teachings from his guru Swami Brahmananda Saraswati (Guru Dev). In the sixties Swedish artist Curt Kallman studied with Maharishi. Quietly, Maharishi tested Curt, and after seven years of testing, he decided to share with Curt the teachings of Vedic Art. For the next fourteen years Curt Kallman integrated these teachings into his art and life. Then in 1988 he started to share these teachings in Scandinavia.

The seventeen principles are a map that activates your creative life force through practical and meditative tasks. Vedic art calls forth your creativity from deep down in your subconscious with the result that you become more confident about yourself and your capabilities. Veda is neither a religion nor a philosophical tendency, but rather combines life and art. The first results are manifested in your painting, then in your life and finally in society.

If you’re a bit more than merely curious, Waerhaug, who studied under Kallman, is conducting a workshop at Oklahoma City’s Pickard Art Gallery, 5211 North Western, August 12-14 — yes, Friday night through Sunday afternoon. $265 buys the package, including lunch Saturday and Sunday. Drop a note to vedicartusa(at)gmail.com if you’d like to attend.

(For some inscrutable reason, I am considered something of a player in local media, which is undoubtedly why Ben Pickard wrote to tell me about this.)

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No fun aloud

Somehow I crammed seven years of languages other than English into high school, and I had basically the same problem with all of them, a problem Lisa knows all too well:

[W]riting and grammar had never been my problem. Throw me a Spanish verb — even one I don’t know — and I could probably conjugate it in Presente, Preterito, Imperfecto and Sujuntivo. But ask me if I want a taco and a beer and I’m babbling like Señor Elmer Fudd.

I wrote back in 2001:

More than a third of a century has passed since my perfunctory study of French, and maybe I’ve retained enough to walk into La Baguette and order lunch with some assurance that they won’t bring me a sack of live cats and a bowl of baby shoes, but not much more than that.

What this vaguely-cryptic statement doesn’t disclose is that sometime in the latter half of that 34-year period, I had a Bad Crush — Good Crushes seem to be beyond me — on a cute French-language tutor, so getting an invitation to meet up with her and her students at, yes, La Baguette, was something I was not about to turn down. I found out rather quickly that they weren’t going to abandon their immersion session for the sake of the interloper, and at that point in my life I hadn’t quite developed sufficient indifference to how bad I looked in public, so I grat my teeth and bluffed my way through it. I might have been better off ordering a taco and a beer, but either I didn’t embarrass myself as much as I thought I did, or people were a lot more forgiving back then.

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Quote of the week

Jennifer Abel, on the failure of the Soviet Union:

The USSR did not die merely because it ran out of money; it died because Gorbachev wasn’t willing to kill however many people it took to maintain the fiction that the country worked. One article I read about the fall of the Soviet Union specifically mentioned food; the country’s crops that year weren’t enough to feed its people, and the government did not have enough money to import grain from overseas.

Gorbachev wasn’t willing to see millions die in a famine. Stalin engineered a famine to wipe out people he didn’t like.

Now, which of these guys more closely resembles the current American government?

I don’t think Obama — or any of the leading Republicans or Democrats in Congress — takes the Gorbachevian view “Our government should be kinder to its citizens than it used to be.” No, quite the opposite: Obama, far more than Bush/Cheney before him, actively works to make this country harsher, meaner, more punitive towards its own people, and neither Republicans nor Democrats do a damn thing to stop him. Indeed, if you do hear the word “moral” coming from a Republican, it’s only as an excuse to punish someone with a sex life he doesn’t like, and from a Democrat to criticize someone who smokes or eats too much. Our country grows meaner and less moral by the day: yes to torture, to hell with the fourth amendment, sexual assault is a precondition of modern travel, bombing civilians is perfectly fine, et cetera.

If sunlight is the best disinfectant, let us pray for solar flares.

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Patriots on board

According to Rand McNally and USA Today, the “most patriotic city” in the States is Rapid City, South Dakota, beating out Emporia, Kansas; Williamsburg, Virginia; Peachtree City, Georgia; Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri; and Clarksville, Tennessee.

I note in passing that Fort Leonard Wood is not a city, despite its size, and the adjoining towns of Waynesville and St. Robert are probably wondering why they weren’t mentioned. I was, however, somewhat gratified to see “Clarksvegas” getting some love; most people aren’t aware of it except to the extent that they’d heard there was a train there in the mid-Sixties.

Why Rapid City? I blame Gutzon Borglum.

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And even more orange

In Prokofiev’s satirical opera The Love for Three Oranges, from which you probably already know the March, a prince is cursed with exactly that obsessive affection: he will — he must — find those three zesty fruits.

Which fruits, incidentally, turn out to contain fairy princesses, albeit fragile ones: two of the three don’t make it out of their opening scene. I don’t have a picture of the third, but this will do for now:

Katie Cassidy in orange

This is Katie Cassidy, and if the last name rings a bell — yes, she’s David’s daughter. At twenty-four, she’s a very busy actress indeed: IMDb lists twenty credits for her, apart from the usual “Self” stuff.

Here, she’s resplendent in (yes!) orange from Hervé Léger by Max Azria. The heels come from Jimmy Choo; the almost-matching clutch, from Rebecca Minkoff.

And in the opera, the same witch who plants the enchantment on the prince, spiteful little trollop that she is, manages to turn the third princess into a Rodent of Unusual Size. I suspect this will not happen to Katie.

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And you thought your local radio was lousy

I pray in the name of The Real Don Steele that this is something of an exaggeration:

My father keeps his radio tuned to an oldies radio station with a really short playlist. In my limited listening (maybe two hours the entire trip, probably closer to half that), I heard three songs twice and this one three times.

“This one” is “Delta Dawn,” in which Tanya Tucker sounds a lot older than thirteen. You can follow the link for the other three.

Radio stations generally are not known for extensive playlists, but this seems a bit extreme, as though someone had hosed up a satellite feed and no one but the listeners noticed. On the other hand, the current state of radio is such that a twenty-song playlist probably wouldn’t stand out that much.

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Is this her moment?

Already eight digits’ worth of YouTube views on this, the new Rebecca Black single:

Points for catchiness, of course, and I find her sheer exuberance charming. And bonus props to whoever thought it was a good idea to borrow the synth splash from the Pet Shop Boys’ cover of “Always On My Mind.” But a few things seem off. The chorus is as insanely repetitive as you’d hope, but the verses seem awkwardly constructed: I get the impression that they wrote this to match her perceived range, and then discovered that they were off by a third. And the verse about “haters” is just superfluous: if you’re going to demonstrate your superiority to such, the only effective techniques are either (1) to ignore them altogether or (2) to go full Cee Lo Green on them. (If you saw this latter phrase at The Atlantic, well, that was me.)

In short, while I think it’s a worthy effort — and I’ve already anted up my buck-twenty-nine (!) at iTunes — I don’t think this is quite the vehicle to take her to two-hit wonder status. “Friday,” for all its Hyphenated-American cheese, was damned near iconic; “My Moment” is merely pretty.

Addendum: Rebekah Brooks’ version of “Friday”:

(Seen at Adfreak. Hat tip: Nancy Friedman.)

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Not exactly Summer’s Eve Ensler

Every now and then, someone wants to boldly go where no advertising has gone before. In this case, it’s sixty-second vagina monologues — actually, a handy substitute — to be aired on behalf of a douche manufacturer who, um, manufactures douches.

Once the serious hoo-ha begins, I anticipate some vertical frowns.

(Via the Consumerist.)

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Fark blurb of the week

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Can you change a trillion?

Even if the debt ceiling isn’t raised, argues Felix Salmon, Treasury will still be able to sell bonds:

[T]here will always be buyers, and there will always be buyers at yields very, very close to the secondary-market price for Treasury bonds. Treasury bonds are fungible, and to underscore that fact Treasury could easily just reopen old bond issuances instead of creating new ones. That would ensure that there was no way of telling the difference between bonds issued “legally” and bonds issued after the debt ceiling was breached.

Which is not to say that the debt ceiling should be completely ignored:

Even if Treasury can still sell bonds, however, that doesn’t mean for a minute that breaching the debt ceiling is something which should be considered possible for the purposes of the current negotiation. Tools like the 14th Amendment or even crazier loopholes like coin seignorage would be signs of the utter failure of the US political system and civil society. And that alone could mean the loss of America’s status as a safe haven and a reserve currency. The present value of such a loss? Much bigger than $2 trillion. (Coin seignorage, if you’re wondering, is the right that Treasury has to mint a couple of one-ounce, $1 trillion coins and deposit those coins in its account at the New York Fed. It could then withdraw cash from that Fed account to make all the payments it wanted.)

Wait a minute. Coins worth a trillion? This goes beyond Zimbabwe, all the way to the Triganic Pu, as described in Hitchhiker’s:

Its exchange rate of six ningis to one pu is simple, but since a ningi is a triangular rubber coin six thousand eight hundred miles along each side, no one has ever collected enough to own one pu.

Maybe Pejman Yousefzadeh was right all along:

All the debt ceiling’s presence has done is to bring about uncertainty when it comes to the question of whether to raise the debt ceiling… [W]hy not simply get rid of it?

Children believe in the Tooth Fairy; politicians believe in the debt ceiling. On the whole, the children behave far more maturely.

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More pounce to the ounce

Note to cat owners persons who live with cats:

It is your responsibility to see that Kitty gets appropriate background music.

An example for your edification and delectation:

(Via The Breda Fallacy.)

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