Don’t sing with your mouth full

Last night, I was stocking up on $5 MP3 albums from Amazon — a couple of which, admittedly, could be had on CD for $4.99 — and this scurrilous tune was found in the downloads:

I have no idea how old this track is, though it has to be from before 2005; Dr. Demento has played it once. Composition is credited to “Kaniger,” so this must be Marty Kaniger and the other members of Big Daddy, who have a sort of ad hoc compilation called Cruisin’ Through the Rhino Years, stuff ostensibly recorded for that label, though obviously “It’s Hard to Say I Love You” came out on Muff-Tone (MT-069, of course). The B-side? Don’t ask.

Incidentally, this is hardly the first song on this particular topic, though arguably the most famous one in the post-78 rpm era was almost immediately banned once its subject heard it.

(You might not want to play these in the company of people who are easily offended.)

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Nobody saw it

One institution apparently not doing so well these days is the American motion-picture theater, with the butts/seats ratio in decline:

The next time you’re at the movies, look around — does there seem to be more empty seats than they’re [sic] used to be? Your eyes aren’t lying, as we just left one of the worst years for movie theater attendance since 1995. That is the year of Waterworld and Showgirls, so you know it’s bad.

Bad films, yes; bad box-office performers, only moderately so. Showgirls made back $37 million of its $45-million budget; Waterworld, which cost about $175 million, earned $88 million in the States, but twice as much overseas, enough to balance the books.

You want a box-office bomb? Try Cutthroat Island, with Matthew Modine as the dull-witted cabin boy to pirate captain Geena Davis. It cost just under $100 million to make, and has yet to clear $20 million in revenue.

North America had its lowest number of folks heading to the movies in two decades in 2014, reports the Hollywood Reporter, citing about 1.2 billion consumers who purchased movie tickets between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31.

I contributed, I suppose, to that dismal performance, having attended exactly one film last year; everything else I saw was either DVD or over the Net.

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The personal gets more political

We have thrown in the towel, says Francis W. Porretto:

Time was, the American mantra was “Mind your own BLEEP!ing business.” It’s been years since that was the case. These days, it’s “There oughta be a law.” The shift in attitudes could hardly be more dramatic.

The evidence is everywhere. Just one example: What’s the Republican slogan about ObamaCare? “Repeal and Replace.” Why “replace?” Why not simply repeal the monstrosity and let people make their own decisions about how to pay for medical products and services, as free people once did? Too simple? Too easy to measure against a standard for achievement? Not “compassionate” enough?

Actually, since government interference in the healthcare market is a major factor in the ridiculous pricing of healthcare services these days, rolling back the ACA would not accomplish the presumed desideratum of making this stuff affordable; they’d also have to scrap, or radically redesign, Medicare as well. This isn’t happening, and probably won’t be until Logan’s Run is mandated.

But there’s no arguing with this:

Stop kidding yourself. Politicians worship political power. They want politics involved in everything. If they could get away with it, they’d pass laws about how you should sit on the toilet — and a hefty schedule of fines for violations. Their party alignment makes no difference whatsoever.

They’ve already passed laws about how much you can flush, which has had one obvious effect: multiple flushings for the same load, there being, in this case anyway, a limit to how much crap Americans will put up with.

Inevitably, there have been system issues as well, which should remind you of something you learned in Algebra I: the moment you change an item on one side, the equation no longer balances.

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A grade-A typo

Ben Zimmer, examining newspapers’ use of a common synonym for excreta, turned up this presumed typographical error in the San Jose Evening News for the 18th of May, 1916:

Clip from San Jose paper 1916: Austrian Construction Engineer on Roanoke Perished When Shit Went Down

Isn’t that when this sort of thing usually happens?

Well, not in this case, says Zimmer: “Go down in the sense of “happen” is dated to 1946 by OED and the slang dictionaries,” thirty years too late to have made the San Jose paper.

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Down the road from 90210

After graduating from Sarah Lawrence, Gabrielle Carteris did things like ABC Afterschool Specials, and in 1990, signed on to the new Fox series Beverly Hills, 90210 as demure but passionate Andrea Zuckerman, trying to act so nonchalant in the presence of heartthrob Brandon Walsh (Jason Priestley).

Gabrielle Carteris in her carefree high school days

She stayed on 90210 for five seasons — she’d gotten married in 1992, and bore her first child two years later — though she’d return for occasional guest spots. She found lots of one-shot work, including this job that didn’t quite work out:

To be the symbol of the new 24-hour talking Internet, Motorola nominates a virtual woman named Mya, a long-legged blonde, clad in a shimmering silver business suit and displaying spunky hair and a ubiquitous telephone headset.

Her animated figure is showcased in a new 60-second television spot created for Motorola Inc., the cellular telephone and semiconductor giant that is now trying to sell software and Internet services and jazz up its image.

Carteris was hired as the voice of Mya, though the character’s appearance was not based on the appearance of the actress: Motorola’s instruction to the digital-processing house was to make Mya look as human as possible yet still be obviously artificial. The product never got more than a trial run, and was abandoned after a couple of years.

Meanwhile, Carteris was getting involved in the politics of Hollywood. In 2011 she was elected president of the Los Angeles AFTRA local; in 2013 she was elected executive VP of the merged SAG-AFTRA.

Gabrielle Carteris takes on new responsibilities

Yesterday she turned 54, which can mean only one of one thing: her first year at West Beverly Hills High School, she was twenty-nine.

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Rained on, evidently

It wasn’t that long ago that a Sunday edition of the Oklahoman had about 50-60 pages of classified ads. These days, it’s 16. I’ve gotten used to that, I suppose, but of late something else has shrunk: Parade magazine, the granddaddy of all Sunday supplements, is down to around 16 pages. You’d think there’d be enough vendors of senior-citizen crap to fill up twenty or so and still have room for Marilyn vos Savant and that tedious hack Walter Scott.

But no. And a few months ago Advance Publications, also the owner of all those upscale-or-die Condé Nast magazines, set Parade adrift on an ice floe, where it floated into the nets of Athlon Media Group, which promptly — okay, not so promptly — announced the slicing of the rate base from 32 million to 22 million “through measures like concentrating distribution in larger, urban markets.” Yeah, like those suave urbanites have been screaming for a weekly quiz by Ken Jennings.

Athlon, which hasn’t yet bothered to connect parade.com to its own Web site except through murky bottom-of-the-page links, could actually be sitting on a gold mine, Gannett having killed off Parade’s primary competitor, USA Weekend, last weekend. But maybe it’s all part of that same dreaded evolutionary cycle, in which newspapers mutate from daily reading material to quaint anachronisms to mere apps.

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More music in north Texas

In most of the nation, actual classical music is something you hear on noncommercial radio, if then. However, WRR, a commercial station owned by the city of Dallas, is not only still alive, it’s playing more music than ever:

Beginning Monday, the station will go to two commercial breaks per hour, allowing for longer classical pieces to receive airplay… the station will add four hours of music programming each week. In an interesting move, non-music programming — including traffic reports, as well as financial reports — will be dropped.

Says WRR program director Mike Oakes:

No jobs were cut. We still believe very much in live and local programming. In fact, at the same time we are adding Performance Today and Exploring Music, we are also dropping roughly 15 hours a week of syndicated programming. We consider it a strong upgrade to the very best programming available.

The discarded syndicated programs will be replaced by more locally originated programming, says Oakes.

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Get this guy into a covered wagon

And then sew up the cover so he can’t escape easily:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Does an impala 2011 need a lift kit for 24s?

He compounds the atrocity:

24 inch rims on my 2011 impala with no lift or cutting ? Is it possible

Now you know my particular bias: I think anyone who calls ’em “rims” ought to be buried clavicle-deep in the Alaskan tundra. But one of the answerers dealt this guy a solid, good enough to pass along here:

No, it just needs a hefty dose of good taste and some common sense to realize that even if it could be done, DOING THAT IS RETARDED. Why on Earth would you RUIN the ride comfort, resale value, handling, durability, gas mileage, and acceleration??? Take the drug money you would have spent on the dum-dum wagon wheels and set fire to it so you’re not tempted.

I don’t think I could have said it better myself.

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Jimmy the Kid

How little was Jimmy Dickens? Officially, four foot eleven. He didn’t adopt the adjective, though, until he’d signed with Columbia in 1948 — he was then twenty-eight — and joined the Grand Ole Opry.

Pop audiences were scarcely aware of Dickens until 1965, when songwriter Neal Merritt, having seen too many segments of Carnac the Magnificent, penned a silly ditty called “May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose.” Dickens waxed it for Columbia, watched it go to #1 on the country chart and #15 pop, and was still singing it in 2008.

The next Dickens hit followed the old rule: just like the last one, but different. “When the Ship Hit the Sand” had the same tempo, the same style, and probably the same Grady Martin guitar work. The title might have been a trifle risqué for the period: “Ship” hove to at #27, and never cracked the Hot 100.

When Hank Locklin (1918-2009) died, Dickens became the oldest living member of the Opry. He was still inclined to poke fun at the rest of the world. From the Country Music Awards in 2009:

By this time, the little guy had shrunk to four foot nine. And he made a pretty good Justin Bieber, too. You can’t get away with stuff like this unless you have a big, big heart, the kind that will carry you all the way to age 94.

Addendum: The oldest surviving member of the Opry now appears to be Jean Shepard, who was invited to join the Opry in 1955; she turned 81 in November.

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Spells checked

The Thunder had been having trouble with the Wizards when the Wizards were lousy. Now the Wizards aren’t lousy at all — they were 22-9 and third in the East coming into this game — but the Thunder still had trouble with them, largely because of the three-ball, which Washington wielded with considerable skill and accuracy, right up until the very end, when the Wiz cut an OKC eight-point lead to three in a matter of seconds. Russell Westbrook, who’d already had enough of these Wizards — he’d tightened his hold on the season technical-foul lead — lay in the weeds, and when the Wiz looked like they were going to tie it up, promptly stole the ball. He couldn’t convert, but Serge Ibaka showed up for the putback. With 12 seconds left, Westbrook took it away again, and this time the bucket was good, and one. With 5.9 left, Westbrook looked like he knocked John Wall upside the head; it was a foul OKC had to give, Scott Brooks sent in the reserves just for spite, the last Wizard trey didn’t go, and Ish Smith (!) retrieved the last rebound to secure a 109-102 win.

Still, Washington made 11 of 21 treys, and were 13-15 from the stripe, which is some pretty decent shooting by any standards. (They were 39-84 from the floor, a decent 46 percent.) And six Wizards, including four starters, hit double figures, led by Bradley Beal with 21; Wall added 14, and stalwarts Nene and Paul Pierce had a dozen apiece. (The twin guards posted double-doubles for the night, Beal seizing ten boards, Wall serving up 12 assists.) The Washington bench, we must note, also has sharpshooters: the well-traveled Andre Miller and Rasual Butler knocked down 15 and 11 respectively.

And it takes someone like Westbrook, I think, to turn a perfectly dreadful night into a decent line: 8-23 shooting, but still 22 points, six dimes, only two turnovers. Of course, he got to play with Kevin Durant for the whole game for once, and KD had an effortless (12-18) 34 points that, upon second look, actually were a hell of a lot of work. Ibaka had another one of those Wat? nights: 13 points, six boards — two fewer than Durant — and nary a swat. Reggie Jackson, who’d been missing treys for weeks, got one (of two) to go; but Nick Collison (10 points, five rebounds) was the official Bench Leader.

The .500 Club has finally opened up. (The Pelicans put the bite on the Rockets, so no real ground was gained.) Monday night, the Thunder are at Oakland for another shot at Golden State; there follow road games at Sacramento, Utah and Houston.

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Steel your heart away

The American steel industry didn’t get its dander up when automakers started messing with things like aluminum spaceframes and carbon fiber: the vehicles so designed tended to be pricey, low-volume, and, well, un-American.

That was before Ford decided that what the world needed now was an aluminum F-150, and when the single largest-selling vehicle in the country makes a switch like this — well, there’s a full-page ad in the buff books, which I saw in Motor Trend, the first of the February 2015 issues I read, extolling the virtues of steel and not even mentioning That Other Metal. Inevitably, there’s a Web site, at autosteel.org, and so I figured I’d see who was up to this:

The Automotive Applications Council (AAC) is a subcommittee of the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) and focuses on advancing the use of steel in the highly competitive automotive market.

The SMDI Automotive Market program continues to be the catalyst for bringing together steel, automotive industry, and federal partners (such as the Department of Energy and National Science Foundation) to conduct research, provide technology transfer, and promote steel-intensive solutions in the marketplace. Advanced high-strength steels, which are the fastest-growing materials in automotive design, enable our automotive customers to deliver vehicles that are more lightweight, fuel-efficient, and affordable, while still protecting passengers.

That last bit, about protecting passengers, might well turn out to be their best talking point, since a fair percentage of the public is familiar with aluminum only as foil or beer cans, neither of which is exactly known for puncture resistance.

Participants in the SMDI include three big domestic producers — AK (a merger of Armco and Kawasaki), Nucor, and US Steel, and major European producer ArcelorMittal. A quick glance at the financials indicate that all four of these firms have taken substantial hits to the bottom line of late, so it’s no surprise that they’re trying to keep things from getting worse.

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Is this a trick question?

It’s certainly baffled this guy:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: If I hold three digits up, how many are not pointed up with all my digits? This is a security question for fishtanktv.com and I cant answer

For what it’s worth, I’m holding up one digit.

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Quote of the week

Lynn can’t take this nonsense anymore:

I am so very, very tired of “my suffering is worse than your suffering” screeds.

Listen boys and girls, suffering is always individual and very personal and is not necessarily proportional to the sufferers actual situation and the injustices suffered. What one person can easily shake off might be a deeply personal and hurtful attack to another and telling someone that “your suffering is nothing compared to mine” is just as hurtful as actual bullying.

Not to mention the fact that it’s not about you: if someone else is in pain, hearing about your pain is not going to improve matters even slightly.

This might work with mild discomfort, maybe: I know I get exasperated during the winter, and then I think about way-colder places like Flin Flon and Saskatoon, and finally I shut up. But the person contemplating walking into the front of a moving truck? Clearly there are needs that simply can’t be met by trying to compare comfort levels.

And we can start by holding our heads up and not whining quite so much no matter what our position in the hierarchy. We can show sympathy to other people who are suffering instead of belittling their feelings. We can refuse to play the game that keeps some people down while protecting those at the top.

If we’re all in this together — and we are — jockeying for position is an exercise in self-aggrandizement, and not a particularly good one at that.

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Among the local delicacies

Michael would like you to know that he did not actually sample these on a trip to the Bricktown Brewery’s Remington Park outpost:

Appetizers menu from Bricktown Brewery

“Even my stomach has limits,” he said.

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Approved by the Bureau of Appropriate Clothing

They’ll get my hoodie when they pry it off my (up to that point) warmly insulated body:

After consulting with the Department of Public Safety, Senator Don Barrington (R-Lawton) has authored a bill that would make it unlawful to wear a mask, hood or covering during the commission of a crime or to intentionally conceal his or her identity in a public place.

There are provisions. Such as, pranks of children on Halloween, religious beliefs and special events like a parade, masquerade party or weather.

But if you wear a hood with ill intentions, you could be slapped with a misdemeanor fine of $50 to $500 and or one year in jail.

I grumbled about this earlier:

This is the epitome of “Well, let’s give the prosecutors something else to hang on ’em.” And the first time some woman in a burqa gets busted for something like shoplifting, what you’ll see hitting the fan will not be at all halal.

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Tesla unplugged?

Bark M. figures that in a year’s time, there won’t be any more muskrats to guard Elon Musk:

The Emperor’s New Clothes are starting to fall off. Sales numbers don’t match registrations. Oil prices are artificially low. Even in peak selling conditions, Tesla couldn’t make the inroads they wanted — how will they do it when oil is hovering around $55 a barrel? Elon Musk had the cards stacked his way, but he couldn’t capitalize. The party is likely over for Tesla by the end of the year — and likely in a sale to an unlikely buyer (Apple? Google?).

Actually, those buyers seem relatively likely, if only because they could pay for the automaker out of petty cash. “Unlikely” would be, say, BlackBerry, whose financial state is such that they can order either corn or flour tortillas, but not both.

Besides, a major contributor to Tesla’s bottom line is the trading of ZEV credits, and they can’t last forever, even in California.

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