Great TV Theme Songs, Part 1

In light of the recent death of beloved actor James Garner, I have been reminiscing about my favorite…TV theme music.

Really. It’s not the effect of his death I would have expected. He was an actor, and when an actor dies we normally talk about which of his movies we loved (The Great Escape) and hated (The Notebook, there, I said it, though he was the best part of that crapfest).

James Garner, for those who didn’t grow up with me, was in a scrappy little show in the 1970s called The Rockford Files.

Don't mess with Jim Rockford. From fansshare.com

Don’t mess with Jim Rockford.
Photo from fansshare.com

He played Jim Rockford, a smooth-talking private eye who drove a giant car, had a really nice…answering machine…and loved the ladies. And this show had one of the GREATEST TV theme songs of all time.

I mean, I’m part of the generation that grew up with TV as a babysitter, and make no mistake about it–these shows provided much of the soundtrack of my youth. They’re often more readily retrieved from the inner recesses of my brain than, say, the Preamble to the Constitution. Is that unfortunate? Maybe. But if the most lasting side effect is that I suffer from an abundance of useless information…meh. There are worse things.

On second thought…I can access the Preamble easily enough. It was burned into my brain thanks to the efforts of Schoolhouse Rock!. Saturday morning cartoons weren’t complete without at least one SHR short coming across my TV screen. They were catchy. The songs were peppy. And I learned stuff from them; SHR also taught me, in no particular order, how to unpack my adjectives, how bills becomes laws, and how to determine multiples of 3, because it’s a magic number. Here’s the Preamble, which I used to have to sing to remember; at least now I can recite it in my normal speaking voice.

One of the many things I’ve always loved about the Rockford theme is that it’s purely instrumental. There’s nothing wrong with TV theme songs that tell a story (i.e., The Brady Bunch theme), but to be able to hook the viewer in without chirpy and/or heartwarming narrative? It’s a talent. In more modern TV themes, think of the unforgettable music from Law & Order.

Infectious, right? You’re going to walk around doing that “Boom-boom, doot-do-do-do-DOOOO” thing for the next hour, at least. All day, more likely. Because that’s how music hooks work. They anchor themselves in your head and fuse themselves into your mental DNA like controlled nuclear strikes that irrevocably litter your brain with pop culture references.

There are a few other instrumental theme  pieces besides Rockford that have been bound unto me from my adolescence and are part of my permanent mental loop. One is the bass-heavy, groove-funk theme from the cop sitcom Barney Miller.

Cop shows aren’t funny? Watch Barney Miller‘s legendary hash brownie episode and get back to me.

But if we’re talking about instrumental TV themes that infiltrated the core of my consciousness–and indeed, the public consciousness at large–then no conversation is complete without a celebration of the incredible theme from (non-sitcom) cop show Hawaii Five-0. Performed by The Ventures, this instrumental theme helped define surf-rock and set a new standard of TV-based awesome.

It wasn’t unusual for me to think that Hawaii Five-0‘s theme song was the best part of the show; the show itself could be a little formulaic, but I could always dance to the song.

Added TV show bonus? Jack Lord had the best hair.

Slick. Photo from ctva.biz

Slick.
Photo from ctva.biz

Looking back, I’ve realized…there was a lot of fun music bouncing around the airwaves when I was a wee paisley. I’m just getting started with this; there are family-based themes and women-show-oriented themes and weepy themes…and on and on. These shows worked their way into the fabric of my life, and I’m glad to take a sun-dappled, gauzy, nostalgic look at them. If you were (or are) a TV kid, then the theme music you’ve encountered along the way has informed you too. Don’t disregard; embrace! And tell me…

What’s your favorite theme music?

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Scenes from the Rail Trail: July 16, 2014

It was a glorious day in central PA yesterday; there was no real summer heat (high of 79? WHAT?) and the humidity was present, but bearable thanks to the lower temperature. When I woke up yesterday morning my first thought was, I am SO riding my bike to work today.

Even before I longed for coffee, that’s what I thought, so you know it was important.

Before too long I packed up my lunch and my change of clothes (because who wants to work in sweaty bike clothes?) and pedaled myself off to the Buffalo Valley Rail Trail and onward to work. It looked a little something like this.

I call this one "The Commute". Yes, that is a coffee cup at the handlebars.

I call this one “The Commute”. Yes, that is a coffee cup at the handlebars.

The rail trail is currently in high-summer foliage, so most of it is full-on lush greenness.

Sure, I'll get to work. Soon as I make my way through this time portal.

Sure, I’ll get to work. Soon as I make my way through this time portal.

And the birds were keeping it kind of low-key.  I heard the birds a-plenty, but didn’t see them. I did, however, get a visit from an inquisitive groundhog.

Which is my good side, he seemed to say. Sadly, I thought...it's neither. Because they're really not cute. But thanks for playing, Mr. Groundhog!

Which is my good side?–he seemed to say. Sadly, I thought…it’s neither. Because they’re really not cute creatures. But thanks for dropping by, Mr. Groundhog!

I saw some funky orange fungus doing its thing on a decomposing tree along the trail side. I believe this is Pycnoporous cinnabarinus.

Eventually, this fallen tree won't stand a chance.

Eventually down the road as rot happens, this fallen tree won’t stand a chance against a mighty tree fungus.

A few things: 1) Don’t eat it. 2) I’m happy to learn if I’m wrong. 3) Say “Pycnoporus cinnabarinus” three times, fast.

It's even coming out the top.

It’s even coming out the top.

Bet you can’t.

Anyway.

There were delicate little wildflowers all over the place.

Is this some kind of clover? I have no idea.

Is this some kind of clover? I have no idea.

Some flowers in the process of pollination.

Or a little somethin' somethin'.

Or a little somethin’ somethin’.

Some wild raspberries.

Delish!

Delish!

And a farm that’s been plucked straight out of a movie set.

Seriously? Are you frigging kidding me?

Seriously? Are you frigging kidding me?

Here’s a shot looking over one of the out-buildings of the farm. Notice the awesome sky.

I have no idea what this building is for. But it looks great.

I have no idea what this building is for. But it looks great.

And the side of part of the farmhouse. Complete with wagon wheel.

Wagon. Wheel. Can it get any more rustic?

Wagon. Wheel. Can it get any more rustic?

Location scouts, call me.

All in all, it was a surreally pretty day out on the BVRT.

Yup. Ain't no doubt about that.

Yup. Ain’t no doubt about that.

And I’m glad to say I took advantage of it.

See you on the trail!

I’ve Been All Mysterious Lately…

…about my whereabouts and shenanigans, I know. But it’s been a crazy few months, and there’s been a bit of internal philosophizing in the process. I’ve been caught up in a few things. Good things, mind you, but still demanding of my time.

First, I have become licensed to teach Silver Sneakers classes at my local gym. It’s a workout program designed for an aging population, for people who can’t necessarily (or don’t want to) handle high-intensity or high-impact exercise classes.

They might not be silver. But they're sneakers. And they're mine.

They might not be silver. But they’re sneakers. And they’re mine.  Notice the paisley water glass in the background. I have issues. :)

Working on this licensing has prompted me to contemplate how different my life is from anything I would have imagined it to be. I moved to central PA ten (10!) years ago, and thought I’d be here six months. I never imagined that I would meet someone here who’s as fun and fantastic and thoughtful (and single at the time!) as George, and yet, there he was, ready for me. If anyone had told me when I rolled into town with my luggage in tow that a decade later I would still be in central PA with a wonderful and supportive boyfriend by my side, I wouldn’t have believed them for a second. And if you’d told me that on top of that, I was going to end up in the fitness industry…well, “preposterous” isn’t quite the right word. Ludicrous, that would have been more like it. But you know, you break an ankle, you have a bit of a health scare, you realize you’re not bullet-proof. At least, that’s what happened with me.

For the record? It take a LOT of work to get ready to teach a workout class. There are hours of videos to watch (over and over again), choreography to work out, steps to get into your head, notes to jot, that go into every single class. Hats off to the people who have done it so long they don’t have to really get into the prep. In two years, I might–MIGHT–be in that place.  What’s even harder for me to understand in my own internal motivation: I just signed up for Zumba licensing. Like, one discipline isn’t enough? I need to get two? What are they–potato chips? You can’t have just one… :)

Ooh, what else, what else?

Right. So I finished a book. Writing one, not reading one. It’s been a long process! The writing started probably two years ago thanks to a friend and writing partner who had an idea he wanted to bring to life. Between research (because it takes place at a specific historical point in time) and a ride on several heavily emotional, creativity-crippling roller coasters (the loss of both my and George’s fathers, totaling our car), there were large chunks of time which found me staring blankly at my computer screen, kind of like this…

While funny, the pencil under the nose is not conducive to wordsing out a story.

What kind of book is it, you ask? It’s a mystery! No, I’m not refusing to tell you; it’s a mystery novel that’s kind of noir-y and full of disreputable men and tough-as-nails women. And YES! Hooray! It is done, and it’s been pointed out to me more than once that many books are started, but few are finished. The fact remains that I have one of the most patient writing partners in the history of human patience. But we recently made the push to get the final chapters written (hence, again, my lack of presence in blogworld) and are now…

Holy pockets! What did I just say?  Did I say I just finished a goddamned book? Like, it’s here, it’s corporeal, it’s not spinning in the ether anymore?

Shit. Just. Got. Real.

Time to get my editing hat on and make it beautiful before the pitch letters go out.

So that’s why I’ve been decidedly absent from my blog. Philosophizing, writing, teaching a gym class or two (three times a week, what on earth was I thinking?).  And working at a few different jobs in between. I’ve barely even had time to cook; thank goodness George kept me fed, or I would have been reduced to gnawing on dried beans and the questionable contents of those odd jars at the back of the pantry. You know the ones. In back, to the left.

Anyway. I also haven’t been taking many pictures lately, but I’ll leave you with one I snapped on the 4th of July, celebrating with some floating lanterns and some family, down by the river.

Away it goes!

Away it goes!

:) What? I’m not a robot, you know. It hasn’t all been work.

Carrot Tops Are…Edible! And Make Great Pesto.

Did you know that? Did you? Did you huh?

I'm EDIBLE? --he seemed to say. Photo from rottentomatoes.com

I’m EDIBLE? –he seemed to say.
Photo from rottentomatoes.com

No. Not that kind of Carrot Top. (Not without a nice, long braise, anyway, and who has that kind of time?)

Thaaaat's more like it.

Thaaaat’s more like it.

This kind of carrot top. Yes way! I know, right? What I had always sort of considered a kind of…curious produce by-product is, in its own right, an overlooked potential addition to the dinner table. We got our CSA delivery this week, brimming with all sorts of vegetal goodness, and great fluffy frondy carrots.  Hmmm, I said to myself. It would be a shame if this went to waste. I wonder…. To the internets!

Totally edible. Not poisonous. The stems are a little woody, so they require a bit of work, but in general? Delicious. Kind of carroty and sweet and bright, with a little bit of a parsley bouquet that you almost taste in your nose. I came across a few recipes for pesto, but they served as inspiration more than an actual recipe, so I’m going to claim full ownership of this one.  :) Take:

  • One bunch farmer’s market/CSA carrot greens from your delicious carrot bunch, which you’ll use for dinner (if you have a smallish bunch, like mine, have some additional spinach or baby arugula on hand)
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 handful (about a half a cup) walnuts, toasted
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 handful parsley
  • 3 slices cotija (or some other crumbly, salty cheese, like pecorino romano)
  • Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste. If you use cotija cheese, DO NOT USE SALT until the very end, if you need it. The cheese is very salty.
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey, for balance
  • Olive oil, as needed

First things first: Toss walnuts in a dry pan and toast them for five minutes, or until they’re fragrant and their flavors have deepened, but they’re not burnt. If you make more than you need, you’ll have extra to snack on, so don’t worry about fastidiously measuring them. Set aside to cool.

Clean the carrots and carrot tops. Chop the carrot stalks into bite-size-ish pieces.

They're so fresh they practically emanate goodness.

They’re so fresh they practically emanate goodness.

If you have mostly stalks (like I had) rather than the airy fronds, you may want to blanch the stalks for a minute or two in a pot of boiling water, just to soften them up and make them more pliable. Drain them, then assemble your goods.

Garlic, cheese, lemon, carrot greens. Sounds like a party!

Garlic, cheese, lemon, carrot greens. Sounds like a party!

A word about cotija cheese: Cotija is a dry, crumbly Mexican cow’s milk cheese used like parmesan. It’s crumbly. It doesn’t melt. It’s salty-salty. It’s DELICIOUS if you crumble it on top of things. And it’s got a brisk, clean taste. I chose it partly because I have it in my fridge, but I also have parmesan and pecorino romano. I wanted cotija for its clean, yet salty, taste. For the purposes of this recipe, if you don’t have cotija, use pecorino romano rather than parmesan. Parmesan’s a little too nutty. Moving on.

Zest the lemon, then juice it. Toss the zest, carrot tops, spinach or arugula if you need it, garlic, cheese, honey, half the toasted walnuts (to start), about half the parsley, and a couple of glugs of olive oil into a food processor, and grind in as much black pepper as you can stand. If you want, you can also put in a couple of shakes of crushed red pepper and some fresh-grated nutmeg. Because I did. And yum.

Let's get rrrrrready to rrrrrrumble!

Let’s get rrrrrready to rrrrrrumble!

Give that a whirl, then taste it for flavor and make requisite adjustments; is it tart vs. peppery vs. oily vs. texturally correct? What do you need?  Does it need a little more oomph because it’s too pasty, or not punchy enough? Toss in some lemon juice. Is it not rich enough? Toss in some oil. Is it too sharp? Add some more walnuts. Does it need to be “green”-er?  Parsley!  And so on. If you pay careful attention to what you want a pesto to taste like, and what’s in front of you, you can tinker until it becomes one harmonious mix of carrot greens and all other good things.

Pestolicious!

Pestolicious!

OK. So you’ve got your pesto. Now what?

Slice an onion into half-moons and caramelize the whole thing. You probably won’t eat all of the onions today, but you’ll thank me tomorrow when you’re looking for something to perk up your salad at lunch.

Cut the carrots into thin slices. We also had a small handful of baby beets from our CSA; I took the stems and leaves and separated them to cook with some kale (recipe coming soon) for a lovely side dish. As for the beautifully sweet baby beet globes, I washed and peeled them and cut them thinly, roughly as thick as the carrots.

And the little stripey chiogga beets are so pretty!

And the little stripey chiogga beets are so pretty!

Then toss them in a pan with some oil, ground fennel, and salt and pepper. Saute them for…oh…however long it takes. Fifteen minutes?  They’re both hard root vegetables, so they do take a while to saute, but they’re also tender baby versions, so exercise judgment. Taste as you see fit. Let them go for at least ten minutes, giving the pan an occasional shake. When they’re almost cooked and ready to eat, take some white balsamic vinegar and pour it in a slow drizzle once or twice around the pan. Let that cook down for another two or three minutes to create a light glaze.

Yeah! That's what I'm talking about!

Yeah! That’s what I’m talking about!

Toast some bread. Put down a layer of pesto, add some beets and carrots, and top with caramelized onions, a dash more fresh parsley and another grind or two of cracked pepper and voila! You’ve got a great, summery, no-oven, open-faced sandwich that is as close to nose-to-tail cooking with vegetables as you can get.

I liked it so much, I had it again for lunch.

I liked it so much, I had it again for lunch. Note the beet greens and kale in the background. Don’t worry, I’ll get that recipe out to you.

Served with a green salad and the braised kale and beet greens, this dinner was insanely satisfying. Each bite of the open-faced sandwich ran a wonderful gamut of flavors, from peppery and savory to sweet and brisk and cheesy-rich. Served with a side dish of bitter greens laced with an obscene amount of garlic, this is the sort of dinner that covers all the bases. Relatively easy to make, no oven, barely any refuse to clean up, delicious. What are you waiting for?

CBS News, I Beg You: Write More Gooder, Pleez

I try not to be a total grammar freak. Then this article showed up in my Facebook feed, and it was so poorly written that I couldn’t look on in indifference. I realize this is partially–only partially–a transcript from the accompanying news video, but even with the pictures working in concert with the reporter, the story is still half-assed. For people like me, who read the articles rather than watch a video (because I prefer reading, and do we really need things chattering at us all the time?), the transcript is a nightmare.

If you read this and think that the timeline is funky, then FYI I thought that too, until I realized the article was written in 2011. I hope Steve Hartman has gotten an editor by now.

DAUPHIN BOROUGH, Penn. – The statue appeared in the middle of the Susquehanna River, near a town in the middle of Pennsylvania called Dauphin Borough. if you said, “in Dauphin Boro, a small town eight miles north from Pennsylvania’s capital city of Harrisburg”, that would have given the reader (and viewer) a much better idea of where you’re talking about.

According to news reports at the time (at what time? 5PM? 1776? Daylight savings time? You give no time), drivers got so distracted, the comma is unnecessary but meh, OK they started running into each other. As an aside, this is central PA, so the drivers could be Amish buggy drivers. We don’t know. You don’t clarify.

As CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports, it wasn’t just any statue. The huge edifice statue (an edifice is a building), that seemed to just emerge from the river that morning (what morning? aren’t the basic tenets of journalism “Who, What, Where, When, and Why”? And yet you refuse to tell us when any of this happened) and still greets commuters today (did this go up yesterday? Then it’s not a big deal), was none other than Lady Liberty herself.

How on Earth did it get here there (you’re mixing your adverbs; when you say it got “here”, that makes it sound like it ended up on your desk. Rather, it got “there”, in the middle of the Susquehanna River.)? No one would claim claimed responsibility at the time. But now, 25 years later, it is a mystery no more (hackneyed choice of phrase. I can live with it, but you can do better next time).

“Kept it quiet,” said Gene Stlip Stilp. “That was part of the fun of the whole thing.”

Stilp was a local lawyer (did he give all that up for rogue statue construction? What does he do now? And what does his lawyering have to do with the story, anyway? Can’t he just be a local resident? Local patriot? Local mischief maker?) who built the statue in a friend’s garage to honor the New York Statue of Liberty. “It was going to be the 100th anniversary and it’d be nice to do something here,” Stlip Stilp said.

A replica of the Statue of Liberty is seen in the Susquehanna River.

A replica of the Statue of Liberty is seen in the Susquehanna River.
 CBS NEWS/MILES DORAN

 

Made from plywood and Venetian blinds, (unnecessary comma) to cut down on wind resistance, Stlip Stilp put it together himself and then recruited a handful of accomplices to sneak it onto an old railroad pier in the middle of the night.

“I still want to know,” Ed Chubb asked (who is this guy? And why do we care what he asked?), “is the statute of limitations up for anything we might have…?”

“The statute of limitations is passed,” Stlip STILP, goddamit! replied.

What they did was not only technically illegal (because why? Says who? Says you? Please explain. If space is a concern, you could explain how they broke the law in the opening clause, like this: What they did was not only commit illegal trespass on state land, it was also a poorly conceived stunt., it was also highly ill-conceived (highly ill? I don’t think so. Poorly conceived. Better. And why was it poorly conceived? Bad boating area? Rapids? Bermuda Triangle? Crazy cannibal families in those parts that it’s best to not go near?) 

Steve Oliphant (Who?) was concered concerned about how dangerous that part of the river was. “I begged you not to go,” Oliphant told Chubb. because the cannibal clan would get him, he seemed to say. Or not. We don’t know why he was so desperate for his friend to not go.

“But when we got it up and saw it from the highway,” Chubb replied, “It was like, ‘wow Capitalize the w. Seriously. This is first grade, learning-to-write stuff. Wow, that wasn’t a bad idea, it worked.'”

The statue stood for six years until a strong gust of very PLEASE! Enough with the overuse of “very” unpatriotic wind blew her off her pedestal. That could have easily though it wasn’t; odd bit of editorializing been the end of this story, but by 1992, folks in Dauphin Borough had grown so fond of the idea of having their own Statue of Liberty that they collected $25,000 to build a replica of their replica.

This newer Clunky phrasing. Try: The replacement statue — sturdier, taller and eight times heavier — has been able to hold her ground for 14 proud and glorious years.

“Liberty, you know, the community rallied around it,” Chubb said.

If these guys the Susquehanna River statue conspirators have their way, she’ll Lady Liberty will continue to reign over the Susquehanna River as long as freedom itself.

And therein lies the end of the article. Remind me again why I…oh, never mind. Whatever I was going to ask, I realized I don’t want to have answered honestly. Just remember, people, if you’re going to write, then clarify, and clarify, and clarify again.

XOXO

I Love It When Two Things Come Together (in my head, anyway)

Hi blogosphere! It’s been a while. I’ve been insanely busy, which is both good and bad. Good, because some cool stuff has been going on. Bad, because I’ve barely had time to write and I’m chronically sleep-deprived. At least George has kept me reasonably sane and steady, so we have him to thank for that.

More on all this soon.  But first…

You know how sometimes you see two things and you want them to come together so very very much that you make it happen, even if it’s just in your head?  Yup, in the middle of that, right now.

The below video of The Badpiper–the world’s premiere heavy metal bagpiper with pipes that shoot flames–playing AC/DC‘s “Thunderstruck” has been having its way with my Facebook feed lately. Which, you know. Cool. I really do like bagpipes, and there ain’t nothing wrong with a little AC/DC.

Like, HOLY POCKETS THAT DUDE IS SHOOTING FLAMES NEAR HIS HEAD! Right? No wonder he’s got a mohawk. I wonder how often he set his hair on fire before realizing the mohawk was a practical styling option.

Anyway. 

So I watched this and it was awesome, and then I thought, but wait. He could be playing better bagpipes, filled with even more flame-shooting deranged badassery.

He needs this set.

Yes.

Yes.

OMG OMG OMG. Can you imagine this thing shooting flames out its horns? The archetypal trauma alone would be worth the price of a ticket. For what it’s worth, I can picture it all in my head. And it. Is. Fannnnnnnntastic.

If anyone has other suggestions for appropriately mindblowing bagpipes, I’m happy to hear about them! Otherwise…soak in the idea of a little flame-shooting heavy metal goatpipe magic.

See you all soon!  XOXO

WTFery 2: John Stossel, Where The Girls Are, and Me

A while ago, I wrote a blog about a book I had the very good fortune to find in a thrift store. Called Where the Girls Are, this book was a dating guide written by the staff of The Daily Princetonian. They had to write the guide! It was published in 1965, before Princeton allowed girls to attend classes in their hallowed halls. Someone had to run recon on what was out there, right? Right? Amirite?

Oh, right, this old chestnut.

Oh, right, this old chestnut.

It seems that this book is very hard to come by, short of paying quite a bit for it on ebay. So. I was only a tiny wee bit surprised when I was contacted by one of John Stossels producers; she wanted to know if they could use the scans from the book that I posted to my blog for their show, because Stossel went to Princeton and he wanted to talk about Where The Girls Are. And they couldn’t find a copy of it anywhere.

Ummm. OK, sure. Weird. Really? But yeah, OK.

Of course, I had to watch the episode. Or, rather, I had to watch the segment of the episode that featured the images I’d scanned from the book.

This episode focused on business-related “risk taking”. Stossel talked to people who put their time, money and energy on the line to launch a new idea, which, sure, he’s on a business channel, it’s not unreasonable. What I didn’t understand was where Where The Girls Are would fit.

Then the final segment, “Stossel’s Take”, aired. 

During “Stossel’s Take”, JS (you don’t mind if I call you JS, do you?) talked about his time at Princeton, and on the staff of the Princetonian. He remembered Where The Girls Are fondly; it was a big seller, a huge success, he said. So he proposed they do a sequel.

Now, I had heard rumors of but have never seen the follow-up book. In the scant references to the follow-up (and though I’ve seen Who… mentioned in the past, currently, I’m having a hard time finding anything that indicates this book ever existed, except for one brief entry on a Mount Holyoke webpage and the words of JS himself), Who The Girls Are (1968) was generally regarded as a colossal failure, the blunder that tanked the WTGA franchise. And JS even admits to as much on his show. He took the “dating guide” idea and upped the creepiness factor, requesting (and receiving!) permission from colleges to publish photos of the women of their incoming classes, along with (and I quote), “…short, obnoxious generalizations about certain girls’ schools, followed by pages and pages of freshman pictures.”

Ew.

Ew.

Yes, I had to take the cover shot off my TV, because I can’t find any images of it anywhere on the internet.

Now, here’s the thing. This book did so poorly, it busted what had been a successful start to a brand. I can’t say for sure why it did poorly (see: almost no information about this book existing, anywhere), but I can hope that it failed in large part because it was a little too creepy to hold appeal…to anyone except creepers. And JS, fifty years later, hasn’t learned anything. The schools he received these books from have learned and amended their approaches to their students’ privacy. You’d better believe they wouldn’t agree to let him publish anything like that today (and…do colleges even do a book of incoming freshmen? I’ve never seen one). Why? Because in the last FIFTY YEARS they have learned things and now they know better. Because it’s wrong and weird and creates an uncomfortable dynamic centered around these women. Where The Girls Are, despite its snarky anti-intellectualism and overt sexism, was arguably, theoretically, tongue-in-cheek that missed the mark. It’s an argument I wouldn’t buy, but I could see how someone would make it. But Stossel and Co. made Who… far too personal. He created a inventory of Co-Ed-Bots, like you could just order one like you were ordering a shirt from the Sears catalog.

Instead of taking an opportunity to use his public platform and apologize to every single woman who appeared in The Stalker’s Handbook: Ivory Tower Edition…I mean, Who The Girls Are…JS rather chooses to chirp on about his bold, risk-taking, entrepreneurial spirit, which has allowed him to fail, and fail, and fail again (interestingly, citing “failures” like publicity stunts for Fox and, of course, the aforementioned failed book, all footed by other people’s money, which I don’t think “counts” in terms of daring entrepreneurism, but I digress), only to rise like a phoenix from the ashes. And why wouldn’t the premise of an apology occur to him?

Because these women don’t matter. They were featured in his book, their pictures were exploited for his (and the Princetonian’s, and any other reader’s) benefit. These women were packaged and commodified without their personal, “Hey, aren’t we adults too?” consent (though, with the consent of the institution with which they were associated at that time, which was weirdly parental and apparently good enough). Fifty years later, John Stossel hasn’t learned a thing about women, boundaries, personhood, or being a creeper. He would re-package these women–or any women, I’d wager–again and again, if he thought it could stoke the furnace of his ego and/or put some money in his pockets.

This? Is exploitative and, as this show aired in May, 2014, obviously still relevant. This is why #yesallwomen matters. 

Here’s a link to the full episode. Go to 37:25 to see the segment in question.

Someone Call Terry Gilliam, STAT!

This happened on my Facebook page the other day. To preface: I had just read that Oliver Stone is planning to direct a movie about Edward Snowden. Even better, as part of the source material for his script, Stone has optioned a fictionalized novel about Snowden, written by Snowden’s lawyer in Russia. Because that makes sense. It would certainly help guarantee that, true to form as an Oliver Stone vehicle, this upcoming film will be blissfully unencumbered by things like reason, or facts.

I’ll grant him Platoon. He had one good movie, but Oliver Stone is generally…paranoid and ham-fisted, neither of which are traits I enjoy seeing on their own. Together?  Hoooo-weeeee! And I digress.

So I posted this on my Facebook page and then…well…read on.

 

A convergence of Garys. Plus, a bonus no-share smackdown by my mother. Go, Mom-O-Rama!

A convergence of Garys. Plus, a bonus no-share smackdown by my mother. Go, Mom-O-Rama!

Call. Terry GilliamNOWWWWWWWWWW.

I’m picturing Baron Munchausen meets Time Bandits, and Edward Snowden will land in Russia in a flying pirate ship. Oliver Stone will HAVE TO be played by Eddie Izzard in full drag.

Tout est parfait! Picture from whatculture.com

Tout est parfait!
Picture from whatculture.com

I got’cher close-up riiiiiiiiiiight heeeeeeeeere, Mr. Stone.

Terry Gilliam, I look forward to hearing from your people very soon.

p.s. My friends rule.

It Was Pink Outside Last Night

I’ve said before that central PA gets some of the best light I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if it’s a consequence of latitude…or air pollution or…what, I don’t know. I just know that the light around here is regularly ethereal. So I shouldn’t have been surprised last night when I opened the door to look for the cat. The sky was clearing after a little cloudburst of rain, and it was that anything-can-happen time just before sunset. But I admit, I was surprised. Because it was pink outside.

Pink.

Like, did I just open the door into an impressionist painting or what?

Here’s what it was like. The photos are unretouched in any way.

Le chat.

Le chat.

See? It’s all rosy and I swear, totally #nofilter.

Check out the clouds.

First through the trees. For suspense.

First through the trees. Because I’m building suspense.

And then…

Over the top of my neighbor's crazy Dr. Seuss tree.

Over the top of my neighbor’s crazy Dr. Seuss tree.

Over the rooftops.

Over the rooftops.

HOLY POCKETS.

HOLY POCKETS.

And then I turned around and…

Dig it.

Dig it.

Seriously. It felt surreal. Which isn’t a bad thing but, by definition, not what one tends to expect.

Ellis Paul, Wilkes University, June 1 2014

Ellis Paul guesses we didn’t save the LP. Or the 8-track, or the cassingle, or even the CD, as his story about a recently rented car that featured an MP3 port but no CD player will attest. But goddamn it, he’s not giving up an LP (or, in the broader spectrum, non-digital music) without a fight.

Check out the swingin' record player!

Nothing like traveling with a harmonica and a swingin’ record player! I had one kind of like this when I was a kid, but…it also played 78s*. I miss that record player.

*Some of you have no idea what I’m talking about, do you? Add this to the hashtag #whippersnappers.

Not that I can blame him for not giving up the LP…says the girl who has three record players hanging around her house, and regularly has LP-only dance parties in her living room.

Avec l'harmonica!

Avec l’harmonica!

I can’t find a bit of fault for anyone mourning the way the music industry has turned on itself. When everything’s digital, there is no “big picture”. There’s no concept album, there’s no cohesive narrative, there’s no reason to create an album your listeners will play from beginning to end, from the start of Side A to the close of Side B (#whippersnappers, that’s how it was done). There’s not even cool cover art. It’s all short, easily digestible (OK, is debatable) 3-minute bursts of electronica. It’s shortsighted at best, and only provides one tiny sliver of insight into music and humanity and life. For a storyteller…no es bueno.

Storifying us all.

Scoffing in the face of autotune.

See, he said, when everything is digitized and downloadable, there’s nothing to care for. There’s no item that you can hold in your hands, nothing to blow the dust off, no liner notes to read. There’s no fond memories of a tone arm weighted down with a taped-on nickel to ride over the scratches (#whippersnappers).  He did say he’s going to release future recordings on LP, which I will of course be buying. Because it’s vinyl and I can’t help myself.

Speaking of scratches, gearheads, no, you’re not imagining things. There’s duct tape on the guitar. It seems that the appropriately-named (because look at it) guitar, Guinness, had an unfortunate incident during transport, and the airline he was flying on (United, maybe?) cracked it…but of course accepts no responsibility. Saying this guitar has gotten its fair share of dings is an understatement. Maybe there’s a cabal of rogue luthiers trying to boost business by creating unfortunate guitar incidents.  Here’s another picture of it.

Boo boo guitar. Plus rock-star pose.

Boo boo guitar. Plus rock-star pose.

Guinness really is a gorgeous guitar. Want to see it again?

Well, hello, beautiful.

Well, hello, beautiful.

So, Ellis Paul showed up in NEPA and provided a bit of a discourse about the dominance of digitized music. I didn’t expect to have to get all philosophically thinky-like, but there you have it. Inspiration strikes in the oddest places. He did this with a harmonica, a guitar, and a record player for two full hours of storification and musical regalement. And he brought a friend along! Laurie MacAllister from Red Molly stopped in for the least jangly, most soulful rendition of “If I Had a Hammer” that I have ever heard.

Having teh funnies on stage.

Having the private smilies on stage.

All in all, it was a fun evening, though I think I may have set myself up for something. When I went to the merch table (because I’m all cool and in-the-know and say things like “merch”) to get…ummm…merch, I…well, I not only requested (and received!) permission to go on stage and photograph the Official Ellis Paul Touring Record Player….

Record player, with conveniently-placed (not even by me!) non-Guinness acoustic.

Record player, with conveniently-placed (not even by me!) non-Guinness acoustic.

…BUT I decided to toss out a pitch for a song. “Next time you’re in PA,” I began, and he added, “Which is in a few weeks.”

Oh, right. I remembered that as soon as he said it. I mean, he doesn’t normally come back to this area so quickly. But you know? Too late to stop now.

“Next time, would it be possible for you to do “Paris in a Day”? Because I would love that forever.” What I didn’t say is, it would go right next to that little spot in my heart where his 2003, Austin TX, Cactus Cafe performance of “Conversation with a Ghost” lives, and I would blow it kisses and nurture the memory and work it into my mental loop of awesome things that keep me happy. Because it is goddamned “Paris in a Day” and all other arguments are invalid. 

He said, “You know, I was just listening to that song on the way up here today.”

Really? D’oh!  Ahem. So. Looks like I’m going to Bethlehem, because if he does polish up that chestnut and I’m not there? I’m the worst fan ever.

Yeah. See you in a few weeks.

Yes you would be, he seemed to say.

Who’s with me?

I mean, really, if he doesn’t play “Paris…”, the worst that will happen is we’ll see a really good show.

Here’s “Paris in a Day” to play you out. And “Conversation with a Ghost”, for good measure.

Sad but true. And yes, I own this. And it's not an LP.

Sad but true. And yes, I own this. And it’s not an LP.

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