I’m of two minds

Sometimes the only thing that makes an earworm tolerable is if it’s a song you like.  My current earworm is the Proclaimers 1988 hit I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles). Part of my brain has decided that it wants to hear the refrain over and over again.  I’m fine with that.  I really like the song, and the tune is catchy.  And it’s only been a couple hours.

Unfortunately, another part of my brain has decided it wants to play too.  It’s probably angry because I made it walk on the treadmill at the gym today.  So while my secondary auditory cortex is playing the song, my left frontal lobe is singing the following lyrics:

I would walk a couple miles
And I would walk a couple more
Just to be the man who walked four miles
And stopped because his feet were sore.

I guess I just lack the commitment and the endurance to continue.

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The lady is ambivalent, but she doesn’t know it yet

This summer will mark my 30-somethingth trip to Vegas. (Disclaimer: last year I celebrated my 30-somethingth trip to Vegas.)  I first started going in 1988, when I finally got enough vacation that I didn’t use it all up going home to see my family at Christmas.  I chose Las Vegas because I had seen it so many times in movies and on TV.  For me, travel is about seeing things in person that I have seen in movies and on TV.  I’ve been to London and Los Angeles, and spent my time there looking for things I would recognize, so I would feel like I was traveling. I’ve also been to Milan, Vienna, and Vancouver.  I remember nothing about them.  (Disclaimer: I was in Vancouver in 1986. I’m sure if I went back, I would recognize stuff, since about 60% of TV shows are now shot there.)

One of the reasons I recognize Vegas is the 1964 film Viva Las Vegas, starring Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret.  (Disclaimer: Most of the landmarks in the movie has since been destroyed, and the rest have been extensively remodeled.  Do not watch this movie and then go to Vegas expecting to see stuff you recognize.)  I was only 3 when the movie came out, but I remember it being on TV a lot of Saturday afternoons in the early 1970’s.  As a result, it’s one of only two movies I really remember from my childhood.  (The other is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.)

This is the plot synopsis from IMDB:

Race car driver Lucky Jackson goes to Las Vegas to earn money to pay for a new engine for his motor car. Working as a waiter, he still finds the time to court young Rusty Martin.

This is the plot synopsis from me in the early 1970’s:

Ann-Margret wears skimpy outfits while stuff happens around her. Sometimes she goes away for a while, but then she comes back in a different skimpy outfit.

I developed a lifelong crush on Ann-Margret from this movie.  (Note to self: We actually got to see her perform in Vegas back in 1990.  When we finally have to execute my bucket list, find something else to do that day.)

The clip above is my favorite song from the movie, “The Lady Loves Me”.  1970’s me describes the scene this way:

Ann-Margret changes from a skimpy red swimsuit into skimpy yellow shorts, while stuff happens around her.  Maybe.  And I think there’s music of some sort.

To put the scene in context, earlier in the movie, Ann-Margret walked into a scene in skimpy white shorts, and stuff happened around her.  (Note to self: Shut up, 1970’s me!  I’m trying to make a point!)  Lucky (Elvis) is a race car driver/mechanic who tried to pick up Rusty (Ann-Margret) by telling her her car needed repair work when it didn’t.  She found out and is still angry.  Then he bumps into her at his hotel, where she works as a pool manager.  So he attempts to compensate for his earlier petty fraud by wooing her with song.

Anyway, as I was watching this scene, 2016 me noticed a few things that 1970’s me missed.

  1. At the beginning of the scene, Rusty steps out of the pool after helping some kids.  There is a continuous walk-and-talk shot from the pool to the dressing room.  As she closes the door behind her, you can see that she was standing in the pool in white high heels.  (She wears the same heels through the rest of the song.)
  2. Rusty dresses faster than the Flash.  She is still wearing the red swimsuit when he sings “I’m her ideal, her heart’s desire” at 0:49 in the clip.  At 0:56, seven seconds later, she tosses the swimsuit on the screen as he sings, “She’d like to cuddle up with me”, and her hair is already tied back with a yellow ribbon.  By the time she starts her verse at 1:09, she’s wearing the yellow shorts and top outfit.  That’s a complete change of wardrobe in 20 seconds, and when she comes out from behind the screen, we see she’s still wearing her sensible white pool heels.
  3. Why does the inside of a women’s dressing room (which I’ve never seen) look like the women’s department at J.C. Penney (which I have seen)?  Do they still look like that half a century later?  And who owns all those clothes?  Aren’t they worried that someone will steal them, like at J.C. Penney?  Do they have those clip-on RFID tags?  Did they even have clip-on RFID tags in 1964?
  4. Lucky is clearly sure of himself, and it appears that his assumption about her feelings is not unfounded.  He has chosen to serenade her with what is clearly a duet, and she’s clearly willing to play along.  If she truly “loathed him”, wouldn’t it make much more sense to ignore him, or call the lifeguard?  He’d look pretty foolish just walking around singing “The lady loves me, but she doesn’t know it yet.” at random intervals with no lady around.
  5. Wait a minute, isn’t she a lifeguard?  If not, it’s pretty unsafe for her to be teaching small children to swim.  The hotel is probably looking at some sort of lawsuit.
  6. Notice how there is no background noise in the pool area.  We just saw Rusty teaching small children to dive less than a minute ago.  How are their parents keeping them quiet enough for a musical interlude?  I would expect at least one overheard conversation like this:
    • Mother: Kids, gather up your things.  It’s time to go.
    • Susie: Mommy, why was Miss Martin giving us swimming lessons in high heels?
    • Mother: For the same reason your father wears a suit to change the oil — it’s the Sixties.  Now hurry up.  I have to go put on a dress and pearls and start dinner.
  7. And when did this become a lost parental art?
  8. Rusty sings, “He’s one man I could learn to hate.”  Earlier she indicated that she loathes him.  How much of a learning curve does that require?
  9. Lucky is so focused on Rusty that he fails to notice that he has walked backward onto a diving board.  1970’s me wouldn’t have noticed the diving board, either.  Or the pool.  Or the guitar.

The biggest question of all is this: HOW DOES RUSTY KNOW THE LYRICS? Lucky is apparently making the song up as he goes, and yet she knows exactly when to come in with her lines. I’ve watched my old improv group make up songs on the fly, so I know how hard that is.  This seems too effortless.  It’s almost as if Rusty knows the song already.   Hmmm, is it possible that she has already seen Viva Las Vegas?  Maybe even has a recording of the soundtrack? And if so, how does Lucky know to pick one of the songs from that LP? I believe that either Lucky or Rusty (or both of them?) are trapped in a time loop, and forced to repeat the day over and over until they end up together.*

* Or maybe not.  Maybe Ann-Margret is supposed to end up with Cesare Danova, the Italian racing count.  Or maybe learning to hate Lucky isn’t as easy as it seems given her loathing, and she’s still trying to get it right.

General trivia note: Among the uncredited background people in Viva Las Vegas are singer Toni Basil (“Mickey”), actress Teri Garr (Young Frankenstein), and actors Kent McCord (Adam-12) and Lance LeGault (you’d know him if you saw him).  If you are under 40, you have no idea who I’m talking about, do you?

Please, Mr. Gmail

Here’s a fun activity for those of us of a certain age.  (Disclaimer: This also works for those of us of an uncertain age, like “Wait, am I 54 now, or am I turning 54 next month?”)

Find a young person, and play them the 1974 Carpenters hit “Please, Mr. Postman”.  Chase after them as they run away while continuing to play the song. When the song is over, corner them and ask them if they have ever seen or heard of any of the following:

  • The Carpenters
  • A postman
  • A letter
  • Waiting patiently

I tried this with a young friend of mine.  After having to explain all of the above, she looked at me quizzically and asked, “Why didn’t she just instaskype his snapgram on Twitface?”  (Disclaimer: This might not be a direct quote, but it makes about as much sense to me.)

Fortune favors the Swift

In pop geopolitical news, a study released by the Fortune Institute for Ranking Great Leadership has named singer Taylor Swift the greatest female leader.

The timing of the announcement is curious, coming two days before Pope Francis called for multilateral talks among leaders of the Fortune 6 Great Powers (Apple, the European Bank, China, the Vatican, India, and Taylor Swift) to discuss rising tensions between Ms. Swift and neighboring India.  Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has expressed alarm at the sudden rise in greatness of Taylor Swift and concern that her combination of power and great leadership could be felt as far away as Beijing and Cupertino by next year. India has been conducting military exercises along its border with Taylor Swift.

The United Nations has downplayed the power of Taylor Swift (above), once thought to be limited making her eyes glow and talking to sea turtles.  However, the discovery of great leadership from the singer, who celebrated the 25th anniversary of her founding in December, became clear after she successfully crossed swords with Spotify.

Author’s Note: I’m pretty sure Spotify is a gentle shampoo for getting tough stains out of Dalmatians and leopards.  I’m not sure why a great leader like Taylor Swift would spend time fencing with it.

triciahelfer

Swift came in at number six on the overall list.  In past years, Cylon Tricia Helfer and Prisoner Patrick McGoohan have also held the role of Number 6.  In a press statement, Ms. Helfer (above) praised the decision.  “As a tall, hot blonde with glowing eyes, I am gratified to see Fortune recognize the great leadership of tall, hot blondes with glowing eyes, some of whom have been leading men on for years!”

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Regret and forget

I received the following e-mail today:

Don’t Regret Missing Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy

Natalie and Donnell are going to put on a night to remember!
Award winning Cape Breton musician, Natalie MacMaster, began her fiddling career at 16 releasing her debut album Four on the Floor. Her musical venture now spans over three decades, completing 11 albums, performing thousands of shows and collaborating with a multitude of world renowned artists.
The most recent album by MacMaster, Cape Breton Girl, has been self-described as a “straight-ahead, traditional record.” The album is filled with an invigorating collection of toe-tapping jigs, reels, and strathspeys that embodies her most cherished values, her family and home, tradition, and faith.

 

I hereby promise not to regret missing Natalie and Donnell in the slightest.  Partly because I have never found strathspeys particularly invigorating.  Partly because there has been no independent analysis as to whether Cape Breton Girl is either straight-ahead or traditional.  But mostly because I can’t trust Natalie and Donnell to provide me a night to remember if they can’t even remember to tell me who Donnell Leahy is or what he will contribute to the evening.  He might just be the guy who taps his toe during the jigs.

The hits from coast to coast?

 

This afternoon, as I was coming home from work, I happened to catch an ad for the weekly Top 40 countdown on SiriusXM’s 90’s on 9 channel.  The spot featured host Downtown Julie Brown(above), my second favorite Julie Brown in the history of MTV.  She previewed the show this way:

“We’ll be counting down the top 40 hits from this week in 1993, featuring artists from the U.S. to the U.K. and literally everywhere in between!”

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With great Taylor comes…what?

This morning, as I was walking through Barnes & Noble, I passed the magazine section, and happened to notice this cover for Time Magazine.  I know who Taylor Swift is — sort of.  I’m pretty sure she’s either a singer I’ve never heard (i.e. anyone who became famous after 2010) or the star of a CW show I’ve never seen (i.e. any CW show other than The Flash).  I’m vaguely aware that she’s younger and taller than she looks, but I don’t know why I know that.

Still, in spite of my vast knowledge (which runs the gamut from A to lower case a), I’m intrigued by the concept of “The Power of Taylor Swift”?  What is it?

  • Is it an attribute of Ms. Swift herself?  (“The power of Taylor Swift is derived from a corbomite quantum cell in her medulla oblongata, which is why her eyes do that glowing white ring thing.”)
  • Or is it a thing superheroes can do, like invisibility?  (“After being exposed to cosmic radiation, Brandi suddenly developed the powers of telepathy, Taylor Swift, and telekinesis, which is why her eyes do that glowing white ring thing.”)
  • Or is it a benchmark for comparison purposes?  (“The 2015 Lexus combines the sleek lines of a sports car with the power of Taylor Swift.  Just one test drive and your eyes will do that glowing white ring thing.”)

Or is this just one of those things that man was not meant to know?

Update: Those glowing white rings in her eyes remind me of this:

Aquaman11

I’m now certain that the power of Taylor Swift has something to do with seafood.

Update 2: Mystery solved below.

Mass Transit Atrocities

One of my favorite bands growing up in the 60’s was The Kingston Trio.  (Disclaimer: I was uncool before it was cool to be uncool, and long before it was hip to be square.)  Probably my favorite song was their 1959 hit The M.T.A., because it recounted an age-old tale of man’s struggle against mass transportation that really resonated with a pre-teen John.  Listen to this haunting introduction, and you’ll understand how I was captivated.

These are the times that try men’s souls.  In the course of our nation’s history, the people of Boston have rallied bravely whenever the rights of men have been threatened.  Today, a new crisis has arisen.  The Metropolitan Transit Authority, better known as the M.T.A., is attempting to levy a burdensome tax on the population in the form of a subway fare increase.  Citizens, hear me out!  This could happen to you!

How can you not be moved by this?  Listen to this tale of woe:

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Keep reaching

This morning I was listening to the radio in my car on the way to Starbucks.  I have SiriusXM, so I can listen to what I want.  Because I’m old and unhip*, my presets fall into three categories:

  • channels full of talking
  • channels with the word “classic” in the title
  • channels named after a decade other than this one

On the weekend, most of the “decade” stations I listen to have some sort of countdown show.   I rarely listen to the one on the Pop2K channel, because I don’t recognize most of the music, and I have no idea who host Lance Bass is.  (Disclaimer: I’m pretty sure he’s one of the N’sync Boys from Down the Block, or possibly an actor on the CW.)   I will occasionally catch snippets of the 90’s countdown with “Downtown” Julie Brown (from the days when MTV played music and employed Julie Browns by the truckload — kids, ask your parents).   I catch the 80’s countdown show because it seems to be on all the time.  It is hosted by MTV: The First Generation (Martha Quinn, Nina Blackwood, Alan Hunter, and Mark Goodman).  (Disclaimer: Because I happen to live in a racially obsessed society, I found myself thinking, “What about the black guy?”  Apparently, J.J. Jackson was disqualified when he died in 2004.)

But my favorite of all are the rebroadcasts of Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 radio shows from the 70’s.  This is not just because 70’s pop is the music of my people.  (Disclaimer: I grew up in suburbia in the 60’s and 70’s.  The “culture of my people” includes things like Wonder Bread, Spam, knobs on TVs, drive-in movies, and Sugar Sugar by the Archies.  (Nested disclaimer: It is too a culture!))

The thing I love about AT40 is that these are actual rebroadcasts of the original shows.  All the other shows are a contemporary “look back” at the decade in question, where the hosts talk about the songs from a historical perspective.  Casey Kasem is “looking back” at the songs from last week.

What makes this so entertaining to me is that Kasem has no historical perspective.  His show is the quintessential definition of “stuck in the 70’s”, which means that occasionally it makes him sound like a total doofus.  Every song in this week’s countdown is, by defnition, a Top 40 hit, and he can’t help but give them all the same level of eager enthusiasm.

On today’s show (from April 1972), Casey was heaping praise on the song Back Off Boogaloo by Ringo Starr, describing it as “another big hit from Ringo Starr”.  I’ve never heard of it.  (Apparently, it went all the way to #2.)  By the same token, he has no idea what’s going to last, so every new thing is an interesting tidbit.  I’m paraphrasing, but every so often I’ll hear Casey Kasem say something like this:

And the count goes on.  Our next song is the first hit from a four-man band out of Los Angeles, California.  At number 31, here’s The Eagles and Take It Easy.

One of the things on my time-travel todo list is to stop by the AT40 studio in Los Angeles and tell Casey, “Trust me on this.  Take It Easy is a bigger deal than Back Off Boogaloo.  Don’t sound like a doofus 42 years from now.”

Apparently, he didn’t listen.

* I am also uncool, unrad, unfly, and/or whatever came after those.  For proof, reread the previous sentence.