Garrison Keillor: It's coming and will find you in due course
I had had a little experience of resurrection a few days before when I had lunch with the daughter of an old friend of mine, Arvonne, who died last summer at the age of 92, sharp and well-read and making her mark right up to the end. She was the sort of friend who has so much going on that you have to get along on occasional sightings, so we weren't close but she was important to me, and I miss her. She grew up on a farm in southwestern Minnesota in the dirty Thirties, and she became a powerful encourager and booster, which is a rarity among progressive Democrats, who have more than their share of angry narcissists. I barely know her daughter Jean, but we sat down in a sunny café in the Presidio and dove into conversation and never came up for air. The soul of Arvonne lives on.
Paul Waldman: Democrats have figured out where they're going on health care (Washington Post)
What they are doing is circling closer and closer to something that doesn't yet have a name, but which I'll call "Medicare For Anyone." The fundamental difference between that and Medicare-for-all is that instead of eliminating (or minimizing) private insurance and putting everyone into the same pool, it would open up Medicare or something like it to anyone who wants it.
Tim Lott: The best form of self-help is a healthy dose of unhappiness (The Guardian)
We're seeking solace in greater numbers than ever. But we're more likely to find it in reality than in positive thinking.
Tim Lott: Why should we subsidise writers who have lost the plot? (The Guardian)
I'm not surprised sales of literary fiction are in decline - too many authors fail to engage their readers with any sort of story.
Steve Rose: "Dying of the light: why Hollywood needs to get over its obsession with terminally ill teens" (The Guardian)
Five Feet Apart is the latest film about doomed young heartthrobs - a trope rife in popular culture since Romeo and Juliet.
Steve Rose: "'Difficult second album syndrome': why auteurs struggle to follow their debut" (The Guardian)
Just like the follow-up to Donnie Darko, David Robert Mitchell's Under the Silver Lakefails to live up to its acclaimed predecessor.
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A knowledge of James Bond movies can be helpful when watching the British tongue-in-cheek spy series The Avengers. When Honor Blackman, who played Mrs. Cathy Gale in the series, left, she starred in the James Band thriller Goldfinger, which had a plot about stealing all the gold from Fort Knox. In The Avengers episode "Too Many Christmas Trees," Emma Peel, who took over for Ms. Blackman's Avengers character, reads a card out loud, "Best wishes for the future. Cathy." Steed replies, "Mrs. Gale! How nice of her to remember me! What can she be doing in Fort Knox?" When Diana Rigg left the series, her character, Mrs. Emma Peel, told her replacement, Tara King, played by Linda Thorson, "He likes his tea stirred anti-clockwise," a reference to Bond's liking his martinis shaken, not stirred.
When Maury Maverick, Jr. served in the Texas House of Representatives in the 1950s, a powerful movie lobbyist named D.F. Strickland gave him a movie pass that would allow him to watch movies free in any Interstate Theater in Texas. However, Mr. Maverick felt that politicians ought not to accept such freebies, so he returned the free movie pass. Mr. Strickland wrote him a note: "Dear Mr. Maverick: I have been a lobbyist in Austin for over three decades. In all that time only one other legislator returned his movie pass, and he was a Baptist preacher who later went insane." Mr. Maverick wrote back: "Dear Mr. Strickland: Please send me back my movie pass."
Believe it or not, producer Val Lewton's film I Walked with a Zombie was based in part on Charlotte Bronte's classic novel Jane Eyre - in the novel, Jane works for a man whose wife suffers from incurable insanity. Mr. Lewton's film studio, RKO, gave him a small budget and the VIPs were worried that his films were too arty, relying more on atmosphere than on blood to frighten people. One of his bosses complained about I Walked with a Zombie that "sock-it-to-them was being sacrificed for 'arty stuff.'"
When writers Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur ran a movie studio that produced their own scripts in the 1930s, they hired a stage actor named Claude Rains to appear before a movie camera for the first time in their movie Crime Without Passion. Because he had a problem with his feet swelling under the hot movie lights, Mr. Rains performed many of his love scenes while standing barefoot in a pan of cool water - the movie camera, of course, was kept focused above his waist.
Bob Denver appeared in the movie Back to the Beach, starring Frank Avalon and Annette Funicello. In it, he played a bartender who looked very much like Gilligan (Mr. Denver played Gilligan on the TV series Gilligan's Island). In the movie, his character said that he once knew a guy who could build a nuclear reactor out of coconuts and pineapples, but the guy didn't know how to build a boat.
Phyllis Diller's first movie starred Bob Hope: Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number? On the set, Mr. Hope noticed Ms. Diller looking around. After asking, he found out that she was looking for the cue cards. "Phyllis, we don't use cue cards in movies," Mr. Hope explained. "That's only in television." Ms. Diller was surprised: "Oh? Then I'd better learn my lines."
Early in his career, actor David Niven received a bad review for his performance in the movie Dodsworth. He had the review framed and hung it in his bathroom: "In this picture we are privileged to see Mr. Samuel Goldwyn's latest 'discovery.' All we can say about this actor is that he is tall, dark and not the slightest bit handsome."
Otto Preminger could be a dictatorial director. According to one story, all of the actors except one in a play Mr. Preminger was directing signed a petition to have him removed as director. When the sole non-signer was asked why he did not sign the petition, he replied, "My parents are still in Germany."
Violinist Mischa Elman was once present at a dinner given by Harpo Marx during which a movie producer listened to some criticisms of his recent movies and then complained of the difficulties of producing. Mr. Elman asked, "If it's so hard to make bad pictures, why don't you make good ones?"
When she was growing up, ballerina Darci Kistler was asked to appear in a scene in the movie The Turning Point, which starred Mikhail Baryshnikov. Unfortunately, as she and her family discovered when they went to see the movie, Darci's scene was cut.
Peter Ustinov once said about Biblical films, "Virtue wins by a Technicolor knockout in the last reel, but up to that moment, the Devil has been leading handsomely on points."
The pianist Vladimir de Pachmann declined to attend recitals by other pianists, explaining, "If he plays badly, I am bored. If he plays well, I am miserable."
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Jeannie the Teed-Off Temp
THE LOCAL GIRLS
THE LOCAL GIRLS: Very Listenable Precision, Three-Part Harmony Covers of Notable Songs
This is a very listenable album with covers of notable songs by such music luminaries as Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin, Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield, JD Hutchison, and Bruce Dalzell. I especially like "Where the Girls Are" and "I Feel Free."
Three singers - Brenda Catania, Gay Dalzell, and Mimi Hart - formed The Local Girls in the summer of 1988 in Athens County, Ohio. They have performed at Town Hall in New York City as guests of A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor, toured Europe, and sang for Hillary Clinton's 50th birthday party. In addition, they have recorded two albums: Let Yourself Go (2000) and Three Little Words (2011). How to best describe them? Swing singers, yes. Vocal jazz, yes. Certainly, they perform precision, three-part harmony as they cover older and newer songs. The chronology of their repertoire ranges from 1854 (Stephen Foster's "Hard Times Come Again No More" - no, not on this album) to the 1990s (T. Bone Burnett's "It's Not Too Late" - yes, on this album).
These are the songs on Let Yourself Go:
"Shout Sister Shout. "Recorded in the 1930s by the Boswell Sisters, a close harmony group. Very jazzy and tuneful. Some lyrics: "Just tell old Satan how you feel / Get that old Devil right off your heel / Shout sister, shout sister, shout!"
"Centerpiece." Recorded by Lambert, Hendricks and Ross in 1960 on the album titled Lambert, Hendricks and Ross! The Hottest New Group in Jazz. This title is an example of proper (earned) pride. Notably covered by Van Morrison. Some lyrics: "The more I'm with you, pretty baby / The more I feel my love increase / I'm building all my dreams around you / My happiness will never cease / But nothing's any good without you / 'Cause, baby, you're my centerpiece."
"Stay A Little Longer." Some lyrics: "Stay a little longer / A little bit longer / You know you ain't got nothing better to do / We'll blindfold the cat / Put out the dog / Pull the shades and lock the door." Written by Paula Lockhart with additional lyrics by David Lister. One of my favorites on this album.
"I'll Never Say 'Never Again' Again." Notably recorded by the Nat King Cole Trio, the Three Ambassadors, Ozzie Nelson and His Orchestra, and many more. Some lyrics: "I'll never say 'never again' again / 'Cause here I am in love again / Head over heels in love again with you / I'll never say, 'never kiss you' again / 'Cause here I am kissing you again / That's just the thing I said I'd never do."
"I Feel Free."The Cream song, written by Pete Brown and Jack Bruce. The Local Girls' version is much less rock and much more harmonic. Some lyrics: "I can walk down the street, there's no one there / Though the pavements are one huge crowd. / I can drive down the road, my eyes don't see, / Though my mind wants to cry out loud."
"Since My Bird Has Flied Away." The composer, J.D. Hutchison, sings lead, backed up by The Local Girls. A different version of "Since My Bird Has Flied Away" appears on J.D. Hutchison's album You and the World Outside. Some lyrics: "Pour some more coffee in my coffee cup / I don't know why, I don't even like the stuff / But nothing seems to matter / Since my bird has flied away." The bird, of course, is a woman. Another of my favorites.
"Let Yourself Go." The Irving Berlin song. Ginger Rogers sang this song, and - of course - danced to it with Fred Astaire. Some lyrics: "Come / Get together / Let the dance floor feel your leather / Step as lightly as a feather / Let yourself go / Come / Hit the timber / Loosen up and start to limber / Can't you hear that hot marimba? / Let yourself go."
"Where The Boys Are." Written by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield for the 1960 movie of the same title, starring Connie Francis, Yvette Mimieux, Paula Prentiss, and Dolores Hart. My personal favorite on this Local Girls album. Some lyrics: "Where the boys are / Someone waits for me, / A smiling face, a warm embrace, / Two arms to hold me tenderly. / Where the boys are / My true love will be, / He's walking down some street in town / And I know he's looking there for me."
"Ready On The Firing Line." Another great song by JD Hutchison. Some lyrics: "In this world / You've got to be ready / Got to have everything just so / You've got to be ready just to hang around / Or you've got to be ready to go / You've got to be ready just to hear the word / You must be ready to read the sign / You must be ready on the left / Ready on the right / Ready on the firing line."
"The Bozo Blues." A song by Bruce Dalzell, Gay Dalzell's husband. Bruce and Gay have made a lot of excellent music in Athens County, Ohio, for decades. This is a bluesy, humorous song about going to Chicago to be on The Bozo Show. Some lyrics: "I'm going to Chicago / Be on that Bozo Show/ Yeah, I'm going to Chicago / Be on that B-B-Bozo Show/ Yeah, I don't know where Chicago is / But, mama, I got to go."
"It's Not Too Late."The T-Bone Burnett song. Some lyrics: "The wind turns like a dagger, / the rain falls like a hammer / The sky has grown dark but it's not too late / The weather crashes down, what's lost cannot be found / The night is closing but it's not too late."
"I Want To Be A Cowboy's Sweetheart."A hit for Patsy Montana & The Prairie Ramblers. Some lyrics: "I want to be a cowboy's sweetheart / I want to learn to rope and to ride / I want to ride o'er the plains and the desert / Out west of the great divide / I want to hear the coyotes howlin' / While the sun sets in the West / I want to be a cowboy's sweetheart / That's the life that I love best." Lots of yodeling on this one.
"The Blue Shadows On The Trail."A Roy Rogers song. Some lyrics: "Blue shadowson the trail / Blue moon shinin' throughthe trees / And a plaintiff wail from the distance / Comes a driftin' on the eveningbreeze."
"Caravan."The Duke Ellington song. Some lyrics: "Night and stars above that shine so bright / The mystery of their fading light / That shines upon our Caravan / Sleep upon my shoulder as we creep / Across the sands so I may keep / The memory of our Caravan."
"Mothra vs. Godzilla."The main title of the 1964 Japanese monster movie of the same name. On Rotten Tomatoes, 90 percent of the critics like the movie. If nothing else, this song proves that The Local Girls are eclectic. Do you speak Monster? I don't. Look for lyrics elsewhere.
Readers of this review should make heavy use of Amazon's preview snippets of The Local Girls' songs on this page ( tinyurl.com/y6ph5mzk ).
And check out their Web site:
from that Mad Cat, JD
JD is on vacation.
Visit JD's site - Kitty Litter Music
In The Chaos Household
Didn't get more than a brief shower, but 2 miles north the freeway flooded and had to be closed.
Renaming Detroit Highway
The Michigan House of Representatives voted 101-6 on Tuesday to rename a section of Detroit, Michigan's M-10 as "Aretha L. Franklin Memorial Highway." The legislation is now set for the state Senate.
The bill's sponsor, Democratic Rep. Leslie Love of Detroit, called the soul icon a "special lady" who battled for civil rights causes and "gave us all a soundtrack to our lives," The Associated Press reports. The stretch of road - which starts near New Bethel Baptist Church, where Franklin's father was pastor, and ends at I-94 - was selected to symbolize her broad reach.
The late singer, who died in August 2018 from a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor, grew up in the city and began singing gospel music as a child at New Bethel. Once her music career took off, she relocated to New York City, then Los Angeles, before moving back to Detroit in 1982. Her memorial service took place in the city, and she was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery. The city previously named a portion of their waterfront district after the Queen of Soul.
The bill earned "no" votes from six GOP lawmakers: Republican Reps Shane Hernandez (Port Huron), Matt Maddock (White Lake), Steve Johnson (Wayland), Phil Green (Millington), Luke Meerman (Polkin Township) and John Reilly (Oakland Township). Legislation to rename freeways often passes without resistance.
National Recording Registry - 2019
Library of Congress
"Minnie the Moocher," meet "The Blueprint." The recordings being inducted into the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry for 2019 range from Cab Calloway's 1931 signature single to a landmark 2001 Jay-Z album, with stops along the way for Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline," Curtis Mayfield's "Superfly," Earth, Wind & Fire's "September" and Cyndi Lauper's "She's So Unusual."
Every year, the Library's National Recording Preservation Board selects 25 titles to be added to the prestigious slate for their cultural and aesthetic significance. This eclectic lineup starts chronologically with what is believed to be the earliest recordings of Yiddish songs in 1901-05, includes a "Gunsmoke" radio serial episode from the '50s and a Martin Luther King Jr. speech from the '60s, and moves from the "Hair" Broadway cast album into the disco era with Sylvester's "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)."
Among the great historical documents joining the list is Nina Simone's 1964 civil rights anthem "Mississippi Goddam," a reaction to the murders of African Americans and rights activists in the South. Other picks include Richie Valens' "La Bamba," Sam & Dave's "Soul Man," classical composer Benjamin Britten's "War Requiem," a 1961 Stan Freberg album of political comedy, Dexter Gordon's jazz classic "GO," the Victory Military Band's 1914 rendition of "Memphis Blues" and roots singer Ola Belle Reed's self-titled 1973 album.
The number of recordings in the National Recording Registry has now reached 525 with the new additions. Jay-Z's "Blueprint" joins a short list of hip-hop inductees that already includes Public Enemy's "Fear of a Black Planet" and Grandmaster Flash's "The Message."
The full list of 2019 inductees into the Registry: Library of Congress
For Lawrence Ferlinghetti, living to be 100 is no fun. Speaking from his home in San Francisco recently, Ferlinghetti said he's practically blind now - he can't read, and he's skipping his big birthday bash at the bookstore he co-founded, City Lights in San Francisco.
Nevertheless, Ferlinghetti - who will turn 100 this Sunday, March 24 - has a lot to celebrate. Once a standout poet of the Beat Generation, his bookstore has become a popular landmark and the small press of the same name is still in business after more than 60 years. And he's just published a new novel.
Ferlinghetti has always been an advocate for the underdog, in part because of his own life story - and it's a tale right out of Dickens. His father died shortly before he was he was born, and his mother was committed to a mental hospital shortly after. He was raised by an aunt, and then by foster parents.
His new autobiographical novel, Little Boy, begins like this: "Little Boy was quite lost. He had no idea who he was or where he had come from."
Ferlinghetti enlisted in the Navy after Pearl Harbor. He served as an officer at Normandy on D-Day, and at Nagasaki after the atomic bomb. That experience turned him into a lifelong pacifist.
Ariana Grande Royalties
Rodgers and Hammerstein
Pop superstar Ariana Grande's smash hit "7 Rings" continues to dominate the US charts -- but the late composers Rodgers and Hammerstein are reaping the vast majority of royalties, according to The New York Times.
The sexy-but-sweet track that vaunts personal wealth and luxuries like diamonds and champagne heavily samples the classic "My Favorite Things" from "The Sound of Music."
Legendary musical theater composers Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein -- both of whom died decades ago -- are among the credited writers of that song and own 90 percent of the songwriting royalties.
Just before "7 Rings" debuted in January, when it soared to the top of the Billboard Hot 100, Grande and her label played it for the music company Concord, which bought the Rodgers and Hammerstein collection in 2017.
Songwriting royalties are distinct from the revenues Grande earns as an artist, yet Concord is now set up to score millions of dollars off her song, having demanded and won a 90 percent share of the royalties.
Rodgers and Hammerstein
"Devin Nunes' Cow"
A parody cow Twitter account Rep. Devin Nunes is suing has now surpassed him in followers.
Earlier this week, the Republican ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee filed a lawsuit against Twitter and against a handful of its users - including "Devin Nunes' mom" and "Devin Nunes' cow" for defamation, negligence, and conspiracy because the accounts incessantly mocked him. Earlier this week, the "@DevinCow" cow account had barely a couple thousand followers. By Wednesday afternoon, it boasted 434,000, compared to Nunes' 395,000.
Nunez is suing Twitter and several of its users for $250 million in damages. It's unclear how he hopes to meet the criteria for winning his suit, particularly given that public figures must meet higher standards for defamation.
The "Devin Nunes' cow" account launched in June 2017, highlighting the profits from a farm Nunes' family had in California but moved to Iowa.
Nunes' lawsuit filed in federal court in Virginia is particularly interesting given legislation he filed last year to clamp down on frivolous lawsuits. It was called the "Discouraging Frivolous Lawsuits Act."
"Devin Nunes' Cow"
'Cat Cannibalism' Experiments?
A new watchdog report claims that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been purchasing cats and dogs at meat markets abroad to use in gruesome experiments here in the United States.
The experiments, according to the report, involved feeding their body parts to healthy cats as well as injecting them into mice.
The report was published online yesterday (March 20) by a nonprofit organization called The White Coat Waste Project. It says that the experiments were conducted by the USDA's Agricultural Research Service in the name of research that had a very limited impact on improving public health.
So why did the USDA spend over a decade conducting these bizarre experiments?
The purpose was to research toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by the common parasite Toxoplasma gondii, said Justin Goodman, the vice president of The White Coat Waste Project, who helped write the report.
Get your fleece-lined tin foil hats at the ready, a gang of prominent flat-Earthers are reportedly interested in going on an expedition to Antartica, hoping to reveal the true nature of our planet once and for all.
As reported by Forbes, prominent flat-Earthers are showing interest in a trek across (or at least towards) Antarctica. How they plan to go about this is not clear yet, but the pipe-dream looks to address one of the great totems of the flat-Earth theory: What's the deal with the South Pole?
"All we have to do to shut this debate down once and for all is get the distance of the coast of Antarctica," Jay Decasby, a prominent flat-Earther, told Forbes.
"If we can get to the coast of Antarctica and sail all the way around it, we will get the distance that will prove it's the outer edges of flat earth and refute entirely every single argument anyone can possibly try to pitch for the sun-worshipping cult of heliocentrism."
However, as the flat-Earthers are all too aware, the Antarctic Treaty of 1961 could make this difficult. The main purpose of this international treaty is to deny any claim of territorial sovereignty in Antarctica. However, flat-Earthers argue it strongly restricts private exploration of the area. That said, the treaty does stipulate that the area should have "freedom of scientific investigation". Whether or not this stuff can be defined as science, however, is another question.
Blunts Traumatic Memories
A dose of anesthesia could take the edge off emotional memories, a new small study suggests.
People who were immediately sedated after remembering an emotional story had fuzzier memories of the emotional portions of the story 24 hours later, according to the study, published today (March 20) in the journal Science Advances.
Researchers previously disrupted memories using other techniques, including electroconvulsive therapy, which involves passing an electrical current through the brain. Anesthesia is a far less invasive experience, and the new research raises hopes that sedation could help with conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Memories were once thought to be static after they were set, but researchers now know that every time someone remembers an incident, that memory is vulnerable to alteration. In animal studies, and even some human studies of very basic fear responses, medications have been shown to alter emotional memories. Scientists in the Netherlands, for example, have found that after people learn to associate an image with a painful shock, the blood-pressure drug propranolol can break that association, reducing the fear response.
But PTSD is not so simple. Traumatic memories are woven into the fabric of people's lives, often associated with life-or-death situations or compounded trauma, said Bernard Schreurs, a neuroscientist at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, who wasn't involved with the new study. Someone may have years of terrifying memories surrounding an abusive relationship, for example. And a 2015 study that attempted to use propranolol to block memories in people with PTSD failed to show results.
Can two versions of reality exist at the same time? Physicists say they can - at the quantum level, that is.
Researchers recently conducted experiments to answer a decades-old theoretical physics question about dueling realities. This tricky thought experiment proposed that two individuals observing the same photon could arrive at different conclusions about that photon's state - and yet both of their observations would be correct.
For the first time, scientists have replicated conditions described in the thought experiment. Their results, published Feb. 13 in the preprint journal arXiv, confirmed that even when observers described different states in the same photon, the two conflicting realities could both be true.
This perplexing idea was the brainchild of Eugene Wigner, winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1963. In 1961, Wigner had introduced a thought experiment that became known as "Wigner's friend." It begins with a photon - a particle of light. When an observer in an isolated laboratory measures the photon, they find that the particle's polarization - the axis on which it spins - is either vertical or horizontal.
However, before the photon is measured, the photon displays both polarizations at once, as dictated by the laws of quantum mechanics; it exists in a "superposition" of two possible states.