Laughing At or Laughing With?

The tax cut extension “deal”. Sigh …

I hear the laughter. Either Republicans in Congress are laughing

  • at both Obama and the middle class

or

  • with Obama at the middle class

Which is it?

Based on Obama’s professed admiration for Reagan, the people he chose for the Bowles-Simpson catfood commission, and the inclusion of the payroll tax “holiday” in this deal, it’s the latter: Obama is laughing with Republicans at the middle class. Either way it’s galling.

Watch (or read the text of) Keith Olbermann’s special comment on this. He nails it.

Call your representative and senators. Will the Democrats in Congress eventually fold? Probably. But at least you’ll be able to say you tried to do something about it.

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“He’s Gonna Play an Organ!”

Of late as I’ve listened to my “guyPod” I’ve been delighted by what I’ll characterize as “watery” organ in a pair of tracks.

The older of the two is the title track from the 1977 album Show Some Emotion by British singer-songwriter Joan Armatrading. Listen to the organ played by John “Rabbit” Bundrick when the chorus kicks in at 1:01, 1:40, and 2:50.

The organ stays around for most of the chorus, but it’s those first four longish notes that get me. Juicy!

Then we have the British duo Tears for Fears. After their enormously popular 1985 second album Songs from the Big Chair, Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal took nearly four years to release their third, The Seeds of Love. The pre-album single was the title track of sorts, “Sowing the Seeds of Love”.

In it there is but a single instance of watery organ. It comes, courtesy of Orzabal or maybe Nicky Holland, at 3:33.

Frothy!

These are visceral reactions, I know. I’m not going to try to put into words what I like about the organ I’ve highlighted here — because I really don’t think I can. But I thought them worth sharing anyway.

While I’m on the subject of “Sowing the Seeds”, I have to comment on this attention-grabbing track as a whole. There is a lot happening in this track; it’s a musical kitchen sink — one could get away with calling it a mess. I love how Stewart Mason puts it in on his review of the track on AllMusic.com:

The combination of old and new, along with Roland Orzabal’s unblinkingly earnest “all you need is love” lyrics, is almost overpoweringly bombastic, but the song goes so thoroughly over the top that it finally becomes almost admirable in its excesses.

Here is album reviewer Stanton Swihart’s take, also on AllMusic.com:

As for the title track, it manages to be insanely intricate as well as catchy. Full of arcane references, lovely turns of phrase, and perfectly matched suite-like parts, it updates the orchestral grandiosity — though not the actual sound — of the Beatles’ psychedelic period.

Beatles-influenced? Certainly. The track draws from “I Am the Walrus,” “Penny Lane,” and I’m sure several other Fab Four tracks.

I alternate between considering “Sowing the Seeds” to be an ambitious success and a ridiculous overreach. Ultimately I give it a thumbs-up. Its message, after all, is a progressive one, so I’m inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt.

An end to need,
And the politics of greed

Indeed.

Plus, the video is effective. Directed by Jim Blashfield, it won two awards at the MTV Music Video Awards — Best Breakthrough Video and Best Special Effects
With respect to my positive verdict on “Sowing”, evidently I have — or had — a lot of company. I had no idea before I researched this post that the single went all the way to #2 in the US. Really?! That is astonishing. (This must have happened very soon after I began to ignore, for the most part, new music, a change in behavior I trace back to 1989, the year this single was released.)

As for the post title, (why do I so often feel compelled to explain my titles? because many are obscure references related to the post subject only tangentially, that’s why!), it is a line from Don Rickles’ 1960s stand-up comedy LP Hello Dummy. The organ to which Rickles refers is not a musical instrument.

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Chuckie Baby and Gene Gene

The Gong Show

Image via Wikipedia

For a reason I’ll not go into here I’ve been thinking now and again about Gene Gene the Dancing Machine. Gene Gene (Gene Patton) was one of the regulars on the ’70s TV game show The Gong Show, which was produced and hosted by Chuck “Chuckie Baby” Barris.

I intended to search online for video of Gene Gene, but the thought wasn’t occurring to me while I was using the computer.

A couple nights ago, though, I had just turned off my computer and come upstairs from my basement lair when I had the thought. Son #3 was still online, so I took a chance: “Hey [son #3], how would you like to search for a funny video?” To my surprise, he brought up YouTube and seconds later, we were convulsed in laughter watching Gene Gene, Chuckie Baby, and the celebrity panel of judges — sassy Jaye P. Morgan, Arte Johnson of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In fame, and young David Letterman.

It’s Friday and therefore an especially good time to share this. You may not laugh, but you’ll be hard-pressed to suppress a smile.

Soon after viewing this clip with son #3, I convinced son #2 to take a look. The video kept freezing, so his reaction was understandably muted. Still, though, there is no doubt he liked it because he later told me he posted it on his Tumblr blog.

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Orange You Glad We Met?

With the ascendance of Syracuse  University to #1 in college basketball, I’m reminded of an indirect brush with greatness.

I grew up in the ’60s and early ’70s in Delaware one house away from a cul de sac — we kids called it The Circle. One of the dads on the block was the older brother of Syracuse coach and former star player Jim Boeheim. Boeheim (pronounced BAY-hime) has been involved with the Orangemen basketball program for, well, forever. Actually since 1963. He has been the head coach since 1976 and coached Syracuse to the NCAA title in 2003.

I don’t recall if Jim Boeheim ever graced The Circle with his presence. Maybe a couple of my dedicated readers will have some recollection on that score.

Pity I ripped this picture removing it from the photo album, but the boy is coach Boeheim’s nephew — one of the three Boeheim kids I played with in The Circle. In fact, this picture was taken in The Circle. Chez Boeheim is in the background. Notice his not-so-athletic pose. This picture was taken after he broke his leg in a skateboarding accident. The poor guy had a difficult recovery and seemed to lose his inclination toward the sporting life.Here I am circa 1967 with two of coach Boeheim’s nieces. We are posing with my family’s new puppy, Terry, who is chewing on a toy steak. This shot in our minds — well all but Terry’s I suppose— was the “album cover” for our band named, with great originality, Terry and the Pirates. Never mind that we didn’t have any songs or instruments, what was important was that we had an album cover. I hope Terry wasn’t our lead singer …

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Institutionalizing Corporate Oligarchy

The corner of Wall Street and Broadway, showin...

Image via Wikipedia

The Supreme Court decision in the case of in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission yesterday, by a vote of 5-4, absolutely sickens me.

The New York Times editorial this morning is a pretty good summary. In case you don’t have a minute or two now to read the whole thing now, here are the key grafs:

With a single, disastrous 5-to-4 ruling, the Supreme Court has thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th century. Disingenuously waving the flag of the First Amendment, the court’s conservative majority has paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding.
Congress must act immediately to limit the damage of this radical decision, which strikes at the heart of democracy.

As a result of Thursday’s ruling, corporations have been unleashed from the longstanding ban against their spending directly on political campaigns and will be free to spend as much money as they want to elect and defeat candidates. If a member of Congress tries to stand up to a wealthy special interest, its lobbyists can credibly threaten: We’ll spend whatever it takes to defeat you.

Congress and members of the public who care about fair elections and clean government need to mobilize right away, a cause President Obama has said he would join. Congress should repair the presidential public finance system and create another one for Congressional elections to help ordinary Americans contribute to campaigns. It should also enact a law requiring publicly traded corporations to get the approval of their shareholders before spending on political campaigns.

These would be important steps, but they would not be enough. The real solution lies in getting the court’s ruling overturned. The four dissenters made an eloquent case for why the decision was wrong on the law and dangerous. With one more vote, they could rescue democracy.

Hey, Justices Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Kennedy, we’ve already got a corporate oligarchy here in the U.S., in case you hadn’t noticed. That you approve is no surprise. That you would make this long leap toward institutionalizing it is heinous.

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Dilemma at Famous David’s

This is actually Tom's Restaurant, NYC. Famous...
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12 days later, Mrs. QC is still laughing about this … my Larry David moment at Famous Dave’s restaurant.

I had just ordered a combination platter featuring brisket and BBQ chicken. Our waiter asks me if I wanted white meat or dark meat chicken. I have a slight preference for white meat. But the waiter is black and, inexplicably, I find myself thinking, “Will I offend him if I order white meat?”

If you know me personally, you probably know how this turned out: “Uhhhh. I think I’ll go with the dark.

Not a proud moment.

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Zombie in the Shower

I overslept this morning and needed to hustle through my grooming routine so I could get son #2 to his school bus stop. I told Mrs. QC I thought I could be ready on time because I would be taking a dry head shower. That’s QC family lingo for omitting a shampoo. Including a shampoo is, naturally, a wet head shower.

As I hopped in the shower, carefully keeping my hair out of the path of the spraying water, I recalled the inspiration for these terms: It was a ’70s TV commercial for The Dry Look men’s hair spray. I made a mental note to look for the commercial online. I found it — of course. The Wethead is Dead!

Although I haven’t seen The Dry Look in years — or heard anyone mention it for that matter — Gillette still makes it! Who would have thought! You can get it in both classic aerosol and environmentally friendly pump forms. The aerosol is available in Regular Hold and Extra Hold strengths; the pump is available in Extra Hold and Maximum Hold strengths.

Gotta like the usage directions for The Dry Look, which are helpfully posted on the Amazon.com catalog pages for the product (to which I’ve linked above):

Comb hair into place. Hold container 6″ to 8″ from hair and spray. Works best on clean, dry hair.

Works best on clean, dry hair, eh? You don’t say …

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Sadly, Westbrook is Done

Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook is done.

It pains me to say that as he has been such a great player for the Eagles over the last several years. This video shows one of his best (h/t Phinally Philly).

He’s a smart player too. I’d forgotten about how he passed up a touchdown with two minutes left in a 2007 game to ensure the Dallas Cowboys, down 10-6 without any timeouts remaining, would not get the ball back.

But Westbrook has lost his burst.

This was apparent to me the last few games of the 2008 season. Remember the expression “three yards and a cloud of dust”? With Westbrook anymore it’s a yard-and-a-half and a mob of tacklers.

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Yo-die, Adrian!

Oscar Palmer Robertson

Image by cliff1066™ via Flickr

This one falls in the realm of what my sons refer to as “Dad’s stupid stuff”. In the ’60s (mostly) there was this NBA player — an all-star — named Adrian Smith. His nickname is Odie.

So in the playground in my mind every athlete named Adrian becomes Odie.

I alternate between finding this irritating — and amusing.

The most prominent case currently is Adrian Peterson. I should say two cases because, as unlikely as it may seem, there are two Adrian — uh, Odie — Petersons in the NFL:

While I was recently reading the excellent book Looking Back 75 Years of Eagles History: Special Edition by Eli Kowalski, which I received as a birthday gift from Mrs. QC, I was reminded that my favorite NFL team, the Philadelphia Eagles, once had a quarterback — back in the ’50s before I was born — named Adrian Burk. He shares the league record for most touchdown passes in a regular season game, 7, with four other quarterbacks. I’ve rewritten his tombstone, so to speak, to read “Odie Burk.”

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No Balls, Some Glory

Declaration of DerbyI’m psyched to be going tomorrow to the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia to watch the quarter-finals and final four of the Women’s Flat Track [Roller] Derby Association (WFTDA) national tournament, aka the Declaration of Derby. The tournament begins today and ends Sunday with the awarding of the Hydra trophy to the winning team.

Roller derby? Hell yeah!

To paraphrase a hackneyed phrase that appears in some form in almost every mainstream media article on modern roller derby, it’s not the roller derby of my youth. That is to say, the sport of “classic roller derby” I watched in the early ’70s on UHF TV was a scripted spectacle in which an impressive degree of athleticism was secondary to fighting and pro wrestling-style hero-and-villain posing.

Modern derby is played as legitimate sport. Unsurprisingly to me, it works. When the modern derby movement started in 2001 in Austin, TX, the founders initially planned to play it as spectacle. They quickly found it was more fun — not to mention safer — to play for real.

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