Amoeblog

The Signs Are Everywhere, the Return, Part 3…1 day left

Posted by Whitmore, November 3, 2008 08:39am | Post a Comment

“There comes a time in the affairs of man when he has to take the bull by the tail and face the situation.” -W.C. Fields.
 
I once took a bottle of Rye up there to W.C. Fields’ grave site in Forest Lawn, right down the road from here in Glendale, to mark the 60th anniversary of his death. (And contrary to popular legend his grave stone doesn’t read “All things considered, I’d rather be in Philadelphia,” it simply reads W. C. Fields 1880 -1946.) It was Christmas day and I thought somebody should have a snoot full with ol’ William Claude. But drinking in a cemetery, I discovered, is kind of frowned upon. I thought the Rye was a friendly gesture, but not according to the security guard, who seemed even more disheartened by my choice of liquor. I should have known, never argue with a man in a uniform. I was wrong. The guard was right, Rye is kind of nasty. So I promised the Security guard, I think his name was Donald, the next time I fill my flask I’ll pour in something with a bit more respect. Donald suggested an Islay variety single malt Scotch. The smoky and peaty overtones are a perfect compliment to a cold wintry day. After he returned my Rye, and put away his nightstick, we discussed the weather, W. C. Fields and oddly enough, politics. Over the course of our conversation I discovered we agreed on several fronts such as, Fields' best movie was The Bank Dick and that the last eight years have been like a long icy winter and you’re trapped in a snow cave, with only shoe leather to eat, while your soul dies from hypothermia. And we both agreed the last eight years was probably very good for the whiskey trade.

Lately though, L.A. has been hotter then hell. This October we had some ten days of ninety plus temperatures, registering the hottest October on record since the 1870’s. I’m not sure, but maybe that’s a good sign politically. Though, now that it’s November, genuine weather has made a return … clouds, rain, thunder, wind. I don’t know if that’s a bad sign or just weather in November. And I might be yanking at straws here again, but another possibly good sign -- at least for me and my life in a vacuum -- is that our next President is almost certainly guaranteed to be the candidate whose Halloween mask sold the most. For the last three decades this very unscientific, but incredibly accurate prognosticator seems to always predict the winner. This year’s top selling mask, in a landslide, was Barack Obama, out-selling John McCain masks by a 2 to 1 margin. But Republicans, don’t fret -- set your eyes to the horizon, un-furrow your brow, look north, look to the future, mark your calendars, thank god and bottle up those anxieties because you will be happy to know that the Sarah Palin mask came in second with strong mavericky sales.
 
Personally I’m just searching for political deliverance anywhere, everywhere. And I find signs in the oddest places. I’m reading newspapers and blogs and astrological charts and traffic patterns and weather reports and football scores and topographical maps and grocery receipts and paycheck stubs and my son’s first grade homework and I see signs! The signs are everywhere, but what the hell do they mean … if anything!? Now the Philadelphia Phillies winning the 2008 World Series seems significant -- I swear there’s something there! Especially since the Phillies also hold the distinction of being the team with the most losses in the history of Major League Baseball. And Philadelphia is where The United States Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787. Philadelphia is home to Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. Philly is home to the Liberty Bell. The City of Brotherly Love is the birthplace of the cheese steak sandwich, Betsy Ross, Grace Kelly, Margaret Mead, Robert Crumb, John, Ethel and Lionel Barrymore, Wilt Chamberlain, The Stylistics, The Dead Milkmen, The Delfonics, Stan Getz, Billie Holiday, Bob Saget, Jeremiah Wright, and W.C Fields. And last but not least, over 75% of the million plus voters registered in Philly are Democrats. Is that a Sign? All I can do is hope.

wires and lights in a box

Posted by Whitmore, October 18, 2008 11:27am | Post a Comment


This week marks the 50th anniversary of Edward R. Murrow’s seminal address about the future of radio and television, delivered in Chicago on Oct. 15, 1958, in what is now known as the “wires and lights in a box” speech. The legendary CBS newsman warned attendees at the Radio and Television News Directors Association convention to make the most of the new electronic media, and not allow only “escapism and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live.”  

“This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box”

Here is the text of the complete speech.

I suspect Edward R. Murrow would be deeply appalled at what passes as news and news commentary today. Then again, I think he probably had a premonition of it all crashing on down the turnpike. …

Below is a portion of that speech performed by David Strathairn as Murrow in the 2005 film Good Night, and Good Luck.

Happy Missouri Day! - Yup, It's aready been a yurr since the last'n

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 15, 2008 12:42am | Post a Comment
MISSOURI DAY

The 3rd Wednesday of the October, this year the 15th.

Map of Missouri
Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Missouri


In my experience, when you'ins tell people you’re from Missouri, most people reply self-satisfiedly with "don't you mean Missouruh?" or, alternately, "where is Missouri? I don’t think I’ve ever been there."

Whether Missouri is Lower Midwestern or Upper Southern (or the Border South or, the Upland South, or less commonly today, the Yeoman South) is a somewhat common debate amongst Missourians... at least on the internet.

In my experience, Missouri's Midwestern neighbors, centered along the Great Lakes, (haters) tend to disparage Mighty Mo as a hick state whurr test scores are low, the accent is ugly and you'ins can buy fireworks, liquor and ammo... all in the same place.

Missouri's neighbors in the Deep South (also haters) usually don't consider it to be Southern because Missouri didn't side with the South in the Civil War (well, that's complicated-- thurr were 30,000 gray and 109,000 blue) and because South Coasters love to equate the entire South with just the Deep South aka the Lower South aka the Plantation South.

As far as Southern credentials go, Mark Twain, Langston Hughes, Thomas Hart Benton all seem fairly Southern, do they not? On the other hand, natives like T.S. Elliot, William Burroughs and Maya Angelou don’t so much, huh? Cultural cringe I reckon, plays a part in this confusion, as do geographical overlap and historical shifts.

The Kingsmen

Posted by Whitmore, August 8, 2008 10:00pm | Post a Comment


45 years ago today, on August 8, 1963, a band from Portland, Oregon, The Kingsmen, initially released their classic version of "Louie Louie" on Jerden Records. Written by Richard Berry in 1955, it has since been recorded by hundreds of artists, becoming a rock standard, especially for garage bands cranking their amps to 10 in beer soaked clubs and basements everywhere. Richard Berry recorded his version in 1957, and it was released on the Los Angeles based label Flip Records. The original version is sung in a more of a bluesy-calypso style and tells the story of a Jamaican sailor bragging to his pal Louie about his "fine little girl" back on his island home.

The best-known version is of course by The Kingsmen and has always been thought of as being outrageously obscene, describing lascivious acts of extreme perversion in such detail as to warrant an investigation by the FBI-- an investigation that ended without prosecution. Here are the legendary lyrics:

Louie Louie, oh no
Me gotta go
Aye-yi-yi-yi, I said
Louie Louie, oh baby
Me gotta go

Fine little girl waits for me
Catch a ship across the sea
Sail that ship about, all alone
Never know if I make it home

Three nights and days I sail the sea
Think of girl, constantly
On that ship, I dream she's there
I smell the rose in her hair.

Okay, let's give it to 'em, right now!
 
See Jamaica, the moon above
It won't be long, me see me love
Take her in my arms again
Tell her I'll never leave again

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Birth of the LP

Posted by Whitmore, June 22, 2008 10:04pm | Post a Comment

60 years ago this week on June 21, 1948, at a press conference in the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Hotel (former home to such 20th century luminaries as Lucky Luciano, Bugsy Siegel, Nikola Tesla, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Cole Porter, and former President Herbert Hoover), Columbia Records unveiled their latest concept; the “LP.” This choice in dates was by no means a random selection. Columbia picked the summer solstice because it’s the longest day of the year and “LP” stands for "long playing."

The new “LP’s” played at a speed of 33⅓ rpm, and came in two sizes: 10in (25cm) and 12in (30cm) in diameter and were pressed out of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or what we now simply call vinyl. This new material was more durable and much less brittle then the shellac used in the previous 78rpm format. (By the way, ‘shellac’ is a substance obtained from the secretion of a Southeast Asian beetle). The LP’s audio quality was better and the playable length of time for each side increased dramatically. This new format was revolutionary.

Although they released approximately 50 records simultaneously to help push the fledgling LP market, the first popular music catalogue number for a ten-inch LP, CL 6001, was a reissue of the Frank Sinatra 78 rpm album set from 1946, The Voice of Frank Sinatra. (Initially the 12in format was reserved for higher-priced classical recordings and Broadway shows, though that would change just a few years down the road). Not only was The Voice Sinatra’s first studio album, but many music critics claim it holds the distinction of being the first concept album … no way dude!

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