Please! Don’t Do It!

These people are NOT going to the mall later.

I am so dismayed by the practice that has been evolving over the last few years, that is, stores being open on Thanksgiving itself.

I worked for a (very) little while last year, when things were rather desperate, in a retail store.  When it came to light that I would have to work Thanksgiving night, I just about cried.  Actually, I actually cried. What is becoming of us?  A time to celebrate and commune with family and friends, with no presents or “stuff,” with a meal that can be quite  inexpensive to prepare, that is a quiet time to just be, and we want to go to the mall.  Stop it!  Go on Friday.  Or, better, on Saturday.

What do you need so badly that you must cut short your and your family’s and the store clerk’s Thanksgiving? Even if you do desperately need an off-brand flat screen TV at a ridiculously low price, you know that you are going to have to stand in line and then throw elbows like hell to get one (and still maybe not get one!). You do know that, right?  So please don’t do it.  Think of the people who have to work in those stores, who have no choice and can’t quit their jobs because they have to work on Thanksgiving.  Moms or dads who have made a feast for their families, which is quite a lot of work, and then have to go to out to their jobs at 8:00 at night.  It’s not right.

Let’s get back to being civilized, family-centric people who don’t do things like act like a horde of barbarians for some crap at Target or Walmart.  Please.  Stay in and enjoy your family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving.

AMA? ACK!

I realize that this is a bit of a rant, and that I’m going to sound old and cranky.  I actually am old and cranky, though, so that’s not terribly surprising. Let’s proceed.

I watched the American Music Awards last night. Well, I was in the room most of the time when the American Music Awards were on.  Not usually my bag.  In fact, I’ve never seen them before, but that’s just how the TV planets aligned in our house, and long story short, I saw the AMAs.  And I have to say…what the hell was that?

Is the dirty little secret of pop music that no one can carry a tune in a bucket?  Usher  performed the most insipid, not catchy, off-key crap.  He seemed like he needed a nap.  Watching Nicki Minaj confirmed to me that the wigs and costumes are to distract you from the the fact that there is no there there. A wildly manscaped (boyscaped?) Justin Bieber wore a little sleeveless top and performed some oddly acoustic thing, obviously meant to show what a serious artist he is, and it was all off-key. Pink did some post-apocalyptic domestic violence  acrobat piece (with body paint–of course), once again an insipid, not-catchy piece of work. Carrie Underwood had a great dress on , and I think I might have liked her song (and I’m not a country music fan), had she been on key. It’s  bizarre–such mediocrity on an awards show.  But don’t record sales speak to who is the “best”?  Why an awards show?

I have no problem with good pop musicBeyonce? Adele? Gwen Stefani? All great artists, all pop to the nth degree.  Usher’s song “OMG” (listen)–so fun, so catchy, and just a great piece of American pop. Pink’s “Please Don’t Leave Me” (listen) or “So What” (listen) and the rest of that Funhouse album is great pop music.  So what the Sam Hill was all that tripe last night?  The best part of the AMAs was Carrie Underwood  and Taylor Swift’s dresses.  And Taylor Swift’s eye makeup–she’s got the smoky eye down pat (well, her makeup artist does). So here’s some music to which you may want to lend an ear. Some pop, some not. Just a bit different.  Click on these links to hear some aural relief.

Batteries May Drain (Steve Hauschildt)

Super Rich Kids (Frank Ocean)

All Eyes on You (Diego Garcia)

In the Air (Morgan Page, Sultan, & Ned Shepard)

Come Visit Me (The Rosebuds)

Tongue Tied (Grouplove)

Shock Value (Little Grey Girlfriend)

Holy Holy (Wye Oak)

Young, Beautiful, etc. (Second Date)

Another English Summer (Future Loop Foundation)

When was the Last Time You Heard This??

Now, before we get to the 70’s music, look what I found on TV!  It’s fantastic–every night at 5:30 on the Rural Channel (the Rural Channel??) The Mary Tyler Moore Show comes on, and then at 6 it’s The Bob Newhart Show.  It’s still so good, still so funny!  Tonight’s Bob Newhart was a Christmas episode, from 1972 no less, and Carol (you know, the receptionist that Jerry the Orthodontist and Bob share?) was drinking eggnog out of the water cooler, and she was, she confessed to Bob, swakked.   At 9:00 in the morning.  Oh, the good old days.

Speaking of which, here are some excellent, really old songs that don’t seem to turn up very often on oldie radio stations, but that will definitely take you back to your misspent youth as soon as you hear them.  AM radio, station wagons, mood rings…well, cuddle up with your pet rock, click on the links, take a listen (skip those damn ads!), and see some interesting sartorial choices from the 1970s.

In the Summertime (Mungo Jerry)  I don’t even know what to say about those sideburns. I don’t think we should discuss the mesh shirt, either.

Spill the Wine (Eric Burdon)   When I was a little kid I wanted to be in a band and play that ridged wooden fish instrument that you drag a stick along.  Apparently it’s called a guiro.  I used to play air guiro.  And perhaps I still do when I hear this song.

Wild World (Cat Stevens)  Obviously pre-Yusuf Islam.  I’m guessing he doesn’t do too many frivolous love songs anymore.

Sweet

Love is Like Oxygen (Sweet)  When I hear this, I am immediately back at a junior high school dance.  Despite that traumatic experience, I still love this song.

Moonlight Feels Right (Starbuck)  Take a gander at the drummer’s hair.  And who doesn’t love a xylophone solo performed in a zip-up jumpsuit? (Sorry about the Julio’s Costa Rican ad–it was the best version.)

Candy’s Room (Bruce Springsteen)  Never really been a Springsteen fan, besides this and Born to Run.  But I sure do love this song.

Hot Chocolate

Every 1’s a Winner (Hot Chocolate)  Do young black men ever play guitar in bands anymore?  And those stripey pants! Well!

Dreamboat Annie (Heart)  This type of song is not usually my bag, but this is beautiful. Those Wilson sisters were so young! And so thin!

How great was that??  I hope you enjoyed this little trip down memory lane, back to a simpler time when your parents worried about things like fiscal cliffs and deficits and tax increases, and all you worried about was how well your hair was feathered and if your Angels Flights looked good.  Sigh.

What, Me Worry?

What could I possibly worry about with four more years of this administration?  How about, say, the rather large drop the stock market took this morning, for starters?  How about Iran? And Russia.  And China.  And paying for the boondoggle known as Obamacare.  And space!  I’m actually worried about space.  And the military. Oh yeah, I’m worried. I blogged back in January 2011 that Facebook was on the downhill slide, overrated.  And you see how that worked out.  So, while perhaps not in the same league as my snotty Facebook comments, let’s just say that I think we should all be worried.  Not just me.

Of course I usually cling to my guns and my religion for succor, but right now I’ll turn to what comforts me most of all.  My family, my friends, my home, my books, my music.   As such, I just finished J. K. Rowling‘s new book, coincidentally about a dirty political campaign, The Casual Vacancy.  I really, really liked it.  After the third Harry Potter book, I was kind of done with Rowling.  The books became overly long, and I got the impression she was being paid by the word, the books were so verbose.  In this book for adults (in which there are no witches or magic or anything–please don’t ask), Rowling’s talent really shines.

In the Harry Potter books, Harry lived with his aunt and uncle, the Dursleys, who were suburban, objectionable, self-satisfied, and just generally awful.  Of course, they get their comeuppance in every book.  The Casual Vacancy tells the story of people very much like the Dursleys. It’s the tale of a small town called Pagford, and its town council.  One of the councilors dies unexpectedly (a “casual vacancy”), and there is a rushed election to fill the empty seat. Pagford is divided by those who feel the council housing (like Section 8 housing), known as The Fields, should be detached from Pagford, and those who feel it should be embraced. There is also a drug treatment facility in The Fields that would be shuttered if detached from Pagford.  Whoever fills the empty seat will dictate how the town proceeds.  Obviously, drama ensues.

I wonder if Rowling, when she was on the dole and jobless, was treated harshly by her suburban neighbors.  She has a penchant for skewering the mildly successful, and making them seem ridiculous. The characters and the setting of The Casual Vacancy is very English, which I think is probably why it hasn’t received glowing reviews in the U.S.  Along with the councilors, there  are the computer-hacking, sex-having kids, from both Pagford and The Fields, that attend the local school.  There are drug addicts and their children.  It’s not a feel-good story, not at all, and I wouldn’t say just anybody across the board would enjoy it.  But I was completely absorbed.  I would love for Rowling to write a follow-up, to see what happens to the little citizens of Pagford.

Now I just have to wait to see what on earth will happen to us,  the little citizens of America.

Once Is Not Enough?

Well!  The past four years have been so great that we’ve signed up to have more of the same!  I am at a loss.  Most of all I feel  incredulous. And a little ill, frankly. I thought of hurling venomous invective, but I know that would somehow come back to bite me. If you are a small-business person or are in some way connected to the building trades, you know how rotten this recession has been and, now, will continue to be.  I’ve been hoping for a “Dewey Beats Truman” moment, but, sadly, I don’t think it’s coming.  Heaven help us.

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