Monday, November 16, 2020

Musical Monday - Puttin' on the Ritz by Taco


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: September 17, 1983 through September 24, 1983.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

Every era has a hit that is both inexplicably and weirdly out of step with the pop culture of the era and simultaneously a prime example of the zeitgeist of the time. Taco's rendition of Puttin' on the Ritz is an example of this kind of song. An electronica cover version of a decades old song originally made popular by Fred Astaire and quite notably parodied in the movie Young Frankenstein, this was somehow both bizarrely out of step with the 1980s and also emblematic of the era. The fact that Taco himself appears to be channeling Tim Curry's Dr. Frank-n-Furter while cosplaying Astaire just makes this whole set-up seem both stranger and more comforting at the same time.

Previous Musical Monday: Maniac by Michael Sembello
Subsequent Musical Monday: Tell Her About It by Billy Joel

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by Eurythmics
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: The Safety Dance by Men Without Hats

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

Taco     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Monday, November 9, 2020

Musical Monday - Maniac by Michael Sembello


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: September 10, 1983 through September 17, 1983.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

I have noted before the pervasive influence that television and movies have on popular music, and to a certauin extent, the reverse is true as well. Maniac, from the sountrack of the movie Flashdance is yet another example of a movie pushing a song to the heights of popularity, and the music of a movie making the movie have cultural influence that vastly outweighs its actual performance as a movie.

Flashdance was a surprise success of a movie in 1983. No one expected it to do as well as it did, but the footprint it left on the culture outeighed anything that even its financial success would have predicted. Because of this movie, leg warmers and sweatshits with the neck cut out became ubiquitous fashions. The iconic "water drop" dance has been replicated, parodied, and paid tribute to countless times. "Welder-chic" briefly became a thing. And so on and so forth.

The weird thing is that even though the movie altered the cultural landscape of the decade, it did relatively little to help the careers of those who appeared in it. Jennifer Beales' career meandered aimlessly for a decade with roles in forgettable movies before having a couple of notable roles in the 1990s, and she finally settled in as a moderately successful television actress in the 2000s. None of the other actors had much of a boost to their careers. Michael Nouri's career also drifted from mediocre movie to mediocre movie. Cynthia Rhodes had a highlight in a secondary role in Dirty Dancing and a more prominent role in the Saturday Night Fever pseudo-sequel Staying Alive, but her career petered out after that (although, to be fair, that was in part because she married Richard Marx and started having children). Other than this song and the title track Flashdance . . . What a Feeling and Gloria, none of the other songs on the sountrack had significant chart success. None of the artists who appeared on the soundtrack got much of a career boost from it, and most of them, including Michael Sembello, saw their careers basically fizzle out shortly thereafter. Flashdance was a hit, and it pushed a couple of songs to the forefront of pop music for a bit but it appeared to have very little else in the way of coattails.

On a kind of unrelated note: Beals was not a dancer, despite being cast as the lead in a movie that was about a dancer working in a bar with other dancers who aspired to become a professional ballet dancer. As a result, most of the dance scenes in the movie, including the dance scenes in this video, were performed by a body double, mostly Marine Jahan, who was not credited in the movie. The only scenes in the video that are actually Beals are the close-ups of her face. Pretty mucyh everything else is Jahan. Flashdance doesn't really seem to have helped Jahan's career much either.

Previous Musical Monday: Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by Eurythmics
Subsequent Musical Monday: Puttin' On the Ritz by Taco

Previous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by Eurythmics
Subsequent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Tell Her About It by Billy Joel

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

Michael Sembello     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Running - Weekly Log for November 2, 2020 through November 8, 2020

Last Week's Mileage Goal: 45 miles
Actual Miles Last Week: 34.7 miles
Run/Walk Miles: 0 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 1,092.7 miles.
This Week's Mileage Goal: 45 miles
Current Weigh-In: 180

I ended up missing more days that I would have liked this week, so I think that to avoid this in the future, I'm going to be adding a short morning run to me routine. I don't really have enough time before work to do a full run the way I would like to, but I can put in a short run every day before I need to settle down and put in my workday. That way, on the days when I won't be able to do a full run in the evenings due to scheduling issues, I'll still get a couple of miles in to kick off the day. I've started experimenting with this, and I am cautiously optimistic that this will have some further benefits, as the day I tried this, I felt better the rest of the day as well. The upcoming week is the real test, so we'll see how this goes.

Previous Weekly Running Log: October 26, 2020 through November 1, 2020

Running     Home

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Book Blogger Hop - November 6th - November 12th: Saint Augustine Adopted Manichaeism.in 372 A.D.


Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: Have you ever participated in the NaNoWriMo? If yes, how did it go?

Nope. I have enough going on without adding an effort to write a novel as well.


Book Blogger Hop     Home

Monday, November 2, 2020

Musical Monday - Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by Eurythmics


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: The week of September 3, 1983.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: September 3, 1983 through September 10, 1983.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

This song is where synthesizer music crashed into the pop world. There had been techno pop hits before this, but none had topped the charts, none launched a figure to as much pop cultural dominance as this song did with Annie Lennox.

Literally everything about this song and this video was a metaphorical punch to the face of pop music. From the very first beat through to the very end, this song basically said to people who had grown up with pop rock from the 1970s "we aren't doing this the same way any more". There aren't any actual instruments being played on this track - it is entirely a synthesizer-generated song with the exception of Lennox's vocals. Layered on top of a driving bass line, Lennox's vocals are what really set this apart, soaring high above everything else in the song.

The video is just as in your face about its difference from the past. Lennox appears with a buzz cut, her hair dyed orange, and wearing a business suit, giving her a look that is simultaneously androgynous and incredibly sexy. Dave Stewart isn't even shown playing a keyboard or anything else that might be constructed as a "normal" piece of musical equipment. Instead, he taps on an MCS drum computer keyboard, almost daring the audience to try to figure out how his tapping links up with the music they are hearing. The only tiny concession to "music" in the video is the repeated showing of a cello, but the cello doesn't seem to actually have been used to create the string sounds in the song - apparently that was an Oberheim OB-X synthesizer.

It is hard to say exactly when "the 1980s" really arrived. The pop cultural zeitgeist of a decade always comes a few years after the calendar rolls over to a new tens digit, but the moment represented by this song is a strong candidate for when the 1980s swept away the last vestiges of the 1970s.

Previous Musical Monday: Red Red Wine by UB40
Subsequent Musical Monday: Maniac by Michael Sembello

Previous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Every Breath You Take by the Police
Subsequent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Maniac by Michael Sembello

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Every Breath You Take by the Police
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Puttin' On the Ritz by Taco

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

Eurythmics     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Running - Weekly Log for October 26, 2020 through November 1, 2020

Last Week's Mileage Goal: 45 miles
Actual Miles Last Week: 36.4 miles
Run/Walk Miles: 0 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 1,058 miles.
This Week's Mileage Goal: 45 miles
Current Weigh-In: 180

I missed three days of running this week. The first, Thursday, looks like it is going to be unavoidable going forward due to scheduling issues. I'm just going to have to factor that in as my weekly rest day going foward. The other twu - Saturday and Sunday - were because I was recovering from a nearly fifteen mile run on Friday. I like the really long runs, and to get to where I would like to be, I'm going to have to figure out how to incorporate them without putting me off the roads tfor two days afterwards.

Previous Weekly Running Log: October 19, 2020 through October 25, 2020
Subsequent Weekly Running Log: November 2, 2020 through November 8, 2020

Running     Home

Monday, October 26, 2020

Musical Monday - Red Red Wine by UB40


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: The week of October 15, 1988.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: The week of October 15, 1988.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: September 3, 1983 through September 17, 1983.

This version of Red Red Wine is a cover version of a cover version of a 1967 Neil Diamond song that was rereleased in the U.S. five years after it was a top hit in the U.K. That's a pretty long and winding road for a song to take.

This song is actually an example of something that probably can't really happen any more. The song was a big hit in the U.K. in 1983, but went almost entirely unnoticed in the U.S. Five years later, it was promoted by some interested music industry folks following a performence of the song at Nelson Mandela's birthday celebration, and it became a top hit in the United States. This sort of delayed flow through the cultural psyche just doesn't happen in the modern interconnected world where pop culutre flashes around the globe so quickly that if you blonk you miss it.

The delay in the song reaching popularity in the U.S. did create a kind of oddly jarring circumstance in which a song made during the ennui of the economic malaise of the early 1980s in the U.K. became a big hit in the U.S. in 1988, when the country was kind of riding high. The song and the video that goes with it depict a kind of depressing existence in which drinking is the only respite from a life of underemployment and disappointment, which fit perfectly with the zeitgeist of the recessionary economy of the early-1980s. It also fit perfectly with a band whose name was a reference to a government form used for claiming unemployment benefits. By 1988 though, the song felt kind of weirdly out of place.

Previous Musical Monday: Give It Up by KC and the Sunshine Band
Subsequent Musical Monday: Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by Eurythmics

Previous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Love Bites by Def Leppard
Subsequent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: A Groovy Kind of Love by Phil Collins

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Love Bites by Def Leppard
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: A Groovy Kind of Love by Phil Collins

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: Give It Up by KC and the Sunshine Band
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: Karma Chameleon by Culture Club

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

UB40     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Running - Weekly Log for October 19, 2020 through October 25, 2020

Last Week's Mileage Goal: 45 miles
Actual Miles Last Week: 36.3 miles
Run/Walk Miles: 0 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 1,021.6 miles.
This Week's Mileage Goal: 45 miles
Current Weigh-In: 180

I was able to run seven miles every weekday this week, but I wasn't able to get any running done over the weekend, so I missed my weekly mileage goal again. Even so, I was able to run 36 miles this week, which has me feeling pretty good about my conditioning. on the downside, one of the reasons I didn't run over the weekend was that my right heel was bothering me again, so I'm hoping that doesn't run into an issue that hampers my running again.

In a fit of optimism, I'm going to aim for 45 miles again this week. Also, since we are getting close to the end of the month, I'll be aiming for my monthly goals as well. The largest goal I set for this month was to run 300 kilometers this month - an average of just under ten kilometers per day. I'm pretty much on track for that, so with any luck I should get there in the next week.

Previous Weekly Running Log: October 12, 2020 through October 18, 2020
Subsequent Weekly Running Log: October 26, 2020 through November 1, 2020

Running     Home

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Book Blogger Hop - October 23rd - October 29th: The Roman Poet Ausonius Wrote the Mosella in 371 A.D.


Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: If you go trick-or-treating with your favorite book character, who would it be?

Éomer from the Lord of the Rings. I'd definitely go trick or treating with Éomer. We'd probably ride horses from house to house, looting the candy from each dwelling as we go.


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Monday, October 19, 2020

Musical Monday - Give It Up by KC and the Sunshine Band


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: August 13, 1983 through August 27, 1983.

This is a song by a band at the end of its life, bereft of interesting ideas, desperate to churn out anything that will keep it relevant and failing badly. By 1983, the career of KC and the Sunshine Band was on life support. Their last notable hit had been in 1980 with the eminently forgettable Please Don't Go. They were, by 1983, a disco-era band that was trying to make it in a pop music landscape that was extremely hostile to disco music.
It doesn't help that this song is simply not very good. It has a dance beat, but everything about it seems almost like the band is just going through the motions. There's no real hook, no real substance to the lyrics, nothing particularly interesting about the vocal delivery, and nothing particularly memorable about the instrumentation. This song is bland, generic, and boring.

The blandness of the song isn't really helped by the video, which doesn't really do anything to illustrate or highlight the song. In the past I highlighted a couple of music videos that had inexplicably science fictional themes, and this one goes onto that list. The song is a generic dance song, while the video is a badly acted oddball fantasy horror quest where the climax is untying some ropes and an almost completely random deus ex machina. There's literally no connection between the music and the images presented, and that makes the entire thing almost entirely unmemorable.

This was the last gasp of KC and the Sunshine Band, and I can only say that after this they deserved the obscurity that awaited them.

Previous Musical Monday: Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home) by Paul Young
Subsequent Musical Monday: Red Red Wine by UB40

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home) by Paul Young
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: Red Red Wine by UB40

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

KC and the Sunshine Band     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Running - Weekly Log for October 12, 2020 through October 18, 2020

Last Week's Mileage Goal: 45 miles
Actual Miles Last Week: 35.5 miles
Run/Walk Miles: 0 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 985.3 miles.
This Week's Mileage Goal: 45 miles
Current Weigh-In: 180

I should have known going into this week that my running schedule was going to be disrupted. I took the week off from work because the Redhead had her midterm exam this week, and that allowed me to spend the week taking care of the Littlest Starship Captain. That also meant that the day before the exam I wasn't able to go running at all because I needed to stay home all day so that the Redhead could study. Then, over the weekend, we helped run a virtual convention, and once again, I wasn't able to get away to run on either Saturday or Sunday. On the other hand, that means that I was able to run 35 miles in only four days of running for the week, so there is that at least.

Going forward I am hoping to have an uneventful but productive week. There appears to be no reason for me to miss any running days this week and I've gotten to where my weekday run is a seven mile route, so I am aiming at 45 miles as my weekly goal again. I should top 1,000 miles tracked this week, so that's kind of exciting. We'll see how this goes.

Previous Weekly Running Log: October 5, 2020 through October 11, 2020
Subsequent Weekly Running Log: October 19, 2020 through October 25, 2020

Running     Home

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Book Blogger Hop - October 16th - October 22nd: Until It Was Revoked, Article 370 Defined Kashmir's Relationship with India


Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: Would you consider giving out books to trick-or-treaters instead of candy?

First, I would need to have some trick-or-treaters. I live in a condominimum, which one might think would be a good spot for attracting trick-or-treaters, given the fairly high density of the residents and the fact that there are clearly many children living in the neighborhood. In practice, however, we have had so few trick-or-treaters show up that we have even contemplated not even buying candy, since we get so few knocks on or door on Halloween, and the few we do get are older teenagers.

On the other hand, the rarity of actual trick-or-treaters might be an argument in favor of giving out books, since I would only have to hand out a few. The problem is that while candy is pretty much an all ages kind of handout, to give books in a way that would be worthwhile, you'd have an array of books on hand that would be suitable for a variety of age ranges. Books that would make for good handouts for a five-year-old kid are probably going to be completely unsuitable for a ten-year-old kid, and vice versa. This would make planning for the night a lot more complicated.

The other issue with handing out books is that if you end up with extra books at the end of the night, there's not a lot of good options for what to do with them. With candy, you can just eat the candy yourself over the next month or so, but if you end up with a dozen leftover copies of the same book there's not much you can do with them. I suppose you could save them to give as gifts later, or possibly donate them, but that seems like more work than it would be worth.

So, I guess the answer is that I would consider it, but I probably won't actually do it.


Book Blogger Hop     Home

Monday, October 12, 2020

Musical Monday - Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home) by Paul Young


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: July 23, 1983 through August 6, 1983.

This recording is yet another example of a lightweight British pop star covering a song originally performed by an American soul singer. Like most such efforts, this one is completely forgettable, and the only reason to listen to it is to remember just how much better of an artist Marvin Gaye was.

Don't bother with this. Just go listen to Marvin Gaye's 1962 recording of this song and if you are lucky, you will completely forget this version by Paul Young exists.

Previous Musical Monday: Electric Avenue by Eddy Grant
Subsequent Musical Monday: Give It Up by KC and the Sunshine Band

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: Baby Jane by Rod Stewart
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: Give It Up by KC and the Sunshine Band

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

Paul Young     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Running - Weekly Log for October 5, 2020 through October 11, 2020

Last Week's Mileage Goal: 40 miles
Actual Miles Last Week: 43.6 miles
Run/Walk Miles: 0 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 949.8 miles.
This Week's Mileage Goal: 45 miles
Current Weigh-In: 180

I was on pace for a 50+ mile week this week, but a muscle strain today made me decide to take Sunday off, which left me at only 43.6 miles for the week. That's still higher than my mileage goal of 40 miles for the week, so I suppose it is wrong for me to be a little disappointed at not hitting 50 miles. In any event, I've had two good running weeks in a row, so I am going to up my mileage goal to 45 miles for this week. I am still ridicuklously slow, but at least I can put in more miles now. With any luck, as I get in better shape from the extended mileage, I will get faster again.

Previous Weekly Running Log: September 28, 2020 through October 4, 2020
Subsequent Weekly Running Log: October 12, 2020 through October 18, 2020

Running     Home

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Book Blogger Hop - October 9th - October 15th: Supernova SN 386 Probably Exploded in 369 A.D.


Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: Do you read paranormal romances? If so, what is your favorite thing about the genre?

I have read a few paranormal romance novels, actually it would be more accurate to say I have read very few paranormal romance novels. The only ones I can remember reading are the first Sookie Stackhouse novel Dead Until Dark, and a couple of C.J. Archer's books from the Glass and Steele series, although those I "read" more or less over the redhead's shoulder when she was listening to them as audiobooks.

I can't really say what my "favorite thing" about paranormal romances is, because I have read so few that I can't really give any sort of accurate assessment of the genre like that. I'm not even really sure I have much in the way of a fix on the genre as a separate entity from non paranormal romance fantasy, other than paranormal romance fantasy seems to always take place in a slightly more magical version of our world as opposed to a secondary world.

Other than that, it just seems like fantasy fiction to me.


Book Blogger Hop     Home