Monday, December 30, 2019

Musical Monday - Ebony and Ivory by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: May 15, 1982 through June 26, 1982.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: May 15, 1982 through June 19, 1982.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: April 24, 1982 through May 8, 1982.

Take two giants of the music industry and add a song that uses the black and white keys of a piano as a metaphor for racial harmony, and you get a titanic international hit that reached the top of every chart that I am tracking for the 1980s Project and several other music charts as well. For about two to three months in early 1982, this song was nigh-ubiquitous on the airwaves, dominating pop culture for that time period.

There is no denying that the song was a huge commercial success. Ebony and Ivory spent more time at the top of the charts than any of McCartney's other post-Beatles songs, and longer than any of his songs other than Hey Jude. It was ranked as the fourth largest hit of 1982 overall. This song spent more time at the top of the charts than any other Stevie Wonder song, and provided Wonder with a number one hit in a third consecutive decade.

This is also a kind of sappy, treacly, almost offensively simplistic song, and the reactions to it after the initial rush of enthusiasm reflect that fact. The video for the song beat the viewers across the head and shoulders with the metaphor, having McCartney and Wonder walking around on a giant set of piano keys. Just in case the viewers didn't get the message, McCartney is dressed in black and Wonder is dressed in white. Once people stepped back for a second, they noticed what a blunt force object the song actually was.

Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo had a famous Saturday Night Live spoof of this song in which they made fun of the adolescent metaphor for racial coexistence. Other people poked fun at the saccharine nature of the song in subsequent years. As time has gone by, the song has more or less faded from the forefront of popular consciousness, which is somewhat unusual for a song that flew so high on the charts when it was released. I can't remember the last time someone was talking about "great music from the 1980s" and thought to include Ebony and Ivory on the list. The lasting cultural footprint of this song is almost negligible, and that is remarkable.

Previous Musical Monday: My Camera Never Lies by Bucks Fizz
Subsequent Musical Monday: Chariots of Fire by Vangelis

Previous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Chariots of Fire by Vangelis
Subsequent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Don't You Want Me by the Human League

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Chariots of Fire by Vangelis
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Don't You Want Me by the Human League

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: My Camera Never Lies by Bucks Fizz
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: A Little Peace by Nicole

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 McCartney     Stevie Wonder     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Running - Weekly Log for December 22, 2019 through December 28, 2019

Last Week's Mileage Goal: Not set
Actual Miles Last Week: 11 miles
Run/Walk Miles: 1.5 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 246 miles.
This Week's Mileage Goal: Not set
Current Weigh-In: Not done

This week was an entirely lost week. Things started out well enough. On Sunday I ran 8 miles, then we traveled on Monday and part of Tuesday. When we arrived at my mother-in-law's house on Tuesday, I went out for a three mile run, just to get the kinks out. While I was running, a dog bit me. I spent Christmas Eve in the ER, getting a tetanus shot and having the bite wounds cleaned out with a saline syringe. The doctor prescribed me an antibiotic and sent me on my way.

As a result, I didn't run again for the rest of the week. The bite wounds are still weeping blood, pretty much a week later. I figure I won't be back on the roads putting in miles until I stop bleeding, which will probably coincide with the end of the antibiotic regimen and my return to Virginia. Basically, I'm taking an enforced two week layoff from running as a result of a dog named Faith.

I'm not setting a weekly goal for this week, because I'm not sure when I will start running again. I also didn't do a weigh in, just because it would be pointless. I'll figure out where I am next Sunday and reevaluate.

Previous Weekly Running Log: December 15, 2019 through December 21, 2019
Subsequent Weekly Running Log: December 29, 2019 through January 4, 2020

Running     Home

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Book Blogger Hop December 27th - January 2nd: The Gibson ES-335 Was the World's First Commercial Thinline Archtop Semi-Acoustic Electric Guitar


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: What bookish goodies did you get for the holidays?

None. I got almost no bookish goodies for the holidays. I was trying to rectify this situation, but my communications with the small press publisher I was trying to get a price quote from seem to have been derailed.

I did get a belated gift of a book, but it was a book I already owned, so I'll have to find a use for the duplicate now.


Book Blogger Hop     Home

Monday, December 23, 2019

Musical Monday - My Camera Never Lies by Bucks Fizz


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: The week of April 17, 1982.

This is really a pretty terrible song. I never thought I could long for the days of listening to Making Your Mind Up or The Land of Make Believe, but the ABBA knock-off that is Bucks Fizz managed to accomplish this with this number one hit. I decided to include the U.K. chart in my review of the top hits of the 1980s because I remembered a lot of really good music from there that never really made it over to the U.S. I forgot that there was so much crappy pseudo-disco like this in the mix as well.

I guess the highlights of the decade wouldn't be highlights without the lowlights to serve as contrast. So this week is providing contrast.

Previous Musical Monday: That Girl by Stevie Wonder
Subsequent Musical Monday: Ebony and Ivory by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: Seven Tears by the Goombay Dance Band
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Ebony and Ivory by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder

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

Bucks Fizz     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Running - Weekly Log for December 15, 2019 through December 21, 2019

Last Week's Mileage Goal: 40 miles
Actual Miles Last Week: 21 miles
Run/Walk Miles: 0 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 235 miles.
This Week's Mileage Goal: Not set
Current Weigh-In: 200.2

I set an ambitious mileage goal last week, and a utterly failed to even come close to meeting it. Basically, a storm of events got in the way and knocked me out of my routine so badly that I never recovered. Monday was very cold and wet, so I took that day off as my planned rest day, and then I felt sick on Tuesday and Wednesday, so I wasn't able to run those days. I simply had too much stuff going on on Saturday to carve out the time I needed to run and then recover, so I missed that day as well. Despite all that, I still managed to run twenty-one miles even though I only ran three days last week. Some weeks are like that, and you just have to not worry about missing the running days.

I've decided that I am not even going to try to set a mileage goal for the upcoming week. Between traveling and the holidays, I just have no idea how much I'll be able to get out on the roads, so I'm considering any running this week to be a bonus. I've already put in eight miles today, so that's a start. I will tentatively say I'll probably get somewhere between thirty and thirty-five miles in, but I could get far fewer than that, so I'm just going to take whatever I can get.

Previous Weekly Running Log: December 8, 2019 through December 14, 2019
Subsequent Weekly Running Log: December 22, 2019 through December 28, 2019

Running     Home

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Book Blogger Hop December 20th - December 26th: "334" Is a Nebula-Nominated Novel by Thomas M. Disch


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: What is your favorite Christmas themed Fiction or Nonfiction book?

My favorite Christmas-themed book is J.R.R. Tolkien's Letters from Father Christmas, which I have reviewed here. The book is a compilation of letters that Tolkien wrote to his children in response to their letters to Father Christmas. Tolkien took up the persona of Father Christmas to write letters back to his children filled with inventive stories, a cast of adorable characters, and illustrations of pretty much everything. All of these letters complete with context and background information are included in the book. Essentially, this book gives the reader a glimpse into how Tolkien expressed his playful and caring love for his children over the years of their childhood. I go back to this book pretty much every Christmas and read through it.


Book Blogger Hop     Home

Monday, December 16, 2019

Musical Monday - That Girl by Stevie Wonder


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: The week of April 3, 1982.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

Okay, so this is a Stevie Wonder song. It sounds like a dozen other Stevie Wonder songs. This is not a criticism - pretty much all of Stevie's oeuvre is good, and a lot of it is great. This song falls into the good category, although it does have a fantastic harmonica solo.

That Girl does disappoint somewhat insofar as it seems to be Stevie just more or less rehashing the same sound that he worked through the 1970s with, a kind of pale imitation of some of his great songs of the previous decade. Even though this is not as top notch a song as he produced in his prime, he did have a long way to drop before his music could credibly be called anything less than excellent, so it really only suffers by comparison.

Previous Musical Monday: Seven Tears by the Goombay Dance Band
Subsequent Musical Monday: My Camera Never Lies by Bucks Fizz

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: I Love Rock n' Roll by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Chariots of Fire by Vangelis

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

Stevie Wonder     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Running - Weekly Log for December 8, 2019 through December 14, 2019

Last Week's Mileage Goal: 28 miles
Actual Miles Last Week: 28 miles
Run/Walk Miles: 0 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 214 miles.
This Week's Mileage Goal: 40 miles
Current Weigh-In: 201.2

I met my mileage goal for this week, but did it in what might be the worst possible way. I missed three days of running for the week and only made the goal by grinding out a twelve mile run on the last day. That sort of asymmetrical week is probably counterproductive, although I haven't done the research to see if surging distance the way I did this week is actually harmful. It certainly wasn't how I wanted the week to go.

In any event, this upcoming week is my most ambitious to date in terms of mileage. I'm upping my weekday run distance by a bit to get to this mark, and I'm planning another twelve mile run to cap off the week. I'm hoping to not miss any days this week though, so the long run shouldn't be as big a shock to my system as it was this week though. We'll see how this goes.

Previous Weekly Running Log: December 1, 2019 through December 7, 2019
Subsequent Weekly Running Log: December 15, 2019 through December 21, 2019

Running     Home

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Book Blogger Hop December 13th - December 19th: 333 Is a Significant Number in Occultism (Where It Is Associated With the Demon Choronzon), Numerology, and Angelology


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: Is there a specific genre you like to read during the winter?

I prefer to read the same genres during the winter that I usually read: Science fiction and fantasy. I mean, sometimes I throw in some history or economics reading in there too, but the baseline is always science fiction and fantasy. I will never run out of science fiction and fantasy to read, so I will always choose those genres in preference to any other, regardless of the season.


Book Blogger Hop     Home

Monday, December 9, 2019

Musical Monday - Seven Tears by the Goombay Dance Band


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: March 27, 1982 through April 10, 1982.

This song makes me think that someone said "Let's do a copy of Boney M's Rivers of Babylon, but make it as bland and uninteresting as possible". There is almost nothing memorable about this song other than the fact that it is so very listlessly lifeless that the band itself seems bored by the performance. It is hard to reconcile the success of this song in the U.K. with the success of bands like the Specials, the Jam, and Kraftwerk. I guess the British public just got tired of innovative and creative music and decided to reward bland mediocrity for three weeks in the spring of 1982.

Previous Musical Monday: I Love Rock 'n Roll by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Subsequent Musical Monday: That Girl by Stevie Wonder

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: The Lion Sleeps Tonight by Tight Fit
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: My Camera Never Lies by Bucks Fizz

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

Goombay Dance Band     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Running - Weekly Log for December 1, 2019 through December 7, 2019

Last Week's Mileage Goal: 24 miles
Actual Miles Last Week: 24 miles
Run/Walk Miles: 2.5 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 186 miles.
This Week's Mileage Goal: 28 miles
Current Weigh-In: 202.0

A race always disrupts my training schedule. The day after a race is almost always a recovery day, and then I spend the rest of the week trying to play catch up. This is, ironically, one of the main reasons I stopped racing. It is odd that one of the reasons to train is to race, but racing interferes with training and becomes a distraction. One reason we train is to race, but for me, racing interferes with training, which is why I rarely do it. The redhead seems to think races are important, so I will probably end up doing them more often than I otherwise would.

On the whole, this should be a mostly uneventful training week, providing the weather doesn't get too bad to be on the roads.

Previous Weekly Running Log: November 24, 2019 through November 30, 2019
Subsequent Weekly Running Log: December 8, 2019 through December 14, 2019

Running     Home

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Book Blogger Hop December 6th - December 12th: Alexander the Great Destroyed Tyre After a Seven Month Siege in 332 B.C.


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 keep your TBR stack on a separate shelf from your already read books or are they mixed?

My books are in such a jumble that it is almost impossible to describe them as having any sort of organization. I still don't have enough shelves to hold them all, and as a result, a large portion of my book collection is still boxed up, or stored on shelves that are double, triple, or even quadruple stacked. Keeping my TBR books physically separated from my other books is simply a lost cause right now, and likely will be for the foreseeable future. At this point I can barely manage to keep the unread ARCs I have separate from my other books. One of the reasons I use LibraryThing is that the catalog of my books is pretty much the only way to manage my TBR pile.

Previous Book Blogger Hop: xkcd 331 Is Titled "Photoshops"

Book Blogger Hop     Home

Monday, December 2, 2019

Musical Monday - I Love Rock n' Roll by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: March 20, 1982 through May 1, 1982.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: March 20, 1982 through March 27, 1982 and April 10, 1982 through April 24, 1982.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

In 1982, Joan Jett exploded into popular consciousness with I Love Rock n' Roll, dressed like Leather Tuscadero and sporting a sneer and all the eyeliner in the world. This was her most commercially successful song. That said, I don't think this is her best song, I would contend that I Hate Myself for Loving You or Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah) hold that distinction. This is, however, the song that she is most closely identified with, and the one that comes to mind when most people think of her.

One mildly interesting fact about this song is that even though it is closely associated with Joan Jett and is more or less her signature song, it was not original to her. Her version is a cover, with the song originally released by the Arrows in 1975. There have been a couple instances in which a cover version of a song has essentially obliterated the popular memory of the original, and this is probably one of them.

Previous Musical Monday: Open Arms by Journey
Subsequent Musical Monday: Seven Tears by the Goombay Dance Band

Previous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Centerfold by the J. Geils Band
Subsequent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Chariots of Fire by Vangelis

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Open Arms by Journey
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: That Girl by Stevie Wonder

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

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Running - Weekly Log for November 24, 2019 through November 30, 2019

Last Week's Mileage Goal: 23 miles
Actual Miles Last Week: 23 miles
Run/Walk Miles: 0 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 162 miles.
This Week's Mileage Goal: 24 miles
Current Weigh-In: 202.8

Last week was a pretty bad week, but I kind of expected that. Any week with travel and a holiday in the middle of it is going to be rough. I did do the miles on the road that I had hoped to do, but they weren't really particularly good miles. I had hoped to get in a speed workout. I didn't. I had hoped to get in a long run. I didn't. I had hoped to run sub-40 in the 5K race. I didn't. Overall, I don't think I made much progress, but as a condolence, I think I mostly held my ground. Despite the abundance of food during Thanksgiving and the following days, I only seem to have gained one pound.

The 5K on Saturday was especially disappointing. I had hoped to be able to run it in under 40 minutes, but I struggled to maintain a pace that was just under 15 minutes a mile. I missed the 40 minute goal by more than 5 minutes, which is an eternity in 5K race terms. Not only that, I really had to grind to get even that result. Everything about Saturday's race was just discouraging.

Even so, the experience was valuable. I now know just how far away I am from even the relatively modest goals I have set for myself. I think that my training regimen is still in the embryonic phase, as opposed to the more mature stage I thought it was getting to. The conclusion I have come to is that it is still far to early to seriously begin doing regular speed workouts. Right now, my focus needs to be continuing to put a base of miles under my feet and building endurance.

The upshot of all this is that for the foreseeable future I am going to continue my plan of running four to five miles a day on workdays and eight to ten miles a day on non-work days. I am actually in a position at this point that I don't think I need to build rest days into my weekly training regimen unless other commitments require them.

I have a 5K time trial scheduled in a month. I'm going to just pile on miles until then, and I'll reevaluate my training regimen iin January after the time trial.

Previous Weekly Running Log: November 17, 2019 through November 23, 2019

Running     Home

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Book Blogger Hop November 29th - December 5th: xkcd 331 Is Titled "Photoshops"


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: Did you go shopping on Thanksgiving Night, Black Friday, or on Cyber Monday? If so, did you buy any books?

No, and also no. I actively try to avoid doing any shopping of any kind on either Thanksgiving or Black Friday. The first one is easy to explain: I avoid shopping on Thanksgiving, because I don't think anyone should be required to work retail on Thanksgiving, and as a result I won't support stores on that day.

The second is slightly more complex. I won't say I don't like shopping, provided, of course, I am shopping for something I need - I am not the sort of person who just goes out and shops to pass the time. I do despise shopping in crowded or hectic environments, and as a result, I generally try to avoid even leaving the house on Black Friday. I don't need to take advantage of the sales, and I can do my needed shopping on some other day.

I didn't buy anything on Cyber Monday because I simply didn't. No particular reason. I just didn't.


Book Blogger Hop     Home

Monday, November 25, 2019

Musical Monday - Open Arms by Journey


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: The week of March 3, 1982.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

Journey was one of the signature bands of the 1980s, churning out hit after hit and dominating the airwaves. This song, however, came to my attention by a slightly unorthodox route: I first heard it on the soundtrack album for the Heavy Metal animated movie. I didn't first encounter it watching the movie - I didn't actually see the movie until a couple of years later, but I did have a copy of the soundtrack, and I listened to it over and over.

Heavy Metal was an odd project. The name of the movie isn't directly drawn from the name of the genre of music, but rather from a cult comic magazine first published in 1977. The movie itself is a series of short vignettes loosely connected by a framing story centered on a magical orb of glowing green evil. Despite being animated, the movie is full of sex, violence, and other adult themes, while also being relentlessly crass and juvenile.

Despite the fact that the name of the movie was derived from the magazine and not the genre of music, the soundtrack did feature some metal artists - Sammy Hagar, Black Sabbath, and Nazareth all appear on the album. But it features several decidedly non-metal artists as well, such as Stevie Nicks, Don Felder, and Journey. Like the movie it was attached to, the soundtrack album was an ungainly, chaotic, patchwork beast that was stitched together seemingly almost at random.

Still, it featured one of the greatest power ballads of all time in Open Arms, and seems to have been at least partially responsible for launching Journey into the upper stratosphere of superstardom.

Previous Musical Monday: The Lion Sleeps Tonight by Tight Fit
Subsequent Musical Monday: I Love Rock n' Roll by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Centerfold by the J. Geils Band
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: I Love Rock n' Roll by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

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

Journey     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Running - Weekly Log for November 17, 2019 through November 23, 2019

Last Week's Mileage Goal: 26 miles
Actual Miles Last Week: 25 miles
Run/Walk Miles: 3 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 139 miles.
This Week's Mileage Goal: 23 miles
Current Weigh-In: 201.6

I was a mile short of my goal this week, but on the whole, I think it was a pretty good running week. I did my first speed workout, running intervals during one of my daily four mile runs, and I did a long eight mile run on Saturday. On the other hand, I missed two days of running, which is why I ended up falling short even though my longest daily run was longer than what I had originally projected last week. This is one of the pitfalls that one can run into if you build in a rest day into your week - if circumstances cause you to miss another day after you have taken your rest day, you miss two days instead of one, and before you know it, missing days turns into a habit and in fairly short order you're just slacking off for days on end. I don't want that to happen.

As we are coming up on the holiday season, keeping to a running schedule is likely to be more difficult, so I'm going to have to work hard to stay on track. I already know that I am going to miss two days of running this week - Monday because I will be traveling, and Friday because of schedule conflicts. Saturday is going to be a shorter day than normal, although probably a faster one, as that is the day I am running a 5K race. I need to make sure I put in worthwhile miles every other day this week.

Previous Weekly Running Log: November 9, 2019 through November 16, 2019
Subsequent Weekly Running Log: November 24, 2019 through November 30, 2019

Running     Home

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Book Blogger Hop November 22nd - November 28th: Constantine the Great Moved the Roman Capitol to Constantinople in 330 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: Excluding the Bible, name one book that makes you feel thankful and happy.

Many books make me feel thankful and happy - Dune, The Lord of the Rings, Ancillary Justice - the list goes on and on. But the books that make me feel most thankful and happy are the books that the littlest starship captain loves, or that I believe she will love in the future. Right now she loves We Are in a Book and Should I Share My Ice Cream, but it won't be too long before she discovers Pink Motel, The House with a Clock in Its Walls, and Encyclopedia Brown, and for that, I am thankful.

Subsequent Book Blogger Hop: xkcd 331 Is Titled "Photoshops"

Book Blogger Hop     Home

Monday, November 18, 2019

Musical Monday - The Lion Sleeps Tonight by Tight Fit


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: March 6, 1982 through March 20, 1982.

This may be the laziest cover recording of a song in music history. Usually, a cover version of a song changes something. For example, when the Pet Shop Boys covered Always on My Mind, they did it in an entirely different musical style from previous versions and added a new chord progression to the chorus. Or the song is recorded by a singer who is a different gender from the original artist, recontextualizing the song, as in the case of Aretha Franklin's cover of Otis Redding's song R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Or the song being covered is recorded in a different musical genre than the original, as happened when Johnny Cash covered the metal song Hurt.

This cover version, in contrast, is basically identical to the Tokens' 1961 recording of the song (which was itself a cover version of the song which has been originally written and recorded in 1939 by Solomon Linda). There is nothing new or interesting about this version. There isn't even anything that makes it distinctive from the Tokens' version of the song. Essentially, this was more or less just a giant waste of vinyl.

The uselessness of this cover version of The Lion Sleeps Tonight is compounded by the fact that the people you see dancing around in this video aren't even the people who sang this amazingly tepid remake of the song. The singer on the recording was Roy Ward. When the song unexpectedly had commercial success, the recording company hired male model Steve Grant and female singers Denise Gyngell and Julie Harris, dubbed them 'Tight Fit" and made them the face of the song. This is pretty much the same thing that happened with Bonney M and Milli Vanilli. I think that Grant, Gyngell, and Harris got it into their head to try to sing themselves on later recordings, which seems to have had mixed success, so this isn't exactly the same as Milli Vanilli, but it is definitely the same sort of origin, and the same sort of situation as far as this song is concerned.

So, basically, the U.K. followed up on a biting punk song with this piece of tepid crap portrayed in public by a fake band. Great job.

Previous Musical Monday: Town Called Malice/Precious by the Jam
Subsequent Musical Monday: Open Arms by Journey

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: Town Called Malice/Precious by the Jam
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: Seven Tears by the Goombay Dance 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

Tight Fit     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Running - Weekly Log for November 9, 2019 through November 16, 2019

Last Week's Mileage Goal: 32 miles
Actual Miles Last Week: 27 miles
Run/Walk Miles: 4.5 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 114 miles.
This Week's Mileage Goal: 26 miles
Current Weigh-In: 203.8

I fell short of my mileage goal this week, although there were some extenuating circumstances. Basically, the redhead was under the weather for a few days this week, and on one of those days I needed to take care of more than my usual amount of responsibilities, leaving not enough time to work in a daily run. Basically, I missed my Saturday run, and as a result, only ran twenty-seven miles this week. That's just how things work out some times.

This week, I am setting a slightly lower mileage goal. I haven't been building any rest days into my schedule, mostly because I haven't really needed them in the past. If I needed to "rest", I just did a slower or shorter run for a day or two. The problem is that now, there isn't really a lot of "slower" or "shorter" than my normal run that would still be a worthwhile run. I am going to plan on taking off one day a week for the next few months at least, which is why my mileage goa for this week is only twenty-six miles. We'll see how this goes.

Previous Weekly Running Log: November 3, 2019 through November 8, 2019
Subsequent Weekly Running Log: November 17, 2019 through November 23, 2019

Running     Home

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Book Blogger Hop November 15th - November 21st: In Archie #329, Archie Gets Issued a Computer So He Can Do His Schooling from Home


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 think that overall work morale would be improved by having a "book lunch", sponsored by the company, at least once a month, or perhaps once a week? (Participation would be voluntary).

No. In my experience, organized group activities like this never actually improve work morale. They come off as forced and artificial, and mostly do nothing of substance other than annoy people.


Book Blogger Hop     Home

Monday, November 11, 2019

Musical Monday - Town Called Malice/Precious by the Jam


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: February 13, 1982 through February 27, 1982.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

The early 1980s were start of the Thatcher years in the United Kingdom. They were also the years in which a lot of British working class bands released bitter, angry songs about the state of the world their country and how they were getting screwed over by their society. This is one of them. In fact, most of the songs by the Jam seem to fall into that category. It is no accident that punk caught on in the U.K. earlier than it caught on in the U.S., and the Jam were a big part of that musical movement.

This is a style of music that probably didn't last long enough. Before too long, the style of punk represented by Town Called Malice was replaced in popular music by New Wave music, represented by groups like the Human League. In effect, punk was a short-lived movement that was already dying as a prominent cultural force even when it was hitting its stride in what should have been its heyday. By 1983 or 1984, punk would be mostly a memory as far as popular music goes - it continued to have, and will always continue to have adherents, but by 1982 the days of punk bands being considered relevant in popular consciousness were rapidly coming to an end.

Previous Musical Monday: Computer Love/The Model by Kraftwerk
Subsequent Musical Monday: The Lion Sleeps Tonight by Tight Fit

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: Computer Love/The Model by Kraftwerk
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: The Lion Sleeps Tonight by Tight Fit

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

The Jam     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Running - Weekly Log for November 3, 2019 through November 8, 2019

Last Week's Mileage Goal: 27.5 miles
Actual Miles Last Week: 27.5 miles
Run/Walk Miles: 4.5 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 87 miles.
This Week's Mileage Goal: 32 miles
Current Weigh-In: 200.8

This was my most ambitious running week yet, and I completed the goal I set out. I am still painfully slow - at times I am not sure what I am doing could fairly be called "running" rather than "walking kinda quickly with a run-like motion". On the other hand, I recall that, during my high school days, in order to even qualify to participate in early cross-country training in the fall, you had to have run 200 miles over the previous summer. I'm not even to half that mark, and my starting point was a lot worse than I ever was then, so until I get two to three hundred miles on the road completed, I have to keep reminding myself that speed isn't important now, just the miles.

This upcoming week is even more ambitious, and will probably the highest mileage week I will have for a few months. This is the last week that I will bump up my weekday miles, going from three-and-a-half miles per day to four miles per day. Due to a quirk of scheduling, I have four "weekend" days this week, so I'll be doing five mile runs on each of those days. I call them "weekday runs" and "weekend runs", but what I really mean are "runs on days when I work" and "runs on days when I don't work". On days when I work, I don't really have a good time to run that is earlier than 9:00 PM, so I'm keeping those runs shorter, and on days I don't work I can take a longer time with my run. In a few weeks, I'll probably bump up my "weekend run" length, but that's in the future. Right now, I'm just going to try to complete a 32 mile week.

Previous Weekly Running Log: October 27, 2019 through November 2, 2019
Subsequent Weekly Running Log: November 9, 2019 through November 16, 2019

Running     Home

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Book Blogger Hop November 8th - November 14th: The BMW 328 Was Voted a Top 25 Finalist for "Car of the Century" in 1999


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: Can you stop reading before the end of a chapter?

I don't like to, but I often have to. As I have said before, much of my reading is done while I am on mass transit to or from work. Consequently, when I reach my stop, I have to put my book aside to get off the train and either get to my office, or walk home for the evening. As a result, I often have to stop reading in the middle of a chapter, the middle of a page, or even the middle of a sentence. It isn't an ideal situation, but one that simply has to be dealt with. The choice is either to deal with that petty annoyance, or simply not do much reading at all.

Previous Book Blogger Hop: xkcd 327 Is Titled "Exploits of a Mom"

Book Blogger Hop     Home

Monday, November 4, 2019

Musical Monday - Computer Love/The Model by Kraftwerk


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: The week of February 6, 1982.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

Michael Myers had a recurring bit on Saturday Night Live where he would play the part of Dieter, the host of a fictional German talk show called "Sprockets". At the end of the segment, Myers would announce "Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance", and then some electronica music would begin playing and everyone would begin doing a stylized robot dance.

Kraftwerk, other bands like Kraftwerk, and fans of this style of music were the targets that this sequence was poking fun at. In fact, the actual song used in the bit was another tune by Kraftwerk called Electric Café. Myers' bit is a kind of good-natured japery, but it is japery directed not just at a specific era of music and, but a certain extent at a specific band, which may or may not be something that is generally known.

Previous Musical Monday: Centerfold by the J. Geils Band
Subsequent Musical Monday: Town Called Malice/Precious by the Jam

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: Oh Julie by Shakin' Stevens
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: Town Called Malice/Precious by the Jam

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

Kraftwerk     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Running - Weekly Log for October 27, 2019 through November 2, 2019

Last Week's Mileage Goal: 21 miles
Actual Miles Last Week: 20 miles
Run/Walk Miles: 6 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 59.5 miles.
This Week's Mileage Goal: 27.5 miles
Current Weigh-In: 202.0

I ran five miles yesterday, which is the longest run I have done in about a decade. I followed that up with another five miles today. Mostly I ran the five miles yesterday because I missed running on Thursday due to bad weather - I don't mind running in the rain (after all, I did run in the rain on Wednesday), but I don't really have the clothing to go running in a downpour. As I reaccumulate running gear, I eventually will, but that day has not yet arrived.

I also ran the five mile runs just to see if I could do it. I've been slowly building up my distance over the last couple of months, and figured that it was about time to do some longer runs on the weekends. Right now, a "longer run" is five miles. The long-term goal is to make five to six mile runs a daily thing and eight to ten mile runs the weekend "long runs". That's a ways off in the future - probably not until some time in early-ish 2020.

The redhead has been keeping up with her "Couch to 5K" podcasts, and I have been going with her for those, hence the six miles of run/walk listed above. We've also signed up for the "Big Turkey Burn Turkey Trot" in Williamsburg on November 20, so there's that.

Previous Weekly Running Log: October 20, 2019 through October 26, 2019
Subsequent Weekly Running Log: November 3, 2019 through November 8, 2019

Running     Home

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Book Blogger Hop November 1st - November 7th: xkcd 327 Is Titled "Exploits of a Mom"


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 classics? If so, what is your favorite?

I have read several classics, which is one of the benefits of being educated at a private high school. I suppose my favorite would probably be As I Lay Dying or Light in August, both of which are by William Faulkner. I've read a lot of Faulkner's work, and I always enjoy reading his books, despite them being as dark and gloomy as they are.


Book Blogger Hop     Home

Monday, October 28, 2019

Musical Monday - Centerfold by the J. Geils Band


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: February 6, 1982 through March 13, 1982.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: January 30, 1982 through March 6, 1982.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

When you get right down to it, Centerfold is a pretty sleazy song. It tells the story of a boy's high school crush who he discovers has posed in a magazine that is not named, but through context simply has to be Playboy. He is crushed by this discovery, but all is not lost, he decides that it would be great if she would drive the two of them to a motel so they could have sex, an offer that seems both self-serving and kind of creepy. Seriously, how slimier could this line be? "Hey babe, I saw you naked in Playboy, why don't we go to a cheap motel and you can give me a private show?"

That said, the video for this song is remarkably tame. Sure, there are women dancing in sweaters, bras, and other lingerie, but the focus is only kind of vaguely sexual. The dances themselves are not really all that suggestive, the focus of the camera isn't solely on the women as sexual objects, and so on. One can compare the framing of the women in this video to the framing of the women in Def Leppard's Photograph or Van Halen's Hot for Teacher to get a feel for the difference in tone that I am referring to. Maybe it was just that 1982 was a more innocent time for videos than 1983 and beyond. Maybe the band decided that a less sexually explicit tone was needed for the video to contrast with the very sexual nature of the song. I don't know the reason for it, but the difference is notable.

Finally, I will note that during the 1980s there was a persistent rumor that one of the women who appear in this video was Martha Quinn, who would become famous as one of the original VeeJays on MTV. This rumor was false, and the woman who was identified as being her only kinda sorta looks like Quinn if you squint and look at her from the exact right angle, and even then not really. The urban legend of "Quinn in the Centerfold video" was still firmly entrenched in the mind of college students throughout the decade.

Previous Musical Monday: Oh Julie by Shakin' Stevens
Subsequent Musical Monday: Computer Love/The Model by Kraftwerk

Previous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: I Can't Go for That (No Can Do) by Hall and Oates
Subsequent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: I Love Rock 'n Roll by Joan Jett

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: I Can't Go for That (No Can Do) by Hall and Oates
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Open Arms by Journey

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

J. Geils Band     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Running - Weekly Log for October 20, 2019 through October 26, 2019

Last Week's Mileage Goal: 11⅔ miles
Actual Miles Last Week: 15 miles
Run/Walk Miles: 1.5 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 39.5 miles.
This Week's Mileage Goal: 21 miles
Current Weigh-In: 203.2

I discovered (well, actually, the Redhead discovered) that I had calculated my running route wrong. I had figured that the loop I was running was a third of a mile long, having measured the distance with my car's odometer. The redhead, using Google Maps, determined that it was actually a half mile long. So I have been running further than I had thought I was.

Because of this miscalculation, I have reached my three miles per day goal much quicker than I thought I would. Today in fact. Also, because of this miscalculation, I am going to up my informal daily mileage goal to four miles per day, which I should hit exactly two weeks from today.

The Redhead has started doing the "Couch to 5K" podcast workouts, and I have started going with her when she does those. I'm not counting that as daily mileage, since it is a lot of walking and a little bit of running, but I am going to track those miles separately.

This means I know I am in good enough shape to complete a 5K race. So I think I might do that some time in the next few months.

Previous Weekly Running Log: October 13, 2019 through October 19, 2019
Subsequent Weekly Running Log: October 27, 2019 through November 2, 2019

Running     Home

Monday, October 21, 2019

Musical Monday - Oh Julie by Shakin' Stevens


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: The week of January 30, 1982.

Elvis died in 1977. Looking at Shakin' Stevens' performances, I can only surmise that he almost immediately decided to try to fill the gap left by that loss. I'm not saying that he did it all that well, but it is clear that discount Elvis is what he was going for.

The interesting thing here is that this represents such a backward-looking take on music. This isn't just hearkening back to the days when Elvis was alive, this hearkens back to Elvis as he was in the 1950s, before he went off to Hollywood to star in a couple dozen terrible movies and become a parody of his former self playing in Vegas. This is an imitation of Elvis as he was when he was recording Blue Suede Shoes, Hound Dog, and Jailhouse Rock.

The only real issue with being knock-off Elvis in the 1980s is that it is a fairly tame and toothless thing to aspire to. In the 1950s, when Elvis was turning out his big hits and making waves with his suggestive dancing, everything he was doing was risque often over the edge of what was considered acceptable. By 1982, the world had moved on, and this sort of act was staid and boring.

The other interesting element about Oh Julie is that the song is original to Shakin' Stevens, unlike his previous two top hits, both of which were remakes. I had originally thought that this was a remake of the Crescendos song Oh Julie, but that is decidedly not the case. Not only was Shakin' Stevens the first to record this song, he also wrote it, which I believe makes this unique among Shakin' Stevens' number one hits.

Previous Musical Monday: I Can't Go for That (No Can Do) by Hall and Oates
Subsequent Musical Monday: Centerfold by the J. Geils Band

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: The Land of Make Believe by Bucks Fizz
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: Computer Love/The Model by Kraftwerk

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

Shakin' Stevens     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Running - Weekly Log for October 13, 2019 through October 19, 2019

Last Week's Mileage Goal: 9⅓ miles
Actual Miles Last Week: 14 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 24.5 miles.
This Week's Mileage Goal: 11⅔ miles
Current Weigh-In: 204.6

I upped my daily mileage today on schedule to one and two-thirds miles. The run was fairly smooth, although in the middle of the fourth loop I felt a little off - I think my body was anticipating finishing soon since that would have been what I did on previous days. I probably could have gone further pretty much any day this week, but I'm taking this slow right now because of just how out of shape I was when I started this journey, so I'm sticking to the schedule I laid out at the beginning.

My back was bothering me a bit earlier this week, but I chalked that up to just being terribly out of shape. That's the paradox of fitness: If you are really unfit, you need to exercise more to rectify that, but your body is not very good at it, and you run the risk of hurting yourself. The real trick is to be able to distinguish between "this hurts, but it is just because I'm out of shape" and "this hurts and it is because I have injured myself". I think I have run enough in my life to be able to make that distinction, but I have never been this out of shape before, so I might not.

The key to running, in my experience, is consistency and goals. My short term goal is to complete this week's mileage goal. My medium range goal is to slowly increase my daily mileage until I am running three miles a day. Now that I am at a mile and two-thirds a day, I am a little more than halfway to that goal. I figure if I keep upping my miles on the schedule I've laid out, I'll be at three miles a day in about five weeks. We'll see how that goes.

I'll be back with another update next week.

Previous Weekly Running Log: October 6, 2019 through October 12, 2019
Subsequent Weekly Running Log: October 20, 2019 through October 26, 2019

Running     Home

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Book Blogger Hop October 18th - October 24th: Constantine I Founded Constantinople in 326 A.D. (Its Name Wasn't Changed to Istanbul Until 1923)


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: You're spending the night in a haunted house. What book would you bring with you?

Ghosts from Our Past: Both Literally and Figuratively: The Study of the Paranormal by Abby Yates and Erin Gilbert. I figure that if I am going to be in a haunted house, I should bring a book with me that was written by two fictional people used to dealing with ghosts.

Subsequent Book Blogger Hop: xkcd 327 Is Titled "Exploits of a Mom"

Book Blogger Hop     Home

Thursday, October 17, 2019

2019 WSFA Small Press Award Nominees

Location: CapClave in Rockville, Maryland.

Comments: I'm a little behind getting this up this year, since the finalists were announced back in August, but I've been running behind on lots of things this year, so that's just how it is.

Asm usual, the array of nominees for the WSFA Small Press Award were an exceptional bunch of stories. Even the worst of the bunch is an interesting and engaging story, while the top tier contains stories that fit in perfectly among the best works of short fiction of the year. This is, I believe, one of the hidden secrets of modern science fiction publishing: While these stories were all published by outfits that meet the definition of "small publisher" laid out by the rules, they represent some of the best work that the science fiction genre has to offer.

WSFA Small Press Award

Winner:
The Thing in the Walls Wants Your Small Change by Virginia M. Mohlere

Other Nominees:
Baggage by Leslie Burton-Lopez
The Djinni and the Accountant by Hal J. Friesen
Familiar in Her Angles by E.A. Brenner
The Hydraulic Emperor by Arkady Martine
The Spider and the Stars by DK Mok
The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat by Brooke Bolander
The Thing in the Walls Wants Your Small Change by Virginia M. Mohlere
A Witch's Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies by Alix E. Harrow

Go to previous year's nominees: 2018
Go to subsequent year's nominees: 2020

Book Award Reviews     Home