Monday, June 24, 2019

Musical Monday - Jessie's Girl by Rick Springfield


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: August 1, 1981 through August 8, 1981.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: The week of July 25, 1981.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

One of the recurring themes in 1980s music is extremely bad takes on how relationships work. Jessie's Girl is a prime example of this, with not only an extraordinarily terrible take on how romantic relationships work, but a bonus package consisting of a complete misunderstanding of what friendships are and how they work. At the outset, I will note the biggest issue, which is that Jessie's girl is only referred to as "Jessie's girl", and lacks any identity other than as an object for Jessie to possess and for Rick to covet.

The song starts off with Rick singing that "Jessie is a friend", and not only that he's a "real good friend", but nothing in the song would suggest that this is actually the case. He immediately launches into how Jessie having a girlfriend is a problem for their friendship, because Jessie's girlfriend is too desirable. This is problematic on two levels: First, your friend having a girlfriend really shouldn't be something that threatens your friendship, and second, the fact that your friend's girlfriend is attractive should be something that you are celebrating for them, not being upset by. The implication here is that Rick would be happy for Jessie if only Jessie had a suitably awful girlfriend. In other words, the only way that Rick would be happy is if Jessie was with a woman he considered undesirable. This really seems to call into question just how much of a friend Rick really is.

Rick then moves on to describing what it is about Jessie's relationship that bothers him. Jessie's s girlfriend is watching Jessie, loving him with "that body" (I won't even go into the kind of problematic phrasing in that statements), and Jessie is holding her late at night. In other words, Jessie's and Jessie's girlfriend are doing normal things that couples do. One wonders what they could be doing that would not bother Rick.

Later in the song, Rick explains how he thinks relationships work, and it is amazingly awful. Talking about Jessie's girl, he sings "Wondering what she don't see in me/I've been funny/I've been cool with the lines/'Aint that the way love's supposed to be?" My answer to Rick is, no, that's not what love is supposed to be. This plaintive cry by Springfield almost reads like a whine issued by a failed pick-up artist who thinks that relationships are transactional: You say the right lines, push the right buttons, and then the girl has no choice but to fall into your arms. That's not how relationships actually work, and it definitely isn't how relationships are supposed to work. Women aren't vending machines that you deposit clever lines and jokes into and receive love and sex in return.

Of course, there is also the fact that if Rick's "cool lines" did work, then presumably he would expect Jessie's girlfriend to ditch Jessie for him. One would presume that this would make Jessie quite unhappy and would show Jessie's girl to be a kind of cold-hearted woman, which seems to be something that Rick has never considered. The cavalier disregard shown by Rick for Jessie's happiness paints Rick as not merely a really terrible friend, but also a really terrible person.

If Jessie's girl was smart, she'd get herself as far away from Rick as possible, and probably try to get her boyfriend to drop his "friend" as well.

Previous Musical Monday: The One That You Love by Air Supply
Subsequent Musical Monday: Elvira by the Oak Ridge Boys

Previous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: The One That You Love by Air Supply
Subsequent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Endless Love by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: The One That You Love by Air Supply
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Elvira by the Oak Ridge Boys

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

Rick Springfield     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Book Blogger Hop June 21st - June 27th: Constantine I Defeated Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312 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: Which is your favorite library (or which would you most like to visit)? How often do you visit the library?

I think I would most want to visit the Great Library of Alexandria, or possibly the Great Library of Pergamum. In both cases I would need a time machine to do so, and I would need to be able to read ancient Greek and probably a collection of other ancient languages to make it worthwhile, so there are some obstacles. If they could be overcome, however, those would be the places I would choose to visit.

As far as the second question is concerned, the answer is "not nearly as often as I probably should". Our local library is quite nice, and I've gone to a couple of their semi-annual book sales, but I haven't been very often other wise. They have several programs aimed at younger kids like the littlest starship captain, and the redhead has taken her to some of them, but those are during the day when I am away at work, so I haven't been to any.


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Monday, June 17, 2019

Musical Monday - The One That You Love by Air Supply


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: The week of July 25, 1981.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: The week of July 18, 1981.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

The thing I remember most about Air Supply is that my mother had their greatest hits album, and copied it onto a cassette tape that had Hooked on Classics on the reverse side. As a result, Air Supply occupies a space in my mind that is a cross between "Mom rock" and "classical music set to a disco beat". They were the near ubiquitous soundtrack to the middle-school dances I attended, at least until Foreigner came out with Waiting for a Girl Like You and drove Air Supply's songs out of the regular party rotation.

To a certain extent, Air Supply was Journey before Journey became Journey!, turning out ballad after ballad and dominating the charts with piles of syrupy love songs. On the other hand, Air Supply was almost a caricature of a band. I've seen attempts to parody them - most notably Paul & Storm's song Right Here With You, which is a riff on the video for All Out of Love and the video for this song.

To be blunt, I can't think of a way one could parody Air Supply more than they do themselves. The lead singer with his giant tiger head print shirt and Conway Twitty style perm. The other lead singer with his oh-so-very-earnest acoustic guitar, gold medallion, and shirt unbuttoned halfway down his torso. The soft focus slow-motion scenes of the pair of them cavorting with their girlfriends on a playground. It would simply be impossible to come up with anything more ridiculous than this video.

Previous Musical Monday: Ghost Town by the Specials
Subsequent Musical Monday: Jessie's Girl by Rick Springfield

Previous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Stars on 45 Medley by Stars on 45
Subsequent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Jessie's Girl by Rick Springfield

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Stars on 45 Medley by Stars on 45
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Jessie's Girl by Rick Springfield

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

Air Supply     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Book Blogger Hop June 14th - June 20th: Dialing 3-1-1 in the United States and Canada Will Connect You to Non-Emergency Municipal Services in Most Areas


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 been called a "book nerd"? If so, how did you react?

I have been called so many varieties of nerd that I have lost count. Gamer nerd. Role-playing nerd. Comic book nerd. Science fiction nerd. Fantasy nerd. History nerd. Theater nerd. Even math nerd. And yes, book nerd as well. I'm sure there are numerous other variations that I have simply forgotten. To be blunt, I stopped caring about this sort of thing decades ago. I've been much happier since I became comfortable just loving the things I love and ignoring the people who just don't "get it".

We have a finite amount of time to love what we love. Don't worry so much about what other people think about your passions and just enjoy pursuing them.


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Monday, June 10, 2019

Musical Monday - Ghost Town by the Specials


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: July 11, 1981 through July 25, 1981.

One of the reasons I included the U.K. Charts in the 1980s Project is that the U.K. had weird songs reach number one in the 1980s. As further evidence of this fact, I point to Ghost Town, a quirky Arabian inspired song with creepy lyrics and a reggae beat. This is, however, a kind of cool weird, which sets it apart from some of the terrible weird songs that also reached the top spot in the U.K.

Ghost Town is kind of cool and kind of weird, but it is about a society in crisis - a dysfunctional country with no jobs, a neglectful government and not even any clubs or bands as a diversion, with basically nothing for anyone to do but fight one another. The fact that this odd but bitter and biting song reached number one immediately after the bland and almost insipid One Day in Your Life seems almost impossible, but that seems to be the U.K. in the early 1980s in a nutshell.

Previous Musical Monday: One Day In Your Life by Michael Jackson
Subsequent Musical Monday: The One That You Love by Air Supply

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: One Day In Your Life by Michael Jackson
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: Green Door by Shakin' Stevens

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

Specials     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, June 9, 2019

2019 Mythopoeic Award Nominees

Location: Mythcon 50 in San Diego, California.

Comments: This year's crop of Mythopoeic Award nominees features three different trilogies. Based on this, one might think that the selection committee has a hard time making up its mind, and consequently simply punted the decision by giving nominations to groups of books. This may be to offset the extremely narrow focus of some of the other categories, which seem to have the same collection of nominees show up year after year. For example, three of the nominees in the Scholarship in Inklings Studies category are returning nominees from 2018, as are three of the nominees in the Myth and Fantasy Studies category. The limited focus of the award is somewhat worrying, as it results in a very restricted, and consequently somewhat less than interesting range of nominees.

Best Adult Fantasy Literature

Winner:
TBD

Other Nominees:
The Arcadia Project: Borderline, Phantom Pains, Impostor Syndrome by Mishell Baker
Circe by Madeline Miller
In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan
The Innsmouth Legacy: The Litany of Earth, Winter Tide, Deep Roots by Ruthanna Emrys
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Best Children's Fantasy Literature

Winner:
TBD

Other Nominees:
Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead
The Chronicles of Claudette: Giants Beware!, Dragons Beware!, Monsters Beware! by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado
The Stone Girl’s Story by Sarah Beth Durst
Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier
Tiger vs. Nightmare by Emily Tetri

Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies

Winner:
TBD

Other Nominees:
The Flame Imperishable: Tolkien, St. Thomas, and the Metaphysics of Faërie by Jonathan S. McIntosh
There Would Always Be a Fairy Tale: More Essays on Tolkien by Verlyn Flieger
Tolkien: Maker of Middle-Earth by Catherine McIlwaine
Tolkien, Self and Other: This Queer Creature by Jane Chance
Tolkien’s Theology of Beauty: Majesty, Splendor, and Transcendence in Middle-Earth by Lisa Coutras

Myth and Fantasy Studies

Winner:
TBD

Other Nominees:
Celtic Myth in Contemporary Children’s Fantasy: Idealization, Identity, Ideology by Dimitra Fimi
Genres of Doubt: Science Fiction, Fantasy and the Victorian Crisis of Faith by Elizabeth M. Sanders
Gods and Humans in Medieval Scandinavia: Retying the Bonds by Jonas Wellendorf
Race and Popular Fantasy Literature: Habits of Whiteness by Helen Young
The Routledge Companion to Imaginary Worlds edited by Mark J.P. Wolf

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

Book Award Reviews     Home

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Book Blogger Hop June 7th - June 13th: The Romans Defeated the Etruscans in the Battle of Lake Vadimo in 310 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: What's the oldest work (by publication date) you've read?

This is an interesting question, because it raises the issue of what one means by "published". I've read some very old works, but only in translation, since I don't speak Ancient Greek and my Latin is rudimentary at best. The question to be confronted is when were they "published"? Do we consider their publication when they were first written, or when they were translated? I'm leaning towards "when they were first written", but I can see an argument for the other position. of course, once you go back far enough, "publication date" becomes a fuzzy issue, mostly because there aren't really good records for when a particular story was first written.

For example, I have read the Iliad and the Odyssey, both in multiple translations. As far as I can tell, general consensus is that these stories were first written (as opposed to being recounted in oral form) some time in the 8th century B.C. I have also read Antigone by Sophocles, which is usually dated to some time around 441 B.C. This does take a somewhat expansive view of what a "work" is, as the Iliad is an epic poem and Antigone is a play. If we are confining the question to prose novels, another older work I have read is The Golden Ass by Apuleius, which is the oldest known surviving novel and is dated to some time in the late 2nd century A.D.

If we are only counting works of more recent vintage published in English, I have read Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott, which was published in 1820.


Book Blogger Hop     Home

Monday, June 3, 2019

Musical Monday - One Day in Your Life by Michael Jackson


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: June 27, 1981 through July 4, 1981.

One Day in Your Life was a song out of time, even in 1981. Originally released in 1975, the song was rereleased by Motown records in 1981 in order to capitalize on Jackson's success with his Epic Record album Off the Wall. The fact that this song reached the U.K. chart in this decade is the result of a cynical cash grab by Jackson's former label - a label he dumped because he thought they were stifling his creative efforts. There is a kind of irony in the fact that as soon as Jackson gained some creative freedom and as a result garnered greater success than he had while under their banner, Motown attempted to profit from that success by proxy.

The difference between this song and the songs on Off the Wall is noticeable. There isn't anything wrong with it, but there isn't anything particularly memorable about it either. This song is kind of dull, even by the relatively bland standards of most of Jackson's music. I've never been a huge fan of Jackson's music, mostly because he always seemed to be making mostly safe, mostly middle-of-the-road choices presumably to be able to appeal to as many suburban teenagers as possible. That said, when compared to this slice of Wonder bread masquerading as a song, his music from the 1980s seems almost radical.

Previous Musical Monday: Stars on 45 Medley by Stars on 45
Subsequent Musical Monday: Ghost Town by the Specials

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: Being With You by Smokey Robinson
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: Ghost Town by the Specials

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 Jackson     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Book Blogger Hop May 31st - June 6th: Cassander Killed Alexander IV, the Nominal King of Macedon, in 309 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 read books over 400 pages?

Given that I read a lot of fantasy novels, the answer to this question is "yes". So many modern fantasy novels are so big and weighty due to their high page count that the term "doorstop fantasy" is fairly commonly used. Though not quite a common, lengthy science fiction novels are also not unheard of, and I read a lot in that genre as well, so that's another vector for books in excess of 400 pages to find their way into my reading pile.

Although not novels, I note that for decades the late Gardner Dozois produced very popular a "year's best" collection of science fiction stories every year, and pretty much every single one of those exceeded 400 pages in length, so regular science fiction readers probably have read a lot of long books.


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