Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Beatles – "Good Night" (1968)

Now the sun turns out his light
Good night, sleep tight

I was mildly excited to learn a couple of weeks ago that SiriusXM satellite radio was adding “The Beatles Channel” to its lineup.  

I gave “The Beatles Channel” a shot before I gave up on it.  Actually, I gave it several shots.  But the dross-to-gold ratio is unacceptably high.

“The Beatles Channel” is a misnomer.  The music on that channel includes a lot of non-Beatles stuff.  (The Beatles released only 12 studio albums.  That’s not a lot of content when you’re a satellite radio company and you’ve got 24 hours of programming a day to fill.)

There are a fair number of covers of Beatles songs on “The Beatles Channel” – like Regina Spektor’s cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

There are also a fair number of Beatles covers of songs by other artists – like their forgettable 1964 cover of Carl Perkins’s forgettable 1957 record, “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby.”

“The Beatles Channel” also plays the original recordings of some of the songs the Beatles covered – like Buddy Holly’s 1958 recording of “Crying, Waiting, Hoping.” 

It seemed like about every third song on “The Beatles Channel” was a live Paul McCartney recording of a non-Beatles song.  (I’m guessing that SiriusXM must have been able to negotiate some rock-bottom royalty payments for the McCartney solo catalog.)

There were also a fair number of John Lennon songs.  The typical McCartney solo song is pretty bad, but the typical Lennon solo recording is worse – especially when he teams up with Yoko Ono.

As Exhibit A, the prosecution would like to offer into evidence Lennon’s 1980 recording, “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy),” which was written for John and Yoko’s son, Sean.  

(That song contains a famous John Lennon quote: “Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.”  It looks like Lennon “borrowed” that line – perhaps from a 1957 issue of Reader’s Digest.)

“The Beatles Channel” also programs plenty of miscellaneous gasbaggery – call-in shows, recorded interviews with celebrities or self-proclaimed Beatles experts, etc., etc.  For example, the first day’s programming featured Larry King yakking about meeting Paul McCartney backstage before one of Sir Paul’s Las Vegas appearances.  (Would you believe me if I told you that interview was more about Larry King than it was about Paul McCartney?)

When “The Beatles Channel” finally gets around to playing an actual Beatles record, the odds are that it will not be a good one.

Let's face it.  The Beatles recorded a number of great songs, but they also put out a lot of crap.

To wit: 

*     *     *     *     *

John Lennon had two sons by two different mothers, and he wrote both of them a lullaby.

The less said about “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” – which was inspired by his younger son Sean (whose mother was Yoko Ono) and which I mentioned above – the better.

I second that emotion for “Good Night,” which was written for his elder son, Julian, whose mother Cynthia was pregnant when John married her in 1962.  

John said shortly before his death that he didn’t love Julian any less because he wasn’t a planned child: 

He’s still my son, whether he came from a bottle of whiskey or because they didn't have pills in those days.

That's nice.

*     *     *     *     *

“Good Night” is the last song on The Beatles, the two-record album that is better known as the “White Album.”  When I heard it the first day that “The Beatles Channel” was on the air, I did not recognize it – I don’t remember ever hearing it before.

Since everyone I knew in college owned a copy of the “White Album,” that’s hard to explain.  

The only Beatle who had anything to do with the recording of “Good Night” was Ringo Starr, who sings the song’s clichéd lyrics over a lush orchestral arrangement.  (God only knows why John asked Ringo to sing a lullaby written for his child rather than singing it himself.)

One versatile musician and Beatles aficionado of my acquaintance told me that “Good Night” is widely regarded as the worst of all Beatles songs.

To that, I reply “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” “Octopus’s Garden,” “Yellow Submarine,” and – last and almost certainly least – “When I’m Sixty-Four.”  Which is not to say that “Good Night” isn’t a very bad song.

The Beatles’ army of copyright lawyers has managed to keep even a mediocrity like “Good Night” off Youtube.  So i'm not able to share it with you.

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Beatles – "One After 909" (1970)

I said move over once
Move over twice
Come on, baby
Don't be cold as ice

Channel 18 on SiriusXM satellite radio is now “The Beatles Channel,” which was launched on May 18 at 9:09 AM.  (I’ll have much more to say about “The Beatles Channel” in the next 2 or 3 lines.)

SiriusXM chose 18 for the channel number and May 18 for the date of the launch because the two digits that comprise the number 18 add up to 9.

I didn’t know until recently that the number 9 had special significance for the Beatles, but you best believe it did. 

From the SiriusXM blog:

Here are 9 examples that show how the number 9 looms large in the Beatles’ legend:

1.  John Lennon was born on Oct. 9, 1940.  The first home John lived in was at 9 Newcastle Road in Wavertree, Liverpool.  The words “Newcastle,” “Wavertree” and “Liverpool” each contain nine letters.  

2.  As a teenager, John took the No. 72 bus (7 + 2 = 9) to Liverpool Art College, where he became friends with Stuart Sutcliffe.  He soon asked Sutcliffe to join his band, the Quarrymen, which featured Paul McCartney, whose last name has nine letters, as does Sutcliffe’s.  The group changed their name to the Beatles in 1960, and John left in 1969, nine years later.

3.  The Beatles’ first appearance at the Cavern Club was on Feb. 9, 1961.  The band’s manager, Brian Epstein, first saw them perform there on Nov. 9, 1961.  He secured a record contract for the group with EMI on May 9, 1962.

The Beatles at the Cavern Club
4.  One of the Beatles’ earliest songs was “One After 909.”  It was originally recorded in March 1963 (that version was released on the Anthology 1 album) and ultimately was re-recorded for Let It Be, the last album released by the band in May 1970.

5.  The Beatles’ historic first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” took place on Feb. 9, 1964.

6.  The most significant use of the number occurs in Lennon’s song “Revolution 9,” from “The White Album,” which features a series of tape loops including one with a recurring “number nine” announcement.

7.  Lennon’s song “#9 Dream” was released in 1974 on Walls and Bridges, his ninth non-Beatles album, and was issued in the ninth month of the year.  When released as a single, “#9 Dream” peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard “Hot 100” chart in the U.S.  The refrain in the chorus – “Ah! Böwakawa poussé, poussé” – features nine syllables.

8.  There are nine Os in the combined names of John Ono Lennon and Yoko Ono Lennon.  Their son, Sean Lennon, was born on Oct. 9, 1975. 

John, Yoko, and Sean Lennon
9. The long-awaited digital remasters of the Beatles’ albums, along with the group’s “Rock Band” video game, were released on Sept. 9, 2009.  That’s 09-09-09.

This is all utter nonsense, of course.  I have no doubt that you could take 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8 and come up with a similar list proving the significance to the Beatles of that number.  (No, I’m not going to do that.  I turn 65 in two days, and I have no intention of wasting any of my remaining time on foolishness like that.)

*     *     *     *     *

As was noted above, “One After 909” – which dates from 1957 or 1958 – was one of the first songs Lennon and McCartney ever wrote.  (Sir Paul says they wrote the song together, but John says he wrote it by himself.)

The Beatles recorded it on the same day in March 1963 that they recorded “From Me to You,” but they didn’t like any of the takes enough to release it.  

“One After 909” was one of the songs the Beatles played in their infamous live performance on the roof of the Apple Corps building in January 1969.  The recording of that performance was included on the Let It Be album, which was released shortly after the group’s break-up in the following year.

There are a number of Beatles songs that are very, very special.  But there are a lot that aren't.  “One After 909” is one of the latter group.

Click here to listen to the Let It Be version of “One After 909.”

And click below to buy the version of the song that was included on the Anthology 1 album.  (It owes a lot to Chuck Berry.)

Friday, May 26, 2017

Gwyneth Paltrow and Huey Lewis – "Cruisin'" (2000)

Glad your going my way
I love it when we're cruisin' together

When I was a teenager, I listened to the radio to hear new records.

Later, the internet became my primary source for new music.

Today, I become acquainted with a lot of unfamiliar music at the group exercise class at my 91-year-old mother’s assisted living place.

Julia, the instructor, generally favors R&B songs from the nineties and the aughts – which is not exactly my musical wheelhouse.

She’s played today’s featured song in each of the last several classes, and it’s become a favorite of mine – which is something I never thought I’d say about a Gwyneth Paltrow-Huey Lewis duet.  (Yes, I’m talking about that Gwyneth Paltrow.)

*     *     *     *     *

Gwyneth Paltrow’s father Bruce was a TV/movie writer, director, and producer.  (If you’re as old as I am, you almost certainly remember two television shows that Paltrow produced: The White Shadow and St. Elsewhere

Paltrow died from oral cancer in 2002 while he was in Rome to celebrate Gwyneth’s 30th birthday.

A very young Gwyneth Paltrow
with her late father Bruce
The father and his daughter worked on only one movie together: Duets, a 2000 film that Bruce Paltrow co-produced and directed.  Duets featured not only Gwyneth Paltrow (who was coming off an Academy Award-winning performance in Shakespeare in Love) but also up-and-comers Paul Giamatti (Sideways, 12 Years a Slave, Love & Mercy) and Maria Bello (The Cooler, A History of Violence, Thank You for Smoking).

Duets is about karaoke competitions.  (If you weren’t aware that there was such a thing as karaoke competitions, feel free to sit your ass down next to mine because I sure as hell wasn’t aware that there such a thing as karaoke competitions either.)

The plot of the movie revolves around three pairs of people who hook up in various implausible ways.  All of them end up competing against one another at a big karaoke contest in Omaha.  (How big a karaoke contest?  The first prize is FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS – that’s how big.)

One of the pairs consists of Paltrow and her absentee father, who is played by Huey Lewis, a professional karaoke hustler.

Paltrow and Lewis in “Duets”
The second pair are Maria Bello (another veteran of the karaoke competition circuit) and an alcoholic priest wannabe who is now a cabdriver.  (The cabbie part was originally given to Brad Pitt, who was Paltrow’s boyfriend at the time.  But when the couple broke up, Pitt opted out of the role.)

The third pair consists of Giamatti and a hitchhiking escaped criminal who Giamatti picks up.

As this Wikipedia summary of the subplot relating to Giamatti and his hitchhiker sidekick indicates, Duets – which one critic described as “six characters in search of a movie” – was one hot mess:

Depressed California salesman Todd Woods (Paul Giamatti) is so exhausted from business travel that he doesn't even know what city he's in; and when he gets home, his wife Candy and two children are too self-absorbed to even say hello.  Bored, he walks out on his family and his old life, and begins to drive aimlessly around the country. 

He wanders into a karaoke bar in New Mexico, where a fellow participant offers him beta blockers to help him overcome his anxiety and stage fright.  He gets hooked on the drugs as he keeps driving, and in Utah he picks up hitchhiker Reggie Kane, a charismatic but violent fugitive convict, who had already robbed the previous truckdriver who gave him a lift at gunpoint.  

The plucky convict is intimidated by Todd's emotionless demeanor, but the two form an unlikely and close friendship after Reggie reveals a beautiful singing voice during a duet at another karaoke bar.  As they travel, Todd's mental health deteriorates further and Reggie tries his best to keep him out of trouble; he first has to drag Todd out of a hotel when he threatens the clerk with a gun; then, after Todd's careless behavior causes a stand-off at a service station, Reggie intervenes but shoots and kills the attendant.  

Reggie arranges for Candy to meet them in Omaha in an attempt to reconcile them, but when she arrives, a still emotionless Todd rejects her, saying that he is finished with his former life.

 The “Duets” DVD case
Wikipedia doesn’t reveal which of the contestants wins the $5000 grand prize and lives happily ever after (at least until the $5000 runs out in a few weeks).

But I’ve got to think the very nice Lewis-Paltrow cover of Smokey Robinson’s “Cruisin’” comes out on top.  Maria Bello’s performance of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” could give Lewis and Paltrow a run for their money, but I have a hard time believing that Paul Giamatti’s versions of the Otis Redding classic, “Try a Little Tenderness,” or Todd Rundgren’s classic “Hello It’s Me” won the big prize.

Here the scene from Duets where Huey Lewis and Gwyneth Paltrow – who turns out to be a pretty good singer – combine on “Cruisin’”:

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Aerosmith – "Toys in the Attic" (1975)

Toys, toys, toys
In the attic

Did you ever own “The Game of Cootie”?

If you did, check your mother's attic the next time you visit her – it might still be up there.

The Game of Cootie
I hadn’t thought about The Game of Cootie in at least 50 years.  But then I stumbled across a piece of clickbait titled “What Was The Most Popular Toy The Year You Were Born?”

The Game of Cootie was invented in 1949.  In 1950, only about 5600 units were sold, but sales jumped to a million-plus in 1952 – the year i was born.  By 2005, sales of The Game of Cootie totaled 50 million units.

The Game of Cootie's game pieces
To win The Game of Cootie, you have be the first player to assemble the game pieces required to build a complete “cootie” – a body, a head, two antennae, two eyes, a proboscis, and six legs – by rolling certain numbers with a die.

I remember exactly what the cootie’s proboscis looked like:

Three proboscises
*     *     *     *     *

“What Was The Most Popular Toy The Year You Were Born?” can be found on the Dusty Old Things website.

Dusty Old Things is one of a number of websites that belongs to Great Life Publishing, which sees the glass as half full, not half empty:

At Great Life, our goal is to focus on the stories that remind us that life is in fact great.  You won’t find negativity.  You won’t find divisiveness.  You won’t find gloom, doom or fear.  We proudly serve up nothing but daily inspiration.  After all . . . LIFE IS GREAT!

A year ago, I might have dismissed that mission statement as hopelessly corny and naive.  But after a year of seeking shelter from the storm of vituperation that’s been generated by the zillions of people who lost their everlovin’ minds over Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Great Life sounds like just what the doctor ordered.

*     *     *     *     *

“What Was The Most Popular Toy The Year You Were Born?” covers 1930 to 1980.  (I don’t think that title is strictly accurate.  I have a feeling that the title should be “What Was The Most Popular Toy That Was Invented In The Year You Were Born?” because some of the listed toys – like The Game of Cootie – were not immediate best-sellers.)

I was born in 1952, which was the year that “Mr. Potato Head” was introduced.

Mr. Potato Head
Mr. Potato Head was the first toy advertised on television.  Over a million units of the toy – which contained hands, feet, ears, eyes, mouths, noses, hats, eyeglasses and a pipe, and retailed for 98 cents – were sold in 1952.  Later versions of the toy came with plastic bodies, but the original Mr. Potato Head required you to use a real potato.

The most popular toy of 1953 was the Wiffle ball, which is still popular.  I have to believe that every male baby boomer in the United States owned a Wiffle ball and the skinny yellow plastic bat that was sold with it.

The big seller in 1954 was the Mattel “Shootin’ Shell” cap pistol, which also fired small plastic bullets.  I would have traded a kidney for one of those bad boys when I was a kid.

Here’s a TV commercial for the Shootin’ Shell pistol, which would be viewed by modern bureaucrats and parents alike as horribly dangerous:  

Here’s what Dusty Old Things says were the most popular toys from 1955 to 1964:

1955 – Betsy Wetsy doll
1956 – Play-Doh
1957 – Silly Putty
1958 – Colorforms
1959 – Barbie doll
1960 – Legos
1961 – Etch-A-Sketch
1962 – Lincoln Logs
1963 – Duncan Yo-Yos
1964 – G.I. Joe

I’ll stop there because I turned 12 years old in 1964, and stopped paying much attention to toys.

Click here to read “What Was The Most Popular Toy The Year You Were Born?” in its entirety.  It’s may be clickbait, but it’s worthwhile clickbait.

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Aerosmith’s third studio album, Toys in the Attic, was released in 1975.  I played it a lot when I was in law school.

Toys in the Attic sold over eight million copies, and included the band’s two most famous singles – “Walk This Way” and “Sweet Emotion.”  Its title track isn’t quite as good as those two songs, but it comes pretty close.

Here’s “Toys in the Attic”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Sunday, May 21, 2017

New Colony Six – "Things I'd Like to Say" (1968)

Baby, is he looking after you?
Is he showing you the same love, the warm love
Just like we knew?

In May 2015, Beau Biden – the 46-year-old eldest son of Vice President Joe Biden – died after a long battle with brain cancer.  

Biden’s other son, Hunter – who was born exactly one year and a day after his brother – and his wife Kathleen separated in October of the same year but didn’t get divorced until last month.  (Their six-bedroom, 5 1/2-bath home in Washington is up for sale, with an asking price is $1.85 million.)

In March of this year, Joe Biden confirmed to the New York Post that Hunter and Beau’s widow, Hallie, have been a couple for some time.

The former Veep and his wife Jill have blessed the romance.  “We are all lucky that Hunter and Hallie found each other as they were putting their lives together again after such sadness,” Biden told the Post.  “They have mine and Jill’s full and complete support and we are happy for them.”

Joe and Hunter Biden
It's not surprising that Hunter and Hallie don't have Kathleen’s full and complete support and that she isn't happy for them.

Kathleen went ballistic when Hunter allegedly cut off most of the money he had been sending to her and their kids after the couple separated so he could spend more on wine, women, and lap dances for himself.

“Throughout the parties’ separation Mr. Biden has created financial concerns for the family by spending extravagantly on his own interests (including drugs, alcohol, prostitutes, strip clubs, and gifts for women with whom he has sexual relations), while leaving the family with no funds to pay legitimate bills,” Kathleen’s lawyers said in the divorce papers they filed on her behalf.

The once and future Mrs. Hunter Biden?
(Kathleen's on the left, Hallie's on the right)

*     *     *     *     *

If Hunter and Hallie get married, their union will be an example of levirate marriage . . . sort of.

Levirate marriage – a marriage between a widow and her dead husband’s brother – is dictated in certain circumstances by Deuteronomy 25:5, which says:

If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies, and has no child, the wife of the dead shall not be married to one not of his kin; her husband's brother shall go in to her, and take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband's brother to her.

If you read the following verse from Deuteronomy, the reasoning behind levirate marriage – the name comes from the Latin word levir, which mean’s “husband’s brother” – becomes apparent:

And it shall be, that the first-born that she bears [to her new husband] shall succeed in the name of his brother that is dead, that his name be not blotted out of Israel. 

In other words, the first son born to the widow and her dead husband’s brother is legally the heir of the deceased brother, and so inherits any land that belongs to the deceased brother at the time of his death, or that the deceased brother would have inherited if he had not died.  (If the deceased brother dies without an heir, land that he owns or would have inherited might end up in the hands of someone other than a close relative.)

Deuteronomy doesn’t explicitly say what the rules are if the surviving brother is already married, but I’m guessing that levirate marriage doesn’t require bigamy.

*     *     *     *     *

Levirate marriage is not the same thing as “ghost marriage,” which is relatively common among certain tribes living in South Sudan.

In a ghost marriage, a deceased groom is replaced by his brother.  Any children that are produced as a result of the stand-in groom’s efforts are considered to be children of the deceased man.

Dancers at a Nuer wedding
Female members of the Nuer tribe participate in ghost marriages because any wealth a woman brings to a Nuer marriage becomes the property of the husband.  By marrying a dead man, a Nuer wife can retain control over her wealth.

*     *     *     *     *

Levirate marriage was not practiced simply by Old Testament Jews and primitive African tribes.  Several years after Arthur, Prince of Wales – the eldest son and heir apparent to King Henry VII of England – died when he was just 16 years old, his younger brother, King Henry VIII, married his widow, Catherine of Aragon.

King Henry VIII
This was not a true levirate marriage.  It was permitted only because Catherine swore that Prince Arthur had not consummated their marriage.  That enabled Henry VIII to legally marry, but caused considerable inconvenience when the King later decided that the 32-year-old Anne Boleyn was a better bet to give him a male heir than his 47-year-old wife.

So Henry took the position that Arthur and Catherine’s marriage had been consummated after all, and sought an annulment on the grounds that it had not been lawful for him to marry his brother’s widow.  

Henry cited Leviticus 20:21, which says:

And if a man shall take his brother's wife, it is an unclean thing: he has uncovered his brother's nakedness; they shall be childless.

That is clearly inconsistent with Deuteronomy 25:5, which allows – or even requires – a brother to marry his deceased brother’s widow.  

Henry sent his men to Venice to consult with Rabbi Isaac Halfon, who opined that the Old Testament no longer sanctioned levirate marriage, and that Henry’s marriage to his brother’s widow violated Jewish law whether or not Arthur had gotten his ashes hauled.  

The Pope consulted some other rabbis, who said just the opposite, and he refused to give his blessing to Henry’s marriage to Anne.  So Henry told the Pope to take a long walk off a short pier and founded the Church of England, which said that it was fine and dandy for Henry and Anne to wed.

Click here if you’d like to read more about all this.

By the way, another British king participated in a near-levirate marriage.  Prince Albert Victor, the oldest grandson of Queen Victoria, became engaged to Princess Mary of Teck, his second cousin once removed.  But Albert Victor died of influenza only six weeks later.

King George V and his wife, Queen Mary
A year and a half later, Albert Victor’s younger brother George married Mary in London.  George was crowned King George V in 1910, and he and Queen Mary reigned until his death in 1936.  (Yes, the famous ocean liner was named after her.)

*     *      *     *     *

The last few times I heard “Things I’d Like to Say” on the radio, I made a mental note to feature it on 2 or 3 lines.  But I'd always forget.

I’m trying to think of a more beautiful 1960s love song, and I can’t.  I wouldn’t change a thing about it – not the added strings, not the march-like drum part, and especially not the solo piano coda.    

I’m just glad I didn’t own this record when it was released in 1968, when I was 16 years old and prone to bouts of unrequited love and teenage angst.  If I had owned “Things I’d Like to Say” back then, I probably would have play it over and over and over while lying with my head under our Magnavox console stereo.  (I hate to think how many times I listened to Pet Sounds – especially “Caroline, No” – while doing just that.)

The sheet music for today's featured song
The New Colony Six – who performed in Paul Revere and the Raiders-esque Revolutionary War outfits – were a Chicago band that recorded ten singles that made it into the Billboard “Hot 100.”  But only “Things I’d Like to Say” made it into the top twenty.

The song was written by band members Ronnie Rice and Les Kummel (who died in an automobile accident in 1978, when he was 33).  

Here’s “Things I’d Like to Say”:

Friday, May 19, 2017

Holly Cahill – "You Still Put the Uniform On" (2016)

They call you names and spit in your face
But if you weren’t there
Who would take your place?

On October 8, 2016, Officers Jose “Gil” Vega and Lesley Zerebny of the Palm Springs (CA) Police Department were shot and killed when they responded to a domestic violence call.

Officers Vega and Zerebny
Officer Vega, a 63-year-old father of eight, was a 35-year veteran of the Palm Springs Police Department who had used CPR to save the life of a two-month-old baby girl in 2012.  

Vega had told his chief that he was planning to retire in December of last year.  (He had been eligible to retire for several years, but had chosen to stay on the force.) 

Officer Zerebny, who was 27, had joined the Palm Springs police force less than two years before she was killed.  

Zerebny and her husband, who is a sheriff’s deputy in Riverside County, were the parents of a four-month-old baby.  She had only recently returned to work after giving birth to her child.

*     *     *     *     *

To pay tribute to Vega and Zerebny, the Palm Springs Police Department sent the door from one of its patrol cars – signed by their fellow PSPD officers – to be displayed at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC:

Each year, thousands of law enforcement officers come to our nation’s capital on National Peace Officers Memorial Day (May 15) to honor their comrades who have died in the line of duty.  The event is also attended by many family members of those fallen officers.

Police honor guards from around the United States take turns standing vigil at the Memorial on that day:

The most notable features of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial are two 300-foot-long, curved stone walls that bear the names of more than 20,000 officers who have been killed in the line of duty.  New names are added to the walls every year during National Police Week.

Those who visited the Memorial this week placed hundreds of handmade tributes to slain police officers on those walls: 

Here’s a very personal memorial to Sergeant Gregory Hunter of the Grand Prairie (TX) police department, who was gunned down by a fugitive from justice in 2004:

(I'm sure many of you are familiar with John 15:13: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”)

The Palm Springs Police Department was not the only law enforcement agency to commemorate fallen officers by sending a patrol car door to be displayed.  Here’s one from the Harford County (MD) Sheriff’s Department:

There were also several tributes to police dogs at the Memorial:

*     *     *     *     *

Holly Cahill was a 17-year-old high school student when she wrote and recorded “You Still Put the Uniform On.”

It pays tribute to her father, who’s a deputy chief in the Anaheim (CA) Police Department.

Here's a photo of Holly watching her mother pin her father's deputy chief badge on him in 2015:

Here’s “You Still Put the Uniform On”:

Click here to buy the song from iTunes.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

ID16 ft. Fanny Andersen – "Hundremeterskogen" (2013)

We make fantasy a reality
Our bus is really bold . . .
Our bus is a well-traveled beast

(You’re going to think I made up all the stuff in this post, but I swear to God I didn’t – there's no fake news here!)

Last year, my fellow blogger (and fellow parent) Brienne Walsh Zipperer recommend that I read Karl Ove Knausgaard’s six-volume My Struggle, which is roughly 3600 pages long.  (Thanks, Brienne . . . I think.)

Karl Ove Knausgaard
I’m just starting the fifth volume of My Struggle, which is ostensibly fiction but which reads like autobiography.  

Critic James Wood had this to say about Knausgaard’s magnum opus:  

Many writers strive to give you the effect, the illusion, of reality.  Knausgaard seems to want to give his readers the reality of reality – to strip away the literary tricks, to burst through language, to explode the artifice.  And he achieves this.  You read Knausgaard almost as if in real time.

Wood goes on to say that “even when I was bored, I was interested,” which is exactly right.  

My Struggle cover
My Struggle is both compelling and boring, and what makes it compelling is the same thing that makes it boring.  The book doesn’t just appear to be about real life — it is about real life.  

*     *     *     *     *

In volume four of My Struggle, Knausgaard describes his participation in russefeiring, a coming-of-age celebration for Norwegian students in their final semester of high school.  

Russefeiring celebrants
Russefeiring, which is several weeks long, ends on May 17 – Constitution Day (which is the Norwegian equivalent of July 4th).  Funny coincidence . . . that's tomorrow.

The students who participate in the celebration – who are known as russ – are finishing up their compulsory schooling.  Some of them will go on to universities, others will get jobs or join the military.    Most of them are 18 years old, which is important because you have to be 18 to drive a car or buy alcohol in Norway.

Graduating from high school is a significant rite of passage for American teenagers as well, but we nothing to compare to russefeiring.  I’m not going to attempt to provide a comprehensive discussion of all the many aspects of russefeiring.  instead, I’m going to discuss three aspects of the celebration.

Drunken russ participant
First, there’s alcohol.  Most russ are drunk for the better part of the russ celebration.  And I don’t mean slightly tipsy – I’m talking about pass-out-and-choke-on-your-own-vomit drunk.

Second, there are the russ vans and busses.  Groups of students go together, buy a van or a bus, and customize it.  The russ celebrants invest in crazy paint jobs and elaborate stereo systems, which blast out russ songs at ear-splitting volume as the vehicle travel from celebration to celebration.

Russ bus
Traditionally, students would buy beat-up old vans or busses that barely ran.  But today, each student in a group may invest as much as $30,000 apiece to buy and equip a russ bus.  ($2000 to $6000 represents a more typical student investment.)

Another russ bus
When you combine large and unwieldy vans and busses with scores of drunken teenagers, you’ve surely got trouble . . . with a capital ’T,” and that rhymes with “P,” and so on and so forth.  So the law now requires russ bus owners to hire a professional driver.  (Those with vans can get by if they give the keys to an older sibling or a teetotaling russ celebrant.)

Yet another russ bus
My favorite russ bus is this one, which is covered with tennis balls:

A tennis-ball-covered russ bus
But I really like this one, too:

The Candyfornia russ bus
Third, there are russ knots.  The russ caps worn by students have string hanging down from them, and celebrants who accomplish certain feats are entitled to tie distinctive knots indicative of those feats in those strings – or perhaps attach small tokens representing different accomplishments.

Some of the russ knot acts are fairly benign.  For example, if you spend a night in a tree, you can tie a twig from that tree to the string on your russ hat.  (The string is similar to the tassel on American academic caps.)  If you ask random people in a mall to give you a condom and one of them finally gives you one, you tie that condom to the string.  And if you crawl through a supermarket while barking and biting shoppers on their legs, you get a dog biscuit to tie on your string.

Russ hat with random
stuff tied to its string
Other knots require unsafe or unhealthy actions.  For example, you can win a knot by drinking an entire bottle of wine in 20 minutes or less, or consuming 24 beers in 12 hours or less.  (Girls are allowed 24 hours to drink the 24 beers.)  

There are a lot of sex-related knots.  If you have sex outdoors, or sex with seven different people in seven days, or sex with two different people with the same first name on the same day, you’ll win a knot.  Those knots don’t sound to bad, but remember that all knots have to be witnessed and confirmed by fellow russ celebrants.

There’s much more information about russ customs out there if you’re interested.  You can click here or click here or click here to learn more.

Personally, I have only one question about russefeiring: how in the hell did Norwegian parents get so stupid as to allow this insanity?

Drink up, kids!  It's almost May 17!
American parents go bonkers over proms – we spend way too much money to buy fancy prom dresses for our daughters and rent limos for the kids to ride to prom in, and we mostly turn a blind eye to the drinking and drug use and sex that goes on.  But Norwegian parents are far more irresponsible.

Just imagine if russefeiring was an American, or German, or Japanese, or Russian phenomenon.  The whole world would be scandalized.

But when’s the last time you paid any attention whatsoever to anything that happened in Norway?  After all, Norway’s population is barely 5 million people.  (I live in Maryland, which is a very insignificant state.  But Maryland – which is responsible for less than 2% of the population of the United States – has about a million more residents than Norway.)

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“Hundremeterskogen” is Norwegian for “Hundred Acre Wood,” which is where Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends lived.  

Actually, I believe that the literal translation of “Hundremeterskogen” is “Hundred Meters Forest,” which is not the same thing as “Hundred Acre Wood” at all.  

In fact, a patch of forest that measures 100 meters by 100 meters covers about 2 1/2 acres – which is a far cry from 100 acres.

But our featured song mentions Winnie-the-Pooh, Tigger, and Piglet, so it’s clear that its title is a reference to the Hundred Acre Wood.

“Hundredmeterskogen” was a popular russesang (“russ song”) in 2012.  Some russ songs are written especially for russ, while others are simply pop songs that the students celebrating russ like.

ID16 – a group of three young Oslo DJs – and Norwegian pop singer and blogger Fanny Andersen have teamed up on several popular russ songs.

Here’s “Hundremeterskogen”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon: