December 03, 2004

Mail Call!

Today's Musical Selection: "Ghetto Child" by the Spinners

Hi, everybody! A couple obversations before I respond to the latest round of comments. First, a big thank you and a couple air kisses (so as not to spread whatever I've got) to loyal reader Ensie:

Feel better Fred!

I'm trying to. I'm doing better today than yesterday and better still than Tuesday, but not as well as Wednesday. I've compared notes with my mother (who is also under the weather), and we think we both got it from my grandfather, who was nursing a cold when we went to see him on Thanksgiving weekend. I'm doing my best to take care of myself, Ensie.

I want to lodge a complaint against the local Top-40 station, HOT! 99.5 FM. As loyal readers may have noticed, I'm really not one for the young people's music (despite being a young person myself, allegedly), but one of my co-workers likes it, and the radio is right next to my desk. So I've been listening to it a lot lately. My tastes tend to run more toward the oldies and classic-rock stations. I've often criticized these stations for displaying a lack of originality in their playlists. It astounds me that these stations have multiples decades of music to pick from, and still you can wind up hearing the same songs two or even three times a day on occasion. I mean, I like "Stairway to Heaven" as much as the next guy, but come on.

Of course, after listening to HOT! 99.5 all week, I will never again complain about that third playing of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." The playlist on HOT! 99.5 turns over more frequently. I mean a lot more frequently. Today I kept track... I listened for that new Eminem song, the one where he talks about liking to dance with little boys or whatever, and I heard it six times in an eight-hour day. Six times. And for all I know, it played once or twice while I was at lunch. You know the only thing worse than hearing the same songs six times in a day? Hearing the same songs you don't like six times a day. This is the sort of thing shooting sprees are made of.

But, perhaps incredibly, this is not the most irritating feature about HOT! 99.5 FM. Oh no, not by a long shot. The more irritating feature is the daily phone in contest they have, for something they call the "Hot Holidizzle Shizzle for Wintizzle." I have no idea what this means. All I know is that at least forty times a day I get to hear their DJs, an alarming number of whom seem to be middle-aged white people, repeating this stupid phrase.

I'm given to understand that this particular style of talking was pioneered by Snoop Dogg, which of course makes it hip and cool. Never mind the fact that it sounds like an even dumber version of Pig Latin. (Come on, can anyone explain with a straight face why this is any less stupid or annoying than Pig Latin?) The fact that anyone over the age of 12 can find this style of speaking cute or amusing I attribute to the mega-celebrity status of Mr. Dogg, who seems to be staring back at me every time I turn on my television. No offense intended to Mr. Dogg, who's a reasonably engaging and charismatic fellow, but when did he become this generation's Bob Hope? If one wishes to find evidence of the mainstreaming of hip-hop culture, one need look no further than the ubiquity of Mr. Dogg. I believe I saw his face on a box of cereal last week. But when it comes to middle-aged white people trying to sound like a black hip-hop star with a drug problem... that's where I draw the line.

Speaking of music, I wanted to draw everyone's attention to today's musical selection. For those who aren't familiar, the Spinners were an R&B group who had a number of hits in the '70s, of which the above-referenced song was one. What always struck me about it was this: The song is supposedly about a young man who had a hardscrabble childhood. But the Spinners were a very elegant Philly soul group; they were so polished and smooth as to make the Temptations sound like a garage band. The song would be suitable for an elevator, or a dentist's office. Listening to the backup singers (pictured on the cover wearing matching red hotel-porter coats) sing "Life ain't so easy when you're a ghetto child" over and over in their cool unruffled tenors, I felt... unconvinced. Being a ghetto child sounded like, at most, a mild downer, something to be reflectively mournful about. I found myself wishing that some hip-hop group would do a cover version of it, or sample it at least. But that would require a sense of humor, which is in woefuly short supply in the hip-hop industry. (I know that Mystikal did a song with the same title, but trust me, it's not the same song.)

Also, I should call attention to King Kaufman's NFL picks column today, which is quite amusing throughout, but deserves special mention for this passage:

The Bears, with one of the worst offenses in the league, will try former Cowboys and NFL Europe non-standout Chad Hutchinson at quarterback. And waiting in the wings is the newly signed Jeff "No! Not Jeff George!" George... A football team signing Jeff George is the equivalent of a sitcom adding a 3-year-old as a major character. It says, "We know, we know, but we're desperate and we've run out of good ideas."

Anyone who's ever been forced to root for a team that has employed George will no doubt approve enthusiastically of the nickname Kaufman has bestowed on him. It certainly describes my reaction every day that George suited up for the Dreadskins.

With that out of the way, onto the reader comments. Loyal reader Frinklin bats leadoff with a response to my sort of meandering-all-over-the-place comment column from Tuesday:

Okay, three things need mentioning...

1-Yes, I like Holiday Spice Pepsi, okay? You and everyone else (including my wife) just need to accept it and move on. Trust me Fred, when Holiday Spice is cruelly taken away from me like Crystal Pepsi was, I'll know who to blame.

Yes, you will indeed know who to blame. Blame the 99% of Americans with functioning taste buds who are able to identify Holiday Spice Pepsi for the swill it is.

2-Your knowledge of bubblegum pop astounds me. It frightens me too, but you live across the country, I figure when you finally snap and start screaming about the love in your tummy to random strangers, I'll be far enough away to enjoy it in an arch, ironic way.

By the way, I was listening to the radio here in San Diego recently (actually, this was some time ago, and I believe I was in Palm Springs, but the point is the same) and the random idiot DJ mentioned bubblegum pop after playing The Left Banke's masterful "Walk Away Renee" (number 220 on the RS Top 500). What kind of moron confuses that song with "Green Tambourine"?

Whatever DJ said that should be shot. The only similarity between "Walk Away Renee" and "Green Tambourine" is that they both feature violins. There is nothing bubblegummy about "Walk Away Renee." There are some people who seem to think that every song released between 1967 and 1971 qualifies as bubblegum. Which is just wrong.

About the snapping... how do you know this has not already happened? I have been known to sing along with the Muzak in the grocery store. People wonder about me, and I don't blame them.

3-Notre Dame had better sign Urban Meyer and do it quick, or this move will backfire on the big. Ty Willingham should end up at Washington, and he'll have them in the Rose Bowl before his first class graduates. I don't think ND fans have any idea how good a coach he is, or how hard it is to deal with recruiting to South Bend.

Well, so much for that, as Utah coach Meyer passed over Notre Dame, his supposed dream job, for the big-time money and hot coeds- er, um, I mean the glorious winning tradition of the University of Florida. Now, the Golden Domers can go out and hire... um, somebody. You nailed it on the head, Frinklin: Notre Dame alumni, many of whom grew up fantasizing about going there, can't understand why modern high-schoolers don't want to go there. Tradition doesn't sell any more. Certainly not enough to overcome the lousy weather and the rigid academic standards. (And yes, I'm appalled that academic standards are a liability for prospective college stars, but that's another rant.) Where once the brightest stars of the Catholic prep schools fantasized about going to Notre Dame virtually from the cradle, now they're just as likely to go to USC, or Miami, or Texas.

Notre Dame had a great program once. So did Fordham, Columbia and Harvard. But times change, and the alumni base hasn't adjusted. The result: A good coach got the gate for no good reason.

Next, loyal reader Tripp weighed in with some musings on candy:

Circus Peanuts taste like oversweet banana to me, and I like them. For one thing, they are one of the few candies I can bring home and still have some the next day, because the kids won't go near them with a ten foot pole. Also, they come 'stale' so they never get any worse.

Come to think of it, maybe that was why my Grampa gave me horehound candy. Now *there* was some awful stuff. He was German, and he also ate brown bread in a bowl of luke warm sour milk. Yuck! I'm tempted to buy the horehound candy over the web just to see if it is still horrible.

I once had an idea for a gooey green candy that would come in a plastic nose. You'd 'pick' the candy out of the nose. The slogan would be "Some call it boogers, but it's not!" Get it? Do you get it? Huh, huh?

Yeah, I get it, Tripp. Har har har. I am glad, however, to see that you and the Spangler Company share the same view of the flavor of Circus Peanuts.

Ensie wanted me to know that I've touched off a domestic dispute at the Frinklin household:

See what you've done Fred? You've turned my husband against me. I really don't have a problem with Holiday Spice Pepsi. Tastes like sugary, carbonated stuff to me--it's all the same. But now I have to hear about it here! And every day. You'd be really surprised how much of our evenings is taken up with discussion of Holiday Spice Pepsi. It's rather sad, actually.

And Fred--I do love you, even if you supported the wrong name for your new baseball team. :)

Sorry to start a row between the two of you. It certainly wasn't my intention to disturb anyone's domestic tranquility. But if you really are spending that much time arguing about Holiday Spice Pepsi... you really need to get out more, you know? (My family spend an awful lot of time decrying its awfulness over Thanksgiving, but we let it drop when the weekend was over.) And I love you too.

Uncle Millie and Aunt Beatrice also received a couple comments, but as they were having their belated Thanksgiving dinner yesterday I wasn't able to reach them for a reply. So we'll hear from them when I get a hold of them.

As for me, I'm rolling downhill to the weekend. See you down the road!

Quote of the Day
"So many women, so little charm."
- From Donna to Josh on the West Wing. This quote is my new epitaph.

Posted by Fred at December 3, 2004 11:13 PM

I well remember my days as a very young, very white movie-theater usher. This was the early 1990s, when I was in high school and Dada had a hit song with the lyric, "I just flipped off President George/I'm going to Disneyland" (except they didn't spell it "Disneyland" for fear of offending The Mouse).

Anyway, it was positive torture, seemingly designed specifically to make a repeated fool of me, when the Damon Wayans epic "Mo Money" came out. White men can too jump, and some of us do have rhythm. (Or at least the ability to hop around like Rudie to ska and rocksteady, which is something at least.) But some white men, this one included, positively cannot pull off hip-hop slang in any form.

I can still feel the mortification each time I had to say, sometimes hundreds of times in a row as I tore tickets, "'Mo Money'is the first theater to your left." I have never in my life felt more like a honkizzle.

Posted by: BallWonk at December 6, 2004 05:25 PM

BTW, your musical selections are spooky. Uncanny even. For the first time in years, maybe all 20 of them since my mom used to play that Philly soul, yesterday I was thinking about the Spinners. And just the other day my iPod, set to shuffle, played "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" two times in a row - first the Queen original, then the Dwight Yoakam cover. Try getting a song out of your head after THAT happens.

This sort of coincidence happens a lot with your musical selections. It's like synchronicity. Which was a pretty good album in its own right.

Posted by: BallWonk at December 6, 2004 05:39 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?