T is for Thirty-Three and a Third

I put my LPs in full order in 2010, for the first time since we moved into our house in 2000.

As you may be aware, sales of physical manifestations of music have been dropping like a stone, in favor of digital forms. The Record Industry Association of America notes that from 2007 to 2009, the sale of digital music (i.e., downloads) grew from 23% to 34% to 41% of the market in the United States.

Yet the statistics also reveal a countervailing trend. The sale of long-playing, and extended play records (LPs and EPs), made from vinyl, has INCREASED over the same period, from 1.3 million units to 2.9 million to 3.2 million. These are minuscule numbers compared with the hundreds of millions of albums sold annually in the LP’s heyday in the 1960s through the early 1980s when compact discs were introduced. Still, it’s an interesting phenomenon.

Here are the Top Ten Selling Vinyl Albums of 2009:
#01 The Beatles – Abbey Road – 34,800 (#2 in ’08)
#02 Michael Jackson – Thriller – 29,800
#03 Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion – 14,000
#04 Wilco – Wilco – 13,200
#05 Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes – 12,700 (#8 in ’08)
#06 Pearl Jam – Backspacer – 12,500
#07 Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest – 11,600
#08 Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction – 11,500
#09 Dave Matthews Band – Big Whiskey… – 11,500
#10 Radiohead – In Rainbows – 11,400 (#1 in ’08)
Notice that big names such as The Beatles, Michael Jackson, and Radiohead share the pantheon with more obscure groups such as Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear.

And this is not solely an American phenomenon. Vinyl is also enjoying a renaissance in Great Britain as well.

Personally, I haven’t purchased vinyl since about 1989, a Ray Charles greatest hits album. The forces promulgating CDs made it too difficult for me to pass up the shiny objects by putting on an extra cut on the CD not present on the LP, e.g., Murder by Numbers on Synchronicity by the Police and This Is the Picture (Excellent Birds) on So by Peter Gabriel.

Yet I never gave up my vinyl. And when friends of mine did decide to get rid of their 12″ platters, they often gave them to me. I put my LPs in full order in 2010, for the first time since we moved into our house in 2000. I’ve discovered that I now have developed my collection of Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand, e.g. It’s also why I currently own multiple copies of Fragile by Yes; Deja Vu by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, and of course, Tapestry by Carole King, the longest-charting album by a female solo artist.

I think I’ll hold my LPs for a while. Some of them have tracks that I haven’t found anywhere. Maybe one day I’ll get one of those machines that turns vinyl into digital. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying playing my vinyl, looking at artwork that’s about six times the size of what you’d find on a CD.

(It suddenly occurred to me that younger readers may not understand the title. LPs are played on record players at 33 1/3 revolutions per minute, as opposed to singles, which are 45 RPM, and earlier vinyl recordings, which were 78 RPM.)

ABC Wednesday – Round 7


Wicked Macca

Sometimes, I’ll giggle aloud over a turn of a phrase I’ve just written and wait for the adulation of my adoring fans, which never comes.

Wednesday Wickedness is “like other memes in that we will ask you ten questions each and every Wednesday. But our little ‘twist’ is that each week we will pick a famous person and pick ten of their quotes. Each of our questions will be based on the quotes.” The one from September I decided to pick, in honor of him receiving the Kennedy Center Honors in December, is Sir Paul McCartney.

1. “George wrote Taxman, and I played guitar on it. He wrote it in anger at finding out what the taxman did. He had never known before then what could happen to your money.”
No one likes paying taxes. But do you think the tax system is fair?

Well, no. It is well-documented that the so-called middle class’s wages have been basically stagnant over the past 3 decades, while the richest Americans have become super-rich. In Washington state, they were having a fight over having an income tax only on the richest folks; Bill Gates supported it, but most of the other wealthy folks opposed it. Thing is that I’d be willing to pay MORE for human need (i.e., universal health care), but LESS for military expenditures that even the Secretary of Defense suggests can be cut.

2. “I definitely did look up to John. We all looked up to John. He was older and he was very much the leader; he was the quickest wit and the smartest.”
What did you think of John Lennon?

As often stated in this blog, John was my favorite Beatle. When we charged the neighborhood kids to watch us lipsynch to Beatles VI, I played John. He could be prickly, he was a terrible father to his elder son, and not a great husband to Cynthia. But like most of us, he was figuring it out, and he was doing it in public.

3. “I saw that Meryl Streep said, I just want to do my job well. And really, that’s all I’m ever trying to do.”
How do you approach your job whether in the workplace or at home?

An interesting question is that I have had a shift in my mind about this in the last year. My job description talks mostly about doing reference for our counselor’s client. My attitude, though, has been to try to do what is best for the organization. So, if no one is answering the main phone, I answer the phone. If no one is blogging at our blog, I’ll write an extra piece, or solicit others to participate. It may not be my WRITTEN job, but after this long, I feel my job is to help the organization operate as best it can.

4. “I used to think anyone doing anything weird was weird. Now I know that it is the people that call others weird that are weird.”
Have you found that you have more tolerance for unusual people as you get older?

Probably, though my tolerance is probably higher than most. The State Museum was doing its annual display of the AIDS quilt, and a few years ago, some transgendered person was having a difficult emotional time. I could just tell that the other workers on the floor, who were geographically closer to him – I was also volunteering – were uncomfortable, but this person and I had a nice chat, which seemed to be helpful. I say this not because I think I’m wonderful – I’m not – but because SOMEONE needed help, and SOMEONE needed to help. This reminds me, the AIDS quilt will be on display today through Wednesday at the Egg.

5. “I don’t take me seriously. If we get some giggles, I don’t mind.”
How seriously do you take yourself?

I used to take myself far more seriously than I do now. It’s like that line from Dylan’s My Back Pages: “I was so much older then. I’m younger than that now.” When I was a kid, I didn’t understand that line. At all. I thought it was a poetic affectation. Now I GET it.

6. “I think people who create and write, it actually does flow-just flows from into their head, into their hand, and they write it down. It’s simple.”
Does your blog writing just flow from your head, or is it a lot of effort?

It depends. Arthur, that American transplant in Kiwiland, once wrote about the blog writing itself. Or maybe I wrote it, and he commented. Regardless, sometimes the thing writes itself, and sometimes, it wants to be ornery. If it gets TOO cranky, though, I’ll abandon the post. And as I know I said before, often, it will take me in a direction that I had not anticipated, which is usually a joy, but occasionally a little scary.

7. “Think globally, act locally.”
Do you do anything to help your local community?

I’m on the board of the Friends of the Albany Public Library. I joined the PTA. My church is one of the FOCUS churches involved with a food pantry, among other activities. I used to be much more involved with FOCUS, doing its online community page on the local newspaper’s website. There have been other activities I’ve done over the years, but I’m quite fond of one-off activities.

8. “When you first get money, you buy all these things so no one thinks you’re mean, and you spread it around. You get a chauffeur and you find yourself thrown around the back of this car and you think, I was happier when I had my own little car! I could drive myself!”
Have you ever had a period where you felt that you were set financially?

No, although I’m probably closer to that now than at any time in my life. I mean, if we were SET, the bathroom and kitchen would have been remodeled years ago. But I have no debt other than mortgage debt, and that wasn’t true in the past. My credit score is very good. I blame my wife, who now makes more than I do.

9. “Lyricists play with words.”
Do you think what you write on your blog is clever or just ordinary and why?

Depends. It’s like jazz; it is where the muse takes me. Sometimes, I’ll giggle aloud over a turn of a phrase I’ve just written and wait for the adulation of my adoring fans, which never comes. And sometimes, I’ll plod out something, only to find out that it was more affecting that I could have possibly imagined.

10. “Where I come from, you don’t really talk about how much you’re earning. Those things are private. My dad never told my mum how much he was earning. I’m certainly not going to tell the world. I’m doing well.”
Who in your circle knows how much money your family makes?

A timely question, actually. There is an entity called See Through NY that has posted the salaries of several New York government entities – state employees, e.g., some, but not all of the people in my office, are considered. So I know the salaries of my bosses. And my wife’s salary, as a teacher, is out there too. Currently, my salary, as a quasi-governmental Research Foundation employee, is NOT there. However, the Hearst newspapers, owners of the Times Union newspaper in Albany, sued under the Freedom of Information law to force the RF to reveal this info, and, I believe, won, though the RF is appealing this. Frankly, I don’t care one way or the other; if it’s revealed, people will just know how LITTLE I make. 😉

November Ramblin’

This is almost as funny in Old Elizabethan as it is in contemporary English.

I’m watching this brief video Jaquandor posted, and it suddenly reminded me of an incident from when I was a teenager. Our next-door neighbors were taking down a tree on their property. I witnessed my father going over and telling the adult male, “Hey, the way you’re chopping that, the tree is going to hit your house.” The guy said to my dad, “Why don’t you mind your own business?” So, naturally, next thing you know, the tree topples into the house, with large branches penetrating the roof. I can’t help but think that if he’d just hired someone who knew what he/she was doing – or actually LISTENED to my father – he could have saved himself a lot of money and grief.

(I blame Mike Sterling for getting the song Zoot Suit Riot stuck in my head.)

You may have heard about the woman on the game show Wheel of Fortune who solved a puzzle with only one letter revealed – see HERE. But I found it even more entertaining the way I initially viewed it,  out of synch.

Actor and Author Steve Martin Will Be at a SOLD OUT Event at the CBS Broadcast Center in New York City, Sunday, Dec. 5 at 11:30 a.m. I’m hoping it will be subsequently broadcast. Meanwhile, a couple of his recent musical performances, of Atheists Don’t Have No Songs and the classic King Tut.

A wonderful putdown by George Takei.

What the 2010 elections meant; a mandate, indeed.

Shared from somebody who ordered something on Amazon.

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This is almost as funny in Old Elizabethan as it is in contemporary English:
Who’s on First works, especially after the first minute of setup. Of course, it maketh no sense unless you’re familiar with the original Abbott and Costello routine; I think the radio version works better than any of the video versions I found on YouTube, such as this one.

“Neil Young” and Bruce Springsteen

Harry Nillson on the Ghost and Mrs. Muir, a 1960s sitcom. A snippet of another 1960s TV show F Troop featuring future members of the band Little Feat.

The essence of Time magazine

Roger Ebert on loneliness. And, since he has an Eleanor Rigby video, how about, for no other discernable reason, its B-side, Yellow Submarine.

Death won’t stop this Democrat
Beautiful and haunting music and video of a piece by Henryk Gorecki, who died this month.

A couple seasons ago, there was this nighttime soap opera called Dirty Sexy Money. It…wasn’t great, but I watched it for the cast, which included Donald Sutherland and Peter Krause. But most of all, I watched it for Jill Clayburgh (pictured), who I loved seeing in Semi-Tough, An Unmarried Woman, and Starting Over in the late 1970s, but not much after that – Ally McBeal’s mom, a couple of episodes of The Practice – before DSM. I was surprisingly sad to note her passing at the age of 66 from cancer.
Ken Levine did a couple of great obits this month, one for George “Sparky” Anderson, baseball’s first manager to lead teams from both the National and American leagues to World Series titles. When Sparky Anderson was 30 he looked 75. And now that he’s passed away at 76 I still think of him as 30.

Levine’s sometimes partner announcing Seattle Mariners games, Dave Niehaus: He became the second most treasured icon in Seattle, right behind Mt. Rainier… Dave had something that so few announcers have today – SHOWMANSHIP. You were not just getting play-by-play, you were being told a tale by a master storyteller. Name me a better way of spending a warm summer night sitting out on the front porch.

An Open Letter to Andrew Carnegie from Ted Sorensen about libraries. Sorensen, JFK adviser, died this fall.

Publisher of Classique magazine Albany Annette DeLavallade died suddenly this month, a loss to the community.

Mainstream Christianity QUESTION

Fundamentalism is just plain simpler.

Arthur, in his response to my post last week about Christian yoga, asked me to “look at how mainstream Christians can get attention (and differentiation) when overshadowed by the loud—and often flaky…fundamentalists.” I’d love to, but I can’t, and I’ll tell you why.

During one of the debates during the 2004 Presidential campaign, the candidates were each asked about their faith stance. George W. Bush gave his standard response about his personal relationship with Jesus Christ. John Kerry gave what I thought was a fine answer about how his Roman Catholic faith compelled him to respond to the social gospel, i.e., to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, et al. But after the debates, more than a few pundits suggested that Kerry had somehow evaded the question. And, according to that PBS series God in America, that I keep recommending, Kerry himself concluded that he had “blown it” on the religion issue.

So the junior senator from Illinois was out making speeches in 2005 and 2006, touting his religious conversation, from someone of not much faith, rather like his mother, to someone who had found Jesus. Then when he decided to run for President, you would think that this would have put him in good stead with that crowd. But the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy muddied the waters, and his absence from regular church attendance since he was elected President helped the “Muslim” thing stick.

Much of the media, particularly in the early part of this century, helped establish the narrative that the fundamentalists were the “values voters”, which truly infuriated me. I have values; I vote. How did the term get so co-opted?

Part of the problem with the liberal/progressive church is the problem with liberals in general. Some people have suggested that we condemn this one or that, but unless it’s a real outlier (Rev. Terry Jones, the would-be Koran burner), it is generally disinclined to criticize. “That’s not we believe, but you’re entitled to your views.”

And let’s face it: fundamentalism is just plain simpler. The Bible is the inerrant Word of God and every word is factually true vs. the Bible is not a history book, and that God gave us reason, intellect, tradition to discern what God is saying to us in these times. Now, what’s easier to explain, a black-and-white philosophy or nuance? And as this article suggests, the fundamentalists work harder because they have, historically, been outsiders.

But hey, maybe you folks out there have a better idea. How DOES the mainstream church better present its message of tolerance so that it isn’t drowned out by some yahoos who suggest, e.g., that the Haitian earthquake, or Katrina, or 9/11 is God’s punishment?

The Lydster, Part 78: Dilly-Dally

Her great motivator is competition.

Ah, bad daddy, with no current picture; this one’s three years old.

One of my primary functions on the weekday is to get Lydia to school on time. Despite, or possibly because of, living virtually across the street, it is a challenge to get her there without feeling rushed. Sometimes, it’s her need to go to the loo one last time. But mostly, it’s that she gets distracted, by a book, or something she wants to draw, or by dancing to the music that is quite evident in her head.

Conversely, when it’s something else that SHE wants to go to, and we’re taking longer than the daughter expects, she complains. Lately, she’s taken to say, “Don’t dilly-dally!” This is not a phrase in the front part of my vocabulary, and my wife uses it only rarely, so I don’t know WHERE she got this phrase.

One of the things she does to procrastinate is to play this annoying game of “Throw the clothes past daddy,” which involves her taking the clothes she has picked to wear that day and tossing them out of her room without me catching them; lately, she’s been wrapping them around her stuffed animals for better ballast.

Her great motivator is competition. If it’s time for pajamas, I’ll say, “I’m going to beat you upstairs,” and invariably she’ll run up the stairs. Or if she’s lollygagging to the car when we need to go somewhere, I’ll race her to get the seat belt fastened first. About 96% of the time, she legitimately wins these contests, and the other 4% of the time, I think she’s just letting me win. One sure sign of her overtiredness is when she declines the competition.

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