Summer Song: Summertimes Blues

I’m not positive, but I believe the first version of Summertime Blues I heard was by The Who from their Live at Leeds album; the single hit the pop charts on July 11, 1970, got to #27, and remained on th charts for nine weeks. THe song had been part of their live show for three years before that.

It was only then that I heard the original by Eddie Cochran, who co-wrote it; the song charted 8/4/1958, stayed for 16 weeks, and got to #8. I really like it, especially this rendition where Eddie giggles a couple times.

Another wonderful version is by Blue Cheer. From the Wikipedia: “The American psychedelic blues-rock band …recorded their version…in 1967…The single peaked at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100…While not as widely played or recognized as The Who version, it certainly is more distorted with a far more intense guitar sound. This version was ranked #73 on the list of ‘The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time’ of Rolling Stone. This version omits the responses and instead has each band member do a quick solo.”

A less-than-great iteration appears on the Beach Boys’ first album, Surfin’ Safari, released October 1962. “Lead vocal on the track was jointly sung by lead guitarist Carl Wilson, not yet 16, and rhythm guitarist Dave Marks, just turned 14. Never released on a single in the US, it gained enough popularity in The Philippines early in 1966 to post no. 7 on that country’s hit parade as listed by Billboard in its weekly ‘Hits of the World’ charts.” This was new to me.

I don’t listen to enough country, evidently, because I was also unfamiliar
with the Alan Jackson rendition, which went to #1 on the country charts in 1994.

Movie Review: Beginners

The Jack Russell terrier got the best lines.

If you like your movie to start at the beginning and end at the end, you’ll hate Beginners.

Let me back up. Around the 4th of July, when the Wife and Daughter went to visit my parents-in-law, I asked the Wife what films she wanted to see together, and she picked Midnight in Paris and Beginners. Then a couple of weeks later, she said, “Guess what film I saw at the movies today? ‘Beginners’.”

OK. So I ended going alone on a hot Sunday afternoon to the Spectrum Theatre, using an old movie pass I discovered in a drawer not that long ago.
Beginners is the story of Oliver (Ewan McGregor), who is still mourning the death of his father Hal (Christopher Plummer). It was only after Oliver’s mother dies that he gets close to Hal, who, at the age of 75, finally came out of the closet and enjoyed his final years. Oliver meets the mysterious Anna (Mélanie Laurent) and wonders if he can devote himself to loving her with the same wild abandon that his father showed at the end. Goran Visnjic also plays a significant role.

A fair portion of the movie involved young Oliver, in flashback (Keegan Boos) dealing with his quirky mother Georgia (the wonderful Mary Page Keller).

I really cared about these people. That’s probably a function of writer/director Mike Mills, who was mining his own experiences. It’s billed as a comedy/drama, and it did have a few good laughs; the Jack Russell terrier got the best lines. It certainly wasn’t raucously funny, and it is a bit oddly uneventful in parts. And for reasons known only to me, I kept thinking that McGregor looked a lot like Jason Bateman in some shots. Beginners is an uneven film. but it has enough insights to mildly recommend.

July Rambling

If you’re ever in a Finnish disco, you’ll know just what to do. This is funnier to me than what’s on the video, for reasons I shan’t get into.

There was a front-page story in The (Albany, NY) Times Union this past Saturday, in anticipation of the same-sex marriage laws kicking in on Sunday. My pastors were highlighted:
Church views vary on same-sex vows; Locally, some pastors support weddings, but still wait for official word
By BRYAN FITZGERALD

The Revs. Glenn and Miriam Lawrence Leupold have been married for 24 years. As co-pastors of First Presbyterian Church in Albany, they have advocated for the right of gay men and lesbians to marry.

“When you think about the civil rights movement, so much of it was because of the churches,” she said. “The church was at the middle of the fight for civil rights. In fact, the church preceded the government.”

Sunday, when New York’s Marriage Equality Act takes effect, will be a day of celebration and chagrin for the Leupolds. The Presbyterian Church USA is still debating whether to lift their prohibition on ministers marrying gay couples.

“State law is ahead of our church law,” Glenn Leupold said. “And that’s unfortunate.”

The Leupolds said several gay couples in the congregation would like to be married at the church. The Leupolds advise gay couples to either have a civil ceremony or make arrangements to be married at another church.

[Like many people who are quoted in the newspaper, Miriam believes she was misquoted on this nuanced point. She and Glenn can/will do commitment services, but they cannot do marriages. So one could get married at City Hall and then have a commitment service at church.]

“They want their spiritual life, which is very rich and very real, to have a central role in how and where their relationship is affirmed,” said Glenn Leupold.

This month a majority of the denomination’s 173 presbyteries approved an amendment to their church’s Book of Order, clearing the way for men and women in same-sex relationships to be ordained. Ministers can legally preside over gay marriage ceremony, but not without repercussions from the church, which could strip a pastor of ordination.

“The denomination as a whole isn’t quite there,” Miriam Lawrence Leupold said. “But we’re closer than we were 10 years ago.”

There was an interesting article from a gay Presbyterian pastor serving in North Carolina, and Arthur wrote about it.

Lisa is one of those people who actually understand the reasons for the Declaration of Independence; so many others obviously do not.

Comics legend Stephen R. Bissette talks about his new book, ‘Teen Angels and New Mutants’ to Entertainment Weekly

Ken Jennings, JEOPARDY! winner (left) and Brian Ibbott, Coverville host (right), together.

Mr. Parrot discovered this rather sinister site that can not only generate a random name for you but a brand new identity complete with email address, mother’s maiden name, credit card number and blood group. I could see a legit use for it; when you go to a website you may go to just once that insists on all of your personal info.

Mimi writes: Only I Could Total A Car and Not Break A Nail, followed by I’ve Had My Twelve Minutes of Fame.

THE OFFICE recut as a traditional sitcom

For anyone who hates a****s that text in theaters. Yes, the word is used, and the linked audio is NSFW.

Tiskotansi! If you’re ever in a Finnish disco, you’ll know just what to do. This is funnier to me than what’s on the video, for reasons I shan’t get into.

GOOGLE ALERT Section

Roger Green Drum Solo (video)

Roger Green’s page on My Powerblock

Roger Green’s Personal Training Website’s in Great Shape!

During the June 23 Wayne County Foundation dinner, new board members Roger Green, Greg Janzow, Darla Randall, Jim Tanner and John Zetzl were recognized.

Regret the Error

The lowered standards are a function of cost-cutting, doing it fast, and a different ethos of publishing than what existed in the past.

One of my favorite websites is Regret the Error, which “reports on media corrections, retractions, apologies, clarifications and trends regarding accuracy and honesty in the press. It was launched in October 2004 by Craig Silverman, a freelance journalist, and author based in Montreal.”

Initially, or at least when I first came across the site, it merely linked to the foibles of the press; hey, as the logo notes, “Mistakes happen.” For instance, recently, the New York Times accidentally traded Alex Rodriguez from the Yankees to the Phillies.

But in recent months, the site has taken a more meta approach. For instance, What Typos Mean to Book Publishing bemoans the loss of “full-time copy editors and proofreaders to filter out an author’s mistakes”, shortcuts taken by publishers, and carelessness of authors.

The piece How to Correct Social Media Errors notes that “There’s no good way to notify those who read erroneous information and moved on, believing it to be true,” because most of those who tweeted or Facebooked the error-laden message may not have seen the follow-up.

Last month had a great link, Have newsrooms relaxed standards, sanctions for fabrication and plagiarism?

It seems that the three examples I cited have some factors in common. The lowered standards are a function of cost-cutting, doing it fast, and a different ethos of publishing than what existed in the past.

From the latter story, Poynter’s Kelly McBride says, “Some editors these days seem more willing to overlook minor plagiarism because it almost always involves writers trying to work fast, either because they have additional duties or because they are trying to publish to ride a wave of interest.”

Can these factors – on steroids – have contributed to the News of the World hacking scandal? Were the editors aware of the sources of the stories their reporters were brought to them or did they totally abdicate their responsibilities? Add hubris and a corrupting amount of power, over politicians and police alike, and you have a massive scandal.

More than one pundit has pointed to an ethics clause in the FCC licensing process requiring a licensee to be of “good character”. Could the Murdoch TV empire in the United States crumble?

Given the fact that a former FCC Commissioner could support the massive Comcast/NBC buyout back in January and become a Comcast lobbyist months later, makes me wonder. The former commissioner did seek ethics advice from FCC attorneys.

In ways big and small, I feel that our media outlets have often let us down, not necessarily in a Murdockian manner, but in a more pedestrian fashion. And I’m at a loss to figure out how to stop it.

Sherwood, Betty and Rob

Amish Paradise, a parody of Coolio’s Gangsta Paradise, which in turn was a remake of Stevie Wonder’s Pastime Paradise.

The great thing about Sherwood Schwartz, who died earlier this month, is not just that he created two popular TV shows. He also wrote or co-wrote their iconic themes.

I never, not once, did I see The Brady Bunch, during its initial run. But I knew exactly what it was about, just by watching the theme. It was the story about two widowed people, each with three kids, each the same gender as the parent, who, along with the housekeeper, became a blended family.

The theme to Gilligan’s Island, a show I admit to watching in my callow youth, also let us know the entire plot, though it changed somewhat from the first season to subsequent ones.

The show was name-checked several times by Weird Al Yankovic and others. From Al’s Couch Potato, “…And there’s “Gilligan” and “SpongeBob”, plus there’s “MacGyver”…” Stop Draggin’ My Car Around, a takeoff of the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers song, also namechecks the show.

But Isle Thing, a parody of Tone Loc’s Wild Thing, is all about “watchin’ that Gilligan’s Isle thing”. And Amish Paradise, a parody of Coolio’s Gangsta Paradise, which in turn was a remake of Stevie Wonder’s Pastime Paradise, appropriates a whole section of the closing theme:
No phone, no lights, no motor cars,
not a single luxury.
Like Robinson Crusoe,
it’s primitive as can be.

In live shows and on radio shows, Weird Al has been known to do other Gilligan takeoffs.

Others have taken different music and attached it to the theme, none more notably than Little Roger and the Goosebumps merging the lyrics to the music of Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin to create Stairway to Gilligan’s Island.
***

I always thought that Betty Ford, the former dancer Betty Bloomer, was cool. She dealt with her private difficulties, from her breast cancer surgery to her pain medication addiction, in a very public way, helping countless people, women, and men. Not to mention her forthright comments about equal rights, sexuality, and abortion, not always in lockstep with her husband, even when he was President.

The long-time lead singer for The Grass Roots named Rob Grill died this month. Reportedly he was listening to a recording of Let’s Live for Today when he passed away.

Ken Levine on Amy Winehouse.