Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sunday Rerun: Bananarama Republic

Someday, a long long time from now, when we who tread earth and water get to meet our ancestors in the clouds, I have no doubt that the cooler among those of us who Went Before will smile at us and say how lucky we were to have lived in the age of Bananarama.

Fun Girls Three!
Yes, Bananarama, the English pop group from the 1980s.  Original members were Sara Dallin, Siobhan Fahey and Keren Woodward. Fahey quit the band in 1988, which was a shame, as she was the first person I ever heard of named Siobhan.  It's a pretty name, but I had to ask the Irish woman I worked with at the time about how to say it (you say "ShaVAHN")! For three years, the threesome was rounded out by Siobhan-substitute Jacquie O'Sullivan, but since 1991, it's just been Sara and Keren making the music.

To be regarded as deep and intellectual,
always pose ostentatiously with a
book of poetry.
And what music!  80's synthesiser pop is not normally my choice, but the secret to this group, who made up their name from a portmanteau tribute to The Banana Splits tv show and a Roxy Music song "Pyjamarama," was that, unlike any other band alive during the 1980s, they did not take themselves seriously at all! Can you even imagine how great it would be if Bono from U2 and Duran Duran and Yes and Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Rush and Kansas would have lightened it up for two goshdarn seconds, long enough to record songs like "Robert DeNiro's Waiting" or "I Heard A Rumour"?

Pure pop for now people, as fellow Englishperson Nick Lowe said.

"Shav, Sare and Kere" was the nickname for their nickname, and they just did not worry about pretense or any kind of tense. Notice, they didn't even try to sing three-part harmony, or dance like ballerinas. They clomped through their singing and dancing and seemed to be having the time of their lives.  They even sang backup harmonies for Fun Boy Three's version of "Ain't What You Do" just because they did that sort of thing for fun, boy.

And it's still going on! They toured the US in 2012 and are currently on tour across Europe.  No, they didn't change the world with their music, but they made it a little more fun to be alive, and can Bono say that?

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Saturday Picture Show, September 24, 2016

This moonshot over a body of water is the same moon that has moved  poets to write about it for many, many years.
The tiny house movement is really getting big all across the land. Here's a hint...keep a bottle of hooch handy if you live in will make the house seem much larger.
Mike Heck on "The Middle" said something like this's what you do between the dashes that makes a life.  Why not make today one of the special days?
I love 50s hot rod movies. Check out the wild crazy thrill-filled kids in the cars.  10 feet from a head on crash and they're smiling about it!
We got married in 1973 and received two or three fondue sets as gifts.  I really don't think we used them, but really, who wouldn't want to sit around dunking bread chunks into hot oil?
Google rides along taking pictures for their mapping, and there is a command to remove all faces along the route...even a cow's face.
This little birdie is called a curlew...he/she would be great at plucking the last Cheez Doodle out of a bowl.
Baltimore's own Frank Zappa was a big deal when I was in high school and college...his songs live on! My iPod is full of them!

Friday, September 23, 2016

"Baba Booey! Baba Booey!"

Image result for baba booeyI'll admit to being a fan of Howard Stern's radio show.  I love noises that make me laugh, and for many years I have enjoyed being tuned in to sports broadcasts, election returns on CNN, and ABC's live coverage of O.J. Simpson's slow-speed chase and hearing someone shout out "Baba Booey!"

"Baba Booey" is, as Al Michaels told Peter Jennings, a code for mentioning the Stern show. If you wonder where this silly phrase originated, read up here and smile along with the rest of us.  I have been known to use the name "Bob O'Booey" when asked for my name to secure a restaurant table.  What's more fun than hearing the host say, over a tinny microphone in the lobby of Primo Italiano, "Bob O'Booey, party of four..."?

Now there is a new catchphrase associated with the Stern show, and it got widespread hearing the other night at the end of the Emmy Awards show.  Host Jimmy Kimmel, who is not only a fan of the Stern radio show but also a close friend of Howard, said, "Wait don't leave - there's more!  We did it - we hit 'em with the Hein!" as the crowd sat and wondered what he meant.

Just so you will know, Jon Hein is the name of the guy who does the Stern wrap up show every day on satellite radio, examining in minute detail every minute of the broadcast that just ended.  He also is credited with the expression "Jump the shark" to indicate the exact moment when something becomes passé or irrelevant - a mention of the time on "Happy Days" when the writers of that 70s'-80s sitcom ran out of worthwhile stories, and wrote an episode in which Fonzie jumped his motorcyle over a shark in some water.  Dumb.

Another Stern worker came up with hollering "Hit 'em with the Hein," an apparent reworked reference to Missy Elliott's 1997 song "Hit 'Em Wit Da Hee," a song I have never heard.

I can't say that "HEWTH" will replace "Baba Booey" in popularity, but I do enjoy hearing people holler during silly dull moments.  It's really all that makes golf on television bearable.  Or FOX news almost bearable.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

When in Rome

I always thought the Spanish Steps were what you did to dance the Flamenco, so that shows what I know.

Somewhere in this picture you will see a guy
with a pencil and sketchpad.
He is drawing a crowd.
The Spanish Steps are a stairway over Via Condotti, a swanky street in the fashion district of Rome. They were built in 1725, back in the days when you get really could get marble work done for a pittance.  Today, it would cost you a few million zucchini to get the same steps put in your back yard.

But you would get the same result.  All over the world, where you and I see stairs as a way to get up or get down, some people see a place to park their carcasses and "set" a spell.

So, with these marble steps being polished by so many glutei over the centuries, and so many people spilling their pizzas and vino all over the place, the marble steps, once shiny and bright, got to looking a tad crummy.

The good people at Bulgari (they say they are a luxury jewelry firm, but that means nothing to me, a guy who shops for jewels at Walmarti) spent $1.7 million to restore the Steps. It has taken a year, but finally the Spanish Steps look just like they did in 1725, when Betty White was there to cut the ribbon on Opening Day.

The problem is that Paolo Bulgari, who, in an amazing coincidence is both the chairman of the jewelry firm AND the nephew of its founder, wants to protect his investment.  

"Restorers have done a great and difficult job. The steps were coated with anything from coffee, wine, chewing gum," he told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

"But now I am worried. If we don't set strict rules, the steps will go back to being used as a camping site for barbarians," the billionaire reportedly said, adding that a gate or a Plexiglas barrier "doesn't seem like an impossible task."


There it is.

I don't know how they do things in Italy, having never traveled any further east that the boardwalks at several Atlantic Ocean resorts, but I can't see an American businessperson spending private bucks for public good and then calling the public "galoots," "heathens" or "brutes."  It's bad for public relations.  People don't like being called names or being accused of wrongdoing as part of a whole group lumped together in vain. I hope I'm not being too subtle here.

Bulgari clearly did not live in Baltimore in the heyday of Royal Parker (born Royal Pollokoff) who passed away earlier this year but could host newscasts, kiddie cartoon shows and bowling shows with equal skill and zest.

And commercials!  Millions of them.  The most memorable of them, for clear slipcovers, showed kids bouncing up and down on some cheesy living room sofa and chair, while we heard Royal holler, "Hey, kids, get off that furniture, what are you trying to do, ruin it?"

This very sentence was known for years in our town as the only way to greet Mr Parker when we saw him at the ballpark or the mall.  He was always a good guy about it, and if he were still with us on this mortal coil, he would likely tell Bulgari that encasing the priceless stairs in some hi-grade see-thru vinyl could keep the marble shiny while keeping food, wine and tracked-in shoedirt off!

The whole world would be a better place if everyone had grown up in Baltimore.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Products on Parade

Do you remember when there was a prediction that someday, there would only be three companies that owned every business in the world?  

Meet one of them.

Unilever owns everything from Axe manspray to Hellmann's mayonnaise to Knorr dry soups to Ben & Jerry's ice cream to Klondike ice cream bars to Mazola oil to Noxzema skin goo to Popsicles to Shedd's Spread.  That's a whole big steaming pile of businesses, and this warmly-named conglomerate operates them all.

And now they are interested in buying Honest Co., a household-products company co-founded by actress Jessica Alba.

Watch how this works:  according to the story I saw, "Honest Co. is also working with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley on an initial public offering."

This might be the one and only time you will see the word "honest" in the same sentence as "Goldman Sachs" and "Morgan Stanley."  Ordinarily, you see their names in headlines like "Goldman Sachs Reaches $5 Billion Settlement In Mortgage Securities Penalty" or "Morgan Stanley Banker Is Said to Pass Along Illegal Tip."

But that's none of my beeswax.

Star and business leader
Unilever just bought Dollar Shave Club for a billion dollars, and it seems that the natural baby products, home cleaning stuff and beauty items that the former star of Dark Angel on television and Fantastic Four on film has been Honestly peddling would make a good fit for their portfolio.

Great idea, and I tip my hat to Jessica for turning her idea into tangible products and a huge profit in the end.

And if anyone from Unilever happens to read this (laughter), I would like to point out that I have an idea for grass that grows 2 1/2" on your lawn and stops growing forever, trees that have leaves that come with stamps on them so that when they fall to the ground, the post office has to mail them to a central leaf dump in Indianapolis, and bacon-flavored eggs.

I'm gonna be rich!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Law and Order SUV

One of the many joys of not working is not having to be out in traffic with the throngs of people going to work. Not that I don't like people; I happen to love almost all of them, but traffic is not fun.  When I did work I always was lucky enough to avoid the 9-5 shift, and I preferred working earlier, going home earlier, and missing the frantic zoom-zoom of cars and trucks.

And THAT was just in our driveway, I wanna tell ya......

But here's the thing.  There are still kids riding school buses, and they happen to be on the road to Sunnyvale Elementary, Mark Twain Middle, and Southwestern Regional Tech High at about the same time that commuters are racing to get to work on time for the first time all week.  And the school bus stops approximately every ten feet along the roads, because heaven forfend that little Abner or Hortense should walk to the corner!

So...when the bus stops, so should all drivers! If you need a little brushing up on the rules as concern kids and buses and you in your mighty SUV, here is a link to information from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration.  

Failure to heed these rules could cost at the least a fine of $570 and three points on your driver's license; at the most, it could cost you and the family of a dead or maimed child a lifetime of pain and regret.

So it's really not that important to get to work, if the price is that high, right?

Monday, September 19, 2016

If a farmer eats at a restaurant and takes the leftovers home, is that farm-to-table-to-farm?

When no one was looking, restaurant owners came up with a new term for their cuisine..they said, "Let's call it Farm To Table, and then people will figure that the string beans they are eating were hanging on a pole in some farmer's back yard three hours ago.

Listen, I know there is a diffy-diff between fresh chow and something that has Libby's Libby's Libby's on the label label label. Why, young barefoot Mark would run to the back 40 and grab corn off the stalk, shucking it on the way back to the house, once the water was boiling in the big stockpot, so when I gobbled corn on the cob back then, the corn was as fresh as could be.  That was the great thing about the life in the real Farmville...our house bordered a big farm and we were able to get corn and berries and melons and pay the farmer at his stand down by the church on Sundays.  

You will never get that much flavor out of a can or frozen bag o'corn.

And beyond certain curiosities such as New York City eateries being able to offer "local" honey because there is a certain goodness from the pollen gathered in Central Park and all those high-rise flower pots on the Lower East Side, all that gourmet grindage you enjoy at Chez Quis comes from somewhere. Assuming that the lumps in your crabcake did not come from the chef's crabtraps on Middle River, does it matter if they are lumps from Carolina or Florida or elsewhere?

It didn't take long for a reporter from the Tampa Bay Times to investigate the claims of farm-to-tableness and find many of them bogus.

My thing is, having heard so many stories about diners substituting cutout circles of shark for scallops (and this is really awful when they use a pool shark!) or lobster bisque that is totally devoid of lobster, just serve me what I order and don't try faking me out by claiming it's local or never frozen or never canned.  

And, yes, please, I will need a go-box.