Saturday, January 06, 2007
Ragged Thots Retro Record Review
When announcing my guest-blog stint a couple of weeks ago, our esteemed host referenced a certain album that I had never had the (**cough**) ... pleasure ... of hearing. Now, I would never have guessed RAG to be a Dan Fogelberg groupie, though we be long-lost twins of musical taste. For me, however, Fogelberg is one of those names that conjures up OTHER names in pop music that I need not ever hear again, such as Juice Newton, Kiki Dee, Stars on 45, Tone-Loc, Ready for the World, or REO Speedwagon.
So, Brothers and Sisters of the Ragged Thots Church of Pop Trash Culture, the Right Reverend George has allowed me to deliver a brief sermon on forgotten twists of yore. We will discuss one of my all-time favorite denominations: SKA!!
Now, many of us clueless Midwestern teens first became aware of Caribbean-derived pop music from a segment of ABC's newsmagazine 20/20 that aired around 1981 or 1982. Waxing poetic on the "evils" of Thatcherism and its supposed effect on race relations in the U.K., Hugh Downs used a snatch of a music video from a Brit group called The Specials, and their song "Ghost Town." At first sight, "Ghost Town" did nothing for me, as MTV was starting to be inundated with Duran Duran and other Pretty Boys, and I figured these Specials fellas were just more synth-wankers like Taco and Adam Ant. It took a couple of more years to me to catch the neo-Ska/Reggae drift. And catch it I did around 1984, when I was watching MTV (or some godawful imitation show like this) and discovered a new group:
Who were these strange young men with a slamming 60s-like beat, and even more important, nice suits and pork-pie brims?!
This wonderful Los Angeles-based Ska group, coming out of what was then left of the “Two-Tone Movement,” with that one song freed my musical tastes out of the Buckeye Bastille in which they were imprisoned. This video discovery made me seek out whole new genres of music ranging from D.C.'s Go-Go, to the calypso of my parent's generation and the Soca of my own, and on to Nigerian Afro-beat. Thanks to The Untouchables, I realized young men and teen-age boys in the 1980s had clothing options other than red leather zippered or Members-Only jackets, hair that required a DOT/OSHA placard due to flammability, or risking a hernia after donning a pair of tight, fruity-assed, girlie designer jeans.
Every human being should have their own theme song, and the Untouchables "Free Yourself" has been mine for over 20 years. The youthful inspiration for my eventual drift to libertarianism. If you dig the above video, you'll enjoy the CD, Wild Child, a compilation of their limited ouevre from the mid- to late-1980s. In addition to "Free Yourself," there are plenty of rocksteady tunes like the title cut, "I Spy (For the FBI)," "Mandingo," and one of my all-time favorite ska instrumentals, the Skatalitesesque "Lonely Bull."
"Whiplash" is a nice, light '80s-reggaeish tune (think Julian Lennon's "Too Late for Goodbyes," only better and faster) waiting to be picked up as a jingle for some insurance corporation (hint hint). "Lebanon" is a decent anti-war song, and I thought the lyrics were appropriate for our current mess in Iraq when I served in Fallujah ("I'm fighting a war / That I know nothing about / They say it's my duty / But the motives leave me in doubt"). "Laser Show" is a slower, darker take on the same theme. And there's plenty of lighter, inoffensive 80s R&B fare such as "Soul Together," "Piece of Your Love," and "Freak in the Streets."
Of course, EVERY group, even Heavy Metal bands, has to have that Obligatory Tortured Love Ballad, and the Untouchables were no different. "What's Gone Wrong," was the second closest the group came to having a "hit" right after "Free Yourself." It's a nice, slow ska song about a relationship break-up, a little more bouncy than, say, Bob Marley's "I Don't Want to Wait For Your Love," but with the same sort of emotionally bittersweet lyrics.
As with a lot of great, but esoteric bands, you'll only find scatterings of The Untouchables on I-Tunes, and will have to go to Amazon or E-Bay to pick up the disc. Check out some of their better songs at the group's MySpace site.
Friday, January 05, 2007
More Hide The Salami...
If the logs are Secret Service property, they are subject to Freedom of Information Act requests. If they are considered presidential records, they are immune from FOIA.
This is outrageous. There is no reason why there shouldn't be more public scrutiny on who visits the White House and under what circumstances.
Simple as that.
Alma Mater Holiday Love
Ch-ch-changes, Pt. 2.
This week saw a new congressional majority officially take power and the administration unveiling new personnel to
With all this "newness" breaking out, Ragged Thots is not standing by idly.
Over the next few days/weeks, readers will see various few design tweaks here and there (hard work which you will even have the opportunity to, ahem, "support" if you so choose).
In addition -- and proving that no good deed goes unpunished -- RT Commenter Madscribe's recent stint filling in for your humble host will be "rewarded" with a regular slot, chiming a la Ed McGon once or twice a week -- usually discussing some criminally overlooked 70s or 80s punk/New Wave musical artist.
By the way, I am as thrilled as can be to say that MS was so inspired his experience hanging around these parts that he has started his own blog!! Ladies and gentlemen, check out Rude Indigo at your leisure and risk! Yes, Madscribe, you did indeed "pass the audition"! (Ah, the kids grow up so fast...) This means that I have now generated a blog-tree "limb"! Cool.
On a substantial level, there will be more in-depth analytical pieces, as I feel that, for various reasons, that aspect of the site has dropped off a little bit in recent weeks. Yes, this means that I want my views on the war and immigration (yep, THAT bug-a-boo I've been avoiding for so long) and other such contentious issues to be in the broader blogosphere mix to a greater degree than in the past. Anything else you want me to comment on, feel free to chime in...
Look, too for a greater mingling of my other on-line and media projects (of that, expect more information shortly). Yes, yes, even more shameless self-promotion!
Anyway, 2007 should be a good year around these RAGGED parts.
Thanks for being part of the show!
Labels: RT housekeeping
On Track Betting
Fifty-year old Navy vet and construction worker Wesley Autrey managed to save a man going through a seizure -- not once, but twice. The second time, he covered the stricken man's body with his as they lay between subway rail tracks as an oncoming train ended up screeching to a halt above them.
Autrey managed to keep enough presence of mind to tell the milling crowd on the subway platform to shut up enough so his four and six-year old daughters could be told that their dad was alright.
Autrey is now, appropriately, the toast of the town -- lauded by Mayor Bloomberg at City Hall, invited onto David Letterman and Ellen DeGeneres; Donald Trump sent him a check for $10,000; the MTA has given him a year of free Metro cards, etc.
However, the best part of the story is Autrey's spiritual selflessness in addition to his physical heroism: Without any prompting, he has said several times that he's not a hero: He says the men and women over in Iraq, "fighting to give us the opportunity to be able to save someone's life here" (paraphrasing his comments on Letterman Thursday night), are the true heroes.
Anyway, for those looking for good news, you can't hope for much better than this to kick off the new year.
UPDATE: Clip from Autrey's appearance on Letterman is here.
2) On the domestic front: As the Democrats re-take power in Congress, Rich Galen remembers another, very different, ascension twelve years ago.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Ladies and gentlemen, your Clueless Black Caucus. Nice symbolism to kick off Democratic control of Congress, eh?
Labels: congressional black caucus
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
NFL Coaching Status Report
RAVENS: What a difference a season makes! Brian Billick was on the hot seat coming into this year. Not any more.
CHARGERS: You might think Marty Schottenheimer saved his job with a 14-2 season. Unfortunately for Marty, it is a poorly kept secret that General Manager A.J. Smith despises Schottenheimer. My guess is owner Alex Spanos would fire Smith before Schottenheimer at this point.
PATRIOTS: Currently, Bill Belichick has the most job security of any NFL head coach. Three Super Bowl wins with average talent will do that for you.
BEARS: Lovie Smith needs a new contract. The Bears WILL pay through the nose for waiting this long to get it done.
SAINTS: Thanks to an impressive franchise turnaround, Sean Payton is quite secure going into next year.
TITANS: Before this year, Jeff Fisher was on the hot seat. A lot of teams were salivating at the prospect of Fisher being fired after this rebuilding year for the Titans. Fisher turned this team around MUCH quicker than anyone expected, although everyone expected him to do it.
EAGLES: The phrases "Andy Reid" and "hot seat" never seem to meet in one sentence.
COWBOYS: Will Parcells retire? My guess is Parcells comes back, but Terrell Owens will be on another team.
BRONCOS: Mike Shanahan seems to have unlimited job security in Denver, but the good will could run out if the Broncos tank next year.
COLTS: I will repeat my bold prediction which I have made for awhile now: Tony Dungy will be fired when the Colts get bounced from the playoffs this year. ESPECIALLY if they lose this weekend.
BENGALS: Marvin Lewis is safe, but the Bengals missing the playoffs has to be worrisome to management.
CHIEFS: Herman Edwards isn't on the hot seat yet, but I will be surprised if he lasts past next season.
JAGUARS: Jack Del Rio did the housecleaning of his coaching staff which management required in order for him to keep his job.
GIANTS: Unless the Giants make a nice run in the playoffs, Coughlin will be gone. I am betting he is a dead coach walking.
PANTHERS: John Fox is secure, but the seat might get a bit toasty next year.
JETS: Eric Mangini has done a marvelous job in his first season. He has a little wiggle room next season, unless the team takes a nosedive.
FALCONS: Jim Mora was already fired. The rumor mill has the Falcons interested in Oklahoma's Bob Stoopes.
SEAHAWKS: Mike Holmgren is safe.
RAMS: Scott Linehan has some chemistry issues with this team. If he doesn't get them sorted out, next season could be his last.
STEELERS: Bill Cowher is all but gone. Rumor has it the Rooneys have put pressure on Cowher for an immediate decision regarding his future, because other teams (i.e. Arizona and Atlanta) have started sniffing around the Steeler assistant coaches. I predict Cowher retires and comes back in 2008 somewhere else. I also predict offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt gets the head coaching job in Pittsburgh.
REDSKINS: Joe Gibbs will be back for next season, which will also be his last season.
BILLS: Dick Jauron did a good job this year with a nothing team. But the Bills will have to show some improvement next year or Jauron's gone.
DOLPHINS: ProFootballTalk.com is reporting that Nick Saban has already accepted the head coaching position at Alabama. It is still too early to tell who might be a head coaching prospect here, because another rumor has owner Wayne Huizenga selling the team.
UPDATE: It is official: According to FoxSports.com, Saban is going to Alabama.
BROWNS: Romeo Crennell is on a VERY hot seat now, which is unfair in my opinion. The Browns had little talent and a brutal schedule.
BUCCANEERS: There were a lot of rumors swirling around Jon Gruden, but it seems like he is staying put. But if the Bucs have another year like this one, Gruden will be gone.
VIKINGS: Brad Childress started out well, but cooled off. Next season will determine his future with the Vikings.
49ERS: Mike Nolan exceeded expectations with a 7-9 season.
PACKERS: Mike McCarthy did ok for a rebuilding year. Safe for another year.
CARDINALS: With Dennis Green gone, the rumor mill has the Cards interested in offensive line coach Russ Grimm of the Steelers.
TEXANS: The Texans were rebuilding, although the team did show some progress under Gary Kubiak.
LIONS: Matt Millen has staked his future on Rod Marinelli. Unfortunately for Marinelli, that goes both ways.
RAIDERS: Art Shell is safe for another year, but only because the head coach hiring process was a painful one for the Raiders last year.
UPDATE 2: The Falcons are meeting with Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.
Chastity Belts & Shots
Hear Thrill of the Chaste author Dawn Eden (http://ThrilloftheChaste.com ) and I Love You, Let's Meet author Virginia Vitzthum (http://www.virginiavitzthum"Men, women, depravity...religion!" What's not to love! I'll certainly be there. For those of you wondering about Dawn, she's also the host of her own blog, which can be read right here. And, being the former music critic that she is, she flacks her book in a YouTube clip -- in the style of a certain Bob Dylan tune:
.com/ilylm) debate the question "Is Chastity a Good Idea for Singles?" in the basement of Lolita Bar (266 Broome St. at Allen St., one block south and three west of the Delancey St. subway stop on Manhattan's Lower East Side -- free admission, cash bar) this Wed., Jan. 3 at 8pm, with moderator Michel Evanchik and host Todd Seavey (a.k.a. "Tom" the atheist from Chapter 18 of Thrill of the Chaste). If you know people who find the topics of love, sex, dating, computers, men, women, depravity, or religion interesting, this would be a good debate to bring them to.
UPDATE: Dawn's hyperlink now added! (Still getting dusting away those holiday cobwebs!)
RAG on NPR
Mother Africa's Left-Right Children
Of course, an ideologue will jump at the opportunity to see the success of his or her vision even if the evidence doesn't exactly support it.
Scarcely a day into the New Year and the right blogosphere was already floating a new theme song:
Why oh why can't the US be more like Ethiopia?Yes, these are the depths to which the debacle in Iraq have driven them: extolling the martial virtues of plucky little Ethiopia. Unlike we in the West, they are not o'ercast with the sickly pallor of thought and handcuffed with the legalisms that have made the West such a haven for dhimmitude, whatever that is.
However, Wolcott has missed the big point here: Arguably, this embrace of Ethiopia's tactics with respect to Somalia may actually signal rare cross-ideological agreement by members of America's Left and Right elite.
Even as the bloody soil Right sees the possibilities of the War on Terror done correctly in the Ethiopia-Somalia onflict, the bleeding-heart Left sees in Africa just the "correct" sort of poor people that are worthy of their largesse.
Angelina and Brad decide that Namibia was the ideal place for them to give birth to their golden spawn.
Then Lady Madonna decides that, well, yes, an African baby would be just the perfect complement to her own Anglo-American offspring.
Now, comes this philosophical insight from the Queen of Daytime Pacification herself as she prepares to open a $40 million school for 152 girls outside of Johannesburg:
Oprah also knows that some people will complain that charity should begin at home, even though she has provided millions of dollars to educate poor children in the United States, especially via her Oprah Winfrey Scholars Program. But she sees the two situations as entirely different. "Say what you will about the American educational system—it does work," she says. "If you are a child in the United States, you can get an education." And she doesn't think that American students—who, unlike Africans, go to school free of charge—appreciate what they have. "I became so frustrated with visiting inner-city schools that I just stopped going. The sense that you need to learn just isn't there," she says. "If you ask the kids what they want or need, they will say an iPod or some sneakers. In South Africa, they don't ask for money or toys. They ask for uniforms so they can go to school."
Heaven forfend that American kids ask for sneakers or iPods -- instead of uniforms!
Clearly, Africans have their priorities straight: The Ethiopians know how to fight Islamists in a war -- and those nice South African girls know that it's better to ask for uniforms rather than money or toys! Let us thus sprinkle down proper rewards on these Africans for showing Americans the correct way to go!
The judgment rendered by those on the Right and the Left seems the same: Americans have forgotten their way, obsessed with their own materialistic lifestyles to either focus on defeating the Islamist threat -- or concentrating on our schoolwork. Enough is enough! Throw your hands up in the air and give up on Americans and let's train our focus where the primitives understand what's truly important.
Now, I don't want to appear dismissive about what Oprah is doing for these kids in Africa (though, notably, the South African government has separated itself from the school -- believing that, well, $40 million might go a little bit further than for 150 kids). And, yes, she does do much charitable stuff for American young people. However, her arrogance concerning the students at inner-city American schools is rather, um, rich.
Are America's kids too materialistic for their own good? Yes, definitely.
But where do they get that attitude from? Surely, it couldn't be from a woman who decides to give all of her (primarily middle-class female) audience members a brand new car?
Surely, it wouldn't be from a woman who throws a fit because she wasn't allowed into a fancy Parisian boutique after closing time -- and then uses her show to protest about how she was dissed by Hermes?
Nah, no way that kids' sense of materialism might be influenced that way, right?
Ah, wonderful Africa -- the perfect little toybox for wealthy and ambitious Americans to play in!
(Okay, so I bit off of a very old Simpsons joke for the headline. It's post-holiday, and my brain is fried)
While the battle for crafting a modern intellectual property (I.P.) jurisprudence to deal with evolving technology rages on, and IT leaders like Google and YouTube push the limits of such I.P. boundaries, let us enjoy for the moment the availability of rare gems such as this 1966 music video of The Temptations, featuring Arte Johnson of Laugh-In (SNL and Mad-TV wish they were half as funny as a single episode of Laugh-In):
One of the problems I have with I-Tunes and practically ALL of the so-called legitimate music downloading services is the paucity of offerings to the discerning customer. Sure, if you’re interested in the latest warbling and butt-shaking of untalented pole dancers on BET, MTV, or VH-1 (or as Ben Folds so aptly phrased it in his song “Rocking The Suburbs,” “some producer with computers / fixes all my sh*tty tracks these days”) there is plenty to be had. However, try to find some lightweight 1980s chestnut like General Public’s second album Hand To Mouth, let alone some esoteric Frank Sinatra work like Watertown, and you’re back to sorting through used record store bins, or hoping that you get lucky on Amazon or E-Bay.
Case in point: I searched YouTube to see if someone had uploaded a video clip of the opening theme for the TV show Mannix. The theme song, written by the great Argentinean jazz composer Lalo Schifrin (who is more famous for the Mission: Impossible theme) was my introduction to jazz and big band arrangements as a pre-schooler in the late 1960s. A wonderful gentlemen who goes by the handle VinylJunkie1960 had uploaded a recording from the out-of-print soundtrack.
Now, I’m sure that some I.P. legal eagle would jump all over YouTube and our friend for uploading the recording. I would claim fair use, as it is evident that VinylJunkie’s intent is to generate interest in forgotten music as a video editorialist, not deprive the copyright owner of subsequent reproductions or sales.
Had the soundtrack to Mannix been available on I-Tunes, however, VinylJunkie’s post made me immediately want to purchase the whole album. Has ANYONE at the record conglomerates read The Long Tail yet, and realized that there is money to made off of the gems stored in their vaults? And do the music moguls recognize the value of people like VinylJunkie in generating potential sales and interest for a nominal cost to the copyright owners? In the early 1990s, Apple enthusiast Guy Kawasaki used to refer to such people like VinylJunkie as “evangelists.” They spread "the gospel" of the favored product, with little to no marketing costs to the manufacturer. It would be nice if the music conglomerates “got religion” and started moving more product besides Jessica Simpson’s inane screeching into the cyber realm.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Let the coaching carousel begin!
Jim Mora was the living embodiment of blown opportunities. Even when he tried something innovative like using Michael Vick in the option offense, he seemed to go away from it around mid-season (about the time the Falcons started looking like crap). Rumor has it that Arthur Blank was going to give the boot to Greg Knapp, the offensive coordinator, but that Mora wouldn't part with Knapp. Add in Mora's inheritance of foot-in-mouth from his father, and Mora was doomed.
Frankly, I never understood why Blank hired Mora. When Mora was defensive coordinator for San Francisco, his defenses were ok, but nothing special.
As for Dennis Green, he was the victim of a bad franchise. No one can save the Cardinals until they get new ownership. Green deserves another shot, although I don't think he can win the Super Bowl. But with the right ownership, I think Green could make most teams winners.
If You Didn't See...
- a great OU touchdown drive & three attempts before a successful two-point conversion;
- an OU interception and go-ahead touchdown;
- a 4th-and-18 hook and lateral play by Boise State to tie the game with seven seconds left;
- a BSU running back option pass for a touchdown in overtime -- and a Statue-of-Liberty two-point conversion to win it!
But, it didn't end with the game. During the after-game media Q&A, with the whole world watching him, Boise State running back Ian Johnson (who scored the winning two points in overtime) dropped to his knee and asked his cheerleader girlfriend (standing next to him on his arm) to marry him (thereby earning the enmity of every guy trying to figure out the ideal way to propose to his girlfriend).
She said "Yes."
In and of itself, as amazing a play as any that Chris Peterson, Johnson's coach, had called all night.
Also, kudos to last year's Final Four Cinderalla team, George Mason University athletic department for the truly classy move of taking out a full-page ad in the Idaho Statesman newspaper wishing BSU luck in taking on the Goliath football program of Oklahoma Sooners.
By the way, if the Green Bay Packers don't figure out a way to draft BSU QB Jared Zabransky to learn in wait behind Brett Favre (who will come back for the '97 NFL season), they're out of their collective minds.
And a Happy New Year to all!
Technorati Tags: BCS, college football, Boise State University
Monday, January 01, 2007
Pick the NFL Playoff Winners
The object of the game is simple: pick the winners throughout the rest of the playoffs. The trick is to do it NOW. Similar to an "NCAA Final Four Tourney" pool, you pick the brackets all the way through to the championship game. You get one point for each Wild Card Weekend winner predicted correctly, two points for each Divisional Playoff winner, three points for each Conference Championship winner, and four points for the Super Bowl winner.
I will keep score and give weekly updates. Just post your picks in the comments.
Each conference's playoffs are seeded the following way (final records shown in parentheses):
#1 seed - San Diego (14-2)
2 - Baltimore (13-3)
3 - Indianapolis (12-4)
4 - New England (12-4)
5 - N.Y. Jets (10-6)
6 - Kansas City (9-7)
#1 seed - Chicago (13-3)
2 - New Orleans (10-6)
3 - Philadelphia (10-6)
4 - Seattle (9-7)
5 - Dallas (9-7)
6 - N.Y. Giants (8-8)
Remember, the top seed always plays the lowest seed every weekend, with the exception of the first weekend (Wild Card Weekend) when the top two seeds in each conference don't play.
I shall demonstrate how to do this with my own picks (in red).
WILD CARD WEEKEND
#6 Kansas City at #3 Indianapolis: This game is perfect for the Chiefs. Their grind-it-out running attack against the Colts porous run defense. I would be surprised if Herm Edwards can screw up this game plan.
#5 N.Y. Jets at #4 New England: I said it before and I will say it again. The Jets are one and done.
#5 Dallas at #4 Seattle: Dallas should bounce back from their big choke against the Lions (a million Raider fans have sent Matt Millen a Christmas card).
#6 N.Y. Giants at #3 Philadelphia: The Eagles complete the "New York, New York" bounce from the playoffs.
#6 Kansas City at #1 San Diego: This is a no-brainer. Don't think for a second that Marty Schottenheimer won't enjoy beating his old team in the playoffs.
#4 New England at #2 Baltimore: If McNair stays healthy, the Ravens go far.
#5 Dallas at #1 Chicago: I give the edge to Chicago on special teams in this game. Other than that, this is a toss-up.
#3 Philadelphia at #2 New Orleans: As much as I would like to see the Saints do well in the playoffs, they look too young to pull it off. Philly has the veteran leadership needed to play well enough to win.
#2 Baltimore at #1 San Diego: This game is the true Super Bowl. Either of these teams is a worthy Super Bowl champion (yes, I said champion). I am gambling McNair stays healthy and leads the Ravens to the promised land, while the Chargers fall prey to the "Marty-ball" curse.
#3 Philadelphia at #1 Chicago: I expect only two playoff games for the Bears before we see the real Rex "Which team am I on?" Grossman. I might be over-rating that by one playoff game.
Philadelphia vs. Baltimore: "The Battle of I-95". I predict the Eagles score the first touchdown, before the Ravens say, "Nevermore." Ravens win 31-7.
Labels: NFL Playoffs
Happy New Year: 2007!|
Sunday, December 31, 2006
Old Lame Song
As is usual for this time of year, the psychics, tabloids, and polling prognosticators will come out of the woodwork to give us their clairvoyant insight into the depths of the human condition. I haven't been able to locate a decent web site that keeps track of such predictions and their rate of failure. I'm sure that in the Internet age, one of the first IT skills that many psychics have learned is how to erase a hard drive, or create DDoS attacks to Google search servers. Not to be left out, I offer my own predictions for 2007:
1. A politician in D.C. will, amazingly, be caught up in a scandal.
2. Gas prices will mysteriously rise during the summer and before holidays, without explanation.
3. A high school senior, somewhere, will lose his virginity on Prom Night.
If my predictions bode true, then I will demand that the Amazing Randi and his debunking foundation cough up the bucks, as I plan to go law school in the future and predict it will be rather expensive.
While we await RAG's return ("ET, phone home!") and the unveiling of his magnum opus, I'll to continue to play lost child with pocket money at the Mall of America. Later on, another retro record and a Happy? review here.