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I am not quite ready to start another long series about music just yet, but probably will begin next week.  Due to popular request, Jethro Tull will be the focus when we do get started on that.  I promised something lighter than last week, so here are a few random thoughts about my likes and dislikes in popular culture, past and present.

First of all, today is Friday the 13th.  I am not superstitious, but many folks are.  Not as many as in the past, but still many are.  Interestingly, friggatriskaidekaphobia is of quite recent origin, not being much noticed until late in the 19th century.  Reasons to be afraid of this combination of date and day are quite nonscientific.

Friday has been considered an unlucky day for a long time.  The reasons for this are unclear, but Chaucer mentioned it in the 14th century.  Twelve has always been considered a "good" number (we still use dozens, have twelve hours for each half of the day, and many other examples) and 13 is thus imperfect, and a prime number as well.  One popular idea is that because of Judas, 13 (including Christ) at a table is bad luck.  A similar idea also appears in Norse mythology.  Actually, the numbers 2 and 8 have a more scientific basis for being "good", since they describe the number of electrons required to acquire the noble gas configuration in the elements.  In any event, I consider any Friday the 13th just another day.

Yesterday, The Rolling Stones celebrated their 50th birthday of playing under that name (actually, they were billed as The Rollin' Stones that evening at the Marquee Club in London, but there is no use to pick at nits here).  Congratulations to them for having such longevity.  Many condolences to the families of Brian Jones, Ian Stewart, and Tony Chapman.  Whilst not my favorite musical group, they did have their moments.  Here is a very short sampler.

Here is "Sympathy for the Devil".  I strongly suspect this is mimed, but it shows them at their peak, at least as images.

I also like this one very much:

Finally, one that The Who also covered:

All in all, I like the early Stones very much but am far from an expert.  I saw them live in March 2006 at the Altell Arena in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

Now for a part of popular culture that I dislike very much, the Fox "News" Channel.  I realize that I am preaching to the choir here, but these folks just make things up from whole cloth.  Most of their on air personalities are obnoxious as well.  I can kind of sort of take Shep Smith, but the rest are just awful.  In particular I dislike Megyn Kelly.  She just exudes a hateful demeanor.

Not only the programming on this channel is misleading.  Many of their adverts are also deceptive, especially the seemingly endless ones about how you just have to have gold because the dollar is worthless.  Are people too senseless to realize that the folks selling the gold are way happy to exchange it for dollars?

On a positive side, I really like the TeeVee show NCIS.  The character development is outstanding, the writing crisp, and the actors likable (except for the Leon Vance character who you are not supposed to like).  They also do inside jokes and I find this very attractive.  One time Catlain Todd asked Gibbs who Dr. Mallard (played by David McCallum) looked like when he was young, and Gibbs said, "He looked like Illya Kuryakin."  I about rolled with laughter!  Another time both Tim Russ (from Star Trek:  Voyager) and Conner Trinneer (from Star Trek:  Enterprise) were guest starring and the writers worked in a reference to Ziva using the Vulcan death grip.

I detest the 21st Century automobile insurance adverts on TeeVee.  The premises for them are ridiculous and the actor who is in all of them is creepy.

I like the internet.  Although there are a lot of things out there that are useless or worse, on the whole it is a remarkable thing.  Doing business online, being able to obtain a wealth of information almost instantly, email, and being to participate in communities like this are all big factors that are positive.

I am more hesitant to say that I am a big Facebook fan.  I use it a little, primarily for keeping up with old friends out of state.  I also announce my blogs there, but I do not use it for any but very casual conversation.  Serious matters are better addressed over the telephone or by email.

Speaking of the telephone, I absolutely love my wireless telephone and service plan.  I did not want a long term contract, so I bought my own telephone and signed up for a $45/month plan with no commitment.  My friend next door has the same plan, but had trouble with getting signal so I was a bit hesitant but went ahead.  I had 15 days to return the telephone if I were not satisfied, so the only at risk money I had was the $45 for the unlimited voice, text, and data.  Everything worked fine, I have never not had signal, and I am saving lots of money compared to the major land line carrier that I previously had.  I do not have a smart phone, but was more interested in voice and text than applications.

I dislike the marketing that targets kids.  My friend has a three year old, and she has to have everything with Dora the Explorer on it, and most of the stuff is cheaply made and, frankly, junk.  But because of marketing she just has to have it.  I refuse to play that game, and when she has a birthday or some such occasion I give her a Little Golden Book.  These classics have been around for many decades, do not make noise or have flashing lights, and are still charming.  Who does not remember The Color Kittens or The Pokey Little Puppy?

I like satellite TeeVee.  Mostly I watch news programs or NCIS, but there are some excellent science, nature, and technology pieces that air, and I also am a sucker for Dr. Who and any iteration of Star Trek (except the last motion picture and Deep Space 9).  Since my neighbor to the south removed a couple of really big trees in his back yard, the only time that I am without service is when there is a lot of electrical activity in the clouds, and that is very rare.

I dislike when vulgarity is used as a substitute for good writing and direction.  Please do not get me wrong, I am no prude.  I just find that shock value is often used to get people to watch or read something when good craftsmanship is always much better.  One of the reasons that The Andy Griffith Show was so popular, even now, was that the writing was well done, the stories interesting, and the acting and direction superb.  Yet the strongest words used in the entire series, to my recollection, was "doggone it".

I like the Monty Python troupe very much.  They pushed the envelope at times, but their use of off color language an imagery did not detract from, but rather added to their work.  They did not use it as a substitute for being clever, they used it as an integral part of their work.  Many of the scenes simply would not have been as funny if they had left out the language or the nudity.

I could go on, but I think that you get the point.  The nice thing about popular culture is that, for the most part, you can take the parts that you like and skip the parts that you do not.  We are fortunate to live in a nation that cherishes free speech rights and we must guard those rights carefully.

Please feel free to add your likes and dislikes about popular culture in the comments.  I always enjoy getting perspective from others.

Warmest regards,

Doc, aka Dr. David W. Smith

Crossposted at

The Stars Hollow Gazette,

Docudharma, and

firefly-dreaming

Originally posted to Translator on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 06:02 PM PDT.

Also republished by DKOMA and Protest Music.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips and recs for (12+ / 0-)

    random thoughts?

    Warmest regards,

    Doc

    I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

    by Translator on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 06:01:44 PM PDT

  •  I saw this guy (6+ / 0-)

    at Robinson Auditorium in 1956.  He did the first public performance of Hound Dog that night.  The record was released about a week or so later.  I went with my (then) fiance and a good time was had by all.  

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 06:09:53 PM PDT

  •  BTW, he was wearing that same outfit. (6+ / 0-)

    The sports jacket is lavender.  That was almost scandalous attire in those days.

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 06:11:16 PM PDT

  •  Looking forward to the Tull series, Doc.... (6+ / 0-)

    will have to listen up a bit this coming week.

    Cool thoughts here as well: I am step father to a little guy with special needs who until recently had to have anything that said Toy Story on it. Toothpaste, footwear, you name it. He has recently graduated to Spider Man and the Toy Story stuff will soon be in the shitter, no doubt...

    Which leads to the profanity point: as you well know I am a big Zappa fan and even though he probably went over the line many times, I really believe there was a POINT to his usage of the Seven Deadly Words (and than some...). I think this is why  I bristle when I hear so many people use profanity just for the f*** of it (joke).

    The words exist for a reason and should be used appropriately, whether in a real life context or for "artistic" purposes. When I stub my toe in the dark late at night, "Oh fudge" just doesn't cut it, if you get my drift!

    I'm not paranoid, I'm just well informed--SherwoodB

    by SherwoodB on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 06:25:09 PM PDT

    •  It is interesting as to (4+ / 0-)

      the why that he started using really raunchy lyrics, but it did not detract from his work.  He could not have created what he did without them.  Can you imagine "Bobby Brown" without, "I can take about an hour on the tower of power as long as I gets my little golden shower."?  I thing not.

      Do you know the backstory to the raunchy lyrics?

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 06:42:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think he always resisted the idea that words (3+ / 0-)

        in and of themselves were evil and set out to prove it.

        I saw an interview on the (then PBS) Dick Cavett Show in the late 70's ( a great meeting of two very sharp and funny minds, by the way) where the same question was asked and FZ made his point thusly: without actually SAYING any of the infamous words, he got everyone in the audience THINKING them! I wish I could quote so you could see how deftly he did this--Cavett got it and complimented him on how he had managed to get the entire audience thinking "dirty" without actually using the deadly words.

        The first time I heard Bobby Brown was at the NY Palladium in 1977 (?), probably one of the first performances and what was so funny was that after every  line the entire audience went into hysterics only to shut up quickly so as not to miss the next line, whatever it may have been.

        Yes, some of his stuff was in bad taste, but it was in EXQUISITE bad taste!  :)

        I'm not paranoid, I'm just well informed--SherwoodB

        by SherwoodB on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 06:56:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Like I said, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          palantir, SherwoodB

          I object when vulgarity is used as a substitute for wit.  He used it as the substance of wit!  The backstory is that when he was a young musician a "friend" had gotten busted for something, probably pot.  The friend made a deal with the police to bust someone else for obscenity.  He asked Zappa (the friend knew that he had access to a recording studio) to make a "party record" for some small sum of money and the police busted Zappa for obscenity.  He vowed that once he made the big time that he would use as much as possible in his work.

          Or at least that is the story that I have read in several different venues that seem to be independently sourced.

          Warmest regards,

          Doc

          I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

          by Translator on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 07:01:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Exactly right, Doc... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Translator

            I almost posted a longer version of the Studio Z story as I think it was pivotal to his thinking, but chose to take a more general route to the same conclusions.

            Thanks!

            I'm not paranoid, I'm just well informed--SherwoodB

            by SherwoodB on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 07:22:50 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  "Pleased to meet you..." (5+ / 0-)

    Great tune, and some serious rooster-strutting
    by Mick there!

    I like when I can buy fresh produce at a roadside market,
    and not give my $ to the big box grocery store.

    Ditto: finding what i need at the Mom-n-Pop shops on Main Street---
    vs. WalMart or the mall.

    Also like:  Loggin onto Facebook and finding out that
    a former classmate has posted a pro-Obama ad,
    [when i would have bet Anything that he was a repub!]

    And the obverse:  I really disliked a racist, anti-Obama post,
    from someone I had previously held in fairly high esteem :)

    Peace--

  •  Nice to catch one of your pop culture posts... (4+ / 0-)

    right at the outset.  Usually I come in way late.  Not as much into classic rock stuff as you and others are here though.  Although I like my fair share of classic acts, I prefer to pay more attention to newer stuff.  Despite what many (not you necessarily) think, there is quality contemporary rock/pop out there.  I have a distinct bias towards British stuff.

    To follow a bit of your pattern in today's post, I stay away from pretty much all cable news - Fox or otherwise.  The kids, not surprisingly, don't care for it and since I can get my news from the web via blogs on sites like WaPo and NYTimes, I don't miss it at all.  Love The Daily Show and Colbert though.  No - I don't get my news there, but I love they way they skewer TV news.

    Never cared much for police procedural TV shows.  I'm much more into sci-fi/horror genre-type stuff and original cable programming.  Fringe is my current favorite show.  Yea - I know it's on Fox, but it's too good to avoid just because of that.  I've been a fan of all the Star Trek iterations.  Especially the most recent movie re-boot.

    I'm comfortable using Facebook.  I thought originally that I'd use it mostly to re-connect with old friends - and that has occurred- but I primarily use it as a pop culture news aggregator.  I've found it's pretty nice for that type of thing.

    •  I am glad that you made it early! (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      madmsf, SherwoodB, nellgwen, markdd

      Thank you for your thoughts.  I general I do not like police shows, but NCIS is a bit different because of the extreme character development and the crisp writing.  My only other favorite police show is the classic Dragnet because Jack Webb was one of very worst producer/director type out there, with the possible exception of Ed Wood.  The program was so very bad that it was funny.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 07:10:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I like your take on Dragnet. (5+ / 0-)

        I would have to agree with you on that.  I remember as a kid, we'd always watch it.  Although I didn't realize it back then, my dad is a big fan of cop shows of all sorts. Even today, I think he watches most of the ones that are out there.  And he'd watch Dragnet every week.  Thinking back, the only two police-themed shows I really cared for was Barney Miller and Hill Street Blues. Of current shows - Dexter's the only police-themed show I like (and that's definitely not your usual cop show.

      •  Oh, Doc: Dragnet! (3+ / 0-)

        I have been toying with posting some of my original music with lyrics as graphics on Youtube as at my age I have no more illusions about "making it" and would just like to get my stuff heard. Never had any illusions, actually.

        One of my favorite songs (a demo) concerns a person (not necessarily autobiographical...ahem) who is dosed on acid and gets snagged by the cops with  a bunch of doses in his pocket.

        I got a tape of the first 1967 episode of Dragnet (Summer of Love, featuring LSD addiction and death) and dubbed it into the bridge to great effect.

        I have gotten more laughs and compliments for that recording (primitive as it is, from 1982) than almost any other. Thank you, Joe Friday/Jack Webb!

        I'm not paranoid, I'm just well informed--SherwoodB

        by SherwoodB on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 07:40:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Jack Webb was notorously cheap (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Translator, SherwoodB

        Same sets used over and over, minimum set dressing.  Legend has it that he made one sports coat last an entire season.

        “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

        by markdd on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 09:32:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Hi Doc! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator

    I  like NCIS too, but I wish Major Mass would get a speaking role :)

    •  You probably do not know this, (3+ / 0-)

      but I am an MS jock.  The Major is a gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer, and he is shown in many episodes to resolve mixtures that in reality would just char in the injector port.  Those kinds of compounds require a liquid chromatograph/mass spectrometer to give the results that Abigail gets.  However, the show is so well written otherwise that I can uses suspension of disbelief to get through that.

      As an additional point, do you remember the episode where the terrorist was using BZ "gas"?  Actually, I optimized the GCMS method for determining real BZ when I was a senior scientist working on a project to destroy the entire stockpile of BZ (which we did) betwixt 1987 and 1990.  I got a lot of laughs about the poor science in that particular episode.  Actually BZ is quite a good analyte for GCMS, and we used a very elegant system of deuterated surrogates and internal standards to verify that our results were good.  We NEVER released any material that still contained that materiel.  Note the difference in spelling of the two similar words in the previous sentence.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 07:22:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sounds just like my nephew (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mama jo, Translator, SherwoodB

    (I hope that word didn't just strike an alarm somewhere!) who is also three and who loves Dora

    He loves Manny the Builder more this month, however.

    My friend has a three year old, and she has to have everything with Dora the Explorer on it, and most of the stuff is cheaply made and, frankly, junk.
    Hope you are having a good Friday, Doc and hello, all!

    "Space Available" is the largest retail chain in the nation.

    by Free Jazz at High Noon on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 08:55:37 PM PDT

    •  Just now, coming (3+ / 0-)

      home from next door, was wonderful.  I really think that she loves me, in some kind of way.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 09:15:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Missed your post on this, FJ! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Free Jazz at High Noon

      At the moment this is a subject very close to my heart as you can imagine.

      I expected there would be more discussion of it, but oh well we get back to music (always OK with me!)

      The stuff Doc brought up is well worth a discussion and I hope we do it sometime.

      Great to see you here as always.

      I'm not paranoid, I'm just well informed--SherwoodB

      by SherwoodB on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 11:33:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good to see you, Sherwood. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SherwoodB, Translator

        As always.

        Hey: feel free to Kosmail me anytime (you too, Doc!)

        Re: Zappa... I've been slow to get into the man's musical catalog post- (say) 72. Big Mothers fan (maybe that's the hinge)

        I agree with one school of criticism:

        an outpouring of musical talent, heavily marshaled by the Conductor.  Said conductor who loved/lived to blur low-mid-high culture. And pretty much pulled it off. With a work ethic unmatched.

        But why do his mainstream albums (eg post Zoot Allures) seem so trite?

        I've been on Zappateers for awhile. I usually make a beeline to the interview torrents.

        This was one smart mofo. Even when I disagree with some of the points raised, Zappa is ever eloquent- with a command of the facts at hand. Deadpan humor. Arrogance. Sharp. Kind of dick at times.

        Very Mark Twain.

        "Space Available" is the largest retail chain in the nation.

        by Free Jazz at High Noon on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 01:59:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Hi Doc, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mama jo, Translator, SherwoodB, BusyinCA

            How have you been?
             If you have a minute late afternoon or early evening check out my diary I'm going to post tomorrow. It will be called Sweet Dreams. It's about dreams. Or rather my dreams.
              Did you know Frank Zappa was on the game show Make Me Laugh.
              A game show in which you won by not laughing.
              If you are going to do a series on Jethro Tull I'm counting on you to shed some light on The Passion Play for me. I had the album and it still befuddles me.
              This is the story of the hare who lost his spectacles.
              I love, love love the Rolling Stones.
             

    "The whole thing ended up in a stalemate tied three ways. I think I had a beer." Me

    by nellgwen on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 08:56:17 PM PDT

  •  Intriguing stuff Doc (3+ / 0-)

    May I share one of my favorite Python moments?

    “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

    by markdd on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 09:43:45 PM PDT

    •  That is one of my favorites as well. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      markdd, SherwoodB

      The Girl married Cleese years ago, and it did not work out well.  She was also the witch in the great movie about Arthur, and was the secretary in the Cleese series, Fawlty Towers.  Her name is Connie Booth, and it is almost impossible to imagine that she is now 68 years old!

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 09:56:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Did not know that. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Translator, SherwoodB

        Sadly, age happens.  Hell, Paul McCartney turned 70 this year, the Stones are 50.  What happened to my youth?

        “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

        by markdd on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 10:08:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  She and I held hands, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SherwoodB

          and kissed.

          Live is good!

          Warmest regards,

          Doc

          I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

          by Translator on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 10:10:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I love her. (0+ / 0-)

            Warmest regards,

            Doc

            I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

            by Translator on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 11:21:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

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