Haven’t done one of these for a while.
Yo A Dabber (Abbey Road)
Haven’t done one of these for a while.
Yo A Dabber (Abbey Road)
It was my second try in two days to make chocolate chip cherry bread. I stood in Mom’s kitchen, kneading the dough in a bowl. Normally I’d do it on the counter, but that was covered with everything needed to prep Mom’s morphine, and cross contamination seemed like a bad idea. We didn’t need bread, and we certainly didn’t need chocolate cherry bread, but I needed something to do.
This is Mom in the navy. If you only knew Mom during her actual time as a parent, this picture probably looks odd. I mean, she’s smoking a cigarette! Even stranger: she’s wearing a dress with buttons, and probably sleeves! WHERE IS HER NORMAL UNIFORM?
But she’s also being silly, and Mom was good at silly. A song I learned from Mom:
Rattle up a tin can, Johnny shot a bear! Shot him in the poop hole- didn't touch a hair.
And of course, this classic:
Oh, the liquor was spilled on the bar room floor and the bar was closed for the night When out of the wall came a little gray mouse who sat in the pale moonlight. He lapped up the liquor on the bar room floor and back on his haunches he sat. And all through the night you could hear him roar: "BRING ON THAT DOGGONE CAT!"
Mom was in her bed in the living room, her caregiver Lita holding her hand. Since the morning, Mom was investing all of her energy into breathing. No movement, no talking. Just breathing. It was my turn to stay with her. I had a pattern. Mix some ingredients, then check on Mom. Do a little kneading, then check on Mom. Prep the fillings, then check on Mom.
That’s me on Mom’s lap.
I stopped kneading, washed my hands, and sat by Mom. All day her breathing pattern had been changing as her body tried to find the right combination of muscles to keep the air moving. Right after I sat down, her body moved to try and draw a breath, but this time it didn’t work. She didn’t struggle, gasp, or twitch; she just tried to draw a breath and couldn’t get the air to move, so she stopped. Exactly what I’d expect from Mom. Simple, practical: “That’s not working? Okay, show’s over.”
I was not quite that practical- the first thing I said was “did she just DIE?” exactly the way an offended person might say “did she just call me a WHORE?” – but a couple of hours later, with the help of my siblings, the Gattuso in me had reawakened. We were all sad, but we weren’t afraid to laugh.
Mom was not afraid to get things done, even if it meant bending the rules a bit.
She worked for twenty years at Humphreys Avenue Elementary School, 37 miles from our house in East LA. A few years in she was moved to a new classroom. The room was in desperate need of a paint job, but thanks to LAUSD’s constant budget challenges wasn’t scheduled to be painted for years. So one weekend our family went down to the school and painted it ourselves.
Teachers aren’t allowed to do that! There are union rules, and safety concerns, and specific required paint vendors, and budget issues, and equity issues, and so much more. It was easily grounds to be fired.
Mom didn’t care. The room needed paint. We knew how to paint. We painted. And when mom retired, her room was in such good shape that the staff argued over who would get to move into it.
Anyone who knew Mom would tell you that she was direct, honest, and most of all generous and kind. If you had a goal, she would support it. If you had a need, she would help you satisfy it. And she always had a hug ready for you.
Immediately after she passed, I wasn’t sure what to do. Lita was taking care of her body, Steve was taking care of the paperwork, and I had called the people who I needed to call. Then I remembered the kitchen. Mom wouldn’t have wanted that dough to go to waste. Came out pretty good.
On one of the many top secret websites I visit, someone started a thread with this question:
What’s a bizarre sequel to a movie or new season of a previously-canceled show you would like to see where the plot, characters and even tone take a sudden, drastic left turn?
Someone suggested Breaking Badly, a Breaking Bad prequel sitcom with Walter White as a science teacher. But I thought it should go farther. I spent far too long (hours, if you count the time fixing Photoshop crashing) making this:
…and I wrote:
BONUS: I have seen roughly one and one half episodes of the show, so my pitch is based almost exclusively on memes.
PITCH: it’s the 80s. Walter is a student at the school where he teaches in Breaking Bad. He’s a go getter with two jobs: car washer and pizza delivery.
Every adult from the original show is in school with him, even if the ages don’t line up.
His mentor and favorite teacher is a nutty science teacher who tells him “With a little work you could be as famous as Heisenberg!”
His parents are happily married, but dad is always traveling for work. At the end of each episode he shows up in his tricked-out RV (“I can take my business anywhere”) to deliver the moral of the story.
You might think “Why did it take so long to make that graphic? Even if Photoshop died, couldn’t you have made something similar in Paint or something?”
Well, here’s the thing: that’s not just a random jumble of early nineties shapes and colors. It’s a pretty darn accurate re-creation of the title card from the sitcom “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose.”
There’s an excellent chance you’ve never seen Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. It only ran for three seasons from 1990-1993, and it isn’t on any streaming services in the US. Corin Nemec played Parker, who was like Ferris Bueller if Ferris lived just a bit farther outside the bounds of reality.
Why did I try so hard to match the original logo? Who would know or care? Why didn’t I pick a show people would actually remember?
Those are all good questions.
Also: a Ferris Bueller TV series started at roughly the same time, and it was not popular. Also, it was not good. But it did have Jennifer Aniston.
The Ferris Bueller TV show was so unbeloved that Parker Lewis would make fun of it on his show. Now they’re both long gone, Corin Nemec (who played Parker) does Lifetime movies, and Charlie Schlatter mostly does voiceover work.
I enjoy torturing innocent people.
One of my former students follows me on Twitter. They have a tendency to find music acts they love and absorb every little fact about them. I get that; I used to do the same thing with comic books (I still know more than I should about kryptonite).
Past obsessions include Simon & Garfunkel, The Monkees and Elton John. Their current primary focus seems to be They Might Be Giants (a favorite of mine as well).
The torture: posting fake TMBG albums on Twitter. Source albums and torture tools below.
I usually stuck these into real environments to make them more confusing.
Yesterday I wrote a long boring post no one will read about music I listened to in 2020. Everyone loves spreadsheets about music! Today I realized I forgot the thing I normally add: the iTunes list of most heard songs.
Here, another spreadsheet for you!
I’ve posted it in some form every year, and every year it grows more inaccurate at showing what I actually listened to during the year. The problem is that it doesn’t just include this year; it’s every play of every song in my library since I started counting. Prince’s “Baby I’m a Star” sits at number four even though I (probably) haven’t listened to it for a year.
And right at the top is “He Will State The Obvious (Captain Obvious Theme Song)” That I originally found on the now-gone songstowearpantsto.com.
At number 13 is everyone’s favorite song, “Track06.” I can’t find it online, but it’s a station ID from Oldies 103.3, a Boston oldies station (Los Angeles, think KRTH) that went off the air 8 years ago. It’s very short, so if it pops up on shuffle it almost always plays through.
According to this list I haven’t listened to The Magnetic Fields’ “The Book of Love” since July of 2019, but that’s a damned lie. I’ve listened to it a bunch because it’s one of the songs Spotify has decided to always play for me.
Number 44 is “hulk”, a quote from the Incredible Hulk TV show.
Number 56 is Echo & The Bunnymen’s “Lips Like Sugar,” folled at number 57 by Echo & The Bunnymen’s “Lips Like Sugar.” Maybe they’re different versions; maybe they’re the same version on different albums. Who knows? If they’re the same one, then they win for most popular Luke song of all time, apparently.
The most recently played song on the list is number 93, Adam & The Ants’ single version of “Cartrouble,” last heard on December 8th. The least recently heard is number 22, the Dead Kennedys cover of “Viva Las Vegas,” which played September 19, 2017.
So, two days of music stat posts. What have we learned?
There’s a web page called How Bad Is Your Spotify? that looks at your Spotify playlists and listening habits and judges you like the record store guys in High Fidelity. You cannot win. If your tastes are too mainstream, you’re mocked for being a mindless drone. Too eclectic/obscure and you’re mocked for trying too hard. It’s amusing. My report started with:
Thank your obsessions with Talking Heads, new wave, and (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life – From “Dirty Dancing” Soundtrack for that.
Mostly reasonable. I’m a 54 year old guy who grew up with KROQ as my background music, so new wave and Talking Heads fit pretty well. But I don’t remember the last time I listened to anything from Dirty Dancing.
Also, this comes up later:
You listen to these tracks too much:
And I do listen to most of those, but Chelsea Hotel #2 only comes up because Spotify has decided to add it to my Daily Drive mix, and apparently counts playing any part of it (even after I skip it) as a play.
This isn’t a complaint about the “How Bad” page; it’s using the only data available to it. But it highlights how inaccurate Spotify is at knowing what I want to hear, or even what I usually play. Most of my music is stuff I play from iTunes (or whatever Apple wants to call iTunes these days). I have tons of music that doesn’t exist on Spotify, and I usually let it play randomly. The problem is that iTunes/Apple Music only keeps two data points about a song: when you last played it, and how many times you’ve ever played it. I wanted to have a list of my most played music of 2020, but it can’t be done without an outside assist. I used last.fm and got this list of songs:
That’s better, but it makes it look like I’m a huge fan of White Hassle when it’s really the iTunes shuffle algorithm failing to effectively randomize stuff mixed with my letting music play in the background without paying attention to it.
The top artists list is slightly more reflective of what I listened to in 2020:
But that one has some issues as well. For one thing, slight name changes count as different artists; if you add Elvis Costello to Elvis Costello & The Attractions, they move to second place.
…and this still doesn’t really reflect my “shuffle ’em all and let the algorithm sort ’em out” listening. I mean look at this list of over 4500(!) songs I listened to exactly once in the last year:
So, what have we learned? My main takeaways:
I’ve actually been posting a lot lately, but not here. I’m riding to raise money to support people with HIV/AIDS, and making videos as I go. Since it was all about biking I decided to revive my dedicated bike blog. Check it out: https://lukehasa.bike – and donate!