In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Bill Kauffman Blogs
  2. The Stones in the '70s
  3. Commenting
  4. Still Tweaking
  5. John Osborne
  6. Kong and Class
  7. YouTube for the Day
  8. Time Passes
  9. Elsewhere
  10. Alberto Cavalcanti

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Bill Kauffman Blogs
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Dave Lull alerts us to the fact that the excellent category-busting radical crank Bill Kauffman is blogging for a limited time here. A fun and brainy group of fellow provocateurs (including John Zmirak, Jesse Walker, and Caleb Stegall) is pitching in. Walker's posting about American creativity is a real standout. Kauffman is promoting a new book that sounds very enticing. Here's a first-rate, short Kauffman introduction to anarchy that begins, "Perhaps no political term is quite so misunderstood as 'anarchy'..." As someone whose brain, such as it is, owes a lot to such anarchists as Peter Kropotkin, Edward Abbey, Paul Goodman, and Colin Ward, I'll second that opinion. Here's a nice profile of Kauffman by Scott DeSmit. Great passage: Kauffman, author of Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette: A Mostly Affectionate Account of a Small Town's Fight to Survive, is once again giving us his views of what he calls 'two Americas." "One is baseball and Johnny Appleseed, poetry and Mark Twain," he said during an interview at his Chapel Street home in Elba. "Then there's the America of Dick Cheney, Hillary Clinton, the Iraq War and the Patriot Act. I am a patriot of the first America. The other America is the enemy of the first America. I hope this book adds up to a defense of that first America, the little America." Dave Lull tells me that he finds "category-busting radical crank" reasonably appealing as a political stance and label. I do too. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at May 20, 2006 | perma-link | (0) comments

The Stones in the '70s
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- This footage of the Rolling Stones performing "Dead Flowers" has me reaching for the eyeliner! Well, not really. Even at my rock-lovin', adolescent silliest I never dared to use makeup. I did have some guy friends who loved the glam-rock era all too well, though. Ah, the 1970s ... Mick does everything short of eating the camera in this video for the 1978 song "Faraway Eyes": That mouth of Mick's is really ... a phenomenon, isn' t it? It looks like so very much to manage. When it moves, the event must register on the Richter scale. No one can say that Mick Jagger hasn't figured out how to turn something most of us would consider a deficit into a positive ... Watching these clips, I'm mostly struck by the sneering, the sarcasm, and the brattiness. I still like the songs a lot, and I'm enjoying feeling transported back to the handful of years when I was a fan of the Rolling Stones. But what on earth was all that '60s-era sneering about? Part of it is sexy bad-boy preening, of course. But maybe Shouting Thomas was onto something too in some words he wrote about the Jefferson Airplane: "self-importance ... megalomania ... spoiled brat lunacy ... an embarassment of the great Spoiled Child rebellion of the 60s ..." That's nothing if not eloquent, and god knows I can see evidence of what ST was writing about in these clips. Trivia-time: Wikipedia indicates that Mick Taylor, the angelic-looking (and maybe over-virtuosic?) boy-wonder guitar soloist on "Dead Flowers," quit the band in 1974 at least partly out of horror at their decadence, then spent the late '70s and the 1980s as an addict himself. "I'll be in my basement room/ With a needle and a spoon" indeed. Long ago, I wrote a short posting in praise of Jimmy Miller, the brilliant producer who pulled some of the Stones' best records -- or at least most of my faves -- out of them: the stretch that includes "Sticky Fingers," "Let It Bleed," and "Exile on Main Street." I wondered out loud about what had become of Jimmy Miller. Visitor John Penny sent me an informative email and gave me permission to use it: Hi Michael, I came upon your blog about Jimmy Miller as I was searching the web about him. I met Jimmy in the early nineties through some cohorts of mine. Poor Jimmy was strung out on heroin and had liver disease. He was in the Boston area trying to find bands to produce. Jimmy was a drummer. That's him playing the cowbell on the Stone's Honky Tonk Women. The Jimmy I knew was a real gentlemen, very charismatic. He had great stories about rock stars from Mick to Jim Morrison. He told me he lost everything through junk and bad music deals. A few years later the liver disease took its toll. Jimmy died of the disease in Arizona. He was only in... posted by Michael at May 20, 2006 | perma-link | (8) comments

Comments can once again be left on this blog's postings, so please join in. One small matter: for the moment they will be going through an approval proces. I'll be winnowing out the spam and junk and hitting the "publish" button for all the good stuff. So there may well be some delay between when you hit the "post" button and when the comment actually shows up. I'll do my best to check in regularly, but delays might occasionally last for a couple of hours, at least until we figure out a better way to manage the problem. Thanks again, and looking forward to many enlightening and fun gabfests.... posted by Michael at May 20, 2006 | perma-link | (0) comments

Still Tweaking
Apologies to anyone who's having trouble leaving a comment. We're still fussing with under-the-hood things. Should be back to normal soon, though. Thanks again for your patience.... posted by Michael at May 20, 2006 | perma-link | (3) comments

Friday, May 19, 2006

John Osborne
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Once upon a time I was a big fan of the British "angry young man" playwright John Osborne. "Look Back in Anger" ... "Inadmissable Evidence" ... What were the others? Anyway, I probably identified a bit: youthful torment and grandiose bitterness, all that. But Osborne really did have an amazing talent for juicy invective and bloody abuse. I see that the 50th anniversary of "Look Back in Anger" is upon us. I also see that John Heilpern has written a biography of Osborne that has just come out. I'm sorry to learn that Osborne was as bitter and abusive in real-life as his characters could be on the stage. What an awful man. All in the name of protecting his own sensitivity and creativity, no doubt. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at May 19, 2006 | perma-link | (3) comments

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Kong and Class
Friedrich von Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards— A few months ago I posted on how watching a movie at an upscale movie theater led me to think about the issue of class in art. The notions I was noodling around with were reinforced recently when my four-year-old son demanded that we purchase a DVD of the Peter Jackson version of “King Kong.” Having watched the new version, I wanted my son to see the Merian Cooper’s and Ernest Schoedsack’s 1933 version. I remembered the black and white original as a much more powerful, poetic—and certainly more concise—film. I also wanted to see the old “Kong” again myself and see if I thought it held up to my childhood memories of watching it on T.V. So I rented “King Kong” via Netflix and popped it into the DVD. To my pleasant surprise, the original version of King Kong was just as punchy and pungent as I remembered it. What I hadn’t realized as a child, however, was that its punch comes from its wonderfully pulpy mix of class, race and sex. My disappointment with the Peter Jackson version stems from the way he remakes the material for a, well, middle-class audience. Kong in the original is a larger-than-life merger of “natural man” with “proletarian.” Kong in the Cooper version is so obviously negroid that there’s no question that the filmmakers intended that Kong should to be read in terms of the movie as an unusually powerful black man, not as an animal. (The film’s insistence on Kong’s blackness is underlined by the fact that the human inhabitants of Kong’s island home, ostensibly located in the south Pacific, are not Polynesian but African.) Kong is shown in the first part of the film as the heavyweight champion, the toughest man in the house. He dominates brutish lower nature by out-wrestling, out-boxing and, of course, out-thinking the hulking dinosaurs and other mindless reptiles that surround him. Although he’s not anatomically correct, Kong’s sex is by implication on a par with his fists. He is so rampant that the human inhabitants of Skull Island can only keep him at a safe distance by shoving a maiden out beyond their enormous perimeter fence every so often to slake his uber-masculine drives. (The white adventurers arrive to find that the locals have tied up a fetching local girl and are making preparations for just such a sacrifice; they decide on reflection that exotic Fay Wray would do even better.) Kong’s drives are of course so “undomesticated” and “natural” that none of these poor girls will ever survive the big ape’s sexual attentions. After Kong is subdued by modern technology, he becomes symbolic of the enslaved proletariat, his very body being commoditized when the film’s capitalist entrepreneur, Carl Denham, puts him on display in a New York theater. Of course, Kong goes on strike—smashing his way out of the theater and naively climbing to the highest peak of Manhattan to assert his unconquerable virility…at least until his revolution... posted by Friedrich at May 18, 2006 | perma-link | (20) comments

YouTube for the Day
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- As yet, there isn't much hippie-redneck folk/country footage to watch on YouTube -- nothing like the amount of early rock there is, for instance. Here's a wonderfully-unadorned performance of "Pancho and Lefty" by Townes Van Zandt. But where are the clips of Guy Clark, Joe Ely, Lyle Lovett, James McMurtry, Delbert McClinton, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore? For the moment, I'm contenting myself with this heartbreakingly harsh/sweet performance of "Our Town" by Iris Dement, backed by Emmylou Harris. When I first heard Iris Dement, I was put off by her plainspoken girlishness, and by the cornpone-and-gingham astringency in her voice. But my resistance lasted, oh, about a minute; somewhere during that first song I found myself so touched by it that I started to sniffle. Now I'm a full-fledged Iris addict. Those dimples ... That slight overbite ... Those frowns of concentration ... The way her feelings pass over her face like cloud-shadows over a landscape ... Wouldn't Robert Altman's camera just eat this girl up? If Iris Dement's songwriting and singing get to you, you might enjoy this CD, and maybe this one too. Best, Michael UPDATE: YouTube embedded clips are balky for the moment, darn it. But you can still watch Iris' performance by going here. And a bonus link: a lovely "I'll Be Your San Antone Rose" by Emmylou Harris. Good lord, that pure-angel voice of Emmylou's ... Where can such a perfect vocal instrument have come from? Son of a gun, here's Lyle Lovett performing "I've Been to Memphis" and "That's Right, You're Not From Texas." UPDATE 2: Oh, the hell with it. I've deleted the misbehaving YouTube player in this posting, and have supplied the usual-style URL links to the video clips I write about ...... posted by Michael at May 18, 2006 | perma-link | (8) comments

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Time Passes
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- How time passes, vol. 639: Toni Basil, who sang the bouncy-cute pop song "Hey, Mickey" such a short while back, is now 63 years old. Interesting to learn that Toni grew up in Vegas. She appeared as a go-go dancer on "Shindig"; she choreographed David Byrne's famous spazz dance in the video of "Same as It Ever Was" (CORRECTION: Yahmdallah points out that "Same as it ever was" is a line in that Talking Heads song. The song's title is "Once in a Lifetime"); she worked early on with break dancers; she did the choreography for "Peggy Sue Got Married" and "My Best Friend's Wedding"; and she has helped put on shows for David Bowie, Tina Turner, and Bette Midler. She was also an actor in "Easy Rider." Info gleaned here, here, and here. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at May 17, 2006 | perma-link | (5) comments

Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- * Francis Coppola has directed another movie -- his first since 1997's "The Rainmaker." * So Bush is talking tough on immigration. Is he serious? Steve Sailer does the arithmatic and concludes that Bush's plan will deploy one American soldier every 4.5 miles along the border. That'll hold 'em back! The Heritage Foundation looks at the Senate's plan for immigration and calculates that it's likely to result in 103 million new legal immigrants over the next 20 years. Your commute is likely to become a very long one. Steve also supplies a link-a-thon to other commentaries about the immigration follies. * A geek's idea of love? (NSFW) * Meet the guy who makes a fortune arguing that white men are guilty until proven innocent. * Here's another landmark that need never have been passed. * I have the honor of having provoked one of GNXP's most profound and urgent postings-and-commentsfests. As ever, I conclude that further studies are needed. * Ronald Neame, the director of the original "Poseidon Adventure," is 95 and going strong. He recently attended the new "Poseidon Adventure" and ... Well, his comment about contempo films generally bears cutting-and-pasting: "Everything at the moment has become too frenetic, partly because the stories are not good enough ... So they try to make up for their lack of good characterisation and storytelling by quick cutting and frenetic use of the camera. And I think that's a pity." * I wrote here about the brilliance of the British visual-book publisher Peter Kindersley. Fun to notice that the company he founded, DK Publishing, is a repeat winner of kids' science-book prizes. I see that, since Kindersley sold the company, he has become an organic farmer. * Sergei Eisenstein, erotic draftsman. * Here's a downloadable recording of a 1963 panel discussion between John Simon, Dwight MacDonald, and Pauline Kael. * Agnostic visits NYC and has some perceptive things to say about its weird eco (or is that ego?) system. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at May 17, 2006 | perma-link | (18) comments

Alberto Cavalcanti
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- The movie I've enjoyed most in recent months is one that I wasn't even aware of until I ordered it up from Netflix: the 1947 British gangster-noir, "They Made Me a Fugitive." (Buyable, Netflixable.) A downbeat, atmospheric chase thriller, the film stars one of my favorite leading men, Trevor Howard, in a beautifully hard-bitten performance. But what's most striking about the film is its brio. The film has scads of silent-movie-like visual excitement as well as an evocative and experimental audio track. It's startling to watch postwar British subject matter presented with this kind of surreal and poetic yet fast-paced extravagance. What a great combo: All those British actors, as proficient as ever but more physical and lowdown than they usually are; a screenplay that's eloquent and witty yet not in love with its own fluency; a juicy and striking mise-en-scene (film-geek talk for, roughly, the "production" part of a movie -- settings, lighting, costumes, etc.) that doesn't bog the action down; a driving and tense narrative ... Escapes, quick character sketches, wet alleyways, foggy waterfronts ... Memorably snarling offhand dialogue ... A whip-cracking pace ... Violence that leaves a real sting ... The film is tough and dark, but it's a turn-on too. It's that filmbuff ideal, in other words: a wide-awake dream. I liked "They Made Me a Fugitive" as much as I liked the similar but much-better-known Britnoir, "Night and the City." The film was written by Noel Langley from a crime novel by Jackson Budd -- I was amused to learn that eight years before, Langley had adapted "The Wizard of Oz." And it was directed by one of my favorite "minor" film artists, the Brazilian-born Alberto Cavalcanti. I'm a fan partly because of his talent. Cavalcanti's rhythms were distinctive: flamboyant yet dark, angular yet sexy -- I think of his touch as "bongo Expressionism." He was playful, yet not in a skating-over-the-surface way; he dug into his material looking for its sensitive spots. And Cavalcanti had an unmatched talent for hyper-stylized caricature: for pushing actors and performances to the point where they're as extreme and as funny-sinister as figures in Hogarth. The villain in "They Made Me a Fugitive" is one example among many. A smalltime criminal boss played with cocky assurance by Griffith Jones, he's both absurd and terrifying. But Cavalcanti is a fave of mine as well for the way he keeps turning up, Zelig-like, throughout film history. He was born in Rio in 1897, and studied to be an architect in Geneva. He made it to Paris while still a young man, and hung out with avant-gardists, working as a writer and art director on silent movies. One of his early films was a "symphony of the city"-style documentary that is said to have inspired Dziga Vertov's legendary "The Man With a Movie Camera." Cavalcanti moved to England at the invitation of the documentary guru John Grierson; he worked on numerous films in a variety of... posted by Michael at May 17, 2006 | perma-link | (0) comments

Murder in NYC
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- A remarkable article by Jo Craven McGinty in the NYTimes takes a look at murders, victims, and murderers in New York City. McGinty asks: Who are the people behind the stats? The story is behind a wall at the Times -- so why not read it here instead? (By the way, have you ever noticed how many writers at the Times use three names? I was once told by someone who works there that it's a way ambitious Times people have of trying to one-up each other. To a Times person, I guess, using three names doesn't look laughably pretentious. It looks important.) Some of the facts that caught my eye: From 2003-2005, 1662 murders were committed in New York City. That's considered a small number, by the way. A third of these murders are unsolved. Of the murders that have been solved, 93% were committed by males. Male killers used a gun 2/3 of the time. Female killers were as likely to use a knife as a gun. Very seldom does anyone over the age of 40 murder anyone else. In more than 3/4 of the cases, murderer and victim were of the same race. More than 90% of the killers had criminal records. More than half of the victims had criminal records. When a woman kills a romantic partner, she's likely to kill a current spouse or lover. When a man kills a romantic partner, he's more likely to do so after or when the relationship ends. Five murderers killed a boss. Ten killed a co-worker. NYC's most dangerous borough: Brooklyn. The most dangerous day of the week in NYC: Saturday. NYC's most dangerous time of day: 1 a.m. What all this boils down to is: If you stick to neighborhoods that aren't crime-ridden and if you keep your nose out of dicey activities, you're very, very unlikely to be murdered. As one official says, "If you are living apart from a life of crime, your risk is negligible." "People will be shocked to see how safe it is to live in New York City," says a criminologist. Stay inside at 1 a.m. on Saturday night, and you're golden. I found it bewildering, if very New York Timesy, that the text of the article didn't break down the murderers and victims by race. After all, on a normal day the Times is nothing if not race-obsessed. The article did include one telling, if very brief, passage though: "Whites and Asians, who seldom murdered..." An accompanying graphic (not visible online) fills in the blanks: 61% of murderers were black; 28% were Hispanic; 7% were white; and 4% were Asian. Population-wise, NYC is 25% black, 28% Hispanic, 35% white, and 11% Asian. Steve Sailer enjoys a laugh about how regularly the murderer on the TV franchise "Law and Order" turns out to be white. Now, back to battling commentspam ... Best, Michael... posted by Michael at May 17, 2006 | perma-link | (6) comments

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Speedy Writing
Donald Pittenger writes Dear Blowhards -- A favorite sport in this ol' blog is pounding on the Ivy League. One reason we can get away with such cruelty is that those in the active blogging corps at 2Blowhards are, well, Ivy Leaguers of one ilk or another. Michael and Friedrich went to an un-named Ivy university as undergraduates. (Clue: it is south of Canada, north of the Mason-Dixon Line and east of Pittsburgh. I hope this is helpful.) As for moi, I went to an anonymous Ivy university I refer to as Dear Old Penn. Except I was a grad student, which is hugely different than being an Ivy undergrad. But I did come in contact with that species; you see, I was a teaching assistant ("Boo!! Hiss!!!"). I had my own little Introductory Sociology Quiz Section and graded my students on the general course questions. Something that never failed to astonish me was the way those students would rip through blue books on exam day. They'd be sitting in the main lecture hall on those chairs with an attached writing board, scribbling like mad with one hand and puffing away on a cigarette held in the other. And the words just flowed onto those blue book pages. More astonishing was how good those extemporaneous essays often seemed when it came time to grade them. They were far better than anything I could have done in the same circumstances. Truth is, what got me into universities at all was my ability to avoid total disaster on those machine-scored multiple-choice exams. Blue book exams were hell for me. My penmanship (especially using a ballpoint, as I usually did in those days) stinks. Worse, I write slowly. This is partly because of my poor penmanship; if I wrote too fast, my writing would be totally unreadable. But beyond the mechanics of writing was the fact that I simply was not a fast writer. I'm still slow. Contrast this with Michael Blowhard. You might have noticed that he posts a lot more than I do. (As this is written, I checked the last 60 entries in the blog log -- 41 have Michael's name, meaning he churns out twice as much content as I do.) When he's not doing linkage posts, Michael's articles tend to be longer than mine. And his e-mails to me can be long. How does he do it?? Me, I tend to spend time thinking about each sentence or two before I type the words. All the while I'm doing this, part of my brain is editing -- did I use a key word in the previous sentence and repeat it in the current one?; am I starting too many sentences with a passive clause?; do the sentences have good flow and rhythm? Then I spend a lot of time re-reading what I've written. Unless I'm rushed, I probably re-read each post four or five times before publishing. And the final article can be crummy in spite of all... posted by Donald at May 16, 2006 | perma-link | (12) comments

Monday, May 15, 2006

Mistaken Identity
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Given the amount of material that the media generate every day, I'm surprised that this kind of thing doesn't happen a lot more often than it does. Here's the BBC's own account of the snafu. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at May 15, 2006 | perma-link | (3) comments

End of Evolution: Passenger Cars
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- A while ago I wrote (here) about how airliners evolved to a (nearly) common shape by the early 1930s followed in the mid 1950s by some adjustments related to the innovation of the gas turbine engine. Because airplanes need to fly, constraints on their shape are stringent. Automobiles are less constrained than passenger airliners. Nevertheless, constraints exist and cars experienced an evolution to a "final" shape by the late 1940s. Since then, automobile styles have exhibited variations -- sometime considerable ones (1950s tail fins and wrap-around windshields) -- but keep returning to the form attained shortly before 1950. In my post about airliners I hypothesized that a major change in appearance was only likely if there was a major technological change. For airliners, the advent of jet engines meant a speed increase to near trans-sonic levels, resulting in swept-back wings. By eliminating propellers, there was greater freedom in engine-placement. As for cars, technological changes have been considerable, but more in the realm of refinement rather than revolution. Regarding appearance, car makers can make greater use of curved glass than they could around 1950. Improvements in sheet steel stamping and forming allow for more sculpted exteriors. But these factors are evolutionary, not revolutionary. From about 1890 when the very first automobiles appeared to around 1910 or 1915, there was considerable variation in mechanical layout and appearance as manufacturers tried alternatives before settling on a widely-accepted layout. This layout had the following features: (1) four wheels, the front two steerable, (2) a water-cooled engine in the front of the car along with its radiator, (3) power transmitted to the two driving wheels in the rear via a driveshaft and a gearing system, (4) the driver positioned on a seat near the middle of the wheelbase and steering by means of a wheel, and (5) most additional passengers and cargo placed behind the driver. During the 1920s a major focus continued to be mechanical reliability and refinement. The main change in appearance was the closed body that could now be built economically thanks to various technical improvements. By the late 20s, mass-produced bodies began be designed by professional stylists, resulting in cleaner, better-integrated appearance (for example in the transition between the hood and the passenger compartment). The Great Depression of the 1930s spurred manufacturers to innovate so that their cars would be as attractive as possible to the Depression-reduced pool of potential buyers. The Thirties was the period of greatest change in the general appearance of the automobile. Chrysler produced its 1934 Airflow model that featured somewhat aerodynamic shaping and the engine moved forward so that it was partly over the front axle-line rather than behind the axle -- the common practice till then. By moving the motor forward, the passenger compartment also was moved forward with the result that the rear seat of a sedan was in front of the rear axle rather than above it. This meant that the body could be lowered and that... posted by Donald at May 15, 2006 | perma-link | (8) comments

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Early Rock at YouTube
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Thanks to Lexington Green and others, who recently alerted me to the fact that there are rock-music riches to be unearthed on YouTube. Some quick searching turned up enough clips to form the basis for a good Early Rock 101 course. * Tina Turner and Marvin Gaye: * Buddy Holly: * Eddie Cochran: * Smokey Robinson and the Miracles: * Gene Vincent: * Bo Diddley: * Roy Orbison: * Chuck Berry: I'll let the Elvis freaks do their own searching. Not that there's any real reason to pick a favorite, but ... Well, that Bo Diddley clip does put an especially big smile on my face. (Although I always loved the way Chuck Berry wore a cardigan ...) Plus: Imagine being the man reponsible for the "Bo Diddley beat"! Imagine coming up with a name like "Bo Diddley"!!! Sigh: Giants have roamed this earth. Wikipedia tells me that Bo Diddley will turn 80 in just a couple of years. This informative place seems to be the main Bo Diddley site on the web. Which clip gets your vote? Best, Michael UPDATE: Hmm, the clips in this posting were showing up fine last night. I wonder what has changed since. Hmmm. I notice that YouTube itself seems to be having trouble, so maybe the problem originates at YouTube, not here. Hmm. Anyway, please check back again later. The clips really are terrific. UPDATE 2: Workin' fine again.... posted by Michael at May 14, 2006 | perma-link | (11) comments

Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards: * I keep hoping I'm wrong, but I have the impression that the "Valley Girl" accent is spreading across the country from its LA home. I tend to blame television, perhaps those "reality" shows, for this unfortunate trend. On the other hand, I can't recall having heard a guy speaking Valley. Not that are no such guys -- there must be at least a few. Can anyone explain why it is that gals tend to talk Valley and guys don't? * Speaking of accents and puzzlements, consider the way people in Philadelphia and Baltimore speak (or did back in the Sixties when I was stationed at Fort Meade and later attended Dear Old Penn). The salient sound is the diphthong. The phrase "let's go" sounds like "let's geh-ah-oh" for example. My memory is pretty fuzzy regarding this detail, but I seem to recall that I thought the Philadelphia accent was the Baltimore accent with slight New York City overtones. The puzzling thing to me is why Philadelphia and Baltimore accents are much more similar than New York and Philadelphia accents. True, Baltimore is trivially nearer to Philly than New York. Baltimore was originally settled by Roman Catholics and Philly by Quakers. Did both groups come from the same part(s) of England? Perhaps it's because New York started as a Dutch colony, which might make it different. But I have to strain to find links between a New York accent and Dutch. Add to that the fact that the Hudson Valley was settled by the Dutch, and the only local accents I heard there seemed to have touches of regional England usages ("draw" instead of "drawer"). * Might as well end this with yet another accent observation. Many movies made in the Thirties that were set in New York or thereabouts featured actors with "Mid-Atlantic" accents -- American with English overtones such as broad A's and dropped R's. Perhaps this was actually a commonly-used theatrical accent because the introduction of sound to movies created a demand for actors who didn't sound awful. Or maybe not. If you've listened to old newsreel clips of Franklin Roosevelt ("We have nothing to fee-ah but fee-ah itself!"), you'll likely think he sounded a lot like those movie actors. So perhaps that accent was once common in the wealthier parts of the mid-Hudson Valley and the North Shore of Long Island and isn't really theatrical or "Mid-Atlantic" after all. But I don't come from that neck of the woods (or Long Island Sound) and might well be totally wrong. Can someone set me straight? Later, Donald... posted by Donald at May 14, 2006 | perma-link | (19) comments