Remembering Mr. Showbiz

Random thought tonight:

Internet Archive’s cached Mr. Showbiz is here.

Then I remembered this photo. Somehow, back when the Mr. Showbiz site was still alive — so, pre-2002 — pal and mentor Jody ended up with a bottle of Mr. Showbiz bubbly. When she moved out of her condo in 2006, she emptied her cabinets, and I ended up with this bottle. I failed to drink it, and next thing I knew it was 2010. Ten-year-old white-label dotcom-boom bubbly seemed a little too chance-y to drink. But I did take a picture.


Again — RIP Mr. Showbiz.

So much for that comeback

“This is where the Patrick comeback begins,” I wrote in 2013, with so much hope. In the Social Security baby-name index in 2012, Patrick had moved from 144 (or 143, depending on your source) to 142 among boys. The upward move was my name’s first rise since 1994. I truly believed we Patricks were on our way back.

Checking the data tonight, because why not, I find the gain was sadly short-lived. In 2013’s Social Security data, Patrick fell to 154, Patrick’s worst showing since 1920 (at position 159). In 2014, my name didn’t do much better, finishing at 153. Patrick’s all-time worst showing was 1919, at position 166. We’re not far away.

The ten boy names that finished ahead of Patrick in 2014 were: Victor, Ryker (named after the island?), Jayce (sure), Preston (come on), Bryan, Kaleb, Miguel, Axel (that one kills me every year), Steven, and (this is why they hate us) Ashton.

Cooper, thankfully, has plateaued as a first name. (The blog is long on the record as being pro-Cooper-last-name, anti-Cooper-first-name.) After hitting spot 75 in 2010, subsequent years saw Cooper fall to spots 82, 83, 84, and (in 2014) 86.

Keep the Zimmerman-Yankees walk-offs coming

The 2006 headline reads, “Kid Zimmerman, Nats burn Yankees with walk-off blast.” An end-note on the story reads, “The sellout crowd was the highest single-game attendance for a baseball game in the history of RFK Stadium (a 1962 doubleheader drew more spectators).”

The Post story about that win against the Yankees — then a league above us, in a sense — is absolutely heart-warming. The homer happened on Father’s Day with Zimmerman’s dad in the crowd. And Zimmerman had never before hit a walk-off homer — or any kind of walk-off — at any level of baseball. Video of that home run is here:

I was there at RFK for the game, with my father, and the rest of family. It was a baseball moment I’ll never forget. So, it was exciting Tuesday night to be at Nats Park when Zimmerman hit the 10th walk-off of his career, against the Yankees in the bottom of the 10th inning. Perfect weather, and followed Harper and Ramos homers. What a team.

The Post:

Chocolate sauce dripped down Ryan Zimmerman’s face late Tuesday night, smeared over a subdued grin. His home run off the right field foul pole a few moments before gave the Nationals an 8-6 win over the Yankees, a rally from a four-run deficit to a fourth straight victory. For the first time in his career, stoic, steady Zimmerman was drenched in Gatorade and water and topped with chocolate. For the first time all season, the Nationals had a share of first place in the National League East.

RIP the greatest Elvis-novelty-movie-song writer ever

Sid Tepper’s Los Angeles Times obituary today:

Tepper and Bennett never had a big hit with an Elvis song — many of them were novelty numbers. For “Girls! Girls! Girls!” (1962), they wrote “Song of the Shrimp” with lyrics from the point of view of a shrimp.

Goodbye mama shrimp, papa shake my hand
Here come the shrimper for to take me to Louisian’

The songs were in sharp contrast to the gritty numbers that made Elvis an electrifying star. But Tepper made no apologies.

“I believe that Elvis’ movies and their songs made a mighty contribution to his career,” he told Sharp. “They brought him to the attention of millions of people who otherwise would never have known the greatness of the King.”

A few favorites from Tepper’s bunch as I learn about him this morning…

The shrimp song (and, somehow, a Frank Black cover of it):

A Tepper song I’ve mentioned before here, Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce:

One I just discovered today, a duet with Ann Margaret, which is weird and delightful, The Lady Loves Me (and more about how the song came about):

And the first novelty Elvis movie song I ever heard (somehow among the tracks on my first Elvis tape), Cane and a High-Starched Collar:

Getting a sound right

I work with a lot of folks who are very good at getting sounds right. They work hard at capturing a sound, at turning the sound into data in the optimal ways, at transforming that sound from the data to something your ears can accept in the manner that seems the most direct and real. The folks I work with are very good at this effort because they work very hard at it. When their very hard work is successful, they are not only very good at their jobs but also very happy.

So, the following two Marah videos make my night.

Marah has remastered their Kids in Philly masterpiece — one of my desert-island albums — for vinyl, the album’s first-ever LP pressing. In the song Catfisherman, a listener hears the sound of a spinning fishing reel. It’s a beautiful sound, one you only notice after a few listens, but upon noticing, you memorize.

Here, Marah’s brothers Bielanko listen to what I assume is the remastered track, and Serge talks a little about getting the sound right. Just a little. The videos are mostly listening and being happy. The sound explains the rest.

Christian Wiman is a good interview, a very good one

My mom passed along the Commonweal interview with the former Poetry editor. I need to share a few parts I loved. (There were many.) You may not read a better meditation on lit-faith ties all year.


The great enemy for all of us is the “I” we interpose between ourselves and experience, the self we mistake for our soul. Nothing but difficulty destroys that “I.”


Can one really just decide to be more joyful, though? One aspect of joy is the suspension of will—the obliteration of will, really—though probably there is an element of discipline in being prepared for joy, just as there is in being prepared for poetry. “Iridescent readiness,” W. S. Di Piero calls it.

3. From a quoted poem by poet Anna Kamienska…

Make the day rise brightly
as if there were no more pain

And let my poem stand clear as a windowpane
bumped by a bumblebee’s head


We all live in an agony of unbelief, and we all survive it by solidarity with others, including those minds we meet only through their works. I suppose no artist has the duty to make his or her faith available to an audience, but just think how heartening it is when one does.


Poets are still guardians of the truths of faith, but poetry has less and less to do with the institutions that presume to name that faith. This makes some religious leaders think they do not need poetry, when in fact they need it now more than ever, because within poetry is the same anarchic energy and disabling insight that causes people to seek religion at all. It is the aboriginal energy of existence itself that is missing from most religious services these days. Art has this energy in abundance.

Digital in 2015…

As I’ve said before, mise-en-place. NPR talks to chefs.

Some cooks call it their religion. It helps them coordinate vast amounts of labor and material, and transforms the lives of its practitioners through focus and self-discipline.

“I know people that have it tattooed on them,” says Melissa Gray, a senior at theCulinary Institute of America. “It really is a way of life … it’s a way of concentrating your mind to only focus on the aspects that you need to be working on at that moment, to kind of rid yourself of distractions.”

And it’s a habit that some culinary students carry with them even when they’re not in the kitchen. “You mise-en-place your life. You set up your books for class, you set up your chef whites, your shoes are shined, you know everything that you need every step of the day,” says Alexandra Tibbats….