Housekeeping: Once, Twice, Three Times A Million

Thirty-four months to the first million reads, twenty months to the second, under thirteen months to the third. Not bad for a site that doesn’t offer much beyond a few “get off my lawn” rants and, of course, the tireless excellence of our classic curbside chronicler, Tom Klockau. As I did at the two million mark and the one million milestone, I will answer a few Infrequently Asked Questions after the jump.

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Christmas Music (Part 4): ORA Singers: “The Mystery of Christmas”

ORA Singers: The Mystery of Christmas
Music of Allain, Anonymous, Byrd, Hall, Hyde, Lauridsen, Macmillan,
McDowall, Peacock, Rowarth, Rutter, Samitz, Sixten, Tallis, Williams, and Weir.
CD Harmonia Mundi HMM 905303
Downloads (24-bit/96kHz stereo AIFF, ALAC, FLAC, and WAV) available from HDTracks.
Streaming available from Tidal.

Recorded at St. Augustine’s Church, Kilburn, London, January 23-28 and August 7-12, 2017. Nicholas Parker (all tracks except track 5) and Tim Handley (track 5 only), producers; Mike Hatch, engineer. Support for the arts from the Pureland Foundation. Total time 76’37.

My previous Christmas-music recommendations can be found here: Part 1; Part 2; and Part 3.

Here’s a fantastic new recording from a group new to me, Suzi Digby’s ORA Singers. They are as good as any handpicked professional choral ensemble out there. (I have heard most of the top ones live.) This collection showcases ORA’s “Unique Selling Proposition,” which is to prove that today, we are in a Golden Age not only of choral singing, but also of composing works for vocal ensembles. (Funny; I have long said the exact same thing about the art of the string quartet. We live in a golden age of the string quartet—both for playing and for new works.)

Therefore, ORA’s (for lack of a better phrase) business plan is to commission 100 new works for chorus over the course of ten years. (They are well on their way to achieving that goal, having commissioned 40 works in three years.) To make it even more interesting, Ms. Digby’s approach is to ask today’s composers to create works that are personal reflections upon the choral glories of the past, especially the masterworks of the Renaissance. Ambitious, yes. But several of the new works on this disc should find their ways into the standard repertory fairly quickly.

As a producer of classical recordings, one of my favorite Shibboleths (or, rubrics or axioms) long has been that, once your CD has started playing in the CD player of the reviewer, radio programmer, or record-store buyer, you have only ten seconds to make the sale. Furthermore, I believe that you make the sale only by giving the listener that “You are in good hands with Allstate” feeling. If the listener gets the feeling that your performance is for you a nerve-racking tightrope walk, no sale. (Obviously, there are exceptions to my little rule. Not much at all happens in the first ten seconds of Mahler’s Symphony 1; at least, not much by which you can distinguish a great performance from one that is merely unobjectionable.) In the case of the ORA Singers’ The Mystery of Christmas, convincing me took only the first four to eight seconds of the first track.

More information, a performance video, and sound bytes from The Mystery of Christmas after the jump. Continue Reading →

1997 Lincoln Town Car Signature Series: Family Car, Found!

Note: You may remember my friend Anthony Gucciardo’s immaculate, showroom condition 1997 Town Car. He still has it, but has since not only located the 1997 Town Car his mother bought new, but purchased it and had it restored. How many of us have wished we could have our first car back, or one of the family cars you remember from your youth? Well, Anthony did it! Enjoy. -TK

A few years back, I wrote a story for Curbside Classic about my fondness for the 1995-1997 Lincoln Town Car. It was re-published here at Riverside Green back in June 2017. You might have to read the article to totally understand where I’m coming from.

https://jackbaruth.com/?p=6765

In that article, I talked about my love for the Lincoln Town Car and that up to this day, the love affair continues. Over the years I’ve been fortunate to have had several high-end luxury cars and they’ve all been great. The technology has come a long way since the late 1990s, yet I still get a kick out of a large luxury sedan equipped with self leveling air suspension and thin white wall tires. Nothing rides like a Lincoln Town Car, especially at highway speeds. The wind noise coming from the windshield and sunroof gives the car true Lincoln character. It was obviously a design flaw but as we say in real estate, charm and character is what makes things sell.

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Your Chance To Get On The Samizdat Enemies List

Bad boys of literature, whatcha gonna do when they come for you? Surely we all understand that the endgame intended for today’s aggressive and universal politicizing of everyday existence is the same as it was in 1918 — a firing squad for the worst of the doubleplusungoodthinkers, the gulag for the rest of us. If you’re interested in moving a couple of notches towards firing-squad placement, there’s no better way than to join me in the purchase of Finally, Some Good News by the brilliant social commentator and misery-blogger known as “Delicious Tacos”. (If you don’t know who he is, you can find out here.)

If you buy the book, please feel encouraged to revisit this post and share your opinion. As for me, I’m looking forward to having a physical copy of the thing. A hundred years from now, when sensible humans look back at the “woke” era of American garbage culture with the same terror that was previously reserved for the purge years under Stalin or the eyeglass-shattering madness of the Khmer Rouge, I want my grandson to be able to say that his grandfather walked to the firing line with his chin up. Oh, and that I survived the execution, because nobody there could figure out how to rack the bolt of an AR-15.

(Last) Weekly Roundup: The Drive-Through Edition

In the words of the great Detroit-area bard, it seems like yesterday / but it was long ago. On Tuesday, September 23, 2008, I drove over to Midwestern Auto Group in Dublin, Ohio and signed the papers on my vaguely-famous lime-green Audi S5. As excited as I was about the car, it was just one in a long string of deliveries from that store, starting with my four-speed Fox in the spring of 1990 and encompassing about a dozen cars in the eighteen years that followed. Volkswagens, Rovers, Audis, a Saab, a Bimmer. My mentor and business partner of a decade ago was an even more dedicated customer, signing at least one but usually two leases per year there. It wasn’t just his company cars, of which he usually had three at any given moment. Every time he broke up with a woman, this deeply sentimental fellow would lease her a BMW or Volvo convertible as a parting gift, leading to no shortage of jokes on my part about these chicks “upgrading their rides”. My father, too, was a frequent flier at “MAG”. We knew the general manager, the service writers, the top-performing salespeople, and the occasionally fascinating dealership owner. It seemed reasonable to assume that I would continue to be one of the store’s best customers for a long time to come.

Do you remember / the twenty-third day of September, ten years ago? I do now, because that was the end of the party, and I never bought a car from Midwestern Auto Group again.

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1966 Lincoln Continental Coupé – Classy Chassis

With the exception of the original 1939-48 Lincoln Continental, the 1960s Lincolns are quite likely the most recognized products of Ford Motor Company’s premium division. Naturally, the four-door convertibles are the most famous models of that decade, and the most valuable, but the four-door sedans and two-door coupes were attractive luxury transportation as well. Today, we’re talking about the coupe, or Coupé, as Lincoln called it.

1960 Lincoln

1960 Continental Mark V. Photo courtesy Dave Smith.

Thanks to the failure of the 1958-60 Lincolns in the marketplace, Lincoln itself was close to getting chopped in 1960. It’s a story oft-told, but the short version is Robert McNamara, who thought everyone should drive a Falcon, had set his cap to kill off Edsel, even before the cars first appeared in showrooms.

1961 Continental convertible

1961 Continental at the 2014 LCOC meet in Rockford, IL.

Lincoln was going to be next, and only an 11th-hour viewing of a proposed future Thunderbird saved the marque. It was stretched just enough to add a second pair of doors, and the result was the 1961 Continental.

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1963 Rambler Classic 770 Cross Country: The New Shape Of Quality

1963 Classic

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Accord At 66,666: The Thousand-Dollar Service Bill That Wasn’t

The grinding noise started as I backed out of the paddock garage at NCM Motorsports Park. Well, that’s probably not correct. At some point during what turned out to be a half-hour lapping session in monsoon conditions, my rear brake pad must have given up the rest of its low-cost lining and started contacting the brake disc directly. So it would have been grinding even as I entered pit lane and drove to the garage; it’s just that the noise of the weather was too much to hear it.

That was October 8th. In the nearly two months since then I’ve put about 1,700 miles on my Accord, passing the magic 66,666-mile mark in my fifty-sixth month of ownership. This morning I noticed that my right rear wheel was covered with fine-grained particles of iron oxide from the high-speed interface of iron disc and steel backing plate. Time to change the rear pads and rotors, even if it was twenty-eight degrees and cloudy outside. (No, I couldn’t fix my car in my garage like a normal person — I have 830 square feet of garage space and it is filled with two race cars, one Porsche 911, five motorcycles, and what looks like two tons’ worth of tires, wheels, and spare parts.) It took me a while to do it, mostly because I had to drill out the rusted-together setscrews that Honda uses to hold the rear discs on during the assembly process. Yes, that’s right: I made it through almost five years and perhaps a dozen on-track sessions on the original back rotors.

About two hours after I’d started, I was frozen but content. After all, I’d just saved more than nine hundred dollars. Or had I?

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