‘It’s A Nine-Inch Pan!’

Originally posted July 28, 2008

I spent a little bit of time doing some basic math this morning. Why? Because when I began working on this post, I opened a new Word file. The previous file had gotten large enough that it was beginning to be unwieldy to work with.

So I opened a new file, the 20th file I’ve used to write this blog since I began it in January 2007. And I began to wonder how many words I’ve written for this blog.

That kind of mathematical wondering often leads me down odd alleys and musings. One day at a family dinner, while discussing cake pans, someone – my sister, my niece, I’m not sure who – wondered by what proportion a nine-inch square cake pan was larger than an eight-inch square pan. The conversation of the others at the table wandered on while my mind spun:

Let’s see, eighty-one square inches in a nine-inch square pan, and sixty-four square inches in an eight-inch pan. That’s a difference of seventeen square inches, divided by the original sixty-four square inches. “It’s a little bit more than twenty-five percent larger,” I told those gathered around the table.”

Blank looks all around. “What is?” someone asked.

“The nine-inch pan. It’s about twenty-five percent larger than the eight-inch pan.”

“Oh.” And they all went back to their dessert, which had been served from an eight-inch pan.

Since that time, whenever I become involved beyond the point of immediate need in a question of math or statistics, the Texas Gal usually tells me, “That’s good enough. Don’t make it a nine-inch pan!”

(If there are those who are curious, the precise answer was that the nine-inch pan was 26.56 percent larger than the eight-inch pan.)

And I dug into another (figurative) nine-inch pan this morning. After I opened the new Word file for the raw material for this blog, I wondered how many words I’ve published here. So I went to the folder, added the sizes in KB of the nineteen files filled since January 2007, averaged the size of those files and learned that the average file is about 218 KB.

So I found a file that was about that large – one I filled last November – and ran a word count for that file. It had 19,240 words. Multiply that by the nineteen files I’ve filled, and one comes up with a word count for this blog of 365,560. Some of that is formatting, of course, and there are some notes to myself in the files, so the actual total of words published here is a little smaller than that.
Still, even with a small proportion of words trimmed away, that’s an impressive – almost daunting – number. Only once have I ever written anything in that kind of volume: A novel that I wrote during my time in Minot, in 1988-89, ran a little more than 500 typed pages, about 140,000 words. I was planning when I began that project to write a long short story, maybe about eighty pages, and I’ve many times told friends that if I’d had any idea how large a project it would become, I don’t think I’d have had the guts to start it.

Of course, when I’m writing here, I’m not writing one long project. That word total is made up of more than four hundred shorter projects, some of them very short, and a few of them very long. But they’ve added up so far into an impressive statistical bloc, just as individual bricks make up a large wall. And I’m reasonably sure – based on the number of people who stop by and based on the comments I get – that some of the bricks in my wall have been worthwhile for my readers.

And I’m also reasonably sure I have quite a few more bricks to place in that wall in days to come.

Malo – Malo (1972)
Last month, when I wrote about my Saturday evening bike rides during the summer of 1972, I mentioned “Suavecito,” the single by the group Malo, as one of those I heard while sitting in the bleachers at the city swimming pool.

“Suavecito” has always been one of those singles that never quite laid itself firmly in my memory. For years, when I’d hear it played on one oldies station or another (and it does get occasional airplay; it went to No. 18 in 1972), I’d think, “Oh, yeah, I really like that!” But when shopping time came, it was far from my mind, and I’d not think at all of Malo – whose leader was Jorge Santana, brother of Carlos – while in the record emporium. Until the next time I heard “Suavecito” on the radio, of course.

I’ve always linked Malo – reasonably, I think – with El Chicano, another Latin rock band of the early 1970s. El Chicano had two Top 40 hits: “Viva Tirado, Part 1,” which went to No. 28 in 1970, and “Tell Her She’s Lovely,” in 1973. That latter single is one of the rare records that’s as slender a hit as can be, sitting at No. 40 – the lowest rung of the chart – for only one week. But “Tell Her She’s Lovely,” like “Viva Tirado,” was a nice if not overwhelming record.

Because I tend to link the two groups, when the time came in the 1990s that I found some Malo, I began to look for El Chicano’s work, too. I found three of Malo’s four Seventies albums in 1998, and I acquired four of El Chicano’s first six albums – from their best period in the Seventies – in the next year or two. I enjoyed them all.

But I know that I’m not all that well-equipped to make any kind of critical judgment about the work of either group, as both groups draw heavily on their Latin roots, a tradition I do not know well. I don’t know whether those in the tradition hear the work of either Malo or El Chicano as extensions of their heritage or exploitation of that same heritage. Given that I am thus unequipped, all I can say is that when I listen, I enjoy what I hear.

The album I’m sharing today is Malo’s first album. The single version of “Suavecito” (Warner Bros. 7559) was an edit of the longer album track on the record, so I’ve included the single in the zip file as well. (I cobbled the album together from several sources some time ago; some of the tracks I found at other blogs and I ripped at least one of the tracks from my vinyl.)

Here’s what All-Music Guide has to say about the album:

“Malo’s debut album remains their best and best-known work, primarily for the inclusion of the hit single ‘Suavecito.’ That track managed to make a Chicago-like pop-soul song sound hip with its smooth integration of Latin rhythms and irresistible ‘la la la’ chorus. However, it represented just one facet of a band who, despite some expected similarities to Santana, played some of the most exciting and exuberant fusions of rock, soul, and Latin music. The six extended tracks (all clocking in at over six minutes apiece) leaned more heavily on hot Latin jazz brass than Santana did, though Jorge Santana himself generated plenty of friction with his burning electric guitar. It’s not an exaggeration to state that by the time this came out in 1972, Malo’s Latin rock blend sounded fresher than Santana’s, if only because they sound hungrier and less formulaic than Santana did by that point. The Santana comparisons are unavoidable, though in this case it’s to Malo’s credit, as they too boasted a deft balance of improvisatory instrumental passages, solid multi-layered percussive rhythms, and emotional, romantic singing in both Spanish and English.”

I don’t hear “Suavecito” having any resemblance to Chicago’s work, but that’s okay. Here’s the track listing:

Suavecito (single edit)
Just Say Goodbye

Malo – Malo [1972]


One Response to “‘It’s A Nine-Inch Pan!’”

  1. The Night The Trivial Streak Ended « Echoes In The Wind Archives Says:

    […] know I’ve written about my love of detail – as in the nine-inch pan – […]

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