Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hall Of Mediocrity Nominees


There's been a lot going on here at the Hall of Mediocrity.  The engineers, city planners, de-construction workers and various other skilled technicians, have been working very hard to make the new Hall, look a special way.  It looked way too nice.  We were afraid that the real Rock Hall members would want to join, which defeats our purpose.  We fixed it.  It's still on the water, but that's really a sewage treatment plant.  We just couldn't get it into the shot.

Our crack research staff were prepared for the inevitability of no one nominating any bands for the Hall Of Mediocrity.  There was the one loyal reader that nominated Boston and we decided not only to include his nomination, but give him a new car.  See, what happens when you participate out there in "Readerland."  You get prizes.  Tom gets a new to him...Wait, his name wasn't Tom.  Right...John gets, a "new to him," 1975 AMC Gremlin.


This car could've been yours, but Tom was the only one to chime in with a nomination.  Congratulations, John!!  (Should the car not start or tragically, blow up.  We here at For Lack Of A Better Title take absolutely no responsibility whatsoever.  Face it, it's a Gremlin.  If you actually try to drive the car, it's on you.  Plus, do you really want to be caught driving a car like this?  You like having sex, with other people, right?  So, be happy that you won metaphorically and not actually.  Then everyone wins!  Congrats again Tom...err...John!)

Alright, folks on with the nominees for the Hall Of Mediocrity.  

Boston
John's nominee and a fine choice for the HOM.  A band that came out with one of the all-time great debut albums and then spent the next 30 years trying to live up to it.  Only releasing 5 albums along the way and regularly taking 8 years in between album releases.  Also, tragically losing Brad Delp to suicide.  I'd like to make a joke, but it just seems wrong.

Bachman-Turner Overdrive
This Canadian based band had a bunch of hits during the 70's, but in-fighting and changing times led to members leaving the group and to the band officially splitting in 1979.  There have been reunions and reformations over the past 25 years, but none of the had the success of the original lineup.

Grand Funk Railroad
A band that's still slogging along.  The bulk of the group is still in tact.  Only singer/guitarist Mark Farner has left for a solo career in, Christian Contemporary Music.  They haven't released an album in over 25 years, but are still playing the old hits at tractor pulls and barn raisings.

Whitesnake
This band deserved better, but David Coverdale messed it all up, in my opinion.  He had one the best and most underrated guitarists ever in, John Sykes.  Then fired him and the rest of the band at the completion of what would be their breakthrough album, Whitesnake in 1987.  After that success, karma really hits the band.  The follow up album doesn't do as well as expected, Coverdale puts the band on hiatus to make music with Jimmy Page and the band is no longer relevant.

Supertramp
A band that has recently reformed.  I guess no band really ever ends.  However, it's without Roger Hodgson, who sang a lot of their hits, including, "Dreamer," "Give A Little Bit" and "Take the Long Way Home."  They had enormous commercial success, but received little critical acclaim.  Considered one of the first "corporate rock" bands.


There we have it folks.  The nominees have been picked and inductions will take place the last week of December.  There will be two (2) inductions during that week.  Voting is still open and encouraged by you the reader.  Take the decision out of my hands.  You could win a prize like John/Tom.  Have fun!



Monday, November 29, 2010

New Discoveries



When I'm asked what I watch on television, I know most people mean "what do you watch at night on network TV?"  So, I generally answer "the cop shows."  I'm not lying, it's what I watch.  From Tuesday to Thursday, barring a couple shows...it's all I watch, at night.  Granted, they are all pretty much the same show.  On Tuesday, you have NCIS which is the navy cop show, NCIS: Los Angeles is the same show, but takes place in L.A. (I had no clue), with better technology.  Wednesday you get Criminal Minds, which profiles serial killers and the new show, The Defenders with the (now former) fat kid, Vern, from Stand By Me and John Belushi's brother.  They play lawyers, which I know isn't really a cop show, but there are often cops in it...so it's a variation on the theme.  Then on Thursday, you get the cop show where they pick up trash (CSI) and the one where the carny con-artist wears the same suit every week (The Mentalist).  I do watch and enjoy (for the most part) these shows.

It's also far easier to speak generally about network shows.  There's not much substance to them, they are trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator to get high ratings.  I get it.  I also watch a lot of television for educational purposes.  With the advent of cable and channels like Discovery, Science and History channels, you can learn quite a bit in an hour or 44 minutes, with commercials.  A lot of these shows are made like short documentaries.  They serve as a good starting point on the subject covered.  You're not going to learn everything about it, but you'll learn something.  Maybe, it'll be interesting enough to get you to investigate more about the covered subject(s).  This is what I try to do with my music blog entries.

A show that does this very well, in my opinion, is called Iconoclasts, which is on the Sundance Channel.  My guess is you've probably never heard of it, but if you have, I bet you know where I'm going with this.  It's been on for 5 seasons, but only does 6 episodes per season.  The show takes two "creative visionaries" (the words of the show, not mine) and puts them together.  Sometimes they know one another (Redford and Newman) and other times they don't (Jon Favreau and Tony Hawk), but it works. 

The most recent episode I saw (on demand, the new season just started), which happened to be the last one for this current season, featured magician David Blaine and artist Chuck Close.  Ok, say what you want about Blaine the stunt man, he's still one of the best: street/up close/sleight of hand magicians around.  


I've seen Blaine a bunch of times.  I love magic and sleight of hand.  So, it's what initially interested me about the episode, but then I saw Chuck Close's art.  Amazing, for anyone, but hearing his story, makes it that much more remarkable.  Seeing how Close creates with his handicap is beyond words.  Me describing, how he paints, would not do it justice. 


I definitely recommend the show, because there is really something for everyone.  Michael Stipe is paired with Mario Batali, Samuel L. Jackson with Bill Russell and Chalize Theron with Jane Goodall, to name a couple of episodes over the years.  I will admit, the one with Mike Myers and Deepak Chopra is a pretty odd match.  Check it out.  I bet you'll learn something.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Nine By Design 11



I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends.  We had a great time as usual.  Good food, good people and the Patriots on television.  We'll get right into this weeks list, because hockey is on in about an hour.  Sorry, priorities...you understand, I'm sure.  This weeks list was inspired by the book I'm currently reading,  The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy by Bill Simmons.  We've established before, that I'm not really a basketball fan, but Simmons is a riot and it's really informative.  Anyways, he mentioned something about a famous baseball card...so, thus we have our list for the week.  Here we go...

Funny Baseball Cards:

Billy Ripken



 









This very well could be the most infamous card ever.  This card came out in 1989 and is still talked about today.  Billy Ripken played for 12 seasons on a handful of teams.  It's tough being a second-generation player, but even tougher when you have a brother that is in the Hall of Fame and broke one of the most famous records of all-time.  I enjoy his commentary on the MLB Network.

Tim Flannery













No, I really don't understand the concept by this photographer.  It's baseball, not Beach Blanket Bingo.  Maybe it was done, because Flannery wasn't a great baseball player.  Probably, more to it being San Diego and being one of the surf capitals of the United States.  It's still a pretty odd baseball card.

Oscar Gamble













It's the card that inspired this week's list.  How Oscar kept his cap on defies logic and physics.  It's a world class afro, that is right up there with Chevy Chase's in Fletch.  Oscar had a pretty good career.  17 seasons as a pro baseball player is impressive.  He was a liability in the field, but had a good bat.  He became one of the early designated hitters in the league.

Al Hrabosky












One of the great characters in baseball.  Hrabosky was known as "The Mad Hungarian" for his antics on the mound.  The Fu-Manchu mustache helped with intimidation as a closer.  He had a phenomenal season in 1975.  Finishing third in CY Young voting.

Turk Wendell












Turk was one of the most eccentric baseball players in history.  Yes, he's brushing his teeth in the picture.  He would chew four pieces of black licorice on the mound and then between innings, brush his teeth.  Dental hygiene is very important.  He threw the rosin bag down at the mound as hard as he could.  Wore a necklace with teeth from animals he killed while hunting.  He was, you know, "colorful" or "freaking nuts," you choose.

Bob Walk













First, Bob has a very unfortunate last name for being a pitcher, Walk.  He has a haircut that would look more appropriate on a hockey player.  I guess he just want to let everyone know that when he was on the mound, he was business first and party last.  Walk actually had a pretty good career considering he pitched for most of his career with the Pirates.  He did play with Barry Bonds, B.T.S. (Before the Steroids).

Jay Johnstone













Johnstone was more known as a prankster than a baseball player.  He did play for 20 seasons, which surprised me.  I just didn't think he played that long.  He also was on 2 World Series Championship teams.  Again, a shocker, with the Yankees and Dodgers.  He was famous for setting teammates cleats on fire, locking Tommy Lasorda in his office and walking through the field boxes to the concession stand to get himself a hot dog, in full uniform.

Ted Kluszewski













Not so much funny, well the uniform is funny, because there aren't any sleeves.  Look at "Big Klu's" arms, my god.  It's not that big a deal these days, many of the players in MLB have big arms, but this card is from 1957!  He cut off the sleeves of his uniform so he didn't have to change his swing.  He's what you would call "country strong."

Tony Gwynn













Straight outta Compton crazy MF'er named Ice Cube (Wait, what?  That's not...)
From the gang called Niggaz With Attitudes ( Are you sure?)

I'm convinced that Tony Gwynn looks like Ice Cube, at least in that picture.  Gwynn was young, slim and could still run.  He did steal 56 bases one year.  All jokes aside, Tony Gwynn is a well deserved Hall of Famer.  He was one of the best hitters when I was growing up.  It was always him in the NL and Wade Boggs in the AL.  The first time I saw that picture, I thought, "When did Ice Cube play pro baseball?"




Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Operation: Thanksgiving



OPERATION: THANKSGIVING

New Intel has come in for your next mission.  Please log on, to get details.  This was the message I received on my phone.  Here's what I can share with you, the public...Don't tell anyone.  This is Delta level clearance.

Mission Objective:  Infiltrate Thanksgiving dinner at the in-laws and take out the operative known as the "Sister-In-Law."  By any means necessary.  If you choose not to accept the mission, you will be eliminated, as you already know too much.  Sorry dude...


Operative Profile:  "The Sister-In-Law" goes by many aliases, but will be known as SIL, for the remainder of your briefing.  She has committed numerous social and parenting faux pas over the years.  The time is now to take her out as a threat.

Beware of the two "hit midgets" known as "The Twin Terrors."  They are posing as her fraternal twins, but are really highly skilled assassins.  They will break you down mentally, physically and emotionally.  Be careful, they will kill you if the opportunity arises, even at a family holiday.

Known Assets: Our best in house operative known as "The Wife."

On sight, freelance operatives known publicly as: "The In-Laws," consisting of Mom and Dad In-Law, aka "Team Out-Law," to our team of assets.

Other team members are unavailable.  You will not have access to: The Wardens, Brains or Viper, introduced earlier in your briefings.  Don't start crying...They are on assignment and No, I don't know where and you can't call them.  Suck it up.

Weapons/Equipment:  Are already on sight.  You have at your disposal:  2 NFL Football games, a 40 minute version of "Alice's Restaurant," ear plugs and tryptophan.  Use the tryptophan wisely.  You most likely will have only one shot at the target known as, SIL.

Good luck, godspeed and again...Stop crying man!  You'll be fine.  I know "The Twin Terrors" are beyond scary, but get over it.  Geez...










Tuesday, November 23, 2010

101 Reasons: Why I Love Music


This is the maiden voyage of what will hopefully become a new series.  I'm not sure how often this will happen quite yet.  There's a bunch of work that has gone into this entry.  So, I hope there's something here for everyone.  (Sorry, Lady Gaga fans)  Enjoy.


1. Joe Strummer

2. Paul Simonon













3. "Oh baby don't it feel like heaven right now, don't it feel like something from a dream"

4. & 5.  Speaking of Tom Petty, Members of the Heatbreakers, Benmont Tench and Mike Campbell

6. When the scene of a movie has perfect music.

7. Tom Dowd, Producer

8. The Temptations precision

9. Christine McVie's vocals

10. Jonathan Richman's Love Songs


11. The Who and their appetite for destruction

12. Sly and the Family Stone's message

13. The Beatles sense of humor

14. Brian Wilson's amazing talent

15. Stewart Copeland playing with a Police cover band


16. The quirky success of They Might Be Giants

17. The first musical prodigy I heard

18. The background vocals in the New York Dolls song "Trash"

19. Joan Jett









20. "I have my books and poetry to protect me"

21. The Glimmer Twins

22. The haunting vocal by Elvis Presley on "Blue Moon"

23. The blue eyed soul of Hall & Oates

24. One Hit Wonders

25. Boston Symphony Orchestra


26. "John McLaughlin," the song and guitarist

27. Howlin' Wolf

28. The harmonies of the Bee Gees

29. The Singing Brakeman

30. The pop genius of, ABBA

31. KISS in full makeup














32. Christmas time songs

33. Blondie's drummer, Clem Burke

34. The technical ability of RUSH

35. "That silly school boy crush wasn't just pretend"

36. The Duck Walk

37. Iggy Pop


38.  Duane Eddy and his "twangy guitar"

39. John Williams

40. Hank Williams III making his grandpa proud

41. You Really Got Me

42. Eddie Van Halen's Frankenstrat













43. James Brown on the good foot

44. "What you once were isn't what you want to be anymore"

45. Juliana Hatfield

46. Great DJ's, blow my mind

47. Heavy Classical

48. Frank Zappa













49. David Lee Roth can really put a band together

50. Call It Stormy Monday

51. Dave Pirner's lyrics

52. Because Paul Gilbert can play anything


53. Keyboards can be a valuable tool

54. Songs that you can't get out of your head for days

55. Girls can rock

56. The unique Keller Williams

57. Mr. Quincy Jones

58. The many faces of David Bowie












59. It Makes No Difference

60. Disco Rod Stewart

61. "I was never cool in school, I'm sure you don't remember me"

62. Mr. Cool, Chris Isaak

63. Iron Maiden's mascot, Eddie










64. Monterey Pop

65. Ravel's Bolero

66. Beck's Bolero

67. Why don't you Take Five from reading?

68. The Rock Musical

69. A lesson in showmanship by Jerry Lee Lewis


70. James Jamerson and the Funk Brothers

71. The power of Led Zeppelin

72. "The people will survive"

73. The Murder Ballads

74. When commercials use good songs

75. Roger Dean's Artwork














76. There's only one At Budokan

77. When it's educational

78. Double lead guitar harmonies

79. The other Elvis

80. "And if the band you're in starts playing different tunes"

81. The New Wave of British Heavy Metal or "NWOBHM"

82. Queen at Live Aid


83. We want The Funk

84. The heaviest two notes in music

85. Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys

86. Motown

87. John Peel













88. The Band of Gypsys

89. The Holy Wars

90. The Go Go's


91.The Brothers Everly

92. Signature Songs

93. Power trios

94. "Life is the crummiest book I ever read"

95. Glam rock

96. Woodstock



















97. Everybody Knows

98. A guitar sound that can rip your face off

99. Television Debuts


100. Reimagined Christmas Classics

101. Music can be inadvertently funny, but great at the same time


Editor's note: If you looked at all the links and/or have a new appreciation for something here.  I truly thank you. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

My Wife Can Eat More Than Your Wife



Yes, it's a rare weekend entry from me, but I just had to.  We woke up early (for us), to get my wife's oil changed in her car.  Which means we go out for breakfast.  We like to go to Newport Creamery, which is a local chain in RI.  They are like Friendly's, but I think, they are more consistent in service and quality of food.

We get to the restaurant and are told to sit anywhere we like.  I love when it's still early enough to do this.  They won't be too busy and we'll get great service and food, which we did.  We're looking at our menus and I'm not sure why?  We've been here a million times and we usually get pretty much the same thing every time.  Our waitress comes over to take our drink orders and I'm about to give my food order, but my wife isn't ready.  She's looking for as much food as she can get in one meal.  Our first restaurant breakfast since she's been pregnant.  This should be interesting.

Our waitress comes back, after giving us a few more minutes.  My wife is ready.  She'll have the breakfast called the "Holy Cow."  Which consists of: Three eggs, 2 pancakes or french toast, 3 sausage, 3 bacon, an English muffin or toast and breakfast potatoes.  It kinda looks like this:
Add a third egg, sausage and another plate for French toast








Then I was asked what I wanted to eat.  I meekly answered, "A short stack (2) of blueberry pancakes and some bacon...that's it."  I felt like such a wimp.  Camilla orders one of the largest breakfasts on the menu and I order the one, I usually have trouble finishing.  Which is why I only get 2 pancakes...they are filling, leave me alone. 

My wife is telling me she's hungry.  I keep telling her that the food is cooking.  It arrives a few minutes later and she tears into it.  After about twenty minutes of carnage, I actually finish my little breakfast.  It was quite the achievement for me.  Looking across the table at Camilla's plates, the only thing she didn't eat was a small burnt piece of her English muffin and her drink.  Total devastation.  We pay our waitress, who wishes us a happy holiday.  We thank her for everything , jump in the car and check the phone to see if garage called.  No messages.

We decide to try to get the couple of errands we have, done before the car is ready.  I ask my wife the question I already know the answer to, as I put the car in drive.  "How was your breakfast?"  She replies with an unexpected answer, "I'm still kinda hungry."  I just stare and drive.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nine By Design 10


This week's version of Nine By Design is being published a little early.  I'm working on a bigger blog entry that will hopefully be done for Monday.  It all depends how motivated I can get and what unexpected things happen here at home.  Which lately is almost a daily occurrence.  Is getting something earlier than expected a bad thing?  I think not...most of the time at least.  Today's topic is Authors.  I'm an avid reader, as is, my wife.  In fact, most of my friends read quite a bit.  I think it's one of the common denominator's I look for in people.  Do you read?  If you do, I'm instantly interested in what you have to say.  This is not the only factor in being my friend.  My brother doesn't read and I still like him, most days.  On with our list...

Authors:

Nick Hornby
I first discovered Hornby with this book, but he's written so many others worth reading; About a Boy, Fever Pitch and 31 Songs, to name a couple.  It also helps that music is important in a lot of his books.  For me at least.

Chuck Klosterman
Chuck is right up my alley.  He writes about music, movies and pop culture.  He's an encyclopedia when it comes to that stuff.  One of my inspirations for this blog, but he does it sooo much better than I.  Other suggested reading by him include; Fargo Rock City and Eating the Dinosaur.  Really anything he writes...a check, phone number...etc.

Philip K. Dick
I generally read non-fiction books.  So, when I read fiction, especially, science fiction, it has to be amazing and that kids, is what Philip K. Dick is.  A very prolific writer, a lot of his work has be made into movies.  He wrote the books or stories that became; Blade Runner, Total Recall and Minority Report, amongst others.  To top all of that, he wrote these stories/books between the 1950's and 1970's.  What an imagination.

John Updike
He wrote my favorite series of books, called: "The Rabbit Series."  Rabbit Angstrom is one of those great literary characters, someone we can all recognize with.  He has the same problems, joys and faults we all do.  Besides this amazing work, he wrote: The Witches of Eastwick, various short stories, poems and non-fiction essays.  A man of many talents.

John Feinstein
I discovered John Feinstein by accident.  I was listening to a sports radio show about 15 years ago and he was promoting one of his books.  I think it was A March To Madness (amazing).  I'm not really a basketball fan.  I watch a bit of the NCAA Tournament and the NBA Playoffs, if the Celtics are doing well.  So, knowing that, I was completely glued to the radio listening to him talk.  He's a great storyteller, that makes you feel like you're right there with him.  I have yet to read anything bad by him.  Suggested reading: Next Man Up and Tales From Q School (I don't like golf either, but it's his writing).

Mark Twain
I look at Twain as the Beatles of the literary world.  Did he really do anything bad?  Don't get wrong, he may have, because I haven't read everything he's ever done, but so far...he's pretty darn good.  He was incredibly prolific and one of America's early humorists.  All you need to know is: Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, The Prince and the Pauper and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.  All still relevant today.

Jack Kerouac
I was really into Kerouac when I was in high school.  I love the way he writes.  If jazz could be written down in words on paper, it would be his prose.  I have to be in the right mood to read his work these days.  Just not the same person I was 20 years ago, but is anyone?  Suggested reading: On The Road, The Subterraneans and Desolation Angels.

Clive Barker
I don't like horror, but I like Clive Barker.  Does that make sense?  He's just so much more than that genre.  I'm still a huge fan of his short stories to this day.  It's a more intelligent fantasy, horror and science fiction.  Not taking anything away from any other authors.  Barker just has a way to suck you in.  Suggested reading: Books of Blood Vol.1-6, Cabal, The Thief of Always.

Hunter S. Thompson
Buy the ticket, take the ride.  One of the best non-fiction writers I've ever read.  A complete and utter madman, but still amazing.  He wrote a lot of articles.  Something like 100 articles just for ESPN Page 2, near the end of his career.  Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a must, but so is; Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail.  He can be a little hit or miss, but he was one of a kind, with an interesting take on life.  He did commit suicide, because he wanted to go out on his terms and his ashes were fired out of a cannon.  Nobody was going to tell him how to live.

We've made it to the end of another weekly list.  Just a little earlier.  Happy Weekend...Cheers!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

You And Whose Army?



Don't ever try to give me advice.  I will do the opposite, just to spite you, myself and anyone else you can think of.  I have a default mechanism built into my brain that thinks it can: always do better, knows the answer or can figure out a way to succeed, win, get out of trouble, etc.  I know I'm the typical guy, but I have guy friends that take advice correctly.  It's not just advice though, it's really everything.  You may innocently recommend a band or an album for me.  I will not listen to it.  Although, I will see a movie or read a book that you suggest.  I'm just a difficult person to know and deal with.  Most of my conversations end up in arguments, unless, I think you know what you're talking about.  I make sense, right?  This has mostly to do with music conversations.  Don't get me started...We'll just avoid that subject.  I'm in therapy for it...I'm getting better.  I have my Mantovani albums to listen to.  Very soothing.

How my friends deal with me, I have no idea?  Wait, I haven't gotten a phone call in a long time.  Ahhh...Now I get it.  Seriously, how I'm married?  Just a total mystery how that all works?  Then again, my wife and I, are like two peas in a pod.  I can't be eccentric, because I'm poor.  So, I guess I'm just weird.  Aren't we all?  In some way, we're all pretty out there.  No...not you...you say?  You're reading this blog.  I hate to inform you, but...you qualify.

These are some of the main reasons you'll never see a blog entry about Religion or Politics.  I just don't care what your feelings are towards those topics.  I believe this is a fantastic thing, because I'll never judge you on those topics.  I may wonder why you like Coldplay or Radiohead, but who you voted for, is your business.  I'm not big on either subject personally.  Religion to me, is my imaginary friend can beat up your imaginary friend.  I know it's completely childish, but kinda funny too.  Politics to me, is professional wrestling.  Whomever the President is, has the belt, but did they win the election with a clean pin or was there outside interference?  Is the Vice-President going to turn heel, because he's just a lackey and thinks he will never get a shot to be champion?  Politics are a lot more fun this way, when you imagine these scenarios could take place at the White House or "The Oval Office."  See, it already has a cool stadium nickname, it all fits.  Although, Hillary Clinton doesn't make a good diva, not at all.  Oh No!!  Joe Biden has a chair!!

This is also what happens when you have a little bit of writer's block, didn't get a nap today and are over caffeinated.  Incoherent babble about subjects I wouldn't normally write about.  But, was it fun?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Attack Of The Baby Brain



My wife and I are expecting our first child in June.  We're very excited, as we've been trying for two years.  I was told of this phenomenon known as "Baby Brain" by friends, who are also expecting, but they are further along.  As it was explained, by the mother to be, "Baby Brain" takes an otherwise intelligent woman and turns her into someone completely forgetful and confused, most of the time.  Basically, a babbling idiot.  I did witness this a couple of weeks ago, while at a game night with these friends.  The mom to be was trying to tell or explain a story, but no one knows exactly, because she never finished.  We all just kind of looked at one another, wondering if we were the only ones not understanding what was going on.  So it does exist.

Fast forward a couple of weeks to this past Friday night.  My wife and I had gone food shopping.  The receipt was printing at the register, but then ran out of paper.  We had just gotten a coupon for a free gallon of milk.  My wife took this time to run and get said milk.  Free milk is free milk.  So there was a little confusion going on, but nothing major.  We get home, but my wife pulls into the parking spot a little crooked.  Bad enough that if I open the backseat door, where the food is...I'll hit the car next to us.  I tell her to straighten out.  She puts the car into reverse, but she's actually in neutral.  I tell her that she's in neutral, but she doesn't believe me.  It gets worked out and we get the food into the house.

We still haven't gotten to the "Baby Brain" incident yet.  We put all of the food away and then it happens.  "Where's my wallet?  You never gave me back my wallet!"  I scan and pay for all of the groceries and my wife bags them.  She's in charge of the money, so she give me her wallet and whatever coupons we have for that week.  During the confusion at the register, I very likely, could have forgotten to give it back to her.  Here's the problem, there is no wallet in my jacket or pockets.  Did I forget it at the register?  I might have...I don't know.  She's in full panic mode at this point.  She tells me to call the supermarket, while she jumps in the car to head back.  The supermarket is literally 5 minutes away.

I call over and ask if anything was found at register 4.  We always use the self-checkout, because we try to avoid lines like the plague.  Even if we did go through a checkout line where there was a person ringing us up, my wife would tell the bagger to take a hike.  My wife doesn't trust baggers, she wants to do it herself.  The customer service person gets back on the phone with me.  She checked the area and spoke with the workers around there to see if anyone turned it in.  Nothing.  My wife showed up at the supermarket and wanted to look at the surveillance tapes.  No, I'm not kidding.  She was told that person wasn't in until tomorrow.  My wife appears back at home, even more frantic.  I feel horrible, because I'm totally convinced I've lost it.  We're going to have to cancel credit cards and call the bank...etc.  Just a lot of not fun stuff to do.  Did I mention yet that it's her birthday?  By the way, surprise, it's her birthday!

She runs over to get her phone, which is front of the microwave...on top of her... WALLET.  Yes, her phone which she had in her pocket when we got home, is on TOP of her wallet.  Which she also had when we got home.  So, the aftermath of this true story is, a normally, very intelligent woman.  College graduate, for that matter...totally confused and talking to herself.  Trying to figure out how in the world she missed me giving her wallet back to her.  She was completely beside herself, speaking in tongues.  Not a pretty sight. 

Editor's Note: The blog isn't going to become a Daddy Blog, but there will be entries as the pregnancy gets further along.  Plus, when the baby does get born, of course, I'm going to gush all about it.  This blog is about my life.  Up until now, my life was music, movies and sports.  Now we have added a very important new topic.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Nine By Design 9



Back once again for the weekly treat that is, Nine By Design.  Even when I try to do movies, it comes back to music.  I personally don't find that to be a bad thing.  How about you?  This weeks list is on Music Based Movies.  Films where music plays a huge role all it's own.

Music Based Movies:

O Brother, Where Art Thou? has some of the best traditional country songs ever put on film.  T-Bone Burnett did an outstanding job with the score.  This is real country music ladies and gentlemen, not "pop with a cowboy hat."  I say that far too often, but it really bugs me what "they" call country music these days.

Rock 'n' Roll High School produced by the "King of B-Movies" Roger Corman and featuring the Ramones.  I know it's not a good movie, it's a great movie...well, if you like low budget movies about a punk band.  I'll still watch it anytime it's on.  Just for fun.  Any chance to see a young PJ Soles as Riff Randall, is fine by me. 

Empire Records has some outstanding music throughout the movie.  It's about a record store, what do you expect?  Plus, it has moments that really make the movie.  If you haven't seen it, it's a must see for a music fan.

High Fidelity has the record store that I would like to own.  The music purist aka (nerd, snob, etc) store, that are quickly going away...sadly.  The book by Nick Hornby is phenomenal, but the movie turned me on to some really cool music.  It also made Jack Black a hot commodity

Velvet Goldmine based on David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust persona and the era of Glam Rock.  It's a very good movie, with an amazing cast (Bale, McGregor and Rhys Meyers), but can be a bit heavy, at times.  The music is really top notch.  Check it out, it's a good way to get into Glam.

This Is Spinal Tap is a mockumentary and also pure comedy genius.  Most of the movie is ad libbed, as there were only outlines of scenes written.  The band is actually pretty good and the lyrics are hilarious.  They are still around, put out real albums and toured. 

The Blues Brothers has just fantastic music in it.  It's the movie that got me into R&B, Blues and Soul music.  Which is really very easy when they have the real musicians performing in the movie.  You can't really go wrong.  One of the few SNL movies that works.

Almost Famous took a bunch of actors and made them a band.  Cameron Crowe's semi-autobiographical film, is really well done.  Especially the live band scenes.  You'd never know they weren't a real band.  Jason Lee and Billy Crudup are totally believable as musicians.

Eddie and The Cruisers is the little movie that could.  A complete failure at the box office.  It wasn't until the movie made it's way to HBO, that it became a success.  The soundtrack was re-released and sold 4 million copies.  A personal favorite due to the actual band performing the music (John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band) being from Providence, RI (where I live). 

As always, I hope you enjoyed the weekly list I've put together.  I'll see you again next week.  Happy Weekend.  Cheers!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Listening To You - Soul Asylum



I'm kind of overwhelmed on where to start with this band.  Soul Asylum is one of those bands that can do no wrong in my eyes.  They went from being the "junior" band on the Minnesota scene to one of the biggest and most successful bands around, at least for a couple of years.  They have had a lot of turnover in the band, especially with drummers.  Karl Mueller, their longtime bass player, lost his battle with throat cancer in 2005.  Through all of that, Dave Pirner and Dan Murphy have managed to soldier on and continually put out good solid music nearly 30 years after they began.

My first exposure to Soul Asylum was their 1988 album, Hang Time.  Here are a couple from that incredibly underrated record.

"Marionette"
 
"Sometime To Return"

Now we'll move a couple years forward to their breakout.  Why it took so long, I'll never know?  Just another mystery of the music business.  Their amazing 1992 album, Grave Dancers Union.  Not a bad song on it.

"Somebody To Shove"


"Black Gold"

The outstanding singer songwriter, Victoria Williams was diagnosed with MS in 1993.  Soul Asylum and a bunch of other bands, recorded her songs and put out a benefit album for her, because she didn't have health insurance.  The album is called Sweet Relief, pick it up if you ever see it, really fantastic.  This is one of the songs from that album.

"Summer Of Drugs"


 The last song on my little snapshot of Soul Asylum's career is "Misery" from the 1995 album, Let Your Dim Light Shine.



This profile barely touches on what has been an outstanding career in music.  Dave Pirner's songwriting is really top notch.  He comes up with imagery and strings words together that make you wish you wrote the song.  They aren't a grunge band, like so many people wanted to label them back in the early 90's.  Not knowing they had been together since the early 80's, predating grunge by almost a decade.  If you own nothing by them, then what are you waiting for.  Hang Time and Grave Dancers Union, are must haves for any music listener/collector.  

Monday, November 8, 2010

Odds And Sods 5



Everyone sing with me...FIVE Golden Rings!!  It'll be here far quicker than anyone wants it.  In fact, there are some radio stations by me that have already switched over to Christmas music 24-7.  I could see after Thanksgiving, but it's just too early right now.

I watched the annual Simpson's Treehouse of Horror last night and it was just horribly bad.  I know they've been on for something like 21 years, but there isn't a law that says they have to stay on the air.  The Cleveland Show Halloween episode wasn't any better.  The Family Guy Halloween show was better, but just barely.  I really like Family Guy, most of the time.  I still come back to South Park, it's always consistently good.

I'm actual size today, extra medium.

There needs to be a VH1 Behind the Music for the band, The Cars.  They have a great history and were very successful.  Plus, they are currently working on a new album.  It just needs to be done.

 The weather today has decided to try and have every nasty component possible.  High cold winds, it snowed last night and will rain later today.  A good day to stay in and listen to music/watch movies.  Not that I thought for a minute about going outside.  What's the record for naps in one day?

Why do all charitable events involve something physical?  Why can't it be lounging for charity?  I can watch the hell out of a TV.  I would do that for a solid 24 hours for AIDS, Cancer or anything else that needs money really.  Hangnail research?  $5 an hour for 24 hours, could be achieved easily.  Multiply that by 25 people donating and you could raise a ton of money.  It's a thought that should be taken seriously.  Then us fat guys can raise money for charity too.

Honor Roll:

The San Francisco Giants and their fans for winning the World Series.  Great pitching got them over a Texas Rangers team, that also had a great season. 

That Metal Show on VH1 Classic, for extending the program to an hour.  It's a lot more interesting now that you have some time to talk about a variety of things, with multiple guests.

Expulsions:

The Law & Order franchise.  Isn't it time?  I mean, when was the last time any of these shows were interesting?  I love this franchise.  I still watch original L & O episodes in syndication if there isn't anything else on, because I know it'll be good.  I used to like Criminal Intent, but they've made far too many changes over the years.  Special Victims Unit can be a little too much at times.  It's easily the most graphic show of the franchise.  I won't even watch the new show.  Just retire it.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Hall Of Mediocrity Nominations



Way back in September, I know it's not that long ago, but just for dramatic effect.  Anyways, way back in September, I came up with the Hall Of Mediocrity.  The thought being, I or we (you, sitting out there in Readerland) could add to the Hall on a quarterly basis.  I'd like to start the nomination process, but I'd like to have some interaction with my 10-15 readers out there.  I want you to nominate who you think belongs.  The remainder of November will be the nomination period and then the first couple of weeks of December will be the cut down process.  Having Inductions during the holidays.  All bands/performers nominated must qualify under the rules we have established.  

I will be using the Rock Hall Induction Rules, as well as a couple of my own, which are as follows:

1.  There are no novelty, one hit wonder bands, such as Jimi Hendrix and The Grateful Dead...just seeing if we're paying attention.  Although, technically...they are one hit wonders.

2.  No band/performer will be inducted into the Hall of Mediocrity that are already in the "real" Hall of Fame.  I'm not taking anyone out that is already in, regardless of how I really feel about the band or performer.  You got lucky Aerosmith...very lucky.

3.  All bands being inducted are currently eligible for the Rock Hall and should they ever be inducted into the "real" Rock Hall, will be asked to leave immediately.  Those Hall of Fame bands get real egotistical, very quickly.  Plus, let's face it...they graduated to the big leagues...I'd never hold them back from going in.

Of course, I could come up with nominees on my own and I still might have to, depending on participation.  I'm just hoping this could be something fun to do for my dedicated reader(s) out there.  Tell your family, friends, enemies and strangers.  We'll limit you to 3 (THREE) nominations.  Please try to take this ridiculous concept, seriously.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Nine By Design 8



Who out there in "Readerland" remembers when MTV played music videos?  I do, I do.  Today, we'll be revisiting those glory days.  I just won't be doing the traditional great videos, Thriller, Money for Nothing, Sledgehammer, etc.  I always want to show you that there are other great things in music, that you might not be familiar with, but some will still be old favorites.  On with this week's list...

Music Videos:

 "Cry" by Godley and Creme was a groundbreaking video when it came out.  Using a face morphing technique that would be copied in other videos.  Most notably "Black and White" by Michael Jackson.  This was their first and pretty much only hit after leaving the band 10cc.  

"Bastards of Young" by The Replacements was just another way the band could snub their noses at the music industry.  If you want us to make a video, we're going to do it our way.  By not appearing in it, because the music is more important than anything else.

"California" by Wax, is the first video on the list directed by Spike Jonze.  The band just got back together after doing a variety of other projects, including 22 Jacks (a really great band, with members of the Adolescents and Agent Orange).  Both bands are worth checking out.

"Walkie Talkie Man" by Steriogram and "Fell In Love With A Girl" by The White Stripes are both included as one entry, since I couldn't make up my mind which one to use.  So this week, you get ten entries, but don't tell boss.  Shhhh...I'm a sucker for animation and both of these are very well done in my opinion.

"Can't Even Tell" by Soul Asylum and directed by Kevin Smith.  Soul Asylum and other influential bands like, Alice In Chains were an integral part in helping Clerks become a breakout hit.  It also didn't hurt that they were two of the biggest bands in the world at the time.

"Human Behaviour" by Bjork is actually pretty straight forward and for Bjork, that's amazing.  It's a really great song and the video doesn't disappoint with it mix of animation and imagery. 

"Dirty Boots" by Sonic Youth is a post-modern boy meets girl type of story.  They meet in the mosh pit.  It's also a bit of a rip on grunge music, even though, it didn't really exist yet.  The girl wears a Nirvana shirt, but Nevermind, wouldn't be released for another five months or so.

"Tommy the Cat" by Primus might be the best representation of the band musically and visually.  It shows off their amazing jazz, funk metal chops and their weirdness.  Remember, the band includes Les Claypool, who was "too good" for Metallica.  It also has the extra bonus of Tom Waits voicing Tommy the Cat.

"Weapon of Choice" by Fatboy Slim, is the second video on the list directed by Spike Jonze.  The man does good stuff, what can I say?  It also stars Christopher Walken, who was a professional dancer before becoming an actor.  He really shows off those skills here.  Walken is one of life's all-time great characters and he's just full on in this video.

Definitely, a fun way to spend a Friday.  Watching great music videos, because there are such things.  MTV has just forgotten that and it's very sad.  Have a great weekend.  Cheers!.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Most Dangerous Job In The World



Imagine feeling that in the picture.  Your jaw moves to one side of your face.  You hear bones cracking.  Everything goes numb, total shock to the system.  You see stars and your legs go limp.  It's only a matter of time before your lights are turned off due to power grid overload.

That's a good description of the Most Dangerous Job in the World: Babysitting for your two nieces.  Don't get me wrong, I love my nieces, they are hilarious, but they train hard when they know I'm coming over to watch them.  I walked in their house yesterday morning, bright and early at 7 AM.  I'm not used to getting up that early, but they had already been up and completed a workout.  They were in the cooling down phase, playing with their dolls and drawing pictures.  Fooling you, by doing things that normal four and seven year old girls do.

I came bringing donuts, my peace offering or bribe for a good day with them.  They look at me in disgust as they pound their protein shakes.  Wiping the sweat from their foreheads, while still in their workout clothes...cleverly disguised as pajamas.  They humor me by having a donut, probably because the warden or Mom (whatever you want to call her) was still home.  Soon after, the warden has left the building and just like that, in unison, they turn and smile that evil, "I'm going to make your life miserable for the next 8 hours" smile.

It starts off fast and furious, by heading downstairs to the gym/playroom.  Where they bust out their hand/eye coordinator, Jenga.  Uncle Derek loses both games.  I'm already down on the day and it has yet to turn 8 AM.  They run the multiple flights of stairs (they are always working out) to set up the next "game," Shopping Center.  Sounds innocent enough, you walk around with a basket, picking out stuff to buy with "fake" money.  I can do this.  However, it quickly turns into accusations that I've stolen this "fake" money and the game has switched to one of their favorites, Police Brutality.  I'm the criminal, of course, and I'm on the run from the police, them.  I get caught and immediately hauled into interrogation.  Expecting to be able to make a phone call and tell my side of the story, I welcome this development, but I was so wrong.  The door slams and their brand of "interrogation" begins.  Punches to the stomach and kicks to the shins.  They are the toughest cops I've ever seen, I'm ready to admit to anything they want.  The four year old (we'll call her, Viper) wants to be my lawyer.  I'm relieved, but the seven year old (we'll call her, Brains) kicks her out of the room and tells her to wait.  More "talking" needs to be done.  Police Brutality has ended, for now.

I exact my revenge by putting on the mind disruptor, the great equalizer, the television.  Dora, the Explorer is on and they can't fight it.  Plus, it's lunch time.  I ask the "hit girls" what they want to eat and they demand, Peanut butter straight up on white bread.  No jelly, no marshmallow fluff...just straight PB.  I told you they were tough.  After a hearty meal, it's the time of day that I've been looking forward to, NAP TIME.

Brains has cut a deal with the warden, so she can sit in her cell and design plans and/or read reference guides without having to nap.  Viper needs to be put down for a period of time.  She's too unpredictable to be trusted without a nap.  This is going to be a tough negotiation.  "I don't want to sleep in my cell, I want to sleep in the warden's office."  I can do that, I tell her.  I've been given special powers by the wardens to do whatever I feel is needed in an emergency.  Viper is still plotting, I'm just unaware as a rookie prison guard.  Then it happens.  All hell breaks loose in the warden's office.  Viper doesn't want to be there.  I get her out of there and into the main rec room.  Quickly, get her situated and she is out cold for about an hour or so.

Viper wakes up and tells me "that she wasn't really asleep, because she didn't want to be."  She just closed her eyes for an hour to fake me out.  Amazing determination.  The "hit crew" is back together, but I start seeing cracks forming in their union.  Brains wants to enlist me as an ally.  Viper will have none of it.  Brains tries to convince Viper that I'm a master strategist/illustrator and former prisoner myself.  They need my expertise to help further their plans.  Viper is just in destruct mode at this point.  Maybe she really didn't sleep for that hour and really did just close her eyes to humor me.  Hmmm...

A compromise has been worked out.  I'll help out Brains with her plans, neatly disguised as artwork and Viper will work on her stealth attacks.  On me, of course.  This goes on for the remainder of the day.  Viper starts getting too worked up and wants to start playing Police Brutality again.  Then the cell door slams shut, the head warden is now back.  The criminals quickly play the "Daddy's Angels" roles they are so good at.  I give my report to the warden, which the girls are listening closely to.  They believe it's acceptable and let me out of the prison, but with a look.  Next time, it might not be this easy.  Be careful and always watch your back.