Saturday, October 13, 2007

Incoherent thoughts

I'm a little distracted tonight, what what sporting events out the wazoo—MU at Oklahoma, Wizards at New York, beisbol playoffs, et al—so I'm not feeling terribly inspired to write tonight. I have a case of blogger's cramp, you might say, but here are a few tidbits, anyway....

Actor Demond Wilson, better known as Lamont Sanford on "Sanford And Son", turned 61 today. S&S is my favorite TV show of all-time and Demond was an important part of it, playing the straight man opposite the late Redd Foxx's hysterical Fred G. Sanford character.  Evidently, Mr. Wilson had a fairly healthy cocaine habit back in the day, which partly explains why he wore those dark glasses during the last couple seasons of S&S, and why he practically phoned in his performances at times, all the while standing there with his thumb in his vest pocket.  Last I heard, DW got clean and sober and became a preacher and gained a shitload of weight.  A little trivia for you too:  Demond served in the armed forces in Vietnam in the late '60s.

While I'm thinking of Mr. Foxx, a little poetic gem from Redd:

Paternal suits don't bother me
To the doctor, I owe my thanks
Because since my operation,
I'm only shooting blanks...

(True story, in my case!)

And one more:

I kissed her lips
And then just for meanness
She twisted her legs
And broke my glasses

I got a kick out of listening to the Nebraska football announcers on the radio today crapping their drawers over the Cornhuskers' second straight trouncing in as many weeks.  Getting stomped last week at Missouri was one thing, but being spanked by Oklahoma State in their own house today was more than the NU broadcast team could take, and these guys were ready to lynch the entire team and coaching staff over this atrocity!  Gentlemen, from a long-suffering MU fan to you, I say the following:  now you know how the other half lives!  Nebraska was ranked in the Top 25 earlier this season.  Now, they're just rank...

My favorite whipping boy, Notorius Dame, lost again today, this time to the ever-dependable Boston College, who routinely beats the Flailing Irish for me.  Nice job, youse Golden Eagles for dropping ND to 1-6, thus virtually eliminating any chance of them playing a bowl game this year.  Next up for Notre Dame:  USC.  Oh, goody!!

HOP ABOARD THE WAY-BACK MACHINE... I've stumbled across a few more gems from one of my favorite groups on earth in this hemisphere, Paul Revere & Da Raidas, thanks to the miracle that is YouseTube.  First off, we have PR&TR larking about with comic legend Jack Benny on "Him Or Me-What's It Gonna Be?".  Then we have Mark Lindsay acting like a white James Brown on an early Raider classic "Ooh Poo Pah Doo", during which the band gives the Pete Townshend treatment to Revere's upright piano.  Then we return to 1968 for their performance of one of my favorite (and very underrated Raider tunes), "Too Much Talk", featuring a killer bass line from whomever played on the track.  The Raiders used numerous session players on their records during this period, so it's anyone's guess who played the bass here, and if you really liked it, here's another video of the same song!  Here's an even more obscure video for the 1969 tune "Out On That Road", a track off my fave Raider LP Hard 'N' Heavy (With Marshmallow).  My apologies for the overly-loud volume here, as well as the suit Mark Lindsay sported here, which he appears to have borrowed from the Riddler on "Batman".  And from that same fine album, here's the hit single "Mr. Sun, Mr. Moon" (performed with live vocal, to boot!), and the other hit single from it, "Cinderella Sunshine".  Sadly, by this time, P. Revere was becoming a non-factor in the group, as the focus shifted more toward the music and further away from his comedic sensibilities, which is even more evident in this video that I had no clue ever existed, "Blue Powder Mercedes Queen" from the band's waning days in '72.  And here's one from Mark Lindsay's short-lived, but somewhat successful solo career, 1970's "Miss America" (not to be confused with the Styx song of the same name).  It's a "Good Thing" I came across all these videos tonight, or this post would've really sucked otherwise!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Welcome to the Scent Printer!

"...if our new Sprint Center is anything like this joint (St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center), we're in for a real treat here in K.C. later this year..."—B. Holland, March 26, 2007.

I usually don't like to blow my own horn, but darned if I didn’t call this one right!  The city of Kansas City seems to have gotten it right for a change too, as our new arena is everything they said it would be.  The Sprint Center is definitely a MAJOR upgrade over our outdated and aging dump with a hump in the Stockyards, Kemper Arena—talk about going from the outhouse to the penthouse!  I could still smell the paint drying as I paid my first visit to the new joint, but I was quite impressed with what I saw during the big public open house last night.  I'm very pleased to report that it doesn't suck...

It’s also rather sweet to be able to say that K.C. once again has something better than our neighbors to the east in St. Louis do, given our collective inferiority complex when it comes to the Gateway City.  I actually did attend the open house for the Kiel/Savvis/ Scottrade/ScottTowels (or whatever it’s called now) Center in St. Louis (I just happened to be in town that weekend when it first opened in 1994) and I thought it was a nice arena (and still is), but it didn’t have the "wow" factor at first blush for me that Sprint Center does.  The folks who designed this rascal definitely did their homework and integrated as many features and amenities as they could from other state-of-the-art sports arenas into this one.

Just as I had hoped, the layout of the seating bowl of Sprint is very similar to that of the St. Paul arena (home of the Minnesota Wild), the concourses are huge, the sightlines are excellent and the scoreboard and signage are a show in and of themselves.  There are also three vast improvements over Kemper Arena here:  The lighting over the arena floor doesn’t have that dark, shadowy coffee-house effect, the PA system doesn’t sound like a ’70s Kraco 8-track car stereo (SRV sure sounded sweet playing overhead), and—my personal favorite—we now have well-lit arena restrooms that don’t reek of old dirty mop bucket water!  No more peeing into a trough with rusty pipes attached to them either, as the johns at Sprint have individual urinals and toilets for to relieve one’s self in.  Hopefully the concert acoustics will be far superior to the murky ones at Kemper, too.

The College Basketball Experience and Coaches Hall of Fame—also part of the arena complex—looked impressive too, although not all of the interactive exhibits are open to the public just yet.  Now the city just needs finish up the adjacent Power & Light entertainment district, and the future home of the Nashville Predators will be THE place to be in this long-moribund downtown, which has needed a kick in the caboose for about 30 years now.  My overall impression of the Sprint Center:  It's a killer!

Here’s a little pictorial essay of my tour yesterday:

Can you just imagine the Windex budget for this place?

My first view of the interior.  Looks cool even with half a basketball court...

Right in the front rowwww!  This pic was taken from the future location of the hockey penalty boxes.

And a view from the true Uecker seats, which actually weren't bad at all.

A word to the wise:  Eat before you attend an event here—get a load of these concession prices! (Click pic to enlarge)

Odds and Sods

Yet another big media stink this week over nothing, as the right wing conservative pinheads bitched openly all because that impudent Democrap candidate Barack Obama had the temerity to NOT wear an American flag lapel pin on his chest like all the other "patriotic" candidates do.  What the fuck difference does it make whether he wears Old Glory on his lapel or a carnation that squirts water?!?  This is just another diversionary tactic by the GOP to steer voters away from what’s truly important in the campaign—the issues!  Then again, these are the same people who get all wrapped up in symbolism to the point where they think if we pile on enough colored ribbons everywhere, it’ll make everything all better—the war in Iraq, breast cancer, racism, animal cruelty, child abuse, whatever.  And you know damn well it’s just a matter of time before Obama gets "Swift-Boated" by the Bushies too.  Just for the record, I’m not endorsing Obama here—not yet, anyway.  I just think this nit-picky stuff about him is extreme silliness.

…in my entry the other night about the band Headz Up’s farewell performance how nice it was to enjoy it in a smoke-free environment.  The bar they played at is located in nearby Independence, which recently enacted their new ban on smoking in public places, including bars and nightclubs, which naturally has the collective panties of all the bar owners and "persecuted smokers" in a gi-normous wad now.  My heart bleeds, but I personally found it rather refreshing to be able to have a few beers and enjoy some loud, rhythmic music in a bar and not come home smelling like the inside of a Hoover Upright for once…

Saw an article in the paper today about the Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigating allegations of abuse and even a death at these so-called "boot camps" for wayward teenagers.  We’re talking about the kind of crap Moron Povich features on his show all the time—these places where they send out-of-control teens off to so they can supposedly be rehabilitated through strict discipline, which I think is a total crock.  While I’m not saying these kids should be coddled or babied, I also fail to see how being screamed at and berated by some schmuck in a military uniform is going to improve anyone’s life, especially a rebellious teenager.  And why aren’t the parents of these kids sent to some sort of boot camp as well?  Seems to me like if the teenager is that messed-up, it’s quite likely that their parental units made a few tactical errors along the way in raising the kid in the first place, and they should be forced to take responsibility for their part in screwing up their child for life.

Seems that Coors and Miller have the urge to merge and are joining forces to combine one crappy brewing company with another, thus creating an even crappier beer-maker!  In Rock terms for me, that would be like John Mellencamp and Kid Rock forming a band together.  No thanks, fellas, I’ll stick with Anheuser-Busch…

Actual patient name at one of our offices this week:  Candy Gram.  Even I couldn't make up stuff like this!

DEFEATING THE PURPOSE?Speaking of my workplace, we recently had to sit through our annual Sexual Harrassment Video presentation again.  Why is it every time I watch these things, I feel totally violated by the exceedingly bad acting therein?  Come to think of it, our superiors really need to show this damn video to one of our touchy-feely radiologists, a guy we often refer to as "Stanley Groper"…

Things are so bad for the Carolina Panthers that they’ve signed retired 43-year-old QB Vinny Testaverde, who may well start their game this week at Arizona.  Hell, Vincenzo is my age, and he was a rookie when I was still working at the "Mighty 1030" in 1987, so what does that tell ya?  That was like seven employers ago for me!  I hear a few other teams are hurting at QB as well, and a few are even trying to lure 80-year-old George Blanda out of retirement, but the NFL would first have to alter its "no canes or walkers in the backfield" rule.

I was quite impressed with Country singer Garth Brooks’ heroic attempt at sticking it to TicketBastard and all the "ticket brokers" (i.e. scalpers) this week by offering tickets to his upcoming Sprint Center concert here in K.C. for only around $30, and controlling the doling-out of those tickets as well.  When the first show sold out, GB added another show.  And another one.  And another.  And yet another, until there were nine concerts and 140,000 tickets sold!  I’ve never cared all that much for Garth’s music, but I appreciate his little endeavor here.  I also commend him for not being the money-grubber that most musicians of his stature are, because he could’ve easily charged twice as much for those tickets and gotten it, too.

It’s still weird to say things like "only around $30" for concert tickets, too.  Remember when tickets for The Jacksons' victory tour in 1984 were 30 bucks and how everyone was shitting bricks over such exorbitant prices?  Shit, 30 semolians for a concert is a fucking bargain now…

Monday, October 8, 2007

An important message from The Rally Monkey...

Okay, so he's not the Cleveland mascot, but his annual message (that I stole from Don Henley) still rings true, and if I may be so bold as to paraphrase New York Yankees play-by-play announcer John Sterling (while thumping my chest): “TH-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E Yankees LOSE!!!”  Congrats to the Cleveland Indians for taking out the Bronx Bummers tonight in the American League Division Series, which broke the mold by going to a fourth game, unlike the other three series that were sweeps.  Meantime, Drew Carey was right:  Cleveland rocks!

And since the Yankees lost, evidently this will be manager Joe Torre’s final game in NY pinstripes, as douche-bag Steinbrenner has avowed that Torre is history without winning the World Series this year.  If I were Torre, I’d tell big George to go get stuffed...

By the way, nice job by TBS in covering the first round of the playoffs this year, although I could’ve really done without all the promos for their new “Frank TV” series featuring impressionist Frank Caliendo.  No offense, Frank, but I feel like I’m being force-fed here…

It's in 'im, and it's got to come out...

…lots to catch up on here , so in the words of Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere & The Raiders, "I’m gonna stomp and shout and work it on out!”

And what a Croc(k) disgraced Olympian Marion Jones truly is, too!  After years of Rafael Palmeiro-style denial that she used illegal performance-enhancing substances, she decides to come clean the nanosecond she gets caught with the goods and give a half-hearted tear-filled apology during which she vowed to help make other people’s lives better from here on out.  Yeah, right, whatever.  I never have liked this woman anyway, almost from the beginning when she did those Nike TV ads where she pretended to be a talk radio host and said, “Alright, all you suckas out there…” and sat there trash-talking about how good she was. 
In the words of my man Lemmy in his Motorhead classic “Traitor”, “You are abomination—you that betray the nation…”  Enjoy your time in the pokey with your bitches there, Marion…

On the opposite end of the sports spectrum, a tip of da hat to the Colorado Rockies, who decided as a team to donate a full playoff share to the family of Mike Coolbaugh, the first base coach of the Tulsa Drillers who was tragically struck and killed by a line drive earlier this season.  Tulsa is the AA minor league affiliate of the Rockies, and most of the Colorado players didn’t even know the man, but the team voted to help assist Coolbaugh’s widow (who is pregnant with the couple’s third child) with the full playoff share, which is no small chunk of change, especially if they win the World Series.  Bravo, gentlemen, bravo!

Congratulations to my Missouri Tigers for stomping the living caca out of Nebraska in Columbia on Saturday night.  Expectations have been at an all-time high for MU’s football team this year, and so far, they’ve lived up to them.  Next week’s game at Oklahoma will be an even bigger test of their collective mettle, and a win there would exorcise a demon or two for the program.  Congrats also to Kansas for picking off K-State in their own house on Saturday.  And a tongue-in-cheek congrats to Notre Dame for finally getting off the schnide and winning a game, 20-6 at UCLA, who’ve brought shame and disgrace upon themselves for life.

While I’m on football, is there anyone else besides me who’s finding the college game more fun to watch this year than the pros?  I love the NFL, but for some reason, their games are getting rather boring and predictable to me this year, while the colleges are more exciting and energetic.

Saturday night was the final gig for one of the better bar bands you’ll ever see, a group called Headz Up.  Guitarist R.D. Snow, keyboardist John Gutierrez and bassist Michael Nitro have been traipsing around K.C. for over ten years playing everything from Johnny Cash to Black Sabbath in this band that once included my good friend and home improvement guru Phil Alvarez on drums, and Mr. Nitro has decided to “retire”.  One of the highlights of their set for me was always their nearly note-perfect rendition of Joe Cocker’s arrangement of “With A Little Help From My Friends” during which if you closed your eyes, you’d almost swear you were back at Woodstock with Nitro’s dead-on bluesy Cocker growl (minus all the epileptic-fit histrionics, that is).  My gut feeling is Mikey’s “retirement” is a temporary thing, and like Ozzy Osbourne, he’ll soon discover that retirement sucks!

I often chuckle when I see photos like this one in the paper, featuring the latest runway fashions, and I have to ask the following:  Do these fashion designer people actually expect ordinary everyday women to wear this crap?!?  I haven’t seen pants like that since my Sears Toughskins that Mom made me wear in first grade!  They call this fashion?  This shit looks like it was designed by Krusty The Clown…

For the second time in a month, one of my home improvement projects has claimed the life of a member of the animal kingdom.  Last month, it was the fleeing snake who committed suicide by diving headfirst into toxic sewer water during my sewer drain repair, and this past weekend as Phil and I repaired the back wall of my house, Chippy The Chipmunk, a tenant of mine who lived under my patio, bit the dust.  Evidently, Chippy snuck in underneath the scraps of wood and paneling that I had piled up on the patio and one of the heavier pieces slipped and crushed him to death, as I found him flattened not unlike Chicago Cubs were in the playoffs this weekend.  This is the second chipmunk fatality related to my back door area in the last ten years, as another bodacious rodent dared to enter my humble abode through a hole in the wall and met his maker in a rather unpleasant manner…

My good friend Randy Raley posted this link on his blog last week featuring AudioVideo Revolution’s Top 100 Rock albums of all-time, a subject that makes for great debate, indeed.  This is just me, but I think this list was created by a bunch of crack-smokers and Rolling Stone critics (same thing).  First off, they have Jimi Hendrix’ Electric Ladyland at #3 all-time, and that’s not even the best Hendrix album (Are You Experienced? blows it away).  Led Zeppelin III ahead of Led Zeppelin IV?!?  The Beatles’ half-assed Let It Be album ahead of Revolver and Abbey Road doesn’t even make the list?!?  This Is Spinal Tap soundtrack—an album by a group that didn’t really exist?!?  Tattoo You is the only Stones album to make the cut—where’s Sticky Fingers?  The Who doesn’t even crack the Top 60, and Who’s Next doesn’t make the list at all?  Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road nowhere to be found here?  Whatchutalkinbout, Willis?!?  There’s also a lot of other stuff that doesn’t even belong on this list, like the Beastie Boys, Bob Marley and Lyle Lovett—not Rock ‘N’ Roll to me, sorry—and way too many Metallica albums for my liking.

I’ve been toying with the idea of putting together my own Top 100 albums list for some time now, but I always have trouble compiling it once I get past the Top five to ten albums.  Ranking favorite albums is such a subjective thing, and I have trouble with what criteria to base my list on—do I go with my heart or with my head?  To me, the way an album impacts you when it first comes out has a lot to do with how much you like it.  For instance, I’d have to say that ZZ Top’s best album is probably Eliminator or maybe even Fandango!, but my personal favorite is El Loco because of where I was personally and what was going on in my life at the time it came out.  Fair Warning is my favorite Van Halen album, but clearly their first one is their best.  Another good example is Paul Revere & The Raiders’ 1969 release Hard ‘n’ Heavy (with Marshmallow) that I listened to incessantly when I was all of five years old.  Is it one of the greatest albums of all-time?  Probably not, but it makes my Top 5 all the same.  Food for thought, and to each his/her own…

Just for shits and hoots, here’s my Top 10 albums of all-time (the other 90 are subject to debate):
10) Quadrophenia—THE WHO (1973)
9) Destroyer—KISS (1976)
8) Abbey Road—THE BEATLES (1969)
7) Black Oak Arkansas—BLACK OAK ARKANSAS (1971)
6) Led Zeppelin IV—LED ZEPPELIN (1971)
5) Hard ‘n’ Heavy (With Marshmallow)—P. REVERE & THE RAIDERS (1969)
4) Orgasmatron—MOTORHEAD (1986)
3) Who’s Next—THE WHO (1971)
2) Alive!—KISS (1975)
1) Goodbye Yellow Brick Road—ELTON JOHN (1973)