Saturday, September 27, 2008

Irritable Blog Syndrome

PAUL NEWMAN, 1925-2008
We lost another big name yesterday with the death of Hollywood legend Paul Newman.  The tabloids have been claiming for weeks that Newman was in ill health with cancer for quite some time, and for once they were evidently right.  I never much cared for his salad dressing, but the man was a damn fine actor, as evidenced by his ten Oscar nominations for Best Actor in films like The Sting, Cool Hand Luke, The Verdict, Road To Perdition and Color Of Money, the latter of which he won the Oscar for.  I may be a tad biased here, but beyond all those flicks, I think his finest performance was his portrayal of beleaguered and grizzled minor league hockey player/coach Reggie Dunlop in 1977's Slap Shot.  Damn funny movie, even if you don't like hockey.

Paul Newman was also very much into auto racing, and even raced competitively himself well into his '70s.  Even more impressive, he was married to the same woman for 50 years, Joanne Woodward, a Hollywood actress herself, no less.  Most celebrity marriages don't even last 50 days anymore, let alone 50 years.  R.I.P., Reggie... "Old time hockey! Eddie Shore!"

"Sometimes pushing all the buttons/sometimes pulling out the plug..."

Man, Neil Peart of Rush was spot-on with that 1985 lyric...

Why has this whole economy thing come to all this bailout crappola?  It'd be one thing if one single cataclysmic event like 9/11, some big natural mega-disaster or invasion by the Russians or something was causing our current economic crisis, but good moogly-woogly, we're imploding on our own, thanks to a bunch of greedy Wall St. douches.  And why the fuck didn't we see this coming so we could head it off at the pass?  OR, is this whole thing just more fear-mongering on the part of the Bush Administration—one more for the road, eh Dubya?  I love how his own Republican cronies actually turned on him this week when the bailout thing was almost a done-deal.  It would be easy to blame Dubya for all this mess, and some of it is indeed his fault, but not all of it.  But, it did happen on his watch, and it seems like a fitting bookend to this absolute debacle and joke of a Presidential administration.

A friend of mine sent this to me via e-mail. Sounds logical enough to me...

I'm against the $85,000,000,000.00 bailout of AIG.  Instead, I'm in favor of giving $85,000,000,000 to America in a We Deserve It Dividend.

To make the math simple, let's assume there are 200,000,000 bonafide U. S. Citizens 18+. Our population is about 301,000,000 +/- counting every man, woman and child.  So 200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and up.  So divide 200 million adults 18+ into $85 billion that equals $425,000.00.  My plan is to give $425,000 to every person 18+ as a We Deserve It Dividend.  Of course, it would NOT be tax free.  So let's assume a tax rate of 30%.  Every individual 18+ has to pay $127,500.00 in taxes.  That sends $25,500,000,000 right back to Uncle Sam.  But it means that every adult 18+ has $297,500.00 in their pocket.  A husband and wife has $595,000.00.

What would you do with $297,500.00 to $595,000.00 in your family?  Pay off your mortgagehousing crisis solved.  Repay college loanswhat a great boost to new grads.  Put away money for collegeit'll be there.  Save in a bankcreate money to lend to entrepreneurs.  Buy a new carcreate jobs.  Invest in the marketcapital drives growth.  Pay for your parent's medical insurancehealth care improves.  Enable deadbeat Dads to come clean or else.

Remember this is for every adult U S Citizen 18+ including the folks who lost their jobs at Lehman Brothers and every other company that is cutting back.  And of course, for those serving in our Armed Forces.  If we're going to re-distribute wealth let's really do it...instead of trickling out a puny $1000.00 ( vote buy ) economic incentive that is being proposed by one of our candidates for President.  If we're going to do an $85 billion bailout, let's bail out every adult US Citizen 18+!

As for AIG, liquidate it.  Sell off its parts.  Let American General go back to being American General.  Sell off the real estate.  Let the private sector bargain hunters cut it up and clean it up.  Here's my rationale.  We deserve it and AIG doesn't.  Sure it's a crazy idea that can never work.  But can you imagine the Coast-To-Coast Block Party!  How do you spell Economic Boom?  I trust my fellow adult Americans to know how to use the $85 Billion WeDeserve It Dividend more than I do the geniuses at AIG or in Washington DC.  And remember, The Birk plan only really costs $59.5 Billion because $25.5 Billion is returned instantly in taxes to Uncle Sam.  Ahhh...I feel so much better getting that off my chest.

And let me add—with everyone getting that kind of moolah, crime would probably decrease dramatically since there'd be less incentive to steal stuff.  The travel industry would be booming again because people could afford to go places more often.  Charities would also greatly benefit.  Now if we could do that with $85 billion, can you imagine what we could do with that $700 billion they're trying to bail the economy out with this weekend?  Shit, I could almost retire on that much money...

I watched the entire Presidential debate last night between McCain and Obama, and I gave a very slight edge to Obama overall.  Barack didn't exactly blow me away, but Big John did precious little win me over, especially when he constantly interrupted Obama as he spoke.

Check out our lowly Kansas City Royals this weekend, as they try to throw a wrench into the Minnesota Twins playoff plans.  Our suddenly-mighty Cornholios have been on a hot streak the last couple weeks, and won their 75th game today—a mark I wouldn't have bet the farm that they would reach about this time a month ago, given how awful the Royals played in August.  Luckily for the Twins, the White Sox have lost five in a row and still trail Minnesota by 1/2 a game.  Chicago has a game in hand on Minnesota, however, and might have to play Detroit on Monday to make-up for an earlier rainout.  Getting back to the Royals, if you take away the months of May and August, this would've been a pretty decent season, overall.  If they could just add a couple more decent bats to their lineup, they could be the Tampa Bay Rays of '09.

...without even playing!  That appears to be the scenario for the U. of Mizzou, whose foosball team is idle this week.  But, thanks to #1 USC losing on Thursday at Oregon State (yay, Beavers!), #3 Georgia losing to Alabama in their own house tonight and #4 Florida losing by one point today at the hands of Ole Miss in their own house, #6 Missouri is likely to move up in the rankings just in time for their showdown in Lincoln next Saturday against Nebraska.  Plenty of intrigue already, and we're only five weeks into the season...

While I'm on college football, I heard something on the radio one morning this week that made me throw up in my mouth.  It was a commercial for that "Free" Credit bullshit featuring none other than legendary sportscaster/college football icon Keith Jackson.  Keith, buddy, your Gatorade spots were wonderful, but please tell me you aren't THAT hard-up for cash to have to resort to doing ads for this bogus outfit?  I think I'd just as soon hear you do endorsements for tampons or douches...

This little nugget on the KissAsylum website made me chuckle today.  Seems there is now a Vinnie Vincent tribute CD entitled Kiss My Ankh!  It features remakes of Vincenzo's Kiss classics (all half-a-dozen of them) and some other stuff he wrote, all performed by a bunch of nobodies.  A Vinnie Vincent tribute CD is the equivalent of E! Entertainment doing a "True Hollywood Stories" segment on Jared from Subway or maybe that comedian who did the "You can call me Ray, and you can call me Jay...but ya doesn't have to call me Johnson" shtick!

For no particular reason, I stumbled across the name of R&B singer CeCe Peniston today and quickly noticed that you can't spell Peniston without 'penis'!  I believe Peniston is Latin for "heavy dick"...

I meant to post this pic a while back and forgot about it.  This would be one of Rock music's more famous addresses, 2400 Fulton Street in San Francisco, better known as the Jefferson Airplane hangar, beginning in 1968.  The band lived, rehearsed and conducted business there, and Grace Slick often served as your friendly drug stewardess (get it, Airplane? Stewardess?) for a time.  I hoofed it around the adjoining neighborhood, which is just up the hill from Golden Gate Park, and it looked like a fine place for an LSD trip.  Timothy Leary's dead...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Oh no, they say he’s got to go…oh no, Blog-zilla!

I generally try to post something every Saturday, but I was a tad busy yesterday replacing the siding on the back of my house with the help of my good friend Phil.  This pic shows the results of our nearly 11 hours of labor.  My legs and back are killing me today, but it was totally worth it to correct 30 years worth of jungle rot that had infected the woodwork underneath the shoddy aluminum siding that some yokels installed long before I ever owned the place.

In spite of all that, I kinda liked seeing the natural light beaming into my bathroom, and was tempted to install a window thereof, but I'm not sure if my neighbors to the north would've enjoyed seeing yours truly buck nekkid and full monty all the time, so I opted to go the conventional route and replace the walls.  Special thanks once again to Phil for sacrificing another Saturday to help me out. I owe you a veritable shitload of favors, my friend...

As soon as I tuned in the Chefs-Falcons game today, I knew I was in for a long day.  It's a given that since K.C. and Atlanta are just one step above Pop Warner-level football, we viewers get stuck with Pop-Warner-level hacks like CBS' Gus Johnson, the Les Nessman of TV football announcers.  After he spouted the term "Hot-lanta" three times in a 15-minute span, I immediately hit the mute button on my TV and flipped on the Chefs' radio guys.  Get a real job, Gus...

While I'm at it, a memo to CBS' James Brown:  Lose the "Shan-NON" thing when referring to your tag-team partner Shannon Sharpe—you don't even sound Black when you do this shtick...

That's an actual headline from today's K.C. Star, regarding our local NFL franchise.  Uhhh, I think they already did, being's how they've now lost 12 regular season games in a row.  To give you an idea of how bad today's 38-14 loss was, during the first half not long after I gave up on Gus Johnson and Co. on TV and turned on the radio, I actually switched over to my rented "Love Boat" DVD reruns in favor of wasting precious minutes of my life watching this fiasco.  The world NFL record is 26 losses in a row by the expansion 1976-77 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Chefs are almost halfway there already.  I'd be shocked if they win a game all season this year...

Late Oakland Raiders play-by-play man Bill King might've re-uttered his own famous words today as the lowly Miami Dolphins (1-15 last season) fed the New England Patriots their own lunch today in Foxborough 38-13.  This thing wasn't even close, either, and the Pats' NFL-record 21-game regular season winning streak ended with a muffled thud.  Okay, if a 1-15 team from a year ago could do this in the Patriots' house, then why could the 4-12 (last year) Chefs only manage a 17-10 loss at Gillette Stadium two weeks ago?  Oh, I forgot, we're rebuilding.  Meh...

Whilst Phil and I were toiling away yesterday, Michigan State made Saturday an A.G.D. (Automatic Good Day) for me by whooping up on Notre Dame in East Lansing, 23-7.  That's the way ya do it...

Cubs win!  Cubs win!  I was quite pleased to see the Chicago Cubs clinch their second straight NL Central Division title yesterday.  I firmly believe that 2008 may truly be the year the Cubbies finally get over the hump and win the whole she-bang because unlike past years when they've made the playoffs ('84, '89, '98) and totally sucked the next season, they've actually improved on their record this year and have made the playoffs in successive seasons.  They should have no problem with any of their National League brethren (Dodgers, Mets, Phillies, Brewers, whoever) in the playoffs, and I think they stack up nicely against any American League foe they might face in the World Serious.

...but does that goomer in the UPS TV ads writing with the dry-erase pens not bear a very strong resemblance to Mike Damone in Fast Times At Ridgemont High?  Bet he could still score you some good Cheap Trick tickets too...

Two weeks ago, I paid $3.34 a gallon for gas before Hurricane Ike hit.  Even before Ike came ashore, gas jumped 15 cents a gallon here to $3.49, yet it was determined that the damage Ike inflicted was fairly negligible, and yesterday gas here suddenly dropped to $3.29 a gallon.  Luckily, I filled up before the shit went up, but what cheeses me off is how these oil company scumbags raise the price of gas solely on what might happen instead of actual results.

And oh by the way, do you think these companies like my trash collectors who jacked up their monthly fee by a buck or two when gas was $4.00 a gallon are going to revert back to what they were charging previously now that we're back into the $3-twenties again.  Shit, no!  Bull-puckey, I say!

I saw by the 'ol Internet today that singer George Michael was busted today in London for drug possession once again.  Just like during his 1998 arrest in Beverly Hills' Will Rogers Memorial Park for waxing his own dolphin, Georgie Boy was busted in another toilet.  I'll give the boy credit—if nothing else, he sure is consistent.

"Him Or Me-What's It Gonna Be?"—PAUL REVERE & THE RAIDERS (1967)  "...and if you decide it's him, I'll change my plans..."  I started listening to this song when I was barely three years old, therefore I knew precious little about two-timing women-folk, so forgive my youthful innocence when I thought Mark Lindsay sang, "...and if you decide it's him, I'll change my pants..."

Tonight brings the curtain down on the "House That Ruth Built", the venerable Yankee Stadium in Da Bronx.  Very mixed feelings on this end about it all, as I never got to visit this hallowed sports institution, especially after I passed up the opportunity last month to do so in favor of doing my California excursion instead.  But, given how easily I was rattled by all the scum and villainy I encountered in downtown San Francisco, I know now that I sure as hell wasn't ready to take on the Big Apple without a police escort and a personal bodyguard, therefore I think I made the right move, therefore, so be it.  Eighty-five years' worth of history (not just baseball) has gone down at this legendary locale, everything from Babe Ruth to Lou Gehrig to Muhammad Ali to Joe DiMaggio to Giants/Colts-Don Ameche to Yogi Berra to Mickey Mantle to the Pope(s) to Roger Maris to Frank Gifford to Pele to Sugar Ray Robinson to Thurman Munson to Don Larsen to Billy Joel to Billy Martin to G. Brett's pine tar to Don Mattingly to Howard Cosell to Yogi Berra to Pink Floyd to Reggie Jackson to Derek Jeter to A-Rod to Mariano Rivera to Bob Sheppard.

The last name on that list is the Yankees' legendary P.A. announcer, Bob Sheppard, who turns 98 years old next month.  This man could even make dickey dick-brain Rickey Henderson sound like a saint when he uttered his name.  Shit, I'd give my left nut and maybe part of the right one to hear the man announce my name as I step up to the plate—"Now batting, number 11, designated sitter...Brian Holland...number 11..."  Sadly, Bob has been in poor health since last season and unable to perform his duties during this final season for The Stadium. I sincerely hope they can at least find a way to allow him to give tonight's starting lineups one more time from his living room couch so we can hear "Number two...shortstop...Der-ek Je-tahhh" live one more time.

My favorite Yankee Stadium memory?  That's easy—George Brett's mammoth home run into the right field upper deck during the 1980 ALCS to propel the Royals into the World Serious for the first time ever.  I'll never forget as long as I live the drunken revelry in Crown Center that night after the game as we all chanted "Yankees suck!!" and "Cosell sucks!!" in front of the local TV cameras that night.

Even though the New York Yankees are every bit as evil as Darth Vader, the Dallas Cowboys, Nancy Grace, TV evangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Notre Dame football, Herbalife, Bill O'Reilly, the San Diego Sockers, Ann Coulter, Tom Cruise, the Oakland Raiders, Michelle Malkin, Wal-Mart, Dick Cheney, Sean Hannity, the oil industry and quite a few others to me, I DO respect their history, and especially that of what is probably the most famous sports venue in the world, so don't think I'm not a little sadder at the passing of this eternal baseball institution.  For this one night—and one night only—I'm root-root-rooting for the Yankees to win tonight.

Oobie Doobie Doo

The Brothers Doobie are yet another band that has been inexplicably denied induction into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame, despite having more than enough credentials thereof.  I’d put their output (including even the Michael McDonald-era stuff) up against that of Bob Seger, Tom Petty and John Mellencamp any day, and they’re all in the Hall.  As you might have gathered, I’m much more partial to the good-time Rock ‘N’ Roll Tom Johnston-era Doobies, as opposed to the wimpy Jazz-Fusion Michael McDonald-era Doobies.  Don’t get me wrong—ol’ McDonald is a great singer and can do blue-eyed soul even better than Hall & Oates ever dreamed they could, but apart from two or three standout tracks, the stuff he did with the Doobies paled in comparison to the earlier (and later) stuff with Johnston.  I much prefer TJ’s warm and friendly voice, which ironically, I find more soulful than MM’s! 
And let us not forget the once-in-a-while capacity of Doobie stalwart Pat Simmons to produce some real gems in their musical catalogue, as well.

Throughout all their various personnel changes, my favorite Doobie Brothers lineup has to be the 1975 Stampede era with Johnston and Simmons, along with Jeff “Skunk” Baxter on guitar, Tiran Porter on bass, and John Harte and the late Keith Knudsen on drums.  By the way, two drummers, Gracie?  I’ve never quite understood why any band needs more than one drummer (Allman Bros., .38 Special, latter-day Moody Blues, et al) to maintain one beat, but whatever floats yer boat, I guess.  Anyway, although I’d become familiar with their big hits on AM radio growing up, the first time I ever actually saw the Doobie Brothers was that infamous episode of TV’s “What’s Happening!” ("Doobie Or Not Doobie") where the band played a concert at Raj and da gang's high school and brother Rerun tried to make a bootleg of the show for some thugs—as if smuggling an ordinary cassette tape recorder under a trench coat would yield a high-quality concert recording—riiiight!  Johnston was already gone by that time, dealing with some health issues that forced him off the road for a while, and McDonald became the focal point until the band broke up in 1982.

Johnston and Simmons reunited with Porter, Harte, former drummer Michael Hossack and late percussionist/vocalist Bobby LaKind in 1989 for the vastly underrated Cycles album, which featured the hit single “The Doctor”, which I like to call “China Grove, Jr.”  It was almost as if the Doobie Brothers had invented time travel, because this record just felt like 1974 all over again.  Their 1991 follow-up, Brotherhood, wasn’t quite as strong, but it still had its moments.  Johnston and Simmons still tour constantly to this day (mostly without McDonald, who’s busy singing Motown songs on his own tours) and they can still bring it.  Put these guys in the Hall already, will ya please?

My all-time Doobie Brothers Top 20
20) “Echoes Of Love” (1980)  This was the beginning of the end the first time around, but not a bad song.
19) “Evil Woman” (1973)  Not to be confused with the ELO or Black Sabbath tunes of the same title.  Sounding kinda like the Eagles' "Witchy Woman" in places, it’s sadly kinda forgotten now.
18) “It Keeps You Runnin‘” (1976)  Now forever associated with Forrest Gump…
17) “Another Park, Another Sunday” (1974)  I didn’t think much of this one at first, but it’s kinda grown on me over the years.
16) “Too High A Price” (1989)  Also sounding almost Eagles-esque at times, this Pat Simmons tune was the closing track from Cycles.
15) “Listen To The Music” (1972)  Sad to hear this one being used on TV commercials now, but whaddya expect?  Check out Peter Frampton on Comes Alive! on the ironically-titled song “Doobie Wah” and tell me if it doesn’t bear a bit of a resemblance to “Listen To The Music”.
14) “The Doctor” (1989)  Son of “China Grove”—most bands wouldn’t get away with recycling the same riff and instrumentation from an old song for a reunion album, but somehow the Doobs did.
13) “Black Water” (1974)  Gets played to death on the radio, but still brings back fun memories of listening to it when it first came out when I was ten.
12) “Without You” (1973)  Nice power chords on one of the edgier Doobies tunes.
11) “Double Dealin’ Four Flusher” (1975)  I don’t have a clue what Pat Simmons is singing about here, but it’s nifty little romp to close out the Stampede album.

10) “Takin’ It To The Streets” (1976)  Easily M. McDonald’s finest hour with the Doobie Brothers.
9) [Tie] “China Grove” (1973)/“Long Train Runnin’” (1972)  These two probably would’ve scored higher on my list, but they’ve both been played to death so much on the radio that I’ve grown a little weary of them.  Still, they’re both classics.
8) “Wrong Number” (1989)  A cautionary tale about the evils of cocaine from Cycles: “That sugar it ain’t worth the price…”  Drugs are bad, mmm-kay?
7) “Rockin’ Down The Highway” (1972)  As the title suggests, this is an outstanding road trip song.
6) “Jesus Is Just Alright” (1972)  Probably the first thing I remember hearing from the band on the radio when I was about seven or eight.  Originally done by The Byrds in 1969, a highly ironical favorite for an agnostic like me.
5) “Need A Little Taste Of Love” (1989)  Those trademark Doobie harmonies were a perfect fit for this excellent cover of the Isley Brothers tune.
4) “Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me)” (1975)  Another excellent cover version that blows the original away.  It was the first 45 I ever bought that literally had my name printed on it, as I apparently co-wrote this Motown classic with Eddie Holland and Lamont Dozier—where the fuck's my royalty check?!?  For the longest time, I wondered how the Doobie Brothers made themselves sound like girls doing the backing vocals before I learned of the concept of hired studio singers!
3) “One Chain (Don’t Make No Prison)” (1989)  Great lyrics here ("One rain don't make no river/one punch don't make no fight", etc.) and the backing track has a lot of drive to it. It even kinda sorta sounds like the old Sweathog lost classic “Hallelujah” in places.
2) “Ukiah” (1973)  I first heard this song about four in the morning on the old KY-102 when I was about half-asleep sometime in the early ‘80s, but right away I knew it was the Doobie Brothers with those harmonies.  Very underrated track off the killer The Captain And Me album.
1) “I Cheat The Hangman” (1975)  Is this song a trip or what?  That “What’s Happening!” episode was my first exposure to this underrated classic, and I dunno why it doesn’t get more airplay on the radio.  All you Classic Rock program directors out there—why not give “China Grove” and “Long Train Runnin’” a little break now and then and play this one, eh?