Saturday, December 20, 2008

Show me "Sand the floor"...

I was rummaging through the archives some more and came across this little nostalgia piece, entitled "YOU ARE A CHILD OF THE ‘80s IF:"

-You owned/operated a “Trapper Keeper”
-You know what “Psych” means
-Once, while spending hours in the arcade, you actually lined up quarters on the top panel of the game to “reserve” your spot
-You know the profound meaning of “Wax on/Wax off”
-You can name at least half of the members of the elite “Brat Pack”
-You know who Tina Yothers is
-You wanted to be a Goonie
-You had top-of-the-line Commodore 64s in your Jr. High computer lab
-You know who Max Headroom is
-You ever wore fluorescent (neon, if you will) clothing
-You thought Molly Ringwald was REALLY cool
-You could breakdance, or wish you could
-Partying “like it’s 1999 seemed SO far away
-You wanted to be on “Star Search”
-You hold a special place in your heart for Back To The Future [Great Scott! Don’t we all?]
-You can remember what Michael Jackson looked like before his nose fell off
-You wore a banana clip at some point during your youth
-You HAD to have your MTV
-You actually thought Dirty Dancing was a REALLY good movie [It is a good movie, I think!]
-You remember when Cosmo Kramer was on a show called “Fridays”
-You knew “The Artist” when he was humbly called “Prince”
-You remember when Atari was a state of the art video game system
-You own(ed) any “cassette singles” [I did/do. CD singles too!]
-You ever pondered why Smurfette was the ONLY female Smurf
-You wore bike shorts underneath a short skirt and felt stylish
-You ever wore a Swatch watch
-You remember when “Saturday Night Live” was funny

In the meantime, I came up with just a few more additions to the list:
-You poked fun at Nina Blackwood’s hair [Someone buy that woman a hair brush, will ya!]
-You waited in line all night on Fridays at a record store to buy concert tickets first thing Saturday morning
-You remember what a record store actually was!
-You wanted your money back on the LaserDisc player you bought because there wasn’t much of a selection of discs to play in them
-You thought wearing replica Major League Baseball helmets made you look cool [Guilty as charged here!]
-You remember those little green Cyalume (sp?) glow-in-the-dark light sticks that people threw around at concerts
-You engaged in the VHS vs. Beta debate [Beta rules!]
-You remember when Lifetime was called the Cable Health Network and when SpikeTV was called The Nashville Network
-You thought Gene Simmons had a future in the movies
-You were in competition with other girls at the mall to see who had the tallest hair
-You remember when enclosed shopping malls actually thrived
-You filled up dozens of VHS tapes with individual music videos off MTV
-You remember when MTV aired nothing but music videos, 24/7, ESPN aired nothing but sports and CNN Headline News did 48 separate 30-minute newscasts every day [Whatever happened to Sasha Foo, btw?]
-You know who Rhonda Shear was
-You paid 50 cents a minute to call Jose Canseco’s 1-900 phone line thing
-Your computer screen was all-green
-You remember when there was no such thing as competitive poker on television
-You wasted money on “picture disc” LPs that sounded like shit
-You or someone you know played one of those “headless” guitars or basses
-Your local TV weather man stood in front of a magnetic U.S. map instead of computer-generated graphics
-You bought into any advice that Dr. Ruth Westheimer dished out on TV
-You remember the Ford Probe being described as the “car of the future”
-You actually bought into the (overrated) Flashdance fashion craze
-You thought of Reagan as a politician instead of an actor and Schwarzenegger as an actor instead of a politician
-You thought Dexy’s Midnight Runners were the “next big thing”
-You let the Moral Majority and/or the PTL Club do all your thinking for you
-You thought electronic drums were really neato!
-You videotaped every episode of your favorite TV shows (“M*A*S*H”, for instance) to keep, not knowing there would be such a thing as TV shows on DVDs in the future [Guilty as charged!]
-You would get so pissed-off when weather/news alerts would interrupt those shows you were taping!
-After catching the last ten seconds of a new video on MTV you’d been dying to see, you’d watch for hours on end until it was shown again
-You wore one of those doofy George Michael “Choose Life” shirts
-You assumed every woman dressed like Jane Fonda when they did aerobics
-You fell for Herbalife
-You believed that women would start shaving their heads to be fashionable after Star Trek-The Motion Picture came out
-You kept thinking the next Rolling Stones concert tour would be their last [Some things are eternal!]
-You remember when Album Rock stations still played new music
-You had to turn the dial on the converter box to channel-surf on cable instead of using a remote control
-You remember The Simpsons starting off on the “Tracey Ullman Show”
-You actually paid money to see Madonna’s movies, no matter how putrid they were (Who’s That Girl, for instance)
-You remember when local TV stations would go off the air at one in the morning
-You owned or utilized a Key-Tar
-You bought a Refrigerator Perry t-shirt [I plead insanity on that one!]
-You remember when “Friday Night Videos” replaced “Midnight Special” on NBC
-You had to own your favorite albums in every format that was available at the time (i.e., LP, 8-Track and cassette) [Guilty as charged!]
-You secretly hoped that just once, Madonna would twist out of that tube top she wore in the “Papa Don’t Preach” video
-You thought Vince McMahon was a legitimate sportscaster
-You remember when Michael Jackson was a good-looking black guy
-You remember when David Letterman was on NBC
-You took Geraldo Rivera seriously as a journalist
-You were underwhelmed when the “Who shot J.R.?” cliffhanger was revealed
-You bought into L. Ron Hubbard’s Dyanetics
-You thought Billy Squier might be the next Eddie Van Halen
-You planned your weekends around the Friday night soft-core porn offerings on Showtime and Cinemax
-You had trouble getting used to the “Los Angeles” Raiders
-You remember seeing Paul Stanley’s real hair during Kiss concerts
-You went “Huh?!?” when you heard Elton John married a woman
-You had an instant dislike for Alan Thicke and his late night talk show
-You can name at least four teams from the USFL
-You spanked your monkey just like Judge Reinhold did when thinking/dreaming of Phoebe Cates [This means YOU, Tom!]
-You owned a copy of the “Super Bowl Shuffle” videotape
-You really thought indoor soccer would become a major league sport in America on a par with the NBA and NHL [Sadly, it didn’t]
-You remember when Tom Hanks dressed as a woman on TV
-You wore an “I’m with Stupid” t-shirt or ball cap [This means YOU, Tom!]
-You actually paid good money for a Garden Weasel or Pocket Fisherman from Ronco
-You remember when highway signs also had metric measurements on them
-You remember when most convenience stores didn’t sell gasoline
-You remember having to write a check out to cash to get money from the bank in the pre-ATM days
-It took an act of Congress for the schools to close when it snowed
-You remember the “new” Coke (and hated it)
-You owned a DEVO hat [I still want one!]
-You know who Captain Lou Albano and Gorilla Monsoon were

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Since my "Overrated" post got such a good response, it’s time to give the underrated music folks equal time.  Being as they are so overlooked, there’s a good chance I’ve already done blog tributes on them, which I’m providing links to, if you care to view…

Paul Revere & The Raiders—It frustrates me no end that these guys aren’t respected more for their musical output.  They were a fun band that played some excellent guitar-driven Rock, but unfortunately they are remembered more for their campy stage act on TV in the ‘60s (and Revere’s current nostalgia act in Branson doesn’t help things any).  Lead singer Mark Lindsay was a stud as the group’s front man and even though they had a revolving door in terms of personnel, PR&TR always employed fine musicians, like the equally-underrated Drake Levin on guitar.  Their big hits between 1965 and 1971 were great, but you can even go beyond them and find numerous hidden gems like "Louise", "Ballad of A Useless Man", "Get Out Of My Mind", "Time After Time", "Get It On", "Boys In The Band" and a personal fave, "The Great Airplane Strike". Strange irony that "Indian Reservation" was their first and only #1 hit, because it was also the beginning of the end.  PR&TR are far more Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame worthy than their contemporaries like the Lovin’ Spoonful, Dave Clark Five and the Ventures, just to name a few.

Sweet—This band was unfairly tagged with the ‘70s "Glam Rock" stigma, which I think hurt their career in the long run.  You know "Ballroom Blitz" and "Fox On The Run", but they had a few other songs that rocked just as hard, like "Teenage Rampage", "Blockbuster" and "Action".  Sadly, singer Brian Connolly’s over-indulgence in alcohol helped to derail this band by the late ‘70s.

Elton John Band—We know Elton’s good, but I’m referring here to his backing band during his ‘70s heyday, guitarist Davey Johnstone, bassist Dee Murray and drummer Nigel Olsson (and later percussionist Ray Cooper).  In addition to being top-flight musicians, Johnstone, Murray and Olsson are largely unrecognized for providing sterling backing vocals—the original "Candle In The Wind" being a supreme example—and why on earth Elton chose to break this unit up in 1975 is a mystery.  His decision to cease working with longtime producer Gus Dudgeon also mystifies me, and it’s no small coincidence that EJ’s career went into free-fall after he "split the band" (keeping only Johnstone and Cooper and bringing in other musicians) and that his career rebounded in the ‘80s when Murray and Olsson returned.  Dee Murray died of skin cancer in 1992, but Johnstone and Olsson still play and tour with Elton today.  Their body of work from about 1972 through 1975 is nothing short of phenomenal.

The Rainmakers—The finest Rock band Kansas City ever produced, bar none.  Should’ve been every bit as big as R.E.M. is.  See my previous blog tribute on them for more details.

Moody Blues—The critics tended to blow them off, and the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame avoids them like they were rodent droppings, but these gentlemen produced some of the finest headphone music I’ve ever heard on their magnificent first seven albums between 1968 and 1972.  Some of their stuff makes for a great head trip that you don’t even need illegal drugs to enjoy.  Former keyboardist Mike Pinder doesn’t get near enough credit for his work, especially on the almighty Mellotron.  Even though it made for a nice comeback, I can pretty much do without their ‘80s-and-beyond output when they were merely trying to write hit singles—it’s those first seven albums that define this band.

Cheap Trick—Yes, the critics were generally kind to these guys, but I still don’t think they get their due.  It’s strange that such a Rock Radio-friendly band doesn’t rate more airplay than just "Surrender" and "I Want You To Want Me".  Radio doesn’t go anywhere near deep enough into their catalogue—there’s so much more to Cheap Trick, like "He’s A Whore", "She’s Tight", "Auf Wiedersehen", "Tonight It’s You", "Stiff Competition", "Never Had A Lot To Lose" and "Clock Strikes Ten", plus Heaven Tonight, Dream Police and Lap Of Luxury are excellent albums.  "The Flame" is one of my all-time favorite power ballads too.

Rush—The critics hate these crazy Canucks with a passion, which I’m sure makes their continuing prolonged success all the more infuriating to them.  Rush really hit their stride when Geddy Lee reined in his voice and really learned how to sing instead of screeching and shrieking, long about the time of Moving Pictures in 1981, the first in a string of what I thought were their five best albums (Signals, Grace Under Pressure, Power Windows and Hold Your Fire being the others).

Grand Funk Railroad—Another trio the critics loved to hate, and they were even more merciless on GFR than they were on Rush.  Much to their credit, Mark, Don and Mel didn’t give a monkey’s what the critics thought, and just went out and played what people wanted to hear.  Grand Funk has two songs that would make my Top 100 of all-time, "We’re An American Band" and "I’m Your Captain/Closer To Home", the latter of which I want played at my funeral.

Journey—I have a soft spot for Journey, in spite of Steve Perry’s penchant for sappy power ballads like "Open Arms" and his firing of bassist Ross Valory and drummer Steve Smith for no good reason in 1985.  Yeah, we’re in a slump, so let’s fire the rhythm section.  Flaky as he is, Perry was still a pretty good front man, and guitarist Neal Schon is vastly overlooked.  I love their "B" stuff like "Rubicon", "Line of Fire", "Be Good To Yourself", "Lay It Down" and "Only The Young".

Motorhead—Without Uncle Lemmy and company, there would be no Metallica, there would be no Judas Priest, there would be no Iron Maiden, and so forth on down the line, yet they get precious little credit for being true groundbreaking heavy metal behemoths.  They are the loudest, rawest and fastest band in my musical collection, and with lines like "You got a body like a Marshall stack," Lemmy also incorporates a sense of humor into Motorhead’s music—a rarity in the metal genre.

John Hiatt—A brilliant singer/songwriter with a knack for clever lines like "thunder and lightning from the bloodshot skies" and the only man I know of who successfully worked in porcupines and amoebas in the same song and made it work!  His gentle good humor and unique perspectives on life really make his music come alive.  Hard to be in a bad mood while listening to him…

Nick Lowe—A one-time cohort of J. Hiatt’s, and a very witty songwriter in his own right (write?), plus he plays a pretty mean bass guitar and is known for his production talents too.  Full of brilliant lines like "When I’m with you, girl, I get an extension—and I don’t mean Alexander Graham Bell’s invention" (from "Switchboard Susan") and "You’re cold, pretty mama, like a Utah night" (from "Refrigerator White"), I don’t get why Lowe gets snubbed by the Hall of Fame while a wanker like Elvis Costello gets in.

Dave Edmunds—Erstwhile partner of N. Lowe’s in Rockpile, Edmunds may well be the greatest Rock guitar player that most people have never heard of.  The man pays tribute to old-school Rockabilly and Blues like no one else, and is one of the best re-interpreters ever of old songs.

Black Oak Arkansas—Not the most musically-gifted group in the world, but Jim Dandy and BOA made up for that with a great attitude and some fun music.  To the critic who said BOA’s one distinguishing quality was that they "had three guitar players that didn’t even add up to one good one", I say just keep on listening to your King Crimson records and go get stuffed!

Jim Croce—Oh, what might've been.  This man hadn't even come close to peaking at the time of his untimely death in 1973, and his influence can clearly be heard in the work of people like John Hiatt, Tom Petty and many other songwriters.  And why the hell isn't he in the friggin' Hall of Fame?  Jim's career lasted three times as long as Ritchie Valens', and was far more prolific, yet Ritchie's in the Hall and Jim isn't.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Givin' The Blog A Bone

At long last, “King” Carl Peterson will no longer be the GM of the Kansas City Chiefs.  He had one year left on his contract, but stepped down on Monday following the Chefs’ 22-21 debacle loss to San Diego on Sunday (after they blew a 17-point lead late).  Officially, Peterson “resigned”, but I get the impression that he was given the choice by owner Clark Hunt of either quitting on his own volition or being fired anyway.  Peterson did some wonderful things during his almost 20-year tenure with the team, but he clearly overstayed his welcome and should’ve come to the realization that he was not a particularly good judge of player talent.  Yes, he nabbed a few gems along the way like Tony Gonzalez, Dan Saleaumua, Priest Holmes and the late Derrick Thomas, but there were just as many blunders like Kendrell Bell, Junior Siavii, Elvis Grbac, Greg Hill, Steve Bono and Trezelle Jenkins over the years.

When Peterson first came to K.C. in 1989, I was impressed with his aggressiveness in changing the culture of such a moribund franchise and giving the fans something to chew on.  Before Carl’s arrival, many of the seats at Arrowhead Stadium had cobwebs on them, but in just a couple years, the joint was jumping and was packed to the gills for years to come.  Those first ten years under Carl and coach Marty Schottenheimer were highly successful, but as time wore on, Peterson’s arrogance got the better of him and he started making questionable personnel moves (Bam Morris, anyone?) with his “win now, but mortgage the future” attitude, thus the Chiefs have returned to moribundance the last couple years.  Peterson’s strength lies in the administrative side of the operation, and he would have been much better-served to focus on being the team’s CEO and bringing in a GM who could better evaluate talent on the field, but his ego wouldn’t allow it.  So while I do appreciate that which CP helped create at Arrowhead over the years, I’m also relieved with his departure, which was long overdue.

As for the future, I have two words for the Chiefs:  Bill Cowher!

As y’all no doubt have seen by now, Dubya’s press conference in Iraq the other day featured more ducks than an AFLAC commercial.  I just love how the dude on the right in this pic seems oblivious to everything.  I have to admit, I was impressed with Dubya’s quick reflexes—he no doubt obtained that fine dexterity from all that ducking of the Constitution, not to mention ducking all the tough questions from the media these last eight years.  And what's the bet those shoes will soon be up for auction on eBay?  Memo to Mr. Shoe-Hurler:  next time, try using steel-toed work boots—they carry better!

And for those of you who will accuse me of being disrespectful to your President, you’re damn right—I have not one iota of respect for this man, so sue me…

Hate to sound like ol’ Eb. Scrooge here, but this year’s Christmas season is rapidly wearing me down, between all the hustle and bustle, irritating TV and radio commercials, not to mention the perceived “War on Christmas” that the Christians think has been waged by those who aren’t quite so gung ho religious.  As a member of the latter category, I’m pretty ambivalent about it allI don’t care if they put a nativity scene on government property nor am I offended if someone from Lowe’s wishes me a Merry Christmas, but all the same, I think it’s a little warped that other folks aren’t allowed equal time.  For instance, like the folks at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, whose motto is:  “At this season of the winter solstice, may reason prevail.  There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell.  There is only our natural world.  Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

I read an interesting column by Mary Sanchez in the K.C. Star Monday about the whole hubbub being stirred up by the religious right regarding the holiday season.  In it, she wrote, “In other words, some Christians are fine with tolerating other faiths, as long as it is clear that theirs is king of the religious mountain.  The paradox is, if we all just lightened up and let Christmas be Christian, there might be less Christian jingoism and more room for others to celebrate their own faiths and traditions.  Religious holidays, after all, ought to be expressions of our best attributes, not our petty differences.”  Well said.

As for the irritating Christmas ads, there was a good piece on Monday which lamented the fact that today’s holiday season commercials are either really lame or really annoying or both.  Far and away the most heinous of this season’s commercials are the give-a give-a Garmin ads that are set to the tune of “Carol Of The Bells”.  Every time I hear it, it makes me want to sing (in time with the same music) “Please make it stop, please make it stop, please make it stop…”  Makes me long for the days of cool Christmas ads like this one.  And this one.

John McCain said this week that he can’t promise that he’ll support Sarah Palin if she runs for President in 2012.  A mere three months ago, he tried to convince us all that Ms. Winky-Dink would make a good Commander-In-Chief in the event of his untimely demise, yet he’s not even in her political corner now—what does this tell us about Big John and his fitness to command, huh?  I believe the term youse Republicans out there like to use is “flip-flop”.  It’s so blatantly obvious now that he was merely using Palin to get votes if he doesn’t firmly believe in her possible candidacy in ’12.

I got a little chuckle this morning when I read about the Japanese toilet maker Inax Corp., who is having to repair 82,000 electric toilet-bidet combos after some of them evidently overheated and started smoking.  Talk about your hot cross buns!

This reminds me of the innovation Archie Bunker once came up with—the “electric turlet seat”.  According to Arch, he “got the idea one freezing morning after the wife left the bathroom window open all night…it works sorta like your electric toaster, only it don’t pop you off the seat. I’m thinking of calling it the Bunker Bun Warmer…”

The term “Jump The Shark” was coined from the infamous 1978 “Happy Days” episode in which Fonzie goes water skiing over a live shark to indicate the point at which a popular TV show loses its way and goes overboard.  After further review, I think the true JTS moment may well have been a year earlier in the 1977 season-opening “Fonzie Loves Pinky” trilogy that I’m currently watching on the HD Season 4 DVD set, featuring the legendary Pinky Tuscadero and the dreaded Malachi brothers in a demolition derby.  It astounds me that this thing seemed so cool 31 years ago and now comes across as so friggin’ hokey!  Guess that’s the difference between seeing things with 8th-grade eyes and 44-year-old ones.  By the time the third part of the episode aired, actress Roz Kelly was already a has-beenwhat a waste of an attractive redhead.

“With A Little Luck”—WINGS (1978)  “The willow turns his back on inclement weather...”  Dopey me, I thought Sir Paul McCartney was singing something about “clever weather”.

Here’s a few Carlin-esque musings I thought of today:

  • The phrase “clean as a whistle” always mystifies me.  Unless it’s brand new, a whistle is full of spit and drool—how clean can they possibly be?
  • Why is it people always take a gander, but never leave any?
  • Do steel traps actually have minds?
  • Exactly how fit are fiddles?