Saturday, December 5, 2009

I got to laugh, 'cuz I know I'm gonna blog! Why?!?

Then again, why not?!?

Seems like it was just yesterday that we were partying like it was 1999 and fretting about Y2K, but Time magazine ran a nice feature this week in which they accurately deemed the ‘00s the “Decade From Hell”, and it suddenly hit me that this current decade is rapidly hurtling to a close—and not a minute too soon.  It amazes me how, the older I get, time seems to pass by so much faster now—to me, the ‘90s came and went in a flash too, while the ‘70s and ‘80s seemed to last forever.  The Time piece (timepiece?) paints a pretty bleak picture of the last ten years for all of us, what with 9/11, Dubya/Cheney, Katrina, the economic meltdown, steroids in sports, fall of the automakers, et al (and I would add to that list “Reality” TV, the decline of the music and radio industries, Lindsay Lohan, the advent of college football's BCS system, Paris Hilton, the rise of Fox News Channel—these and many many more), but the article also gives hope that things like this are cyclical and that better times lie ahead for all.

I hope they’re right, because this decade has been equally wretched for me personally as well, and a huge disappointment considering how the ‘90s ended for me with such promise.  At the end of ’99, I was 35 and in reasonably good physical condition.  Also at the time, I was involved in the best (albeit most unorthodox) relationship with a woman I’ve ever had, I was well on my way to getting out of credit card debt and I still had a social life and was able to hang out with friends on a regular basis.  Flash ahead ten years—I’m now 45 and rapidly turning into a jaded, bitter old fuck.  I haven’t even kissed a woman on the lips since December, ’99, I’m back in debt even worse than before, I'm heavier than ever before, my once-brilliant eyesight has deteriorated considerably and my flatlining social life makes me want to book passage on the next ferry to the Land of Misfit Toys.  Most of my personal crap is self-inflicted, no question, and like in the old Who song, “I’m just tryin’ to fight my way out of this dream.”  Then again, I seem to function better in decades with odd numbers in the tens place—the ‘90s were much happier for me personally, and I’m a child of the ‘70s—so maybe things will start to turn around four weeks from now.  I sure hope so, because 20 years from now, I don’t want to wind up being one of these old farts I always see sitting around at McDonald’s every morning drinking coffee whose daily highlight is bemoaning how his life went wrong over his Egg McMuffin.  Like Edgar Winter's "Free Ride" goes, “We (I) gotta do better, it’s time we (I) begin…”

…and that’s why Kansas University football coach Mark Mangino is now unemployed.  Once a media darling and hero for resurrecting KU’s moribund football program, the Bambino fell and fell hard once all the allegations of player abuse were hurled at him since their seven-game losing streak began in October, culminating with the defeat at the hands of my Mizzou Tigers last Saturday.  Damn shame, too—it’s been fun seeing KU be a perennial winner for a change on the gridiron these last few years instead of just on the basketball court.  And even though Mangino “had a nasty reputation as a cruel dude”, one wonders if he’d still have a job if Kansas won just two or three of those seven games—it’s amazing how winning can keep dirt under the rug.  So long, Bambino…

Didn’t anyone ever explain to Tiger Woods that you’re only supposed to play one hole at a time?  It figures, just when I was starting to like the guy, he reveals himself to be just another zillionaire douche who lets his little head do the thinking.  And what a stupid way for one’s peccadilloes to be uncovered—by wiping out a fire hydrant near one’s own driveway!  I happen to have a fire hydrant right smack dab in my front yard, but even in my most harried states, I’ve always managed to avoid hitting hit the bloody thing with my motor vehicle.  Then again, all this media fuss over Tiger this week is so unwarranted.  I mean, what’s he done wrong, really?  Same thing millions of other men are doing in this country at this very moment—he cheated on his wife.  With great regularity, apparently.  Certainly no worse than dog fighting or Ponzi schemes or just being Ryan Seacrest.  Then again, I cite the old axiom—why go out for hamburger when you have Porterhouse at home?  Cry me a freakin’ river, Tiger…

ERIC WOOLFSON, 1945-2009
Alan Parsons Project lead singer/keyboardist Eric Woolfson died of cancer on Tuesday at age 64.  While far from my favorite band in the world, APP certainly had their moments, and I really liked Woolfson’s vocals on “Eye In The Sky” and especially on “Don’t Answer Me”.  Cool video on that one too.

BOB KEANE, 1922-2009
The man who founded Del-Fi Records and discovered singer Ritchie Valens, Bob Keane, also passed away last weekend.  Keane was portrayed admirably in the biopic 1987 film La Bamba by actor Joe Pantoliano, although the real Bob Keane had a lot more hair than Joe does...

You probably don't know the name, but you probably know of his work.  He famously wrote several big hits for Elvis, including "Good Luck Charm", "It's Now Or Never" and my personal Presley fave, "A Big Hunk O' Love".  And more importantly, Schroeder composed the "Scooby-Doo" theme.  Rest in peace, Aaron, you done good.

Could someone please tell me why all of Oprah Winfrey’s fans are supposedly “in mourning” ever since she announced she’ll be ending her daytime yapfest in 2011?  First off, that’s two years from now, and second off, she’s starting her own cable network—all Oprah, all the time!—and will be even more omnipresent than she ever was.  Even though the biggest problem will be finding home TV screens large enough to fit Oprah’s ever-expanding head into, I don’t see where this is cause to make your mascara run, girls…

I love comedian Robin Williams to death, and I never thought I’d hear myself say this, but I dearly wish he’d cease making comedy movies, especially for Disney!  His latest venture—Old Dogs with John Travolta—had already been raped and pillaged by the critics, and if Williams isn’t careful, he’s going to wind up being the next Dean Jones.  It’s a strange paradox that such a gifted and funny comedian consistently makes such lame comedy movies—only World According To Garp and Good Morning, Vietnam were good comedy film vehicles for him—while he’s far better-suited for dramatic roles like in Awakenings, Good Will Hunting, Dead Poets Society and even the creepy One-Hour Photo.

Time to let other people have the floor in a little sampling of letters-to-the-editor that I enjoyed this week:

Regarding the Fort Hood tragedy:
“I found it interesting that your cover photo of Nidal Malik Hasan, who apparently killed in the name of God, labels him a possible terrorist.  In verbatim, Scott Roeder, who also killed in the name of God, is called the 'accused shooter'  What’s the difference between them, again?  I am less concerned about the thousand or so radical Muslims who are highly monitored, than I am about the million or so unguarded radical 'Christians' whose hatred is fanned daily by the rhetoric of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter.”—David Berry, Raton, NM (in Time magazine)

“I don’t know what roles Muslims should play in our military, but perhaps counseling veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan should not be one of them.  Fair or not, I would not have wanted to talk to an Army psychiatrist of Vietnamese descent when I came home from Vietnam in 1970.”—Bruce W. Rider, Capt., USAF (ret.), Grapevine, TX (in Time)

“The long list of red flags you listed should have alerted anyone with a modicum of common sense.  Yet instead of being proactive, everybody chose political correctness.”—Raoul Carubelli, Oklahoma City (in Time)

Regarding Sarah Palin:
“The staying power of Sarah Palin mystifies me.  Maybe it’s because I’m an independent voter that I don’t understand the amazing attraction to the Republican Party of a thoughtless, divisive, poorly trained public servant who abandoned her state job for the cash.  Never mind, I just answered my own question…Remember, it’s party first, nation second.”—Jeff Gadt, Overland Park, KS (in the Kansas City Star)

“Thanks to the doe-in-the-headlights public, she is a multimillionaire.  She is cashing in on her celebrity.  She will not have to run for any public office or work a 9-to-5 job another day in her life.  She knows she has no chance to be president of the United States because she isn’t qualified.  Wake up, people.  We are being hookwinked.”—David Howard, Raymore, MO (in the Kansas City Star)

I saw Cindy Sheehan going at it again with some military guy on TV the other day.  At the risk of sounding like Limbaugh, Hannity, O’Reilly and their ilk, is anyone else besides me growing weary of Sheehan’s anti-war protests?  While I totally agree with her sentiments, it’s so obvious she’s become addicted to the limelight and notoriety afforded her by the media, and she’s really damning her own cause by making an ass out of herself.  Hate to sound so cynical, but I just don’t see how going around hollering into a bullhorn is going to stop the war anyway.  It’s certainly not going to bring her dead son back, either.

“War Pigs”—BLACK SABBATH (1970) “Generals gathered in the masses/Just like witches at Black Masses…”

“All The Way”—KISS (1974) “You've got a lot to say, every night and every sunny day/It’s the same thing you’ve been sayin’ to me every day...I'm so finally glad to hear you stop for a day."

Uhhh, when creating a rhyming scheme, it goes totally against protocol to use the SAME word!

Last night, I re-watched the 1992 Freddie Mercury Wembley Stadium AIDS benefit concert DVD for the first time in ages.  I’d almost forgotten what a truly superb show this was, featuring an all-star lineup that included Robert Plant, David Bowie, Elton John, Annie Lennox, Slash and Axl from Guns ‘N’ Roses, Roger Daltrey, Nuno Bettancourt and Gary Cherone from Extreme, Lisa Stansfield, Joe Elliott from Def Leppard, George Michael, Mott The Hoople’s Ian Hunter, Liza Minnelli, Paul Young and even Tony Iommi from Black Sabbath, all augmenting the surviving members of Queen, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon.  There wasn’t a bad number in the entire set, which is astounding when you consider all the different musical stylists Queen had to adapt to in just three weeks of rehearsal time.  Stansfield was a total hoot doing “I Want To Break Free”, mimicking Mercury dressing in drag with big exaggerated curlers in her hair (although dressed far more stylishly than Fred) and vacuuming as he did in the video of the same song, and I was stunned at how Pat Benatar-like Liza appeared here while singing “We Are The Champions”—I’m talking 1981-82 heyday Pat Benatar here!  Elton also looked quite slim and trim during this time, which coincided with his early ‘90s career resurgence with the excellent The One album.  Curiously, though, Axl Rose sported some white shorts that were way tighter than anything Mercury ever wore.  Hmmmmm, you don’t suppose Axl is...—I’m just sayin’!  Another facet of Queen concerts that’s fun to watch is the audience.  Queen easily had the best sing-along crowds in Rock history, not to mention their uncanny ability to clap in unison during songs like “Radio Ga-Ga”.  Anyway, it was a terrific concert—well worth a look (or re-look) on DVD if you get the chance.  Just tell ‘em Early Cuyler sent you…

I bought a new smoke alarm last weekend to replace the aging one that came with my house when I took possession of it 14 years ago.  While cooking dinner later that night, I discovered it works just fine!

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