Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mercy sakes alive, looks like we got ourselves a blog post!

HENRY GIBSON, 1935-2009
Sad day for “Laugh-In” fans with the passing of Henry Gibson, who died yesterday of cancer at age 73.  His real name was James Bateman, and I never knew until today that his stage name was sort of a parody of poet laureate Henrik Ibsen, hence the way HG pronounced his own name when delivering his crackpot poetry on “Laugh-In”.  Based on what I read about him in the “Laugh-In” book I recently read, as well as Judy Carne’s autobiography, Henry was a super-nice guy off-screen.  He also co-starred in the off-beat film Nashville in 1976, and was the voice of Wilbur the pig in the 1973 animated version of Charlotte’s Web.  More recently, he had recurring roles (playing judges) on both “Sabrina The Teenage Witch” and “Boston Legal”.  I was going to say that Henry was a real hoot, but that would make him “Hoot” Gibson, wouldn't it?  (Sorry, that was bad)  So long, Henry…

MARY TRAVERS, 1936-2009
The Reaper’s been busy again this week, as we also lost Mary of Peter, Paul & Mary yesterday at age 72, also of cancer (leukemia, to be precise), which she’d been struggling with for several years.  I’m not a terribly big fan of the Folk music genre, but PP&M certainly had their moments in the ‘60s, and always seem to be a staple of PBS pledge drives.  I swear, every other weekend when I tune in Channel 19 here in K.C., there’s PP&M singing “Blowin’ In The Wind”, followed by someone begging me to become a subscriber.  So long, Mary…

Former Prez Jimmy Carter was quoted this week as saying much of the criticism recently directed at current Prez Barack Obama (in particular, his health care reform proposals) is racially motivated.  I have no doubt Rush's ditto-heads and all the O’Reilly/Hannity sycophants out there have already set their phasers for stun on this issue, but I think there’s some substance to this.  I find it interesting how all this “I want my country back” vitriol has suddenly cropped up since Obama took office, yet all the stuff these people are railing against—corruption in government, apathetic (or just plain pathetic) Congressional leaders, lack of fiscal responsibility, abuses of power, immoral behavior, erosion of Constitutional rights, etc.—has been going on for decades.  Where was “I want my country back” when Cheney and Dubya were using the Constitution to line their birdcage?  Or even when Clinton or the first Bush were in office?  What has changed about our government since that time, other than the President’s skin color?

My best friend Tom, a staunch conservative, is trying to turn me on to some campaign douche-bag Glenn Beck has going called the "9-12 Project", a movement that is ostensibly “a place for you and other like-minded Americans looking for direction in taking back the control of our country.”  You can read all about it here, if you like.  One of the nine principles of this thing reads, “It is not un-American for me to disagree with authority or to share my personal opinion.”  Funny, but that’s not what they were saying in the aftermath of 9/11 whenever anyone dared to question the Bush Administration on any issue—remember the mantra “You’re either with us, or against us”?  Ain’t it amazing how the Right’s values change when there’s a new sheriff in town?  These goomers all need to knock off this “I’m scared of Obama” drama queen act, too.  If Dick and Doofus didn’t already scare the hell of you for the last eight years, nothing should.

A co-worker brought a dandy website to my attention the other day.  If you disdain the majority of Wal-Mart’s clientele as much as I do, you will get lots of mileage out of this site.  Be sure to read the captions for maximum effect—some are even funnier than the photos themselves.  This site leaves no doubt that there are definitely some strange rangers out there!  Let’s just hope the corporate suits at Wally-World don’t get pissy and make these guys take the site down.

While channel surfing the other night around 11:00, I noted a “South Park” rerun running in place of the “Bob & Tom” show on Chicago’s WGN.  A test pattern could draw more viewers than this reeky turd, and WGN apparently came to their senses and dropped B&T like a bad habit after just one year.  I said it before and I’ll say it again—ain’t nothing worse than listening to a couple aging hippies constantly laughing at their own lame shtick.  There’s something really warped about watching a radio show on TV, anyway…

While we’re still thinking about the Fab Four and just for shits and hoots, here are my Top 10 Beatle solo hits from after they broke up…

2) My Sweet Lord
3) End Of The Line (Traveling Wilburys)
4) Devils Radio
5) Wah-Wah
6) You
7) Crackerbox Palace
8) This Song
9) When We Was Fab
10) Blow Away

1) Instant Karma!
2) Imagine
3) God
4) #9 Dream
5) Whatever Gets You Through The Night
6) Watching The Wheels
7) Give Peace A Chance
8) Woman
9) Mind Games
10) Cleanup Time

1) Live And Let Die
2) Jet
3) Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey
4) Hi Hi Hi
5) Junior’s Farm
6) Give Ireland Back To The Irish
7) Helen Wheels
8) Listen To What The Man Said
9) Take It Away
10) [tie] Let Me Roll It/Nineteen-Hundred Eighty-Five

1) It Don’t Come Easy
2) Photograph
3) Oh My My
4) You’re Sixteen
5) (It’s All Down To) Goodnight Vienna
6) Snookeroo
7) Back Off Boogaloo
8) No No Song
9) I’m The Greatest
10) Only You (And You Alone)

And for Cincinnati Bungholes receiver Chad “Ochocinco”, it’s damn near impossible.  Seems that Ocho-Stinko is talking trash this week about taking a “Lambeau Leap” this Sunday in Green Bay if he happens to score a TD—and that’s a BIG if these days.  I can only hope the Cheeseheads knock his freakin’ fat head off if he does.  Hey Chad, I have a better idea—why don’t you take a flying leap instead…

The Kansas City Royals suddenly have this penchant for playing well in September.  After sucking eggs for most of last season, they went 18-8 in the ninth month of ‘08.  This season has yielded similar results and so far this month, they’re 9-6.  Meanwhile, the Chefs haven’t won in September for a couple years, so I suggest a new strategy—let the Royals play from September to January while the Chefs play during spring and summer.  K.C. will be Titletown, USA in no time flat…

I find it highly laughable that the University of Mizzou has the nerve to charge $29.95 to watch their non-conference football games against Bowling Green and Furman on Pay-Per-View TV.  Hell, for another ten bucks, you can get in your car and go watch the games in person!  Even better, you can save your money and watch the rerun for free on Fox Sports Net like I did last night.  I could see ten bucks, maybe, if you really wanted to watch the game live on the tube, but 30 smackers is a joke.

…or do all of Jennifer Aniston’s movies seem the same?  She has yet another romantic comedy due out this week called Love Happens, and based on the previews, it’s a safe bet that Jen ain’t breaking any new ground here.  Love her to death, but couldn’t she at least try playing something else besides some pretty boy’s and/or gay guy's love interest in her films?  It ain’t like she can’t afford to take a chance—she’s well-paid—and it would be fun to see her play, for instance, a total bitch or a psycho or something.  Kate Winslet, Renee Zellweger and even the grossly-overrated Julia Roberts manage to take on a variety of characters in their movies, so why can’t JA?  Another observation I recently made on Jen:  During the “Friends” days, didn’t she seem just a tad over-tanned for someone living in New York City in the dead of winter?

Is it just me, or do all of Michael Moore’s movies seem the same?  He has yet another documentary flick due out soon called Capitalism:  A Love Story, and based on the previews, it’s a safe bet that Mikey ain’t breaking any new ground here.  I used to like him a lot, but all his rabble-rousing just for the sake of rabble-rousing is starting to wear a little thin on me, and I find myself questioning his credibility and substance a lot now.  He tends to twist the facts in much the same way that right-wing shills like the Faux News Channel crowd do to justify his claims.  I think Moore means well, but his act is getting very stale.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sometimes I feel like I'm tied to the blogging post

Fortunately, I don’t feel like I’m dying!

While waiting at the checkstand at the grocery store last night, I found myself glaring at a sleazy tabloid rag that read ‘Patrick Swayze goes home to die’ and thought to myself, “Well, he must be doing better if that’s the lie they’re publishing.”  Guess the sleazoids finally got one right, after all.  While I wouldn’t quite rank Swayze up there with screen legends like Tom Hanks or Clint Eastwood, he definitely had his moments—good actor, decent personality, and was willing to take risks, like playing a drag queen in To Wong Foo….  Dare I say it?  THAT took some balls!  Dirty Dancing was his pinnacle of success, of course, or maybe it was Ghost, although I have to admit I’ve never watched that one all the way through.  Swayze was much older than I realized, too—he was already 35 when he did Dirty Dancing (playing a guy in his mid-‘20s), and up until he got sick recently, he looked at lot closer to my age (45) than 57.  Strange irony, too, that in a guest appearance on "M*A*S*H" in the early ‘80s, Swayze played a soldier who was diagnosed with terminal leukemia.  Done way too soon.

Psuedo-Punk singer Jim Carroll, who wrote and sang the infamous “People Who Died” in 1980 qualified for his own song over the weekend.  I seem to remember that song got a lot of airplay on the old KY-102 here in K.C. right up until John Lennon was killed, then suddenly it wasn’t quite so funny anymore—not that it ever really was all that funny, anyway.  Later, Jim…

While we’re still on this Beatles kick and since I ranked their LPs last week, it seems only fitting to rank their Top 25 songs.  Only thing is, since their musical style changed so radically over the eight years or so they were active, I find it kinda weird comparing “I Am The Walrus” and “She Loves You”, so I prefer to do two sets of rankings, one for the early straight-ahead Rock ‘N’ Roll period (aka Beatlemania) and their later more experimental studio years.  And it's no indictment on certain songs if they didn't make my lists (like "Twist And Shout", "Ticket To Ride", "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" or "While My Guitar Gently Weeps")—it just means there's so many more songs that I like even better.  So without further ado, I give you my favorite Beatle tunes:

The Mop-Top Years
1) I Feel Fine
2) I Saw Her Standing There
3) She Loves You
4) Matchbox
5) Paperback Writer
6) Eight Days A Week
7) Can’t Buy Me Love
8) Please Please Me
9) You Can’t Do That
10) A Hard Day’s Night
11) Day Tripper
12) She’s A Woman
13) Rock And Roll Music
14) I Want To Hold Your Hand
15) (tie) Kansas City/Long Tall Sally
16) Help!
17) Tell Me Why
18) Roll Over Beethoven
19) If I Fell
20) The Night Before
21) I Should Have Known Better
22) Boys
23) It Won't Be Long
24) All My Loving
25) This Boy

The Moustache Years
1) Magical Mystery Tour
2) Hey Jude
3) A Day In The Life
4) Helter Skelter
5) If I Needed Someone
6) Get Back (Let It Be album version)
7) Back In The U.S.S.R.
8) I Am The Walrus
9) Lovely Rita
10) Dr. Robert
11) Sgt. Pepper/With A Little Help From My Friends
12) Birthday
13) Lady Madonna
14) Abbey Road segue ("Because" through "The End")
15) Revolution (single version)
16) All You Need Is Love
17) Tomorrow Never Knows
18) Hello Goodbye
19) Taxman
20) She Said She Said
21) Something
22) Here Comes The Sun
23) The Ballad Of John & Yoko
24) Nowhere Man
25) Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

And while I’m at it…
The Bottom 10
1) Long Long Long
2) Wild Honey Pie
3) Good Morning, Good Morning
4) Savoy Truffle
5) Piggies
6) Maggie Mae
7) Revolution 9
8) Love You To
9) Within You, Without You
10) Why Don't We Do It In The Road?

And I must make a revision on my Beatles album list—I now place Abbey Road at #1 and Revolver at #2.  I’d forgotten that Revolver got points off for George Harrison’s sitar song, “For You To”.  Sorry, kids, but sitars grate on me the same way accordions and bagpipes grate on other listeners.  However, Revolver still ranks #1 one for best Beatles album cover, followed by Abbey Road, With The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper and Rubber Soul, in that order.  Honorable mention goes to the 1976 Rock ‘N’ Roll Music compilation album as well.

I just finished reading the autobiography of former Eagles guitarist Don Felder, Heaven And Hell, and found it most enlightening.  Beforehand, I knew very little about the early days of the band—in particular original guitarist/banjo player Bernie Leadon and bassist Randy Meisner—let alone Felder himself, whom his friend Leadon recruited into the band during the On The Border sessions in 1974.  Now that I know more about the role he played in the band, it’s apparent that Don Felder is a much better guitarist than I ever gave him credit for being.  He’s the one who masterminded the Eagles’ most famous song, “Hotel California”, and is more prominent on most of their big hits from 1976 onward than I realized—I always assumed the ever-enigmatic Joe Walsh was their main man on guitar during that time.

The Eagles started off as an equal partnership, but as time wore on, money, fame and drugs (not necessarily in that order) corrupted co-founders Glenn Frey and Don Henley, and they essentially lorded over the band—they were “The Gods” as Felder often refers to them in the book.  One-by-one, DH and GF basically kicked Leadon, Meisner and Felder to the curb over the years when those three ceased kissing their butts.  While I respect Mr. Henley as a songwriter and absolutely love some of his stuff (“Dirty Laundry”, “Get Over It”, “Man With A Mission”, “The Heart Of The Matter”, “New York Minute”, et al), I’ve long suspected he was an arrogant dick, which Felder confirms in his book.  However, I was mildly surprised to learn that Mr. Frey is an even bigger douche than Henley, based on Felder’s words.  By most outward appearances, Frey always seemed like an alright guy to me, but then again, I never followed the Eagles all that closely back in the day.  Hell, Frey and Henley can barely stand each other, which goes a long way in explaining why the only thing that seems to motivate them to tour or make a new record these days is a huge payday.  It’s amazing such a dysfunctional band could put out any music at all, much less such top-shelf stuff like the Eagles did in the ‘70s.  They definitely did not take their own advice and “Take It Easy”.

What a classy act that Kanye West is, huh?  Okay, I don’t even know who this Taylor Swift is, nor did I see what took place at the MTV Video Music Awards the other night, but I already know enough about this clown to know it’s been blatantly obvious for years now this race-baiter needs to be taken out and spanked repeatedly.  And good moogily-woogily, President Obama (accurately) called Kanye a “jackass” today off-the-record, and quickly felt the need to apologize for his remark.  Why?!?  Just another example of the Continuing Pussification of America—you can’t even call out a jackass anymore when they deserve it in our Politically Correct society.

By the way, since when did eMpTV start caring about videos again, anyway?  What kills me about this whole dust-up is the video West so fervently campaigned for, Beyonce’s “Singles Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” is gawdawful.  Beyonce is a good-looking woman, no question, but the way she and her posse of hoochie-mama pals shimmy and shake throughout the video makes them look like a bunch of skanks.  There’s a big difference between classy-sexy and slutty-sexy.  Shania Twain is classy-sexy in her videos, and apart from the regrettable “Love Is A Battlefield”, Pat Benatar was classy-sexy in hers too.  For the most part, Pink and Britney Spears are slutty-sexy, as are Beyonce and her friends, big-time, in “Put A Ring On It”.  Stupid song, too—“if you like it, then you shoulda put a ring on it”?!?  How ‘bout I test-drive it, first, mmm-kay?

What’s the deal with the dates on magazines?  Yesterday (September 14), I was leafing through the September 14, 2009 issue of Newsweek, which hit newsstands and mailboxes on like September 8th.  Why doesn’t the issue date ever match the date the thing actually comes out?  I never have understood that…

I’m off to fast starts both in my weekly pigskin prognostications (I went 14-2 in Week One of the NFL) and with my fantasy team, the Sweet Bippies, who trounced my worthy opponent by almost 80 points, thanks to the efforts of the Saints’ Drew Brees (6 friggin’ TD passes!), Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson and Thomas Jones of the Jets.  Feels good to have football season in full swing again, both the colleges and the pros.  Naturally, I was quite pleased to see Notre Dame lose to Michigan, and that the Chefs actually showed up in Baltimore on Sunday (and even led the game at one point in the second half), but a bit concerned that Missouri had to come from behind to beat Bowling Green on Saturday.  I was also tickled to watch Jay Cutler lay an egg for the Bears on Sunday night, after all the hype in Chicago about him this off-season.  Be careful what you wish for, Bears fans—I thought he was overrated at Denver, and you guys may be in for a big letdown this season.

Oh, one more thing, youse “Maize and Blue” Michigan people—why can’t you just admit that your team wears YELLOW and blue?

I guess I now qualify as an official Trekkie, having made it through each and every episode of the original “Star Trek” TV series on DVD as of last weekend.  In the process, I noticed a goof.  In the film Star Trek II-The Wrath of Khan when good ol’ Khan encounters Chekov, he calls him by name—and it sounds like he says, “Jackoff”!  Just one problem, Mr. Chekov didn’t appear in the original Khan episode, “Space Seed”, so how could our man Mr. Roarke have known who he was?

“You Got Me Floatin’”—Jimi Hendrix Experience (1968)
  “Your daddy’s cool, and your mama’s no fool…”  The first few times I heard this one, I thought Jimi thought mama was “no good”.  One of the more underrated Hendrix tunes, all the same…

Another arcane phrase that needs to be banished from our culture is this “Rockin’ the-this” and “Rockin’ the-that” stuff that refers to wearing, using or enjoying something, as in “He’s Rockin’ the shades” or “She’s Rockin’ the Birkenstocks” (ewww), “He’s Rockin’ the lawn mower”, or “She’s Rockin’ the latte”, etc.  Nothing wrong with “Rockin’ the house”, “Rockin’ the boat” or even “Rockin the Paradise”, but this shit makes Theo Huxtable’s “Jammin' on the one” actually sound cool by comparison.