Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Happy Frehley Day!

Brother Ace turns 59 today.  Ack!  Ack!

I’m currently enjoying Last Words, the late George Carlin’s “sorta-biography”, as he dubbed it.  It was co-written with comedian Tony Hendra, a Brit and one-time friendly rival of Carlin’s who initially worked with the late Graham Chapman of Monty Python, and who later became an editor at National Lampoon.  This book had been in the works for well over 20 years before George passed away in 2008, but got derailed several times by movie projects, health issues and GC’s ill-advised foray into network TV in the early ‘90s, among others things, but it was totally worth the wait. It’s written in first person, and as I read along, it feels almost as if George is still with us and is talking directly to me.  Through his hilarious recollections of his grade school and teen years on his classic ‘70s albums Class Clown and Occupation:  Foole, I already kinda felt like I knew George personally, and Last Words does a nice job fleshing out those stories even more, as well giving background about where many of his classic routines and characters originated.  And even though I’ve heard this guy’s comedy bits a thousand times and can practically recite those ‘70s albums word-for-word, his old stuff to this day STILL makes me laugh whenever I read or hear it again.  One that never fails to elicit a belly laugh out of me is when he imitates a black dude giving him shit about the fact he has no ass:  “Say, baby, where your ass at?!?  My man ain’t got no ass!!  Shit, how do you them pants up, man?”  And another where GC discusses the work ‘fuck’:  “It’s kind of a proud word, too.  ‘Who are you?’  ‘I am FUCK!  FUCK of the Mountains!’  ‘Tune in again next week to Fuck Of the Mountains!”  And, yes, for better or worse, I learned profanity from listening to my older sister’s Carlin records when I was 8 or 9 years old…thanks, George!

Getting back to the book, I also like how Carlin doesn’t sugarcoat his fuck-ups, particularly his out-of-control drug use in the ‘70s.  He was/is his own worst critic, and this book seems to be a pretty honest account of his life.  And there’s one passage that touched a personal nerve with me where talked about his early years working in Greenwich Village in the mid-‘60s how that while he was on friendly terms with his peer group of other comedians and performers, he more or less kept everyone at arm’s length from him, and didn’t get close to anyone, even though he wanted to.  He wrote, “Later I came to realize the curiousness of choosing to be, and feeling, apart from people and at the same time dying to be accepted, longing to be accepted, to be asked in.  But on my terms.”  This pretty much sums up my own social life and limited social circle.  There’s a bit of George in me, and perhaps I need to re-think my own approach to friendships and relationships…

I know I’ve told this story before on the blog, but I met George Carlin after his 1987 Midland Theater concert here in K.C. and got his autograph.  As we were leaving the theater, my friend Tom and I saw this crowd gathered outside the “Stage Door” with a stretch limo parked out front waiting for George.  We both figured it was a ruse and he’d already left in a bread truck or something, but just for shits and hoots, we hung around a bit anyway.  Sure enough, not five minutes later, the man himself emerged, and Tom and I scurried back across 13th Street and queued up with the flotilla of fans who had assembled.  GC was very friendly and accommodating to everyone and he was wearing a Z.Z. Top ball cap.  When he signed my souvenir program, I said, “Hey, a fellow Z.Z. Top fan!” and George replied, “Yeah—I noticed you two skulking across the street there...”  Every time I hear the word ‘skulking’, it makes me think of George Carlin…

Carlin became a disc jockey right after he left the Air Force, and the first station he worked at was KJOE in Shreveport, LA. What a coincidence—yours truly was once a DJ at a station called “K-Jo” (“K-Jo 105”, officially) in St. Joseph, MO!  It would’ve been fun to be able to tell him about the KJOE/K-Joe coincidence when we met him, but at that time, I wasn’t aware of his KJOE thing, and my K-Jo thing was still in the future.  Anyway, if there actually is a hereafter, I hope I get to hook up with George and have a drink or two and shoot the shit.  And after being horrified at the total cost the funeral home laid out on our family to bury my Dad last month, I’m seriously contemplating doing Carlin’s 1977 bit about death:  “When I die I don’t want to go through that funeral shit…and I don’t want to be cremated either—I wanna be BLOWN UP!  BOOM!  ‘There he goes!!  God love ‘im…;”  Even with all the pyrotechnics, this method would surely be a helluva lot cheaper.  Ironically, George apparently had a change of heart and wound up being cremated…

Add another entry to my ever-growing list of “People I Could Do Without”:  These immature twits who don’t pronounce the second ‘d’ in the word ‘didn’t’.  As in, “Oh, no you DIH-int!”  They sound like damn 5th graders!  Same goes for these dolts who “axe” me when my “burfday” is…

[WARNING:  Religious commentary ahead.  You know the drill—if you’re easily offended by it, then skip the next three paragraphs in blue.]

A new “group” that’s all the rage on Facebook lately is one where some supposed “Christian” appeals to God in prayer:  “Dear Lord, Last year, you took my favorite actor, Patrick Swayze and my favorite actress, Farrah Fawcett, and my favorite singer, Michael Jackson.  I just wanted to let you know Barack Obama is my favorite President.  Amen.”  Yes, I know it’s just meant as a joke, and I also know I shouldn’t take these FB group things all that seriously—hell, I started one myself called “Flo Must Go”, in hopes of eradicating that annoyingly-perky “Flo” spokesperson on the aggressive Progressive insurance TV ads, but I don’t mean any harm by it.  Having said all that, however, ain’t it just a bit warped that some “Christian” is calling for the death of someone whom they don’t like and/or disagree with?  Last I looked, this group was over 800,000 strong, including one of my best longtime friends (a self-proclaimed Christian, I might add), yet he turns purple whenever I put down his favorite right-wing political people and/or beliefs.  What’s up with the double-standard?

And honestly, what has Obama done that’s so terrible since he became President to warrant such vitriol?  Certainly nothing remotely as ignorant as anything his predecessor ever did, but I don’t recall any Christians calling for Dubya’s head on a platter.  Granted, Obama hasn’t been the most effective President in the world so far, but come on—he’s only been in office a year and three months, and his hands have been effectively tied trying to undo all the damage the Village Idiot inflicted on our nation, so why call for his demise?  Ohhh, wait a minute, I keep forgetting—Obama’s a black guy!  You can’t tell me there isn’t an element of racism involved here.  Fortunately, a counter protest group has surfaced that I joined which is petitioning the powers-that-be on FB to remove the above offending group.  Then again, if we just have to play this immature little game, then Sarah Palin is my favorite politician and Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly are my favorite political commentators, unless of course mean old non-Christians aren’t allowed to play in this reindeer game…

Speaking of double-standards, I don’t get why in our supposedly “tolerant” society/culture, how unassuming free-thinking agnostics like me always seem to be compelled to explain and/or justify our (non-) religious stance, yet Christians, Catholics, Baptists, Muslims, Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, et al, always get a free pass and aren’t expected to elaborate at all on their beliefs.  We’re always seen as heretics just because we have our questions and don’t readily buy into what Brother Carlin once deemed “The World’s Biggest Bullshit Story”.

Okay, youse religious offendees can safely read on from here—I guess…

I had my first real encounter with a road-rager the other day on the way to work.  I had just entered I-435 southbound and had to slow down almost immediately because this black BMW was practically stopped ahead of me in the right lane.  Turns out he was trying to get around this bozo in a crappy little Toyota pick-up who was on the right shoulder attempting to merge into traffic.  The BMW gets around him, then Mr. Toyota nearly cuts me off, and I was just barely able to avoid hitting him as I swerved out the way.  He finally pulls out into traffic behind me, then swings way ‘round to the left lanes, passes me, then turns around and flips me off.  This goomer was so incensed that I had the affrontery to return fire and flip him the bird right back that he pulls over on the shoulder on the exit ramp to southbound US 71 as I rounded the bend on 435 and was stopped in bumper-to-bumper traffic.  He was a good 30-40 yards away from me, but he gets out of truck and starts to approach me like he was spoiling for a fight.  Let’s see here—you’re the one who damn near caused an accident, and you’re pissed at ME?!?  The douche-bag then thought better of it when he realized he had lots of witnesses so he retreats to his vehicle and grabs a half-empty bottle of Pepsi and hurls in my general direction, not even coming close, all the while with his buddy sitting there in the passenger seat doing nothing.  Some people really shouldn’t be allowed to breed.  I’ve never expected myself to be involved in something like this, but I’m ready for the next one—I have since placed my tire-iron on the floor board behind the passenger seat, so next time someone wants to fuck with me, I’ve got easy access to a weapon that’ll clean his clock.

My ex-girlfriend and still dear friend Stacy made an excellent point on Facebook last week, something to the effect of, “Larry King’s about to divorce his 8th wife, Liz Taylor may be marrying for the 9th time, Tiger Woods and Jesse James are out there doinking everything in sight, and yet people are worried about same-sex marriages ruining this sacred institution?”  Amen to that!  I would also add to that list marriages involving volatile/out-of-control boneheads like Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson, et al.  Admittedly, my viewpoint might be a bit skewed because I think marriage is a joke to begin with, and I have no intention of getting married in my lifetime, but I just don’t get these people (especially celebrities) who keep banging their heads against the wall by marrying multiple times.  Most celebrity marriages—particularly those where both spouses are already famous to begin with—have just about the same success rate as a quadriplegic eating sushi with chopsticks, so why bother?  After about the third failed marriage, I don’t see why they don’t just say “Fuck it” and just live together with future partners.  And other than for his money, why would any right-minded woman want to marry an ugly fuck like Larry “Face Made For Radio” King in the first place?  As for same-sex unions, I’m all for them—gays can’t possibly do any worse than heterosexual couples.

One of my latest library CD acquisitions is an anthology on ‘70s stalwarts Uriah Heep, a band who was slagged mercilessly by the critics back in the day.  I already had their ’73 release Sweet Freedom, which contains my favorite (and easily the best) Heep track, “Stealin’", but I had very little of the rest of their stuff.  And being’s how I like to root for the underdog, and how I tend to love bands that the critics hate (i.e., Kiss, Grand Funk Railroad, Rush, Styx, et al), I thought I’d give UH another shot.  Sadly, I think the critics may have been right this time—Uriah Heep were like a Prog. Rock version of Deep Purple, but there just wasn’t a lot of meat to chew on here.  Record companies were amazingly patient with bands back in the ‘70s, because Heep put out like eight studio albums in six years (while most comparable bands today would be one-and-done), but they had very little decent music to show for it.  UH put out way too many overblown fantasy epics in the “Harry Potter” vein (some of them 10 or 12 minutes in length), and late singer David Byron’s strident vocals could be rather grating at times.  I think if they’d stuck to doing more accessible stuff like “Stealin’” and their 1972 hit “Easy Livin’”, they’d have gone a lot farther.  The only real standout in this band was keyboardist Ken Hensley, who wailed away on the organ, sounding rather Jon Lord-like at times.  Uriah Heep also went through as many bass players as Spinal Tap did likewise with drummers, and the band’s lineup once featured future Asia bassist/singer John Wetton.

Way too late, I thought of another entry for my Best Comeback Album of All-Time blog piece from about a month ago, 1979’s Low Budget by The Kinks.  Their ‘60s heyday had long since passed, and although Ray and Dave Davies put out several albums during the ‘70s, they hadn’t had a hit since “Lola” in 1970, so it was great to hear these guys clicking on all cylinders again.  The hilarious title track and “A Gallon Of Gas” could’ve been anthems during our economy’s recent financial woes, and “Catch Me Now I’m Falling”, “Attitude” and “(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman” were standout tracks as well.  Budget also set the table for a nice Kinks career revival throughout the early ‘80s.

The 2010 NFL schedule was announced last week, and the league was kind enough to give our poor K.C. Chefs their first Monday Night Football game since 2005 when they get to open at home against those Sandy-Eggo Chargers in Week 1.  Just one miniscule problem—the damn game starts at 9:15!  It’s the nightcap of the annual opening-week MNF doubleheader (Ravens-Jets is the first game), and I don’t get their logic here at all.  This means the game probably won’t end until around 1:00 in the morning here—not exactly a brilliant way to maintain your local viewing audience.  It’d make a lot more sense if they pitted two west coast teams instead, like when the Chargers opened at Oakland last season.  Did FEMA take over the NFL scheduling department?

One thing that went right this weekend for El Chiefos was the NFL draft.  While ESPN’s (and the NFL Network’s) coverage of the event was its usual exercise in overkill, I was quite pleased with the choices the Chefs made, especially safety Eric Berry out of Tennessee, who may well be the second coming of Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott.  With their 2nd pick, they chose running back Dexter McCluster (whose surname I’m going to have great fun with) from Ole Miss, and between him and Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones, we suddenly have a true backfield again in the wake of the Larry Johnson fiasco.  I was hoping the Chefs’ brain trust of GM Scott Pioli and head coach Todd Haley would snag a good left offensive tackle, which they didn’t, but at least they didn’t think with their hearts and take Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen at QB, just because Charlie Weis is now our offensive coordinator.  Now I can only hope I won’t have to hear Mel Kiper, Jr. yammering away again until next April…

This past Saturday night at 7PM on our local “family-friendly” Ion TV affiliate:  Demolition Man with Sly Stallone and Wesley Snipes.  Yet another gory violent shoot-em-up for the kiddies to enjoy…

I never dreamed that Moody Blues lyric would ever really apply to me, but my 46th birthday is rapidly approaching and it’s been over ten years since I had a freakin’ date with a woman, let alone made love to one.  With no prospects on the horizon, I’m really beginning to wonder if I’ll ever find someone again, and I’m getting really depressed about it.  I know I need to get out more—that’s my fault—but still, wouldn’t you think after a decade or so, I would have met SOMEONE of the opposite sex that I clicked with?  I’m not even being choosy at this stage, but I haven’t met any available women, period, let alone anyone I’d even be remotely interested in.  I desperately want to believe there’s still a single unattached woman or two in my age group (and time zone) left out there who don’t resemble Susan Boyle or Joe Torre in drag, but I can’t help but think my window of opportunity has slammed shut for good.  I’m almost to the point of desperation to give serious consideration to the queens on “RuPaul’s Drag Race!”  If nothing else, they look more like women than most of the genetic ones I encounter these days…


Dan P. said...

I started getting 'into' Heep only a couple of years ago....I started with "Demons & Wizards," which I really like; but my favorite Heep album has to be "Look At Yourself."

'July Morning' is such a great track.

dr sardonicus said...

Uriah Heep was not a great band, but they had their moments. Ken Hensley (who lived in St. Louis for most of the 80's and 90's) was arguably their most talented member, but as chief songwriter was also responsible for most of the Dungeons and Dragons crap that marred their best efforts. According to Wikipedia, they are currently on their 15th lineup since their founding. Demons And Wizards was their best LP. Avoid anything recorded after Hensley left.

I'll even provide the Top 10 this time:

10. "Paradise/The Spell"
9. "Sunrise"
8. "Poet's Justice"
7. "Circle Of Hands"
6. "Easy Livin'"
5. "July Morning"
4. "Sweet Lorraine"
3. "Stealin'"
2. "Blind Eye"
1. "The Wizard"

Brian Holland said...

Hensley also worked with W.A.S.P. in the late '80s.

Like I say, I'm not into all the D&D/Lord Of The Rings/Harry Potter-type stuff. Just not my cup o' tea...