Monday, February 27, 2006

Back to the Dance

Despite losing in the semi finals of the Capital Athletic conference tournament last week to Salisbury University, The York College Spartans, my alma mater, are going back to the dance. The dance in question here it the NCAA Division III national tournament, which culminates on March 18 in Salem, Virginia with the crowning of this year's champion. York had been all but unbeatable on their home court, nicknamed the Kitchen, for the last two years having won 31 games in a row at Wolf Gymnasium. For the year they have only lost 3 times, twice to Salisbury and once to Catholic University and each time by only two points. The team only lost two players from the squad that made a run to the final four in Salem last year, and has added an impressive group of Freshman to take their places. In the first round of the tournament the Spartans will take on the Cardinals of York College of New York in a confusing all York match up.

York hopes to continue the name game by winning that game and earning a chance to take on the Catholic U Cardinals for a birth in the Sweet 16. More updates to come as the tourny rolls on, but for now 'that's good work out of you' York College men's team for making it back to the dance.

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Geelong Cats NAB Cup Win

The Geelong Cats of the Australian Rules Football League won their first round game in the pre-season NAB Cup single elimination match by a final of 0.15.8 (98) to 1.8.13 (70) over the Carlton Blues. The game, which was played on Saturday Night in one of Melbourne's two major stadiums - Telstra Dome, was a surprise win for the Cats. They were with out many of their best players including Captain Steven King, and the likes of Steve Johnson, Peter Riccardi, Henry Playfair and Andrew Mackie. Despite the disadvantage versus the full strength Blues the Cats got a huge game from Kent Kingsley who kicked 9 goals accounting for more than half the Cats points.

The breakdown of scoring in Aussie Rules football is normally goals and behinds. A goal is any ball that goes between the two tallest of the four goal posts at either end of the playing field and is worth 6 points. Any ball kicked in the two side goals, made up of the outside goal post and the center, taller ones, is a behind which earns one point. In the NAB cup there are also longer, nine point goals. In the score line the nine pointers are the first digit (Geelong had none, Carlton one) the six point goals are the second digit and the behinds are the last.

Aussie rules football is an amazing game to watch, as it encompasses many attributes of the games I grew up with in America. The passing, both via kicks and handballs, is like soccer, basketball and lacrosse. There is tackling and checking similar to American Football or Hockey and the goal kicking draws on NFL style punting and rugby. The game is fiercely violent, but undeniably graceful and skillful. The players are amazingly tough, as they where next to no protection and can regularly be seen jumping on one another's backs to 'mark' or catch a ball to establish position and set up a score. The NFL has taken notice of the unmatched kicking ability of the AFL's best by importing a few retired AFL players to earn a second career a punters in America. As an added bonus there isn't a punt returner in America that one of these guys would ever be afraid of tackling, even if they didn't have the helmet and pads on.

If you are interested in checking the AFL out you can do so by going to www.afl.com.au or check your listings for your Fox Sports Net affiliate who normally carries an AFL highlights show called Toyota Aussie Rules on Fridays during the season, which runs from April till October. Next up for the Cats? A trip to Carins (another of my favorite spots in Oz) for a match with The Kangaroos in the second round of the NAB Cup.

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Top 50: 11-20

Music is one of those things that, when done well, can stay with you for ever. Even when you find that you have set aside a song or an artist in favor of new things you can be transported back to a time and place with just one listen. In certain cases the music you love, or that sticks with you is for you only, maybe a band your friends were in and not heard by most of the world. Or perhaps you loved some indie group, and part of the appeal was that you congratulated your self for taking the time to not be spoon feed the radio's version of what was cool. I think that is a totally valid way of approaching one's music collections. On the other hand, sometimes things are insanely popular because they are just great, even if they are prototypical and predictable. These things include chocolate, fart jokes, girls kissing girls and most of the songs on this part of the list.

#20 XTC - The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead. I first heard this song 90's while going to school just out side of Princeton NJ, on WPRB which was my intro to college radio. It was just a damn good station to listen to if you wanted to hear new music, and even though I didn't know it then XTC was as old as I was. But this song was one of those that just jumps out of the speakers and grabs you. The lyrics allow for so much personal interpretation no matter what their original intent. For a young Catholic it was interesting to think of Jesus as Peter, and what woud happen to him in our world today.

#19 The Clash - London Calling. Three minutes and twenty seconds of brilliance. Like I previously said, somethings are popular because they are deserving, and this song deserves it's place on everyone's list be they true fan who was there and saw it or youngster who wasn't even born yet. This was when music was music, and when it was played it did more than entertain it got a response. For good or ill this song is one of the forerunners of all the pop-punk shit we have today, but it also inspired a ton of great artists who are out there getting it done. Take the good with the bad.

#18 Greenday - When I Come Around. I was a senior in high school when this song came out, and despite a dearth of the aforementioned pop-punk shit, this album stood out. You couldn't go anywhere in New Jersey that year with out hearing one of the singles from this record, usually followed by either The Offspring or 4 non blonds but 13 years later this is the one act that is still around, and better then ever. I think Greenday has more substance than we wanted to give them at first, but even then I got hooked on this record, and this song.

#17 Red Hot Chili Peppers - Suck My Kiss. Staying in high school for a moment but going back a few years to the first record I ever listened to all the way through multiple times. Part of it was being 14 or 15 and hearing some of the things Anthony was singing and the other part was the way the music could make my foot or my head move. Like many other kids, I felt like Flea was a marionette pulling his bass strings to make me move, too bad I can't dance. Of all the songs on this record, and by the Chili's over all, I always found this one to be the best, and to the shock of my wife and friends I have even sung this song on stage with a friends band.

#16 Jane's Addiction - Jane Says. When I think of my generation of young suburban nare do wells this is the song I think of as our anthem. For almost every kid I knew who came of age in the late 80's and early 90's this is a radio tuning stopper. At almost every bar or club in America if this song comes on the late 20 and early 30 somethings will stop and start to have a conversation about their youth, or what trouble they got into when they first heard this song. Again, I know this it the prevailing opinion, and is there by lame, but I prefer the live version from Kettle Whistle with the reverb and the steel drum.

#15 Jimi Hendrix Experience - All Along the Watchtower. My generation was also the one who seamed to most want to bring back the 60's. My high school was lousy with tye die and unshaven legs and arm pits, but I was into it. I liked the spirit of the 60's and for a time all I listened to was the music from that era. This Dylan penned tune is an all time classic, and for a time was in my top 5. Let's face it, Jimi was a god with a guitar in his hands, and his vocals thunder on this track.

#14 The Beatles - Let It Be. Love 'em or hate 'em no one can deny the effect the mop toppers had on America, and the world when it came to music. I employ my normal feelings about liking the 'other guy' on this one (Paul over John just like I like Dave over Curt) and Paul's vocals on this song are amazing. The simple beginning with drums and piano brought to a crescendo with the background singers and the bass make this song a delight to listen to, and an all time classic.

#13 Dead Milkmen - Methodist Coloringbook. I have to thank Joe Makismov for this one, he turned me on to the Milkmen for the first time in our freshman year of high school and I loved all their work. This song in particular, however, was the one that always stuck with me, being as I was coming grips with what I thought about organized religion at the time. I chose this for my senior yearbook quote, and years later brought that up during a discussion with a cool indie/punk chick at the radio station only to find out she used a Dead Milkmen quote as well. I think it caught her off guard, and may have led to her going out on a date with me where as she may not have otherwise. Almost 10 years later we are still at it. Thanks Joe.

#12 Ani DiFranco - Little Plastic Castle. The finest song from an amazing catalog from the hardest working person in the music biz. Ani is an amazing artist and songwriter, and I think a lot of people have benefited immensely from her choice to shun convention and make her own way in the world outside the roads laid out by the giant labels. I can listen to this song over and over for both Ani's skillful playing and her words which paint a wonderful and thought provoking picture: "they say goldfish have no memory I guess their lives are much like mine the little plastic castle is a surprise every time it's hard to say if they are happy but they don't seem much to mind."

#11 Queen (with David Bowie) - Under Pressure. Ok, most people my age had never heard this song until the flap about Vanilla Ice stealing it came about. I had the good fortune of having an older sister who was in to Queen and gave me copys of their greatest hits on cassette when I was in 7th grade. To this day I still love all of their music, but this one most of all. It is an amazing tune, and the vocals by both Freddie and David Bowie are epic in nature. It was almost like everything Queen did was meant for a raucous life show, and the music came alive when pumped loud on my little tape player.

Only 10 left, and the top set features more big names like Dylan, Pink Floyd, Bob Marley and a few more big names, with a surprise or two. One hint: I would wager the #1 song is one that maybe 10% of the huge music fans in the world have ever heard. Till next Thursday lets see some good work out of you.

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Not Good Work

Q: "What you gon' do wit all that breast? All that breast inside that shirt?"

A: "I'ma make, make, make, make you work. Make you work, work, make you work."

Shakespeare, Keats, Tennyson, Frost, Yeats and the Black Eyed Peas. Only the true masters can take the flawed English language and craft it into phrases and works of art that move the soul of a person. Of course now it the time to play my favorite game from Sesame Street: One of these things is in no fucking way like the others. Fergie and the Pea's song "My Humps" is among the worst collection of thoughts and writing ever inflicted on the world. I am not normally a negative person, as you can see through all the positive praise on my blog. That said I feel that I need to show that there are things that I down right loath in this world, as a kind of touchstone to show that the other things on here that I am praising are that much better in comparison. Now: The attack on the humps.

This song not only offends my ears, but my intelligence. There have been many an amazing song penned over the years in homage to the splendor that is the female form but this one misses the mark worse than Dick Cheney on a hunting trip. I guess all those years on Kids Incorporated didn't teach Stacy to be more creative when it came to being descriptive in her writing. Plus it's hard to take anything she says or sings seriously when you find out that she was the voice of "Sally" on the early 80's Charlie Brown cartoon specials (but none of the good ones). After actually listening to the words of this song rather than just dancing to the ring tone on your damn cell phone you too may start to hear it like the adults on the Peanuts shows like I Do.

"My Hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my Hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump. My lovely lady lumps, lumps. My lovely lady lumps, lumps. My lovely lady lumps, lumps. In the back and in the front, lumps. (My lovin' got me spendin') Oh! Spendin' all your money on me and spending time on me. (She's got me spendin') Oh! Spendin' all your money on me, up on me, on me."

Breathtaking! Amazing! Bravo! Give me a break, I think I heard a lab in northern Nevada has produced a trained llama that can write a better song. We as a music buying public need to rise up and stop paying for shit like this. Luckily for me I have not yet had to give the Pea's any money but I have still been subjected to this crime against humanity at every turn over the last few months. As long as people keep making this crap the most purchased song on Itunes and other on line music sites they will keep making it. For god's (or at least Joan Baez or Ani DiFranco's) sake will some female artist use their fame to give us more than "I'ma make, make, make, make you scream" Please!

Lastly, for the love of all things good and right, will all you guys and girls who want to tell me how hot Fergie is please do me a favor. Look about a foot above her 'lovely lady lumps' at her face. If we are going to hold someone up as the paragon of what is hot in popular culture today could she at least be pretty? That is all.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Record Review: Clare Bowditch

One of the problems I have encountered since returning from my trip to Australia, is that most of the other people in America don't seem to share my interest in the land down under. Sure, thousands of people visit Oz each year, but most of them probably don't delve into the music, art and literature scene like my wife and I did. So, when those other people get back they take the picture of the whole family in front of the Opera House or Uluru (that's the proper name for Ayers Rock whitey) and send it out as their Christmas card and remember a great trip.

I have spent hours and hours listening to streaming audio from Triple J, the nation's youth radio station, to listen to what I didn't stumble upon while we were there. Some how, in all of the hours we spent in record stores in Sydney, Cairns and Melbourne I missed Clare Bowditch, and I wish I hadn't. I have a bad habit of becoming interested in Aussie artists who don't have a deal with ITunes or MusicMatch, so I can't just download their records. I either have to pay upwards of $40 to pick them up through an American website as an import (which I wont do) or I have to order them from an Australian site and have them shipped to me here.

That is what I did with an album called "She Will Have Her Way" which is a collection of the music of Neil and Tim Finn as performed by female artist from Australia and New Zealand. This was the second time I heard Clare, as she did "Fall at Your Feet" which was outstanding. After a bit more research I knew I had to pick up some of her stuff, but once again I wasn't going to be able to get it with out going very long distance. I put off the purchase for a while, because I had a few other things I wanted first, one of which was "Like a Version" a compilation put together by Triple J featuring artists live, mostly acoustic renditions of previously released work. Once again Clare was featured on this record with her version of Rufus Wainwright's "Hallelujah" which once again was superb. I bumped "What Was Left" to the top of my list.

"What Was Left" is a complete record, filled with amazing lyrics and skillfully excited melodies. Bowditch has a full and rich singing voice which she uses to deliver words that actually say something. Pay attention Pop Stars of the world, you can say something with your music. The album doesn't come off as preachy or a recording from a therapy session, however. The tales weaved by Bowditch ring just true enough to be relatable to almost anyone, but are obviously her story. The best example of this is "When I was Five" which is an open letter to her sister who passed away when she was a child. Even though I did lose a brother when I was young, I thought this song spoke to me just as much when thinking about the loss of my father even though I was an adult then. Who doesn't feel as powerless as a child when confronted with the loss of someone close?

Other stand out tracks include: "Lips Like Oranges" "Little Self Centred Queen" (not a typo, its the Queen's English) and "Divorcee by 23" which I think is the keystone of the record. My guess is some would call Bowditch a folk artist, and they may be right, but I don't see it that way. There is no banjo here (not that it is always bad, I really enjoy the band Girlyman who employ more of a folk background) and the songs would fit nicely into any modern popular radio rotation, which is to say "pop music."

I prefer to think of some of these new artists like Girlyman, Jenny Lewis, Missy Higgins and Bowditch as story tellers, and frankly fantastic musicians who don't see fit to conform to what is the norm on radio. Maybe that means you will never see them on MTV, and that may be for the best. I do hope they keep it up because it's some good work out of them.

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

Hank

As I said in my last post, Saturday was all about going to Philly to see Henry Rollins with my wife and her cousin. First of all, I have to say 'That's good work out of you' to the two of them for some great planning. It seamed like we were leaving for the show very early, and when we got to the venue, the Electric Factory, it was only 6:45 and the doors didn't open till 7:30. So we hung out in the car, huddled for warmth, till the line began to form at about 7:15.

As the assorted hipsters and cooler-than-you youths hopped from foot to foot and jumped and spun to try to generate heat, we listened to the man in charge tell us that there would be seats set up inside and they were first come first serve. So once the doors were finally flung open, we all pushed forward in need of any source of heat. Once we cleared security and had our tickets taken we were amazed to see that we were among the first 10 or 15 people in the room and we proceeded to grab three front row seats. Then it was just a matter of thawing while we waited for the aging alternative icon to come on stage.

Henry hit the stage right on time in his uniform of a black tee shirt, grey Dickey pants and flawless intellect and scathing wit. After some problems with the monitors on the stage were righted, he was off. Leading us on a trip through the world and the issues facing it, be they big things like war and his work with the USO or small things like the most honest sound a person can make: the sound of the dry heave right before throwing up. Of the former, Rollins is to be commended as the kind of American who won't let you forget that no matter how much he may hate the war, the people who started it or the ever changing but never justified reasons for it, he loves the guys and girls on the ground over there who proudly stand up and do it.

This is the second time I have seen him in the last 6 months and like the last time and like the interviews he has done on radio and TV he wants people to know how cool the soldiers are. He wants you to know what they have gone through, and he wants us to think about if it has all been worth it. Lest you think he is only on stage barking at the crowd like a wild man, Rollins has layers. The book on him is that there is only anger, and rage and a never ending fight against all that is fucked up in the world, but the real fact is that Henry Rollins gets it. He gets what it takes to be smart, thoughtful and side splittinglly funny all at once. Who else pulls that off these days? The Daily Show crew are just about the only folks who come close, but they are on basic cable so the can't fire up the vitriol like Hank can.

Just when you think he is only going to talk about Bush and Dick he hits you with his story of his "Vacation" on the Trans Siberian Railroad and the bout of vomiting he endured. I almost puked myself when he talked about "The Voice" that comes to you to let you know 'you have 30 seconds to get to a toilet before you are violently sick.' Then he spoke of the first time "The Voice" visits you in your youth and the first time you throw up, at which point he points out that as a child you have so many experiences for the first time so you have a tendency to give commentary as it goes, noting that after one portion of vomit passes the child's lips he may mutter "that tasted like hot dogs and fascism" which had me rolling again.

The rest of the night was also amazing as he spoke of trips to Wal Mart, and Bass Pro Shop and the things he has observed there. He also went into the dust up in Australia over comments he made to a government official who was looking into him has a 'person of interest' because he was reading the book "Jihad" on the plane to Brisbane and someone called him in. At the end of the night, I was sorry that one hundred and fifty minutes had passed so quickly, but luckily for me we own a ton of his CDs and he is just a click of the MP3 player away, and lets face it, he'll be back in town in no time. That's what he does, and that is good work out of him.

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Friday, February 17, 2006

Australia on my Mind

Last May, my wife and I had the amazing chance to travel half way around the world to Australia. While we were only there for three weeks, it was like having our eyes opened to a whole new world. Obviously our countries have much in common, being as we are basically cousins in the post English empire world. I think it was that small amount of sameness that made all the other differences so wonderful to encounter. I have been to many places around the world, but not as many as I would like to see before it is all said and done.


I have been throughout Europe and to Moscow and St. Petersburg Russia, just after the reforms of the early 1990's. So my visit to Oz was colored by my previous experiences which were just as varied as the places I had seen. When we landed in Sydney after the marathon flight from JFK to LAX and then across the Pacific, we were so anxious to see everything we could right away but we had to get some sleep first. Upon waking it was like being a kid on Christmas morning, we got dressed and raced out into the city for dinner and to soak in the atmosphere. The next day we began our sight seeing, hitting all the big attractions like the Harbour Bridge Climb, the Opera House and Centre Point Tower. We were so focused on seeing it all that we walked from our hotel in Darling Harbour up to the Tower and then walked all the way to the Opera house, around it a few times and as far as Mrs. Macquarie's Chair to see it from a far.

Then it was off to the Rocks via Circular Quay, and up the bridge in our grey jumpsuits. By the time we were done we were so exhausted we took a cab back to out hotel and just had dinner in the lobby. And that was just the first day. As the days past on our trip, and we began to interact with Aussies, we remarked to one another how easy to talk to these people were despite living in a large city like Melbourne or Sydney. I'm not saying that all people in New York are rude, because I know that isn't true having grown up just a hop skip and a jumped turnstile away from the city that never sleeps.

What I am saying is that the people that we encountered all seemed like they wanted to make sure we found what we were looking for down under, and as it happened we did. We hit book stores and and record shops to look for true Australian culture, the kind not exported to the US. We drank XXXX and VB not Fosters, we recovered from long days of walking by laying on our bed watching Aussie TV not the hours and hours of our shitty shows that are exported to them. And I fell in love with their love of sports. I think the world found out how much Aussies love sports when they hosted the Olympics a few years ago, but I was even more impressed when we got to see it close up. We watched Rugby, Aussie rules football and soccer, and we also took in their coverage of locals making good in the US. I fell in love with "the Footy" or Aussie rules football, which is most prominent in Victoria, which also happened to be my favorite place we went. This past year the Sydney Swans won the equivalent to the Super Bowl, which would be kind of like a team from Florida winning the Stanley Cup (too late).

By the time we left, we were both so enamored with everything Australian that we vowed to go back just as soon as we could. In addition we have both become Down Under observers, reading the Morning Herald and the Herald Sun via the web each day and I am looking forward to watching AFL games on the web this season while cheering for the newest team in my stable of favorites: the Geelong Cats.

I have Oz on the mind so much that when making Chicken cutlets for Chicken Parm a few months ago I some how made one in the shape of Australia (see photo) and as a reminder of my promise I made to myself to one day live in Melbourne, even if only for a few years, I got the southern cross and commonwealth star tattooed on my arm. (notice the Missy Higgins CD in the background in the picture above) So on this warm yet blustery American mid winter day, it is no surprise I find myself thinking about what it is like in Geelong today, or how hot it is in Queensland, or how crowded it is in front of the Manly Italian restaurant, because my mind always seems to wander down to Australia a bit each day. Tomorrow We are off to Philly to see the #1 man on my wife's list of people she can cheat on me with: Henry Rollins, I'll let you know how the show is in a few days.

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Top 50: 21-30


Time to round second with a full head of steam on the way home on my list of my Top 50 favorite songs of all time. To be clear, I am not saying these are the best songs ever, or even the best songs by each artist or act, they are just my favorite. A lot goes into picking a favorite song for me, as too I imagine it would anyone else. More than any other variable, I think when I heard a song plays a huge roll. If it sucks there is nothing that can save it, but if it is a great song and I can tie it to a time in my life I think I end up liking it more than if I had just recognized it as a great song. This group of 10 songs holds a lot of ties to times and places in my life, and that is why they are here in the 20's.

#30 The Cyrkle - Red Rubber Ball. I was working in a "50's era" Diner for a short time in high school, and that is where I received the bulk of my education in 50's and 60's music. The guys that ran the place had a Juke Box full of great tunes and some of them annoyed the fuck out of me after hearing them a thousand times. However, some of them became all time favs, and Red Rubber Ball was one. Along with the peppy pace and tone of the song comes the message of eternal, somewhat childlike optimism. Even though it was over it wasn't going to get him down. A great toe tapper.

#29 Son Volt - Route. This is another song with a great intro, for a few reasons. #1 Dave Boquist's southern/alternative licks kick much ass, and #2 with 23 second till Jay Farrar's one of a kind vocals kick in a young college DJ could give the weather and the request line number and fade the song up at just the right time and look like a genius. With the schism of the band Uncle Tupelo came two highly praised bands: Son Volt lead by Farrar and Wilco started by Jeff Tweedy. The trendy thing to say is that you love Wilco even if you only have one record of theirs, but do your self a favor and pick up some Son Volt because they got the better end of the deal, and are a superior band.

#28 The Smiths - There Is a Light That Never Goes Out. What child of the 80's doesn't have a Smiths song on their list. I have remarked about other songs on the list that upon hearing them I just wished I could want someone that much. And what says 'I love you and you are my everything' like "if a double decker bus crashes into us to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die." Morrissey and Johnny Marr and the boys of The Smiths spoke for every secure guy who wasn't afraid to say they felt something and just had to let it out.

#27 R.E.M. - Crush With Eyeliner. Another great guitar rif to start a song, and just a really rock n roll song from an outfit that introduced many a suburban kid like me to college rock. They were still doing it in the mid 90's when this song became my favorite R.E.M. song of all time, and I don't see it ever falling off the list. It's just fun to listen to, and an example that I can totally hate a person (I'm looking at you Michael) and enjoy a large portion of their work.

#26 Dusty Springfield - Son of a Preacher Man. Another song that I have to thank the fellas at the diner for. They played this song over and over and over. They also tuned me on to Dusty's version of "Take Another Little piece of My Heart" which just missed the top 50. This song regained popularity when it was featured in Pulp Fiction but I get to play snob and say I loved it to death before the movie. See, I am cooler than you.

#25 Beach Boys - God Only Knows. Back to the Diner in Jersey for this classic. I must admit till I worked there in my rolled up jeans, Chuck Taylor's and white tee and bowling shirt all I knew of the boys from the Beach was just that, beach music. When I heard this song for the first time, it fit into that mold I have pointed out a few times: I want to want someone that much. Tack an amazing harmony on to that sentiment and you have a song that is rock solid in the top half of the list for ever.

#24 Jonny Cash - Ring of Fire. Yeah I know this is a trendy pick, but I'll take the man in black over Mr. Pheonix any day. This pick keeps us at Be Bop's Diner, but really surged to the top the first time I heard a feature on Cash about 10 years ago on NPR. Then about 5 years ago my wife procured an original version on LP and we recorded it to CD from the record and the song had a new life with the pops, cracks and static of vinyl.

#23 Don McClain - American Pie. This is the last of the songs I learned about at the diner, and along with being an amazing "sell your soul to the devil for one outstanding hit" epic song it tells the story of a whole era replete with poem like images. The owners of the place had lived through much of this era and would sit you down at a both and tell you what each lyric meant, even if you didn't want to know. I did, however, and grew to appreciate the song more and more as I got older for the writing and songsmanship alike. It also is great if you are a DJ and you have to take a crap, it buys you 9 minutes.

#22 The Kinks - Picture Book. I'll admit the reason I first liked The Kinks was the 80's song "Come Dancing" then I moved on to "Lola" before I ever found this song, but once I did I loved it. It touched off a brit invasion of my home stereo as I jumped into The Who and the Beatles where before I wasn't interested. This I just a fun song to Listen to, and I don't think I have ever met someone who didn't like it, even before it was coopted to sell cameras like so many other great songs with the word picture in them.

#21 Indigo Girls - Least Complicated. Despite the under representation on the list, I have always been more partial to female performers in general when compared to groups fronted by a guy. Maybe I just like to think the girl is singing to or about me, or maybe I just think music just sounds more like music when it is a woman singing. All that said, only a handfuls of my top 50 are sung by women as compared with the list of my top 50 of 2005 which was more women then men. I love the way the Indigo Girls harmonize and more over the way they tell a story, this song, like many of their's sounds a million times better live.

Just two more Thursday posts left and coming up next week in the teens we will have a few of the biggest names in Rock history and a sampling of my youth as well.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Number 1

What better Day then the day after Valentine's Day to post the number one on the list of People I am allowed to cheat on my wife with. And without any more delay here she is... Ms. Sheryl Crow. I have loved Sheryl for a long time now, since 1993 in fact when I first heard her debut album Tuesday Night Music Club. I remember sitting in the Duchess Diner in my home town of Metuchen New Jersey and hearing the song "Strong Enough" for the first time in my Jr year of high school and I was hooked right away. She has an amazing voice, and is an amazing musician no matter if she is at the piano or holding a guitar. I picked up that first album on cassette, since it was a few more months till I had my first CD player. When I got that first Sony CD boom box Tuesday Night Music Cub was in the first group of CD's I got from one of those mail order clubs, which was a great way to stock up on some of my past favorites. It was about a year after I first heard Sheryl that she got big, with the song "All I Want To Do" which oddly enough is on of my least favorites of hers. When Woodstock '95 came around there was an amazing version of "Run Baby Run" on the soundtrack which I wore out on my Radio show on WVYC till I got my hot little hands on Encomium the Led Zep tribute album on which she covers "D'Yr Mak'er" which by the way is very high on my Top 50 of all time list (the original not the cover). To hear her wailing "oh, oh-oh oh oh oh, baby I love you so" did me in.

I was hooked That had to hold me over till my 1996 when she put out her second full length album which was self titled. On this record she took the opportunity to toy with her public persona, and being older than most when she got her break, she emerged and then reemerged in more seasoned style, being true to herself both times, and it rang very true. The second Disc will be remembered for a few other singles but I fell in love with her music all over again when I heard "Hard to Make a Stand" which also makes it on to my all time list. The guitar parts of that song, the intro in particular are amazing and her vocals are electric. It was a great record and I loved the way she looked in the liner notes, a rock goddess.

I didn't have a list in the early 90's but Sheryl would have topped it if I did, there is something so amazing about a beautiful woman, who sings like that, writes like she does, plays like a guitar goddess and looks so hot. After the second record I was even more amazed by her and it continued right on through each subsequent release since then. As she approached and passed
the big 4-0 I found her to be more and more attractive and striking. Even as she gets close to 50 and people pry more and more into her personal life and what did or didn't happen with Lance I find her to be more and more alluring.

It is like some one took the rock chops of Joplin and crossed them with the mellow style of a blues singer and rolled it up in the body of a pro volleyball player. In short (too late!) I love everything about her, and I wish her the best in life, love and music. I am happy to see her stand up for her beliefs and speak her mind. I enjoyed her newest album more and more each time I listened to it, and after taking an evening at work to listen to all six and a half hours of her music that I have on my Dell DJ I enjoyed walking through her career, and the last 12 years of her life, with her as the guide. I love the way her style as a song writer and singer has evolved over the years, and I can't wait to see what is next. I know she just put a record out, but I'm hoping it wont be a long layoff till the next one, even if it is just another live record. Sadly I have never been able to see her live, as the one time I thought it was going to happen I had to miss her performance at Lilith Fair due to work. I am going to make a concerted effort to get to a show on this tour, she is going to be in the area a few times but the one thing that makes me happy is that I know she isn't going anywhere.

To you Ms. Crow: That's Good work out of you, both for the hall of fame career and for being number one on my list since the day I thought it up.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Proud to be an American.

Don' t get me wrong, I love this country and all of the freedoms I am provided by being a citizen of it. I love our history, even the parts where we were wrong since they also add to what we are today, and are supposed to teach us what not to do in the future. All that being said, sometimes I am just down right embarrassed by my countrymen and women. In a week that has seen so much turmoil in the world's political arena (an area I really don't want to focus on in this blog) what has made me grimace has been the actions of the second most powerful man in the world and the first most pathetic princess of the "famous for no good reason" set. Dick Cheney and Britney Spears....This is some good work out of you two.

The pop diva decided it would be a good idea to drive with her small child on her lap so she could protect the young lad. The Dick... I mean the Vice President shot a friend in the face and neck with birdshot while he was aiming at a quail (oddly enough not the former VP of the same name but an actual bird.) HE SHOT HIM IN THE FUCKING FACE! One might argue that while Brit's stock should fall even farther now then it did before, Dick's might soar.

Sure we as American's don't like it when young illiterate mothers endanger their little ones, but we love it when old dangerous men who hang out with illiterates pop off shotguns. The Veep might get a rap album out of the deal, and if he were to have someone in his office leak a story that it was he who shot Biggie and Tupac his album could easily out sell any of Britney's. He could even sample Ashcroft's "Let the eagle soar" and have GW quotes from the State o' the Union dropped in with the base line here and there. But in the end I don't know which story is worse to us as a people, being as both will be brushed under the "I'm famous, so I can't get in trouble" carpet.

Britney's fans are much more impressionable and should just be reaching the age where they too want to have kids. Wait I think all her fans have already passed 14, so many of them already have kids. If we as a society say it was ok to drive with little Sean on her lap because people were taking their picture, won't we also be saying there are times when others can do it too? If we say that a few old white men in the woods playing with guns while clad in designer orange vests get a pass for an accidental shooting are we going to let others think being safe isn't needed because accidents will be forgiven. Just something to think about.

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Friday, February 10, 2006

Number 2


We are getting down to the nuts and bolts of my list of 5 women I am allowed to cheat on my wife with. At number two we welcome in Angelina Jolie. As the only person on the list that I am close in age with (she is just a bit less than a year older than I am) she might seem like the perfect match, but alas she is the penultimate target. There can be no denying that she is indeed the sexist women on my list by far, but number one has just a bit more, but that is for a later post.

Angelina embodies all of the things that make a woman a bombshell and the subject of so many men's fancy. She is beautiful, exotic and the personification of sexy. The first thing I remember seeing her in was Gia which may look only like HBO soft core at first glance due to all of the time she spends nude in it, but was quite a good movie. I thought the Tomb Raider movies were ok, but for the most part few of her other films have done her much justice. I loved her performance in Girl, interrupted and for some reason enjoyed Mr. and Mrs. Smith. What is for certain is that even in her worst movies like Cyborg or Foxfire she looks fantastic. Most people focus on her lips or her tattoos when they talk about her sex appeal but for me it all begins with her eyes and her gaze that can move from bedroom eyes to 'I'm gonna kick your ass' in microseconds. Combine her eyes, lips and the ink with an amazing body and you have one hell of a woman.

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Top 50: 31-40


Here is my second of 5 installments of my list of favorite songs of all time. It is kind of ridiculous to try and put this list together, because it is hard just to begin to narrow it down, but I took more than a weekend to do this. I started by picking my two favorite songs by each artist I owned a CD, Record, Tape or MP3 file of. That left me with a huge list which was easy to trim. Some groups/singers never made it past the first cut, which got me to 250 songs or so. From there I made a few playlists on my Dell DJ and as I listened to them I would either keep a song on the list or drop it. After spending the winter last year doing that I ended up with 88 songs on one list, and I took the same approach till I got to 50, at which point I tried to put them in order as best I could. What it all added up to was my Top 50 List and me coming to the understanding that I am in insufferable loser. Here's the list:

#40 Ass Ponys - Little Bastard. God bless college radio. While a DJ at WVYC the York College Radio station I was exposed to this gem of a song by an outfit I bet 99% of you have never heard of. It is just a catchy little song by a great little indie band, that I played on my show all the time.

#39 Archers of Loaf - Web in Front. Another Indie great who gave us another impossible to turn off song. Most people would remember it from Kevin Smith's movie Mallrats, but again I know it (and Loaf in general) as a staple of the mid 90's playlist at WVYC. GO LOAF!!!

#38 Led Zeppelin - Over The Hills and Far Away. This 8 track power house is my favorite album of all time, and it placed two songs on the list. Over The Hills was a High School find, I know it was 20 years after the album came out, but I was born in '76 so sue me. Plant's words, Page's rif and the last 40 second will always be stuck in my head. It is just a classic.

#37 Frank Sinatra - Wave. Kind of a shift of gears huh? This one goes back to the mid 80's for me in the Italian American Civic League Hall in my home town in Jersey. My Pop and his pals would sit around after functions and drink a few while taking in the chairman, and above all the standards this one stuck out to me. Maybe its the bass in Frank's Voice, or maybe its just a great fucking song, but years later I went looking for this song when we went back to the hall for my Dad's funeral and that memory hit me.

#36 Lou Reed - Walk on the Wild Side. How does this song not just jump out of the speakers and grab you? I was 4 when it came out, but the story caught me when I was in my mid teens as much as Reed's voice and the simple yet ass kicking arrangement complemented so well by the back up singers.

#35 Billy Joel - Summer Highland Falls. I love piano, and I revere the Piano Man. Turnstiles is my favorite album of his, and it placed three songs in the top 100 and two on the top 50. The words to this song are amazing, and if you have never had a moment of you life where they spoke to you then Wow. "and though we chose between reality and madness, its even sadness or euphoria." Home run!

#34 Crowded House - Weather With You. This is just a good ole fashion great tune. Lyrically it may not be the master piece that some of the others on the list are, but it is very evocative of a lot of different thoughts and emotions through both the words and music. I love the Finn's music, then and now.

#33 Playing Your Song - Hey Mercedes. Most of the former members of emo forerunners Braid got together to form a tight little group in Hey Mercedes. Loses Control is an awesome album, and I can listen right through with out any 'track ahead' needed. This song smashes your ears with tight guitar and ass kicking rhythm section performances all set off by Bob Nanna's one of a kind vocals.

#32 Less Than Jake - Automatic. Another in a long line of college radio favs. I owe my wife for this one (as well as a number of others on the list). She turned me on to the mid 90's Ska wave which had a nice head of steam until No Doubt and Smashmouth's masquerades as ska bands screwed it up. Automatic is infectious, and will make even the sadist sack dancer move hips, feet heads and hands.

#31 Jeremy - Pearl Jam. I always like Eddie and the boys better than Nirvana (I love Foo though). I was a freshman in high school when I got my fat little fingers on Ten, and it rocked me. I'm not saying it was a life changing thing or any of the crap a lot of grunge kids would say, it just rocked in a different and more substantial way then most of the crap they were throwing my way in the late 80's hair shit mettle days.

20 down 30 to go. Up next we will span from the 50's to the 90's as we look in on the likes of Dusty Springfield, The Kinks, R.E.M and The Beach Boys.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

DVD Review: Waiting


I just picked up the great new movie from the man who acted in a classic favorite of mine: National Lampoons Van Wilder. Ryan Reynolds has made his way around all types of media over the last few years, TV, comedy movies and action movies, but it is in films like Waiting and Van Wilder that he excels. Even his cameo in Harold and Kumar was top notch, and just a look from Reynolds can crack you up. In Waiting he is the massively under achieving top dog waiter at a chain restaurant called Shenanigan’s which is a poorly disguised version of Bennigans. Other than doing his best to sleep with the underage hostess his main focus in life is to get through the shift so he and his group of coworkers can go to his house and have a huge party, only to wake up and do it all over again. Who hasn’t been there right? The crew of the Restaurant include Anna Faris, who before Broke Back Mountain languished in films like Scary Movie 2 and The Hot Chick. She is great in Waiting and her performance as the on the ball waitress is complemented well by Justin Long’s go getter waiter. Long is best known as the geek in Dodgeball, but in Waiting he plays a cooler roll, and quite well I might add. The pot is stirred amazingly well by the pathetic and inept boss played so well by David Koechner. We all have worked for a asshole like this guy, but when he is played by Champ from Anchorman or Todd Packer from The Office (see previous post) it takes it to a whole new level. Koechner almost comes off as a more pathetic version of Champ or the Dad from the sex talk in 40 Year Old Virgin, but fits so well into the fold of misfits at Shenanigan’s. Add to the mix the kitchen staff lead by Chi McBride (see the boss in Undercover Brother) and seasoned well with a sprinkle of Dane Cook (quite possibly the funniest man alive right now) and Luis Guzmain and this is a movie you will watch over and over again. On a more troubling note, the sick and disgusting things the staff do to the food of the people who treat them poorly are totally accurate. I have seen them done, and wont comment on weather or not I have done them myself. It is true what they say: Don’t fuck with the people who handle your food. Take care of your waiters and waitresses people and then you wont have to worry about spit in your mashed potatoes, snot on your bread, and pubes in your burger.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Office


The Place: NBC. The time: Thursdays at 9:30. The event: The Office. The greatest invention of all time? TiVo. With out TiVo I would have been faced with a very tough challenge when 2006 started, watch CSI which is among my favorite shows on TV or keep watching The Office which is easily one of the 5 best new shows to come down the pike in years. First things first, I loved the BBC version of this show, and I own every second of it on DVD. And in the beginning I thought this was another poor attempt at ripping off a brit classic by the sad sacks over at NBC. But, after a few rough patches in the first few episodes they broke free of the old show and started to do their own thing. I haven't gotten to the point where I would say the US version is as good as David Brent and his coworkers but I also think they are not trying to be the same. The US version is outstanding in all of it's own ways. The cast is impeccably assembled starting with the head man in the office Steve Carell as Michael Scott.
Carell is great as the self centered, dimwitted, unaware front man for this motley crew. He takes all of the dead pan expertise he displayed on The Daily Show, as Brick in Anchorman and even in his most recent movie the 40 year old Virgin. The writers are somehow able to almost make you feel sorry for Michael as he makes a total ass out of him self, just as you would for David over in Slough.
Where this show really has begun to shine is in the development of the cast of charters surrounding Scott. I think John Krasinski's Jim has already surpassed the Tim of the BBC as the guy in the office most people pull for. Likewise most of the other office dwellers have pushed themselves to the fore in a more complete manner than their British cousins. Skillfully played by Jenna Fischer, BJ Novak and Rainn Wilson who still makes me think of Six Feet Under each time I see him. Where as I feel the British show spent more time trying to make us look at Brent, or at least his lampoons in each interaction with the staff, I feel like the US Office could more fully function as a show if the head man was to be out for a week.
As I stated before, I am just glad I have TiVo, because I really don't know what I would have picked if I was forced to. The added bonus is that I tend to leave the episodes of The Office on there to watch again and be saved on DVD to enjoy a marathon at my choosing. Never you worry you greedy NBC joyless tie wearing dicks- I still plan on buying the season set when you put it out.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Number 3


The Lady at Number 3 on my list of women I am allowed to cheat with has been there since its inception. I first caught sight of her in Days of Thunder, but I was 14 and more interested in the cars at that point. I was 16 when my dad chose to rent the movie Billy Bathgate, mainly because it was a mob movie. I liked the movie, but I loved it's leading lady, a young Australian named Nicole Kidman. I would be lying if I said her full frontal nude scene didn't play a big part in my early infatuation. Those were the days when a young man didn't get to see a fully nude woman on TV on in movies with out considerable effort, and here was this amazing redhead standing atop a water fall with nary a stitch of clothing on.
There is nothing I can say about Nicole's beauty that isn't evident to anyone who looks at her, she is just the perfect exemplar of striking female features and an amazing figure. I'm glad she has stuck with her trademark red curly locks for much of her now storied career, and although her Aussie accent has waned over the years, it is also quite pleasant to hear. When she does press it is still there, but not quite as much as when you hear interviews from early on in her career.
Although I enjoyed my early Nicole sightings, or other nudes she did like in Eyes Wide Shut, I think the most amazing thing she has ever done is Moulin Rouge. In that film she was quite simply the most beautiful actress I have ever seen on screen, and we found out she can sing to boot. Even though I tend to think of her as more of a classic beauty that doesn't mean she can't pull of passion or raw sexuality. For an example of this all one needs to do is see her sex scene in Cold Mountain. Rapped up in what was an excellent movie all together was a very hot and convincing love scene with Jude Law that left both men and women transfixed. For being number 3 on my list, and for always having been there I say "that's good work out of you" Nicole Kidman

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Top 50: 41-50


On of the things that I love about the MP3 player revolution is the ability to have all of your music with you where ever you go. While most people, including my wife, have gone with the Ipod I chose the Dell DJ. We have done a lot together over the last year and along the way I started to listen to stuff I hadn't pulled out in years. Just having it right there at my fingertips, and not having to lug a few hundred CDs in my car reopened my interest in some forgotten music. I decided to put together a list of my favorite songs of all time, first a top 10 then 25 and before too long a top 50. I have probably put too much thought into a list that seems to change from week to week based on my taste at the time, but these 50 are the ones that seem most representative of all my favorites.

#50 Cold Chisel - Khe Sanh. Wow, what a great classic rock tune, and from a top notch Aussie outfit as well. I didn't hear this song till many years after it was put out, but after that one listen it became an instant favorite. This song just rocks.

#49 Mr. Big - To Be With You. Ok, I know I just lost whatever cred I might have had, but it is my list and I love this song . I remember the first time I heard it, in the Gym at St. Joseph's Seminary in Princeton NJ. I was but a young man, who was thinking about becoming a priest mind you, but I knew I wanted to want someone like that.

#48 Dave Mason - We Just Disagree. I love the words to this song, and quite frankly I heard it the day I decided to break up with a girl in High School and it seemed to hold all the things I wanted to say to her.

#47 Yes - Seen All good People. I got a classic rock education as a young man while working at a New Jersey Pizza shop and listening to New York's famous K-Rock. This was one of those songs I loved the second I heard it, and instantly asked the older guys about. It's always been on my list and always will be.

#46 a-ha - Take on Me. The Video, the video, the video. If I had to sum up my thoughts of pop music in the 80's this song and video would do nicely. Lets face it, it's just a great song.

#45 The Special Two - Missy Higgins. I had to restrain myself from putting this one higher, because I only heard it for the first time last year. I love Missy Higgins, and I cherish all of her music, this one, or some tune of hers, will end up in the top 10 one day. If you haven't heard her go out and pick up some of her tunes.

#44 Einstein On the Beach - Counting Crows. Of all the bands that make me think of my late high school years the Crows are right at the top. They were huge and I enjoy much of their music, but it was this track from the DGC rarities disc that always defined them for me.

#43 Self Esteem - Offspring. I didn't want to like this song, or this band but by the end of my senior year of high school I too turned the stereo in my '78 Chevy Caprice as high as it could go to rock out with this one. Plus its hard for a 17 year old dating a whore not to sympathize.

#42 Devil Inside - INXS. This was the first album (Kick) not by my favorite artist, to be named later, that I was able to listen to over and over again with out fast forwarding through a song. It was hard to pick my favorite from this disc but this one is very evocative to me.

#41 Divorce Song - Liz Phair. Another great album that doesn't require the 'track ahead' button. I love Liz Phar, both then and now, and think that she has done some of her best work over the last two maligned records but this one is my tops when it comes to her.

That is the first installment of the top 50, coming up we have names like Led Zep, The Doors and the chairman of the board. To all those who made the list: That's good work out of you.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Number 4


Next up on my list of famous women with whom I am allowed to step out on my wife is Christina Aguilera. She is the youngest, and by my estimation tiniest lady on my list. At 25 I think it is easy to claim that Christina is far ahead of the crop of performers she emerged with back in the late 90's. While she has always been light years ahead in talent when compared with the likes of Mrs. Spears, Nicks Ex and what ever Duff or other vacant fake blonde she compeated with, Christina has now reached a new eshalon. While the other girls have tryed to push their lack of tallent down our throats she took time to put together the record she wanted to last time out, and is obviously taking time again on the next one since it has been 3 years sinces Striped came out.
One of the things I find so inticeing about Christina is that she has seamed more in touch with her sexuality over the last few years, never playing that 'I'm a good girl virgin' card. She put it out there for all of us to see, and even thought I am sure her public persona is a bit more over the edge then the real person, I apreciate it. She has an amazing voice, which truely sets her apart from the other aforementioned performers, but I always thought she was much prettier than them as well. She has wonderful facial featurs no matter what color hair is draped around them and a small but powerful form. Her curvs and the way she chooses to show them off just ooze sexuality and now that she is more woman than girl she has really sharpened her allure. I hope to hear more honest, powerful, female empowering music from Christina soon, and when I do I'm sure i'll say "thats good work out of you" Christina for the music and for making it to number 4 on my list.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Record Review

I just picked up the full length debut album by a group who goes by the name Morningwood. Alright, I'll admit it I got the record just because it is a rock group fronted by a woman who have a name about AM penis hardness, and I'm glad I did. Chantal Claret has a great rock voice, and let me clarify here, not a great girls rock voice, just a great rock voice. She assaults your ears on tracks like NU Rock and Take off Your Clothes and then takes a different approach on Jetsetter or Ride the Lights, the latter sounding a bit like The Cardigans Nina Persson. Her versatility doesn't mean that she comes across as unfocused on rocking, which she does in spades. With the recent upsurge in "emo" bands and the proliferation of want-to-be angry girl groups it's nice to see a foursome that just want to rock. There is no political agenda to be had here, and although Chantal lets us know she is a sexual being and has a playful side there is no wining about feelings or loss due to a bad relationship. In fact it's bassist and former Wallflowers Drummer Pedro Yanowitz who can be heard being the cautious thinker in the track Take off Your Clothes, where he responds to Chantal's request to get naked with: "I know baby your frustrated, but I'd like it if we waited and get a little more acquainted." Yanowitz's Bass is very good and the guitar from former Spacehog ax-man Richard Steel is superb.

Of the 11 tracks I would have to say I enjoyed just about all of them right off the bat. I was a bit caught off guard by Babysitter which struck me as a song for the likes Mary Kay Letourneau unless I was missing a nuance, you'll have to make up your mind for your self, but if you don't break down the lyrics too much this song rocks as well. Track 10, Everybody Rules, also caught me a bit off guard as it was the second track on the album (Nth Degree) that employs the spelling out of a word ala cheerleading, which in and of itself isn't a bad thing, but odd twice on one disc.

If you want to ease into Morningwood I would suggest adding Nth Degree, Take off Your Clothes and Ride the Lights to your ipod first and when you have decided you love those jump into the rest of the record, or save your self a few bucks and just pick up the whole thing to start out with.