Friday, June 27, 2008

Bonus Karaoke

I felt like I needed to expand my forums to doing Karaoke. I'm off three days in a row, Tuesdays Wednesdays, and Thursdays. I only go out on Tuesdays. That's a habit that I've had since I worked at UPS. My parents invited me to go to one of them concerts on the beach at Pt. Pleasant. A priest conducts an orchestra that plays classical music and show tunes. It was kinda fun, a neat way to spend an evening on the beach.

After that I had time to do karaoke at yet another place called Jack's. I did only three songs. I wanted to make up for yesterday but failed again. The problem was the songs I chose. I did Joan Jett's "I hate Myself For Loving You". When I lived in Seattle I had no problem singing songs by females but Seattle is a very tolerant city but I'm nervous about doing it at the Jersey shore. Oh well, the video is from Joan Jett's hey day. A little bit of the big hair but she's still a bad ass.
Joan Jett And The Blackhearts - I Hate Myself For Loving You

The second song is one I didn't think Karaoke Steve had. It's the Violent Femmes song "Fat". Everyone likes to do "Add It Up" and "Blister In The Sun". I liked doing songs that are kiss off songs but I screwed up this song because I didn't know it well enough. Anyway, the video is concert footage from the 90's I think. Nothing spectacular.


The last one is one of those songs I didn't know the title of. Sublime's "Doin' Time" is a classic from the 90's. Its' too bad Brad Nowell died of a heroin overdose before the song got big. I can't rap even white guy rap so I wasn't good, man why do I bother? The video is a typical posthumous video involving clips of the deceased intervened with clips of the very live members of the band.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

That Sucked! Let Me Do It Again!

So, Tuesday was a bit of a bust at Jack's. My voice wasn't that great but what made me do bad was my rare bouts of stage fright. I usually get it when I do a song for the first time. I'm usually never afraid to do a new song but every once in awhile I'll come across a badly produced karaoke CD. I'm usually so familiar with the songs (except for the words) that I know where all the musical cues necessary to sing them. It gets even harder with a song that has a cold start like the Beatles "I'm Only Sleeping".

If there is such a thing as an obscure Beatles song it would be "I'm Only Sleeping" This great song from Revolver is up there among my favorite Beatles songs. I always look for those Beatles songs that I've never seen in karaoke form. I was so happy to see this one. When it was my turn I was bummed by the fact it was the same company as the Rolling Stones song from last week. So, I'm not hearing the right sounds to clue in on when the vocals kick in, there was no background vocals and the words were highlighting at the wrong moments. So I considered my effort a flop, but some of the crowd liked it.

Since the song came out in 1966, I wasn't able to get footage of the Beatles performing the song. I don't like the homemade videos people make so I settled on a Beatles cartoon short from the 60's. The cartoon is typical low budget flash in the pan animation typical of 60's television animation. The cartoon is rudimentary until the song kicks in at the two minute mark. Then it's not so bad


Back in Seattle, many guys like to sing David Lee Roth's version of "Just a Gigolo". It was a crowd pleaser and I thought I'd give a Jersey roll. I've done it well many a time...

...back in Seattle.

I flubbed through the words once again but I didn't have a bad CD to blame it on. I got a case of stage fright. I was shy and had no confidence. I finished the song in disgust. I usually like to do a "safe" song after I flop. My voice was fine but still...

Anyway, the video for the song is a well worn classic from when MTV was the dog. It's a great over the top video. full of humor, blunt satire, and uproarious fun. It aged well because it was played as a joke to begin with. Enjoy the video, I'm sure it'll bring back memories.


So, I want to play it safe, right? For me that's Rolling Stones time. So I thought "Sympathy For The Devil". This was risky because I didn't know which version Karaoke Steve had. Also, no one had done the Karaoke Killer songs, the long tedious songs that someone usually thinks they do well but don't. These include, "American Pie", "Paradise By The Dashboard Light" and "Rapper's Delight".

So I chose "Shattered". It's a song from 1978 about how New York was falling apart in itself. It's got a great guitar riff but the vocals are tricky. It's not a typically structured song. Once again I flubbed the words, at this point I begin to wonder if I was drunk after only two beers or I was having a stroke. It's also too obscure for the early 20's crowd. They may know the obscure one hit wonder songs but a song from a well known group from an atypical time period will not get a good response.

The first time I heard the song was when I was watching an SNL repeat from 1978. I HATED it. Soon I would love it. Anyway, NBC are very strict about the YouTube universe so I had to settle for footage from their bloated 1982 American tour. What the hell is Mick Jagger wearing? Despite the fact it was the early 80's, it smacks of typical 80's.

The Rolling Stones - Shattered

Now if I had only one negative personality trait (yeah, right) it is my stubborness. Mules look at me and say "Dude, Let go already" I was going to give it one more try. I figured I'd do "Nights On Broadway" by the Bee Gees. It's one of only three Bee Gees songs I do. The others are "Jive Talking" and "How Deep Is Your Love?" It's a challenging song I do pretty well. It was late though, most people were leaving at this point so the fact I did okay didn't matter.

The footage I have is from 1979, right before the point of their collapse. It's like the moment before climax during sex. The song was from 1975 but I prefer this footage. The crowd is in it. I didn't know Robin sang the "Well, I had to follow you" part. I guess I would have known that if I hadn't turn the channel from SNL whenever Jimmy Fallon appeared in a skit. I like it it reminds me of the days I actually liked going to the mall.


Pipe Dreams Cartoon!!!!

Monday, June 23, 2008


George Carlin has died. I can't express in words how much I loved his work and how sad I am that he died. He was a comedic genius whose only rival was Richard Pryor for the greatest stand up comedian of all time. I've been a fan of of George Carlin for over 30 years. I'll miss him. He was 71.

The classic Baseball vs. Football routine

George Carlin talks about cats and dogs

I was about 10 when I snuck a peak at his first HBO show, I had a hard time holding back my laughter as did a routine about dogs and cats. My neighbor across the street had some George Carlin albums which we listened to, including "Occupation:Foole" and "Class Clown". I had laughed so hard I developed a six pack from all my stomach convulsions. These albums had the famous "7 Dirty Words" and its sequel. I became a fan for life.

A follow up to the classic "7 Words"

I enjoyed George Carlin's rebellious nature. His routines were a breath of fresh air as the country was embracing Ronald Reagan's conservatism. George Carlin was a hero to the counterculture youth. This from a man who was older than my parents.

George Carlin's career can be put in three stages. The first stage was his DJ/Ed Sullivan stage. This early phase had Carlin teaming up with Jack Burns and performing in coffeehouses while making a living as a DJ. After going out on his own, he would appear on variety shows like the Smothers Brothers and acting in small parts on sitcoms. He was making a living doing characters in his stand up, but he had not established a distinctive career to break wide open. Carlin 's audience seemed somewhat indifferent to his comedy and Carlin was even more dissatisfied with his audience.

This need to change brought about his second stage of his career The Hippy/Stoner phase. He was in his early 30's but he identified with the baby boomers who were challenging the status quo in the 60's. He released the album FM&AM in 1972. This was the mainstream's introduction to the newly bearded and long haired George Carlin. This album bid farewell to the old George Carlin on one side, where he did his characters like the hippy dippy weatherman. The other side showcases the definitive George Carlin. He gave us the ugly truth and it was funny as hell. He made full use of the English language including the words mighty 7. He peppered his routines with drug references and the occasional racial slur meant to shatter many taboos. He was at his comedic peak. These albums were some of the best routines of all time. Before the 70's ended he would start filming his stand ups for HBO. This increased his audience immensely. He was the first host of a live show filmed in New York that would be known as Saturday Night Live.


A Place For Carlin's Stuff

He kept this phase of his career going into the 80's. He cut his hair but kept his beard. His hair was going gray at around the time he entered his third phase. The Angry Curmudgeon phase. He had a few heart attacks by this point. A routine of his was "First Richard (Pryor) had a heart attack, then I had a heart attack, then Richard burned himself up, and I said 'Fuck That' I'll have another heart attack!" He continued to release HBO specials until last year. He started to appear in more movies including the Bill and Ted movies, He even appeared on the kids show Shining Time Station as the Conducter. His comedy routines were getting darker and angrier. His main topics were politics and religion. Basically he had no use for either. During the 90's he released three books while continuing to do "On Location" specials for HBO.

Carlin's Take on Religion

When I first listened to George Carlin it was for the swear words but later on I realized it was the way he used the language that made it funny. His brilliant observations of the English language taught to him by his Catholic School teachers made his routines thought provoking. This made it necessary for multiple listens.

Typical Carlin Routine That Makes You Think

George Carlin was the Man, man. Actually I wish he were the Man, then I would not hate the Man. So long, funny man.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tuesdays Fun

Like I have said, Tuesdays are usually my favorite day of the week. Last week was an exception. My car needed a new clutch so I didn't have use of the car and the temperature being in the hundreds made it unpleasant. I also didn't do karaoke so a sad man I was last Tuesday.

Yesterday on the other hand was a much more fun day. It was a beautiful day, so I went to my new favorite beach, Gunnison Beach on Sandy Hook. The scenery was better, but the water was a little colder. Afterwards I saw the "Incredible Hulk". Much better than the 2003 movie. It's more action oriented with a more suitable actor, Ed Norton as Bruce Banner. The only two "actors" from the other movie to make an appearance in this one was Stan Lee and Lou Ferrigno in more satisfying cameos. It's become fun sport to look for Stan Lee's cameos. This one was essential to the main plot.

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Marvel Productions has gotten its act together. It's a comic geeks dream. The movie features references to several other Marvel characters not in the movie. A cameo by Robert Downey as Tony Stark sets up for future movies. The CGI Hulk looked more real in this movie. They were smart enough to hold back on the effects leaving some mystery. Overall, a fine experience.

Then I did karaoke at Jack's. My voice was flat though. I wanted to challenge myself and I realized by the first song that it would not be a good idea. I started with one of my favorite karaoke songs Tavares' "It Only Takes A Minute" a great soul number from the mid 70's. It'd a good danceable song and I did okay but not nearly as good as other times I've done it. Here's one of those somewhat annoying videos that features visuals that doesn't match the audio. Great song though.


The second song I did was Sniff N The Tears "Driver's Seat" It's a one hit wonder from 1979. I love this song and was excited at the opportunity to sing it. I have sung probably 2000 different songs (no lie) and it gets harder to find a new one I'd like to sing. This is one of them. I wasn't aware of the song until it was in the movie "Boogie Nights". It's a low key song that I had not problem with. The promo video is typical of the late 70's. It's performance clip which I enjoy because in the era of punk and disco it seems ahead of its time. It comes across as early alternative rock along with acts like REM and Husker Du.


The third song I did was the classic kiss off song from the Rolling Stones "It's All Over Now". Even though I'm still bitter about where my life is right now, instead of clinging to Guns and God I cling to karaoke. It didn't work because the karaoke CD was not good, the instruments didn't sound right and some words were wrong. I also hate it when you expect harmonies on the CD and you don't get it.

The footage I linked is from some British show, I guess. I love seeing early Stones when they were considered very dangerous to mainstream culture. Mick Jagger had not yet become the dominant force of the Stones yet. Keith Richards is barely recognisable as a young man. Still, he has those British teeth. I love seeing stuff from the days when musical acts appeared on shows that wasn't American Idol.


The fourth song I sang was Sly and The Family Stone's "Thank You For Let Me Be Myself" The song is one of my favorites. It's a popular song with a famous guitar rift that wasn't heard in the karaoke CD Karaoke Steve had. I found that distracting but still handled the song better than the Rolling Stones song.

The footage I found on YouTube is why I love it. MTV and VH1 had disappointed me in the years they actually HAD music videos about how they had not so good footage of great songs. YouTube fans come through with great footage like this from the Dick Cavett Show in 1970. This is the classic lineup with Sly Stone in a rare state of lucidity. I'm glad Dick Cavett has recently released DVDs of his show. Let me tell you, I wish they had shows where the only thing being promoted is a new hit song.

SLY & THE FAMILY STONE - Thank You (1970)

So a good day until I decided I wanted to drive home. Sure enough, a flat tire.


Third time in less than a year.

In all the years I didn't have a car I was made to feel like an idiot, but with all the money I put into it I wish I was in a position to get rid of it. Maybe when I move back to Seattle next year.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Fist Friends

It's So European! With Jersey Accents

Anyway, my car was acting up and I needed to take it to the shop. It took away much of the money I needed to help me move into a new place. So, I was resigned to my fate of staying in my teeny tiny apartment for another year. The good thing is that I can continue to use the beaches that are near by, like Sandy Hook.

Now, one of my co-workers was talking about how he likes to go to Gunnison Beach. It's a nude beach. I had never been on a nude beach before and I wanted to see what the big deal was. well, it was interesting and after a few awkward moments I did as the Romans do, and let me tell you, it was fun. One advantage, when the water hits upper thigh level, it's not nearly as brutally cold as when you you have swimming trunks on.

It's very liberating knowing that there are men paler, fatter and less........generous who are willing to go all out there. The scenery was to be expected, mostly men, older women, heavy women and what not. There were some sights for my interests but my enjoyment was the way the ocean water felt on my skin and the possibility of getting an "all over" tan this summer. I'm glad I didn't run into anyone I knew but I plan on doing this regularly.

Oh, I just want to be on record that I'm NOT a hippy.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Spanglish or is it Enanish

Sydney Pollack

I forgot to acknowledge the passing of Sydney Pollack. He had a great career both directing and acting. Anyway they were running some of his films including his first "The Slender Thread" a 1964 movie filmed entirely in Seattle. I had seen the movie before but had not seen the beginning.

The beginning is about as good a representation of place as you'll get. It's an aerial shot starting from Seattle Center and the character played by Ann Bancroft and pans over to the University of Washington main campus and the character played by Sidney Poitier. This movie is an excellent example of what Seattle was like during its 60's heyday. I recommend it.


The Songs

Last night was fun, in more ways than one. I won't get into details other than to say I sang three songs and here's the videos for the songs.

Bachelor life is so fun sometimes.

When I started doing karaoke the one "crowd pleasing" song I sang a lot in the early days was "Brandy" by Looking Glass. It goes over well even to those whose name isn't Brandy. Anyway here's the video footage.


I have been in a Monkees mood recently, I have always loved the show and have watched it anytime they have shown repeats of the show. They were a decent music group. The show was really good for its time. Somehow they were able to group two talented musicians and two skilled actors to form a greater sum than the whole.

When they first released albums the four Monkees were prevented from doing much beyond singing the songs and acting in the show. So they had some songwriters writing the songs. Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart wrote some of the best known of the Monkees hits. "I'm Not Your Steppin' Stone" is one of their stronger efforts. It even has street cred. Years after the Monkees disbanded, the Sex Pistols covered it.

The video is one of the better "romps" from the TV show. It reminds me of some of the old Three Stooges shorts, which is somewhat appropriate since the Monkees show used the same sets and many of the same props as the Stooges.


The third song I sang is yet another Soundgarden song. I miss Soundgarden. They were one of the Seattle bands that gave the early 90's an "I was there, man!" vibe about it. Lead singer Chris Cornell has the best pipes in the business. I've seen them at the second Lollapalooza set of shows. I always liked Kim Thayils look. The busy beard and the long hair. These days he probably gets profiled a lot since 9/11 but man I hope that Soungarden gets together again. "Blow Up The Outside World" is from their last album and has typical dark lyrics and loud guitars. A classic.