Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Bummer...


I just heard on the radio on the way home from work that legendary actor Paul Newman died. He personified anti-hero cool better than anyone except maybe Steve McQueen. I love his movies from the 60's and 70's. Cool Hand Luke, Hud, Slapshot, Towering Inferno, and The Hustler, just to name a few.

He's up there with a few actors I had a (shudder) "Man Crush" on. Those eyes, those pouty lips..

hrumph. ahhemmmm.

Anyway, he seemed like a nice guy, was on the correct side on most issues and his popcorn was just dandy. He'll be missed but man I hope they don't bring him back from the dead like they did Orville Redenbaucher.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Oooooh, What's Goin' On?

Just face it, Barack is just cool.













I grabbed this picture from Huffington Post. I love it because I've never seen anyone look as calm and collected as Barack Obama in this picture. Everyone else looks scared or scary.

GObama!!!



New Pipe Dreams Cartoon!!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Disturbing Things I See Sometimes...

So, I'm walking around my neighborhood on the "other" side of the tracks. I gaze around just looking at things and I see some huge ass pickup truck parked on the side of the street. As one is wont to do when they have a huge ass pickup truck, they have bumper stickers and the usual "Jesus Fish". One bumper sticker said "No Illegals".

Okay, that's not very Christian, but whatever. Right next to another sticker (a Skull!?), was the sign "My boss is an Austrian Painter".

Hmm. It took me too long to not pick up on it. I usually see a bumper sticker that says "My boss is a Jewish Carpenter" which is an obvious shout out to Jesus. I actually thought "Is his boss Van Gogh?" trying to clue in what the cryptic bumper sticker said. It took 5 more seconds for me to clue in that he meant Hitler.

Great.

I live in a town of Nazis. Well, Middletown is a notorious hotbed of racism. I forget, it sucks. I'm tempted to spray paint "I'm A Nazi" I mean why be coy?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mantra! Mantra! Mantra!

Choke!!!!!

I was watching the Mets blow another game and I was reminded the time they choked in this fashion. However, It's not 2007 I'm talking about. It's 1998. In 1998, the Mets teased me, by getting close to winning the division. They faded away, and looked like at least they would get the Wild Card. Then they choked it all up.

That's what they remind me of now.


Yikes.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

New Pipe Dreams Cartoon!!!

Scary-oke

I have been secretly doing karaoke on Wednesday nights. It's at a place called Kladdagh in the Jersey shore town called Highlands. It's a small semi-divey place in the middle of town. It's an Irish themed (duh) bar that is really standard bar fare and beer. The selection of beer is adequate but the taps are always off so I always buy bottled Sam Adams.

But I don't go there for beer. I go there for karaoke. It's a far less rowdy "crowd" of older professional drunks with a sprinkling of young folks that I take to be locals who went straight to work from high school. The set up for karaoke is modest, a good selection of songs but it has a wireless mike set up that makes it feel uncomfortably like American Idol.

Still, I like singing, it makes me feel good. I chose mellower songs that the older crowd appreciates. As usual for me I chose obscure ones that don't get sung by anyone else. I also make it a point not to repeat myself. Let's face it, the karaoke host bought thousands of songs, it's only fair to try to use them. Besides, I would get bored shitless hearing endless renditions of "Sweet Caroline" and Don't Stop Believing".

Still, Highlands creeps me out. I read an article in the New York Times about how many people moved from Manhattan to set up shop here. The article talked about how "cosmopolitan" Highlands is becoming. I have to disagree. It's old school working class waterfront town. I get no sense of a Hoboken like revival anytime soon. The people are stubbornly "townie" oriented. I admire that, but the people are scary.

I don't fit in, of course. I tend to like a diverse crowd, and this crowd is decidedly not diverse. I'm not expecting to make friends here. That suits me fine though. I can't handle being a townie in this town or any town. I need to be closer to the city, any city.

Anyway, I did songs that I have featured already on the blog. Except for "Hot In The City" by Billy Idol. The official videos are so bad that I had to resort to a Solid Gold appearance. A terrible show for lipsyncing performances. This one is good though.

video

On Tuesday at Jack's, my theme was to do the same groups from the week before, I only sang three times. The White Stripes song and the T-Rex song I have posted the videos for in previous blogs. The Who song was "Who Are You". I was joined on that song by a very short, non dwarf guy in a hat. The video from the theme song from CSI is a recording session for the ast Who album with Keith Moon as drummer. I like this for its simplicity. Though Moon looks very bloated.

video

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

RIP Norman Whitfield


You know, I look up in Wikipedia to find out what notable person passed away. Norman Whitfield was a producer/songwriter for Motown and he just passed away at the age of 65.

Now I was aware of Norman Whitfield. I knew he was the main songwriter for Motown after Smokey Robinson. But, man when I saw the list of his songs, I was blown away by the diversity of songs he wrote. I decided to collect videos of only some of the songs he wrote. Some are the most familiar songs of all time. He wrote soul songs during turbulant times. He gave the Tempatations an edgy, funky sound. His songs were covered by many white artists including some British new wave artist of the early 80's.

Check these out, man.



One of his first hits "Really Sayin' Something" became one of Bananarama's first British hits in 1982. I remember how weird I thought they looked when I first saw this on MTV. Catchy tune though. It was a cover song obviously but I don't know the original and I couldn't find it.

video

His first big hit was "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" for the Temptations. Here's the group followed by a cover version from the Rolling Stones.

videovideo

He wrote the last Temptations hit with David Ruffin as lead singer, "I'm Losing You". It was edgy enough to be covered by the Rod Stewart led band, Faces in the early 70's.

videovideo

If you had to pick his best known composition, it would be hard to argue against "I Heard It Through The Grapevine." It was a hit for three different groups. the most famous version would be Marvin Gaye's. Still, His version was preceded by Gladys Knight and the Pips version and followed by Creedance Clearwater Revival's. All are great.

videovideovideo

Turmoil in America in the wake of the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King gave inspiration to the appropriate titled "Ball of Confusion" that was done by the Temptations with their new lead singer Dennis Edwards. I couldn't find footage of the Temptations but found a home made video that is quite good.

Ball Of Confusion (That's What The World Is Today)

War was raging in Vietnam, so Whitfield asked the simple question "War" by Edwin Starr, what is is good for? nothing.

video

Norman Whitfiled went a little more personal with the song "Smiling Faces" by a one hit wonder group the Undisputed Truth. Sounding as smooth as the Staples Singers. No video, but the song is good enough to listen to. I recommend putting it in your mp3 collection.

video

His next two hits and his last hits for the Temptations could not be more different. You have the very sweet "Just My Imagination" sung so beautifully by Eddie Kendricks. It was his last song sung for the Temptations. The other one is the epic "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" Probably the longest number one hit on the Motown label at 7 minutes plus. The video for "Just My Imagination" is from the excellent TV movie about the Temptations. "Papa Was A Rolling Stone's" clip is a shorter live version form that era.

videoThe Temptations - Papa was a rollin'stone (1972)

One of his last hits was the soundtrack to the movie "Car Wash". It's a song that has been sampled by many rap bands.


video

His track record was incredible. I hoped he was able to get the residuals.

New Pipe Dreams Cartoon!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Silly Season Continues...

RIP Richard Wright


Sad news in the classic rock world. The keyboardist from Pink Floyd, Richard Wright died at the age of 65. He was a founding member of Pink Floyd and had significant contributions to many of their classic songs. Most notably the songs "The Great Gig In the Sky" and "Us and Them" from the album Dark Side of The Moon.

A curious bit of trivia involving the album "The Wall" He had been fired as a full time band member and worked on the album as a hired musician. He had the same status when Pink Floyd toured to support the album. He was the only member to make money on the Wall tour because the tours cost overruns forced the full time members to pay for it. He wasn't an official full time member.

Here's Pink Floyd talking about "Great Gig in The Sky"

Pink Floyd members comment on Great Gig in Sky

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I Just Want To Clarify Something

It's okay to call Sarah Palin this:





















But any reference to this:




















...is off limits even if it's taken out of context.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My New York Day

I don't get into NYC much these days. I live too far to make casual trips, so when I do, I try to make a day of it. So, yesterday I took a ferry ride from my town of Atlantic Highlands to visit my friends who still work in the city. Now, I live three blocks from the ferry berth. It takes a mere 35 minutes to get to Manhattan. This almost makes up for the fact that it costs $37 for a round trip (off-peak) ticket. It's a great ride. The scenery is spectacular! You zoom by Sandy Hook, get a glance of Coney Island. Staten Island looks appealing, believe it or not when you pass under the Verazanno Bridge. The ferry then passes by Governor's Island and the Statue of Liberty is close enough to get a good view. It stops at Pier 11, but I take the ferry to 34th street.














I was planning on meeting up with five of my friends. One of them, Joe called me to let me know he was busty. That was okay because I told Inkboy to invite him at the last minute. Korn called out for being too busy.

So, now we were down to four of us with Sean being late. These are friends I made back in the late 80's when me went to the School Of Visual Arts. It's hard for me to go into Manhattan and not recall what it was like back in the 80's when NYC was a more edgy, fun place to be.

It's expensive there of course but there was a time that we could have afforded to live there making the 80's equivalence of what we make now. During the Rudy years, for example Times Square became "Disneyfied" but still retains its overkill of lights and sound. Downtown is now a place only for the lawyers, Wall Street jerks, and elderly dowagers in rent controlled splendor. It's depressing, it's no longer my city.















Still, I enjoyed my lunch at Virgil's with Inkboy, Sean and Martin, the company at least. My sandwich was not good, but the beer was great. I shoulda gone with the pulled pork. We updated our lives, didn't dwell too much on the past. A good thing.

Inkboy and I finished up and went to SVA to check up on the old haunting grounds. It was an eye opener. The place is a lot cleaner and fixed up from the days we went there. In some ways that's sad. I loved the freedom, the grafitti, the cigarette butts on the ground. We hung out in the cafeteria looking at the people who currently go there. I wondered if these guys do any of the same things we did. do they go to the any divey night clubs? Do they go to the thrift stores? The girls are still cute, though.



















Anyway, I left Inkboy behind and walked all the way down to South Street Seaport. First, I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. In all the time I lived in NYC, I had never walked across the bridge. I thought "Why the Hell Not?". I then had a $7 dollar bottle of Brooklyn Beer while checking out two of the man-made waterfalls under the Brooklyn Bridge. I love drinking beer at Pier 17 drinking beer. I did it before with an old girlfriend and it was the best time I had with her in NYC. I then went on the Seastreak ferry back to Atlantic Highlands.



















The trip back was a little colder. The sunset was beautiful with the Statue of Liberty in the foreground. Still, the trip was marred a little by the Wall Street douche bags smoking cigars, a cliche of the 90's. The seats indoors are sooo comfortable. This would be an ideal way to travel with the one you love. I recommend it to those in the northern shore area.


It was a good day.

New Pipe Dreams Cartoon!!!



Delayed Karaoke Entry

I was busy on Wednesday in NYC with my buddies to put in my weekly karaoke entry. I felt amiss because I easily had the best time doing it since I have been back in Jersey.

The theme of the night was T-Rex. Though not all the songs were T-Rex related. I started the night with the T-Rex song "Children Of The Revolution" again. I try not to repeat myself but I just had to do it in tribute to the Jack's crowd of college students that were back from summer break. I sang it well, but I felt the crowd wasn't into it that much. Here's vintage videos, I couldn't chose just one:

video

This one seems to be the official promo:

video

...and this one is from "Top Of The Pops"


Anyway, On my second song I decided that I should do a more contemporary song either from the 90's or from whatever the name of this decade is. I chose the White Stripes song "Fell in Love with a Girl" Even though the song is in a higher register than I'm used to doing, I do it well. It's a crowd pleaser because of its rapid staccato delivery. What I didn't realize was the lyrics feature the words:

Red hair with a curl
mellow roll for the flavor
and the eyes for peeping
can't keep away from the girl


You see one of the women at Jack's was celebrating a birthday and I was checking her out and she happens to have red hair with a slight curl. While waiting to sing again we were exchanging eye contact that was inviting. will I muster up the courage to speak to her? tune in after checking out these videos of the White Stripes:

the white stripes -fell in love with a girl

video

video

So, I went back to the T-Rex theme with the song "All The Young Dudes" by Mott the Hoople. It's a song written by David Bowie that gives a shout out to T-Rex in its lyrics. The crowd was festive enough to join in the chorus. I went back to the woman in red hair after singing it and she asked me to sing a song for her. What's the song? Tune in after this vintage clip from Mott The Hoople:

video

So, I get back to my object of affection. Sigh? Anyway, she points out to a song. I was dreading that she would pick something lame like Journey. I was reading it upside down and could have sworn she pointed to the group Madness. I thought, okayyy, "Our House " is a good song but kinda familiar but nooo, she actually pointed to the song "House Of Fun". Now, that's a different song if ever there was one. I remember the video on an HBO video show back before I got MTV. I didn't think Americans knew the song, especially someone who was going to Monmouth University. I thought wow, this girl has some taste! I was happy because I had never done the song before but there was a problem. I didn't remember the song as much as I thought. I flubbed a bit more than I like to, but I didn't think she cared. We talked afterwards in a "Nick and Nora" like exchange. Oh, this is going to be good. Here's the video that lives up to the song's title:

video

So, the night went well, I found out she was in fact older than the usual Jack's crowd. A plus for me. Take it one step at a time and who knows. She's beautiful though. Please God, Don't let this be a tease.

Anyway, I sang one more time and went back to the T-Rex theme. The Who's first album after the death of their drummer Keith Moon featured the great song "You Better, You Bet" It does a shout out to T-Rex too. this time the song was written after Mark Bolan's death. So, it has a nostalgic ring to the days of the early 70's, somewhat melancholy. The video is part of a series of black and white videos that the Who made to promote the album "Face Dances" It's a great song and I was surprised how much the crowd was into it.


video

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Compare and Contrast

You know, it's been seven, SEVEN years since 9/11 and in that time and we have gone from

"Get Bin Laden!"

to

"Where's Bin Laden?"

to

"Who's Bin Laden?"

Friday, September 05, 2008

8 Is Enough!

Man, I must have been in the twilight zone watching the GOP convention talk about how THEY are the agents of change form the mess their party gave us.













I don't think so...

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Pipe Dreams Cartoon!!!!

RIP Bill Melendez











I have spent the last week reading a biography of Charles Schulz. It is an excellent in depth look at one of the greatest cartoonists of all time. It goes into great detail in what made Schulz tick. It talks about his family life including many things I was unaware of.







Anyway, one of the people who cooperated with the author David Michalis was animator Bill Melendez. Some of the funnier anecdotes were my Melendez. So I was sad to hear that he died.









He was responsible for bringing the gang of the Peanuts comic strip to animated life. He had worked with all the great animated studios, Disney, Warner Brothers and UPA back in the late 30's, 40's and 50's. With the downturn of the studio cartoons in the late 50's Bill Melendez formed his own company and worked on many commercial ads. One of the ads was for the Ford Falcon. It involved animating some recently licensed characters. Those characters were the Peanuts gang. They were very well received. Melendez also animated sequences for a Charles Schulz television profile.
Peanuts Dance to "Linus & Lucy"
After that they were approached to make a half hour special that would become "A Charlie Brown Christmas" It involved limited animation done in a free form style. They made the decision to use actual children's voices. They used a Jazz score and a Bible verse. All were risks that paid off spectacularly.






Melendez helmed 75 Peanuts specials and four full length features. He also did an animated version of "The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe".








Fundamental Friend DependabilityRace for your life Charlie Brown Part 6

He continued to work on Peanuts after Charles Schulz died. Plus, he created the voices of Snoopy and Woodstock. He was 91 years old. A legend.
The Snoopy "Bleah" Collection