Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Good NYC Outing

So my old friend Pro was in NYC and he wanted to hang at an old hangout called Twins Pub. We met up with our friend Inkboy, first and then met up with the rest of the gang later. Here are the pics.










































































































Thursday, December 25, 2008

RIP Catwoman



















It's sad to hear that the great sultry singer Eartha Kitt died at the age of 81. She had an established career as a nightclub singer when she became the second woman to fill the shoes of the villain Catwoman on the 1960s TV series Batman. the role fit her like a glove. Her name was Kitt for crimmeny sake. She purred her way to making the role her own.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

And She's Not There

If it's Tuesday it must be karaoke night for the Scanman. Eeeeyeah baby.

But man so close to Christmas I felt a twinge,

Nay, a force of melancholy swept my body as I try to pursue some meaning to my life.

Mood swings are a bitch.

You see, I'm off from my job Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and I have no wife or kids, ergo, I go out to have my fun.

I walked into the Mad Hatters seeing it very crowded with people that could only be from the neighborhood who have the next few days off. I recognized only one woman, whose cute but kinda annoying. I know her, I don't talk to her though. The bar was so crowded there was no place for me to sit. No song book for my perusal either. But since I'm an obsessive karaoke fan I had some songs written down already and put one in,

That song would be Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Get Down." O'Sullivan is an Irish musician best known in the US for probably the saddest pop song ever written, "Alone Again, Naturally." I have to be in a major "cry jag" mood to sing that one again. I rarely get that sad. Thank someone else's God!

Anyhoo, "Get Down" was a minor hit in the US that I vaguely remember from my childhood. It's peppy, and has fun lyrics and not hard to sing for me. But I still was a little off key. I found that I was a little short of breath too. so it was OK, No one knew the better cuz they didn't know the song. As usual, I provide a vintage clip of the song. I love the sweater, I need one with an "S," the clip is very early 70's European.


Gilbert O'Sullivan - Get Down (German TV Performance)


So, it's the last Tuesday before Christmas, my last opportunity to sing Christmas songs. Now "Merry Xmas Everybody" by Slade is a good enough song for anytime of the year but I had a short window of opportunity to blow people's mind with the power of Slade!

It's too bad my voice was too weak to blow out a candle. The verses went fine but the "shout out" chorus can be a disaster when the voice goes and goes it goes.

Oh well.

I had already presented a Slade clip before, but I thought this one done in the 80's, At the time they finally got US success via Quiet Riot, is a hoot because of the bad lip syncing and miming.

Ahh the 80's. The only thing I miss is the Mets winning the World Series. "Where have you gone, Darryl Strawberry?"

Slade Merry Christmas Everybody TOTP 1983


So here's a secret...

I go to ANOTHER place to do karaoke on Wednesdays. I don't write about it for a number of reasons. It's kinda creepy, I sing too much, and except for he cutest bartender ever, I get treated like crap from the workers there at an IRISH bar. I'm Irish for Christ sake!

Anyhow, I do the mellow songs there. A lot of older professional drunks go there for the most part. I was leery of many of them at first. I just sang, sat down, Read whatever free trade periodicals there are and hope against hope someone wonderful walks in. I also watch the baseball during the season. And then there's the cute bartender who always treats me nice.

I sound like Snoopy's thoughts.






One guy who enjoys my presence likes very similar songs to me. He doesn't repeat himself much except he has been singing a favorite Christmas song of mine.

That song would be Nelson Muntz's favorite singer Andy Williams' version of "The Most Wonderful Time of The Year." Since the gentleman in question doesn't go to the Mad Hatters I used this opportunity to sing it and it was...

...OK, I guess.

I got praise later on (by a guy) I'm afraid.

Still praise is praise. Anyway, I'm annoyed that I couldn't find a vintage clip on the YouTube of Andy singing it. It exists I can assure you I saw it last week on a show. what I have here is the song with a slide show.

Sorry. Still a great song.

Andy Williams - It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

So, it's about 1030pm. That's when Jack's starts rolling. I figured it might be better over there plus I wanted to do "Merry Xmas Everybody" for the young Jack's crowd, give them the Slade experience. I had yet to do it there. I tried to fool myself I would do better this time. I fooled myself pretty good until the CHORUS, ahhhhhhh, where did my voice go? Now, it was my turn to mime.

Crap.

I left Jack's because I hate waiting too long to sing again. Plus I was hungry. Time for the Windmill burger. I got caught up in the Windmill drama while eating my burger. I enjoyed it but I wanted to get back to the Mad Hatter and try one more time to redeem myself. This time do a mellow voiced song. It was even more crowded than earlier at Md Hatters, So crowded I got carded by a skeptical bearded bouncer. I guess he didn't believe I was 41, also the picture on my license shows a clean shaven short cropped man without his glasses, whereas the man who handed him the ID was standing there with longish hair, a Fu Machu mustache and glasses.

Anyway, lo and behold my fellow karaoke travelers are in the house, some from Jack's and others from the Wednesday crowd. Now, I'm feeling the love and I got it.

I put in the Donavan song "Season of The Witch" that I know sounds good when my voice is hoarse. Things went well enough until someone took it upon himself to join in on the chorus. My ex girlfriend can tell you I can't stand it when people do that. I expect it from the frat boys but this guy had to be 45. Anyway, the fact that I knew the song removed skepticism from the mind of the bearded bouncer. Here's the poor clip...

Donovan-Seoson Of The Witch




I went home happy despite the fact SHE was not there. sigh, heavy sigh. I figured as much, it's Christmas time for Christ's sake. So here's the Zombies' doing "She's Not There"

The Zombies - She's Not There

Happy ALL the Holidays everybody!!

Don't Complain O'Reily, Hannakuh falls The Same Day as Christmas

At the risk of being tagged a homophobe, I created this card because according to Wikipedia, the Yule Log has an alternate term in Europe.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Are You A Solipsist?

That is, are you a person who believes that only your mind exists and everything else is a fantasy construct?

I read about this through the web site The Comic Curmudgeon in reference to this Family Circus cartoon...



















I expanded the meaning to that of anything that existed before I was born and not within my physical presence doesn't exist it's an illusion. People say it exists but if I don't take it on faith than it might not be true.

Case in point... I was born on January 14th 1967, or so that's what my parents tell me. I don't remember of course but I trust them that they aren't lying to me. Some people aren't that lucky.

This sort of thinking is what makes people think we didn't land on the moon, that Kennedy wasn't assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald and yes, even that the Holocaust didn't happen. I wasn't there, ergo it didn't exist.

I'm fascinated by this thinking and presented this philosophy to a co-worker to pass time. I mentioned some of the things above and threw in 9/11.

Of course 9/11 is a touchy subject but I wanted to give him the idea of what solipsism is. I used myself as an example. I know the Twin Towers existed, it was located in lower Manhattan. It was very tall. They were there at least until 2000 because that was the last time I saw them.

I go to Manhattan now, to the same area where they were located and they are no longer there.Those are the facts as I know them.

It's a fact even if I took the solipsist view. What happened in between is up to speculation to them.

I was NOT sleepless in Seattle when all what happened that day happened. So in order to get an idea what happened I relied on the media, some friends who witnessed it, and the visual images on the TV and the newspaper.

Now, as I believe it, planes crashed into those buildings. I saw the second tower get hit by what looked like a commercial plane when the news media recapped what happened that day. Weeks later, they showed the footage of the first plane hitting the North Tower. Through the illusion we call television I saw both towers collapse. Friends I trust with my life tell me they saw them collapse.

Now, for the most part I believe most of what I was told by the media who was responsible, how it occurred, and how many people perished that day. I quibble with some of the facts the Bush administration wanted out there but I ain't one to believe the conspiracy theories about it being an inside job. They aren't convincing enough to believe. Too much planning to trust the US government to do that effectively.

Now, a Solipsist has to wonder what happened that day. Who does he believe? What really happened? He knows the buildings were there and knows the buildings are now gone. He has to believe in one of the stories.

Actually, I don't really believe anyone who fully immersed himself in the solipsist mindset but it makes for an interesting way of thinking. Still it scares me sometimes when people take it seriously.

They're still out there...

...and by "they" I mean Bush supporters telling me that he's a great president because he's kept us safe from terrorism since 9/11. They say it's because we take a tough stand against terrorism. We should be more tough, they say.

Well, the toughest country in fighting terrorism is Israel. No question, but are they safe from terrorism?

Hardly.

They are better armed and more successful at killing their enemies than the enemy is of them but they are constant victims of terrorist attacks.

Is this approach wrong?

Hard to say, but I'm not impressed with the results.

Now, France on the other hand, I'm told is weak on terrorism, cowards, even.

Yet they haven't had a murderous terrorist attack since 1995 when 8 people were murdered by the GIA.

So, What's our goal? Kill more of them, over there to show results?

Or can we do a different approach that may seem less macho but keeps us alive, keeps them alive and have both our economies focused on things other than perpetual war?

I fear that I'll never live long enough to see the latter.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

RIP Dock Ellis

Dock Ellis

I always get sad when a part of my childhood passes away. Dock Ellis, a baseball pitcher who achieved his greatest fame with the Pittsburgh Pirates died at the relatively young age of 63.

He played in the 70's, the era of free spirits on the baseball diamond. It was the era that introduced astroturf, pull over polyester uniforms and the most colorful bunch of characters to play the game. Dock Ellis was one of those characters. He was the Manny Ramirez of his day. A man who marched to his own drummer who was a darn good pitcher for the better part of the decade. He was one of the big contributors to the 1971 World Series champion Pirates. He was the starting pitcher for the Pirates when the Pirates were the first team in MLB history to field an all Afroiacan American squad.

But that's not waht Dock Ellis is best known for.








No, it even wasn't when he sported hair rollers during batting practice.

Dock Ellis is best known for throwing a no-hitter...


...while high on acid.

You see, Dock Ellis thought he wasn't pitching that day and took advantage of that by dropping LSd at a friend's house in LA. The Pirates were playing San Diego that day in a double header and he was informed by his host that he was the starting pitcher.

Whoops!

Dock had to scramble to get to Jack Murphy Stadium on time to pitch. As he describes it he couldn't feel a thing. He couldn't really see who he was pitching to, but was able to see the signs his catcher gave him because the catcher was wearing shiny tape on his fingers. He was so high he didn't even care that he was breaking a baseball taboo by constantly talking about his no-hitter.

















What a character.

Here's a radio clip of him talking about it. It's pretty funny.


Dock Ellis' LSD No-Hitter

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I Got Hawaii, I'm Finished!

Sooooo,

Who's been collecting all the state quarters? For the last ten years, quarters have been minted featuring each state with the symbols of their pride and symbols. Some states have obvious, New york has the Statue of Liberty, Minnesota has a lake. Many of the quarters had the shape of the state involved in the design, while others are vague in its meaning. I have come up with my own observations, starting with the very last one...

Hawaii is the only one to feature a king.

Alabama is the only state featuring a real historic woman, Helen Keller.

Alabama is the only one that's able to be read by the blind.

Ohio has a person who is still alive on the back of the coin, either Neil Armstrong or Buzz Aldrin in full space suit.

New Hampshire's features a landmark that ceased to exist since the mint of the coin.

Alaska features an animal, a bear, eating another state's (Washington ) animal, the salmon.








Four states, Delaware, Kentucky, Wyoming and Nevada have horses.

New Jersey and South Dakota feature George Washington's image on both sides of the coin.

Eight states have birds on them.

Thirteen states have the outline of the state featured in its design.










Florida and Ohio use space exploration as its symbol in its design.

West Virginia has the newest landmark, New River Gorge, built in 1977.

Tennessee and Louisiana have instruments, the trumpet in them looks exactly the same.

Illinois features a man whos featured on another coin, Abraham Lincoln.

Ohio and North Carolina both claim the birth of aviation and have the Wright Brothers plane.

Hawaii and South Carolina features palm trees.

Missouri has an anachronistic scene of Lewis and Clark rowing the Mississippi by the Great Arch.

Seven states features boats.

Indiana is the only state to have an automobile.








New Jersey is the only one to have an American flag and that is actually a mistake.

Montana features the skeleton of the symbols of Kansas and North Dakota.









That's what I've come up with.

Anyone think of other interesting things?





New Pipe Dreams Cartoon!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A favor for Joe...

My friend JoeyB was curious about what Bettie Page looked like in her older days. she kept herself hidden from the public eye, did interviews without revealing what she looked like, except for these two pictures taken when she was 80 year old.

Hope it answers your curiousity, Joe.















I'm a Loser Bayyybeeee!

Soooo, another night of Karaoke and yet another night of me being a chicken shit coward.

Oh well.

I felt compelled to go out tonight.

Sure it was snowing, sure the roads were slippery, but I don't get many opportunities to get out so I headed to the Mad Hatter.

The radio said it was going to get warmer as the night would get on, so I figured I was safe.

I arrived at the Mad Hatter surprised to see the crowd was pretty large and yes, SHE was there. Still, I sat away from her. She was surrounded anyway. I first sat next to a guy who was a bit too obnoxious for my liking. He was one of them guys who chats up strangers asking dumb questions about karaoke and he grabbed my book of songs to boot.

Oh, well, I moved to a table with another book so I wouldn't have my back to the stage.

My singing?

Well, I wanted my first song to be one I was strong at and chose Squeeze "Black Coffee In Bed". One of my "go to" songs to figure out how strong my voice will be, plus the red head likes the 80's songs. I liked how it went so I got gutsier with my second choice.

Here's the vintage 80's video for the song.

Squeeze - Black Coffee In Bed

And is there anyone more gutsy for a natural baritone to try than Curtis Mayfield? Well, I can do falsetto so, yeahhhhhh. "Freddie's Dead" is one of those songs I have always wanted to do. My friend Bucky, turned me on to the song a decade ago. I've done "Superfly" but it always seemed insulting for a white guy to do the song. Anyway, I did better than expected, in my opinion at least.

I found a clip of Curtis Mayfield in his early 70's glory singing the song in a studio. It's a little different than the single version of the song.
''Freddie's Dead'' by Curtis Mayfield.


So, yeah, I'm a very obsessive person in regards to singing songs I haven't done and seen before. The Waterboys were a group from the 80's that had limited success in the US. Therefore, I had never seen any of their songs at the karaoke places I go to. They kinda have an Irish folk quality to them with a lot of fiddle action. One of their more notable songs is "The Whole Of The Moon" an upbeat tempo song about a girl who is at first optimistic but descends into madness. that may explain why the object of my crush went to the bathroom. I love the video, in its U2/Police like cinematography.
The Waterboys - The Whole of the Moon (Perfect Version)


It's near Christmas so I have taken the opportunity to sing the "rockin" Christmas songs in which there is only two.

One of them is "Father Christmas" by the Kinks. It has great righteous anger and is relevant to today's economy. The video of the song sucks but the sound's good.

The Kinks -- Father Christmas (better audio)

Whoaaaaa, Isthmus be my lucky day because a song I've been wanting to for at least 6 years in in the song book. Porno For Pyros was a short lived band that Perry Farrel formed after Jane's Addiction broke up. They had one big hit called "Pets". I took it on full force not caring that he last time I did a Perry Farrrell sung song "Caught Stealing", I butchered it more than Hormel does pigs in a year. I didn't exactly become a vegan with "Pets", but I know I would do it better with more practice. I forgot how weird the video was when I searched for it. The female bodybuilders, ewwww.
Porno For Pyros "Pets"


Finally, I did yet another song I hadn't done before. This one by a man who is very limited with his vocal abilities. I'm talking 'bout you, Ringo Starr! Anyway, back in the 70's, he sang a lot of songs that were written by a guy named Richard Starkey. Starkey wrote a few songs for the Beatles like "Octopus Garden" and "Don't Pass Me By" and It's like the guy knew exactly what Ringo would be able to handle. He really got inside Ringo's head.

One of Ringo's solo songs Starkey wrote was "Oh My My", a boogie woogie type song done at the time when Ringo hung out with T-Rex's Marc Bolan. I did the song pretty good, it wasn't hard. I wish there was a vintage video or clip. It was a choice between concert footage recorded on a cell phone or still photos done to the original single. I opted for the latter.

Ringo Starr - Oh My My

Anyway, the snow turned to rain. I didn't get any further with the red head but I DID get the attention of her blonde friend who said I rock.

right on.

Anyway, I was hungry. Tuesdays meant that I would go to the Windmill hot dog place and get a hamburger.

They are open very late. 3AM! It's around the block from Jack's but a bit out of the way from Mathatters, but I like talking to the guy who works there. He's a fan of comic books and The Venture Brothers starring my buddy Miggy as Professor Venture. As I walked in, lo and behold, but who walks out but HER! I said "hi!" in that nervous way that that revealed my awkwardness. I tried to cover up by saying "Wow, man you already started my burger even before I got to the door!" I think that was me trying to impress her about how I was down with the guy who worked there.

sigh.

She walked out the door into the night and I settled in talking comic book movies with a guy who I see every week and I don't know his name.

But here's the thing, he knows mine. I never gave it. How did he get it....

hmmm....?

Good night everybody!

Friday, December 12, 2008

RIP Bettie Page



















I'm sad to find out that 50's pin up queen Bettie Page died. She was 85.

Bettie Page made a living posing for cheesecake photos in the days before Playboy magazine. It was the days when men and women would go to a shop, purchase photographs for their collection. Some pictures dealt with kinky fetishes while others were topless shots. In the era of platinum blonds, Bettie Page was a striking brunette who wore her hair in bangs. Most women can't carry it off, but she did.

















Bettie Page had come to New York in hopes of becoming an actress. She posed for pictures for "camera clubs" to make a living in the meantime. Her career as an actress never took off, and she continued to pose for photos until she was 36 years old. At that point she had renewed her Christian faith, moved away from New York and faded into obscurity.














Meanwhile, a cult following developed around Bettie Page during the days of Penthouse and Hustler by adults looking for a more innocent era of tease.














In the early 80's the Late comic book artist, Dave Stevens, created The Rocketeer. He used Bettie Page as inspiration for his character of Betty. His rendition was so beautifully rendered and was my first exposure to the cult of Bettie Page.















Shortly after I saw the publication "Betty Pages" in my local comic store. In 1989, I started working for the publisher Greg Theakston and helped put together the next 4 issues of the publication. This gave me a unique opportunity to see many of the pictures in the Irving Klaw and Bunny Yeager collection of photos. Entertainment Tonight interviewed Theakston to find out what happened to Bettie Page. He had contact with Bettie, but respected her privacy enough to allow her to come out in her own time.



















She had first been unaware of the cult phenomenon surrounding her and took some time to come out to the public but was eventually was able to cash in on her fame in the last decade of her life. She embraced her past even with her devout Christianity. And really, look at the innocence on her face even with the bondage shots, she knew what she was doing and never allowed herself to be exploited.





































She was savvy enough to not allow contemporary photos of her to be shown in order to preserve her as an icon much like Marilyn Monroe. She relented when she turned 80, and let me say she looked alright. I'm glad she lived in comfort for the last days. We'll miss ya, but we'll have the memories.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My New Karaoke Hangout

I hadn't written about my karaoke nights recently for a number of reasons. One, I haven't been happy with my performances. Two, I have been repeating myself a bit so I had no new cool vintage videos to link up to.

But the real reason is that I am getting bored with Jack's. Many of the people I like running into have not shown up recently. One in particular is this beautiful red haired woman who is closer to my age than most of the patrons at Jack's. After she brushed me off one night I had only seen her once. Plus Jack's gets crowded, too crowded with very young kids and my waiting time to sing is longer than what I would like. This would not bother me except the host continues to play "DJ" even when the list of singers is long. It's karaoke night, only do that please when there is a shortage of singers.

So, I noted that there is another place that does karaoke nearer to me on Tuesday nights called the Mad Hatter in Sea Bright. They start earlier at 9pm, so I gave them a shot last week before I went to Jack's. It wasn't at all crowded, as a matter of fact it was filled with the most indifferent crowd I've seen in a karaoke bar in a long time. I was reluctant to sing but since I have never seen this host before I was able to find two songs I've never seen in any other karaoke bar in the past. They were the Beach Boys "Do It Again" and George Baker Selection's "Little Green Bag". Cool songs from the late 60's/ early 70's.

There was a stage (a plus) an a wireless mic (a minus) at Mad Hatters and I was abysmal with my singing, so I left and went to Jack's where I got bored. The videos for those two songs follow. The Beach Boys one is from an Ed Sullivan rehearsal featuring an early version of the song "Do It Again". It's in color, Mike Love is going bald, Brian Wilson is nowhere to be found.

Do it Again early version - The Beach Boys - Good Vibrations

Good stuff.

The George Baker Selection video is a film clip of the band walking following a woman on a horse. I wasn't sure it was them because the clip looked like the opening of the movie Reservoir Dogs so I was wondering if it was real and what was a homage to what. I was looking for anachronisms like whether or not horses existed in 1972. Apparently they did. It's a bit dull but somewhat par for the course for the early 70's.

George Baker Selection Little Green Bag

Anyway, I went back to Mad Hatters last night intending to do the same thing, sing a few songs and then head to Jack's. I walked in, noted that it was more crowded than last week and spotted that red head I have a crush on, and averted my eyes as I have been wont to do every time I see a girl I'm attracted to since I was 6 years old and had a crush on a girl named Theresa. (Shades of Charlie Brown!)

I ordered my beer, Flying Fish (mmm, mmm) and looked up songs. I was shaking because I knew I wasn't going to approach this woman and I tried my best to look cool and indifferent. I put in the song "Instant Karma" by John Lennon for two reasons. One, it's my go to song, a song I always do well and usually gets a good response. Two, it was the day after the anniversary of Lennon's assassination by that assasshole Mark Chapman. The clip is a favorite of mine from 1970 with Yoko Ono blindfolded with a Kotex.

John Lennon - Instant Karma

It was my best performance in a long time but for some reason I chose a rather easy song "The Breakup Song" by Greg Kihn Band as my second song. This was after I saw the object of my desire sing a song rather decently. I sang the song as good as I could sing it, with more passion that the song requires. I enjoy the crowd. It was less than a third of the crowd at Jack's but I got more applause. A boost to my ego but not enough to get her attention. I think she might not like me. Here's the Greg Kihn clip from 1981, uh uh uh uh uh uh uh!


Greg Kihn Band - Break up song

So, I'm getting comfortable at this place. I decided by now not to go to Jack's. She was still there and every once in awhile we would glance at each other when the other wasn't looking. I looked at her on stage and she allowed herself to look back. OK, I can live with that. I just hope she isn't creeped out by me. Recently co-workers have noted that I have a scary angry stare when I'm just sitting around. Anyway, She talks to guys in a friendly matter that are clearly not in her or my league so who knows. God, I'm a prick.

The third song I sang was one I've wanted to sing since last January. It's a Christmas song by Slade. A great song. I figured the smaller stage was better for trying it out. "Merry Xmas Everybody" rocks and I rocked it as good as I've ever done a song. Except for the ending "IT"S CHRIIISTMASSSS". No worries, I'm three for three in the good singing department this night. Here's the Top of the Pops footage from the early 70's. Dig the suits man.

The Slade - 06.Merry Xmas Everybody

Anyway, I continued to check out the red haired woman when it was her time to sing. She struggled with the Smith's song "How Soon is Now" and the guy who tried to help was terrible and confident at the same time. What a dick. Anyway, I was planning to sing only one more song and I chose "She's Electric" by Oasis. Again I kicked it. My voice was in such fine form that I was able to do the falsetto. My ego is growing to no end. My hat is getting tight but dammit I was good. The footage of the song is a concert footage of Noel Gallager (Not the lead singer) singing the song. All the other clips of Oasis had Noel singing , this one was the best.

Oasis - She is Electric (live Noel)

Anyway, I was planning to leave, the red head left with her equally attractive blond friend. I had written a list of songs that I had never seen before for future visits to Mad Hatter. The host let it be known there was time for one more song for me to sing. Cool, the host likes me. Anyway, I'm a Joe Jackson fan and there aren't many songs of his available for karaoke. He had "Sunday Papers" in his book, so I sang it to a smaller crowd but once again killed on a rather easy song. I now have a choice of venues on Tuesdays. I'll attend each one as I see fit. I love the Joe Jackson clip from 1979. the hair, the clothes and the attitude. priceless.

Joe Jackson - Sunday Papers