Peas in an iPod

Scott: Alright, well then maybe you’re not her type. She’s into stuff like old school Elvis Costello, she listens to obscure podcasts, she reads Dave Eggers. You know, she’s deep, man.
John Tucker: Dude, I’m deep. I’m dating the poetry club.

John Tucker Must Die (2006)

——————————-

I'm so glad to have a reason to post this picture again. This is going to have a little bit of a “me-too” feel to it, but that’s all right with me. Pretty much everything that happened to me this past week is more all right than it looks on the surface.

The reason this feels “me-too”, however, is that in this post I’ll be sharing some of the podcasts I’ve been listening to lately. As it happens, I’ve been with most of them for awhile but it feels like they’re really starting to swell in popularity lately. So, not to get all hipster on you, but some of these were cool to me before they were cool for everyone else. There are a few others I listen to, but not as closely or as often. And two which bailed out on me before I gave up on them, the bastards.

In no particular order (click on the pictures to go to each show’s website):

This Week With Larry Miller

This one is the newest to me and, in fact, the newest of the bunch. Larry Miller takes a topic or two and just appears to spout off the top of his head for a half hour. There are still different elements of the show which are evolving, and Miller carries us through that evolutionary period by explaining its genesis, sometimes repeatedly. This show has been running for nearly a year and is starting to hit its stride. The stories that Miller tells are generally a warm brand of funny, and since he and I both grew up on Long Island, some of them are perhaps a little more relatable to me than they might be to others, but non-LIers will enjoy them nonetheless.

The Mike O'Meara Show

This isn’t the oldest of the bunch, but it’s got the biggest back catalog because they produce five shows each week. This podcast grew from the Mike O’Meara radio show, which I don’t think ever aired in Baltimore. But I was a fan of the original Don & Mike Show (which did air in Baltimore), ever since they first aired in New York City. I discovered the podcast quite by accident only a few weeks after it began. The show runs for a little over an hour, and is edited to be broadcast-friendly, as the show does have a radio affiliate. This is a show that you need to listen to a few episodes to, in order to get into the swing of things, but once you do it’s a daily romp.

WTF with Marc Maron

WTF with Marc Maron seems to be the one that’s really exploding onto the podcast landscape lately. It’s part interview and part therapy session, and once in awhile there’s a pure comedy show (the “Live WTF” shows). Maron generally hosts the shows out of his garage, and while most of his interviews have been of comedians, you can’t expect the entire show (which runs anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half) to be a Laff Riot. On the other hand, it’s not a Deconstruction of Comedy session, which would be incredibly dry. The interviews are fascinating, and I think many times the guests themselves wind up discussing things they had no intention of bringing up. Some of the more famous interviews include Judd Apatow, Louis CK, Carlos Mencia (during which he actually cops to some of the stuff he’s been accused of), and of course the infamous Gallagher interview, which ended a little earlier than originally planned. With this podcast, I’ve been playing the new ones and playing catchup with the old ones in reverse order, so while the interviews themselves aren’t especially time-sensitive, the introductions he does will delve into his personal life. Consequently I’m following both Maron’s evolution and de-evolution at the same time. He breaks up with a girlfriend, then later on she’ll move in with him.

The Tobolowsky Files

Actor Steven Tobolowsky is one of those guys who, when you see him in a movie, you’ll say, “Hey, it’s that guy!” because he’s been in something like a couple of hundred movies and similar number of TV shows, including Heroes, Glee, and Californication. Probably his best-known role was that of Ned Ryerson in Groundhog Day, but I really liked him as the Klan leader in Mississippi Burning. Tobolowsky tells “stories about life, love and the movie industry”, and if I have any complaints about this one, it’s that he tends to over-prepare and read his stories from written scripts. It’s a shame only because when he goes off-script, or when I hear him in interviews, he’s great at telling stories extemporaneously. Having said that, this series, which runs in “seasons” and takes occasional breaks, contains personal accounts which are funny and touching. In fact, I’m pretty sure that Tobolowsky manages to choke himself up a little, bringing back these memories. This series I’d recommend listening to in episode order, since there’s a bit of a running narrative thread going on. You know, sort of, how the story ends, and you still root for it to go in a different direction.

While I’ve linked to the shows’ websites, all of them can also be found via iTunes. Just type the show’s name into the search bar and they should come up without any problem.

What about you? Heard anything fascinating lately?

Man, That’s Grate.

Bugs Bunny: [pulls out "1000 Ways to Cook A Duck"] Fillet of duck Bordelaise maitre d'butter. Yum-yum. Duck polonaise under glass. Mmm-mm.
Daffy Duck: [reading from "1000 Ways to Cook a Rabbit"] Rabbit au gratin de gelatin under tooled leather. Oh, dah-rool, drool.
Bugs: Barbecued duck meat with broiled duck bill Milanese. Yummy-yum.
Daffy: Chicken-fried rabbit with cottontail sauce braised in carrots. Mm-mmm.

Rabbit Fire (1951)

———————-

I actually got a complaint yesterday that my posts have been very existential lately, because I’ve been working from the Emerson prompts, and why haven’t I told any fun stories like the one about the gasoline? So here’s a break in the existential action.

Yesterday when I got home I noticed a package still sitting on my doorstep, despite the fact that Wife and Wee One were already home. Why didn’t they bring it inside? I reached down to pick it up and discovered that it weighed nearly forty pounds, that’s why. Hey! My Father’s Day gift to myself had arrived!

mangrate logoSome of you know that I’m a fan of The Mike O’Meara Show, which was once a radio program and is now available as a daily podcast. (It’s still a radio show if you live in or near Coralville, Iowa.) The show is frequently sponsored by a product called the Mangrate, and between the chatter on the show, plus other positive things I’d heard, I decided that I was finally going to pull the trigger and get Mangrates for my grill. Also, I was engaging in a little retail therapy, but that’s for another post.

The Mangrates arrived in about three business days via Priority Mail (ordered Saturday, got them on Wednesday), and the only complaint I’d have about the shipping is that the tracking number they sent me didn’t work. But in the end, that’s a nit, right? If they hadn’t arrived, then I’d have a real complaint.

Because the Mangrates are cast iron, you have to season them before you can use them. I did this by spraying them with cooking spray and putting them in a 400-degree oven for an hour, then just shutting off the oven and waiting for them to cool back down to room temperature. At one point a few hours later, I opened the oven to take them out. I could touch the oven racks but not the grates, because they held the heat so well. The next day I took to the grill with my grates, and I’m just egotistical enough to have recorded it with my POS cell phone.

It just doesn't get clean unless you do the "burn it on high for 15 minutes" trick, which I think is what killed the porcelain.

So here’s my “before” grill. The top rack is really rusty, which is why I have the foil up there. The main cooking rack is porcelain-coated iron, but the porcelain has started to chip and is beginning to rust. And, the porcelain flakes are GETTING ON MY FOOD. Furthermore, there’s all kinds of crud that’s fallen through the grate onto the heat plates and to the bed of the grill. It’s a mess. The grill brush is one of three I bought this season (because they were really cheap). It’s already starting to get the bent-down, flattened bristles. The spray bottle is plain water, which I use to hose down the flare-ups. But you know what the other bad thing is about having to hose down the flare-ups? Now you have a bunch of water in the grill and you’re essentially steaming your food, not barbecuing it.

Pay no attention to the unkempt grass. These are the seasoned grates, before I put them on the grill. They’re meant to go atop the existing grate. I could have used a fifth grate; a sixth won’t quite fit.

 

 

 

 

 

That's some piece of meat. My grill, like so many others, has “hot” and “cool” spots. Part of this experiment was to learn whether the Mangrates would eliminate this unfortunate phenomenon. I put a London Broil over a “hot” area of the grill. This steak was somewhere between refrigerator and room temperature. I confess I may have put it on a few minutes early; the steak didn’t sizzle much when it hit the grate, and I was able to touch a “cool” spot near the front. So, note for the future: give it a little more time than usual to get up to speed.

 

 

I have no clever alt text for this. Move along. After six minutes I flipped the steak over (using tongs, not a fork, natch). Look at those grill marks. You can see that there’s a band where it’s a little more cooked on the outside; that’s over a gap in the heat shield. I was a little worried at this point that the heating wasn’t as even as I’d hoped it would be.

 

 

 

 

Has anyone else noticed this recent trend of making the frozen burgers irregularly shaped? Is it to make them look homemade or to make them easier to get apart? This was also the point where I threw on a frozen burger, in a typically “cool” area. I know, I’m a bad barbecue guy because I use frozen burger patties. But it’s my concession to convenience. Ordinarily, once the burger thaws on the grill I season it with a dash of Worcestershire sauce and a few shakes of something called Cavender’s All-Purpose Greek Seasoning. I love this stuff. It’s tough to find in this area, but when I’m in Florida (it’s plentiful near Tarpon Springs, go figure), I usually take the chance to stock up. I may just resort to buying it online, though. I didn’t take any more pics of the burger, so let me just note that the hot/cool experiment didn’t work out so well: the Mangrates don’t really eliminate those spots, but they do provide more overall even cooking. Go figure.

cookedThe finished steak, awaiting the last couple of minutes of me cooking the burger. That’s the second side you see; I’d flipped it again putting it on the rack. Again, great marks and a little bit of heat banding.

I should mention that the London Broil didn’t have a lot of dripping to do, which is the other reason I cooked a burger. Once I moved the steak to the top tray, I moved the burger to the hot area. Remember all those flare-ups I was talking about earlier? Gone. NONE. Not a one. The burger dripped plenty (as they do), but there were no flare-ups whatsoever and—AND—the burger remained juicy throughout. I cooked it all the way to Well Done and it remained juicy without overcooking on the outside.

 

mangrate brushThe next important step in the Care and Feeding of Your Mangrates is brushing the grill clean. Remember the cheap grill brush I had before? Gone. This brush comes with your grates for free, though you pay a little extra for the shipping. I got a shot of it in my hand so you get some idea of the proportions involved. This ain’t yo momma’s grill brush. It’s also pretty good for getting dirt out from under your nails.

 

 

 

post grillingThis is the grill, after I’d brushed it down. You can see that the area toward the back is already close to the traditional black you find on cast iron. I imagine the rest of the grates will approach that color before much longer.

 

 

 

 

finished meat!The finished product, perfectly done. And while the banding (as I noted above) had me kind of worried, it was like this from end-to-end, all the way through. Everyone in the house agreed that this was all kinds of awesome steak. Except for Wife, who insists on well-done meat, so I threw hers in the microwave where it turned all gray and stuff, and it went “clunk” when it hit her plate and that was nasty.

 

 

 

So to recap, Mangrates are incredible. Go get some, now. If you’re a friend of mine of Facebook, I’ll experiment with a couple of other foods and report back there, but after one use I’m already a very happy customer. And to any Mike O’Meara fans who may have made it this far: Essadee!

Doing it Right

Buddy: The best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.

Elf (2003)

————————

This is the definitive version. Don't let Arthur Fiedler fool you. I know that in the past, I’ve railed on about Christmas music, specifically the fact that when it comes time for radio stations to begin their All Christmas All The Time programming, they ordinarily have ridiculously small playlists which have no sense of history whatsoever. “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey gets played hourly, while Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride” goes ignored. It’s not that I don’t like the Mariah Carey song, but when there are so many versions of a relatively small pool of songs out there, it gets old in a big hurry. Hey, ten bucks is ten bucks. Worse yet is the Straight No Chaser version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, because there’s just no way that that song isn’t tedious. Even the parody versions are just painful after the second go-round (Bob & Doug McKenzie notwithstanding).

At any rate, I was given a tip by a friend on Facebook that a station in Colorado was playing ACATT and that I might want to tune in via their Internet stream. I was reluctant, but since I was baking cookies and wanted to hear some Christmas music, I figured “why not?”

Holy cow, this station is actually good at All Christmas All The Time. The station in question is KTRR-FM, billing itself on the air as “Tri-102.5”, and they actually do ACATT right. This is their non-Christmas artwork. Out of season they're a "Light Rock" station, much like the Baltimore ACATT station is. Except, Baltimore's Christmas station sucks. I don’t know who the Program Director is there, but my hat is off to that person. It’s got a mix of the modern and the traditional, the old artists and the new, the familiar recordings and a few that might be new to some people; it was incredibly cool. I was able to listen for literally hours without getting bored. If I had anything to complain about, it would be that pretty much all of the songs I heard were “modern” Christmas songs; there wasn’t an awful lot of the more traditional Christmas carols going on. What’s the difference? Carols are more overtly religious. Tri-102.5 doesn’t avoid them but they appear to prefer songs about Christmas. In the long run it’s no harm, no foul.

So I strongly suggest that you tune in, especially on the weekends when that Fabulous Deejay, Keith Allen, is on the air. Call him at 1-800-964-1025 and request something cool for your Yuletide celebration. Chances are, he’ll be able to play it. And tell him I said Hi.

Road Show

Homer Simpson: [after hitting a deer statue] D'oh!
Lisa Simpson: A deer!
Marge Simpson: A female deer!

The Simpsons, “Bart Gets an Elephant” (3/31/94)

——————–

New Paltz Logo - 3 Color This past weekend I headed up to New Paltz to see some of Daughter’s handiwork.

This time around, she was working on Noises Off, a three-act play which, each time, covers the first act of a play-within-the-play called “Nothing On”. Daughter’s main job was as the Propmaster, so during the show itself she didn’t really have an awful lot to do. Most of her work comes before the show, when she has to acquire or fabricate props, or in-between shows, when she has to repair them. (And don’t get her started on the prop sardines.) As a result, she was able to actually sit with me during the show and chit-chat between acts, so that was pretty fun. But I’m getting a little bit ahead of the story.

Wee One was sidelined from cheerleading because of an injury, and it was supposed to be the end of the season for her. But she managed to bounce back quickly and, about ten days ago, was given clearance and put back into the cheer routine. So Wife took Wee One to the last cheerleading meet of the season, and I headed to upstate New York, solo.

For most of the trip, I listened to an audiobook I’d downloaded (Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys, if you’re interested, and the narration by Lenny Henry is awesome). Since I’m still without my iPod, I accomplished this by plugging the Aux plug into the headphone jack of my laptop and listened away. When I got off the highway, however, I decided that I wanted to concentrate a little more on what I was doing. So I shut off the audiobook and I tuned in to local radio.

Because I was alone, I got to do something that I’m pretty sure Wife hates: I hit the “scan” button and tuned in to all of the radio that Ulster County had to offer, ten seconds at a time. There was the usual mix of rock, country, classical, and so forth, and then I heard…

No. Way. Back that sucker up.

Sure enough, I found myself listening to Frank Sinatra singing about those J-I-N-G, L-E Bells. Christmas music! Well, I reasoned, it’s close enough that stations could start sprinkling in the holiday tunes. But then the song ended and another Christmas song started, this one by Harry Connick Jr. Yes indeed, 92.1 Lite-FM in Poughkeepsie had already gone All Christmas All The Time. I’ve ranted on about this in previous posts, and I expect to do so again, so I’ll let it go for now. Anyway, that plus the displays appearing in the stores the last few weeks impressed upon me that ‘tis the Season and all that. But that’s not all…

I hit a diner and got a grilled cheese sandwich, then checked into my hotel. I dumped off my stuff and it was off to A Night of Theater.

The show itself was fun, as I mentioned above and everyone truly did a fine job. There were a couple of pratfalls that had everyone worrying about the health of the actors involved, and a couple of incidents where Daughter worried actively about the health of the props that had just hit the floor unexpectedly. In the third act, a lamp had been knocked off a table and out of sight behind the furniture. When an actor finally picked it up and returned it to the table, it was still lit. Resilient props, those.

The next morning, we had some breakfast and I wanted to get some apples from a local orchard. I actually had several orders to fill from co-workers, so off we went to a farm about seven miles outside of town, in the town of Gardiner. While there, we picked out roughly two-and-a-half pecks of apples, which is meaningless to anyone who isn’t in Farm Country, so let me convert that for you: we bought a metric shitload of apples. No kidding, I spent about $45 just on apples, and only five bucks of that was for me. My co-workers were really hot for apples, but I confess a lot of that was my own doing, so when I gave them the apples I deliberately allowed myself to be under-reimbursed by about a third. No harm, no foul, everyone’s happy and Do A Good Deed Now And Then, you know?

Anyway, on the way back to New Paltz, we passed a road sign. It had clearly been around for awhile, but someone made a recent addition to it. Naturally I turned the car around and went back so that I could get a photograph of it:

Deer Crossing

Now I know for SURE that ‘tis the season.

Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Ending the Madness

Alex Russo: What was that name of the song? "Stop, You're Hurting My Ears?"

Wizards of Waverly Place, “Make It Happen” (1/1/09)

———————————

Make it stop makeitstopMAKEITSTOP!!! For those just tuning in, I’ve spent the last week or so looking at a list of songs that AOL Radio deemed to be the 100 worst. As far as I was concerned, there were a bunch of holes in the logic and  songs that just didn’t belong on the list for one reason or another (worst reason: it wasn’t released as a single).

Worse yet, there were several songs which I felt belonged on the list and were egregiously overlooked. A few of you had some suggestions (both here and on Facebook), and we’ll get to those as well. Some of the songs that were suggested already appeared on the AOL list (“Seasons in the Sun,” “Disco Duck”), so I won’t address those in this space.

Anyway: let’s take a look at fifteen of the the Bad Songs That AOL Missed. Numbering notwithstanding, these are in no particular order:

  1. “I’ve Never Been To Me”, Charlene. This is one of those woulda-coulda songs that was released and did nothing, then was re-released a few (in this case, five) years later and became a hit. This is another reason not to like Scott Shannon; this re-release is his fault.
  2. “Lovin’ You”, Minnie Riperton. This one appeared on a couple of the lists that people sent to me. Is it the chirping birds throughout the record? The high F note (which, we hear, can set off bombs)? The cheesy lyrics? I’m voting for all of the above.
  3. “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)”, Rupert Holmes. OK, so here’s yet another song with the parentheses in the title, which makes me crazy anyway. But there’s no real fallout in this song, namely the fact that both the narrator and his wife were planning on fucking around on each other, but find it funny when they both figure this out. Really? This wouldn’t have started the fight from hell?
  4. “Float On”, The Floaters. Putting aside the fact that a “floater” never refers to anything pleasant, we also have what’s essentially a series of 1970s pickup lines/lonelyhearts club postings punctuated by the same boring chorus.
  5. “Run Joey Run”, David Geddes. This would have been in my Top Ten. It’s the story of a guy who falls in love with a girl and gets her pregnant (in the 70s this could only be implied). Her father, kind and understanding fellow that he is, beats her up and, when the boy goes to help her, the father shoots at him and the girl takes the bullet. And the chorus gives Minnie Riperton a run for the money on the shrillness meter. One of the last of the Teen Death Splatter Platters.
  6. “Annie’s Song”, John Denver. I can’t explain my dislike of this one; it just grates on me. I actually got into an argument with my girlfriend one time because we were in a place where this was playing over the PA system and she wanted to stay and listen to it, and I wanted to get the hell out of there. Her attraction was because it’s called “Annie’s Song” and her name was (still is, I presume) Anni. That’s not a typo; that’s how she spells it.  

    Actually, I feel kind of bad about that argument now.  
    See, there was a time when Berkeley Breathed was kind of funny.

  7. American Pie”, Madonna. This is probably the only cover that I’m putting on the list. So many covers fail to match up to the original, and others are just a product of their era (c.f. “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” by Elton John, which was also kind of poor) but this was just execrable. Another one in my personal Top Ten.
  8. “Every Time I Think of You”, The Babys. I like to think that this song was the reason The Babys broke up.
  9. “Gloria”, Laura Branigan. Practically everyone who suggested songs mentioned this one. When I was a Baby DJ on college radio back in the 80s, I played this song specifically so I could scratch the needle across it, tear it off the turntable and shatter it on on the air. I also pulled this stunt with (let’s call it 9A) “Right Back Where We Started From” by Maxine Nightingale. There’s a certain brand of satisfaction that you get with destroying bad records with lots of people listening.
  10. “Mr. Roboto”, Styx. Another one that signaled the end of a band’s relevance. And what was up with the lyric “Please, thank you”?
  11. “Heartlight”, Neil Diamond. Some people are under the impression that this was written for the film E.T.—The Extra-Terrestrial and just never used. In fact, it was inspired by the movie when Diamond, Carol Bayer Sager and Burt Bachrach went to see the film together. Because of this, they had to pay $25,000 to Universal Studios because of the ideas from the film used in the song. Not nearly enough of a fine, in my head.
  12. “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, Twisted Sister. The best thing about this song is that if you don’t listen too carefully, it sounds like a heavy metal cover of “Oh Come All Ye Faithful”.
  13. “Color My World”, Chicago. I was in third grade (I think) when this song came out. Even then I knew it was a ripoff. No wonder Terry Kath blew his brains out.
  14. Kings Park “Billy Don’t Be a Hero”, Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods”. OK, so when I was a kid growing up in Kings Park, NY, because of our location midway out on Long Island and on the North Shore, we were able to listen to a lot of radio stations that were broadcasting out of Connecticut, especially Bridgeport. Once in awhile I would tune in to WICC-AM, which still had a Top 40 playlist and in the evenings had a listener-request show hosted by a DJ named Frank Derek. One of the things I got a kick out of hearing on his show was requests for songs that weren’t on the playlist. A listener would call in and request a song and, if it was on the list, Frank would grab the cartridge, jam it into the player and hit the start button. Instant gratification. If it wasn’t on the list, Frank was gracious enough to let them request another song. One night I remember a listener asking for “Come and Get Your Love”. It wasn’t on the survey "(yet), so he gave the guy another chance. “Oh, well, how about Redbone, then?” the guy asked, not realizing that he’d asked for the artist this time instead of the title. All of this has nothing to do with the fact that one night I fell asleep with the radio tuned to WICC, and was awakened very early the next morning by the fife-and-drum intro to “Billy Don’t Be a Hero”. And that was the first time I’d heard it. (What, you have a BETTER “Billy Don’t Be A Hero” story?) The song itself is pretty cheeseball, but the other problem I have with it is that it doesn’t have a good flow; for instance the additional “she said…” before the second chorus. It’s a stumbling block that turns a passable song into a bad one. (I have a feeling that Nick K. will argue this one with me.)
  15. “Baby I’m-a Want You”, Bread. This song has the opposite problem from “Billy” in that David Gates had no choice but to add a syllable to the line in order to make it scan right. I actually rather like most of Bread’s stuff (sorry, Laura), but this one can get tossed out. While I’m talking about Bread, let me point to you the song “Everything I Own” (which appears on the same album). On its surface it sounds like a typical “lost love” kind of tune, but it’s really about Gates mourning the loss of his father. Now go back and listen to it again and see how the meaning changes. 

Here are some other songs that were submitted and/or considered:

  • “Alone Again (Naturally)”, Gilbert O’Sullivan. There are a lot of sins in this one, especially given that it’s essentially a suicide note. But it’s kind of catchy for such a depressing topic. If I were listing 20 songs (I kind of am, but still), it’d probably make the cut.
  • “Honey”, Bobby Goldsboro. I think this one gets a bum rap because it’s pretty sappy (sappy like a tree, see how big it’s grown?). But it’s also kind of clumsy in its execution. This is another song “bubbling under” the list that would have made it into a Top 20.
  • “Muskrat Love”, Captain and Tennille. Only gets a pass because it’s a cover. Likewise “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell and “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede.
  • “Heartbeat—It’s A Lovebeat”, The DiFranco Family. I was going to list this one but I decided to give it a pass. It’s the “MMMBop” of its time, and I gave that one the pass. So, fair’s fair.
  • “Teen Angel”, Mark Dinning.  Another Teen Death Splatter Platter that didn’t make the Top 15 because I just thought of it. Also because I have a sneaking admiration for the lines “I’ll never kiss your lips again/They buried you today.”

Finally, from the “What the Hell?” Department: this evening I asked Wife about what songs would go on her list, if she was compiling one. Wife doesn’t read this blog (it cuts into her “Real Housewives of _____” viewing, I guess), so she asked me what I was talking about. When I told her what I’d been up to for the past nine or ten days, she offered up four choices, in this order:

  •  
    •  
      • “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley;
      • “Love the Way You Lie” by Eminem and Rihanna;
      • “Hey Jude” by The Beatles;
      • “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin.

I can’t really argue with “Crazy”; it’s another one I’d just blocked out. “Love the Way You Lie” would have been a lot better without the Eminem, but those are the breaks.

There wasn’t much reason given for the Beatles tune other than “It’s just….ecch”. But that’s how a lot of things get described, so I’m still not 100% clear on the reasoning. “Stairway to Heaven”, on the other hand, was described as being “too long”. From my standpoint, I say that you’re more than welcome to mock her on Facebook if you’re one of her friends.

This series of posts have been a hell of a ride! Feel free to join in the fun in the Comments section.

And a Surprise Ending! (Part 0)

It seems like ages ago, but it was in fact only Thursday that I began this series of posts covering the 100 Worst Songs as determined by the folks at AOL Radio. We’re into the Top 30. Cringe along with me!

 

30. “Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)”, The Offspring. (Parenthetical title Number Thirteen.) Musically, it’s kind of a rehash of “Come Out and Play”, so there’s my complaint. However, AOL’s noting that the song is simultaneously telling the joke and being its target is the thing that actually appeals to me. I’d give this one a pass.

29. “Axel F”, Crazy Frog. Even Harold Faltermeyer didn’t like “Axel F”; it only appears on his album because the label insisted on it. And I think that says something when a song isn’t even as good as the version that the composer recorded and subsequently hated.

28. “Livin’ La Vida Loca”, Ricky Martin. I’m glad I got out of the DJ business before this song charted. Having said that, it’s not bad in the smaller doses.

27. “Wild Wild West”, Will Smith. This is the one with the musical bed lifted from Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish”, not the Escape Club dance track, which could easily replace this one on the list. Or, perhaps more accurately, sit alongside it on the list.

If only these heads were resting on platters instead of their own reflections. 26. “Afternoon Delight”, Starland Vocal Band. How is this one not in the Top Ten? Another song I hated on the day it was released. Unfortunately, my brothers (BOTH OF THEM. Richard, I’m looking at you) and my grandparents loved it and I was forced to endure it that entire summer.

25. “I’ll Be There For You (Theme from Friends)”, The Rembrandts.  (Fourteen.) The ubiquity of this song, because of the popularity of this show, has turned this band into a one-hit wonder. Sucks to be them. It’s a shame, because most people know only the first verse and the ending; the other verses and the bridge are kind of cool. Of course, that could just be the novelty talking.

24. “Hangin’ Tough”, New Kids On The Block. Whoa-oh-oh-OH-oh! Meh, whatever. I can’t really work up the energy to hate on this one. It’s like poseur rock.

23. “Nookie”, Limp Bizkit. Here’s the thing about Limp Bizkit, at least for me. Whatever they do, Linkin Park does better. And Linkin Park pretty much sucks, too. No, wait, that was a cheap shot. The problem that I have with Linkin Park is that their songs all seem to follow the same pattern, so I get bored pretty quickly when I’m listening to them. And Limp Bizkit isn’t even that good.

22. “We Built This City”, Starship. This song is another one that really depends on my mood. Today I’m feeling generous, other days not so much. If it hadn’t come out of Grace Slick and Co., I’d probably give it a pass. But this was a musical bridge too far.

21. “One Week”, Barenaked Ladies. I rather like Barenaked Ladies, if only because I like songwriters who have fun with the English language. Bob Dylan used to do this sort of thing. So did Bruce Springsteen.

20. “What’s Up?”, 4 Non Blondes.  It may be a rule that this song has to appear on “worst” lists; I think it’s on everyone’s. But everyone liked it back then, only to be struck with Buyer’s Remorse.

19. “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It”, Will Smith. Mr. Smith makes his second appearance on this list but I’m OK with this one, unlike the other one. Go figure.

18. “Achy Breaky Heart”, Billy Ray Cyrus. This song is arguably the reason that line dancing broke into the mainstream. And for that, BRC must die.

17. “MMMBop”, Hanson. Believe it or not, this one gets a pass from me. It’s bubblegum, but it’s not really bad as such.

16. “Hollaback Girl”, Gwen Stefani. No argument from me.

15. “Rico Suave”, Gerardo. The very name “Rico Suave” has become a bit of a fallback punchline for amateur comics. The chorus (such as it is) reminds me a little bit of the Emerald City scene in the film The Wiz. It’s a passing resemblance—specifically to the “green” segment—to be sure, but it’s enough to call it to mind:



Watch Emerald City Sequence – Green, Red, Gold in Music  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

And because I have not much else to say about “Rico Suave”, I’ll pass along some “Wiz” trivia about this scene. They used over two hundred dancers, each of whom had more than one costume (because of the color changes). According to director Sidney Lumet, this scene wasn’t shot on a soundstage designed to look like the World Trade Center’s plaza, it was shot AT the World Trade Center’s plaza. He writes in his book “Making Movies” that the “Dead Red” scene had to be cut short because of wind and scheduling issues. The scheduling problem probably arose due to several takes being spoiled, because the set was so huge. Why? Speed of sound, Baby: when they played the music, the sound took too long to get from the speakers to the far end of the set. As a result, the dancers were out of step with one another because they were hearing the beats at different times.  They solved the problem by putting in lots of extra monitors so that everyone heard the music at about the same time. (This probably also explains why much of the “Red” segment doesn’t have much synchronized sound; it’s mostly long shots of the dancers.)

14. “Convoy”, C. W. McCall. Listing this song is kind of like listing “The Twist”: it’s just a product of its times, a period when there were more CB radios in cars than in trucks. The part I don’t get is why the backup singers’ voices are so much higher than McCall’s.

13. “With Arms Wide Open”, Creed. Yeah, just boring. This is “Having My Baby” for the 2000s.

12. “Wannabe”, Spice Girls. It’s written that this Girl Power anthem was composed in a half-hour and recorded in about an hour. So…zigazig-ha.

11. “My Heart Will Go On”, Celine Dion. I didn’t much like “Titanic,” either. This was just so much overwrought noise, I can’t argue with its inclusion on this list.

10. “Macarena”, Los Del Rio. Stupid song, stupid dance, and if you hear this song and decide that you’re so annoyed by it that you’re going to kill the DJ, I recommend following through on that impulse because you’re probably doing him a favor. This is another song that has many versions—at least thirteen, TWO of which are Christmas versions.

9. “Ebony and Ivory”, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder. Sir Paul's second appearance on the list, and this one deserves to be in the Top Ten. Given that the key to the song is the second line, “Live together in perfect harmony", and this (harmony, that is) is the one thing they DON’T achieve, one would think that these two pros would have listened to the mix, scrapped the recording and gone back into the studio. More trivia: McCartney and Wonder performed this song at the White House on this past July 27, the first time EVER that they’d performed it together, live.

8. “I’m Too Sexy”, Right Said Fred. Yet another song with numerous mixes available. On the bright side, Right Said Fred cracked the Billboard Top 10 only the one time. In England, however, they scored FOUR times between 1991 and 1993. Suck on that, England.

7. “I Am Woman”, Helen Reddy. OK, here’s the thing: I like most of Helen Reddy’s oeuvre. But this song, which essentially launched her career (“I Don’t Know How to Love Him” notwithstanding), passed quickly into cliché territory and just got old. I was eight years old when this song was a hit and I knew it was getting over-played on the radio. 

6. “U Can’t Touch This”, MC Hammer. I don’t think this necessarily belongs in the top ten of this list. My biggest complaint is that, at the time, it made people completely forget about Rick James, whose riff was lifted for this song. “Super Freak” is a great song, especially if you lived in Chapman Hall at Adelphi University at the time and you knew what kind of effect it had on the co-eds there. Just sayin’.

5. “Barbie Girl”, Aqua. I can get behind this one being in the Top Five. This record makes my ears bleed. Just knowing that the MP3 file is on my hard drive is making my teeth hurt.

4. “She Bangs”, Ricky Martin. Blah blah blah, double entendre, that chick is hot yada yada yada making me all horny blah blah blah de blah. Let me just say this, Mister Martin: STINKIN’ LIAR!

3. “Ice Ice Baby”, Vanilla Ice. I have no argument one way or the other about this song’s presence on the list. Frankly, I have no strong feelings one way or another about it. Which, I suppose, is a good argument for its being here.

2. “Who Let the Dogs Out?”, Baha Men. Again, no argument here. Given its ubiquity in sports arenas and being used as a source of “humor” for so many, I’m all in on this one.

1. (It’s Time To) Beat Dat Beat”, DJ Pauly D. (Fifteen!) Yes, it comes from “Jersey Shore", which is nonsense all by itself. And yes, it’s just so much boring-ass noise. But I’m not even sure that this was a single. I know the soundtrack album cracked the Billboard Top 100 Albums chart, but I see nothing that suggests that anything other than the Enrique Iglesias song was ever released as a single. So I’m disqualifying this one.

So in my opinion, AOL Music pretty much punked out on this list by setting us up with a non-single (or, at the most, a single that wasn’t a hit) as being the Number One Worst Song. And they also (again in my opinion) listed a bunch of songs that could have gotten the wave-off in favor of some truly awful songs that DID make the charts. Some of those songs will be listed in my next post.

Naturally, if you have suggestions, I’m more than happy to hear what’s on your mind. So let me frame the question: what Top 40 (US) song that didn’t appear here would you classify as truly bad? You may open your blue books and begin.

OK, it’s Just Getting Worse. (Part I)

A couple of days ago, I started the countdown of AOL’s 100 Worst Songs Ever.

Some quick responses came, and of course there was Nick’s live-blogging the event in my comments section. But it was Yellojkt’s comment about not being aware of some of the songs that struck me. The AOL site has a link to each song in the list, so if it’s not familiar, I can just click and listen to the badness. Through this method, I’ve learned that I do know most of these songs; perhaps I’ve succesfully blotted them from my memory.

So with that, let’s resume the count with Number 50.

50. “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”, The Proclaimers. Some songs are woulda-coulda-shoulda, when a decent single is resurrected by some deejay and it becomes more famous on that second go-round than it was when it was first released. This is more like Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”, where a song that’s several years old suddenly becomes hot because it appeared in a movie. At any rate, this one I can take or leave, depending on my mood that day. If I put it on the list, it would appear at a lower position for that reason.

49. “The Bad Touch”, The Bloodhound Gang. I agree with AOL on this one; the Discovery Channel thing was pretty clever.

48. “(You’re) Having My Baby”, Paul Anka. Yeah, this was treacle then and it’s treacle now. I’ll give Anka points for sneaking the veiled reference to abortion through, though.

47. “C’mon and Ride It (The Train)”, Quad City DJs. In the last post, I noted that a bunch of songs have the word “Song” in the title, as though we would be unclear on that point. You’ll also notice that many songs on this list have some portion of the title in parentheses, as though further explanation is needed. We’re up to nine of the bracketed songs. Just saying.

46. “I Touch Myself”, The Divinyls. I kind of like this one; I wouldn’t have listed it. I’ll say this, though: I’ve seen recent pictures of The Divinyls, and while I’m not ordinarily a sexist, I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say this chick really can’t carry off the sex kitten routine anymore.

uncle junior guy 45. “We Like to Party”, Vengaboys. The only good thing that came out of this song was that creepy Uncle Junior-looking guy in the Six Flags commercials.

44. “Laffy Taffy”, D4L. What’s cool about this song is that there’s actually some dispute brewing over who wrote it. And it’s not a couple of people blaming each other; they’re actually both claiming credit.

43. “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back), Backstreet Boys. (Ten.) This song kind of reminds me of the story behind Todd Rundgren’s “I Saw the Light”: he banged out the song in a matter of minutes by stringing together a bunch of clichés. The lyrics to this song have that same sort of thrown-together feel.

42. “We Didn’t Start the Fire”, Billy Joel. This is the song that ended the 16-year cycle of pop culture lists broken up by a chorus. It started in 1958 with “Follow the Rock” by the Bay Bops, then came “Life is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)” by Reunion in 1974.  Billy Joel’s song appeared in 1990. Fortunately, nothing like this happened in 2006. Here’s an interesting note: I was in the audience for the video’s World Premiere. Take that, bitches.

41. “Blue (Da Ba Dee)”, Eiffel 65. (Eleven.) This is one of the songs I had to play to jog my memory. Four seconds in, I said, “Oh, FECK!” and stopped playback.

40. “Sometimes When We Touch”, Dan Hill. Overwrought, “I’m so conflicted” nonsense. More clichés strung together. And here’s one of those times when I do a little research and the result is “yeah, that figures”: one of the writers (and there are THREE) is Barry Manilow.

39. “Physical”, Olivia Newton-John. This is one of those songs that was so ubiquitous when it was on the charts that I got sick of it in short order. So I have no problem with this one being here.

38. “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)”, Meat Loaf. (Twelve.)The best thing about this oddball mashup of musical styles (is it rock? Is it opera?) is that it generated this:

Meat Loaf graph nicked from GraphJam dot com

37. “I Love Rock and Roll”, Britney Spears. Some songs aren’t meant to be covered. This is definitely one of them, unless you’re Joe Piscopo breaking out the Sinatra impression. And speaking of which, why the hell isn’t Madonna’s “American Pie” on this list??

36. “Party All The Time”, Eddie Murphy. Here’s a true story: back when Eddie was just starting to hit the big time, he had a girlfriend named Lisa. Lisa and I lived close to one another because we were classmates at Adelphi University. It would be a bit much to say we were friends, but we knew each other. Not that she’d remember me or anything. She was a very pretty, really sweet and smart girl. It wasn’t long after his star began rising that he dumped her unceremoniously. Even then, three or four years before this bit of nonsense came out, Eddie Murphy was buying into his own hype. I like to think that stuff like The Adventures of Pluto Nash, The Haunted Mansion and Imagine That is an example of karma coming around to bite you in the ass for things like breaking Lisa’s heart and “Party All The Time”.

35. “Tubthumping”, Chumbawamba. Did you know that there are at least nine different mixes of this song out there? You’ve got your original mix, the album mix, the “Danny Boy” mix, the MAWR mix…screw it. I was going to defend this song but the hell with it.

34. “Jump, Jump”, Kris Kross. Meh, I kind of like this one. I’d give it a pass. There are certainly bigger musical crimes than this one.

33. “Informer”, Snow. I didn’t know this one, so I played the audio clip on AOL’s site. I really, really liked the opening segment of this song. And then it turned into pretty typical crap.

32. “The Loco-Motion”, Kylie Minogue. This is another one of those “Last in the Cycle” songs (cf. “We Didn’t Start the Fire” above). There was a “Loco-Motion” that made the Top 40 charts in the 1960s (Little Eva), the 70s (Grand Funk), and then the 80s (Kylie). LaToya Jackson recorded it in 1992 and if it had charted, it would have continued a pretty cool chain, I think. Each one pretty much reflects its time and I give this one a pass, too. Incidentally, the song that knocked Grand Funk’s version out of the #1 spot? “The Streak” by Ray Stevens.

31. “Mmm mmm mmm mmm”, Crash Test Dummies. In his book All The Trouble in the World, P.J. O’Rourke writes: "Even the bad things are better than they used to be. Bad music, for instance, has gotten much briefer. Wagner's Ring Cycle takes four days to perform while ‘Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm’ by the Crash Test Dummies lasts little more than three minutes."

OK, that’s all I can take for now. The Top 30 will be out in another couple of days.

I’m going to follow this series of posts with a short list of my own. If you have suggestions, by all means send me a note (don’t put it in the comments). You can email me at claudecall(at)hotmail(dot)com.

Eh, Not So Bad, Maybe. (Part II)

Franklin Bean: What are you singing, Petey?
Petey: Erm… I just kind of made it up as I went along, really.
Franklin Bean: That’s just weak songwriting! You wrote a bad song, Petey!

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

———————————–

This past weekend, AOL Radio released a list of the 100 songs that they considered to be the worst ever.

Stuff like these lists are pretty subjective, so I usually give them a pass, but there were some songs whose presence (in my opinion, anyway) wasn’t strictly necessary. Part of the problem, I think, comes from the fact that we really don’t have much idea what criteria were used to select this particular batch, other than a comment at the top about how “it takes all sorts of half-baked musical ideas, crimes of imaging over talent or reliance on quickly burned-out trends to land on [their] list.” Which is fine, but then a little explanation to go with the songs themselves, rather than some aren’t-we-too-clever commentary, would probably go a longer way toward explaining their presence.

So here are the Bottom 50 of the list, along with some commentary of my own. I’ll post Part I of this report, featuring the top 50, in another day or two.

 

100. “My First Kiss”, 3OH!3 featuring Kesha. Meh. One of those pairings that did nothing for me.

99. “This is Why I’m Hot”, Mims. I rather like East Coast rap that’s about the self-affirmation. I could do without the over-reliance on him rapping the title, plus his frequent dropping of the N-bomb.

98. “Looking for Freedom”, David Hasselhoff. ‘Nuff said.

97. “The Girl is Mine”, Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson. I don’t know, this one isn’t awful. They could have done without the “witty banter” close to the end of the song, and it would have improved matters a lot.

96. “You’re Beautiful”, James Blunt. Cloying as hell, but did you know the version you’re probably hearing all the time is edited? Jimmy drops the F-bomb right in the middle of it. It’s also kind of funny because it’s one of those songs that guys would probably put on mixtapes (CDs, iPod playlists, whatever) for their girlfriends without realizing that it’s about unrequited love.

95. “Mambo Number 5”, Lou Bega. I kind of like this one, but I have a fond memory of it involving an eight-year-old girl and a carnival ride, so maybe I’m biased.

94. “America A O”, Aaron Carter. This one only gets a pass because it’s from 2002 and everyone was still sorting stuff out.

93. “Jenny From the Block”, Jennifer Lopez. She had such a reputation that nobody was buying the conceit behind this one. But we did get that cool Shepard Smith blooper as a result.

92. “Escape (The Piña Colada Song")”, Rupert Holmes. Yeah, I guess if you’re going to list it at all, it should be down here. There are bigger crimes out there than this one.

91. “Here Comes the Hotstepper”, Ini Kamoze. I tired of this one pretty quickly, too, especially the “lyrics” he nicked from Cannibal and the Headhunters. Really?

90. “Heartbeat”, Don Johnson. Well…it’s no worse than Swayze’s “She’s Like the Wind”. Oddly enough, that didn’t require a spoiler alert.

89. “Cherry Pie”, Warrant. This one is really just nothing new. If you weren’t listening closely, you’d think it was the bastard child of Def Leppard and Bon Jovi.

88. “Thong Song”, Sisqo. It’s just boring, man.

87. “The Fast Food Song”, Fast Food Rockers. Have you noticed that we’re already up to three songs that have called themselves “_______ Song”? Just sayin’. This, at least, is an artist whose name suggests strongly that there won’t be a follow-up single.

86. “Cotton Eye Joe”, Rednex. It’s a tough song to screw up, and yet…

85. “Girl You Know it’s True”, Milli Vanilli. In my head, anything Milli Vanilli is automatically disqualified, so this one is off the list.

84. “Popozao”, Kevin Federline. What? Did this song even chart? The album spent one week at #151 and then dropped off altogether. Why is this song here? This is like listing my rendition of “These Boots are Made for Walkin’” recorded on Karaoke Night.

83. “Feelings”, Morris Albert. It ranked this LOW?

82. “Some Girls (Dance With Women)”, JC Chasez. The best thing about this song is that his monotone voice gets lost in the mix.

81. “Get Ready for This”, 2 Unlimited. I wouldn’t have listed this one. It seems like the only reason they put it on the list is because of its ubiquity in sports arenas. I kind of like it, but these are subjective after all.

80. “My Humps”, Black Eyed Peas. There aren’t many songs out there that can make “Baby Got Back” look classy.

79. “The Hamster Dance Song”, Roger Miller and Hampton, Dixie, Hado & Fuzzy. One of our earliest memes and the grandfather of the Rickroll. And this is song #4 with “Song” as part of the title.

78. “Tie A Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree”, Tony Orlando and Dawn. I don’t mind the song so much. What bugs me is the way it’s constantly misused, because it’s misunderstood. The guy in the song was in prison because he was a criminal. Putting up ribbons for folks in the military shows a lack of awareness, I think. I’m pretty sure that the first widespread use of the ribbons was for the Iranian hostages in 1979-80. At least it made some sense in that context.

77. “Butterfly”, Crazytown. I have to agree with AOL on this one; I like the source material much better.

76. “Electric Boogie”, Marcia Griffiths. No kidding, this song and a few others like it are the reason I quit being a mobile DJ.

75. “Break My Stride”, Matthew Wilder. Another one I wouldn’t have listed. I dig this song, despite its cartoony-ness.

74. “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, Band Aid. If it sounds like it was thrown together very quickly, that’s only because it was. This may have to go on my annual “bitching about Christmas songs” post.

73. “Tootsee Roll”, 69. Another crappy line dance that—thank god—faded away.

72. “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection”, Nelson. You know, Nelson would have been a better act if only…forget it, I got nothin’.

71. “Puttin’ On The Ritz”, Taco. I’ll give him this much: Taco brought Irving Berlin back to a bunch of people who otherwise would have known nothing about him. However, I much prefer this version:

70. “The Lady in Red”, Chris DeBurgh. This guy reminds me of Michael Bolton in that they both had an actual rock and roll career before a chart-blasting ballad turned them into sensitive guys. Another bit of poison for mobile DJs: this is one of about three songs that will get a guy to dance with his girlfriend/wife, so women request it all the time, regardless of what they’re wearing.

69. “Liquid Dreams”, O-Town. Here’s a trivia bit for you: this song reached #1 on the Billboard sales chart without ever making it to the airplay chart.

68. “Hold My Hand”, Hootie and the Blowfish. Their first hit but far from their best, which was…hell. I got nothin’ again.

67. “Rumors”, Lindsay Lohan. Even the opening music is bad. If you start to play this song, you’ll shut it off before she even opens her mouth.

66. “How Bizarre”, OMC. I know I probably shouldn’t, but I kind of like this one too. It’s quirky.

65. “Whoomp! (There It Is)”, Tag Team. The best thing about this song was all the people who were unsure about how “Whoomp” was supposed to be spelled.
It doesn't get much more culturally insensitive than this.

64. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, Deep Blue Something. Come on! This song was about one of Mickey Rooney’s finest performances!

63. “Seasons in the Sun”, Terry Jacks. I have a soft spot for this song for two reasons: first, because it’s one of the first singles I bought with my own money, and second, because of the performance of this song that Roseanne (Arnold, then) did along with Laurie Metcalf on her show.

62. “Supermodel (You Better Work)”, RuPaul. It’s not that good or bad, it’s really just so typical. If being RuPaul is the best gimmick you’ve got, the song needs to be a hell of a lot better.

61. “Walk the Dinosaur”, Was (Not Was). Another one where I should know better, but I just dig it. Boom! Boom! Lacka-lacka-lacka-boom! Also, the dancers in the video just look like they’re having so much fun, it’s kind of infectious.

60. “Make ‘em Say ‘Uh’”, Master P. I think this made the list based on spelling alone.

59. “From a Distance”, Bette Midler. Typical overwraught noise. And is that an electric harpsichord I hear?

58. “American Life”, Madonna. Well…interesting. But not necessarily rising to the level of bad. She tried something, it didn’t quite work out.

57. “Boom Boom "(Let’s Go Back to My Room)”, Paul Lekakis. At least he’s straightforward. The 90’s answer to “Your place or mine?”, thus dispensing with that little mystery.

56. “Love Will Keep Us Together”, Captain and Tennille. Hey, it’s a Neil Sedaka song (hence the “Sedaka is back” sung at the end). And it beats the holy living hell out of “Muskrat Love”.

55. “It Wasn’t Me”, Shaggy. Heh. I love this song because the verse melody is so catchy. And the chorus part is so dumb.

54. “Disco Duck”, Rick Dees. You know, some songs you like at the time and then later on you wonder what you liked about it. This isn’t one of them. I hated this song in 1976 and I hate it now.

53. “Summer Girls”, LFO. I get the feeling that this is supposed to be a kind of callback to Will Smith’s “Summertime”, but if it is, it failed miserably.

52. “The Ketchup Song”, Las Ketchup. (Five.) Another act whose name suggests that we’re not likely to be blessed with their presence again.

51. “You Light Up My Life”, Debby Boone. Most people picture this song as the genesis for the movie starring Didi Conn lip-synching Boone’s recording, but the fact is, the film came out first and the work that was lip-synched was done by Kasey Cisyk. Boone was recruited to record the single and the two came out almost simultaneously. This is how bad the movie was: the song was considered its strongest feature.

Stay Tuned! It only gets worse!

iScrewedUp: a Cautionary Tale

Alex: I just want you to know, you’re a one in a million friend!
Marty: Thanks, Alex! You are a true friend!
Alex: And I’m sure you won’t mind when I tell you…
Marty: What? Tell me what?
Alex: I broke your iPod!
Marty: What?
Alex: The buttons were so small! It made me mad!
Marty: The horror!
Alex: It was an accident!
Marty: I’m gonna kill you!

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008)

———————————-

A few weeks ago, Wife and I were in her car going…I don’t remember. Somewhere. It doesn’t matter, does it? Jeez, just let me tell the story.

So we’re in her car, and we decided that we wanted to bring a little entertainment along. Specifically, we wanted to hear The Mike O’Meara Show podcast. I brought my iPod with us and plugged the cable into the car’s radio jack designed for such things. We were enjoying the show and, when we reached our destination, I disconnected the iPod from the cable, letting it hang free. Then, as I do with my own car, I put the iPod into the console between the two front seats.

The important difference between my console and Wife’s, is that there’s room in my console for an iPod. Not so much with hers. So when we shut the console’s lid, it damaged my iPod. I didn’t discover this until we got back in the car and discovered that the screen was completely screwed. I couldn’t read the top half at all and I could barely make out the bottom half. Dammit.

So, online I go, looking into what it would take to get the iPod fixed. And, believe it or not, here (not the previous paragraph) is where the story takes the ominous turn. In researching how to get my iPod repaired, I learned that there are basically three ways you can go:

  1. Take it to the Apple store (quite pricey);
  2. Go the postal route and send it to one of several companies that do such repairs (cheaper, but still pretty pricey);
  3. Fix it yourself, it’s easier than you think (quite inexpensive).

Fixing things is not something that scares me away, and given the step-by-step directions that one can find online, it seemed like a not-so-tough option. Also, given that my iPod is well out of its warranty period, opening the unit up wasn’t going to void anything. So I chose a dealer and ordered a replacement screen and a couple of plastic gizmos called “Pry Tools”, which would assist me in opening up the iPod.

Naturally, as soon as I placed the online order I got an auto-reply email that read “We’re on vacation and we’ll fill your order next week, thanks.” That was my own fault, though; there was something about it on the webpage that I’d overlooked.

So two weeks after my original order was placed, I received a padded envelope with my screen and my pry tools. I broke out a couple of iPod repair websites—one of which demonstrated with a video—and set to work.

This is where things got ugly.

barely cracked open. What you now see inside is attached to the front. The first step, according to all of these sites, is to use the pry tool to pop the back of the iPod away from the front. You essentially have to use something non-marking, such as the plastic tool, then you can use something a little harder to finish the job. And the pictures, including the video, all make it look relatively easy to get the pry tool in between the two surfaces and then open up the crack to the point where you can separate front from back. It is NOT, in fact, easy at all, and I broke both my pry tools trying.

I went back to the Internet to see what I might be missing, and I came across a website that recommended I run a hair dryer, set to “high”, on the iPod to loosen/melt the glue that’s holding the front to the back. Sure enough, the job got easier after using the dryer, although I had to run it longer than the site recommended. And, I had to use a harder-edged item to get the initial pry started. One site recommended a butter knife, which worked OK.

pulling apartI finally got front separated from back and had to be careful at this point because there are flat “ribbon” cables that still connect the two halves of the unit.  In the photo at left, you can see the battery (in the back half) and the hard drive (suspended from the front). The screen is at the left side behind the hard drive. So you have to disconnect the ribbon cables to make it more accessible.

In addition, the front half has six tiny screws that have to come out so that you can remove the electronics board from the front. The screws are also holding in a metal plate that backs up the screen, so you have to take them out in order to get to the screen.

Removing the screws and separating circuit board from front half was easy, however removing the ribbon cables was not nearly as easy to do as the directions suggested. Essentially, I broke the hold-down for the screen’s ribbon cable, and one of the other connectors as well (I forget which, now).

So now what I have is a small pile of electronic parts, including a brand-new iPod screen, and no iPod. And it’s probably going to be awhile before I can afford a new one. Take heed, folks, at my cautionary tale. This is one project that, despite the hype, is NOT nearly as easy as they would have you believe.

Goodbye, Luv

Ratso Rizzo: You know, in my own place, my name ain’t Ratso. I mean, it just so happens that in my own place my name is Enrico Salvatore Rizzo.
Joe Buck: Well, I can’t say all that.
Ratso Rizzo: Rico, then.

Midnight Cowboy (1969)

———————————–

RonLundy And another star has made its way into the firmament.

Ron Lundy, one of the best disc jockeys anywhere, ever, has died at the age of 75.

Ron worked at a few midwest stations, including WIL in St. Louis, where he was known as “the Wil’ Child”.

In 1965 he moved to WABC in New York and stayed there until the station jumped to the talk radio format in 1982, a day that fans still refer to as “The Day the Music Died.” Ron is probably best known for being the midday guy, but he started on the overnight shift.

Every day he’d open up his show with a gigantic “HELLO, LUV! This-a Ron Lundy, in the Greatest City in the World!” It seemed that Ron could talk with most of the words capitalized. The aircheck here, which is telescoped down to under 12 minutes (i.e. the commercials and records are cut out), is a relatively laid-back sample of his work. It dates back to December 20, 1969. The voice on the promos, by the way, is that of Dan Ingram:

Ron Lundy’s voice was so recognizable (remember that, at night, WABC’s signal reached up to forty states), that he was chosen to “represent” New York City in the film Midnight Cowboy. As Jon Voight’s character reaches the city, we hear a radio and the DJ’s voice is none other than Ron Lundy.

This next piece is from June 27, 1970. It’s about four minutes long. It’s not the best quality (some “picket fencing” interference) but you still get a good feel for the way the station ran. Ron read a lot of the commercials live, occasionally stopping to holler, “ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME? Well, pick yer head up when I’m talking to you.”

One more from the WABC days. This one is from September of 1980. It’s about seven minutes long and also has some “picket fencing” but it’s nonetheless fun to listen to.

 

wcbs logo In early 1984, Ron moved to WCBS-FM, New York’s oldies station. The word is that, when he was recruited, the program director essentially carved out a spot for him on the schedule, cutting back several other DJs’ schedules by an hour each. Still in the midday, Ron would get us through lunch and then hand us over to Bill Brown, whom he described every day as “a tall, blond man”.  Ron held the slot until September of 1997, at which point he retired.  He still came back for the occasional “reunion weekend” and did interviews on WCBS and WABC’s flashback Saturday evening show with Mark Simone.

bignote You can find a bunch of airchecks from Ron’s final hours on WCBS at www.musicradio77.com/lundy.html. (Incidentally, the airchecks above are all nicked from musicradio77.com).

Ron retired to the town of Bruce, Mississippi. In recent weeks, his wife said he had had a lung removed after cancer treatment and suffered several mini-strokes. He became dehydrated, went into cardiac arrest during rehydration, was resuscitated and put on a ventilator. Just a few days ago, he had a tracheotomy to remove the ventilator tube, a step toward taking him off the ventilator altogether. However, he had a heart attack this weekend and died yesterday.

I saw the headline and tuned in for awhile to WCBS-FM, listening to their Internet feed. Apparently the tributes—email and phone calls—are just pouring into the station. You can see some of them here. (For the record, from the time I started typing this to just now, the number of messages has gone from about thirty to nearly 150. There may be several hundred by the time you see it.) As an on-air tribute, WCBS will be re-airing Ron Lundy’s last hours on their station on Sunday night beginning at 11:00. And, of course, the DJs all have their own memories to share between now and then.

Rest in Peace, Ron. Your voice has been missed for many years, and now it’s silenced forever. Your memory, however, will continue for a long time with literally millions of people.