Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy Belated Birthday To Bo Diddley

On Sunday Dec. 30th, rock and roll pioneer Bo Diddley turned 79 years old. Although he didn't have many chart hits, he still should be recognized as one of the most innovative and influential rockers from the early days. The rhythm that became known as "The Bo Diddley beat" is arguably the most famous in popular music. While writing this post, I have been listening to the first recording of his to use it... the #1 R&B hit "Bo Diddley". Even though the song is over 50 years old, it still sounds fresh and vibrant. I can only imagine what listeners thought when it came blasting out of radios and jukeboxes for the first time back in 1955.

Along with the "Bo Diddley beat" and his guitar playing skills, Bo was also an accomplished songwriter. In addition to songs that he penned for himself (such as the aforementioned "Bo Diddley", "Who Do You Love", and "Say Man"), Bo also wrote the Mickey and Sylvia hit "Love Is Strange". He was also one of the first musicians to have women in his band (Lady Bo, The Duchess, and Cookie).

My favorite story about Bo Diddley surrounds his appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in 1955. Bo was scheduled to perform "Bo Diddley". During rehearsals, Ed reportedly didn't like the song since it was pure rhythm without a traditional verse and chorus. As a substitute, Ed told Bo to play another song that was a big hit at the time (Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Sixteen Tons"). In order to stay on the bill, Bo agreed. However, when Bo was introduced that Sunday night, he and his band instead played "Bo Diddley". Ed was furious and barred Bo from ever appearing on the show again. It was too late though because like Danny and the Juniors would sing 3 years later, rock and roll was here to stay.

Back in the 1980s, Little Richard said that he was saddened by the lack of recognition that Bo received in the United States. Ironically, it was an ad he did for Nike in 1989 (where he famously said to sports icon Bo Jackson "Bo... you don't know Diddley") that helped introduce him to a new generation. Hopefully, that commercial led some to find out who the cat was with the hat, glasses, and rectangular-shaped guitar.

Although Bo had some health issues earlier this year (suffering a stroke in May and a heart attack in August), he has made some improvements. In November 2007, he returned to his hometown of McComb, MS and performed at the unveiling of a plaque in his honor. This was his first public performance since his stroke and heart attack. If you want to wish Bo a belated happy birthday, you can do so by clicking this link.

Below are clips of the legendary Bo Diddley in action (damn I love You Tube!)

Happy Belated B-day To Mike Nesmith and Davy Jones of The Monkees

Sunday Dec. 30th marked the birthdays of both Mike Nesmith and Davy Jones of the Monkees (they turned 65 and 62, respectively). As some of you may know, the Monkees' 4th album "Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones, Ltd." got its name from the astrological sign of each band member. Since "Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Capricorn, Ltd." would have been redundant, they tacked on Jones' name at the end.

As a "2nd generation Monkee fan", I discovered the show in reruns during the 1970s (Saturday mornings on CBS and ABC and weekday afternoons on Ch. 50 in Detroit). When I was younger, it was the music and silly antics that attracted me to "The Monkees". As I got older, these were still reasons for me to tune in; however, I began to get the inside jokes, parodies, and political commentary that the series featured as well. I sometimes regret that they didn't make more than the 58 episodes of the series that were produced. However, I can understand them wanting to move beyond the "Davy falls in love/Monkees get chased by the villain of the week" formula.

In regards to the Monkees' music, one thing that I have come to appreciate about it is its diversity. Although they share the same birthday, the musical interests of Mike and Davy couldn't have been more different. Monkee tunes sung by Nesmith were usually in the country-rock vein (before the term was even coined), while the ones fronted by Davy were more pop oriented (with an occasional vaudevillian/show tune feel to them).

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Final Results of the Keith Richards Poll

In the recent Keith Richards poll, 76% of you are most surprised that Johnny Depp's onscreen dad is still alive; while 23% of voters were shocked to find out that he is only 64 years old. Since Keith has reached the age of 64, it made me think of a line from a famous song by the Stones' chief rival in the 1960s. Although Keith could probably do without a valentine or birthday greetings... he does want that bottle of wine thank you very much.

I know some of you are probably thankful that this poll is closed so that the ghastly photo of the present day Keith won't appear at the top of the blog anymore. To remind you of what Keith once looked like, below is a clip of him performing with the Rolling Stones during a 1966 appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show". As an FYI, Keith is to Mick Jagger's left and is wearing a black turtleneck.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Veronica Mars Season One Update

Clockwise from lower left: Percy Daggs III, Francis Capra, Teddy Dunn, Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni, and Kristen Bell

As some of you may know, one of my co-workers loaned me her copy of the DVD set "Veronica Mars: The Complete First Season" back in the fall (I wrote about it here). Because of time constraints, I am slowly working my way through the set (only 9 more episodes to go).

Below are some of the highlights so far:

Episode 2 (Credit Where Credit Is Due): Veronica (Kristen Bell) comes to the aid of the grandmother of her biker ally "Weevil" (Francis Capra), when the grandmother is accused in a credit card scam. In a case of an actress playing to her strengths, Paris Hilton guest stars as a spoiled rotten classmate of Veronica's.

Episode 4 (The Wrath of Con): Veronica helps a girl (played by Kyla Pratt of the "Dr. Doolittle" films) on whom her pal Wallace (Percy Daggs III) has a crush when the girl becomes the victim of an internet fraud run by game geeks.

Episode 6 (Return of the Kane): When dirty politics enter into a school election in which her ex-boyfriend Duncan (Teddy Dunn) is a candidate, Veronica springs into action. In a subplot, Veronica's nemesis Logan (Jason Dohring) causes a PR headache for his movie-star father when he's busted for organizing fight nights between homeless men. This is the first appearance by Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna as Logan's parents.

Episode 11 (Silence of the Lamb): Veronica's P.I. father Keith (Enrico Colantoni) assists the sheriff in finding a serial killer. The subplot involves Veronica's sideline business of doing background checks on her classmate's parents. This leads to an unexpected development involving her friend Mac (played by Tina Majorino of "Napoleon Dynamite").

Episode 12 (Clash of the Tritons): Veronica is accused of supplying her schoolmates with fake IDs. Veronica's attempt to clear herself leads her to a secret on-campus group (The Tritons).

Episode 13 (Lord of the Bling): Veronica's father is hired by a Suge Knight-like rap impresario to locate his missing teen daughter. Playing the impresario is Anthony Anderson ("Barbershop", "Hustle and Flow", and "K-Ville").

Along with plots that will keep you guessing as to what will happen next, the scripts feature dialogue that is smart-assed and witty, with a sprinkling of pop-culture references. Here is a sampling:

Wallace: I suddenly feel like I'm in a scene from "The Outsiders".
Veronica: Be cool, Soda Pop.

Meg: You believe me, right?
Veronica: You are the last good person here at Neptune High. I believe cartoon birds braided your hair this morning.

Principal Van Clemmons: Mr. Echolls, I was wondering if I could have a word?
Logan: Anthropomorphic. All yours, big guy.

Veronica: [surprising the Tritons with a camera] Hi, everyone! Say "repressed homosexuality"!

Wallace: [describing to Veronica what he said and did to a kid who used a fake ID at the store where Wallace works] Yo, fella, check it out, you're on Candid Camera. Gave him the 411 on our video playback capabilities. You know, leaned on him. Got all Shaft or something.
Veronica: Shut yo' mouth!

Logan: [about Veronica's car] Nice car. That must have been a *huge* cereal box.

I should have the complete series finished within the next couple of weeks. If time permits, I will do a follow-up post at that time.

Below is a clip from the "Clash of the Tritons" episode. The scene involves Veronica doing karaoke to help uncover who set her up in the fake ID scam.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 25: Some of My Favorite Twilight Zone Episodes

Thirteen of my favorite "Twilight Zone" episodes

One of my all-time favorite TV shows is the original version of "The Twilight Zone" (1959-1964). Last weekend, I was talking with my niece Pjazzy (who's also a fan of the series). We both agreed that many episodes are just as scary now as when we first saw them. Although "The Twilight Zone" has its share of scary episodes, many of them are not... nor are they meant to be. A great number of the stories told in "The Twilight Zone" dealt with such themes as nostalgia, the longing for a better life, and man's inhumanity to man.

Since the Sci-Fi Channel will air its annual Twilight Zone Marathon on 12/31 and 1/1 (click here for the schedule), I thought I would list some of MY fave episodes. If you are a fan of the show, you can understand the difficulty I had narrowing the list down to just 13 (which, by the way, is in alphabetical order by episode title). In case some of you haven't seen any of these episodes, I am only providing a brief synopsis (since "The Twilight Zone" was known for its twist endings).

1. The Dummy- A ventriloquist (played by Cliff Robertson) becomes convinced that his dummy has a will and a life of its own.

2. The Eye of the Beholder- In a hospital room, her face completely covered by bandages, a woman waits to see if a last-chance operation has fixed her facial deformity.

3. Five Characters In Search of An Exit- Five people (a ballet dancer, a major, a clown, a tramp and a bagpipe player) are trapped in a featureless enclosure. With no idea how they got there, they attempt to escape.

4. The Four of Us Are Dying- A man can change his face to look exactly like someone else, a talent that he depends on for a living.

5. The Fugitive- An old man delights the local children (including a little girl who wears a leg brace) with his magical powers. Nancy Kulp (best known as Jane Hathaway on "The Beverly Hillbillies") plays the little girl's mean aunt.

6. It's A Good Life- Six-year-old Anthony Fremont holds a town in terror with his powers to change or destroy anyone or anything at will. For the 2002-2003 UPN revival of "The Twilight Zone", there was a sequel to this episode (titled "It's Still A Good Life"). Reprising their roles from the original episode are Billy Mumy as Anthony Fremont and Cloris Leachman as his mother.

7. The Last Night of A Jockey- A down-and-out jockey (Mickey Rooney) yearns to be a giant of a man so that everyone will look up at him.

8. The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street- A mysterious power failure causes paranoid suburbanites to suspect one another of being disguised creatures from outer space.

9. A Penny For Your Thoughts- A timid bank clerk discovers that a coin that lands on its edge as he pays for a paper leaves him with the power to read minds. This episode features Dick York (Darrin #1 on "Bewitched") as the bank clerk and Hayden Rorke (Dr. Bellows on "I Dream of Jeannie") as a bank customer.

10. The Rip Van Winkle Caper- Four thieves plot to hide out with their loot for 100 years in a state of suspended animation.

11. Time Enough At Last- A mild-mannered, nearsighted bookworm (Burgess Meredith) is the sole survivor of an H-bomb attack.

12. Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up- On the night of a UFO sighting, seven people at a diner claim to be Earthlings, though one of them is not.

13. A World of His Own- A playwright describes characters into his tape recorder and they materialize before his eyes. This episode (the final one of the first season) marks the first time in the series that Rod Serling appears onscreen.

What are some of your favorite episodes of "The Twilight Zone"?

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Retro Commercial: Hey Love

If you were having a small "get together" that was going nowhere fast, how would you liven up the festivities? Well, one surefire way to get in the groove was to pull out a copy of "Hey Love". As you may know, "Hey Love" was a compilation of some of best soul slow jams of the 60s and 70s. Back in the day, the 1986 commercial for this collection was in regular rotation on BET. You saw it almost as much as you saw Donnie Simpson. The commercial for "Hey Love" became such a part of pop culture that the closing line ("... let me borrow it. No my brother... you've got to buy your own") was even referenced in the 1989 John Cusack film "Say Anything". The owner of the "Hey Love" collection is played by John Canada Terrell, who you may recognize from his roles in such films as "She's Gotta Have It" (as Greer Childs) and "The Five Heartbeats" (as Michael "Flash" Turner).

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Jamie-Lynn Spears, Britney's Sister, Is Pregnant At 16

In an interview with British celebrity magazine OK!, 16 year old singer/actress Jamie-Lynn Spears (younger sister of Britney and star of the Nickelodeon series "Zoey 101") has announced that she is 12 weeks pregnant. According to the interview, the father of the baby is longtime boyfriend Casey Aldridge (whom she reportedly met in church). For the full story on, click here.

Coming on the heels of this news is the announcement that the parenting book by Lynne Spears (mom of Jamie-Lynn and Britney) has been put "on hold" indefinitely. The book (tentatively titled Pop Culture Mom: A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World) was scheduled to be released on Mother's Day 2008. OK... once you are done picking yourself up off the floor from laughing at the prospect of such a book by Ms. Spears, feel free to drop a couple of pennies in the comments section.

Results of Latest "Holiday Shopping" Poll

Receiving slightly over half of the vote, online shopping was selected as the favorite way of buying gifts for the holidays. Since I spent a few years working in retail, shopping online is my preferred method as well. Plus, I like being able to pick out gifts on my PC at 3 am while dressed in a T-shirt and lounge pants.

Coming in 2nd place was the conventional (aka masochistic) method of shopping... going out to the physical stores. As I mentioned, I prefer to do my shopping online. However, there are instances when I have to go out to get what I need. As much as possible, I try to go to the smaller stores or early in the holiday season (preferably on a weekday). I have to admit that the festive mood can sometimes be contagious when shopping at the physical stores.

When I first posted this poll, I only included the online and brick & mortar options. However, since some people have others do their shopping for them, I went back and added this option. One lucky voter is fortunate enough to get somebody else to do their shopping for them. I hope that they reward them well for their services. Since everybody doesn't celebrate the holidays, I decided to make the poll all inclusive and add the fourth option (two voters selected this choice).

Here are the final poll results:

Online- 55%
Brick & Mortar (aka physical stores)- 36%
Since I don't celebrate the holidays, I don't shop- 5%
I let someone else do it for me- 2%

Thanks to all of you who participated!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Happy 64th Birthday To Keith Richards

Tuesday December 18th is the 64th birthday of my favorite Rolling Stone, Keith Richards. As guitarist, vocalist, and chief songwriter (along with Mick Jagger) of the Rolling Stones, Keith has had a hand in some of the greatest rock and roll records ever made. He is also the creator of some of the most famous guitar riffs ever put down. It's hard to imagine songs like "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", "Brown Sugar", and "Start Me Up" without those opening riffs.

One thing that I like about Keith is that he knows and respects rock and roll history. A long-time disciple of Chuck Berry, it was Keith who put together the band of top-flight musicians to back Chuck for his 60th birthday concert back in 1986. The concert was filmed and included in the documentary "Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll". Although you can sense that there is genuine love and respect between Chuck and Keith, one of the best moments of the documentary is a heated exchange between the two men. I've said it before and I will say it again, don't ever fuck with Chuck Berry's amp!

When referring to certain musicians who have weathered the storms of their vices, you often hear the term "rock and roll survivor". When you take into account Keith Richards' decadent lifestyle (years of drug use, including addiction to heroin during the 1970s), his picture should be next to the term in the rock and roll dictionary. The fact that he is still among the living should serve as the basis for a documentary on the Discovery Health Channel.

Feel free to check out Barbara's post on Keith as well.

Below is Keith's video for the song "Take It So Hard". It was the first single from Keith's debut solo album, the 1988 release "Talk Is Cheap". The keyboardist in this clip is Ivan Neville. He is the son of singer Aaron Neville.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Spin City Playlist For 12/15/07

Note: This is my last show of the year. I will return to the airwaves on 1/19/08.

4 pm hour

Edge of Seventeen (Just Like the White Winged Dove)- Stevie Nicks
It Feels So Good To Be Loved So Bad- The Manhattans
Mr. Policeman- Rick James
Me & Bobby McGee- Janis Joplin
Baby Blue- Badfinger
On Our Own- Bobby Brown

Double Retro segment's feat. artist: Jerry Lee Lewis
High School Confidential (1958)
Chantilly Lace (1973)

Rock This Town- The Stray Cats
Pass the Dutchie- Musical Youth
TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)- MFSB & the Three Degrees
Feel It Again- Honeymoon Suite
Voices Carry- 'Til Tuesday
Baby Get It On- Ike & Tina Turner

5 pm hour

Welcome To the Jungle- Guns 'n' Roses
Stop the Violence- Boogie Down Productions
Bad Weather- The Supremes
Billy Don't Be A Hero- Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods
Love Zone- Billy Ocean
After the Fall- Journey
Everybody Dance- Chic

Now & Then segment's feat. artist: Chaka Khan
Castles Made of Sand (from her new CD "Funk This")
Dance Wit' Me- Rufus feat. Chaka Khan

She's A Lady- Tom Jones
Panic In Detroit- David Bowie
Early In the Morning- The Gap Band
Is This Really the First Time- JoBoxers
Stoney Ground- The Foundations

6 pm hour

Borderline- Madonna
Aqua Boogie- Parliament
It Must Be Love- Alton McLain & Destiny
Hot In the City- Billy Idol
Hard Woman- Mick Jagger
Mama Told Me Not To Come- Wilson Pickett
Shambala- Three Dog Night
Do You Want Crying- Katrina & the Waves
2 Hype- Kid & Play
Goin' Places- The Jacksons
Tired of Toein' the Line- Rocky Burnette
Good Girls Don't- The Knack
Stir It Up- Patti Labelle
Walking Away- Information Society

Which of your faves, if any, made this week's playlist?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Ike Turner Dies At 76

This past Wednesday, rock and roll pioneer Ike Turner died at the age of 76. Although no cause of death has been officially released, it was reported that he had been suffering from emphysema.

If you know one thing about Ike, chances are that it's his reputation as an abuser of both drugs and his long-time partner onstage and off... Tina Turner. The book and film "What's Love Got To Do With It" told Tina's story of the violence and humiliation she suffered at the hands of Ike. For years, Ike denied these claims. However, in his 1999 autobiography "Takin' Back My Name": The Confessions of Ike Turner", he admitted to slapping Tina... even punching her to the ground without thinking. Because there are two sides to every story, I am considering purchasing the book. Although it may not alter my opinion one way or the other, I am a bit interested in what he had to say.

Because of his scandalous personal life, the contributions that Ike made to music are sometimes overlooked. I'm not saying that we should sweep the violence, addictions, and infidelities under the rug. Ike was raked over the coals for years and rightfully so. However, he was a rock and roll pioneer/innovator and that is worth noting.

Many credit Ike with writing and recording a song that is often cited as the first rock and roll record, the 1951 classic "Rocket 88". The record is credited to Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats (Brenston being the lead singer). Although Brenston was the lead vocalist on the song, the name of the group was actually Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm. If you would like to hear the song, please visit Pjazzy's blog Traces of A Stream.

I think you also have to credit Ike with introducing the world to Tina Turner. It was he who gave the former Anna Mae Bullock her stage moniker (named after Sheena: Queen of the Jungle) and helped her develop her onstage persona. Some may debate that Tina could have AND would have made it without Ike's help. However, we'll never know the answer to that question.

Like I said, no one should forget the sordid history of Ike Turner's personal life. However, it shouldn't erase his place in rock and roll history either. If you would like to read more about him, you can visit his website at:

Below is a clip of Ike and Tina performing their 1975 single "Baby Get It On". This is one of the few instances where Ike sings a lead part.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

2008 Inductees For the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Have Been Announced

On Thursday, the 2008 class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were announced. The five artists who will be inducted are: The Dave Clark Five, Leonard Cohen, Madonna, John Mellencamp, and The Ventures. The nominees who didn't make the cut this year are: Afrika Bambaattaa, The Beastie Boys, Chic, and Donna Summer. Back when the nominees were announced last September, I wrote a post about who I thought would/wouldn't get in and why. You can click here if you'd like to read it.

As for the 2008 inductees, here are my thoughts:

The Dave Clark Five: Although I'll pass on making any "Glad All Over" jokes, I am happy to see them get inducted. Because they didn't expand their musical horizons as did contemporaries such as The Beatles, The Stones, and The Who, the Dave Clark Five often get overlooked. Still, they were one of the hardest rocking bands to come out of the 1st wave of The British Invasion.

Leonard Cohen- Although I predicted that he would make the cut, I am still scratching my head a bit on this one. I know that Cohen is critically acclaimed and has a loyal cult following, he still doesn't deserve to be in Cleveland along side such artists as Fats Domino, Janis Joplin, and The Temptations.

Madonna- This was a slam dunk. I know that when the nominees were announced, many fans were up in arms; stating that Madonna is not a rock and roller. My guess is that their arms might pop out of their sockets after they find out that she will be enshrined in the Hall next year. Bottom line, the Material Woman belongs in the RRHOF.

John Mellencamp- Finally! Because he has been eligible since 2001, I was starting to think that Johnny boy was going to have to perform unspeakable sexual favors in order to receive his due. If any of his family members follow the cue of Paul McCartney's daughter Stella (she wore a T-shirt that said "About fucking time" when her dad was finally inducted 4 years after becoming eligible), can you blame them?

The Ventures- Sorry, but their induction is a stretch. I appreciate that the RRHOF induction committee are honoring an artist from rock's early days, but there are certainly more worthy 50s and 60s artists who continue to be passed over (Patsy Cline, Chubby Checker, The Marvelettes, and Paul Revere & the Raiders just to name a few).

In addition to the above performers, the RRHOF will also honor Little Walter in its sideman category and producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff will be inducted in the non-performer category. The induction ceremony is scheduled to take place on March 10, 2008.

What are your thoughts on the 2008 inductees and/or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in general?

Below is a video player that includes clips of all 5 performers who are being inducted next year.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Final Results of the Fave Christmas TV Special Poll

Receiving almost half of the vote, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" trounced the competition in the recent poll asking you to choose your favorite Christmas TV special. Although it trailed "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" early on, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" took the lead on the 2nd or 3rd day of voting and never let up after that.

Originally airing in 1965, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" was the first ever "Peanuts" TV special. If you click on the link in the previous sentence, it takes you to the Wikipedia page with all sorts of information on the special. As the page mentions, the special touched on such themes as the over-commercialization of Christmas and the true meaning of the holiday. I think these are some of the reasons that the special still holds up after over 40 years.

I was a bit surprised that "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" didn't receive more votes. As a kid, it was very inspiring to me. If not for my aversion to digging into the mouths of others, I was this close to becoming a dentist.

Here are the final results:

A Charlie Brown Christmas- 45%
How the Grinch Stole Christmas- 27%
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer- 18%
Frosty the Snowman and Santa Claus Is Coming To Town- 4% each

Thanks to all of you who participated!

Since we probably have all seen "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and because I contain more twists than a bag of pretzels, I've decided to include an alternate version of the holiday classic (as performed by the cast of a long-running TV series). Some may cry "blashpemy" at this desecration, but I think it's funny as hell.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Two-Year Anniv. of Richard Pryor's Death

Saturday December 1st would have been Richard Pryor's 67th birthday (thanks to Pjazzy for reminding me). Due to time constraints, I wasn't able to write a post at that time. After doing some research, I found that Richard's death occurred on December 10th, 2005 (9 days after his 65th birthday). Because I missed his birthday, I still wanted to take the time to write about the man that many (including me) call the greatest stand up comedian of all-time.

To me, the highlight of Richard Pryor's career was the 1979 concert film "Richard Pryor: Live In Concert". I saw it for the first time back when we first got cable (circa 1980) and it was a revelation. It was the first time that I ever heard a comedian tell jokes that were relevant to me. When Richard talked about being told to go get a switch from a tree so that his grandma could beat his ass with it and the long walk to the tree that ensued, I know I wasn't the only one who said, "Damn, that's me!" I had also never seen a comedian turn something that isn't normally funny (heart attacks) into comic gold. As I type this post, I am watching "Richard Pryor: Live In Concert" and it still holds up... even references to politican/civil rights activist Andrew Young and former First Lady Rosalyn Carter. It's ironic that a man who could be totally out of control in his personal life was just the opposite when he was onstage.

When people talk about Richard Pryor's film career, they often focus solely on some of the poor choices he made in the 1980s ("Superman III", "The Toy", "Moving", etc.). It's not that these movies were all bad, they just didn't make good use of Richard's comic abilities. Sure, he made his share of duds (most movie stars have), but he also did some quality work on the big screen as well. If you doubt me, check out films such as "Which Way Is Up", "Lady Sings the Blues", "Blue Collar", and "Greased Lightning" (the latter three movies are proof that Richard could be serious as well). Although it got dogged by critics and moviegoers, I still think that "Harlem Nights" was a funny ass movie.

As many of you know, Richard Pryor was stricken with multiple sclerosis in 1986. Although we didn't know it at the time, in retrospect you can tell that something wasn't quite right when you watch his latter-day films like "Harlem Nights", "See No Evil, Hear No Evil", and "Another You". Even though MS ravaged Richard's body (eventually depriving him of his ability to speak), he still managed to work on occasion. One of his final appearances was a 1995 guest shot (with his daughter Rain) on the CBS medical drama "Chicago Hope". The performance earned Richard an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor In A Drama Series.

I remember where I was when I heard that Richard Pryor had died of a heart attack at the age of 65. I was doing my Saturday afternoon radio show when my sister called the station to break the news to me. Because he had been ill for so long, it wasn't a shock to me. However, it still affected me deeply.

Below is a clip from his 1982 concert film "Richard Pryor: Live On the Sunset Strip". Here he talks about the time he spent filming "Stir Crazy" at the Arizona State Penitentiary.

Please Take A Moment To Vote In the Christmas TV Special Poll... thank you.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

85th Birthday Anniv. For Redd Foxx

Sunday, December 9th is the 85th birth anniversary of Redd Foxx. Born John Elroy Sanford, Foxx made a name for himself on the chitlin' circuit during the 1950s and 1960s. His style of comedy paved the way for comics such as Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Andrew "Dice" Clay, Chris Rock, Wanda Sykes, and Dave Chappelle.

Although he made several movie and TV appearances ("Norman, Is That You?", "Harlem Nights", "The Royal Family", etc.), he is easily best known for his starring role in the hit sitcom "Sanford & Son" (1972-1977). As cantankerous junkman Fred Sanford (named after Foxx' real-life brother), he created one of the most memorable sitcom characters in TV history. It's a testament to his skill that he was able to take a character who was basically an ornery son of a bitch and make you care about him. I mean, some of the things that he would say probably wouldn't even make it on network TV in today's PC world. As a matter of fact, many of the episodes are edited for content when they air in syndication today.

One of the things that I liked about Redd Foxx is that he didn't forget his friends from the old days once he attained TV success. Over the course of the run of "Sanford & Son", he used his clout to get roles for pals like LaWanda Page (Aunt Esther), Slappy White (Melvin), and Pat Morita (Ah Chew). He continued this practice on his ABC variety show "The Redd Foxx Comedy Hour" (1977-1978). One of the features of the program was "Redd's Corner", a showcase for comics that he had worked with on the chitlin' circuit.

It's ironic that Redd Foxx died the way he did. During rehearsals for his comeback sitcom "The Royal Family" in 1991, Foxx collapsed on the set of heart attack and died. Apparently, the cast and crew thought that he was doing his "fake heart attack" routine that he made famous on "Sanford and Son". He was 68.

Below is a clip from a 1974 episode of "Sanford & Son" titled "Julio and Sister and Nephew":

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Spin City Playlist For 12/08/07

4 pm hour

In My House- Mary Jane Girls
Georgia- Boz Scaggs
Time To Get Down- The O'Jays
Toy Soldiers- Martika
Love Is In Control (Finger On the Trigger)- Donna Summer
She's On It- The Beastie Boys
I Got Ants In My Pants- James Brown

Common Thread: John Lennon tribute (27th anniv. of his death)
I'm Stepping Out
Whatever Gets You Through the Night
Nobody Told Me

Girlfriend- Pebbles
Snap Shot- Slave
Help Yourself- The Undisputed Truth

5 pm hour

Roll With the Changes- REO Speedwagon
World Shut Your Mouth- Julian Cope
Just Be Good To Me- The S.O.S. Band
I Gotcha- Joe Tex
Gimme Gimme Some Good Soul Music- The Dramatics
Lessons In Love- Level 42
Baby Love- Regina

Double Retro segment's feat. artist- Smokey Robinson
Way Over There (with The Miracles, 1960)
Cruisin'- 1979

Circles- Atlantic Starr
Rock and Roll Never Forgets- Bob Seger
Pearl In the Shell- Howard Jones
Everybody Plays the Fool- The Main Ingredient
Let It Flow- Grover Washington, Jr.

6 pm hour

New Year's Day- U2
Walking In L.A.- Missing Persons
I'm Qualified To Satisfy You- Barry White
Natural High- Bloodstone
Tattooed Love Boys- The Pretenders
Big Mouth- Whodini
Dusic- Brick
Hey Deanie- Shaun Cassidy
He's the Greatest Dancer- Sister Sledge
Come Back and Stay- Paul Young
The Captain of Her Heart- Double
Love the One You're With- Stephen Stills
Where Was You At- War
American Heartbeat- Survivor
Keep On Smilin' Wet Willie

Did any of your favorites make this week's playlist?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Retro Commercial: Mr. Microphone

If the line "Hey Good Lookin', we'll be back to pick you up later" means anything to you, chances are that you remember the 1979 commercial for one of the most famous creations by Ron Popeil... Mr. Microphone. If we are to believe the commercial, Mr. Microphone served a variety of purposes.

1. In the days before karaoke, it was a great way to liven up a dull party or make an ass out of yourself by singing terribly off key.

2. You could practice your singing and dancing at the same time. I still can't make out what the high-steppin' brotha is singing.

3. For any wannabe Lotharios, it could aid in pickin' up the ladies... yeah right!

Although this commercial ran constantly, I don't think I actually knew anyone who had one of these damned things. Given the power of television, I'll bet that millions of them were sold. I'll admit that it would've been cool to at least play around with one for awhile. I think my big Christmas gift that year was a Fonzie/Happy Days pinball machine so if I did get a Mr. Microphone, it probably would have been tossed in the closet within a couple of weeks.

After watching this commercial again after all these years, I wonder if "Good Lookin" waited around for the Christopher Atkins lookalike to come back to pick her up. Personally, I think he had to at least toss in a set of Ginsu knives in order for her to give him a second look.

See if you recognize the dude who has "Mr. Microphone" in his coat pocket at the beginning of the commercial. I had to watch the commercial a few times to make sure it was him. Although he isn't a household name, you may remember him from a recurring role that he had on a popular nighttime drama. You can click
here to find out who he is.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #23: Little Richard Quotes

Wednesday December 5th is Little Richard's 75th birthday. Along with a birthday tribute (please see the post directly below this one), I decided to devote this week's Thursday Thirteen to the man born Richard Wayne Penniman. One thing is for sure, Little Richard is never at a loss for words and for that I am thankful.

Thirteen Quotes by Little Richard

1. Awop-bop-a-loo-mop alop bam boom!

2. Elvis may be the King of Rock and Roll, but I am the Queen.

3. The band hated that makeup. If we didn't put on makeup, they wouldn't have let us in those white clubs. They figured we weren't gonna bother the [white] girls.

4. When Pat Boone cut my record, I was mad. I wanted to get him. I said, "I'm going to Nashville to find him." I wanted to get him at that time because to me, he was stopping my progress. I wanted to be famous... and here this man done came and took my song! Not only did he take "Tutti Frutti", but he gone even take "Long Tall Sally" and he didn't even know how to duck back in no alley!

5. I did get arrested... for long hair. They said, "Why do you have on all that stuff you have on?" They didn't know it was just natural beauty on duty.

6. Talking to Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry: I was just telling Bo I'm just so sorry and saddened as I traveled the world... Bo Diddley, and like through Europe he's so huge through those countries and when you get back here at home, you don't hear nothing you know. This man has never gotten any recognition AT all. He's an innovator, he's an emancipator.

7. Referring to his wife's decision to divorce him: Ernestine was right. I was a neglectful husband. A terrible husband. I wouldn't have married me if I'd had diamond toenails and ruby eyeballs.

8. They shoulda called me Little Cocaine, I was sniffing so much of the stuff! My nose got big enough to back a diesel truck in, unload it, and drive it right out again.

9. Don't you dare, I know you got a spare!

10. On Janis Joplin: It had started raining and I had to close the show. Janis was screaming. She had been sucking on that Southern Comfort bottle. When she took off her shoes I thought, Oh Lord. And when she started leaping up and down I thought, Look at this woman. And you know, she could scream too. I thought, Oh my God. She stopped the whole thing. Got three standing ovations. She was very dangerous, that girl.

11. I had signed a very bad deal with Specialty. If you wanted to record you signed on their terms or you didn't record. I got a half cent for every record sold. Whoever heard of cutting a penny in half!

12. As a presenter at the 1987 Grammy Awards: And the winner is... me! I have never received nothing! You never gave me no Grammys and I've been singing for years! I am the architect of rock and roll! I am the originator!

13. SHUT UP!

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Happy 75th Birthday To Little Richard

Wednesday, December 5th is the 75th birthday of one of the legends of rock and roll... the one and only Little Richard. I have been a fan of his music from my days as a kid listening to oldies stations such as WHND AM 560 (Honey Radio) out of Monroe, MI. If you follow music, you are probably familiar with Little Richard's claims that he has never gotten the credit he's deserved as a rock and roll pioneer... by the way, he's RIGHT! Some people may tire of Richard tooting his own horn (or should I say pounding his own piano). But hell, should he sit idly by and wait for someone to do it for him? There is something wrong when Mr. White Buckshoes himself (Pat Boone) covers Little Richard's classic "Tutti Frutti" and has the bigger hit! Of course, Pat didn't single out Little Richard in his desecration of R&B/rock and roll (he also covered songs by Fats Domino, the El Dorados, and The Charms, just to name a few). History has righted things in some regards though. No self-respecting oldies station today is going to play Pat's covers over the original and far superior versions.

If you only know Little Richard from his recent movie and TV appearances ("Why Do Fools Fall In Love", the commercial for Geico, etc.) do yourself a favor and check out some of his music. Songs like "Slippin' and Slidin'", "Ready Teddy", and "Good Golly Miss Molly" are still some of the most exciting records to be laid to wax. I can only imagine what they sounded like back when they were recorded during the Eisenhower era.

Below is a clip of Little Richard performing his classic "Long Tall Sally" in the 1957 film "Don't Knock the Rock". He is introduced by legendary DJ Alan Freed. Also appearing in the clip is another rock and roll pioneer (Bill Haley). He is seen (seated in the center) at the 1:20 minute mark enjoying Little Richard's performance.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Final Results of the "Annoying TV Character" Poll

In an extremely tight race, Scrappy-Doo emerged "victorious" by being named the most annoying TV character in my recent poll. A son-of-a-bitch in the true sense of the term, Scrappy-Doo is blamed by many (including me) for the decline of one of the most successful Saturday morning cartoon franchises in TV history. There have been long standing disputes between various groups over the years (Yankees fans vs. Red Sox Nation and the East Coast-West Coast hip-hop feud, to name two). However, you could probably get the camps of both sides to agree on at least one thing... their mutual disdain for Crappy er... Scrappy-Doo.

I realize that Scrappy has his supporters. If any of them happen to be reading this, please tell me... what purpose did he serve? I understand that long-running shows require overhauls, but damn! Many who didn't watch the show during the "Scrappy" era, often wonder why all the hate towards Scoob's nephew. To this I say that all they have to do is sit through one episode (if they can stand it) and they will understand.

Now that I've gotten my Scrappy-Doo digs in for the day, I'll move on. In the poll, "Family Matters" resident nerd Steve Urkel came in a close second. Steve Urkel is a classic case of a character being shoved down the audience's throat... to the detriment of the show. Urkel was funny the first couple of years (before his voice changed and he could still pull off the "nerdy" voice). However, as time went on and Urkel's antics started to dominate "Family Matters", the show strapped on those skis and quickly headed up the ramp. I don't blame JoMarie Payton Noble (who played Harriete Winslow, the character that "Family Matters" was originally centered around) for saying "fuck this" and leaving the show during the last season.

Although I am a huge fan of "The Nanny" and Fran Fine, I can see why many of you voted for her as the most annoying TV character. Call me crazy, but I find her New York/nasal whine and Lucy Ricardoesque antics endearing. Those sexy outfits that she wears on the show don't hurt either.

Tying for 4th place in the poll were "Saved By the Bell" kid Samuel "Screech" Powers and "Friends" resident paleontologist Ross Geller. Like Steve Urkel, Screech's antics wore thin as the character aged and it was obvious that he was straining to do the "nerd" voice. At least, the producers of "Saved By the Bell" didn't allow Screech to completely dominate the show. When it comes to Ross (or as my best friend calls him, "Wuss"), I found him to be funny... but a bit on the whiny side.

One thing that surprised me about the poll results was that only one person found Drew Carey's dreaded co-worker (Mimi) to be the most annoying character out of the 6 choices. Although she wouldn't have received my vote, I thought that more would have found her to be grating. I guess she is more grotesque and hideous than annoying to some. True story: once, Kathy Kinney (the actress who played Mimi) appeared on the cover of TV Guide. It was a close-up picture featuring Kinney as Mimi (overdone make-up and all). This issue of TV Guide was on the table facing up when I was eating dinner one evening. I had to flip that bad boy over before I could finish my meal.

Here are the final poll results:

Scrappy-Doo- 27%
Steve Urkel (Family Matters)- 25%
Fran Fine (The Nanny)- 22%
Screech (Saved By the Bell) and Ross Geller (Friends)- 11% each
Mimi Bobek (The Drew Carey Show)- 2%

Normally, I will post a clip related to the winner of the poll. However, I thought that a photo of Scrappy-Doo would more than suffice. Besides, maybe some of you might want to print a copy of the photo and practice your dart throwing.

Monday, December 3, 2007

New To the Blog Scene: Traces of A Stream

Although I don't own a wide-brimmed hat or platform shoes with clear heels that have fish swimming in them, I do pimp blogs from time to time. If you haven't already, I urge you to check out a new one written by Pjazzypar called "Traces of A Stream". As some of you already know, Pjazzypar is a relative of mine. However, this isn't a case of nepotism. If I didn't think the blog was any good, trust me... I wouldn't be propping it.

If you regularly check out the comments sections of my blog posts, you may recognize the name Pjazzypar ("Pjazzy" for short). She has been not only a faithful reader of my blog, but a frequent commenter as well. As someone who loves pop culture as much as I do, Pjazzy never fails to provide a unique and interesting take on the topics that I write about on my blog. She continues this approach over at "Traces of A Stream". According to her blog header, she will tackle topics in the areas of politics, music, sports, family issues, and literature, just to name a few. Although her blog has been in existence for barely a week, Pjazzy has already written about topics such as The Boondocks, Lena Baker/The Death Penalty, The Jackson Five Reunion Tour, Don Imus, and Rosa Parks. Her blog also includes a weekly poll, the quote of the day, and famous birthdays among other sidebar features.

So if what I've said has piqued your interest, swing by and take a dip in Traces of A Stream.

Please Take A Moment To Vote In the Current "Annoying TV Character" Poll... thank you.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Spin City Playlist For 12/1/07

4 pm hour

Cum On Feel the Noize- Quiet Riot
A Lover's Holiday- Change
One Night Affair- Jerry Butler
Killer Queen- Queen
Weakness- Stevie Wonder & Dionne Warwick
Hot Line- The Sylvers
Too Shy- Kajagoogoo

Double Retro segment's feat. artist: Cher
All I Really Want To Do (1965)
We All Sleep Alone (1988)

Love Don't Love Nobody- The Spinners
Baby Be Mine- Michael Jackson
Oh Yeah- Yello
Say No Go- De La Soul
Love In Store- Fleetwood Mac

5 pm hour

I'm Your Boogie Man- KC & the Sunshine Band
Full of Fire- Al Green
Endicott- Kid Creole & the Coconuts
Mad About You- Belinda Carlisle
Hand To Hold On To- John Cougar
While I'm Alone- Maze feat. Frankie Beverly
I Wanna Be With You- The Raspberries

Now & Then segment's feat. artist: Erasure
Storm In A Teacup (from their latest CD "Light At the End of the World")
A Little Respect (1988)

You Stepped Into My Life- Melba Moore
(Fallin' Like) Dominoes- Donald Byrd
Broken Wings- Mr. Mister
She's Strange- Cameo
Theme From the Rockford Files- Mike Post
Silver Moon- Michael Nesmith

6 pm hour

I Love Rock & Roll- Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
I'm That Type of Guy- LL Cool J
Stuff Like That- Quincy Jones feat. Ashford & Simpson and Chaka Khan
Tighter & Tighter- Alive & Kicking
Only A Lad- Oingo Boingo
Rockit- Herbie Hancock
A Real Mother For Ya- Johnny "Guitar" Watson

The Guilty Pleasure of the Week:
Danny's Song- Anne Murray

Winning- Santana
Jam Tonight- Freddie Jackson
(Every Time I Turn Around) Back In Love Again- L.T.D.
Rockaway Beach- The Ramones
How Do I Make You- Linda Ronstadt
Dream Police- Cheap Trick
Shame- Evelyn "Champagne" King

Did any of your favorites make this week's playlist?

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