Sunday, March 29, 2009

Please Take A Moment To Vote In the Current Progressive Insurance Commercial Poll, Thank You

Introduction: At first, I was reluctant to do this poll for a couple of reasons. One is because the intent is not to debate whether or not homosexuality is right or wrong. Also, I didn't want people to misconstrue why I was asking the question by responding with "so what if the two men in the commercial are gay?". My reason for asking the poll question is simple: I find the different ways in which people perceive things interesting. Thank you.

A few weeks ago while watching a local morning news program, a Progressive Insurance commercial aired that I had never seen. It depicted two men (one of whom was looking to buy car insurance) listening to Flo the cashier demonstrate how the man could save money by joining Progressive.

Although I felt it was done in an ambiguous manner, the way I read it is that the two men portrayed in the commercial are gay. While at work that day, I discussed the commercial with a co-worker. Since he hadn't seen it, I sent him the link. He also felt that the two men were gay. One thing he noticed that I missed was something that could be interpreted as a subtle representation of a symbol of gay pride (I won't say what it is because I want to see how many of you notice it). On other sites where the question regarding the intent of this commercial has been raised, there are those who don't see any gay subtext.

Last night (around midnight), I saw the commercial for the second time. Because the only time I've seen it is either early in the morning or late at night, this makes me think TV stations/networks are reluctant to air it during primetime and run the risk of possibly offending viewers. Maybe it is airing in primetime in other areas of the country, I don't know.

If the two men depicted in the commercial are gay, I applaud Progressive because in my opinion, the spot is devoid of gay stereotypes. The way I perceive the commercial, it shows that gays are trying to save money just like the rest of us.

You can watch the commercial below to judge for yourself:

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Retro Mix Playlist For 3/27/09

7 pm hour

Tumbling Dice- The Rolling Stones
Steppin' Out- Steel Pulse
Can't Stand Losing You- The Police
Nuthin' but a "G" Thang- Dr. Dre
Charity Ball- Fanny
Eighteen- Alice Cooper
Come Give Your Love To Me- Janet Jackson
Perfect Way- Scritti Politti

Now & Then segment's feat. artist: Lindsey Buckingham
Did You Miss Me (from his 2008 CD Gift of Screws)
Trouble (1981)

Am I Wrong- Love Spit Love
What's Up?- 4 Non Blondes
Where Was You At- War
When Doves Cry- Prince

8 pm hour

Just A Girl- No Doubt
The More You Live, the More You Love- A Flock of Seagulls
Paranoid- Black Sabbath
The Kid Is Hot Tonite- Loverboy
Strong Enough- Sheryl Crow
Workin' At the Car Wash Blues- Jim Croce
Rappin' Rodney- Rodney Dangerfield
Everything Counts- Depeche Mode

With or Without You segment's feat. artist: Morris Day
Jungle Love- The Time
Color of Success (solo)

It's All About the Benjamins (Rock Remix)- Puff Daddy and Family
Lady O- Judee Sill
Now We're Getting Somewhere- Crowded House
Man In the Box- Alice In Chains

Note: The Retro Mix will not air on Friday, April 3rd. It returns to the airwaves the following Friday.

The Retro Mix Video of the Week: Workin' At the Car Wash Blues by Jim Croce

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

DWTS: Week 3

As week 3 of the competition got underway, the injuries continued to mount up (Steve-O and Steve Wozniak were both nursing ailments). The 12 surviving couples had the choice of performing one of two dances (the samba or the foxtrot).

Below is a chronological summary of Monday night's competition:

Denise & Maks (samba)- Denise looked like she was scared to death. 16 out of 30

Chuck & Julianne (foxtrot)- This real-life couple was totally in sync! I don't know if it was a conscious effort, but the decision by Chuck & Julianne to dance to Sugarland's All I Want To Do was a smart move (as some of you may know, Chuck is a country artist). 23 out of 30

Holly & Dmitry (samba)- During the rehearsal footage, Holly admitted to not being a good dancer. Even though she may not be a natural, she is trying. All three judges mentioned that Holly's footwork needs work. Len compared their routine to a match, hot at the top but wooden at the bottom. He was right, because I didn't even notice Holly's footwork. 17 out of 30

Steve-O & Lacey (foxtrot)- This was painful to watch. Not because their routine was horrible, but it was obvious that Steve-O hadn't fully recovered from the back injury he suffered recently. 15 out of 30

Lawrence & Edyta (samba)- For the first time during the competition, Lawrence looked like he was having fun. He's slowly narrowing the gap between him and last year's runner-up (fellow ex- NFLer Warren Sapp). 20 out of 30

Shawn & Mark (foxtrot)- Shawn is such a liar! During rehearsals, she said that there is nothing smooth and elegant about her. She made the foxtrot look effortless as she glided in unison with her partner Mark. 27 out of 30

Gilles & Cheryl (samba)- The best samba of the night! Not only does Gilles have a flair for theatrics, but he has the skills to back it up. 27 out of 30

David & Kym (foxtrot)- David really put himself out there by doing a solo bit (high kicks and all) at the beginning of the dance. 24 out of 30

Steve & Karina (samba)- Even though Steve brings his own brand of entertainment to the competition, for him to survive another week would be a travesty. Props to Steve for getting out there (pulled hamstring and all). But let's face facts... dude just isn't good. 10 out of 30

Melissa & Tony (foxtrot)- Melissa exuded class and her movements were fluid throughout the routine. When judge Carrie Ann Inaba told Melissa that she could tell that the foxtrot came easy to her, Melissa had a "I don't what you're talking about" look on her face. 27 out of 30

Lil' Kim & Derek (samba)- When I found out that Lil' Kim was doing the samba, visions of booty-shaking danced in my head. Even with some very minor mistakes, Lil' Kim's style pulled her through. 25 out of 30

Ty & Chelsie (foxtrot)- I can't even believe this is the same guy who during the first week of the competition lumbered around the dance floor as if he had an ironing board strapped to his back. This was the first time I've seen one of the professionals make a mistake (Chelsie slipped during the routine). However, Ty had her back and didn't miss a step. 23 out of 30

The biggest shock of Tuesday's results show is that Steve Wozniak will have at least another week to make Alvin Ailey, Gower Champion, and Fred Astaire turn in their respective graves.
Even though his samba last night earned the lowest score in the history of DWTS (10 out of 30), the fans votes were enough to keep him from the bottom two. Although it's hard not to appreciate Steve's exuberance, he should have been in the bottom two for the second week in a row.

Since Steve miraculously was voted through, that meant that two other couples would have to face each other in the dance off. This week, it was Holly & Dmitry and Denise & Maks. Both couples did the same dances they performed last night (Holly & Dmitry danced the samba while Denise & Maks performed the foxtrot). They also each improved on their scores from last night (Holly & Dmitry earned 18 out of 30 points, while Denise & Maks scored 20 out of 30).

Sadly, Denise & Maks got the boot.

Although Denise wasn't likely to contend for the crown, she didn't deserve to get bounced this early. I think Denise's ousting may have something to do with the negative press she's gotten recently (the messy divorce from Charlie Sheen and featuring their kids on her reality show, "Denise Richards: It's Complicated"). In a move that was cold or hilarious (depending on your feelings about Denise), Tuesday night's show closed with musical guest Daryl Hall & John Oates performing She's Gone. Earlier in the show, they performed Maneater. Also performing last night was Best New Artist Grammy winner Adele, who sang her hit Chasing Pavements.

Next week, the surviving couples will do either The Argentine Tango or the Lindy Hop. This is the first time that these dances will be featured on DWTS.

Below is Ty and Chelsie's performance of the foxtrot:

Room 222 Comes To DVD!

Pictured (l-r) Lloyd Haynes, Karen Valentine, Denise Nicholas and Michael Constantine

On March 24, one of TV's best depictions of high school life finally comes to DVD... Room 222. Starring Lloyd Haynes as history teacher Pete Dixon, Denise Nicholas as Liz McIntyre (Pete's girlfriend and school counselor), Michael Constantine as principal Seymour Kaufman, and Karen Valentine as student teacher Alice Johnson, Room 222 dealt with a variety of serious issues (racism, alcoholism, dropping out of school, etc.) without being heavy handed. Along with the seriousness, Room 222 also had its light moments as well. I never thought about it until typing this post, but the show is an early example of what later became known as the "dramedy".

In addition to the quality of Room 222, one of the best parts about watching it today is that you get an early glimpse of performers who later became big stars. In the first season alone, Teri Garr and a pre-All In the Family Rob Reiner show up as students at Walt Whitman High School.

The DVD release of "Room 222-Season One" is fantastic news for fans of the show because although it had a successful five-year run (1969-74), it hasn't been widely syndicated in the last 30 years (other than it showing up on TV Land in the late 1990s). I haven't purchased a DVD in over two years. However, there's a strong chance that this self-imposed streak will be coming to an end this week.

The opening credits sequence to Room 222:

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Retro Mix Playlist For 3/20/09

Not having time to finish prepping my show before airtime is becoming a habit. What can I say, I was in dire need of a nap before I headed to the studio yesterday. Once again, the listeners bailed me out with their requests.

One thing I love about doing radio is introducing listeners to songs they may not have heard. On 2/22, I featured the Buggles' song Kid Dynamo as part of the "On the Flip Side" segment (it was the B-side to Video Killed the Radio Star). A listener who heard me play it during that show liked it so much that he called last night and asked me to play it again. You can hear it yourself by clicking here.

7 pm hour

Don't You Forget About Me- Simple Minds
Universal Heart Beat- Juliana Hatfield
Wild Wild Life- Talking Heads
Holding On (When Love Is Gone)- L.T.D.
Theme From The Rockford Files- Mike Post
Call Me Up- Rick James
Stay- Shakespear's Sister

On the Flip Side segment:
All I Do- Stevie Wonder (flip side to That Girl)

Family Affair- Sly & the Family Stone
Car Wash- Rose Royce
Don't Stop Believin'- Journey
Lisa Listen- Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories
Selling the Drama- Live
Hot Love- T. Rex

8 pm hour

Blister In the Sun- The Violent Femmes
Life Begins At the Hop- XTC
Real Love- Mary J. Blige
Loving Your Best Friend- Eric Benet
Love Her Madly- The Doors
Crackerbox Palace- George Harrison
Love Shack- The B 52s
Romancing the Stone- Eddy Grant
Little Miss Can't Be Wrong- Spin Doctors
Kid Dynamo- The Buggles
Cruel To Be Kind- Nick Lowe
I'm Fat- "Weird" Al Yankovic
Life Is A Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)- Reunion
Welcome To the Jungle- Guns N' Roses

If you have any memories about the songs featured on this show, feel free to share them in the comments section.

The Retro Mix Video of the Week: Cruel To Be Kind by Nick Lowe

Friday, March 20, 2009

CTFD: The Prez Meets the Chin, Controversy Ensues

History was made Thursday night when President Barack Obama became the first sitting president to appear on The Tonight Show. For the most part, it wasn't the typical chatter that you hear on these types of shows. Some of the topics discussed during the president's interview with Jay Leno were the bonuses paid out to AIG employees, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and changing the "blame game" culture in Washington.

Towards the end of the interview, the tone became lighthearted as President Obama talked about the Final Four, flying on Air Force One, and his bowling skills. It's this last topic that will likely have people talking long after the President leaves the NBC studio in Burbank. After Obama stated that he rolled a 129-point game, Leno congratulated him sarcastically. This led to the president commenting "Like the Special Olympics or something". I cringed because I knew that members of the right would be grinning like the butcher's dog. Reports that the Fox News Channel got a collective woodie when they heard about the president's comments are true. Because Keith Olbermann saw the appearance before it aired, he discussed the incident on his show last night. Shortly thereafter, Obama haters started spewing their venom in the comments attached to the Olbermann clip. Funny, sad and oh so predictable.

Did the president fuck up? Yes. Should it be blown out of proportion? I don't think so. What do you think?

Below is the clip containing President Obama's "Special Olympics" comment:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thursday Thirteen #69: Favorite Movies/TV Shows Set In the 1950s or 1960s

For this week's T13, I decided to go back in time cinematically and feature some of my favorite films/TV shows set in the 1950s or 1960s.

To cut down on comments along the lines of "you forgot (fill in the blank"), if a movie/TV show isn't listed below, it's due to at least one of the following:

1. I've never seen it
2. There are only 13 spots
3. Saw it and thought it sucked

For this list, I chose to select only fictional stories that didn't focus specifically on an historic event. That means no movies like "Ray" or "Platoon". However, feel free to list any of your favorite "period pieces" in the comments section.

1. American Dreams- Set in Philly during the mid 1960s, this NBC drama (which ran from 2002-2005) drove me crazy at times with its numerous chronological errors. However, I cut it some slack because they at least tried to get the look of the period correct and handled social issues (civil rights, the changing role of women in American society, etc.) in a realistic manner.

2. American Graffiti- Even if you've never gone car cruising on a warm Saturday night in 1962, this movie makes you feel like you have. Not only that, but its soundtrack (with a lineup of classic tunes by such artists as Chuck Berry, Del Shannon, and Bill Haley & his Comets) set the standard for all subsequent period films.

3. Cooley High- A group of black teens in 1964 get into various misadventures, all to the sounds of classic Motown.

4. Down With Love- A colorful homage to the Doris Day/Rock Hudson "sex comedies" of the early 60s, I saw this film courtesy of some movie passes that I won. I'm grateful because I likely wouldn't have seen it otherwise.

5. The Five Heartbeats- This drama, which traces the ups and downs of an R&B group, stars Robert Townsend, Leon, and Michael Wright. It also contains a memorable scene that hopefully serves as a lesson to any recording artist: don't get in the face of a ruthless record label owner and demand to know about your royalties.

6. Grease- Even though most of the performers playing teenagers in the movie looked like they were ready for their 10-year high school reunion (at the very least), Grease is still a lot of fun.

7. Hairspray (1988)- Set in Philly during the dance craze era of the early 60s, this John Waters movie is filled with classic quotes ("Ooh papa tooney, we got a looney") and an eclectic cast that includes Ricki Lake, Ruth Brown, Debbie Harry, and Sonny Bono.

8. Mad Men- This AMC drama about the advertising world portrays the early 1960s in all its politically incorrect glory. You can practically taste the booze and smell the tobacco smoke when watching this show.

9. National Lampoon's Animal House- This party on celluloid probably did more to boost college enrollment than any guidance counselor could ever hope to do. Toga! Toga! Toga! Toga!

10. Sparkle- This drama about a fictional sibling girl group stars Irene Cara in the title role and features an outstanding soundtrack courtesy of the legendary Curtis Mayfield.

11. Stand By Me- Thanks to this coming of age film set in 1959, I've always wanted to play mailbox baseball.

12. The Wanderers- Set amid the youth gang culture of New York in the early 60s, this increasingly obscure movie is worth seeking out. Along with The Wanderers, other gangs in the film include the aptly named Fordham Baldies, The Del Bombers, and The Wongs, whose motto is short and to the point... "Don't Fuck with the Wongs"

13. The Wonder Years- I know that it spills over into the early 70s, but this comedy-drama about the maturation of Kevin Arnold was too good not to include.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

DWTS Season 8, Week 2: Does Belinda Carlisle Go-Go Home This Week?

In week 2 of the competition only one thing is certain... somebody's got to go. Because season 8 of DWTS is in its early stages, there is still a lot of mediocrity (or worse). However, it's shaping up to be 4-way race for the championship between Shawn & Mark, Lil Kim & Derek, Melissa & Tony, and Gilles & Cheryl.

Below is a summary of Monday night's performances. In parentheses following each pair of contestants is the dance they did this week. At the end of each pair's summary is their total score for the first two weeks.

Holly and Dmitry (quickstep)- They were competent, but nothing special. 36 out of 60

David & Kym (salsa)- I thought they did slightly better than the judges felt. 36 out of 60

Denise & Maks (quickstep)- Although they didn't match the uptempo beat of the song ("We Go Together") at times, their routine was an improvement over last week. 39 out of 60

Belinda & Jonathan (salsa)- The most memorble thing about Belinda's performance last week was when Bruno compared her to Julie Andrews (good) and Cloris Leachman (not so good). In the rehearsal footage, Jonathan mentioned that he was going to incorporate some of Belinda's "Go-Go" moves into their performance. Although those were disappointingly missing, Belinda did dust off the shimmy she did in the "Mad About You" video. 35 out of 60

Ty & Chelsie (quickstep)- The two messed up on the high-five at the beginning, but Ty's performance was a vast improvement over last week. He seemed to be having fun and was much more relaxed. 34 out of 60

Shawn & Mark (salsa)- The best dance of the night so far! I thought Shawn's years of training as a gymnast would keep her rigid. However, she proved that she can shake it when necessary. 47 out of 60

Steve & Karina (quickstep)- Even though Steve doesn't have a prayer of sticking around for long, he is having fun. I thought his taped up specs were a nice touch too and fitting (he and Karina danced to "Oh Boy" by Buddy Holly & the Crickets). Ooh, was that a Kathy Griffin sighting?! 30 out of 60

Chuck & Julianne (salsa)- Didn't seem very salsaesque to me. If "salsaesque" isn't a word, it is now! 40 out of 60

Lawrence & Edyta (quickstep)- I didn't think old boy had it in him. Lawrence isn't giving Warren Sapp anything to worry about yet, but his performance was much better than it was in the first week. 36 out of 60

Steve-O & Lacey (salsa) - A back injury a couple of hours before showtime prevented Steve-O from performing live. Cause of injury: he did a flip and landed on the microphone pack. As a result (in keeping with the rules), the judges based their votes on the dress rehearsal that Steve-O and Lacey did. It's unfair because they understandably weren't going "all out" for the dress rehearsal. Plus, Steve-O and Lacey didn't have the benefit of the rush that a live performance can provide. The good news is that Steve-O will be able to continue in the competition. 31 out of 60.

Lil Kim & Derek (quickstep)- Judge Len Goodman deservedly got booed when he critiqued the pair because Kim and Derek got down!. 44 out of 60

Melissa & Tony (salsa)- These two sizzled in the best salsa of the night. Even with some tricky moves that the two added in, they didn't miss a beat. Was that Leeza Gibbons (haven't seen her in awhile) and Kim "Woo woo woo" Coles in the audience? 49 out of 60.

Gilles & Cheryl (quickstep)- Before they started, I noticed that Gilles was looking Clark Kent-like with the glasses he was wearing. Once I heard what song they were dancing to ("Kryptonite" by 3 Doors Down), it all made sense. This was the best dance tonight and it ended with a flourish (Gilles whipped off his glasses, slid on his knees and ripped open his shirt to reveal a purple top with the letter "G"). 51 out of 60, the top score out of all the contestants.

Because Belinda & Jonathan and Steve & Karina were the two pairs who received the least amount of votes combined (from the judges and viewers), they had to compete in the "dance-off" (the first in the history of DWTS). Both pairs did the same routines they performed last night. Although Steve is by far the worst celebrity dancer of this year's bunch, he is fun to watch and that's what saved him. Unfortunately, that means the answer to the question I posed in the title of this post is "yes". Oh well, at least Belinda still has her gig with NutriSystem.

The next episode airs Monday, 3/23 from 8-10 PM EST.

Below is rehearsal footage and last night's performance of the quickstep by Gilles and Cheryl:

Monday, March 16, 2009

Final Results of the Octomom Poll

Although the general consensus is that Nadya Suleman (aka Octo Mom), is overexposed, nuts, and responsible for the recent layoffs at Sesame Street, less than 40% of you felt that she would take the million and appear in a porn film. Since it's close to bedtime, I'm at my least inspired. However, I know that there are some choice porn names that she could have used if she had signed the deal (sources have reported that she declined the offer). The same goes for potential titles of the film that wasn't meant to be.

Here are the final results:

Poll question: Will the "Octomom" take the offer to appear in a porn film?

Yes- 37%
No- 62%

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Retro Mix Playlist For 3/13/09

One of the best parts of doing a radio show is connecting with listeners either on the phone or online via Instant Messenger. During most of last night's show, I was IMing with a listener and one thing we discussed was that his father used to have 8-tracks of Men At Work, Pink Floyd (The Wall), and Led Zeppelin (Houses of the Holy). Because his father had an 8-track player (but no radio) in his pickup truck, they listened to those albums quite a bit while riding in the truck. The listener added that he's since broadened his musical horizons beyond that trio of 8-tracks.

As I've mentioned, doing a radio show can be chaotic. That's one reason why last night's show stands out because it was one of those instances where everything fell into place. In order to keep chaos at a minimum, I normally put my playlists together before I do the show. If I get requests, I substitute them in place of songs I had planned on playing. Because of a very busy week and the need for a little nap time before heading to the station, I was only able to prep 3/4 of this week's show. However, several listeners helped me out by requesting tunes that I used to fill up that time. It was cool because the requests were such that it took no effort on my part to group them together in sets that made sense. For example, one set included Men At Work, Modern English, and Alanis Morissette and another one consisted of Air Supply and Gerry Rafferty. Even when my voice betrayed me briefly during the show, it came at the perfect time. At the end of my "backsell" (a technique where a DJ announces the titles and/or artists of songs they've just played) of the first four tunes in hour 2, my voice cracked a bit due to a dry throat. However, it happened just as I was saying "Losing My Religion" so I ad-libbed that I was also losing my voice. You just can't plan stuff like that.

I think I surprised the listener who requested Air Supply (he also suggested the aforementioned Overkill by Men At Work) by not only having it, but playing it as well. As I said on the air last night, one of the reasons I love doing The Retro Mix is that I get the chance to play a wide variety of music from the 70s, 80, and 90s. I can't think of anywhere else on the dial where you can hear Al Green, Mazzy Star, Air Supply, and Quiet Riot all in one show!

7 pm hour

Knock On Wood- Amii Stewart
Afternoons & Coffeespoons- Crash Test Dummies
Shake It Up- The Cars
Flying High- The Commodores
Here We Go- C & C Music Factory
Too Tight- Con Funk Shun
Work To Do- The Isley Brothers

Now & Then segment's feat. artist: The Cure
The Perfect Boy (from their 2008 EP Hypnagogic States)
Just Like Heaven (1987)

Fade Into You- Mazzy Star
You Oughta Be With Me- Al Green
Goin' Up In Smoke- Eddie Kendricks
Uptown- Prince
Tell Me- The Fabulous Thunderbirds

8 pm hour

Losing My Religion- R.E.M.
Hong Kong Garden- Siouxsie and the Banshees
Walk On the Wild Side- Lou Reed
How Long- Lipps Inc.
Let It Whip- The Dazz Band
This Is the Right Time- Lisa Stansfield
The Love I Lost- Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes
Melt With You- Modern English
Overkill- Men At Work
You Learn- Alanis Morissette
Even the Nights Are Better- Air Supply
Right Down the Line- Gerry Rafferty
Bang Your Head (Metal Health)- Quiet Riot

The Retro Mix Video of the Week: Hong Kong Garden by Siouxsie and the Banshees

Please Take A Moment To Vote In the Current Octo Mom Poll... Thank You

While watching the MSNBC news show Morning Joe before I headed off to the cube farm, I heard a story about Nadya Suleman (aka Octo Mom). Apparently, porn distributor Vivid Entertainment has offered her $1 million to star in her own nudie pic. Since there's no word yet on whether or not she has signed her Jane on the dotted line, my question to all of you is this... will she do it? Because Suleman has almost enough kids for three separate Jackson Fives, that mil could come in handy. Having said that, going The Spice Network route likely won't do anything to help repair her reputation in the court of public opinion. Now there's a report that a rival porn company (Pink Visual) has offered Suleman a year's supply of diapers if she turns down the deal made by Vivid. I'm waiting on Howie Mandel to jump in on this at any moment now.

Friday, March 13, 2009

OSF: Child Singers

For this week's OSF (which is defined as music created before 1999), the theme is child singers. I chose two artists that are from different eras, but who both have a Disney connection. The first selection is then 15 yr old Tevin Campbell's uptempo remake of Strawberry Letter 23, which was originally done by Shuggie Otis and later made famous by The Brothers Johnson. I thought Tevin did a damn good job on this song and that it should have been a bigger hit. As for Tevin's Disney connection, he provided the voice of "Powerline" in the 1995 animated musical feature A Goofy Movie.

Next up is Tall Paul by Annette Funicello. Up until the rise of some of the latter day cast members of The Mickey Mouse Club (Britney, Justin, Christina, and Keri), Annette was without a question the most famous of The Mouseketeers. Released in 1959 when Annette was 16, Tall Paul was Annette's biggest hit (peaking at #7) and the first time that a female singer hit the top 10 with a rock and roll song. Check out the portions of the clip that include Dick Clark playing puppetmaster.

Strawberry Letter 23 by Tevin Campbell and Tall Paul by Annette Funicello:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thursday Thirteen #68: Pop Culture Myths Debunked

While listening to the radio on the way to work I learned that Wednesday is "Debunking Day", the day to disprove rumors and myths. As a result, I decided to finish up a T13 I started last year. Over the years, myths and untruths in the world of pop culture have been repeated so much that people start to accept them as fact. This week, I've taken my debunking ax to 13 of them.

If you agree/disagree or have a pop culture myth of your own that you want to shoot to hell, please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Thirteen Pop Culture Myths, Debunked

1. The Best New Artist Grammy is the career "Kiss of Death"- Although there have been artists who saw their careers nosedive shortly after winning the award (The Starland Vocal Band, Rickie Lee Jones, and Marc Cohn to name a few), several honorees have had long and successful careers. Bobby Darin, The Beatles, The Carpenters, Natalie Cole, Mariah Carey, and Sheryl Crow are just some of the Best New Artist Grammy winners who avoided the so-called "kiss of death".

2. Diana Ross discovered The Jackson Five- In 1969, in order to increase public curiosity, Motown's marketing team decided to attach the Jackson Five to a name star. As a result, label superstar Diana Ross was chosen as the one who "discovered" the brothers from Gary, IN. However, several artists had caught the Jackson Five's act long before Diana knew about them. Back in 1967, Gladys Knight recommended the group to Motown chief Berry Gordy. However, Gordy was reluctant to take on another child act at the time (the then teenage Stevie Wonder was already on the roster). Also preceding Diana's "discovery" was Bobby Taylor (leader of the Motown group Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers). He brought the Jackson Five to Detroit for an audition with Berry in 1968.

3. Elvis Presley was a lousy actor- Sure, many of Elvis' films required him to do little more than ogle the ladies and sing a handful of non-descript tunes. If Elvis were alive today, he'd probably admit that Harum Scarum was no Citizen Kane. However, on those rare occasions when Elvis was given decent material, he acquitted himself rather nicely. For those who doubt the thespian abilities of The Pelvis, check him out in Jailhouse Rock, Loving You, King Creole, Wild In the Country, Flaming Star, and Roustabout.

4. The Monkees couldn't play instruments- Because of music supervisor Don Kirschner's iron-fisted control, most of the instrumental work on the Monkees' first two albums was done by session players. This led people to believe that The Monkees couldn't play. However, as Micky Dolenz has pointed out, it wasn't that they couldn't play... they weren't allowed to play. Although they always played their own instruments in concert, it wasn't until the ousting of Kirschner that The Monkees were given artistic control in the studio. On their 3rd and 4th albums (esp. the 3rd), it's mainly Mike, Micky, Davy, and Peter that you hear playing. For whatever reason (possibly expediency or maybe waning interest within the group), the band reverted to the "Kirschner model" and mainly employed studio musicians on their LPs starting with their 5th album (The Birds, the Bees, and The Monkees).

5. Most child stars have tragic lives as adults- Because former child stars such as Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer, Adam Rich and the kids from Diff'rent Strokes had trouble adjusting once the limelight faded, it can be easy to forget that many others have had successful careers once they reached the age of 18. Jodie Foster, Ron Howard, Elizabeth Taylor, Mickey Rooney, Janet Jackson, and Neil Patrick Harris are just a few who have debunked the "tragic former child star" myth. Not only that, but several former child stars have successful careers outside of show business once they grow up. For example, Danielle Spencer (Dee from What's Happening) is a veterinarian and Missy Gold (Gov. Gatling's daughter Katie on Benson) is a psychologist in Maine.

6. MTV used to be great- Because the cable channel has devolved into "reality crap central", people refer to the early days of MTV as great. It was better than it is now, but let's not get carried away. During MTV's "glory days", viewers were given a whole lotta repetition with little variety. While Michael Jackson, Madonna, and pretty boy new wave and hair metal bands were in constant rotation, quality (but less photogenic) artists like The Smithereens received scant airtime. Furthermore, for a channel that claimed to be on the cutting edge, MTV didn't fully embrace rap music until late 80s; nearly 10 years after the genre entered the mainstream. Oh... and don't get me started on the fact that even though black artists were making music videos, you scarcely saw them on MTV until Michael Jackson's Billie Jean revolutionized the genre.

7. Old=classic- Sorry, but just because a show was made over 30 years ago does not make it a classic.

8. Rock and roll "died" between 1959 and 1964- Many have thrown dirt on this period of rock and roll (roughly between Buddy Holly's plane crash and The Beatles' landing in America). Other losses include Elvis' Army induction, Chuck Berry going to jail, the banning of Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard leaving rock 'n' roll in favor of religion. Although these were terrible blows, several artists were around to pick up the slack. Chubby Checker, Del Shannon, Freddy "Boom Boom" Cannon, and The Beach Boys all made some rockin' tunes during this period. Not only that, but Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound" was in full bloom and a little label called Motown was turning into a hit-making machine.

9. Seinfeld is a "show about nothing"- This myth probably began with early episodes such as "The Chinese Restaurant" and "The Parking Garage" that focused on the little things in everyday life. However, Seinfeld was also capable of intricately plotted episodes such as "The Betrayal" (where the scenes are shown in reverse chronological order), "The Rye", "The Opposite", and "The Fusilli Jerry" (aka the "ASSMAN" episode).

10. The "SNL curse"- Due to the early deaths of John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Phil Hartman, and Chris Farley, it's been said that the award-winning sketch series is cursed. However, when one considers that SNL has been on since 1975 and has had over 100 former and current cast members, the "curse" theory goes out the window.

11. Soap operas consist of nothing but outlandish plots- Because the crazy storylines get the most ink (for example, Timmy the doll being brought to life on Passions and Marlena being possessed by The Devil on DOOL), it's often forgotten that daytime dramas have often been more progressive than their primetime counterparts when it comes to tackling serious issues. Early episodes of All My Children delved into the Vietnam War debate, One Life To Live had a black character (Carla Gray) who passed for white, and As the World Turns made history by featuring the first gay male "supercouple" on daytime TV.

12. Ted McGinley is the "patron saint of jumping the shark"- Because Ted had the misfortune of joining long-running shows on their last legs (Happy Days and The Love Boat), some feel that his becoming a series cast member means that it's time to sound the death knell. Let's be honest though, Happy Days had turned to shit long before Ted came on the scene. After all, the episode that gave birth to the term "jump the shark" was three years before he joined the show. Not only that, but Married... with Children lasted for 6 years after Ted became a regular.

13. They don't make 'em like they used to- This is along the lines of #s 6 and 7 on the list. Often, I hear people lamenting that movies, TV and music aren't as good as they used to be. The thing is, there was plenty of crap that came out in the so-called "good old days". However, much of it is rarely shown or played anymore so it's often forgotten. Although present day pop culture has its share of garbage, there is plenty of quality to be found. It just may take some of us a little time to appreciate it. Mark my words, in about 20 years, you'll hear people waxing nostalgically about how great entertainment was in the early part of the 21st century.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

DWTS: Season 8, Episode 1

On Monday night, Season 8 of Dancing With the Stars premiered. Here is a summary of some of last night's season debut:

Rapper Lil' Kim & Derek Hough- Two writers for Entertainment Weekly picked Lil' Kim to finish in 7th place. Their reason: They don't think America will vote for a former yardbird. Hopefully voters won't let Lil' Kim's past affect their voting because she was one of the best celebrity dancers last night, scoring a 21 (out of 30).

NFL Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor &- Edyta Śliwińska- Although he will probably improve, I still think that Lawrence will end the streak of former NFL players going deep into the competition.

Jackass star Steve-O and Lacey Schwimmer- Lacey's edgy style combined with Steve-O's daredevil antics will likely provide some of this season's most "must see" moments. The pair made a solid debut last night with a surprisingly restrained waltz.

Actor Gilles Marini and Cheryl Burke- Because Gilles isn't widely known, he probably won't have the advantage of a large fanbase to light up the phone lines initially. As a result, he will have to depend on his footwork to carry him through. If last night was any indication, Gilles will no longer be best known as "The Naked Guy" from Sex and the City: The Movie. He and Cheryl achieved the highest score on last night's season premiere (24 pts).

Rodeo champ Ty Murray and Chelsie Hightower- Ty is waaaay out of his comfort zone, but dude did at least get out there and try.

Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson & Mark Ballas- Shawn's background makes her a natural for DWTS. She made the waltz look easy.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak Karina Smirnoff- Steve's participation in the competition is the biggest surprise to me. He surprised me even further by opening his routine draped in a pink boa. Even though Steve won't be in the competition long (he and Karina got the lowest score tonight, 11 pts), he is having fun.

Actor/comedian David Alan Grier & Kym Johnson- I expected David Alan to clown it up during his performance, but he seems to be taking the competition more serious than I thought he would.

Actress Denise Richards & Maksim Chmerkovskiy- At times, Denise was Kim Kardashianesque with her dance moves. If you saw Kim on the last season of DWTS, you know that comparing Denise to her is not a compliment. Denise does have potential though. From the looks of it, Denise and Maksim behind the scenes would make a reality show all its own. She holds the distinction of being the first celeb this season to shed tears during rehearsals.

Reality star Melissa Rycroft (she was the one who recently got jilted by "Bachelor" Jason Mesnick) & Tony Dovolani- Her background as a former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader does help, but Melissa still deserves props for doing a mean version of the waltz with only 48 hours to prepare. Melissa was a last-minute replacement for Access Hollywood co-host Nancy O'Dell, who had to withdraw due to an injury during training. I'm glad that Melissa is good because even if she sucked, she would likely get some sympathy votes because of the "Bachelor incident" and be allowed to stay on DWTS at the expense of better dancers.

Did you watch last night? If so, what are your thoughts?

Here is the clip of last night's top scorers, Gilles and Cheryl during rehearsals and performing the cha-cha-cha:

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Retro Mix Playlist For 3/6/09

7 pm hour

Talking In Your Sleep- The Romantics
Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na Boom Boom)- The Staple Singers
Nothing From Nothing- Billy Preston
Plowed- Sponge
Cars- Gary Numan
Acid Queen- Tina Turner
Tired of Toein' the Line- Rocky Burnette
Jack-A-Lynn- Jethro Tull

Double Retro/With or Without You segment's feat. artist: Alex Chilton
Cry Like A Baby- The Box Tops (1968)
Take It Off- Alex Chilton (1987)

Salvation- The Cranberries
Getto Jam- Domino
Native New Yorker- Odyssey
The Hustle- Van McCoy & the Soul City Symphony
Shackles- R.J.'s Latest Arrival

8 pm hour

Come As You Are- Nirvana
A Girl Like You- The Smithereens
You're My Best Friend- Queen
Fear- Lenny Kravitz
Up the Ladder To the Roof- The Supremes
Goin' Places- The Jacksons
Groove Is In the Heart- Deee-Lite
Chicago- Graham Nash
The Stroke- Billy Squier
Misled- Kool & the Gang
Slow Dog- Belly
A Town Called Malice- The Jam
Just Got Lucky- Jo Boxers
Cleveland Rocks- Ian Hunter

The Retro Mix Video of the Week: Cry Like A Baby by The Box Tops

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Thursday Thirteen #67: Great Sing-Along Songs

Whether you are in your car alone or putting back a few with a bar full of people, it doesn't get much better than using nearly all your lung capacity to belt out one of your favorite tunes. Even if all you know is the chorus, it doesn't matter. Below are 13 tunes to which it's almost impossible not to sing along to.

What are some of your favorite sing-along songs? Feel free to list them in the comments section.

1. Brown Eyed Girl- Van Morrison: Do you remember when, we used to sing, Sha la la la la la la la la la la te da

2. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap- AC/DC (when you yell the line "done dirt cheap", it's mandatory that you pump your fist 3 times for each word)

3. Friends In Low Places- Garth Brooks: How many of you slip into your "drunk voice" when singing this song?

4. Happy Together- The Turtles: I can't see me loving nobody but you for all my life...

5. Hey Jude- The Beatles

6. I Love Rock and Roll- Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

7. Lights- Journey: When the lights go down in the city. And the sun shines on the bayay. Ooh I want to be thereereere in my citay...

8. Piano Man- Billy Joel

9. Purple Rain- Prince

10. Saturday Night- The Bay City Rollers: S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night! S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night!

11. Sweet Caroline- Neil Diamond: Hands, touching hands. Reachin' out... touchin' me, touchin' you! Sweet Caroline, bah bah bah!! good times never seemed so good...

12. We Are the Champions/We Will Rock You- Queen

13. What's Up?- 4 Non Blondes: and I say hey-ey-ey-ey-ey... hey-ey-ey... I said hey, what's going on?!

Here is Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond, with the lyrics to help you sing along:

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