Friday, March 31, 2006

I am Who You Were

Next to da late Mayor Frank Rizzo and the late Richie Ashburn, no other man in Philly commands as much love and respect as that French-Canadian Bernie Parent. Not only was he a two-time Stanley Cup winning goalie, bur he was and is a loveable character (he's the gentleman beaming all the way to the left). T.O. may have gone, Donovan may start being despised, the Phillies, they will start stinking early this baseball season. But Bernie, he's still da Man. Aside from being involved in various charities, Mr. Parent represents the Flyers at various functions. Being a Stanley Cup winner helps at these functions as Lord Stanley last stayed in Philly 35 years ago.
Bernie Parent also is the spokesman/face/representative of a hair restoration emporium run by a Dr. Gregory Pistone .

Now, there've been some memorable athletes who went on to further fame as the face of tv-pitched products.

Joe DiMaggio and Mr. Coffee spokesperson.

Phil Rizutto and pitchman for The Money Store.

Suzy Chaffee shushing for Chap-Stik.

But these folks were all repping for a product. True, you started associating Mr. Coffee with Mr. Yankee, but you never connected these athletes with any particular person from that company.

Bernie Parent, though, is representing the good Dr. Pistone. Dr. Pistone has now morphed into a retired hockey goalie. I can't come up with a similar advertising gimmick where an athlete has basically transformed a living person and their service into themselves. I don't think the rumours are true that Dr. Pistone operates with one of these on, to keep that personality switch going.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

What Was I Thinking?

Perhaps it's a bit too early to start (NO!!! NOT) another musical list. But fools tread where....
The title of the new list is:
Top Five Truly Important Teenaged Years Songs that I now view as Truly Idiotic
, or, as the blog's title states:
the What Was I Thinking Song List.
Ground rules are as follows (open to any interpretation or stretching of the participants)
1) Absolute honesty. (Yeah, right.)
2) Participant should be willing to deal with Complete and Utter Ridicule (self-ridicule or commenter's ridicule).
3) Detailed explanation of one's love of the song must be provided along with, if possible, the time (dates are good) one realized what a foolish love this was.
4) Detailed explanation of one's revulsion of the song must be provided.
5) One had to have fallen in love with these "beauties" in the innocence of one's teenage years.
6) These songs must all be despised or at least heartily hated at this point. Any touch of good feelings toward these songs by you automatically disqualifies the song form the list.

I offer this fat pitch of a song list to Whisky Prajer and Cowtown Pattie, who were so instrumental in the Heartbreaking Songs Compendium that Whisky Prajer started.

No rush on the list guys!
I do claim dibs on Emerson, Lake & Palmer's "Lucky Man".

Any and All song categories are acceptable. All singers and songwriters are fair game. A link to a short audio clip of that song would be a big plus, in case the rest of us have led sheltered lives and had not heard the song you're kwetching about.

No time limit. You can roll them out as you please. WP. CP. Are you game?

Science of Gloom

Whenever I'm in need of a hit of economics, depression, and humor I trump on over to The Angry Bear. His write-ups are always clear and succinct, with helpful links to the denser matter he distills. Keeps one's college Econ cells on their toes. Nicely ground sand to coat into pearls of wisdom for the next coffee klatch or Reasonable Adult Gathering you're shoehorned into.

Friday, March 24, 2006

I Plays 'em as I Sez 'em

In the past month, prompted by Whisky Prajer, Cowtown Pattie and I have been dueling in heartbreaking songs. The list I came up with can be quickly accessed by clicking on the items listed under Random List of 10 Heartbreakers, located on the right hand side of this blog. This Sunday, I'll be playing these songs and others on the occassional radio show, Morning After, I dj on WVUD. So, if you want to hear these songs, check it out online at this Sunday morning from 9:00 to 12:00.

With three hours of airtime, if Whisky Prajer and Cowtown Pattie don't mind (and if I can dig up the titles), I'll try to slip in their ten selections (Pattie!!! Giddy-up and get the last two tearjerkers listed!)

So, 9:00 EST, this Sunday. Keep a box of Kleenex handy.

The Fat Envelope Sings

The College Dog & Pony Show is finally coming to its climactic end. The Fat Envelope(s) has(ve) arrived on the stage and the singing (or crying) will soon commence. The postman is tip-toeing to all the mailboxes nailed to houses where high school seniors reside, knowing that one false letter dropped in the box will condemn the kids inside to virtual mediocrity and a sordid life of dashed hopes and desires. I don't think I'd want to be a high school kid these days. Yeah, it was tough back in the day, but today's college charades make the ol' times seem as if they were full of wine & roses.

There was an excellent (and depressingly scary) piece in yesterday's NYT titled, "To all of the Girls I've Rejected", written by the admissions director of Kenyon College, Jennifer Delahunty Britz. How do you tell your kid, especially your daughter, that all that excessive studying, the staying indoors, the minimal socializing with your buddies will pay off in their senior year?

And then it doesn't. Something is out of whack. And I'm not talking about the fool's No Child Left Behind.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

From Will Type for Food ,(as pointed out by This Blog Will Be Deleted by Tomorrow), the deconstruction of the telling of a joke.

"...where a normal person will tell a joke in this order:

a) Introduce characters
b) Tell the story, omitting no crucial detail
c) Tell funny ending to story.
d) Be recipient of warm laughter and applause.

Here is my way of telling the joke.

a) Forget to introduce the characters
b) Tell the story
c) Forget to tell crucial detail
d) Remember to introduce characters
e) Tell funny ending to story
f) Remember to tell crucial detail
g) Be recipient of scorn and oppobrium. "

Not too many character issues can be so white and black.
Either you can tell a joke or you should just listen. My ever-loving wife is one of the former. Me? I listen to her jokes. My Achille's Heel is my timing, a thorough lack of it. Forgetting crucial details or using the wrong accent or mis-judging the audience, well, those traits don't help my cause either. Even with jokes not requiring any props or minimal acting, I usually am on the road to Flubdom.

I hang my sorry excuse on my grammar school. I'm positive that I burned out my memory cells specific to long passages back at St John's the Sorry Confessor in New Jersey. Memorizing the answers for all of the questions posed in the Baltimore Catechism in preparation of the Bishop's always impending visit to his young warriors was a Sisyphean task. We young tykes climbed up the mammoth mountain of rote religion only to Jack 'N Jill back down when another new version of the Catechism came up. I despised Baltimore, equating it to a prison where movement was allowed only upon successfully answering balck and white Catholic questions. I imagined walking through the city bedecked like those kids at the National Spelling Bee, my sign listing the question that I'd hosed.

So, that's why I melt into the wall when a joke is required to join the conversation clutch. Burnt out memory skills.

That, and timing.
Bad timing.

Et tu Brute?

Monday, March 20, 2006

The (Over)Long Goodbye

This site has some interesting man-on-the-street postings about the parade of death and burial event(s) regarding the late Slobodan Milosevic. It was originally pointed out by Eric , from East Ethnia(who seems to have had the same Blogger site problems I did last week. It was as if the ghost of Slobo had reaked revenge on me). There are quite a few rather hilarious jokes already out on the internet regarding Milosevic, emanating from the former components of Yugoslavia. I'd translate some of the funnier ones, but, well, let's just say that the Art of Cursing is a verbal skill long practiced and passed down from parent to child in the former republics of Yugoslavia. The weaving of choice bon mots within everyday speech is probably a by-product of the rug-weaving days of yore. If you can't be creative nad artistic with wool, words will do. It's a good thing there is no tax levyed on curse words as the limited annual income of these former republics would be severely cut back.
I have translated some of these jokes and, even though the receivers of said translations had minimal knowledge of Slobo et al, much laughter resulted.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Must have been that Terrorism thing...

I'm still stuck in the old school of information acquisition. While I do enjoy getting news on various internet sites, especially if I want to peruse newspapers not readily available, my tendancy is still to go with paper. The kind of paper that leaves your fingers blackened after you've finished reading. So, after a weekend away from printed matter, a pile was awaiting my attention this previous Monday. Making short work of the local rag and the Philly Inqy, it was on to the NYT. Yes, the Sunday NYT is the best issue each week, but with that much paper, you'd figure there would have to be one section that would be appealling.
Saturday's NYT is my favorite.
Perhaps light on the news.
Perhaps news that is light. True, that (or Double True?) (Update: link re-established for this reference)
It just seems that Saturday's version of the NYT is the issue that various reporters in the Arts and the Business sections have a chance to let fly with pet projects or topics.
An article on the back page of the first section caught my eye. As things seem to be falling apart (finally!!) in the Bush administration, so are some of the folks working or previously working there. Cheney's latest escapade is old news (Thanks to Sluggo for this one).
So, up steps Mr. Claude A. Allen, President Bush's top domestic policy advisor. Mr. Bush, applauding Mr. Allen's service stated, "Claude is a good and compassionate man, and he has my deep respect and my gratitude. I thank him for his many years of principled and dedicated service to our country".

Well, principles not being what they used to be, it seems Mr. Allen had resigned prior to a certain bit of news being released. Namely, that Mr. Allen was under investigation by the Montgomery County Police Dept for retail theft charges. To the tune of $5,000. His salary, prior to his resignation, was $160,000.

Since his expertise was in the "Domestic policy" arena, I'm wondering how soon before his lawyers somehow tie in his need to steal to the threat of Terrorism. Was he testing our Domestic Retail Refund policy as it applies to IED's?

This may be a misdemeanor for Mr. Allen, but it's got to be somewhat more seriouos for an administration that has continually hit us over the head with their supposed better-than-thou behaviour. Prior to his being an advisor to President Bush, he had been nominated by the same Mr. Bush to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

The story is also here and here .

Friday, March 10, 2006


Sister Mary Aloysious Beelzebub kept a stocked pot of thin bamboo rods by her desk. While short in stature, her reach was extended by the 5 ft. long bamboo rods parked on the right-hand side of her desk. She had an affinity for lightly tapping the wiseacres in the front row. Long a believer of the saying, "Keep your friends close. Keep your enemies closer", she arranged that the witty and the mouthy were seated within the diameter of her extended reach. Her love taps were handed out most frequently when this selected student population tried to usurp her God-given right of full attention. On occassion, she would slap a kid or two who dared to raise an index finger to point, a habit she had an inexplicable aversion for.
So, while ducking the imaginary Dance of The Bamboo rods, I point toward the ever mysterious Searchie who is in Poland. My blog's finger specifically points to her impressions, verbal and photographic, of the most recent entries. My personal favorites happen to involve breakfast and the sharp contrast of the beauty of flowers and the Stalinist architecture of ugly.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

I Wish I was a Fool for You Again....

...goes the refrain to Richard Thompson's song, "For Shame of Doing Wrong" , one of the many heartbreakers from his and (his then) wife, Linda's, 1975 album, Pour Down Like Silver.

Thompson, he of the original Fairport Convention, has been a prolific songwriter and a guitar player of a long and a favorably critiqued career. Anyone who can incorporate renege in a song title (Don't Renege on Our Love) is of a different caliber. Why bungle around with inadequate explanations, when I can point out this most excellent of blog posts by Jaideep Varma to explain Mr. Richard Thompson.

I'll, instead, point out Heartbreaker Song # 10. Since Cowtown Pattie and I were memed by Whisky Prajer to offer variations on his own list of tearjerkers, I've been re-visiting old haunts. Well, at least going on figurative trips. There was a long list of contending songs to fit into the 10 limit list. Some of the candidates that did not make it, not due to their limitations but, rather, my decision-making were:
1) Jackson Browne's "Late for the Sky" album. The whole album, counted as on very long song. When I do listen to this album, I can't just start and stop with one song. It's got to be the whole thing.
2) Cassandra Wilson's version of the Patsy CLine made-famous-but-written-by Willie Nelson song, "Crazy".
3) Loudon Wainwright III's "A Father and a Son", or "Missing You", or "Men" ....or this list can go on for a long time..
4) Holmes Brothers' version of "He'll Have to Go". "Put your sweet lips...."

The ultimate song turned out to be Richard Thompson's "Dimming of the Day", another song from Pour Down Like Silver.

Dimming of the Day

This old house is falling down around my ears
I'm drowning in a river of my tears.
When all my will is gone you hold me sway
I need you at the dimming of the day.

You pull me like the moon pulls on the tide.
You know just where I keep my better side.

What days have come to keep us far apart
A broken promise or a broken heart.
Now all the bonnie birds have wheeled away
I need you at the dimming of the day.

Come the night you're only what I want.
Come the night you could be my confident.

I see you on the street in company
Why don't you come and ease your mind with me.
I'm living for the night we steal away.
I need you at the dimming of the day.
I need you at the dimming of the day.

Thompson's lyrics, always cut free of any excess, are almost kind here. Well, at least not as bitter as he certainly can be.

You pull me like the moon pulls on the tide.
You know just where I keep my better side.
What better way to describe your life's mate than these two simple lines?

....and have these two simple lines come from the mouth of Linda Thompson? No treacle, no sap. Can one be sturdy and yet melt simulataneously? For some reason, her rendition and Richard Thompson's lyrics of the song bring up visions of this film. Emma Thompson, she be at the dimming.

Thanks to all my readers for pulling through this list. Hope some songs rang familiar. Hope others prompted a listen to.

(This is # 10 of Ten Heartbreakers as memed by Whisky Prajer)

Labels: ,

Friday, March 03, 2006

Tears of My Tracks

So, it's a Billy Bragg tune... again, that brings the Hearbreaker Song List up to 9.

The sorrow and pain of loss and heartbreak are a touchy subject, one not prone to levity lightly. Death and the end of a relationship do not usually elicit a laugh, hardly ever a smile. Even the loss of an object can be a minefield of an event. How can we get upset about losing or giving up an inanimate thing? True, we have loved it, possibly even hugged it. But, it’s never returned the warmth nor the feelings (unless you’ve had a "thing" for a radiator).

A few years back. Well, a lot of a few years back when our living quarters were tight and our first-born was knocking on delivery’s door, one of those "It’s either me (and the baby enclosed therein) or those things! You decide"! moments came up between the ever-loving wife and I.

Those things happened to be the around 1,000 albums or so stashed in different boxes in the puny apartment. They had been accumulated mainly in college and the single years thereafter. We had been companions for quite a bit of time. They had traveled with me from and to my various places of residence in Montreal, New Jersey, North Carolina, & Delaware. Wear and tear, nick and gouge, the vinyl was always there for me in our one-sided relationship (I listened, they played) from late teenage years to pseudo-adult years. As I'd moved from dorm room to a long series of apartments, the weight of the boxes of LP’s became heavier, slightly due to an increase in the collection but more so (at least that's what my self-delusional conversations ended up concluding) due to the emotion, fun, tears, rage and empathy that I’d put into listening to them. The vinyl records were my emotional sponge. For a guy who was not too quick on the verbal uptake, this collection of songs were the physical evidence of my moral, spiritual, and loving depth.

How many times had I used some of these records to speak for me when I found my mouth dry of words?
How often was Jackson Browne, with his "Late for the Sky" album, Cyrano to my Christian de Neuvillette? (Not that Mr. Browne had a proboscis problem).
How many times did I call on Muddy Waters to double for me when I couldn’t be satisfied?

Now a key moment in my adulthood was calling for a deliberation of critical proportions. My records. My son.
Which of These?

As if responding to Bring out your dead!, boxes and boxes of albums were loaded into the car. The shocks sagged, the car resembled a low-rider as I slowly drove away, at hearse speed.
Heartbreak a plenty. Little did I know what pain lay ahead.

Hauling the LP’s into the record shop was a chore. 800 records weigh quite a bit and when you’re carrying them up two flights of stairs in beat up boxes, the weight seemed more. The owner of the emporium, a fellow who was later busted for burglary and running a fencing operation was quite the expert of assessing non-emotional value to my collection. Around 500 records he found totally worthless, even though he (reluctantly) acknowledged their mint condition. Of the balance of 300, some were worth one buck and about 50 or so $5.00.
I was speechless. The multiple trips up and down the multiple stairs had left me winded. No, make that had me leaning against a wall doubled over in asthmathic shock. Yeah, that reads more tragic.
So, I was speechless and breathless. All that oxygen not getting up to my head left me incapable of any verbal protest.
I took the money and bid my (limited) past goodbye.

The 500 albums that he found worthless? He didn’t even want them for free! The price of my finely tuned soul was not even worth pennies. Reluctantly, I hauled the rejected pile back to the car, piled them in, and drove them to a local Salvation Army. I couldn’t bring the vinyl orphans back home as crib space had knocked out music space.

With the small bills from the sale rustling in my pocket, I repaired to a local suds establishment where I promptly loaded some dollars in the juke box, took a seat in a booth, and ordered up a pint.
Here's what should have been playing.
"Tears of My Tracks", from Billy Bragg and the Blokes' "England, Half English" release.

Tears of My Tracks (a little wordplay coming off of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ hit tune, Tracks of My Tears )

I’m down but I’m not out, but Lord, I’m hurting
I’m down but I’m not out but I feel blue.

I sold all my vinyl yesterday
At a boot sale out on the highway
And now my room is full of fresh air.

I’m down but I’m not out, but Lord, I’m hurting
I’m down but I’m not out but I feel blue.

Somebody owns all my albums now
They probably don’t even wonder how
My name got written on the sleeves.

So I’m down but I’m not out, but Lord, I’m hurting
I’m down but I’m not out but I feel blue.

I opened the window, I let in the sun
My record collection has ended
For someone else it's just begun.

So I’m down but I’m not out, but Lord, I’m hurting
I’m down but I’m not out but I feel blue.

(This is #9 of Ten (or maybe a bit more) Heartbreakers as memed by Whisky Prajer)

Labels: ,

Thursday, March 02, 2006


It was a January Monday early evening somewhere in the snowdrift confines of a Montreal in the late 1970's. A major storm had blown through that weekend, so the snow was just barely gray when I was walking east on Sherbrooke St. toward McGill’s campus. A tuque of minimal fashion sense was pulled down hard over my ears and over one eye, allowing me to do a pirate one-eyed gaze for available footing. I side-stepped the mini snow machines that roved up and the down the main streets, like ironclad beetles bumping here against a supporting wall, there against the newspaper boxes. The wind was high as were the snowflakes flying parallel to the ground. Big fat juicy ones that stuck on my beard, backpack and any piece of clothing I was wearing made from denim or khaki. Looking around, I saw other equally white shadows shuffling along through the moguls on the sidewalks. What sounds I heard were limited to my own snowstep squeaks and the metal-on-concrete tick-tacking of the snow-clearing mini-bulldozers.

Stopping at one corner, I was head-dinged by an audio cassette. A snowball would have been expected as the temptation to hurl one would have halted at least one person's trek. Even a wave of churned snow lapping over from the street as the snow plows steamed by would not have been as big of a surprise. But a cassette, complete with a box? Not a usual snow incident suspect. After rubbing the pate and checking for blood, I bent over to see what had hit me. I brushed the snow off the little plastic container and then did a 360 spin in search of the thrower. I cocked my arm back in search of a target. The blowing snow provided a curtain of escape for the thrower...if there ever was one. I was walking past the Musical Arts building of McGill at the time. It could simply have been the strong wind blowing tunes in my general direction. (Or it could have been the fine throwing arm of the spirit of Kate McGarrigle who had attended McGill University to study engineering in the 1960's while her sister, Anna, studied painting at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Montreal.)

This was my introduction to the McGarrigle Sisters, the haunting singer-songwriters of Province Quebec. The cassette-upside-the-head was their 1976 first album simply titled Kate & Anna McGarrigle.

Heartbreak Song # 8 will not be from this album, but from their 1990 release,Heartbeats Accellerating.

I Eat Dinner (When the Hunger's Gone) is a study in minimalism. An economy of description for this sinking-into-the-abyss song.

Kate McGarrigle starts with:

I eat dinner at the kitchen table
(End of the day, usual time for the only family get-together when the day’s happenings can be shared and bantered about)
With my daughter who is thirteen (implying an imminent departure (by Martha Wainwright) when she’s fully of age and then I'll be completely...alone)
We eat leftovers and mashed potatoes
(never thought of mashed potatoes as The Lonely Vegetable, until this song)
No more candlelight
No more romance
(Twist the knife)
No more small talk
(Not even a crumb of human kindness)
When the hunger's gone
(Tone is set. Can't get lower, right?)

Never thought than I'd end up this way
I who loved the sparks
Never thought my hair'd be turning to grey
It used to be so dark
So dark

Instrumentation is minimal with Kate's spare voice a strong instrument by itself, going through you with the chill of Les Suetes. If you ever find yoursefl too happy for your own good, put this cd on and the earth will quickly come crashing down on you.

Note Bene:
Her son, Rufus Wainwright , born out of her joint venture with Loudon Wainwright III, did a little re-writing of the song when he performed it, specifically in the first section, making "I Eat Dinner" even sadder than his mother had intended.

"I eat dinner at the kitchen table
By the light that switches on
I eat leftovers with mashed potatoes
No more candlelight, no more romance, no more small talk
When the hunger's gone"

He doesn't even bother with the presence of another person. Misery of Oneness.

(This is #8 of Ten Heartbreakers as memed by Whisky Prajer)

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

"Am I Going to be Lonely For the Rest of My Life?

Unless you come around" Rhett Miller ponders on his first release, The Instigator, back in 2002. There's nothing like the woopsy-do up and dredging-bottom down of a great teenage heartbreak song.

I'm dressed all in blue
and I'm rememberin' you
and the dress you wore,
when you broke my heart.
I'm depressed upstairs
and I'm rememberin' where
and when and how and why
you have to go so far."

I, for one, don't miss the intensity of the heat and the chill that inevitably set in, with surprising speed, of the teenage romance. Frankly, I don't hink my heart could take it these days. Nowadays, the confianza, that unshakable, firm belief in someone (and, hopefully they in you) is what keeps me rising up from my morning's mattress death grip. None of that heart-racing goofy-step light-headed bouncing anymore. There's a crash ahead. Head on collision, for sure.

I'm dressed all in white
and I remember the night
You came onto me
and opened my heart.
I was hollow then, till you filled me in
Now I'm empty again
I should have never let it start.

I'm not denying the thrill of it. The total loss of yourself. The will that you'd been struggling to fortify during the onslaught of your teenage years simply disappeared. Was it the way she said your name, twisting the emphasis of the pronunciation? Or the comfort of her back pressed on your chest, her neck tilted left, tempting you to be the Dracula you'd always feared you were? If not that, it had to be the way she stared through to your soul, knowing you without talking, right?

But we all know where that no-talking leads to. No way. No how. No more.

No one else can fix me
Although sometimes my heart tricks me
Into thinking someone else will do
You are the only one, You are the only one.

Am I gonna be lonely for the rest of my life?!

Most probably not.
In fact (in a few years) you'll slap yourself together, maybe stumble upon Thanks for the Memory. Sarah Vaughn's version , of course. And teenage love nervous breakdowns will be slipping into the romantic ether.

(A note: The Instigator is a minor masterpiece. Miller's songwriting skills are sharp and he has a great ear for hooks to bring you into the words he piles and plies together. "Our Love" deals with Richard Wagner and Franz Kafka. A Hoot. "This is What I Do' is a great proclamation of what a singer-songwriter is all about. "Four-Eyed Girl" is a lovely little song for all of the smart girls out there. The album's well-worth a listen.)

(This is #7 of Ten Heartbreakers as memed by Whisky Prajer)

N.B.: June 8, 2007: Here's a link to a YouTube video directed by Foxamigo, with "Am I Going to be Lonely for the Rest of My Life?" as the soundtrack.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Click for Wilmington, Delaware Forecast Locations of visitors to this page eXTReMe Tracker
follow me on Twitter