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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Tell It To Me Tuesday "I Ain't Afraid Of No Ghosts!"


I'm afraid this girl ghoul doesn't have any candy for you today, but I do have hoagies.

That's right. I want to remind everyone that voting is still live for Heather Anne Hogan's Hoagie Awards.

The categories are as follows:

Friendliest Blog
Super Best Writing
Cleverest Commenter
Best Blog Written by a Heather
Hilarious-est Blog
Blogger Who Should be President

I already got my nominations in. Whom did I nominate? I'll never tell. And by never I mean till at least November 7th. To learn more, just click the link above. Voting will remain open until midnight, November 3rd.

Now follow me this way, my pretties...

Since TITMT fell right on Halloween this year I found it only to be fitting to do a Halloween related question. Some of you already started getting in the mood after Friday's post about my trip to the prison.

The question is...

Do you believe in ghosts?

I don't want a simple yes or no. I want to know why you believe what you believe. And if you have an eerie story to tell, all the better. After all, what fun is Halloween without a few tricks and treats?

If you are participating on your blog, the rules are simple:

1. Answer this question ON YOUR BLOG and THEN link back to it via the box below.
2. Leave a comment letting me know you played along.
3. If you are interested in adding the box to your site, please visit Mister Linky.
4. If you have any questions or you're confused just ASK!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Write Back Weekend "Now Hear This"

I knew all along that compiling a list of the best artists or bands of today was going to be the hardest list to make. This is partly because we aren't sure where these artists are heading and partly because I'm not sure I like where the future of music is heading.

Sometimes I think it is me, that I'm just getting old and inevitably will grow more out of touch. But my interest in great, new music is still alive and well, it's just that I have trouble finding great new music to be excited about. And I'm not alone in this. Unless you're under the age of twenty-five, I dare you to create a strong list of artists that you feel will stand the test of time. It's scary, but I don't think longevity is what it used to be.

It's also about having a distinctive feeling about music that goes along with a decade. The 60's, though I didn't create a formal list (should I?) was definitely a decade full of musical birth and musical firsts. The seventies, although scary, had classic rock and disco. Then the eighties came along and we were introduced to the sounds of pop and hair bands. The eighties hair bands eventually evolved into nineties grunge. My point in stating the obvious is this: Each decade, while distinctive in its own right, built on the sounds of the decade that came before it.

Now enter the music of today. When we look back on the 00's what music will we say ruled this time? Rap? Emo rock? My Space indies? It's a hodge podge of sounds more than ever. Even the nickname for this decade is lame. O0's!? Who doesn't say that and feel stupid! The only good thing that comes from that is there is a lot more musical freedom nowadays and thus, a lot more choice. But sometimes when you go to a buffett and find you have a lot of choices, it all gets too overwhelming and the food itself is only lukewarm. I don't know about you, but I'd rather have top grade sirloin than reheated Hamburger Helper any day.

All this being said, the list I managed to create offers up the artists who I feel have or had the most potential to take music to the next level.

1. Justin Timberlake- Naysayers really wanted pretty boy Justin Timberlake to fail. After all, everything about him screamed "flash in the pan". He has boy band beginnings and Michael Jackson tendencies. But something strange happened in the last few years. Timberlake broke off from NSync, and broke into a major player in his own right. I don't know what the future will bring, but I do know that Timberlake is indeed bringing sexy with him.

2. Jimmy Eat World- While Jimmy Eat World's beginnings are rooted in the nineties, they didn't really bloom until this past decade. I can still remember when I acquired their "breakthrough" album, Bleed American, for review in 2001. That summer it was on heavy rotation in my cd changer. The whole album was great from start to finish. While I'm not crazy about the emo movement, there are a few acts that do manage to fall under the emo heading that still offer something of substance. Jimmy Eat World is definitely one of them that has the potential for staying power.

3. Rilo Kiley- Recently Rilo Kiley has been getting a lot of indie buzz. So now the band is at the crossroads between being indie, being mainsteam and being themselves. They are already working on side projects, but in between it all they manage to have a song or two featured on the latest hip drama of the season. In fact, chances are you've heard Rilo Kiley already even without hearing them. Their magic, however, is rooted in the chameleon-like qualities of their lead singer, former child actress Jenny Lewis. If you would have told me years ago while watching Troop Beverly Hills that the real breakout star would have been Ms. Lewis, I would have been very weary.

4. Phantom Planet- Another band that started in the late nineties, Phantom Planet got a lot of attention for two main reasons. Their breakout hit became The OC theme song, California and their breakout star became distinctive looking indie actor, Jason "Rushmore" Schwartzman. These two ingredients combined gave Phantom Planet a built in fan base that they might have had to dig around for otherwise. Their first album was a minor success, but The Guest, their second release, garnered more attention, and released some great music, going on to be one of my favorite albums. Then a few years later they released a self-titled collection that marked an extreme departure from their original sound that I wasn't so crazy about. The only thing I can say about that is they are creative enough to not be stifled. I only hope that without Jason and without The OC that they will recaputre the great music like they once did.

5. John Mayer- I have one question for the fans of today's music, where have all the great organic, singer/songwriter types gone? Enter John Mayer, the great white hope. While there are others that fall in line with the sounds of Mayer, he is clearly head and shoulders above the rest. He's charming, has crossover appeal, and is funny, too. Oh and he makes great music that is a mix of pop, rock and blues. He's like today's answer to James Taylor. I'm not as crazy about his latest release, but that doesn't keep me from craving a "side of Mayer" every once and awhile.

6. Mandy Moore- In the late nineties the pop princess race began. First there was Britney, then Christina, then Jessica Simpson and eventually Mandy Moore entered the race. Then the real games began. While at first they all seemed like clones of each other, they've had distinctly unique career paths. Back then I never would have predicted the young, sweet Mandy Moore would have evolved into the triple threat she has. She's smart because she hasn't just stuck to music, branching out into film and television as well. Only time will tell if she has staying power, but the end result doesn't change the fact that she has talent.

7. Chrstina Aguilera- Love or or hate her, one thing is certain, Christina Aguilera can sing. She's an interesting choice for me because I am the first to admit that I don't always like the music she creates. I'm also not completely sure I would like her as a person. But I like that she can actually sing. It might not sound like a big thing, but with today's music, talent seems to be the exception to the rule.

8. Pink- When Pink first came out in 2000 I liked her debut single, There You Go. But if I'm being perfectly honest, that's where I assumed my relationship with Pink would end. I was convinced she would go off and make some random R&B music that I either would never like or never hear, making There You Go a bonafide self prophecy of a one hit wonder. But in 2001 Pink released the aptly titled album, Missundaztood and totally redefined my impression of her. The album had pop, it had rock and it had most importantly, something refreshing. In 2003 she did it again with Try This and just this year she released I'm Not Dead. All three of these albums are still on repeat on my mp3 player, making her one of my favorite musical acts of the decade, if not more.

9. Snow Patrol- I recently discovered Snow Patrol's music. Don't let their silly name fool you. There's a lot of substance, and promise there. Although they are another band that started in the nineties, their breakout didn't come until a few years ago. Their first major song is also one of my favorites, the beautiful Run. But there's a lot more where that came from. Grey's Anatomy featured a few of their tunes last season, namely Chasing Cars, which also catapulted their music to a new level. I only hope the success, and the great music, lasts.

10. 17. Ben Folds (Five)- Ben Folds doesn't always sing on tune and his lyrics don't always make sense, but that doesn't mean that he still doesn't manage somehow to make great music. The first song I heard by Ben Folds when was when he was with Ben Folds Five in the nineties. It was called Underground and I loved it because it reminded me of Jellyfish meets Joe Jackson. So I bought the whole album and loved songs like Philosophy and Best Imitation of Myself even more. In 2001 Ben went solo and released the quirky collection, Rockin' The Suburbs. It was one of those solo turns where nothing really sounded any different. Last year he released Songs For Silverman which I wasn't as crazy about, but I still like Ben Folds unique way of saying things, period.

11. Maroon 5- As with many artists, Maroon 5 seemed to come out of nowhere and grow into a major success overnight. But diehard fans will tell you that isn't exactly the way it happened. While I was in college in the nineties, my friend got their album to review. Only it wasn't Maroon 5's album she was reviewing, it was a bad called Kara's Flowers. Essentially it was the same band only with a completely different sound. At the time they were going for a Weezer-esque, pop feel. When the boys reconvened in 2001 they had been schooled in many musical stylings, and it showed. The result was the eclectic and award-winning release, Songs About Jane which featured such smash hits as Harder to Breathe and She Will Be Loved. Fans of the band now anxiously await their follow up. Will it be that Maroon 5 will have to forfeit the crown, or will they remain an inspiration of new music to come?

12. Kelly Clarkson- Every generation needs a strong female vocalist or two, pure and simple. In the eighties we had Pat Benatar, Madonna and Cyndi Lauper. In my eyes, Kelly Clarkson is a throwback to this simple formula. Plucked from obscurity as a result of the now smash hit American Idol, her small town girl story fueled her success. But Kelly Clarkson has much more than a gimmick going for her, she has honest to God true singing talent. No one could have predicted the powerhouse this girl would be and just like the Energizer bunny she just keeps going and going...

13. Ok Go- Ok Go's sound is like a collection of would be one hit wonders, that when put together, actually build one great, fun band. Their sound is decidedly pop, but what is the best thing about Ok Go is their unique approach. They've taken the art of music video under their wing and set themselves apart in a medium that has long had a been there, done that vibe. With one viewing of A Million Ways To Be Cruel or Here It Goes Again and you'll know what I'm talking about.

14. The Killers- The Killers are a curious inclusion on this list. I'm not sure where they are headed, but if you read any recent press with lead singer, Brandon Flowers, they would tell you they ARE the future of music. Only time will tell if this viewpoint is sheer bravado or sheer brilliance. They aren't the first band to proclaim greatness before and look at where the likes of say, Oasis is now. Still, all things considered, I loved Mr. Brightside. It was like a throwback to all things that are great about the eighties. The Killers want you to believe their latest release, Sam's Town, is one of the greatest albums, ever. I don't know about that, but in a weird way I'm pulling for them. I would like for a new band to proclaim staying power and actually have the chops to back it up.

Honorable Mentions: Black Eyed Peas, Thirsty Merc, Everybody Else, Hot Hot Heat, Jem, Modest Mouse, Keane, Jason Mraz, Three Doors Down, Alien Ant Farm, Incubus, Coldplay, Beyonce and Jars of Clay.
Friday, October 27, 2006

The Devil Inside

My new renter this week is Texas RV Travel Blog. I accepted the bid because Cyber Celt is a faithful weekly visitor of AOGB and a rather persistent (and patient) who has been faithfully to bidding to spend a week here, all expenses paid. I've never been to Texas, but if I ever do go, at least I know to hit up for the hot spots. Please don't make Cyber Celt's bid be a waste. Take a second to click on the link!

Last weekend, in an effort to ring in the Halloween season, my boyfriend, his family and I went to the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.

I've done my share of haunted houses and hayrides in my life, but you reach a certain age and suddenly there's something so not spooky about a smoke machine and a karaoke compilation of simulated ghosts and goblins. Even Vincent Price's "rap" in Thriller doesn't hold the same err, thrills it once did.

The last spooky activity we did was Fright Fest at Six Flags a few years back. This is still significantly scary in the eyes of say, a ten year old. I can still remember the year I went through the haunted house at Six Flags as a child. I suppose I should use the term "went through" lightly, however, given the circumstances. I had to be about six or so. Within seconds some creature said to me, "I'm going to hang you up by your pigtails." I was closer to the entrance than the exit at that time. I don't think I need to tell you which door I ran to. Of course the real scary event that night was that my dad couldn't find me in the dark and ended up going through the whole thing alone, unwittingly. And what's even scarier? The whole place burned down a year or two later when someone dropped a cigarette and started a fire, part of the local Six Flag's string of bad luck.

Now that's the type of thing that really freaks me out.

Come to think of it, when I was a kid, all things seemed scarier, like the dark for instance. To think there was a time I used to make one of my parents wait at the edge of the stairs while I ran up to get something in my room seems like eons ago. Still, if you dig deep enough, you can relight the spooked out side of you, if you're open and willing to it, that is.

So while cheesy haunted houses don't hold the same appeal they once did, the real deal certainly gives me a fair share of the heebee jeebies. This is why the Eastern State Penitentiary was so spooky in theory, because it was a real, live prison that is rumored to still be haunted today.

Now it doesn't matter what you believe really, there's something that should be said for returning to the scene of a crime, literally. The haunted tour itself was pretty typical fare. I wasn't scared, but I was impressed with how much went into it. The line wrapped around the block and the trip took a good 40 minutes or so to go through. If nothing else, they put a lot into it. The scariest part was near the beginning when one guy kept following closely behind me saying, "Hey, I want to tell you something. I want to tell you something," while blowing on my hair. He might have just been a run of the mill perv. After all, it was Philadelphia so anything is possible. It also could have been the son of the guy who wanted to hang me by my pigtails all those years ago. What can I say? Some families take follow-through on such things very seriously.

After the tour is over, you are emptied into a courtyard where a zombie-fied DJ spins Halloween-like tunes Don't Fear The Reaper and Superstitious. Suddenly, you're zapped back into reality when you see all the merchandise that is available for purchase. If you enter another room you can read up on the history of the prison and the rather inhumane things they did to the prisoners who stayed there, the most famous of which being Al Capone.

That's when part of me was spooked on a whole other level. I imagined it being roughly one hundred years ago when the flesh and blood prisoners were doing time. If only they had known that their crime would one day be a tourist attraction. There are a slew of things available for purchase, like t-shirts and mugs featuring Al Capone's face. Monster Mash like spooks are one thing, but building on real, life-changing crimes is another level of scary altogether.

Call me crazy, but there's something unsettling to me about making crime a commodity. Alive or not, it just seems wrong that we immortalize the actions of these men posthumously. I guess what they said all along was wrong. Crime really does "pay".

Talk about having sympathy for the devil.
Thursday, October 26, 2006

Guest Post: February Demoted

Before I introduce this week's guest blogger, I would like you to point your browsers to Heather Anne's blog. She is having a blogging contest called The Hoagies. It even has a Thanksgiving day theme. If that doesn't entice you to gobble hobble on over, I don't know what will.

Today's guest poster has been very patient. That's because he submitted this guest post months ago when I actually asked for them. Only since I had such a strong response I told him that I would probably post it as part of guest post Thursdays in October. Luckily I was able to keep that promise.

MCF, the guest blogger in question, is not only a good blogging friend for filling in for me, he's also honestly, one of my favorite bloggers to read. He always writes lengthy, thought provoking posts that keep readers on their toes, or typers at their keys, so to speak.

Just a friendly reminder while I'm on the subject of guest posts. After next week the well has run dry. So if you like guest post Thursdays, get off your bottoms and do something about it! Submit a guest post to me, pronto. It can be something old, new borrowed or blue. It doesn't matter. Just get to it!

U.S.A., EARTH-Following the recent demotion of Pluto, scientists can now turn their attention to yet another anomaly unworthy of its classification: the month of February.

Much like Pluto, February is smaller than its brethren. "30 days hath September, April, June and November," recites physicist Sameer Delgaard, "and all the rest have 31, save February? How can you designate it a month? It's too small!" Delgaard, a leading scientist in the movement to retract February's month-hood, goes on to point out the leap year exception, how every four years February swells from 28 days to 29, much the way Pluto's inconsistent orbit would at times make it the eighth celestial body from the sun rather than the ninth. "It does confuse my students," admits Janet B., a teacher from New Jersey, "I'm just happy when they find the classroom."

How does one solve a problem like February? Currently, there are several proposed solutions. Dr. Cornelius Zaius postulates that February, in its unstable condition, is actually a field of non-time, and should be treated as such. Work and all activities should cease during the proposed blank page of the calendar, since the month would no longer exist. Life, and reality, would resume once the page could safely be turned to March, leaving the void behind. But Zaius is in the minority, and Delgaard and his team point out the dangers of such a change. 'Non-time is something we should not be messing with. It would be like creating a black hole. The singularity would not be measurable with a blank page, and we would not know when to turn such a page. We could be trapped in Non-time forever!"

Instead, they would divide February's days among the surviving months. First, the quartet of 30-day months would each receive a day, placing them on equal ground with the remaining seven. Then, each of the 11 months would gain two more days, bringing the count to 33 apiece. The problem these scientists are now wrestling with is what to do with the leftover two days, as well as the leap year day. Currently, they're trying to crack an equation that will break down the extra days into hours and distribute them evenly. Some are considering simply assigning an extra day to two of the months and pretending leap year doesn't exist. "33 days hath every month save June and July, which hath 34!" quips a jubilant Delgaard. Summer would benefit from an extra two days. However, critics of this proposal point out the fact that Valentine's Day falls in the month of February, and that all proposals to abolish the month are simply a thinly veiled attempt by scientists to eradicate a painful reminder of the fact that none of them have girlfriends.

Professor Norman B. Norbertson, of the University of St. Satiricalguestpost, is pushing to keep the month, but reclassify it as a "dwarf month". It would be renamed Smarch, a reference to a classic Simspons Episode. "Many of my students are loveless geeks," points out the Professor. "A dwarf month named after an obscure Simpsons reference? Think of the role-playing games and the substitute holidays they could create!" We'll continue to monitor this story as it develops. Unavailable for comment were outraged parents, Pope Gregory XIII and the day, Monday.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Take My Breath Class Away: Part Two

On Friday I played you the ballad of my incredibly shrinking class. For those of you who read that, this post is an update. For those of you who didn't, go ahead and check it out. We'll wait.



Although that post went live on Friday, I actually wrote it on Thursday. I knew what was going to happen, more or less, so I wrote with anticipation about the situation to come. So while you were reading about what might happen, I was busy living what actually did.

Friday morning came and we weren't given anymore details as the where's, when's, how's or even, most importantly, the who's. All I had heard through the grapevine was that it was going to happen as early as Monday morning and Friday was already halfway over. That is when I made the decision to take matters into my own hands and at least break the news to my class. I know they are only eight and nine year olds, but they are human.

I explained it to them in the simplest terms possible and was completely honest when I told them that I had no idea when they were going to do it or who they were going to take. They all had good questions. Some of them cried. Others didn't seem to care less.In any mix of twenty something people, results are bound to differ.

So a few hours later, when my principal came knocking on my door, my kids knew what it was about. She pulled me out into the hallway, in an effort to have some semblance of privacy. This is when she proceeded to tell me exactly who would be leaving my class.

So much for teacher input.

As anticipated, she rattled off six names. With each name she read, however, I didn't anticipate my wincing louder each time.

Now I'm fully aware that I'm about to tell you next goes against what all teachers tell you. Teachers will tell you they don't have favorites. Now having children you favor doesn't mean you play favorites. It's true though. You do feel a special connection with some people more than others. It isn't about who's the "smartest" or even times who's the "best behaved". There's just that certain...something I can't explain. Why do some people like chocolate ice cream or God help me, Paris Hilton? They just do.

Unfortunately explaining this with a professional slant is easier said than done, especially when your principal doesn't seem to have a compassionate bone in her body. There have been many examples over the years to prove this point, but I'll go with her basis for selection. Not anecdotal records from teachers or even grade books from the last two months of school. No, instead she was going off a cold, hard spreadsheet created specifically for survival of the fittest moments like these.

So while I had time on my side, literally, she had second grade Terra Nova scores and really, who could argue with that logic?

If you knew my principal the way I do you would know you have to pick your battles wisely. So I started to tell her how I was adamantly against at least four names on the list. We went back and forth a bit which resulted in my getting one name moved. But that didn't change the fact that three of my favorites were still on the chopping block, so to speak. Armed with her trusty test scores, she was certain she was picking high, medium and low ability students, but any teacher, any good teacher will tell you that no student's worth is judged by one test score alone. If that were the case, I probably wouldn't be teaching today.

Often when you take test scores as the sole indication of merit, you discredit the person behind those scores. No longer are they human, they're just a number. That's the problem with being objective in cases like these. She didn't know the children they way I did. She didn't know their strengths and weaknesses, much less who would adapt to change best. But most of all, she didn't know the students period. She didn't have them in her room, as her own, for 30+ days only to have them suddenly taken away. Call me sentimental, but the idea, no matter who the child, still made me sad.

Feeling defeated I reentered the classroom still unprepared in that moment to tell the class who was actually going and staying. After all, I had lost the battle, but not the war. Luckily for me I only had a few minutes left before lunchtime otherwise I think I would have turned into a blubbering mess right in front of my students. I just became so surprisingly overwhelmed by the news. It was a mixture of losing kids I had grown attached to, and finally, for once having a good class after TWO years of hell and then watching it get ripped away from me. It was all too much.

I went to lunch with a few of my co-workers and didn't eat a thing, I just cried. They convinced me to go to my principal and make one final plea for the students I wanted to "save". The worst she could do, they said, was say no. I had to admit, they had a point. The period after lunch was not my prep, but I knew another adult would be in my room at that time and I was still in no place to face the kids, so I went on a search for my principal.

I found her eating her lunch. I was terrified to approach her given her history. I am much more content being a "blend into the woodwork" type of girl. I asked her if I could speak to her and she barked at me that she was eating her lunch. She said this in front of other people, too. I was embarrassed, but I pressed on. Once you're humiliated, there's no going back. She asked me what this was all about, in an annoyed voice. I told her I wanted to talk about a few of the students she was taking. Any fool could take one look at me and know I had been crying. She didn't care. She referred me to the guidance counselor, not for my own, personal guidance, but to discuss alternative names with her. She said the chances were a parent might complain anyway. Apparently they were in the midst of making phone calls and some parents were refusing the change.

Parents who were protesting, however, were upset because it was so late in the game and because they were barely given notice. In any other district this would have been huge news to the parents, but where I teach, the complaining parent is the exception, not the rule.

So I talked to the guidance counselor who listened to reason and agreed on changing some of the names. My principal then came in and wanted to talk about the changes I wanted to make to her changes. The bottom line is she's a "I have to have the last word" type of person. It doesn't matter whether she's right or not, but our job is make her feel like she is.

Long story short I was successful in getting some of the names changed, but even as I write about this now I feel like I've been a bad teacher. I hate the fact that I had to play Let's Make A Deal with students in my class. I hate that I had to sit down and actually decide who mattered to me "more". It's a horrible situation to be in. The only thing I don't regret about it all is that I told them what was happening as it happened. Some of the other kids went home and found out about the change because their parents got a phone call, not the other way around. Call me crazy but to a kid that cares, that's pretty traumatic.

Today at the end of the day the six desks were moved. The guidance counselor took the students out to talk to them and then it hit me. I looked at the twenty remaining students and realized. This is it. This is my "new" class.

For better, for worse. For bigger, for smaller.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tell It To Me Tuesday "I Believe The Music Is Our Future"

As a great band from the nineties, Boyz To Men, once said, "And so we've come to the end of the road."

So while we spent a lot of time looking back, music itself lives on. Therefore, I want to know where you see the future of music heading.

What are your favorite bands or artists of today?

In the last six years have any new artists emerged that you feel are full of promise or have their been artists that showed a glimmer of hope, only to perhaps already be a great big ol' flash in the pan?

Notice I didn't give you a number on this one. That's because the decade isn't through yet, so maybe you don't have ten. Besides, it was always just an abused guideline anyway.

If you are participating on your blog, the rules are simple:

1. Answer this question ON YOUR BLOG and THEN link back to it via the box below.
2. Leave a comment letting me know you played along.
3. If you are interested in adding the box to your site, please visit Mister Linky.
4. If you have any questions or you're confused just ASK!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Write Back Weekend "Smells Like The Nineties"

I've always said that the eighties were my decade. It doesn't matter that during the actual eighties I was the ages 3-12.

But then as I sat down to write about the nineties, something happened. I realized that I had strong feelings about more nineties bands than I realized. In fact, I even had more significant memories of the nineties than I realized. This all came flooding to me as I went clothes shopping the other day and saw that oversized flannel shirts were making their return to the fashion world. So while my feelings for the eighties are still the strongest, that doesn't mean I can't "date" artists from other decades.

What lies ahead is a list that is much longer than I had ever anticipated. So buckle up, strap in and dial your time machines back ten to fifteen years or so ago...

1. Jellyfish- I'm starting with a rather obscure artist because reveling in obscurity doesn't necessarily mean an artist is worthy of such obscurity. I first discovered Jellyfish in the very beginning of the nineties. They had a minor hit called The King Is Half Undressed, but their entire two album career was in a word, brilliant. They only had two albums, but their impact has stayed with me all these years. They are still one of my favorite artists ever, obscure or not.

2. Better Than Ezra- Better Than Ezra had a lot of attention in the nineties that seems to have dissipated over the years, along with many other nineties artists. Their first album was good to start to finish. Hell, it even contained a song called Good. The albums to follow were also good, but with each subsequent release, their popularity started to deflate just a little bit more. Songs like King of New Orleans, At The Stars and This Time of Year though are still classics in my book.

3. No Doubt- Although I more or less dubbed No Doubt's Gwen Stefani as a ripoff of other angry pop chick rock acts that came before, that doesn't mean that what Gwen does she doesn't do well. She just happens to be paying homage to a movement that started just before. Does this make her Just A Girl? Maybe. But it doesn't make her music, any less influential in some very pivotal moments in the soundtrack of my life.

4. Tonic- I will never, ever, ever understand why Tonic, namely lead singer Emerson Hart, did not get more recognition. If You Could Only See remains one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful songs, in my eyes, of the decade. But really Tonic was so much more that just that one song. The entire Lemon Parade album was great. And Tonic, unlike other many other artists, just kept getting better with age. Now I hear Emerson is off trying to do his own thing and more power to him. He's like the everyman's Rob Thomas. It's just a shame he isn't as "pretty", cause the talent is definitely there.

5. Third Eye Blind- In the nineties, 3EB was one of my favorite bands. I nearly wore out my copy of their debut album which was a healthy mix of hits (Semi Charmed Life, Jumper) and equally, if not better songs, that were not hits. It also didn't hurt matters that I had a huge crush at the time on their lead singer, Stephan Jenkins. Unfortunately Stephan hasn't looked or sounded the same for years.

6. Vertical Horizon- Vertical Horizon might be a particulary peculiar choice to some people who remember them, but their swift acting success is equally as pecuiliar. This is because it seems as quickly as Vertical Horizon came on to the scene, they were gone. They made it big with their hit, Everthing You Want. It was the song you could not escape in the summer of 1999. For the year or so after that (making them a borderline 00's artist) you could not get away from the powerhouse debut of Vertical Horizon. You're A God. Best I Ever Had. The entire album, though technically not their debut, was excellent. After doing a little research it seems that Vertical Horizon was one of many unfortunate casualties in the wake of turning tide of musical trends. Record exec's didn't know what to do with them and by the time someone did, many had forgotten. I'm one fan though who hopes the tide turns again eventually.

7. Live- Whereas Vertical Horizon only could hold on to the angst for a record, Live held on for a few more than that. Live was a very influential band back in the nineties, especially to me personally. Songs like Lightning Crashes and I Alone remain crucial components of my late teens. When AI's Chris Daughtry hooked up with Live on their latest release last year I was ecstatic. Songs like their new one, Mystery, prove the boys of Live still have it, even if some fair-weather friends have moved on.

8. Alanis- Alanis was so influential to me in the nineties that I have contemplated writing an entire post about her music before. I never got around to it though so I might as well just say what I have to say here. In fact, You Outta Know was every scorned chick's anthem back in the mid to late 90's. Jagged Little Pill, her rebirth of a debut album, single handedly redefined angry chick rock. It didn't matter to me that she was coming off of an unsuccessful try at being a pop princess. To me this didn't make her a poser, it made her songs all the more powerful. She had reason to be angry. If you wore that much hair gel and sang crappy tunes, you'd be angry, too. The best part of the Alanis revolution is that she managed to survive past Jagged Little Pill. She doesn't have as many consistently new hits anymore, but now she has something much more important than that, respect.

9. Cake- The boys of Cake manage to take novelty rock to a whole new level. Most of their songs aren't really "sung" and their lyrics not that deep, and yet their music still manages to move you. Wit their tongue in cheek, sarcastic delivery of the disco classic, I Will Survive , Cake made the impossible seem possible. The entire Fashion Nugget album, released in 1996, remains one of my favorites.

10. Celine Dion- As always, no list is complete without the one artist I am sure to take heat for. Enter Celine Dion. Here's the thing about Celine. I probably would never pay to see her live because I most defintely would be bored to tears. However if I want to hear someone sing the hell out a love song like nobody's business, I know Celine is the broad to call. Back in 1990 I remember hearing a song called Where Does My Heart Beat Now? and instantly loving it. I wrote the artist's name down phonetically and went to the store in search of the mysterious singer. The guy in the music store looked at me as if I had two heads considering he had never heard of this "Celine" person before. It was a look I had gotten used to receiving after requesting many an unusual purchase over the years. Little did they, or I know what tour de force Celine would go on to become. There's not much to say about her other than this. Love her or hate her, there's no denying the girl can sing.

11. Greenday- When Greenday first came out I can say with confidence that a lot of critics probably considered them a flash in the pan. They were punk rock with a pop edge. It's hard to make punk rock be proactive and popular at the same time. Not to mention how to take the predictable sound and weave it into an actual career. In 1994 I wasn't thinking about longevity but I knew when I heard Longview that I loved it. Now some ten plus years later, Greenday is still going strong. Think of them as the little pop punk band that could....and did. Even I wouldn't have predicted that.

12. Weezer- Speaking of bands that I never would have predicted to have continued success. The first time I heard Weezer I was down the shore (as we say in Jersey) with some friends when Undone (The Sweater Song) came on. I remember us laughing hysterically to the lyrics "If you want to destroy my sweater, hold this thread as I walk away..." It was ridiculous, but it was catchy and so when it became a bonafide hit, we were pleased. Still we figured that's all it would be. A one hit wonder, never meant to be heard from again. But then Weezer managed to make a career out of silly pop with a purpose, going on to make songs like Beverly Hills and Island In The Sun, and to be one of my favorite bands still to this day.

13. Letters to Cleo- Letters To Cleo never had much fame in the nineties, or ever for that matter. But for a brief moment in time I loved them. They were the quintessential chick rock band when I was in college and had a brief, secret longing to be the lead singer in a band like LTC. She was cute, alternative and edgy all at the same time, all so very, very nineties. I suppose their biggest hit was Awake or their turn as "the" band in 10 Things I Hate About You, but I'd still hold a hairbrush and sing to them anytime.

14. Del Amitri- When I was a freshman in high school a band called Del Amitri released a song called Always The Last To Know. It was good enough for me to go out and buy the whole album, but then again, that wasn't a hard thing to accomplish back in those days. Besides their hit single I fell in love with the melancholy, Be My Downfall. It wasn't until a few years later when they released Twisted though when I really got into all things Del Amitri. Twisted was an excellent album and showed promise for the boys of Del Amitri. They had subsequent releases after that, but it's been a few years since that mid career promise has shown through.

15. Dave Matthews Band- I don't think it would be right for me to go through a recap of the nineties without including the Dave Matthews Band. In high school a close friend's brother went off to college. At the time, preppy simultaneous sock and sandal wearing rock was in. Enter "college band" Dave Matthews. Initially it was all about the bootlegs. He introduced her to Dave and she introduced me and well, the rest was history. She was always a bigger fan, but I will always have a sore spot for a band that managed to create a Grateful Dead like following. Over the years Dave has arguably gone much more mainstream, but my favorite tune still remains the early release of earnestly romantic, I'll Back You Up.

16. Barenaked Ladies- In a word, the Barenaked Ladies were just F-U-N. The first song I remember hearing of theirs was Be My Yoko Ono (you can be my Yoko Ono, you can follow me whereever I go...) But Be My Yoko Ono would prove to be but a blip on the radar to the further success these Canadian nerds would have with songs like One Week, If I Had A Million Dollars and Pinch Me. They even had a serious side, when they tried that created some of their best music in songs like Break Your Heart and Call and Answer. They were the nerds who took the Weird Al vibe to mainstream pop and it actually, believe it or not, worked.

17. Pearl Jam- If you had asked me in the nineties how I felt about big bands like Pearl Jam or Nirvana I would have told you they were overrated. It wasn't until years later that I really appreciated how infuential Pearl Jam was and how Eddie Vedder was more than I originally had chalked him up to be. Born out of the Seattle grunge explosion, I wrongfully lumped Pearl Jam in with many other bands that had the same sound at the time. To this day I don't know. Did Pearl Jam do it first, did they do it best or were they just in the right place at the right time? We may never know the answers to these questions. All I do know is that songs like Alive, Jeremy and believe it or not, even a song titled Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town managed to stand the test of time.

18. New Kids On the Block- Some might say listing NKOTB after Pearl Jam is sacrilege but my choices are often nothing if not controversial. NKOTB is a curious inclusion I almost didn't make. Hindsight is 20/20 after all. But then I thought about what the nineties music meant to me and realized I would be wrong if I didn't give the boys of NKOTB the credit they deserved. Deep they were not, but influential in my life, most definitely. I mean really. With bedsheets, bedroom posters and bubble gum, how could any preteen or parent of a preteen, avoid them?! I can still remember an 13 year old me arguing with my dad that they COULD be around as long as The Beatles. Ahh, youth.

19. REM- I didn't know quite where REM fell in all of this, but I knew they had to be included. They had tons of hits in the eighties and continue well on into today, but I listed them in the nineties just to acknowledge them, period. Besides some of my favorite REM tunes like Everybody Hurts, Strange Currencies and What's The Frequency Kenneth? fell in the nineties chapter of their career. I never did get the popularity of Losing My Religion though, or what the hell that song was about, period. I still don't.

20. Jude Cole- And I'm bringing it full circle by ending with another rather obscure artist. If you've been reading AOGB for anytime now you've most definitely heard me refere to at least three artists before: Rick Springfield, Jellyfish and the man, the myth, the legend, Jude Cole. Jude never got the credit he deserved though he made some of the best pop rock male artist recordings from the early nineties. I suppose his biggest hit was probably Baby It's Tonight but chances are you don't know of the song, just like you don't know of Jude. That doesn't stop me from continuing to mention him though. If just one new person has heard about Jude from this blog and checks him out and becomes a fan? I figure then my work is done.

Honorable Mentions: Matchbox 20, Fountains of Wayne, Toad The Wet Sprocket, Indigo Girls, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, Hootie and the Blowfish, Sarah McLachlan, Spin Doctors, Radiohead, Counting Crows, Lenny Kravitz, Sublime, Stone Temple Pilots, Foo Fighters, Jewel and Gin Blossoms
Friday, October 20, 2006

Take My Breath Class Away

As any teacher will tell you, one of the most exciting (or frightening as the case may be) things about a new school year is getting to know your new students.

How many students will I have? Will there be more boys or more girls? Will there be more pint-sized terrors or potential "teacher's pets"?

After a few days of school this year I wrote about my new class with fingers crossed. Maybe, just maybe, my third, third grade class could be the charm.

Now that we are settle a bit with 30 days in I still see a world of difference. I have a good mix of high, average and lower students and just your guardian variety occassional forgeries and good old-fashioned third grade disagreements. This might not seem ideal to you, but when you come from having classes with kids who crawled on the floor and students who needed severe mediation counseling, you'd be relieved, too. The worst I can say about this group of kids is that they just don't shut up. There's good reason for this though.

There's just so many of them.

I started off the school year with 24 students. A few that were on my roster never showed up or it could of been more. This is par for the course though in the town where I teach. A few days in I got a new student, making the grand total 25. Then a few weeks later I got another new student, bringing me up to (all together now) 26.

Then one day last week I went to a workshop. When I returned I received the cum folder for my latest new student to fill out in my mailbox. Only I noticed it didn't say that she was coming, but going. I assumed it was an error, but it wasn't. She transferred out again. She was in my class six days. I wish I could say such transient behavior was uncommon, but I'd be lying if I did.

Which brings me to this week. On Tuesday morning a co-worker of mine asked me how many students I had now. I said, "25. But ask me again at 10:30 cause it's always subject to change".

And change it did.

That day I got yet another new student. The good thing about this was I didn't have to rush around finding new supplies and a desk for her. She just took the place of the girl who occupied it for six days prior to her arrival. She came from a school in district and so it was easy to get background information on her. Imagine my surprise when I found out she was a high student and smart! Where I work transferred students often come with more baggage than just a new backpack, if you know what I mean. Getting a new student who is smart is like finding gold. It's rare and it's beautiful and you hold on to it for dear life.

Which brings me back to the crux of this post, how big my class size actually is.

Over the summer a few of the other teachers and I were talking about how potentially large the third grade was going to be this year. We didn't understand with so many second grades filtering in to third why our principal didn't great another third grade section. And then the new year started and we wondered the same thing. While I fluctuated between 24 and 26, the other two regular ed, third grade teachers were feeling the same crunch, carrying between 25 and 27 students with multiple adults in the room given they both house resource students.

Meanwhile there is another bilingual teacher in my school who had low enrollment. And when I say low I mean L-O-W. She had a whopping four students. Now that will probably change after January as much of that population comes to us straight off the boat then. Still having four students indefinitely just wouldn't do. So my principal waited until the deadline before deciding to combine two bilingual classes. The solution wasn't ideal, but it made sense.

But now that left a leftover classroom, just waiting for students.

So this got my principal got thinking about what the rest of us were thinking about months before, opening up another section. Only she kept faltering between opening up another second or another third. The second grade is crowded too, but third is a testing year. Plus if second grade is crowded now that will only make third grade crowded again next year. We might as well look ahead for once. They say planning like that works but what do I know? I'm only a teacher.

Now the decision has been made all that's left is the painful transition. If this had been last year's class, although a smaller group, I would have been able to easily give 75% of them, no problem. I keep trying to convince myself that less is more, but I honestly don't want to lose any of my students, crowded or not. For once I finally have a class I like. The idea that some of them could concievably no longer be "mine" by the end of next week is a horrible thing to think about.

Not only is it horrible anticipating the inevitable, it's worse when you imagine not knowing who is going to go. It's like my classroom has suddenly transformed into some pseudo reality show. Who will stay? Who will go? Tune in next week to find out! My principal says she will "take our input into consideration" but that she has the final say. But she doesn't know these kids they way we do. She thinks that is exactly the reason why she should do it, but that's exactly why I disagree.

Finally there's the worst part of all- explaining it to the kids. If there's one thing my principal doesn't have is a lot of tact. We have no timeline for when all of this will occur, but prolonging it only makes things worse. Still, I want to be the one to explain it to all of my children before it does. I could just see my principal coming one morning and asking me in front of the children who I want to get rid of. I know it sounds absurb, but stranger things have happened.

If only they had thought about all of this back in August. The kids would have been none the wiser and the teachers better equipped to handle it all.

And we would have known just how many damn Halloween goodie bags to make, too.
Thursday, October 19, 2006

Guest Post: R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A.

My new renter is Robin from the recently redesigned (and cleverly titled) The Road Less Unraveled. As always, it was hard making a decision. In the end I went with Robin because she is a frequent visitor of AOGB, not just someone passing through. Cause let's face it, many potential rentees are "flashes in the pans" these days. Even better than this, I'm a regular reader of her site as well. If you check her out, I hope you'll feel the same way.

Now we've come to today's guest post. It comes to us courtesy of the wonderful Mr. Fab of Pointless Drivel. He makes much ado about nothing look brilliant. I love that in a blogger.

Yeah, that's right, I'm guest posting today. Don't you dare skip to another blog. Just because I'm not Janet, doesn’t mean I don't have anything worthwhile to say.

Well, okay, I may not have anything worthwhile to say, but it isn't because I'm not Janet. There are a whole host of reasons why I have nothing to offer.

Janet lives in New Jersey. I live in Florida. That got me to thinking. New Jersey generally is not thought of as a nice place to live. It conjures up images of factories, refineries, smog, mob killings...I mean, their nickname is the Garden State, but we mostly think of that as being ironic, don't we?

And Florida, well, Florida is generally thought of as a desirable place to live. Sun, surf, beaches, bikini girls and bronzed gods, amusement parks…come to Florida, the streets are paved with gold!

Well, Florida is not paradise. I mean, I love it here, and don't plan to ever leave. But you have to take the good with the bad. Hurricanes, tourists, humidity, roving packs of rogue alligators roaming the streets terrorizing entire trailer parks...

So sometimes all is not as it seems. Now let's go back and revisit New Jersey. No wait, New Jersey is a dump. Okay, bad example.

Which state do you think is the best to live in? I know everyone is different, and people have different likes and dislikes and needs and desires, but overall, if you had their choice, where would you choose to live? Are you happy where you are, or would you prefer to live somewhere else?

Every state has good points and bad points. I guess it just depends on what your priorities are.

If you love to be outdoors and you like to hunt, fish, hike, etc. then Maine might be the place for you. On the other hand, the death toll racked up in Stephen King novels teaches us that you stand a pretty good chance to be a homicide victim at the hands of a vampire or giant spider if you move up there.

Massachusetts has a lot of top flight colleges and high-tech industry. Boston is a vibrant city, and for natural beauty and a culture packed summer season you can't beat the Berkshires in the west. On the other hand, it is only a matter of time before you get sexually harassed by a Kennedy.

Maybe you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city life. What about Kansas? It's quiet out there, peaceful. And do you know why it's quiet out there? It's so quiet because only 47 people live in Kansas. And those 47 people are kept busy all day every day working in the wheat mines. Is that how you really want to spend the rest of your life?

Virginia is a beautiful state, and there is a lot of history there. And the state's tourist slogan is Virginia is for Lovers. But that's also the problem. It is a state law that you have to be in a committed relationship to live in Virginia. Single people are not allowed to live there. And there are harsh penalties for those who engage in masturbatory activities. After all, the slogan isn't Virginia is for Self-Lovers.

California is not only one of the most diverse destinations in the country, but in the world. Whatever you are looking for, California has got it. However, studies show that one out of every five California residents this year will join a cult, die at the hands of a serial killer, perish in a mudslide, get gunned down in a drive-by shooting, or have to date Paris Hilton.

So tell us, all things being equal, if you could have all your loved ones around you and money was not an object, in which of the fifty states would you choose to live?

And for those of you who do not live in this country, please form a line to the right, single file, and prepare yourselves to be strip-searched and interrogated. Oh, except for Canadians. Canadians can stay. After the invasion and occupation you guys will be living in the fifty-first state, so you are practically one of us now.

But perhaps I've said too much.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006

It's All Coming Back To Me Now

The other day while watching an old tv show I realized something.

You can call me a sucker. You can call me sentimental. You can even call me Al. It won't change what I'm about to tell you.

I'm a sucker for flashbacks.

Yes, you read that right. Flashbacks. I'm sure you know a good flashback when you see one, but unlike me, you never thought to break it down quite like this before. For clarification's sake I've categorized it into five basic rules that make the classic flashback so...classic.

Five Finger Flashback

1. Good flashbacks occur after a show has been on for a period of time.

The reason why good flashbacks work best with established shows is because both the new and old viewer know where they stand simultaneously. It's particularly great when they dig deep into the archives to resurrect a great moment or two that might otherwise have been forgotten. When shows have been on hiatus for say summer this is also an effective means in bringing the viewer up to speed.

2. Good flashbacks are never overused.

Like anything else, a good flashback should be used in moderation. The flashbacks themselves for instance should not go on more than a minute or two. If it proceeds much past that it's no longer a flashback, it's more like a flash flood. Also, if 75% of your show or movie exists via flashbacks you've got a problem. This is because it makes it very confusing for the viewer. It's all the more confusing when the technique is overused and it's used with flashbacks that have never been seen before, thus the "old" footage is really all new material. If you haven't figured it out already, I definitely had Lost in mind when I came up with this one.

3. Good flashbacks are often accompanied by special effects such as slow motion editing or a musical montage.

This is perhaps the most important element of a superior flashback. It is a proven fact the most highly effective flashbacks are ones that evoke emotion. Ok, maybe not a proven fact, but it might as well be. What better way to evoke emotion than by pulling out all the stops? If you watch your run of the mill, garden variety flashback you may not pay much attention or you might go one step worse and decide to (gasp) fast forward. But a funny thing happens when you take the old and make it new with music or different pacing. Suddenly you've peaked the viewer's interest with what is really the same old shit all over again. This type of flashback works best when a character is leaving a show and/or the show is going off the air completely. You might think you don't care but they hit you with a slo mo, musical montage and before you know it, you're crying like a baby for the "good ol' days".

This type of flashback only backfires on a recurring series where the role has since been recast. It's really hard to wallow in memory lane when the character is played by a completely different actor or actress. Here, unfortunately, the flashback becomes null and void.

4. Good flashbacks refresh your memory in a climactic or pivotal moment in the story.

This type of flashback works really well in movies. It also works well in mysteries like say, Monk. This is because it reveals little details you might not have noticed the first time or put together in exactly the same way. A classic example of one of the best dramatic flashbacks would be the movie, The Usual Suspects. If you haven't seen it go now just to see an example of textbook, chills down your spine flashback in action.

5. Good flasbacks let you know they are flashbacks.

Although there are many cheesy effects that go hand in hand with the most successful of flashback, it's a necessary evil in my eyes. Sometimes flashbacks will have a smoke effect, a hazy shade of winter, if you will. Other times you might notice the echo effect that happens to the author's voices. Then there is the voice over narration that happens. Here you are simply expected to sit back and watch the events unfold while listening to the new details the narrator is giving you.

Finally the fourth dead giveaway in the lineage of great flasbacks is what I like to call the "compare contrast". Sometimes there is no need for echos, voices or haze. Instead the appearance of the characters or the time and place gives the change away. Basically some subtle, yet important clue is there to tip you off without all the bells and whistles.

If something along these lines is not present it's probably a Quentin Tarantino movie. If so, good luck and may some semblance of the five finger flashback rules be with you.

No matter your favorite flashback technique I guarantee after reading this you won't look at flasbhacks ever the same way again. In fact, I'm willing to bet you might even enjoy reading this post again in a month or two. You know, for nostalgia's sake.

Never before have hot flashes felt so good.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Divine Things"

If you've been paying any attention at all the last two weeks you can probably predict what this week's TITMT question is going to be. So why continue to prolong the inevitable?

What are your top ten nineties artists or bands?

And yes, you can splurge and go past ten if you need to. I didn't say it in the past, but I'm Italian. We overdo everything.

If you are participating on your blog, the rules are simple:

1. Answer this question ON YOUR BLOG and THEN link back to it via the box below.
2. Leave a comment letting me know you played along.
3. If you are interested in adding the box to your site, please visit Mister Linky.
4. If you have any questions or you're confused just ASK!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Write Back Weekend "We Got The Beat"

Quick side note. I noticed just now when I logged in that Friday marked my 666th post. 666, on a Friday the 13th in OCTOBER. Now that's spooky.

I know I've said it before. I most definitely will say it again. This week's TITMT was very, very hard for a hardcore eighties fan such as myself. Summing up the eighties in ten artists or less would be like asking George Michael why he didn't reunite with Andrew Ridgeley; it simply doesn't compute.

As Nat pointed out I tend to pick a lot of pop oriented artists. Die hard music fans will note that within any given decade a true representation would break down the groupings even further. Best eighties pop. Best eighties rock. Best eighties hair bands. (yes, I have a list for that, too.) But most of you are like Nat and me. You're not anal retentive about music. Some might even call this normal. So I'm attempting to keep it simple for your sake.

Then there is the subcategory of best eighties one or two hit wonders which came from some seemingly talented artists with promise, that instead went down as potential unfulfilled. Corey Hart. Scandal. Til Tuesday. And yes, even Patrick Swayze and Frank Stallone. The list, like the beat goes on and on.

Finally, there is the overlap factor. It should go without saying but I'm going to say it anyway. Some great music seems to be centralized to one decade, as if their greatness was frozen in time and then suddenly became extinct, like the dinosaur age of rock and roll if you will. But I believe most truly great artists usually flourish beyond a decade or two. So some artists featured last week such as Billy Joel and Elton John for instance would show up here, too but I'm not listing them twice to give a bunch of great artists the chance to be recognized. I know, as if any of the feature artists care about a little site like this, right? Call me crazy, but the likes of Patrick Swayze and Corey Hart just might.

Although being born in 1977 (didn't notice it in editing, thanks to all the smartasses out there!) "my decade" should be the nineties, I have a strong connection to all things eighties that I really hard to explain to those who don't feel the same way. I think this is because so many childhood memories revolve around the eighties. I can't really say how I would feel if I was a child in the 70's. I'm just glad that I got to grow up in the heyday of leg warmers, fluorescent shirts and decidedly cheesy pop.

So, here, in no particular order, are the artists I painstakingly chose to feature:

1. Cyndi Lauper- I was happy to see as I visited many of your lists that Cyndi made the cut for you, too. Cyndi Lauper got a reputation for being outlandish and different, but that's not important now. She wouldn't make a list like this for hair color alone. There was substance beyond those dyed roots. She also had amazing vocal range. Although she has graduated to more mature musical venues, why she didn't remain a major player in the pop music industry for longer is beyond me.

2. Rick Springfield- Anyone who knows me knows I cannot create a list of the best of the eighties and leave Rick off of it. I am willing to be 90% of the people reading this post only know Rick for his hit, Jessie's Girl. Then there's another 5% of you who know the song Jessie's Girl, but either don't know Rick by name or didn't know he sang that song. That leaves 5% left over. You people are like me and know Rick Springfield for the underrated artist he is. You know that successful artists are not necessarily a succcess by hit records alone. Rick Springfield made a ton of albums, even past the eighties, all of which are worth giving a listen. Don't take my word for it. Go listen for yourself sometime.

3. Huey Lewis and the News- The success of Huey Lewis and the News can be best summed up by one of their very own song titles, "It's Hip To Be Square". They didn't look like rock stars. They didn't act like rock stars. In fact, truth be told, they often acted more like Weird Al than Anthrax. But their not being "cool" is what made them so cool in the first place. Huey Lewis & The News had hits like If This Is It, Doing It All For My Baby and I Want A New Drug that featured some of the best harmonizing of the decade.

4. Richard Marx- The reason I included Richard Marx here is because I knew that none of you would. I always felt bad for Richard Marx. I never felt he got the credit he deserved. I loved his hits like Don't Mean Nothin', Endless Summer Nights and Should've Known Better. In the 90's he even attempted to make multi videos for the same song, Hazard, that told a muder mystery story. Nowadays he is mostly behind the scenes, his biggest recent hit probably being This I Promise You done by NSync. Not only is the man the prince of balladeers, he's also one of the chosen few who somehow managed to make the mullet look cool. Now that takes skill.

5. Phil Collins/Genesis- Now we go from a head of hair to no hair, yet the cool factor remains status quo. I chose to combine Phil Collins and Genesis because they did their things well together and apart in the eighties. The story of Phil Collins success is amazing to me because he was never meant to be the star. He didn't look like a hitmaker. He was the drummer, meant to be behind the scenes. But somehow it all worked better than anyone could have ever dreamed, probably even Mr. Collins himself.

6. Madonna- The most obvious choice on my list, Madonna's career is still technically going strong. However, the eighties were undisputably known as her heyday. Madonna is unique in the sense that you can like her and dislike her at the same time. This is in part because there are so many incarnations of Madonna. Personally, I preferred the bangled bracelet, ripped clothes, crawling all over the floor Madonna the best. Her True Blue phase was great, too. While she made a lot of great music well into this decade, nothing tops her Like a Virgin phase in my eyes.

7. U2- I noticed a lot of you were conflicted about including (or not including) U2. This is because U2 is not an artist you solely associate with the eighties. They started in the late 70's but are going strong, still today. But eighties U2 is where it truly all began. Basically any artist you see in concert who could conceivably fill up two hours and thensome of pure hits, deserves to be included here.

8. Debbie Gibson- In the eighties there was the whole Tiffany vs. Debbie Gibson debate. Well at least in the preteen minds of my friends and I. Don't laugh. It's actually a very serious matter that requires a Venn Diagram of pros and cons to really assess it properly. Anyway, choosing to include Debbie here in the top and Tiffany in the honorable mention was a pretty anguishing process. The final decision came down to the amount of work and how involved each of them were. I completely wore out Debbie's Out of the Blue record back in the eighties. The fact that she was a teen, only a few years older than me, who not only sang but wrote her own material, fascinated me.

9. Bryan Adams- I didn't really get in to Bryan Adams until the early 90's, but when I did get in to his music, I went back in time a few years. In fact, the first concert I ever saw was Bryan Adams when I was a freshman in high school. A lot of people don't realize just how many hit songs Bryan Adams has had over the years. That's because there aren't a whole lot of people thinking about Bryan Adams anymore. He had a zillion hits, but in a true fan of the obscure nature, my favorite song of his is Hiding From Love. It's an early tune, before Adams was famous and it also features a pre-gravely voiced Adams. I guess being a smoker really changes your voice after all.

10. Hall & Oates- Fans of Hall & Oates music often get divided into two camps; those who like Hall & Oates from the seventies and those who like Hall & Oates from the eighties. This is because they had two very different sounds in differing decades. I on the other hand, liked them both. But before I discoved the music of Hall & Oates in reverse, I tend to have a sore spot for their eighties pop side more so than their seventies soul side. Seventies fans on the other hand might argue that Hall sold out when he cut his luscious locks and went all pretty pop pop. Whether you're a fan of She's Gone or Say It Isn't So, it's hard to argue that those guys didn't have talent.

11. Lionel Richie- I remember being a kid in the eighties and thinking Lionel Richie was ancient. He just seemed so much older than a lot of the other pop singers out there. I guess in a way he was. But that didn't stop him from having a zillion solo hits without The Commodores. My personal favorites included Say You, Say Me, Hello and Ballerina Girl. If you wanted to have the musical equivalent of a Hallmark greeting card, look no further than Mr. Richie.

12. Pat Benatar- If you enjoy the girl power rock of singers like Gwen Stefani or Pink you really need to go to the source. Gwen or Pink didn't invent the hard rock pop chick acts all by themselves. They owe more than a little of their inspiration to singers like Pat Benatar. She made semi-feminist rockers seem cool before it was cool to be a semi-feminist. Nobody wore tight clothes and looked like they could kick their ex boyfriend's ass better. Well perhaps Joan Jett came in a close second. Not only did she have the look though, she could sing the hell out of anything. With songs like All Fired Up, You Better Run and Invincible she married the genres of rock and pop better than anyone, "no doubt".

13. Whitney Houston- Ok, now we're entering the portion of the list that features artists who once "almost had it all" before having their big time fall from grace. When you think of the top five talented artists who have done a complete 360 since then, you have to include Whitney Houston. Frankly, I don't know what happened. In the mid eighties, Whitney seemed like the white people's answer to r&b music. She was the best of both worlds. She was black, but not "too black" as so many white people were still "afraid of". It was safe to like Whitney because she was a well spoken, well groomed role model for white and black children alike. She even could have been accused of having a career out of nepotism because of her relation to Dionne Warwick. But that didn't happen because the girl could actually sing. Even now, while living in the land of the crazies, she can still sing. Can't string together a coherent sentence too well, but sing she can.

14. Michael Jackson- I know some of you might question my inclusion of Michael Jackson on this list knowing all that we know now. But I ask you this. Had we compiled this list in the eighties, nearly everyone would have included Michael whether you liked him or not. This is because Michael Jackson WAS eighties pop. And while Michael Jackson's music seems to have been forceably phased out, along with his career, the legacy of his music still lives on in artists today. Just check out Ne-Yo's Sexy Love, overflowing with Human Nature throw backs, or Justin Timberlake, anything.

15. Crowded House- Finally we arrived at the end of this hard to compile list. I close things off with one of the unsung heroes of the eighties, or even music, period. This honor goes to the Australian boys of Crowded House. Sure they had mainstream hits like Don't Dream It's Over and Something So Strong, but not many people really know this band for the talent they truly possessed. And this was not the talented Finn brothers first attempt at eighties pop success. Before Crowded House came a little known band, Split Enz, that had the "one hit wonder" I Got You. After Split Enz ultimately disbanded, Neil Finn went on to create Crowded House.

So there you have it. My painstaking attempt at compiling a best of eighties list. No one is going to go harder on me than me for realizing I forgot somebody after hitting publish.

Honorable Mentions include: Janet Jackson, Tiffany, James Ingram, Bon Jovi, Duran Duran, Inxs, Kenny Loggins, Heart, Prince, George Michael, Van Halen and Sting/The Police.
Friday, October 13, 2006

Sleeping With The Enemy

I have the utmost respect for those of you who have been co-habitating for years. When I say "co-habitating" I am referring to you and a significant other, be it man, woman or even a beloved animal. Basically anyone who shares space with someone else or something falls into this category.

Here's why.

I find that sharing space, any space, with someone is a very hard thing to do. This is because personally, I find that I value my personal space.

This isn't only true of sleeping. My prerogative permeates other ares of my life, be it personal or professional. Just like Patrick Swayze said in Dirty Dancing, "This is my dance space, that's your dance space." I believe this adage should also be applied to everything. Try it on for size.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a very selfish person. But I find it is hardest to see things as all fair in love, war and... sleeping, especially when you have a partner who is a bed hog.

God love my boyfriend. We currently don't live together, but when we do, we have already talked about the possibility of getting the biggest bed possible. We've even joked we should just sleep in seperate rooms cause really, what sort of togetherness goes on while you're sleeping anyhow? I know that some of you out there like to cuddle, lean or spoon while you're sleeping, but I am not one of these people. I'm an antsy sleeper. I'm constantly on the move, tossing and turning all night. Some might say this makes me an annoying person to share a bed with, but that's a world of difference and a zillion counted sheep away from what it's like sleeping with him.

The first offense my boyfriend is guilty of is being what I like to call a "start spreading the news" sleeper. Basically this boils down to him having a very hard time coloring sleeping in the lines. Now this is all fine and well all the nights we sleep apart, but we get spoiled that way. When I'm alone I can toss and turn freely and when he's alone he can occupy multiple properties of real estate, so to speak. You know, if the sheet fits and all of that.

The funny thing is how clueless he is about his sleeping behaviors. So much so in fact that I have often wished I could take an arial view of our bed so he can see first hand just how much space he feels he is justified in taking up. Thankfully I'm tiny otherwise the bigger bed would have been a necessity much sooner than this.

If only this was the point of contention where sleeping dog would lie.

Adding three sheets to the wind is the fact that my boyfriend is also a sleep talker and even sometimes a part time, halfway sleep walker. I say it's part time because it occurs rarely and when he does decide to mobilize he never strays very far for very long before returning to home base.

Being that I am a light sleeper I often awake from his talking in his sleep or awaking from his slumber. I don't know why this happens but I will tell you this; people who talk or walk in their sleep serve to amuse and scare me, in equal parts.

If you've ever known a sleeptalker or walker you probably know what I'm talking about. To the untrained signficant other's eye, the sleeper could very well give off the impression that they are fully awake. Many times they are coherent and their eyes are open. However if you try to have a conversation with them they can't hold one and even if they can, their memory of that talk is like the drunk guy you met at the bar the night before, they have not a clue about talking to you.

Luckily enough for me I was precertified in sleepwalking and talking prior to my current relationship. In college I roomed with a sleeptalker/walker for three years. Sometimes she would sit straight up in bed, eyes wide open, yelling or laughing or just talking out loud. A few times, being the devil she was, she would "fake" this based on descriptions I had given her about how she acts. I hated when she did this.

My boyfriend is also aware, after the fact, that he sleeptalks. In fact, he gets a kick out of hearing about this. Since I am often woken up from an otherwise rather peaceful sleep I often have a hard time recalling specific things he says or does. In the moment I feel wide awake and I swear I'm going to be able to recall it verbatim the next day, but that rarely ends up happening. It's like dreams. No matter how funny, scary or significant, I can rarely remember the details.

But what I always do remember is times when he takes sleeptalking a step further and this is what really freaks me out.Sometimes he starts talking directly to me. He'll look me in the eye or try to shake me awake if I try to ignore his ranting. During these "episodes" I often cave in just to appease him. It's only after I have answered him in some way, shape or form that he returns to sleeping, and snoring loudly at that. And suddenly I am wide awake.

Yes, even while sleeping, he somehow manages to have the last word.

I suppose there's not much us significant others can do about this. We have no choice but to go quietly into the good night. It's par for the course when sleeping with other people.

You made your bed. Now you must go lie in it.
Thursday, October 12, 2006

Guest Post: Will It Go Round In Circles?

Yesterday it seems my site was offline for awhile. I don't know why. Frankly, I don't care. If you missed it, my highly detailed take on new fall tv is below. If you get the chance, stroll scroll down, won't cha?

Today starts the first official guest post installment I mentioned trying out on Thursdays. This guest post from Jon @ Almost Poop was actually submitted weeks ago and he's been very patient in waiting to be posted. Ok, it can't exactly be considered patience if you have forgotten about guest posting altogether. I'm just kidding. Jon's a good sport though. I hope.

So read on. And remember, if you're interested in guest posting on a future Thursday, don't be shy...let me know!

I'm sick. I dont know what I have.

I mean, I had some sort of cold last week but today I woke up with the room spinning. I closed my eyes, thinking the room would stop.

Instead, it only spun the other direction.

I don't drink. I don't take drugs. I have no weird medical history. But today, today I can't drive to work. So here I sit, at least 10 days after I promised Janet I would guest blog for her, with absolutely nothing on my spinning brain to write about.

I went to a funeral last week, old people laughing and reminiscing about days gone by. They were happy to see each other, happy to see their 80-year--old friend leave this world after spending the last 30 years trapped in a wheelchair.

It was kind of cool, just not much of a story. Well, at least not the bloggy kind of stories you read everyday.

What about Sex? Politics? Religion?

Tried 'em all, like some more than others. I don't really like writing about two of those subjects and the other just reveals my love for midget porn. I guess that's a bloggy thing to write about, but it's probably not a good thing to do when you're a guest.

So, here I sit, unkept, two couches pushed together, watching the room spin around me again and again.

I think I'll close my eyes and spin the other way for a while.

Be good.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006

State Of The Union: New Fall Television

Although the Rent My Blog program seems to have lost some speed, this hasn't slowed me down from pimping my new tenants. This week I welcome Adventures In Everyday Life. I hope you visit her, if not to see her kickass, Wonder Woman inspired design, then to show her some love as her most recent post talks about how "nobody" reads her. I possCome on now people. Let's prove her wrong!

Every fall, three things are a certainty in my world: a new school year starts, the drop in temperature is always unwelcome and startling and a new television season takes precedence, though not necessarily in that order.

Each year's television lineup is a healthy mix of returning favorites and eager to please, new kids on the block. This got me thinking. Is it harder to be an old returning favorite or a new guy, trying to get attention?

Now that the majority of the new fall shows have had a few weeks to settle in, I thought it would be best to break things down the way I see them. Of course in order to break down how I see the new fall shows, I have to actually see the new fall shows. Duh. This is why I decided to categorize them. Basically I do all the work so you don't have to. No need to thank me. The categories are as follows...

Cut From The Same Cloth-ers - This category is compromised of shows that have nearly the same premise however they are entirely different programs, or so they say. First up is Fox's Vanished not to be confused with NBC's Kidnapped. Although on different networks their plots are nearly identical. In each show someone of importance has been kidnapped and it is up to the team of professionals to bring them home safely. If you're keeping score at home, Kidnapped technically has bigger name stars like Timothy Hutton and Dana Delany, but it hasn't mattered much considering the show has already been given the kiss of death and will be moving to Saturdays, "eventually".

And while I have enjoyed both shows on some level (I personally like Kidnapped more) I could see how either show could be a hard sell. I mean, can you see shows like Kidnapped or Vanished being successful and sustaining five or more seasons? Just how long can the missing person scenario be fresh and exciting? In general I am not a fan of this genre being used in a series setting. For a miniseries? Great. But it's like Lost. They still haven't found what they're looking for. Sooner or later, even U2 will tire of watching that.

Next up in this category is the fric and frac combo of 30 Rock and Studio 60. With both Studio 60 and 30 Rock the angle would be a unique one, yet ironically it is no longer unique when another show has very similiar inspiration. Both shows offer us a behind the scenes look of what it's like in the not so glamorous world of late night sketch comedy. 30 Rock, though yet to premiere, is decidedly the more humor-filled of the two, but that doesn't change the fact that if you as a viewer are into checking out Studio 60, chances are you would like to check out 30 Rock as well.

As if the similiar settings wasn't odd enough, they both air on the same network where, get this, they are both obviously taking jabs at an actual show that airs, Saturday Night Live. Now it's doubly amazing. The fact that shows like these got on the air to begin with, especially when they are obviously working off an existing show that is struggling to tread water, astounds me. I can't say anything about 30 Rock yet, but I can say I like Studio 60. It is definitely and aquired taste though full of a lot of subtle entertainment humor. Translation? It will probably be gone by sweeps week.

Where People Stop Being Polite And Start Getting Real- This category covers the tricky new crop of reality tv shows. I call this group tricky because in many cases, techincally each season is new, even if the show itself is a repeat offender.

For example, in one corner we have returning shows like The Bachelor, Dancing With the Stars, The Amazing Race, while in the other corner we have the new contender, House of Carters. With The Bachelor, Dancing With the Stars and The Amazing Race the story remains the same, but the players have changed.

Yet the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same. On The Bachelor the girls are just as crazy as before and the bachelor "seemingly" just as clueless. On Dancing With the Stars it's blatantly obvious who can dance and who can't. And then there are others that have an unfair advantage since they have most definitely danced professionally before, (I even have the VHS tapes to prove it!) despite saying otherwise.

Then there's the new addition to the reality show game, the catchy titled, House of Carters on E. Unfortunately the title is the only thing that is cute about this show. It follows the life of Backstreet Boy Nick Carter and his four siblings, only one of which you may have heard of before and probably will hear of since. This family follows the Britney Spears formula for fame. Just because you have the cash, doesn't mean you have class.

Save The Drama For Your Mama- The shows in this category are the new dramas on the horizon. Luckily all of them are very different from one another. Men In Trees is like Northern Exposure meets Ed. It's got a cast of quirky characters. And what better quirky place for these characters to live than the quirkified Alaska. It's always cold! There's more men than women! Now that's quirky! And hilarity ensues. Oh and did I mention the quirky cherry on top? The star of the show is the Quirky Queen herself, Miss Anne Heche! If someone like her can't make it playing an offbeat character I don't know where anyone can make it.

Then there's the heavy handed drama, Brothers and Sisters. Here we have a group of loosely connected brothers and sisters who look absolutely nothing alike so if that sort of thing bothers you, then this isn't the show for you. What can I say? Party of Five's genes it does not have. The matriarch of the show is the still downright adorable, Sally Field. Her children are played by Calista Flockhart, Rachel Griffiths, Balthazar Getty and two other actors. Basically they get progressively less known the younger they are in the line of lineage. It's a good show so far, but as it often seems to be with dramas with lots of storylines going on, we're still in the getting to know you phase of the relationship. Come back to me in a week or two when I have more of the neuroses down.

Finally the last two new dramas in this category are in the subcategory of "It's The End of the World As We Know It" dramas. These are the shows Heroes and Jericho. On Heroes, a group of otherwise ordinary people each discover seperately that they have extraordinary, comic bookesque talents. Each one of them is still in the disbelief stage of their powers and rightfully so. Just getting used to a new route to work is hard enough, let alone getting acquainted with suddenly being able to fly. In a related note one of the characters is played by actor Milo Ventimiglia who seemingly has a super power all of his own; the ability to look extremely ordinary but be given an extraordinary amount of career chances. Perhaps he was able to draw on that experience when he landed this role.

Jericho meanwhile is basically the poor man's Lost. It stars Skeet Ulrich who might be known to audiences as once being considered the poor man's Johnny Depp. But man, times how they have changed. Now Skeet is older, wiser... and scroungier. Here the residents of the small town of Jericho realize that something or someone has wiped out the majority of the US, if not the world. Somehow, someway the people of this town have managed to survive the battle. And unlike Lost the people of Jericho have a few things going for them. For one thing, they are not stuck in a five mile radius. For another their stories does not exist in flashbacks. We're living in real time here, people. Now if only we could make it just a tad more realistic, we'd be all set.

Shows 'The Count' Would Approve Of- Just to be silly I put together the shows The Nine and Six Degrees. Really these are dramas like the shows listed above, but somewhere along the way networks thought it would be cool to add numbers to their show titles. I think they took this idea from the musical trend a few years back. (You know, Matchbox 20, Eve 6...) But The Nine is really about ten people, which begs the question, why didn't they just round up and call it a day? I haven't been this confused since bands like The New Radicals took the name New Radicals, when really there was only one guy in the group. Unless of course this is a foreshadowing of a killing to come. If so, way to ruin the surprise, guys.

On Six Degrees there is no Kevin Bacon but there is a lot of sizzling. Don't let the catchy name fool you. Sure the lives of these people start to loosely intertwine, but there are very different and seperate storylines going on for the most part. I like this show. It's one of my faves of the season. I have no idea how it is doing in the ratings. Maybe it's better that way.

Odd "Men" Out- The final category is what I like to refer to as the Land of the Misfit Toys programming options. This is because they didn't really fit into any other category. One of these is the critically acclaimed Ugly Betty. Betty who is, "ugly" is hired by a fashion magazine, aka the land of the rich and the beautiful. She is hired by the head honcho who is making an effort to keep his philandering son out of corporate trouble. The weird thing about Ugly Betty is that it's not quite a drama, but it's not quite a comedy either. It's more cartoony, only with real people. And the actress who plays Betty, America Ferrera, is not ugly at all by the way. Just thought I'd say the record straight.

Then there's The Class. This show is a much, much waterdowned version of Friends. It revolves around former third grade classmates, reunited one night in a grand, symbolic gesture of one of said classmates to another.

The fact that a straightforward comedy like this ended up in the mismatched socks pile is odd. This is because once upon a time the weight of new programming was in the 30 minute comedic format. But the last few years or so have changed all that. True there are other new comedies, but most of them I'm not watching so I can't say anything about that. I can't say for certain but I think it has something to do with canned laughter. It's like soda. It's hard to go back to after you've been weaned off of it for so long.

If you managed to stay on this "channel" for my entire program you should now have a better understanding of this year's fall programmiing highlights. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blogging, already in progress.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Like, Totally Awesome!"

Since last week's TITMT seemed to get some good answers, I might as well keep within a theme (don't worry, it won't be a whole week long this time). So if you're paying attention this week's question is (drum roll please)....

What are your top ten eighties artists or bands?

Now remember, the eighties featured some of my FAVORITE music, so narrowing it down is going to be verrry hard for someone like me. This just means all of you who will be playing before me have to make some very good arguments for the choices you make. This might help me narrow down my list a bit more. Or it could very well make it expand. Only time will tell.

If you are participating on your blog, the rules are simple:

1. Answer this question ON YOUR BLOG and THEN link back to it via the box below.
2. Leave a comment letting me know you played along.
3. If you are interested in adding the box to your site, please visit Mister Linky.
4. If you have any questions or you're confused just ASK!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Write Back Weekend "Stars on 45"

At first I thought compiling a list of my favorite seventies artists for this week's TITMT would be easier said than done. After all, I was born in 1977. What do I know first hand about seventies music, much less the seventies, period? In fact, when I think seventies all I think is bell bottoms, bad tripping and the colors brown and orange. In other words, as a decade, the seventies scared me. I've always been grateful that I didn't have to actually recall much of it first hand and instead have been able to relive it from a safe, decade or two distance.

This also served to confuse some of you in my age bracket. A lot of you said that you didn't really know enough about the seventies to get all the jokes listed in the I Love the Seventies updates. On that, I have two things to say. One, when you watch the show, you realize you really didn't need to be there most of the time to get the joke, unless of course you're under eighteen and/or living under your pet rock.

The second thing though is a lot harder to relate to. This is the plain fact that I have always been a stone, cold pop culture junkie. I attribute some of this to my parents interests, but really I seek a lot of these things out myself. Even my favorite commentator, the one, the only Michael Ian Black wouldn't technically remember a lot of which he comments on but that doesn't stop him from being sarcastic about the seventies either. We can't help it. The seventies as a whole just made the mockery so much simpler.

So then I thought about it some more. Since I didn't like much about the seventies that's when it hit me; this list was actually going to be the easiest to come up with, not the hardest. That's because to me, there were so few artists to continually enjoy! What follows is my list of my favorite seventies arists. Note some of them might not have started or ended their careers in the seventies, but in some way, shape or form something about each of them framed what the seventies should salvage- at least to me.

1. Bee Gees- How anyone can talk about the best artists of the seventies and not mention the "Brothers Gibb" is beyond me. Whether it was the Bee Gees or their little brother Andy, it was all falsetto-lically fantastic to me. Seriously. These guys had like, an insane amount of hits. They even had not one, but two movies named after one of their songs. Or was the song named after one of their movies? You know what? It doesn't even matter. They rocked, no matter how you sliced it.

Since they say imitation is the best form of flattery, check out one of my fave SNL skits ever. It's Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon doing a little something called "The Barry Gibb Talk Show".

2. Elton John Elton John obviously had a career that flourished well beyond the seventies, but since the seventies was where it all began I had to give credit where credit was due. I actually think I might have enjoyed eighties Elton better, but then again, I enjoy everything eighties better. That doesn't change the fact that my favorite Elton song of all time, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, still has it's roots in the seventies.

3. Billy Joel Billy Joel's rightfully earned place on this list is a lot like Elton's. Joel rocked the eighties (especially in the music video department), but the seventies Joel wrote songs like Movin' Out, Scenes From An Italian Restaurant and of course, Piano Man. I guess you could say this is where he really started the fire.

4. Queen When I was little I remember watching a movie called Flash Gordon. There's a scene in there where Flash is on a bed of nails. In the background we hear the theme song, chanting. FLASH! AHHHA! It scared the hell of me back then and truth be told, it still creeps me out now. But little did I know that the geniuses behind that song were the great band Queen. Flash Gordon aside, Queen was truly a killer band, no pun intended. They were also uniquely inventive. Very few acts before or since have made avant garde music so popular. Sure many of tried, but Queen married the genres of pop, rock and opera like nobody's business, before or since.

5. Electric Light Orchestra I've always felt bad for the guys of Electric Light Orchestra or as those in the know called them, ELO. This is because in my mind, they are one of the most underrated acts of the seventies. At the time they had a slew of hits, but as the years dragged on somehow they never got the respect they deserved. ELO had many hits, but their signature sound was their rich harmonies. Just give songs like Telephone Line and Do Ya' another listen and you'll hear what I mean.

6. Eagles The Eagles were a really cool band and this is why. They were one of the first artists to make country sounding music sound cool. The Eagles made the kind of music you could woo a lady with on songs like Desperado and New Kid In Town. Then with one click on the jukebox, they'd make bar fighting music like Heartache Tonight and Life In the Fast Lane. Not to mention the fact that many members of The Eagles went on to have successful solo careers in their own rights. It just goes to show you how much talent those guys had.

7. Fleetwood Mac It took me several years to appreciate Fleetwood Mac's music. I think it all started with Don't Stop and a weird semi-crush on Lindsay Buckingham that I developed in high school, several years after he was in his prime. I always thought Stevie Nicks was a bit overrated though. Still do if I'm being honest. But one thing is certain. Fleetwood Mac's incestous relationship no doubt bred some tension, but it also bred some great songs.

8. Elvis Presley I went back and forth on whether or not to include Elvis on this list before finally coming up with a rationalization that justified his being here. It was simple. I listened to If I Can Dream and Suspicious Minds back to back the morning I sat down to write this post. If I Can Dream might be technically late sixties and if so, then I cheated a bit. I know the seventies are when Elvis got into his scary, seguined beached whale phase, but that doesn't mean he doesn't deserve to be here in his final decade, before he left the building for good.

9. Barry Manilow I know people are going to be throwing tomatoes at me for this one but I don't care. There always has to be at least one controversial choice in every list I make. I think it's an unwritten rule. Anyway, I chose Barry not to purposely be controversial, but simply for the fact that the man wrote some of the best love songs, ever. He's like Celine Dion or better yet, the seventies answer to Clay Aiken. I don't care if you like them or not, you still should be able to listen to songs like Mandy, Weekend In New England and Even Now and be moved, no matter who you are.

10. Elvis Costello Who would have guessed it a decade with not one, but two great singers named Elvis? Amazing! Costello, however, is a very, very different musician then Presley. The great thing is they are both great in their own right. Elvis Costello and The Attractions made some great power pop punk type songs in the late eighties that proved to be very influential on the decades to come. Some consider men like Costello the Godfather of the new wave movement. With songs like Pump It Up and Oliver's Army, I can see why.

11. Squeeze As I sat down to formulate this list I realized that lo and behold, I had more than ten favorite artists. Who woulda thunk it? This is why I couldn't walk away without including one of my favorite bands of all time, Squeeze. They got their start in the seventies with great songs like Up The Junction, Slap and Tickle and Take Me, I'm Yours
but they didn't have mainsteam success until 81' with the smash hit, Tempted. Unfortunately many people wrongfully assume Squeeze was a one hit wonder because they never had a US hit nearly as big as this one. Because of this many people are missing out on some really great albums which actually goes well with the TITMT topic for the week before this one. Don't you just love it when things come together like that?

Honorable Mentions Go To...: Blondie, David Bowie, America, Abba, James Taylor, Cat Stevens, Journey, Bob Seger, Meatloaf and Chicago.
Saturday, October 07, 2006

7 Great Things About I Love The 70's, Volume 2: 1978 & 1979


1. "Within the Holy Trinity of Leif Garrett, Shaun Cassidy and Andy Gibb, Andy Gibb was the holy father, I think." (Mo Rocca)

2. "Andy Gibb had very long tresses with which he could either curl under in some sort of a bob to look a little bit more prim and straight laced, or he feathered them back when he really wanted to play the slut." (Mo Rocca)

3. "Ginsu, a Japanese word, loosely translates to, in American 'Gullible housewives will buy this.'" (Jake Fogeinest)

4. "You know you had your ballads and your hard rockers. He brought us ALL together. (Bil Dwyer on Billy Joel)

5. "'Should have found out, had a heart of glass.' Yes, if she had quality medical care she could have." (Michael Colton and John Aboud on Blondie's Heart of Glass)

6. "Jodie Foster. I was terrified of her when she was a child. I really thought she could kick my ass." (Willie Garson)

7. "Flower pots and basically computer program music. You wouldn't think that would work. It did." (Michael Ian Black on Devo)


1. "I think the American public was just craving a song about the dark lord of the Netherworld, Bealzebob himself, visiting one of our southern states and having a fiddling contest. And thank goodness, the Charlie Daniels Band was right there to fill that need." (Weird Al on the song, The Devil Went Down to Georgia)

2. "They were blowing up music. You have the option of not listening to the music. That's fine, too. But they were so angry at the music that they thought, 'Let's literally destroy music." (Michael Ian Black on the Disco Demolition) "If you hated disco so much, where did you get all those records to burn?" (Gloria Gaynor)

3. "The Rose was a movie about Bette Midler's perm. How could that perm fit on one person? How could so much hair be on one little person?" (Annabelle Gurwitch)

4. "I'm glad he's in a parking lot. That's where I want him. I want him on a short leash." (Michael Ian Black on Gregory Harrison's Trapper John MD character sleeping in a mobile home)

5. "It wasn't zero calories, it was one calorie. And that's what gave Tab it's extra kick!" (Rachael Harris)

6. "I think a Happy Meal would have made me happy... had it included love and acceptance." (Mo Rocca) "The prize was nice, but to me the prize was recognition. I liked that McDonald's was recognizing me as a consumer. Me a child. A mere child." (Michael Ian Black)

7. "The original title of Is She Really Going Out With Him? is, She's Not Gonna F*** Him, Is She?!" (Michael Colton and John Aboud on the Joe Jackson hit) "It's about the guy that I was in high school for example. You know, she's going otu with him? That douche? Let's say for example she's not going out with me. But him?! Honestly? It makes me think less of her." (Michael Ian Black)
Friday, October 06, 2006

7 Great Things About I Love The 70's, Volume 2: 1976 & 1977


1. "Primarily, for me, the attraction to The Doobies is that they just look so cool and they look so 70's and they were a multi-racial band. And they were on What's Happenin' once." (Michael Ian Black on The Doobie Brothers) "Kind've Charlie Brown teacheresque." (Cedric Yarborough on Michael McDonald's voice)

2. "The Omen is a classic switched at birth tale. But instead of a prince and a pauper, it's a baby and a spawn of satan." (Mo Rocca on The Omen)

3. "Forget what it's about for a second. It's about a Disco Duck. Timeless theme. Whatever. Let's talk about how it makes you feel. For me personally? Great. I hear Disco Duck and I'm on top of the world." (Michael Ian Black on Rick Dees, Disco Duck)

4. "With Wings, Paul McCartney was trying to erase the years of credibility he built up with The Beatles...and he succeeded." (Michael Colton and John Aboud) "Linda McCartney's presence in Wings showed how much he loved her. I mean he REALLY loved her." (Mo Rocca)

5. "She went from Taxi Driver to Freaky Friday. That's range." (Michael Ian Black on Jodie Foster) "My mom just had a hip replacement. I don't want to switch places with my mom." (Michael Ian Black)

6. "He didn't say nothing. But he's letting you know who's The Captain." (Michael Ian Black on Captain & Tenille)

7. "(In Search Of) UFO's, you know sort've quasi supernatural things. And he never found s**t. (Michael Ian Black on In Search Of...series) "How about in search of why Leonard Nimoy released an album?" (Chris Hardwick)


1. "The Calgon commerical strongly suggested that white people will believe anything Asian people tell them. And if fortune cookies are any indication, they're pretty much true." (Mo Rocca on Ain't Chinese Secret Calgon campaign)

2. "People would literally win hundreds of dollars on that show. Probably 2, 300 hundred dollars at a pop. I mean lives were changed. Fortunes were made." (Michael Ian Black on Joker's Wild)

3. "I remember flowing cascades of blonde goodness." (Michael Ian Black on Leif Garrett)

4. "Oh I used to love Name That Tune! They took songs only people over 80 would know and you tried to name them."(Joel Stein)

5. "What kind of people listen to Ted Nugent? Hicks and white trash. These aren't Pet Shop Boys fans." (Michael Ian Black)

6. "John Denver and George Burns. A comedy duo, literally made in heaven." (Michael Ian Black on Oh God! movies) "What else conjures up the images of greatness and other worldliness like George Burns,a little Jew who smokes a cigar." (Greg Fitzsimmons)

7. "I mean they look good in sweaters, don't get me wrong. But a girl solving mysteries? Come on please. Please. I mean that's why it's Fantasy Island. That's why it's Hollywood." (Michael Ian Black on Nancy Drew Mysteries)
Thursday, October 05, 2006

7 Great Things About I Love The 70's, Volume 2: 1974 & 1975


1. "Let me tell you. When I watched Password I discovered what anxiety attacks were." (Luis Guzman on Password)

2. "Chico and the Man. That was a show that did for Latinos what Sanford and Son did for black people, which is not a lot." (Greg Fitzsimmons) "Without the mustache he could be Burt Reynolds. Who cares?" (Michael Ian Black on Freddie Prinze)

3. "Before the Heimlich Maneuver there was this process called, 'Everyone Stand Around And Stare At The choking person.'" (Brad Sherwood) "'If arms can't reach around the victim, immediately go to the floor procedure'. If arms can't reach around the victim this isn't their debut choking. They've spent an awful lot of time cramming food down their throat." (Michael Ian Black)

4. "My favorite ELO song? Don't Bring Me Down, because I just wanted to know who Bruce was." (Michael Colton and John Aboud)

5. "Cause the 70's fashion wasn't tacky enough, let's put rhinestones on it!" (Adam Ferrera on the Bedazzler)

6. "You got a disaster of global proportions that might show up in the Bible? Chuck Heston will be there." (Hal Sparks on Earthquake)

7. "You have Jodie Foster, Ellyn Burstyn directed, by Martin Scorcese. How did that all become a tv show that says 'Kiss My Grits'?! Tell me that!" (guy from Howard Stern, talking about the movie, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore)


1. "Robert Urich was in every show in the 70's. If you wanted to pick up chicks in the 70s you needed a mustache, chest hair or you needed to be Robert Urich." (Chris Jericho)

2. "It wasn't like it was asking you, 'Can you do The Hustle? Would you like to do The Hustle? It was just DO THE HUSTLE!" (Shandrella Avery) "There was a little bit of an abusive undertone- DO THE HUSTLE!" (Mo Rocca)

3. "That was just them throwing a bone to the straight guys in the audience, both of them." (Weird Al Yankovic on Susan Sarandon being naked in Rocky Horror Picture Show)

4. "I always thought it was Lady Marmalade. I thought it was a song about jelly." (Annabelle Gurwitch)

5. "Some people say he ran a foul of the mafia. Obviously that's not true. The mafia doesn't exist. But he may have made some enemies in the labor movement somewhere. Or others say- no, that's pretty much all people say. The mob killed him." (Michael Ian Black on Jimmy Hoffa)

6. "I always thought it would be really cool to live on Thunder Road. Yeah, make a left on Maple and then a right on THUNDER ROAD!" (Michael Colton and John Aboud on the Bruce Springsteen song, Thunder Road)

7. "Before you had the constipated sounds of Michael Bolton in the 80's, you had the constipated, gritty sounds of Joe Cocker in the 70's." (Stephanie D'Abruzzo) "Why not you are so beautiful? To me?! I think that's an insult." (Nicole Sullivan) "He might as well have been singing, 'No One Else Thinks You're Beautiful, But Me.'" (Mo Rocca on Joe Cocker)
Wednesday, October 04, 2006

7 Great Things About I Love The 70's, Volume 2: 1972 & 1973

New renter alert Drivin' Barefoot is a self-proclaimed, "...Red~Headed, Blue Eyed, Freckle~Faced, Left~Handed, Colorblind, Guitar Pickin', Harpoon Blowin', LDS, Wisconsin Army National Guard Retired, U.S. Army (Airborne), Disabled Vet, On the Net." Why even attempt to write anything better when he went and did it for me?!

As for my seventies-themed week of posts, the beat goes on...


1. "Probably someone said we should give Paul his own show but we don't want people to think he's gay, so we'll make him a dad...I mean Paul Lind was ahead of his time. Today, no problem. Gay dad, daughter. That's a great show. That's Will & Grace without that annoying Grace." (Michael Ian Black on the Paul Lind Show)

2. "When they sang Mockingbird together. And I remember that specifically, because they had to put me on a suicide watch for 48 hours. Man that was bad." (Greg Fitzsimmons on Carly Simon and James Taylor's duet) "I have a feeling You're So Vain was written about JT by Carly. Or knowing JT, he probably wrote it about her writing about him and gave her the song." (Nelson) "Carly Simon wrote You're So Vain about him and he wrote Horse With No Name about her." (Joe Large)

3. "Alice Cooper. You gotta give him credit. The man actually made Alice a scary name." (Hal Sparks)

4. "I can say Mother F***er 10 times in a row and it's cute. I mean it's adorable. But when he says it, it's just downright funny." (Michael Ian Black on Richard Pryor)

5. "A mark of sexiness is being able to mack the ladies in all different kinds of environments, whether it was outer space, in a jazz club with Billie Holiday or slinging back a Colt 45 on a tv commercial. Billy Dee sexy." (Mo Rocca on Billy Dee Williams)

6. "Good Year Blimp debuted in 1972 because America was clamoring for slower air travel." (Bil Dwyer)

7. "I have a dream that is impossible. I want to talk normal." (Charo on To Dream The Impossible Dream Song from Man of La Mancha)


1. "Charles Nelson Reilly is the greatest celebrity ever for not really doing anything." (Chris Jericho)

2. "Celebrity bowling would keep you on the edge of your seat if you had nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing better to do." (Alonzo Bodden)

3. "There's a 20 year lag with nostalgia. So in the 70's, people were nostalgic about the 50's. Which means we should be talking about the 80's. This show is 10 years too late." (Michael Colton and John Aboud on the popularity of American Graffiti)

4. "The song is ultimately a pessimistic song. Cher is a breed half empty person rather than a breed half full. I mean Cher, you're a half breed. It's not like you're a quarter breed. Look on the bright side!" (Mo Rocca on Cher's Half Breed)

5. "I think it was the first time when it was ok for a guy to look up to another guy. It was the start of the man crush. I'm not gonna sleep with Steve McQueen, but I'd hug him. I'd take my shirt off, just like a couple of bros. Nothing's gonna happen. Unless he wants it to. Cause I mean, he could make me." (Brian Posehn on Steve McQueen)

6. "On some level though you're 9 years old, winning an Oscar. Then you're sorta like, I'm done. I peaked at nine. Now what? I guess I'll marry John McEnroe." (Michael Ian Black on Tatum O'Neal in Paper Moon)

7. "The Streets of San Francisco marked a big turning point for both Michael Douglas and Karl Malden. For Michael Douglas it was an entree into big Hollywood. For Karl Malden it was a ticket to an American Express commerical." (Mo Rocca)
Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Feelin' Groovy"

As part of my spur of the moment, seventies-themed week of posts, I bring you a psychedelic, seventies inspired TITMT. It goes a little something like this...

What are you top ten seventies artists or bands?

If you are participating on your blog, the rules are simple:

1. Answer this question ON YOUR BLOG and THEN link back to it via the box below.
2. Leave a comment letting me know you played along.
3. If you are interested in adding the box to your site, please visit Mister Linky.
4. If you have any questions or you're confused just ASK!

My 8 track choices will be on the turntable this Sunday!
Monday, October 02, 2006

7 Great Things About I Love The 70's, Volume 2: 1970 & 1971

Over the summer I watched VH1's I Love The 70's Volume Two. Whether it's I Love the 40's Volume 34 or I Love Tabasco Sauce, God bless the people at VH1 for continually managing to make memory lane entertaining.

At any rate, as people who have read AOGB since it's inception will tell you, this site always posted a top 10 response based out of those shows. It's like the Cliff Notes version of the classics. So needless to say, updates of each episode have been sitting in my drafted posts for sometime now. Why I haven't posted them earlier, I have no idea. But then I thought about it. It's a retake on the 70's, right? So reliving the seventies in August of 2006 or October of 2006 doesn't really make all that much difference. It's still the same dose of nostalgia.

So here's my plan. Everyday this week (guest post Thursday will begin next week) will be a new post devoted to quotes like you see below- except for TITMT which will be seventies themed and my answer to the TITMT on Sunday. I hope you like the plan because it's the one I'm going with. Groovy baby, yeah!


1. "I didn't think people named Norman Greenbaum were allowed to sing songs. They could fill your cavities for ya. If you need your taxes done, no problem. Singing 'Spirit In The Sky'? My hat's off to you, Mr. Jew." (Michael Ian Black)

2. "They're like the equivalent of Hollywood Squares for tv actors. It's where film actors go to die." (French Stewart on disaster films of the seventies)

3. "We are so baked. Joy to the fishes. Joy to you, man! Joy to me." (Michael Ian Black on Three Dog Night's Joy To The World)

4. "The long distance dedications were how I learned about how much difficulty there was in the world." (Joel Stein on Casey Kasem's radio show)

5. "Look, nobody loves Ryan Seacrest more than me. It's documented. But can he replace Casey Kasem? Can a Hyundai replace a Ferrari? Not where I live, chump." (Michael Ian Black)

6. "To me it's just about the music. Not the black people. Not the white people. Unless there's an Asian. Cause I have a thing for those chicks." (Michael Ian Black on Sly and The Family Stone's Music)

7. "Hippie fashion. The idea was that if we dress colorfully enough nobody will notice that we're dirty. Hey, there's a war on. We hate the soldiers. Let's dress like them! In 1970 they discovered irony. It was their way of saying hey man, we're with you, but we're not. It would have been nice if our infantry men started wearing tye dye, but that's not very good camoflauge for Vietnam." (Mo Rocca on hippies and the Vietnam war)


1. "Maybe they had writers. Maybe they didn't. I choose to believe they didn't. I want to preserve the fantasy. And if you tell me otherwise, I can't hear you." (Michael Ian Black on Hollywood Squares)

2. "That's a good song for when you're at summer camp. Winter, spring, summer or fall. Except for winter, spring and fall, I'll be your friend in summer for four weeks and then I'll you'll leave camp and I'll never be your friend again. All you gotta do is call? I don't have your phone number. You didn't give it to me." (Michael Ian Black on James Taylor's You've Got A Friend)

3. "Jerry Garcia is probably the most unlikely rock persona, ever. He looks like if your math teacher was stranded on a desert island for like 20 years and then you rescued him. This is what he'd look like." (Brad Sherwood)

4. "If KTEL never existed we wouldn't have popular albums today like 'NOW That's What I Call A Random Compilation Of Recently Released, Semi Popular Songs That We Can License Cheaply And Get Out In A Hurry!'" (Weird Al Yankovic on record compilations of the 70's)

5. "Gordon Lightfoot was from Canada. Truth is if you could read his mind you'd probably find a tale about Mounties and moose." (Mo Rocca) "It was one of those sogns you would hear on a drizzly day. If that was like the first song they played in the morning you just knew--don't go nowhere." (Luis Guzman) (Talking About the song, If You Could Read My Mind)

6. "She took the women of Malibu and she gave them a voice. Malibu Barbie was really the Rosa Parks of Malibu women." (Mo Rocca)

7. "You just hate to see people die. What is that teaching us about race relations in this country? Come together- one of you is going to drop dead. That's a message I took to heart. It's why I have no black friends." (Michael Ian Black on the film, Brian's Song)
Sunday, October 01, 2006

Write Back Weekend "Smell Ya Later"

It was the best of smells, it was the worst of smells.

This week's TITMT was all about the smells that bring us joy...and pain. For some they even go one step further and trigger memories. For others they have to imagine what certain things smell like as they have no sense of smell themselves. Without sounding cliche, that stinks, though if you had to lose a sense, I suppose smell would be the best way to go. Not smelling could be a bitch, but not being able to see, hear, taste or touch would be even bigger bummers. But I digress. Here we go. My fine smells....

The Sweet Smells That Are A Success aka The Good Smells

1. The Detergent Aisle At the Grocery Store- Everyone loves the smell of clean clothes coming straight from the dryer, but did you ever stop to give props to the proper source? The winning combination of your washing machine and dryer are mere accomplices in this process. If you want to know who you should really write the thank you note to, look no further than the laundry detergent aisle at your local grocery store.

2. New car- Sure, getting a new car is exciting for all the obvious reasons, but another major bonus is once again acquiring that new car smell. People in masses started expressing how much they loved this smell. So the air fresh companies heard this and tried to recreate the magic, long after the real new car smell was gone by manufacturing new car scented air freshners. But no little tree, no matter how carefully packaged, can bring that new car smell glee back as much as that new car itself.

3. Dunkin' Donuts- Everytime I walk in to a Dunkin' Donuts I am overwhelmed by the goodness of the smell. I can't quite put my finger on what it is that makes their smell so special. I mean there are other places that carry all the same things, but for some reason, none of them manage to create the same, special blend of goodness. I often wonder if people who work at Dunkin' Donuts love the smell half as much as I do, or if that smell eventually loses it's appeal, like many objects of lust tend to do over time.

4. Coffee brewing- Don't be fooled. The smell of coffee brewing is an all together different smell than than of Dunkin' Donuts signature fragrance. Unlike the very specific time and place that is associated with the double D, coffee can be smelled anytime, any place. You can even journey to the about to be brewed section of your local grocery store. While you're there- be sure to check out the laundry detergent aisle, too.

5. Baked Goods- Ok, so maybe I'm painting with broad strokes on this one, but really there are a multitude of baked goods baking that make me happy. This made it nearly impossible to choose just one. Any type of pie. Any kind of bread. Cakes. Muffins. You name it. The weirdest thing in is that I often love the smell of baked goods more than the baked good themselves. I guess in a way that makes me lucky. If I loved eating them as much as I enjoyed smelling them, I'd have a much "bigger" problem on my hands.

6. A Fire Burning in a Fireplace- Although I've never had a fireplace, there's something about this smell that gives me the warm fuzzies inside. Better than the smell of being up close with the fire is walking past a house that has a fire going on a cool, fall night. In fact I did just that today. This is why the fireplace bit made the list.

7. Freshly Cut Flowers- If you've ever received flowers from someone, you know there is something far better than watching how pretty they look in the corner of your work cubicle. That something better is the smell they bring with them. I love leaving and then returning to a room that contains fresh flowers. It's a good enough smell to make you forget they are going die in a day or two.

8. Candles Being Blown Out- This is hands down, probably my most favorite smell of all time. Seriously. If I could bottle this scent, I would. It's the main reason, not unlike my love affair with baked goods, why I love birthday parties. I could care less about the actual birthday cake but I always say the more reasons to blow a candle out, the better.

9. The Beach- No, I'm not talking about the Lord of The Flies type movie that Leonardo DiCaprio was in a few years back. I'm talking about the real, live beach. It's an intoxicating mix of sea, sand, surf and suntan lotion.

10. Men's Right Guard Extreme Deodorant- To some this might seem like quite a peculiar choice, but ladies, if you've ever come close to a a man wearing this particular deodorant I doubt you'd disagree. The first time I realized I loved this scent was when I realized it was the deodorant my boyfriend wore. At the time he was still out to impress and would wear cologne too. But it wasn't the cologne that impressed me. Oh no. It was all about the deodorant.

Don't Stand So Close To Me aka Smells I Hate

1. Freshly mowed grass- If there was ever a smell like the ears Achille's heel- nails on a chalkboard, freshly mowed grass would be it for me. I don't have bad allergies, but the smell of cut grass makes the headache I didn't expect to get earlier that day suddenly come barreling to the surface.

2. Any Hardware Store- I can still remember being a kid and complaing about having to take a trip to Rickel's. See at the time, Rickel's was the Home Depot. Why? Because there was no Home Depot, or no Lowe's for that matter. They can smack any name on it they want. If they carry the sickening smell of wood chips and sawdust, it's all the same to me.

3. Movie Theater Popcorn- I don't know when I officially started hating the smell of movie theater popcorn. I mean as a kid I quite enjoyed going to the movies and getting the popcorn. But it wasn't until recently that I could once again enjoy actually eating some of it. The same goes for popcorn popping in my home microwave, but for some reason it's far worse at the movie theater. I think that's merely because there's just so damn much of it.

4. Cabbage Cooking- Cabbage is one of those weird foods I have a love/hate relationship with. I hate the way it smells while it's cooking and I hate the way it smells when you're done eating it, if you catch my drift (no pun intended). But the taste of it, when cooked right, is great. That just goes to show. You should never judge a book food by it's cover smell.

5. Cigarette Smoke- This is probably the most obvious choice on my list and doesn't really need much clarification. But just once more for old time's sake, let me try to explain something to all the smokers out there. Yes, the smell really is that bad and no, that fan doesn't help alleviate the smell not now, or even two days from now when my coat will still, no doubt smell like the cigarette I didn't smoke. Thank you very much.

6. Wet Dog- I love dogs. I love water. But dogs and water and enclosed spaces is quite the lethal combination. Thinking otherwise is just barking up the wrong tree.

7. Skunk- I once wrote a post about how a skunk must have died outside our house one night because the smell permeated the entire premises. I felt like I was in one of those horrible killer bee or bird movies only without the birds and bees. It was just this inexplicable, undeniable no way out feeling that washed over me. All that because a skunk is afraid. That stinks.

8. Morning breath- I don't care who you are or where you come from, your breath does not, I repeat, not smell good when you first wake up in the morning. And if you're sick, take that piece of advice and multiply it by ten. Now I just wish television and movie producers would be more aware of this simple fact. I like to escape reality as much as the next guy, but if I have to endure one more just woken up kissing scene I think I might barf.

9. Steam That Comes Out Of The Sewers in NYC- So maybe this smell is not exclusive to New York. All I know is that I don't smell it nearly as much in New Jersey. I think this is because NYC is a funkier city all together so it only makes sense their smells should be funkier, too. Perhaps it's just a city thing. All I know is that the smell almost always attacks you before you are about to injest something, like a hot dog parked at the stand right next door to that particular patch of grating. Nothng says "appetite lost" better.

10. Water Left Over From Flowers- This is a bittersweet way to make this post come full circle. You might remember earlier I picked freshly cut flowers as one of my scents of choice. But what Mother Nature doesn't tell you is that every flower must have it's day. And so after the flower unfortunately dies, the worst part, worse than the dying and disposal of the flower itself is getting rid of that nasty flower water that's left over in the vase. I don't know what it is. All I know is that flowers sitting in water for too long is the reason I don't buy more freshly cut flowers on my own.

I don't know how you feel about it, but just writing about those awful smells made me feel sick. I guess I should go bake some cookies or inhale some Right Guard. You know, just to take the edge off.



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