Thursday, November 26, 2009

Slapsgiving 2: Revenge of the Slap

It's a Slapsgiving Day Miracle:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sammy Davis Jr. only had one eye

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

better ingredients?

Papa John Schmatter or Papa il Baggaduce'?
Just another reason we prefer Pizza Hut...

photo courtesy of navi

Saturday, August 01, 2009


It wasn't him, Charley, it was you...

This month, HBO is airing a powerful new documentary entitled Assault in the Ring, in which filmmaker Eric Drath seeks to uncover the truth behind the darkest day in boxing history. On June 16, 1983, Billy Collins, Jr. fought Luis Resto in an undercard bout for the Roberto Duran - Davey Moore fight in Madison Square Garden.

Collins was a highly-touted and undefeated phenom and Resto was a seasoned, yet uninspiring underdog with a 20-7-1 record. Resto dominated Collins in each of the 10 rounds, getting a unanimous decision. Celebration was short lived as Collins' corner quickly discovered that Resto's gloves had been tampered with. Much of the gloves' padding had been removed, prompting an immediate investigation by the boxing authorities and the NY District Attorney.

As for Collins, the severe damage to his eye sustained in the fight allegedly left him unable to box. Without the stabalizing force of a career, Collins' life plunged into a downward spiral that included drinking, drugs and an estrangement from his wife and child. Sadly, Collins died in 1984 when he crashed his car while driving intoxicated.

Ultimately, Resto and his trainer Panama Lewis were not only banned from boxing but also convicted and imprisoned for conspiracy and assault. Upon his release from prison, Luis Resto's life was very much a lonely and difficult life-imitating-art scenario, à la On the Waterfront (see below).

Originally titled "Cornered: A Life in the Ring," Eric Drath initially sets out with his cameras and investigative team to vindicate Resto, who has maintained his innocence for a quarter of a century. As facts and participants are confronted, Assault becomes an amazing journey of truth and redemption. Expertly put together and unapologetically honest, this 80-minute documentary is definitely worth a watch.

It wasn't him, Charley, it was you. Remember that night in the Garden you came down to my dressing room and you said, "Kid, this ain't your night. We're going for the price on Wilson." You remember that? "This ain't your night"! My night! I coulda taken Wilson apart! So what happens? He gets the title shot outdoors on the ballpark and what do I get? A one-way ticket to Palookaville! You was my brother, Charley, you shoulda looked out for me a little bit. You shoulda taken care of me just a little bit so I wouldn't have to take them dives for the short-end money . . . You don't understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it. It was you, Charley.

Friday, July 03, 2009

What democratic eloquence...

Simon Wilder: You asked the question, sir, now let me answer it. The beauty of the Constitution is that it can always be changed. The beauty of the Constitution is that it makes no set law other than faith in the wisdom of ordinary people to govern themselves.
Proffesor Pitkannan: Faith in the wisdom of the people is exactly what makes the Constitution incomplete and crude.

Simon Wilder: Crude? No, sir. Our founding parents were pompous, white, middle-aged farmers, but they were also great men. Because they knew one thing that all great men should know: that they didn't know everything. Sure, they'd make mistakes - but they made sure to leave a way to correct them. The president is not an elected king, no matter how many bombs he can drop - because the "crude" Constitution doesn't trust him. He's just a bum, okay Mr. Pitkannan? He's just a bum.

Happy 233rd, America.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Take those old records off the shelf...

...No, really. Take them off the shelf and play something different for a change.

A recent post on a friend's blog lamenting the lack of quality songs these days brought to mind a musical complaint of our own: ridiculously overplayed songs on classic rock radio.

Now this complaint is by no means exclusively ours. Many music fans express their chagrin over the seemingly abundant airplay of classics such as "Free Bird," "Piano Man," "Brown Eyed Girl," et al., however there are a number of, shall we say um, "lesser" songs out there that are just as abounding.

Let us clarify: while bountiful repetitions of "Free Bird" and the like might get on the nerves of some, we find it hard to complain about those instances, as they are, no doubt, the result of listener requests. Can you imagine how many calls classic rock stations get each day from some good ol' boy requesting some Skynyrd or some middle-aged office toiler with brown eyes asking for some Van Morrison? Irksome as that may be, we dare not challenge this time-honored and democratic tradition. Radio requests are pretty much as American as apple pie.

Our beef is with another category of songs whose radio recurrence is a bit more subtle and a lot harder to understand. These are songs that may not have necessarily been all-out charttoppers, but still recognizable. And for some reason, we find these songs in heavy rotation every day.

Why? Are these other songs cheaper? Do stations not have to pay as much to BMI or whoever for these less popular titles? Or do they just put them on one big, looped playlist and walk away, forcing us to suffer an autopilot DJ?

Who knows? Well here are a few of those songs that prompt us to change the station:

"She's a Beauty"
The Tubes, 1983

Be careful, once this gets in your head, it's hard to get out...You'd know it if you heard it:

...But don't fall in love! (She's a beauty!)
One in a million girls...

Oh, where to begin with this gem? Hmm. Well first of all, the song itself is probably not all that anger-provoking (except that it may sound like it's about guarding the heart, but it may actually be about prostitutes). Having peaked at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100, the redeeming thing about this song is that it just oozes with the 1980's. For some reason it is very evocative of 80's movies like Three Men & a Baby and The Secret of My Success.

Unfortunately, this track seems to appear hourly on both of the major classic rock stations in our area. We suspect it is a similar story in other markets. We aren't exaggerating - hourly. Ridiculous. So why the broadcast overkill? Surely people aren't calling in for this track. There's an almost endless rock & roll library from which to choose. We demand an explanation.

*Furthermore, have you seen the video for this diddy? Granted, it was only two years into the MTV era (the music video artform was still young and evolving), but this vid is nothing short of inappropriate. Although extremely mild by today's standards, we can see why this may not have received a lot of attention from VJ's in '83. For crying out loud, the bass drums on the drumset are painted like boobs! It probably wasn't long after this was made that the Tubes faded back into obscurity. But if they're getting paid every time their song plays on the radio, we're sure they don't mind such obscurity...

"All She Wants To Do Is Dance"
Don Henley, 1984

...Man, could you change the station? I've had a rough night and I hate the Eagles, man!The popular disdain for the Eagles that began to snowball after "The Dude" whined about them in The Big Lebowski is still going today. We submit that such disdain is definitely not warranted by the Eagles' music in and of itself. Instead, this is a direct result of insane radio overkill. Have you noticed this? This broadcast saturation has ruined the Eagles!

The overkill is not limited to just Eagles tracks, either. The overplaying has unfortunately carried over to their solo projects, and this hit from Don Henley is no exception. If you go out to your car right now and put your radio on "scan," we assure you that you will hear this song within the next fifty-two minutes. Whoever you are out there controlling the playlists (Clear Channel), please, please ease up on the Eagles - they're making enough already off concert ticket prices. Quit forcing them down our ears every hour!

"Insert annoying Rush song title here"
Rush, 1974-85

Rush. We don't get it. We just don't get it. Today, "Freewill" was playing on a local station, and although it is [thankfully] not a victim of radio overplay, it did serve as a reminder of all the other Rush songs that do get played day in and day out. "Freewill" embodies everything that is annoying about a Rush song, from that wannabe progressive-ish sound of synthesized distortion to Geddy Lee's uber-shrill vocals. We get to enjoy those nuisances in wonderful tracks like "Fly By Night," "Limelight" and "Tom Sawyer" - all of which are constantly in heavy, heavy rotation.

Jason Segel fronts a Rush tribute band in I Love You, ManThe fascination with Rush is something of a pop-culture phenomenon that is just beyond us here at The Briefcase. Generally attributed to older crowds like Stephen Colbert, Jack Black and the creators of the 2009 film I Love You, Man, Rush fandom is difficult to explain. Conan O'Brien has called them "the Canadian Lynyrd Skynyrd," and he couldn't be more right - not because they're classic and great, but because they're on the radio just as much as [but probably more than] the boys from Jacksonville. So please, lineup programmers, please lay off the Rush. Our sanity - and commuter safety across the country - just may depend on it.

Bob Seger, 1975

Bob Seger gets enough overplay with "Old Time Rock and Roll" and "Night Moves," do we really have to sit there and take "Katmandu"?? There just can't be anyone calling in hour after hour for this bad boy. It is quite terrible. The gist of the song is a duality: Bob loves America and his record company, but Bob hates working in the land of the free so much that he's got to move to Nepal. Sadly, his misspelling of Kathmandu might indicate that he doesn't know too much about his dream town, and that he just chose it for its number of syllables and rhyming potential (a subject addressed by the previously mentioned DnC post). Ka Ka Ka Ka Ka Ka Katmandu... Really, who wants that in their heads all day? Something has to do be done to stop this auditory travesty.

What classic rock songs do you feel should be taken out of rotation? Feel free to share...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

These waves are mine...

The delivery van for sale across the street gave us an idea...

...Anyone wanna loan us a few bucks?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A voice from the past

AMC has been running Lonesome Dove this week. Originally a four-part miniseries on CBS twenty years ago, AMC has condensed it to a two-nighter, and naturally the promos during the commercial break encourage viewers to "come back tomorrow night for the conclusion of..."

Anderson's Ghoulardi character hosted late night sci-fi and horror films on local Cleveland TV in the 60'sThat "conclusion" line triggered the old memory marbles and I flashed to the old ABC voiceover voice. Lines like "stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of [insert movie of the week/miniseries here]" started running through my head. I can hear that voice describing programs like Winds of War, War & Remembrance, Lace, and the Swayze classic North and South. Also the announcer for ABC's America's Funniest Home Videos and the preview commercials for the syndicated Star Trek: The Next Generation, that voice always described the ABC movie of the week (usually "The ABC Sunday Night Movie").

Since the early to mid 1980's was an age when cable actually wasn't in every home (and for the homes that had it, there were, at best, around only 30 cable channels), the ABC Sunday Night Movie was always a contender for the points/share. And you can bet that if it was a Bond movie, as it was often the case, I was on the floor right in front of the tube, letting that deep, steady & enthusiastic voice prepare me for the evening's entertainment. So whose voice was that? It was as much of a staple in our lives as that "movie trailer guy" or that PA voice at Disney World (both of whom, by the way, probably also deserve their just attention from the Briefcase).

It was the voice of the late Ernie Anderson. A veteran radio and television personality since WWII, Anderson was also once a comedy partner with the great Tim Conway. His body of work prompted Fred Silverman to make him the official voice of the America Brodcasting Company in the 1970's, a position he held until his death in 1997. His voice can still be hired by radio and television outlets today, as his family has a library of over 500 lines available for broadcast use. Also of note - Anderson had four children, one of whom is none other than director Paul Thomas Anderson (Punch-Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood). Who knew?

Below is one of Anderson's many clips available on YouTube to take you back. Remember that old intro animation? Awesome.

And getting slight off-topic, but after showing that great 80's TV lead-in, we can't help but put this one up from Home Box Office (that's "HBO" to anyone under 30):

Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Day the Music Died

...But February made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn’t take one more step
I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died...

February 3, 1959: Don McLean was a thirteen year-old paper boy in New Rochelle, NY, when the headlines in his hands informed him of the tragic end of rock pioneers Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson. The event would eventually inspire and dominate his most famous composition "American Pie."

This week marks the 50th anniversary of The Day the Music Died. You are probably familiar with the lore surrounding this fateful flight, how Waylon Jennings let an ailing Big Bopper have his seat on the plane, how Tommy Allsup and Richie Valens flipped a coin for the remaining spot, and how Holly (a little annoyed that Jennings was going to stay on the tour bus) joked to Jennings "Well I hope yer ol' bus freezes up!" - to which Waylon quipped back "Well I hope yer damn plane crashes!"

Of course, also noteworthy is the impact these artists had on music. Valens certainly made his mark as the first Chicano (that's old school for 'Mexican-American') to make it big in rock and roll. Did you know that the Big Bopper also composed Johnny Preston's #1 hit single "Running Bear" as well as George Jones' #1 hit "White Lightning?"

And as for Holly? Just ask any rock act of the following two decades. The members of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles will be the first to tell you that there would be no Stones or Beatles (as we know them) if it weren't for Buddy Holly. In fact, Graham Nash named his band The Hollies. Although Rolling Stone magazine only has Holly ranked at #13 on their Top 100 Artists of All Time, it has long been suggested/debated that he would have gone down as the real "king" of rock and roll, had he survived.

Further reading:
  • The January 5, 2009 issue of Rolling Stone has a nice write-up on it (on newsstands now), and the RS website has a couple (different than the mag) of articles as well. After reading them, you will certainly see that the music definitely did not die.
  • The Briefcase is also looking to see if the Pint Pundit will have any selections to play for us this week's warble. He may not be a Holly man, we'll see.
  • And worth mentioning - we guess - would be first, the highly condensed and fictionalized 1978 film The Buddy Holly Story - not so much for its historical or cinematic qualities, but rather for the great Gary Busey, who actually did a decent job with the role. After that, check out the 1985 made-for-television production by Paul McCartney, The Real Buddy Holly Story.