Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Retro Video of the Week: "Hey Ladies" by The Beastie Boys

This Friday marks the 25th anniversary of the release of The Beastie Boys' sophomore album, Paul's Boutique.  While the album was a relative commercial failure compared to the group's debut album, License to Ill, Paul's Boutique has garnered significant critical and industry acclaim, landing on various lists, not only of top hip hop albums of all-time, but across any genre.  It was unique and innovative because it relied so heavily on sampling, which was not nearly as common back then as it is now.  Paul's Boutique helped usher in the use of sampling in hip hop music.  One of my favorite stories about the album is that, after The Beatles either sued or threatened to sue The Beastie Boys over the use of a few Beatles samples, Mike D's response was "What's cooler than getting sued by The Beatles?"  Not getting sued by The Beatles, I would venture to say, but still a good response.

The whole album is good, although I don't think there were a lot of videos made, since there were only two singles released off the album, "Hey Ladies" and "Shadrach."  I went with "Hey Ladies," since the video is kind of a precursor to some of the retro-inspired videos The Beastie Boys would release down the road.  This one has a nice '70s theme.  This was also the only song off of the album to make the charts, hitting #36 on the Billboard Hot 100 and becoming the first ever song to crack the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot Rap Singles (#10) and Billboard Modern Rock Tracks (#18) charts. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tuesday Top Ten: Songs With "Baby" In The Title

A while back, the oldies station here in Chicago had a weekend featuring songs with "baby" in the title.  I have a baby, so it now seems like the right time to do a Tuesday Top Ten with my ten favorite songs with the word "baby" in the title.  Just so no one freaks out about the absences of Alice Cooper's "Billion Dollar Babies" or The Beatles' "Baby's In Black," this list is strictly limited to songs with the word "baby" in them, as opposed to any variation of the word.

With that, here are my top ten songs with "baby" in the title:

Honorable mention (alphabetical by song title):  "Anything for My Baby" by KISS; "Baby Be Mine" by Michael Jackson; "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-A-Lot; "Baby, I Need Your Lovin'" by The Four Tops; "Baby, I'm Yours" by Barbara Lewis; "Baby It's You" by The Beatles; "Baby Please Don't Go" by AC/DC; "Baby Please Don't Go" by The Amboy Dukes; "Baby Please Don't Go" by Thin Lizzy; "Baby Please Don't Go" by Muddy Waters; "Baby, You're a Rich Man" by The Beatles; "Bossa Nova Baby" by Elvis Presley; "Bye Bye Baby" by Janis Joplin; "Casanova, Baby!" by The Gaslight Anthem; "Come Baby Come" by K7; "Cry Baby" by Janis Joplin; "Cry Baby Cry" by The Beatles; "Doin' It All (For My Baby) by Huey Lewis & The News; "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby" by Carl Perkins; "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby" by The Beatles; "Have You Seen Your Mother Baby?" by The Rolling Stones; "Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)" by Jimi Hendrix; "I Can't Quit You Baby" by Led Zeppelin; "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" by Bob Dylan; "Maybe Baby" by Buddy Holly & The Crickets; "Ozone Baby" by Led Zeppelin; "Rock Me Baby" by Otis Redding; "Speedin' Back to My Baby" by KISS; "Talking About My Baby" by The Impressions; "The Big Three Killed My Baby" by The White Stripes; "The KKK Took My Baby Away" by The Ramones; "Wild About You Baby" by Elmore James

10 (tie).  "Hey! Baby" by Bruce Channel
I would be remiss if I didn't include this 1961 sing-along classic.  You don't know the real power of the song, however, until you've heard it in a beer tent in Munich during Oktoberfest, as thousands of drunk Germans belt it out.

10 (tie).  "Ice Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice
There cannot be a list of top ten songs with "baby" in it without "Ice Ice Baby," even if the bassline was stolen from Queen and David Bowie.  Even 20+ years later, I still know every word to this song.

9.  "Baby Fratelli" by The Fratellis
Behind "Chelsea Dagger," this might be my favorite Fratellis song.

8.  "Baby Blue" by Badfinger
I realize this song has taken on some renewed interest, since it was used in the series finale of Breaking Bad, but it was a great song for 42 years before that.  It's catchy proto power pop, and for me, this is Badfinger at the top of their game.

7.  "There Goes My Baby" by The Drifters
This is probably my favorite Drifters song, and unfortunately, it doesn't get as much love on oldies stations as some of their other songs, like "Under the Boardwalk," "Up On The Roof," or "On Broadway," which is strange, since "There Goes My Baby" was a #2 song on the Billboard Hot 100.  Of course, what makes this song so great is the soulful lead singer, Ben E. King, who would leave the group about a year later (and two years later would release his signature song, "Stand By Me").

6.  "Baby Drives Me Crazy" (live) by Thin Lizzy. 
This is one of the standout tracks on Thin Lizzy's phenomenal 1978 live double album, Live and Dangerous.  It's the kind of song that makes you wish you were at the show where it was recorded.  Interesting tidbit:  that wailing harmonica you hear is played by none other than Huey Lewis.

5.  "Baby, I Love You" by The Ronettes
This is my second favorite Ronettes song with the word "baby" in the title.  There's something about Ronnie Spector's voice in those opening lines that gives me goosebumps.  Combined with the Wall of Sound, it doesn't get much better than this, as far as pure pop songs go.

4.  "Born to Be My Baby" by Bon Jovi
The second of five Top 10 songs off of Bon Jovi's 1988 New Jersey album, "Born to Be My Baby" (which got to #3) seems to get lost in the shuffle amongst the many other great Bon Jovi songs of that era.  It's got a great chorus and pretty much rocks, so that's why I like it.

3.  "Baby Please Don't Go" by Them
It was tough to choose a version of "Baby Please Don't Go" for this list because there are many good ones.  Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, and Lighting Hopkins have great blues versions, AC/DC has a really good, balls-out version, and The Amboy Dukes (Ted Nugent's band before he went solo) has a good one as well.  However, I went with the version that made my fall in love the song, by Them.  It's hard to believe Van Morrison was only 19 when he sang this, but then again, that's why he has one of the greatest voices in rock history.  This version is as frenetic as some of the others, but that '60s mod vibe and Morrison's voice make this one stick out.

2.  "Don't Worry Baby" by The Beach Boys
This song makes me want to smile and cry at the same time, which speaks to Brian Wilson's genius and the power of the Beach Boys' harmonies.  Released in 1964, it was one of the last great songs that can honestly capture the innocence of the early '60s, although I note that with some irony, given that the song says "don't worry baby / everything will turn out all right," and the next half of the decade was a rather tumultuous one.

1.  "Be My Baby" by The Ronettes
This is one of my five favorite songs from the '60s, and one of my 25 favorite songs of all-time.  Yes, two Ronettes songs deserve to be on this list, and yes, this is the best song of all-time with the word "baby" in it.  Hell, Brian Wilson was trying to capture the essence of "Be My Baby" when he wrote "Don't Worry Baby."  That's how great this song is.

Top Ten Songs With "Baby" In the Title by GMYH on Grooveshark

Monday, July 21, 2014

The "Fattest Things" I've Ever Done

A couple days ago, my buddy DBH sent me an article entitled "23 People on the 'Fattest Thing' They've Ever Done."  Apparently, AskReddit users were asked "what's the fattest thing you've ever done?" and this article posts some of the best responses.  There are some pretty solid ones.

Reading the article got me thinking about some of the more gluttonous things I've ever done.  Obviously, everyone overindulges on Thanksgiving or eats way too much when they go to Fogo de Chao, but then there are those times when you aren't necessarily planning on doing something "fat," but you do, or times when you say to yourself, "Shit man, I really need to get my daily caloric intake in one sitting.  Time to go to Taco Bell and get a Grande Meal."  Here are the five "fattest things" I have done.

23 Chicken Tenders
Freshman year at IU, I had a "traditional dining hall" in the dorm next to me, which meant that it served breakfast, lunch, and dinner, cafeteria style, so it was pretty much all you can eat.  A couple guys from my floor and I decided to have an eating contest one night when they had chicken tenders (fried, of course).  I should note that these were closer in size to chicken breasts than to chicken nuggets –- probably 2-4 ounces each.  I ate 23.  I won.  It's a wonder why I gained 17 pounds by November of my freshman year.

Double Bamba #1
Also when I was at IU, as I was wont to do after a night of boozing, I went to the now-defunct famed late night burrito stop, LaBamba.  Their slogan was "burritos as big as your head," and the burritos came in three sizes:  junior, regular, and super.  The super was probably 10-12 inches long and 4-5 inches in diameter.  It was mammoth.  The steak version with everything (which is what I got) had to be over 1500 calories.  I usually just ordered the regular, but one night, I concluded that a regular just wasn't going to cut it, so I order a super with steak.  At this particular time, I lived about 4 blocks away from LaBamba, and I would often spend my stumble home enjoying a burrito –- a "walking burrito," we used to call it.  So, I took my super steak burrito to go and devoured it on the walk home.  When I arrived home, I realized that I was somehow not full.  So I walked back to LaBamba and order a regular steak burrito, which I then devoured on my walk home.  It's a wonder why I left Bloomington 30 pounds heavier than when I first arrived.

Double Bamba #1
Another time, I was visiting some friends at Eastern Illinois.  They also had a LaBamba.  In the middle of a house party, I walked over there by myself, got a regular steak burrito, walked back to the party, ate the burrito, immediately walked back to LaBamba by myself, got another regular steak burrito, walked back to the party, ate the burrito, and then made out with some chick.  God, I miss college.

Parking Lot Pizza
A couple years ago, I was at a wedding in a small town in Illinois.  Monical's is a pizza chain, the bulk of whose restaurants are in central Illinois.  As the reception was nearing an end, the bride recommended Monical's as a late-night food option.  Mind you, this was only a couple hours after we had eaten a nice, filling meal at the reception.  I can't remember why we ordered the pizza right then and there (perhaps Monical's was about to close or something), but someone ordered two extra larges to be delivered to the banquet hall parking lot.  The plan was to take it back to the hotel for room parties.  Three of us went out to meet the delivery guy.  After getting the pizza, we popped one guy's trunk and put the pizzas in there.  It smelled too damn good, so we said to ourselves, "let's have a piece before we go back to the hotel."  I kid you not, it took the three of us no more than five minutes to finish off an entire pizza.  We murdered that thing without so much as word spoken.  Just three grown men in suits standing in a banquet hall parking lot eating pizza out of a car trunk in silence.  "I thought we ordered two pizzas," our wives said when we got back to the hotel.  "We did," we answered sheepishly.

McDoner's
Last year when I was in Munich (the rest of the trip recap is coming at some point, I swear!), I got a doner kebab after a night of drinking.  Not satiated by this delicious Turkish treat, I headed straight to McDonald's, where I got a double cheeseburger and fries, the latter of which I drenched in mayo.  The next night, I just got two doner kebabs because when's the next time I'm going to be in Munich?

I'm sure there are some other "fattest things" I've done that I'm forgetting or have blocked out of my memory.  What about you?  What's the "fattest thing" you've ever done?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

17 Pieces of Advice for Students Applying for Scholarships

I recently had the pleasure of reading some college scholarship application essays.  The essay question was something like "why did you choose to continue your education at the college you will be attending?"  It was an eye-opening experience because I guess I just didn't realize that even really smart high school students can be really shitty writers.  It also really made me want to find the scholarship application essays that I wrote when I was a senior in high school to see how bad –- or brilliant –- they were.  I guess the fact that I didn't get every scholarship I applied for is probably an indication.

Anyway, here is some candid advice for any kids out there who may be writing scholarship application essays (or even college applications essays/personal statements).

1.  Say something unique.  Most of the essays I read said the exact same thing.  The applicant fell in love with the campus and wants to go to a school where the major he or she thinks he or she wants to have is highly ranked.  These essays were generic enough that, with a couple slight changes, you could interchange pretty much any decent college.  They were boring to read.  The essays that stuck out told an interesting story about themselves and made that fit into why they wanted to go to the school. Put yourself in the shoes of the reader, and ask yourself whether a reader would think your essay is generic.

2.  Don't be afraid to be creative.  One essay started with a first-person narrative of the applicant's struggle in a yoga class, and then she went on to explain how that related to her desire to major in something health-related at the school.  Another applicant talked about how his dad always wanted him to listen to a certain album, but he kept putting it off, and then when he finally listened to it, he loved it.  Then he worked that into why he wanted to go to that college.

3.  Organize your thoughts instead of vomiting them onto a piece of paper.  Your essay should have a theme, and everything should relate to that theme.  Remember those things called topic sentences your English teachers have pounded into your head since grade school?  Use them.  Don't start a paragraph in the middle of a thought or try to combine five different ideas into one paragraph.

4.  Answer the question that is asked.  While your family's financial struggles may affect whether you are eligible for a scholarship that includes a financial need component, you should not include those in your essay when question asks why you chose a particular college.  You didn't decide to go to that college because your dad got laid off and your mom has tons of medical bills.  That's not to say that those facts would never be relevant, but just make sure you can work them into why you're going to that school (or whatever the essay question might be).

5.  There is absolutely no need to regurgitate facts about the college.  You don't have to identify the exact ranking of particular majors, the exact number of Greek houses there are, or the number of volumes the main library houses.  All that shows is that you have the ability to go to the school's website and copy and paste.  Also, it makes it seem like the only thing you care about is ranking.  Would you be applying to this school if their business school was ranked #20 by U.S. News and World Report and not #15, or if it had 35 Greek houses instead of 45?  Probably.  Just say it has a strong business school or a large Greek system.

6.  The essay should be about you, not about the school.  This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the previous point.  A lot of the applicants spent several paragraphs praising the school and spewing facts about the school, but didn't really talk about themselves, other than to say something like "and that's why I want to go here" after the several paragraphs praising the school.  Again, you don't want it to appear that you are only going to a school because the major you think you will have is ranked #12 nationally, even if that is the only reason you're going to the school.

7.  If your hero is an anchor from E! News, that's okay, but you should probably spell "E! News" correctly.  On second thought, you should probably not mention that your hero is an E! News anchor, unless you have something more to say than "Giuliana Rancic is my hero, and I want to be just like her."  That's fine, but maybe explain why she's your hero and explain how the school you will be attending will help you achieve your goal.  Otherwise, I will assume you just want to look emaciated and be on TV.

8.  Don't use clichés.  "From the first time I [stepped on/laid eyes on/saw] campus, I just knew [[insert name of institution] was the perfect place for me/I was destined to go to [insert name of institution]/I would not need to look at any other colleges/I was home]."  I was amazed at how many of the essays had this sentence or something almost exactly like it. That was usually my cue to stop reading.

9.  A preposition is something you shouldn't end a sentence with.  If you don't understand that last sentence, then you should not be writing any more essays.

10.  You should use commas.  You see young lad or lass when you don't use commas it can sometimes be unclear what you're trying to say because many times your sentences tend to run on forever and they might confuse the reader even though with a comma or two they would not have that problem and would not require the reader to reread your sentence six times.

11.  Don't make outrageous statements like, "ever since I was a kid, I dreamed of being a financial analyst."  Seriously, someone wrote that.  There is no child on the face of the Earth who has ever dreamed of being a financial analyst.

12.  Don't refer to your parents as "mommy" and "daddy."  Unless of course, you don't want a scholarship.

13.  When the essay is supposed to be more than a couple sentences, breaking it up into paragraphs is a good idea.  Several essays were a page long and one paragraph.  The applicants may as well have written "I never learned how to write properly" over and over.

14.  Don't use semicolons.  Ever.

15.  Proofread it.  For the love of God, proofread it!  Because every sentence should have a subject, a predicate, and a fucking punctuation mark at the end of it.

16.  Have someone else proofread it.  Your English teacher would be a good choice.  That way, you won't have an essay that capitalizes the word "campus" for some reason (and inconsistently, at that), uses the word "earnest" six times on one page, uses the word "Universities" (also capitalized for no reason) instead of "university's," or contains any semicolons.

17.  Don't wait until the last minute to write it.  Maybe the problem was that the applicants procrastinated and then threw something together the day before the deadline, so they didn't have time to think about, revise, or proofread their essays.  If nothing else, the fact that you aren't getting a scholarship because of your mediocre essay should be a lesson, because you definitely aren't going to be getting As on college essays if you wait until the last night to write them.  But then again, you don't need to write anything if you're majoring in accounting at the #16 ranked undergraduate accounting program in the nation, right?

No go forth and get money.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Retro Video of the Week: "UHF" by Weird Al Yankovic

Next Monday will mark the 25th anniversary of the release of the Weird Al cult comedy, UHF.  I haven't seen it in years, but UHF was definitely a staple of my tween years, and I highly recommend it to anyone with an off-the-wall sense of humor and a love of parody. The soundtrack to the movie was released three day before, and while it wasn't quite the chart success that Weird Al's other albums have been, it's still chock full of good parodies.  The one that sticks out is "Money For Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies," which is featured in the movie.  The best part about it is that Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits would only give his blessing to the parody if he got to play guitar on it and Dire Straits keyboardist Guy Fletcher got to play synthesizer on it.  Instead of that video, though, I went with the song "UHF" because it has various scenes from the movie, as well as parodies of a bunch of '80s bands and artists, such as Guns N' Roses, George Michael, Talking Heads, and Prince, to name a few, although the song itself is a Weird Al original. Ahhh, red snapper. Mmmm, very tasty.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tuesday Top Ten: Tribute Band Names

Thanks to work, training for a 10k in less than two weeks, really caring about the MLB All-Star game, Bastille Day celebrations, the existence of Seinfeld reruns, and a crippling addiction to sodium thiopental, I have yet again reached Tuesday without a Tuesday Top Ten of my own.  Maybe next week!  But probably not.  Just being truthful.

Anywho, a couple days ago, I came across a great article on VH1 Classic entitled "Imitation Leather: The Most Hilarious Classic Rock Tribute Band Names Ever."  If you click on the picture in the article, it will take you through 40 bands, from ABBA to ___, and provide a an awesome tribute band name or two for each band.  Check it out.  There are some fantastic ones.  

Here are my ten favorite, in alphabetical order by real band:
1.  ABBA:  Still Bjorn
2.  The Beatles:  The Dung Beatles
3.  Dixie Chicks:  Chicks With Dixies (while it's not specified, I assume they are trannies)
4.  The Go Gos:  We Got the Meat (all-male tribute)
5.  Judas Priest:  Nudist Priest
6.  Oasis:  Oasisn't
7.  Motörhead:  Lemmy's Wart
8.  Rage Against the Machine:  Rage Against the Coffee Maker
9.  Ratt:  Fatt (tribute band comprised of overweight men)
10.  Yes:  No

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Retro Video of the Week: "Highway to Hell" by AC/DC

As you may or may not know, AC/DC has fallen on some hard times lately, as, a few months ago, it was revealed that founding rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young has been seriously ill and is taking a break from the band.  In a recent interview, however, lead singer Brian Johnson told the website Classic Rock that AC/DC has finished recording a new album (the band's first since 2008), with Malcolm and Angus Young's nephew Stevie filling in for Malcolm on rhythm guitar.  Johnson also mentioned that the band is going to be going on a world tour.

In honor of AC/DC's return (and in hopes that Malcolm is able to recover from his illness), it seemed appropriate to have an AC/DC song as the Retro Video of the Week.  I went with "Highway to Hell," the last video made before original lead singer Bon Scott died.  While technically it's not within the Retro Video of the Week time parameters (because it was made before MTV existed), it's my blog, and I'll do whatever the fuck I want.  Plus, it's the kind of song that makes you want to roll down your car windows -- or, even better, take off your car's T tops -- and crank up the volume. To be clear, I am not suggesting that you take your computer in your car (even if you have a '78 Trans Am) and play this embedded video.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Tuesday Top Ten: Most American Comebacks

Once again, I am super busy, so I don't have time to come up with any brilliant Tuesday Top Ten on my own.  However, someone posted a link to this on Facebook on the Fourth of July.  It's entitled, "The 26 Most American Comebacks In The History Of The World," and it is pretty fantastic.  Happy belated 238th birthday, America!

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Tuesday Top Ten: Food Products That Translate Poorly Into English

Between having heart palpitations while watching the USA/Belgium game today, cleaning up sewage back-up, and my three hours of weekly beat boxing practice, I haven't had time today to come up with my own Tuesday Top Ten.  But thankfully there's funny shit on the internet.  Here's a post I found called "18 Food Products That Have Translated Poorly Into English."  I don't entirely understand why foreign food producers would feel the need to put an English language title on their food products, but the fact that they did, with spectacular results, is everybody's victory.