Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tuesday Top Ten: Non-Performing Rock and Roll Songwriters

Last week, two songwriting legends died – Jerry Leiber and Nickolas Ashford. Leiber was one half of Leiber and Stoller – who wrote many of early rock and roll's hits. Ashford was one half of Ashford and Simpson – who wrote, among other things, several Motown hits in the late '60s and early '70s.

Back in the beginning decades of rock and roll, it was commonplace for there to be songwriters who did not perform, but whose job was just to write songs. Hell, there was even an entire building in New York dedicated to songwriting. Sometimes these songwriters were attached to a specific label, and other times they were basically free agents. This doesn't happen as often anymore, although it still does to some extent, since there will always be people who can sing well but can't do anything else. That said, even those artists who do write their own songs may go to a songwriting guru for some help now and then.

This week's list is who I consider the top ten non-performing songwriters or songwriting teams. Some people on the list may be performers also (such as Carole King), but I'm not taking into account the songs they wrote for themselves as performers (sorry, Tapestry fans).

Honorable mention (in alphabetical order): Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson ("Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "Your Precious Love," "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing," and "You're All I Need to Get By" Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell; "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)" and "Remember Me" by Diana Ross); Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart ("Come a Little Bit Closer" by Jay & the Americans, "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" by Paul Revere and the Raiders; "Words" by The Leaves; and "(Theme from) The Monkees" and "Last Train to Clarksville" by The Monkees); Sean Garrett (hip-hop producer and songwriter who has written or co-written 15 Number Ones over the last decade, including "Yeah" by Usher); Mutt Lange (co-wrote all songs on Def Leppard's Pyromania, Hysteria, and Adrenalize albums, "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" by Bryan Adams, "Breathless" by The Corrs, "Do You Believe In Love" by Huey Lewis and the News); Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman ("A Teenager in Love" by Dion; "Save The Last Dance For Me," "This Magic Moment," and "Sweets For My Sweet" by The Drifters; "Hushabye" by The Beach Boys; "Turn Me Loose" by Fabian; "Can't Get Used to Losing You" by Andy Williams; "Little Sister," "Suspicion," "Surrender," "Viva Las Vegas," and "(Marie's the Name) His Latest Flame" by Elvis); Jim Steinman (wrote three Meat Loaf albums, including the songs "Paradise By The Dashboard Light" and "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)"; "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler; "Making Love Out of Nothing at All" by Air Supply; "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" by Celine Dion); Diane Warren ("I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith; "How Do I Live" by LeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood; "Un-Break My Heart" by Toni Braxton; "Because You Loved Me" by Céline Dion; "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" by Starship; "Rhythm of the Night" by DeBarge; "There You'll Be" by Faith Hill)

10. Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg
These guys wrote some pretty huge songs, including: "Like a Virgin" by Madonna; "I Touch Myself" by Divinyls (co-written with Christina Amphlett and Mark McEntee); "Alone" by Heart; "Eternal Flame" and "In Your Room" by The Bangles (both co-written with Susanna Hoffs); "True Colors" and "I Drove All Night" by Cyndi Lauper; "I'll Stand by You" by The Pretenders (co-written with Chrissie Hynde); and "So Emotional" by Whitney Houston. In addition, they have written songs for REO Speedwagon, Cheap Trick, Bette Midler, and Belinda Carlisle.

9. Smokey Robinson
Aside from the songs he wrote for his own group, The Miracles, he wrote a number of huge hits for other Motown artists, including: "My Guy" by Mary Wells; "The Way You Do the Things You Do," "My Girl," "Since I Lost My Baby," and "Get Ready" by The Temptations; "Still Water (Love)" by The Four Tops; "Don't Mess With Bill" and "My Baby Must Be a Magician" by The Marvelettes; "When I'm Gone" by Brenda Holloway; "Ain't That Peculiar" and "I'll Be Doggone" by Marvin Gaye; and "First I Look at the Purse" by The Contours.

8. Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil
Unlike many of their Brill Building counterparts, Mann and Weil kept writing hit songs long after the '60s ended (maybe because they are one of the few Brill Building songwriting teams that stayed married past the '60s). Most famously, they co-wrote (with Phil Spector) "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" by The Righteous Brothers, the most-played song of the 20th Century. Other hits included "On Broadway" by The Drifters (with Leiber and Stoller); "Don't Know Much" by Aaron Neville & Linda Ronstadt; "Uptown" and "He's Sure the Boy I Love" by The Crystals; "Kicks" and "Hungry" by Paul Revere & the Raiders; "Only in America" by Jay and the Americans; "Somewhere Out There" by Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram (co-written with James Horner); "Walking in the Rain" by The Ronettes; "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" by The Animals; and "(You're My) Soul & Inspiration" by The Righteous Brothers. They also wrote the title song for the movie Christmas Vacation.

7. Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield
Barrett Strong had Motown's first hit, "Money," and then became a songwriter for Motown, teaming with Norman Whitfield. Together, they wrote: "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" by Marvin Gaye; "War" by Edwin Starr; "Smiling Faces Sometimes" by The Undisputed Truth; and "Cloud Nine," "I Can't Get Next to You," "Psychedelic Shack," "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)," "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone," and "Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)" by The Temptations. In addition, Whitfield wrote "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" by The Temptations (with Edward Holland, Jr.), "(I Know) I'm Losing You" by The Temptations (and later Faces) (with Edward Holland, Jr. and Cornelius Grant); and "Car Wash" by Rose Royce.

6. Gerry Goffin and Carole King
Before she was a singing about the earth moving under her feet and it being too late, baby, Carole King and then-husband Gerry Goffin were writing masterpieces for other musicians. Their first big hit was 1961's "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" by The Shirelles – one of the first songs about shacking. They went on to write "Take Good Care of My Baby" by Bobby Vee, "Some Kind of Wonderful" by The Drifters (not to be confused with the song of the same name by Grand Funk Railroad), "Chains" by The Cookies (and covered by The Beatles), "The Loco-Motion" by Little Eva, "One Fine Day" by The Chiffons, "Up On the Roof" by The Drifters, "I'm Into Something Good" by Herman's Hermits, "Don't Bring Me Down" by The Animals, "Pleasant Valley Sunday" by The Monkees, "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" by Aretha Franklin, and "Just Once in My Life" by The Righteous Brothers (with Phil Spector).

5. Bert Berns (aka Bert Russell)
Bert Berns's songwriting career was relatively brief, as he died in 1968 at the age of 38, but he made the most of his time on this planet. Check out this line-up: "Here Comes the Night" by Them; "Piece of My Heart" by Big Brother and The Holding Company; "Hang on Sloopy" by The McCoys; "Twist and Shout" by The Isley Brothers (with Phil Medley); "I Want Candy" by The Strangeloves and later Bow Wow Wow (co-written with the Strangeloves); "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" and "Cry to Me" by Solomon Burke; "Tell Him" by The Exciters; "Cry Baby" by Janis Joplin; and "Baby Let Me Take You Home" The Animals (1964).

4. Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
Leiber and Stoller wrote "Hound Dog" and "Jailhouse Rock" by Elvis, "Kansas City" by Wilbert Harrison, "Stand By Me" (with Ben E. King), "On Broadway" (with Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil) and "There Goes My Baby" by The Drifters, "Poison Ivy, "Charlie Brown," "Searchin'," and "Yakety Yak" by The Coasters, "Love Potion #9" by The Clovers, and "Spanish Harlem" by Ben E. King and later Aretha Franklin (Jerry Leiber and Phil Spector). They even had a Broadway musical that featured 39 of their songs (Smokey Joe's Café).

3. Barry-Greenwich-Spector
In addition to being arguably the greatest record producer of all-time and a crack shot with a revolver, Phil Spector was a hell of a songwriter. He often teamed up with other Brill Building writers, most notably Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich. Together, the three of them wrote some of the most enduring pop songs of all-time, including: "Chapel of Love" by The Dixie Cups; "Be My Baby," "Baby, I Love You," and "I Can Hear Music" by The Ronettes; "River Deep - Mountain High" by Ike and Tina Turner; "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" by Darlene Love; and "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "Then He Kissed Me" The Crystals.

In addition, Berry and Greenwich wrote "Hanky Panky" by Tommy James & The Shondells and "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" by Manfred Mann. Jeff Barry also co-wrote "Sugar, Sugar" by The Archies, and wrote the theme songs for The Jeffersons and Family Ties (among other shows). Spector also wrote or co-wrote the following songs: "To Know Him Is to Love Him" by The Teddy Bears; "Leader of the Pack" by The Shangri-Las (with George "Shadow" Morton); "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" by The Righteous Brothers (with Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil); "Spanish Harlem" by Ben E. King and later Aretha Franklin (with Jerry Leiber); "There's No Other (Like My Baby)" by The Crystals (with Leroy Bates); and "Just Once in My Life" by The Righteous Brothers (with Gerry Goffin and Carole King)

2. Desmond Child
What can you say about Desmond Child? He resurrected Aerosmith's career, wrote some of the best hard rock and hair band songs of the '80s, and continues to write pop songs that should provide enough royalties so that his great grandchildren are financially secure. He is a songwriting chameleon, able to write for just about any genre. Among his hundreds of songwriting credits are: "I Was Made for Lovin' You" and "Heaven's on Fire" by Kiss; "Livin' on a Prayer," "You Give Love a Bad Name," "Bad Medicine," "Born to Be My Baby," and "Keep the Faith" by Bon Jovi; "Angel," "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)," "What It Takes," and "Crazy" by Aerosmith; "I Hate Myself for Loving You" by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts; "Poison" by Alice Cooper; "How Can We Be Lovers?" by Michael Bolton; "Givin' Yourself Away," "Heads I Win, Tails You Lose," "Lovin' You's A Dirty Job," and "Shame Shame Shame" by Ratt; "Kiss the Rain" by Billie Myers; "Livin' La Vida Loca," "The Cup of Life," "She Bangs," "Shake Your Bon-Bon" by Ricky Martin; and "Waking Up in Vegas" by Katy Perry.

1. Holland-Dozier-Holland
Lamont Dozier and brothers Brian Holland and Edward Holland, Jr. were behind the "Hits" in Motown's Hitsville USA. It's tough to top this stat: 35 Top 10 songs, including 14 Number Ones. Between 1963 and 1970, only The Beatles had more Number Ones than Holland-Dozier-Holland. Among their hits were: "(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave," "Nowhere to Run," and "Jimmy Mack" by Martha and the Vandellas; "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)" by Marvin Gaye; "Stop! In the Name of Love," "Baby Love," "Where Did Our Love Go," "Come See About Me," "You Can't Hurry Love," "You Keep Me Hangin' On" by The Supremes; "Reach Out (I'll Be There)," "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)," "It's The Same Old Song," "Standing In the Shadows of Love," "Baby I Need Your Loving by The Four Tops; "Band of Gold" by Freda Payne; "This Old Heart of Mine" by The Isley Brothers; and "Give Me Just a Little More Time" by Chairmen of the Board.

Anyone I'm missing?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Pole Vaulters

Pole vaulting is known as the glamour sport of field competition. Money. Fame. Giant sticks. Pole vaulting has it all. Not a day goes by without hearing about some kid who wants to be the next Sergei Bubka or Stacy Dragila. But what the agents chirping in these kids' ears don't tell them is that pole vaulting has a lethal side. Earlier today, Russian flyboy Dmitry Starodubtsev nearly lost his life when his pole snapped at the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea -- which until today was known for its succulent apples. But there's nothing red or delicious about what happened. View the video below with caution.

Now imagine for a second what it would have been like had there not been a giant pad for Starodubtsev to land on, but rather a pit of alligators. Good God. He's lucky he only came out of it with an injured hand and wounded pride. When will the IAAF ban this blood sport? Perhaps when it's too late.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Can You Name Every National Champion in Baseball, Basketball, Football, and Hockey Since 1961?

No? Neither can I. But I did get 200 of 203. You see, I'm physically, emotionally, and psychologically addicted to Sporcle, an online trivia website that controls my days. One of their quizzes today was to name the NCAA champions in baseball, basketball, and hockey, and the AP national champions (until the BCS, then BCS champs) in football since 1961. You have 18 minutes. Beat me.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Name Game, Part 2

With the impending birth of our next child, who doctors and shamans assure us will be female, time is ticking to pick a name. We hit it out of the park the first time around with Daughter – a name that perfectly describes the fact that she is the female child of parents. As a result, it's tougher the second time. Daughter suggested the following names: Chicken, Lulu Cow, and Lollipop. Those are completely unrealistic choices. Sometimes I don't know about that kid. Daughter #2 and Second Daughter seem like logical choices, but I don't want the newbie to think she's second best or somehow inferior to Daughter. I was leaning towards The Deuce, but then I remembered that's the nickname for the only time I ever clogged (and overflowed) a hotel toilet, which occurred sometime in May 2004 at the Holiday Inn at Merchandise Mart when I was in town for Uter's bachelor party. Apparently, you can't just ask for a plunger at hotel. They have to send someone up with a plumbing snake that, while unclogging the toilet, sprays your own fecal water all over your bathroom floor. Then you have to wait for someone else to come up to bleach and clean the bathroom floor while your friends laugh their asses off. But I digress. Then I was briefly thinking about naming her Number Two, but then I'd always be asking her "Who does Number Two work for?" The Sequel is another option, but again, I don't want to set her up for failure, as most sequels are not as good as the original. Also, people might assume we cloned Daughter. It may be one of those situations where I have to see her before I name her. She may pop out and I might see her and say, "Sweet Jesus, you are definitely a Lollipop."

Daughter is doing great. Thanks for asking. She is developing nicely, slowly but surely earning my trust, respect, and unconditional love. Here are some tidbits about her:
-Her coping mechanisms are still rudimentary.
-Dinosaurs. She can't get enough dinosaurs, whether it's watching that delusional Canadian Dino Dan, reading books about dinosaurs, or playing with toy dinosaurs. What is it with kids and dinosaurs? I haven't had the heart to tell her what happened yet. That's going to be a rough day.
-Thus far, she has openly declared her love for her mother, her grandmothers, toast, yogurt, and two separate stuffed animals at a store, but not her father.
-She handles a samurai sword surprisingly well, but she can't catch a football worth a damn. Go figure.
-Thanks to classic Pavlovian conditioning, she can sing portions of Warrant's "Cherry Pie," George Clinton's "Atomic Dog," Ice Cube's "We Be Clubbin'," Master P's "Make 'Em Say Uhh!," and AC/DC's "Thunderstruck." I'm not sure I could be more proud. Next on the list are: "Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen, "Up All Night" by Slaughter, and "Rock and Roll All Nite" by Kiss. I guess something by T. Rex, Dinosaur, Jr., or Was (Not Was) might be appropriate as well. At some point, I will video tape these and make a megamix, which should vault her into superstardom.
-We are working on what will become her adorable catchphrase: "You gotta be shittin' me!"
-She can spell just about anything incorrectly.
-She seems to draw most of her comedic influence from the observation-based humor of Tom Green. When she sees a bird on the roof across the street, she says, "Bird on the roof" and laughs. Or when our dog is under our kitchen table, she says, "Harley is under the table" and laughs. Or when there's a piece of corn on the table, she points at it, says "Corn," and laughs. I'm interested to see who becomes her Glenn Humplik and Phil Giroux. I'm just thankful she's not into mimes.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday Top Ten: Things Never to Say to Your Husband

A week or so ago, I came across an article entitled "8 Things You Should Never Say to Your Husband." Here is the list from the article, with my comments.

1. "You're just like your father."
Not true, as I do not have a mustache.
2. "When are you going to find a new job?"
When someone offers to pay me six or seven figures to be a ninja.
3. "My mother warned me you'd do this!"
Unlikely, unless I specifically warned your mother to warn you that I'd do this.
4. "Just leave it––I'll do it myself!"
Thanks. I'm going to go play Sporcle.
5. "You always... [fill in the blank]" or "You never... [fill in the blank]"
This is always annoying and never achieves anything, unless its "You always perform well sexually" or "You never join enough fantasy football leagues."
6. "Do you really think those pants are flattering?"
No. In fact, I have documented my problems with pants.
7. "Ugh, we're hanging out with him again?"
8. "Please watch the kids. But don't do this, take them here or forget that..."
Okay, but last time they had a great time at the cockfight.

In all seriousness, some of the above phrases are annoying as hell. Both husbands and wives should avoid them if possible.

Before I give you my own list, let me just say that I love my wife, and these are not aimed at her – well, not all of them at least. With that, here are ten other things you should never say to your husband:

10. "I don't want to listen to hair band music right now."
Unless you are at a funeral, this should never be uttered to your husband. Even then, what about "Close My Eyes Forever" by Ozzy Osbourne and Lita Ford, "Mama, I'm Coming Home" by Ozzy Osbourne, "Heaven" by Warrant," "Heaven Is" by Def Leppard, "Highway to Hell" by AC/DC, "Hells Bells" by AC/DC, "Without You" by Motley Crue, "The Final Countdown" by Europe, "Kiss Me Deadly" by Lita Ford, "Don't Know What You Got Till It's Gone" by Cinderella, "I Won't Forget You" by Poison, "Chains Around Heaven" by Black 'N' Blue, "Too Late for Love" by Def Leppard, "We All Die Young" by Steel Dragon, "Send Me An Angel" by The Scorpions, "I Remember You" by Skid Row, "Never Say Goodbye" by Bon Jovi, "I'll Never Let You Go" by Steelheart, "Fly to the Angels" by Slaughter, "Live and Let Die" by Guns N' Roses, "Dust N' Bones" by Guns N' Roses, "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" by Guns N' Roses, "Runnin' With the Devil" by Van Halen, or "Hungry for Heaven" by Dio?

9. "Do you think we should get a new [insert any piece of furniture]?"

8. "Don't work out" or "Work out later."
I am not in what most physicians would call good shape. Thus, when I have one of those fleeting moments of inspiration to work out, do not do anything to stop me, unless of course you want your husband to resemble Jabba the Hutt.

7. "Boy, you're really getting a beer gut."
Probably because you never let me work out.

6. "I hate that shirt."
Well, I bought it with the intention of wearing it because I saw something in the shirt I liked, something I believed in. Thus, simply because you don't like the shirt doesn't mean I'm not going to wear it. I may even wear it in front of you from time to time. If you don't like it, keep it to yourself, unless you want me to start ripping on what you're wearing. Lord knows you would take that as an indictment of your character. Just be glad my shirt wasn't designed by Christian Audigier.

5. "[insert name of friend's wife/fiance/girlfriend/paramour] would never let [insert name of friend] do/wear/buy that."
That's why I married you, not anyone else.

4. "I just chopped off your penis and put it in the garbage disposal so that it can never be reattached."
Not cool.

3. (while talking to your child when you're in earshot) "Tell your dad to . . ."
Hey, guess what? I'm right here, I am more than capable of hearing words come out of your mouth, and our kid cannot speak in full sentences. Just say it to me.

2. "I hate [doing a particular sexual act]."
Men thrive on sexual hope. It's often the only thing that keeps us from jumping off of a bridge. Even if you have no intention of ever doing whatever sexual act you apparently deplore, don't tell your husband that. If he can't get freaky with his wife, who can he get freaky with? If you foreclose all possibility of something, he will think, "Great. I'm 30. In the next 40-60 years, I will never again do a standing 69."

1. "It's too bad you aren't good at a sport that can help you lose some weight."
This is especially hurtful when it is the only thing said in response to a monumental archery victory.

Monday, August 22, 2011

New Book: Snow Blind: A Brief Career in the Cocaine Trade by Robert Sabbag

I recently finished reading My Billion Year Contract: Memoir of a Former Scientologist by Nancy Many. Many fell into Scientology as a confused college student and worked her way up to some pretty high-level positions within the Church of Scientology. Then, thanks in large part to the "counseling" she was receiving from Scientology, she had a psychotic breakdown and eventually left the church. Here's what I learned about Scientology:
  • There appear to be two overriding goals of Scientology: (1) to mentally abuse its members; and (2) to make shitloads of money, presumably to finance lawsuits against it, most of which relate to its mental abuse of its members.
  • The amount of money they charge for their "auditing" and other "counseling" services is insane. Imagine if the Catholic Church charged you $30,000 every time you went to confession – and then wrote everything down and kept it in a file on you forever.
  • L. Ron Hubbard had a God complex. He viewed himself as on the same level as Jesus, Mohammad, and Buddha. He was also apparently a giant asshole.
  • The crux of Scientology is that everything is your fault. If you get cancer, it's your fault and you're shunned. If you get t-boned by a semi that runs a red light and you get paralyzed as a result, it's your fault and you're shunned. If someone randomly holds you up at gunpoint and shoots you in the face, it's your fault and you're shunned.
  • If someone who works for the Church of Scientology isn't doing a good enough job (or even if someone under that person isn't doing a good enough job), he or she can get sent to something called the Rehabilitation Project Force, which is essentially a prison chain gang. RPF members must sleep in shoddily constructed barracks, do manual labor, wear a certain colored jumpsuit at all times, and cannot speak to any other non-RPF Scientologists (including spouses). The author was sent to the RPF when she was 5+ months pregnant. She had to live in a parking garage. You can get out of the RPF if you are considered "rehabilitated" by Scientology's auditors/counselors. There was one guy who was in the RPF for seven years.
  • If you leave Scientology, no one in Scientology is allowed to ever speak to you again (including family members who are still in Scientology).
  • It sounds like most of the celebrity Scientologists are kept in the dark about what actually goes on. (The author should know, as she used to run Scientology's LA Celebrity Centre.) Instead, Scientology uses celebrities as its puppets in order to get more members (and, consequently, more money). I wonder how many people would become Scientologists if they knew about the kind of humiliation Scientology purposefully inflicts on its members and workers.
  • Scientology is evil and will stop at nothing to destroy all in its path.
My biggest beef with the book was that there was very little (almost nothing) about the beliefs of Scientology (i.e., the aliens, volcanoes, etc.). (For an excellent, in-depth article about Scientology, including its beliefs, check out this article from Rolling Stone from a few years back.) Also, the editing was poor (i.e., there were periods next to commas, some sentences started with lower-case letters, and some quotation marks inside periods). Nonetheless, I would definitely recommend it for anyone who is interested in learning why never to become a Scientologist.

I have now started reading Snow Blind: A Brief Career in the Cocaine Trade by Robert Sabbag. It came recommended by Gregerson, to whom it came recommended by his friend Tom Bissell, who is an award-winning author. The book is about the beginning of the cocaine trade in the U.S., particularly between New York and Bogota. I've seen the Showtime documentary Cocaine Cowboys, which is about the beginnings of the cocaine trade, focusing on Miami. It's all very fascinating to me, so I'm sure this will be an interesting read.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Kings of Leon Documentary on Showtime This Sunday

Tomorrow night at 10 Eastern, Showtime is airing Talahina Sky: The Story of Kings of Leon. It should be pretty interesting. For those of you who don't know their backstory, the band is three brothers and their cousin, who all grew up together travelling with their Pentecostal preacher fathers/uncles. Leon is their grandpa and has what some consider the most awesome first name ever. Anyway, check out the documentary.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tuesday Top Ten: Favorite Warrant Songs

As I'm sure you've heard by now, former Warrant lead singer Jani Lane died Friday at the age of 47.

As a huge fan of hair bands, this was sad news to me, especially knowing that Lane had children. I still have my tape of Warrant's debut album, Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich. I can remember when Lane performed with Warrant at the infamous 1990 American Music Awards with a black eye because his bandmate tried jumping over him the night before and clocked him in the face with a guitar in the process. (Those are the same awards that prompted tape delays of live shows, due to Slash and Duff McKagan, both hammered, swearing as they accepted awards on behalf of GNR. I was lucky enough to have taped the show for some reason, and it is still somewhere at my mom's house. I am legend.)

In recent years, I've come to view Lane as kind of a tragic figure (even before his death). He was on Celebrity Fit Club a couple years ago, and you could tell he had some pretty clear recurring issues with alcohol and with his past.

Most tragic for me, though, was his hatred of what Warrant is probably best remembered for -- their 1990 hit "Cherry Pie." The band's second album, also entitled Cherry Pie, was supposed to be called Uncle Tom's Cabin (which is also the name of a song on the album) and was thought to be complete, but the record company wanted the band to write a hit single for the album. Lane wrote "Cherry Pie" in 15 minutes on the back of a pizza box. During VH1's fantastic 2006 documentary, Heavy: The Story of Metal, Lane discusses "Cherry Pie," his distaste for the song, and the fact that his legacy is tied so closely to that song. In a line that has stuck with me since the first time I heard it, he said, "I could shoot myself in the fucking head for writing that song." I remember thinking how sad I felt for the guy because he absolutely despised a song that millions of people (including me) loved, and from his demeanor, it didn't seem like too far of a stretch that he would shoot himself in the head.

But let's not think of the bad things. Let's focus on the good. Warrant made some pretty solid music in the late '80s and early '90s. Sure, they had a lot of power ballads, but they were some pretty good ones. And they also had their fair share of rockers as well. With that, here are my ten favorite Warrant songs (unfortunately, Playlist.com didn't have a lot of them):

Honorable mention: "You're The Only Hell Your Mama Ever Raised"; "Blind Faith"; "Train, Train"; "Sometimes She Cries"

10. "So Damn Pretty (Should Be Against the Law)"
While I disagree with the outlawing of hotness that seems to be advocated by the song, I agree that it rocks.

9. "Love In Stereo"
It's a song about a threesome. Enough said.

8. "Big Talk"
I had forgotten about this song until I got DRFSR on CD last year. It's a pretty solid, catchy rocker. Apparently, the band made a video for the song as well, which I saw this weekend on VH1 Classic's Metal Mania.

7. "Heaven"
This was the band's highest charting song, making it all the way up to #2 on the charts back in 1989. It's a pretty damn good power ballad, and it made Warrant a household name.

6. "Sure Feels Good to Me"
This song is a great, fast-paced song that reminded you that Warrant could very well rock.

5. "I Saw Red"
Sure, it's a little cheesy, but that doesn't mean I don't like it. It's about a dude who's in love with some chick. He walks in on her getting tagged by some other dude, apparently both of them covered in red body paint. The imagery from the chorus has always stuck with me: "I saw red / When I opened up the door / I saw red / My heart just spilled onto the floor / And I didn't need to see his face / I saw yours / I saw red / And then I closed the door / And I don't think I'm gonna love you anymore." I also like the bridge, when the "power" comes to the "ballad."

4. "Mr. Rainmaker"
This is another solid, catchy hard rock song.

3. "Uncle Tom's Cabin"
The song that should have been the title track to Warrant's second album is every bit as good as the song that became the title track. It starts off slow, then builds into a solid rocking force. The song is about two kids who witness someone disposing of two bodies in the woods.

2. "Cherry Pie"
Lane's hatred aside, this is a great song. It drips with innuendo, has a loud and memorable chorus, and the video featured Bobbie Brown (the model, not Whitney's husband) getting a slice of cherry pie dropped in her lap.

1. "Down Boys"
This was the first Warrant song I remember hearing, and I've loved the song since then. It has everything a great hair band song should have: a good riff, sneaky hooks, a solid drum beat, and a chorus you can sing along to.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Lebowski Cast Reunion - Live Stream Tuesday Night

Aside from Leonard Part 6, The Big Lebowski is unquestionably the greatest movie ever made. Tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m. Eastern, the cast is reuniting for a Q&A session and what have you. This glorious event is in connection with tomorrow's release of the film on Blu-ray (which, by the way, has a feature where you can keep track of how many times the f-bomb is dropped -- although if you want a shortcut on that, click here and turn down the volume if you're at work).

Anyway, there will be a live stream of the event (which is taking place in New York) and presumably a dance quintet. Click here for info on the live stream. Thanks to Trashton for the link. Take 'er easy.

Saved By The Bell Interactive YouTube Video Game

I know very little about computer programming and far too much about Saved By The Bell, which is why I consider the Saved By The Bell Interactive YouTube video game a marvel of modern technology. It's essentially a choose-your-own-adventure YouTube, Nintendo-style journey into heaven (or drug-addled hell, depending on whether Jessie has a tough geometry test coming up). Click on the link. Put your mind to it. Go for it. Thanks to Gregerson for the link.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Try Getting a Reservation at Dorsia Now

I'm a big fan of American Psycho, both the book and the movie. I'm also a fan of figuring out where movie scenes are filmed. Thus, you can imagine how excited I was when AC sent me a link to an article called Patrick Bateman's New York Today, which goes through many of the sites in American Psycho, tells you where they are, whether they were actually what they were in the movie/book, and what they are now. Of course, I am not really familiar at all with New York, so the locations themselves don't mean much to me, but it's nice to hear about the history of the places where Patrick Bateman told the bartender he was going to stab her to death and then play around with her blood, where he was on the verge of tears because he was sure they weren't going to get a decent table, or where he explained Ed Gein's feelings about women. By the way, Ed Gein is not the maitre'd at Canal Bar, a bar that, according to the article, appearing at which "would be tantamount to declaring…that the best you could manage was to straggle into last year’s watering hole after the herd had moved on."

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Tuesday Top Ten: Shows I Saw at Lollapalooza

This year marked the 20th anniversary of the first Lollapalooza, and it was my seventh (and sixth since it's been in Grant Park). As usual, it did not disappoint. Daniel, Chandler, and I went all three days, while Lisa went the first two days, and Chris joined us Sunday.

Here are the bands whose shows I saw at least a portion of: The Naked and Famous, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, White Lies, The Kills, A Perfect Circle, Crystal Castles, Muse, Coldplay, J. Roddy Walston & The Business, Disappears, An Horse, Friendly Fires, Maps & Atlases, Black Lips, Dom, Death From Above 1979, The Drums, Local Natives, Cee Lo, Atmospher, Eminem, The Cool Kids, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, The Cars, Flogging Molly, Cage The Elephant, Arctic Monkeys, Explosions in the Sky, and Foo Fighters. And that wasn't even a fourth of the bands that were there!

Other than the bands, here are some of the highlights:

-On Saturday afternoon, Daniel and I were getting something to eat. Thankfully, I wanted a burger from Kuma's because ?uestlove was hanging out in front of the booth next to Kuma's, getting interviewed. Of course, the 17-year-old girl next to me in line thought it was Afroman.
-Daniel had signed up to get tweets from Lollapalooza, which would announce giveaways at random places throughout the grounds. While we were watching The Drums, out of nowhere and without saying a word, Daniel bolts. He showed up five minutes later with tickets to Pearl Jam's 20th anniversary show at Alpine Valley in September.

-Some guy was dressed like a living version of Mr. Slave from South Park, and he was carrying around a giant inflatable dong.
-Sunday, at the insistence of Jester, I didn't bring my poncho. This turned out to be a huge mistake, as a torrential downpour hit for about 20-30 minutes right around 5:45.
The result was that I got soaked, which wasn't too terrible. Worse was that it filled the fields with mud puddles. On the walk out after the Foo Fighters show Sunday night, I lost both of my flip flops in some deep puddles. Thus, I had the pleasure of walking to the train and riding the train in my bare feet. I'm a father, by the way.
Here are my top ten shows from the weekend:

10. The Cars
They don't really move at all, but it was still good to hear them play live, especially since I missed them when they played in Chicago in May.

9. Muse
These guys co-headlined Friday night. I only know a few of their songs, but they definitely put on a good show. Having seen them, I'm not sure how they ever play to a crowd of less than 40,000.

8. Cage The Elephant
This was the last band we saw before the downpour on Sunday, and their show was all energy. The lead singer was in the audience by the end of the first verse, and they kept it going the whole time.

7. Foo Fighters
Last time I saw Foo Fighters was in 2000 at the Little 500 concert at IU. They were good then, and they are even better now. They headlined Sunday night, and the rain certainly cut into their crowd (and even made a return appearance during their set), but that didn't stop them from rocking. I'm just pissed Daniel wasn't in the right place at the right time to win tickets to their after-hours show at the Metro Saturday night. Nonetheless, we had no problem rocking out while soaked on Sunday.
6. Arctic Monkeys
These guys are one of my favorite bands from the past five years. They were supposed to go on at 6 Sunday evening, but the rain was hard enough that their show got pushed back a half hour, which meant they only played for 45 minutes instead of an hour (and the band across the field had to do the same). Their show may have been short, but it was definitely sweet. They took the crowd's mind off of the wetness.

5. Friendly Fires
I had never heard of this band before Saturday, but thankfully Chandler had. They play what I guess I would describe as dance rock, and the crowd was going crazy the entire show. The lead singer came into the crowd at several points, which is always the sign of a good live band.

4. Flogging Molly
Unfortunately, The Cars and Flogging Molly were given nearly identical timeslots on opposite ends of Lolla, so I only saw the first half of The Cars and the second half of Flogging Molly. These guys are just awesome. I don't know how else to put it. I don't think I could ever get tired of seeing them live. Their songs are all full of energy, and the crowd is always bouncing. Notice the crowd surfer.

3. Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
This was one of the bands I wanted to see most at Lolla this year, and they didn't disappoint. While their slow songs aren't my favorite, when they play their faster songs, they rock out. Grace Potter does her best Tina Turner impression. As far as I can tell, there is no Ike. They also had two giant stuffed tigers on stage, which they threw into the audience in a frenzy during the last song. Even better, during their song "Paris (Ooh La La)," where they usually say "ooh la la la-la la la laa," they said "ooh la la la-la-pa-loo-za." I like a good word combination.

2. Eminem
I wasn't sure what to expect from Eminem, but he blew the doors off Lolla Saturday night. There's something infinitely awesome about 60,000 people waving their hands in the air in unison, which happened a lot.

1. J. Roddy Walston & The Business
Like American Bang last year, J. Roddy Walston & The Business are my find of the year (or, I should say, Daniel's find of the year). They played the first show on Saturday, which meant that I was able to get right next to the stage. You know I love the rock and roll, and these guys played it how I like it – straight up, with no nonsense. It was like Led Zeppelin meets Jerry Lee Lewis. Walston is a hirsute piano-playing madman, and the rest of the band follows suit. Among the highlights was a rollicking cover of Little Richard's "Lucille." I will definitely be buying their album and subscribing to their email newsletter.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Outrageous Idle Threats to Children

Jester, Daughter, and I went to the Golden Apple – a classic diner at the corner of Lincoln, Wellington, and Southport – for breakfast Saturday morning. Three large families soon entered and were seated in our section. One was well-behaved. This will be the last you need to worry about them.

The second family, apparently Catholic, had four kids who were, for the most part under control. That said, a boy old enough to know better screamed a few times for no apparent reason. His mom's shushing had little effect.

The third family, too consistently blond to be anything but Protestant, looked like something out of Stepford. The four children were wearing color-coordinated navy and white outfits. That's queer. The oldest daughter was maybe 7 or 8. You could tell that she is already an uppity little twat. When she was waiting for the bus boy to put the place settings down at their table, she stood there with her arms crossed and a scowl on her face like she was waiting for an immigrant to finish buffing her X5. The scowl did not leave her face the entire meal. The remaining Stepford children, hair perfectly coiffed, were insolent little buggers. The youngest daughter was about 3, and she couldn't seem to come to grips with the seating arrangement. The middle two kids were both boys. Over the course of the next half hour, it became apparent to me that the first time they will hear the word "no" will likely result in criminal prosecution.

Why do parents make it so easy for me to hate their children? Actually, I know why. It's because parents don't do a damn thing when their children act up in public. If Daughter starts screaming, Jester and I explain sternly (but not too loudly) that she needs to shut her mouth because such behavior is inappropriate in a restaurant. She doesn't fully get it, but she can grasp the concept that we don't approve of her conduct.

When I was sitting there Saturday morning, attempting to enjoy my bacon and mozzarella omelette, I was reminded of something my dad always used to say to me when I was acting up: "If I would have done what you just did, my dad would have laid me out." I'm pretty sure that was a lie, since my dad does not appear to be suffering from the effects of repeated concussions, but the point was clear: acting in this manner may result in physical pain. I knew he wasn't going to knock me out (or try), but the fact that that was even mentioned was cause for concern because it meant that any spanking I may receive, no matter the force or number, would look light compared to getting knocked out. As a result, I usually shut my mouth, stopped giving my brother Wet Willies, or stopped whatever other asinine thing I was doing.

Regardless, you just don't hear awesome threats like that anymore, idle as they may be. Parents are too scared of their kids or too scared of what other people might think to yell at their kids. You know what other people think? They think you should do whatever you can to stop your kid from banging his knife on the table every second for 45 straight minutes, even if it means dressing him down in front of a roomful of strangers. Or maybe just take the knife away.

All of this is an extremely long build-up to the point of this post: parents need to threaten their children as ridiculously as possible. There is a giant plate glass window near where we were sitting Saturday morning. As I sat there thanking God that Daughter is generally well-behaved, I thought about what I would do if it were my kid acting like some of those kids were acting. I would have firmly grabbed his or her upper arm, looked him or her straight in the eye, and said, "If you scream like that once more, I will throw you through that fucking window."

Here are some other outrageous idle threats that I thought of. They're not all physical threats because sometimes that doesn't work, especially if you've never spanked your kid. I invite you to use them at will. I also invite you to post any of your own in the comments.

"If you don't start behaving, I will send you to live with Gary Glitter."
"If you don't start behaving, I will send you to live with Joe Jackson – Michael's dad, not the guy that sang 'Is She Really Going Out With Him?,' unless he is also a child hitter."
"Keep it up, and I will rip your arms off and beat you to death with the bloody stumps."
"If you don't sit down and shut up, I will take you out of my will."
"If you scream like that once more, I will punch you so hard in the crotch that your unconceived children will cry for a week straight."
"Do that again, and I will suplex you right here in front of all these people."
"If you don't start behaving, you will not be going to college. Because college don't accept people who have been eaten by lions."
"Keep it up, and I will put you in the trunk, drive you to Iowa, and make you walk home."
"If you touch your sister again, I will give all of your toys to charity. No, you know what, I'm going to let your sister burn them one by one while you watch."
"Keep it up, and I will bite your nose off."
"If you don't start behaving, I will hire army of homeless men to hunt you."
"Do that again, and the only thing you will watch on TV for the next year is reruns of Wall Street Week from October 1987."
"If you don't start behaving, I will murder Elmo and tell every kid in the world that you did it."
"Do that again, and I will put my foot so far up your ass that you will taste my knee."
"Keep it up, and we're going to go to the pet shop and I'm going to buy every puppy and give it to another kid."
"Keep it up, and I will kill every dog in the world to ensure that you will never ever have a puppy."
"Keep it up, and I will buy you a puppy, make you kill it, and then make you cook it and eat it."
"Pipe down, or I will start throwing watermelons at you in your sleep."
"If you touch your brother again, I will buy a Groupon for archery lessons, take those lessons, buy a bow and three arrows, place you ten yards away, and put three arrows through your heart."
"If you scream like that once more, I will grind you into sausage and feed you to your friends."
"Keep it up, and I will chop you up and bury you in the backyard, just like I did with the others before you."
"Do that again, and the only clothes you will wear will say 'Purdue' on them."
"Keep it up, and I will use your college fund to pay for the MMA lessons that I will use to break your legs."
"Keep it up, and you will be on the next flight to Beirut. Hezbollah will have a field day with you."
"Do you like your teeth? If not, do that again."
"If you don't start behaving, I will pee on your clothes and make you wear them to school. Every day."
"I don't care if you're a little boy. If you do that again, from now on, you will only shop at Lane Bryant."
"If you scream like that once more, I will box your ears until they bleed."
"Keep it up, and I will sterilize you. If you think I'm kidding, why don't you tell me now many nieces and nephews you have?"
"Do that again, and I will trade you on the black market for a pirated copy of that new Planet of the Apes movie."
"If you scream like that once more, you will be given to NAMBLA."
"If you touch your brother again, I will brand a pentagram on your forehead."
"If you don't start behaving, we will be buying a pit bull, and you will train it to eat your own hands off."
"Keep it up, and I will shave your head and eyebrows every day forever."
"If you scream like that once more, I will cut your tongue out with a rusty nail."
"Pipe down, unless you want to wear a burqa from now on."
"Keep it up, and the only music you will be allowed to listen to from now on will be Gregorian chants."
"Keep it up, and the only music you will be allowed to listen to from now on will be Saudi Arabian pop."
"Keep it up, and the only music you will be allowed to listen to from now on will be 'Rikki Don't Lose That Number' by Steely Dan."
"Keep it up, and we're going to start going to church. Well, you will."
"Two words: flying snakes."
"If you touch your sister again, I will send you to live with your Aunt Sally in Afghanistan."
"If you scream like that once more, I will literally blind you."
"Do that again, and you will eat nothing but steamed Brussels sprouts for the rest of the year."
"If you don't start behaving, I will put you in a Klan costume and drop you off in Compton."
"If you don't start behaving, I will put you in blackface and drop you off in Martinsville, Indiana."
"If you scream like that once more, I will smack you in the mouth so hard it will look like you had a stroke."
"Keep it up, and I will rap every time your friends come over."

For planes:
"If you don't shut up, I will open that door and toss you out. If you think I'm kidding, ask your older brother." (Of course, the last part is only effective if he/she has no older brother, or if you in fact did toss his/her older brother out of a plane.)
"If you don't shut up, I will ask the flight attendant to put you in the cargo bay."
"If you don't shut up, I will ask the pilot to hit the eject button for your seat."
"If you don't shut up, I will flush you down the toilet, and your blue, shit-covered body will meet its end somewhere in Kansas."

For bus stations:
"Keep it up, and you will live here."
"If you don't start behaving, I will drug you and put you on the next bus, no matter where it's going."
"Do that again, and you will ride in the luggage compartment."

For restaurants:
"Bang that knife on the table once more, and I will put it through your hand."
"Keep it up, and you will not only have to finish your food, but you will go up to every table here and beg for their leftovers, and then you will finish whatever anyone gives to you, and then you will dance until you puke, and then you will eat the puke."
"Do that again, you will leave this restaurant a eunuch."

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Thursday Texts - 8/4/11

As usual, I've been stockpiling:

917: There's a woman on my green line train that looks like ozzy ozbourne.

517: Sperm blister

312: Hey what's going down?
937: Nothing. Just drinkin'. Got a night out. You are cordially invited to join us
312: I will be putting on some pants and head over.

773: Should I sing Eve of Destruction by Barry McGuire at karaoke?

937: HAPPY BIRTHDAY DOUGIE, would you like to teach me how to DOUGIE??
937 (2): I think you have the wrong number

937 (2): Thanks, but my name's not Doug and it's not my birthday

937: Too soon
773: No such animal
937: That's the truth. I hope The Genius is coping with this all right
773: Elizabeth is inconsolable
937: I'm pretty sure she's been dead for a while
773: That explains her lack of a statement

517: Just saw ponch at the airport.

937: Pirates in first place is sign of apocalypse. Mayans were late by one year

937: I wanna pee in your food

517: All of my Amy Winehouse collectibles just doubled in value

Thanks to everyone who sent stuff in. As I said in the initial Thursday Texts post, I invite you to email hilarious texts that you send or receive to gmyhblog@yahoo.com, and I will post them accordingly. All texts will be anonymous, identified only by their area code. Or, I also strongly encourage people to post texts as comments to the Thursday Text posts. I will not approve any comments that contain last names. I love you all.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Lolla Recommendations?

As I do every year I don't have a bachelor party in Memphis, I'm heading to Lollapalooza, which is this weekend here in Chicago. Here is a link to the line-up.

Here is who I plan on seeing:

-The Vaccines
-Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
-The Kills
-OK Go

-An Horse
-Black Lips
-Cee Lo
-Beats Antique
-splitting between My Morning Jacket and Eminem

-splitting between The Cars and Flogging Molly
-Cage the Elephant
-Arctic Monkeys
-Foo Fighters

Other than that, I'm pretty open, so if you have any recommendations, let me know. One of my favorite things about Lollapalooza is discovering bands I haven't listened to before.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Tuesday Top Ten: Worst MLB Owners of All-Time

The good people at Zen College Life sent me an email last week and asked whether I would be willing to post a link to their list of the Top 10 Worst MLB Owners of All-Time. I said yes. Thus, that is this week's Tuesday Top Ten. It's a pretty solid list, complete with penny pinchers, fiscal idiots, and, of course, a Nazi sympathizer.

Now, if I were making a list of the best owners of all-time -- which I'm not -- I would definitely put Bill Veeck at the top. A migdet, an exploding scoreboard, shorts and collars, a shower in the outfield, and Disco Demolition Night. And he convinced Harry Caray to sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." Enough said.

Monday, August 01, 2011


Other than listening to hair band music on Fridays, having disturbing dreams, and beat boxing, I don't excel at much. I've always been rather disgusted with my medieval weaponry skills, so you can imagine my elation when I got an email from Groupon a few months ago for half off four archery lessons. I took my first lesson last week, and I showed promise. Tonight was my second lesson, and I am hitting my stride.

There were probably about 15-20 people at the lesson, including the likes of Goni, Gregerson, and DiTo. With about five minutes left, the instructor was all, "All right listen up freshmen bitches, shit's about to get interesting. Everyone gets three arrows. Top score wins a bow and arrow set. For reals." The feeling in the room was electric.

In case you don't know basic archery scoring (I didn't until tonight), there are 10 rings, and you get 1 point for the outer-most ring, 2 points for the next ring in, etc., until you get to the yellow, which has the outer bullseye, which is 9 points, and the inner bullseye, which is 10 points.

My first arrow was a 7. It was a slip-up. I knew I had little room for error. Summoning my inner Mongol, I shot a 9 and 10 with the next two for a total of 26. Goni also had a 26. So did two chumps I didn't even know. "What the fuck happens now?!" shouted a one-eyed clairvoyant eating an orange in the corner. The instructor did a backflip. When she landed, she raised her hands in the air. Everyone fell silent. She started with little more than a whisper. "Shoo- shoo- shoo- shoot-out." Then she repeated it, a little bit louder. Then she motioned with her hands for others to join in. Soon, the entire room was screaming, "SHOO- SHOO- SHOO- SHOOT-OUT!" while stomping their feet and clapping their hands. Of maybe it was "shoot off." Hell, I don't know. I was pretty drunk.

Four archers. One arrow each. Best score wins. Ho. Ly. Shit. Talk about pressure.

I had to walk down a little bit to get an open target. This meant that the other three shot before I did. They were all pretty good shots -- a 6, a 7, and an 8. All I needed to do was hit the yellow, and the bow and arrow set would be mine. All eyes were on me. I felt a combination of nervousness, excitedness, and sexual arousal. This must have been what Jack the Ripper felt like before he mutilated his first hooker. Steady and steely, I stepped to the line, raised my bow, positioned my arrow, pulled that shit back, aimed, and released. I didn't even need to see where it landed, although it's almost impossible not to, since it takes like half a second to hit the target. Yellow. I collapsed to the floor, thanking Robin of Locksley audibly. My fellow classmates, some cheering, some crying, some urinating all over themselves, picked me up and hoisted me on their shoulders. After a half hour of victory laps and champagne, they finally put me down and I was able to collect my prize. Bonus dagger! For some reason, this is how I stood when I received my spoils.
When I got home, I was still quivering (pun intended) with excitement. I walked in the door. Jester was sitting on the couch watching one of a surprising number of reality shows about well-to-do housewives. I showed her my prize and told my story. Instead of giving me congratulations, what does she say to me? "It's too bad you aren't good at a sport that can help you lose some weight." Thanks hon.