31 March 2006

Alma Mater Sweet Home?

I read a small blurb in this weekend's USA Today about Virginia Tech offering house plans designed to resemble the big stone buildings on their campus. [a more complete article can be read here]

They've licensed their name and enlisted some area architects to design home plans in VT's "Collegiate Gothic" style. No doubt, a new wrinkle in the age-old question, "how can we squeeze more money out of the turnips called our alumni?"

As Seraphim and I were enjoying a nice Friday night dinner at Golden Corral (for being crowded, the food was awfully lukewarm tonight - what I wouldn't give to trade our GC for the one in Albany ... that one never fails to satisfy, but anyway.....), and with a belly full of under-the-hot-lights-since-3:30 fried chicken, I got to thinking:

What if other universities offered house plans based on their own building designs? Or go beyond exterior plans -- look at the whole picture; yard layouts, landscaping, that sort of thing ... heck, whatever kind of expression just oozes "I DON'T WANNA GROW UP, I WANNA BE AN ALUMNI-R-ME KID."

The two of us brainstormed, and came up with a few ideas for some other universities:

UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA -- or, as it's affectionately known 'round these parts, UGA: Piece of cake. The mascot of UGA is the almighty bulldog. The bulldog is named - you guessed it - Uga. There are actually purebred bulldogs who have a family tradition of being the mascot. I think they're down to Uga VI, if I'm not mistaken (Seraphim, being the native Jawja girl of this household, may be able to clarify here). So, what kind of house? Easy. A doghouse. Flowerbed borders can be little concrete bones. As a reliable "security system", make a fence out of old Samsonites and American Tourister .... that'll keep the Evil Florida Gators at bay. The included-at-no-extra-charge bulldog yard ornament/hitching post also comes with its own built-in bug zapper. Yellowjackets are no match.

And for an extra $59.95 a month (payable to the UGA Foundation, heh heh), you can spring for your very own scale model of the Denny Chimes (see below). That way, anyone decked out in Auburn orange-and-blue won't go NEAR your side of the block!

UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA -- Show your pride in being part of Tide Nation with your custom-designed Crimson Court layout. It comes in a nice, attractive red and white brick design, with a working model of the Denny Chimes out front. And check out the hat-shaped roof ..... a checkered design that offers plenty of attic space for a bonus room, just perfect to display your U of A memorabilia, yellowed poster of the 1982 Football Schedule, and of course that bust of Bear Bryant's head. You can live in denial as you reminisce about the good old days, and forget the ugly truth: that The Bear is DEAD, and will never coach another game. Included is your own private hotline to Paul Finebaum's radio show.

For Alabama fans on a budget, there's also the Tide Trailer. Based on a mobile hom--er, I mean traile--er, I mean, manufactured home in the beautiful garden town of Mulga, Alabama.

AUBURN -- We'll call it, "The Loveliest Bungalow On The Plains." Drawing from Auburn's heritage as the quintessential "cow college", the house will look like a orange-and-blue colored barn. For an extra $500, our expert sign painter can even give your new Auburn home further attention with the three most famous rooftop words in the South: "SEE ROCK CITY"

Your mortgage holder will change as often as the football coach, so get ready to send your check to a new address each month. Best of all, the Auburn University board will personally micromanage every aspect of your household, right down to the choice of lumber used on your patio deck. So if I were you, I'd go with the "Yellawood."

TROY NO-LONGER-STATE UNIVERSITY -- This one is easy. Having spent more than a decade with this college's name in the upper left hand corner of my paycheck, I can picture the perfect Red Wave Ranch style Troy Townhome. Trojan diploma holders, one and all, will swoon over their new dream home featuring a perfectly manicured lawn, with precision trimmed hedges and bushes, a stunning red brick facade with beautiful windows looking out toward your very own backyard sewage lagoon. The doorbell -- or, as we like to call it, "Jed Clampett's spooks-playin'-music-in-the-walls" -- will have chimes playing the Trojan Fight Song.

With the "gold level" T(NLS)U Alumni Association membership, you'll have complimentary use of the Chancellor's housekeeping staff to keep your Tropolitan Terraces lookin' their Bibb Graves Best.

TUSKEGEE UNIVERSITY -- If you're a fan of Lionel Richie, then sign right up; these homes are goin' like hotcakes! They're low country style 3BR/2BA bungalows with a soundstage courtyard out back, complete with wax figurines of The Commodores (furnished by Bubba Tusseaud's Wax Works & Chevron Service of Hatchechubbee, Ala.) ... including a continuous-loop tape of all their great '70s soul classics, like "Just to Be Close To You", "Machine Gun", "Easy", among others.

ARKANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY -- I couldn't think of university-themed residences without touching on the three words proudly etched on my diploma. Today, ASU has a couple of distinctive buildings. However, back when I was there, I have to say -- for all the wonderful times I had with Bolivar Shagnasty and a cast of dozens -- that the ASU of the 1980s didn't really look that picturesque. Dare I say, it looked a bit ... dull! Most of the campus is built with bland-looking light yellowish-tan brick exteriors, and most that have been put up since 1950 (80% of the campus) have rather milquetoast facades. "Boxy" comes to mind.

After a recent visit to ASU, following a near decade-long absence from the fair city of Jone'burr, Arkansas, I was shocked at how my beloved Indian Powers That Be messed with my layout. Major portions of ASU's two big roadways -- Aggie and Caraway -- have been torn up and replaced with pedestrian malls. It plum' caused me to come discombobulated, that's what it did.

And they destroyed the practice track out behind the College of Communications, the building where I spent the most academic (and employment) time. Memories of taking midnight walks with friends and sitting on the track, gazing at the stars, and drinking in the peace and tranquility and nearby speeding freight trains of north Jonesboro. Memories that are now buried beneath a @#$%ing student parking lot.

So.......the Indian Joe Chickasaw Special house plan, for we alumni of ASU, will be a nice, unassuming, boxy-looking edifice built of bland light yellowish-tan brick. In a complete nose-thumbing to political correctness and as a proud paean to the only TRUE mascot of A-State, a flashing neon outline of JUMPING JOE will greet all visitors.

Once inside, you'll be captivated by the creature comforts of your new Craighead Commorancy. Plenty of room in your built-in SubZero fridge for ... soft drinks. Yeah. Soft drinks. (officially, the house is supposed to be dry ... but Joe won't mind if you slip down to Trumann to stock the crisper with a stronger tonic). Comfy couches, sectionals with built-in TV trays, and a plasma screen telly to kick back and watch the Tribe kick the living chit out of Troy State.

Unfortunately, you'll have to get used to a small design flaw: every couple of years, the hallways in your home will turn into inaccessible "malls." You'll have to get to the bathroom via the garage utility room.

Oh well. At least you've got a nice, respectable dwelling. No Superfund budget needed here.

UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE -- Any house, with orange paint poured all over it like it were the Earth in the Sherwin-Williams logo. Love it, or else we'll kick your ass.

FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY -- What can I say here Indian-wise that I didn't already cover with Arkansas State? We could design a nice Seminole-motif layout and name it Renegade Roost.

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA -- You know that swamp a couple miles up the interstate from here.......?

SAVANNAH COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN -- Been there, done that, coming next to your city's downtown to buy up all the buildings. For individualist flair, visit Home Depot at closing time to buy up all the paint-mixing mistakes at bargain prices. Some students and alumni have been known to make it a game -- see if any paint can be found which matches the color(s) of the students' hair. The Following House Is Brought To You In Living Color, From SCAD.

Any other ideas? Bring 'em on. This is fun!

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "ARKANSAS STATE! INDIANS!" Gleck

27 March 2006

Remembering THE DISC-CLAIMER

My friend Birdman writes a music column for the small central Alabama town where he directs their middle school band. I enjoy reading it, but it sometimes makes me pine for the days when I had my own weekly newspaper column.

I began the column when a weekly community paper (The Pike County Citizen) started publishing, in late October of 1995. I named it THE DISC-CLAIMER. My then-wife was the paper's Editor. I even continued the column after our divorce in 1997, and got a big kick out of telling people that my ex-wife edited my column! THE DISC-CLAIMER ended in July 2000, when I moved to Savannah, Ga. At the same time Josiebelle finally landed a teaching job and was able to leave the newspaper bidness behind. The newspaper closed down as we both left the building.

The column was a blast. And I miss it. I don't miss Troy, Alabama, but I truly miss having that foot-and-a-half's worth of column inches each week. This blog is nice, but it's not the same.

Anyway, in Birdman's latest article, he tells of how Spring cleaning has spurred on some deep thoughts about some of his record collection. He goes on to pass along some vital stats on the best-selling music in the history of chartmaking.

It was an eye-opener to see that Bing Crosby's magnificent "White Christmas" was eclipsed by Elton John's "Candle in the Wind" -- the uber-tacky remake of his 1973 album cut in memory of Princess Diana. Now I couldn't care less about Whiny Di or her clock-stopping, polo-loving, Camilla-porkin' king-wannabe husband. I don't give a thousand rats' hemorroids about the so-called Royal Family across the pond, and, frankly, think it's a relic way overdue to be put to sleep along with the Queen Herself.

Ahem, I digress.

Yes, Elton wrote the song. Yes, Elton has the right to do what he pleases with what he himself wrote. Yes, even cover his own stuff.

But I still think it's tacky. Tacky, tacky, TACKY!

And Elton sold more copies of that reckid than B-B-B-BING's "White Christmas"????

I need an Alka-Seltzer. On the rocks.

Whooookay, he continues with some more hit singles that've sold over five million copies:

* ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST / Queen (1980)
* HOUND DOG/DON'T BE CRUEL / Elvis Presley (1956)
* I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU / Whitney Houston (1992)
* MACARENA / Los Del Rio (1996)
* WHOOP! (THERE IT IS) / The Tag Team (1995)
* WE ARE THE WORLD / USA For Africa (1985)
* HEY JUDE / The Beatles (1968)

Out of the above seven songs, only THREE (3) don't give me, at best, extreme acid reflux, and, at worst, homicidal urges. Just guess which three.

This proves P.T. Barnum's theory to the "T" in his name!

Dolly Parton's 1982 original of "I Will Always Love You" gave me gastric tics enough as it was; Whitney's version was like hearing Josiebelle singing one of her damned Contemporary Christian soundtrack songs. (my luck, someone will cover "Face To Faith" as a mainstream pop single just to get my goat.....)

Macarena? Bad acid!! I remember a regional Jaycees meeting where a couple of guests taught us all how to do the Macarena. Thank God for a short memory when I needed it the most.

"We Are the World" sounds like a damned PSA for starving Ethiopian chirren. I'm surprised Sally Struthers didn't make an appearance.

And "Whoop! (There It Is)" deserves no further comment.

"Hey Jude" was a monumental single in that it broke past the three-minute taboo ... waaay past it. What's worse is, the same year another song did the same thing -- and was several seconds' LONGER than "Jude." Thaaaaat's right, my good people, it was English actor Richard Harris' unforgettable (damn!) rendition of Jimmy Webb's "MacArthur Park."

Dammit, Paul, why didn't you hold that "jud-eh-jud-eh-jud-eh-OWWWW!! WOWWWWW!" a few seconds longer??!!??!!

To quote Dave Thomas as Richard Harris (God bless SCTV for taking that song apart), "Somebody get me a bloody TOWEL!!!"

*********

Ahhhhhh, but Birdman also talked about ALBUMS.

I remember the day well, the day The Eagles: Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 outsold Jacko's 1982 Thriller album. It was a Thursday, and I had my weekly classic rock show -- you know damned well I celebrated; a lot of Eagles songs got played that night!!!

The Eagles have sold 29 million copies of TGH .... Thriller is two million behind at 27. Not anything to sneeze at, but I can rest easy that Michael "Thank Heaven For Little Boys, For They Are Soft And Cuddly To Sleep With" Jackson ain't gonna be topping that one anytime soon.

#3? Pink Floyd. But not The Dark Side of the Moon, as you might think. Nope, try The Wall. Ooooh, memories of 9th grade. Not the best of times, but I latched onto that album tightly. 25 million copies there. That's a lot of bricks. Anyone up for buying 2,000,001 more copies of The Wall? Anyone? Anyone?

#4 belongs to Led Zeppelin "Untitled", or, as it's popularly known, "Led Zeppelin IV." It's the album with "Stairway to Heaven" on it.

#5 is occupied by AC/DC's 1980 album Back in Black. (Well, hell's bells..........)

and #6 is Billy Joel's 1985 greatest hits double-disc set. (That's one CD Josiebelle took in the divorce that I've had no urge to replace ... I have something better: all the '70s BJ albums)

But even the '80s Billy Joel -- yes, even "Leave a Tender Moment Alone" -- is far preferable to what follows.

As the list continues past Billy, the teeth become loose, you begin feeling amorous for your cousin, and suddenly you have a desire to trade in your Honda Civic for a '72 Ford F-150 pickup.

#7: Shania Twain's Come On Over. (Man, I feel like another "Alka-Seltzer")

#8: Garth Brooks' Double Live. (Damn! I'd almost forgotten he existed)

I'm afraid to go any further, or else I'll be dumping Seraphim for my second cousin who is beginning to look very sexy to me. I'd like to ask her out to Golden Corral so I can gum a medium-well sirloin.

The only hitch is whether my POS Ford pickup will make it to Florida........

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "I'm fresh out of Skoal. Woman, go over to the Enmark and get me some more!" Gleck

26 March 2006

Sunday Morning, 4:36

[With apologies to Simon & Garfunkel.]

I fell asleep on our big, comfy couch. I knew it was a mistake to finish reading the Saturday paper's comic section while in a horizontal position on said couch. It's "big" and "comfy" when my body gets all nice and relaxed and .... zzzzzzzzzzz

But geez do I regret it after I wake up. I don't even think my body logs sleep incurred on the couch, either.

So I go into the Music Room®, and check e-mail. And do a quick check of blogs. I see where Bolivar Shagnasty has made up for lost time with one big post. I've got some things to say there, and will say them after I generate some deli-sliced Zs in my own friggin' bed, next to Seraphim.

Meanwhile, a quick "Bob Dylan's Self Portrait" of thoughts will have to do for now:

1) *BOOOOONG!!!!!* NETTIEMAC, PICK UP ON THE GREEN LINE PLEASE!! I've sent two e-mails your way, and both bounced -- neither for "over the mailbox limit", either. Are you still there? Is everything okay? Your SPQ tiara still straight and all?

2) RWP Passwhore (Bolivar's ex) should count her lucky stars and red hair that Seraphim and myself didn't darken the doors of Fazoli's. It would not have been pretty. I think, all considered, we wanted a fun time to be had. And besides, she hadn't yet come over to the house to retrieve the rest of her stuff -- the dimunitive little twat could've made things difficult for Bol, so we thought the wiser.

3) Judging from the Fazoli's stores closing down in Georgia (saw the one in Valdosta the other weekend, and was looking rather deserted for being along I-75, one of the busiest interstates), I'd say those are dark supercell storm clouds gathering in the distance for RWP's employer.

4) Bolivar told me something RWP had said not long after meeting me, that she'd called me a "nerd." Coming from the likes of her, it's a high compliment. I wear it as the badge of honor it is.

5) And speaking of "high compliments": Yes, "colorful." I can't define it, but I know it when I see it. JLo's family strike me as good-quality folk. Who knows where this road will take you; both you and JLo just sit back and enjoy the ride.

6) There is no sixth item.

7) Three words: Rincon Restaurant Curse. I thought we'd found homecooking "meat-and-three" nirvana right around the corner from our neighborhood. *BZZZZT!* Wrong answer, thank you for playing. Get your "Rice-A-Roni" and home game on your way out.

8) Three numbers: 3 0 1. More important than Route 66. Seraphim and I made a leisurely Saturday drive up into South Carolina on US 301, which for decades was the Mother Road for snowbirds on their way to Florida. The completion of I-95 in the mid to late '70s made 301 lose its mojo. There are so many old motels and eateries along 301 -- some still in business, others long-since closed. An old Howard Johnson's -- still with rooftop spire intact. More than one former Holiday Inn, one still containing skeletal remains of its "Great Sign" A wistful journey along a road where time has near-literally stood still.

9) Tiger was over here for Spring Break, and -- in a contrast to times past -- was behaving very well. Very little attitude on the kid this go-'round. For the first time in well over a year, I felt very sad after I got him back to his mother. It's a sadness I missed feeling, ya know?

10) So much for "quick" ... it's already after 5 in the morning.

11) Good night.

12) Oops, I mean, Ciao for niao!

13) --Talmadge "Should I stay up another minute and go for 14?" Gleck

15 March 2006

'76 crumhorns in the big parade - PART 2 of 2

Let's pick up where we left off on our look at the songs Casey At the Mic played on the October 9, 1976 installment of American Top 40:

20) BETH / KISS
Rock ‘n' Roll Maxim #399: Never EVER attempt to sing a ballad when your tongue is long enough to lasso Elizabeth herself, so it won't matter if "he and the boys will be playing."

19) (DON'T FEAR) THE REAPER / Blue Oyster Cult
What this song needs is MORE.....

Naaaaaaah.

18) WHAM BAM / Silver
A real "lost hit." One-hit wonder and a rather nice pure pop single, to boot.

17) I ONLY WANNA BE WITH YOU / Bay City Rollers
They turned Dusty into dust. Shame on them.

16) MAGIC MAN / Heart
Mama, you've got to like him. He's a magic man, and we're in love. I'm gonna go run away and elope with him. Oh, and by the way, I'm pregnant. And we'll set up in a nice trailer until we both lose our jobs and get evicted. Have another kid. Get nice house. Let it get filthy and overrun with la cucaracha. Get evicted for non-payment on mortgage. Magic Man takes a powder, leaving me in the lurch. Move into another trailer. Magic Man fakes seizure in Wal-Mart parking lot to gain my sympathy. Take Magic Man back. Get big workers-comp settlement, blow it all. Electricity turned off due to non-payment. Magic Man has plenty of cigarettes and Mountain Dew, though. Try try try to understand -- he's a Magic Man.

Oh, listen to me. I'm being just HEARTLESS. No, wait, that's another song.

15) SAY YOU LOVE ME / Fleetwood Mac
Who can resist the honey-sweet vocals of Christine McVie. She didn't have the maiden name Perfect for nothin'....

14) THAT'LL BE THE DAY / Linda Ronstadt
Linda could sing great pop, even greater lush easy listening music, so-so rock 'n' roll and Latin music, and could hold her own with country. But slap-back echo and that Sam Phillips rockabilly sound just does not become her. Won't you consider returning Nelson Riddle's phone call?

13) ROCK'N ME / Steve Miller Band
I always thought the guitar riff sounded a little too close to Free's "All Right Now." So, does it? Only their lawyers know for sure.

12) GETAWAY / Earth, Wind & Fire
The 1970s. Earth, Wind & Fire. Fantastic. Questions?

11) A LITTLE BIT MORE / Dr. Hook
No thanks, I'm full.

10) SHE'S GONE / Hall & Oates
Ha ha, she dumped your ass. Now stop whining and go find another maneater.

9) (SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE) SHAKE YOUR BOOTY / K.C. & The Sunshine Band
Nobody can shake their booty like our dog Puddy. You've got to see her to appreciate it.

8) I'D REALLY LOVE TO SEE YOU TONIGHT / England Dan & John Ford Coley
Sorry, I have other plans. I have to rearrange my perfectly-alphabetized record collection.

7) STILL THE ONE / Orleans
Sounded nowhere near as good sung as it was SPOKEN ... by none other than the late Ernie Anderson. "A! B! C! STILL THE ONE." "THE LUUUUUUUUUUV BOAT!!!"

6) DEVIL WOMAN / Cliff Richard
Five words: "Where's the damned ice machine??!!??!!"

5) IF YOU LEAVE ME NOW / Chicago
The very nanosecond a great brass-flavored rock ‘n' roll band jumped the shark. Peter Cetera was bitten by balladus passthesweetnlowibus ..... recording a slow-n-sappy song, hitting paydirt with it, and then kneejerking the band away from great music and toward more of that sap. I call this malady The Peter Cetera Syndrome®. It would go on to inflict its saccharine venom on Dennis DeYoung and Styx ("Babe") ... as well as Lou Gramm and Foreigner ("Waiting for a Girl Like You").

Yes, Chicago did record ballads before IYLMN — "Colour My World" and "Wishing You Were Here", anyone? Crucial differences: both were great songs, staying sweet without reaching for the pink packets ..... and neither featured Cetera as lead singer!

4) DISCO DUCK / Rick Dees
Over the intro, Casey said, "Disco records keep getting hotter and hotter, even ones by ... ducks!" You've no idea how that made my skin crawl, especially with the wisdom of hindsight. It's like reliving a trip in the minutes leading up to a terrible car accident.

In the interest of fairness, I must note that the popularity of "Disco Duck" began with the late and lamented Birmingham radio station WSGN "The Big 610." They ‘broke' the record nationwide (Dees' first radio gig outside of college was at ‘SGN). Oh well, even the best entities are entitled to their missteps.

3) DIRTY LOWDOWN / Boz Scaggs
A hoppin' Summertime record for 1976. For me, a lot of songs seem to have memories together in pairs, and in this case, "Lowdown" runs in tandem with War's "Summer." It's one of the first songs I'd play as rebuttal to someone who made a claim that all of the 1970s was a vast musical wasteland.

2) PLAY THAT FUNKY MUSIC / Wild Cherry
The ultimate source of a lot of misplaced inspiration. White people have no business playing any funky music, unless you're A) K.C. & The Sunshine Band, B) The Average White Band, or C) The Rolling Stones [i.e. "Hot Stuff" or especially "Dance (Part 1)"]

1) A FIFTH OF BEETHOVEN / Walter Murphy
Speaking of classical-songs-remade-for-pop, I'm waiting for one ripping Pachelbel's Canon to shreds. How about a ska/punk reworking, with the title "Loose Canon."

And there you have it, the songs we were listening to on the radio in October 1976. Keep your feet dancing and keep reaching for (but not fearing) the reaper.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "'More cowbell', nothing - I want the whole damn heifer!!" Gleck

The Spirit (?) of '76 - PART 1 of 2

I guess it's time to do up another of these. Come back with me to October 9, 1976. A couple of things happened -- John Lennon turned 36, and a newspaper comrade in Kansas City turned 7.

And Casey Kasem was getting ready to lay out yet another edition of American Top 40:

40) THIS ONE'S FOR YOU / Barry Manilow [DEBUT]
If only the first line of this song had been a premonition: "This one'll never sell...."

Some people respect Barry Manilow's contributions to music, especially those in the jazz and ‘singer/standard' idioms ... people like my friend Birdman .... however, while I do offer a nod to such albums as 2:00 A.M. Paradise CafĂ©, I just cannot think of Barely Manenough without his pop singles coming to mind ... the Ron Dante throw-in-the-kitchen-sink productions which made Jim Steinman put down his console in solemn defeat. Some I can tolerate ... "Mandy" isn't THAT bad, I grant you .... but when I think about "Daybreak", "I Write the Songs" and ... [sudden churning of gastric area] ... "Copacabana", it makes me want to hurl a precision cold-cock in his direction. If for nothing else, ruining State Farm commercials since 1972!

39) DO YOU FEEL LIKE WE DO / Peter Frampton [DEBUT]
From the best live album of all time, Frampton Comes Alive. The album cut nudges 11 glorious minutes; this was the 45 edit, of course.

A lot of songs seem to have been cut, or at least faded out early -- the songs were getting longer by ‘76, and AT40 was still just three hours long. It wouldn't expand to four hours until 1978 — and at the same time adding the infamous "Long Distance Dedication"

Down, Snuggles!

38) YOU ARE MY STARSHIP / Norman Connors
A not-too-shabby R&B single, and one I'd completely forgotten about. Which leads me to wonder: If she's my starship, why won't she take me to her bridge??

(One of the station salutes Casey gives out this hour is for "Radio Elan" in Tehran. Truly a relic of history, as Iran was still ruled by the Shah, one of our biggest allies. Somehow I don't think AT40 was heard in that neck of the woods after the Ayatollah took over.....)

37) JUST TO BE CLOSE TO YOU / The Commodores [DEBUT]
One word: sweet.

36) LIKE A SAD SONG / John Denver
Generally speaking, I loathe most John Denver hit singles. When I hear his voice, I think of that controversial Monty Python bit, "Farewell to John Denver." THIS one, though, slipped through the cracks of my memory; I honestly don't remember this single. But I like it. It's a very good acoustic ballad, calling to mind JD's work in the ‘60s with the Chad Mitchell Trio. I guess John Denver's okay just so long as I can I forget his 1975 piece of horse phlegm "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" ever existed.

35) THE RUBBER BAND MAN / The Spinners
Like it or not (I don't, particularly), it's endured to become a ‘70s warhorse. This is like Star Wars ... never liked the movie, but I respect it for the classic it is.

34) DID YOU BOOGIE WITH YOUR BABY / Flash Cadillac
Featuring cameo backing vocals by one Wolfman Jack. One time I heard the song, followed by a commercial for Propa-Oxy-Stri-Clean-Dex-Asil, or one of those other acne medications, voiced by ... Wolfman Jack. Kiss her "in the back row of the movie show" ... it's dark, so you won't be able to be grossed out by her zits. Just don't miss her mouth, otherwise you might get a taste of all that Clearasil and foundation she put on to hide her Pizza Hut face.

33) DON'T GO BREAKING MY HEART / Elton & Kiki
I've got a great idea for a parody of this song .... stay tuned .... (yes, I'm talking to you, Bolivar)

32) MUSKRAT LOVE / Captain & Tennille [DEBUT]
The highest-debuting record on this list. One word: WHY??!!??!! Did some people have a fetish for watching wetland rodents passionately reproducing the species? Muskrat Susie and Muskrat Sam. "In the hammock we can see a gator / We'll pretend that he's Parson Burr / He'll say ‘are you married', we'll say "[unintelligible muskrat noises, like those heard on the song]"

Before the end of the record, they're married. But I heard they divorced in 1988 .... Somewhere is an acetate of The Captain & Tennille singing, "She Got the Backyard, I Got the Shaft"

31) THE BEST DISCO IN TOWN / The Ritchie Family
"It's the place / Where hip people meet / Hey! Hey!"

1976 was the year disco exploded onto the music scene like a zit not treated with Propa-Oxy-Stri-Clean-Dex-Asil. But at this point disco hadn't yet reached the point of self-parody. This sounds like it was uprooted from October 1979 and plopped onto this week's list. What's worse, it would go on to peak at ... #17!

People BOUGHT this record (where's The Jukebox From Hades when we need it??!!)

30) GET THE FUNK OUTTA MY FACE / The Brothers Johnson
I highly imagine this hit the 40 far more due to record sales than airplay. Think about it: some people got their knickers in a knot over the recent pop song "Don't Funk With My Heart" -- so much so that a ‘cleansed' version was recorded with the name "Don't Mess With My Heart."

It's now 2006. But this, however, was 1976. Double-entendres could fly on Match Game ‘76, but this was not television ... and Gene Rayburn, Brett Somers, and Charles Nelson Gaily weren't anywhere to be found, either!

29) IT'S OKAY / The Beach Boys
I don't think the same could be said for Brian Wilson along about this time.

28) NADIA'S THEME / Barry DeVorzon & Perry Botkin, Jr.
"Stay tuned for your local news, followed by As the World Turns, next over most of these CBS stations." How this song got airplay on a top-40 station baffles me. But also proves that the format truly was a little of everything when I was growing up, you young whippersnappers!!

27) YOU ARE THE WOMAN / Firefall
Seraphim, I saw your face and that's the last I've seen of my heart. Honey, would you mind letting me see it just for old times' sake? I haven't see the ol' ticker in nearly eight years!

26) ONE LOVE IN MY LIFE / Diana Ross
In Diana's case, that would have to be herself.

25) SUMMER / War
I think this would have to be my favorite song on this entire list. How could one not like this record?

24) FERNANDO / ABBA
Ewwwwwwwww. I'll say it again = ABBA stands for Always Brings Binging on Antacids.

23) LOVE SO RIGHT / The Bee Gees
Its only merit is that it's not nearly as terrible as "Muskrat Love" or "Fernando." Perspective can be a powerful tool, yes?

22) WITH YOUR LOVE / Jefferson Starship
Vocalized by Marty Ballad — er, I mean Balin. ("Hearrrrrrrts can breaaaaaaaaak, and never mend togetherrrr" [cringe]) No disrespect intended here, though. I love this song.

21) THE WRECK OF THE EDMOND FITZGERALD / Gordon Lightfoot
If a Skipper and a Professor were on board, would the passengers and crew have survived? Are there uncharted desert isles in Lake Superior? But would the castaways have been eaten alive by a band of savage native Yoopers?

And what if it were a casino boat?

*********
Part 2 to follow soon.

Ciao for niao!

--Talmadge Coast To Coast

06 March 2006

"Home At Last" (Steely Dan, 1977)

Us Gleck folk pulled into our driveway at exactly midnight, an all-too-quick ending to one of the most wonderful vacations I've ever had. More details will follow, but here's a lucky list of thirteen (13) nuggets gleaned from our travels:

1) I barely recognized my alma mater, Arkansas State University. They've torn up substantial portions of two of the campus' major arterials, Aggie Road and Caraway Road. ASU has grown like kudzu, and looks great, but old fart alumni like us are just plain befuddled.

2) The practice track behind the College of Communications, site of many nighttime walks and conversation, now sports asphalt and a full load of student vehicles. That's right: they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

3) Yakov Smirnoff has a big-ass theater in Branson. Which goes to show you that anybody with money to burn, even a one-joke has-been, can build their own theater in southwest Missouri, and the 75-year-old retirees will beat a path to their ticket window. What a country!

4) The Osmonds also have a theater. So do The Lennon Sisters, once of Lawrence Welk fame. In fact, all of Branson, Mo. looks like one big answer to the pressing question "what are all those washed-up MOR artists up to these days?"

5) The only name Seraphim and I found appealing? Ray Stevens. But he's about to pack up and leave Branson.

6) I barely recognized Hot Springs, Arkansas. The town is looking great, growing and full of life ... something it didn't seem to have much of when I lived there in the early '80s.

7) AM 590 in Hot Springs, for decades a C&W powerhouse called KBHS and my first radio job in 1982-83, is now a Spanish blowtorch with the call letters KPZA ......... Que Pasa, get it?

8) Seraphim and I survived three (3) fun-filled nights at Casa de Shagnasty. Bolivar has a nice house not too far from where my family once lived.

9) Now that Bolivar's divorce is final, he's currently seeing a very nice woman, whom we met the first night we got into Hot Springs. Let the record show that we approve of her ... and her colorful family, too (they had us all over for supper Friday night).

10) Pine Bluff, Arkansas is still a smelly, two-bit dump of a rathole. The only difference is, it's now a smelly, two-bit dump of rathole with a spiffy new interstate bypass.

11) Nearly all of that city's radio stations, all but one controlled by a single group, are running low power and airing nothing but distorted noise. As a radio geek - and one who used to work in the city (late '80s) - it saddens me, regardless of location.

12) The apartment complex where I first lived away from home (Jefferson Heights, #38) is looking very run-down and some scary characters were walking around out there. 16 years ago it was actually a rather nice and well-kept place. I hate that .... but ya gotta remember just what town we're dealing with here.

13) We entered Alabama through Choctaw County, and celebrated my having now set foot in all 67 of my home state's counties.

Like I said, there'll be more soon. But I'm tired and ready to go to bed.

'Night ... and ciao for niao!

--Talmadge "Back in the good ol' Eastern Time Zone" Gleck