30 June 2008

Of course this means next week's gonna suck

It's Monday, which means weigh-in night. I knew things were going to look good, especially since the last couple of days I began seeing first-thing-in-the-morning readings of 268-269 on our trusty loo scale.

All day today I felt really good about what the numbers would be. That feeling was in my gut, that I'd be down at least 1.5, maybe 1.7, 1.8 ... hell, maybe an even deuce.

Ummm, guess again, Gleck; the WW scale indicated -2.8! Two point friggin' eight. Of course I had to touch the gift horse's uvula because I was focusing on the cume total: 19.8 .... just 2/10# away from a nice, round 20.

Wow. Popcorn modification aside, I really didn't do anything different this week than before. There were no "undocumented" points this week. Average activity. Daily water intake was on target. I still had my Saturday boiled peanuts and big-ass Mountain Dew blowout.

Fine and dandy. Either of two things'll happen next Monday: 1) I'll crest 20 pounds removed and I'll get myself another "5-point star." Or 2) I'll maintain ... or, worse, gain. At least if Nettiemac's experience is any indication. Or is it different with us "chick-impaired" folk?

Okay, 19.8 pounds less of me. Life is good.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "275.4" Gleck

27 June 2008

Growing up in a Ford family

Or: "To all the cars I rode before" (shut up, people, I'm not Julio whatzisname)

My recent "tribute" *cough* to the AMC Ambassador - "one of the now cars of the 1967 American Motors" - has me reminiscing about all the vehicular apparati my family has owned over the years.

We start with a battle over the virtues of automobiles produced by the Ford Motor Company. In one corner, both my Dad and his parents ... all of who are/were staunch Fordphiles. On the other side, my grandfather (Big John), who couldn't stand Ford. Dare I say, he hated Fords.

The reason? A bad experience with one in 1952 (he told me the story many times), and Big John vowed never again to so much as set foot inside another Ford dealership.

Yeah, well, I made such a vow in 1991 when I got rid of that 1987 Mercury Topaz. Talk about a flimsy, poorly-built car. Cheap to the core. And for many, many years that defined my image of FoMoCo. Never mind the car I had before, a 1982 Mercury Capri, felt quite solid (if with some problems of its own). The Topaz - and its Ford twin, the Tempo - along with the earlier generations of the Tore-Ups Taurus - struck me as Ford trying to cut corners and sell cars based on jingoism instead of quality.

You know, just like Degenerate Motors.

What happened??? Ford didn't used to be like that, I told myself. The cars my Mom and Dad drove -- with only two exceptions -- were Fords. And I don't remember a whole lot of problems between 'em. The Ford cars I remember from my childhood were solid puppies. They looked and felt (!) indestructible.

I looked at the Ford cars of the '80s and '90s and it was like going to a Cheap Trick concert in 1990. You feel empty and sad because you know this group was filling big arenas and had top-10 hits on the chart just a decade ago ... and now it's come down to playing horse barns in Montgomery, Alabama. "Puppet show and Spinal Tap"

ANYhoo, so I'd broken from Dad and sided with Big John in the great Ford debate. The difference, however, is I went toward Honda and Toyota. But my grandfather? While I understand his bias due to that '52 lemon, I am beyond baffled at how he could look at me with a straight face and tell me that American Motors was a superior product to what Ford was putting out, at least in the '60s and '70s. That '52 Fordster must've been a doozy. How could it have been worse than that damned lemon-yellow Shambassador??

Funny, it seemed that my maternal grandparents were always the ones who had car trouble.

And the only time I recall my parents having headaches with a car was the first time Dad broke from the Ford tradition and bought a one-owner used 1974 Pontiac Grand Safari station wagon. Yellow with - you guessed it - faux woodgrain door panels. Our version of the Wagon Queen Family Truckster.

And in 1978, the electrical system kicked the big one. It happened outside of Birmingham, and it should come as no surprise to the reader that Dad did not trade it in for another GM product.

So back to me for a minute: WHY, then, is one of our cars a Ford? Why did I suddenly go from bashing Ford in a way only Big John could've appreciated, to having one in our driveway???

And boy howdy, did I ever shock the 'rents when Seraphim and I bought that Escape last August. Heck, if you could go back in time to June 27, 2007 and tell me we'd be driving a Ford before Summer's end, I probably would've punched your lights out.

Again, as with Big John, it was mostly that one (1) bad vehicle. The Tempo/Topaz cars, I'm convinced, were designed by a committee of sister-bangin' neanderthals from Ecru, Mississippi.

Then I got to thinking back to all the cars Mom & Dad drove. All but two of them in the Ford column. And where did Dad get that loyalty from? It came honestly; Gran Lera was a die-hard Ford person, and that's all she ever drove to the very end. GL had trouble only with her last one, an '86 Crown Vic station wagon (nicknamed "The QE2"), which had a persistent oil leak. That was about it.

Heck, if the blue oval was good enough for her........

In the end, I was impressed with how far Ford has come in their reliability and quality in such a short time. The current Consumer Reports auto issue mentions this, too. Ford woke up. And that '08 Escape we test-drove had both my wife and me sold. We bought one. Named it Rupert.

Yeah, I still have pockets of raised eyebrows. I've never had a Detroit car go 50,000 miles without any mechanical snafu. And I'm hoping hoping HOPING good ol' Rupert (who is pushing 19,000 miles as I write) will not disappoint. And if he goes the distance and proves reliable, that will seismically change my whole perspective about cars.

Go here for the various reasons we ended up going with a Ford instead of a Toyota or Honda. It's still a gamble, any way you look at it. All I can do is faithfully maintain the car, doing all the service when called for, and driving it responsibly. That's all a car owner can do. Beyond that, you're at the mercy of an automaker's quality-control.

So, what cars did my parents drive?
  • 1965 Ford Galaxie 500, burgundy colored. Complete with confederate car tag on the front.

  • 1968 Ford Galaxie 500. Yellow with black vinyl top, just like that damned Ambassador. But far more reliable.

  • 1969 Ford LTD, red. It, like the '68 Galaxie above, was a hand-me-down from Gran Lera.

  • 1971 Ford Torino. Lime green. Mom & Dad bought this just before we got transferred to Tupelo. And we had this car for nearly 10 years! Dad named it "T.R.", as in "Old Rough and Ready." And it was, too.
Y'know, I miss that chartreuse Torino even today. It was one of the two cars that I learned to drive. And brother, if you can handle a '71 Torino with its V8 under the hood that stretched from here to Macon, with its acceleration (0 to 60 five seconds ago) and lack of power brakes (yes, coming down an interstate offramp, I literally had both feet on that brake pedal .... whoa, camel, whoooooa!!!) ... then brother, you can handle anything!!!

And the Philco AM radio in that Torino (yes, you were just waiting for me to get around to the radio, weren't you? Right?) was to die for. Powerful and could reach for the faintest signals. Better sound out of that oval dashtop speaker from AM stations than you can get out of many FM radios today!

T.R. was finally beginning to show its age by the Summer of 1981, and early in August, Dad and I made a (loooong) roadtrip from Cape Girardeau down to Troy to dispose of it. I drove much of the way there, and felt very sad when we got there and knew that was the last drive I'd ever take in that green tank. We returned to Cape in Gran Lera's old 1975 Thunderbird.

Okay, back to Mom & Dad's other cars:
  • 1974 Pontiac Grand Safari. Dad's only foray into GM, which proved to him why he should never have left the Ford side of the room. It had a clamshell style tailgate with power glass, and AM/FM radio - the first FM model my parents ever had - although with that crappy in-windshield antenna that GM cars had in the '70s. Reception was good locally, but on the open road it was awful.

  • 1978 Ford LTD. Yellow. It was nicknamed "Yellowbird." We bought this one after the Suck-fari above had one problem too many for Dad.

  • 1975 Ford Thunderbird. Black. Used to be Gran Lera's. This was our "second" car, i.e. the one Dad drove to and from work.

  • 1986 Thunderbird. Red. Successor to "Yellowbird." Had an electronic instrument panel with digital speedometer. Mom's last Ford, proper.

  • 1982 Ford F-150. Red and white.

  • 1984 GMC Jimmy. Blue. What?? Another GM??!! Yup. Apparently Dad managed a good deal on it. It was a good car to drive when I had the chance. Had a good cassette deck, too. Loaded front-wise, not sideways like 99% of tape decks. GM Delco radios were top-notch, and reception was much better when they did away with that stupid windshield antenna nonsense. Only problem: persistent oil leak. As Dad will say when he encounters a GM product: "Where's the drip?"

  • 1987 Ford Bronco. Eventually became my brother's.
From there, it's been nothing but F-150s for Dad and Lincoln Town Cars for Mom. When you find something that makes you happy, you stick with it.

Cars Gran Lera had:
  • 1968 Ford Galaxie (later became ours)
  • 1969 Ford LTD (ditto)
  • 1972 Ford LTD, brown. First time I'd ever seen FM in a car. All of GL's cars from here on out had the FM option. Problem was, FM was far from perfected in cars. Listening to FM stations on car radios made before 1980 was an exercise in frustration.
  • 1975 Ford Thunderbird (eventually became Dad's)
  • 1979 Ford Fairmont station wagon. Blue. Affectionately called "The Driver's Ed Car", because that's what I first drove. The Summer of 1980, while visiting Gran Lera, she taught me how to drive.
  • 1986 Ford LTD Crown Victoria station wagon. Same shade of blue as the Fairmont. The "QE-2." Last car she ever owned.
And Big John & "An-Mom" drove these creampuffs post-Ambassador:
  • 1973 Pontiac Catalina. Green as a "Sprite" bottle.
  • 1973 AMC Gremlin. Silver. The Energizer bunny of its day. After you turned off the car it kept going and going and going....
  • 1975 Chevrolet Caprice. A more reasonable shade of green.
  • 1978 Buick something-or-other. Light-ish blue.
  • 198(3?) Buick something-or-other. Forget the color, too. Isn't that sad??
  • 1984 Dodge Ram pickup. Red and white. AM radio with digital readout. My grandmother friggin' sold this thing just days after my grandfather's stroke in 1989!!!
  • 1989 Chevrolet Celebrity. Eventually became mine after a car swap in '91. Helped make up for that Pacer debacle!
  • From there it was nothing but white Buick LeSabres. I think there were two, or maybe three now that I think about it. The last one even had a CD player in it, which is funny because my grandparents never so much as owned a compact disc.
So any of you have fond memories of the cars you rode in as you grew up?

Ciao for niao.

25 June 2008

AMC = Always Means Clunker

Reintroducing the 1967 American Motors Ambassador ... with the RED CARPET RIDE:
Goodness gracious, that is one ugly car. The stacked headlights might've been all the rage, but that doesn't make it right. There's a roof, but that's just ornamental. Beware of car washes or heavy downpours.

My recent post about early 1972's music and with it some memories of my grandparents' rolling lemon tree got me Googling around for pictures and adverts of the Ambassador, the unfortunate attempt by American Motors at taking on Ford and Chevy in the full-size car market. AMC to date had been known primarily for its smaller cars, especially the Rambler. ("...its horn went beep, beep, beep!")

My grandfather had a bizarre fascination with AMC. I think they had a couple of Nash cars (AMC/Rambler's predecessor) in the '50s, and then they drove a '63 Rambler for many years. Mom even drove it during college (some home movies Big John took show a Zeta Tau Alpha sticker on the side window). I remember that Rambler -- it hung around the Birmingham homestead until 1974-ish, and I also recall the comments on how indestructible that car was.

However, Big John traded in the Rambler for another AMC car: a 1973 Gremlin. Silver. Three on the floor. It was the first stick I'd ever seen. The Gremlin had a nasty habit of 'dieseling' - that is, the engine running on after the key was switched off.

Then, of course, they bought me my first "car." Yeah, the Pacer. All of their AMC'ers came from Roy Bridges Motors in Birmingham.

I didn't get it then, and I sure the hell don't get it now. Big John's brother, Mayo (whom I credit as a source of incredible sarcasm back in the day), worked for Chrysler Corporation!

A couple of times my Dad said that AMC used salvaged parts from Ford, GM and Chrysler. He might be onto something.

But the Ambassador. It was a fancy, lofty name. And my grandparents' specimen was the 990. For whatever that's worth:

The "landau" roof was made of recycled RCA Dynaflex polyvinyl. It had windshield wipers, although I'm not sure where they were needed most - outside or INSIDE. The retarded-looking vertical-style AM radio gave great, full-throated audio to such classics as "Rhapsody in the Rain" by Lou Christie, "Rain" from The Beatles or Sir Douglas Quintet's "The Rains Came." Especially that last one.

I already told of the incident in Amory, Miss., when this bucket of salvaged bolts coughed up a mechanical hairball. Its demise occurred about a year later, when they were on a trip to Mobile. Parts of the exhaust - muffler, tailpipe, if not more - chose to litter itself along the asphalt of I-65 just outside of Montgomery. And the engine was pretty much declared toast, as well. Don't know how these things were connected, but just imagine my grandparents as Jake and Elwood Blues. And this sh*tbox Ambassador as their Mount Prospect Police Car.

"It's the engine. We just threw a rod." "Is it serious?" "Yup."

On their next trip, they showed up in our Tupelo driveway showing off their new set of wheels: a 1973 Pontiac Catalina. Royal green. I mean, very very green. That car, in spite of being your typical GM piece of guano, was less temperamental. Well, except for the time the windshield wipers died ... in a Summer downpour outside of Zephyrhills, Fla. I was with 'em and watching my grandfather crawling along I-75 in the torrential rain, feeling his way for the next offramp, is quite the unforgettable memory.

At least I didn't get drenched inside that car.

Still to come: more thoughts on family rides over the years......

Ciao for niao.

--Creampuff '65 Talmadge Gleck hardtop, used and slightly abused, firing on just two cylinders

24 June 2008

Mother Popcorn (You've Got to Have Points For Me)

[with apologies to James Brown]

Some of you might be saying, "Okay, Talmadge, just shut the f-bomb up, take your removals and run!" But me, I'm a little disappointed in these piddling numbers. 1.2?

I guess this is the impatience factor getting the better of me; I think of my good friend in Montgomery, Birdman, who lost something like 75 pounds in short order by doing Atkins. We're talking months here ..... in October '06 I saw him at my son's band tournament in Alexander City (Birdman is band director for another school), and holy crap! I almost didn't recognize the guy, and it'd been maybe six months since I'd last seen him??

Much as I love meat, Atkins ain't for me. There are too many things I'd miss were I to give them up.

But dammit, I want that result. I want to shrink like Birdman did.

Ahhhhh, but reality rears its ugly head. And being that I'm a card-carrying realist (NOT pessimist!!), I let it in the door. A safe rate of weight removal is 1-2 pounds per week. Any more than that and you're not burning fat, but instead muscle and other vital stuff.

I was digging around online about rates of removal, and came upon this eye-opening gentle and friendly reminder: one of our muscles in the human body is the heart. That's not something I want to be burning off, ya know? Something about heart attacks and other complications resulting from crash-removal. Yipe!!

Okay, on those terms I can live with the smaller amounts. I don't want to tump over before I get to where I'd like to be.

But back to the topic of giving things up, I've done away with one big thing: cashews. Too many points for the amount. And I've already said I can easily plow through half of one of those big cans (if not more) in the course of a day. You could say, "Hey, Tal, you don't have to give those up. Just moderate. Eat just a handful of cashews instead of inhaling that bleedin' can."

The problem, Dearfolk, 'lays' in the old slogan for Lay's Potato Chips: "Betcha can't eat just one."

And I can't. So I've given up cashews ..... okay, except for my favorite Chinese entree, Cashew Chicken. Can't give that up. Loooove cashew chicken, at least when a Chinese restaurant uses good chicken with it (read: NONE of 'em around Rincon, or that place up in Springfield, @#$% it!).

Which brings us to the marvelous snack food I've substituted for the curvy nuts: popcorn.

[cue music bed: Hot Butter's 1972 hit "Popcorn"]

I'm now popping up a batch of microwave popcorn each morning at work as a snack. I generally eat the whole thing. It's a nice substitute that takes my mind off cashews (of course I cannot stand going through the nut aisle at the grocery store; that's when I find myself really missing 'em).

But the anemic 1.2 pound rate had me doing some analysis of my habits ... how to make the weekly removal round off to 2 instead of 1. And I believe I've stumbled upon the problem: POPCORN.

The "Nutrition Facts" label tends to be fairly clear-cut on most foods, but not on popcorn. And I'd been grossly underestimating the point values. Most mornings to date I've been poppin' up a bag of the Kroger brand regular butter-flavored microwave stuff. Not 'extra butter' or 'theater butter', just the regular butter kind.

In front of me now is a pack of the Kroger brand "94% fat free" butter-flavored microwave popcorn. Doing the (verrrrry convoluted) Nutrition Facts math made my jaw drop to my gonads: One (1) entire bag of the fat-free stuff is roughly 4-1/2 points.

And I'd been logging 3 points in the e-Tools .... for the REGULAR kind! Don't have that with me today, but I can only imagine what THAT is ... maybe 7 points. Ass/u/me'ing as much, that's FOUR POINTS I haven't logged. And I've filled out my daily quota most days, and within 10 of my weekly 35. 4 x 5 (1x weekday) = 20. 20 hidden points.

Channeling Mr. Blutarski: "Hoooooooly shiiit!"

Okay then. Just the fat-free stuff each morning and log it honestly.

Maybe that will get me some 1.7s and 1.8s instead of 1.2. Ya think?

You see, I have some intermittent goals set up over the next year and they're based on 1.5 per week minimum. If I can do that, I'd make 95.3 gone by May 4, 2009 (the one-year mark after joining WW). Why 95.3? Easy: that'd give me a weight beginning with a 1 (199.9!). In any event, I have two "goals" in mind for May '09, one labeled "rational" and the other "dream." Rational = 75, Dream = 95.3

The ultimate goal is to be down 95.3 by no later than what I call "Bridge Day" - September 7. 09/07/2009 would be the 20th anniversary of Bridge Day, and just about marks the last time I weighed less than 200 pounds (September 1989). (I've referred to this event on the "private" blog)

To make the September '09 goal would take 1.24 pounds per week. Ideally, I'd love to be down 100. 195.2 Just to be able to say I've dropped 100 pounds. That'd require about -1.6/week.

Okay, time for some popcorn. The fat-free kind. Logged honestly.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Open bag away from face" Gleck

23 June 2008

Back to even numbers

No WW meeting in town tonight due to VBS at the church where it's held. So we swung by the Weight Watchers office on the southside and did our weigh-in.

Another pound and change: 1.2 removed, for a cume total of an even 17.0!

Not much, but I stayed within points if I ate a little more "junk" than usual. Then again, I did a buttload of walking this past week ... what gives?

Here goes another seven days. Maybe I can hit an even 20 by the Monday after the 4th of July.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "278.2" Gleck

18 June 2008

1974: The Pointer Sisters go country!


Got your attention, didn't I? But it's true. Read on.

The date: Saturday, November 23, 1974. I was in fourth grade at Pierce Street Elementary School in Tupelo, Miss., and completely oblivious to the birth of my sister-in-law two states away. Seraphim's younger sis was born on this date. And here are the 40 pieces of vinyl laid on us by Casey Kasem for this week.........

*40) WILLIE AND THE HAND JIVE / Eric Clapton
EC took a stab at Johnny Otis' blues workhorse and got a minor hit out of it. Not my favorite record in God's repertoire, but it's still passable.

As for those spray-painted messages in the '60s proclaiming "Clapton is God", they were bad spellers. What they really wanted to say was "Clapton is GOOD."

*39) LET'S STRAIGHTEN IT OUT / Latimore
1974 was the year my love of R&B music awakened. A little background: when I was little I used to keep the radio on all night as I slept. Normally I had it on local station WTUP by default, although sometimes I'd listen to WLS out of Chicago. Earlier this year I woke up in the middle of the night for whatever reason, and I heard this 'strange' music. It sounded a bit like the regular pop music, but there was something fascinating about it. What I'd discovered was "Soul Patrol", WTUP's overnight program hosted by a guy named Johnny Weber. He didn't play The Osmonds, Helen Reddy, or whatever fluff pop was on the chart .... Mr. Johnny turned an unsuspecting blond-haired blue-eyed boy on to Latimore, Isaac Hayes, Marvin Gaye, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, B.T. Express and other great names in 1970s R&B music.

What I didn't know was that, per recollections by a couple of WTUP alums, Johnny Weber was nothing less than Tupelo's answer to Venus Flytrap. At one point he was serving jail time for something or other, and he did the show on work release!

Well, for some reason my brain awakened me at about the same time each morning so I could catch a few fleeting minutes' worth of Johnny's show. And I baffled my parents and especially grandparents with my sudden fascination of soul music. "Straighten" is one of those records which recall those 3 AM nights hearing, "Johnny Weber GOT somethin' for ya!"

*38) MUSTA GOT LOST / J. Geils Band
Fellow chirren of the '80s, this group did NOT start with "Love Stinks" and "Centerfold." Their first single was in 1972 - "Looking For a Love", and they did fairly well in 1974 with this.

*37) WOMAN TO WOMAN / Shirley Brown
Better-remembered for the country version by Barbara Mandrell in 1977, Shirley's original was #1 on this week's Billboard soul chart. If you ask me, she was too nice. Listening to this song, you want those claws to pierce your speakers.

*36) THREE RING CIRCUS / Blue Magic
Second hit song for this warmed-over Stylistics clone.

*35) FIRE, BABY I'M ON FIRE / Andy Kim
No, Andy, your previous hit "Rock Me Gently" was the fire. This wouldn't qualify for a "Bic" lighter.

34) YOU AIN'T SEEN NOTHING YET / Bachman-Turner Overdrive
On its way down after a top-10 destination. Recognizable even to a fetus. And burned to a crisp like the alleged fire in #35 above.

33) AIN'T TOO PROUD TO BEG / The Rolling Stones
Ain't too keen to listen. Better when mixed with Temps instead of Glimmer.

32) LAUGHTER IN THE RAIN / Neil Sedaka
Some have called 1974 a wasteland for pop music. I wouldn't entirely agree, except for being reminded that pure, untempered shit like this existed. But wait, there's more. A year later, Sedaka would remake his early '60s classic "Breaking Up is Hard To Do", turning it into a pile of MOR road apples.

Moving right along.....

31) LOVE DON'T LOVE NOBODY / The Spinners
Minor single largely forgotten amidst the larger trees in their forest of hits.

30) LA LA PEACE SONG / Al Wilson
Wilson's 15 minutes of fame was in the form of his earlier smash "Show and Tell." "La La" was coasting on "Show"'s afterburners.

29) I FEEL A SONG (IN MY HEART) / Gladys Knight & The Pips
And soul (in my ear). See "Spinners", above. Good song, but doesn't do as well in those soccer-mom auditorium tests as "Midnight Train to Georgia." Speaking of which, "Train" was written by Jim Weatherly. Remember that name.

*28) JUNIOR'S FARM / Paul McCartney & Wings
Highest debut'er this week. I've always loved it, and it's only gotten better with age.

27) YOU'RE THE FIRST, THE LAST, MY EVERYTHING / Barry White
Practically dead center of a long string of mid '70s hits by a man whose larnyx gave much inspiration to one Rick Astley. I could even imagine Astley singing this, too! You're the tweeter, the midrange, MY WOOFERS, BABY.

26) FAIRYTALE / The Pointer Sisters
Their first hit was in 1973, the irresistible "Yes We Can Can", and around the same time these girls recorded the (infamous) "Pinball Number Count" for Sesame Street. However, this, their second top-40 single, was just plain surreal ... especially when looked at from their '80s repertoire, i.e. "Automatic", "I'm So Excited", "Jump (For My Love)." You see, "Fairytale" is a straight ahead country record. And it squeaked into the C&W top 40 this year!! What's more, The Pointer Sisters got their first Grammy award (Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal) for "Fairytale", and they also played the Grand Ole Opry! Yes, The Pointer Sisters. THOSE Pointer Sisters.

Listen to this record, and just remind yourself: these same girls, 10 years to the month later, would have a hit called "Neutron Dance."

25) TOUCH ME / Fancy
Scorcher of a song I never heard in Tupelo. Had to wait 'till my next visit to Birmingham -- hardly a rare case during these wilted salad days.

24) AFTER THE GOLDRUSH / Prelude
Prelude was an English acapella folk trio and they delivered a stunning take on Neil Young's 1970 classic (whose actual title is After the Gold Rush ... but on the label it's "Goldrush"). I do not remember this one from 1974. I don't remember hearing it in Birmingham, either.

23) PROMISED LAND / Elvis Presley
Elvis Himselvis was still crankin' out the hits while in the bloated jumpsuit. And WTUP - true to form - always played 100% Elvis music each year on his birthday.

22) PEOPLE GOTTA MOVE / Gino Vannelli
If you look at pictures of this Canadian singer/songwriter, you'd think, "*phffft!* The Michael Bolton of his day!" And yes, SCTV savagely satirized him in one of their skits (Lee Iacocca's Rock Concert - Eugene Levy played Gino and each time he showed up on camera, he'd have more and more hair. By the end of his song, he looked like a werewolf!). Musically, though, Vannelli had substance. Multi-layered synthesizers defined the music (often arranged by Gino's brother), and it sounds good three decades later. "Move" was a moderate hit, a delight with each needle drop.

21) SO YOU ARE A STAR / The Hudson Brothers
Three brothers -- Bill, Mark and Brett -- who scored a Summer-replacement TV variety show in 1974 (for Sonny & Cher). I remember the show well, and thought they were somewhat amusing. Now I look back and wonder just what the f(BLEEP)k I was thinking. It was your typical variety hour, back in the days when Fred Silverman ran CBS and handed out one-hour variety shows like the Gideons and those little green Bibles.

They were best-remembered for The Hudson Brothers Razzle-Dazzle Comedy Show, a fixture on Saturday morning TV (CBS) for the 1974-75 season. Lots of lame, slapstick humour. I watched it a couple of times over my Cap'n Crunch "Crunch Berries" and went back to Pink Panther on NBC. "Star" was the first of two top-40 singles the Hudsons would have, the other would be "Rendezvous" in the Summer of '75 ("Rendezvous, ohhhh rendezvous, ron-day, ron-day, ron-DAY-voo!")

And I just found out that the entire run of Razzle-Dazzle has just been issued on DVD. *groan*

20) YOU GOT THE LOVE / Rufus feat. Chaka Khan
Love it. As good as any '70s funky soul made.

19) JAZZMAN / Carole King
Still crankin' out the hits ... and no misses. Yet another that's aged like a fine wine.

18) ROCKIN' SOUL / The Hues Corporation
If you rock the boat, you only get yourselves wet. Stop rocking the soul and go back to the VIP lounge of the Howard Johnson's in Lake City, Fla. where you belong.

17) SHA-LA-LA (MAKE ME HAPPY) / Al Green
Al Green made us all happy in 1974. The Memphis horns never failed us. Never.

16) LIFE IS A ROCK (BUT THE RADIO ROLLED ME) / Reunion
Indescribable. Just try to decipher all that Joey Levine's saying. (Levine, by the way, was lead singer of those '60s bubblegum perveyors Ohio Express, best known for "Yummy Yummy", and he fronted this one-hit wonder RCA studio group).

15) WISHING YOU WERE HERE / Chicago
With backing vocals by The Beach Boys. One of the smoothest hits in Chicago's repertoire, and one of my favorites. Sounded great on any AM radio, even WTUP's horribly muddy sound with ever-present ground-loop hum underneath.

14) ANGIE BABY / Helen Reddy
Ready for Hell. "Angie baby / You're a special lady / Living in a world of make believe"

Back on the short bus with you, Ang'.

[Here, Casey welcomes a new station to the AT40 lineup: WFGN in Gaffney, S.C.]

13) I'VE GOT THE MUSIC IN ME / The Kiki Dee Band
Kiki Dee wouldn't go breaking Elton's heart for another couple of years. Meantime, we had this piece of dreck on the chart. It sounds like a bad cover version on one of Fred Silverman's TV variety shows.

12) WHATEVER GETS YOU THROUGH THE NIGHT / John Lennon
The background voice you hear is Elton John. One with a great story. Did you know John and Yoko were separated for a time? Yes, Yoko kicked him out. And for a little over a year, he hung out with the likes of Harry Nilsson and Elton John, in a period of time that came to be known as "The Lost Weekend." Well, Elton agreed to help out on this song, and made a bet with JL: if this song went to #1, Lennon had to appear on stage at Elton's New York City concert and do a couple of songs with him. Lennon jadedly took him up on the bet; at the time, he was the only one of The Beatles not to have had a #1 single as a solo artist (yes, even Ringo already had one - "Photograph").

The song hit #1. Lennon appeared with Elton at his concert. And, unbeknownst to him, Elton arranged for Yoko Ono to be in the audience, front and center. From there, reconciliation was sparked.

11) THE NEED TO BE / Jim Weatherly
Weatherly was a pop/country songwriter who hailed from Pontotoc, Miss., just 20 miles west of Tupelo. Best known for "Midnight Train to Georgia", "Neither One of Us" and "Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me." The success of "Midnight Train" moved RCA Records to give Weatherly a recording contract of his own. "The Need To Be" is a true '70s one-hit wonder. He's in that Rodney Crowell/Laura Nyro orbit -- highly talented songwriters who penned great hits for others, but for some reason couldn't be as successful singing 'em themselves.

10) CAT'S IN THE CRADLE / Harry Chapin
I'm sorry, son, I can't spend any time with you. Matter of fact, I'm leaving. Dear, this brat is your problem now. I'm going to get stoned and go flying in my taxi, then after that I'm going into radio. I hear there's an opening for morning drive at WOLD. The previous jock got fired for saying "booger."

9) BACK HOME AGAIN / John Denver
And just what decade is this? Don't act so surprised.

8) WHEN WILL I SEE YOU AGAIN? / Three Degrees
More of that "safe" soul. Haaaaaaaaah!!!! Oooooooooh!!!! Precious mooooo-meeeeents!!!!

7) KUNG FU FIGHTING / Carl Douglas
You know it. Gawd knows we all do. The big mover of the week -- up 20 notches, and bound for the top. 1974 and 1975 tie for the record of most number-one hits in a calendar year (35) ... it was volatile at the top in those days, so listening to AT40 was truly a suspenseful exercise. No record stayed at #1 for longer than three weeks in '74. Nothing like later in the '70s ("You Light Up My Life"), early '80s ("Physical") or especially the early '90s ("Everything I Do, I Do It For You").

If this had been released in the '60s, I'm sure the song could've been used to sell "Hai Karate" cologne.

6) EVERLASTING LOVE / Carl Carlton
I can't stand this song, regardless of whose version it is. Amusing here, if only because in 1981, Carlton would come back with a completely different kind of hit: "She's A Bad Mama Jama" ... she's built, she's stacked!

Everlasting, indeed!

5) LONGFELLOW SERENADE / Neil Diamond
The '70s saw Diamond moving toward MOR (can you say "You Don't Bring Me Flowers"?) But this one I kinda like, for the piano part here which calls to mind the feel of those great late '60s pop classics of his.

4) TIN MAN / America
Pay no attention to the producer behind the curtain. Even if it is George Martin.

I most associate "Tin Man" with the other 'local' station in Tupelo, WCPC 940 located 35 miles away in the small Chickasaw County town of Houston. Small as in barely 2,500 people in the '70s, and their local station was a maximum power 50,000-watt AM blowtorch! It came in like a local in Tupelo, of course; plus, with a good car radio you can hear it in Birmingham ... and sometimes I could catch a very faint signal of 'CPC 300 miles away in Troy, Alabama!

WCPC in the 1970s was amazing. It was the epitome of something-for-everyone block programming. Country programs in the morning, gospel late morning, adult MOR in the early afternoon, and from 3:00 p.m. 'till sunset (sign-off) "The Giant Sound in Houston" was top-40. And they did a better job of playing the hits than WTUP!! Rick Huffman was the afternoon jock and could hold his own.

What I found most amusing was the juxtaposing of program elements. The longtime owner, I'm told, was a bigwig in the Mississippi Baptist Convention ... and some religious "modular" shows used to run, even during the top-40 blocks, too; I remember hearing a backannounce going like this: "That was Grand Funk on WCPC, it's 3:30 and time for What Sayeth the Scriptures, with the Rev. Lebuz Huggs of Even Older Lebanon Baptist Church of Kluxerburg....."

WCPC is still around, although long since disposed of the block format. Today they're a Southern Gospel monster. And the same old moth-eaten jingles, too. Yeah. I'm glad they're still around. But I digress..........

3) MY MELODY OF LOVE / Bobby Vinton
Excuse me, please, while I go barf. Yes, it was that bad.

2) DO IT (‘TILL YOU'RE SATISFIED) / B. T. Express
"...whatever it is" Yes! More Johnny Weber overnight soul memories. B.T. stood for (B)rothers (T)rucking, and they also had a top-10 instrumental hit earlier this year called "Express." As good as it got for black music in the 1970s.

Aaaaaaaaand #1 on the November 23, 1974 top 40 takes us from soul to country:

1) I CAN HELP / Billy Swan
"It would sure do me good / To do you good / Let me help" Catchy rockabilly-type song by a guy hailing from Cape Girardeau, Mo. That droning organ makes the record.

And that's what we were listening to in November of 1974. As always, keep your reaching to the stars and keep grounding your feet.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "DOWN, Snuggles!" Gleck

16 June 2008

Another week, another pound and change

Ahhhhh, weigh-in tonight. Firing up the Jerry Lewis MDA toteboard, and with a nice roll on the Ludwig snare, we have.............

-1.8 pounds!!

I got another "5-point star", passing my 15-pound mark. My total pounds removed is 15.8!

Goals for the forthcoming week: More walking. A little more "Chicken Fat" activity.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Over halfway to 10%" Gleck

15 June 2008

Rant-in-a-Hurry

Just saw a very amusing Mastercard commercial featuring the iconic clay figure Mr. Bill, of late '70s SNL fame.

And I have to explode forth with snarkiness and pure rant.

While the commercial is indeed "priceless", yet again a misconception about this figure is perpetuated.

Let me be perfectly clear:

While "Oh Nooooooo!!!" was occasionally spoken, MISTER BILL DID NOT SAY "OH NOOOOO!!!!!" WHENEVER HE MET WITH DISMEMBERMENT.

The line he said was a simple "ooooooooooooo!!!!!" (pronounced "ooh!!!!"). That's it. Occasionally followed by "ooooooh, why? why??"

Do I have to sic Sluggo on all you people?

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Here Comes Mr. Gleck's Doooooggg" Gleck

1972: AT40 Bandstand

I'm in the mood for a doing some more American Top 40 reviews. There are several to come over the next week or so, but let's get this one over with first.

It's from the week ending March 25, 1972. I was in first grade, having moved from Madison, Ala. to Tupelo, Miss. three months earlier. Life for me was in a freefall of sorts, something I explained last year (6th Flavor). The year 1972 is a like a black hole in my life. Some remembrances but a whole lot of things I've mentally destroyed. If that makes any sense.

Another thing involved the local top-40 station in Tupelo. WTUP, a/k/a "The Top Dawg". It would loosen up just a little bit later in the decade, but in '72 the station was so strait-jacketed by management that it could barely be truly classified as "top-40." And I hadn't yet discovered the Memphis stations. It was just WTUP, WCPC in nearby Houston, Miss. (more on that station in a later post), and a fuzzy signal of WVOK "The Mighty 690" out of Birmingham.

With all that in mind, I approach a lot of 1972's music in the same way as, say, Kate/Susan or Melissa -- as they were born later in the decade, it's familiarity after the fact. Still, there are some interesting tunes on this week's 40 and they deserve a healthy dose of Tal-snark.

*********
Occasionally, Casey Kasem would take weeks off and line up "guest hosts" to pinch-hit. And at the bat this week in 1972 was none other than Dick Clark. Usually the host would be one of his fellow La-La Land DJs like Charlie Tuna, Robert W. Morgan or the like. But Dick Clark, while doing American Bandstand out of Hollywood, was in a different orbit.

Clark sounded positively subdued on this program, too! If you remember the early to mid '80s Dick Clark National Music Survey (a top-40 countdown show that used Cashbox or Radio & Records instead of Billboard), you'd likely agree with me that his mind was somewhere far from the studio.

Maybe he was pouting because the producers wouldn't let him survey records from #35 to #98. Or that the engineer gave him hell about his ridiculous idea of a "Long Distance Rate-A-Record."

Allrighty then, here's Talmadge Gleck, 43 to start off the countdown..........

*40) DO YOUR THING / Isaac Hayes
Not to be confused with "It's Your Thing", the 1969 smash by The Isley Brothers. Not a half-bad soul record. WTUP's station manager auditioned every record before it was added to the playlist, and it was clear where his biases lay. The only black acts heard on 'TUP in this time frame were the '60s-holdover, i.e. "safe" outfits. Or, put another way, MOR soul. If it sounded too "black", it could only be heard on Johnny Weber's overnight "Soul Patrol." Long story short, it didn't get played.

*39) COULD IT BE FOREVER? / David Cassidy
I don't remember this one, either. Low-charting (peaked the next week at #37, then fell off) follow-up to his cringeworthy cover of The Association's "Cherish."

*38) THE DAY I FOUND MYSELF / Honey Cone
Another filed under the tab "I don't recall, Senator." Yet another decent soul song. 1972 was in the middle of a great watershed period of R&B music ... Motown had lost its mojo, Stax/Volt was imploding post-MLK in Memphis, and the disco renaissance was still a few years in the future. In spite, there were many many fine black records made in the '70s.

*37) GIVE IRELAND BACK TO THE IRISH / Paul McCartney & Wings
Oh yes, Macca Goes Political! The BBC banned it, surprise surprise! WTUP didn't play it, and the only way I remember it was from early in the Summer during a visit to Birmingham. I don't remember hearing it on WVOK (they tended to be a bit too 'bubblegummy'), but WSGN played it more than a few times.

36) NOBODY TO DEPEND ON / Santana
Mr. Carlos didn't disappoint in 1972. A fringe classic rock staple in the present day. I don't think we heard this one locally, either.

35) EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE / Bobby Vinton
Once more: the top 40 of popular music prior to the '80s was a five-and-dime. Everything. Mainstream pop, country crossovers, R&B/Soul music, and even stuff that sounds positively middle-of-the-road. To wit. And WTUP, big surprise, found no offense in this record.

Mr. "Blue Velvet" and Mr. "Oye Como Va" on the same survey? Yup. On the same station? Usually (although the harder stuff got played at night and the MOR-leaning stuff was reserved for daytime listening, i.e. housewives).

34) GLORY BOUND / The Grass Roots
It was nearing the end of the road for this fine pop group. "Midnight Confessions" and "Wait a Million Years" were a long time ago. 1971 gave them two final big hits, "Sooner or Later" and "Two Divided By Love." #34 was the 'glory' this record was 'bound.' It fell from here, and their next hit, "The Runway" (#39) would be their final pop single. The song? I liked it. Then and now.

33) TAKE A LOOK AROUND / The Temptations
"My Girl" was waaaay distant in the rear-view mirror. The Temps got uppity with such things as "Ball of Confusion." WTUP did let this one in the lobby, if only for the station manager to take it with him for his next hunting trip. Can you say "PULL!!!"

The group would have a hit with their next single: "Papa Was a Rolling Stone"

*32) DAY DREAMING / Aretha Franklin
One with a story from the first time I ever heard it: At some point -- I think this would've been during our Spring holiday, my grandparents came over from Birmingham to visit for a few days. Early one weekday afternoon they left to go back home, and about 45 minutes to an hour later, the phone rang, Mom answered it, and suddenly my brother and me were summoned to "get dressed" ... we had to go 'rescue' the G/Ps, whose car had broken down in Amory, Miss., about 30 miles from Tupelo. I remember the Chrysler dealership, which is strange because they drove a '67 AMC Ambassador - yellow, LEMON yellow, with black vinyl top and window seals that leaked something awful. Maybe Chrysler places fixed AMCs in small towns, who knows? Well, ANYway, we had to ferry 'em back to town while they fixed the car, and they left the next day.

On the way to Amory, we had WVOK on the radio. And that's the first time Aretha's latest (underrated) hit entered my ear canals.

(a year later, they would finally get the message .... after that very Ambassador literally shed half its exhaust system south of Montgomery. What was it about my grandfather and AMC cars anyway??!!)

31) TAURUS / Dennis Coffey & The Detroit Guitar Band
One of two top-10 instrumental hits for this group, the other one being 1971's "Scorpio." Both great and funky pieces of vinyl. "Scorpio" was said to have had a role in the formation of something that would go on to be called 'breakdancing.'

30) DON'T SAY YOU DON'T REMEMBER / Beverly Bremers
MOR-flavored R&B ballad. Yeeeech. Just my opinion and I have the blog.

29) SWEET SEASONS / Carole King
Carole King went from a songwriting cubicle and out front into her own as an amazing force in the singer/songwriter idiom that defined the 1970s. "Seasons" would go on to be yet another smash. One of those I was "meh" about at age 7, but have grown to like a lot in adulthood.

28) FLOY JOY / The Supremes
YES, THE SUPREMES CONTINUED AFTER DIANA ROSS LEFT THE GROUP LATE IN 1969. YES, THEY HAD SEVERAL HITS WITHOUT ROSS. But Diana Ross does not want you to know this. There's a reason all post-Ross Supremes product is either difficult to find, or out of print altogether. The group (now with Jean Terrell up front) still had its Motown contract, but the label - with Ross in firm cahoots - did the bare minimum to promote, i.e. not at all. That songs like this, "Up the Ladder to the Roof" and "Stoned Love" charted as high as they did ("Floy" maxed out at #16) speaks highly for their merit. Proving, as Berry Gordy himself once famously said, "It's what's in the grooves that counts."

Even today, 99% of the Supremes songs you see on compilations or whatever are all from the Ross era. And I'll have you know that in my music database, I catalog them as THE SUPREMES. The phrase "Diana Ross & ..." is left off for a reason.

27) JOY / Apollo 100
Johann Sebastian Bach was heard muttering angrily to himself, "@#$%, when I get my hands on that bastard P.D.Q., I'm gonna ram that glockenspiel down his throat faster than he can say 'Schickele'" Yeah, it's a decent 'modern' reworking of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. That much is true. Otherwise, well, I don't know what Johann would've really thought. No doubt his wig would've gotten all tangled up.

26) CRAZY MAMA / J. J. Cale
Another wild and wacky '67 Ambassador memory: on a Birmingham visit (the same one that yielded "Give Ireland...."), on the way back from getting something to eat, we went through a car wash tunnel, and as we entered I heard this song (on WSGN). Water was soon coming in the window, running down the door handles and getting my hands all soapy wet ... truth be told, I was getting a little freaked. Would this car get flooded out? Gotta love those AMC cars. Not.

It's notable, too, as one of the only times those grandparents allowed the dial pointer of either of their car radios to go near 610. They couldn't stomach rock 'n' roll. With Big John it was 850 (WYDE, country) and my grandmother's choice was even worse: 1260 WCRT - borderline easy listening (or, as it was called in radio back then, "good music").

25) GOT TO GET IT ON AGAIN / The Addrisi Brothers
Started climbing late in 1971. A holdover memory from first hearing it on WVOV while we were still back in Madison. Melancholy song that fit that time of my life like a glove.

24) HURTING EACH OTHER / The Carpenters
Talmadge Gleck now must go fetch some more Ex-Lax for Karen, a bottle of chill-pills for Richard .... and a big ol' Sam's Club size jar of valium for himself.

23) RUNNIN' AWAY / Sly & The Family Stone
I hadn't yet discovered Johnny Weber's overnight show on 'TUP (more on that when I do a 1974 review, later this week), so I didn't become more familiar with this fantastic single until many years later.

22) AMERICAN PIE / Don McLean
17th week on the top 40. You know it. I don't even have to say another word, just initials: B2AC!

21) AIN'T UNDERSTANDING MELLOW / Jerry Butler & Brenda Lee Eager
Too "black" for 1972's flavor of WTUP. See "Running Away", above.

20) ROUNDABOUT / Yes
The short version, of course. Their second top 40 single - first was "Your Move", part of the album-length suite "I've Seen All Good People." More burnt bacon off the griddle.

19) A COWBOY'S WORK IS NEVER DONE / Sonny & Cher
Lame song from Wednesday night's TV dynamic duo. Taught many husbands how to act p-whipped.

18) BETCHA BY GOLLY, WOW / The Stylistics
That was NOT a woman singing lead; HIS name was Russell Thompkins, Jr. I never liked this group ... all their songs sounded very depressing, at least to these young ears. This was the kind of "safe" soul WTUP allowed to be played during regular hours.

*17) THE FIRST TIME EVER I SAW YOUR FACE / Roberta Flack
Any softer and slower and you wouldn't have been able to hear it. Yes, this puppy entered the top 40 at #17. Big, BIG monster hit in 1972. And no sir, I don't like it. Then, or now.

16) ROCK & ROLL LULLABY / B. J. Thomas
To me it was neither.

15) BANG A GONG (GET IT ON) / T. Rex
A real 'power station' of a song on this week's chart. Vague memory of hearing it on WSGN and WVOK. That's about it.

14) ROCKIN' ROBIN / Michael Jackson
Hated it. The "Karma Chameleon" of my first grade days. Moved up 19 big spots from the previous week. Early '70s bubblegum didn't get any worse ... no, wait, yes it did. Big time. See below, but don't get too blinded by all those teeth. (And WTUP was all over it, too. Ecch.)

13) IN THE RAIN / The Dramatics
I love it. This is what God intended for soul to sound like. Did I love it then? No. 'Cuz it wasn't until well into the '80s before I heard it for the first time. No joke.

12) PRECIOUS AND FEW / Climax
WTUP played this piece of proto-Delilah "Cream Of Wheat." But -- and I kid you not! -- the jocks were verboten from saying the artist.

11) DOWN BY THE LAZY RIVER / The Osmonds
The Toothy Wonder Boys Of Utah try to out-rock the Carpenters.

10) I GOTCHA / Joe Tex
Seraphim has a great story to tell about this song. I'll let her tell it. One piece of controversy in the day was that a lot of radio stations (including .... you-know-who) didn't go near it. Why? Because of a 'misheard lyric.' More than a few radio people and listeners, listening on AM stations with their often high-compression audio, thought Tex was saying "I'll teach you not to play with my erection", when it was actually: "I'll teach you not to play with my affection"

9) EVERYTHING I OWN / Bread
More Cream of Wheat. Okay song, as far as they go.

8) JUNGLE FEVER / The Chakachas
Orgasm city. Sleazy. Dirty. And I love it. JF is a delicious piece of '70s funk. I imagine Bill Clinton gettin' it on with a high school hottie in the astroturf-lined bed of his '70 El Camino sissy truck as it's blasting on the Delco.

7) THE WAY OF LOVE / Cher
Middle-of-the-road garbage. Again, my opinion. Your mileage (and future Botox) may vary.

6) WITHOUT YOU / Nilsson
Badfinger originally recorded it, but it was Harry "You're Breaking My Heart, You're Tearing it Apart, So F--k You" Nilsson who made a big smash out of it. Reaches for the pink packets, but doesn't quite get there.

5) MOTHER AND CHILD REUNION / Paul Simon
Yet another "didn't like it then, like and especially appreciate it now" song.

4) PUPPY LOVE / Donny Osmond
Stop smiling, dammit -- your teeth are blinding me!!

3) THE LION SLEEPS TONIGHT / Robert John
Maalox, please!! I loathe this song, whether by The Tokens (original version, 1961) or this just-as-horrid cover. MGM, please tell your lion to swallow both whole!

2) HEART OF GOLD / Neil Young
Burnt-to-a-crisp, to be sure, but it's Neil Young. The album from which this came (Harvest) was the best-selling LP of 1972.

And the number one hit of this week? Saddle up.......

1) A HORSE WITH NO NAME / America
I hear this and I think to the back side of our subdivision in Tupelo. It was a county road, and unlike the other streets, there were no street markers identifying it. At this age, I called it "Street With No Name", to go with the song. Later, they finally named it: Southern Heights Road.

And that's all for now. More AT40 reviews to come in the next week or two ..... 'till then, keep your feet on the ground and ..... [salute] .... so long!

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge Coast to Coast

12 June 2008

Drive-by torture and recalling our favorite hippie

In response to my good bud Bolivar's "meme" about buying a copy of Thin Lizzy's 1974 LP Jailbreak, I offer the above.

I posed it with his blog because it's as close as Bolivar Shagnasty will ever get to this record.

Hee hee HEEEEEEE ! ! !

Best of all....
.....it still carries the Record Exchange price sticker, in Franklin's glorious handwriting. It's a momento of the day I met this character (Bolivar, not Franklin - HE's a character of an entirely different sort!). We both went for this album in the new arrivals bin on that nice October afternoon in 1986. I got it, and he didn't. Nyeah. But we both got something more priceless: a friendship spanning more than 20 years.

Like many, I removed the price stickers from much of what I bought at what we lovingly called "Franklin's" ... but some escaped this fate. And I'm so happy they did.

(btw, the letters in the upper left corner pertained to the condition of the record; Franklin used the standard record collectors' grading system: NM = Near Mint, VG = Very Good, G = Good, F = Fair ... and from there, he went on his own and gave birth to the infamous "Turkey bin" ... if you bought a couple of LPs, you could fish out a corresponding amount of 'turkeys'. Most of 'em weren't fit to be used as Edison Throwing Stars, but occasionally a treasure lurked within.)

I look at the albums I still have with Record Exchange stickers and those sweet days all come back.

Franklin C. was a consummate hippie -- ponytail, balding hair, small horn-rimmed glasses, looked like he stepped right out of Haight-Ashbury and into Jonesboro, Arkansas. When we walked in there, he was always in his little rocking chair. A stuffed Garfield plushie sat on a shelf in the back of the store, designated as his "security system."

Holy crap, to even begin to list the unforgettable "Franklin-isms" ... his word of acknowledgement, "neeeaw-HUMMM" (it rubbed off on me, and I've caught myself saying that quite often over the last 23 years). Another one, always said when we'd give him any amount of currency requiring change: "And thanks for the tip!" And my favorite of all, said if we coveted any record that was near his rocking chair and NOT in the new arrivals bin: "ummmm, that one goes home with Franklin." (*sigh*, the perks of owning a used record store)

That's just one more Franklin-ism I carry today. Whenever I see an album, book, etc., that interests me, especially if it's a rare find, I always say, "That one goes home with (Talmadge)."

One of the last great memories I have about Franklin was during my last semester at ASU (Fall 1987). I'd special-ordered a copy of Bob Dylan's 1975 album Blood on the Tracks -- begging the question of what took me so long to finally buy it! Anyway, several days later (did I mention how awesome it was going to college 70 miles away from Memphis, a major record distribution hub?), Franklin called my dorm and told me that album had arrived. I can remember the moment like it happened last week: "Your Blood on the Tracks album is in ... HURRY UP AND GET OVER HERE, THE BLOOD IS SPEWING ALL OVER THE WALLS!!!!"

The Record Exchange also sponsored "Dr. Demento" late Sunday nights on a local radio station. One leg of that deal is that Franklin got all the shows (on vinyl) after they aired. I have a couple of the commercials somewhere on an aircheck of Demento. One is pretty memorable, giving a nice tweak to Michael Jackson. If I find it, I'll upload the spots and link 'em here.

I lost count of all the political discussions taking place in that store. It was a nice respite from the long arm of Ronald Reagan. It was in that store that I was introduced to an amazing and diverse palette of music. It was Franklin who gave my ears their first listen to the awesome humor of Peter Schickele (a/k/a P.D.Q. Bach), and also to an aural concoction called The Shaggs.

Every college town should have a used record store like that. Sadly, most stores of that nature tend to be staffed either by those who don't appreciate music, or act like a disturbing number of hard-core record collectors: the arrogant standoffish snob akin to Jack Black's character in High Fidelity (the owner of an otherwise good used record store in North Little Rock, Ark. quickly comes to mind). Then you have the golddiggers, their nose always in a copy of Goldmine. Price is everything. What would sell for $5.00 everywhere else goes for $10 or more.

Franklin was nothing like that. He wouldn't cheat himself, to be sure, but he never overpriced an LP. The only used record place I know of that matches the old Record Exchange is Charlemagne in Birmingham's southside (coincidentally, its full name is "Charlemagne Record Exchange"). I love Charlemagne. It's in a run-down upstairs location, and the floor has some places where it gives (!). The owner's little dog Sonny runs loose all over the haphazard layout while zig-zagging around the customers' legs.

We have a used-CD place in Savannah (Silly Mad CDs - yes, that's what it's called), but it's nowhere close to Charlemagne or "Franklin's."

Damn you, Franklin, you set my standards too high!!

I miss that The Record Exchange. Today, a wonderful slice of heaven in 1980s southeast Jonesboro - a hole in the wall of Fountain Square on east Highland Avenue - is home to a New York Life office. "The company you keep."

I don't know about that. Mr. Franklin C. was the company Bolivar and I enjoyed keeping.

I wonder what Franklin's up to these days. Last I heard, he was "back home" in Russellville, Ark., working on a science fiction novel. Have you any other info, Bol?

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Ohhhh, how sharper than a serpent's tooth" Gleck

11 June 2008

Talmadge versus Atkins Advantage shake

Okay, the "Advantage" is that I didn't have to mix it. Pull off that little foil seal and bottoms up.

I was a bit leery about this, as it was a milk product sold at room temperature in the grocery store. The destructions said to chill before serving, which I did.

It was rather good. Not "WOW! THIS IS THE BEST THING SINCE SQUIRT!" good, just "Hey, this is a new thing to add to the menu" good. No weird aftertaste, either. And 3 points for that good nutritious liquid breakfast.

Final grade: Solid B, with gusts to B+.

I'm "teleworking" tomorrow, so I'll try and have the V-8 splash at my leisure. Stay tuned....

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Shake-Shake-Shake, Shake my shrinking booty" Gleck

10 June 2008

Talmadge versus WW Vanilla Smoothie Mix

My first mistake was ass/u/me'ing the Weight Watchers French Vanilla Smoothie Mix was akin to the Carnation No-Sugar-Added Instant Breakfast.

Ass out of me, and me alone. I'll take the fall. This was a completely different animal.

Okay, one good thing: I could taste the vanilla.

Bad thing? It's meant for the blender, not an ordinary stirring motion in a glass. The Carnation Instant Breakfast dissolved as easily as Splenda in a tall cold glass of Carey Hilliard's iced tea. But the WW stuff was stubborn. I'm not too good with solid things in drinks (sole exception: ice) ... that texture revulsion kicks the gag reflex up to 11. I managed to down 75-80% of it before I was tempted to heave all over the kitchen. At least I got nearly two milk servings; those smoothie mixes count as one.

Final grade: with spoon, D-minus-minus. Next time I'll try it using water, with a blender.

Tomorrow: Talmadge takes on the fighting white bottle of Atkins Vanilla Shake. Kick-off time is about 7:15 a.m.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Wow, I coulda had a V-8 Splash" Gleck

Tag team...

Kate/Susan threw a baton down I-95 in my direction. I'm it. Here goes with a so-called "MeMe"......

The rules:
Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

What was I doing ten years ago?
I was beginning my wonderful life with Seraphim. However, that life was 93.1 miles from the end of my driveway. I was cultivating something positive far away while I was clawing desperately to escape Troy, Alabama, trying to break free from a job I was loathing more and more each day in a town I already reviled, as I maneuvered landmines left and right pertaining to my ex-wife and her shining stable of friends, bid-doers, and assorted hangers-on.

Only in Troy could a mother who sends a child to school with a burst eardrum and leaves a 7-year-old alone for more than 30 minutes to go run an errand be regarded as a much-acclaimed Super Mom.

In 1998, it was life outside Troy which pretty much kept me going (outside of a lame newspaper column and really fun moonlight radio gig on Thursday nights). Again, Seraphim had entered my life just months earlier, and I'd recently met two people who would go on to become much-revered friends of mine: Steve F. (who passed away in 2004) and Nettiemac.

What are five (non-work) things on my to-do list for today:
1. Finish this damned MeMe.
2. Go pick up my wife after work.
3. Have supper.
4. Do some walking tonight while my wife has cake class. What's that word? Oh yeah, "Actunity!"
5. Get to sleep at a decent hour tonight.

5 Snacks I enjoy:
* BOILED PEANUTS, BABY!
* Cashews ... no more. Too many points, I cannot stop at just a handful, and I don't want to see 300 pounds.
* Popcorn, especially these days.
* Ice cream sandwiches.
* Crackers.

(I've never had that much of a sweet-tooth)

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
Build some more roads between Effingham and Chatham counties. Build a high-speed rail connection from Bryan and Effingham into Chatham and upgrade Savannah's public transportation system.

Invest heavily in alternative energies because it's inevitable that at some point we're going to have to divest ourselves from the Middle East and their earl supply. We're their biggest customer, and the best way to strike a blow against terrorism would be to remove ourselves from their client list.

Oh yeah, almost forgot the big thing: buy a tank of gas.


Places I have lived:
Birmingham, Ala. (first six months of my life)
Madison, Ala. (1965-1971)
Tupelo, Miss. (1971-1978)
Cape Girardeau, Mo. (1978-1982)
Hot Springs, Ark. (1982-1985)
* college: Jonesboro, Ark. (1984-1987)
North Little Rock, Ark. (1985-1987)
Pine Box Bluff, Ark. (1987-1990)
Troy, Ala. (1990-1991)
Enterprise, Ala. (February-November 1991)
Troy, Ala. (1991-2000)
Savannah, Ga. (2000-2004)
Rincon, Ga. (since 2004)

Jobs I have had:
Except for the Summer of 1984, when I worked as Assistant Manager of a stereo store in Hot Springs (by default -- there were just two of us and the other guy was the manager!), all my jobs since 11th grade have been in the radio field. One-trick pony, thy name is Tal.

I guess that's it. If you're reading this, tag - you're it.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Press 5 for Extremely Satisfied, Press 4 for Somewhat Satisfied, Press 3 for Neither Satisfied Nor Dissatisfied, Press 2 if you just don't give a flying f--" Gleck

09 June 2008

Take the minus and run, I suppose

Previously on Talmadge Drops a Load (of weight), I'd removed 2.8 pounds for a total of 12.8 ....

...leaving me 2.2 pounds to drop before I hit another 5-pound plateau (15).

I asked for 2.2 pounds, I dropped 1.2. How's that for being born under a bad sign?

Dunno what I've done differently -- I was hoping for at least 1.5, ya know? Mowed the grass last week, walked for about 90 minutes Saturday, including the entire length - both floors - of Savannah Mall while Seraphim was doing a cake demo at A.C. Moore.

I used all but 11 of my weekly points up 'till weigh-in. While I had maybe four Frescas over the previous week, I drank just two 44-oz "BAM-D" drinks - Thursday night and another on Saturday with my boiled peanuts. No carbonated stuff either Sunday or Monday, as I'm told it allegedly causes one to retain a few pounds.

Then again, it might've been that Huddle House bacon cheeseburger plate. Had that late Saturday night for a quick supper after Sera went to bed early. 22 points total for that mess of grease, but it was good ... and I stayed within my limits. That's the important part.

Water: I realized I've been terribly underestimating my water intake. Counting a single 16.5 oz. bottle water as a serving, when it's actually TWO (one serving = 8 oz.). We switched to decaf tea, as I mentioned earlier. This means I've done close to, if not exceeded the recommended quota for water.

So I didn't cross 15 pounds. There's always next week. Hmph.

Goals for this week: Two dairy items (see below) each day. Also, try and get to bed a little sooner this week. The metabolic benefit can't hurt. Neither can my sleep deficit.

*********
In other news, this morning I had one of the "No sugar added" Carnation Instant Breakfast pouches, French Vanilla flavour. "TALMADGE -- DON'T DRINK IT ! ! ! !"

Too late. I already did.

I poured myself an 8-oz. glass of 1% milk (Talmadge has just put the words "I", "poured myself" and "milk" in the same sentence ... this is getting a mite bit scary). I then folded the powdery Carnation payload into the Kroger brand 1% milk, stirred and proceeded to drink.

I more or less chugged the glass. Here's where it gets weird, though: I tasted mostly the milk while I drank it as fast as I could. Seraphim could nicely describe the face I made while drinking the milk, and I'm sure it looked an awful lot like this:
That's yours truly, age 15, in June of 1980 while on a canoe trip down the Mississippi. Can't you tell I'm just lovin' them vienna sausages?? Even though the letters "WTF??" were nowhere near the vernacular of 1980, it's clearly what I'm thinking.

You see all that hair? It should be proof that I had some once upon a time.

Well, the Instant Breakfast didn't kill me. Yet. What I found most curious about the whole thing was that while at 7:20 this morning I tasted 3 parts milk to 1 part "french vanilla", by 8:30-9:00, after I got into work, I was tasting the vanilla. Tasted it much of the morning, in fact.

And I gots me some fiber into me plumbing. Wowsie.

Final grade: B-minus-minus. Meh. Passable. It's breakfast, and I shouldn't be skipping it like I've been doing. If I do this every morning, and leave enough pointage for an ice cream sandwich (Kroger now carries the kind with vanilla wafers - not chocolate), that gets me two dairy servings daily.

And what's the deal with the "healthy oils" anyway? Are they in certain foods, or do I actually have to buy that stuff and take spoonfuls (ecch?) ........?????

*********
Okay, tonight at the WW meeting their vanilla smoothie mixes were on sale for $5.00 a box (7 pouches). That's the same price for the 8 of the CIB packets at Publix. Each packet is 1 point. Mixed with milk, it's 3 (1% - or, in old school parlance, "skim" milk - is 2 points per 8-oz. glass). Funny thing, one can mix the WW Smoothie powder with plain water instead. I might try it both ways.

I'll give a report on that in the morning. I'll try the WW stuff.

Wednesday morning I'll give one of those ready-made Atkins vanilla shake-like thingys an audition.

Oh yeah, and I still have to try that V8 "Splash" stuff. Kate/Susan says The General likes it, so I regard that as an encouraging seal of approval (arf! arf!).

That's it from the trenches of Rincon.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "14 points down" Gleck

07 June 2008

It came from the "health food" aisle at Kroger

Observed while making a leisurely Saturday afternoon grocery run. I never before noticed the "gluten-free" cereal section....
Perky-Os? PERKY-Os??!! Listen, Mack, I don't do "perky", especially in the morning.

And on the shelf below it was another .... ummmm ... [cue church organ] holy cereal:
Ezekiel 4:9® breakfast cereal. Well, then, let me consult my Bible ... hmmmmm .... "For God so loved the morning, He said 'Let us go forth and break fast.' The Lord then saideth unto me, 'Go find some lactal nectar of the heifers, and we shall be fruitful and sprinkle upon thy Golden Flax. Thou art eating part of a good nutritious breakfast.' Amen."

"As described in the Holy Scriptures." So is the Bible now endorsing breakfast food?? I went back to my specially-marked Good Book, looked up the Book of Kellogg, and read the Special chapter K, verse 19, which went "Verily, go pour into thy holy concave urn the fruit of this box that never closeth. But The Lord warns: If thou eateth any other refined grain cereal product, thou will hath messed in thoust Post Toasties. Glory."

Is this a Kroger, or did I go into a "Christian Bookstore" by mistake?

Matters not. Cereal -- even the "Perky-Os" -- are more points than I wish to expend that early in the day. Earlier today while in Savannah at Publix (the missus had a cake demo), I found two things I'd been looking for: the Weight Watchers lemon cakes - which look an awful lot like the old Dolly Madison "Zingers" cakes - and some Carnation Instant Breakfast, vanilla flavor sweetened with Splenda. (Kroger doesn't carry either, shame shame) I can tolerate milk if it's mixed with CIB. I used to drink it a lot after we moved over here, but for some reason I stopped. Mixed with 1%, 8-ounces of that will be a total of 3 points. Not too shabby, and it'll get my necessary day-startin' nutrients.

I also bought a pack of the Atkins vanilla milk shakes, which supposedly serve the same function as the Carnation IB mix. Dunno about those; I'm taking a gamble there. Also a 3-pointer per container.

Also in our grocery cart was a bottle of that newfangled V-8, 'disguised' with various flavors. I'm gonna see if my constitution can abide one.

Watch out for the shamelessly ripped off inspired feature, "Talmadge, Don't Drink it!", coming soon to most of these same blogs.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Fortified with 12 essential rants and snarks" Gleck

06 June 2008

Must .... regain .... composure .....

I just HAD to notice a link in the previous "Cheeseburger-In-A-Can" website.

It's to a blog called The Sneeze, more specifically a subsection called "Steve, Don't Eat It", where this guy ingests whatever grotesque "edible" concoction, be they pork rinds, dog food, "infected corn", even ... ohhhh I can't tell you. But I'll allow that he mixes some Hershey's Syrup with it.

It's gross. It's sick. And I haven't stopped howling in more than half an hour.

Go have a look.

--Talmadge "Appetite gone. Check back in two weeks." Gleck

Today, on Food Network...

It's the fast-food sensation that's sweeping Germany ... it's Cheeseburger-In-A-Can!!

Wonder how many Weight Watchers points this would be. Maybe zero. Perhaps WW will even GIVE you bonus points just for having this in front of you. I've a feeling the very sight of this in the flesh (look at some more pictures, including a nice shot of the beef - such as it is - on the above linked website) would make one never want to go near another cheeseburger as long as they lived!

As long as it takes to prepare (it says to boil the unopened can), you could easily cook up your own damned cheeseburger!!

Oh well, at least it makes a friggin' Boca Burger look appealing. Or one from a school cafeteria.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Almost makes me want to consider becoming a vegan" Gleck

02 June 2008

Wither Tal

Another good week, the WW scale indicated that 2.8 pounds of me vanished into thin air. And that's over six days, not seven (I weighed in last Tuesday, you might remember).

I haven't had the amount of water that I should ... but we've switched to decaf tea which counts as a water. Besides, I don't drink tea for the caffeine, anyway.

Sodas: I've had a few Frescas over the last several days, and just one sugared soft drink -- a BAMD (read: 44-oz. "Fountain" Dew) with my boiled peanuts Saturday afternoon.

I used all but 6 of my weekly points, most of them on Saturday. That's one goal I've stuck to since starting Weight Watchers, saving all the 35 "bonus" points for the weekend. I call it a reward for more conservative eating throughout the week.

This brings me to a total of 12.8 fewer pounds on my frame than four weeks ago, when I started the program. Do I feel better? I don't know. Too soon to tell.

However, for the first time I now feel some pressure -- I'm 2.2 pounds away from 15. I want to make that threshold by next meeting. Still, I won't be too bothered if I don't quite make it. Too bothered.

Goals for the coming week: What part of "more water" do not you understand, Talmadge??!! Let's focus on water. More walking, too. And 2.2 removed for next meeting.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Shriveling like a fat prune" Gleck