Category Archives: Who

Sports and Weather

I understand why people don’t care about sports, I really do. There are lots of particular sports I don’t care much about myself. What I don’t get is this antipathy towards the things that others happen to enjoy. The Super Bowl, which had the highest ratings ever of any US TV show, apparently dethroning the M*A*S*H finale of 1983, is such an example. Don’t want to watch it? Fine. But there’s no reason to suck the joy out of other people’s pleasure.

I was rooting for the New Orleans Saints, and even predicted that they’d win. Some are puzzled about how important the Saints’ victory would be for the city of New Orleans. One pundit sniffed that if the victory would help New Orleans get over Hurricane Katrina, wouldn’t a Jets victory have done the same for New York City after 9/11? Well, no.

Anyone watching the aftermath of the August 2005 devastation will recall that the Superdome, home of the Saints, was at the epicenter of the disaster. Thousands of people lived there for days. The roof collapsed. The team ended up playing its home games elsewhere for a time, including San Antonio, Texas. The refurbishing of the Superdome and the win by the Saints, who had never even GOTTEN to a Super Bowl, let alone won one, was a fitting climax for both the team and the city that embraced each other in a most profound manner.

Of course, the real reason for watching the Super Bowl: the commercials, which you can see here or here. My favorite was the Betty White/Abe Vigoda Snickers commercial. While Betty White has been a regular working actress (the movie The Proposal and the TV show Boston Legal, e.g.), now at the age of 88, there’s been a running gag whether Abe Vigoda, a star on Barney Miller, was even still alive. I also liked the Dave Letterman ad; yes, late night TV rivals Letterman and Jay Leno were actually in the same room at the same time; see this. I liked the Simpsons ad for Coca-Cola; reminds me of an ad with MC Hammer losing all his bling AND the ad with Mean Joe Greene being offered a Coke. I enjoyed the Google ad. I’ve long admitted my thing about chickens, so a couple of Denny’s ads – for a promotion that’s now over – stick in my head.

Whereas I’ve long tired of the E*Trade babies. Even the sweet Clydesdale commercial for Budweiser has become predictable. I can’t imagine wanting to see ANY of the movies advertised. The commercials Casual Friday and I Wear No Pants were so close to each other, I thought they were for the same product; they weren’t. The Tim Tebow ad, with his mother, the reportedly anti-abortion message from Focus on the Family, was mostly, “Is that all there is?” And, most unfortunately, I thought the Census ad was an ineffective use of taxpayer money.

As for the music, Queen Latifah’s America the Beautiful was a bit wobbly and flat in the beginning, but Carrie Underwood’s a capella rendition of The Star Spangled Banner was OK, but the last note was painful. I love the band, The Who’s halftime show seemed off. The harmonies didn’t work, and the medley segues were clunky. But the drummer Zak Starkey (Ringo Starr’s son) was energetic, and they finished strong with Won’t Get Fooled Again.

Meanwhile, it’s been cold in Albany, but all the snow that has been hitting the Delmarva peninsula, Philadelphia (32.3 inches in 2010) and up the coast, repeatedly this winter, has so far missed Albany. Likewise, whatever snow off the Great Lakes may have affected Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse, but Albany has been so far immune. Baltimore has been hammered; 41 inches this calendar year through February 8, more than Buffalo (36.1). All my NYC friends have made snarky remarks about Albany winters, but Albany has had only 8.3 inches of snow since January 1, the most 2.4 inches on January 3.

ANOTHER storm’s coming up the coast yesterday and today. Again the mid-Atlantic will get pummeled. What Albany gets will depend on the track of the storm, from an inch or two to six or eight. And it’ll still pale in comparison with what NYC’s going to suffer today; expect massive airline delays and cancellations.


1. Do you watch the Super Bowl? (That’s American football, BTW.) If so, is it for the commercials, the game or the halftime entertainment? Do you have special food for the occasion?

And speaking of halftime, don’t you find it interesting that it is The Who performing when the game is on CBS, since The Who provide the theme songs for all those CSI shows on CBS, such as CSI: Las Vegas, CSI: Miami, CSI: New York, CSI: Kalamazoo, and CSI: Portland (both the Oregon AND the Maine shows).

If you don’t watch the game, do you have a ritual for that? I had friends who always went to the movies on Super Bowl Sunday.

And those of you outside the United States: can you even access the Super Bowl?

2. Do you know how to write 44 in Roman numerals?

3. Do you have a rooting interest? I’m pulling for the New Orleans Saints, who have NEVER won a Super Bowl, and I can imagine would be a psychological boost to the city post-Katrina. I wouldn’t be devastated if the Indianapolis Colts won, and they are rightly favored.

4. What do think of the Pro Bowl, the all-star game of the NFL, being played the week before the Super Bowl (i.e., today), instead of the week after? Strategically, it makes sense to have an all-star game during the season, as it takes place in most other sports. On the other hand, since the players from the Super bowl won’t be playing the game, and they were the best two teams all year, it’s a bit of a lesser product.

Football 101.
A couple Who covers – Betty LaVette and the Ukulele Orchestra.


The Kennedy Center Honors

“I’m a sucker for the Kennedy Center Honors. As I get older, I notice the honorees are, more often than not, quite familiar to me.” I wrote that a couple years ago< , and it's no less true today. The awards were given out on Sunday, December 7, 2008. The event will be broadcast on CBS Tuesday, December 30 at 9:00 p.m. (ET/PT). I'll be watching, as usual; well, OK, recording to watch at a future date.

Morgan Freeman: Since I first saw him as Easy Reader on the Electric Company, a gig that literally drove him to drink, I’ve seen him in a number of performances, including God in Bruce Almighty (2003) God and the President in Deep Impact (1998), plus Amistad (1997); The Shawshank Redemption (1994), one of my favorite movies; Unforgiven (1992), one of my favorite Westerns; Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991); Glory (1989); Driving Miss Daisy (1989); Lean on Me (1989); Clean and Sober (1988); Street Smart (1987); probably TV performances before I knew he was MORGAN FREEMAN, such as Resting Place (1986); The Atlanta Child Murders (1985); and The Marva Collins Story (1981). Plus his distinctive voice has been used to narrate March of the Penguins, the TV adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun, and that American Masters segment featuring previous Kennedy Center inductee Clint Eastwood.

George Jones: I’ll admit I own no GJ save for a cut on the album “50 Stars, 50 Hits” “on two great country albums” that my grandfather brought me as a kid. But I was certainly aware of George from my period listening to WWVA in Wheeling, WV, a clear channel radio station I used to listen to at night in the 1960s. A Girl I Used to Know, Ain’t it Funny What Love Will Do, Your Heart Turned Left (And I Was on the Right), and especially She Thinks I Still Care. Of course, he was also noted for his marriage and d-i-v-o-r-c-e from Tammy Wynette.

Barbra Streisand: who is this person with the big nose and the bigger voice, I wondered when I saw this singer on any number of shows in the 1960s hosted by Dinah Shore or Mike Douglas or Ed Sullivan. Then she got a couple specials in her own name. She continues to show up on things like a Tony Bennett special I saw a couple years back. Barbra the singer I’ve been aware of for a long time, though in fact I own only one double-disc CD of her music. On film, I’ve also managed to see her a fair amount: The Prince of Tides (1991); Yentl (1983); Funny Lady (1975); The Way We Were (1973) – filmed partly in Schenectady, NY – I’m just saying; Up the Sandbox (1972); Hello, Dolly! (1969) and of course, her breakout role in Funny Girl (1968).

I came to Twyla Tharp via the Talking Heads’ David Byrne, when they collaborated on The Catherine Wheel. I’ve managed to see that piece and some of her other works including her legendary Sue’s Leg either on TV or when I was dragged up to the Saratoga Performing arts Center. I’ve also seen her work in films such as Hair (1978), Amadeus (1984), and White Nights (1985). This year, I saw at Proctor’s Theatre in Schenectady Tharp’s take on the songs of Billy Joel in Movin’ Out, which I wrote about here.

One of my real musical regrets is that, maybe a dozen years ago, I did not go see The Who at the Knickerbocker/Pepsi/Times Union Arena in Albany, three blocks from where I was working at the time. I’m sure it was a matter of money, but still. The surviving members of the group are being honored. Roger Daltrey is a March Piscean named Roger; what’s not to like? My collection of Who albums is very long, from The Who Sell Out (1967) to Endless Wire (2006), of course including Tommy and Who’s Next. But I always had a particular affection for an early Who compilation, Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy when Daltrey’s vocals were particularly fresh.

In addition to his work with the Who, I own a number of solo Pete Townsend albums. Among them: the pivotal Empty Glass (1980), All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes (1982), Scoop (1983), White City (1985), Deep End Live! (1986), Another Scoop (1987), The Iron Man (1989), and the 1996 compilation COOLWALKINGSMOOTHTALKINGSTRAIGHTSMOKINGFIRESTOKING.

Pic of Pete &Roger from; Twyla’s pic from her website; other pics from govt sites.


Songs That Move Me, 80-71

80. The Ostrich – Steppenwolf.
I discussed this song here.
Feeling: ticked off.
It’s HERE.

79. (Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone – Aretha Franklin.
One of the things I hated about AM radio when I was growing up is the fact that disc jockeys would talk over the instrumental opening. I swear that this intro was designed specifically to avoid that. Highlight musically is the sweet crescendo of the horns.
Feeling: joyful.

It’s John shredding his voice and those ascending thirds.
Feeling: Joyous.



1. I was listening to the Coverville podcast this week. Brian played Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting by The Who from Two Rooms: Celebrating The Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin and noted that Elton John also covered the Who’s Pinball Wizard. So your mission, should you decide to accept, is to find other examples of besides these discovered by Fred Hembeck, my co-workers and me:

Beatles- You Really Got A Hold on Me
Smokey Robinson- And I Love Her

Elvis- Hey Jude (a pretty horrific version)
Paul McCartney- That’s Alright Mama, It’s Now or Never

Fats Domino – Lady Madonna
Paul McCartney – I’m in Love Again

Little Richard- I Saw Her Standing There
Beatles- Long Tall Sally, Hey Hey Hey Hey

Ray Charles – Yesterday, Eleanor Rigby
Beatles – Hallelelujah I Love Her So

Smokey Robinson & the Miracles – And I Love Her
Beatles-You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me

Simon & Garfunkel – The Times They Are A-Changin’ (from Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.)
Bob Dylan – The Boxer (from Self-Portrait)

Tim Hardin – Simple Song of Freedom
Bobby Darin – If I Were a Carpenter, Lady Came from Baltimore, Reason To Believe

Versions should be commercially available (CD, mp3).

2. Mark Evanier wrote about the missing title tune to the animated Disney classic 101 Dalmatians, which I really enjoyed.

And I can relate, somewhat. When I bought the Yellow Submarine single, the lyrics went:
As we live a life of ease (a life of ease)
Every one of us (every one of us)
Has all we need (has all we need).
But on the Revolver album version, there’s no “a life of ease” echo. Finally, on one of those four-song “singles” CDs that came out at the time of the Beatles Anthology series, a version of Yellow Sub, with the “a life of ease” echo! I wasn’t crazy.

Now all I need is some proof that the Simon & Garfunkel song Bridge over Troubled Water is in a different key (or at least a different playback speed) on the single than it was on the album.
So, my question: what aspect of music, film, TV or other entertainment do you remember differently than is commonly recalled?


Summer of Love

It’s not even summer yet and I’ve already begun to tire of mention of the term “Summer of Love”. The early adopters of the counterculture movement seemed to have decided that the folks that invaded Haight-Asbury, in the words of the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir on CBS News, “just didn’t get it.”

But I’ll admit that there’s one thing that largely endured: the music. Here’s a list of all the bands that played at the Monterey Pop Festival, which opened four decades ago tomorrow, withe the approximate number of LPs of theirs I own, suggesting their impact on me then; and the number of CDs I own of theirs I own, suggesting their impact on me more recently.

Friday, June 16
* The Association – 1 greatest hits LP. Hey, they tried to be “relevant” on the smothers Brothers Show when the sang Requiem for the Masses.
* The Paupers – nope
* Lou Rawls – 1 CD
* Beverly – who?
* Johnny Rivers – 1 greatest hits CD
* The Animals – at least one LP that includes the song “Monterey”, 1 greatest hits CD
* Simon and Garfunkel – at least six LPs, plus at least four solo Simon LPs, and one Garfunkel LP. S&G box set, Paul Simon box set, plus other CDs of each
Saturday, June 17
* Canned Heat – maybe one LP
* Big Brother & The Holding Company -one LP, plus three other Janis Joplin LPs and three Janis CDs
* Country Joe and The Fish – one LP, plus their appearance on the Woodstock LP
* Al Kooper – the Super Sessions with Mike Bloomfield and Steve Stills LP; the first Blood, Sweat and Tears LP
* The Butterfield Blues Band – one LP, one CD
* Quicksilver Messenger Service – one LP
* Steve Miller Band – two CDs
* The Electric Flag – one LP
* Moby Grape – one LP
* Hugh Masekela – alas, none
* The Byrds – one LP, two CDs
* Laura Nyro -two LPs
* Jefferson Airplane – at least six LPs, a two-disc greatest hits CD
* Booker T and The MG’s – no, though well-represented in the two Stax-Volt CD box sets I have
* Otis Redding – ditto
Sunday, June 18
* Ravi Shankar – one LP; I also have CDs of two of his daughters
* The Blues Project -one LP
* Big Brother & The Holding Company – see above
* The Group With No Name – don’t know
* Buffalo Springfield – 1 LP, 1 greatest hits CDs, plus four CSN(Y) LPs, two CSNY CDs, two solo Stills CDs (once owned on LP but lost or stolen), eight Neil Young LPs, at least seven Neil Young CDs
* The Who – seven LPs, three CDs, four Pete Townshend LPs, three Townshend CDs
* Grateful Dead – four LPs, one greatest hits CD
* The Jimi Hendrix Experience – four LPs, three CDs
* Scott McKenzie – nope
* The Mamas & The Papas – five LPs, a three-disc greatest hits CD

Meanwhile, Brian Wilson is playing Monterey this month, 40 years after the Beach Boys declined for a variety of reasons. I have a LOT of Brian Wilson (at least 4 CD), and Beach Boys albums (a boatload of LPs and CDs, some duplicative).

Getting Old

The Coolwalkingsmoothtalkingstraightsmokingfirestoking Pete Townsend turns 62 today, by some measures, a senior citizen, so this seems somehow appropriate.


It’s not that easy to smash a guitar, I guess.

Learn from the master.
The Tulip Queen And Joan Jett
I haven’t purchased The SABR Baseball List & Record Book: Baseball’s Most Fascinating Records and Unusual Statistics – yet, but I’m seriously intrigued/sorely tempted:

“…over 700 stat-driven lists, most of them quirky and engaging enough to keep the average fan submerged in a geeked-out stupor for hours. A random sampling:
• Most Career RBI without Ever Leading League: How is it possible that Willie Mays never finished a single season atop the NL’s RBI rankings?
• Players Who Retired with Fewer Than 200 Career Home Runs but Hit 40 in a Season: You might know that Davey Johnson smacked a career-high 43 dingers in 1973. But did you know that he only hit 93 more during the rest of his career?
• Most Wins, by Pitcher’s Age, in a Season: Bob Feller holds the record for most wins by a 17-, 18-, 20-, and 21-year-old. At the other end of the spectrum, Phil Niekro is the standard-bearer for 40-, 43-, 45-, 46-, 47-, and 48-year-olds.
• Triple Crown Near-Misses: On three separate occasions, Babe Ruth led the league in two of the three triple crown categories and finished second in the remaining one. (Arguably even better: The triple crown losers list, which documents the sorry souls who managed to finish last in all three categories.)
• Pitchers Who Stole Home: Forty-six pitchers have done this since 1900 (including Fred Hutchinson and Don Newcombe, who both did it after hitting a triple!)
• Most RBI in a Season While Playing for Multiple Teams: Would you believe Goose Goslin was traded in the middle of a 138-RBI season?”
And speaking of baseball books, Mr. Burgas’ take on Babe Ruth’s 104-HR season.
Kool-Aid Pickles.
Keeping Our Borders Safe.
All you mean people who spoke ill of poor, dead Jerry Falwell, go here.
Yesterday, I had more hits on the blog than I’ve ever experienced. It is a direct result of this post by Mike Sterling. Thanks, Mike! Maybe I won’t call you a cheater pants any more. OK, I will, but I’ll say it with affection.


What's in a (Band) Name 2

Still in a music groove. (The pun wasn’t intended, and might have been missed had I not noted it.) I’ve been musing again about whether bands can legitimately use their name after members leave and years go by.

The Lovin’ SpoonfulThe current group features Joe Butler (father of actress Yancy Butler) and Steve Boone from the original group, plus Jerry Yester, who replaced Zal Yanovsky in 1967. So the group has the historic right to lay claim to the name. Still, it’s hard to recognize them as such without John Sebastian. Not so incidentally, the group is playing tomorrow (Wednesday) at the Empire State Plaza in Albany.

The Temptations– I’ll make the point up front: when Otis Williams, the last original Temp retires or dies, I believe this will STILL be a legitimately named group. You started with Eddie Kendricks, Melvin Franklin, Paul williams, Otis, and Elbridge Bryant. David Ruffin replaces Elbridge, Dennis Edwards replaces David, Richard Street replaces Paul, Ricky Owens replaces Eddie. And on and on. Think Mormon Tabernacle Choir; people come and go, but it’s still the MTC. (An odd analogy sure, but it makes the point.)
The 1980-1 lineup was Otis, Melvin, Dennis, Richard, and Glenn Leonard, augmented by the briefly returning David and Eddie. I saw this septet perform; one of the two or three best concerts I ever saw. They performed as seven, but also as various permutations of the five that were on that particular recording that they were singing (Richard took the Paul parts, Paul having commited suicide in 1973.)

One of the things I liked about the Jefferson Airplane is that when they changed musically, they changed their name, to Jefferson Starship, then Starship. As a consumer, I always appreciated that. (I have no Starship.)

The Who – I really love the music of the Who. When Keith Moon died in 1978, and was replaced by Kenny Jones, there were people who wondered if they were still the Who. But when John Entwhistle died in 2002, and Pete Townsend and Roger Daltry performed a few days later, it was clear the SURVIVORS thought they were still the Who. I just don’t think so, though the Townsend website refers to Who activities in 2004.
Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham died in 1980, and LZ broke up. Robert Plant and Jimmy Page have since performed together, but as Page/Plant, which I consider a good model. Here’s an Onion piece about the Who and commercials.

The Dave Clark Five got together, decided to call a day in 1971 (although Mike Smith and Dave played with others as “Dave Clark & Friends” for a time for contractual obligation reasons.)

The Supremes – a tricky case. The Supremes (nee the Primettes) were Diane (later Diana) Ross, Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, and Barbara Martin, who left before fame struck. Flo left in 1967 (and died in 1976), replaced by Cindy Birdsong, as the group became Diana Ross and the Supremes. Diana left in 1969 for a solo career and was replaced by boxer Ernie Terrell’s sister Jean. To the surprise of many, the group continued to have hits. Cindy left in 1972, replaced by Lynda Lawrence. Eventually, the group consists of Mary, Cindy and Freda Payne’s sister Scherrie. In 1978, after the hits stopped, Mary toured with two other women. In 2000, Diana toured with Scherrie and Lynda, Mary’s old cohorts! Reportedly, there’s still bad blood between Mary (who had, but lost the rights to the “Supremes” name) and Diana. Oy! When Mary came to Albany last month, there was no pretense that it was the Supremes, only a Supreme. It’s likely that there never will be a Supremes again.

"What have you learned, Dorothy?"

This month:

I’ve learned that this blogging thing can be very addicting. I’ve learned when I don’t have Internet access to posting, I get quite verklempt.

I’ve learned that creating an outline of what I want to address on specific dates is a double-edged sword. I can have a piece done two weeks early for one date (but inevitably, I always tweak it one more time), or I can have nothing planned for the next day and hope for divine inspiration. I KNOW (I believe) what I’m going to write about for 7 of the 8 days between June 14 and June 21, and also July 10, August 10, and August 28, but not for June 3.

I’ve learned that I can prepare something for a date, then bump it for something that’s more urgent, or intriguing, or whimsical. (I’ve bumped one completed piece thrice, another twice.)

I’ve learned that a kernel of an idea can lead to a (less than satisfying) one paragraph, or it can surprise me by expanding into directions I didn’t expect. (The May 20 Gilmore Girls was one of the latter – that piece, BTW, bumped a completed piece.)

I’ve learned that I don’t know what it means when one sister writes about my blog, “INTERESTING” in 24-point type.

I’ve learned that my story on Lydia’s name (May 22) was probably the most popular piece of the month. It hit some sort of universal nerve. Lydia, BTW, is all well now (May 7).

I’ve learned that there are actually people who want to read about the JEOPARDY! and FantaCo stories. One must accede to the public in these matters.

I’ve learned that Comic Book Galaxy has a link to my blog.

I’ve learned that when someone tells me that Greenland is part of Europe, I have to check to prove that, in fact, Greenland is part of North America, it is, it is, just as I thought. (Actually, I’ve known for a long time that I have the “need to know” -it’s a librarian disease.)

I’ve learned that the new Stevie Wonder CD (May 13 entry) is apparently delayed until this month, but that my wife will get it for me for our anniversary when it comes out.

(And speaking of my wife’s and my anniversary, I wrote in my May 15 entry about the NC pastor who had forced out the Kerry-supporting parishioners. Well, the pastor in my parallel story is still there, and I’ve learned that he is expected to be there for another three years.
The Pastor Parish Relations Committee chair in that story received a rude awakening. When she retired from her career job, she served as secretary of the church. She was astonished to find that the pastor, who she considered a friend, would treat her as badly as he had done with previous secretaries. I learned that she moved to Florida.
And the Hispanic pastor who had been booted out was embraced by the Troy Conference of the United Methodist Church, and is most definitely in a better place.)

I’ve learned that it’s interesting to me to keep up with Methodist stuff. It’s like being an expatriate in the United States who becomes a citizen, but still keeps up with the goings-on in the old country.

I’ve learned that when I listen to some mixed Hembeck mixed tape, there’s invariably a song with which I’m not that familiar, but that seems to be appropriate for my state of mind.

The more we learn, the less we believe to be true.
The more we prove, the more remains to be proved.
We’ve gotta be strong men and follow a path again.

We’ve got to have faith in something bigger,
Faith in something bigger,
Faith in something big inside ourself, inside ourself.

I own The Who’s Odds and Sods on vinyl, but I’ve learned that I can hear an old song for the first time. I’ve learned that I can ignore bad grammar in pop songs…sometimes.

I’ve learned that the hardest part of these pieces is the ending.

We forsake you

Pete Townsend turns 60 today.

My father and I used to listen to my early Beatles records together, trying to discern lyrics and meaning. By the time the Who’s Tommy came out, we were no longer doing that. I remember him coming into the living room when the lyrics, “We forsake you, gonna rape you” came on. He said nothing. But his look said, “What IS that kid listening to?”