Sunday, April 27, 2008

The On-going Arguement-Burton vs. Axl

At this point I'd like to share an on-going arguement I have been having with someone at work. It's about the relative merits and drawbacks of two recording artists; Burton Cummings and Axl Rose. Now these two performed different types of rock music at different times, and appeal to much different audiences, so the arguement hasn't been as much about their individual musical styles as much as the advisability of being a fan of each of them. Musical tastes aside, my co-worker (who shall remain nameless, though if she reads this blog she'll know who I'm talking about....I'll refer to her as "SUE", for the sake of continuity) continually expresses a revulsion for all things Burton, late of the Guess who and his own solo career, while simultaneously demonstrating never-ending loyalty to Axl Rose, late of Guns n-apostrophe Roses. Apparently this un-named co-worker despises Burton for his frequent demonstrations of immense ego and self-adoration, while finding these same traits "cute" in one Axl Rose. I'd just like to take a few minutes to demonstrate why I feel I'm right and "SUE" is tragically suffering some form of self-delusion, probably caused by over-exposure to the derivative rusted-brake-drum squeals of Mr. Rose. So here is my "Top Ten" list of reasons why Burton is better than Axl:

1) Burton reminds us to "Stand Tall". If you asked him if you could fall, he would strenuously insist that you do NOT fall, and for God's sake, don't go do something foolish.

2) Burton has been featured prominently in a series of guerilla-artist posters (pictured above) again reminding us to "Stand Tall", giving him immense "street cred".

3) Burton has played with Ringo Starr's All-Starrs. I believe he performed "Stand Tall" for his solo performance.

4) Burton is part-owner of a burger joint called Salisbury House. He even has appeared in commercials, reminding us that his burgers use "fresh baked buns".

5) Burton has the coolest "rock out" face ever. He looks like he's trying to dis-gorge a half-eaten baked potato, but he's really just into the music.

6) Burtons' classic "American Woman" can be played as a rock anthem or as a bluesey acoustic piece. No matter how you play it, it's a great tune

7) Burton looks amazingly like my buddy Steve, who cannot sing, but certainly can "Stand Tall".

8) Burton knew enough to give up acting after filming Melanie, which, as far as I know, has NEVER been released onto DVD, VHS or even Beta format.

9) Burton likes wearing Felix the Cat T-shirts, who, as we must remember, was a "wonderful wonderful cat".

10) Burton has "his own way to rock"!

Letters to Celebrities

One thing I have never done is write a letter to a celebrity. Part of that has to do with the fact that there are few, if any, living celebrities I actually want to communicate with. I don't really know what's going on in celebrity's lives, and they more than likely have little idea of mine. So what do fans actually write to their favorite celebrities? Requests for autographs, certainly, maybe a picture or two, and sometimes requests for items to be donated to a celebrity auction. All fine requests, but none of them really, oh, vital information or questions that the celebrity truly needs to know.

Personally, if I were to write to a celebrity, I would probably end up writing something that I thought was terribly important they know. Possibly something they have been kept in the dark over for a number of years, and would be grateful to receive my illumination. Most of all, something written to a celebrity who, in my mind, probably owes me a reply for the service I'm about to provide to them! Here's an example of something I might write to that rock-and-roll vagabond, Elton John:

Dear Mr. John,

I'd just like to say how much I've enjoyed your clever song "Saturday Night (is appropriate for fisticuffs)". It's quite up-tempo, and never fails to entertain, especially the way you correctly spell the word "Saturday". Or is that the Bay City Rollers? Anyway, I thought you'd like to know of a rather shocking trend that I have observed lately. While your song clearly refers to a specific day of the week, it is often played on radio stations on other days!! Yes, I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I have had the misfortune of listening to my car radio on a Wednesday, and heard your "Saturday" song played quite clearly in defiance of the calendar. Perhaps you need to call these stations and correct them? One was in Minot, North Dakota. I can't remember which, but I'm sure you can look them up in a phone book, available at your local library.

Anyway, I'm sure you'll respond to this letter, as it's coming from Canada, and since your partner is Canadian, I'm sure you'll express your gratitude with a personal reply. Please continue to write those clever tunes!! I'm sure you'll become a great success!! Yours Truly....etc. etc.

As you can see the information I would give is clearly vital to the celebrity in question. I think I'll have to go to my local library and look up his home address.

In conclusion: Your local library. A vital resource worthy of your support!!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Awesomeness in Cheap Packages

Here's a topic I hope people will contribute to on this blog. To me, there's something extra awesome about the cheap, temporary or unpretentious. Places or things that bring you endless joy, despite the fact that it was never intended to be much more than a quick diversion. For example, people "like" going to fancy restaurants, but they treasure their favorite "dive". I think most of us would rather drink coffee from one of those old white half-inch thick cafeteria cups than out of fine china, and eat foods named after people ("try the Big Ned burger!!!") than dine on haute cuisine.

Really, which gives you greater joy....a high tech gadget costing hundreds of dollars, or the toy you found inside your "Kinder egg"?

It's this kind of joy that always brings me back to those heroically cheesey "horror" movies of the past. Pictured is an example: "Monster on the Campus". I missed the age when you could go to a theater or Drive-in and actually watch these treasures in first-run, but I can still get a kick out of the seedy audacity of their claims. "Co-ed beauty captive of man-monster"! Why just the sheer density of hyphenated characters virtually guarantees a great time! Of course, the real movie was no-where near as lurid or exciting as the poster, but that was part of the fun too.

There's one movie experience I DO miss though. Back in the 50's, a movie producer and director named William Castle raised this brand of cheesey showmanship to it's zenith. His movies almost always included the promise of some kind of new "special screen sensation", guaranteed to shock and amaze the theater-goer. Among these was "Emerge-O" where the "monster" comes RIGHT OUT OF THE SCREEN AT YOU!!!! AAAAAAHHHH!!!

O.K., so it was really just an inflated skeleton on a wire. The point is, Castle made you curious enough to want to go see it!! I personally think his best gimmick was for a movie called "The Tingler", wherein Castle had selected seats in each movie theater wired to deliver a shock at a pivotal moment in the movie! (It was actually a scene where the hero , Vincent Price of course, God bless him!!!, runs into a movie theater on-screen and shouts "the Tingler is loose in this theater...scream....SCREAM FOR YOUR LIVES!!!" At that point the lights would go off in the REAL theater, and selected patrons got juiced (and goosed!)!! Wonderful!!

Oh sure, modern movies have better special effects. They have bigger budgets. But there's NOTHING, in my mind, that would have matched the entertainment factor of that movie theater. A "cheap package"? Definitely. Complete Awesomeness? Absolutely!!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Enter....The Flying Guy!!

I've just seen the coolest guy in the world. Last night, when my girlfriend and I were driving out of her apartment block parking lot, we were witness to the coolest guy EVER! As we paused to check for traffic, a middle-aged white male, wearing a long-sleeved pullover shirt, arced gracefully in front of our car. Arms boldly swept backwards in the hyper-efficient delta-wing formation, the man trotted gracefully down the street. Weaving from one side of the street to the other, this latter-day Icarus banked left, then right, then left again. His legs pumping, the Flying Guy maintained the serious demeanor of a 747 pilot landing his jumbo jet on a slippery runway in the middle of a thunderstorm. He glanced only briefly at us, before he whisked himelf away down the street.

Flying guy didn't say anything. His performance would only have been cheapened by uttering "vroom vroom" sounds. Instead, with total seriousness, Flying Guy briefly touched our lives and our hearts, before banking left down the dusty, sun-dappled street.

To say he brought a smile to our faces would be an understatement. Neither of us wanted to laugh at Flying Guy. Instead, we both felt a surge of child-like joy, and not a small degree of envy, for the brave street-pilot who careened in and out of our lives that lovely spring evening!

We aren't sad, though, as Flying Guy is now a part of our lives!! Walking down the street this afternoon, I took the opportunity (and the dare!) to replicate some of Flying Guy's manouvers. I may not have been as graceful, and I certainly wasn't as serious as our featherless flyer, but I surely compensated with enthusiasm!!

So, if the world is getting you down, your boss dumped on you, you hate your job, your left-over spagetti sauce grew mold in the back of your fridge...whatever! Just lean your arms back in that delta-wing shape and go for a quick flight. Trust me, it's the cheapest form of therapy you'll evern have.

Thank you , Flying Guy!!!