Influential Albums – Day 4

Adam and the Ants – Kings of the Wild Frontier

There are lots of links in here. I hope you go to all of them because they’re a lot of fun!

I don’t remember when or where I got introduced to Adam Ant, probably Atlanta’s Video Music Channel, but wherever it was I took to his music, his artistic flair, and his persona pretty much immediately. Well, actually, I do remember seeing the Prince Charming album cover in Turtles, probably when it came out and thinking it was really weird. Who knew that within a few years I’d be trying to draw that same cover and making my dad concerned over this album cover being in his house and his son listening to this heavily made up Prince Charming.

The album of his that had the most influence on me was Kings of the Wild Frontier. The drums. The drum beats. I came to find out later that it was the Burundi beat. I found a great article on the recording of Kings as well as Prince Charming and Adam’s first solo album today when I was looking up info about the Burundi beat. Anytime I hear drums like that, Adam and the Ants immediately come to mind. Most recently it has been, White Rabbits, “Percussion Gun”.

So, I got into Adam and the Ants in 7th grade, and I got totally into it. I dressed as white face stripe Adam for Halloween and convinced several of my friends to dress up as him, or as the Ants, too. I would include British words in notes that I’d pass to my friends. This was pre-internet, I looked wherever I could.  I found a concert that showed on MTV of Adam and the Ants in Japan. I found some books on the band. I should say also that when I was getting into the band, the band broke up. Adam went solo. That’s all good and fine and I kept up with him through Manners and Physique in 1990. It wasn’t really my gig, it had some bright spots, but I was moving on by that point.

My love of awesome music videos comes partly from Adam and the Ants videos. Stand and Deliver and Prince Charming are awesome. They are little movies and they are just fun.  

Looking back at the songs from the Kings album, there are a few standouts and there are few stinkers. That’s hindsight talking though. At the time, the album fit on one side of a 90 minute TDK cassette and I listened to them all and loved them all. My favorite from the album is probably “Antmusic” and “Dog Eat Dog”. I’m excited because “Ants Invasion” has been remixed and probably remade by someone for the new Ant-Man & Wasp movie

Good stuff.

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Influential Albums – Day 3

 

The Beatles – Meet the Beatles

The first Beatles album I heard was their 20 Greatest Hits. I remember hearing it when I was probably in 7th grade riding to a football game with a couple of friends and I was imitating the harmonica sound in “Love Me Do”. Sounds about right for a 7th grade boy. My favorite Beatles album is Revolver.

This album though, is influential because it’s the first one that I got for myself. Nowadays, I prefer the British versions to the American ones, but  back then I didn’t know any different and this was my exposure to any of their songs that weren’t greatest hits and any that I might have heard on Z-93 or 96 Rock growing up. I think my elementary school music teacher probably had us sing, “Yellow Submarine”, but that could be a shared memory of someone else.

The excitement of most of the songs on this album, to me, was electric. It has the hits, “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, “All My Loving”, “I Saw Her Standing There” and those are GREAT, but the deeper album cuts I really, really love. “Hold Me Tight” and “LIttle Child”. I can’t include music links because all the actual Beatles songs have been taken off YouTube. The slower songs on this album I don’t particularly love, but they fit. They are a snapshot of what the band was at the time – a group making their way through the world, trying to make it big. I’m sure they had NO idea; although, it was certainly starting at this time. They would appear on The Ed Sullivan show shortly after this was released in the US.

This album has LOTS and LOTS of “yeah”s. LOTS of them. There’s a whole lot of clapping too on these songs. It must have been pretty tiring to spend the time working out and recording  those claps.

The Beatles’ harmonies has always been one of my favorite parts of the group and they fascinated me when I heard this album. I love to sing and I am much more of a melody person than a harmony person, but I wish I could come up with harmony lines. I’m sure I could with practice or teaching or whatever. I guess with the Beach Boys and the Four Freshmen the harmonies were big here in America. I’ve always thought that Paul Anka’s “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” had to be influential to The Beatles’ early work. I know The Everly Brothers definitely were, but the line, “I beg of you…” and all the intro lines to the verses are very Beatlesque, even though their originals were just starting to be developed at the time.

I listened to this album on my way to school this morning and there were parts I’d forgotten, but by and large it was as exciting and exhilarating today as it was more than 30 years ago. Good Lord, more than 30 years ago. I had a great time singing along and trying to hit the harmony parts right. When I was younger I used to play with the balance a lot and listen to just the vocal track in one speaker and then just the instrumental track at different times. Whether it was the instruments bleeding through the vocals side or the chorus coming in on the instruments side, I just dug it.

I’ll end with two songs, George’s, “Don’t Bother Me” and the closing song, “Not a Second Time”. I like George’s songs. He was kind of thrown a bone on the records. At first it was, ‘Here, George, sing this cover or sing this song John wrote”, but then he started writing his own. Imagine the courage it took to bring a song to Lennon and McCartney! “Don’t Bother Me” is a great first original for George to bring to the group. “I’ve got no time for you right now, don’t bother me.” I loved that line as a teenager and still love it today. “Not a Second Time” is such a great song because you can tell the character still really wants to be with the girl he’s singing about, but he knows he can’t. He was hurt too badly the first time, and he’s not going to do it, not a second time.

What it could have been

Jellyfish – Bellybutton

Harmonies? Check. Clever lyrics? Check. Pure pop awesomeness? Double check. I found Jellyfish when I worked at the UGA radio station, WUOG. I totally fell in love with them. After listening to them I basically decided they were a continuation of Paul McCartney’s “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” which was just a continuation of Paul’s experimental/baroque Beatles genius. I have Jellyfish Pandora station and as soon as I figure out how to work Spotify correctly, I will have one on that, too.

Dragon*Con 2016!

It’s been a few weeks now since my favorite weekend-long activity has passed and I’m finally ready to write about it. For those of you that don’t know, Dragon*Con is the  “largest multimedia, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction & fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film in the universe!” The universe. And it’s held here in Atlanta every Labor Day weekend. I love it. I look forward to it all year, but the start of the school year really starts to get me amped up about it.

For several years once Dragon Con ended I would get a little depressed. It is such a hyper-stimulation experience that it pushes me into a manic state. That’s not an exaggeration, you can ask GQ. We actually even came up with a phrase for this post-Dragon Con feeling, Chasing the Dragon’s Tail. It excited me so much that I had a hard time coming down and just getting back to the normal pace of life, which is exactly what you need to do after experiencing a full weekend of Dragon Con. So, for several years, I’d spend the two weeks after the show chasing the Dragon’s tail. I can proudly say that this year I was able to let it go once I left the convention area for the last time on Monday afternoon. That’s a first!

Why do I love it so much? Well, apart from the quotation above – which contains almost all the things I love and hold dear – it’s also the weekend that I get so see some of my favorite characters come to life. I get to walk around in the same space as Captain America, Black Widow, Wonder Woman, Batman (of all shapes, sizes, and costumes), The Flaming Carrot, Wookiees, Stormtroopers, robots, pirates, aliens and really, there are so many more that I can’t even name them all.

So, you may be wondering, do I just walk around agog at the spectacles around me all weekend? Far from it! I also go to several of the panels offered throughout the weekend. This past year Glitter Queen and I got 4-day passes for us and The Girls. When you buy them at the end of the current year’s con you get a serious discount for the following year. This year is the first time that I went down all four days. For all the years that I have been going, I think I went to more panels this year than I ever have before. One of the challenges that attendees face is that sometimes you are interested in more than one panel that is scheduled for a certain time. For instance, this year there was a comic book panel at the same time one for the CW show, Daredevil, was. Dilemma? Not this time. In order to get into panels for big shows like Daredevil you have to line up at least an hour early, if not two. I am not a big fan of standing in line for that long, but will do so on occasion. This wasn’t one of those occasions.

To keep this from being a ridiculously long post I am going to break the days down in separate posts; Friday, Saturday, and Sunday/Monday. I’ll leave you with a picture from last year’s parade. This guy got to come before the parade and kind of prep the crowd. He was having a great time getting the opposite sides of the street to cheer. How’s this related, you may be asking. Well, Dragon Con is completely run by volunteers like this gentleman here. They are dedicated, hard-working people that give up many, many hours of their lives to help out the tens of thousands of people that come and take part in this fabulous event.dscf1801

So, if you’re interested in reading more, look for three more posts over the next few days about Dragon Con.

 

Book Review – The Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets

I’ve just finished my second non-fiction book of the summer. This one was given to me by my friend, Jill GoughThe Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets, by Simon Singh. I don’t know why “their” isn’t capitalized. It makes me a little crazy, but the author has it that way on his Web Site, so, there you go.

simpsons

Now, I’m not a math person. Well, I wasn’t when I was a student. I didn’t have a math phobia or anything, I just had a complete lack of interest and understanding. This would have been bad enough, but having a math teacher as a mother and an engineer as a grandfather made it much worse. When I tell my students that when they’re at the dinner table doing homework and there are tears of frustration and anger and confusion I know what they’re talking about, I 100% mean it.

So, Jill knows I love The Simpsons, and she said when she saw this book she thought of me and she got it and gave it to me.

I dove right in and was amazed to find out that so many of the writers of the show had advanced degrees in mathematics. I mean, several times during the book when the author is introducing writers that he’s going to talk about he says that as they were finished grad school they were looking at careers in applied mathematics, but then decided to pursue their love of comedy writing also. I love smart humor, and well, the writers of The Simpsons have it in DROVES.

The author goes through several episodes pointing out bits that unless you’re a capital m Math Person, you would not get at all, and there are LOTS of them. Some of them I got after reading the book and some of them were WAY, WAY, WAY over my head. I have two friends in mind that I want to pass this book on to, (both grads of Georgia Tech, both engineers, and both fans of the show. The author assures the reader that even if they don’t have the working math knowledge he’s going to talk about they can still understand it, and you know what, he’s right!

In addition to The Simpsons, there is also a section on another favorite show from the same creators, Futurama. The math in that show is even more in depth and probably one to two more “WAY”s over my head.

One of the neat things about the gags that the writers inserted into the shows is that they were not the focal point of a gag. Oftentimes they were put in knowing that in order to fully appreciate them viewers would need to record the show on their VCR (anyone remember doing that?) and use the pause button repeatedly.

If you’re a fan of The Simpsons or Futurama, I recommend this book. If you’re a Math Person, and a fan of either, or both, of these shows, I highly recommend it. I gained a greater understanding of some mathematical concepts (and quite a few remained out of my reach) and my respect for the writers of these shows went higher than it already was.

Here are a couple of scenes from episodes that are discussed in the book:

Bart The Genius

The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace

Homer3

There are many, many more episodes discussed.

30-Day Writing Challenge, Day 26 – What I’d Say to My Favorite Celebrity, Musician, Athlete or Actor

geeking out

Ugh, I’m tired. I don’t want to do this. I’ve had the chance to speak to an admired musician and it was awkward for both us. Paul Westerberg at a Replacements’ show in Athens was watching opener Tommy Keene and I recognized him, went up to him and told him that I really liked their new album. “Thanks,” he mumbled then moved off away from me.

In terms of who I’d want to meet, maybe Paul McCartney, but all that comes to mind is this Chris Farley SNL sketch

 

Every example I have of meeting someone famous ends up in me saying something awkward, and then I go away feeling stupid. My favorite author, Douglas Coupland, a favorite comic book writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick, graphic novel artist/writer, Bryan Lee O’Malley.

I consider myself a funny, fairly witty person, but all that goes away when I’m fanboying out.

<sigh>

30-Day Writing Challenge, Days 15, 17 & 18

Okay, so, when I started this I told my students that they didn’t have to do the weekends because it’s a school assignment, and I can’t assign them homework on the weekend. So, days 16 & 17 are weekend days. To be honest, Day 16 – Bullet Your Entire Day – blargh. Now, a comic book writer that I admire very much, Kelly Sue DeConnick uses a bullet point journal and does this every day and it seems to help her and many of her followers/fans be more productive. I’m not there. (in the spirit of Trinity School) Yet.

I didn’t get to Day 15 because I was packing for a trip GQ and I are currently on with The Girls. Oldest Child and GQ ran the Disney Dark Side Half Marathon down in Orlando, and so we used that as an opportunity to go to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. I was packing and getting ready and didn’t have time to do “Three Pet Peeves”. Let me tell you right now, there are a lot more than three, but in the spirit of the thing, I’m going to stick with that. I’m also going to include Sunday, the 17th in there because it’s a really good one, “A Quote You Try to Live By”, and being that today is the 18th, I’m going to get back on track and do that one. They’re just all three going to be wrapped up in one package. It might be long. You might even be, TLDR, and well, not going to blame you for that, but I’ve gained some followers recently, I may even be up to EIGHT, so…there, I guess?

Three Pet Peeves

1. Being unaware of the people around you while you’re driving your car.
– I know, it’s easy to forget the world exists outside of your car. You’re in there safe and alone. You can pick your nose, you can sing out loud to your bad music choices, it’s just you and your automobile. But here’s the thing: THERE ARE STILL LOTS AND LOTS OF OTHER PEOPLE BEING AFFECTED BY YOUR DRIVING! La lala lala…I’m going really slow or I’m stopping for no reason. My blinker is just an option. I’m changing lanes because I forgot to when I was supposed to. La lala lala.  Do me a favor, please. Pull your head out of the cloud, take a look in your rearview mirror and to the left and right of you. There are lots and lots of other drivers behind you and beside you that are shooting visual daggers at you, cursing you and your inability to drive well, and feeling that tightening pressure as their pulse quickens and their blood pressure rises. Just be aware of other people on the road and have some common sense. That’s a lot to ask, I know, but I think we’ll all be a lot better off for it.

2. Grammar Idiots
– “loose” is not the same as “lose”. They’re, there, and their are really, really, really easy to tell apart. I’m going to leave it at those two.

3. Putting the Ice Trays Back in the Freezer Empty
– Our ice maker is broken. I like ice in almost all of my drinks. I mean, I really like ice. I like ice so much that my in-laws buy bags of ice to keep at their house when I come visit. So, when I go to get ice from the ice trays and there are empty ice trays in the freezer, it definitely falls into the Pet Peeve category. Fill it up. It doesn’t take long. It might make a little watery mess as you take it from the sink to the freezer, but that’s okay. I’m better with water on the floor than no ice.

Day 17 – A Quote [Quotation – see Pet Peeve #2]  I Try to Live By

“I like nonsense; it wakes up the brain cells” Dr. Seuss. If you no me at all then you know that I certainly like nonsense. Perhaps more than my fair share of it. I like Seuss’ quotation because I find it to be completely true. When things are nonsensical you have to really prick up your mind to try to make sense of it all. You may not be able to make sense of it, but it will definitely get the old noggin moving trying to figure it out. Sometimes the nonsense doesn’t make me happy, and I would be apt to say that I don’t like it, but most of the time, 9 times out of 10 I do like it.

Day 18 – My Favorite Color & Why

I would be tempted to say that my favorite color is orange. I like orange. I like it a lot. My car in high school and college was orange and it totally fit me as a person. Whenever I do those Color Tests, I’m an orange. Recently though, I’ve become more blue. Blue was my first favorite color. When I was maybe 9, my mom told me that I could get my room painted whatever color I wanted. “Really?” She said yes, so I chose royal blue. It was so awesome. So, now I’m back to blue being my favorite color. Orange is a manic color and for a number of years I was pretty manic. Blue can be both exciting and subdued and I like that. I need that. I am not often subdued, but sometimes it’s necessary, and I find that blue can fill that need. It can also be awesome, like my royal blue bedroom walls. It can happy or sad. It can fit the mood that it needs to fit, and that is why blue is now my favorite color.

Well, that was fun. I am going to get back on track of doing this daily tomorrow after we return from Orlando. It has been a great trip! Lots of fun to be had at Universal. Another favorite Dr. Seuss quotation is, “From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere,” perfectly sums up this trip.13029686_10209372403534090_1736733160495711928_o13001056_10209371879080979_5659724344373857463_n

30-Day Writing Challenge, Day 12 – Two Words, or a Phrase That Makes You Laugh

I’ll go ahead and address not doing yesterday’s challenge – Your Best Friend. That’s a loaded gun that I’m not playing with. If they had just added an /s/ to “Friend” then I could have done it, but it’s singular, and well, no one wins there. I could have gone on and on about best friends, but that isn’t how it worked out. So, I skipped it. I feel a little bad, but not too much. On to bigger and funnier things!

I would say that, “Go clean your pickle!” is my go-to funny phrase, but that’s not true. I just made that up right now. It made me chuckle a little, but I’m afraid it’d be taken as some kind of euphemism and it’s not, it’s just silly.

My favorite thing to say that makes me laugh is, “pickleweasel”. (look, “pickle” again). It comes from an episode of That 70’s Show and Kelso, a favorite character of mine, asks the guys, “You know what’s a funny word? ‘Pickleweasel'”. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

The thing is though when I Google it, it comes out as two words; sometimes hyphenated, sometimes not. So, because of that, it totally fits in today’s prompt – “2 Words or Phrase…”

I’ve used it for a team name before, The Ferocious Feral Pickleweasels. The teenagers on my team that weekend didn’t think it was very funny. Ha. What do they know?

You try it. Go ahead. Go up and say it to someone. You can do it randomly, you can do it like Kelso did it, or you can find a way to work it into a story you’re telling. Go on, I’ll just wait over here and you can come back and tell me how they laughed and laughed.

pickle weasel

Comic Con!

So GQ and I are leaving tomorrow on a jet plane heading to San Diego for Comic Con 2012. If you’re not hip to it then the best way to describe it is a gathering of Pop Culture – TV, movies, comic books, video games, toys and more.  Here’s some shots of my first time two years ago – SDCC 2010.  


The Girls are staying behind with Grandma & PopPop hoping to get some good Cousin time in, and hopefully see the new Ice Age movie.


This is my second time going, and I’m excited SUPER EXCITED! When I got back from my first time one of the teachers I work with asked me how it was, and as I started to blather on about it she asked, “You want to live at Comic Con, don’t you?” And you know what? I do!


So, I’ve got to finish packing and try to print out the schedule so I can read it on the plane and make sure I have enough batteries for my camera and clean my man room in case the dog/house sitter decides to sleep down here b/c it’s the coolest room in the house (both types of cool).


I’ll be posting stuff as often as I can.  If I don’t come back it’s because Comic Con doesn’t make you sign something like they do at Disney World stating that “I acknowledge that I do not now, nor will I ever, reside permanently in the Magic Kingdom.” and I’ve found a way to enter that world and not come back.


That wouldn’t happen. I’d never leave the Girls, Marley and The Puppy Without a Name behind. GQ? She’d move in too if she could, so if one of us goes, we both go.


Speaking of GQ, she’s just released her second novel this year (I KNOW RIGHT?!?), FanGirl! You can get to it here – FanGirl!
I’m amazingly impressed and proud of her.  It’s a great story.  Much different from Wraith, her first novel.  It is in the YA field, and not yet available as a paperback or in Nook format, but both will be forthcoming.


Okay, peace out y’all. I’m going to finish packing and then be too excited to sleep.