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wednesday random ten: a change is in the air

Over the past week, DC has had its first proper cold snap. It’s refreshing to me, as winter is my favorite season, bar none. DC isn’t noted for its winters – save for January 2003 (when I first moved here) and the winter of 2009-2010 (the season of “Snowpocalypse,” “Snowmageddon,” and “SnOMG”/”Snoverkill”), I haven’t seen any real winter weather around here.

I still embrace winter as much as possible, given the limitations. That’s why I go ice skating at DC’s outdoor rinks, skiing at the nearby molehills, and chuckle at how under-prepared most DC locals are for true cold weather (any culture that dresses in full winter coats once the temperatures dip below 55 degrees is, well, a bit unclear on the concept of legitimately cold weather).

Let’s see how this winter unfolds. It may be grand in terms of snow. It may be another letdown. But it’ll be winter, and that’s OK by me.

With that, 10 random songs from my iPod:

  1. “Helpless” – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
  2. “Fanfare for the Common Man” – Zubin Mehta & the National Philharmonic
  3. “Lodi” – Credence Clearwater Revival
  4. “Ladyflash” – The Go! Team
  5. “Beautiful Day” – U2
  6. “I Know What Boys Like” – The Waitresses
  7. “Mornings Eleven” – The Magic Numbers
  8. “Purple Haze” – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  9. “Oh! Darling” – The Beatles
  10. “Siamese Cat” – Steve Martin & Edie Brickell

Care to comment on winter, or share your random 10 songs? Comments are open!

ten on tuesday: shows of my youth

Today’s topic (as usual, from Carole) is “Ten Favorite TV Shows From [Your] Childhood.”

What a pickle, if you think about it: what part of childhood? If you count early childhood, grade school, middle school, and high school, there’s a ton of possible fodder for this. So I’m going t pick three from my early years (ages 2-6), three from the middle years (7-12), three from the later years (13-18), and one from my college days, when I needed a youthful release show.

I also decided that, to be fair, these shows had to be in first-run – no reruns or syndication allowed. Yes, this removes a lot of shows from contention, but it makes the job of culling the list a tiny bit easier.

So strap in – it’s going to be a bumpy ride:

  1. Sesame Street. This was the most-watched show of my early years, bar none. Bert and Ernie (or “Nert ‘n’ Nernie,” as I first called them) are ingrained in my memory as far back as I can recall, as are Sam the Robot (a much maligned Muppet), the “yip yip” martians, Harvey Kneeslapper, and Don Music. All of the adults, the Muppets, the animated interstitials, the songs by Joe Raposo (here’s a fave, and here’s another, and here’s a third) – they all inhabit a special place in my psyche.
  2. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Fred Rogers inspired me as a kid. He taught me that feelings were OK to share, that life doesn’t have to be fast, and that simple hand puppets are magical. He respected his young viewers in a way that few TV shows, before or since, have done. His example lives on today, and I aspire to be even 1/10 the man that Fred Rogers was. When he died in 2003, I cried – and even before I heard of his death, that same day (February 27, 2003), I went to the Smithsonian and saw his sweater. It’s as if I sensed that he had passed away and had to visit an old friend. His goodbye message to viewers is very touching.
  3. Hotel Balderdash. If you didn’t spend your youth in Utah, this one is likely a head scratcher. But I remember the antics of Cannonball (the hotel manager) and Harvey (the hapless bellboy) at their crazy hotel. This show aired over 400 episodes per year, with separate episodes for the morning and afternoon. It was a lot of very corny humor, but it was delivered sincerely with a fair dose of slapstick. You can see some clips about two minutes into this story from KTVX TV, aired as part of their 60th anniversary celebration (of all the shows in the piece, I only knew Hotel Balderdash).
  4. CHiPs. A mix of chase scenes, crimes, and comedy – perfect fodder for a tween. And I loved this show. Even when Larry Wilcox left for a spell, I continued to watch “7-Mary 3 and 4” do their patrols of the L.A. basin. Sure, it wasn’t high-level TV, but it was entertaining. Even now, if I’m in a hotel, flipping through the channels, and I land on CHiPs, I’ll stop and watch the remainder of the episode.
  5. Battlestar Galactica. Sure, they remade this recently, but the original holds a strong place in my memory. The banter between straight-laced Apollo and loose-cannon Starbuck was great, and Lorne Greene, as Commander Adama, was a wonderful father figure. The opening credits were, well, totally ripped from Star Trek, but were still cool.While I watched this show in first-run, I re-watched it in its initial syndication, as well (and yes, I watched the ugly mess that was Galactica 1980.
  6. Family Ties. What a classic sitcom! The show was both a tribute and a reaction to the 1980s, embracing the hopes of the Reagan generation (in the embodiment of Alex and, to a lesser extent, Mallory), while still abiding by the hopes of the “recovering hippie” generation of Steven and Elise. Jennifer provided a sarcastic-cum-innocent middle-ground, of sorts. Sure, when they did the inevitable shark jump of bringing in Andy, all bets were off, but the show was remarkably consistent and believable – far more than most sitcoms ever are, even today.
  7. Night Court. Lightweight humor? Sure. But Harry Anderson was great in this show, as was the entire supporting cast. John Larroquette’s lecherous Dan Fielding had a heart underneath all of the double-entendres, and Richard Moll’s Bull was a lot smarter than anybody realized. And it’s also the show that introduced the world to the talents of Brent “Commander Data” Spiner.
  8. Cheers. A great show from beginning to end, with great characters and a lot of heart. I watched every episode of this show, loved it all, and similarly loved its spin-off, Frasier.
  9. Newhart. This is one of the great sitcoms of all time. Bob Newhart’s character, Dick Loudon, is so perfect in terms of timing, and the rest of the cast was equally talented. And the way the series ended is one of the best series endings of all time.
  10. Animaniacs. During my college years, this show was a perfect escape: razor-sharp humor, a lot of jokes that were aimed squarely at adults, and enough nods to the classic “Looney Tunes” formula of the classic Warner Brothers cartoon studio. Between the lunacy of Wakko, Yakko and Dot, or the Citizen Kane meets The Village Idiot wit of Pinky and The Brain, this show simply worked – and brilliantly, at that. Given it’s an election year (ugh – enough with the ads already!), here’s a musical revue of the Presidents (through the mid-90s, at least).

Honorable Mentions: The Electric Company, Zoom, The Dukes of Hazzard, St. Elsewhere, Hill Street Blues, M*A*S*H, Growing Pains, The Cosby Show, Buck Rogers, The Voyagers, Diff’rent Strokes, 3-2-1 Contact, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Remington Steele, Moonlighting, The A Team, Battle of the Planets, and I’m sure many, many more!

What are your faves? Let me know in the comments!

ten on tuesday: laughter is the best medicine

Carole finally has a “Ten on Tuesday” subject that appeals to me again (hey, they can’t all be winners): your top ten comedy films of all time. It was tough to narrow down this list, lemme tell ‘ya!

  1. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. One of my favorite ensemble comedies, and while it’s a long film, it’s a ton of fun. If you like Cannonball Run, you really owe it to yourself to see this movie, which, to me, is far better. Note that it features some of the last on-screen appearances from Buster Keaton and Spencer Tracy, as well as the talents of Milton Berle, Mickey Rooney, Dick Shawn, Ethel Merman, Peter Falk, Phil Silvers, Jimmy Durante, and many more.
  2. This is Spinal Tap. The rock-and-roll mockumentary to end all rock-and-roll mockumentaries. Runner-up for this, in my list, is The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash.
  3. Sleeper. This is the first Woody Allen movie I ever saw, and still my favorite. There are so many things that seem relevant today in this movie, which is as old as me: virtual sex, cloning from body parts, arguments over what is a healthy diet, and artificial intelligence.
  4. Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Probably the best of the Python films, even if the story isn’t quite as coherent as Life of Brian. The strung-together vignettes in this film have produced more quote-ready lines per minute than any film before or since.
  5. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stopped Worrying and Love the Bomb). A tour-de force from Stanley Kubrick and Peter Sellers. Yes, it’s very dark humor, but it has aged incredibly well.
  6. Blazing Saddles. My favorite Mel Brooks film for multiple reasons. Some of the humor is childish and silly, other humor is very witty and makes you think. “Howard Johnson is right!”
  7. Return of the Pink Panther. Really, all of the Sellers Pink Panther films going go in here (and I almost chose A Shot in the Dark), but this one is the most complete, to me.
  8. The Blues Brothers. OK, so this is really a bunch of kick-ass musical performances glued together with a road-trip premise. Still, it’s hard to deny that Belushi and Ackroyd were at their most potent in this film. “Four fried chickens and a Coke…. and white toast, dry.”
  9. Rubin and Ed. I don’t know many people who have seen this Trent Harris masterpiece, but it’s a ton of fun. Howard Hesseman and Crispin Glover as perfectly mis-matched in this film, which was shot in my home state and features a dead cat who “can eat a whole watermelon.”
  10. Four Weddings and a Funeral. Great film, great cast, and a lot of English rain – what’s not to like?

Note that there isn’t a single cycling or skiing film in the mix, though any of Warren Miller’s chairlift unloading bits from his ski films would work, and Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure is funny and features a very bling red bicycle.
Any of your faves that I missed? Tell me in the comments!

ten on tuesday: soup-tastic!

Once again, Carole has posted another lovely 10 on Tuesday topic for consideration: favorite soups. And I see that Sarah has already taken the bait, and now I do – and on the proper day, no less!

1. New England clam chowder. And not just any recipe for this dish, but the version served at Market Street Grill and Market Street Broiler in Salt Lake City, Utah. It’s the best chowder I’ve ever had, and they have been generous enough, over the years, to let the recipe into the wild. Here it is, from the source.

2. Chili. I’ll argue the chili is a form of soup or stew, so it fits in here. Chili is a year-round staple at The Burrow, and the recipe is almost always improvised: sometimes with beans, sometimes vegetarian, sometimes with corn, etc. The inspiration for my recipe is the 1977 Texas Chili Cookoff Champion, “Buzzard’s Breath” (as found in the Chili Madness cookbook).

3. Borscht. And I’m not talking about the sweet, chilled beet-and-cabbage soup you find in a New York City deli. I’m talking about Russian peasant food: beet based, with either a beef, oxtail or mushroom stock, with onion, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and cabbage, slow cooked to a lovely perfection. It’s simple peasant food, and topped with a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream, it’s perfect winter soul food for me.

4. Chicken and dumplings. Simplicity again: basic chicken soup with egg-and-flour dumplings added shortly before plating.

5. Cream of broccoli. Reminds me of ski season, as it was the most reliable soup at the old Inspiration Station at Solitude Ski Area. In a bread bowl, it was perfect lunch fare.

6. Tom kha gai. This Thai soup is a marriage of chicken, coconut, lemongrass, scallions, hot peppers and oyster mushrooms. I dig it.

7. Icelandic lobster soup. I recently discovered this, and it’s awesome: basically a tomato chowder with chunks of lobster in it- yum!

8. Kjotsuppe. This is a basic lamb and vegetable stew, standard European fare. It’s filling and very tasty, and my mom used to make it often.

9. Gazpacho. Cold tomato soup? Bring it on – especially if it’s spicy!

10. Lentil stew. I’m partial to the Moroccan recipes and their spices.

(Honorable mentions: Campbells Bean & Bacon; tomato bisque; beef pho; miso with dried tofu and shredded nori.)

How about you: any soups you must have that I must try?

wednesday random ten: winter’s arrival with a bang

This morning featured a rather dramatic entry for winter: high winds, heavy rain, and a dramatic drop in temperature over the course of 30 minutes. Good times. And here are ten songs that randomly popped up in iTunes this morning (per the usual rules: take the first ten songs that play in your music player, no skipping due to potential embarrassment):

  1. “Candy and a Currant Bun” – Pink Floyd (from The Pink Floyd Early Singles)
  2. “How Could I Be Such a Fool” – Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention (from Freak Out!)
  3. “Black Betty” – Joe Brown (from Down To Earth)
  4. “Whistle For The Choir” – The Fratellis (from Costello Music)
  5. “23 Mile Ride” – Mojo Nixon (from Frenzy)
  6. “Midnight Radio” – Dar Williams (from Promised Land)
  7. “A Method” – TV on the Radio (from Return to Cookie Mountain)
  8. “Talkin’ Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues” – Bob Dylan (from The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3)
  9. “Golden Bird” – Levon Helm (from Electric Dirt)

And since this is the first day of the meteorological winter, why not ten more songs? Seems right to me, given that winter is my favorite season:

  1. “Apartment Zero” – Mojo Nixon (from Whiskey Rebellion)
  2. “However Much I Booze” – The Who (from The Who By Numbers)
  3. “Day Tripper” – The Beatles (from Mono Masters [from The Beatles in Mono box set])
  4. “From Me To You” – The Beatles (from Anthology 1)
  5. “Skiing Billy” – Ray Conrad & Rosalee Sorrels (from “The Cotton Picking Lift Tower” and Other Skiing Songs)
  6. “Square One” – Coldplay (from X&Y)
  7. “They Made My Dream Come True” – The Who (from Endless Wire)
  8. “Birthday” – The Beatles (from The Beatles [i.e. The White Album])
  9. “Let It Loose” – The Rolling Stones (from Exile on Main Street)
  10. “Jesus Walking On The Water” – Violent Femmes (from Add It Up [1981-1993])

So what ten (or twenty) songs are playing in your workplace, living room or headphones today?

wednesday random ten: windy wednesday

The usual rules apply, though it’s awfully windy outside.

  1. “Run For Your Life” – The Beatles (from Rubber Soul)
  2. “Christians I Hate ‘Em” – Mojo Nixon (from Whiskey Rebellion)
  3. “Hung Up On Soul” – Death Cab For Maddy (from Mashups by Party Ben)
  4. “Bitch” – The Rolling Stones (from Get Your Leeds Lungs Out! Revisited)
  5. “Lasso the Moon” – Art Garfunkel (from Songs From a Parent to a Child)
  6. “Heretics” – Andrew Bird (from Armchair Apocrypha)
  7. “Satisfied” – Cee Lo Green (from The Lady Killer)
  8. “Sad Professor” – R.E.M. (from Up)
  9. “Where Would We Go?” – Rusty Anderson (from Born On Earth)
  10. “An Cat Dubh” – U2 (from Live in San Diego, 28 March 2005)

Got your own random ten? Share ’em in the comments.

wednesday random 10: through the sadness

The past ten days have been very sad ones for me. First came the death of my old friend, Sutton (whose memorial service was perfect, save for an organist whose phrasing was suspect, at best). Then came the shocking death of my cyclist friend, Neal, from a high-speed bike crash.

So I’ve been listening to a lot of meditative music of late. In particular, the early solo work of George Harrison (from his All Things Must Pass and Living In The Material World albums, as well as his later Beatles songs) have proven very helpful in coping with these losses.

That said, today’s random 10 is throwing caution to the wind, letting the chips fall as they may: no skipping, no cherry-picking of songs, just what iTunes deems fit to play.

  1. “For You Blue” – Paul McCartney (from The Concert for George)
  2. “This One’s For The Girls” – Martina McBride (from Martina)
  3. “Ventilator Blues” – The Rolling Stones (from Exile on Main Street)
  4. “Yesterday” – Bob Dylan (from Possum Belly Overalls)
  5. “Broken Man” – The Baseball Project (from Volume 1: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails)
  6. “Baby, Let’s Play House” – Elvis Presley (from The Essential 3.0 Elvis Presley (Eco-Friendly Packaging))
  7. “The Weather” – Richard Shindell (from Reunion Hill)
  8. “She Moves Through The Fair” – Joe Brown (from Hittin the Hi Spots)
  9. “La Foule” – Edith Piaf (from Le Tour De France)
  10. “Brain Damage” – Pink Floyd (from P.U.L.S.E.)

So…. anybody care to share the soundtrack to their Wednesday?

wednesday random 10: acoustic moods

As I finish another post about (what else) cycling, I offer these random ten tunes from the music library. The standard rules apply: Hit shuffle on your favorite music player and record unedited the first ten songs it opts to play.

  1. “Big Boys Bickering” – Paul McCartney (from the Hope For Deliverance single)
  2. “Coffee, Soho” – Peter Cusack (from Your Favourite London Sounds)
  3. “Like A Rolling Stone (Live)” – Bob Dylan (from No Direction Home [Soundtrack])
  4. “Soft Parachutes” – Paul Simon (from One Trick Pony)
  5. “Distance” – The Lovell Sisters (from Time To Grow)
  6. “25 Minutes To Go” – Johnny Cash (from At Folsom Prison [Deluxe Edition])
  7. “A Month Of Mornings” – Cherry Ghost (from Beneath This Burning Shoreline)
  8. “I’m Down” – The Beatles (from Rock & Roll Music)
  9. “Hug You Like A Mountain” – Eliza Carthy (from Dreams of Breathing Underwater)
  10. “From My Own True Love (Lost At Sea)” – The Decemberists (from Picaresque)

My playlist was in a more mellow, acoustic mode this evening – the 11th song was Willie Nelson’s cover of Paul Simon’s “American Tune.” It all fit with a weary evening.

sprite and Sarah also played along, as did Jenn – go see their lists, too!

wednesday random 10: really random

Let’s see what the iTunes shuffles me today:

  1. “I’m Not You” – The Kennedys (from Life Is Large)
  2. “Heigh Ho” – Tom Waits (from Orphans)
  3. “Hello Little Girl” – The Beatles (from March 5, 1963 plus The Decca Tape)
  4. “False Alarm” – KT Tunstall (from Eye To The Telescope)
  5. “Adeste Fideles” – Luciano Pavarotti (from O Holy Night)
  6. “All I’m Thinkin’ About” – Bruce Springsteen (from Devils & Dust)
  7. “Match Box” – The Kooks (from Inside In / Inside Out)
  8. “Heart Of Darkness” – The Kennedys (from Life Is Large)
  9. “Fallen” – Sarah McLachlan (from Fallen – Single)
  10. “Into The Night” – Super Furry Animals (from Hey Venus!)

What random tunes does your music player give you today? Comment away!

thursday random ten

Yeah, this is usually a Wednesday thing. But I totally lost track of time (and space, as I’m doing a lot of apartment cleaning this week) and it goes up today. C’est la vie, y’know?

The usual rules, for those who may have forgotten: set your digital music player of choice on shuffle and record the ten songs it spits out. No cheating – let the embarrassing stuff show!

  1. “Heatwave” – The Who (from A Quick One)
  2. “Got To Get You Into My Life” – The Beatles (from Revolver (2009 Mono Remaster))
  3. “Who’s On First?” – Abbott & Costello (from Baseball’s Greatest Hits)
  4. “Hey Diddle” – Paul McCartney & Wings (from Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 2)
  5. “You’re My Best Friend” – Queen (from A Night At The Opera)
  6. “It’s Too Late” – Derek & The Dominos (from Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs)
  7. “Maybe I’m Amazed (Live in Newcastle 1973)” – Paul McCartney & Wings (from Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 1)
  8. “Baltimore” – Eddie From Ohio (from Live At Falcon Ridge Folk Festival 2005)
  9. “Handle With Care” – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (from The Concert for George)
  10. “Won’t Want for Love (Margaret In the Taiga)” – The Decemberists (from The Hazards Of Love)

Sarah also did her own list yesterday – click here to check it out! And share your own random ten in the comments!

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