About this blog:
I blog on random Pop Culture subjects. I also post Top 13 Lists. I could do a cliched Top 10 like everyone else, but then I'd be just like everyone else.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Who's Dead on The Walking Dead?

(There are spoilers galore in this review, so I suggest not reading it if you haven't seen the episode yet.)

After The Walking Dead's mid-season finale last night on AMC, a lot of people are up in arms worrying that popular character Daryl Dixon will be killed off, along with his hated brother Merle, due to the precarious situation the episode left them in.

First of all, Norman Reedus (Daryl) and Michael Rooker (Merle) are the only 2 cast members I had ever heard of before this show, other than recognizing Laurie Holden (Andrea) from X-Files, so I doubt they'd kill them off, especially with Daryl's popularity and Reedus' name recognition. On a side note, I saw Andrew Lincoln (Rick) in "Love Actually" recently, and was shocked by his English accent.

Also, it'd be silly to bring back Merle just to kill him off. The show has lacked an inside villain/cancer to the group since Shane's abrupt death, and Rooker is great at playing twisted, unscrupulous characters. Merle is a much better villain than Shane, and Rooker is a much better actor than Jon Bernthal.

Thirdly, in the previews for February, it looked as though Daryl brought Merle back to the group with him, so apparently they survive Woodbury.

Lastly, I didn't really feel overly moved by the cliffhanger ending. Daryl and Merle weren't in THAT much danger yet. Had The Governor (David Morrissey) thrown a few walkers at them, forcing them to fight for their lives with their bare hands, that'd be different.

As for who is next to die, Daryl and Glenn (Steven Yuen) are my favorite characters, so I hope they survive. I think the writers have done a good job of making the show realistic by the toughest characters (other than Shane) surviving the longest, and having the weaker characters such as Lori and Dale dying off. By that logic, you have to wonder how long they can justify allowing Carol and Hershel to survive. I'm not going to suggest they kill off Beth, simply because she's the best eye candy on the show. And before you get all up in arms, yes, her character is 17, but the actress (Emily Kinney) is 27. Maggi (Lauren Cohan) isn't bad either though. It's hard to see Laurie Holden as attractive when she always plays characters I completely despise. If you get hired for a realistic zombie program, you can't really expect job security, because any could be killed off at any time. The fact that they're willing to kill off regular characters to add to the realism and drama is admirable.     

I really hate Carl (Chandler Riggs), and not just because the actor was probably named after a character on Friends. I don't like the character or the way the young actor plays him, but I think that the character is essential to the program. I do like how the character has gotten progressively creepier and colder. Living in that type of hardcore world would harden anyone and easily steal away any amount of childhood innocence they had left inside of them.

I hated Lori, and T Dawg was pointless, so I'm glad they're gone. Michonne and Merle are much stronger characters to replace them. It also appears they replenished their minorities in the last episode, although African Americans always seem to get killed off. I knew Oscar wouldn't survive the rescue mission. I'm not sure if there's some racism by the writers going on or not, but it's hard not to notice. I know Michonne is one of the most popular characters from the comic book, so maybe she'll having staying power. She's pretty hard to kill and I think they're be a fan backlash as there would be with killing off Daryl.

Michonne coldly killing The Governor's daughter right in front of him was brutal, and it really added some much-needed shock value to the episode. The show's greatest flaw has been predictability, even to those who haven't read the comic books. Carol still being alive, Sophia being a walker, Lori being pregnant, etc, the list of predictable revelations is endless. I always seem to be able to predict who will get killed in each scene too.

Daryl and Merle finally being reunited directly into a situation where the tough S.O.B. brothers are forced to fight together for their lives is classic.

The further unraveling of The Governor and Carl's minds amid what they've been through is a great addition to the plot, while Rick's renewed mental clarity is necessary to the plot moving forward. Andrew Lincoln plays unsure leader Rick much better than mental breakdown Rick. The phone call cliffhanger was ridiculous.  

I kind of had a feeling they were going to make Axel into a pervert, and somewhat "Chester The Molesterish", instead of allowing him to be a nice guy convict as he initially appeared. Folks, it IS possible for someone to be a good person despite having spent time in jail...

All in all, it was a good episode. It was nice to see some action for a change, with the heroes fighting against both walkers and The Governor's troops. Hopefully there will be a little less soap opera drama now that Lori and Shane are both dead. I understand that they throw it in to reach beyond their target audience and draw in a non-traditional zombie viewing audience, but it really detracts from the program for those of us who enjoy the zombie apocalypse genre.

Does ANYONE want to wait until February for more of The Walking Dead? I sure don't!

Copyright 2012 Denim McDemus  

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Live what you write, rather than writing what you live

Nothing is more fun than writing and letting your imagination run wild and spew all over paper or a computer screen. You can get into all kinds of amazing capers and adventures without having to get your hands dirty, risk danger, or leave the comfort and security of your own mind. You can make the impossible possible and ignore all the restrictive boundaries of logic and sanity. Just think of all the wonderful worlds your words can create.

I didn't write for a few months due to some things going on in my personal life that consumed my mind, body, and soul. It feels SO good to be writing again!
©2012 Denim McDemus

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Top 13 TV Villains

I’ve always been a huge fan of villains. They’re more fun, more interesting, and much more entertaining than heroes. Villains get all the best lines, because they don’t have to be proper, kind, and inoffensive. They also get the best costumes, because looking bad often also looks very cool.
When I watched wrestling, I cheered for guys like Rowdy Roddy Piper and Jeff Jarrett, who were great at antagonizing the good guys and riling up the crowd. In comic books, I liked guys like The Joker, Magneto, and Dr. Doom, brilliant cerebral villains who could out-think their drably heroic nemeses. Villains like Darth Vader and Darth Maul are just a lot cooler than their goodie goodie counterparts. Villains are dark, flashy, sarcastic, strong willed, intelligent, and know no boundaries. The greatest villains are experts at making people love to hate them.

I’m only listing actual villains, not characters like Archie Bunker, George Jefferson, Major Charles Winchester, Stanley Roper, and Sheldon Cooper, who are obnoxious antagonists, but not pure villains. I’m not including characters like Wesley Crusher who are hated for their suckiness rather than evilness. I’m not including characters like Barnabas Collins, James “Sawyer” Ford, or Barney Stinson, who are more anti-heroes than villains. I’m not including characters like Colonel Klink, Taylor Doose, and Roscoe P. Coltrane, who are too inept to be a threat to anyone, and are far too laughable to be considered evil. With the exception of #12, I’m not including groups such as the Borg, the Cylons, etc., just individuals. I’m not including cartoon villains, because they’ll get their own list at a later date, as will movie villains.

I find villains to be wildly entertaining and have much more creative content than heroes. I root for them, even though in most cases the good guys always win. Here are the live action TV villains I’ve most enjoyed:

13. Robbie Rotten (Stefan Karl Stefansson) “Lazy Town” Quirky Icelandic kids show Lazy Town brought us a very enjoyable, if inept, villain in wanna-be slimeball Robbie Rotten, delightfully played by Icelander Stefan Karl Stefansson. Robbie comes up with many accidentally innocuous plots attempting to thwart goodie goodie Sportacus from teaching the kids of Lazy Town to eat right and exercise, but he always comes up short. Robbie fancies himself as an evil villain, but is more a big kid who just wants to fit in and be included. Robbie may not be dangerous, but he’s certainly rotten, his intentions are certainly villainous, and his bumbling plots are fun to watch unravel.

12. The Daleks “Dr. Who” One of Time Lord Dr. Who’s greatest enemies in the classic BBC series, Daleks have been terrorizing the various incarnations of the Dr since 1963. They look like robotic tanks, but are actually genetically modified alien cyborgs created by the scientist Davros. They are ruthless creatures, determined to conquer the universe through annihilation. The only emotion they’re capable of feeling is hate. What’s more villainous than that? Growing up in rural PA, Daleks helped make Dr. Who on PBS the best Sci-Fi on my TV.

11. Ben Horne (Richard Beymer) “Twin Peaks” Bizarre crime drama Twin Peaks brought us many strange and memorable characters, many of which were villains in some way, and all of which could have been the series’ main villain, as most of the town were suspects in troubled prom queen Laura Palmer’s brutal murder. Rich and unscrupulous businessman Benjamin Horne owned many legal and illegal businesses in the Twin Peaks area, and many of its citizens in one way or another. He was a creep, a jerk, a liar, an embezzler, an adulterer, a pimp, a drug dealer, a conman, a terrible father, and that’s just scratching the surface. Before he lost his mind and had a re-awakening of sorts, he was the most diabolical man in a town full of greedy cutthroats, with his hands in the majority of the webs of deceit strung throughout the small logging community, including the surreal last night of Laura Palmer’s life.

10. J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman) “Dallas” There were no villainous slimeballs on late 1970’s-early 1980’s television that could rival Dallas oil magnate John Ross Ewing Jr., who terrorized Northern Texas for 14 seasons. Hagman’s character had such a cultural impact that the cliffhanger episode A House Divided and the catch phrase “Who shot J.R.?” became pop culture landmarks in 1980. Probably the most cutthroat and immoral man ever on TV, in both Ewing Oil business and his personal life at Southfork Ranch, J.R. personified 1980’s excess. His love of money and women are virtually unrivaled throughout televised fiction. J.R. even had the Dallas Police in his pocket. One of the most memorable characters of television history, J.R. Ewing was a true villain people loved to hate.

9. Newman (Wayne Knight) “Seinfeld” You may argue that he’s a comic foil rather than a villain, but Wayne Knight’s Newman is as evil and vile a creature as they come. Jerry described Newman as “Pure evil”, “His sworn enemy”, and “The Lex Luthor to his Superman”. The very sign of this ach-nemesis causes Jerry to mutter “Hello Newman” in the tone someone might use to greet the Grim Reaper or the person who ran over their dog. The twisted postman, often disgruntled neighbor, and the bane of Jerry Seinfeld’s existence had no morals and only two agendas: filling his belly and driving Jerry beyond the brink of insanity. Every ounce of Newman’s rotund body oozed sinister villainy. He often used oblivious mutual friend Kramer as a pawn in his unraveling of Jerry’s comfort and sanity. He had the sinister voice and diabolical laugh prerequisite of a villain. Someone who’s every goal in life revolves around making someone else miserable surely belongs on this list among the murderers and criminals.

8. Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) “Boardwalk Empire” First of all, being Steve Buscemi is villainous enough. He looks more the part of post-lab accident mad scientist than prolific actor. Secondly, who in American History and fiction exemplifies the term “villain” more than infamous 1920’s gangsters? Though murderous and dangerous, they’ve always held a dear place in our hearts as folk heroes. Historical drama Boardwalk Empire spotlights one of the slimiest and most opportunistic of classic American gangsters, Atlantic City’s Irish kingpin Enoch “Nucky” Thompson. Nucky will do whatever it takes, or tell someone else to, to line his pockets and have whatever and whoever he wants. Anyone in his way ends up in a casket…or the Atlantic Ocean. Controlling local politicians and law enforcement, not fearing the feds, and even orchestrating a presidential election are among Nucky’s accomplishments. He’d probably have me bumped off if I didn’t put him on this list.

7. Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalban) “Star Trek” Before eliciting William Shattner’s famous elongated and overacted “Khan!” in franchise best film Star Trek II, Ricardo Montalban’s villainous character got under Captain Kirk’s skin on the original TV series. The genetically engineered superhuman dictator from the 1990’s was revived by the crew of the Starship Enterprise, a huge mistake they wished they could take back. Khan captured Kirk, took over the Enterprise, and almost blew it up. Revenge-minded arch-nemesis Khan’s actions also endangered the life of Kirk’s son David in the film that is the character’s claim to fame, but his Season 1 appearance allows him to be on this list.

6. Q (John de Lancie) “Star Trek TNG” While Captain Kirk had his hands full with Khan and Klingons, the bane of Star Trek The Next Generation Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s existence from the pilot episode on was probably Q. When your enemy is both omnipotent and sadistic, you’re bound to be toyed with for his amusement. Q also wreaked havoc on franchise spinoffs Deep Space Nine and Voyager. In the series finale of TNG, Q saved humanity from destruction, but probably just to avoid losing his favorite chess pieces. One of the most powerful villains on this list, Q was also probably the most frustrating to his victims and one of the funniest for us viewers. As much as you want to hate him, you just can’t help loving him and his twisted brilliance. Maybe his views on humanity being a dangerous race aren’t too far off? Maybe deep down we enjoyed watching him torment the somewhat annoying and uptight TNG crew? Regardless, the master of manipulation brought me great enjoyment.

5. The Joker (Cesar Romero)“Batman” Veteran actor Cesar Romero’s giggly portrayal of all-time great villain The Joker in the 1960’s campy classic TV show Batman was more like Lewis Carroll’s Mad Hatter than the darker, edgier, twisted film portrayals by Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger, and the murderous and sadistic Joker of the Batman comic books, but is no less effective as a villain. The Joker’s colorful clothes, painted on smile, lively cackle, and cartoonish motions made him a villain that was fun to watch, even while knowing the Dynamic Duo would eventually foil his ludicrous but inventive plans. The Joker is one of my all-time favorite villains in comics, movies, TV, and pretty much any medium, and Cesar Romero certainly did him justice.

4. Edmund Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson) “Black Adder” Brilliant British comedian Rowan Atkinson played several generations of vile men named Edmund Blackadder who appear throughout the program’s hilariously skewed version of English history, from Medieval Times all the way to the Millennium. At times Blackadder was a wanna-be villain, at times he was full fledged. While his effectiveness matured throughout the series, his selfish ambitions and evil intentions never changed. Each incarnation of Edmund was a little less inept than his predecessor and a bit shrewder, even though his station in life lessened in each generation. Perhaps the less power Blackadder possessed, the more he craved? Regardless of his position, Edmond always plotted against those above him and viciously abused those below him, especially poor Baldrick, who’s family line was unfortunate enough to always end up indentured to Edmund’s. Blackadder is a vile scumbag guaranteed to make you both cringe in disgust and laugh hysterically.

3. Boss Hogg (Sorrell Booke) “Dukes of Hazzard” In the campy, often mindless fun of The Dukes of Hazzard, the redneck paradise of Hazzard County was ruled with a pudgy iron first by former moonshine runner Boss Jefferson Davis “JD” Hogg. Boss Hogg was probably the most corrupt and greedy lawman ever to grace the small screen. He used his bumbling lackeys Sheriff Rosoce P. Coltrane and Deputies Enos and Cletus to line his pockets and dinner plate, and control Hazzard County in classic Tammany Hall fashion. The rebellious Duke family was often set up as patsies to take the fall for Boss’ schemes, but his inept underlings always found a way to unravel his best-laid plans. Living in excess and wanting more, Boss Hogg often aspired to reach even greater heights of power, but he was never able to extent his reach across the county line. Sorrell Booke played the fat power-hungry Boss to perfection, with brilliant acting skills combined with slapstick delivery. I’ve never seen someone play such an unserious role so seriously. Boss Hogg had some of the most corrupt morals and most villainous aspirations of any character ever on television.

2. Ben Linus (Michael Emerson) “Lost” The best words to describe the leader of The Others would be “pure evil”. If Ben Linus wasn’t fictional, it’d boggle my mind that someone could be THAT depraved. He even looked evil, with those tricky beady eyes amid the vulnerable-looking expression on his baby face. He was almost as coercively deceptive as the Devil himself, somehow continually convincing people he betrayed many times to trust him again despite six seasons of sadistic treachery, continually perpetuating self-preservation by convincing people that they needed him. Ben’s only agenda was brutally opportunistic selfish ambition and his own survival, sacrificing anyone, including his own daughter, and murdering anyone to achieve those goals. He only had a “daughter” because he kidnapped an infant her from her mother. He killed off the entire colony of people he grew up in, just so he could be in charge. He played with other people’s minds and lives almost as much as Q. I’m not sure a single truthful word ever came out of Ben’s mouth. I’m not sure he was capable of honesty. Amazingly, there is one character in television history with more sins to atone for than Ben Linus, which is why Ben is at #2.

1. The Cigarette Smoking Man aka CGB Spender (William B. Davis) “X-Files” “The Man Who Sold World” comes to mind when discussing the Cigarette Smoking Man. This character did more to shape, or warp, the history of the world and the universe, than any other role ever played on television. He was untouchable, able to operate off the grid, independent of all morals, laws, and limits. He had a hand in most of the subversive things that happened during his lifetime: the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Cold War, alien abductions, government experiments on citizens, and spreading cancer. He assassinated JFK and MLK, sold out humanity to alien colonization, betrayed the aliens colonists in favor of a rebel faction, killed off his own accomplices, and hid it all from many generations of American citizens. Need I say more? He tormented Agent Mulder’s life by sending him on wild goose chases and filling his head with endless conspiracy theories, including the possibility of Spender being his father, and continually playing on his emotions about whether or not his missing sister was alive. He is the thief in the night, the bogeyman, the monster under the bed, the thing that goes bump in the night. Spender would make a deal with the Devil, go back on it, and shoot the Satan in the back of his head. He was a character so evil you HAD to hate him, even struggling to pity him when he was sick and vulnerable. William B. Davis’ portrayal of slimy immoral conspiracy theory villain CGB Spender for nine seasons of The X-Files was one of television’s greatest performances of all time, and definitely the most villainous.

Honorable Mention:
George Bluth Sr. (Jeffery Tambor) “Arrested Development” Adulterer, embezzler, escaped convict, and committer of high treason is just a sampling from the villainous resume of the patriarch and slimiest member of the morally empty Bluth Family.

The Riddler (Frank Gorshin) “Batman” Possibly the quirkiest of Adam West’s adversaries, the Riddler’s cheesy riddles added to the wonderful campiness of this classic kitschy show.

The Penguin (Burgess Merideth) “Batman” Another delightful Batman villain played by a veteran actor. The Penguin’s laugh, look, and antics provided some of the programs most humorous moments.

Catwoman (Julie Newmar, Eartha Kitt, Lee Meriwether) “Batman” The three sultry women who played Batman’s enticing enemy Catwoman in the 1960’s series gave us guys yet another reason to enjoy the show.

Killer Bob (Frank Silva) “Twin Peaks” The man just plain looked evil. He was scary as hell! While working as a set designer, his terrifying looks were noticed by director David Lynch, who then cast him in the role of Twin Peaks killer spirit, Bob.

Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly) “Twin Peaks” The brilliant character actor always brings a quirky flare and undying energy to his characters. He was one of the most enjoyable side characters of the Twin Peaks saga, and that’s saying a lot.

Leland Palmer (Ray Wise) “Twin Peaks” I won’t ruin the story for you, but the previously drab Leland’s meltdown turned him into almost as freaky and demented a character as Killer Bob. Maybe it was his former demeanor that made his turn so disturbing? Ray Wise played the part brilliantly.

The Devil (Ray Wise) “Reaper” The Devil in Reaper was more of the wisecracking villain type than anything scary or demonic. The fact that he was played by Ray Wise is what added a sinister edge to the character.

Dr. Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris) “Lost in Space” Dr. Smith was one of the greatest Sci-Fi villains. He was somewhat of a comic foil, as his sinister intentions were always undone. He really wanted to be evil, he just wasn’t very good at it, although he did get them lost in space…

Sheriff Tom Underlay (William Fichtner) “Invasion” A creepy guy with an air of evil surrounding him and a villainous underlying agenda, selling out the human race.

Sheriff Lucas Black (Gary Cole) “American Gothic” A murderous, yet charismatic villain with an agenda from hell itself.

©2012 Denim McDemus

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Top 13 Underrated Albums of My Era

There are some really great albums from my era that aren't on this list, since they achieved significant commercial success. For an album to be considered “underrated”, it had to have gone mostly unnoticed by the general public of its era. With nostalgic 80’s and 90’s Alternative Rock stations online and on satellite radio today, some of this music is more well-known now than it was back then.

I consider “my era” to be when I was in high school, 1989-1993, and college, 1993-1997. Many of the greatest albums of all time came out in the early 90’s, in particular 1991-1992. I was fortunate enough to be a teenager and an Alternative Rock fan at that time, so I enjoyed these albums immensely. That was the last great era of music. It’s been going downhill since the early 90’s, and most of today’s music is horrendous. While most of my contemporaries were listening to Snoop Dogg and Coolio, and the worst song of all time, Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You, was dominating the airwaves, I was rocking out to the albums listed below.

13. The Church “Gold Afternoon Fix” 1990
Australian Alternative band The Church was under a lot of pressure to produce a successful follow up to 1988’s surprising hit album Starfish and brilliant single Under The Milky Way. After the distractions of producer switches, studio meddling, substance abuse, and volatile studio sessions, the result was 1990’s Gold Afternoon Fix. Steve Kilbey’s ethereal voice, Marty Willson-Piper’s darkly toned guitar work, and a litany of ambient sounds make the songs sound haunting and desolate, yet they’re all so catchy. The single Metropolis is delightful and very underrated. Lead track Pharaoh is wonderfully eerie. Other highlights include second single You’re Still Beautiful, single-worthy Terra Nova Cain, Fading Away, and City, the poppy Transient, and the melodically slow Monday Morning. Even though it’s the band’s least favorite album, I loved it.

12. Local H “As Good As Dead” 1996
Illinois Alternative Rock duo Local H, consisting of vocalist/guitarist/bassist Scott Lucas and drummer Joe Daniels, had a College Radio hit with the rocking single Bound For The Floor, and minor hits with the clever pop-like Eddie Vedder and hard-edged Fritz’s Corner. The album is also note-worthy for the scathing potty-mouthed song High-Fiving MF. (You can use your own imagination on the acronym “MF”.) Lucas’ rock star voice, grungy looks, rocking guitar work, and energetic performing should have translated into major commercial success. Maybe his harsh fan and industry-attacking lyrics held them back?

11. Superdrag “Regretfully Yours” 1996
Knoxville’s Superdrag would have been Pop Rock superstars had they come out alongside the Beatles and other melodic Pop Rock bands of the 1960’s. Coming out in the 1990’s only allowed them to make it into MTV’s Buzz Bin. On the great lead single Sucked Out, both the music and John Davis’ vocals seamlessly transition between sweet Power Pop and whiney, almost EMO, Alternative Rock. Follow up single Destination Ursa Major may be even better. The bittersweet Alterna-Pop songs on this album definitely deserve a listen by anyone who grew up listening to 90’s Alternative Rock or the British Invasion of the 1960’s.

10. Violent Femmes “Why Do Birds Sing?” 1991
Is there anything more fun than an album by Milwaukee Folk-Punk trio the Violent Femmes? 1991’s Why Do Birds Sing? is often forgotten in comparison to the band’s earlier work, and most people have only heard their eponymous debut. But Gordon Gano, Brian Richie, and Victor DeLorenzo put together a great album for a new generation of fans before drummer DeLorenzo’s temporary split. Single American Music is one of Alt Rock’s greatest anthems. The Culture Club remake Do You Really Want To Hurt Me has a lot more passion than the original. Out The Window and Hey Nonny Nonny are fun story songs. Look Like That, Used to Be, Girl Trouble, and Lack of Knowledge are classic bouncy Femmes songs at their best. Flamingo Baby and He Likes Me would fit perfectly on the revered first album. More Money Tonight is an underdog success story any early 1990’s Alternative Rock fan can relate to. This is a great album that came out at a great time.

9. Eels “Beautiful Freak” 1996
Eels revolves around singer/guitarist/keyboardist/drummer E, aka Mark Oliver Everett, who had a semi-successful solo album A Man Called E. On the early Dreamworks Records release Beautiful Freak, E was joined by drummer Butch Norton and bassist Tommy Walker. E’s dreamy voice pushes out edgy lyrics while the melancholy, but enjoyable, music makes the perfectly somber songs stand out even more. The addition of Walker’s stand up bass really helped define Eel’s sound. First single Novocaine for the Soul is an Alternative Rock classic with a Beatlesque chorus. The darkly delightful single Your Lucky Day in Hell would be a Pop hit if it was about cheerier subject matter. Susan’s House gives a narrative about everything E sees on his walk to a girlfriend’s house. The title track is a beautiful love song for a one in a kind girl. My Beloved Monster is wonderful, cute, and catchy, with some hints of Rock and Experimental Rock, and lyrics that could easily have multiple meanings. This album also featured haunting cover art of a little girl with oversized eyes crawling on the ground. This is one of the best albums of its time, and is still very enjoyable today.

8. Cracker “Self Titled” 1992
Alt-Country band Cracker is most well known for 1993’s Kerosene Hat and its singles Low, Get Off This, and hidden track Euro-Trash Girl, but their finest moment was their 1992 self-titled debut. Singer David Lowery of Camper Van Beethoven brought his humorous lyrics to his new project Cracker, enlisting the guitar work of longtime friend Johnny Hickman. First single Teen Angst (What The World Needs Now) is a great Alternative Rock slacker anthem. It’s twangy, but it rocks. Second single Happy Birthday to Me is whimsical fun, harkening back to the wacky humor of Camper Van Beethoven’s Take The Skinheads Bowling. The album is fully of quirky, witty lyrics, especially on tracks like the Outlaw Country song Mr. Wrong, the self-defeatist Can I Take My Gun Up To Heaven, and the almost carnivalesque Dr. Bernice. Another Song About The Rain is a beautiful Country ballad with an Alt Rock edge. Songs like This is Cracker Soul, I See The Light, and Someday almost defy categorization, but do so brilliantly. Cracker even borders on Pop Rock with Satisfy You. Simply put, this album is fun to listen to, so get to it.

7. Lemonheads “It’s a Shame About Ray” 1992
This was the album that blossomed Evan Dando and company, with help from also about to blossom Juliana Hatfield, into Alternative Rock superstars…briefly…almost anyway. Unfortunately, this brilliant album full of deliciously sweet vocals and clever lyrics went largely unnoticed, until their rocking cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s Mrs. Robinson from the remake of The Graduate was added on. If you only bought it for the soundtrack cover, you missed out on many great songs. Singles It’s a Shame About Ray and Confetti should have been enough to garner mainstream attention. Album tracks Rockin Stroll, Ceiling Fan in My Spoon, Rudderless, My Drug Buddy, Bit Part, and Kitchen are some of the best songs of their era. The rocking fun of Allison’s Starting to Happen alone is reason enough to buy this album. I met Evan Dando once, although he was too drunk to remember. Perhaps only Dando’s alcoholism and substance abuse prevented this handsome, beautifully voiced singer from becoming a superstar?

6. Live “Mental Jewelry” 1991
York, PA band Live hit it big with their sophomore effort Throwing Copper, but their best album was their first, which most people missed. Mental Jewelry, produced by Jerry Harrison of the Talking Heads, has a raw edge the band seemed to lose when they went commercial. Everyone’s heard stories of how quickly success went to singer Ed Kowalczyk’s head, and it showed in their more pop-ready, singles factory albums to follow. Mental Jewelry is filled with socially, politically, and ecologically conscious lyrics from a youthful but intellectual and philosophical perspective. The beautiful anti-racism song The Beauty of Gray is by far the best song in Live’s catalogue. Youth anthems Pain Lies on the Riverside, Operation Spirit, and Tired of Me should have fueled an angst-filled generation. Mirror Song, Waterboy, Take My Anthem, You Are The World, etc are beautiful songs with poetic lyrics on topics most bands shy away from. The albums after Throwing Copper were a major disappointment to those of us who knew what Live was really capable of. If you want to know, check out Mental Jewelry.

5.Ned’s Atomic Dustbin “God Fodder” 1991
English band Ned’s Atomic Dustbin’s sound is fast paced, guitar and drum-driven Alternative Rock with the added twist of two bass players, Alex Griffin and Mat Cheslin. John Penney’s vocals spit out the band’s clever lyrics at a fast pace too. Their full-length debut God Fodder garnered them some short-lived notice on both sides of the Atlantic. The album starts off with the raucous rocker Kill Your Television that will kick your teeth in. Alternative Rock masterpiece Grey Cells Green is one of the finest songs ever written. Happy describes a volatile romantic relationship better than any of its contemporaries, while the blitzkrieg of Throwing Things kicks it up even another notch. Less Than Useful is a slacker anthem for a slacker generation. Your Complex has the best guitar riffs of the album. Selfish, Cut Up, What Gives My Son?, and You all exude angst-driven Alternative Rock greatness. Sadly, you probably missed out on this band.

4.Teenage Fanclub “Bandwagonesque” 1991
As with Superdrag, Scottish band Teenage Fanclub would have thrived in the 1960’s world of over-sweetened, harmonious British Invasion Power Pop. Their sound based around smooth but powerful guitar riffs and harmonized vocals has been likened to Big Star and the Byrds. Their third album, Bandwagonesque actually beat out Nirvana, R.E.M., and My Bloody Valentine for Album of the Year in Spin Magazine. Despite that honor, you probably never heard any of their songs until The Concept was in the 2011 film Young Adult. Star Sign would have been a #1 hit in the 60’s. Alcoholiday and The Concept are among the elite songs of a decade filled with great songs. Metal Baby and Guiding Star are beautiful Alternative Rock ballads that still find a way to rock. December, Sidewinder, and Pet Rock are Bubblegum Pop/Alternative Rock songs that your ears need to be treated to. If you saw a gorgeous flower, you’d probably pick it. Don’t pass by this piece of musical art without picking it up and giving it a listen.

3. Dinosaur Jr. “Green Mind” 1991
Another great album from 1991 is Dinosaur Jr.’s major label debut Green Mind. Most of the instruments on the album were played by singer J. Mascis, with drummer Murph (also of the Lemonheads) appearing on three tracks. If ever someone deserved be the voice of Generation X, it was the lethargic-voiced Mascis. Unfortunately, they didn’t bother to listen. Despite the title, Puke and Cry is one of my favorite songs of all time and a great Alternative Rock love song. The Wagon is a fast paced rocker (except for Mascis’ always drawn out vocals) with clever lyrics and fun music. Blowing It, I Live For That Look, and Thumb display both Mascis’ distinctive vocal and guitar skills, and could have easily been on mainstream radio. Without knowing better, you’d think Flying Cloud was by Led Zeppelin. How’d You Pin That One on Me is a blisteringly fast-paced Rock song, with the great line “Get me a bucket” in the chorus. Water almost sounds like a Bob Mould song, which is an amazing compliment. Muck would be a hit single with anyone else singing it. It’s the one song where J’s raspy voice doesn’t seem to fit. Despite that one criticism, this album is great from start to finish. Unfortunately, it’s more known for its controversial cover art by Joseph Szabo of a young girl smoking a cigarette than for its brilliant songs.

2. Nine Inch Nails “Pretty Hate Machine” 1989
I have a personal story about this one. At my graduating class’ all night party, my friends and I suffered through the Pop and Hip Hop songs our classmates were requesting, but took a chance and requested Head Like a Hole. This was before Trent Reznor became a household name and an MTV staple. Surprisingly the DJ had it, but was reluctant to play it, seeing as the crowd was appeased with the drivel his speakers were pumping out. We took turns requesting it all night, until he finally gave in just to shut us up. We had a great time dancing around to that great song, while all the Snoop Dogg fans quickly cleared the dance floor.
This entire indie album is brilliant, with no weak spots at all. It is intense Industrial Rock at its best, with detailed programming, expertly distorted sampling, powerful riffs, and well-written lyrics. The angry anthem Head Like a Hole rocks the socks off any other song from 1989. Terrible Lie and Sanctified lull you into a false calm before screaming straight to your brain and shoving their metaphysical feet down your throat. The great songs Down In It, Kinda I Want To, and That’s What I Get offer up clever lyrics and innovative music. Sin is an amazing barrage to your senses. The Only Time channels the Blues before erupting into Industrial Rock. Ringfinger is a guitar driven assault. And then there’s Something I Can Never Have… If you had the cassette tape like I did, this piece of bliss ended the often-played side one, and was the only reason you’d want that side to reach its end. That song provides the nearest to an orgasmic experience that listening to music can. Many people discovered the brilliance of Pretty Hate Machine after Nine Inch Nails achieved commercial success, but be honest, you didn’t hear it back when it was fresh…

1. Sonic Youth “Dirty” 1992
NYC Noise Rock pioneers and Alternative Rock icons Sonic Youth’s 7th studio album was produced by the highly successful Butch Vig. The diverse album seamlessly switches back and forth between songs showcasing Thurston Moore’s smooth voice and those assaulted by Kim Gordon’s intense growl, both taken to higher levels by Sonic Youth’s brilliant avant-garde musicianship and the perfected guitar work of Moore and Lee Ranaldo. No one does “Noise Rock” better, while still mastering traditional rock sounds. If you love guitars and hearing how far their limits can be pushed, this is that album for you. The aural assault starts off with 100%, a guitar and feedback driven song with Pop sensibilities. Next your ears are attacked by Kim Gordon’s scathing commentary on the modeling industry, Swimsuit Issue. Theresa’s Sound-World brings us back to the gorgeous vocals of Moore in a laid-back song that at times kicks into a feedback-fueled rage. In Drunken Butterfly, Gordon again kicks your teeth in, all the while saying she loves you, despite the not knowing your insignificant name. Shoot is Kim’s anthem of an abused and controlled woman’s sly self-liberation. Wish Fulfillment is yet another Thurston Moore Alternative Rock classic with the beauty of Mainstream Rock mixed with the intensity of hardcore. Sugar Kane is even better, with Thurston’s velvet vocals and he and Ranaldo’s virtuoso guitar work making it one of the best Alt Rock masterpieces of the 1990’s. Gordon’s hardcore Orange Rolls, Angel’s Spit and Moore’s anti-racism rant Youth Against Fascism, featuring a cameo by punk legend Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat and Fugazi, pack the blistering sonic punch the band’s name suggests. In the short tirade of Nic Fit, Thurston somehow channels his wife’s frantic vocals. Kim then returns the favor by contributing her most harmonious offering of the album, On The Strip. Next is my personal favorite, Chapel Hill, an epic song, and quite possibly the greatest Alt Rock song of my era. Yea, I said that. Listen to the whole song and then try to prove me wrong… The chaotically beautiful JC (along with 100%) pays tribute to Sonic Youth’s murdered friend and roadie, Joe Cole. Purr kicks the frenetic Noise Rock back into high gear, again showcasing Thurston Moore’s lethargic, but rock star quality vocals. Kim Gordon puts the finishing touches on Dirty by growling out the pretty and simplistic song Crème Brulee. The US vinyl and the Japanese CD releases have a bonus track called Stalker, but I really don’t think it fits in with the other 15 tracks of the album.

Sonic Youth’s Dirty is the most underrated album of my era. I loved the whole album back then and I still love it today. If you see me walking my dog with earbuds in, it’s probably what I’m listening to. If you’ve never heard it, you’re really missing out on some great music. Now that you’ve heard of it, you have no excuse for denying yourself this epic event in music history.

©2012 Denim McDemus

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

“My Trip Back to 1984”

I’ve always loved music. When I was still forming inside my mother’s womb, I was dancing around at my dad’s band practices. I grew up exposed to the great Rock music of the 60’s and 70’s pumping out of my parent’s stereo, mostly from records and 8-track tapes. I was alive for vinyl, but was I young enough that most of my own records were Sesame Street related. By the time I started seeking out musical tastes of my own, the dawn of the cassette tape had arrived. Vinyl was still around, and I had many 45’s, but the new technology that allowed me to play a little tape on a little personal player called a Walkman sucked me in. The first cassette tape I owned was Billy Joel’s “An Innocent Man”, a great album, which unfortunately is usually overlooked in favor of his earlier work.

My second album on cassette tape was one of the greatest Rock N’ Roll albums of all time, Van Halen’s 1984. It was the pinnacle of the band’s career, and contained many classic songs such as the mega-hit “Jump”, the sultry fun of “Hot For Teacher”, and the brilliant rock barrage of “Panama”. Despite the commercial success and critical acclaim of the album, the band was falling apart. Personality conflicts, differing musical visions, and side projects drove a wedge between the clashing egos of energetic front man David Lee Roth and guitar virtuoso Eddie Van Halen, leading to Roth’s departure from the band and the group’s musical decline. Always being a huge fan of Diamond Dave, that’s also the point where they lost my allegiance.

Now 28 years after their last full album together, the Van Halen brothers and Roth have reunited, minus long-time bassist Michael Anthony, recording an album of new material, “A Different Kind of Truth”, and embarking on a tour of the same name. On Monday night, I went to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia to see if three people who used to hate each other could re-capture the magic none of them have had since their breakup in 1985, while enlisting the help of a bassist who wasn’t even alive during their glory days.

First of all, I have to give proper recognition to Kool & The Gang. Everyone was shocked when the late 70’s-early 80’s Disco-Funk Party Band was announced as the opener for Van Halen’s 2012 tour. It’s hard to imagine the same crowd of people attending concerts by the two diverse acts. But in all fairness, Kool & The Gang are very good at what they do. Their somewhat antiquated party anthems are still catchy, and it’s hard not to sing along once you realize you remember the words to all of their hits. The aging members of the group still perform with the energy and intensity of their heyday. The 11-member ensemble showcased the talent throughout their roster, as they took turns singing and being the featured instrumentalist. Most importantly, the members seemed to have a great time, which couldn’t help but trickle down to the audience. They obviously love what they do, which makes it hard for the crowd, even a Hair Metal crowd, not to have a great time.

And then, after an unusually long wait, it was time for the headliners to take the stage. Would I regret taking a chance on Van Halen, or would they rekindle the love for their music I had as a child? Well, every group is as strong as the sum of its parts. Let’s examine the reassembled parts of this once well-oiled machine…

Most artists sound much better on their doctored up recordings than they do live in concert. This cannot be said about veteran drummer Alex Van Halen. I was immensely impressed with the 58 year-old man pounding his drums unmercifully harder, faster, and more intensely than drummers half his age. The rhythm section of Van Halen is often overlooked due to the attention grabbing boldness of Dave’s on-stage antics and Eddie’s over the top guitar work. I now appreciate Alex Van Halen’s skills more than I ever have. He really blew me away in every song, not just his impressive drum solo. He never sounded as good on tape as he does live.

Like most of the world, I scoffed when control freak Eddie Van Halen replaced longtime bassist Michael Anthony with his then teenaged son, Wolfgang, who wasn’t even alive during the band’s glory days. This move also gave the Van Halen family three votes on band-related matters rather than two, further forcing their influence on each decision, regardless of the current singer is. This being the 20 year-old's first full tour, and my not having heard the entire new album, this concert was my first taste of Wolfgang beyond the disappointing single “Tattoo”. Could he really fill the void of the band’s legendary bassist, replacing that all-important rhythmic backbone? Fortunately, Wolfgang did not disappoint. He does seem somewhat stiff and awkward up on stage, possibly worried his dictatorial dad is looking over his shoulder, and completely unsure of how to interact with Dave’s cartoonish but sleazy antics. All things considered, Wolfgang did a great job.

I was never much of an Eddie Van Halen fan. He always seems to look and act like an obnoxious creep. I’ve always agreed he is a great guitarist, but I’m not a huge fan of the whiny noises he makes with his guitar, especially when he started experimenting with power saws and other strange items. Apparently a guitar virtuoso like Eddie Van Halen has to be heard in person to be properly appreciated. His live playing won me over, and I’m not easily impressed. I can easily see why he is so revered in the world of music. He may not be the easiest guy in the world to work with, but his amazing, one of a kind guitar skills more than make up for any personality deficiencies.

I’ve always been a huge fan of David Lee Roth. Say what you will about him, and it’s probably true, but as a front man, a showman, he has few equals. He’s flamboyant, arrogant, showy, and maybe a little bit crazy, but all of that is what makes him a legend. He also makes more wardrobe changes than a runway model, but it’s all part of his charm. Dave’s voice is still as crisp as ever, belting out songs that never sounded as good with anyone else on the mic. He may have aged since his glory days, but his star has not faded, his spark has not gone out. Diamond Dave still struts around the stage like he owns it, and Monday night he did.

One highpoint for me of the concert was that they completely omitted the band’s pop songs from their commercially successful, but musically atrocious “Van Hagar” era. Diamond Dave is back. He is and always will be Van Halen’s front man. His charm, energy, and showmanship cannot be replaced without bringing Jim Morrison back from the grave. Another highlight for me was the new song “China Town”, which I had not heard prior to the show. Simply put, this new track rocks, and is much better than first single “Tattoo.” It’s by far the best Van Halen song since 1984, and one of their hardest rocking offerings ever. Of course, the biggest highlight for me was rocking out to the favorites of my childhood. They played every song I wanted to hear: “Panama”, “Hot For Teacher”, “Jump”, “Dance The Night Away”, “You Really Got Me”, “Pretty Woman”, “Somebody Get Me a Doctor”, “Beautiful Girls”, “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love”, etc.

My brother in laws, neither of which were alive for the majority of Van Halen’s career, had a great time, one of which described the concert as “The greatest experience of my life”. I too enjoyed the concert. I went into it skeptical about Kool & The Gang and Van Halen re-capturing their glory days of the 70’s and 80’s, but both delivered without disappointment. I was worried whether Van Halen could put to rest their tensions, shake off the rust, and overcome the absence of Michael Anthony enough to operate as a cohesive rock unit. They did not disappoint me, far exceeding my skeptical expectations. They rocked their songs as if they hadn’t missed a day of playing together. They rocked the sold out Wells Fargo Center like a band of 20 year olds. I had a blast, liking Van Halen again for the fist time in decades. Apparently it is possible to travel back in time to “The Good Old Days”, at least for one night.

©2012 Denim McDemus

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

RIP Davy Jones!

RIP Davy Jones 1945-2012! Thanks for all the fun you brought to pop culture throughout so many years.
My parents grew up on The Monkees, my mom in particular being a big fan. I grew up watching the Monkees TV program, enjoying the campy fun, and singing along to my parent's Monkees LPs (yes, music was still on vinyl when I was a kid). As a teenager and adult, I grew to appreciate the more adult humor hidden below the surface of The Monkees slapstick silliness.
Davy was always my favorite Monkee, and by far the best singer of the group.
RIP Davy, and thanks for all the great times!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Movie Reviews

Here are my reviews and ratings on a scale of 1 to 10 for the films I have seen recently:

In Theaters:
“One For The Money” (2012) 6/10

One For The Money is a cute romcom staring the resurgent Katherine Heigl and Irishman Jason O’Mara.
Heigl has resurrected her career in this niche, with films such as Life as we Know It, New Years Eve, Killers, The Ugly Truth, 27 Dresses, and Knocked Up. She’s making a mint off of playing sappy lovelorn characters. O’Mara makes a successful transition to the big screen, after appearing in many television series, including the Sci-Fi hit Terra Nova.
In One For The Money, Heigl plays Stephnie Plum, a down on her luck New Jersey woman who’s recently lost her husband, job, and car. Desperate for money, she begs her cousin for a job as a bail-bondsman. The former lingerie saleswoman turned recovery agent has to quickly learn to bring in wanted criminals, including Joe Morelli (O’Mara), a possibly framed cop wanted for murder, who also broke her heart in high school, and the occasional naked old man. Plum becomes determined to bring in Morelli, more for revenge than the money, aided by a delightful group of quirky characters, including her oddball family, two humorous prostitutes, the kooky bail-bonds staff, and an over the top bounty hunter named Ranger. The love/hate tensions heat up between Plum and Morelli, as they engage in a dangerous, but romantic and comedic game of cat and mouse.
This film is not great, but it’s entertaining. The on-screen chemistry between Heigl and O’Mara, the interesting and action-packed storyline, the hilarious situations Plum gets herself into, and the delightful supporting cast make this romcom enjoyable for both men and women.

“The Rum Diary”(2011) 5/10

I am not a fan of the grossly overrated Hunter S. Thompson’s writing, nor the horrible attempts at adapting his novels to film. They directors always try way too hard to make the films strange and hallucinogenic, making the already uniteresting material even more contrived and forced.
The Rum Diary gets lost within itself somewhere along the way. The story never really progresses, and the film never actually goes anywhere. It’s more boring than entertaining, painful than humorous. Stagnant would be a fitting adjective. Even the usually entertaining Johnny Depp couldn’t save this film from being a dud. I really wanted to like it, but was unable to. I even watched it a second time trying to find something to like about it, but was unsuccessful. Don’t waste your time watching it.

“Anonymous” (2011) 4/10
I’m a fan of Shakespeare, history, and conspiracy theories. I agree that it’s quite possible the man we know as Shakespeare may not have written all or even any of the works we attribute to his name, or that he could be a figurehead for the works of several writers of that era. While this film only follows one of those possible scenarios, it does so convincingly, but also confusingly.
The film jumps around between several time periods, showing several of the characters throughout their lives, often without need to, and often without explaining which of the younger versions of the similar looking characters is which. This tactic may work in other films, but in this one it comes across as a sloppy chaotic mess.

“What’s Your Number” (2011) 6/10
This romcom pairs up Scary Movie alum turned romcom mainstay Anna Faris with chiseled superhero Chris Evans (The Human Torch, Captain America, Lucas Lee). Faris’ character Ally Darling enlists the help of her resourceful manwhore neighbor Colin (Evans) in tracking down her 20 exes, fearing that she may have missed out on the proverbial Mr. Right. Will Ally be too busy dwelling on past mistakes to notice the romance brewing right under her nose? You’ll have to watch the film to find out.

“A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas” (2011) 6/10
The campy characters of the Harold & Kumar series offer up yet another film full of sophomoric delight. The third installment is nowhere near as funny as the first film, but way better than the second. The NPH cameo is again the highlight of the film. If you’re up for a rowdy romp through the holiday season, check this film out. If you’re easily offended, obviously avoid this film like the plague.

On Netflix:
“Restraint” (2008) 2/10

An Australian thriller that has an interesting premise, but falls short in so many ways. It really drags on, with out much action or suspense at all. There are a lot of plot holes and improbable developments. It’s not worth watching.

“Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog”(2008) 7/10
An overly short, yet silly and enjoyable 3-Act musical series from writer director Joss Whedon of the cult hits Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Firefly. Staring the always hilarious Neil Patrick Harris as blogging wanna-be supervillain Dr. Horrible, Nathan Fillion of Firefly as his nemesis Captain Hammer, Felicia Day of cult hit Eureka as their mutua love interest, Penny, and Simon Helberg from the smash hit The Big Bang Theory as Moist, Dr. Horrible’s useless sidekick.
This series of shorts is hilarious fun for anyone not trying to take life too seriously.

“Pervert” (2005) 2/10
This ridiculous horror/comedy is barely watchable. They were obviously trying to be ridiculous and over the top, and they succeeded in that, but that’s the only way they succeeded, other than in being titillating.

Friday, February 17, 2012

“Top 13 Reasons the Entertainment World is Better Off Without Whitney Houston”

First of all, even I’m not that insensitive. I’m not celebrating her death, just her forced retirement. She was one of the worst and most overrated entertainers of all time, and unfortunately during my lifetime. Her more than a decade long spiral into self-destruction, leading to her early demise is tragic, but that doesn’t make her contributions to the entertainment world any less excruciating.

13. Whitney Houston started “acting” again, in “Sparkle” a soon to be released re-make of a 1976 film. Didn’t “The Bodyguard”, “Waiting To Exhale”, “The Preacher’s Wife” and “Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella” display enough of Whitney’s pathetic acting skills?

12. She also started recording again, reportedly adding two songs to the Sparkle Soundtrack.

11. Prince can live at ease now that Whitney’s no longer stalking him at his LA concerts.

10. California liquor stores will now be fully stocked for other lush entertainers.

9. Houston’s CDs can now be used as commemorative frisbees and coasters, rather than just trap shoot targets.

8. Jon Bon Jovi can now begin his reign as the most annoying singer from New Jersey.

7. Whitney doesn’t have to come up any more ways to name albums after herself. (“Whitney Houston” “Whitney” “Just Whitney”)

6. Her voice is completely gone. She sounds like a soft-spoken troll, or someone with a cold whispering Tommy’s got the Motts. The music world already has one too many Macy Grays.

5. “The Bodyguard” is just plain awful. Like ALL of her other films, it is a remake, so there’s no originality at work at all. Pairing up Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner, two of the least talented celebrities of all time, should be a crime against humanity. But the worst thing about “The Bodyguard” is listed below at #1.

4. Bobby Brown has one less person to beat up and do drugs with.

3. No more failed Whitney Houston comeback tours for audience members to walk out on.

2. “Greatest Love of All”, yet another re-make by the uncreative Whitney Houston, was the second most annoying song of her career, hence the #2 ranking. Like the even worse song listed below, this one seems to drone on and on in sappy, vomit inducing bliss. “The Greatest Love of All” was Houston’s 3rd most successful hit, but definitely her 2nd worst song.

1. “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston is the lowest point ever in the history of the music industry. Like most of Whitney’s career “highlights”, it’s a re-make. If you were around in 1992-93, which was the epicenter of “my era”, you know that this horribly annoying, seemingly endless, whiney Whitney song was on the radio nearly non-stop. This was before the days of satellite and streaming radio and iPods. There were few choices for musical entertainment, and most of them overplayed this terrible song for about a year. It’s sappy, crappy, and almost as monotone as Ben Stein. This song is by far my worst memory of my senior year of high school, forever scarring my ears, my musical taste buds, and common decency.

R.I.P. Whitney Houston (1963-2012), a tragic death, but a sigh of relief for people with good taste in music.

©2012 Denim McDemus