LYING, LIES AND LIARS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

Since Donald Trump entered the political scene, we’ve had to deal with lies and lying on a daily basis. You could say that our society has become obsessed with lying.

At first the news media were reluctant to call Trump’s untruths, ‘lies’. They felt that the word was too harsh and possibly biased. But as time has increased the number, the frequency and the egregiousness of ‘untruths’ coming out of Trump’s mouth, the media has changed it’s tune. Now they call his lies, ‘lies’. So we hear people talking about lies and lying every day.

In this atmosphere, we watched one of our favorite movies again and saw it from a different perspective. The movie, from 2009, is called “The Invention Of Lying”. It’s a Ricky Gervais masterpiece.

It couldn’t be more relevant to today’s culture of political lying. The movie has a very interesting concept. People in the movie’s world can only tell the absolute truth. They are incapable of lying, of saying anything that is not 100% true. They can’t even imagine the possibility of lying.

This leads to some interesting interchanges since everyone is brutally honest at all times. Examples of this phenomenon are: Secretary tells her boss he is a loser and she’s hated every day she has had to work for him. A waiter tells the customer “I don’t like you, so I spit in your food.” On a date, the leading lady tells the hero she won’t sleep with him or go out with him again because he’s not a good genetic match. She’s beautiful but he’s short, fat, and has a snub nose. She doesn’t want fat kids with snub noses.

A sign outside a nursing home says something like, “Depressing Place Where Old People Go To Die.”

Another side effect of total truth-telling is that there is no art, TV, theater or even novels. This is because art and fiction are forms of making things up. Saying things that are not 100% true. So the only entertainment is ‘readers’ reading history lessons on film. The history writers are each assigned centuries. They produce scripts depicting real events from that century. One popular movie was “Napoleon – 1812-1813.”

The hero of the movie, Marc, played by Ricky Gervais, suddenly realizes that he has the ability to say things that ‘aren’t’. He first uses his ability to lie to get money from his bank. He merely tells the teller that he has $800 in his account when he only has $300. The teller apologizes for the bank error and gives Marc the $800 that she now believes he has in his account. Whatever Marc said must be true, so it must be a computer error.

The movie ramps up the social commentary when Marc ‘invents’ religion. His mother is dying and tells Marc that she is scared. So, to make her less fearful of dying, Marc tells her that she’ll be going to a wonderful place where she’ll see all her deceased loved ones, she’ll be eternally happy and she’ll get her own mansion. Some hospital personnel overhears Marc’s conversation with his Mom and they believe everything he says.

The next day, there’s a huge crowd outside Marc’s house demanding more information about what happens when you die. Marc ends up inventing ‘a man in the sky’ who controls everything. He writes down ten rules about the man and the afterlife on two pizza cartons. It’s very interesting to see the changes in society and in the people once religion is introduced.

The genius of this movie is that while it’s a super high concept film, you really care about the main characters. You get drawn into the ‘love story’ at the core of the plot. The drama revolves around whether or not the beautiful and wonderful girl, Anna, played by Jennifer Garner, will overcome the superficial biases of the culture and marry her best friend. He’s the guy she rejected by saying that he would give her fat kids with snub noses.

This movie is a hidden gem. Lots of big stars today had small parts in the movie. People like Tina Fey, Rob Lowe, Louis C.K., Jeffrey Tambor, Jonah Hill, etc. Great casting!

I highly recommend this movie. We’ve shown it to a few friends and they are all blown away. They thank us for introducing them to something so well done and engaging. I hope we can create a cult of fans for this overlooked and underappreciated piece.

I hope you’ll watch it! You’ll thank me too! Since we live with non-stop lies from our leaders, it’s refreshing to spend two hours with people who can’t lie at all!

A MIXED MARRIAGE – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I love my husband but we have a mixed marriage. I’m a total Rom-Com/ Sit-Com/ Doctor/Lawyer Show kind of girl. Tom is a Super Hero / Sci-Fi / Tolkien kind of guy.

When we were first together, I’d religiously watch all his shows and movies with him. And he’d watch all of mine. After 19 years together and 15 years married, that isn’t going to happen anymore. Our relationship has reached a new level, where it can survive intact, even if we go off separately to watch our favorite guilty pleasures.

Tom won’t watch endless cooking competitions or HGTV house makeover shows anymore. I still love him. I won’t watch every superhero movie or TV show (there are a lot). He still loves me.

There are some areas of crossover. I genuinely like some of the early superhero movies, like the original Superman and Spiderman. I loved Wonderwoman and Black Panther. I’m a real fan of time travel shows too.

Tom truly loves “When Harry Met Sally”, my favorite movie, and others of its genre. So he gets a couple of free passes for that. He also likes some of my favorite TV shows, like “Grey’s Anatomy”, “The Good Wife”, “NCIS”, “This is Us”, etc.

We both were addicted to the on-demand series like “Grace and Frankie”, “Outlander,” and “The Crown”.

So there is common ground. But there’s one other thing we’re not going to be doing together any time soon.

Video games. I cannot share any of Tom’s enthusiasm for video games. Even though I don’t participate, I’m still subjected to the incessant noise of gun battles blaring through the house at all hours. Some of these games go for realism in the form of adding the sounds of dying and wounded humans, animals, and mythical creatures. I find it very disconcerting.

I’ve reached my saturation point with the new virtual reality play station games, complete with magic goggles and wands. I appreciate the amazingly advanced technology. But the glasses make me dizzy and disoriented. I like to be able to see my own hands and feet. I like to be sure where I am in my house, not stumbling around in some weird fantasy-scape.

I just can’t cross that Rubicon with Tom into the virtual reality hologram world of tomorrow.

I’m not the only one freaked out by the new technology. As soon as Tom put on the headset with the glowing lights, one of our dogs went berserk. She would not stop barking at him as long as he had his gear on. I had to take her out of the room.

If howling did anything for me, I’d be right there with her.

At least this newest toy comes with headphones so I don’t have to listen along at top volume. Meanwhile, Tom looks hilarious in his sci-fi get up! That’s worth a few laughs.

Maybe watching him play games in an imaginary universe and listening to the dog go nuts could be a new form of entertainment for me too!

RDP: IF IT’S NOT FUNNY, IT’S NOT COMEDY – Marilyn Armstrong

Ragtag Daily Prompt: SITCOM

It’s hard for me to say much about this since I don’t like most sitcoms and never did. Too much of them is based on cruelty and humiliation. These days, most of them seem to be based on foul language and just plain meanness. I’m not sure why that’s supposed to be funny. It never makes me laugh or even chuckle. It might make me leave the room and come back when it’s over.

I love comedy, but I have a bottom-line. It’s simple.


COMEDY SHOULD BE FUNNY.


If it doesn’t make me laugh, it’s not a comedy. Not a sitcom. Not a romantic comedy or any other kind. Genre notwithstanding, something that’s supposed to be funny has to make me laugh or at the very least, smile.

If I feel the need to nod off or puke, maybe someone else is finding it funny (like the producers and writers) but not me.

We watched one episode of Drew Barrymore (from whom I expected better) in “Santa Clarita Diet.” I was nauseated. I did not laugh, nor did Garry. So I asked around. At least among people I know, no one thought it was funny or mildly amusing or anything other than disgusting.

Who’s idea was that?

ROSEANNE (FINALLY, AT LONG LAST) GETS HER JUST DESSERTS – Ellin Curley

Everyone knows that Roseanne Barr’s new TV sitcom has been canceled because of racist/conspiracy theory tweets she made.

I am thrilled! It may be mean-spirited of me to wish bad things on people that I consider vile, misogynistic, racist and anti-fact. But this is particularly well deserved.

Roseanne Barr, the actress, is a Trump supporter and advocate of the worst conspiracy theories and racism that are promulgated by the right-wing media. One of her goals for her show was to reveal a more nuanced, more favorable and relatable image for the middle-class Trump supporter. Instead, she proved the worst that we liberals believe about the typical Trump/right-wing supporters.

I am very happy that Hollywood gave up a popular, lucrative show for moral/political reasons. Their values and the values that most Americans share turned out to be more important than profit. At least in this one, egregious case. Money did not talk. Profit was not the God to be worshipped. The ABC network put morality and decency above their bottom line.

Roseanne’s behavior obviously embarrassed ABC. She put them in the spotlight and subjected them to an avalanche of negative press and pressure from viewers and sponsors. But they could have resisted to save their number one show on TV. This shows ‘character’ if you can attribute human characteristics to a corporation. It also shows that decent people have clout when it comes to extreme racism and fact bashing. Maybe not every time, but I feel hopeful.

I watched Roseanne’s first episode and actually liked it. But I refused to watch it as my own personal, political statement. I didn’t want Trumpettes to get a reputation whitewash. I wouldn’t support that. Now I don’t have to cringe when I hear how Trump supporters are being portrayed as nice and decent, but struggling people.

You blew it, Roseanne! The truth is out! You are as bad as we liberals think you are!

WAXING NOSTALGIC – Rich Paschall

My Top Albums On Vinyl, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Those who have lived through the eras of music on vinyl, reel to reel tape, 8-track and cassette tapes, CDs and digital formats may tell you that the best of all was the vinyl era.  Yes, audiophiles will tell you that the best sound actually comes off of records, not the other formats.  As records and recording equipment, speakers and headphones evolved over many decades, the sound steadily improved.  Before the giant rush to tape formats, recordings on actual vinyl records became quite advanced.  When mono became stereo, and stereo advanced to multi channel sounds, people were piling columns of speakers around their rooms in order to make it feel like the music was being played right there in the room with you.

record player

There were people who could tell you which albums had the best “channel separation” and would place speakers where certain instruments would appear in one place, while others could be heard from elsewhere in the room.  As recording techniques became sophisticated, so did the listeners’ equipment.  If you had a great turntable, receiver, speakers and headphones, you probably needed an equalizer so you could balance your sound perfectly.  I had a friend who loved classical music.  His many speakers were placed strategically so as to have the symphony orchestra placed perfectly.  With a little mixing magic on the equalizer, you might feel you were hearing the music live.

Those days are gone and no matter how much you insist the sound is better today, no one with a “sophisticated stereo system” in the 1970s will agree with you.  Why that diamond needle riding along groves in vinyl produced such a great sound is definitely a wonder I do not understand, but it did.  Every now and then I heard a CD in my last car that impressed me with some channel separation that produced different instruments from different speakers, but that was rare.  It did not compare with recordings of older times.  Now I must plug my phone into a USB port to get music, or revert to FM radio, which sounds like the old AM radio stations to me., but I digress.

Albums continue to be released on vinyl but they do not match the numbers from the eras before cassette tape.  I must remind you here that 8 tracks were a “flash in the pan” and I am pleased to say I never owned one.  In 2016 more albums were sold on vinyl than any year since 1991, still, the numbers are paltry compared to the decades before that.

You may be surprised to learn the biggest selling vinyl album of 2016, according to the VinylFactor.com hit 68,000 copies.  It was Twenty One Pilots’ Blurryface . If you said “Who?” you are probably not a Millenial.  With their other album in the top 10, Vessel, they sold over 100,000 albums.  Apparently, 10,000 copies is considered a hit today.  Boomers may be pleased to find The Beatles on the top of the 2017 vinyl sales with Sgt. Pepper.  Nevertheless, the vinyl era is gone.

So, with that in mind I offer my eclectic selection of 5 vinyl albums I have for decades and still think worthy of playing often.  The first is from my dear departed mother’s multitude of records.  Her collection featured show tunes, which I guess is appropriate for me, as well as Caruso and Mario Lanza.  I can not tell you how many Saturday afternoons were filled with Mario Lanza.  Perhaps that was to drive us out of the house to play outside, I am not sure.  I still have an album called Andy Williams Million Seller Songs.  They were not all his million sellers, but a few were hits for him.  I like the whole thing.  It was released in the fall of 1962 and hit Billboard’s Top LPs in January 1963 and stayed there for 43 weeks.


If I loved a group, I inevitably wanted their Greatest Hits album.  A lot of my early favorites were by The Hollies.  The group was formed in 1962 and have continued on with various members. They had so many early hits they actually put out a greatest hits album in 1967.  Some of the songs were co-authored by one of the founding members, Graham Nash.  He left the group in 1968 to form another group on my list.

One group I have mentioned before in The Time It Is Today.  The Association were known for songs with a message.  I just about wore out their Greatest Hits album as it is filled with my favorites from the late 1960s.

I actually had the next album on cassette first.  Later, someone gave me Willie Nelson’s Stardust on vinyl.  This 1978 album was a revelation to me as I heard Willie sing standards from other eras.  Willie picked his favorites and did them proud with his unique interpretations.  This is a treasured piece of my surviving vinyl collection.

In my humble opinion, one of the greatest vinyl albums of all time is actually a double album by a group formed of David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young.  The 1970 album 4 Way Street was recorded live at the Fillmore East in New York, The Chicago Auditorium, and The Forum in Los Angeles.  All four individually wrote the songs on the album.  The harmonies were classic and enduring.  The messages were timeless.

Sources include: “US vinyl sales hit record 13.1 million in 2016,” thevinylfactory.com
“2017 was the highest year for vinyl sales since 1991,” thefader.com

ONE WONDERFUL MOMENT

1968 Edition, by Rich Paschall

Many musicians toil away at their craft hoping to break through the mass of musical acts and reach success with a hit recording.  Following endless rehearsals and low paying jobs, some of the best, or most interesting, will land recording contracts.  These artists wait eagerly for the day when one of their songs will be heard on the radio and climb the pop charts.  In 1968 there was no shortage of new acts to reach the Top 100.

Success may mean interviews and television appearances.  In an era with many television variety shows and, of course, American Bandstand, a chance to show off in front of millions could be at hand.  After finally having made it, performers looked for the next hit.  For many it would not be.  They would go down in music history as “one hit wonders.”

Just one hit song

Some golden songs will be 50 this year but will anyone come to the party?  As a one time triumph, the tunes may have faded from memory.  Some of you may still have the vinyl recordings on hand and listen to these songs with great fondness, despite the pop and hiss on your old record player (Millennials should go look up “record player” before reading on).  Others of you may have forgotten these completely.

In order to bring back some memories, I will give you my top 10 “one hit wonders” of 1968.  I promise you all of these really did hit high on the pop music charts and they are songs I still like.

Some of these songs sing out “Give Me One More Chance,” so come over because it “Ain’t Nothin’ But A House Party.”   You will find us “At The Top Of The Stairs” where “Sally Had A Party” with the “San Francisco Girls. ”  You might discover the “Smell of Incense” at our “Soul Meeting,” “Thank U Very Much.”  Don’t worry, “I Got A Sure Thing.”

10. Fire, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.  This song charted in many countries and sold over a million copies.  If you see the video, you will think Arthur is indeed in a Crazy World.

9.  In A Gadda Da Vida, Iron Butterfly.  The album version of this psychedelic hit played over 17 minutes.   The song was edited down to 2:53 for the single.  By the way, the song was supposed to be “In The Garden Of Eden,” but the drummer could not understand it when the singer first played it for him (he was drunk, apparently), wrote down the wrong thing and the title stuck.  It’s just another strange rock legend.

8.  Green Tambourine, The Lemon Pipers.  The song was released in late 1967 and hit number 1 by February 1968.  Status Quo, also on this list, covered the song on their 1968 album. It was not their one hit wonder.

7.  MacArthur Park, Richard Harris. The Irish actor and singer had his one big hit with this Jimmy Webb song.  The tune was written with the group The Association in mind.  They did not do it, but there were many covers, including a disco hit by Donna Summer.

6.  Nobody But Me, The Human Beinz. This was a cover of the 1963 Isley Brothers tune which failed to hit the charts.  Released late in 1967, the song made number 8 for The Human Beinz in 1968.

5.  Pictures of Matchstick Men, Status Quo.  This psychedelic rock tune was the only song by the group to chart in the US.  The group did have some later success in the UK.

4.  Classical Gas, Mason Williams.  The instrumental piece was composed and performed by Williams.  Fun Fact: Williams was the head writer for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and premiered the piece on their program.

3.  Angel of the Morning, Merrilee Rush and the Turnabouts.   A number of artists found success with this composition.  Rush received a Grammy nomination.

2.  Soulful Strut, Young-Holt Unlimited.  It’s another instrumental piece for our list.  The jazz musicians Isaac Holt and Eldee Young from Chicago had no further success with their trio and gave up by 1974, although they still played around town.

1.  Grazing in the Grass, Hugh Masekela.  It is another jazz instrumental. This time South African trumpeter Masekela takes the lead.  The Friends of Distinction would add words and have a hit with the song the following year.

Click on the title of any song to go to the video, or hit up the entire playlist here.

Are we missing any goods ones?  Check Billboard or wikipedia for one hit wonders of 1968.
Sources include: 1968 One Hit Wonders & Artists Known For One Song, hotpopsongs.com

See also: “Those Were The Days, My Friend,” The Golden Age of Rock Turns 50.

THOSE WERE THE DAYS, MY FRIEND

The Golden Age of Rock Turns 50, 1968 by Rich Paschall

Everyone will look back on their youth with the belief that the hit music of their time comprised the Golden Age of whatever genre was on top.  We will, of course, make the same claim. In fact every genre of our time hit the pop charts.  Many of those songs have not lost their golden shine 50 years later.  I know you are eagerly awaiting my top ten list of songs having a golden anniversary. You will be pleased to know I initially wrote down so many (46), that I will have to give you a top 20.

The Beatles

Some iconic rock and roll acts had come to prominence and charted singles and albums.  Rock legends Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Tommy James and the Shondells, The Doors, The Moody Blues, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Janis Joplin and many more were thrilling their fans as they pushed rock across new vistas.

Pop stars of the day Tom Jones, The Monkees, Beach Boys, Three Dog Night, Dion, The Fifth Dimension, Bee Gees, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Bobby Goldsboro, The Lettermen, The Turtles, and The Vogues were only a few of the acts to sing their way up the charts.

Irish actor Richard Harris scored with an unlikely hit (MacArthur Park).  The Rascals wanted you to see People Got To Be Free.  Archie Bell and the Drells told you to Tighten Up and the Delfonics explained La-la Means I Love You.

Acts like Cream, Vanilla Fudge, Iron Butterfly, Status Quo, Deep Purple and even Donovan gave us a commodity called Psychedelic Rock.  On the other side of the pop spectrum we had something we dubbed “Bubble Gum Music” from artists like The Ohio Express, Tommy Roe and a group that helped bring on the title, The 1910 Fruitgum Company.

As always a couple of instrumentals were to be found: “Classical Gas” (Mason Williams) and “L’amour est bleu” or Love is Blue (Paul Muriat).  These also fall into the category of one hit wonders.

The sounds of jazz came through the air with Herb Alpert, and Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66.  The Mills Brothers found their first big hit in a dozen years.

Some movie songs hit the charts in 1968: “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,” “Mrs. Robinson” (The Graduate), “The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde,” and “Theme from The Valley of the Dolls.”  You can add a couple of TV shows whose themes are well remembered, “Mission Impossible” and “Hawaii 5-0.”

It was a great year for hits from R&B and Soul music icons Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Sam and Dave, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Otis Redding, The Box Tops, The Temptations, Jerry Butler and a list that stretches all the way back to 1968.

Country Western singers had cross over hits that climbed the pop charts including Glen Campbell and Tammy Wynette.  A song by Jeannie C. Riley, “Harper Valley PTA,” spawned a movie of the same name.

If you are quite ready, call the “Cab Driver” and come down to “Indian Lake” where we will be having our “Stoned Soul Picnic.”  “Simon Says” it’s “A Beautiful Morning” and we will be joined by “Lady Madonna,” “Lady Willpower,” “Delilah,” “The Mighty Quinn,” and even “Suzie Q.”  If you see “The Unicorn,” perhaps it is because of that “Bottle of Wine.”  Feel free to play your “Green Tambourine” and “Dance To The Music.”

20. (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay, Otis Redding
19. Wichita Lineman, Glen Campbell
18. I Heard It Through The Grapevine, Marvin Gaye
17. Elenore, The Turtles
16. Goin’ Out Of My Head/Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You, The Lettermen
15. Turn Around, Look At Me, The Vogues
14. Stormy, Classics IV
13. Crimson and Clover, Tommy James and the Shondells
12. White Room, Cream
11. Sealed With A Kiss, Gary Lewis and the Playboys.

10. Born To Be Wild, Steppenwolf.  Released in 1968, this song became part of the soundtrack of “Easy Rider” the following year.  I love this song so much I did it a number of times for karaoke.  Fortunately, none of those performances exist today.

9.  For Once In My Life, Stevie Wonder.  A number of artists recorded the song prior to 1968 and Tony Bennett had some success with it, but it was Wonder’s upbeat version that scored big.

8.  Hooked On A Feeling, B. J. Thomas.  Released late in the year, you will find this song as a top hit of both ’68 and 1969.  An electric sitar gave it a unique sound.

7.  Everybody’s Talkin’, Harry Nilsson.  This artist had minor success with the song in 1968.  The following year it was featured as the theme song to the movie “Midnight Cowboy,” was re-released and became a bestseller.

6.  One, Harry Nilsson.  This song was written and recorded by Nilsson.  Three Dog Night also recorded the song in 1968 and had a much bigger hit with it the following year.

5.  Mony, Mony, Tommy James and the Shondells.  Yes, Tommy James got the title from looking out his New York City apartment window and seeing the initials on top of the Mutual Of New York building.

4.  Hello, I Love You, The Doors.  Written by Jim Morrison, the song was recorded from February to May of 1968.  Due to his excessive drinking, Morrison became difficult to work with and recording took time.  The song hit number 1 in the US and Canada.

3.  Jumpin’ Jack Flash, The Rolling Stones.  The chart topping hit is reported to be the Stones most often played concert song.  It was such a hit that it is always on their set list.

2.  Hey Jude, The Beatles.  Paul McCartney originally conceived it has Hey Jules, for John Lennon’s son Julian, but he claims he never actually gave it to him.  Later he decided Jude would sound better and changed the lyric.

1. While My Guitar Gently Weeps, The Beatles. This hit was written by George Harrison, reportedly about the discord in the group. The Beatles VEVO music video contains the acoustic recording by the band. On the original single released in 1968, the distinctive guitar was provided by Eric Clapton.  That’s the version below.

Click on any song title in the top 10 to go to the video or go to the entire playlist here. 

Check out the top songs of 1968 at Billboard, wikipedia or others and let us know if we missed a good one.
Sources include: “Top 100 Hits of 1968,” www.musicoutfitters.com