Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Tale of Five Breasts

by Bill Holmes

Did I get your attention? I know that's an odd number of breasts, but it is not what you think. This is neither a pornographic post not one about freakish mammary abnormalities. It is about the most recent package of chicken breasts I purchased at my local grocery emporium.

I usually buy chicken breasts in packages of four to six per plastic wrapped Styrofoam tray (with absorbent liner) when it is on sale. Let me digress, I know a chicken breast technically consists of a left and right half. That being said, most people, grocery stores and restaurants mean a half breast (left or right) when they say a chicken breast. I too am referring to a half breast when using the term chicken breast. Human breasts come in pairs and I am a human. One left, one right. Clear?
Absorbent Meat Liner

I always trim, optionally marinate, and cook the whole package at one time. Now that I live alone I usually freeze all but one breast after they are cooked. That's the way I've done it for years. Of course the number of breasts frozen depends on the number of other mouths around. The cooked chicken is thawed as I need it for meals. Skin is not welcomed unless it is fried which I never do at home. I am also adverse to any fat on my chicken. That's probably because the majority of it is eaten cold on a salad. Cold fat is not appetizing to me.

No fat or skin allowed means I'm a pretty thorough trimmer. Don't get upset, there is no waste. Every bit of trimmings is saved, frozen and used for  stock or is it broth. I can never remember which is which. Every couple of months I gather all the chicken scraps, some vegetables, herbs, spices and maybe any leftover wine and dump it in a big pot. Sometimes I have to drink a half bottle of wine while I'm preparing the other ingredients so I'll have some leftover wine for the stock. I wholeheartedly recommend making your own stock, chicken, turkey or beef. I even made lamb stock recently. It's cheap, flavored the way you want with spices and veggies and is not full of sodium (unless you want it to be) and unpronounceable chemicals. A crock pot is another good way to prepare stock.

So, back to the breasts in question. I bought a package that had five breasts totaling about 4½ pounds. Good sized breasts. I opened the package, grabbed the first one and began trimming. It was a beautiful breast. A little above average in size, firm, hardly any fat and no wrinkled or saggy skin. I thought to myself, it looks like I have got my hands on a great bunch of breasts. Unfortunately the first breast was the best breast. The next one was a little smaller and more flabby but not bad. The next two were gigantic but had their flaws folded under the firm smooth top center They both had a lot of excess fat and one had a large piece of wrinkly rough skin hidden on the bottom. Maybe it had been out in the sun too long without sunblock. The butcher/packager had hidden the best for last. It was humongous. OK, size isn't everything in breasts. This one had all kinds of fat, gristle, silverskin slime and bad rib meat hanging off it. My first thought was maybe they threw a rooster breast into the package. Once I got through hacking it up, it looked more like a chicken than a rooster. I also wound up with over a half a sandwich bag of scraps for my next batch of stock. All five breasts are now marinating in my fridge. They are destined for the oven tomorrow.

I'm writing this because it is sometimes aggravating the way stuff is packaged. Food is almost always packaged with the good side showing and the bad side hidden. With some products, like fresh beef or fish in the butcher/fish monger case, you can ask to see the other side and even smell it. With other products like chicken or bacon it is almost always hermetically sealed. Something is almost always being hidden. You have to have some trust in your food purveyor and/or your experience.

Today I thought I got a good rack package of breasts at an establishment I often frequent. It just proves that you can't always judge a breast by it's package. Sometimes they are bigger than you think although usually they are a little smaller. People have been working on the packaging of breasts for centuries.

So, until there are more stringent truth in advertising laws it will remain hit and miss. You can never be sure of the size, firmness, makeup (real or enhanced), fat content, etc. of the breasts you get at the supermarket. Even the packaging often states that the breasts are enhanced with up to 15% additives. I'm sure the ones I have in the fridge will turn out fine. I don't think I've ever had a breast I didn't like. You just have to open the packaging and get your hands on them to be sure.

Be careful what you grab.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Late Night With Seth Meyers

by Bill Holmes

On Monday, 02/24/14, we had the premier of the second new late night show. This one is actually called Late Night. Since jimmy Fallon left to take over The Tonight Show, NBC needed a new Late Night host. In keeping with the Saturday Night Live theme, that new host is Seth Meyers. Since Jimmy and Seth don't seem to be enough SNL alums, the new Late Night bandleader/sidekick is Fred Armisen. 

The show had a cold opening with Seth sitting at the desk writing a thank you note to Jimmy with the same background music Jimmy uses for his thank you note segments. Seth promised to do only original comedy material. It was a funny touch.

Then there was the real opening with the band playing and the announcer telling us who will be on the show. The opening music was nondescript and the announcer was unseen and unidentified. Seth came out through some sliding doors/panels and proceeded to deliver a terrible monologue. Even the studio audience barely laughed at several of the jokes. Seth stiffly read the lines in rapid fire. On a couple of them that got few laughs he tried a saver which didn't do any better. At one point after a bad joke he mentioned that they had their first bomb of the show. While he was right that it was a bomb, it was far from the first one. The bloodbath lasted about seven minutes. It was painful.

Back at the desk he had a brief chat with Fred that seemed scripted and which was not funny. He then thanked some people including his family. Next Seth told an not very funny story about his automobile incompetence. After a commercial break he did a Venn diagram bit that had some good and some bad, at least it was original. There were then the obligatory Olympic jokes. It's time to end the NBC Olympics promos. One thing I noticed is that Seth's voice seemed unusually high. I don't know if this was because he was nervous or his shorts were too tight. I realize he doesn't have a deep baritone, but his voice was often distractingly high.

The new Late Night set looks crappy and cheap. In a huge original move, the band is on the left. The desk is on legs so you can see Seth's feet and the rollers on his chair. The guest chairs are on long skinny legs rather than the usual upholstered chairs or couches the other talk shows use. It looks like the whole set was bought at Big Lots. 

Amy Poehler was the first guest, another Saturday Night Live alum. She spent time talking with Fred before the interview with Seth really started. Of course Amy and Seth couldn't compliment each other enough although the fawning was not as bad a Jimmy Fallon does with his guests. It wasn't a terrible interview.

Next guest was Vice President Joe Biden. He apparently had appeared on Amy's Parks and Recreation show so they joked around about that. It wasn't a terrible segment, but there were no hard or political questions. That was a little disappointing.

To wrap it up musical guest A Great Big World sang a rather downer and overwrought song. 

Overall the show was a dud. The monologue was a complete disaster and nothing that followed was any more than mediocre. The house band was a nonfactor. I found the set visually unattractive and distracting. Seth also needs to lower and modulate his voice. I expected better from Seth Meyers based on his SNL work. I'll give him another couple of looks but Seth and the show need to get much better. In combination with The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the new NBC late night lineup will not be where I tune in very often.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Scattershooting 02-23-14

by Bill Holmes

Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to the great

 Casey Stengel

Sunday's Summary

My incomplete recap of the week

Let the new late night battles begin. Tonight (2/17) is the premier of the Jimmy Fallon version of the Tonight Show. Not quite a head to head yet because Fallon is delayed a half hour for several days due to the Olympics. Two Jimmy's & a Dave.

The people in charge of hell sometimes visit North Korea just to exchange ideas.

I'm pretty sure not a single one of my friends will be celebrating National Drink Wine Day today (2/18).

Well it's time to pack up the gear and head to spring training. Rangers position players report to camp today (2/19). Here is my spring training photo from 1959. 

State Senator Dan Patrick accused of employing illegal immigrants
I love it. This Dan Patrick jerk's campaign for lieutenant governor is based on securing the border and taking away all rights for illegal aliens. According to him "we" are pretty much at war with Mexicans and Obama. 

I don't care if he employed illegal immigrants or not. Most Texans, including me, have done it at some point. They do our landscaping, build our houses, pools and fences, work at many restaurants and a million other things. What I really hate is the hypocrisy of pompous, intolerant jerks.
These people kill two of their children and are only sentenced to 3½ to 7 years. They should be sentence to 3½ to 7 centuries and also neutered. Wonder if this is a "pro-life" congregation? Sick.

Their pastor, Nelson Clark, has said the Schaibles lost their sons because of a "spiritual lack" in their lives and insisted they would not seek medical care even if another child appeared near death.  
Maybe if we're lucky, pastor Clark will have a "spiritual lack" in his life soon.

Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes. Because of my advanced age and long career as a geek, I have decided to switch my age to the hexadecimal (base 16) system. I am now officially 43 hex years of age.

Here is a picture of a long ago birthday when I was the same single digit age in both decimal and hex. Looks like I was a toothless cowboy that year.

It's Happy Birthday Hour! (2/20)

Here's a good idea -

I've noticed that since Dan Patrick was accused of hiring illegal aliens he has toned down his anti immigrants statements a little. He is now primarily the christian candidate. This is a common theme in Texas. When the Republican candidates aren't trying to out-conservative each other, they are trying to out-religion each other. Only christian religions need apply though. Of course they are all also still running against Obama. I have no idea how Obama qualified to run in all these Texas races. I thought he already had a full time job and was a resident of DC or Illinois.

Be patriotic and celebrate the national holiday.

So is this the Daytona 500 or the Daytona 5,000? I saw a little of it early this afternoon and just noticed that it's still on after 8:00 pm and not halfway through. That's mighty slow driving. They must have really gotten tough on those restrictor plates this year.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Fallon's First Week

by Bill Holmes

I already reviewed the first episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in a previous post. Since you should never judge a TV series by one episode, here is my opinion of the rest of the first week of shows. 

On Tuesday night there were some funny parts to the show but most weren't because of Jimmy. He started with another weak monologue. Back at the desk he did a Pros & Cons bit which was done often on his previous Late Night show. There were some mildly amusing lines. He next did a comedy song with a barbershop quartet. This too is a holdover routine from the old show. Finally some good stuff, guest Jerry Seinfeld delivered a funny stand-up. Jerry continued to be funny during the interview segment and Jimmy did his Seinfeld impression. They traded several complements. Apparently they are both wonderful. Seinfeld left after his interview. Next up was Kristen Wiig in the guise of Harry Styles (One Direction). Styles had been mentioned a few times so I guess that was the reasoning. It was not funny. Fallon overlaughed at Wiig's attempts at comedy. The musical guest was Lady Gaga who did an overproduced number as is her want. It wasn't terrible.
Lady Gaga - Tonight Show

For show number three on Wednesday the monologue had a couple of Rob Ford jokes and
more Olympics stuff. I'm sure NBC instructed Jimmy to plug the Olympics every chance he could. They also recycled a Brian Williams "rap video" from the old show. It consisted of short phrases and single words spoken by Brian mostly during his news broadcast that were very cleverly edited together and set to rap music. It shows that Jimmy has very talented video editors working for him. It was the highlight of an otherwise weak monologue. Back at the desk he showed a video of the "#hashtag" skit with Jonah Hill. The premise was first done on Late Night with Justin Timberlake. Some of it was funny but I thought it was too long. The best line was when Questlove of The Roots opened the door and said to Jonah and Jimmy "hashtag - shut the f*&k up". My sentiments exactly. Next was a short interview with Bradley Cooper. He's wonderful, the movie is wonderful, everyone in the movie is wonderful, blah, blah, blah.  This was followed by a game of charades with Cooper, musical guest Tim McGraw and "surprise" player Emma Thompson. The charades is another holdover from Late Night. This was followed by a segment with child inventors. It was OK, but after a kid showed his or her invention Jimmy had to show an invention that he "invented". For the finale, Tim McGraw sang a song. He's OK but I've always thought he was more hat than talent.

On to Thursday and show number four. There was more unfunny Olympics stuff in the monologue. In his first show, Fallon had promised a ten minute monologue each night. This one ran a very weak seven minutes. We were then treated to one of the worst skits I have ever seen. Jimmy and Will Ferrell dressed as teenage girls. They spoke in almost unintelligible exaggerated valley girl accents. They were joined by Michelle Obama. I have no idea what they talked about or the point of this unwatchable piece of crap. There was then an interview with Michelle that was another mutual admiration exercise. It also was a plug for Obamacare and her good nutrition initiatives. Will Ferrell was next. He came out for his interview in some sort of clownish tuxedo/tails costume. It was skin tight. The interview was all scripted and was followed by a figure skating routine but without the ice or the skates. None of it was funny. The musical guest was Arcade Fire performing an overproduced number. This was the worst show of the week by far. Not an easy accomplishment.

Finally on Friday we have the Justin Timberlake - Jimmy Fallon Show. To be honest I was surprised Justin wasn't Jimmy's first guest on the first show. They have partnered often on some funny stuff in the past. I was hoping this would be a good show. My hopes were dashed. Tonight's monologue didn't have any video clip inserts and ran about nine minutes. It had the required Olympics jokes and was not funny. It also seemed to me that he was delivering the monologue to his sidekick Steve Higgins. He kept looking over to Steve during and after every joke. I use the word joke in the loosest possible interpretation. At the desk he did another staple bit of Late Night, the thank you notes along with the same music. The interview segment was as expected only worse. After an overly long applause, Justin sat down to some more fawning exchanges with Jimmy. Then the two of them did a very lame rap song that went on for what seemed like several hours. That was followed by more bad interview moments. After the break Justin did a wonderful and fabulous (I'm sure I forgot an adjective) song. I think Timberlake has some talent but I've never thought he was great. It was a disappointing show based on what these two have done in the past. 

As you may have guessed by now, I am not a fan of this show. Jimmy's monologues are mostly terrible. His interview skills are nonexistent although Leno was a terrible interviewer too. So far all his comedy bits have been recycled from his Late Night show, no original ideas yet. It appears that the Fallon version of The Tonight Show may be more skit, videos and planned segments than the usual monologue, interview, unscripted format of late night TV. Maybe more Saturday Night Live than the David Letterman Late Show. That's not necessarily bad provided the material is entertaining, so far it hasn't been. Jimmy is just too damn excited about everybody and everything. He borders on maudlin when dealing with guests. His next controversial joke or probing interview question will be his first. 

I'll tune in again on occasion but only when Letterman and Kimmel are in repeats or there is a guest or musician I particularly want to see. Fallon will certainly not be my first choice on most nights. I do hope the show improves though. I really wouldn't want to see Leno return for a third time. 

That's my two cents worth, what's yours?


Erroll Garner: No One Can Hear You Read

by Bill Holmes

I just smiled for an hour. No, I wasn't watching a comedy show or movie. I wasn't reading a funny book. I was watching a documentary about Erroll Garner, the great jazz pianist. The show was on in the middle of the night (morning) on Starz.  For some reason I noticed it while skimming the online TV guide and hit the record button. I watched it later on Friday (2/21). To be honest, what caught my eye at first glance was that the show had something to do with Erle Stanley Garner, author of the Perry Mason books. I did realize on second glance that this show was about Erroll, not Erle. 

The description of the show said it was first shown in 2013 and the credits showed some 2012 copyright information. That may be true but besides the old clips of Erroll there were pieces from Steve Allen (who died in 2000) so I'm not sure when this was actually made.

Many of you may not know who Erroll Garner is. He was a very popular jazz pianist from the 1940's into the 70's. Besides many recordings, club dates and concerts, he was a fixture on several TV shows. He made the rounds on all the talk and variety shows. I remember Erroll from those appearances. I haven't thought much about him in recent years but I'm very glad I watched this documentary.  

How would I describe Erroll Garner's music and playing in one word? JOYFUL. He played with a smile on his face and that smile went through his fingers and into the piano. In one of the clips from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in an interview, Johnny was saying that he could almost always recognize Erroll's playing. He first asked Erroll what was it about his style that was so recognizable. Garner kind of shrugged so Johnny turned to the band and asked Ross Tompkins, the piano player, the same question. He yelled back across the stage "happiness". A perfect answer. 

Erroll started playing the piano at three and never had any formal musical training. He never learned to read or write music. He wrote many songs but he did it in his head or at the piano. He would record them and someone else would write down the music. When asked if being unable to read music was a hindrance his answer was "No one can hear you read", hence the show's title. Erroll was a musical force who unfortunately died way too early at the age of 53 in early 1977. He played the piano as naturally as we non-musical mortals breathe. He caressed the keys and seldom looked at the keyboard. He knew where all the keys were.

His one composition you may recognize is the song Misty. It is the title song of the movie Play Misty for Me and probably the signature song of Johnny Mathis. 

I did find one rebroadcast on 2/25 @ 7:55 am CST on Starz InBlack. If you get the Starz channels, find it and set the DVR.

As I said at the beginning, I smiled the whole hour as did Erroll whenever he played. I'm so glad I stumbled upon the program and had the good sense to record it. He was the little guy who sat on a phone book and made a piano smile. Erroll Garner at YouTube. I encourage you to listen to this joyful genius's recordings. You don't need to be a jazz fan. Check out his music, you'll be happy you did.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

by Bill Holmes

The Tonight Show baton officially passed to Jimmy Fallon at 11:00 pm CST on February 17, 2014. He follows Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien and Jay Leno (again) as the host. The show has been on continuously since 1954. Extremely long running show hosted by show business legends (except Conan) that has been rated number one in its time slot for most of its run. No pressure for the new kid.

So, how did little Jimmy do on his premiere show? Well let me tell you my impression. First let's start with the set. It is in the same studio that Johnny Carson used when his show originated in NYC. It looks like it was made out of children's wooden blocks to me, even the New York City skyline behind the desk, wooden skyscrapers. The layout is traditional for The Tonight Show. Desk & chair/couch on the left, curtain in the middle and band on the right. Jimmy does have an announcer/sidekick in the person of Steve Higgins who is a holdover from the Late Night show. Another holdover is the band, The Roots. Both are good choices. Steve is funny and The Roots are a terrific band. I didn't get a good look at the audience seating but it looked small. The opening of the show is a filmed montage of NYC sites and Jimmy. 

For this first show, Jimmy came out from behind the curtain, as did Johnny Carson, and mostly did an introduction of himself, Steve Higgins, The Roots and even his parents who were in the audience. He said his monologues would be topical, current and make fun of everyone. He then had Steve introduce him again so he could come out and do his monologue. Despite his just made promise to be topical, he wasn't. It consisted almost entirely of a bit called "Most Likely To..." which is based on the high school yearbook tradition of recognizing graduating students as most likely to succeed, etc. This version showed pictures of Olympic athletes and gave them supposedly funny most likely to... captions. This is a bit that Jimmy used almost weekly on his Late Night program. It wasn't particularly funny and it went on too long. My grade for the first monologue is a D.

When he got to the desk he did a bit about someone who said he would never host The Tonight Show and that person knew who they were and owed Jimmy $100. At that point Robert DiNiro came out, gave Jimmy a $100 bill and walked off. Then Tina Fey did the same thing. That was funny but there was then a parade of celebrities that did the same thing. There were over a dozen people including the ubiquitous Kim Kardashian and Lady Gaga. The only thing funny after the first couple was Steven Colbert who brought out a bucket of pennies and dumped them on the desk and Jimmy and sarcastically welcomed him to 11:30 pm, the same time as Colbert's show. Once again they took a bit way too far. Three or four would have been funny, over a dozen is not especially when the group consists of people who have no connection to the show.

Next was a bit with Will Smith that traced the evolution of Hip Hop dance moves. Jimmy and Will did each dance side by side as the name of the move was flashed on the screen. This proved one thing, Will Smith is not a very good dancer. It is also a redo of a segment Jimmy did with Michelle Obama last year. That one was funny and Michelle danced way better than Will. This segment didn't do anything for me.

The next segment was a song by U2 from the roof of 30 Rock which is 70 stories tall. It was filmed just past sunset and there was still some orange in the sky with the NYC skyline in the background. A spectacular setting. As for the song, it was OK. I am not much of a U2 fan. As usual Bono over emoted the song.
Will Smith came out for what turned out to be rather lame interview. Nothing memorable or very funny here.

Finally U2 joined Jimmy and Will on the couch for a short pointless interview. As usual Bono dominated the conversation with a little The Edge. The other two members of the band, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, were mute. They then did a fake impromptu unplugged song. Conveniently there was a guitar, bass, tambourine and hand mic behind the couch. Again it was a Bono and The Edge show. Near the end The Roots joined in. It was OK.

In summary, the new Tonight Show looked exactly like the old Late Night show with a new set. Same personnel and same rehashed bits. Again there was a weak monologue which was never a Fallon strong point. I would have thought Jimmy and the staff could have come up with new and funny stuff for such an important first show. It is not fair to judge any TV series on one episode but it is fair to judge the episode. I give it a C-. Not funny, not topical, not original. It has to get better or Jay Leno will be back for a third stint. 

The first show is in the bag, what did you think?


Monday, February 17, 2014

Chris Isaak - AXS

by Bill Holmes

There was a concert on AXS TV on Sunday titled Raul Malo and Chris Isaak. It should have been titled Chris Isaak and a little bit of Raul Malo. The description of the program in the on-screen TV guide stated that Chris and Raul "join musical forces on stage to perform...". That wasn't true either. They appeared separately and it looked like different stages. Chris appeared with his usual band and performed several songs as well as banter with the audience for about 50 minutes. Raul appeared with a small ensemble of strings, an electric piano and performed two songs that finished the last 10 minutes of the show.

Despite the false advertising, it was a good show. I'm a fan of both artists. Chris Isaak is a fun performer. He has an above average voice, a good catalog of songs and a very tight band. You may not be familiar with Raul Malo. He is the lead singer of The Mavericks. He is also a songwriter and a very good guitar player. The Mavericks disbanded in 2004 but appear to be mostly back together since 2012. This particular performance was a solo one by Raul.

Chris Isaak 
Chris wore a gaudy suit, as usual. It was pink with yellow and black highlights. He has a little Elvis DNA in him. His playlist consisted of:

All of the Chris Isaak performed songs were written by him.  He's not just a fancy suit.

Raul's very short playlist consisted of: 
Raul Malo

Each of the songs listed above is a link to a performance of that song. Most are from YouTube and only two look like they are from the show I watched. That's OK. It gives you an example of the songs and how talented these guys are.

The copyright date on the program is 2012 and Chris mentioned PBS at one point so some of this might have aired there before. I have to think at least the Raul Malo segment is part of a longer program/concert. If you get AXS as part of your cable package, this program may be available free on-demand until March 31st. 

It's obviously a slapped together program and makes no sense musically. Chris did an upbeat set and Raul did two slow, mellow songs. That being said, there is not a bad performance in the bunch.

If you like music, it is always worth checking the AXS program schedule to see who or what is on. There is a lot of chaff but there is also a lot of wheat.

I give this very disjointed program a solid A. Two good performers singing good songs. What more do you want?


Scattershooting 02-16-14

by Bill Holmes

Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to the great

 Richard Boone

Sunday's Summary

My incomplete recap of the week

Less show, more ads. I just checked the CBS website to see if the Beatles special was available yet. Besides current shows, they have a few oldies videos. I noticed that an episode of Perry Mason from 1957 was 52:07 in length, MacGyver from 1990 was 47:54 and a current NCIS was 42:26. Of course to make up for shorter episodes there are fewer new episodes each season. I sure enjoy the extra commercial time. (2/10)

More proof -

Not the least bit surprised. Wish Nolan was still a Ranger.

Top world diplomacy issue from yesterday - French President shows up at White House state dinner alone. No wife, no mistress. I'm amazed we have not already gone to war with France. Western civilization will crumble any moment now.

Been thinking of Mom all day. She died 12 years ago today (2/13). Here she is with Matt, her second grandson, around 1996 maybe 97. She was on cloud nine whenever she was with her grandsons. Miss you Mom.
Nana & Matt

Looks like a Netflix kind of night. Nothing good on broadcast TV. One big advantage of Netflix is no obnoxious political ads.
It appears that there is some sort of minor holiday that shares this date (2/14) with a much more important event. Today is the start of the college baseball season. Florida, USF and TCU (vs JU) all have games tonight.

Go Gators, Bulls & Frogs!

Season two available today (2/14). Will the country survive with Frank as VP?

I like the number 7. 7 days in the forecast with temps that start with a 7. I foresee lots of biking in my near future.

I caught a little bit of the Olympics while waiting for the news after the TCU baseball game. It was men's figure skating. This guy, Yuzuru Hanyu, won the gold. I saw his performance and he fell twice. The rest of the field must be really crappy. BTW, nice outfit Yuzuru. This is not a sport.

Great win. #3 Gators beat the Wildcats @ Rupp Arena 69-59. Pull three games ahead in the SEC standings. #2 Arizona lost yesterday so maybe Florida moves up a slot in the rankings. (2/15)

My 2014 Olympic experience is complete. I saw some very exciting Women's Curling on Saturday after the news. I hope I'm able to calm down enough to go to sleep. I feel connected since I swept my patio earlier today.

"Pitchers and catchers report" those words are music to every baseball fan's ears. The Rangers pitchers & catchers report to spring training today (2/16). The rest of the guys show up on Wednesday. Play ball!

It seems a local Blue Jay has found my patio and its bird seed. He's pretty big and probably a bully. He chased off a couple of doves. The Blue Jay and the Cardinals eat the pieces too big for the doves and sparrows.

I didn't remember this, but the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan again on 2/16/1964. The show was broadcast from Miami. They sang six songs - ‘She Loves You,’ ‘This Boy’ and ‘All My Loving’,‘I Saw Her Standing There,’ ‘From Me to You’ and ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand'.

Watched the first two episodes of House of Cards season two tonight. No spoilers here, but the first episode has a surprise. Good stuff.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Beatles USA Debut - 50 Years Ago

by Bill Holmes

Ed Sullivan Show - 2/9/64
It seems that the 50th anniversary of the Beatles first American TV appearance is being celebrated everywhere. It has been mentioned on most TV news programs. Radio stations celebrated by playing Beatles songs. One local D/FW radio station played every Beatles song released in the U.S. all weekend. They even played their few clunker songs. This post is a review of perhaps the most fitting tribute and reminiscences of that evening by the CBS program with the rather unwieldy name.

The show was titled The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to The Beatles. It was broadcast on CBS at 8:00 p.m. (EST) on Sunday. That's the same network, same time but exactly 50 years later. Part of the festivities were from the same venue, the Ed Sullivan Theater. CBS and/or the Grammys gathered an all-star cast of musicians to perform. The performances were at the Los Angeles Convention Center. 

A few general observations. There were a ton of commercials. The celebrities who introduced performances or other segments didn't add anything to the proceedings. Like all these type of shows the performances ranged from excellent to terrible and everything in between. Members of the Cirque du Soleil showed up in a couple of numbers but were not featured or needed. The house band was excellent, it included Kenny Aronoff (drums), Lenny Castro (percussion), Chris Caswell (keyboard), Peter Frampton (guitar), Rami Jaffe (organ), Steve Lukather (guitar), Greg Phillinganes (keyboard) and Don Was (bass), who also served as musical director. There were backup singers and strings too.

The show started out with a video of the Beatles singing All My Loving that night back in 1964 and segued into the same song by Maroon 5. Of course the Beatles version was accompanied by all the screaming fans in the Ed Sullivan Theater. Maroon 5 did OK and then did Ticket to Ride, which wasn't as good. From then on it was a performance or two alternated with clips of the Beatles either performing or about growing up in Liverpool. There were clips of Paul and Ringo revisiting the Ed Sullivan Theater with David Letterman scattered throughout the broadcast. There were also interviews with some of the people who were at the theater that night in 1964, both in the audience and behind the scenes. Interesting.
Maroon 5

I'll first go through the performances that I wasn't crazy about. Country singers don't shine on Beatles songs. Evidence would be Kieth Urban paired with John Mayer on Don't Let Me Down. Mayer was fair although he overdid the guitar licks. Kieth was less than fair. The other country artist was Brad Paisley who was paired with Pharrell Williams on Here Comes the Sun. Who came up with that duo? It wasn't very good. Other less than stellar performances were Ed Sheeran doing In My Life and Magic Dragons singing Revolution. Neither was terrible but there was no energy. Surprisingly I didn't enjoy Stevie Wonder's version of We Can Work It Out. It seemed a little sloppy to me. I'm not sure how to rate Katy Perry's rendition of Yesterday. Parts of it were good but on other parts she missed the mark. I probably would have picked someone with a better voice for this iconic song.

Luckily there were several good performances. The Eurythmics, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart, together for the first time in over five years, performed Fool On The Hill. Annie was certainly loud but it was enjoyable. Joe Walsh (Eagles), Jeff Lynn (ELO) and Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters & Nirvana) each showed up a couple of times. All good, all real rock and roll guys. How about Jeff gets ELO together for a reunion. Joe and Jeff along with Dhani Harrison (Georges son) did Something (in the way she smiles). Jeff and Dhani sang and Joe played lead guitar. Very good. Jeff Lynn and Dave Grohl teamed up on Hey Bulldog, a lesser know song, but a good one. Later Joe Walsh and Dave Grohl, on drums, along with Gary Clark, Jr. performed While My Guitar Gently Weeps Joe played lead guitar and he did make it weep. It's a great song and a great rendition. Another dynamic duo did a terrific job on Let It Be. Alicia Keys and John Legend sat at facing grand pianos and sang the hell out of the song, John a little better than Alicia. Full disclosure, I am a big fan of each of them and would probably enjoy a song version of the phone book (you young folks, ask mom or dad what a phone book is) done by either one alone or together.
Alicia Keys & John Legend

Once all the guest performers got through the real guys took the stage. Ringo led it off with Matchbox, Boys and Yellow Submarine. Now we all know that Ringo doesn't have the greatest voice on the planet. That did not detract one bit from his performance. The guy is an entertainer and even at 73 years old is full of energy. It was a very enjoyable set.

Sir John was up next and he sang Birthday, Get Back, I Saw Her Standing There which was the first song John and Paul wrote together and Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. Paul performed with his own group rather than the house band. 

For the finale, Ringo joined Paul onstage and sang lead on With a Little Help From My Friends while Paul and his group backed him up. The last song of the evening was Hey Jude with Paul at the piano and Ringo on drums. All the other performers came on stage towards the end of the song and joined in as did the audience. It was a fitting end to a show I enjoyed very much.

I give the show a B+. Most of the performances were good and it is always fun to see video from 50 years ago. If it comes on again, check it out. 

Author's note: This post was originally planned for 2/10/2014 but my trusty TV provider, AT&T U-verse, failed to record it on my DVR. I wasn't available to see the live (on tape) broadcast on 2/9. As late as Saturday, 2/8, when I last checked the recording was scheduled. Just another instance of U-verse being less than stellar in their service. Because of that I had to wait for the program to show to be rebroadcast on Wednesday 2/12/2014.