Archive for the lists Category

Triple (or more) Threats

Posted in lists, music on 26 October 07 by mikevc

For my birthday, my wife got me the Neil Young disc “Live at Massey Hall 1971”.  It is quite stunning to hear this great artist at the height of his talent.  As I listened, I went back to see what albums of Young’s were released when.  I was stunned to realize that from 1969 to 1972 he released Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, After the Gold Rush, and Harvest, three of his greatest albums and undoubted masterpieces.  This got me thinking of other artists who have released three or more excellent albums.  So, here is my list of artist’s who had a serious run of sustained brilliance:

  • Simon & Garfunkel: Wednesday Morning, 3 AM (1964) , Sounds of Silence (1966), Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme (1966), Bookends (1968), and Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)
  • Neil Young: Everybody Knows This is Nowhere (1969), After the Gold Rush (1970), and Harvest (1972)
  • Elvis Costello:  My Aim is True (1977), This Year’s Model (1978), and Armed Forces (1979)
  • Talking Heads: Talking Heads ’77 (1977), More Songs About Buildings and Food (1978), and Fear of Music (1979)
  • U2: Boy (1980), October (1981), War (1983), Unforgettable Fire (1984), and The Joshua Tree (1987)
  • R.E.M.: Murmur (1983), Reckoning (1984), Fables of the Reconstruction (1985), Life’s Rich Pageant (1986), and Document (1987) (and from there it is a rapid and extended turn downhill)
  • Husker Du:  Zen Arcade (1984), New Day Rising (1985), and Flip Your Wig (1985)
  • Uncle Tupelo: No Depression (1990), Still Feel Gone (1991), March 16-20, 1992 (1992), and Anodyne (1993)
  • Drive-By Truckers: Southern Rock Opera (2001), Decoration Day (2003), and The Dirty South (2004)

And, though it combines a group and then a solo career, I must include:

  • Flying Burrito Brothers: The Gilded Palace of Sin (1969) and Burrito Deluxe (1970)
  • Gram Parsons(left FBB in 1971): GP (1973) and Grievous Angel (1974)

Top (and Bottom) Ten Sit Coms

Posted in lists, television on 26 October 07 by mikevc

Because I promised in a previous post and I have refrained from listing for a while:

Top Ten Situation Comedies

  1. Arrested Development
  2. Taxi
  3. Soap
  4. The Bob Newhart Show
  5. The Office
  6. M*A*S*H
  7. All in the Family
  8. Get Smart!
  9. Sanford & Son
  10. Seinfeld (had to include it)

Almost included The Simpsons but I think it has gone on a bit too long and just isn’t what it was in its prime. Berke Breathed had it right when he stopped Bloom County (Greatest Comic Strip Ever (another list?)) at the height of its appeal. Also, I was very close to including Newhart but that really belongs on the Greatest Final Episodes Ever List and The Bob Newhart Show is the better (not by much) show. I left off The Young Ones, which I truly love, because I decided to limit this list to American shows.

And now, part two is the Bottom Ten Sit Coms. I am only including shows that were/are network shows and relatively successful (there are a whole spate of terrible ones that didn’t last too long and just make a far too easy target) and I have actually seen (unfortunately).

  1. Mama’s Family
  2. The Nanny
  3. Golden Girls
  4. Home Improvement
  5. According to Jim
  6. Friends (The Three’s Company of our generation)
  7. Three’s Company
  8. Family Matters
  9. Blossom
  10. Roseanne

There it is: my opinions of the situation comedy.

Old Time Music and New String Bands

Posted in lists, music on 4 September 07 by mikevc

I was asked the difference between bluegrass and old time string bands, a distinction I mentioned in a previous post. The real difference between bluegrass and old time music is quite simple and easy to detect.  See below for a brief explanation.

Bluegrass focuses on each instrument taking a turn playing the melody and speedy improvising around it, while the others revert to backing; in this it is quite similar to jazz. I once saw someone refer to bluegrass as solo-oriented.

Old Time music is a simpler and older tradition that features all instruments playing the basic melody together or one instrument carries the lead throughout while the others provide accompaniment; it lacks the shared improvisation and the solo-orientation so crucial to bluegrass. Think “O, Brother, Where art Thou?”

Though they share instruments, there are definite differences. With that in mind, I will provide you with another list.

This one is of The Top Ten Newish Old Time String Bands .

  1. Old Crow Medicine Show
  2. Avett Brothers
  3. Carolina Chocolate Drops
  4. Uncle Earl
  5. Foghorn String Band
  6. Abigail Washburn (a solo artist backed by a string band)
  7. Crooked Jades
  8. Freight Hoppers
  9. Jim & Jennie and the Pinetops
  10. The Mammals

There you go. Again, check any of them out and you can’t go wrong. They are all available on Amazon and iTunes. I will confess a personal preference for the virtuosity inherent in bluegrass. However, there are times when I prefer the sweet melody and toe-tapping, old time stuff.

Listing of a Musical Nature

Posted in lists, music on 19 August 07 by mikevc

Having just finished Perfect From Now On, I am inspired to list.

Guitarists Whose Style I Wished to Imitate  and Combine to Create My Own Original Style When I Had Dreams of Rock (circa 1990)

  • The Edge (U2)
  • Johnny Marr (The Smiths, the The, etc.)
  • Bryan Harvey (House of Freaks)
  • Kenny Withrow (Edie Brickell & New Bohemians)
  • Peter Buck (pre-Green R.E.M.) 

Bands Who Folks with Otherwise Great Taste in Music Rave About That I Have Never Truly Liked

  • Radiohead – Please spare me anymore comments on the genius of this band; it all sounds like insincere, self-indulgent experimentation to me.
  • The Beatles –  I have tried and tried but  so much of their catalog is just silly.  I hear the argument that they laid the foundation for what we listen to today, which may be unfortunate.  I would rather listen to the music that owes debts to Johnny Cash and Buddy Holly than John and Paul.
  • Nirvana – Their music is far too derivative.  They owe their success to those who came before and David Geffen’s money and marketing savvy.
  • Belle & Sebastian – I challenge anyone to find a group who has more consistently produced boring and uninteresting music.
  • Led Zeppelin – If we’re talking about the fathers of hard rock, the names we should be discussing are Roger, Paul, John, and Keith not Robert, Jimmy, John Paul, and John.

Greatest Power Trios

  • Husker Du
  • Rush
  • Yo La Tengo
  • The Minutemen
  • The Police

Luckiest People in the History of Modern Music

  • Adam Clayton (U2)
  • Ringo Starr (The Beatles)
  • Meg White (The White Stripes)
  • Art Garfunkel  (At least until 1970)

That’s all for now, but the listing impulse will surely return.

Things That Make Me Happy: An Abecedary

Posted in listing run amok, lists on 10 June 07 by mikevc

Because I am not feeling original, I am going to steal borrow this idea from another blog. Plus, I want to see if I can match one of my likes to every letter of the Alphabet. So, away I go:

Damn, that was hard! I started while waiting for my hotel room, got frustrated, and put the computer away. I then tried again after I got back from the baseball game. I must have spent an hour after that trying to come up with these and I am not sure that Z is not a cop out…although I do get happy when taking notes or keeping score and I get to write a Z or a 7.

Funniest Books: My Top Ten

Posted in books, lists on 25 May 07 by mikevc

The top ten listng continues with the top ten funniest books I have ever read.

  1. English as She is Spoke by Jose de Fonseca and Pedro Carolino
    • I promise not to annotate this entire list but this book needs some explaining. This was written as a phrase book for Portuguese speakers learning English. The problem is it was written by authors whose knowledge of English was rudimentary at best. It is quite simply the funniest book I have ever read in my life.  Find a copy, open to any page, and laugh.  To quote Mark Twain: “Nobody can add to the absurdity of this book, nobody can imitate it successfully, nobody can hope to produce its fellow; it is perfect.”
  2. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
  3. Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  4. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
  5. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  6. 1066 and All That by W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman
  7. Wake Up, Sir by Jonathan Ames
  8. Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith
  9. Any of P.G. Wodehouse’s Blandings Castle or Jeeves and Wooster books
  10. The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sara Vowell

And there it is, yet another list. Have fun and comment on your favorite funny books.