Monthly Archives: February 2009

Paul Harvey: Good Day!

I know, I thought he was already speaking to us from beyond the grave. Now he might.

From the late 1960s through the early 1980s, there was a televised, five-minute editorial by Paul Harvey that local stations could insert into their local news programs, or show separately. On May 10, 1976, ABC Radio Networks premiered The Rest of the Story as a separate series which provided endless surprises as Harvey dug into stories behind the stories of famous events and people. Harvey’s son, a concert pianist, created and produced the series. He remains the show’s only writer.

Harvey’s News and Commentary is streamed on the Web twice a day. Paul Harvey News has been called the “largest one-man network in the world,” as it is carried on 1,200 radio stations, 400 Armed Forces Network stations around the world and 300 newspapers. His broadcasts and newspaper columns have been reprinted in the Congressional Record more than those of any other commentator.

And if you click here , you’ll know…the rest of the story.


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NEW ALBUM! Slingsby Hornets: Whatever Happened To…

Pollen Pop?

Pollen Pop?

Slingsby Aviation built some of the world’s greatest gliders, and although used by the British during WWII, they were mostly tactical observation planes; drone bombers at best. The Hornet, on the other hand, was a piston-engine fighter plane used by the RAF, built by the de Havilland company. What this has to do with glam rock and powerpop takes on classic 60’s music is beyond me, but I can tell you that John Paul Allen’s angry insect logo is the antithesis of the pure joy coming out of the speakers when The Slingsby Hornets are playing.

Whatever Happened To is the follow-up to 2007’s Introducing The Fantastic Sounds of; like its predecessor it’s a one-man studio effort from Allen. Boasting a dense layer of guitars, stacked vocals and a simple but uncluttered rhythm section, Allen blends five original pop songs inbetween covers of classic garage and glam singles like “Pictures Of Matchstick Men” and “Rock’n’Roll Love Letter”. His solo vocals are more breathy than powerful, but the layered harmonies are skillful, even within production that’s smaller in scale that some of the bands you’ll be reminded of (Jellyfish, XTC and especially Queen – Brian May is obviously an influence). But there’s no denying the pure love of the music, but anyone that can cover The Osmonds and ABBA with the same respect as The Move and T. Rex is okay in my book. I really like the originals, especially “The Long Way Home” and “Black & White Movie”, but the covers are obviously the draw. My favorites are Klaatu‘s “Calling Occupants” and Marc Bolan‘s “Children of the Revolution” in which Allen also incorporates the related “Buick Mackane”.

My copy of the new album included the Knee Deep In Glitter EP which features five covers, including Cliff Richard‘s “Devil Woman” and “Skweeze Me Pleeze Me” by Slade. The guitars are much louder and overall the music rocks harder, even the chugging version of “Does Your Mother Know”. As with all Slingsby Hornets covers, they’re anything but straightforward copies of the original.

Introducing also has five originals, the best of which is the synth/guitar duel of “The Man From Yesterday” and the more delicate “Stop The Rain”. I’m no fan of Captain and Tenille so I’m not crazy about a cover of “Love Will Keep Us Together”, but at least it adds some muscle to the melody. I much prefer his take on “Fire Brigade” and  a cover of “My Sharona” that sounds like Brian May (yes, again) jamming with Todd Rundgren. Again, Allen wisely alternates his originals with the diverse covers, as if to show that any radio station (or pair of ears) that would appreciate one would also find the other appealing. Use the CD Baby links above or check their MySpace page for more details and sound clips.


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Remembering Bill Hicks


Poster created by UK artist Ryse Hale

 “Bill Hicks–blowtorch, excavator, truth-sayer, and brain specialist, like a reverend waving a gun around. He will correct your vision. Others will drive on the road he built.” – Tom Waits

Bill Hicks didn’t suffer fools, gladly or otherwise. Like any good social critic, what fueled Bill’s ire was gullibility more than stupidity (although the latter took its shots as well). If you don’t think for yourself, you choose to follow, and certainly there are times and circumstances where that might be appropriate. But all of the time? And despite all logic and evidence to the contrary?

Take religion. Hundreds of sects, each claiming to have the one true path, most professing that should you not choose “the way” you are doomed. Nice benevolent God, right? If indeed only one religion is correct – assuming any are – what does that say to the faith of the others? And if they are all in fact pointing to variations of the same God…how many of them are so wrong in their conditions of belief? Why are people able to swear so forcefully to the abstract of religion, yet unable to comprehend the simplest, plainest truths when they are set in front of them?

One of Bill’s favorite topics was education, in that we should all seek to learn and be enlightened; satisfy our insatiable curiosity. One of my favorite routines had him being approached in a waffle house while reading a book. “Whatchu readin fer?”, drawled the observer. Not “what are you reading”, Bill said, “but what am I reading for?” “Hey everybody”, taunts the observer, “looks like we got us a reader!” Bill often railed that politicians in America could now do whatever they wanted to in broad daylight, and no one would revolt in the streets or form an organized protest. Everyone was fat drunk and happy in front of their televisions, their brains turned to mush and their priorities focused upon collecting the latest consumables, sheep in the meadow. Like George Carlin, he believed not so much that people were idiots as people behaved like idiots.

Of course, there were the cheap shots any condescending music fan will take, why are Hendrix and Joplin dead while Billy Ray Cyrus walks the Earth? Judgmental, certainly. Hilarious? Unquestionably. And even as a fan I would tire of his Goat Boy persona; I wondered if he was pushing the envelope in Andy Kaufmann fashion to get as close as he could to clearing the room before stopping (“how long are they willing to ride with me on this one?“).

But to me the heart and soul of Bill Hicks was his stubborn unwillingess to accept anything at face value. His keen observational skills and fearless mind would have you re-examining any topic he tossed out there; sometimes howling in collaborative laughter, other times challenged to take a pause and think about something from a new perspective…if you had the courage to do so. It’s always easier to shut up and go along for the ride. That’s why we will always need a Bill Hicks.

I would have loved to hear Bill’s take on the last fifteen years; the questioning of our government’s actions, the exposure and consequences of corporate greed, the ridiculous saturation of “reality television”. But it was not to be, and now the other beacon of truth, George Carlin, is also gone. There are nuggets of their fearlessness in Maher and Stanhope and Olbermann and Rock, but for me, Hicks and Carlin are on a special plateau with Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor. I don’t know that I will see another one like them in my lifetime, but I know we need one now more than ever.


The world is like a ride at an amusement park. And when you choose to go on it, you think that it’s real, because that’s how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills, and it’s very brightly coloured, and it’s very loud and it’s fun for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question: is this real, or is this just a ride? And other people have remembered, and they come back to us. They say “Hey! Don’t worry, don’t be afraid, ever, because, this is just a ride.” And we… kill those people. Ha ha ha. “Shut him up! We have a lot invested in this ride. Shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry. Look at my big bank account and family. This just has to be real.” It’s just a ride. But we always kill those good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok. But it doesn’t matter because it’s just a ride. And we can change it anytime we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings and money. A choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourselves off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one. Here’s what you can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money that we spend on weapons and defense each year and instead spend it feeding, clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, for ever, in peace… (Bill Hicks)


Filed under Comedy, Editorials, Features and Interviews

Bill Hicks Returns To Earth

Whatchu readin fer?

Whatchu readin fer?

“Don’t it always seem to go/that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone…”

Bill Hicks probably hated that Joni Mitchell song.

Hated everything about it, from the title to the symbolism to the warbly voice coming out of her angular face. But it’s the first thing I thought of when I realized that tomorrow is the fifteenth anniversary of his death. We take so much for granted, and then when it is taken away, we regret that we did not appreciate it more. It is still stunning to me that Bill Hicks was only 32 years old when he died. (Yet Billy Ray Cyrus still walks the Earth…)

There are tribute events in several cities around the world tonight and tomorrow. Click here for details.

I’ll post my own thoughts tomorrow, on the anniversary.

A word from Bill’s siteFebruary 26 will be Bill Hicks Day on Twitter…a day for Twitter users to post comments, quips, remembrances, musings, ponderances, jokes, and anything else Bill-related…a day devoted to the moments that remind us all of Bill, such as when we hear a news story or notice something in pop culture and wonder “What would Bill say?”…a special day to share with everyone your favourite Bill rants and truths, and to remember Bill’s vision…a day to tweet Bill’s quotes, your thoughts, links to Bill sites, links to sites that you think Bill would approve of or condemn…in short, a day to squeegee your tweeter! (To read everybody’s Bill Hicks Day tweets, go here and enter #billhicksday in the box)

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Filed under Comedy, Editorials

Words of Others

There are a lot of people who blog, but not all of them are good writers. It’s a real pleasure to stumble across a well-written essay on a favorite topic.

I don’t know anything about Sheila O’Malley, but I do know a lot about Mickey Rourke, and Sheila’s essay is a first rate piece of writing. Check it out.

Illustration by Charlie Powell (from Slate)

Illustration by Charlie Powell (from Slate)

And as your bonus prize, a link I found on her site to a great interview, possibly the last interview, with George Carlin.


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Filed under Features and Interviews, Film/TV