The Year in Celebrity Pictures: Pete Seeger

Celebrity: Pete Seeger, best known for being awesome
Photos taken: (1) March 19, 2011, at the Kleinert/James Arts Center, Woodstock, NY
(2) September 11, 2011, NYU Kimmel Center, NYC

An official 2011 Sigman Holiday Greeting, and the first-ever two-photo split of the same person (historic!). The first was taken after a benefit show Mr. Seeger did with his half-sister Peggy in Woodstock. I saw an article that mentioned the show while visiting friends in Oneonta, NY (and delivering the Weird Al book as a matter of fact), and, because I knew the show was in a small space, assumed the show was sold out, or at least the $100 VIP tickets, which included seats in the first five rows and a postshow meet and greet. When I found out tickets were still available, I told my friend and he and I went all in for the VIP seats. I began hoping there wasn't going to be a surprise appearance from Princess Wow.

When we took our seats, the woman to my left seemed stunned that I was in the VIP section and, in fact, made a point of asking how I got the tickets. When she asked me, I assumed she was saying something because she was as surprised as I was that it didn't sell out immediately. But I soon realized that she was completely baffled as to how someone who looked like me would be sitting next to her in the VIP section. This was confirmed when she said, "This is the VIP section, you know." And during intermission, my slowly accepting rowmate turned to me and said, "It's so nice to see someone your age enjoying the show" before rattling off her protester cred and bemoaning the state of today's wayward youth. I thought Woodstock was supposed to be kind to people with long hair.

Anyway, the show was good, but as it got later, we began to wonder if Mr. Seeger would, in fact, be up for meeting and greeting. It took him awhile to come out, but he eventually set up shop next to the snacks and began taking pictures and signing autographs. One dude must have brought about 25 things for him to sign, which seemed to be a little bit of overkill ( I brought two, and I felt bad about even bringing that much). He was at least breaking it down into small groups of items, so we had time to sneak in and get our stuff done. I got my photo done first, but then we lost our place in line when the other guy brought more stuff over to sign. Finally, as the clock inched toward midnight, I took my friend's picture with Mr. Seeger and we were on our way. Unfortunately, we were in such a rush to get going and let the nice 91-year-old man get his rest, that we didn't realize Mr. Seeger's eyes were closed in the picture. But thanks to the magic of Photoshop (and thanks, Karin!), we saved that photo.

The second photo was taken after another benefit (that's pretty much all Mr. Seeger prefers to play anymore), this one for first responders and their children, on the 10th anniversary of the events of September 11, 2001. I generally spend the day sitting at home and watching the names being read (and crying), but after I did some of that in the morning, I headed into the city. It was an interesting event. They started by showing video of interviews with first responders that was completely heartbreaking and just emotionally crushing and then, whee, it was time for music. It was awkward. And it got more awkward when the woman with Parrots for Peace got up to speak. And then there was a guy dressed as a pirate who sang a song. And then there were two guys running around the room twirling giant flags. So after trying to fight back tears for a half hour, I was now trying not to laugh at people as they performed on stage. And dodging the stuffed globes being thrown into the audience. (You'll be pleased to know I caught one.)

I wasn't planning on getting another photo with Mr. Seeger, but once I saw him seemingly happily taking photos with people, I figured I might as well. Of course, because I am not wont to interject myself into people's conversations and crowd people, I wound up getting up to Mr. Seeger just as the woman who was with him told him to tell her when he'd had enough, and he replied, "Um, I think I'm about ready." But I quickly handed my camera off to the woman and, voila, Pete Seeger photo #2 is born. I prefer standing shots to the squatting variety, so I'm pleased with the retake, though I like the first one just fine.

Actually, it's Pete Seeger photo #3, as the first one was taken by my sister in Bryant Park about 15 years ago at a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. at which there were I'd say about 20 people. And now, since my sister recently gave me the photo, here's another shot of Pete and me, meeting for the first time.

Ah, memories. Bonus Sigman trivia fact: I was on local Ithaca TV getting Arlo Guthrie to sign the very same album I'm holding in the photo. I would also like to note Mr. Seeger's love of the paisley blue shirt through the years. And, finally, I would like to declare that I will no longer bother Pete Seeger for an autograph or photo. He has given me enough.

So that's it for the Year in Celebrity Pictures 2011. Onward!


The Year in Celebrity Pictures: "Weird Al" Yankovic

Celebrity: "Weird Al" Yankovic, best known for, um, being "Weird Al" Yankovic
Photo taken: February 2, 2011, at Bookends, Ridgewood, NJ

An official 2011 Sigman Holiday Greeting. That's probably the earliest a Holiday Greeting photo has been taken, but once I saw how the picture came out, I was pretty confident this one was going to make it into loved ones' mailboxes in December. This is Mr. Yankovic's pose for a lot of his photos, so, seeing him take the pose with others as I waited in line, I had to be prepared with an appropriate look of my own. This is what I came up with. A winner.

I left work early to get to the book signing on time and decided to just level with my boss and tell her instead of making up some fancy excuse. She didn't seem to mind. Unfortunately, I should have left a little earlier, because the store ran out of books (or so they said) and I had to settle for getting bookplates signed, which they would then affix to the books when they came in. Then I could pick them up and all would be right with the world. Until the books didn't come in when I was told they would, and when I arrived at the store because I needed one that day because it was a birthday gift and I was about to get on a bus heading upstate, I was told it wasn't going to happen. But I noticed that there were, oh, about 10 signed copies of the book on a shelf behind the counter. Hmmm. So, what I assume happened was that people ordered signed copies online, and instead of giving the books to the people who were actually at the signing, they used those copies for the online purchasers. Interesting way to reward people who physically come into your store for an event. Shouldn't the lazy people have to make do with bookplates instead of the actual people in the store? They eventually found one unsigned copy in the store, so I got that one and had the other two mailed to me. I was glad they were able to do that, but I still have my doubts about the place.

Bookends may be a shady store (they also sell marked-up signed copies of a book after an event, something I've never seen a bookstore do), but they do get props for having a dude in charge of taking photos and for making two Sigman Holiday Greetings possible (the Maureen McCormick Holiday Greeting was also a Bookends shot, though at their old store). So, a begrudging thanks to the people of Bookends.


The Year in Celebrity Pictures: Dave "Gruber" Allen

Celebrity: Dave "Gruber" Allen, forever worshipped by me for his work as guidance counselor Jeffrey Rosso on the greatest TV show of all time, Freaks and Geeks and the Naked Trucker
Photo taken: September 24, 2011, at the Best Buy Theater, NYC, after the Cinematic Titanic show

I'm not sure I've ever met a nicer celebrity than Dave "Gruber" Allen. The first time I met him was before a Knitting Factory show in 2004, when the Naked Trucker and T-Bones were the comic relief at a benefit show during the Republican National Convention that also featured Serj Tankian from System of A Down, Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine, Steve Earle, Michael Franti and Spearhead, and Boots Riley from The Coup. He could not have been happier to sign my Freaks and Geeks DVD yearbook (I think he might have been the first to sign it) and talk about the show, and we had a nice conversation. Unfortunately, there was no one around to take a picture at the time. I thought about asking a stranger to take a picture after the Naked Trucker and T-Bones were done with their set (which was awesome, if slightly confusing to the more earnest rabble rousers in attendance), but I chickened out.

Which brings us to the Cinematic Titanic show in Newark last November. I'd read that Mr. Allen was the opening act for the show (a live--and very funny--version of Mystery Science Theater 3000), so I got my ticket to the show (thanks, Josh!) and prepped for my Gruber photo. Alas, he didn't make the trip to Newark. Foiled again. But since Trace Beaulieu and Joel Hodgson from MST3K made appearances in Freaks and Geeks, and J. Elvis Weinstein was a writer for the show, I added them to the yearbook, making the evening at least a partial success. And Cinematic Titanic is awesome. I never watched Mystery Science Theater 3000, but I loved the live show. It's essentially just five really funny people mocking a really bad movie, but it's two hours of almost nonstop laughter. Check it out if you can. They're back in Newark in March.

Anyway, now it's September 2011 and the Cinematic Titanic gang is at the Best Buy Theater in NYC. I do some research to see if Mr. Allen's been opening shows lately, find out he has, and buy my ticket and hope for the best. When I see him setting up microphones, I get a little giddy. He does his opening act thing (funny), the Cinematic Titanic crew riffs on East Meets Watts (very funny), and soon it's time for the postshow meet and greet. I don't really have anything for the CT crew to sign, but I figure Mr. Allen will be in the meet and greet room. As I'm standing on line, I see him there, but a few minutes later I notice he's gone. D'oh. I get my ticket stub signed and resign myself to trying again next time.

Then, as I go up the escalators, I see Mr. Allen standing by the door and thanking people for coming as they head out into the night. Hooray! I then get my stuff out (8X10 screen shot from the "Eighteen" scene and my Naked Trucker and T-Bones CD) and wait my turn. As soon as I show him what I have to get signed, he gets super-excited and tells me that I've made his night. We talk about the Knitting Factory show and some other Freaks and Geeks stuff, and then I hand my camera to some dude to take the picture. There are two pictures because after the first one, Mr. Allen said, "OK, now let's take another one where we're shaking hands." So we did. Then he thanked me again and I went off into the night.

Coolest guy ever. Long live Dave "Gruber" Allen.


Book Revku, Vol. 75

Sex and rock and roll
With only a little drugs
And some name dropping

You Only Rock Once by Jerry Blavat (as told to Steve Oskie) (347 pp.)

The Year in Celebrity Pictures: Dana Barron

Celebrity: Dana Barron, best known as the original (and best) Audrey Griswold in National Lampoon's Vacation, and also as Nikki Witt on Beverly Hills 90210, where she was lucky enough to switch it up and be in one of the greatest scenes in television history
Photo taken: October 30, 2011, at the Parsippany Hilton, as part of the Chiller Theatre convention

Burt Young was cool, but this is the reason why I stayed up all night in Milwaukee so I could catch the bus that would take me to Chicago to catch my plane to LaGuardia and then my ride to Parsippany. I will go through a lot to meet a Griswold, or at least an OG Griswold (I would make no such effort to meet the other living Audreys; Dana Hill [RIP] had Zabka as an on-screen boyfriend, so I might've done the same for her). My Vacation VHS now awaits only Beverly D'Angelo's signature to reach completion, or as close to completion as I plan to get.

Ms. Barron was very nice and totally into the signed VHS. She asked about where I got everybody else and did her best not to say anything disparaging about Randy Quaid, saying, after careful deliberation, "All that stuff you read about him, yeah, that's pretty much him." She also succesfully upsold me on the copy of her Vacation script that she was selling. I think I bought one on eBay at one point, but this one was a copy of her very own script, with her notes in it and some extra material she added. How could I not buy it, right? Anyway, she apologized for there being a few missing pages of the bonus stuff because of a copying snafu but she took my e-mail address so she could send me the PDFs later (yeah, that's right, Dana Barron sent me an e-mail...not bragging, just saying). She also seemed very into the idea of me selling the signed script on eBay and suggested not personalizing it so I could do so, but I told her I was keeping it for myself.

I would once again like to pat myself on the back for not, to the best of my knowledge, saying anything completely ridiculous to her while on no sleep. I did take five pictures with her (partially because of flash-related issues), but, hey, meetings with Griswolds (and Griswold relatives) need to be properly documented (come to think of it, none of the other ones were, and that makes me a little sad). The one above was #2, and I think we make a swell couple. 


Book Revku, Vol. 74

Yes, he was a crank
But one who knew how to write
Those are the best kind

The Vintage Mencken (Gathered by Alistair Cooke) by H.L. Mencken (240 pp.)

The Year in Celebrity Pictures: Dick Contino

Celebrity: Dick Contino, best known for shaking the hell out of the bellows on the accordion, starring in the cult classic Daddy-O, and being one of the few James Ellroy muses that isn't a woman
Photo taken: July 21, 2011, at the Henry Maier Festival Grounds, as part of Festa Italiana

A dream fulfilled. I would like to thank the oppressive heat wave for giving me the kick in the pants needed to get out of town and finally see the accordion master live and in person. And to give me the opportunity to further develop my love for the city of Milwaukee (this was the first of three visits to the city in 2011). If Mr. Contino decides to continue his Festa Italiana run in 2012. I might just go back again. C'mon, let's all go! Save the dates: July 19-22, 2012.

And here's one more great Contino moment on live TV. You can't shake the square-shootin' squire of the squeezebox.


Book Revku, Vol. 73

I was into it
And then I was out of it
Then kind of back in

Beloved by Toni Morrison (324 pp.)

The Year in Celebrity Pictures: Tony Clifton

Celebrity: Tony Clifton, best known for his storied career as a first-rate lounge singer and world-class entertainer, or for being the alleged alter ego of Andy Kaufman and/or Bob Zmuda. You make the call.
Photo taken: April 29, 2011, at the Parsippany Hilton, as part of the Chiller Theatre convention

"Celebrity" is, I suppose, stretching it here, as Mr. Clifton (or Mr. Zmuda if those alarmingly persistent rumors are true) isn't exactly a household name. But, really, I blame that on the households. Shame on you.

In any event, the two Tony Clifton shows I've been to have been two of the most entertaining nights I've spent in clubs, and this will be as close as I get to Andy Kaufman, so this is easily one of my favorite pictures of the year. Mr. Clifton was a pure gentleman, reminiscing about the show he did at Santos Party House in NYC (I'll call it about three hours long, ending around 2:30 with maybe a tenth of the people making it all the way through) and filling me in on the Atlantic City show I missed.

Sure, I probably could've found a better way to spend my money than on an autograph from and picture with what is (allegedly) a comedy writer in a costume, but I have no regrets about my decision. I will sur-veeve.


The Year in Celebrity Pictures: Martin Starr

Celebrity: Martin Starr, best known for his work as geek and funk lover Bill Haverhuck in Freaks and Geeks
Photo taken: November 27, 2011, outside of The Living Room, NYC, after he performed with Common Rotation

The last entry (timewise, of course...plenty more photos to come) in The Year of Celebrity Pictures 2011, and the one with the least prep time. I was doing my laundry on a Sunday afternoon and surfing the Web as I waited for my clothes to dry. Every now and then, I check the Twitter pages of Freaks and Geeks cast members to see if they're in New York. Yes, I know that sounds weird and random, but, c'mon, does it really surprise you at this point? I started doing it when John Francis Daley (Sam Weir) was in town promoting Horrible Bosses (alas, I missed him) and did it again a few months back when I saw that Martin Starr was in a movie that was coming out. I wanted to see if he's be in town for the premiere, and it turns out he was... when it premiered three months prior at  the Tribeca Film Festival. Foiled again!

Anyway, I was looking at his Twitter feed when I saw a Tweet urging people to come see him do one or two songs with Common Rotation at The Living Room at 8 pm on November 27. Then I realized it was November 27. And it was 4 pm.

So I went to the laundromat to get my clothes, did a few more things around the apartment and then headed into the city. I got there around 7:45, and after an enjoyable set by Common Rotation (Martin rapped--yes, rapped--on two songs and joined in on the "Yeah"s in a cover of "We're Not Gonna Take It"), I added another signature to my Freaks and Geeks DVD yearbook.

I wasn't going to bother him for a photo (he was talking with friends), but as I left I decided to bug him and he was happy to pose. Unfortunately, right after I asked, a deranged, toothless guy approached, looked at us and the women who were with Martin, and said, "What's up, assholes?" Perfect. One of Martin's friends took a photo of the three of us (I deleted it) to try to get the guy to go away, but he lingered, so I went on the other side of Martin and got the photo above. An exciting moment, as it was my first photo with a main F&G cast member (I've met a bunch but never asked for a photo with any of them). And a rare time when I can honestly say I am grateful for Twitter.


The Year in Celebrity Pictures: Ernest Borgnine

Celebrity: Ernest Borgnine, best known for way too many things to list but an Academy Award winner for playing the titular character in Marty and a man not afraid to tell you the secret to his longevity (not suitable for work, but funny)
Photo taken: April 29, 2011, at the Parsippany Hilton, as part of the Chiller Theatre convention

How can you not love Ernest Borgnine? And how could I pass up an opportunity to get a signed photo from Marty and a picture with the man? I don't know, but I did at a previous Chiller. When I saw he was booked for a return engagement, I saw a chance to right a wrong. And I'm glad I did, because he was awfully kind and looked downright jubilant in every photo I saw him take with other Chiller attendees. At 94, he's the oldest of this year's crop of celebrity pictures (though, not surprisingly, not by very much), and it was a genuine thrill to sit next to him. I love Marty so much, perhaps a little too much.


The Year in Celebrity Pictures: David Koechner

Celebrity: David Koechner, best known by most of the world as sportscaster and pantsless Sea World visitor Champ Kind in Anchorman but best loved by me as Gerald "T-Bones" Tibbons in The Naked Trucker & T-Bones show
Photo taken: October 13, 2011, at Comedy Etc., Fairview Heights, IL

The successful conclusion of another multistate quest to get something signed by someone most people rarely, if ever, think about. Sure, I could've tried to score a ticket to see the eventual World Champions play an NLCS game, but who wants to do that when you can get your Champ Kind bobblehead signed and see T-Bones reborn in a hotel comedy club in Illinois, while sitting next to a guy who thinks it's fine to actively converse with the comedians during their acts? Right?


The Year in Celebrity Pictures: Mike Lookinland and Susan Olsen

Celebrity: Mike Lookinland and Susan Olsen, best known as Bobby and Cindy Brady of, duh, The Brady Bunch
Photo taken: April 29, 2011, at the Parsippany Hilton, as part of the Chiller Theatre convention

I'd already taken photos with each of them separately, but I figured a group shot with the youngest of the families (or, in my case, the younger) was worth giving still more money to the Bradys. They're both very nice, as all the Bradys (and Cousin Oliver) have been. They were raised right.


The Year in Celebrity Pictures: Matt "Guitar" Murphy

Celebrity: Matt "Guitar" Murphy, best known as a Blues Brother and for being robbed in the race for Best Supporting Actor in The Blues Brothers
Photo taken: May 9, 2011, at The Blue Note, NYC, after his show with the Nouveaux Honkies

I'd seen Mr. Murphy many years ago, and even got an autograph (after a show in Central Park with Joe Louis Walker, Ike Turner, and Scotty Moore, if memory serves), but I didn't get a picture with him. A few years ago, he suffered a stroke, and for awhile it looked like his playing days were over. But he worked his way back and now does a limited number of shows a year. I missed one chance to see him (on the day of the great Five-State Bowling Tour), and I didn't want to let another one pass by. So I went to the late show at the Blue Note (first time there), and though I got there a little late, I managed to have a decent view from the bar to see Mr. Murphy play with the Nouveaux Honkies. He's understandably a little slower than he used to be, but it was good to see him back up on the stage. I wasn't sure if he'd be up to signing stuff after the show, but he was, so I got a poster signed and then had his manager take this picture (this is the second attempt, I believe). All acting jokes aside, he might be my favorite Blues Brother (he's close with Cropper), so it's cool to have this photo.


The Year in Celebrity Pictures: Burt Young

Celebrity: Burt Young, best known for his work as meatpacking plant worker/lover of alcohol/occasional Santa Claus Paulie Pennino in every last one of the Rocky movies (and, of course, for his work as chauffeur/intimidator Lou in Back to School)
Photo taken: October 30, 2011, at the Parsippany Hilton, as part of the Chiller Theatre convention

One of two photos taken that day in which I don't look nearly as tired as I feel. On the morning this was taken, I was in Wisconsin, having stayed up all night after seeing Cheap Trick and partaking in most of a late-night bingo session so I could catch a bus that would take me to the airport in Chicago, from which I would fly to LaGuardia and then proceed directly to Parsippany courtesy of the McGrath Shuttle Service. It was a long day. But I met Paulie (and someone even cooler...stay tuned), so it was worth it. In retrospect, I wish I had brought a sign that read "Bruce Springsteen" on it so we could've recreated that scene in Back to School, but so be it. I'm just grateful that in my groggy state I didn't start rattling off his lines from the climax of Rocky V (such as "This man, he spit blood for you" and "You know what Tommy--you're a piece of garbage" and "Should've left him on the street where we found him, Rock").


The Year in Celebrity Pictures: Robert Romanus

Celebrity: Robert Romanus, best known for his work as ticket scalper/abortion clinic hater Mike Damone in Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Photo taken: April 29, 2011, at the Parsippany Hilton, as part of the Chiller Theatre convention

He was awfully nice, and apparently so willing to please his fans that he will gladly re-create Damone's five-point plan while you record it for YouTube posterity. I can't imagine asking someone to do that, but, hey, good for him for going the extra mile.


The Year in Celebrity Pictures: Tommy Morrison

Celebrity: Tommy Morrison, best known for his work as Tommy "The Machine" Gunn ("nobody's robot, nobody's boy") in everyone's favorite installment, Rocky V
Photo taken: April 29, 2011, at the Parsippany Hilton, as part of the Chiller Theatre convention

I have no idea who the woman in the picture is. Maybe he knows her, maybe not. All I know is that right before the picture was taken, he told her to get in the picture, too. Awesome. Oh well. A small price to pay for the greatest inscription ever.

The Year in Celebrity Pictures: Joyce Hyser

Celebrity: Joyce Hyser, best known for her work as budding journalist/cross dresser Terry ("dresses like Elvis Costello, looks like the Karate Kid") in the 80s classic Just One of the Guys
Photo taken: April 29, 2011, at the Parsippany Hilton, as part of the Chiller Theatre convention

I wasn't sure I was going to go for the photo, but, you know, we former journalists like to stick together. And she was in a movie with Zabka, so $10 is a small price to pay to be one degree from Zabka. 


Book Revku , Vol. 72

I'd put this one off
And I'm not really sure why
Anyway, some good laughs

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris (323 pp.)


Book Revku, Vol. 71

A couple of gems
And a few that I liked just fine
Overall, thumbs up

A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'Connor (251 pp.)


The 50-A-Day Project, Books 61-70

Finally some forward progress! There were three 600-plus-page books in this lot, but I mixed in some shorter, lighter stuff, and I finally came up with a mix that pushed me upward on my daily average rather than down. Granted, some of this reading was done very bleary-eyed (including one night in Milwaukee where I didn't sleep and read a James Baldwin book in a bingo intermission), and there were a few short stories that I gave up trying to understand about halfway through (least favorite book of the year!), but, hey, I persevered, so let's all applaud me, OK?

[pause for lengthy, slightly embarrassing round of applause]

[further pause because the applause just won't stop]


[wow, more applause...c'mon, cut it out; I have to finish writing this]

The page count stood at 21,567 after 301 days, making for an average of 64.4 pages. I'm hoping I can keep this forward movement going and end the year on a high note. The final books are sitting in a pile, and I'm confident I will claim victory at year's end. 
Best Fiction Book: The Complete Stories by Bernard Malamud (a default choice, as this was a rough bunch for fiction. There are a bunch of good stories here, though, and even the ones I didn't enjoy were, for the most part pretty readable. There's a compliment an author loves to hear: "pretty readable." At least Mr. Malamud isn't alive to read it. He also wasn't alive when I was in high school and wrote an entire project about his career without reading more than one book he wrote. Sorry again, sir.) 
Best Nonfiction Book: Them: Adventures with Extremists by Jon Ronson (I needed some good nonfiction reads after my valiant battle with the short story anthology, and this and Are We Winning? did the trick. Thank you, Misters Ronson and Leitch. You may have saved this project.) 
Toughest Read: The Art of the Story: An International Anthology of Contemporary Short Stories edited by Daniel Halpern (I understand that anthologies are generally meant to be dipped into and not plowed through all at once. So maybe it's my fault I hated this book with such a passion. Or maybe I just don't like short stories as much as I used to. Whatever the case, let's not speak of this book again.)
Easiest Read: Are We Winning? Fathers and Sons in the New Golden Age of Baseball by Will Leitch
Number of Books on Loan: 1 (Are We Winning? Fathers and Sons in the New Golden Age of Baseball by Will Leitch. Thanks, Bryan!)
Number of Books Given as Gifts: 0
Number of Books Signed by the Author: 2 (The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman [The Fear and Loathing Letters, Volume I] by Hunter S. Thompson, and Power on Ice by Denis Potvin with Stan Fischler)
Book That Was Sitting on the Shelf the Longest
: I'm not entirely sure. It's either The Complete Stories by Bernard Malamud or The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman (The Fear and Loathing Letters, Volume I) by Hunter S. Thompson. I'm leaning toward the former, but, whatever the case, I'm glad I finally got around to reading both of them
Best Passage:

"I have no desire to do anything.  I am afraid of nothing and I want nothing. I wait like a psychopath in a game of dodge-ball: breathing quickly while the fools decide which one will throw at me next, and jumping aside for no reason except that I like being in the middle. And there is really no reason for being in the middle. Why not quit altogether and be down outside the circle?
I have no idea what to say, I don't know when I'll see you again and I don't believe in anything beyond the next ten minutes. People keep calling me and telling me what a great friend I am. Everybody is looking for someone who can stand up in the wind. It is lonely standing up and crowded lying down. I refuse to be an anchor for other people's dreams--but then I refuse to anchor mine to anyone else. So I have no choice but to stand up and piss into the wind. Pardon my vulgarity."
from The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman (The Fear and Loathing Letters, Volume I) by Hunter S. Thompson


Book Revku, Vol. 70

Writing your bio
When you're 23 years old?
Not a good idea
Power on Ice by Denis Potvin with Stan Fischler (169 pp.)


Book Revku, Vol. 69

Lots of grocers here
Plus other downtrodden folk
And some weird stuff, too

The Complete Stories by Bernard Malamud (629 pp.)


What I Liked About November

*My newly framed Charlie Louvin poster
*Trampled By Turtles/Jonny Corndawg, Bowery Ballroom, NYC
*Tuesday Night Birthday Party, Denino's, Staten Island, NY
*"Welcome to Sweetie Pie's" (shhhhh)

*Martin Starr and Common Rotation, Living Room, NYC
*Levon Helm Band/Graham Parker/Natalie Merchant/Organ Meat/The Silver Hollers, Ulster Performing Arts Center, Kingston, NY
*Blackberry applesauce, Wright's Farm, Gardiner, NY
*Thanksgiving dinner, Middletown, NJ

*Pumpkin cornbread made by my own two hands
*The birth of Avital Westervelt
*Pumpkin pie doughnut from the Cinnamon Snail
*The willingness of people with cars to drive me places

Book Revku, Vol. 68

No CIA tales
Only what ifs and should haves
From a grieving dad

Della: A Memoir of My Daughter by Chuck Barris (201 pp.)


Book Revku, Vol. 67

No text messages
And no Tweets to be found here
Ah, the good old days

The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman (The Fear and Loathing Letters, Volume I) by Hunter S. Thompson (661 pp.)


Book Revku, Vol. 66

An unsung hero
A giant by all measures
And good with a pen

I Am the Blues by Willie Dixon with Don Snowden (258 pp.)


Book Revku, Vol. 65

The road is rocky
With many dips on the way
It's hard to be strong

Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin (221 pp.)


Book Revku, Vol. 64

There's not much to it
Though there's good stuff here and there
A quick, painless read

The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder (235 pp.)


Book Revku, Vol. 63

He doesn't mock them
Or at least not all that much
Which makes it better

Them: Adventures with Extremists bu Jon Ronson (320 pp.)


Book Revku, Vol. 62

The best I can say
About this large collection
Is I finished it

The Art of the Story: An International Anthology of Contemporary Short Stories edited by Daniel Halpern (667 pp.)


Book Revku, Vol. 61

I thought I might cry
Because of the subtitle
I didn't; I laughed

Are We Winning? Fathers and Sons in the New Golden Age of Baseball by Will Leitch (293 pp.)

What I Liked About October

*Cheap Trick, Northern Lights Theatre, Milwaukee, WI
*Chuck Berry and Johnny Rivers, Blueberry Hill, St. Louis, MO
*The birth of Delilah Jean Killinger
*Meeting T-Bones
*Tramped By Turtles, Turner Hall, Milwaukee, WI
*The jumbo pretzel, Mader's, Milwaukee, WI

*City Museum, St. Louis, MO
*Chess Studios, Chicago, IL
*Meeting Audrey Griswold (the first and best)
*Pi, St. Louis, MO
*Friends of the Library Book Sale, Ithaca, NY
*Riding the Red Line with Ronnie Woo Woo

*Hotch-A-Do, Milwaukee, WI
*Glow Party Bingo, Potatwatomi Bingo Casino, Milwaukee, WI
*The Elvis Club, Lakeside Lounge, NYC
*Jimmy Sturr, Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn, NY
*Landmark Lanes, Milwaukee, WI
*The willingness of people with cars to drive me places


The 50-A-Day Project: Books 51-60

This wasn't too much of a tough haul, as I made a point of picking books that wouldn't be as much of a challenge after the Noble Fiction Experiment of the last 10. That's not to say all of the books were light fare (OK, I'll concede that the Florence Henderson and Gorgeous George books weren't exactly heavy lifting, but, c'mon, I threw some Camus in there, too...and that marks the first time those three names were in the same parenthetical aside), and I did make a point of closing out with some fiction. I also made another Noble Effort to read a large short-story anthology, but more on that in the next recap, due to a fortuitous act of neglect on my part.

After finishing the 60th book, I had tallied 17,913 pages in 294 days (it was actually more because of the anthology debacle, but those pages will go into the next tally), for an average of 60.9 pages a day. And the average drop continues. Sigh. I am stumbling toward the finish line, though, again those numbers are a little off because of the anthology situation. Next time, I think the average might go up. Cross your fingers, OK?

Best Fiction Book: An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin
Best Nonfiction Book: The Circus Fire by Stewart O'Nan (This was the book I was reading on the lower deck of the Staten Island Ferry on September 11, 2001, when I looked to my left and saw smoke coming from the direction of the World Trade Center. As other commuters saw the same and chatter started to fill the boat, I turned on my radio to see what the news had to say. There was still no definitive word as I headed into the subway, where I couldn't get radio reception, so as the train crawled slowly from the ferry stop to Chambers, I still didn't really know what was going on above me. But by the time I got out of the subway in midtown, the second plane had hit, and things were never the same. In the days that followed, reading a book about how people were trapped under the big top and eventually consumed in a large fire didn't seem like the best thing to read. So I put it back on the shelf. Ten years later, I decided to try again.)
Toughest Read: The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder (not because it wasn't good; it was. But most of the books in this batch went smoothly. The toughest would've easily been the short story anthology I had intended to be Book 60, but I left it at work before going on a vacation, so I had to quickly substitute some other books on the trip. I can almost guarantee that anthology will be in this space in the next recap.)
Easiest Read: Save the Last Dance for Satan by Nick Tosches
Number of Books on Loan: 0
Number of Books Given as Gifts: 0
Number of Books Signed by the Author: 3 (An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin, Save the Last Dance for Satan by Nick Tosches, and Life Is Not a Stage: From Broadway Baby to a Lovely Lady and Beyond by Florence Henderson)
Book That Was Sitting on the Shelf the Longest
: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Best Passage:
"Reggie 'Sweet Daddy' Siki, who began wrestling in 1955, may well have been the first black wrestler to dye his hair blond. As one newspaper put it, 'He is known as the negro Gorgeous George, and he is as tough as they come.' He also did a Siki strut to the ring. Looking back decades later, Siki mourned the golden age with a very idiosyncratic focus. 'We had midgets,' he said sadly, evoking Fuzzy Cupid, Sky Low Low, who stood forty-two inches tall, Little Beaver, Tiny Roe. Prince Saile Halassie, and the 'lady midget' Diamond Lil, the Fabulous Moolah's adopted daughter. 'Kids really liked the midgets. These days they don't use them. Wrestling is not what it used to be. There's no respect for the midgets anymore.'"
from Gorgeous George: The Outrageous Bad-Boy Wrestler Who Created American Pop Culture by John Capouya


Book Revku, Vol. 60

Murder and intrigue
And a sculpture with a past
A riveting book

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett (213 pp.)


Book Revku, Vol. 59

An engaging tale
Of boys striving to be men
And all that entails

Old School by Tobias Wolff (195 pp.)


Book Revku, Vol. 58

I will always buy
A bio by a Brady
This one was OK

Life Is Not a Stage: From Broadway Baby to Lovely Lady and Beyond by Florence Henderson (264 pp.)


You Never Can Tell

Chuck Berry is going to be 85 years old on Tuesday. So I figured I should really get on that whole seeing Chuck at a small club in St. Louis--and getting his autograph after the show--thing. Who knows how much longer he'll be doing his monthly gig at Blueberry Hill, and, even if he does, who knows how much longer I'll want to see it. I'm all about paying respects to the heroes of rock and roll where they're still among us, but hopping on a plane to St. Louis (not the most exciting place on earth) to see one of those heroes in a severely diminished capacity might not be the best use of my money going forward.

So, while initially planning a trip to Nashville, I began to look into cheap flights to St. Louis so I could start the trip there. I found a pretty cheap one, but then getting from St. Louis to Nashville turned out to be problematic. There were no direct flights, and the only other option was a ridiculously long Greyhound trip that might have seemed appealing (or at least like something fun to write about) 10 years ago but now seems like a nightmare on wheels. The trip to Nashville went by the wayside. Maybe next year, Music City.

While holding on to the St. Louis idea like Wilson Phillips, I started concocting baseball playoffs scenarios. Milwaukee was within reach, so I could plan a side trip there. And then Atlanta started collapsing, and it seemed like St. Louis might make the playoffs. Very interesting. But I needed to lock in my flights/trains/hotels so I wouldn't be spending more of the money I couldn't afford to be spending. So I went with this itinerary: fly into St. Louis for Chuck on Wednesday, take the train to Milwaukee (via Chicago) for a Brewers playoff game on Thursday (or, if tickets were too tough to come by, a Jets-Blackhawks game in Chicago), and then fly out of Milwaukee on Friday. So I booked all that on the last night of the baseball season (a/k/a The Greatest Night of Baseball Ever), as the Brewers clinched the #2 seed in the NL and the Cardinals won the Wild Card. Cool. I figured the Great Almighty Phillies Pitching Staff would easily beat the Cardinals, and hoped the Brewers would have enough to get by a tough Diamondbacks team.

One out of two aint bad.

The Phillies' choking threw a wrench into the plan, because now the Brewers were the home team in that series, and that meant Game 4 on that Thursday would now be in St. Louis. And seeing a playoff game at Busch was less appealing than one at Miller Park. Did I really want to break the bank to see a playoff game where I'd be rooting against the home team? Eh, maybe.

Then, a fortuitous comedy club booking was revealed over the Internet. David Koechner, better known as Champ Kind in Anchorman (or best known to me as Gerald "T-Bones" Tibbons of the Naked Trucker and T-Bones comedy duo), was doing a comedy show that Thursday night at a hotel comedy club in Illinois that advertised itself as 14 minutes from the Gateway Arch (or 44 minutes via MetroLink and bus). Whammy!

Trip itinerary completed. St. Louis and Chuck on Wednesday, Fairview Heights, Illinois, and T-Bones on Thursday, and then a ridiculously early train to Chicago Friday morning before another train ride to Milwaukee and my flight home Friday night.

Well, that was easy enough.

Chuck Berry shows, or, for that matter, any rock and roll shows by 84-year-old men, are an iffy proposition. Some nights he's so wildly off that it makes you sad (e.g., the first time I saw him, at a baseball stadium in New Jersey), and some nights you see enough of the old magic that you feel grateful to be alive to see a pioneer of rock and roll a few feet away from you (e.g., the second time I saw him, at a festival in New Jersey). You pay your money, you take your chances (although the time he was good was free, so that was even better).

So as I made my second trip to the Delmar Loop of the day (the first was right from the airport to do a Vintage Vinyl run), my expectations were pretty measured. If it stunk, I could still say I saw Chuck Berry in a small club with a few hundred people. If it was great, well then I saw Chuck Berry in a small club with a few hundred people and it was awesome. Plus, there would be the bonus of getting Mr. Berry's autograph after the show, as the club usually sets up a table and he signs stuff after the show.

But, before all that, it was time for what I'd been saving up for my big meal of the day, at Pi Pizzeria, a few blocks away from Blueberry Hill. St. Louis is unjustly famous for its mediocre cracker-thin pizza with Provel cheese in lieu of mozzarella, but Pi, apparently a favorite of President Obama, doesn't use Provel and is best known for their deep dish pie. I'm not a huge deep dish guy, but the reviews looked promising, so I dug in.

In order to give my gorging a healthy sheen, I started with a salad, the Bada Bing (field greens, toasted almonds, gorgonzola cheese, dried bing cherries, with a raspberry vinaigrette). That was quite good. In fact, I could've left happy with just that. But then came the pizza.

And that was even better. It's the cornmeal crust that does the trick. The sauce was pretty good, too, but the cornmeal makes it stand out from your average pie. I started to feel a little bloated toward the end, but my mama didn't raise no quitter, so I dusted off the whole pie and walked to Blueberry Hill wondering if throwing up during the Chuck Berry show would ruin the trip.

There is limited seating for the Chuck shows at Blueberry Hill (120 seats, and I think they said the room is 300 capacity), so I knew to get there early. I got there around 6:30 and there were already about 25-30 people in line for the show (doors opened at 8). So I joined them, stared at the pictures of the owner and various celebrities on the wall, read a chapter of "The Maltese Falcon," watched two women almost pass out, listened for updates on the playoff game, and then, voila, it was 8 pm. I got a seat in the second row, right next to the people who looked to be about fifth in line. I'm not sure how that happened.

The opening act, Butch Wax and the Hollywoods, did a wedding-band set of oldies that was pretty good and then the stage was reset for Mr. Berry and his band. After a while, a guy came out to tune his guitar and I thought, "Hmmm...he's not in the band." Then, as I looked closer, I thought again, "Hmmm...I think that's Johnny Rivers." And it was. And he sat in for the whole set. Nice.

Having Rivers on stage seemed to loosen Mr. Berry up a bit, and the extra guitar took pressure off him too, as there are some things 84-year-old fingers can't quite do anymore. If you go see Chuck Berry now, those guitar runs aren't gonna be quite like they used to be. In fact, they're probably gonna make you cringe. A lot. But so what. He's Chuck Berry. You can cut him some slack. Going to a Chuck Berry show and complaining that he "just doesn't have it anymore" would be like meeting Thomas Jefferson in 1825 and being disappointed that he didn't write the Declaration of Independence for you. He's done the work already. Now's the time to be glad you're alive to see him.

Rivers sang a good portion of the set (with Mr. Berry joining in on a few verses here and there), starting off with "Maybellene" and continuing with "Carol," "Memphis, Tennessee," "Reelin' and Rockin'" (done twice...Why? Why not?) and "Little Queenie," among others. Mr. Berry seemed to be having just as good a time as I was, and even gave an abbreviated duck walk of sorts during "Let It Rock." If Rivers hadn't been there, I probably would have still had an OK time, but his presence made the night far more memorable than I had anticipated going in.

And then Mr. Berry left without signing. Curses! Foiled again. Oh well. What was it the old folks would say about that? Oh yeah...

It was still a really fun night. Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll!

I switched hotels on Thursday, so I could be a little closer to the train station. This made it slightly less sad to not have time or money to go to a playoff game, because the hotel I stayed at Wednesday was literally a block away from Busch Stadium. I could walk out of the lobby and see the ballpark. Sigh. I did pop into the pep rallies outside the ballpark on Wednesday and Thursday, though, where I looked so out of place not wearing any red that I feared someone would point at me and I'd soon be burned at the stake. But I wasn't. So I took some pictures of playoff fever in St. Louis.

I had nothing to do during the day on Thursday, so I decided to walk to the City Museum and check that out. I'd heard good things about it, and that though it was intended mainly for kids, adults would have a good time at it too. And that was very true, because I had a great time wasting two hours there. If you've got kids, or you're a 34-year-old single man, I highly recommend visiting it.

The City Museum is and old shoe factory and warehouse that has been turned into a completely ridiculous funhouse of sorts, with about a dozen slides (including one ten-story slide), a cave, a human hamster wheel, a ball pit, a Ferris wheel, two gutted-out airplanes, and a school bus that juts off the roof. This has to be the coolest place to take a class trip in the whole wide world. I thought about going down at least one of the slides, but I had visions of an ER visit, so I chickened out. I did go on the Ferris wheel, though. Good times.

After that, I watched some of the ALCS game in my hotel before heading out to Fairview Heights for the David Koechner show. I got there a little early, but too late to grab some food (and since the comedy club was in a hotel on a highway, the main option--TGIFriday's--wasn't exactly inviting anyway), so I went in for the 8 pm show around 7:20. And there were 5 people there. Oh boy. This might be a rough night--if not for me, then definitely for Koechner.

And it was kind of a rough night. I was sitting next to a gentleman who was celebrating his 32nd anniversary with his wife. And, man, was he chatty. Not with me, though; we had only an odd 20-second conversation in which he asked me the last name of the headliner, whom he said he had just met in the hotel.

No, he was way chattier with the opening comic, who probably wished he had never started talking to him at the beginning of his set. And that set, I would say, was about half the comedian talking and half the guy next to me talking. The guy next to me (I honestly could not determine if he had a legitimate mental handicap or was just odd; his wife seemed normal) just kept interjecting himself into the set, vowing to stop talking after every time he spoke, until he capped off his mini-set by asking, "Was she really from Soulard?" after the comedian told a story about losing his virginity to a girl in Soulard (a neighborhood in St. Louis). He then proceeded to give us his thoughts on Soulard and telling us about the time his brother fell through a floor in a house in Soulard. The comedian just gave up at that point and let him tell the whole story.

The guy was only slightly less chatty during the beginning of Koechner's set, interrupting only once, punctuating a story Koechner told about his cousin giving him chewing tobacco at the age of 10 and telling him to swallow the juice by saying, "I've heard that story a thousand times." He again vowed to stop talking after Koechner's reaction, and mainly kept his promise until he got visibly bored and antsy toward the end of the set and started what I assume he thought was whispering in his wife's ear. Which you kind of can't do in a front row in a comedy club when you're five feet from the comic. Koechner shushed him, then did so again when he and the missus started hemming and hawing on their drink order while Koechner told a story about how his wife can't give birth anymore and the scare they had with their youngest child, born via surrogate (yes, I agree, that is odd material for a comedy club). After the second gentle admonishment from Koechner, the gentleman slammed his beer bottle down and walked out. He came back later and took a picture with Koechner after the show. He sounded like he had a good time.

I'm not so sure Koechner did, but he did a good job of holding it in. I can't imagine doing a show for a quarter-full room on a Thursday night at a hotel comedy club is a thrill ride. I hope the Friday and Saturday shows went better.

In any case, I got my Champ Kind bobblehead signed (and my Naked Trucker and T-Bones CD, too), so I left happy. And that happiness almost went right away when I thought I missed the last bus to the MetroLink station. But just as I went to go call a cab, I saw the bus coming, and tragedy was averted. I finally had dinner back at the hotel bar, roughly four hours before I had to board the train to Chicago. It was at this point that this part of the trip began to seem like a terrible idea.

I took a nap and made the train on time, drifting in and out of sleep for the first few hours. We got to Chicago a little late, and I thought my plan to go to the World's Finest Chocolates outlet in a Chicago strip mall might have to be postponed, but I pulled it off. We used to sell (and by "sell," I mean, my mom would sell a few bars at work and then just give me the money for the rest of the box) World's Finest candy bars in grammar school as a fundraiser, so I wanted to relive that glorious time by buying an excessive amount of WF chocolate at their outlet store. And I did. Bought a hat and a bag, too. Here's to you, Blessed Sacrament.

Then it was back on the train to Milwaukee, buying tickets for shows I'm going to in Milwaukee with my sister at the end of the month, getting on a bus to the airport, finding out my flight was delayed for three hours (later knocked down to one-and-a-half), listening to the Brewers lose while on the plane, and finally making it home from LaGuardia around 1:30. I think I tied my record for most states visited in a 24-hour period (5) and I fell asleep in four of them, which I think is a new record.

If you've been holding your applause until the end, you can now commence clapping.


Soundtrack Songs I Have Loved

You might think I spent all of my youth buying soundtracks. This is completely and utterly wrong. You're clearly not as smart as you think you are, with your fancy book learning and alleged keen insight into what I spent money on when I was younger.

I will have you know, Mister or Miss Smartypants (Mrs. Smartypants if you married into the Smartypants clan) that I very often bought 45s of songs that were on soundtracks. And sometimes I bought these 45s without ever seeing, or having any real intention to see, the movies in which they appeared. See, just when you think you have all the answers, I change the questions (thank you, Rowdy Roddy Piper, star of Body Slam, whose soundtrack I, of course, have).

In any event, now that we've pointed out how stupid you are, let's look at some of the great soundtrack songs I own on 45s.

Who can forget the brilliant acting career of Olympic gymnast Mitch Gaylord? Or the amazing solo career of Duran Duran's Andy Taylor? Or the days when Wayne Gretzky's wife was a motion picture lead? What's that? Everyone, you say? Well, then let's all go back to those thrilling times and enjoy Andy Taylor's "Take It Easy," from the Gaylord/Jones vehicle American Anthem.

I cannot begin to tell you what compelled me to buy this 45 (it almost certainly wasn't the video). I can only guess that my sister's slavish devotion to Duran Duran (though she was more of a John Taylor gal) finally rubbed off on me. And I can't decide if that video makes me glad or sad that I've never seen American Anthem. That Mitch Gaylord seems like one hell of an actor.

Did you know that Bob Seger's "Shakedown" (from Beverly Hills Cop II) was nominated for an Academy Award in 1987? And that somehow it didn't win? It lost to "(I've Had) The Time of My Life," which I guess I can understand. If it had lost to fellow nominee "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now," that would've been a problem.

Fun fact: I still get a little excited when that song comes on the radio (i.e., twice a year).

Wikipedia tells me that Little Richard performed "Shakedown" at the Academy Awards that year, which enables me to make a nice segway into Mr. Penniman's "Great Gosh A' Mighty" from Down and Out in Beverly Hills, a movie I clearly remember falling asleep in the middle of after I rented it from the late, lamented Electronic Junction in Staten Island, NY. Oh well. The song's still good.

To be fair, the movie might be good. I get the impression it's not a film that a 10-year-old would find uproarious. For instance, neither Bobcat Goldthwait nor John Candy were in it. They were, though, both in Hot to Trot, whose soundtrack I have nothing to say about (if there even was one). And I probably shouldn't bring up that I did think that movie was funny when I was a kid. I'm gonna go ahead and guess that it's less funny than I remember. I will look for it on Turner Classic Movies and get back to you.

If memory serves, Innerspace was the first movie I saw at the sprawling UA movie multiplex in Staten Island. And, unlike, Hot to Trot, I think it holds up pretty well. Martin Short's great, Dennis Quaid is right in the heart of his cool period, and Robert Picardo's Cowboy was awesome (I will sometimes involuntarily break out into "I'm an Old Cowhand (from the Rio Grande)" just because of his rendition). Screw it, let's watch that before we get to the song.

Rod Stewart's cover of Sam Cooke's "Twistin' the Night Away" is just about as good as that, though, and one of the last cool things Rod Stewart ever did (there were a few more decent years after this, and "Forever Young" was my grammar school graduation song, so I've got a soft spot for that).

Innerspace was about as trippy as my young mind could handle, so there is absolutely no way that I would have had any interest in seeing Less Than Zero (and when I finally did get around to seeing it, I wound up being not that much more interested). So that might partially explain why I didn't buy the 45 of the Bangles' excellent cover (which I doubt I knew at the time) of "Hazy Shade of Winter." We were given a large dose (pun intended) of antidrug lectures in school, so I might've thought twice about buying a 45 from a druggie movie. But I eventually picked up the 45 a decade or so later. It stands as not only one of the better soundtrack songs ever, but also one of the best covers.

Speaking of buying soundtrack songs well after the fact, there is another category of Soundtracks I Have Loved and that is Soundtracks I Have Bought in My 20s and 30s Because I Loved One Song on Them and, Hey, This Record's Cheap, So I'm Gonna Buy It. So, let's look at those before we wrap this whole thing up (don't be sad).

I know what you're thinking. (Did you ever notice I know what you're thinking a lot? Either you are totally transparent and/or feeble-minded or I'm some sort of dark genius who can peer into the minds of all those around him. You choose the one that makes you more comfortable.) How can you have a series about great soundtracks and not properly salute the Almighty Lord of Soundtracks, Mr. Kenny Loggins? Well, you can't. And that is why I salute the first and greatest of the Loggins soundtrack oeuvre, "I'm Alright" from Caddyshack.

There is nothing bad about that song. Nothing. Now, should Mr. Loggins have accepted the invitation to repeat the magic for Caddyshack II? Probably not. But I still lie awake at night sometimes and think about how that movie got made, so I think there may have been some sort of black magic involved in that whole production.

Because I am a heartless ogre, Disney movies have never done much for me. There are a few exceptions, though, and of that bunch my favorite is the often-overlooked Oliver & Company, which, due to its utilization of the vocal skills of Huey Lewis and Billy Joel on the soundtrack, was right up my young alley (though I was a bit old for the movie when it came out). Mr. Joel voiced Dodger, my favorite character (I think we still have the McDonald's Christmas ornament), and sang my favorite song in the movie.

When it comes to the greatest soundtrack songs of all time, there is a healthy amount of competition, as you have seen and heard if you have followed along here. So, what's the best? It's a near-impossible question for me to answer, so thanks a lot for asking it, jerk. And you know what? I'm not giving you a definitive answer. So there.

But if you're compiling a Top 10 (are you? Are you stealing my idea? That's so like you), there's no way you can leave out Lindsay Buckingham's "Holiday Road" from National Lampoon's Vacation. It's a classic song from a classic movie. The video, which I'd never seen before, is odd, though.

And while you're compiling that Top 10 (could you at least give me a shoutout or something? I think I deserve that much), you may want to look at the soundtrack of one of the greatest cinematic achievements this or any other country has put forth. I am, of course, speaking of the Fat Boys' bravura performance in Disorderlies. Incredibly, they were able to take time off from acting in the film to record one of my all-time favorite soundtrack cuts, an ostensible cover of "Baby, You're A Rich Man" that puts the Beatles to shame.

See what I mean? The Human Beat Box's sword solo is incredible, no?

Well, that's all I have on soundtracks. Actually, it probably isn't. But this can't go on forever, so let's end the series here.

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you at the movie soundtrack section of your local record store.