Saturday, 3 December 2005

Why I Hate Best Buy

Today I went to Columbia to Best Buy to pick up a CD-RW drive for my old computer. I suppose for many this would be a simple enough task. For me, on the other hand, it is something like an alcoholic walking into a bar. Or maybe a choocolate fanatci walking into a sweet shop. I have this unfortunate addiction to DVDS.

Who ever set up the layout for Best Buy must have been a genius in selling DVDs. The computers and computer supplies are all the way in the back. This means that one has to walk past the DVDs, which are at the very front of the store. On top of that there are usually several displays for hte latest DVDs. I remember seeing one today for The Polar Express (go figure, it's right before Yuletide). One cannot enter Best Buy without having hundreds and hundreds of DVDs staring one in the face, saying, "Buy me, buy me!" It isn't bad enough that the CDs are right on the other side of the DVDs (fortunately, I'd picked up a copy of a Knack compilation, so I didn't need any CDs...). At any rate I did well not to go into DTs right there in the store.

Fortunately I made my way to the computer section without buying a single DVD or even a CD. Of cousre, I still had to walk past all those DVDs on my way to the checkout counter. And that was not the end of it. At Best Buy you have this little aisle you have to stand in to wait for check out And guess what lines that aisle? DVDs. And junk food. At least there were no CDs. I have to wonder if whoever designed the Best Buy stores hadn't bugged my house years ago (I'll have to start looking for hidden cameras and microphones...). They apparently know what at least two of my addictions are. Fortunately, I was able to make it out with out buying any Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Minatures or candy bars. And I was really fortunate to make it out without buying any DVDs.

Ultimately, it is a good thing that Best Buy is all the way in Columbia. All we have here is WalMart and a Sam Goody store. I fear if I went to Best Buy too often, my paycheque might wind up going totally for DVDs. And CDS. And junk food. I guess there are worse addictions.....

Thursday, 1 December 2005

For Sale: One Slightly Used Jail

Well, for those of you in the market for a jail, the Randolph County Jail is now on EBay. From what I recall, it does need a little bit of repair, but it could make a good home, office, or museum. It's at Historic Randolph County Jail, Huntsville, MO


In other news, we had a very light dusting of snow last night. It wasn't enough to be significant. Despite this, this morning still finds me in a poor mood. "Hazy Shade of Winter" by Simon and Garfunkel keeps going through my head. I have to say it fits the way I feel.

Wednesday, 30 November 2005

Another Musical Interlude

Before anything else I should mention that the old Randolph County Jail is going to be auctioned on EBay. They haven't put it on EBay yet, so I don't have a link for you, but it is supposed to be up for auction by the end of the day. The auction has even made the national news. There is an AP story about it and I guess it made it to TV. That's not bad at all for a medium sized county in the middle of Missouri.

Beyond that today finds me a bit blue. I won't go into the reason here (let's just say my hopes and dreams seem farther away than ever), but today I just feel down. Right now I am in the mood for depressing music. In this case, it is "Turn to Stone" by the Electric Light Orchestra. The song is from their album Out of the Blue. I do believe it was one of the singles off that album and even made the Top Forty. Anyhow, here it is:

"Turn to Stone" by ELO

Tuesday, 29 November 2005

Black Sabbath Makes It into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Yesterday the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced the latest bands and individuals to be inducted on thier March 13, 2006 ceremony. Among the indcutees are legendary heavy metal band Black Sabbath. Gruops and individuals become elgible for induction into the Hall of Fame 25 years after their first record. In the case of the 38 year old Black Sabbath, they were rejected seven times beofre finally being accepted into the Hall of Fame this time around.

Black Sabbath was formed in Birmingham, England in 1967 by Ozzy Osbourne, Terence Butler, Bill Ward, and Tony Iommi. Originally named the Polka Tulk Blues Band (later shortened to Polka Tulk) and later renamed Earth, the group changed its name to Black Sabbath after the song of the same name (possibly inspired by an old Boris Karloff movie). Black Sabbath combined blues style hard rock with elements of the European folk song and power chords. Their lyrics generally dealt with darker themes than other groups around at the time. The result was some of the earliest heavy metal music to ever be recorded. While Led Zeppelin is sometimes classed as heavy metal, it can be argued that they were a hard rock band who occasionally recorded heavy metal songs. On the other hand, there can be no dobut that Black Sabbath was a heavy metal band. In fact, they may have been the first heavy metal band to find success. Their first album, Black Sabbath, brought them a good deal of attention, although it was their second album, Paranoid, with the song of the same title and "Iron Man," that established them as a success. Among other things, Black Sabbath was one of the first groups to deal with fantastic themes in their songs. Besides their horror movie influenced early work, they also recorded such songs "Iron Man (about a man transformed into a creature of metal)" and "Spiral Architect."

Personally, I am a bit shocked that it took seven tries for Black Sabbath to make it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. More than any other group, they helped shape the subgenre of rock music known as heavy metal. Their songs are still played to this day. And the band established the career of Ozzy Osbourne, who would later become a successful solo artist in his own right (not to mention a TV star). Of course, it must be pointed out that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has not been particularly favourable to heavy metal in the past. Off the top of my head, I can only think of one other heavy metal band to make it into the Hall of Fame--Australian band AC/DC.

As to the other inductees, Lynyrd Synyrd made it after seven tries as well. I cannot say that I am overjoyed with that, not being a big fan of the group, but I suppose that they did have an impact on creating southern rock (a subgenre I really don't care for). Among the inductees are also The Sex Pistols. As a Sex Pistols fan, I must say that I am happy about that. They were the first punk band to achieve any sort of prominence. And like Black Sabbath, I am surprised that they were not inducted sooner. Blondie has also made it into the Hall of Fame this time around. I really don't think Blondie had any impact as far as influencing rock genres, atlhough I have always been a Blondie fan. They produced some of my favourite songs from the late Seventies and early Eighties. Of course, I must admit that I had a bit of a crush in high school on Deborah Harry....

Over all I am pleased with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's latest inductees, particuarly Black Sabbath. They have been one of my favourite bands since I was a kid. And I don't think it can be argued that they did not have a lasting impact on rock music.

Sunday, 27 November 2005

Ralph Edwards R.I.P.

Television pioneer Ralph Edwards died November 16, 2005 of congestive heart failure at the age of 92. For those of you who don't know woh Ralph Edwards is, he could be condsidered the father of reality television alongside Allen Funt (of Candid Camera fame) and Art Linklater. Among the shows he created were Truth or Consequences, This is Your Life, and The People's Court, the former two being some of the earliest examples of the reality format. For a man born on Friday the 13th, Edwards could not be described as unlucky.

Ralph Edwards was born on June 13, 1913 near Merino, Colorado. When he was 12 his family moved to Oakland, California. Edwards got his first job in radio in Oakland when he was all of 16. When attending the University of California in Berkley he worked at KROW and KFRC in San Francisco. It was in 1940 that he had his first big hit in radio, the show Truth or Consequencs. The format of the series was simple audience parcipitation. Contestants would have to tell the truth or face the consequences (usually some silly stunt or another). Truth or Consequences was wildly successful. In 1950 Hot Sprints, New Mexico voted to change their name to Truth or Consequences, after the famous show. Truth or Consequences may also have been the first reality show on television. It was also NBC's first commercial TV show. On July 1, 1941, the FCC approved commercial television broadcasts. That same month Truth or Consequnces aired on NBC-TV. World War II interrupted commercial television broadcasts and hence the first run of Truth or Consequnences, but it would return to television in 1950 for an unprecedented 38 year run.

Edwards's other famous creation, This is Your Life, debuted on radio as well. It ran on NBC from 1952 to 1961. This is Your Life featured guests who were tricked into being on the show, then being invited to reminisce about their lives with old friends and co-workers. The show featured guests who were celebrities as well as ordinary people. Among the famous people who appeared on the show were Gloria Swanson, Nat King Cole, Debbie Reyolds, Marlyn Monroe, Andy Griffith, and many others. The show has been revived a few times.

On btoh Truth or Consequnces and This is Your Life, Edwards was the host, although he would eventually hand the hosting chores off to someone else (in the case of Truth or Consequences, it was Bob Barker. He did not host his third famous creation, People's Court. Debuting in 1981, People's Court was one of the earliest shows which featured individuals going before a judge to solve their problems. Edwards also had a hand in many other shows, among them Name That Tune, Supeiror Court, and Wide Country.

Ralph Edwards was a true pioneer in the field of broadcasting. As I said earlier, alongside Allan Funt and Art Linklater he could be said to be the father of reality television. Truth or Consequences was among the earliest audience participation shows, while This is Your Life was one of the earliest shows to focus on the average person. I have never heard what Edwards thought of the current crop of reality shows, whether he liked them or not, but having grown up watching Truth or Consequences and This is Your Life, I think they were on the whole superior to the current crop of reality shows. While I do not know if I would like either show now (tastes do tend to change over the years), it does seem to me that they focused on fun and enjoyment rather than exploitation as many shows do today. Indeed, This is Your Life could even be uplifting. That is more than I think can be said for Fear Factor....