Sunday, July 30, 2017

My Top 10 Favorite Songs with Words

It's high time I wrote about music on this site, and also I've been blogging for several months now, and so I think it's time to count down my top 10 favorite non-instrumental, non-John Williams tunes.

Here they are. And there will be no seagulls on the list. Be prepared for a list mostly made up of charity motivation songs and other musical equivalents of Very Special Episodes.

10. "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift (2014). I don't particularly like Taylor's music, but she sure is good-looking. This is one of her only songs I find myself actually liking. The song's message paired with Taylor's looks make this a good #10.

9. "The Greatest Discovery" by Elton John (1994). This ballad of a baby boy being born was on a CD I listened to a lot as a young child. I think it's the nostalgia of childhood that makes me like this song so much. This also qualifies as a charity motivation song, since the CD it was on was released with sales beneficial to the Pediatric AIDS foundation.

8. "100 Years" by Five for Fighting (2000). It makes me cry because it prompts feelings that life's too short. So make the most of it every day. There's only one life. You're "fifteen for a moment", and then you grow up, and things change, but you always have to be making the most of your life.

7. "We Are the World" by USA for Africa (1985). This is the definitive charity single. The message is timeless, and the only thing that would make it better is if children sang it. Oh wait they Super Bowl 27. However, it's hard to take the 2010 reissue seriously after the original has been so often parodied.

6. "Light It Up Blue" by a bunch of kids from Pelham, NY (2012). This charity single released by the possibly uncharitable Autism Speaks ("Hey, I'm looking for a Vera Hategroup!") in 2012 has very simple lyrics, but these lyrics pack an emotional punch, and the montages of blue lights on all the world's landmarks (though possibly for the wrong reasons) can warm your heart.

5. "Fight Song" by Rachel Platten (2016). This female empowerment anthem was played at Hillary Clinton's rallies (although Rachel Platten would make a better president than Hillary Clinton), and written for the 2016 Christian film Miracles from Heaven. Rachel's lyrics are powerful, she truly fights with her words, and my mother likes this song too. This also makes Rachel's Nationwide jingle just as good.

4. "Do They Know It's Christmas" by Band Aid (2012). First, I want to clear up something. For those of you who are certain this song originally came out in 1984, it did, but I typed 2012 because the song was reissued in 2012, with some lyrics changed to be about the Sandy Hook tragedy rather than the '80s Ethiopian famine, and I prefer the 2012 version to the 1984 original. 
Also, the contribution of many artists coming together to raise money is always moving. But this song is actually kinda dark. The original 1984 version contains the lyrics "Tonight thank God it's them instead of you." Why should we thank God that other people are suffering and we're not? Good thing the 2012 version changed the line to "Tonight we're reaching out and touching you", which I heavily prefer. (Correction: I prefer "Tonight we're here to say a prayer for you." "Touching you" could be taken as sexual.)

3. "The Sun Shines in Heaven" by Marissa Wendt (2013). This is another Sandy Hook tribute song. The story of how it was written inspired me to write a 43-page screenplay about the tragedy and the impetus for the song. The song was written by Marissa and her father (who reads my blog) and the music video is lovely. Unlike Baby Kaely's Sandy Hook tribute rap song.


2. "We All Sing With the Same Voice" by Tracey Wise (1982).
This song was from Sesame Street. It's since been retired from appearance on the show because it was aging, but in my opinion, this song will never age. If you don't already remember the classic song from watching Sesame Street as a child, it's footage shot at a Manhattan playground of about forty-something children singing the song, line by line, about their differences and similarities. The song's title is expressed literally in that all the children are dubbed with the vocal stylings of 11-year-old Tracey Wise, who must have been really talented in order to become the universal voice of childhood (and needs to be a Mystery Guest on Ask Me Another).
Wise's husband has spoken out online about the fact that his wife never received credit for singing the song, even though it has become a classic. I agree with him. Sesame Street never credits their child talent, even though their pieces featuring children have become some of their most classic. The now 47-year-old Tracey probably now shares her responsibility on this song as "an interesting fact about her."

1. "Together We Can Change the World" by Rilee O'Neill and the SIFA Africa Choir (2008).
This is a charity single...for nothing and anything. It wasn't meant to raise money for anything in particular. It was just meant to encourage people of all ages to make a difference. The song was written by Mark Shepard and Ginny Dye and performed by a local girl with a good singing voice and a Ugandan choir. It is simple, moving, and catchy. That's why I ranked it #1. Watch the video here.
This song is essentially my personal philosophy put into song - all life is equal, people should live in harmony with each other, and every person is unlimited, unstoppable, and can make a difference - but the biggest difference can be made when the world works together. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

10 Board Game Tie-Ins I'd Like to See

Recently there has been a surge of licensed board games like Transformers Risk, Marvel Guess Who, and Harry Potter Clue. With that rush to slap your franchise onto a popular board game, there are a few tie-ins of board games that need to happen but haven't yet. Let's look at some hopes for hilarious board game tie-ins and/or adaptations that need to become real things, in no particular order.

1. 2-Player Risk: American Presidential Election Edition. Considering that last year's presidential election might have been the second American Civil War, it would be a fun exercise in teaching about the American political system if this was real. You'd have a Republican army and a Democrat army, and they try to rule enough states to get the 270 to win. Unrealistic but cool. You could have it in schools for educational purposes.

2. Healthy Land. It's like Candy Land, but for parents worried about their kids' health. Watch as your kids have fun tromping through a land of fruits and vegetables. Just watch them.

3. Eels and Escalators. This "Chutes and Ladders"-ish game that SpongeBob SquarePants plays needs to be real. So many fans of the show have already demanded it. My only problem with this is, it may not make much sense, considering you will almost never see an eel and an escalator in the same place. But who ever said board games had to make sense?

4. Monopolyopoly. In which each property on the Monopoly board is a different popular licensed Monopoly game. So instead of Virginia Avenue and Atlantic Avenue you have to buy (and put hotels on) Horse Lover's Monopoly and Star Wars Monopoly. Perfect for people who want to own every one of the 2,000 existing versions of Monopoly (and love them all).

5. The Price is Wheel of Jeopardy Feud - Home Version. Recently game shows have done in-a-box home versions so people can "play" the shows at home without having to watch them. But this mash-up between the four most popular game shows of all time really needs to be a household essential. I don't know how it would work, though. The four shows are all so different.

6. Connect Eight. Double-size a classic and make it tougher. Enough said.

7. Celebrity Guess Who. 
"Did your actor star in Star Wars?"
"Is she still alive?"
"Is she under 30?"
"Is she British?"
"Daisy Ridley!"
"You got it!"

8. Upside-Down Pictionary. Draw whatever you have to draw upside down, but the guesser can't turn upside down to guess it. Or would that be too challenging?

9. Seinfeld Taboo. "Ask Me Another'' once played a Seinfeld-themed version of Taboo on their program, in which the clue-givers said things like "You can't have any of this hot food because I'm a mean restaurant owner." The answer of course being, "No soup for you." If Ask Me Another endorses it, it needs to be a real game.

10. Leo Finelli The Game of Life. 
"Oh, look, what does it mean when I land on "Three Day Long Desire to Contact a Little-Known Hollywood Female?" Confusing, but I'd be flattered.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Emergency Christmas Post in July

I don't usually do any sort of Christmas in July, unless you count writing, and like Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass, most of my writing winds up being Christmas-related, such as the new version of the "Nutcracker" that I am working on and "The Sun Shines in Heaven".

But since I do so much writing and most of it winds up being holiday oriented, it's time to discuss something I came up with recently so you can read my writings and see this in them: The 5 Types of Christmas Specials.

Yes, there are different TYPES of Christmas Specials, and I divide them into 5 categories based on what they present the "True Meaning of Christmas" as.

TYPE ONE CHRISTMAS SPECIALS present the True Meaning of Christmas as the Biblical True Meaning of Christmas - the birth of Jesus.
Well known examples: A Charlie Brown Christmas

TYPE TWO CHRISTMAS SPECIALS are the most common. They present the True Meaning of Christmas as the fact that it is better to give than to receive, and that the actions of one can touch another.
Well known examples: It's A Wonderful Life, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Christmas Carol

TYPE THREE CHRISTMAS SPECIALS are not so much about giving (your only begotten son or otherwise). Rather, Type Threes are about believing (though not necessarily in Santa Claus) and always being a child at heart.
Well known examples: Miracle on 34th Street, The Year Without a Santa Claus, The Polar Express, The Nutcracker

TYPE FOUR CHRISTMAS SPECIALS say that Christmas is about accepting people no matter how different from you they are.
Well known examples: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (My "The Sun Shines in Heaven" is also a Type Four.)

TYPE FIVE CHRISTMAS SPECIALS say that the True Meaning of Christmas, in two words, is "family togetherness."
Well known examples: Home Alone, A Christmas Story

So, in short:

Type One = about Jesus
Type Two = about generosity
Type Three = about believing
Type Four = about acceptance
Type Five = about family

If you're reading my blog...I hope to get as many people to say, by Thanksgiving, what type they resonate most with.

So what type resonates most with you?

Saturday, July 15, 2017

10 College Football Bowls With Awful Names, Past, Present, and in One Case, Future

Very soon I will be posting my 2017 college football predictions on this blog. I'm not telling you who's going to win the national championship.

Okay, okay, it's Alabama, because they can never go two years without winning one.

But now let's talk about the bowl games. Everybody knows about the big ones (the Rose, Sugar, Orange, etc.) but if you're running a two-bit bowl like the Frisco Bowl or the Pinstripe Bowl, this post on regrettable bowl names is for you.

There are 39 bowls in college football but I wish there were still only twenty-something (that's how it was when I was born) and now they all have sponsors. So here's my list of college football bowls of the past and present with awful names, presented by

1. Any bowl named after the city or state in which it is played. 
Fort Worth Bowl, New Orleans Bowl, New Mexico Bowl, Arizona Bowl, St. Petersburg Bowl...but my favorites are the Las Vegas Bowl, which used to be played in Fresno, where it had the awesome name of California Raisin Bowl (!) and the Texas Bowl. There are five bowls played in Texas and out of all of them, the one in Houston gets to be called the Texas Bowl. Even "Houston Bowl" would be a better name than Texas Bowl. Which it actually used to be called, from 2003 to 2005.

2. Bowl. The Texas Bowl has a long history. It started in 1968 as the Bluebonnet Bowl. And as I mentioned above, it was the Houston Bowl from 2003 to 2005, and in 2006 it assumed its current name. But from 1999 to 2002, it was the Bowl.
It seems more of an insult than a reward to be crowned Bowl Champions. You do not want that in your school's trophy case.

Also, I've checked out It's pretty boring.

3. TaxSlayer Bowl. Formerly the Gator Bowl, this one is played in Jacksonville, FL, and has the most boring logo of all bowls, too.

It's just the words "TaxSlayer Bowl" and a football. 

4. The many faces of Tangerine. A bowl with so many names, here's a complete list of when it used all its names:

Tangerine Bowl (1972-92; 2001-03, 2017-present)
CarQuest Bowl (1993-97) Bowl (1998-2000)
Champs Sports Bowl (2004-2011)
Russell Athletic Bowl (2012-2016)

The Bowl sounds as bad as the Bowl. The CarQuest Bowl is pretty bad, too.

5. Bowl. This was the original name of what is now the Birmingham Bowl. And in my opinion, attending the PapaJohns Bowl is cool. Attending the bowl is not. You may notice a pattern here, so I'll go ahead and say that any bowl with ".com" in its name is an uncool bowl to win.

6. Boardwalk Bowl. Played from 1964 to 1972 during the winter offseason in Atlantic City, NJ. Why are you going to call it the Boardwalk Bowl if it's being played at a time when nobody is using the boardwalk? You can see why it didn't last. Many of its installments were played in sub-freezing temperatures.

7. GoDaddy Bowl. Last year this one had its name changed to Dollar General Bowl. Thank goodness for that, because if you don't know what GoDaddy is, this bowl's name is even worse. GoDaddy is a web company, just so you know.

8. Susan G. Komen for the Cure Bowl. All I can say is: WHAT? Is the Autism Speaks Bowl next? ("Hey, I'm looking for a Vera Hategroup!")

9. Alphabet Bowl. This one is in the works and will be first played on December 22, 2018. I already said that if your bowl game has ".com" in its name, it stinks (sorry, my parents won't let me type "sucks") but the worst part is that it's the Alphabet Bowl. What's the special connection between and the alphabet? doesn't seem to have a specialty with the alphabet, except for the fact that I got my new Scrabble tiles from there.

10. Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. This one is THE WORST BOWL NAME EVER. It doesn't work at all. Decent bowls like the Rose, Sugar, and Cotton are named after crops. Little Caesars is not the most reliable of pizza brands, and pizza is not a crop.

I've gone a couple lines down, and pizza is still not a crop.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

10 Worst Wheel of Fortune Fails

I usually tune in for Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! every night, be it on NBC in Charlotte, FOX in Ocean City, MD, CBS at Litchfield Beach, SC, or ABC in Columbia, SC. (Both shows are syndicated.)

But Wheel of Fortune has been pretty outrageous lately. Here are some relatively recent mis-solves of puzzles that I found hilarious.

10. Solution to the puzzle: "Corner curio cabinet"
Missolved as: "Corno curo cabinet" He mangled the words.

9. Solution to the puzzle: "Mythological hero Achilles"
Missolved as: "Mythological hero Aikyllus" (The entire puzzle was solved, the guy just had to call it out, and he mispronounced "Achilles". You have to pronounce every word correctly.)

8. Solution to the puzzle: "Happy, Grumpy, Doc, Bashful, Dopey, Sneezy, and Sleepy"
Missolved as: "Happy, Grumpy, Doc, Bashful, Dopey, Sneaky, and Sleepy"
There's no dwarf named Sneaky.

7. Solution to the puzzle: "Self portrait"
Missolved as: "Self potato"

6. Solution to the puzzle: "Surf city here we come"
Missolved as: "Surf clay where we go"
And the entire last word, "come", was already clear.

5. Solution to the puzzle: "The Painted Desert"
Missolved as:"The Pointed Desert"
And then someone bought an O and missolved it again as "The Pointed Desert". Pat had to sort of yell, "No, it is NOT "The Pointed Desert!"

4. Solution to the puzzle: "A Streetcar Named Desire"
Missolved as: Not missolved, but a contestant did guess a K when only the M was left, implying that he thought it was "A Streetcar Naked Desire".

3. Solution to the puzzle: "Magic Wand"
Missolved as: "Magic hand? Magic band. Magic...kand, sand, vand, yand. Magic fand! Magic pand! Magic jand. Mand. Wand. (time runs out) Oh, wand! Awwww!" 
He finally got "wand", but his ten seconds were up. (It was the Bonus Round.) I would have gotten it immediately. (Who ever heard of a magic jand?)

2. Solution to the puzzle: "A group of well-wishers"
Missolved as: "A group of pill-pushers"
The puzzle read: A GRO_P O_  _ _LL-_ _ SH_RS. The guy guessed "pill-pushers" even though all the Ps had been plugged in. When this episode originally aired on October 26, 1999, the blunder was censored by a 10-second commercial.

1. Solution to the puzzle: "I Walk the Line by Johnny Cash"
Missolved as: "I Have the Wine by Johnny Cash"
The puzzle read: I  _A_ _ THE _INE BY _OHNNY _A_H. The Hs and Es were in, so the contestant should've known the second word was not "have". But under pressure, you might not be aware.

So my list is complete. I'm at the beach right now, and I've been watching Wheel. I'm also hoping one of the beachwear stores sells a yand.

Or a jand.

Or I could just work on my self-potato, whatever that would look like.

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