I always knew 1959 was a special year for more than the fact that I was born that year. Turns out Rocky and Bullwinkle debuted on TV the same year this month.
My earlier memory of Rocky and Bullwinkle was actually in the mid 60’s, when my family returned from Tokyo. By that time, is came on Sunday mornings, but it seems that it started out as a prime time cartoon, like the Flintstones.
That’s because it wasn’t really a cartoon for kids. Sure, the animation was goofy and the dialogue, for the most part, was kind of silly. But it was a thinking person’s cartoon. There were a lot of in-jokes and things that you had to have read as far as literature goes, or had to be up on the news. In an odd way, it was the Family Guy of the past, only clean.
It was easily my dad’s favorite cartoon. It was one of the few things we watched together, and he would laugh outrageously at it. I would laugh also, at different things, although I also loved hearing my dad laugh, so that made me laugh too. He also loved Fractured Fairy Tales while I was a Mr. Peabody fan, and every once in awhile, we’d deal with Aesop’s Fables. The little interludes with Bullwinkle’s Corner and Mr. Know-It-All were fun as well, and even now, every once in awhile, I’ll say to my wife “Watch me pull a rabbit out of the hat.”
One of my best memories of Bullwinkle and Rocky actually came while I was in college. My friend Scott and I decided to go to Syracuse University for a Bullwinkle marathon. I don’t even remember which one we saw, but we laughed long and hard throughout the night. We finally got all the jokes that we’d missed when we were younger. What a rush!
At this point, I have two DVDs of Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons, and 4 or 5 VHSs, although I don’t get to watch those all that often; man, what are we all going to do with all those VHS tapes? I was probably one of only 25 people who actually liked the live action mix called The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, and I might be the only one who enjoys the new cartoon they’re working on now. How’s that for being a fan?
Happy Birthday to Rocky and Bullwinkle; what memories do you have of this dynamic duo?
I figured it was time to lighten things up again, and what better way than one of my “favorites” posts, right? This time around, I’ve selected my favorite 13 singers. This is different than the post I did on the top 100 singers because that was just my commentary on the top 10 singers, which were actually performers, of someone else’s. As far as music is concerned, I also did classical music, and a couple of the folks who I used to help highlight some of those pieces are featured here as well.
The problem with doing a list like this is that you’re really limited by who you know and whom you’ve heard of. At least I’ve mixed genres, but there’s a lot of people I left off this list because, well, these types of posts are kind of time consuming to put together. It’s also hard to find something good for all of them, because I wanted them in the video. Some of the most popular folks have most of their videos with the embed turned off, so I had to search around to find what I’m able to show here. A couple of times I just couldn’t use the song I wanted to use to highlight the person either; so be it. Still, I’d listen to any one of these folks sing names from a phone book, I love their voices so much.
Remember, if you want to purchase something for one of these singers, just click on their name. Love to hear your comments on this list, and of course list your favorite singers, and I highlight singers, not performers. That’s for another time, I figure. And here we go:
13. Paul Robeson – This guy never got the credit he deserved for all the talent he possessed, including his singing. Back in the day, he was labeled a Communist, and that was pretty much that as far as a real career goes. But there was no one else who ever had this deep and powerful a voice.
12. Christina Aguilera – Say what you will with some of her personas, when she wants to sing, this girl can “saaang”, as we like to say. As tiny as she is, you just don’t expect this kind of voice coming out of her, with such power and authority, and she’s had this voice since she was 10.
11. Celine Dion – People love to make a parody out of Celine Dion, but no one can take away her voice from her. One of the most popular songs in history is from the movie Titanic; this here is one of my favorites instead.
10. Barbra Streisand – Younger people might not know just how big a deal Barbra Streisand was at one time. She commanded movies, the stage, and records all at once. There wasn’t any style of music this lady couldn’t sing, and to me it’s a tribute to her that she’s behind the people I have on this list because she easily could have been in my top 5.
9. Luciano Pavarotti – Come on, there was no way I could leave Luciano off this list after having him sing one of my favorite classical music pieces. Talk about a powerful voice, and when he was in better shape than his later years, it looked effortless, like in this video from I Pagliacci.
8. Sarah Brightman – The original Cristine from Phantom of the Opera, some people thought she only got the part because she was married to Andrew Lloyd Webber at the time. That is, until they heard her sing. What a sweet voice, and she can do so many things with it.
7. Josh Groban – Some people can’t believe I like this guy because his music is, well, not all that strong. Who cares when he can sing like he can. I think his voice and his music are just perfect together, and he sings so many uplifting songs like this one.
6. Paul Carrack – This one will be a total surprise to many people, who might not know who he is. There are 3 great songs by groups that had him come in and sing the song. Those songs are How Long by Ace, Tempted by Squeeze, and Living Years by Mike & the Mechanics. What a classic voice; he had to be on this list.
5. Kathleen Battle – If you remember the classical music post, you’ll remember how I said I wanted to marry this one when I was younger. Just an amazing voice, and not bad to look at, and she can hit high notes like very others.
4. Kiri Te Kanawa – Kiri goes the other way. She’s got a powerful also voice that grabs your soul and makes you want to follow her around. She was actually my real introduction into opera singers, as I just wasn’t paying attention to Beverly Sills voice when she was on the Muppet Show; hey, I was in college!
3. Sam Cooke – Man, we lost him way too early. What a voice, and unfortunately, what a terrible video to use to highlight it. But, as I said, I wanted you to see him live. His voice was just so smooth and soulful, even if he was singing a fast song. No, this one’s not fast; but I love it.
2. Mariah Carey – Of course my top two are easy for anyone who knows me. I once told my wife that Mariah is the only woman I’d leave her for, and even then she’d have to sing two songs for me first. This is one of them; I’m not telling you what the other one is. lol
1. Michael Jackson – This one was easy for you to guess, coming from me. Man, I miss him so much, and I hate that anything new that comes out won’t be followed with a new video. I loved lots of songs that he did; this one was probably his most powerful overall.
Now, it’s time for my top 19 favorite classical pieces ever. But it comes with a twist. Instead of just saying I like Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, which isn’t on the list so it’s a throwaway favorite, I’m indicating which movement is my favorite if it’s a long piece. That is, if there is a favorite within a long piece, which you’ll see what I mean as I go through some of these.
I’m betting this won’t be one of my more popular posts, as I’ve got a feeling most folks who stop by here probably aren’t into classical music as much as they might be into TV, but hey, I wanted to do something like this, with clips and such, and so here we go. By the way, these particular posts take a lot of time to put together, but I’m trying to show y’all that, when necessary, I will put in the time to bring you something special; whether you like it or not. By the way, Beethoven is my favorite composer, and you’ll see a lot of his stuff here.
In reverse order, here we go:
19. Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances – I have to say this up front; I hate ballet. I don’t like dance like this. I do, however, love the music of a bunch of ballets. This is one of my favorites, though I don’t have any stories saying why because I really don’t know why. I couldn’t get a video that just keyed in on the part I love the most, but it’s contained within here.
18. Orff’s Carmina Burana – I first heard this in college and was blown away by the power of the chorus. This was definitely something I wasn’t prepared for, and yet I loved it from the minute I heard it. I used to know all the lyrics to this bad boy; those days are gone. O Fortuna is the first song from Carmina Burana, and I decided to share a bit of my favorite artist of all time, Michael Jackson, with this song.
17. Gershwin’s An American In Paris – This is a very long piece, almost 24 minutes long, so the video I have of it will only give a short portion from the beginning. I grew to love this song when I saw Gene Kelly, one of my favorite old movie stars, in the movie of the same name. Now this guy was a man’s man when it came to dancing, and the dance sequence was something else. The music was perfect for what they did with it.
16. Puccini’s Turandot, Nessun Dorma – This is a classic opera piece, and within the last couple of years, it was made popular again by Paul Potts, who won Britian’s Got Talent with it. However, the guy who owns the song as his own is Luciano Pavarotti, who I have singing it here.
15. Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess, Summertime – One of the most famous opening songs in operatic history, Gershwin gets two places from me with this powerful song, here sung by Kathleen Battle, who I was going to marry in my past life so she would just sing to me every night. Later I heard she can sometimes be difficult to work with, so I guess I got lucky there.
14. Randall Thompson’s Alleluia – This is one of my favorite choral pieces, and I’m sure it has something to do with it also being one of the first choral pieces I sung when I was a freshman in college. I’ll own up to it; I had problem singing German lyrics, even though I learned how to speak a little German, as well as write it, when I was 10 years old. Those days were gone by the time I reached college, though. But this is one word throughout, crafted well by Thompson, and I always imagined that we sounded this good every time out.
13. Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, choral part – My first Beethoven piece on this list, the choral part could actually also be called the fourth movement. The reason it’s not is because it’s a fantasy, not a symphony or a concerto, even though the piano is prominent throughout the piece. I always want to play this piece; instead, I was one of the boys of the chorus, but not very good since it was German once again.
12. Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata, 2nd movement – I don’t know a piano player worth anything who hasn’t played this piece. It was one of the few classical pieces that I actually knew how to play without music, and I played it very well if you ask me. However, it’s also the piece I played for my first piano teacher in college, who absolutely cringed when he heard me play it the first time. He asked me where I heard it from, and I told him from a Glenn Gould record; seems Gould was considered a “hack” by “true” classical pianists; who knew? So, I played it his way sometimes, and the way others played it at other times. Kind of like this version here.
11. Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore, “My gallant crew, good morning” – Gilbert & Sullivan wrote some pretty funny stuff, and it was how political commentary was done back in their day. This particular song is one of the funniest, in my opinion, as it cites a captain who’s more interested in how he’s perceived by his men than in how the job gets done.
Top Ten Time!
10. Beethoven’s 6th Symphony, 1st movement – Also known as the Pastoral Symphony, Beethoven easily captured the free spirit and loveliness of being out in the wilderness. There’s a video montage to this song in Disney’s Fantasia that matches up to the music really well. When I need to calm down some evenings, this is one of the pieces I put on.
9. Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, overture – I love this entire piece, and actually had hoped to play it at my wedding one day, at least the recessional part. I have to say that the movies they’ve made for this are, well, weird, especially the one with Mickey Rooney in it as a young man; I’m not really sure how old he was. It’s actually another ballet where I love the music and the singing, but hate the dancing.
8. Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus, overture – Since there were so many Strauss’ who composed music, you get his first name here. Okay, I admit it; I grew to love this piece because of a Tom and Jerry cartoon. Many old cartoons were matched up with classical pieces, which is probably why I like them so much.
7. Bizet’s Carmen, Habanera – Who hasn’t heard Carmen, let alone this piece, which is Carmen’s signature song? What’s wild about this clip is that the first time I ever saw Carmen, this is the lady who was singing it, Agnes Baltsa, and that was back in the late 80’s. This guy at the hospital I was working at invited me to go, as he had box seats, and man, I’ve never gone to another opera if I couldn’t get box seats.
6. Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, 1st Movement – I love this entire piece, and it was my dad’s favorite piece of music ever. The first movement is spectacular, and there’s no build up to it.
5. Prokofiev’s 3rd Piano Concerto, 3rd Movement – I’d never heard this piece of music, though I knew of Prokofiev because he also wrote Peter and the Wolf, until I saw the movie The Competition with Richard Dreyfuss and Amy Irving; I had a major crush on Amy Irving at the time. They have her “playing” this song at the end of the movie, which wins her the competition. It’s one of those piano pieces that not only sounds great, but visually it’s a stunning performance piece. There are two ways of playing the ending on the piano; one has a lot more flash than the other one.
4. Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, 4th Movement – Beethoven’s 9th Symphony is also known as the Choral Symphony, and the 4th movement is also known as Ode To Joy. Imagine this; it was Beethoven’s last symphony, and he was deaf when he wrote it, then conducted it. And, while he was conducting it, he got the timing incorrect, but the orchestra played it the way it had been rehearsed by someone else. In total it’s a great piece, but this finale is, well, classic.
3. Beethoven’s 5th Piano Concerto, 2nd movement – Yup, another Beethoven piece. The 5th Piano Concerto is also known as the Emperor Concerto, as it was written for Napoleon. However, Beethoven realized what kind of man Napoleon actually was and stripped “emperor” from it. However, it was put back after his death, and people still call it that. By the way, in its entirety this is my favorite piano concerto of all time.
2. Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, 1st Movement – This is just spectacular, and once again it’s a very long piece of music. It was considered way out there in his time, so much so that it was actually hated and scorned for about 10 years, until he brought it to the United States and became a star. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the entire 1st movement without the whole concerto, but it’s all good.
1. Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto, 2nd Movement – This is the very first song I pull out when I need relaxing, and one that I practiced for two years, only to get very close but no cigar on. It sounds like it would be easy to play, but homeboy must have had big hands because my hands just couldn’t get it done. Many of you will recognize part of this from a song Eric Carmen did in the 70’s called All By Myself. And it’s this piece that I actually have on videotape from the 80’s of Andre Watts playing, which I’d hoped would be on YouTube; oh well… At least you get Yuga Wang again; hotness! 🙂
And there you are, my favorite classical pieces. Of course there are plenty more that I could have thrown in, but this post is long enough, even if most of it is video. Please, listen to some of them, and let me know what you think.
Now it’s time for a new list, and the idea for this one comes from Extreme John, who wrote this post about his top 10 favorite TV shows, and asked people to tell him what they were on his blog. I decided to do it here instead and link back to him, giving him credit for the idea, mainly because it allows me to talk about why I liked these shows, as he did, possibly add a short video, and of course add an affiliate link to each of them, just in case you loved the shows also and I spark enough nostalgia in you that you just have to go and buy it. No, it didn’t work for the movies, but one never stops trying, right?
I have to admit that this one is tougher than the movies were. The rules have to change somewhat, since, as you’ll see, some of these kind of have the same title. But they were different shows, so it doesn’t count. Here we go.
10. Family Guy – The first time I saw this show, I laughed like there was no tomorrow. When they took it off, I thought someone was the biggest moron I’d never heard of. When they brought it back, it told me that someone was paying attention to the fact that they had an irreverent hit on their hands, not typical fare, and people liked it. How many other shows went off the air for 3 years, then came back as a hit; oh yeah, none!
9. Flip Wilson – This was the first black hosted variety show that lasted for longer than 15 minutes, which is about how long Nat King Cole’s show lasted back in the 50’s. Flip Wilson’s show was something much different, and for four seasons, he ruled Thursday nights. Something about NBC and great Thursday night shows over history.
8. Bugs Bunny Show – This one might not count, but I’m putting it here because I just couldn’t wait for Saturday mornings so I could watch this baby. For those of you much younger, we used to only have 3 channels in the days before PBS, and, for me, CBS ruled because they had Bugs Bunny. Man, when I finally got to see them in my own home in color,… I almost burst! They shut down the embed for this one, but you can check it out here.
7. Simpsons – We owe a lot to Tracy Ullman for having these short cartoons throughout her weekly TV show. This show is now in it’s, what, 12th year, and every show is still something totally brand new and offbeat. How many Simpson characters can you name in one sitting? Can you think of any other cartoon that has so many characters in an episodic setting that you know how each one is supposed to act, let alone sound?
6. Law and Order – I was late to this show, but once I started watching it, I was hooked. I love the formula, where we establish the crime, solve the crime, then try to prosecute the crime because sometimes we didn’t quite solve the right crime and the right criminal. It’s formulaic, but it’s comfortable, and you never quite know the outcome.
5. Sanford and Son – You couldn’t get away with this type of show in today’s world, but the world was ready for a break down and laugh out loud show starring a black actor. In this case it was Redd Foxx, who had previously been known for what were then known as “party records,” or raunchy comedy records. Bill Cosby and Diahann Carroll may have come first, but those two shows were muted by comparison. White folks at the time weren’t ready for this show, but black people were; especially this clip, which they won’t show on TV anymore.
4. Star Trek – This was the show that started it all for me. This was the more serious show, at least most of the time, to its outer space counterpart at the time, Lost In Space. I have to tell you folks that I kind of owe my life to the concepts of logic and Mr. Spock, but Captain Kirk has given my the most endearing line of my entire life, something I will always live by and, I believe, others need to live by also: “I don’t believe in the no-win scenario.” Okay, that’s from the second movie, but still,… Take that, Kobiyashi Maru! What Star Trek fan hasn’t at some time found themselves humming this tune?
3. X-Files – If you can imagine a single guy looking to go out on Friday nights but having to stay in and watch a TV show first, that’s what X-Files did to me. For eight seasons this was the show that I just couldn’t miss, and man, I really wanted Scully to finally see those aliens. The science on the show was just plausible enough to pass the muster, and as a thriller it was unsurpassed as far as TV fare went, and that was good enough for me.
2. Star Trek – Next Generation – Okay, you’re probably wondering why this show ranks higher than the original Star Trek. It’s mainly because I felt like this cast was a part of my family, whereas I felt like the original Star Trek cast were people I needed to look up to and respect, more like, well, parents. Most of this cast was close to my age except Captain Picard, and tell me has there ever been a cooler short, bald man? Except for Data, and possibly the captain, these people were folks I could have hung out with, even if I didn’t understand every word they were saying. I almost cried on the last episode; now that’s dedication.
1. Muppet Show – Okay, like y’all didn’t know this one was coming, with all the Muppet clips I post on this blog. Oddly enough, not counting sports, this was the only TV show I watched while I was in college. There was just something about Kermit and his goofy friends that resonated with me, and of course the guest stars were something else. My favorite episode ever was the one with Harry Belafonte, but since I’ve already posted that video, here’s another classic that I’ve always liked, that I’ve never shared before.
And there you are, my top 10 TV shows. Go ahead, comment, share yours if you wish, and have fun with it.
Michael Jackson; I have nothing else to say right now, other than he’s been my favorite performer for over 40 years. Video; actually, not all that many. All the other videos have had the embed disabled; heck. Anyway, that’s all I have for the day, but as I find more videos, I’ll be adding them.
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