Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Last 10 CDs We've Listened To: The Cars to Cold War Kids

Before we get this entry underway, we want to express our condolences to the families of Alison Parker of Martinsville, Va., and Adam Ward of Salem, Va. The reporter-video photographer team was murdered while on assignment for WDBJ-7 (CBS, Roanoke, Va.) in the Smith Mountain Lake town of Moneta, Va. Parker was 24; Ward was 27.

Roanoke is our hometown, and the area is still in mourning five days after the shooting incident which occurred at 6:45 a.m. The assailant lead state police on a wild chase which ended with his suicide en route from Front Royal, Va., to the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC, on I-66, some four hours north of the scene of the homicides.

Kimberly McBroom, the morning anchor when the shooting occurred,  stayed on-air to report breaking news updates throughout the day. Nadia Singh anchored the weekend morning show which Parker had anchored. And, former "Roanoke Times" journalist and book author Beth Macy wrote a heratfelt piece in "The New York Times" about the community's devastation.

Now, here is our top ten Last Ten CDs We've Listened To list, which includes some hip bands from this decade, such as Cold War Kids (we are using the center image of Misha the Bear in their honor), who will perform in Houston, Tex., Sept. 12th, and Fitz and the Tantrums who will perform Sept. 4th and 5th in Aspen, Colo.

The list also includes some older bands including INXS (pict. top), Talking Heads, and The Cars (we use the Jaguar car, pict. bottom, for them) as well as New Order!

Here is the list:

1. Fitz and The Tantrums, Pickin' Up the Pieces, 2010

2. INXS, Kick, 1987

3. Cold War Kids, Loyalty to Loyalty, 2008

4. Talking Heads, Speaking in Tongues, 1983

5. The Cars, Candy O, 1979

6. Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks, 1974

7. Josh Ritter, The Animal Years, 2006

8. Weezer, Make Believe, 2005

9. Peter, Bjorn and John, Gimme Some, 2011

10. New Order, Republic, 1993 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Sunday Washington Post Comic Strips Survey: Steve Jobs in Hell

Greetings to our blog readers in Cuba, Denmark, and Egypt.....

This week, Scott Hilburn took the brave task of having his comic strip "The Argyle Sweater" take on the complex and surreal topic of what the late Steve Jobs  (pict. top) would have to deal with if he ended up in hell. In the comic strip, which does not have set characters like "Peanuts" or "Garfield," two demons give Jobs an iPhone and play several practical jokes on him through the device which of course irritates the cellphone entrepreneur.

The comic strip "Lio" also took to fantasy escapism with a strip that has Lio, the title character, whistling at his father to look at a shark fin floating in make-shift outdoor pool. The image for this strip that we are using is of two shark fins at a pharmacy in Yokohama, Japan.

Jim Toomey's comic strip "Sherman's Lagoon" regularly features sharks as well. In this week's strip, Sherman, the title character and a shark, tries to talk to his Uncle Phil via Skype and there are technical problems as well as mutual difficulties in finding things to talk about.

Insects also figured prominently in several Sunday strips this week including Keith Knight's autobiographical "Knight Life" in which two mosquitoes (bottom image) try to bite his legs and converse with each other in the process!

Here is our top ten:

1. The Argyle Sweater 

2. Foxtrot

3. WuMo

4. Pearls Before Swine

5. Lio

6. Knight Life

7. Sherman's Lagoon

8. Brewster Rockit: Space Guy

9. Candorville

10. Dustin

Monday, August 17, 2015

Comic Strip Survey: For the First Time, We Check Out the Baltimore Sun

Greetings to our blog readers in Hong Kong, Turkey, and Germany........

This week for the first time in the eight-year history of this blog, we look at Sunday comic strips from "The Baltimore Sun." We were hoping to see "Zippy the Pinhead," and as it turns out, yesterday Bill Griffith's comic strip was truly a piece of art. Today, he made vintage fun of Donald Trump; even Bao Bao, the panda at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., isn't such an easy target.

Omigosh, we just made a major faux paux as it is considered rude to mention Washington, D.C., when one is talking about Baltimore. Fortunately, when I briefly met John Waters, a cult film director from Charm City, in 2002, I did not make this mistake. But, I only talked to him for about eight seconds, which is how long I spent talking to Willie Nelson backstage at a Farm Aid concert  around that same time.

"The Baltimore Sun" features several comic strips which we don't see in the other newspapers we survey, like "The Washington Post" (whoops again!), including "Mother Goose and Grimm," "The Middletons," and "One Big Happy." All three of those strips made our big list.

First place goes to "Foxtrot," which features the family going out for a Sunday picnic at a state park in a place like The Humpback Bridge State Park in Covington, Va., and they encounters all sorts of natural elements likes ticks (top image), poison ivy, and snakes. Of course, in Florida, they would also have to worry about alligators.

Third place goes to "Speed Bump," in which a judge (center image) tweets his verdict, somehow we can't imagine Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas doing such a thing (ahhh, that's the third D.C. reference).

And, in sixth place, we have "Mother Goose and Grimm," which ironically has a nursery rhyme themed strip (given its title) as Humpty Dumpty falls off his great wall. We actually didn't get the Obamacare gag (and, that makes four), but we liked the strip enough as it is.

Now, let's give this list which you can perhaps read on the Metro after you've come back from seeing that new Woody Allen movie at the Landmark E-Street, we are up to five!:

1) Foxtrot

2) Pearls Before Swine

3) Speed Bump

4) Dilbert

5) Get Fuzzy

6) Mother Goose and Grimm

7) The Middletons

8) One Big Happy

9) Garfield

10) Zits

Friday, August 14, 2015

Comic Strip Conversations: Pickles to Sherman's Lagoon

Here a sample of Sunday comic strip lines pasted together as if they are one singular long conversation. The images above are of: 1) Dilbert, 2) Zits, and 3) Baldo. Other comic strips featured in this piece are "Pickles," "Pearls Before Swine," and "Judge Parker" as well as "Sherman's Lagoon."
1. "That sounds like an excuse" (Dilbert, May 3rd)

2. "So what are you guys going to do tonight?" (Zits, March 29th)

3. "I'll be in my cubicle I have work to do," (Judge Parker, March 29th)

4. "There must be something you can do for me." (Hagar the Horrible, March 29th)

5. "How much experience do you have?" (Pearls Before Swine, Dec. 7th, 2014)

6. "How long can I play in the NFL? We'll see." (Jump Start, Sept. 21st, 2014)

7. "I had a weird dream last night." (Pickles, March 29th)

8. "Milk Duds." ("Baldo, Dec. 7th, 2014)

9. "There's lasagna in the oven," (Sherman's Lagoon, March 29th)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Comic Strip Conversations: Judge Parker is Always Good for This

Some three years ago, we took comic strip dialogue lines and pasted them together as if it was one conversation. The process is a bit cumbersome and challenging, but the results are sometimes quite intriguing. Comic strips with lots of talking like "Judge Parker" and "Sally Forth" are good for this.

1. "Are You Crying?" (Phoebe and Her Unicorn, Aug. 9th)

2. ".........My cartoonist still hasn't come up with an idea for today's comic strip" (Ziggy, Aug. 9th, top image)

3. "When is Mark Leaving for Hong Kong?" (Judge Parker, Aug. 9th)

4. "How long have you guys been married?" (Pickles, July 26th, pict. center)

5. "Oh, great, what does that old goat want now? (Blondie, July 26th, pict. bottom)

6. "We Need a Vacation" (Muts, July 26th)

7. "So, what do think of today's comic books?" (Funky Winkerbean, July 26th)

8. "You ever think about aliens from outer space?" (Jump Start, July 26th)

9. "Everything, I could possibly wish for is right here," (Sally Forth, Aug. 2nd)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

10 Favorite Comic Strips from Sunday Washington Post: The Foxtrot Kids Scream at Ice Cream

We are a bit pressed for time today, so let's just mention which specific comic strips made our top ten for this week (from the Sunday "Washington Post"). We picked "Foxtrot" as our top selection of the week; in the Sunday strip the kids gripe about how limited the choices are in the neighborhood ice cream stand, of course, one of the Foxtrot kids as for Hexagonal Prism?

Second place goes to "Sherman's Lagoon" where lava lamps and garden gnomes (pict. center) are on the verge of becoming house cleaning casualties. But, Sherman promises to save them at any cost.

Third place goes to "Lio," with this week's strip reminding us of "The Addams Family" (pict. bottom) as Lio sees a hand creeping up through wet cement and he resolves this scary conflict in a typical confident matter.

Here is the top ten:

1. Foxtrot

2. Sherman's Lagoon

3. Lio

4. WuMo

5. Knight Life

6. Brewster Rockit: Space Guy

7. Rhymes with Orange

8. Pearls Before Swine

9. Dustin

10. Doonesbury

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Best Ten Comic Strips Sunday Greensboro News and Record: Hoorary for the Unicorns

Greetings to our blog readers in Belgium, Cyprus, and Slovakia, all European Union countries. We just got a notice from our server that we are supposed to tell all EU nation citizens who might come to this blog about our cookies. We have no idea what that really means, but we will try to accommodate you in any way you can, or we'll just refer to Cong. Virginia Foxx (R-NC).....we just love making fun of Republicans.

Foxx does not actually represent Greensboro, NC, in Congress, but we gather she represents Winston-Salem, NC, of course, here in the Land of the Free they change the lines often, which doesn't really seem democratic. I guess we should send our complaints to Cong. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) but we don't live in Colorado!

Today we going with  comic strips from the"News and Record," the main daily newspaper for Greensboro.

We really like "Phoebe and Her Unicorn," which is carried by that newspaper, and this Sunday's strip with Phoebe talking to her pet unicorn about crying at the movies was quite touching. We also liked "WuMo" which dealt with archeologists finding remains of a human pyramid in Egypt.

"Judge Parker," a comic strip in soap opera format, featured a conversation in front of horses, unlike Mister Ed, they can't seem to talk. (Bottom image is of Secretariat).

Here is our top ten:

1. Phoebe and Her Unicorn

2. Foxtrot

3. WuMo

4. Brewster Rockit: Space Guy

5. Pearls Before Swine

6. Doonesbury

7. Non-Sequitur

8. Jump Start

9. Judge Parker

10. Ziggy

Monday, August 10, 2015

Ten Songs We Heard in One Hour on Steve-FM (Roanoke, Va.): When in Rome.........

Before we list ten songs in a row that we heard on Steve-FM (106.1-Roanoke, Va.) from 11:00-midnihgt on Friday night, we thought we'd share with you that one of the performers listed Bon Jovi will be holding concerts in Singapore which is celebrating its 50th anniversary today on Sept. 20th. The band will also perform in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Oct. 3rd.

Here are the ten songs we heard during that hour:

1) "The Promise," When in Rome. 1987. (top image

2) Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You), Kelly Clarkson. 2012 (the image of the deep-fried Oreos is in homage to the song's title)

3) Refugee, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. 1980 (3rd image, of refugees fleeing Afghanistan)

4) Brickhouse, The Commodores, 1977.

5) Push, Matchbox Twenty. 1997.

6) Wanted Dead or Alive, Bon Jovi. 1987.

7) West End Girls, Pet Shop Boys. 1984

8) Love Me Like You Do (from "50 Shades of Gray"), Ellie Goulding. 2015

9) Sledgehammer, Peter Gabriel. 1986.

10) The Long Run, The Eagles. 1979

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Republican Candidates for President: Worst to Best........

We gather that it's entirely possible that folks in Ankara, Turkey, and Tel Aviv, Israel may have been watching the Republican debate on Fox News from Cleveland, Ohio, on Thursday night, even though it was 2:00 a.m. when the debate aired in Turkey and Israel, two countries which are both seven hours ahead of Cleveland, Washington DC, and New York.

Here in America, 24 million people were watching including Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the most liberal Democratic candidate in the face, who was followed and retweeted by more people than anyone else during the GOP debate that he was watching live.

While everyone from David Letterman to Garry Trudeau was rightfully lampooning Donald Trump, whose candidacy seems like a joke, given that he has zero political experience and a reputation for insulting people for the sake of doing just that, there are actually three candidates who are worse than Mister Clown.

These include Rick Perry (pict. top) the notorious former governor of Texas who left years of scandal and probable wrongful executions behind him when he ran for president for the first time four years ago, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas,pict. center) a darling of the Tea Party movement who is probably less progressive than members of the Iranian Parliament, and Mike Huckabee (pict. bottom) an evagelical former governor of Arkansas who dropped a Nazi Germany reference against President Barack Obama.

Here are the candidates from worst to best, to be 'fair and balanced,' we have the candidates listed from best to worst on our sister blog

1. Rick Perry, Texas

2. Ted Cruz, Texas

3. Mike Huckabee, Arkansas

4. Donald Trump, New York (currently first in the field)

5. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania

6. Bobby Jindal, Louisiana

7. Scott Walker, Wisconsin

8. Ben Carson, Maryland

9. Jeb Bush, Florida

10. Rand Paul, Kentucky

11. Jim Gilmore, Virginia (currently the last field, the only candidate we have met in person)

12. Marco Rubio, Florida

13. John Kasich, Ohio

14. Carly Fiorina, California (the only woman in the GOP field)

15. Chris Christie, New Jersey

16. George Pataki, New York (at 72, the oldest Republican in the race)

17. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina (A conservative journal) (A liberal journal) (A satirical site)

Friday, August 7, 2015

Top 10 Comics from Sunday's Washington Post: Space Aliens and Donald Trump

Carly Fironia, Carly Fiornia, Carly Fironia, Carly F-I-O-R-I-N-A.............ok, so I'm having a difficult time trying to spell the name of the lone Republican presidential candidate (pict. center). This week, Garry Trudeau made fun of her as well as her opponents Ben Carson and the extreme ego maniac Donald Trump whom the cartoonist referred to as "Mister Clown."

"Doonesbury" finished second in our survey of comic strips in the nation's most political newspaper. First place actually went to the Danish import "WuMo" which featured a little green man from outer space at what appears to be a futuristic gas station in a town like Altoona, Pennsylvania pumping gas for his UFO (pict. top). This was actually a different "WuMo" than the one shown nationally, which to our recollection made fun of Indonesian monkeys.

"Brewster Rockit: Space Guy" featured a clever strip in which creatures from outer space, including Darth Vader and the spaceworm from "Dune," displays their past offenses via public shaming.

Among the other comic strips which made the top 10, we also like Scott Stantis' strip "Prickly City," which had a yellow dog, one of the title characters along with a little girl who looks a character from "The Waltons" or "Eight is Enough" (hmmm....I sense we lost millenials there), making wings to fly and crashing to the earth ala Icarus (pictured bottom) or Wile E. Coyote.

Here is the list:

1. WuMo

2. Doonesbury

3. Brewster Rockit

4. Lio

5. Candorville

6. Sheman's Lagoon

7. Foxtrot

8. The Argyle Sweater

9. Prickly City

10. Dustin

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Top Ten Sunday Comics from Making Fun of Donald Trump and Darth Vader

Greetings to our friends in Boulder, Colorado, and their sister city of Dushanbe, Tajikistan....

Tonight, we bring you our favorite Sunday comics from, a syndication which features many big titles, including "Garfield," "Dilbert," "Pearls Before Swine," "Get Fuzzy" and "Marmaduke," yeah, that is probably not their most cutting edge comic strip.

This week, "Doonesbury" once again lampooned the ridiculousness of  the Donald Trump presidential candidacy by calling the Donald "Mister Clown." Though I've never met Garry Trudeau, I wonder if he also thinks Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian (w are not sure where they stand politically) would have also qualified for tomorrow night's Republican debate from Cleveland, Ohio.

Two of the comic strips in our survey, "Brewster Rockit" and "La Cucaracha" made fun of Darth Vader. In "Brewster," Darth laments his intergalactic battlefield losses while in the Hispanic-character strip, Vader zips by in a cool car as if he is Danica Patrick.

"F-Minus" featured a creative recycling gag while "Flying McCoys" depicted pigeons flying with Superman to take advantage of mass transit, which is why we have an image of the late Turkish actor Tayfun Demir (center) who played the Man of Steel in a yesteryear rip-off of the D.C. Comics franchise.

Meanwhile our "Heart of the City," our top pick of the week featured a satire of the famous "Psycho" shower scene, this one featured a child instead of Norman Bates.

Here is our top ten:

*-strips in the Washington Post

1. Heart of the City

2. F-Minus

*3. Doonesbury

4. Flying McCoys

5. La Cucaracha

*6. Lio

*7. Brewster Rockit: Space Guy"

* 8.WuMo

9. Close to Home

10. Ziggy

Monday, August 3, 2015

10 Songs in a Row That We Heard on 98.7-SimonFM (Greensboro, NC): No,No, No, Not Late Aerosmith Again

Here are ten songs in a row that we heard on 98.7 Simon-FM in Greensboro, NC, during the 10:00-11:00 p.m. hour on Friday night.

Tonight, we are actually listening to quite a different out-of-town radio station in WYPR-FM out of Baltimore, Maryland, which is currently airing "Jazz with Andy Bienstock," the host of the program has apparently been working the gig since he was a college student in 1986!

Simon-FM is a radio station which plays a variety of popular genres, mostly pop and rock, and usually songs that were released in the 1970s and the 1980s.

We happen to disdain late-period Aerosmith songs from the late 1980s and the early 1990s, but at least, the radio station spared us of the theme from "Armageddon," a Michael Bay action movie we have only viewed once!

Amazingly enough, as we were also surveying ten songs being played on Steve-FM, a similar format radio station in Roanoke, Va., an hour earlier, we heard both radio stations play the mid-1980s pop tune "Out of Touch" by Hall and Oates, which always remind us of the Republican-led humor (forgive the political humor) and no one person embodies that more that House Speak John Boehner (R-Ohio, pict. bottom).

Here are the ten songs we heard during that prime time hour:

1. Stuck in the Middle with You. Steelers Wheel, 1972.

2. Freeway of Love (pict. top). Aretha Franklin, 1985

3. Cryin', Aerosmith, 1993 (yeah, that's the song we hate)

4. One Thing Leads to Another, 1983 (pict. center, our favorite song of the ten)

5. Edge of Seventeen, Steve Nicks, 1981.

6. Out of Touch. Hall and Oates, 1984.

7. Take It Easy, The Eagles. 1972.

8. Beat It. Michael Jackson. 1983

9. Mama, I'm Comin' Home, Ozzy Osbourne. 1992

10. Break My Stride, Matthew Wilder, 1983. (Greensboro alt weekly) (another GSO alt weekly)

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Now Showing: The Film Forum and The Eden Drive-In

Today, we look at various movies which are being screened in both large markets and small towns, on the east coast of the United States.

We start in New York, where tonight the Film Forum screens both "The French Connection" at 7:10 p.m. and "The Honeymoon Killers" (pict. bottom) at 9:30 p.m. Both films are being screened as part of the Film Forum's True Crime series which also features Charlie Chaplin's "Monsieur Verdoux." "The Honeymoon Killers" has developed a cult reputation since being released in the early 1970s; the film revolves around a man and a woman who lured victims with lonely hearts ads in local newspapers. The film is indeed based on a true story, and it is a jarring film about a cross country killing spree. IFC once showed the film on Valentine's Day!

The Film Forum is also screening the cinematic gem "The Third Man" with Orson Welles at 4:50; 7:10 and 9:20 p.m. in addition to two earlier in the day matinees.

We move south to Washington, DC, where the E-Street Cinema is screening the new indy film "The Stanford Prison Experiment" at 2:05, 4:35, 7:05, and 9:30 p.m. The film is also showing at the a/perture Cinema in Winston-Salem, NC, at 11:45 a.m., 4:30 p.m., and 7:15 p.m.

Some three and a half hours south of Washington, DC, the Hull's Drive-In in Lexington, Va., will be screening a double-feature: "Magic Mike XXL" and "Ted 2" (pict. top) starting at 8:55 p.m. In Blacksburg, Va., the Lyric Theatre is showing the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson biopic "Love and Mercy" at 7:00 and 9:30 p.m.

In the small town of Eden, NC, which neighbors Henry County (Martinsville), Va., the Eden Drive-In is showing the new version of "Vacation" (the center image is of the original 1983 Chevy Chase version) along with "Southpaw," a boxing movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal starting at sun down which was 8:25 p.m. last night.

In Chapel Hill, NC, the Varsity Theatre will be screening "Mad Max: Fury Road," one of the best reviewed films of the year at 9:20 p.m.

Finally, Cine, a cinema in Athens, Ga., is holding a special screening of John Carpenter's "Escape from New York" starring Kurt Russell at 10:30 p.m.