Delenda Est Carthago

Why not delve into a twisted mind? Thoughts on the world, history, politics, entertainment, comics, and why all shall call me master!

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!


Great (and very good) albums by short-lived bands

I was listening to Apple by Mother Love Bone the other day, and was reminded once again what a great album it was and what a shame it is that Andrew Wood couldn't stay off the smack. Such is life, as the great philosopher once said.

It put me in mind of really good albums by bands that didn't last long, and the fact that this either deprives us of more musical genius or fixes the band in time as something that never degraded, whichever way you want to put it. Then I thought, "Hey, I have a blog - why don't I ramble on about this and ask for opinions?" So here are ten albums by bands that didn't last very long that I consider great or even just very good. My criteria is strict: these bands must have released one or two albums. Three albums simply implies a longer career. In the case of Boston, it took ten years for those three albums to come out. And remember, these are only albums I actually own. So with that in mind, here they are, in no particular order:

1. Mother Love Bone, Apple, 1990. This is truly a great album, released not long after Wood died. It really captures the early grunge sound, even though it's influenced by classic rock a great deal. Wood gives us surreal yet beautiful lyrics, and Stone Gossard's guitars are fantastic throughout. The band easily moves from powerful rockers like "This is Shangrila" and "Holy Roller" to power ballads like "Stardog Champion" and "Man of Golden Words" to bittersweet love songs like "Stargazer" and "Crown of Thorns." It's a brilliant album with only a few missteps (I could lose "Captain Hi-Top"). It's out of print, but you can find the compilation that includes their EP, Shine, which also is pretty danged good. Pearl Jam, to which Gossard and Jeff Ament went, wishes they were as good as Mother Love Bone.

2. Horse Flies, Gravity Dance, 1991. I'm counting the Horse Flies, because they've only released two studio albums, but they have done two movie soundtracks, so if you want to say I'm cheating, oh well. I have spoken often of my love for this album, and whenever I listen to it, it almost demands that I stop driving (which is where I usually listen to music) and pull over and just sit there. It begins with the strangely tragic "Life is a Rubber Rope" and moves on to the horribly funny "Roadkill" (which is indeed about eating things you find on the side of the road) and the weird "Needles on the Beach" (again, self-explanatory). The two highlights are "Two Candles," which is a beautifully haunting paean to lost love, and "Your Eyes are Elevators," which ends the album on a wonderfully bizarre bluegrass note. The Horse Flies are a weird band with a strange melange of styles, but for the most part, they make it work.

3. Think Tree, Like the Idea, 1992. This weird Boston-based band released a couple of albums in the early Nineties, but they were far too weird to ever have any kind of mainstream success. They combined a kind of mystical Zen thing with raunchy and irreverent lyrics and twangy electronic music that, they were proud to mention, was done without the help of a computer. With songs like the wonderfully corny "Monday A.M. First Thing" and "Porcupine Coat" to the serious but still weird "Everything is Equal" and "Eye for Eye," they covered a lot of ground on this album. It's still one of my favorites, and I'm very glad I happened across it in a record store in Auckland, New Zealand, of all places.

4. Temple of the Dog, Temple of the Dog, 1990. This is the only "supergroup" on this list, as this was a band that was never meant to release more than one album. It was put together after the death of Andrew Wood (see above) and takes its name from a lyric in a Mother Love Bone song ("Mr. Golden Words," if you're interested). They released one album, but man, it's a good one. The two tributes to Wood, "Say Hello 2 Heaven" and "Reach Down," are actually the two weakest tracks on the album (although they're still good), and the album really gets going with "Hunger Strike," which features Eddie Vedder before Pearl Jam took off. This is a superb album that happened to come together at a perfect time, and I'm certainly glad Chris Cornell and the members of Pearl Jam never tried to recapture it.

5. Liquid Jesus, Pour in the Sky, 1991. I'm trying to figure out if Liquid Jesus ever released a third album, as this would disqualify them. But I can't, so I'm going to count this, their second album, as their last one. The only people I've ever known who have heard of Liquid Jesus (two of them) hated them, so maybe I would be in the minority, but I think they were excellent, and this, their only studio album (like Jane's Addiction, after whom they were clearly modeling their career, their first album is live), is very good. "Finding My Way" kicks off the album, but it really gets good with "W.H.Y.B.," a song from their first album. They also give us a powerful upbeat love song in "Better or Worse" (featuring Bruce Hornsby on piano, which is slightly odd) and some very good rock tunes like "No Secret" and "The Colorful Ones." They mixed a lot of different sounds and styles, using a mellotron on at least one song ("Feelings Flower"), which gave them a neat sound but probably hurt their chances of being commercially successful. Maybe you heard them on the Pump Up the Volume soundtrack!

6. Amanda Ghost, Ghost Stories, 2000. I wouldn't call this a great album, but it is very good. Ghost has an odd, bluesy voice, and she sings some great songs on this, her only album (so far; apparently she's working on one). She could easily sing in a dark bar, leading pathetic patrons onward to something beyond their sad lives. The album starts off very well, with "Filthy Mind," "Idol," and "Glory Girl" the three best songs on it, but the quality doesn't dip too far for the rest of the disc. There's a great deal of sadness in her voice, but a great deal of hope as well. It's a wonderful combination.

7. Scissor Sisters, Scissor Sisters, 2004. This is cheating, as the Sisters are just beginning their career and probably have plenty of albums left in them (even if they don't, they surely have a third album in them!), but technically, right now they have only released two. Both are good, but their debut album is a bit better. "Laura" kicks off the album with foot-stomping goodness, and their cover of "Comfortably Numb" is excellent. Other excellent songs abound: "Lovers in the Backseat," "Tits on the Radio," and "Filthy/Gorgeous" are all interesting with great beats. The album loses a bit of steam at the end, but that's okay. The best song on the album is "Take Your Mama," and that alone would make this a worthwhile disc. Luckily, there's plenty of other great tunes on it.

8. Ruby, Salt Peter, 1995. This is an odd album, but for the most part, it works. Ruby has a gruff and angry voice, and the music, which is that mid-1990s electronica stuff, has a hypnotic power. Ruby's vicious lyrics come through nicely on such songs as "Flippin' Tha Bird," "Paraffin," and "Swallow Baby," and she also slides into ethereal-ness (ethereality?) on the album's final track, the seven-minute "Carondelet." This isn't a great album, but it's quite good. Ruby did release another album, but that's it. I wonder what she does with herself.

9. Stress, Stress, 1991. I have mentioned this band occasionally, but I can't find anything about them on-line. I believe this is the only album they ever released, but I can't be sure. Anyway, this is a pretty darned good album, with a weird psychedelic Beatles thing going on, with a blend of Eastern mysticism with flower-power hope and just enough rocking to give it an edge. "Indian Summers Dream" is an excellent song, as is "Lordy Lord," which is sweetly nostalgic. I imagine this is long out of print, but it would be a nice purchase from a dark used record store.

10. King Swamp, King Swamp, 1989. Does anyone remember King Swamp? I saw their video for "Is This Love" and really enjoyed it, so I bought this. It turns out to be a good album full of strong rock songs with a good bluesy edge, and even some hard dance beats (like in "Year Zero," a song about working the fields). There's not really a clunker in the group, although some are better than others. "Original Man," "Widders Dump," and "Motherlode" are highlights, and the album ends wonderfully with "Sacrament," a powerful ballad with a haunting chorus. It's too bad they weren't more popular, and after a second album, they broke up and disappeared.

Those are just ten albums I own that I think are pretty darned good by bands that didn't last too long. I have some others, but they aren't as good. I always enjoy owning albums by bands that didn't last, especially if I like them, because I feel like I'm pulling a fast one on all the losers who didn't get in on them. Of course, it's probably that I'm the loser for not liking better bands, but I can live in my delusions, can't I?

Anyone have any good albums by short-lived bands they'd like to champion? That's why we have blogs, after all!

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My odd blog rating

What's My Blog Rated? From Mingle2 - Online Dating

Mingle2 - Online Dating

Okay, so that's not odd at all. However, it's based on the words "hell," "kill," "gay," and "crap." Not for the myriad amount of times I use the word "fuck," nor all the various not-totally-safe-for-work pictures I have posted in the past. That's pretty funny.

My other blog is rated G, which is probably appropriate as it's about two girls under the age of 5. Speaking of which, it's Norah's 2nd birthday today. I'll have some pictures of her party up once, you know, she has it (tomorrow).

What's your blog's rating?




As of Tuesday, 19 June, 2007, that's how many losses the Philadelphia Phillies have piled up in their illustrious existence. Since their inception in 1883, the Phillies have the most losses of any professional organization. The team is over 300 losses ahead of the Braves, which is interesting considering how good the Braves have been over the past 17 years or so. But when they played in Boston they were pretty wretched. I figure the Phillies will break the magical 10,000 loss plateau around the first or second week of July. Let's say 7 July, at Colorado.

The Phillies are an awful team, and I feel some perverse nobility in rooting for them my entire life. They've won five pennants (1915, 1950, 1980, 1983, 1993) and their World Series record is 1-4, with the Series going 1-4, 0-4, 4-2, 1-4, 2-4, for a record of 8-18. In 1961 they lost 23 straight games. In 1964, they held a 6-game lead with 12 to play and famously lost 10 in a row to lose the pennant. They've had some great teams and great players, but for the most part, they're lousy. But I love them. Like the Eagles (and to a very lesser extent the Sixers and Flyers), they embody the city. Fans of newer teams just don't get the passion fans from older cities and of older teams have for them. Yes, the Phillies are losers. But they're OUR losers.

Still, 10,000 losses is going to be tough to take. Maybe they can get their act together and win the World Series in the year they set that mark. They certainly have enough talent to do so! Will their history drive them down yet again????

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And lo, there shall come endings!

The series finale of The Sopranos this past weekend (which I didn't watch, by the way, because I've never been that huge a fan and would rather buy the DVDs and watch them in the future) reminded me that I was going to do a post about all the shows I watch on television and how they left things this season and whether or not they were good. So let's go - and of course, there will be SPOILERS!


24: Well, the entire final third of the season was a bit anticlimactic, wasn't it? I mean, the nuclear bomb going off in California was cool. Jack feeling all conflicted about doing the job after shooting Curtis was cool. The plot to kill the president was pretty cool. Once they got Fayed, however, everything went a bit to shit. I know they had to clear up some loose ends, like Jack's father, but the whole Russian threat and the Chinese and the kid ... it went on way too long. The only cool thing that happened during that time was Milo's sudden death, which was pretty neat. Of course, the action was well done and the resolution was spectacular as usual, but the whole plot felt tacked on, even more so than it has in the past. It just seems like they're really running out of ideas on the show. I'm going to start next season, but I really hope they can come up with something different. Otherwise, it's just not that interesting anymore.

House: Occasionally this year, Dr. House got almost human, and the show suffered because of it. I get that they can't keep him a bastard forever and want to move him forward as a character, but most of the show's charm is that he's a bastard and always will be. The whole story with the threat of him going to jail was okay, but again, tried to make him contrite, which is boring. Similarly, toward the end of the season, when his three employees/worker bees/slaves were either fired or quit, it was a bit more interesting because he insisted on being hard-ass with them. I have no idea what's going to happen, if the three will be back or if he'll just get new peons to browbeat, but they need to get back to Hugh Laurie being a total jerk. As for the medical stuff, Scott at Polite Dissent does a wonderful job going over it each week, and apparently it got sloppier than usual this year. The worst transgression was the "pro-life" episode, where a fetus seemingly grabbed House's finger. It was supposedly based on a true event, but the "true event" has been debunked. It's still an interesting show, but it suffered a bit at the end of this season.

Bones: I really like this show, and I like how the writers balance the gruesome crimes with the soap opera. I also like how Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz flirt but haven't jumped into bed yet, and also how they talk about them not jumping into bed yet. I have no idea how "real" the science in the show is (not very, I suspect), but I don't worry about it too much. This is a cheerier version of the CSI shows on CBS, which I don't watch. And the chemistry among the cast is better than the CSI shows, too, as far as I can tell when my mother's in town (who watches them religiously). That being said, the season finale, with its unbelievably cheesy wedding between Angela and Hodgins, was just dumb. I love that Angela is that guy from ZZ Top's daughter, but their romance has been pretty weird. And it would be great to see Stephen Fry back in a guest-starring role occasionally.

The Simpsons: I don't even know if this counts as a show I watch anymore. I'm pretty sure I didn't miss an episode, but it's no longer a show that is "must-see." It's like a comfortable shoe. It's still mildly humorous, and occasionally it will come out with something really funny, but it's just there. Everything's been done. I may or may not watch next season (probably; that's the beauty of DVR), but it's not like it's going to register very much. It's just a nice way to kill 22 minutes or so.


Heroes: Because I'm a comic book geek, you knew I'd love this show. For the most part, the writers did a good job this year with the various storylines, although for a show about superpowered people popping up worldwide, it seemed pretty localized to the United States. The ending, which was disappointing, wasn't horrible. The creator, Tim Kring, gave an interview in which he attempted to explain the gigantic holes in the finale, including why Peter didn't fly away his own damned self, but his excuse doesn't make much sense. Writers should have better reasons for why things happen, especially on a show where we're already suspending our disbelief. That being said, it was a satisfying first season, and Hiro in 17th-century Japan is awesome. We'll see if the show can keep up the goodness.

My Name Is Earl: This is the only Thursday night comedy I watch, and yes, I know the others are good too. There were a few things that disappointed me about this season, but generally, it kept up the quality. I was happy that they did a few episodes "outside of the list," as it kept things fresh. The two things I didn't like: the end of the Randy/Catalina romance, which was handled very poorly; the season finale, with Earl going to jail. It just seemed ridiculous, and I'm sure it will be rectified in the first episode or two of the new season, so I'm not that put out by it. I've also noticed that Catalina seemed to be pushed to the background after she and Randy had their night together, and that sucks, because she's an awesome character - much better than Joy.

Interestingly enough, I DVRed every single episode of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and haven't watched them yet. Tom came up with the word "TiNo" for the phenomenon of recording shows and never watching them (at least I think he came up with it). That's a great word, and I have a feeling this show will fall into that category for me.


You know, I watch nothing on CBS. Weird.


At the beginning of the year, we watched a few episodes of Desperate Housewives, and I was really shocked to see how bad the show has gotten. Talk about a steep drop!

Lost: This is my favorite show currently on the air, and although the first part of the season was tough to watch, I didn't hate it as much as many people did, and the show regained its footing nicely in February when it returned. The season finale was fantastic, and sets up the remaining 48 shows nicely. I hope this experiment that ABC is doing, with 16 shows per season for three years, works, especially if they run them all in a row. 24's ratings went up when Fox started the season in January, and if Lost follows suit, maybe the networks will start running shows without a break and make the seasons shorter. Then we could see more shows and kill reruns. Wouldn't that be nice? Anyway, it sounds as if the creators actually have a plan, and without the pressure of keeping the show on the air forever, this could be one of the great shows in television history. If they don't screw it up.

I used to watch some shows on HBO, but Deadwood went away, Carnivàle got the axe, and I was never really into any of the other shows. I did watch the first episode of John From Cincinnati, which has some potential. We'll see.

One more ending has to be mentioned: the NBA season. The Spurs swept the Cavaliers in one of the worst-rated Finals ever, and if the people who vote for MVP had ANY sense of humor, they would have voted for Robert Horry for taking out Steve Nash and basically winning the series for the Spurs over the Suns. Phoenix should have done a better job making sure their players stayed on the bench and they should have used their bench more during the regular season, but I wonder why, in that one instance, David Stern chose to enforce "the letter of the law" instead of giving the Suns some wiggle room, which referees always do in the postseason. It's weird. If the NBA wants to make the playoffs more interesting, there's one thing they need to do: call more fouls. The idea of "letting them play" is idiotic, because that means good players get mugged far more than in the regular season and that means punks like Bruce Bowen are far more important than they deserve to be. Recently, hockey started getting tough on the players in the playoffs, and the game is fine. Basketball is a beautiful game when played well, and I'm sick of hearing about how fundamentally sound teams like the Spurs are. Has anyone seen Phoenix play in the past few years? They spread the ball, the find the open man, the play unselfishly, and somehow they're NOT fundamentally sound? In the playoffs, everyone knows how to beat the Suns: beat them up. Why? The refs "let them play." So what is everyone talking about here since the Suns' elimination? How they need to get "tougher." Good job, NBA. Phoenix may win a championship, but they'll do it playing "Spurs" basketball. And nobody will watch. Remember the 1970s? They showed Finals games on tape-delay, because nobody watched. Who brought the NBA back? Magic and Larry Bird. Two guys who were "fundamentally sound" but really fun to watch. If Magic came into the league today, Bruce Bowen would hack him every time he had the ball, and there would be no Showtime Lakers. But at least they'd be playing "fundamental" basketball. Sheesh.

Sorry for the rant. It still pisses me off. What did everyone think of their favorite shows and how they ended the season?

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The Women of Jerry, Part 7

It's Part 7, but it's only Season Six! How does that work? It doesn't matter, let's check out the women in Mr. Seinfeld's life in 1994-95.

Episode One (87), "The Chaperone" (aired 22 September 1994). This begins the new era for Seinfeld, as George gets to work for the Yankees and Elaine finds a job with Mr Pitt. It's not a terrible episode, but it's not a great one. Miss Rhode Island, whom Jerry dates, is part of the problem - she's kind of dull. She's played by Marguerite MacIntyre, and this was her first role, according to IMDb. She doesn't do much, and she doesn't really look like a beauty pageant contestant - she's not ugly, but she doesn't look glamorous enough. Oh well. I'm going to give Ms. MacIntyre a Fame Rating of 5 out of 10, because she's worked pretty steadily since 1994, generally as a guest star. It looks like she has a starring role on Kyle XY, but since I don't watch that show, I don't know. Marguerite was 29 when this episode aired, which might be why she looks off as a contestant - she's too old. Jerry was 40. The ten-year age gap is in effect! Ironically, given what happens in the episode, MacIntyre has sung on Broadway. And it looks like she graduated from high school (in Scottsdale) when she was 14. Interesting.

Episode Two (88), "The Big Salad" (aired 29 September 1994). In this episode, George gets grumpy that his girlfriend gets a "thank-you" from Elaine that he feels he deserves, and Jerry dates a woman who was rejected by Newman. Newman!!! Naturally, this vexes him. Finally, the show parodies the O. J. murders when Kramer thinks he may have pushed his friend into a shooting, whom he then helps escape in a white Bronco. Marita Geraghty plays Margaret, Jerry's girlfriend, and I'm giving her a Fame Rating of 4 out of 10, because she's a career guest star, it appears. In fact, the only reason I'm not knocking her down one point is because she played Nancy in Groundhog Day, and because, according to Bill Murray, she makes sounds like a chipmunk when she gets really excited. I have no idea how old Ms. Geraghty is, because I can't find it anywhere. She was acting for a while before Seinfeld, so I have to think she was probably in her 30s when she appeared on the show. I could be wrong. Also, that's the best picture I could get. It's from Charmed.

Episode Three (89), "The Pledge Drive" (aired 6 October 1994). Jerry cashes old birthday checks from his grandmother and overdraws her account, Elaine can't tell the difference between the voice of a friend of hers and that woman's boyfriend (he's the "high talker"), and Mr. Pitt eats his Snickers bar with a knife and fork. Jerry has no girlfriend, but Lisa Guerrero is in this episode, which is kind of interesting, considering she later posed nekkid.

Episode Four (90), "The Chinese Woman" (aired 13 October 1994). George sees his father with a cape, which leads to a patented Seinfeld conversation: "It's good cape weather." Kramer goes sans underwear ("I'm out there, Jerry, and I'm lovin' every minute of it!") because he's worried about his sperm count. Interestingly enough, he seems to get Noreen pregnant at the end of the episode, but we never hear anything else about it. Jerry dates Donna Chang, who's not Chinese, which leads to all sorts of trouble when she gives Estelle Costanza advice. This is a pretty good episode, as any that explore societal stereotypes are. Angela Dohrmann plays Donna, and although she's perfectly fine, I can't give her any higher than a Fame Rating of 3 out of 10. She didn't do anything much prior or after this episode, although she starred as Don Johnson's sister on several episodes of Nash Bridges. I can't find an age or a picture, but according to Wikipedia, she currently teaches at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. Hmmm.

Episode Five (91), "The Couch" (aired 27 October 1994). This is a pretty funny issue, as Elaine begins dating a delivery man and Kramer gets Poppie to help him with his make-your-own pizza restaurant. Unfortunately, the abortion issue comes up, which leads Elaine to conclude her boyfriend must be pro-choice, "because ... he's just so good-looking." George tries to bluff his way through a book club discussion of Breakfast at Tiffany's, but doesn't realize that "George Peppard" is gay in the book. Oh, and Poppie pees on Jerry's sofa. No girlfriend for our hero, though.

Episode Six (92), "The Gymnast" (aired 3 November 1994). George acts like a bum at inopportune time ("if it's adjacent to garbage, it's garbage") and Kramer has a kidney stone. Meanwhile, Mr. Pitt looks curiously like Hitler at a stock merger meeting. Jerry's girlfriend is Romanian gymnast Katya, whom he thinks will be crazy in bed, but disappoints him. She later tells him, "You may tell jokes, Mr. Seinfeld, but you are no comedian," in reference to a myth about a man called the Comedian who is likewise crazy in bed. Katya is played by Elina Löwensohn, who is actually Romanian. She wasn't bad, but a bit lacking in charisma (until her final put-down of Jerry, which is pretty darned good). I'm actually going to give her a Fame Rating of 5 out of 10, because even though she never became a big star, she showed up in Schindler's List, Dark Water, and she got a hug from Jude Law in a movie once. Not bad. Elina was 28 when this episode aired, and Jerry was 40. As Jerry ages, the ten-year age gap begins to stretch just a bit!

Episode Seven (93), "The Soup" (aired 10 November 1994). No girlfriend for Jerry, although the waitress with whom George goes for a walk and discusses manure, thereby ruining any chance of a relationship and even driving him from the diner for a time is Tracy Kolis, who played Marlene back in 1991. She looks totally different!

Episode Eight (94), "The Mom & Pop Store" (aired 17 November 1994). No girlfriend again. This is the episode in which George buys "Jon Voight's" LeBaron, and Jon Voight actually shows up (and bizarrely bites George).

Episode Nine (95), "The Secretary" (aired 8 December 1994). Yet another episode with no girlfriend, but Kramer does get Uma Thurman's phone number in this episode (and then loses it to Bania, who doesn't know who she is). George hires Vicki Lewis as his secretary because he decides to pass up the attractive applicants to pick someone he's not attracted to, but they end up having sex anyway.

Episode Ten (96), "The Race" (aired 15 December 1994). Jerry finally dates a woman named Lois, so he gets to act like Superman. He cheats to win a race against an old rival and gets to go to Hawaii with Lois. This is a very funny episode, not only for the race plot ("I choose not to race!") but also because Elaine dates a Communist (but he doesn't have to look like one) who gets Kramer interested in the literature. When the kid accuses "Santa Claus" of being a Communist, that's comedy gold, baby! Lois is played by Renée Props, who had done a little bit of work before appearing on the show, but not a lot after (she was in Get Shorty, however, which is a great movie). I have to give her a Fame Rating of 4 out of 10, because although she's in a memorable episode, it's not memorable necessarily because of her. Props was 32 when the episode aired, so only 8 years younger than her boyfriend. I can't find any pictures of her, unfortunately.

Episode Eleven (97), "The Switch" (aired 5 January 1995). This is an absolute classic episode, as Jerry is dating a woman who never laughs, yet is attracted to her roommate who has a wonderful laugh. So he and George try to figure out how to do "the switch," and George comes up with suggesting a threesome, which will offend the current girlfriend but intrigue the roommate. Of course, both women are "into it," which freaks Jerry out and leads to his great monologue about having to become "an orgy guy," with weirdo lighting and shag carpet and new friends - "orgy friends." As an added bonus, we find out that Kramer's first name is Cosmo. Excellent. I'm going to count two girlfriends for Jerry in this episode, because the roommate was willing to hop in the sack with him and his current girlfriend. The non-laugher is played by Jann Karam, and the roommate (who's more attractive anyway) is played by Heather Medway. Neither woman had much of a career in television, so I'll combine their Fame Ratings and give them 7 out of 10, just for this episode. Of course, Medway was in Models, Inc., and we all remember what a kick-ASS show that was! Karam actually has a web site, and I guess she's doing well. I can't find ages for either actress.

Episode Twelve (98), "The Label Maker" (aired 19 January 1995). No girlfriend, but George does try the "ménage à trois" trick with his girlfriend (who has a male roommate), and they, too, are "into it." Oh dear. This episode also introduced "re-gifting" into the vernacular.

Episode Thirteen (99), "The Scofflaw" (aired 26 January 1995). Jon Lovitz guest-stars as Gary, who faked having cancer because everyone was being so nice to him. There's no girlfriend in sight for Jerry, although Elaine has a nice exchange with Jake Jarmel, her ex-boyfriend. She's mad because she had the upper hand in the post-breakup relationship, but Kramer ruined it. Not a bad episode.

Episode Fourteen & Fifteen (100 & 101), "Highlights of a Hundred" (aired 2 February 1995). A clip show.

Episode Sixteen (102), "The Beard" (aired 9 February 1995). Elaine tries to convert a gay man, but fails. She also throws George's toupee out the window after George gets all uppity about dating a bald woman. Jerry gets a girlfriend, a cop to whom he lies about watching Melrose Place. She hooks him up to a lie detector test, which he fails (even though George tells him, "It's not a lie if you believe it"). Jerry's girlfriend Cathy is played by Katherine La Nasa, who I always thought was very attractive. She's never been a big star, but I'll give her a Fame Rating of 6 out of 10 because she's been working steadily in show business for almost twenty years, and even if you haven't seen this episode, chances are you've seen her. La Nasa was 28 when the episode aired, so we're back on track! She was also married to Dennis Hopper once. Wha-????

Episode Seventeen (103), "The Kiss Hello" (aired 16 February 1995). Jerry has no girlfriend. So sad! This episode does guest-star Wendie Malick, however, who was pretty darned funny on Just Shoot Me.

Episode Eighteen (104), "The Doorman" (aired 23 February 1995). Larry Miller guest-stars as the titular character, and Kramer designs the Bro (or Manssiere) with Frank Costanza's help. Alas, Jerry goes girfriendless.

Episode Nineteen (105), "The Jimmy" (aired 16 March 1995). Personally, I love this episode. Jimmy, who speaks in the third person, is just so bizarre, and everyone (including Mel Torme) mistaking Kramer for someone who's mentally challenged is brilliant. Jerry finds Penthouse at the dentist's office, and later believes Tim Whatley and his assistant violated him while he was unconscious. I won't count the hygienist, played by Alison Armitage, as a girlfriend, but I looked her up, and discovered she was Playboy's Playmate of the Month in 1990, under a different name. Here's a (SFW) picture of her. Why the pseudonym???? Here's her web site, in case you're interested.

Episode Twenty (106), "The Doodle" (aired 6 April 1995). This episode gives us one of my favorite girlfriends, but it's George's - Christa Miller playing Paula. She's a cutie. Plus, any woman who doesn't care if her man dresses all in velvet is awesome. Dana Wheeler-Nicholson plays Shelly, whom Jerry must stay with when his apartment is being fumigated. He can't, however, get over his cleanliness to use her toothbrush, especially after he accidentally ate a pecan that had been in her mouth. We had seen Jerry's neat-freakness before, but this is the first episode where it really becomes the issue it would be later in the series. Anyway, Wheeler-Nicholson gets a Fame Rating of 7 out of 10 because she was freakin' Gail Stanwyk way back in Fletch, plus she was in Tombstone. She was 34 to Jerry's 40 when this episode aired, which makes her positively ancient compared to most of his girlfriends.

Episode Twenty-One (107), "The Fusilli Jerry" (aired 27 April 1995). This is the first appearance of Patrick Warburton as Puddy, one of the great minor characters in television history. Other than that, it's notable for the whole ASSMAN license plate thing, and all the talk of "moves" such as the one Puddy steals from Jerry. No girlfriend for our hero, though.

Episode Twenty-Two (108), "The Diplomat's Club" (aired 4 May 1995). In this episode, Elaine is going to quit her job with Mr. Pitt until she finds out she's in his will. Of course, circumstances lead Mr. Pitt to believe she and Jerry are trying to kill him, so he fires her. Meanwhile, Jerry's trip, organized by his manager, played wonderfully by Debra Jo Rupp, goes horribly wrong, and he almost misses meeting his supermodel girlfriend at the airport. Said girlfriend, Bridgette, is played by Berta Maria Waagfjord, who gets a Fame Rating of 1 out of 10. Good job, Ms. Waagfjord! She is barely in this episode and was in only one other show, according to IMDb. I can find no pictures of her nor a birth date. She had to be in her early- to mid-20s when this episode aired, right?

Episode Twenty-Three (109), "The Face Painter" (aired 11 May 1995). No girlfriend again, but Puddy returns. So there's that.

Episode Twenty-Four (110), "The Understudy" (aired 18 May 1995). This is kind of a weak episode, all the more strange because it's the season finale. Elaine gets Frank Costanza to translate what the women at her nail salon are saying (something many women, I bet, would like to know!) and meets J. Peterman, her new boss. Jerry is dating Bette Midler's understudy for the Broadway show "Rochelle, Rochelle" (a nice bit of continuity from earlier episodes) and is suspected of sabotaging Midler to get her on stage. The girlfriend is played by Adelaide Miller (I think), who also gets a Fame Rating of 1 out of 10. Sheesh, there were some lousy girlfriends at the tail end of this season! Miller didn't do much else and, frankly, is annoying in this episode (although I suppose that's the point). Once again, I can find no birthdate or even a photograph of Ms. Miller. Sigh.

So let's check out this pretty weak season for girlfriends. Jerry had 10½ of them (I don't really count Heather Medway, but I'll give her ½ of a credit), but none were really that stellar. None were even really that interesting in the episodes in which they appeared, which is odd. Wheeler-Nicholson is probably the most famous, but even she's not that big a star. It's weird. In terms of quantity, this season has the most girlfriends yet, but in terms of quality, this is probably the worst of the "real" seasons (the first two seasons weren't "full" seasons of 20-some episodes).

If you're curious, check out the other parts of this series: the pilot, season one, season two, season three, season four, and season five.

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Why I miss having the time to surf the Internet occasionally

Man, there's some cool stuff out there.

I really like Strange Maps, a blog that highlights ... well, strange maps. Recently they had a couple of cool ones:

Here's a map of the Hutt River Province Principality, an area 500 kilometers north of Perth in Western Australia that is a relatively old micronation. A wheat farmer declared his independence from Australia in 1970 and became Prince Leonard I. Australia, which recognizes its tourism potential, pretty much leaves it alone. Visit the web site, which includes a section on the navy of Hutt River. Odd for a landlocked "country" to have a navy, but what the hell.

Then we have this post, which tells about a woman getting an unusual tattoo. You can read about it at the post, but I thought I'd steal the picture because it's almost unbelievable:

Yes, it's a map of Hanover, Germany, in 1896. It's not done yet, either. Man, people are kooky.

I wish I had more time to dig up more wacky stuff on the Internet. You'll just have to settle for little bits and pieces!

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One of the few times I will even discuss this person

Why do we even pretend that the rich don't get treated better than we are in this country?

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Liars and Fools!

The big pig is fake. Oh, the shame! Well, okay, not really, but it still wasn't strictly "wild." Read all about it on the web site! Here's what I don't get: who cares? I mean, it's a bit silly to talk about the kid as the world's greatest hunter, but it was still a big pig. What the hell was anyone going to do with it, ride it in the Kentucky Derby? It's not like it was Wilbur, for crying out loud! The kid shot the pig. If they want to say it was the work of a valiant hunter, so what?

That I don't care too much about, I just thought I'd mention it. Clinton Portis, however, is a fool. You'll recall that Portis, the running back for the Washington football team (whose name I refuse to use), said people should leave Michael Vick alone. Vick, you'll recall, is being investigated for fighting dogs on his property. Portis said that it's Vick's property and he should be allowed to do whatever he wants there, and who cares about dogs? When it was pointed out to him that dogfighting is a felony, Portis said it's not that bad and it's his business. Well, he finally apologized, but it was an odd apology (and I can't find a link to it). He said he didn't realize how much people loved dogs.

Really, Clinton? REALLY? You didn't realize how much people loved dogs? I don't even love dogs (I like them, but they're kind of annoying) and I recognize that breeding them to fight each other is barbaric. Jesus. When I'm dictator, people like Clinton Portis will have to fight 1000-pound hogs in a cage match with no weapons. Then we'll see how tough Clinton Portis and people of his ilk are.

How much could I charge for a pay-per-view cage match between Clinton Portis and a 1000-pound "feral" hog? Man, if I knew anything about Photoshop, I'd have a great picture to post right here!

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Great songs, according to me (Part 31)

Yes, we're into the third group of 15! I love writing these posts, even though no one likes reading them. But I soldier on!

Here is an archive of the first 15 parts. Here is an archive of the second 15 parts. Now, onward!

I've mentioned this before, but doing these in alphabetical order means you get some weird synchronicity. Therefore, I have three songs by my favorite band on this list, two songs by one of my favorite bands, and a song by the ex-lead singer of my favorite band. Sorry - that's just the way it goes!

301. Jerusalem (by Sinéad O'Connor on the album The Lion and the Cobra, 1987): One would think this would be a soothing song, but it's really not, as O'Connor turns her rasping angry voice on lyrics that sear you with their ragged honesty. This is a woman broken down by the system, and O'Connor makes us feel every nerve. The music twists its way through the song, simultaneously exotic and simple. There are a lot of great songs on this album, and this is definitely one of them.

302. Jesus Christ Pose (by Soundgarden on the album Badmotorfinger, 1991): This is one of my five favorite Soundgarden songs, because Cornell's screech is just so perfect and the lyrics are so devastatingly cool. "And I swear to you I would never feed your pain, but you're staring at me like I'm driving the nails." Excellent stuff. The boys in the band up the ante with the the hard-driving beat and wailing guitars, too, and everything keeps building in intensity. It's a wonderfully nasty song about martyrdom and self-righteousness. Those are always good to hear!

303. Jigsaw (by Marillion on the album Fugazi, 1984): This is one of a handful of great love songs that Marillion has written over the years (their best is a few songs down, but this might be second-best), and it never fails to give me a good gut-wrenching. Fish's lyrics are odd but not impenetrable, like a lot of songs on this album, and the music is both uplifting and depressing, which is a neat trick. The chorus is wonderful, too, and toward the end, when Fish sings, "We reached ignition point from the sparks of pleasantry; we sensed the smoke advancing from horizons. You must have known that I was considering an escape" before busting into the chorus: "Stand straight, look me in the eye and say goodbye; stand straight, we've drifted past the point of reasons why," it's a magical moment. A great, great song.

304. Johnny Q (by the Crazy 8s on the album Still Crazy After All These Beers 1984-1993, 1998): The Crazy 8s were a Portland band for a decade, and when they released this greatest hits album, I picked it up. They're kind of ska punk, as was trendy back in the day, but they have a harder edge than some of the bands who actually hit it big with that sound. Most of all, they're a fun band, the kind of group I would have loved to see live. This is their best song, probably (it's certainly the best one on the greatest hits album), with its excellent beat, insightful lyrics about everyday living, and great horn section. Mike Sterling likes the Crazy 8s, and that should be enough for you! You can get the reissue of their first album on Amazon. You can get the greatest hits album, too, but it's 50 bucks. Gadzooks!

305. Junkie (by James on the album Pleased to Meet You, 2001): The last* James album has some very excellent songs on it, and this is one of them. It's like a lot of James songs, in that Tim Booth's lazy and nasal singing style helps the lyrics greatly, and the sly music gets under your skin. The lyrics are a big part of why the song is great, as Booth sings of all the things that addict us, making sure we don't get too big for our britches. When he gets to the end, singing "Everyone's a junkie" as the fuzzy music plays behind him, it completes a wonderful statement on our materialistic society.

* Although, apparently they're back together. Excellent news, that. I can't wait for the new album.

306. Just Good Friends (Close) (by Fish on the album Internal Exile, 1991): This is the kind of song Fish does really well - it's a sentimental tune with strong, major-chord music and wistful lyrics about something that has been lost. That doesn't make it any less great, but it does mean that Fish does these extremely well. It's a song about two people, one of whom wonders if he should declare his love for a girl with whom he's been friends for years. It's a universal problem, and Fish makes it personal for all who hear it. He doesn't get too maudlin with his vocals, either, which helps, because lyrics like "So are we left to chance meetings, is that all we can depend on?" are sad on their own, and don't need him sounding self-pitying. The balance he strikes is why this is a great song.

307. Just Like Fred Astaire (by James on the album Millionaires, 1999): It's odd to hear such a transcendent love song from a band like James (or any band, for that matter) that isn't slow and syrupy. This song isn't a stripped-down, quiet affair about how much some guy loves his girl, it's a celebration of love, a celebration of being happy with that perfect person, and how glorious, rapturous love can survive in the modern world. The lyric "'Cause when I hold her in my arms, I feel like Fred Astaire" sums up the song beautifully, speaking of a Hollywood romance that we can all experience, if we believe in it enough.

308. Just Say (by the Fastbacks on the Hype! motion picture soundtrack, 1996): This is a very good soundtrack to a very interesting documentary about the Seattle music scene in the early 1990s, and I love the two Fastbacks songs on the album. In two-and-a-half minutes of pure pop, this song is a devastating look at a relationship gone wrong. It feels more charming than it is, and the band powers through it wonderfully. There's nothing wrong with writing three minute rock tunes, and the Fastbacks do it very well.

309. Kayleigh (by Marillion on the album Misplaced Childhood, 1985): This is my favorite love song ever and one of my top five favorite songs. Like most of the songs on this album, Fish tempers his flair for metaphor and impenetrable lyrics by simplifying the words yet still keeping them beautiful. From the beginning, when he sings, "Do you remember the cherry blossoms in the market square; do you remember, I thought it was confetti in our hair," you feel the nostalgia for lost, idealized love, but the images he evokes are perfectly plausible in the bloom of a new romance. The end is devastating: Fish sings: "Kayleigh, I'm still trying to write that love song; Kayleigh it's more important to me now you're gone; Maybe it will prove that we were right or even prove that I was wrong." The music fits the song perfectly, subtle and aching when Fish sings of his past, heart-rending when he sings the chorus. This is almost a perfect song.

310. King (by Marillion on the album Afraid of Sunlight, 1995): Yes, it's another Marillion song. Sorry! This song, off their oddest offering (definitely not their worst, just oddest), ends the album superbly. It begins with cacophony, with wailing keyboards and raucous guitars, and then suddenly goes quiet, which is when Hogarth starts singing. This is the kind of song he does well - a story, starring a character who has it all, but then watches things go bad. It's a song about a rock star who wonders if he's a fraud. The song builds in power, driving inexorably toward its conclusion, as Hogarth sings, "But the fire in your belly that gave you the songs is suddenly gone." He almost screams the final lyrics, as the cacophony returns backing him, and then the song suddenly ends in a flurry of white noise. It's a brilliant ending, because we're expecting a final, major chord on a piano not unlike "A Day in the Life," but Marillion doesn't give it to us, leaving us at the height with nowhere to go. Just like the character in the song. Very neat.

Again, I apologize for the narrowness of the selections this time, even though they're all great songs. Chime in with your objections to my selections ... if you dare!

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