Favorite Films – The 2000’s

0000701_large-film-reel-tin-can_550

It’s been a couple of weeks since I picked back up on this series of blogs, so I thought I had better.  A while ago, I saw a post that suggested you pick one favorite film from every year of your life.  So far, I have covered 3 decades.  Some years were easier than others.  Some years were very difficult, because there were many “favorites”.  One quick reminder – the movies are movies that I have seen.  There may be a monster hit movie from a certain year that I wasn’t inclined to see, or just didn’t see it.

As I move into the fourth decade of my life, I noticed something that I want you to keep in mind.  In 2002, my oldest son was born.  As I began to look through the movies of the 2000’s and even in the 2010’s, I noticed the amount of animated and kid films increased.  What I also noticed is that in many cases, those movies ended up being better than some of the adult films of those years.  Agree with me or not, remember this is MY list. While many of my readers are from Facebook and do not have blogs, many of my readers DO have blogs.  It has been fun to revisit each year, and I would love to see the list of some of my blogger friends (hint hint).

That being said, let’s dive into the 2000’s!

2000

Ashton Kutcher became a household name in 1998 as Kelso on That 70’s Show, so it was only a short time before they had him star in a feature film, and naturally it was a comedy – Dude, Where’s My Car?  While I found it mostly stale, there were a few laughs.  2000 brought us the funny sequel to Eddie Murphy’s Nutty Professor in Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis were both very good in Unbreakable, Harrison Ford wound up being the bad guy in What Lies Beneath, and Russell Crowe starred in the visually brilliant Gladiator (although at times I was bored with it).

A runner up for my pick for this year was the very funny Emperor’s New Groove, the animated feature that starred David Space, Patrick Warburton, John Goodman, and the amazing Eartha Kitt.  I loved this movie and Kitt’s voice work is just amazing.  However, music is what made me pick my favorite for 2000 – O Brother, Where Art Thou?

brother-title

George Clooney plays a convict who escapes from a chain gang and ends up recording a hit record.  I loved the story, and loved the soundtrack.  I was working in country radio when the movie came out.  The phones were constantly ringing for Man of Constant Sorrow!  The sound sounded so out of place among the current country hits of the time, but maybe that’s why it did so well.  It reminds me of when the Dixie Chicks first hit radio – their sound was so unlike anything on the air at the time that it stood out and sounded great!  I still have the entire soundtrack of this movie on my iPod!

2001

In 2001, Morgan Freeman reprised his role as Alex Cross in the movie adaptation of Along Came a Spider.  David Spade introduced us to Joe Dirt.  Amanda Pete, Jason Biggs, Steve Zahn, Jack Black and singer Neil Diamond all starred in Saving Silverman.  Much like Titanic, they tossed a love story into a real life historic event for Pearl Harbor with Ben Affleck.  We also got the first installments of some BIG franchises – Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.  Wes Anderson offered up a gem with The Royal Tenenbaums with Gene Hackman, the Wilson Brothers, and Ben Stiller.  Wes Anderson’s films always have a very unique look to them and I almost chose this one as my pick, but instead, I chose Shrek.

Shrek-sidekick-Donkey

The film is based on the 1990 book by William Steig.  Chris Farley was supposed to be the voice of Shrek, but his death led them to re-cast the role.  Word is that Mike Myers did the voice straight, and was unhappy with it.  He recut the voice with his Scottish accent and the rest is history.  Now add the talents of Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, and John Lithgow and it’s magic!  It was a fun movie to watch and remains a favorite that I still watch with my kids.

2002

There were a few animated and kids films in 2002:  Ray Romano starred in Ice Age, Disney brought us Lilo & Stitch, and there was a live action Scooby Doo movie.  The second (or fifth) installment of Star Wars hit the screen with Attack of the Clones, while other sequels included Men in Black II, Analyze That, and Austin Powers 3 – Goldmember.  Two big sequels were Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.  Sitting here in 2019, who could have known that there would be a gazillion more super hero movies to come … but my pick for 2002 is Tobey Maguire as Spiderman.

original

As a fan of Spiderman since I was a kid, I was excited to see this one.  I thought Tobey was a good Peter Parker.  The rest of the cast was great, too (James Franco, Willem Dafoe, JK Simmons)!  I always thought Kirsten Dunst was pretty, and thought she was great as Mary Jane.  It was a fun movie to watch with good special effects and a good story.

2003

The Lord of the Rings saga continued with the Return of the King in 2003.  Will Ferrell appeared in Old School, which I felt was “Animal House crossing the line”.  Uma Thurman starred in the first Kill Bill, and Johnny Depp appeared for the first time as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.  A clown fish named Nemo stole the hearts of many in Finding Nemo, while Disney offered up the action adventure film Holes.  Again, music played a factor in my favorite – School of Rock.

school of rock

Jack Black is a rocker who gets tossed out of his band.  He fills in as a substitute teacher and teaches his class all about Rock and Roll.  He also uses the kids to form a band in hopes of winning a Battle of the Bands contest. The soundtrack includes cuts from the Ramones, The Darkness, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Nicks, and the song they play at the end is the classic AC/DC song, It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock and Roll).

2004

Damn you, 2004!  There were so many great movies that came out this year!!  7 of them easily could be my top pick!  Adam Sadler brought us 50 First Dates with Drew Barrymore.  Mel Gibson brought us the controversial Passion of the Christ.  Uma Thurman returned to Kill Bill again in part 2.  Harry Potter was back with the Prisoner of Azkaban.  Tina Fey and Lindsay Lohan gave us a look at public school in Mean Girls. We enjoyed some high school football with Friday Night Lights.  Shrek and Donkey were back with a new friend (Puss in Boots) in Shrek 2.  Will Ferrell donned a mustache as he told the Legend of Ron Burgandy in Anchorman.  Harold and Kumar went to White Castle for some sliders.  Zombies were all over the place in Simon Pegg’s Shaun of the Dead (which I loved!). A very funny cast (Vince Vaughn, Rip Torn, Justin Long, Ben Stiller, Christine Taylor) told us an underdog story in Dodgeball (Chuck Norris has a funny cameo). Nick Cage stars in a great film that makes you rethink history in National Treasure. Jamie Foxx was just brilliant as Ray Charles in the biopic Ray.

A word about a film from 2004 before I announce my pick.  I saw the DVD cover for Napoleon Dynamite in the video store.  I am not sure what made me get it.  Someone may have mentioned it to me, whatever the case, I rented it. We popped it in.  I watched it all the way through.  When it was done I remember saying “What the hell did we just watch?!”  I literally sat there scratching my head.  I just couldn’t figure it out!  It was so dumb!  But here is the weird part – after it ended and after I sat there for a minute – I started the movie over!!!  I watched it all over again.  The second time I watched it – I laughed like hell!!  All of a sudden, it was a funny friggin movie!  When I would recommend it to people, I would tell them “you may have to watch it twice”!  LOL

Ok, so my movie picking credibility may forever be tarnished because of that last paragraph….but here is my pick for 2004 – The Incredibles.

TheIncredibles_Web_Still2_758_427_81_s

Brad Bird (who does the voice of Edna) wrote this masterpiece.  Craig T. Nelson is Mr. Incredible and Holly Hunter is Elastigirl (also Mrs. Incredible).  Samuel L. Jackson is super cool as Frozone.  After getting sued for injuring a citizen, Super heroes are banned from performing their duties.  They go into the Super Hero Relocation Program and live as ordinary citizens.  Syndrome is a super villain (voiced by Jason Lee) and his antics bring the “Supers” back out into the public eye.  The music soundtrack is just amazing.  I was SO excited when the sequel was announced.   Just LOVE this movie!! No Capes!

2005

There weren’t many films I liked from 2005.  Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith was good, as we see the “birth” of Darth Vader.  DreamWorks had fun with the animated film Madagascar.  Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson were Wedding Crashers.  Goblet of Fire was the next installment of the Harry Potter series.  My pick for favorite of 2005 is a remake – I know, I know!  I have dissed many remakes, but I found Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to be different enough that I liked it.

Charlie-and-the-Chocolate-Factory-johnny-depp-13843211-960-540

Johnny Depp is one of those actors who amazes me.  When I look at the various roles he has played, each one of them is very unique.  His take on Willy Wonka is so vastly different from Gene Wilder’s in the original.  It is almost creepy – ok, it is creepy! The whole movie is a bit darker than the original, too.  While the story is basically the same, it is different enough that it stands alone as being worthy of my pick.

2006

The success of animated films becomes apparent by 2006.  DreamWorks put out two animated movies this year – Flushed Away and Over The Hedge, while Pixar released Cars.  Ben Stiller interacts with history in A Night at the Museum.  Johnny Depp is back as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men’s Chest.  Little Miss Sunshine is a delightful film with Steve Carell, Greg Kinnear, and Alan Arkin.  My pick for favorite stars Jack Black as Nacho Libre.

nacho-libre-1_672_426_81_s

While it is a comedy, it also has heart.  Jack Black is a cook at a monastery.  He grew up there.  There are many orphans that live there, and there is little money to feed them properly.  He decides to wrestle after hours in an effort to raise money for the orphans.  I love this movie, because while there are moments you laugh at loud, there are also heartwarming moments.

2007

Animation movies continued to be big in 2007 – Jerry Seinfeld had Bee Movie, Shrek was back for a third (and probably weakest of the series) movie, and Pixar had the marvelous Ratatouille.  Jack Sparrow returned in At World’s End, and Simon Pegg offered up the comedy Hot Fuzz.  Harry Potter returned in the Order of the Phoenix, and Nick Cage was back for the sequel to National Treasure: Book of Secrets. Jon Heder, coming off the success of Napoleon Dynamite, teamed up with Will Ferrell for Blades of Glory.  The gang from TV’s Reno 911 got their own film Reno 911:Miami.  My pick for favorite – The Bucket List.

buckspan

Admittedly, I did not see the movie until recently, I am glad I did.  This movie made “the bucket list” a phrase everyone now uses.  We all have items on a list that we want to do before we die.  Going to Italy is on mine.  Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman are just wonderful in this film.  If you haven’t seen it – you have to!

2008

Comedies from 2008 included Simon Pegg’s Run Fatboy, Run, Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr. starred in Tropic Thunder, Rainn Wilson was The Rocker, and Will Ferrell and John C. Riley were Step Brothers (Boats and Hoes!!)  Animated films from 2008 included WALL-E, and Kung Fu Panda. Tom Cruise starred in a great story about the plot to kill Hitler in Valkyrie.  Harrison Ford reprised his role as Indiana Jones in The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (I didn’t care for it).  Will Smith was a guy with super powers in Hancock.

Vantage Point was almost my pick for favorite.  Dennis Quaid stars in the film about an assassination attempt of the President.  The movie shows all the different views of the event – all the different vantage points.  It was a very cool film to watch.  I hate to say it, because it is kind of a remake, but my pick for favorite is Get Smart.

get smart

TECHNICALLY, it is NOT a remake.  It is just based on the TV show.  At first I was angry to hear they were making this movie, because of my love for the TV show.  Then I heard that Steve Carell would be playing Maxwell Smart.  I thought he was perfect for the role.  Alan Arkin is great as the chief (I like him in almost everything he does).  Anne Hathaway is 99.  James Caan is the President.  The Rock is also an agent.  Great cameos from Bill Murray and Bernie Kopell, the orginal Seigfried (although I wish Bernie’s cameo had been longer).  Over all, it was a good story.  I loved the nods to the TV show, that earned bonus points for me.

2009

As we enter the final year of this decade, three films all stand out as ones that could easily be my pick.  Two of the dumbest films I saw were Paul Blart Mall Cop (which even got a sequel!!) and Year One.  I am stupider for watching both of those films!  Animation and kid films included The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and the Monsters VS Aliens.  Harry Potter was back with the Half Blood Prince.  Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw starred in The Blind Side.  Woody Harrelson kills the undead in Zombieland. I’m gonna be honest – I NEVER saw Avatar, it just didn’t look interesting to me.  I was impressed with the new Star Trek movie – I felt the characters stayed very close to the original star’s portrayals.  I really enjoyed Inglorious Basterds (always been a fan of WWII movies).

That leaves me with four films – one that I disliked and three I loved.  I know that I am in the minority here, so I apologize in advance.  I didn’t care for the Hangover.  It obviously was major hit which spawned quite a few sequels.  Everyone kept saying, “You’ve got to see this movie”, so I did.  I really didn’t find it as funny as everyone else did.  I don’t know what it is, I just didn’t find it to be the great film everyone else did.

Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law was VERY well done!  I enjoyed it very much.  I really felt that it captured the Sherlock Holmes from the stories.  I found it funny, exciting, and thought it had a great story.  When I discovered Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch, I felt that it was done in almost the same vain as this film.

I almost picked A Christmas Carol starring Jim Carrey as my favorite.  First of all, it is one of my favorite Christmas stories.  I am sure that I have blogged about it in the past.  Second, Jim Carrey does the majority of the voices in it and it just amazing.  I loved the animation and it has been one that I watch each and every Christmas season.  My pick for 2009, however, is another animated film … Up.

Up

Pixar continues to bring out amazing movies for the whole family.  Up is the story of Carl Frederickson(voiced by Ed Asner), and his quest to go to Paradise Falls to fulfill a promise to his wife.  The montage that shows the love story of Carl and Ellie is done with no voices – just action and music.  It is the most moving thing I have ever seen.  Yes, I cried.  It is beautiful.

Carl-and-Ellie-Up

The adventure that Carl ends up going on with his newfound friends Russell, Doug, and Kevin is exciting and heartwarming.  I truly wish that Pixar would give us a sequel to this film, just to see more of this wonderful friendship that Carl and Russell have.  I LOVE this movie!

9 more years to go and I will pick up the series next in 2010.  I hope you enjoyed reading this!

film-reel

 

 

Too Early??

Halloween is barely behind us, and we are just a day or two into November.  Christmas is over 50 days away, however, it is everywhere! Even before Halloween, many stores had their Christmas displays and decorations up!

111223035421-christmas-tree-presents-horizontal-gallery

For years, people have pondered, discussed, and debated the “how early is too early for Christmas” topic.  In September this cartoon was all over the internet:

ig1zydlj62v31

Just before Halloween, Sirius XM radio began adding their holiday channels to their line up.  Countless radio stations across the country flipped to “all Christmas” music yesterday and Facebook and almost every major news outlet had stories about it.  I really don’t know why people were acting so surprised by this, because it happens every year!  Is this the earliest stations have flipped?  No.  I recall a few years where some stations flipped to all Christmas BEFORE Halloween.

There was a time when Christmas music didn’t even start playing on the radio until Thanksgiving weekend.  I recall scheduling 3 to 4 Christmas songs an hour throughout that weekend, and then cutting back to 1 an hour after Thanksgiving weekend.  As Christmas got closer, the number of songs we played increased to 2, 3, and eventually 4 an hour.  We almost always went all Christmas music at 12 noon Christmas Eve and then would continue through 6pm Christmas night.  That’s not the case anymore.

5cd516032500002f00a10b24

People inevitably ask me the question – “Why do stations go all Christmas so early?!”  The answer is a simple one – ratings!  Its not always the case, but most of the time, these stations who play all Christmas music do very well in the ratings books – which means more $$ for the station.  Some retail stores do not have the pre-recorded satellite music, so they will pipe the “all Christmas station” throughout the store.   That means more listeners to that particular station.

Is it good or bad?

So this brings me to a Facebook discussion some friends were having (after one person voiced his disgust at the fact that his station flipped to all Christmas) yesterday.  His argument was that “holiday music increases stress and is unhealthy for people.”  I knew exactly what he was referring to.

Christmas-Music-2-1

A couple years ago, a psychologist named Linda Blair said that listening to Christmas music too early in the holiday season can have a negative effect on people.  She stated that it can affect mental health triggering “feelings of stress.”  She said that hearing holiday music is a reminder of all the things that you have to do to get ready for the holiday.  She said the music will cause you to worry about (and become overwhelmed by) the things on your “to-do” list like travel planning, shopping, and planning for parties.

She also said that people who work in retail, especially those who work at places like shopping malls, face a higher risk of what she called “Christmas music-induced stress”! “Hearing the same songs over and over each day could make workers struggle to ‘tune it out’ and they become ‘unable to focus on anything else,’ she said. “You’re simply spending all of your energy trying not to hear what you’re hearing.”

Tired Santa in Workshop

That story first hit the news in 2017, and has already be reprinted this year on many social media and news pages.  Blair never really cites any concrete evidence, or study results, so how do we know that this is actually the case?  Maybe she is just a Grinch who hates Christmas Music?? Who knows?!

5595072_100519-cc-grinch-freeform-img

On the other hand …

In response to Linda Blair’s findings, there is another article (this one citing “scientific studies”) that says the exact opposite!  In those studies, it was proven that listening to “uplifting music”  – like Jingle Bell Rock, Frosty the Snowman and A Holly Jolly Christmas, to name a few – has been known to have a positive effect both physically and psychologically.

According to these studies, the feeling associated when listening to music can be sorted into two categories, perceived emotions (when we appreciate the emotional tone of the piece, but not feel that emotion ourselves) and felt emotions. Felt emotions are when we connect to the feeling behind the piece we are listening to and it can impact our emotional state.”

6b09d355-christmasmusic-rondtable

As someone who has worked in radio for 30+ years, I know first hand the connection that music has to memories.  Do a google search on “music memory quotes” and there are plenty of them. One quote in particular holds true for the next point – from Michigan’s own, Stevie Wonder:

Quotation-Stevie-Wonder-Music-at-its-essence-is-what-gives-us-memories-And-31-97-93

“Music has a strong tie to nostalgia.”

This is why hearing a song from your childhood may bring back memories of elementary school, a high school dance, or a major life event like it was yesterday. It’s also why listening to certain Christmas songs can make people feel warm, fuzzy and child-like. Part of the reason why Christmas music is associated with joy is not necessarily the music itself, but the memories that come with it.

bells

So, listening to Christmas songs may make you feel nostalgic for your childhood or just generally happy, because your brain has already created positive associations with the music. And it’s been proven – research conducted by researchers at McGill University proved that when people listen to happy, upbeat music, they can recall happy memories within a short amount of time.   The entire article can be found here:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170228131027.htm

“In the experiment, the researchers had participants listen to four different genres of original music they had never heard before: happy (positive, high arousal), peaceful (positive, low arousal), scary (negative, high arousal) and sad (negative, low arousal). The researchers found that when the participants listened to happy, upbeat music, it brought about happy memories.”

That being said, there are Christmas songs that can bring about sad memories, too.  So I guess there is that possibility, too.  For the most part, though, Christmas music is happy and upbeat.  That would suggest that listening to Christmas music brings about nostalgic thoughts which brings about happy memories and you being a happier person.

What’s my take on it?

While I don’t listen to Christmas music 24/7/365, I do have Christmas songs on my iPod.  When I am listening to it and a Christmas song comes on out of season, it depends on my mood as to whether or not I am going to listen to it.  There are some Christmas songs that I can listen to no matter what the season, because (as the latter study suggested) it makes me feel good or happy.

christmas-music-for-business1

I remember when I worked at Honey Radio in Detroit, we would throw in “summer songs” when it was summer time.  We’d play “Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summmer”, “Wonderful Summer”, “Summertime”, and others and then cut back on them in the fall and winter.  I have never understood why songs like “Let it Snow”, “Winter Wonderland”, or “Jingle Bells” (which are basically winter time songs that never really mention Christmas) didn’t play throughout the Winter.

Final Thought

There are people who complain just because they like complaining.  Bottom line is this – radio is free.  You have many choices up and down the dial.  There are many other stations that are not playing Christmas music 24/7, so if you don’t want to hear it – DON’T!  Pop in a CD, listen to your Spotify, plug in a USB with your tunes on it, or find the satellite channel that plays the format you enjoy.  Problem solved!

I have always looked forward to the Christmas season.  People tend to be friendlier.  People seem to be kinder.  There is a sense of happiness that comes with the season.  Elvis Presely’s “Why Can’t Everyday Be Like Christmas?” captures that sentiment.  Just because you don’t want to listen to Christmas music, doesn’t mean that others don’t want to.  Christmas music and the holiday season bring about a joy that seems to be lacking today – don’t be a Scrooge!

44713-christmas-music-artisteer-facebook.800w.tn

 

For the Record: Famous Monsters Speak

0f8639daac8f58da45cd59c14be77753

Happy Halloween!!

While I don’t always plan ahead what I am going to blog about until a day or so before, today’s Halloween Blog was something I planned on writing about a few months ago.  I was reminded of the topic after listening to one of the shows I did with my partner, Rob, on Honey Radio.

Somewhere down the line, I plan on writing an entire blog about “drops”.  In the radio biz, a “drop” is a snippet from a movie, a TV show, or some other form of audio that is used in pieces of production, or on it’s own.  So how do you use a “drop”? Above, you see a picture of The Three Stooges.  In their short “Micro-Phonies”, the boys end up in a recording studio.  Moe stands at the microphone while Larry and Curly make noise.  Moe yells, “Quiet, numbskulls! I’m broadcasting!”  I used this drop all the time.  I would use it with stuff our voice guy sent us.  The piece would be produced and it would play between songs.  The entire piece would start with some sound effect, then the voice guy saying “You’re listening to Keith Allen! (Insert drop – “Quiet, numbskulls!  I’m broadcasting”!) Then the voice guy would tag it by saying the station – “on Flint’s Classic Rock Authority – 103.9 The Fox!” (or whatever station I was at).

My buddy Johnny Molson, who I worked with at my first radio job had a bunch of funny drops.  Some were from movies, while others were from listener phone calls.  He had one he’d play that always made me laugh (some guy yelling “Listen kid, why don’t you just beat it!”)

Rob and I spent hours watching TV and movies looking for little lines that could be taken out of context to play on the show.  He had plenty of drops from the Steve Reeves Hercules movies, Star Trek the original series, Spencer for Hire, Batman, Dragnet, and so many more!  When we were live on the air, I used to purposely throw drops in when Rob was talking as one of the characters just to make him laugh.  He was so good, he rarely did.  As a matter of fact, he would often just react to the drop.    There were, however, a few drops that would crack him (and me) up.  They came from a record album that he had growing up.  Which, incidentally, is the topic of this blog.

Famous Monsters Speak

When I think about monsters, I think of the Universal Studio Monster movies from the 30’s!  Bela Lugosi will always be Dracula to me!

dracula

…and in 1931, Boris Karloff was the Frankenstein monster!

21b054dc65f524d5a42f7636b3111823

In 1963, screenwriter Cherney Berg (who is the son of actress, screenwriter, and producer Gertrude Berg), wrote the script for the album Famous Monsters Speak.  Side 1 focused on a story that featured the voice of the Frankenstein monster.  The story is set at some scientist convention and they are playing the tapes of the Frankenstein monster.  Side 2 focuses on a story of Dracula, when someone stumbles on his crypt.  The voice work for the entire album is done by Gabriel Dell.

GABE

Gabriel Dell (on the right in the photo above) was an actor who starred in movies with the Dead End Kids, the East Side Kids, and the Bowery Boys.  I have often said that a good actor is one who can act by just using their voice (which is why I really love listening to old radio shows).  The entire album is voiced by Dell.  As the Frankenstein monster he is terrifying, while as Dracula he is equally creepy!  Keep in mind this was an album that would be found in the children’s section of the record store!  Rob told me his dad had bought it for him as a gift for a birthday or Christmas or something!

Famous-Monsters-Speak-1963

When Rob and I worked together, he had a few drops from this album.  As a morning show, we often looked for drops that talked about waking up, drinking coffee, etc…  On this album, Dracula simply said, “I command you – Awaken!”  We often used that.  He also says, “Stupidity has always been my best protection”, which we used when saying that one of the characters on the show was stupid.  Then there was this clip of Dracula gaining the trust of an unsuspecting victim by asking for directions.  In context, it is not funny, but out of context … (In a Transylvanian accent) “I beg your pardon, but I am a stranger to your city and have lost my way.  Can you tell me pleas – the bus to Kensington Gardens?” (This was one that I would throw in on occasion and would make him laugh – just because it was so bizarre).  On the Frankenstein side of the record, there is a 4 or 5 second clip of the monster making a growling/howling/yelling noise.  We used to promote that Richard D. was coming in after us, and we’d say the sound was Richard “warming up in the next studio”.

Those short clips/drops were all I knew of this album, until long after we were off the air.  I knew where they came from.  I had just those audio clips and would laugh when I heard them.  Then one day I was out at some used record store.  I found the album!  I called Rob and told him that I had found it and was going to listen to it.  He laughed like hell.  “I can’t believe you are so excited to find that damn record!  I guess that’s why I love you, kid!”  I can still hear him saying that to me.

When I listened to the album, instead of laughing (ok, I did when the monster made the “Richard D” noise), I was genuinely freaked out.  I couldn’t believe that this was a kids record!  It was done in the same vein as so many of those “Headless Horseman” and “Superman” records that had stories and a book.  There was no book with this album, and really, you didn’t need one!  Dell’s performance on the album is brilliant.  A guy named Hal Johnson is listed as the sound effects man and those effects are awesome!  The album is just as good as an old episode of Suspense, The Mysterious Traveler, Lights Out, or The Whistler.  Gabriel Dell’s performance makes me tired just listening to it – he really get’s into it!

So, here for your Halloween listening enjoyment – turn down the lights – and listen to Famous Monsters Speak.

Side 1 – The Voice of the Monster

(The Richard D “warming up” sound can be heard at 4:50-4:54 of this clip)

Side 2 – Dracula Returns

(Kensington Gardens line begins at 10:44 – they way he says “Kensington Gardens” always made Rob and I laugh)

 

Famous-Monsters-Speak-back

You can read a bit more about this album here:

Cherney Berg “Famous Monsters Speak”

 

Oct-Halloween-500x333

What’s Up, Doc?

Doctor's Office

This week I found out that the doctor’s office where my primary care doctor practices is going private. To be honest, this is the first time I have ever had this happen. They offered all of the current patient’s the option to stay with the practice – at a cost. So for $90 a month, I can stay with my doc, get his cell phone number for after hours questions, unlimited visits with no co-pays or deductibles, “unhurried appointments that start on time”, and a bunch of other “perks”. While this sounds great, I still have to pay my monthly insurance in case I need to go to ER or have a hospital stay. Bottom line: it’s gonna cost me more money.

I think the hardest part about this is the fact that I finally found a doctor I like. He’s Italian (we’ve talked about Italy and Sicily often). He listens to me. He doesn’t rush me. He is honest. I trust him. I’ve really only had a few doctors where I felt like this. Now, because the entire practice is going private, I have to begin a new search for a doctor!

14485051

Finding the right “doc” should be an easy task, right? Well, it really isn’t for me. Because I work an hour and 15 minutes from home, AND work for a health system, I have to take the insurance provided by them. I have to use doctors that are affiliated with the health system. This is not really a big deal. What makes it difficult is that the closest practices are about 30-50 minutes south of where I live.

leonard-mccoy-top-ten-tv-doctors-star-trek-daforrest-kelley

Not only do I have to find a new doctor for me, but the new doctor has to be one that I can take the boys to as well. The options keep getting fewer and fewer, especially since there are only a few practices in that area.

MV5BNjQwMTdhZDgtYzkyMi00MjJiLThjZjktYzM1ZDBjN2ZkZGU0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjUxMjc1OTM@__V1_

The old doctor will see me through the end of December. So I have about 2 months to research, visit, and make a choice. Oh, and amidst all of that, it is time for open enrollment and there are all kinds of changes in that too that I need to look at and consider.

fig14

Why must health care and insurance be such a major pain in the ass?! Urgh! I am really hating that my doctor’s office is doing this!! I understand why, though. I mean, really, if I were a doctor and could avoid all the insurance company bullshit, I’d do it too! It’s just very frustrating and unfair to the patients who are established. To assume that a patient can afford an extra $1100 a year on top of what they already pay for insurance really sucks!

a8bfda58b9b87fc8986483e2f9bc84ff

It is no secret that in many cases all it would take is one major medical emergency to put a family into financial distress! Hell, one ER visit with my son, at the health system I work for cost me over $800! He wasn’t even admitted! Health care costs are astronomical (not to mention pharmaceutical costs)!

20160608_Gregory_House

So the search is on … I have a short time to interview, research and make the decision on my new doc. I am loathing ever damn second of it. Who is the right Doc??

Doc_Ship's_Doctor1

Doc Bricker?

back-to-the-future-movie-clip-screenshot-lightening-experiment_large

Doc Brown?

5c382b06d1b3a9f6fca901c928bfd897

Doc Severinsen?!?!

54855235aa3d6994468bbc4ac221e59f

Doctor Howard? Doctor Fine? Doctor Howard?

CKd8JMKW8AA_uri

Dr. Van Helsing??

Nick_Riviera

Dr. Nick?!?

landscape-1474491711-s-gettyimages-93765020-master-lead

Gratuitous Grey’s Anatomy photo (cause my wife loves that show)

Doctor McSteamer? McSteaming? Or McDreamy? Whatever the hell they call him?!?!

Wish me luck … I am NOT looking forward to this at all ….

pctips

BLOG ADDITION!!!

My brother read this blog and reminded me that there are many other doctor options that I forgot.  So, here are a few more I will look into:

Banner

Dr. David Banner – although his temper may be an issue.

beckett

Dr. Samuel Beckett – though he is often in and out

bombay

Dr. Bombay – he’s magical!

cranes

Dr. Frasier Crane and Dr. Niles Crane – they are crazy fun!

watson

Dr. John Watson – The game is afoot!

rumack

Dr. Rumack – I am serious!

honeydew

Dr. Honeydew  and his faithful companion, Beaker.

kimble

Dr. Richard Kimble – although he’s on the lamb

hartley

Dr. Bob Hartley

doctorbob

Another Dr. Bob …

doctor_zhivago_-_h_-_2016

Dr. Zhivago

Dr Zaius

Dr. Zaius

dr-strangelove_1280x720

Dr. Strangelove

fumanchu

Dr. Fu Manchu

jones

The Family Practice of Dr. Jones and Dr. Jones

young_frankenstein_704_6

Dr. Frankenstein – it’s not pronounced how it looks.

Dr__Cockroach

Dr. Cockroach – he creeps me out a bit

the-big-bang-theory-cast-top-the-list-of-highest-paid-male-tv-actors

These doctors!

spaceman

Dr. Spaceman – not pronounced how it looks either!

Dr. teeth

Dr. Teeth – I have all his albums!

doof

Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz – He has his own jingle and nemesis.

With all of those wonderful choices …. I may just go with the Dr. I can relate to the most … perhaps you have heard of him….

johnny fever

Dr. Johnny Fever!

Thanks to my brother for reminding me that I have many more options … LOL!

 

Blogging Milestone!

Screenshot_20191029-032946~2

Wow!  200 Posts!  And here I thought I wouldn’t have anything to write about!

In honor of my 200th post, I am going to ask you – my followers and my Facebook friends – for your suggestions on what you would like me to write about in the coming months.

  • I have enjoyed doing the “Question and Answer” blogs – where friends ask me questions and I answer them in a blog.
  • I have also enjoyed writing about movies and music.  I have about 19 years worth or “favorite films” to finish up.
  • I have also enjoyed writing about favorite TV shows.
  • I think what I enjoy most is writing about my family and friends.  Those blogs tend to get more “reads” than others, and that’s ok.  Those are a bit more personal, so I can see them as being more serious and maybe even emotional.

So, is there anything specific you’d like to ask?  Is there something you’d like to know more about (radio, sleep, etc)?  Maybe you’d like to be a guest blogger – I’d love to hear YOU tell one of your favorite stories about us, or your favorite memory, etc…

No pressure.  I just want to thank you for reading!  Thank you for sharing!  Thank you for being here – I appreciate you!

Keith

“Christmastown”

Friday, October 25 marked the 13th anniversary of my mother’s passing.  My brother came up from Ohio to spend the weekend in Michigan.  We got to see him a couple days, then he met up with his best friend, and then he stopped by and saw my dad.  He arrived in Michigan on the Thursday and spent the night at my house.  Thursday evening, Sam and I took him out to dinner at our favorite steak place.  Dinner was filled with good conversation and laughter.  Friday evening, I had to DJ a preschool Halloween Party, but we had plans for early in the day Friday.

Frankenmuth-Arch

Growing up, we often visited Frankenmuth, MI.  “Little Bavaria” it is often called.  There is a lot of German Heritage in this town.  My grandmother (mom’s mom) was of German decent and Frankenmuth was a nice day trip.  We would go to the Bavarian Inn and have a chicken dinner.  My great aunt (grandma’s sister) always went to Zender’s across the street.  We travelled there often as kids.  One of my earliest memories was going to Frankenmuth and stopping at this country store and getting a dill pickle.  I also recall one trip where we got there, ate dinner, and walked outside to see it snowing like crazy!  I remember my grandma, grandpa, aunt, mom, dad, me and my brother all crammed into my grandpa’s Buick driving home on Southbound 75 doing about 3 miles an hour!  That was one scary drive!!

bavarian-inn-michigan-dining

Anyway, Friday, we took my brother to Frankenmuth (which is literally 5-10 minutes from my house now).  The last time he was there, he went with my dad.  I guess they walked around and hit some of the shops, but never went to one in particular – Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland – The World’s Largest Christmas Store.  My dad was never really a fan of that place, so we told Chris that we’d all go together.

untitled

Sam and I go there every year and we buy an ornament for our Christmas tree.  It’s a tradition that she has had for a long time, and we have continued it.  When she bought the house, she bought a “new home” ornament.  When we got engaged, we bought an engagement ornament.  When we got married, we bought a marriage ornament.  This year, we needed to go and get our “baby on the way” ornament.  They will personalize your ornaments, too!  They literally have an ornament for everything!!

4323587650_e70368a9b7

People come from all over the country – and the world – to visit Bronner’s.  There are some very neat pictures of the many celebrities that have stopped in to check it out.  It really is a magical place.  Along with the thousands of ornaments, they have trees, stockings, and Christmas villages.  My mom used to have a village she set up every year, but I am not sure what happened to it.  This year, they had some Halloween villages (one from the Addams Family, one from the Munsters, and one from the Nightmare Before Christmas).  They have many pieces for the various villages, too (Peanuts, a Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, etc…)!  We spent about 3-4 hours walking through.

fa31ab3159a208f63658d2afed1d6b0d_OrnWeihnachtsmarktHoriz

They have many Precious Moments figurines, as well as others (like super heroes, Peanuts, Star Wars, Disney, and more).  And if you need a nutcracker – they have plenty!

12293-728x360

It really was a fun time walking through there.  Sam and I enjoy doing it, although this year was a bit rougher on her as she is 24 weeks pregnant!!

After our walk through Bronner’s, we grabbed lunch at one of my favorite places in Frankenmuth – The Frankenmuth Brewery.

brewery-wedding

This was where Sam and I had one of our first dates.  We ate outside on the balcony overlooking the river.  I have always been a fan of craft beers and there are some favorites that are brewed here.  The Christmastown Ale is a personal favorite.  This time I chose the Pumpkin Chucker, which was very good, and in season.  It was made from pumpkins from one of the local pumpkin farms.  Great eats, good beer, and good times with family!

(If you plan to visit – be sure to grab some cheese at the Cheese Haus and shop at the River Place shops)

Despite being busy throughout most of the weekend, I am so glad that I was able to get a day with my brother and Sam.  I think what made it extra special was that we spent the day in Frankenmuth.  I have some great childhood memories there, I have had some very fun times with my sons there, Sam and I had our first real date there, AND I asked her to marry me while riding in a horse-drawn carriage there.  It’s a very special place for me.

8117164_EcXCcLL7AKr7MboPCgONtIAOpsYPNpDYd9B6eEPNrHs

 

 

 

Thanks for calling!

IMG_20191026_134211238_2 (1)

When I worked in radio full time, I never considered myself a “star”. I was a guy who worked on the radio trying to make a living. I was always humbled (and amused) when someone would come up to me and ask for an autograph. I would often chuckle when they asked, because I’m not “famous” and my signature is worth literally nothing! To that listener, however, I might have been as close to “famous” as they get.

Through my days on the radio, I have had the pleasure of meeting many people. It was not odd for me to be out in a restaurant and someone would come over and say hello. Many of them knew me from the radio, but I really didn’t know them. Then there were those who I did know. You can go back through some past blogs and I have written about how many of those loyal listeners became good friends.

Today I had something happen while on the air that made me truly miss being on the radio full time, and also was a reminder of the impact we have on people (not just those on the radio, but everyone). I answered the request line in the studio today and here was the conversation:

Me: Hi! The Moose!

Caller: Hi. Is this Keith Allen?

Me: That’s me.

Caller: Is this the same Keith Allen who used to work here back in the My Space days?

Me: (laughing) Yeah, that’s me. Who is this?

Caller: This is _______ from _______.

(I immediately remembered her)

Me: Oh my gosh, How are you?!

Caller: I have been looking for you forever! I wondered where you went….

This caller and I were friends on My Space many years ago and talked often about music and life. She told me how she had gotten married, and had grandchildren now. I told her that life had changed quite a bit for me too, since we last chatted. She said she couldn’t believe that it was me. It’s not often that a listener complains that you are playing too much music, but she did! She told me she thought she heard me say “Keith Allen” and wanted to make sure that’s what she heard before she called. I was glad that she took the time to call and say hello. It is always nice to reconnect with old friends!

This whole exchange made me smile. It’s funny how after all this time, she remembered me. It’s a great feeling to know that while I was on the air telling jokes, sharing stories about my life, doing bits, and making observations that I connected with my listeners. That connection went deeper than “I heard a guy talking on the radio about…” That connection became, “Keith Allen was talking about…”. THAT is what it is all about!

While I don’t get to do it on a daily basis, I am still very blessed to have the opportunity to do it once or twice a week. As long as I keep having moments like this…I will always love radio.

To my listener friend, “Thanks for calling!”