A Hodgepodge and My First Top Ten List

As much as I am enjoying writing a blog, and as much as I’ve been as disciplined as I can possibly be to post something EVERY WEEK FOR OVER 6 MONTHS NOW (!!), every once in a while I feel like I’m at a loss for what to write about. I mean, if I had the time, I would troll through my multitude of journals because I know that I have deposited many, many nuggets of blog ideas in there that could be developed into a full blog post. Sadly, “no time” is one of the reasons I lack focus this week – I’ve been busier than usual. My daughter was in town for a couple of days, and I actually went into the office two days this week rather than my usual one, in this case for an all-day semi-tortuous meeting with our client and a negotiating partner of long-standing, the latter of whom employed tactics I haven’t seen since the schoolyard (“If you’re not willing to move on this point, I’m packing my things and going home”). It underlined for me how ridiculous I find a lot of legal wrangling, over things as important as which party is willing to take on the largest risks associated with a transaction or as petty as where to put a damn comma. Most of these prolonged debates involve “what if” scenarios that will NEVER HAPPEN, but of course lawyers exist to provide for all contingencies (and justify their own existence).

Never mind – I certainly don’t want to talk about WORK. The less I think about WORK the better I feel.

I guess I could talk about some current event, but the big media wave this week was about the inane “clown-car” GOP debate, where very little was said about legitimate policy proposals and inordinate amounts of time were wasted on bullies fighting amongst themselves and spouting outright lies. So, ‘nuff said about the GOP debate.

So instead of whining about work and presidential politics, I’ve decided to populate my blog this week with a hodgepodge of items in order to maintain consistency in my routine (see “Random Filler and the Self-Discipline Required to Maintain a Blog”, 4/29/15). I’ve also included the first of what may be many of my “top ten” lists.

* * *

NHL training camps opened this past weekend and the pre-season showcases have begun!  Soon there will be REAL GAMES!! Every spring when the Rangers are eliminated (and in the past few years, they’ve gotten tantalizingly close), I promise myself that I will try not to be so preoccupied with hockey. It is a true obsession for me: While it gives me great joy at times, it also brings its share of utter frustration. But when September rolls around, the hockey yearnings return in earnest and I can’t wait for the season to start. I’ll watch every game (sometimes multiple times, if it was a particularly good one), including pre- and post-game shows; I listen to Marek v. Wyshynski podcasts daily; and I read all the available articles (about the NHL in general and the Rangers in particular) that I can find. So, here goes the whirlwind again! I fully expect to emerge on the other end crowing about that long-overdue Stanley Cup for King Henrik and the boys!

* * *

As I think I’ve mentioned before in my blog posts, I often think about winning the lottery. It seems to be the only way I will ever be able to live the life I dream for myself. If I won the lottery, literally all of my problems would be solved: I could find work that satisfied me without having to worry about how much I was getting paid; I could even just stay home and write all day, every day; I could volunteer more; I could give money to causes I care about. I would only do good and pay it forward; I wouldn’t be selfish or greedy or piggish. I just need the chance to make that dream come true!!

* * *

Sometimes when I’m bored – for example, standing in Penn Station waiting for a train, or sitting in traffic – I’ll play a mind game with myself where I try to come up with my “top ten” favorite things, usually music-related but covering other categories as well. This week, it was “Top Ten Perfect Pop Songs”. The highly unscientific criteria for a “perfect pop song” (at least in my opinion) is an amalgamation of clever and/or deep lyrics, sing-along-ability, a satisfying melody (meaning that the progression of notes goes where you aesthetically WANT them to go), catchiness and memorability (according to spell check, that’s not a word, but it should be) and, finally, longevity, which is why all of the songs on my list are older. A song like Passenger’s “Let Her Go”, for example, might end up on the list in a few years if it still meets all the criteria.

My list, which is ever-evolving, is as follows (in no particular order):

  1. Green Day, “Basket Case”: Billy Joe Armstrong is a perfect pop song genius. This just happened to be the first song of his that really stuck with me. His recent tribute to Amy Winehouse, “Amy”, is a two-minute paragon of pop that might someday make the list but deserves special mention here as an example of Mr. Armstrong’s prodigious talent.
  2. Back Street Boys, “I Want It That Way”: Saw a great documentary about the Back Street Boys last week called “Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of”. I’ve always been fond of the Boys; their voice blend distinguishes them among boy bands, which is maybe why they’re still making relevant music 20 years on. I especially love Nick Carter, who is actually one of the cast members of “Dancing With the Stars” this season, which I NEVER watch (except for that one time when ex-NHLer and personal hero Sean Avery was on, but he got kicked off in the first week so I didn’t bother watching after that). In Nick’s first dance, he managed to make both his partner and judge Julianne Hough blush when they admitted to having his poster on their walls when they were teenyboppers, and he also popped his pants and KEPT ON DANCING! Go, Nick! I can never get too much of him. I even remember watching his silly half-season reality show called something like “I [HEART] Nick Carter”, which featured him and his wife-to-be in the months leading up to their wedding. I wonder if they’re still married. She was unremarkable but he was clearly smitten with her. Even though I’m literally 20 years older than he is, I confess that having Nick Carter around to fantasize about got me through the break-up of MY marriage! “Incomplete” is also a pretty damn good song but “I Want It That Way” is timeless.
  3. Bowie, “Space Oddity”: I could probably come up with a few more Grade-A examples from the early Bowie catalog – “Starman”, for one, is a great sing-along tune — but this is perhaps the one with which he is the most associated. I am beside myself with excitement about his Five Years album collection being released on September 25!! (See “Some Thoughts about Bowie”, 4/7/15, in which I bemoan having lost my entire Bowie LP collection to Superstorm Sandy.)
  4. Beatles, “If I Fell”: Again, many options here – the Beatles were the original kings of the “perfect pop song” – but this is my personal favorite.  Any time I hear it on the radio, I have to immediately stop what I’m doing to listen and sing along.
  5. Rolling Stones/Marianne Faithfull, “As Tears Go By”: You know it’s a great pop song when two wildly different artists can both make such timeless versions. Mick wrote it for Marianne but he and the boys do quite a moving rendition of it as well.
  6. Black, “Wonderful Life”: Just heard this song again the other day on a blog I follow called “Eye Will Not Cry” [https://eyewillnotcry.wordpress.com], which combines specific songs with the poetry it has inspired. The post also included the video, which I had never seen before: black-and-white, very “arty”, featuring close-ups of Black with a contented little smile on his face.
  7. White Town, “Your Woman”: an impossibly catchy early techno ditty, the “shocking” twist being that it’s sung by a man.
  8. Concrete Blonde, “Joey”: a gorgeous tune plus Johnette Napolitano’s pristine alto ensured its place on my list.
  9. Erasure, “A Little Respect”: Another of my favorite musical groups of all time, Vince Clark and the angelic-voiced Andy Bell are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year! (Geez, I’m old.)
  10. Cat Stevens, “Wild World”: This was probably his most popular song, but the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens crafted many perfect pop songs. The movie Harold and Maude (which I love and have been meaning to watch again) features a whole slew of them.

Honorable Mention: Van Morrison, “Wild Nights”: Whenever I hear this song, I always picture a camera panning down First Avenue in NYC’s East Village on a summer night in the late 1980s.

I’d love to see some “top ten perfect pop song” selections from my vast readership!

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