THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 45

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 45

“We are tracing the signal, we believe it originated somewhere in the Middle East.”…

broken-signal

Broken Signal by Carlo Formisano

“The future of the great Space Colony depends on my speaking with Roy Crippen.”

The remarkable power of a single laminated business card is opening doors Afridi did not know he would be walking through. Now, whether or not -whoever picks up- at Lovell Space Center or Galveston Launch will be as receptive, that remains to be seen. If and it is a big IF he can pull it off, Afridi will be breaking Image result for radio transmissioninto the secure frequency band used by the Space Colony mission; highly irregular and extremely illegal.

Abad the Turkish METEOR Radyo-master gives the earnest scientist a quick run-through of all the pertinent buttons and switches of the equipment, then leaving him to the fate of the frequency. He is fairly sure that the station’s anonymity will be untraceable; thereby absolving it of culpability. Unless, that is, if this guy saves the world, in which case he would gladly share in the glory.

Aldona looks back at Fatima, who throws him a good-luck kiss. He then takes a deep breath and initiates his long-range pirate transmission.

“Mission Control, come in. This is an urgent matter,” he urges in his bifurcated English intonation.

meanwhile-caption-001

“What was that? I don’t recognize that voice,” Sampson is distracted, “did you hear that Crip?”

The Mars landing sortie was supposed to be a private party.

“We are tracing the signal, we believe it originated somewhere in the Middle East.”

“I was thinking the man has a Jupiter accent,” chimes too kool for his spacesuit Sam.

“There was a large solar flare a couple days ago, probably a piggyback transmission,” Celeste speculates.

“Let them take care of that Cel, let’s get closer to this thing,” Sam’s eyes are trained on the forty foot high blinding-lightunnatural object that had stolen their attention, before they were rudely interrupted.

As they move in, a blinding flash engulfs the landscape, bright enough to light the already daylight Mars landscape. Horrified at the unsavory possibilities, Sampson McKinney switches to Tycho’s skyward monitor, perhaps to catch an incoming meteor. Debris is pelting the ground around them.

“What in God’s name!?” That could have been voiced by anyone of them.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 45


page 43 (end ch. 2)

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 44

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 44

…“The future of the great Space Colony depends on my speaking with Roy Crippen.”…

Mehmet Erim leads the Afridi’s into the radio station, the empty halls echoing the voices, of many anxious voices, over the over-the-air loudspeakers. His brother-in-law Abad sees Mehmet as an opportunist, always looking to make a fast Turkish Lira or having married his sister out of hunger.103.00 METEOR RADYO FM utilizes the tallest spire on a deserted building, with a sole lonesome announcer at the microphone. Image result for radio studio telephonesThere is a citywide buzz about the fracas at Sultan Ahmet Mosque; dead bodies always generate high audience participation.

“What do you want Erim? Make it quick; can’t you see that all the lines are lit up like the Sultan Mosque?” In the midst of a cluttered newsroom, he is short with Mehmet and before he gets a response, he asks, “Who are these people and why do you bring them here?”

Sometimes, when his wife’s brother talks down to him, he feels like rubbing his smug egotistical face into a dj-001wall, but this time it is he who is holding the trump card, an insider mosque story that will boost the ratings on The Mad Morning Turk Show. He cannot wait to see the look on his face when he realizes it.

“Abad, these good people were at the mosque in Galata. They are Talibanistani defectors wanting to talk with the man in charge of Space Colony 1.”

“So would I Mehmet. Many of my listeners are following Turkey’s contribution to the Mars Colony… great story.” In a ratings driven industry, it’s all about the buzz. “There is a trail of blood following these innocent looking persons. What makes you think that I can help them?”

space-colony-banner-001“This,” simply stated and effective = Abdullah Ashtaar, “and the fact that you control the world’s most powerful narrowband radio signal. Mr. Afridi here knows the frequency that the American Space Program uses.”

“If the exalted Abdullah Ashtaar gives you his blessing, who am I to doubt you, Mehmet.” He never calls him by his first name.

“The future of the great Space Colony depends on my speaking with Roy Crippen,” pleads Afridi.


THE RETURN TRIP

103-radyo-fm-001

Episode 44


page 42

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 43

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 43

…“Tough pickle, very tough pickle, Saied,” the taxi driver states the obvious…

in-a-pickle-001

“There are others who want me dead.” claims Aldona Afridi.

“Lucky for you, I stayed on this side of the Bosporus. So someone is after you, I don’t care that you are a criminal, I like you. How can such a nice man be in such a pickle? I will take you anywhere you want to go, no charge.”

“I do not know where to go… I mean I know where I want to go, but there one continent and an ocean to cross to get there. You see, I have valuable information for the Americans, but cannot seem to talk to the right people.”

“Tough pickle, very tough pickle, Saied.” Mehmet stops to decide whether any of his connections could possibly assist this pathetic man and his mysterious dilemma. “What do you have to trade, maybe I can find a way……stolen jewels, smuggled drugs, American dollars?”

“I only have this,” Aldona reaches for his left ankle.“

“That is a nice shoe, but the people who might help will require more.”abdullah-ashtaar-001

He hands his 3×5 “key to Istanbul” over to him.

“OOOooooo, Abdullah! This is better than money, a favor cashed in.”

“But what does this get me?”

“Who do you want to talk to and where?”

He gives over a meaningless name in a place in the United States.

“Oh really, you will need more than a telephone for this. Get into my taxi you Afridis, I think I know a way to talk to Galveston Texas. Hang on now.”

During their excursion through Istanbul’s maze-laden streets, Mehmet Ali explains where they are going. It turns out that he knows the operator of Turkey’s state owned radio station, his brother-in-law actually and if anyone could make this long distance connection, he could.

Three mosques, two idled street markets, and 20 minutes later, Mehmet and his passengers motor up to a dj-001building, topped off not with a dome but several antennae of different configurations. It is still early, 2:30 in the morning early, but this is a station that does not sleep.

103.00 METEOR RADYO FM utilizes the tallest spire on a deserted building with a sole lonesome announcer (Abad the Mad Morning Turk) at the microphone. There is a citywide buzz about the fracas at Sultan Ahmet Mosque; dead bodies always generate high audience participation.


THE RETURN TRIP

103-radyo-fm-001

Episode 43


page 41

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #294

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #294

…I have become a big Constance Caraway fan… and that Ace Bannion, he cracks me up; reminds me of Bob Ford, in a rugged sort of way…

Miami International Airport 36th Street Terminal

Within hours, Lyn Hanes is walking down the corridors of Miami International Airport. Although Coppertoneshe was a Floridian, she had never been this far south. She is amazed how different it is from the Panhandle, both in climate and population. It is very warm and very military, the latter left over from WWII, and it is currently holding Robert Ford in a bunker below ground.

          As it turns out, they were looking for her to show up, not because Ford told them she would be coming, just because they had been digging for dirt on their detainee. “Please come this way, Miss Hanes.”

          She does not resist and ends up in a room by herself. It reminds her of their experience in New Mexico. It should. Old friend, Sgt. Vincent Smith comes in, flanked by new recruits.

Meet again “We meet again, Miss Hanes.”

“So nice to see you Sergeant.”

“You know I had a feeling we would be seeing more of each other. And imagine Image result for good old timesRobert Ford being here too. Just like old times, wouldn’t you say?”

“Good old times?”

“Good, only if you aren’t looking for the truth. In the meantime, I have become a big Constance Caraway fan. And that Ace Bannion, he cracks me up; reminds me of Bob Ford, in a rugged sort of way.” He is slightly sarcastic in his undertones. “Tell me, Miss Hanes, how did you ever dream up that whole space ship thing? That’s pretty far fetched stuff for Constance to get involved in.”

“I was listening to a rebroadcast of “War of the Worlds” on the radio and it gave me this idea for Constance to investigate a spaceship crash.”

“Something inspired you, but I believe it is what you didn’t tell me then and what you aren’t going to tell me now, that gave you the idea. And good old Newt Swakhammer, you know you can’t make up a name like that.”

   “There is no Newt Swakhammer in my book.”

          “Oh, you’re correct, I keep getting the real and the made up, mixed up. Old Newt seems to have a fuzzy recollection of a man and a woman, an airplane and missing government property. Constance Caraway had a strangely similar episode. It’s funny how art imitates life.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #294


page 276

Reliable News Sources – WIF Spotlight

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Reliable Sources

of News

…News the old-fashioned way – Unbiased, accurate and responsible…

When writing about this, we understand that based on their perspectives, some people may disagree partly with this list. However, with so many fake news sites out there, and so much propaganda, it can be useful to go over those news sources best known for holding their standards to something more approaching real and honest journalism. A true journalist isn’t out to change your mind, but rather to tell you what is happening.

 Before we get into the full article, it is also important to point out that just because some news sources may be more reliable than others, does not mean we should ever read the news blindly without thinking it through. All news stories should be put through the process of critical thinking, and analyzed based on the context, and any possible biases – whether intentional or otherwise.
The point being… look beyond your Twitter or Facebook timelines.

10. Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal is a well-known name that can often be very controversial. Like many organizations, it is often accused of bias, but in this case the accusations of bias are in a right leaning direction. Many would say that the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal are very conservative. However, while there is some truth to this, the Wall Street Journal’s news is known for being quite accurate as far as newspapers go, and is still a trusted source of news throughout the country. Some people on the left have a small amount of distrust for it, but overall it is a fairly trusted publication on both sides of the ideological spectrum.

The Wall Street Journal has also proven itself as a news source that most people trust. On Election Day, many sites took down their paywall. However, The Wall Street Journal made the interesting decision to keep theirs up and see if they could increase their subscriptions. Their plan worked, and they actually did see quite a large subscription increase in the days following. Like others on this list, one should be careful to read between the lines when reading political reporting or opinion pieces, but when it comes to the basic news itself, they are a reliable source.

9. New York Times

The New York Times hardly needs any introduction. They are perhaps the most well-known newspaper in the entire world, and have been what many consider a source of journalistic integrity and standards for longer than most people can remember. When many people give examples of a reliable source, the New York Times is often the very first example cited. However, they would be higher on the list if not for the fact that like any newspaper in the world, there will always be a certain level of bias. The New York Times can be relied upon to do their best to fact check and tell the truth, but if you are reading up on politics in particular, it is undeniable that they lean slightly more toward the left.

Most of the public still considers them trustworthy, and the bias is slight enough that it is likely natural bias born from life experience, and not anything particularly intentional, but all political stories from any newspaper should be read carefully understanding any possible biases involved in order to better read between the lines. That said, when the President Elect – now President – of the United States, criticized the New York Times for their coverage of the election, and accused them of bias, the public showed their disagreement with President Trump in that regard by voting with their wallets. Shortly after the election the New York Times had an unprecedented surge in paid subscribers of over 40,000 people. This shows that in a time where we have a glut of fake news, people are turning to one of America’s most trusted new sources to get their information.

8. BBC

When most people ask you for most trustworthy or reliable news sources, the BBC is one of the first you hear about. Known around the world for accurate and reliable reporting, they are even judged well in their own country – where people tend to be most critical about the reliability and accuracy of their news. Of those polled in the UK, 62% believed the BBC to be accurate and reliable as news, and almost half of those polled found them to be unbiased. For a news organization that often has to talk about politics, these are actually fairly good numbers. The issue is with politics in general, and the truth is that apart from a service where all they do is literally report what politicians said and nothing else – something essentially no news network today does – there will always be some amount of bias when talking about politics.

This means that with many news sources, the news itself being reported may be reliable, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take any commentary with a grain of salt, or think critically about the way the headline or the story is being presented to you. Remember when watching the news to read between the lines. If a story is political, there is a good chance there is some amount of innate bias involved. If you read the story with the particular bias in mind, it will be easier to get to the heart of the matter.

7. NPR

NPR stands for National Public Radio, and is a non-profit that makes radio programming for hundreds of public radio stations around the United States. Over the years, like everything in radio, they have seen their membership decline. In many ways they have struggled to keep their older audience, and find a way to also bring in new, younger listeners. While people will always drive, and thus there will always be a captive audience for radio, much of NPR’s programming is often seen as rather outdated, and they are often accused of having a liberal bias as well. This accusation of liberal bias is not too surprising, as the public service is often funded by those with a slightly more liberal leaning, but the station itself has never been known to greatly exaggerate or mislead people for political reasons.

Like many news services, when they get into opinions in terms of politics, bias is going to present itself. In this case the bias is going to lean more in a liberal direction. However, this does not mean the news you are being told is untrue or even meant to mislead. Something can be completely true and still be told with an innate bias. It is always important to be informed and read between the lines. However, in their defense NPR has award winning journalists, even some who have been killed in the line of duty bravely reporting on facts in war zones like Iraq. And in a time when people are looking for more accurate, down to earth reporting, with as little bias as humanly possible, NPR has been one of the news organizations to see a recent rise in ratings.

6. Snopes

It may seem strange to see Snopes on this list. They are not a news source, exactly, but they are a watchdog who has, over the years, kept an eye both on news sources and on fake news sources, taking the time to dig into the nitty gritty and find the truth behind urban legends or rumors of all kinds. Their work has been tireless and often unnoticed, but they have been going at it since the early days of the internet. At first they dispelled hoaxes that would appear on email chains, but now they have evolved to taking down hoaxes that appear on social media. Whenever some fake news story is trying to get its legs, Snopes is doing everything they can to cut it off at the knees. They find every little detail and ascertain the real truth, if possible, never worrying about any specific agenda besides truth itself.

This dedication has not gone unnoticed. Facebook has been under fire for the glut of Fake News during the last election cycle that appeared in people’s feeds, and the powers that be at Facebook have decided to do something about it at last. They are going to start checking suspect stories with fact checking groups, and if the story doesn’t pass muster, it will be hidden from being seen in people’s feeds. Snopes, the Associated Press, and a few other trusted fact checkers are working with Facebook to vet stories to make sure that people are not reading lies when they scroll through their Facebook feed. This may sound like a silly issue, but among the millennial generation, an alarming number got most of their election news from Facebook. For this reason, it is very important – especially with how people can accidentally turn their own feed into an echo chamber – that fake news stories are weeded out and removed like the cancer that they are.

5. Reuters

Reuters is not a particularly well known news agency when it comes to the public consciousness. In most polls involving trusted sources of news, it doesn’t even really register. However, most people are still probably familiar with the name Reuters and their presence online has increased greatly in recent years. Many people may even notice that similar to the Associated Press, a lot of news stories actually credit Reuters. This is because the two are actually very similar services. While the Associated Press is more of a non-profit venture, both were originally telegraph wire news services. The idea being that a large network of contacts could use the telegraph service to quickly wire news around the world, so everyone didn’t need a reporter everywhere – as long as one or two telegraph agencies had most everything covered by a journalist or two.

In recent years, just like the Associated Press and the rest of the news services, Reuters has struggled with keeping their business performing as needed. This is why in recent days we have started to see them posting more stories on their own website, instead of simply selling their stories to other news agencies. Unfortunately, they would be higher on the list, but using their own website to market news more directly to the consumer has started to allow opinion to seep more into their news stories – instead of simply wiring facts on the ground to other agencies in need of them.

4. The Economist

The Economist is a publication that has been around for more than 150 years, and despite having a fairly clear political stance in its editorials, has still always had a general air of trustworthiness about it. The Economist is known for having a stance that is quite liberal and calls for a more global economy, a stance that a fairly large chunk of people are not particularly on board with. However, while their editorials do have a clear political tone, they are still known for being clear with the actual facts, and in terms of reporting news are not known for being inaccurate. Part of the fact that they are considered so reliable may be the fact that they have worked hard to keep their editorial style more anonymous than other newspapers, so it seems more like the newspaper itself is speaking, instead of different personalities.

In a bizarre way, this almost helps keep the opinion pieces from becoming a spectacle and overshadowing the basic news reporting, something that has likely helped them remain above the fray when it comes to public trust. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, The Economist is actually the most trusted source in America, if you look at it across both ideological spectrum. Interestingly, the poll lists the second most trusted news source in America as the BBC – also a British news agency.

3. PBS

PBS, which stands for Public Broadcasting Service, is known for being incredibly trustworthy as news, and also for providing excellent programs that entertain children and help them learn. While some may get confused because some programming they see locally on PBS may be made locally and not by PBS itself, the actual organization has an amazing reputation when it comes to being unbiased. For years they have had an independent research poll conducted that finds them at the top of trustworthiness and reliability in terms of news. While this should be taken with a grain of salt because the poll is carried out on the behalf of PBS, you don’t just have to take their word for it.

Other polls commissioned by outside sources have looked at the trustworthiness of news organizations as well, and PBS comes away with the best net rating in terms of trust to distrust. Interestingly, among Republicans, Fox News is the most trusted source, but among Democrats it is the least trusted source – making it perhaps the most controversial news source of all. By contrast, PBS is considered trustworthy by a large amount of respondents from both sides of the ideological spectrum. After all, who wouldn’t trust the people who brought us Mr. Rogers?

2. C-SPAN

For those who aren’t aware, C-SPAN is a public access channel that live streams TV straight from the floor of the House and Senate of the United States. C-SPAN stands for Cable Satellite Public Affairs Network and was created long ago by the cable industry in order to give people a way to keep an eye on the primary source when it comes to the actions of their government. While many people think that the federal government is involved in running C-SPAN, this is really not the case. In certain situations those in charge of proceedings can ask for the camera’s to be shut off, but they in no way have any control beyond that over the running of the network or over what is shown or not.

While it isn’t exactly a news source, C-SPAN is about the most reliable primary source you can ask for when it comes to unbiased political news. If you have ever wondered if what you read in a news report was biased, slanted or outright reported wrong or out of context, you can watch C-Span, or clips from it, and find out the truth for yourself. There is no better way to know exactly what a congressperson said than to watch them on TV and witness with your own eyes and ears exactly what they did and said.

1. The Associated Press

In many cases, the Associated Press basically is the news. They are the non-commentary, no nonsense part of the news whose job it is to have tendrils all over the world, at all times. It isn’t really convenient for a local paper to have a reporter in Iraq covering the war, but they still want to be able to report the facts on the ground to the people reading their paper. They cannot just copy someone else’s story, and they cannot afford to send someone to Iraq. Instead, they buy stories from the Associated Press, which has journalists all over the globe and sells breaking news to roughly 15,000 news outlets around the world.

They have long been known for reliable and accurate reporting, and are not known for having any particular agenda. They are a non-profit agency that works with other non-profit agencies at times, in order to share news as efficiently as possible. And in an era where many news organizations seem to have forgotten that fact checking was a thing it is refreshing that they have a very strong commitment to such, and in a world where news organizations have increasingly become primarily entertainment, a commitment to remaining objective. Nearly every news organization across the spectrum uses stories from the AP, because they find and report the actual news.


Reliable News Sources

– WIF Spotlight

Only the Songwriter Knows For Sure – WIF Music

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Famous Songs

(That Are Widely

Misunderstood)

It’s often been said that songs are largely driven by emotion rather than meaning or complexity of the music. This certainly would explain why a scant three chords and a groovy haircut goes a long way and can help to sell a ton of records. Conversely, sometimes the lyrics can evoke equally powerful feelings — even when a song’s meaning is completely misunderstood.

From The Clash to The Kingsmen, here’s just a fraction of classic tunes that people continue to love, despite completely missing the point of what the songwriters were trying to say.

10. “Train In Vain” (The Clash)

Ever since its release from the seminal London Calling double album, “Train In Vain” arrived at the station shrouded in mystery — largely in part to the track not being listed on the sleeve or back cover. The song name would also become muddled after fans began calling it by its chorus, “Stand By Me,” as well as the actual title never being mentioned in the lyrics; furthermore, the toe-tapping tune has absolutely nothing to do with transportation or working out. Now 40 years later, the heart of the controversy lies in a simple printing snafu and a stubborn girlfriend.

Written by Mick Jones, “Train In Vain” was originally intended to be used as a flexi-disk promotion for the British music magazine, NME. But when the deal fell through at the last minute, the band decided to tack it onto the master of their recently completed album. This, however, resulted in one small problem: the artwork, lyrics, liner notes, etc. had already gone to the printer. As a result, it landed on Side Four as Track 5 with the title crudely scratched on the original vinyl in the needle run-off area. Subsequent pressings would later include the proper title on the album — although in the U.S., it contained the variation, “Train In Vain (Stand By Me).”

The story behind the meaning is rooted in Jones’ ex-girlfriend, Slits guitarist Viv Albertine. Although Jones has remained somewhat tight-lipped about the doomed relationship, the feminist rock icon has been more candid: “I’m really proud to have inspired that but often he won’t admit to it. He used to get the train to my place in Shepherds Bush and I would not let him in. He was bleating on the doorstep. That was cruel.”

The all-female Slits supported The Clash on their White Riot tour — and the alluring Albertine enjoyed a well-earned reputation of breaking many punk hearts, including Sid Vicious, Johnny Thunders, and Joe Strummer.

9. “There She Goes” (The La’s)

An undeniably catchy, jangly ballad, “There She Goes” appears to be a simple tale of unrequited love. However, the lyrics ”Racing through my brain… pulsing through my vein” reveal a not-so-innocent side. Additionally, frontman Lee Mavers’ eccentric and reclusive behavior only furthered drug-fueled speculation that the popular track drew inspiration from poppies. Yep, it’s about heroin.

Released as a single in 1988, the track earned the proto Britpop band from Liverpool earned critical praise before typical band infighting and chaos ensued. Although the song would be re-released two years later on their debut album under the Go! Disc label, The La’s had already been relegated to one-hit wonder status.

Later, the alt Christian-rock outfit Sixpence None The Richer covered the tune and enjoyed a major hit stateside — proving Jesus has a place in his heart for all saints and sinners.

8. “Fire and Rain” (James Taylor)

This one’s also about smack. Sorry. Taylor wrote “Fire and Rain” as a deeply personal reflection of life’s bumpy road, capturing all of its twists and turns and pains and joys. A remarkable feat considering he was only 20 years old at the time. From his second album, Sweet Baby James, the song’s structure unfolds like a three-act play with a beginning, middle, and end. Taylor explains in a 1972 interview with Rolling Stone:

“‘Fire and Rain’ has three verses. The first verse is about my reactions to the death of a friend. The second verse is about my arrival in this country with a monkey on my back, and there Jesus is an expression of my desperation in trying to get through the time when my body was aching and the time was at hand when I had to do it… And the third verse of that song refers to my recuperation in Austin Riggs (psychiatric facility) which lasted about five months.”

The end result earned the young singer/songwriter a multi-platinum record and a career that remains strong today over five decades later. But the “monkey on his back” would become a recurring affliction. Taylor first began using heroin after arriving in New York City in 1966 — a habit that escalated in London while briefly signed to The Beatles’ Apple Records label. Despite his personal and professional setbacks, Taylor has sold over 100 million records, and in 2000 became enshrined in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

7. “Dancing With Myself” (Billy Idol)

In his tell-all memoir, Dancing With Myself, the title is both metaphor and the name of one of his biggest hits. It’s also a cheeky double entendre for spanking the monkey. You know, the five knuckle shuffle. Jackin’ the beanstalk. Badgering the witness. Jerkin’ the gherkin. Okay, enough already — it’s about masturbation.

The song was first recorded in 1979 by Idol’s previous band, Gen X, and then re-released as a single in 1981 for the singer’s solo launch. Written by Idol and Gen X bassist, Tony James, the song was inspired in part during a Gen X tour of Japan in 1979. According to Idol, he and James visited a Tokyo disco, where they were surprised to find most of the crowd there dancing alone in front of a wall of mirrors instead of with each other.

However, when pressed on the subject, Idol later conceded there’s more than one layer: “There’s a masturbatory element to it, too. There’s a masturbatory element in those kids dancing with their own reflections. It’s not too much further to sexual masturbation. The song really is about these people being in a disenfranchised world where they’re left bereft dancing with their own reflections.”

Umm, sure, Billy, whatever you say. The song’s music video (which saw heavy rotation in MTV’s halcyon days) features a half-naked Idol thrusting and grinding with post-apocalyptic zombies. Oddly, there’s no mention of social anxiety, disillusionment or the despair of ennui. But then what do you expect from someone who kicks off his autobiography prologue with sordid tales of “never-ending booze, broads, and bikes, plus a steady diet of pot, cocaine, ecstasy, smack, opium, Quaalude, and reds.”

Long live rock & roll!

6. “Imagine” (John Lennon)

On the surface, this simple piano-driven ballad is a dreamy elixir for the soul, calling for an end to war, borders, religion, greed and hunger. The song would not only become a modern hymn of sorts for world peace and unity, but also helped solidify Lennon’s enduring legacy as a stand-alone rock and roll deity. But the ex-Beatle, who clearly understood the power of celebrity, was also a bit cryptic with the hidden message — one which he later characterized as his way of delivering a “sugarcoated” communist manifesto.

Masterfully arranged and co-produced by pre-felon, Phil Spector, in 1971, “Imagine” remains as relevant today as ever and ranks #3 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs Of All-Time. But the main takeaway that’s often overlooked isn’t just some hippie ode to all love one another — but rather encourages people to use revolutionary methods and ideas to make the world a better place. Does this mean John Lennon spent his free time puffing on cigars with Fidel Castro in Havana or riding on the back of Che Guevara’s motorcycle through Bolivian jungles? Hardly.

Lennon much preferred the company of his wife and co-collaborator, Yoko Ono, at their spectacular estate in Ascot (and location for the song’s music video). Furthermore, Lennon set the record straight regarding party affiliations, stating “I am not particularly a communist and I do not belong to any movement.”

5. “Poker Face” (Lady Gaga)

Anyone who saw Gaga on Season 5 of American Horror Story knows this lady can get down. In fact, her convincing performance even won her a Golden Globe — which shouldn’t have been terribly surprising given her impressive real-life talent for switch-hitting. And no, we’re not talking baseball. As for that little ditty that launched Gaga’s career into another galaxy, “Poker Face” has little to do with playing cards. It’s all about bi-sexuality.

Co-written by Gaga with her longtime collaborator, Red One, the track is said to be a tribute to past conquests in Gaga’s wild ride to fame and fortune. It was first released in 2008 off her debut album (and prophetically named), Fame, and went on to become one of the best selling singles of all time. Featuring more hooks than a Bass Pro Shop, the song also benefits from that over-the-top accompanying music video, a wildly sexy romp that has since been viewed more times than every Kardashian sex tape combined. Well, maybe.

Unlike other songs on this list, the lyrics are fairly transparent and only get lost in the blinding glare cast by the singer’s hyper-radiant star. Nonetheless, it’s doesn’t take much imagination to decipher what she means when she playfully teases, “I’m just bluffin’ with my muffin.” Got it, Gaga. Message received, no distortion.

4. “Every Breath You Take” (The Police)

Ironically, the cops should’ve locked up these guys a long time ago for allowing this unofficial Stalker Anthem to become such a massive hit. Actually, it’s not their fault — but you’d think that someone as smart as Sting (only his name is stupid) would have anticipated that his lyrics would become so widely misinterpreted as both a sappy love song and a license to creep. Unfortunately, the subtext about a possessive lover with an Orwellian zeal for spying never quite registered with fans. Perhaps the band should’ve named the album something other than Synchronicity.

Sting wrote “Every Breath You Take” during a critical juncture in his life — both personally and professionally. Although The Police had enjoyed a mercurial run with sold-out arenas and multiple-platinum records, Sting felt cornered and wanted out. He had also become embroiled in an affair with his future wife,Trudie Styler, while inconveniently still married to her best friend, Frances Tomelty. Awkward. So, like any rock star with lots of money and access to private jets, he took off for the Caribbean, where he found refuge on Ian Fleming’s Goldeneye estate. There, he penned the song that became the band’s biggest hit and won the 1983 Grammy for Song Of The Year.

In a 1993 interview, Sting explains the inspiration: “I woke up in the middle of the night with that line in my head, sat down at the piano and had written it in half an hour. The tune itself is generic an aggregate of hundreds of others, but the words are interesting. It sounds like a comforting love song. I didn’t realize at the time how sinister it is. I think I was thinking of Big Brother, surveillance and control.”

3. “Death Or Glory” (The Clash)

The London-based rockers return with another entry on the list, which shouldn’t be a surprise from the group simply known as “the only band that matters.” Also from their London Callingalbum, “Death or Glory” is a parody about those who talk a big game but fail to back it up or wind up selling out to the man.

An upbeat tempo and satisfying melody accompanies possibly the greatest lyric in rock & roll history: “He who f**** nuns, will later join the church.” The amusing metaphor hammers home the point that those who fight hardest against conformity will eventually become what they vowed to avoid. It was apparently one of the band’s favorite songs on the album, recorded at Wessex Studios in Highbury, London for CBS records. According to legend, their eccentric producer, Guy Stevens, ran around the studio like a madman, throwing chairs and ladders during the session and even dumped a bottle of wine on Joe Strummer’s piano.

Interestingly, the song also reflects the band’s acceptance of change in terms of dealing with their own success while trying to stay loyal to their working class roots. Sadly, Strummer passed away in 2002, but unlike previous generations of rockers who pledged to die before they got old, this frontman actually did it.

2. “Born In The U.S.A.” (Bruce Springsteen)

Although many still believe this 1984 mega-hit reflects America’s ass-kicking greatness, the true meaning tells a much different story. But the confusion is understandable. The easy-to-remember chorus coupled with Springsteen’s trademark gravelly, blue-collar vocals practically screams baseball, hot dogs and apple pie. The Boss, however, wrote it as a scathing indictment of the U.S. military-industrial complex and the debacle of the Vietnam War.

Nonetheless, beginning with Ronald Reagan, politicians continue to misuse the song as a propaganda tool on the campaign trail. Perhaps taking time to actually listen to the lyrics, or better yet, having the words explained to them by the man himself would help to clarify the matter: “when you think about all the young men and women that died in Vietnam, and how many died since they’ve been back — surviving the war and coming back and not surviving — you have to think that, at the time, the country took advantage of their selflessness. There was a moment when they were just really generous with their lives.”

In “Born in the USA,” Springsteen pays a specific homage to the Hell experienced at Khe Sanh, where in 1968, a U.S. Marine garrison bravely withstood 77 days of relentless bombing in one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the war.

Fittingly for our purpose, Springsteen once called “Born in the USA” the “most misunderstood song since ‘Louie, Louie.’”

1. “Louie Louie” (The Kingsmen)

No list about misunderstood songs would be complete without including that 1963 golden oldie,“Louie Louie” by The Kingsmen. Featuring mostly indecipherable lyrics, it would eventually become the most recorded song in history with well over 1,000 versions, ranging from Barry White to Motorhead. But the bizarre, serpentine path that led to the rock n roll pantheon is as murky as the garbled vocals laid down in one take by an obscure, teen-aged garage band from Portland, Oregon.

In an equally strange, ironic twist, golden-voiced Harry Belafonte deserves some credit for the song’s wild odyssey. After all, his 1956 chart-topping album “Calypso” would inspire a doo-wop singer in L.A. named Richard Berry to hastily write down the original “Louie Louie” lyrics on a roll of toilet paper (yes, really) in hopes of cashing in on the popular island sound craze. In 1957, Berry and his band, The Pharaohs, recorded the track about a Jamaican sailor yearning for a girl as he laments to a bartender named Louie.

Although the song enjoyed decent regional airplay, Berry sold the rights a few years later for $750 to help pay for his wedding (he would be justly compensated years later). Then in 1961, a singer in the Pacific Northwest named Rockin’ Robin Roberts covered the tune with his band, The Wailers — and that’s when The Kingsmen finally enter the picture.

Childhood school friends and bandmates Lynn Easton and Jack Fry had heard Roberts’ version playing on local jukeboxes around town and decided to try a recording of their own. And so on April 6, 1963, after coughing up 50 bucks to pay for a quickie studio session, the boys walked into Northwest Inc. Recording and a date with infamy.

The small studio had been set up for an instrumental arrangement only, forcing Ely to get up on his toes to be heard on a microphone dangling from the ceiling. Adding to the difficulty, he also wore braces at the time, producing his soon-to-be-legendary mumbled words. By October that year, the single had raced up the charts, fueled largely by the raw sound and its perceived obscene message.

The single was banned by several radio stations and declared indecent by the Governor of Indiana — and later investigated by the FBI. Eventually, the boys from Bridgetown would only be found guilty of poor enunciation (as well as Fry botching the third verse two bars too soon) but no charges were ever filed. It should be noted, however, Easton can be heard yelling “f***” at the fifty-four second mark after dropping his drumstick.


Only the Songwriter Knows For Sure

WIF Music

Speeches You’ve Never Heard – For Various Reasons

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Important Speeches

Never Heard

by the Public

It’s good to be prepared. You never know for sure how a big decision will turn out, so you need to be ready for anything. This is especially true if you have to announce a victory or a tragedy to the world; you want to have a speech ready so you don’t resort to freestyle rapping your way through a declaration of war. Fate dictated that these speeches not be given, but they would have been well-remembered if they had.

10. Wamsutta James Ruins Plymouth’s Anniversary Party

Native American activist Wamsutta James was a descendant of the Wampanoags, a tribe that was living in New England when European maps were still labeling America with “Here be Dragons.” When he was asked to give a speech at a 1970 event commemorating the anniversary of the arrival of settlers at Plymouth, he saw a chance to rip apart historical myths that glossed over how natives were treated by settlers. Instead of telling the school kids and Pilgrim descendants present what they were expecting to hear — cute fictions about how buddy-buddy the Pilgrims and Natives were — he would have spent his entire speech destroying those myths, taking his audience to task for their ignorance and highlighting the many atrocities his people suffered, after which he presumably would have dropped the mic and strutted offstage.

Event organizers didn’t like his proposed text and he didn’t like their requests for a rewrite, so James never spoke. While not as historically significant as the speeches coming up on this list, James’ speech is worth mentioning because it highlights an area of American history that is woefully overlooked. It’s fittingly ironic that a speech meant to discuss an oft-suppressed historical truth was prevented from being given. Also, we have to admire the giant balls it takes to accept an invitation to speak at an event, and then spend your whole time trashing it.

Excerpt

“We forfeited our country. Our lands have fallen into the hands of the aggressor. We have allowed the white man to keep us on our knees. What has happened cannot be changed, but today we must work towards a more humane America, a more Indian America, where men and nature once again are important; where the Indian values of honor, truth, and brotherhood prevail.”

9. Sarah Palin Wins

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Near the end of the 2008 Presidential election, tensions between the McCain and Palin camps were so high that McCain’s people insisted that, win or lose, Sarah Palin would not give a speech on Election Night. Given that Palin had turned into the laughingstock of the campaign, that was probably a wise decision.

Palin was a divisive figure both during and after the election, with some voters loving her and others cringing at the thought of her being a heartbeat away from the Presidency. When the text of Palin’s proposed victory speech was revealed, it was a look into what could have been (but thankfully wasn’t). As a speech it’s decent enough, your typical gracious victory celebration. But it’s the idea behind it that’s really interesting — the 2008 election was one of the closest and most contentious in recent history, and the years that followed it would have looked awfully different had the result swung the other way. Regardless of your political beliefs, it’s a hell of a thought experiment to take a minute and wonder what America would have looked like with Sarah Palin in the White House, and her speech lets you know how that news would have been broken to you.

Excerpt

“It’s been just 68 days since that afternoon in Dayton, Ohio, when Senator McCain introduced me as his running mate. He is truly the maverick. He took a chance on me. I will always be grateful for that. It will be the honor of a lifetime to work him as vice president of the United States. And I pledge to govern with integrity, and goodwill, and clear conviction, and a servant’s heart.

My fellow Americans, tens of millions of you shared our convictions and gave us your votes. And I thank you for your confidence. We were facing tough odds and formidable opponents.”

8. Albert Lutuli Lectures South Africa

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Albert Lutuli was a key member of the African National Congress and their struggle against South Africa’s apartheid government. He was arrested in 1960 for burning his pass (an internal passport that all black South Africans were required to carry and produce on demand), shortly after 69 people were killed in a protest against the pass system.

Lutuli was found guilty, fined and given a suspended jail sentence. He had planned on giving a speech before the sentence was decided, but ultimately refrained for health reasons. While today the trial is little more than a footnote in the long story of the anti-apartheid movement, his proposed speech is an excellent piece of rhetoric that aptly highlights the many grievances blacks had with the system. If Lutuli had been able to give it, it may have well been remembered alongside other famous protest speeches of the era.

Excerpt

“There comes a time, sir, when a leader must give as practical a demonstration of his convictions and willingness to live up to the demands of the cause, as he expects of his people. I felt that was the hour in our history, and in my life, for this demonstration. I am not sorry nor ashamed of what I did. I could not have done less than I did and still live with my conscience. I would rightly lose the confidence of my people, and earn the disrespect of right-thinking people in my country and in the world, and the disdain of posterity.

In all humility, I say that I acted as was my duty in response to the highest moral law in the best interest of the people of South Africa, because I am convinced that the urgent need of our country, for the maintenance of peace and harmony amongst the various races, black and white, is the immediate and wholesale abolition of the pass. It is my firm belief that it is the duty of all right-thinking people, black and white, who have the true interest of our country at heart, to strive for this without flinching.”

7. JFK’s Dallas Speech

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As you are hopefully aware, President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in 1963. If you weren’t aware, you’re probably wondering what the magic box you’re reading this list on is. What you may not know was that Kennedy was on his way to the Dallas Trade Mart, where he was scheduled to give a speech.

His speech touches on the Cold War, America’s role in the world, and the general uneasiness of the times. Ironically, parts of the speech attack speaking itself — Kennedy argues that America needs to act against Communism instead of merely criticizing it. Some of his words are ominous — promoting financial support for the Vietnam War and the oppressive Iranian Shah does not look wise in retrospect, and bragging about how the US has been able to vastly expand its nuclear arsenal is flat-out scary.

Nevertheless, it’s a stirring piece of rhetoric that would have done well in the hands of a skilled orator like Kennedy, and certainly would have been remembered as a snapshot of the times in which he governed had he lived to deliver it.

Excerpt

“We in this country, in this generation, are — by destiny rather than choice — the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of “peace on earth, good will toward men.” That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago, “except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.””

6. A Regular FDR Speech Would Have Been An Unofficial Goodbye

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Speaking of Presidents and dying, FDR had a speech ready to go for Jefferson Day 1945, before a massive cerebral hemorrhage changed his plans. Had he lived to give it, it would probably be remembered as a decent but generic speech, the sort of remarks the President needs to make when there’s a war going on.

But with FDR kicking the bucket and World War II ending not long after his death, his unspoken words serve as an unintentional goodbye to the American people and the world. They have a poignancy that would be lacking had he lived to speak them, and they make a fitting eulogy for the end of both the longest Presidency in American history and a historical era of depression and war. There’s an optimism to the speech, as it looks forward to the time of peace everyone knows is slowly but surely coming, that is somehow stronger for being given from beyond the grave (not literally; a zombie FDR giving a speech would be terrifying).

Excerpt

“Today, as we move against the terrible scourge of war—as we go forward toward the greatest contribution that any generation of human beings can make in this world- the contribution of lasting peace, I ask you to keep up your faith. I measure the sound, solid achievement that can be made at this time by the straight edge of your own confidence and your resolve. And to you, and to all Americans who dedicate themselves with us to the making of an abiding peace, I say: The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith.”

5. The Cold War Goes Hot

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The Cuban Missile Crisis ended about as well as anything called a “missile crisis” could be expected to — the US publicly won a game of nuclear chicken, the Soviet Union privately achieved a strategic goal by having US missiles removed from Turkey, and nobody got blown up. It’s the sort of feel good ending that was tailor-made for Hollywood.

Most alternative “solutions” to the Crisis would have ended with shots being fired, and JFK had a speech ready to go in case he felt it necessary for American boots to hit the ground in Cuba. We can’t even begin to speculate what the fallout of a military invasion of Cuba would have been. At best, American-Soviet relations would have hit an all-time low, and at worst we’d all be living in Fallout instead of dicking around on the Internet. On the plus side, it would be a lot cheaper to take vacations to Cuba.

Anytime you can make a decision where one possible result is “nuclear holocaust,” you better have a darn good speech up your sleeve, and JFK’s remarks are appropriately somber. Considering the next words out of his mouth could have been “better duck and cover, kids!” they damn well should have been.

Excerpt

“My fellow Americans, with a heavy heart, and in necessary fulfillment of my oath of office, I have ordered – and the United States Air Force has now carried out – military operations with conventional weapons only, to remove a major nuclear weapons build-up from the soil of Cuba.”

4. Nixon Doesn’t Resign

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Political super-villain Richard Nixon is famous for being the only President in American history to resign, but that was actually “Option B.” Had things gone according to plan he would have clung to power, and his Presidency would have begun to resemble the Nixon Administration from Watchmen.

Nixon’s “I’m Sticking Around, Suckers” speech is defiant, although in retrospect it’s also ignorant of the state of affairs, and a little megalomaniacal to boot. Nixon resigned after realizing the political winds were against him, so it’s hard not to imagine this speech being given from a throne of skulls with lighting and thunder crackling in the background. Had Nixon decided to fight public opinion and cling to power, the politics of the day would have become even uglier in a hurry.

Excerpt

“I firmly believe that I have not committed any act of commission or omission that justifies removing a duly elected President from office. If I did believe that I had committed such an act, I would have resigned long ago.”

3. D-Day Fails

As any video gamer can tell you, D-Day was a tough battle. History classes tend to gloss over the many ways Operation Overlord could have gone wrong — anything from a smarter German reaction to lousy weather would have made Saving Private Ryan a lot more depressing. General Eisenhower, well aware of the risk he was taking, took a moment on the evening before the battle to jot down a speech to be read in case of failure. The speech — actually little more than a brief statement — is chilling in how it describes what would have been a catastrophic loss of life with clinical detachment.

How would World War II have turned out if D-Day failed? Well, by 1944, it was just a matter of time until the Nazis were defeated, but with the American and British advance in tatters, the Red Army would have had to pick up the slack, pushing further into Europe than they did in reality. The end result would have been a much larger Soviet Union and a very different Cold War, changes that would have reverberated through history up until today. So jeez, Eisenhower, maybe you should have offered more than 10 seconds of commentary on the matter.

Excerpt

“Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air, and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”

2. Apollo 11 Doesn’t Come Home

Getting men to the Moon was such a complicated endeavor that it’s easy to forget that we had to get them home, too. If something broke they couldn’t exactly call AAA for help, and considering we’re talking about travelling 384,400 km through the vacuum of space in a little ball of metal powered by rocket fuel and slide ruler calculations, it’s actually remarkable that something didn’t break. The joy and wonder felt around the world at the sight of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the Moon would have been a bit dampened had it then been announced that their adventure had unexpectedly become a one-way trip.

Presidential speechwriter William Safire knew the White House had to be ready for anything, so he prepared a short speech entitled “In the Event of Moon Disaster.” Thankfully it never had to be given, but it’s a beautiful piece of prose that would have served as a fitting tribute to the men lying their lives down for the cause of exploration, dampened only slightly by the fact that it would have been read by Richard Nixon.

Excerpt

“For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.”

1. Hitler Gets Blown Up

Carl Friedrich Goerdeler as Price Commissioner

As that Tom Cruise movie (and maybe history class) taught you, in 1944 there was a failed attempt by members of the German Resistance to assassinate Hitler. Had the attempt succeeded, Carl Friedrich Goerdeler, one of the conspirators and the proposed Chancellor of post-Hitler Germany, would have given a fiery radio address denouncing Hitler and his policies. Unfortunately, Hitler survived the assassination attempt with everything but his trousers intact, and Goerdeler and his fellow conspirators were quickly rounded up. Nearly 5000 people were executed in the aftermath, essentially putting an end to all organised anti-Nazi resistance within Germany.

It’s hard to say what would have happened had the plan succeeded — internal German politics were complicated, and many of the conspirators still held anti-Semitic views. But regardless of the details, it’s likely that signing a peace treaty would have been a priority, World War II would have come to an early end in Europe, and there would have been no Berlin Wall. But then David Hasselhoff wouldn’t have been able to play a concert there, so maybe it was for the best.

Excerpt

“We would not be worthy of our fathers, we would earn the contempt of our children, if we lacked the courage to do everything, everything conceivable, to avert the terrible peril and to achieve self-respect once more. Over and over, Hitler has violated the oath given to the people ten years ago. He has done so by violating the law, human and divine. Therefore no soldier, no official, not a single citizen is bound to him by oath any longer.”


Speeches You’ve Never Heard –

For Various Reasons

Michael Jackson – The Thriller Handbook

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Thrilling Facts

About Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson was a man known for many things, including his music, his pelvis-centric dance moves, and the fact he was able to wear a fedora without looking like an idiot. But a man as complex and unique as the King of Pop could never be summed up with a list of just three things. So here’s a list of 10, starting with …

 10. He Personally Leaked Some of the More Bizarre Stories About Himself

Jackson, in stark contrast with the innocent child-like persona he adopted in public, was a calculating and efficient self-promoter behind the scenes. For example, he is known to have leaked several stories about himself to the press to ensure he continued to receive column inches in the world’s papers when he wasn’t actively making music.

Stories known to have been planted by Jackson himself include the one about him sleeping in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to make himself look younger; the news that he’d made a bid to purchase the skeleton of John Merrick, better known as the Elephant Man; and the fact he shared his bathroom with his pet monkey, Bubbles. While these stories undoubtedly gave Jackson unprecedented levels of media coverage, it eventually backfired when the press simply began making stuff up themselves, much to his annoyance. When the British media began referring to Jackson as “Wacko Jacko” he made the conscious and probably wise decision to stop leaking false stories to the news about his personal life.

9. He Wrote All of His Songs With His Voice

Despite being credited as the sole writer on virtually his entire discography and having a hand in the composition of much of the music to his back catalogue of hits, Michael Jackson rather surprisingly had little affinity for music. By this we mean that although Jackson understood how to compose a song, he could neither play an instrument nor read sheet music. To get around this, Jackson would instead compose his songs entirely in his head and then “sing” them to session musicians while recording his albums.

To this end, Jackson carried around a tape recorder with him at all times, and when inspiration struck – whether it be a musical hook or a guitar riff – he’d sing it into the recorder or, in the event of a bassline, beatbox it. Jackson would then layer all these elements together to create what amounted to acapella versions of his songs. Notoriously secretive, few examples of these recordings exist with there being, to our knowledge at least, a single recording of Beat It in which you can hear Jackson demonstrate this. He also demonstrated the technique in court to shut down a plagiarism suit.

As an example of just how talented Jackson was at emulating the sounds of various instruments with his voice, musicians who worked with him reported that he could “sing” chords and layer his voice skillfully enough to eerily replicate an entire string section.

8. He was an Actual King

For a guy known worldwide as The King of Pop, it’s kind of weird that few people ever talk about that time in 1992 when Michael Jackson actually became a real king.

You see, in the early ’90s Jackson embarked on a tour of Africa, during which he encountered a small kingdom on the Ivory Coast called Sanwi. The people of Sanwi were enamored with Jackson and the tribal chief told him that mystics had foretold that the singer was actually a direct descendent of the Sanwi royal bloodline.

So in a small, but nonetheless extravagant ceremony, the nation crowned Jackson King (an official title he had to sign papers to confirm) and even allowed him to sit in a golden throne set aside for royalty. Jackson’s official title was later reduced to Crown Prince, and his kingly duties were taken up by another man, but he was for all intents and purposes considered genuine royalty from that point on. Sanwi even held a royal funeral for him and declared two days of mourning when he died.

As for why you’ve probably never heard this, Jackson simply never talked about it. In an interview with Ebony magazine in 1992, Jackson was humble about his new found status as a king, telling an interviewer asking how it felt to be a real king:

“I never try to think hard about it.”

7. He Earns More Money Dead Than We Will Alive

Now you’d think that being dead would, for most people, put an end to their ability to make money. Employers are notoriously picky when it comes to hiring people who aren’t alive. Michael Jackson is an apparent exception to this rule, being recognized as the highest earning dead celebrity, earning close to a billion dollars in 2016, more than seven years after his death.

Jackson’s ability to earn unbelievably fat stacks of cash despite the normally insurmountable hurdle of being dead is mainly due to sales and licensing of the vast catalogues of music he owned. Along with his estate owning the rights to his own hits and albums, which continue to make millions, Jackson also bought the rights to his favorite songs during his lifetime, so he earned money when people bought those albums, too (most famously, he bought the rights to the Beatles catalogue in 1985, though Sony has since acquired full ownership, including Jackson’s remaining 50% stake last year). We don’t know if that’s smart or just selfish, but either way we’re mad impressed that a skeleton earns more than us thanks to business decisions it made a decade ago. Speaking of Jackson’s skeleton …

6. His Death Broke Google

Like the Moon landing and losing your virginity, the death of Michael Jackson is an event where you remember exactly where you were when it happened. It was a global event that resulted in an almost immediate outpouring of grief. We say almost, of course, because people had to check Google to make sure the news was accurate.

That’s not us being facetious, by the way. According to stats released by Google themselves minutes after news of the singer’s death broke, so many millions of people tried to search his name that it brought the monolithic website to its knees. Yes, Michael Jackson’s death caused so many people to panic and google his name that it broke Google!

Then again, this is hardly surprising given that a few months before his death news of him touring again caused …

 5. People Scalped His Tickets (That Didn’t Exist Yet) for Hundreds on eBay

News of Michael Jackson’s death was partly shocking because it occurred just weeks before he was due to embark on what he insisted was his last ever set of concerts at the London O2 Arena. The aptly named This Is It concert was set to be the singer’s last hurrah, and consisted of 50 straight sold out shows at the same venue, with people flocking from across the world to see it.

Initially the concert only had 10 shows booked, but the instantaneous selling out of tickets and tidal wave of complaints the venue received for not having enough prompted Jackson to schedule 40 more, all of which, again, sold out minutes after tickets going live.

Demand for tickets was such that Jackson’s official website offered fans a chance to enter a pre-sale draw, essentially securing them a chance to purchase a ticket ahead of time so they wouldn’t have to sit on the ticket website the day they were announced and hit refresh over and over. The offer crashed the website, with a reported 16,000 people trying to apply for the draw every second for several hours.

This unprecedented level of enthusiasm saw people who managed to secure a place in the pre-sale draw able to sell their tickets (which didn’t exist yet) on eBay for upwards of $500 a piece. Then again, it’s not surprising people were so keen to see Jackson perform considering he once …

4. Danced the Moonwalk So Hard Fred Astaire Called to Congratulate Him

Though he didn’t necessarily invent the Moonwalk (the genesis of the move is traced back to dancer Cab Calloway, and is thought to have been perfected by mime Marcel Marceau), he is arguably the person who showed the world just how cool it could look to see a man effortlessly glide backwards like he was just pushed onto a greased air hockey table.

Jackson reportedly learned the move from a pair of dancers named Casper Candidate and Cooley Jaxson, whom he saw perform it on the show Soul Train while sporting dangerously awesome afros. Jackson perfected the dance move and debuted his enhanced version atMotown 25 to a visibly and audibly shocked crowd who couldn’t believe what in the hell they were seeing.

Sitting at home watching the show was an 84-year-old Fred Astaire who, upon seeing Jackson glide across the stage, picked up his phone and called him to gush over how amazing it was. Jackson, a massive fan of Astaire’s, fanboyed down the phone for several minutes before quickly rushing to a nearby bathroom and vomiting in excitement.

3. The Glove was to Hide a Skin Condition

Few artists have a “look” as well defined and iconic as Michael Jackson’s. Everything from his pimpin’ fedora to his needlessly high socks have become ingrained in pop-culture as integral parts of the Jackson mythos. Arguably his singular most defining item of clothing though was his single glove.

Custom made by the same guy who made the gloves for Kate Winslet in Titanic, Jackson’s sported many different styles of gloves over the years. While many assumed that glove was simply for style, because it admittedly does look pretty fly, according to those close to Jackson it was actually used to hide the early stages of vitiligo (a disease which caused the skin to change color and often starts with unsightly blotches on the hands and feet).

While this became somewhat unnecessary in later years as Jackson’s skin tone changed from a deep chocolate, to a creamy mocha, to that of anemic skim milk, the glove was nonetheless an important tool used by the singer to hide something he felt self-conscious about.

2. He Composed an Unknown Amount of the Soundtrack for Sonic 3

Released in 1994, many fans of the blue hedgehog consider Sonic 3 to be one of the best games in the series, partly because it lets you play as Knuckles and partly because that soundtrack though. Well for any fans of the game, you may be pleased to know that Michael Jackson had a hand in creating it, though exactly how much is hotly debated.

The story goes that during development, Sega brought in Jackson to compose the soundtrack for the game, a move that was seen as being in no way weird in the ’90s. Shortly after production on the game began, though, the first allegations of child abuse were leveled at Jackson, prompting Sega to distance themselves from the artist. Today the company denies Jackson had anything to do with the game or its music.

This doesn’t exactly fit with other reports, though, which claim that Jackson had a direct hand in creating a number of tracks for the game, but ultimately became frustrated with the limited range of the sound chip in the Sega Genesis, leaving the project of his own volition. As a result the extent of Jackson’s involvement with Sonic 3 isn’t clear, but for anyone curious, the songs often thought to be the ones most likely to have been composed by Jackson, at least in part, are Carnival Night Zone, Hydrocity Zone, and Ice Cap Zone.

1. He Promised to Write a No. 1 Single… for Bart Simpson

Michael Jackson was a massive fan of The Simpsons, famously lending his voice to the episode “Stark Raving Dad“, which features a man who delusionally thinks he’s Michael Jackson, voiced by… erm… Michael Jackson.

It’s noted that Jackson personally reached out to the staff of the show to ask for a bit part and took his role extremely seriously, taking part in line readings with the rest of the cast and refusing the use of a special trailer set aside for him. During his time with the Simpsons staff, Jackson explained to Matt Groening that Bart was his favorite character and that he wanted to write the troublesome 10 year old a number 1 hit single. Groening laughed, assuming Jackson was joking. He wasn’t joking.

 Jackson, true to his word, went home and composed the basic idea for the song, Do The Bartman, a rap single from the point of view of Bart Simpson. Due to contractual obligations with his label at the time, Jackson had to remain uncredited as a composer, but went against his label’s stipulations and performed back vocals to the track because it’s not like anyone was going to believe the King of Pop would slum it with the voice cast of cartoon. Jackson, seemingly just because he could, also got Bart to namedrop him in the song he was singing in for no apparent reason. Sadly for Jackson the song never became a number one hit in the US, only topping the charts in territories like Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. Though that’s mostly because it was never actually released as a single in the States.

Michael Jackson

– The Thriller Handbook

Famous Guitar Riffs – WIF Music

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Most Famous

Guitar Riffs

of All-Time

Years ago, my lifelong friend started learning piano by ear. I remember going over to his house. He dragged me into the living room and said, “Listen to this.” He proceeded to bang out the guitar riff to “Day Tripper” flawlessly. I was blown away. This was about a week after taking up the instrument (he has since become an extremely accomplished musician and music producer).

The riffs below represent some of the best ever written. They not only define the song, they are the song. Music is supposed to invoke feelings. As composers, this is our job. Some of these are mean, dirty, and nasty sounding. Some are happy and upbeat. Whatever the mood they create, these songs would not exist without them. This list is nowhere near complete, nor are these necessarily the “best,” but there is no denying they are a huge part of rock guitar history.

from contributor 

10. “TNT” – AC/DC

When my daughters were in public school, it was a ritual to crank up this song in the car on the way home. It was always, “Dad, not again,” and then, “I’m dirty, mean and mighty unclean.” Although my ex-wife was not impressed, it was extremely funny hearing two young girls singing these lyrics at the top of their lungs. Written by lead singer Bon Scott and Angus and Malcolm Young, the tune defined Scott. The man lived hard and fast, true to the lyrics. The song has been featured in numerous movies, TV shows, and video games. Many sports teams and pro wrestlers have used the tune to fire up their fans.

Where would rock music be without the mighty power chord? The riff is only three chords in the first measure and two with a single note separating them in the second bar. The effect is thunderous, like a summer storm directly overhead.

9. “Enter Sandman” – Metallica

There seems to be no middle ground when it comes to Metallica, they are either loved or hated. Beginning with The Black Album (the unofficial title for the fifth studio record, released in 1991), their sound took a new heavily compressed, polished direction under the guidance of Canadian producer Bob Rock. Many fans have accused them of selling out, claiming their music had become lame compared to the rawness of the previous albums.

Whatever your opinion is, this is the tune that put Metallica on the map, shipping over one million copies in the US and driving The Black Album to sales of over thirty million worldwide. The signature-opening riff has a menacing feel due to the dissonance created by the fourth note, the flat fifth. This dark sound sets the tone for the rest of the song. Very creepy.

8. “Iron Man” – Black Sabbath

The members of Black Sabbath would quietly pass fans chanting and indulging in devil worship and witchcraft, lining the halls of their tour hotels. They had trouble containing their laughter once they were out of sight in their rooms. It is show business after all, folks. Agents, managers, and bands will go to outrageous lengths to cultivate and maintain an image.

While working a factory job as a teenager, founding member guitarist Tony Iommi lost the tips of his middle and ring fingers of his right hand (his fretting hand, since he is left handed). This limited his technique and defined his minimalistic style.

“Iron Man” is arguably Sabbath’s most famous song. Green day, NOFX, Cancer Bats, Sir Mix-A-Lot, and even William Shatner (yes, Captain Kirk) have all given the tune a go. Sabbath relied heavily on distorted guitar riffs, often stringing four or five together in the same song. This riff is based entirely on two note power chords. It’s one of the most requested riffs by beginner guitar students.

7. “Day Tripper” – The Beatles

The Beatles rarely relied on riffs as a vehicle for their songs. “Taxman,” a George Harrison composition, and “Paperback Writer” come to mind, but neither of those equal “Day Tripper” in the memorable riff department. John Lennon wrote most of the song and cites “Watch Your Step” from Bobby Parker as the inspiration for the famous guitar line. The riff even found its way into the end of “I Like To Rock” by Canadian rock band April Wine.

The song begins in the 12 bar blues structure, then segues into more of a rock format, chugging along with palm muted power chords in the chorus. The riff structure is from the combination scale (a mixture of the minor and major pentatonic scales), a staple in blues and rock guitar.

6. “Cat Scratch Fever” – Ted Nugent

The Motor City Madman has certainly lived up to his nickname. Love him or hate him, the man pulls no punches and frequently finds himself in the middle of controversy. Whether he is going on about politics, gun control, or simply telling everyone how wonderful he is, he manages to create a buzz every time he opens his mouth.

The rawness of the song combined with the sexual connotations implied in the lyrics is perfectly suited towards his personality. It’s really Ted’s anthem, if you will. The guitar riff is based in the natural minor scale and comprised of inverted power chords in parallel fourths. Listen for the little scream when the drums kick in. It’s an absolute classic.

5. “Lager And Ale” – Kim Mitchell

Kim Mitchell is a Canadian singer and songwriter. He has managed to achieve success both as a member of Max Webster (an iconic Canadian rock band) and as a solo artist. Since a lot of attention has been focused on his vocal and songwriting ability, he is sometimes overlooked (much the same as Frank Zappa is) for his outstanding, virtuoso guitar work. He is currently working as a DJ for Q107, a radio station out of Toronto.

“Lager And Ale” is an ode to every barfly out there. With the lyrics “Over to the jukebox, I staggered” and “I hope you’ll nod at this drunken bar slob,” the tune fortifies Kim’s stature as Canada’s foremost party rock musician. He spent much of his younger years touring around Ontario’s resort areas in the summer months. It was during this time that he built up an enormous fan base and reputation. The signature riff is based in the A minor pentatonic scale around a standard blues pattern.

4. “Crazy Train” – Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” features one the best rock guitar intros ever written, and is just an overall great song. Randy Rhodes has long been recognized as one of the greatest guitarists to have ever lived. Based entirely in F minor (relative to A Major: they share the same key signature), this is definitely a classic riff.

I remember attending the MIAC show in Toronto, Ontario. Michael Angelo was performing at a clinic for Dean Guitars. He was doing his trademark, two handed playing on a double neck guitar. It was truly amazing. If you have never seen it, check it out. He was going through a pile of riffs. When he hit this one, everyone started nodding their heads.

3. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” – Guns N’ Roses

Guns N’ Roses first and only number one single. The song started as a string skipping exercise composed by lead guitarist Slash. It is quite difficult to execute cleanly due to the fact that it is a continuous eight notes with no breaks. There is a video on YouTube where Slash himself screws it up three times before he actually gets it right.

The cover band I play with does this tune. Every time we start this riff, no matter what age the crowd is, they go crazy pumping their fists and screaming. It’s a true monster of a song.

2. “Thunderstuck” – AC/DC

There is an ongoing debate about the execution of this riff. In some videos it looks as though lead guitarist Angus Young is picking every note. In others it appears as if he is employing a one-handed technique known as hammering on and pulling off. Either way it is played, this is a killer riff.

On the studio recording, the second half of the phrase is repeated throughout most of the song, sometimes in the forefront, sometimes buried back in the mix. When they perform it live, Angus only plays it when it is needed, switching over to rhythm guitar for much of the song. Although AC/DC are known as a riff based band, it is the rhythm guitar work that sets them apart. Angus and his brother Malcolm Young are so in sync with one another, they manage to make two guitar parts sound like one.

1. “Smoke On The Water” – Deep Purple

This is the big one, the king daddy of all rock guitar riffs. Even Lars Ulrich (Metallica’s founding member and drummer), called this the “riff of life.” Every guitar teacher has heard this Deep Purple classic played wrong more than any other piece of music.

 Comprised entirely of inverted two note power chords (the fifth is on the bottom and the root is on the top), this riff should go down in history as the most overplayed song on guitar. Forget “Stairway To Heaven,” there should be a sign in every music store: “NO SMOKE ON THE WATER!”

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Hollywood Voice Actors – WIF Edu-tainment

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Famous Voice Actors

Who Helped Shape

Hollywood

You probably don’t know their faces, but millions of people know their voices better than they do the voices of their own family. For nearly the past century, these performers brought life to iconic cartoon characters and excited audiences about upcoming films and shows, all without having to spend any time in the hair and makeup department.

Just to clarify the content, we’re restricting the content to people that haven’t had a major role where they are best known as a writer, creator, or performer in front of the camera. That’s why there are no performers like Orson Welles, Mark Hamill, Parker and Stone, Seth MacFarlane, and so forth.

10. Don LaFontaine

There’s not a particular role that general audiences knew him for, but all Don LaFontaine needed were the three words that became his trademark: “In a world.” Although he began working tech jobs, like editing, and also some creative gigs like writing, his true calling was doing voice overs for trailers and other ads, a number of which he wrote himself. By some estimates, over the course of his career, he did hundreds of thousands of these, sometimes as many as 25 in a day.

His personal favorite was when he did the trailer for The Elephant Man, which was kind of a shame because it was 28 years before the end of his career. If that sounds at all like something trivial, bear in mind that at the time of his passing in 2008, he had an estimated net worth of roughly eighty million. He’d also connected with audiences enough that his catchphrase was used as the title for the 2013 hit indie movie In a World.

9. Nancy Cartwright

In the early ’90s, it surprised the world over and over again to learn that cartoon child megastar Bart Simpson was played by a grown woman. Indeed, during the 1991 season premiere for the show, she got to leave attendees feeling a bit odd when she announced, in Bart Simpson’s famous voice, that she was nine months pregnant and on the verge of delivery. In 2000, she was still milking that joke really effectively by publishing her bestselling autobiography, My Life as a Ten Year-Old boy, and then performing her book as a one-woman show.

Cartwright’s success got her future jobs, such as Chuckie Finster on Rugrats and supporting character/naked mole-rat Rufus on Kim Possible, but it’s very unlikely she’ll ever escape The Simpsons anymore. As Al Jean pointed out on a commentary for an episode of the show, it makes one of her earliest roles, a bit part in The Twilight Zonemovie, all the more appropriate: she played a woman who gets trapped in a cartoon world.

8. John DiMaggio

Modern cartoon fans know may know John DiMaggio best from Adventure Time as Jake the Dog, a transforming companion to the protagonist, Finn, who’s in his late twenties in “magical dog years.” His bits of down-to-earth philosophy, like “Sucking at something is the first step to being sort of good at something,” have certainly become widespread online. Others are likely to know him from the long running (as in, seven seasons with four movies) science fiction cartoon Futurama as the breakout character Bender, the lovable, emotionally vulnerable, drunken robot. More than a few may know him from the DC movie Batman: Under the Red Hood, where he did a very creepy rendition of the Joker. If we have any gamers in the audience, he was also Marcus Fenix through the Gears of War series.

Such is John DiMaggio’s commitment to his career that he wasn’t content with just starring in a number of popular cartoons. He also cowrote, coproduced, and narrated a 2013 documentary on voice acting called I Know that Voice, which includes interviews with numerous performers featured in this article. Anyone with any interest in the subject matter can’t afford to miss it.

7. Tara Strong

A generation of kids grew up hearing her as Timmy Turner on Fairly Odd Parents, which has been running for sixteen years. During that time she was also characters like the dark, serious teen Raven on Teen Titans, and protagonist Ben Tennyson onBen 10. For fans of more adult cartoons, there’re the years she spent as Princess Clara on the raunchy reality show parody Drawn Together. For those who like stuff that’s halfway between being mostly targeted to younger children and being sort of edgy and violent, there were the seven years she spent as the cute and cuddly Bubbles in The Powerpuff Girls. She’s also voiced one of the most beloved Batman villains, Harley Quinn, in the Arkham video game series.

But undoubtedly her largest and most loyal following are fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, where she plays the bookish protagonist, Twilight Sparkle. Although she had no idea that she would get a bunch of adult fans from doing that particular show, she has decided to embrace this particular group, including in one on one, online chat sessions with people who’d been heavily bullied. Presumably, she didn’t feel any need to do that for her fans from Drawn Together.

 

6. Jim Cummings

How’s this for range: a guy who can voice both Winnie the Pooh and Goofy’s gruff nemesis/best friend Pete in numerous Disney cartoons. Although he was a supporting character in pretty much every Disney cartoon from the late ’80s through the ’90s, such as playing the tough mouse Monterey Jack on Rescue Rangers or the goofy wolf villain Don Karnage, he also got to play the titular character in several original cartoons. He was the bumbling but reliable Darkwing Duck, and the cat half of the rather nightmarish, but fun, CatDog by Nickelodeon.

For decades he was pretty much inescapable on televised cartoons, but eventually he found his way into theatrical animated films, sometimes in surprising ways. It’s probably not so surprising, after you’ve heard his gravely villainous voice, that he played several characters in Aladdin who were obsessed with cutting the hands off of thieves. But did you know that in The Lion King, he didn’t just play the insane hyena Ed, but got to sing a duet with Jeremy Irons? Okay, no, what happened was that Ironsblew out his voice during the epic villain song “Be Prepared” and Cummings had to step in and finish it for him. It’s a real testament to his skills as an impersonator that barely anyone noticed in the movie’s original run.

5.Tara Strong

For the past few decades, it seems like it’s been impossible for a cartoon to air on television without featuring Tress MacNeille in either a prominent recurring role, or even as the star. On The Simpsons alone she regularly plays Seymour Skinner’s mother, Crazy Cat Lady, Bart Simpson’s regular bullies Dolph and Jimbo Jones, and several others. On Matt Groening’s other cartoon, Futurama, she voiced fifteenrecurring characters, most notably Mom, the closest thing the show had to a villain. If your tastes are a bit more in favor of those early ’90s WB cartoons, she was Dot Warner, one of the three titular characters in Animaniacs. Not a bad career of voicing cartoons for someone who started out pursuing a gig as a DJ.

One of the more amusing aspects of MacNeille’s career was one of her late ’80s jobs. On the Disney program Rescue Rangers, featuring the classic chipmunk characters Chip and Dale, she voiced Chip. Oddly, she also voiced the main female character, Gadget Hackwrench, making it one of the few times the same actor has played both halves of a potential romantic pairing.

4. Troy Baker

This list has been more about cartoons than anything else so far, but we’re going to take a little break from that to focus on video games, which in market terms have of overtaken cartoons in prominence. As far as prominence within video game voice acting goes, you really can’t beat Troy Baker. This former lead singer for the band Tripp Fontaine, and former voice actor for anime dubs, has given highly acclaimed lead performances in some of the highest profile and most acclaimed games in recent memory. His performance as the befuddled man of action Booker DeWitt in the surreal 2013 science fiction game Bioshock Infinite was one of the best of the year. That was accompanied by his performance as the dispirited protagonist, Joel, in the survival game The Last of Us. Little wonder then that he was named one ofEntertainment Weekly’s breakout stars of 2013, and that was not the sort of honor they were likely to give to a video game voice actor. He earned it, too: his performance for The Last of Us alone took him 80 days to complete.

Since then, he’s had roles like the rather kooky villain, Pagan Min, in 2014’s Far Cry 4. But his main new, steady gig has been roles in superhero games. Since 2013, he has voiced Batman, multiple versions of Robin, and the Joker in various DC Arkham andInjustice games. He was Superman in the 2015 game Infinite Crisis. There’s even a fun little clip where he compared his version of the Joker’s laugh with the aforementionedJohn DiMaggio’s.

3. Frank Welker

All of the performers we’ve mentioned so far have been extremely good when it comes to playing human (or at least humanoid) characters. Frank Welker, however, is not bound by only voicing characters that can talk. Some of his best performances have been Apu the monkey and Rajah the tiger in Aladdin, since he was fully believable as animals instead of just a human imitating them. He was even convincing as the cricket character Cri-kee in Mulan. When it comes to characters that can talk, he has been Fred Jones in pretty much every version of Scooby-Doo since 1969 – even in parodies, such as the ones done on Family Guy. He was the voice of the villain Megatron from the 1980s cartoon Transformers and made enough of an impression on fans that, after Hugo Weaving played the character in the 2007 film, Hasbro still had him voice the character for the Transformers games to appease the fans.

In 2011, Welker received a rather backhanded honor. When you took all the movies where he voiced either a speaking character or a regular animal, his performances made him the most successful actor ever, with grosses above six billion dollars. That’s not even counting all the money that had been made from his hundreds of roles on television. But the Guardian article that reported that still called him, “the most successful Hollywood actor you’ve never heard of.” Still, by voice actor standards, that’s probably quite an achievement.

2. Billy West

General audiences were first introduced to Billy West on the Howard Stern for several years, starting in 1989 and ending in 1995. By the time he left that show, he’d landed new jobs voicing both the titular characters in the Nickelodeon cartoon Ren & Stimpy and on the show Doug. He became the new voice of many of the most prominent Looney Tunes characters, such as Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, including in the hit 1996 blockbuster Space Jam. He’s also the voice of the Cheerios bee in that company’s many, many commercials.

These days, he’s best known for starring in Futurama, along with John DiMaggio, in dozens of parts on the show. If you didn’t know better, you would never guess that protagonist Phillip J. Fry, Professor Farnsworth, and Dr. Zoidberg were all voiced by the same person (incidentally, his Fry voice is by far the closest to his real one).

1. Mel Blanc

As “The Man with a Thousand Voices,” Mel Blanc is the best known, most influential, and most respected of all voice actors. It was pretty much because of him that we know today who voice actors are for cartoons, instead of that being a secret (since studios like Warner Bros tried to suppress the names of voice actors in the hope of keeping their cartoons more believable). Since he was the original voice for Looney Toons characters ranging from Bugs Bunny to Tweety Bird to Elmer Fudd, he was able to get a screen credit. Of course, he wasn’t all that benevolent: he was the only onewho got a credit, and made sure of that.

In the ’60s, he was the original performer for numerous famous characters for Hanna-Barbera, such as Barney Rubble on The Flintstones and Cosmo Spacely on The Jetsons. These characters were so important to him that there’s a famous story saying that, after a horrible car wreck in 1961 left him in a semi-comatose state, the doctors were only able to get a response from him after a few weeks by addressing him as Bugs Bunny, prompting him to respond (while semi-conscious), “Myeeeeh. What’s up, Doc?”


Hollywood Voice Actors

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