Too much time on their hands?

Having apparently solved all the more pressing issues in California, the State legislators are going after those evil people who own their own sonogram machines:

"SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Responding to actor Tom Cruise's purchase of an ultrasound machine to monitor his fiancee's fetus, California lawmakers voted on Thursday to restrict sales of the machines.

The California Assembly voted 55-7 for a bill by Democratic Assemblyman Ted Lieu that would only allow sales of the machines to professionals and medical facilities licensed to use them.

In an interview with ABC's Barbara Walters last year, Cruise said he bought a sonogram machine for then-pregnant fiancee Katie Holmes. Concerned lawmakers feared other private citizens might do the same and possibly misuse the machines.

"Having an ultrasound once, twice during the course of a pregnancy, there is no danger," Lieu spokesman David Ford said. "But too much or too often could cause the liquids in the womb to heat up, which could cause damage to the mother and fetus."

Lieu's bill now goes to the state Senate."
Somehow I have a feeling that anyone who has enough money and is concerned enough to buy a sonogram machine, is also concerned enough to not want to harm the patients.

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Two Cat Shaped Holes

There are now two cat shaped holes in my life. The first is a small depression in the back yard that one of our cats, Munchkin, had dug to make a dust wallow. The other is in my heart, as Munchkin was hit by a car last night.

Munchkin MemorialCollapse )

He was the bravest cat I ever knew. Always scared, but still persevering. He imagined a world where he (and his sister) would be our housecats and made it happen. Short legs, big body, orange tabby tuxedo, and a great heart.

Playlist #2 - Melody Is King, Volume 2

It probably should be mentioned that when these playlists were produced, Al had to take into account my then deep ignorance of most rock and pop music. So most people will find some of these to be more obvious than the "should have heard but didn't" category these playlists are supposed to be.

Date: Sat, 27 Jan 2001 11:23:59 -0800
From: Al Christensen <>
X-Mailer: Mozilla 4.73 [en] (Win98; U)
X-Accept-Language: en-GB,fr-CA
To: John Dougan <>
Subject: REVISED-DISREGARD FIRST MESSAGE-Roxy, Jellyfish and the Other Disciples
of Melody

Welcome to "Melody Is King, Volume Two.'
1/ The Left Banke, There's Gonna Be a Storm, Walk Away Renee
One of the greatest songs of the sixties, written by a lovestruck sixteen year old. This style of music came to be known as 'baroque rock,' Its time in the sun was brief and is in desperate need of revival.

2/ Del Shannon, Greatest Hits, Runaway
I'm sure you've heard this one. Has there ever been a better falsetto or more eerily beautiful organ break within the same two minutes? I think not.

3/ Quarterflash, Quarterflash, Harden My Heart
One of the best pop songs of the eighties. The sax line is haunting. I really thought this band would go on to even bigger things. Oh well, long live Portland rock.

4/ Elliott Smith, Elliott Smith, Needle in the Hay
Speaking of Portland, Elliott gets my vote for best contemporary singer/songwriter. I don't think he's even thirty-three yet, but has already produced five sterling albums of acoustic guitar confessionals.

5/ Ron Sexsmith, Ron Sexsmith, There's a Rhythm
The Canadian equivalent of Elliott Smith. Very big in Europe, unknown in Canada. Some say he is the greatest contemporary pop songwriter. I'm not convinced. He suffers from that most Canadian of afflictions -- all his stuff is excellent, but nothing takes that next step to greatness. But he still has lots of life left in him, and I will continue to buy his albums as soon as they appear.

6/ Roxy Music, Stranded, Mother of Pearl
I've found myself humming and chanting the chorus of this song many times.

7/ The Kinks, Arthur or The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, Shangri-La
Its almost a law that a Kinks song has to go on any collection. When I think of the music my fictional musician Jamie Jessop might have produced, this song comes to mind. It's great satire, at the same time longing for just such a place.

8/ Teenage Fanclub, Bandwagonesque, The Concept
This Scottish group loves to sound pretty, an unusual occurrence in the nineties. They have written some great songs over the past five albums, and, of course, no one listens to them anymore.

9/ Jellyfish, Bellybutton, She Still Loves him
From the same vintage as Teenage Fanclub. I love how these guys can be such tunesmiths yet write such off kilter songs. They produced two wonderful albums, which in its own way makes them a perfect pop band.

10/ Jason Falkner, Can You Still Feel?, Holiday
Jason was the bassist for Jellyfish. He was not encouraged to write songs for that band, as they were dominated by the singer and guitarist. The band failed to take advantage of some serious talent, as this 1999 release attests.

11/ Tommy James and the Shondells, Anthology, Crystal Blue Persuasion
One of my favorite drug songs. Once oldies AM radio found out what it was about, you rarely heard it played.

12/ Jill Sobule, Things Here Are Different, Too Cool To Fall in Love
Jill is one of my favorite of the new breed of singer/songwriters. Her vocals are a tad Betty Boop, but her four albums are ethereal pop at its best.

13/ Tori Amos, Little Earthquakes, China
Tori is the artist Sarah McLachlan can only dream of being. She really can play all those instruments and is that weird sexy, dynamic and prolific. Kats and I named one of the main characters of the Westerlund saga Tory, as an ode to this lady, as well as the porn star Tory Welles, of course.

14/ Aimee Mann, Magnolia Soundtrack, Save Me
Speaking of great female singer/songwriters. This 1999 release is near genius. The director of the movie, Paul Thomas Anderson, is good friends with Aimee. He asked her to write some songs for a future movie. He then structured his screenplay around her lyrics and the mood her songs created. Wow.

15/ The Move, Shazam, Beautiful Daughter
One of these unabashedly gorgeous songs that is playing non-stop on an parallel world's greatest hits of all time jukebox.

16/ The Grapes of Wrath, Now and Again, All the Things I Wasn't
From one of the greatest albums ever produced by a group of British Columbians.

17/ Jenson Interceptor, Jenson Interceptor, Tiny Thing
A world class song from a group of Southern Albertans who sold less than thirty thousand albums. My friend and I may have the only two CD copies, since this is a CDR of the hard to find vinyl.

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Playlists #1 - Melody is King, Volume 1

A few years ago now, my housemate decided that he wanted to listed to all of the great Pop and Rock n' Roll. Being the obsessive that he is, he spent a bunch of money on books on the music, and even more on CD's, ending up with several thousand CD's and an encyclopedic knowledge of the music. Towards the end of this process, I asked him if he could share some of this knowledge with me, in the form of music I probably hadn't heard, but in a just world would have. Over the next year he assembled 24 themed playlists for me, and gave them to me under the condition that I share them with anybody. So inspired by xthread's recent playlist postings, I'm going to present them here.

Update: Wrong version of playlist was posted, corrected below.

Date: Sat, 20 Jan 2001 11:36:04 -0800
From: Al Christensen <>
X-Mailer: Mozilla 4.73 [en] (Win98; U)
X-Accept-Language: en-GB,fr-CA
To: John Dougan <>
Subject: Pop Till You Drop


Here's the first installment of the themed CDs from my mighty collection,

Today I present 'Melody is King, Volume One.'

Before we begin, I'd like to lay down a few guidelines. 1/ I will pull the CDs and reshelve them. It's just too easy for something to get lost otherwise. 2/ You will find each week's selections on top of the turntable in the downstairs A/V room. When you're done please put them back there, preferably alphabetized. 3/ No CD is to leave the house or be passed on to someone else without my permission. I ask this 'cause some of these discs are not replaceable. 4/ Encourage others to hear this music. In these dark days of popular music, the only way things will turn around is if the 'great' music is rediscovered.

Okay, shall we begin?

To start, I think we have to listen to some examples of melodious pop songs of the highest order. I would even go as far as to say these songs will survive into the next millennium.

1/ The Association, Greatest Hits from the Original Master Tapes, Along Comes Mary
2/ The Association, Greatest Hits from the Original Master Tapes, Windy
I had to include two songs from the same band as, other than the Beatles, no band has released two pop singles of such a magnitude in a row.

3/ Various Artists, ...And Someone Left the Cake Out in the Rain, Wichita Lineman
A perfect song, containing a melody as unique and pure as any in history, with perhaps the greatest two lines ever in a pop song. I'll let you find them.

Now we turn to the merely wonderful.

4/ The Beatles, Beatles for Sale, Every Little Thing
My vote for best obscure early Beatles' song.

5/ Badfinger, Straight Up, Baby Blue
My vote for the best obscure Badfinger song. Badfinger is the best band ever to do a Beatles' impersonation, so that's saying a lot.

6/ Todd Rundgren, Something/Anything?, Hello Its Me
A song so good it charted three times.

7/ Harry Nilsson, Nilsson Schmilsson, Gotta Get Up
Has got me up and singing more than once.

8/ The Monkees, More of the Monkees, Mary Mary
Yes, the fuckin' Monkees. It's that good. Every time I see the beautiful Mary at work, I can't help but think they were thinking of her.

9/ The Beach Boys, Holland, Sailor, Sail On
This is the '70s Beach Boys; not what they were but still capable of incredible vocal harmonies and melodic invention, when they weren't sucking wind.

10/ Chris De Burgh, At the End of a Perfect Day, Broken Wings
Chris will some day be remembered for his first five albums. This is my favourite, as its stories are tinged with a wistful melancholia that seems to be coming from an old man looking back at his world and times.. We'll be revisiting this album in the future.

11/ XTC, Apple Venus - Volume One, The Green Man
What's wrong with people? This album, from last year, is a melody feast. They do make 'em like they used to.

12/ The Raspberries, Power Pop Volume One, I Saw the Light
The second best Beatles' impersonators, though their first stuff is a lot better than the last.

13/ Counting Crows, August and Everything After, Omaha
God, I love the way Adam Duritz writes songs. The album is my favorite of the '90s. And it's an Ultradisc!

14/ Pink Floyd, Relics, Julia Dreams
Sometimes Roger Waters just likes to show us beauty.

15/ The Hollies, For Certain Because..., Pay You Back With Interest
I've really started to appreciate the Hollies' middle period. Great harmonies, very catchy.

16/ Lenny Kravitz, Let Love Rule, I built This Garden for Us
Lenny is slagged in the press for being an imitator. Try imitating his best melodies, motherfuckers.

17/ Gram Parsons, GP, She
Gram breaks my heart. All that talent gone so young. And he knew something about women.

18/ Radiohead, OK Computer, Karma Police
From the last great rock album of the millennium. I hum this selection all the time.

19/ Love, Love Story 1966-1972, 7 and 7 Is
No one writes songs like this band. Another collection we'll be revisiting

19/ Sagittarius, Present Tense, My World Fell Down
When I posted the last list I'd forgotten that the CD for "7 And 7 Is" was unreadable. So Al substituted this track instead.

20/ The Kinks, Something Else by the Kinks, Waterloo Sunset
My vote for greatest '60s song that was never a hit. Let the song flow over you ten or twenty times. It says so much, is so beautiful and longs for so much.

I'm going to limit each themed collection to twenty songs, since they are designed to complement each other, and even the loss of one song throws off the balance.

I know you'll enjoy most of these songs.

Ramble On, Sing the Songs,

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