Anthony Bourdain: More than just a celebrity chef

As a child I was always enthralled by cooking and cooking shows. My grandfather was the head chef while he served in World War II; and he brought his love of cooking home with him. Cooking was never a ‘woman’s job’. It was an art that was enjoyed because food was something that we enjoyed. As I grew up the the bevy of cooking shows started to build up on TV and I loved them all. My TV time in the 80s was mostly made up of reruns of Julia Child, Justin Wilson’s cajun inspired cooking shows on PBS, and Great 145px-Food_Network_New_LogoChefs of America/Great Chefs of the World. This continued throughout the 90s when my family got a big satellite dish in the backyard which coincidently was the time that the Food Network started broadcasting. The introduction of shows from Bobby Flay and Mario Batali also brought Emeril Lagasse and Rachel Ray. I was in love with cooking and was one step away from going to culinary school. I won’t divulge you with the real reason that I didn’t go to culinary school (I’ll just say that the closest one was about 6 hours from my home and I had a girlfriend…so…you do the math).

I went on to college and continued to enjoy cooking in my spare time. My roommate and I would invite friends over and always enjoyed cooking for them. This trend continued into my 20s after graduating from college. It was about that time that a new cooking show trend started. The ‘traveling’ show that highlighted not only food but the chef/host of the show eloquently spoke to you. It was like a well written essay that centered around some of the most interesting people and places in the world. I became obsessed with Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain. Anthony Bourdain’s panache and deft writing ability amplified the sometimes unremarkable places he visited.

Anthony_Bourdain_at_Maxwell_Food_Centre,_Singapore_-_20060324Anthony Bourdain had shot to Pop Culture fame in 2000 when his best-selling book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly exposed the rest of the world to the dirty underbelly of the culinary world; where he candidly wrote about his drug use among other tantalizing topics. I remember his face first becoming relevant in the culinary world when he started appearing on the Food Network in 2002 on his show A Cook’s Tour. Then three years later his superstar status skyrocketed when his hit Emmy award winning TV show Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations started on the Travel Channel. He jumped to CNN in 2013 with a new show called Parts Unknown which is where we would find him traveling the world for 250 days a year. The show is in its 11th season and it was in France, where he was working on and filming and episode of his show, where they found him dead in his motel room this morning. It was reported this morning that he was found by his best friend and fellow celebrity chef Eric Ripert, who was there filming with him. He had died of an apparent suicide by hanging.

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The Anthony Bourdain that I watched on TV was and is unapologetic. His insight,eloquent words and delightful descriptions brought a poignant beauty into the world. He was one of my idols. I can recall many episodes of his TV shows that have left me in tears. The bitter slap of reality that he hit us with is real. It was never evident by watching his shows that he was suicidal; but most of the time it never is. If you are in the US and need someone to talk to you can contact the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or the Crisis Test Line by texting HOME to 741741. Those of you from the UK can call the Samaritans at 116123.

Anthony Bourdain’s eloquent and sometimes crass descriptions have impacted me. I will pray for the ones he left behind: his loved ones and especially his friend Eric Ripert. Anthony’s extraordinary storytelling on his TV shows brought the world into our homes and not only that but he inspired us to go out and visit those places. Anthony Bourdain I hope that you have found peace. Know that your words have always inspired us; but leaving us with an ellipses instead of a period has impacted us immensely. You will be greatly missed.


Images: 

Anthony Bourdain at Maxwell Food Centre in Singapore by Cheryl/miss bake-a-lot. – Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thebakerwhocooks/117114719/., CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1459812

Anthony Bourdain receiving his Peabody for “Parts Unknown” attributed to the Peabody Awards – Anthony Bourdain, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51812465

Food Network logo by and attributed to the Food Network – http://www.foodnetwork.com, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25239626

 

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May the Fourth be with you

98px-Bdna_croppedA couple of years ago, my mom purchased me the DNA analysis kit for ancestry.com. The ethnicity results somewhat amazed us. We were met with a huge tide of emotions because it was different than what I had been taught for my entire life. My DNA analysis said that my ethnicity was estimated to be made up of 42% Western Europe, 28% Great Britain, 18% Ireland/Scotland/Wales, 8% Scandanavia, and 4% from other places. It was within these 4 percent that I found a 1% for four specific regions and it was within these areas that we pondered on the most.

The first 2 percentages were said to be from either Finland, Northwest Russia and the Caucasus region. The thought of me being from the Caucasus region which consists of 220px-Tunisia_in_its_region.svgArmenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey was surprising. The next 1% from the Iberian Peninsula surprised me even more because the Iberian Peninsula consists of Spain, Portugal, Southern France, the Western Italian Islands, Northern Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria. The last 1% comes from Northern Africa which primarily consists of the Western Sahara, Libya, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. The three popping up consistently were the ones that were the most surprising but after some research into my family tree many months later; I found my missing African link.

220px-Star_wars_1977_us.svgTurns out that my 12th paternal great-grandmother was from Tunisia. Now you probably suspected by the title of this blog that this was a Star Wars Day blog; well in that you would be correct. The reason why is because while reading up on the information I couldn’t get over why the name Tunisia sounded so familiar. The reason why this North African country that borders the Mediterranean Sea and the Sahara Desert sounded so familiar was not my great-grandmother’s ghost whispering information about her homeland; no, it was because I had just re-watched a documentary about the filming of the original Star Wars movie last summer. Part of the Tattoine locations, including Luke’s Tatooine home, were filmed in Tunisia. Guess there could be a little Jedi in me after all.

 

Happy Star Wars Day!

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Images:

B DNA gif by Spiffistanderivative work: Jahobr (talk) – Bdna.gif, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17436581

Geographical Location of Tunisia by TUBS – Own work, This vector graphics image was created with Adobe Illustrator. This file was uploaded with Commonist. This vector image includes elements that have been taken or adapted from this:  World location map (W3).svg (by TUBS)., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15302417

Star Wars Logo 1977 by Lucas Arts – http://www.starwars.com/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40435409

1977 Cinema Advertising Star Wars by Michael Dorausch from Venice, USA – CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51237185

Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Castles in the United States

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I immediately think of that cur Skeletor trying to break into Castle Grayskull when I hear someone talk about a castle; while most people’s thoughts would turn to a large fortified stone structure from long, long ago which housed nobility. We think about the Royal families who were entrusted with these buildings. We think of the fortified castles surrounded by a mote sitting on huge expanses of land in England, on the rolling countryside in Scotland, or even in Colorado? So America isn’t exactly on the location list when you imagine a ‘castle’ huh? Well you would be surprised at the number of castles there are here in America. So you know what I do…I make a list. So I have put together Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Castles in the United States.


 

Honorable mention: Bannerman Castle, Pollepel Island, NY –

Construction stopped on Bannerman Castle after the death of its owner, military goods supplier Francis Bannerman; but it was the explosion, a fire, and having been left to the elements for many decades that has led to the castle being labeled as unsafe due to the decaying walls and ‘buried hazards’. The castle is only located 50 miles north of New York City, but it’s up to you whether its worth the trouble of kayaking over.

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10. Belvedere Castle, New York, New York – 

Originally designed in 1865, the castle was built to be nothing more than a folly inside of an already beautiful location. The castle was built inside New York’s scenic historic Central Park. The architectural hybrid of Gothic and Romanesque styles serves many purposes since it has served as a weather tower for the National Weather Service, as well as the interior housing a nature observatory.

9. Gillette Castle, East Haddam, Connecticut – 

Known for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes on the theatrical stage and in a 1916 silent film (that was famously thought to be lost but was recently found in 2014); but it is my guess that he is best known for his Castle. Known as Gillette Castle, the stone castle sits on a bluff overlooking the Connecticut River. The off-beat actor designed the outside to appear to be a medieval castle, while the castle’s interior is more modern and riddled with strange features; like a surveillance mirrors and 60 paintings that pay tribute to his cats…all 17 of them.

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8. Fonthill Castle, Doylestown, Pennsvylvania – 

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972; the concrete, 44 room castle was completed in 1912. The castle was the home of archeologist and tile maker Henry Chapman Mercer. The castle, as well as other facilities owned by Mercer, are now opened to the public to showcase his collection of pottery and art.

7. Gresham’s Castle (aka The Bishop’s Place), Galveston, Texas – 

The elaborately built Victorian-style 19,082 square feet house was finished in 1893 by Galveston architect Nicholas J. Clayton for lawyer and politician Walter Gresham and his family. After the death of Clayton, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Galveston purchased the house and it was the residence of Bishop Christopher Byrne until the diocese office moved to Houston. After that the diocese opened the castle to the public in 1963 and gave the proceeds from the tours to help fund Catholic students at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

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6. Castello di Amorosa, Calistoga, California – 

From a distance, you would think that you had been transported to 12th or 13th century Tuscany but in all actuality you are in the Napa Valley. Construction actually began in 1995 on this 107 room structure and everything from the hand chiseled stones to the hand made nails to the hand-painted frescoes that are sprawled throughout this 121,000 square-foot castle. The historically accurate castle is the perfect place to feel like royalty; as you sample the best wine that Napa Valley has to offer.

5. Bishop Castle, Beulah, Colorado –

When Jim Bishop started building a cabin out of locally sourced stone in 1969; he had no intentions of building a castle. It was only after a friend told him that it looked like he was building a castle; so he did just that. Bishop hand built the 3 story, 160-foot-tall castle by himself. And because no medieval style castle would be complete without a dragon; Bishop built a metallic dragon that juts out from the roof and on special occasions shoots real fire and smoke through its nose.

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4. Boldt Castle, Heart Island, New York – 

Before being purchased by the Thousand Island Bridge Authority in 1977, George Boldt (owner of the luxurious Waldorf-Astoria Hotel) purchased one of the Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence River and started constructing a castle. The six-story castle was built in honor of his wife, Louise. Louise suddenly died in 1904 before the castle was completed. Boldt was broken hearted over his wife’s death and never returned to the island. Until the Thousand Island Bridge Authority purchased the castle, restored it, and opened it to the public; the castle sat abandoned.

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3. Iolani Palace, Honolulu, Hawaii – 

There is only one castle in the United States that can claim to house royalty. That United States royal palace was built for King Kalakua and Queen Kapi’olani. Finished in 1882, this luxurious and elaborately decorated with koa wood, ebony furniture and even was complete with a throne room. Kalakaua was influenced to build the elaborate castle to immolate the majestic palaces that he had seen on his journeys. The Iolani palace had the most modern amenities at that time. The gas chandeliers were replaced with electric lighting five years; which was only seven years after Edison invented the first practical incandescent bulb. The palace also had the newly invented telephone installed. Sadly when the US government overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893, Queen Lili’uokalani was dethroned. She was actually imprisoned in the beautiful, amenity advanced palace for many months. The Iolani Palace was renovated in the 1970s and was opened to the public in 1978 after being restored to its original glory.

2. Hearst Castle, San Simeon, California

Before Hearst Castle and the estate “La Cuesta Encantada (“The Enchanted Hill”) became a California State Park in 1954, owner of the largest newspaper chain and media company Hearst Communications; American businessman, politician, and flamboyant newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst built himself a residence that matched his larger than life personality. In its heyday, the castle was the location for socialites, Hollywood stars and the political elite to party. The likes of Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, Charles Lindbergh, Joan Crawford, Jimmy Stewart, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and many other high profile guests would drive in, use the estate’s personal airfield to fly in or would use the private Hearst-owned train car in from Los Angeles. The Hearst Corporation donated the estate to the California State Parks but made sure that the stipulation would be that the family would be able to use the facility whenever they wanted. And who could blame them?

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1. Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina – 

Known to be the largest privately owned home in the United States, the Bitlmore Estate was the home of one of America’s most prominent families: the Vanderbilts. The Vanderbilts amassed a huge fortune and George Washinton Vanderbilt II was the favorite of his father. The Chateauesque-style mansion is a prominent example of the Gilded Age and still stands today as a beautiful piece of history. The house took 7 years to complete and the final brick was cured in the facilities kiln in 1896. The 135,280 square feet of living area inside the Biltmore House are waiting for you to come and tour.


Images:

Featured Image – Bannerman’s Castle on Pollepel Island from the left bank of the Hudson River by User:Leonard G. – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2417637

Castle Grayskull credit to Mattel and Filmation – Fair use.

Belvedere Castle in Central Park, New York City by Captain-tucker – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5553491

Fonthill Castle, Doylestown, PA by Andrearamirez – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21552746

Castello di Amorosa front by Oleg Alexandrov – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36814168

Heart Island, Fair Use – https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=242469

Iolani Palace By Cliff from Arlington, Virginia, USA – `Iolani Palace, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56821183

The Bitlmore House on the Biltmore Estate by and attributed to Ken Thomas – KenThomas.us (personal website of photographer), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10314274

Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Words that Differ in American English

We have lots of (what would be considered by some to be arguments) discussions about a variety of topics at my house. One all too common discussion is the proper pronunciation of words. As an English teacher, my patience is depleted all too frequently when we argue about words and their meaning. Now after saying that I sound very pompous and I must admit that I do make mistakes. I’m not the end-all authority on the English Language despite my ‘vast knowledge’ (inside joke). One of my college English professors told us that the written English language is the most difficult language to learn. To English as a second language learners, the every day grammar and word usage that we find so easy to comprehend are the things that confuse our foreign friends. When watching TV or talking to someone from another English speaking country, the things we hear our foreign brethren say sometimes make us laugh because the word’s definitions are sometimes different from country to country. The most noticeable difference between American English and that of our foreign friends (specifically British English) is the vocabulary. There are countless words that are different in American English that are vastly different from those of our British cohorts. For example Americans open the hood of their car to access the engine while the British would ask you to open the bonnet to look at the engine.

It doesn’t even have to be a word difference though. It would be spelling differences; like the word that caused our family discussion/argument the other night: flavor/flavour. There are hundreds of minor spelling differences between British and American English. Thanks to American lexicographer Noah Webster. You probably recognize his name from what he is famous for; his dictionary. The author, teacher and politician started to reform the English spelling in the latter pat of the 1700s. As an intelligent man, he grew weary of the inconsistent spelling differences between the American and British spelling of different words. As a way to better show America’s independence from England, he would do simple spelling changes like taking the u out of colour. Other changes that he proposed would thankfully fail to be approved. Like his proposal of changing the spelling of women to wimmen.

Its not just nouns that differ across the pond. Americans tend to end their past tense verbs with the ending -ed; while the British tend to use the -t. (Example: They dreamed of a beautiful sunset vs They dreamt of a beautiful sunset.)

So now that we’ve established that there is a difference but I know that you want to know more. Whether you’re traveling abroad and won’t have some magic genie to help interpret the language in a new country or if you’re just as nosey as I am; don’t fret. Everyone knows how I love to make a list; so I have put together a word list to show how meanings and words differ in America vs other English speaking countries (specifically in our case Britain). So here is the – Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Words that differ in American English.


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10. Bird

British: A colloquial term for a woman.

American: A winged mammal.

9. Shag

British: Colloquial term for a sexual act

American: A type of carpet

8. A jumper

British: A wool pullover jacket worn during the winter

American: Someone who commits suicide by jumping from a building or bridge

7. A geezer

British: A tough guy or gang member

American: An old man

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6. Solicitor

British: A legal representative

American: A door-to-door salesman

5. Pants

British: Underwear

American: Trousers

4. A rubber

British – A pencil eraser

American – A slang term for a male contraceptive

3. Trainer(s)

British: Athletic shoes

American: Person who trains you to work out at the gym

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2. Bog

British: Toilet/Bathroom

American: Marsh/swamp/quagmire

 

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1. Chips

British: French fries or thinly sliced fried potatoes

American: Thinly sliced, deep fried, baked and/or kettle-cooked crunchy potatoes (which are called crisps in the UK)


 

Images:

Featured Image – Blue Jay Cyanocitta Cristata Welland by and accredited to Rob Hanson from Welland, Ontario, Canada – Blue Jay – Cyanocitta cristata, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3201406

The Rawleigh Man accredited to the Stephenson County Historical Society “This is a postcard depicting The Rawleigh Man. A door-to-door salesman of medicine and other products. 1909 – Stephenson County Historical Society, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46933270

Wavy French Fries sold in Canadian Supermarket by and accredited to Gab kiwi32 – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16105222

Marsh in Bird Sanctuary by and accredited to Liam M. Higgins – Own work. Taken with Kodak Z740 Zoom Digital Camera, Copyrighted free use, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=876501

Thor’s Thursday Tour: Duke’s BBQ in Orangeburg, SC

img_3796There is nothing that is inherently elegant about a BBQ restaurant in the South. You won’t normally find a Roasted Pigeon with a Warm Foie Gras Sorbet like you would from the Villa Crespi in Orta, Italy. You won’t find fresh out of the water Langoustines as you would at Bjorn Frantzen in Stockholm, Sweden. You won’t find a $130 Waygu Tomahawk steak like you would at the EDGE restaurant in Colorado. You also won’t find the $115 Red’s Porterhouse at Halls Chophouse in Charleston, South Carolina; but if you travel an hour and 20 minutes Northwest to Orangeburg, South Carolina you will find a place that is worth its weight in gold to anyone who steps through the sticker-laden glass doors. You’ll find that that drive has led you to a place that lays out Southern comfort food at its finest. You’ll find the sweet and sultry taste of their Southern style pulled pork BBQ matched with their South Carolina style sauce, fried chicken, delicious BBQ chicken, fried livers and gizzards, all the fixins’ that you can imagine, and most importantly the img_3799hash and rice. The hash was something that I was unsure of when I was first introduced to Dukes BBQ but it is essentially somewhere between a soup and a stew. Despite the taste and texture being different than anything you’ve ever had; over some fluffy white rice it is absolutely delicious. Besides the meat selections you’ll find the Southern comfort food fixins’ on their all-you-can-eat buffet. Delicious macaroni n’ cheese, baked beans, collards, fried okra, fried potatoes, green beans, lima beans, rutabagas, yams, and almost anything that Southern part of your soul desires. The cold bar features homemade banana pudding, macaroni salad, pickled beets, potato salad, slaw and an assortment of pickles. Now pickles may seem like an odd pairing for fried chicken but just trust me; I’ve been down this road before.

Dukes BBQ is a South Carolina staple. After the Dukes recipe came from the Baltzingers who had Carolina BBQ in the mid 20th century, after Dovie Dukes married into the Baltzinger family. Dovie gave the recipe to all of his brothers and sisters, but it was his brother Earl who opened the first Dukes restaurant in 1946 outside of Orangeburg but later moved it into town. My last visit was to this location but all 7 of Earl’s brothers and sisters opened up Dukes restaurants. You won’t find one within a 30 mile radius of their kinfolks restaurant because that was the deal originally set forth by the family. As the years flew by, their children and extended family opened up restaurants and there are currently 14 locations across the state to enjoy the best Southern comfort food that South Carolina has to offer.

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Their award winning restaurant has been picked by Southern Living magazine as one of the best BBQ restaurants in the nation, been given Trip Advisors Award of Excellence, was picked as best BBQ Restaurant and best buffet by countless magazines and organizations and has an accolade from this blogger who says that its the best BBQ restaurant in the state of South Carolina. You won’t be disappointed in the ambiance or the old fashion Southern recipes that are always prepared on site. So grab your jacket, pack up your kids, call your friends, and go experience down home, Southern comfort food at its finest. I’ll meet you there.

dukes menu

Top Cat’s Top 10: Live Versions of Songs

The concert going experience has and always will be amazing; but sometimes concertgoers get to experience something truly special. Whether its a band’s most popular song or just a special night; sometimes the live performance of a song surpass the album’s released version. Thankfully in our modern day and age, the unlucky ones that were not there to experience them live are sometimes blessed to have the performance recorded. I have put together a list of what I think are the top 10 live versions of songs that surpass their original version in all ways. I hope that this list can be a way to cause your uncompromising opinion on these songs to be altered. Please take the time to listen to both versions of the song (hint hint I suggest looking them up on YouTube); and then you be the judge. With that being said here are Top Cat’s Top 10: Live Versions of Songs.


Honorable Mentions: Nine Inch Nail’s “Terrible Lie” from Live: And All That Could Have Been and Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” Live in Moscow, 1989

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10. Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” from 1976’s Wings Over America.

The Wings Over America triple album was released in December of 1976 and it hit number 1 on the US Billboard chart and number 8 on the UK chart. McCartney’s sound engineer listed to 800 hours of tape and selected the five best performances of each song from the 30-song set list. McCartney then chose and mixed the final set of recordings (most of them were from the infamous June 23rd, 1976 concert at The Forum in Los Angeles.

9. Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band’s “Turn the Page” from 1976’s ‘Live’ Bullet album.

The ‘Live’ Bullet album is credited as one of the motivating forces behind Seger’s mainstream popularity and since this album was recorded as the arena that in its heyday was the most important rock concert venue just pushed Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band to the top. When you hear “Turn the Page” on rock and classic rock radio, 9 times out of 10, it will be this perennial version.

8. Nirvana’s “All Apologies” from MTV Unplugged in New York album.

You will see a few selections on this list from MTV’s Unplugged series; but Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged album is definitely the most famous of the series. I remember watching the MTV Unplugged performance in December of 1993. I was at the zenith of my Nirvana love and I just remember sitting in front of the TV on my parent’s couch in awe. Fans had heard rumors that Cobain had just gotten out of rehab and he was suffering from drug withdrawal during the performance. The stage looked like a funeral as it was decorated with stargazer lilies, black candles and an overall dark stage. The album debuted number one on the Billboard 200 chart but was released after Kurt’s ‘suicide’. The 5x platinum certified album is by far one of the most beautiful live performances of all time and their live performance of “All Apologies” is better than the In Utero version.

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7. Johnny Cash, “Folsom Prison Blues,” from 1968’s At Folsom Prison album.

Johnny Cash. Those words ring immortal in the realms of music and pop culture history but it was his infamous At Folsom Prison album that pushed Cash back into the national spotlight. He had recently gotten his drug abuse problems and personal issues under control, and was trying to turn his career around after having limited commercial successful fora number of years. Despite not receiving much support from Columbia records, his version of “Folsom Prison Blues” went on to become a top 40 hit and was his first number one since 1964’s “Understand Your Man”. Luckily the album revitalized Cash’s career; but we the fans are truly the lucky ones because we were left with a truly amazing track that surpasses the original version tenfold.

6. Alice in Chain’s “Nutshell” from Unplugged.

The other MTV Unplugged song that graces our list is from another infamous Seattle band: Alice in Chains. The certified platinum album debuted at number three on the Billboard 200. The all-acoustic set on April 10, 1996 concert was Alice in Chains first concert in over two and a half years. If you were not one of the lucky concert-goers at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Majestic Theatre that day; you pay close attention to the accompanied DVD of the concert that was certified gold by the RIAA and find a Sharpie inscribed phrase on Mike Inez’s bass. Inscribed was the phrase ‘Friends don’t let friends get Friends haircuts…” and was meant to be a jab at the members of Metallica (who had just controversially cut their hair before the release of their Load album) who were in the audience. The jab was laughed off and Inez and drummer Sean Kinney paid tribute to Metallica by playing the intro to “Enter Sandman” before Jerry Cantrell played the intro to “Battery” later in the set.

5. Metallica’s “Bleeding Me” from S&M.

Since we’re mentioning Metallica, now would be a good time to list a song from one of my favorite albums of all time. Metallica recorded a live album with The San Francisco Symphony (conducted by Michael Kamen) and it is just about as amazing as you can imagine. The idea had been floating around since (the time of Metallica’s second bass guitarist Cliff Burton) the early 1980s; due to Cliff Burton’s love of classical music (specifically Johann Sebastian Bach) and by influence of Deep Purple’s 1969 Concerto for Group and Orchestra album. The classical styling of Bach influenced the instrumental parts and melodic characteristics of some of Metallica’s greatest songs. The concert itself is amazing but when they performed the already emotional “Bleeding Me” from Metallica’s 1996 Load album…I literally cried the first time that I heard it.

4. Janes Addiction’s “Jane Says” from Kettle Whistle live/out-take compilation album.

Janes Addiction was one of the first alternative rock bands to gain both mainstream media attention and commercial success in the United States in the early 1990s. But in the late 1980s, Janes Addition was on tour and opening for Iggy Pop and The Ramones before headlining clubs and theaters themselves near the end of the 90s. They were riddled with break-ups, cursed by lead-singer Perry Farrell’s drug addition and the band’s members not being able to stand each other (mostly because Farrell’s admittance to being an “intolerable narcissist who can’t get along with anyone”); the band’s ‘initial’ farewell tour in 1991 launched the first Lollapalooza tour, which has since become a perennial alternative rock festival. Despite splitting and going their separate ways for a short while, they briefly reunited in 1997, with Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers (who replaced Eric Avery on bass) to tour and record their new/live/out-take compilation album Kettle Whistle. It is on this album that, in my opinion (and many others) is not only the bands best song but the best version of their song (being featured on both their debut self titled album in 1987 and a similar version on their follow-up album, Nothing’s Shocking): “Jane Says”. The Kettle Whistle version was beautifully redone and features steel drums and vocal arrangements that were not present on the cut from the self-titled album.

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3. Bob Marley and the Wailers’s “No Woman, No Cry” from 1975’s Live! album.

The now infamous Bob Marley song was originally released on their 1974 studio album Natty Dread; but it was the live version from the 1975 album Live! almost which is definitely the most well known. The concert’s recording took place at the Lyceum Theatre in London on July 19th, 1975 as part of their Natty Dread Tour. The popular song was even ranked 37th on the Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. The performance remains as Marley’s most famous performance and is not just one of my favorite live songs but definitely one of my favorite songs of all time.

2. Fleetwood Mac, “Landslide,” from 1997’s The Dance.

I remember the night very well. Fleetwood Mac’s The Dance Concert was airing on MTV. The group had not released an album together in a decade but we were still fans. Upon the album’s release, it debuted at No 1 on the Billboard 200 and stayed in the top 40 for more than seven months. It sold a million copies within the first eight weeks, and became the fifth best-selling live album of all time in the United States. The show was a profusion of their greatest hits and included a stripped down yet vehement version of “Landslide” which vastly flies above the already amazing original version.

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1. Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” from the Pulse DVD.

Legendary rock group known as Pink Floyd is known for amazing shows but the 2006 DVD release of their concert that was performed on October 20, 1994 at the infamous Earls Court in London was and still is amazing. The 1995 album and DVD which appeared years later showcases a concert from their 1994 The Division Bell Tour. The concert showcased an overabundant arrangement of their greatest hits. One particular song from this concert was a single from their 1979 double album The Wall; and has been ranked one of the greatest songs of all time by Rolling Stones magazine and featured in many lists as having one of the greatest guitar solos of all time. The 1980/81 tour for The Wall album featured larger than life sets which included a giant wall constructed across the stage during performances to match the larger than life songs that they would perform. The 1994 tour was similar in spectacle and specifically the concert in Earl’s Court in London.  The Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre is located in Earl’s Court which is a district in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in central London. The Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre was one of the country’s largest indoor arenas and was one of the most popular concert venues in the country until it closed in 2014. The Exhibition Centre has since been demolished to make room for shopping centers and high rise, luxury apartments; concert-goers gasped again at the truly amazing spectacle on that faithful night in 1994. As David Gilmour’s beautiful guitar solo rang through the exhibition center, a massive disco ball-like orb slowly descended from the tall ceiling. Lights shown brightly on the reflective surfaces and beams of light danced around the space. As the amazingness of the guitar solo and accompanying musicians fall upon your ears that is matched by the pageantry of the show going on around you; the hair on the back of your neck stands up and tears begin to well up in your eyes. The song itself is one of my favorite songs and is always amazing live; but this specific performance could possibly be the best version that I have ever heard.


Images:

Paul and Linda McCartney 1973 image by and attributed to Wikipedia user I, Corwin, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2334509

Folsom Prison Blues Single image by and attributed to Daniel Hartwig from New Haven, CT, USA – cash_0009Uploaded by Huggorm, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8151226

Bob Marley live in concert in Dalymont Park on 6 July 1980 photo by and accredited to Eddie Mallin – https://secure.flickr.com/photos/dubpics/5619960763/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10847018

Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre photo by and attributed to Phillip Perry, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13591952

 

Rock – Paper – Scissors – Lizards – Spock

It was back in 2007 in season 2, episode 8 of MTV’s Rob and Big that I first heard Rock – Paper -Scissors called Rochambeau. I had enjoyed playing it many times as a child and it was so ingrained in popular culture that I had seen it everywhere from one of my favorite adolescent movies Bio Dome to aiding in a decision making process on my childhood playground. No matter how silly the game may be, it is  a nostalgic competition that has transcended time.

Kitsune-ken_(狐拳),_Japanese_rock-paper-scissors_variant,_from_the_Genyoku_sui_bento_(1774)Yes I just made Rock – Paper – Scissors sound a lot more serious than it actually is but the history is vast. Rock – Paper – Scissors arrived in the United States around the 20th century, but it is one of the oldest games in existence. The first recorded mention of the game was found in Chinese Ming-dynasty writer’s Xie Zhaozhi’s book: the Wuzazu. In his book (circa the 1600s) wrote that the game itself actually dated back all the way to China’s Han dynasty (which is from 206 -220 AD). The game, as he explains it, is called shoushiling. The game also exists in Japanese lore, and throughout history there have Mushi-ken_(虫拳),_Japanese_rock-paper-scissors_variant,_from_the_Kensarae_sumai_zue_(1809)been references to ‘fist games’. These fist games, known as sansukumi-ken (ken meaning fist). The earliest version of sansukumi-ken was known as mushi-ken. Mushi-ken (meaning frog-fist) was playing by one player showing his thumb who is displaced by a slug (represented by the user showing his pinky finger), which is then displaced by a snake (represented by the index finger), which is only displaced by the frog. So can you see the rules are similar to our modern day Rock – Paper – Scissors.

Over the years, the game spread beyond Asian borders and reached Britain in 1924 when the game was described in a letter to The Times newspaper (which has been a daily national newspaper based in London, England since 1785). The game was called ‘zhot’ and was described to be of ‘possible Mediterranean origin’. The British populous took interest and subsequent articles were written to describe the game to the readers. If it hit Britain, it was only a matter of time before it came to America. In a 1932 New York Times article describing the Tokyo rush hour, the rules of the game were laid out and the Rock_paper_scissors_author beckoned Americans to try it, so they could ‘benefit’ from its uses. In the 1933 edition of Compton’s Pictured Encyclopedia, the game was called John Kem Po and was described as a ‘common method of settling disputes between Japanese children’ and the author pointed out that it was a “good way of deciding an argument that American boys and girls might like to practice too”.

So is it ironic that a game with so much history is played by children making random choices or by adults who are more inclined to use some game to decide some minuscule decision? Absolutely not. The game is popping up all over pop culture; even finding itself in a modified version on the ever popular TV show The Big Bang Theory (who modified the game to be Rock – Paper – Scissors – Lizard – Spock) and some players have even turned it into a legitimate nostalgia-fueled competitive sport.

Rock,_Paper,_Scissors

From China’s street corners to America’s playgrounds, Rock – Paper – Scissors will continue to flourish; and its history will not sink like a rock or rust like a pair of scissors. No no…it will cover the landscape like a piece a paper. 😉

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Images:

Mushi-Ken representation by and attributed to Linhart, Sepp. “Die Repräsentation Von Tieren Im Japanischen Ken-Spiel: Versuch Einer Interpretation.” Asiatische Studien: Zeitschrift Der Schweizerischen Asiengesellschaft 65.2 (2011): 541-61.Yoshinami and Gojaku. 1809. Kensarae sumai zue (拳會角力圖會). 2 vols. Edo: Murataya, Jirobe, Osaka: Kawachiya Taisuke, Bunka 6., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37139430

Rock-Paper-Scissors image by and attributed to U3144362 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63503453

Men playing Rock-Paper-Scissors by Jeff Eaton – https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffeaton/10911307996/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54972934

4th UK Rock-Paper-Scissors Championship image by and attributed to James Bamber – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16532763