Yahtzee History

Saturday night we had some guests over and we all played Yahtzee. It was the first time I’d played it since the 1980s at least. I had a good time and looked up the history of the game.

In 1954 a wealthy anonymous Canadian couple, who called it The Yacht Game invented the game to play aboard their yacht. They would invite friends and teach them. In 1956 they went to toy maker Edwin S. Lowe to make some games for their friends as Christmas gifts. Edwin liked the game so much that he wanted to buy the rights to it. The couple sold the rights for the amount of making them a 1000 games.

When Edwin released it on the market it did not do well in it’s first year. The game could not be explained easily in an ad.  It had many nuances and interesting things about it and they can only be understood if the game was actually played.

Finally, Edwin tried a different approach. He started to have Yahtzee parties hoping to spread the news about the game by word of mouth. That started to work and Yahtzee got extremely popular. During Lowe’s ownership alone, over forty million copies of the game were sold in the United States of America as well as around the globe

In 1973  Milton Bradley Company bought the E.S. Lowe Company and in 1984 Hasbro, Inc. acquires the Milton Bradley Company and the game.

The origins of the game came from the  Puerto Rican game Generala and the English games of Poker Dice and Cheerio. Another game, Yap, shows close similarities to Yahtzee.

 

http://www.twoop.com/yahtzee/

 

The Wonders – That Thing You Do

This was a fictitious band playing the title song to the Tom Hanks movie “That Thing You Do.” It was a nice song with an early sixties feel. The song peaked at #41 in the Billboard 100 in 1996. I really liked the movie when it came out and couldn’t help but like the song also.

Adam Schlesinger, the bass player for Fountains Of Wayne, wrote this song. He said  “That was a very long time ago. That was 1995 I think I first heard about it, or ’96, and I was just starting out. I had a publishing deal as a writer and they told me about this movie – they said that they were looking for something that sounds like early Beatles. And they knew that that was an era that I liked a lot. So I just took a shot at it and got very lucky and they used the song.” Schlesinger said he found he was more known for this song than Fountains of Wayne’s hit single “Stacy’s Mom.”

The Knack later covered this song.

From Songfacts

This was featured in the movie That Thing You Do, starring Tom Hanks as the manager of the fictional ’60s Pop band The Wonders. In the movie, the song becomes their breakout hit and makes the band a huge success with legions of teenage fans. 

The song is about heartbreak and chasing after lost love – cliché ’60s songwriting topics. The track also has a chipper sound, complete with bright guitars and harmonies, reminiscent of early Beatles.

Mike Viola, from the band The Candy Butchers, sang lead on this track. Adam Schlesinger was friends with Viola, and had him sing on the demo. The movie’s producers liked his sound and kept him for the film version. None of the actors in the movie actually played on the song.

In 1997, this was nominated for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards and Best Original Song at the Golden Globe Awards, but lost to Madonna’s “You Must Love Me” from the film Evita on both occasions.

NSYNC, New Found Glory and The Knack have all covered this song.

That Thing You Do

You, doin’ that thing you do
Breaking my heart into a million pieces, like you always do
And you, don’t mean to be cruel
You never even knew about the heartache
I’ve been goin’ through

Well, I try and try to forget you girl
But it’s just so hard to do
Every time you do that thing you do
And I, know all the games you play
And I’m gonna find a way to let you know that
You’ll be mine someday

Cause we, could be happy, can’t you see
If you’d only let me be the one to hold you,
And keep you here with me
‘Cause I try and try to forget you girl
But it’s just so hard to do
Every time you do that thing you do

I don’t ask a lot girl but I know one thing’s for sure
It’s the love I haven’t got girl
And I just can’t take it anymore (whoa!)
Cause we, could be happy, can’t you see
If you’d only let me be the one to hold you,
And keep you here with me

‘Cause it hurts me so just to see you go
Around with someone new
And if I know you, you’re doin’ that thing
Every day, just doin’ that thing
I can’t take you doin’ that thing you do

Sarah McLachlan – Building a Mystery

I like the overall sound of this recording. The mix and depth are perfect. Sara’s voice is powerful and the structure of the song is great. This is a song that you turn up to 11 on your stereo, iPod, or phone with good headphones. The engineer of this song did his or her job very well.

She talked about the song and said: “basically about the fact that we all… have insecurities to hide, and we often do that by putting on a façade.” She also goes on to say that “unfortunately, if we just be who we are, that’s usually the more attractive and beautiful thing.”

Building a Mystery peaked at #13 in the Billboard 100 and #1 in Canada in 1997.

Dave from “A Sound Day” wrote about Sara’s early career.  https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/140925716/posts/2345

 

 

 Building A Mystery

You come out at night

That’s when the energy comes

And the dark side’s light

And the vampires roam

You strut your rasta wear

And your suicide poem

And a cross from a faith that died

Before Jesus came

You’re building a mystery

 

You live in a church

Where you sleep with voodoo dolls

And you won’t give up the search

For the ghosts in the halls

You wear sandals in the snow

And a smile that won’t wash away

Can you look out the window

Without your shadow getting in the way?

 

You’re so beautiful

With an edge and charm

But so careful

When I’m in your arms

 

‘Cause you’re working

Building a mystery

Holding on and holding it in

Yeah you’re working

Building a mystery

And choosing so carefully

 

You woke up screaming aloud

A prayer from your secret god

You feed off our fears

And hold back your tears, oh

Give us a tantrum

And a know it all grin

Just when we need one

When the evening’s thin

 

You’re a beautiful

A beautiful fucked up man

You’re setting up your

Razor wire shrine

 

‘Cause you’re working

Building a mystery

Holding on and holding it in

Yeah you’re working

Building a mystery

And choosing so carefully

 

Oh, you’re working,

Building a mystery

Holding on and holding it in

Yeah you’re working

Building a mystery

And choosing so carefully

Yeah, you’re working,

Building a mystery,

Holding on and holding it in,

Oh yeah you’re working,

Building a mystery

And choosing so carefully

 

You’re building a mystery.

Soul Asylum – Runaway Train

Heard this in the nineties when I still listened to the radio on a daily basis. I remember the song being used to find missing children. The music video for “Runaway Train” featured photographs and names of missing children in the style of a public service announcement.

At the end of the video, lead singer Dave Pirner appeared and said, “If you’ve seen one of these kids, or you are one of them, please call this number” before a missing children telephone helpline number appeared. The video was edited for use outside the US to include photos and names of missing children from wherever the video was to be shown. The video drew awareness to the problem and was instrumental in reuniting several children with their families.

Runaway Train peaked at #13 in the Billboard 100 in 1993.

 

From Songfacts.

Soul Asylum lead singer Dave Pirner wrote this song, which is about depression. It took him a few years to complete the song; at first it had different lyrics with a refrain of “laughing at the rain,” which he knew was too similar to the Neil Sedaka song “Laughter In The Rain.”

Pirner had the tune in his head, but it wasn’t until he went through some dark times that the runaway train/depression metaphor hit him, and he wrote the lyrics in a single sitting.

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The message of the video became bigger than that of the song, and the Soul Asylum singer embraced that message. In our interview with Dave Pirner, he explained: “I really got closer to an issue that I was concerned about and open to being concerned about, and thrust into a position where I was dealing with the Polly Klaas situation. There’s so much raw emotion and so much reality to a situation like that that you can’t exploit it.”

Polly Klaas was a 12-year-old girl who went missing in October 1993, a few months after the song had peaked on the charts. The case made national news, drawing more attention to the issue of missing and exploited children. It was later learned the Klaas was abducted and murdered.

Soul Asylum had released five albums prior to Grave Dancers Union. They developed a small following and did well on college radio, but “Runaway Train” was their first Pop hit and changed their fortunes. The song’s hit potential became obvious when they played it live at the University of Minnesota before recording it – the crowd responded to it and some commented that they thought it was a cover, as the tune sounded somehow familiar. This convinced the band to put some resources into developing the song, so they hired a producer named Michael Beinhorn to work on it with them.

The band had signed with Columbia Records after splitting with A&M, and Columbia was ready to invest in the album, and especially this song. They booked a high-end recording studio in New York City – The Power Station – and the band recorded it there. Recording the track went well, but Pirner had trouble getting comfortable with his vocals, so Beinhorn left him alone to record his part with just the band’s guitarist Dan Murphy present. The result was a very emotive vocal that served the song.

The video was directed by Tony Kaye, who would later direct the movie American History X. Kaye came up with the idea of using images of real missing children in the clip, and the band loved the idea, as it was truly original and could also do some good. And while Kaye’s literal interpretation – runaway children – wasn’t the real meaning behind the song, Dave Pirner didn’t mind going in that direction for the video, since he didn’t think visuals attached to a song were that important. “I had been searching for meaningfulness in the MTV world,” he said. “The tool of the video seemed like either just a raw promotion piece or just an opportunity to send a visual that isn’t really relevant. I don’t need to see a visual representation of ‘Free Bird‘ to understand what a free bird is.”

Acoustic guitars are the lead instruments on this song, but listen carefully and you’ll hear an organ in the mix. This was a Hammond B3 organ played by Booker T. Jones, who was a member of the group Booker T. & the M.G.’s (“Green Onions“). Jones played on many Soul classics of the ’60s and ’70s, mostly the Stax Records recordings, as his group served as their house band.

Getting Jones was a coup for Soul Asylum, and an opportunity to let a master do his work – producer Michael Beinhorn flew to Los Angeles to record Jones, but gave him very little direction, as the organist had been around the block a few times and knew just what to play for the seven songs he contributed to on the album.

The music video for this song changed its perception, as many viewers assumed the song was about runaway children. According to Dave Pirner, the song deals with a feeling of something missing, but associating it specifically with missing children is a stretch. “The video initiated the runaway children aspect of the song,” he told us. “It is fascinating to me that MTV was such a vehicle that it practically reinterpreted the song. I don’t think that anybody that really loves that song thinks about the video that much.”

At the 1994 ceremony, this won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Song, which went to its writer, Dave Pirner. Dave didn’t attend the ceremony, as he didn’t like the idea of proclaiming one song superior to another. When he won, Meat Loaf accepted the award on his behalf.

When this song started climbing the charts, Soul Asylum embarked on MTV’s Alternative Nation tour, a 56-date trek with Screaming Trees and Spin Doctors that had them playing shows nearly every night. They made several TV appearances as well, including at the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards where Peter Buck and Victoria Williams joined them to perform the song.

The group, and especially Pirner, were getting burned out at this point from touring and promotion, and for a while Pirner refused to perform the song in an effort to prove that there was more to Soul Asylum than “Runaway Train.”

The band’s drummer, Grant Young, didn’t play on this track, as producer Michael Beinhorn wasn’t happy with his takes. Sterling Campbell, who was a top session player, was brought in for the job, which caused a great deal of tension in the band. Young ended up quitting Soul Asylum before they recorded their next record. Campbell is credited on the album as a “percussionist.”

Runaway Train

Call you up in the middle of the night
Like a firefly without a light
You were there like a slow torch burning
I was a key that could use a little turning

So tired that I couldn’t even sleep
So many secrets I couldn’t keep
Promised myself I wouldn’t weep
One more promise I couldn’t keep

It seems no one can help me now
I’m in too deep
There’s no way out
This time I have really led myself astray

Runaway train never going back
Wrong way on a one way track
Seems like I should be getting somewhere
Somehow I’m neither here nor there

Can you help me remember how to smile
Make it somehow all seem worthwhile
How on earth did I get so jaded
Life’s mystery seems so faded

I can go where no one else can go
I know what no one else knows
Here I am just drownin’ in the rain
With a ticket for a runaway train

Everything is cut and dry
Day and night, earth and sky
Somehow I just don’t believe it

Runaway train never going back
Wrong way on a one way track
Seems like I should be getting somewhere
Somehow I’m neither here nor there

Bought a ticket for a runaway train
Like a madman laughin’ at the rain
Little out of touch, little insane
Just easier than dealing with the pain

Runaway train never comin’ back
Wrong way on a one way track
Seems like I should be getting somewhere
Somehow I’m neither here nor there

Runaway train never comin’ back
Runaway train tearin’ up the track
Runaway train burnin’ in my veins
Runaway but it always seems the same

My Favorite Drummers

This is my top ten favorite drummers…I’m sure I’m going to leave some great ones out. Like guitarists, I like drummers with feel more than technique. Anyone who has read this blog knows who my number 1 is without question…

1…Keith Moon, The Who – It’s hard if not impossible to copy this man’s drumming style. He changed the Who completely and was their engine. I’m not a drummer so I really never cared like some drummers do if he played by the rules in drumming…Was he disciplined? No, but it worked well for him and for the songs. Songs like Bargain and Goin’ Mobile are great examples of Keith.

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2…John Bonham, Led Zeppelin – Without Bonham, there is no Led Zeppelin as we know them. He was the ultimate groove drummer. He was a bricklayer and had hard hands and hit the drums incredibly hard but with a light touch also.

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3…Levon Helm, The Band – Not only was he a great drummer but also a soulful singer. He brought something many drummers didn’t… a bit of the old south.

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4…Charlie Watts, Rolling Stones – Charlie and Ringo made their respective groups swing. Charlie can play blues, rock, big band, and jazz. Charlie and his rhythm section partner Bill Wyman were overlooked being in the same band with Mick and Keith. On top of his drumming skills…Charlie grounds the band much like Ringo did for the Beatles.

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5…Ringo Starr, The Beatles – He was not Moon or Bonham in flash but he played exactly what was needed…He could have gone overboard and the songs would have suffered. He played for the song. Some have called him the human metronome. I cannot imagine any other drummer for The Beatles. His tom tom work on Sgt Pepper alone is excellent.

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6…Mitch Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix Experience – Any holes left in Jimi’s music would be quickly filled in by Mitch. He was a jazz drummer who fused it into rock.

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7…Ginger Baker, Cream – If this was a list of “likable people” Ginger would not be in the top 1000 but his drumming was some of the best of the sixties and I’m sure he would say “ever”… He was as big of part of Cream’s sound as Clapton or Bruce.

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8…Bobby Elliot, Hollies – Drummer from the Hollies that other drummers have admired. He hit the drums hard and his fills were great… He is often overlooked but he is always spot on.

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9…Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters, Nirvana – He can play anything… He fuels those Nirvana songs…and is really great at whatever instrument he plays.

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10…Clem Burke, Blondie – An exciting drummer that was heavily influenced by number 1 on this list. He has played with Pete Townshend, Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, and David Bowie.

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Honorable Mention

Gene Krupa, Buddy Miles, Mick Fleetwood, Max Weinberg, “D.J.” Fontana, Benny Benjamin, Stewart Copeland, and Hal Blaine.

Yes, I know… No Neil Peart…yes he is a great drummer…just not my style of music.

 

 

 

Beatles – Christmas Time (Is Here Again)

This is the last Christmas song that I will feature…because right now people have had about enough Christmas songs in every restaurant, mall, and grocery store…this one I don’t hear as much.

I also want to thank everyone for dropping by here this year.

The Beatles recorded this in 1967 and wasn’t released until 1994 paired with “Free As A Bird”. It is a fun Christmas song that will stick in your head. The Beatles did not release a Christmas song commercially… only to their fan club when they were active.

Recorded December 6, 1966, and November 28, 1967, in London, England, this song was never officially released until it appeared as the B-side to “Free As A Bird” in 1994. The original version was distributed to The Beatles fan club in 1967. It’s the only song ever written specifically for the Beatles Fan Club members.

Many upbeat Pop groups of this era like The Beach Boys and The Four Seasons released Christmas songs, but The Beatles never had an official Christmas release.

 

Christmas time is here again

Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again

Ain’t been round since you know when
Christmas time is here again
O-U-T spells “out”

Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again

Ain’t been round since you know when
Christmas time is here again
O-U-T spells “out”

Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again

Ain’t been round since you know when
Christmas time…[music continues and fades to background]

[spoken]

This is Paul McCartney here, I’d just like to wish you everything you wish yourself for Christmas.

This is John Lennon saying on behalf of the Beatles, have a very Happy Christmas and a good New Year.

George Harrison speaking. I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you a very Merry Christmas, listeners everywhere.

This is Ringo Starr and I’d just like to say Merry Christmas and a really Happy New Year to all listeners

[a John Lennon pastiche at this point, very hard to understand]

1970s Russ Berrie Sillisculpts

Whenever I go to a yard sale or flea market and I see one…I have to get it. Worlds Greatest Dad, Worlds Greatest Mom, Worlds Greatest Grandpa, “Being Sick is bad for your health” and many more. They have a look that I like and are usually cheap…for two bucks you can have part of the seventies. 

He did more than the statues…he had stuffed animals and bears which in the 80s and 90s really took off…along with trolls.  

Russell Berrie started his business with only $500 and ran it out of a rented garage in Palisades Park, NJ. His first product to reach the shelf was his Fuzzy Wuzzie in 1964.

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By 1968 Americans were ready for something a little bolder. Russ Berrie and Co. introduced Sillisculpts, plastic message figurines with a little more attitude. Two of the most memorable are the “I love you this much!” statuette and another of an old lawyer crying “Sue the bastards!” (I must find this one). 

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These come in every form and shape.

In 1971, as sales passed the $7 million mark, Russ Berrie and Company moved to a new corporate headquarters facility in Oakland, New Jersey. This location would become the center of the company’s worldwide marketing and distribution businesses. In the following year, Russ Berrie and Company opened a second new facility, when a distribution center, in Santa Rosa, California, came online. 

By 1985, Russ Berrie and Company sales had reached $204.6 million, and revenues more than doubled in just two years.

In 1992, Russ Berrie and Company’s fortunes got a lift, when the popularity of one of its oldest products, Trolls, first introduced in the 1960s, escalated dramatically. Although they had not been a big seller for many years, suddenly the company’s trolls—squishy dolls with rubbery faces and hair that stood on end—were experiencing wild demand. To meet this clamor, Russ Berrie and Company’s designers began to churn out hundreds of different troll products, and the company’s Far Eastern suppliers raced to keep output high. By the end of the year, pushed by the troll fad, the company’s earnings had soared to $300 million. 

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In 2001, Russ Berrie had sales of $294.3 million and net income of $40.2 million, selling items like a stuffed dog named Muffin and a stuffed bear known as Honeyfritz. 

In December 2002, Russ Berrie died unexpectedly after having a heart attack in his home. Often named by Fortune magazine as one of America’s most generous philanthropists, Berrie was just 69 years old when he died.

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