No Confidence

Clouds of torment hang over my head
Raining down feelings of inescapable dread
Completely soaking in the misery of my thoughts
Feeling like a cooler placed next to the slots

Darkness follows no matter the path
Like a vengeful menace unleashing its wrath
Blocking the exits with an impenetrable fog
Daring you to proceed through the uncomfortable smog

The winds of manipulation shiver through my mind
Shackling my free will and raw emotion in kind
Blocking joyful inclinations at every turn
Like a homicidal dictator it delights in being stern

This demented bastard is squatting in my soul
Delighting in my dilemma as it seizes control
Reprogramming the wiring to suit its needs
Replacing a beautiful garden with bacterial weeds

Handcuffing my freedom just because it can
Cackling madly at the idea of me taking a stand
Knowing full well I’m in a weakened state
It’s like a corporate lobbyist bribing me to legislate

A hostile takeover is so clearly in the cards
If only I could get past its burly guards
But I’m powerless to counter with a righteous dissidence
And quietly harbour a feeling of no confidence

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, August 29, 2011
8:25 p.m.

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Published in: on August 29, 2011 at 8:27 pm  Comments (5)  

Insufferable

What is it about me that has you in such a lather?
You’re all worked up offering nothing but blather
What did I ever do to you to deserve such abuse?
Looks like someone should steer clear of “the juice”

You’ve had it in for me from the moment I started
You’ve been counting down the days until I finally departed
Your reputation for kindness has got to be a joke
Your relentless vitriol has been making me choke

While others applaud and often encourage my thoughts
You publicly seeth as the king of the snots
You repeat your one complaint as if I missed it the first time
I would like you so much better if you were a motionless mime

I tolerated your bullshit for as long as I could
But engaging with you is like talking to cat food
You think and you feel much differently than me
I can live with that so why continue this hostility?

You say I’m a show-off who has hijacked your group
But the reality is you’re an envious old poop
Stuck in a past that will never come again
Selling your phony propaganda right until the end

No one ever asked you to be so rude to me
No one really cares if you enforce your vulgar policy
You can hate that I’m smart and have something to say
Thankfully you’re much older and will soon wither away

The biggest reason why you’re such a pompous dick
Is that you hide behind a pseudonym and a phony pic
I don’t know your real name and I hope I never do
You’re like the ebola virus crossed with the flu

A living cancer that remains uncontained
How I wish you were illegal on the verge of being detained
Life’s too short to put up with deluded snobs like you
Now that I’ve left whatever will you do?

You instinctively know how to ruin someone’s fun
It’s like you crashed a great party and pulled out a gun
I don’t have to be right but I need to be sane
Because listening to you is a colossal pain

You’re an insufferable old bag masquerading as a censor
You may prefer your own views but we both know who’s denser
Your blood would stop boiling if you ever had a clue
I’d rather be “annoying” than a coward like you

Why you hate my guts I’ll never understand
No matter what I say you’ll never be a fan
I just can’t win with you and I never will
You need a lifetime to learn how to chill

You gave me a great reason to leave it all behind
No more of your dopey remarks to infiltrate my mind
My life is better spent hanging with kind friends
Than tolerating a codger who will soon rely on Depends

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, August 29, 2011
7:43 p.m.

Published in: on August 29, 2011 at 7:45 pm  Comments (1)  

“Who Cares…?”

“Who cares about hits?”
They only pay the bills
“Who cares about hits?”
They only give us the chills
“Who cares about hits?”
They’re just songs you know
“Who cares about hits?”
They only steal the show

“Who cares about bits?”
They only amuse us
“Who cares about bits?”
Laughing is useless
“Who cares about bits?”
They only help the stressed
“Who cares about bits?”
I’d rather be depressed

“Who cares about tits?”
They only feed your child
“Who cares about tits?”
They only drive you wild
“Who cares about tits?”
They just bounce around
“Who cares about tits?”
They just excite you when you’re down

“Who cares about hits?”
They only move you to tears
“Who cares about hits?”
They just alleviate your fears
“Who cares about hits?”
They only free bands from dives
“Who cares about hits?”
They only change people’s lives

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, August 27, 2011
7:15 p.m.

Published in: on August 27, 2011 at 7:15 pm  Comments (1)  

Rejected Theme Songs For “The Arena”

(A heartfelt tribute to the host of the newest show on the Sucky News Network.)

1. Asshole (Denis Leary)

2. Fat (Weird Al Yankovic)

3. Creep (Radiohead)

4. Dumb (Nirvana)

5. Some Kind Of Monster (Metallica)

6. Born With A Tail (Supersuckers)

7. Piece Of Crap (Neil Young & Crazy Horse)

8. Piggy (Nine Inch Nails)

9. Loser (Beck)

10. Jesus Freak (DC Talk)

11. Delusional (Quicksand)

12. Liar (Rollins Band)

13. Ugly (The Age Of Electric)

14. I Think I’m Paranoid (Garbage)

15. Stupid (Parade Of Losers)

16. Jack-Ass (Beck)

17. Creep (Stone Temple Pilots)

18. Pretty Vacant (Sex Pistols)

19. Charmless Man (Blur)

20. Maniac (Michael Sembello)

21. I’m Gay (Scott Thompson)

22. God Save The Queen (Sex Pistols)

23. Trapped In The Closet (R. Kelly)

24. In The Closet (Michael Jackson)

25. Creep (TLC)

26. Oblivious (Aztec Camera)

27. The Mayor Of Simpleton (XTC)

28. Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong (Spin Doctors)

29. Last Night I Dreamed Somebody Loved Me (The Smiths)

30. Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word (Elton John)

31. The Bitch Is Back (Elton John)

32. Bitch (Rolling Stones)

33. Run For Your Life (Beatles)

34. Paranoid Android (Radiohead)

35. You’re The One For Me, Fatty (Morrissey)

36. Assoholic (54-40)

37. Over Now (Alice In Chains)

38. Go Now (The Moody Blues)

39. Head Like A Hole (Nine Inch Nails)

40. Fly By Night (Rush)

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
7:47 p.m.

Published in: on August 24, 2011 at 7:47 pm  Comments (4)  

Suggested Guests For The Howard Stern Show

If I was a talent booker for the most influential radio show of the last 40 years, who would I try to get?  Who would I most want to see do the program?

The Howard Stern Show has seen a wide variety of guests throughout the decades from the famous (Whoopi Goldberg, Paul McCartney, Joan Rivers) to the infamous (Joey Buttafuoco, O.J. Simpson, Eric The Midget).  Some do the show once while others either become frequent visitors to the studio or call in a lot.

Because Howard is particular about who he interviews, it’s not always easy to get booked.  Longtime producer Gary Dell’Abate has said that he has turned away a good number of potential guests simply because Howard wasn’t interested or didn’t think they’d be good on the show.

That being said, if I had Gary’s job here are some people I would pitch to the 57-year-old radio legend at the weekly creative meeting:

CM Punk

If you’ve been closely following what’s been happening in the WWE in recent months, it’s most likely because of this man.  Born Phil Brooks, this Chicago grappler is at the centre of a remarkably entertaining angle that brilliantly blurs the line between reality and storytelling.

It all started in June when he got on the microphone, declared himself the number one contender to the WWE title and refused to leave the ring until the anonymous Raw general manager acknowledged this fact.

The GM refused but did allow Punk to earn the right to become next in line for a title shot after winning his next match which he did.  (He defeated Alberto Del Rio and Rey Mysterio in a triple threat match.)  Near the end of the show, he cost John Cena a victory in his non-title Tables Match with the hilariously nutty R-Truth.

With the WWE Champion uncomfortably resting in front of the broken table Truth speared him into, Punk retrieved a microphone, walked all the way to the ramp, sat down cross-legged and delivered a promo for the ages.

He made fun of Triple H and his wife, Stephanie McMahon, and complained about the departures of his friend, Colt Cabana (who has since quietly returned), and current MMA superstar Brock Lesnar.

He railed against the fans (he was still a heel at that point) for supporting guys like Cena instead of guys like him.  He bemoaned the fact that he wasn’t being promoted properly through merchandising.  And he imagined that the death of Vince McMahon wouldn’t change anything.

His rant was so compelling that when his microphone suddenly stopped working (just as he was about to tell a story about McMahon), you believed it.  All of this was framed around Punk’s declaration that his contract was up the night of the Money In The Bank pay-per-view last month where he would ultimately beat John Cena for the championship and walk away.  (It has since been renewed and he’s still champion.)

Since then, he’s tangled with Triple H (the new on-camera authority figure after McMahon’s on-air firing) at Comic Con and on Raw, he’s traded barbs with his SummerSlam opponent John Cena (who won a tournament to become the new WWE Champion during Punk’s brief absence), he got a grovelling apology from McMahon and has truly become a “voice for the voiceless” advocating on behalf of wrestlers past and present who he feels have been screwed over by the company.  This past Monday, he certainly put executive of talent relations John Laryngitis in his place over the recent firings of Vladimir Koslov, Chris Masters and David Hart Smith, a moment so rarely seen during a wrestling show.

As a result, Punk has turned into a babyface a la Steve Austin (it was no coincidence he was wearing one of the Texas Rattlesnake’s T-shirts during that June promo on Raw) and there’s much anticipation about how this ongoing saga will unfold at tonight’s SummerSlam.  (Triple H officiates the Punk/Cena “undisputed” championship in the main event.)

Over the years, Howard Stern has interviewed numerous wrestlers like Mick Foley, Golddust, Hulk Hogan, The Iron Sheik and even Bret Hart.  The outspoken Punk recently gave a terrific interview with GQ Magazine.  He would give an even better one with Howard.  The question I most want answered:  why did Punk once tip a stripper with a filet-o-fish?

Baby Ruthie and Sasha Grey

One of Howard’s longest obsessions is with pornography.  He was talking about pleasuring himself to sex films and magazines long before it was ever considered socially acceptable to do so.  Various porn stars like Jenna Jameson (who owes her whole career to Howard), Ron Jeremy, Bree Olson and countless others have found themselves opening up to him in ways rarely seen and heard in other interview forums.

Not all on-camera sex workers work for Vivid and Wicked, though.  There’s a whole amateur scene filled with even more interesting characters.  One such amateur is Baby Ruthie, an ordinary married mother of three who Howard might need to do an intervention with.

Based in the Midwest, she might be the most reckless performer in the history of the business.  With the surprising encouragement of her photographer/videographer husband (who sounds like a cartoon character), she will pretty much do any guy without hesitation.  She’s so easy even JD has a shot with her.  (Well, he may have to lose some weight first.  Supposedly, she’s not into “overweight guys” which sounds like bull to me.  When did self-described “sluts” become picky?)

No condoms are used, no questions are asked and unless I’m mistaken, no testing for disease is ever done beforehand.  (Ruthie’s not into any kind of small talk.)  Needless to say, she is very open sexually.  (Members of her site actually can call her cell phone and personally arrange hook-ups.)

Howard would have a field day with this woman (she could easily win the upcoming I’m The Biggest Whore contest) and best of all, she would most definitely ride the Sybian.

Another porn star worth booking is Sasha Grey who once angered Howard two years ago over comments she made about him during an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine.  (Curiously, when her name was brought up recently, he didn’t even remember who she was.  I mean, come on, it wasn’t that long ago!)

One of the few performers to transition into mainstream films, Howard missed a glorious opportunity to confront her in the studio about her bogus, false claim that he’s a “closet racist”.  (He foolishly turned her down as a possible guest at the time.)

Grey bills herself as something of a porn feminist and an intellectual.  Whatever subject matter Howard would want to get into with her (and obviously, sex would be at the top of the list), it would be a compelling interview.  He should reconsider his earlier decision.  As he already knows, confrontation makes for great radio.

Phil Hellmuth

Every high profile profession has its share of egotistical assholes.  In tennis back in the day, there was John McEnroe.  But in today’s poker scene, there’s Phil Hellmuth.

Aptly nicknamed “The Poker Brat”, the 11-time World Series Of Poker bracelet winner is the sorest loser in the game.  One of the chattiest players at the table, when Hellmuth is losing, everybody has to hear about it.  (Ironically, when he’s winning, he’s not such a whiny jerk.  Go figure.)

After being busted early on by 2008 WSOP Main Event Champion Peter Eastgate during that year’s tournament, he called him an “idiot from Northern Europe”.  (He later privately apologized to the young Dane and offered advice before he played the final table.)

Because he is oh so sensitive, needling Hellmuth during taped games has become a guilty pleasure over the years for both his fellow players and the audience.  (Tony G did it artfully on The Big Game, to name just one example.)

When The Poker Brat is rattled, he makes bad decisions and starts cursing up a storm.  Just ask “The Magician” Antonio Esfandiari who always seems to have his number on Poker After Dark, the NBC late night show (also airing on Rogers Sportsnet) that Hellmuth has appeared on more often (more than 30 times, according to IMDB.com) than any other in its history.

Stern would get plenty of good quote from Hellmuth who is often the most entertaining player at a poker table.  Never at a loss for words, he would be an ideal guest on the show.  Hopefully, he’d bring his wife.  She’s a shrink.

Rihanna

Howard has often talked about the time he briefly met the sexy singer in person.  When Jay-Z introduced her to him, the rapper referred to her quite respectfully as “his artist”.  (He signed her to Def Jam half a decade ago.)  God knows Howard would have plenty to talk about with her.

Clearly, the Chris Brown assault would be at the top of the list with sex a close second.  Personally, I’d like to know why the Grammy winner prefers bad boys to nice guys (she finds the latter boring) when the former treat her so poorly. Also, why does she enjoy sexting so much and when did she start doing that?

Stern has expressed sympathy for what happened to her and if he ever had her on the show, as long as he could get her to open up, it would make for good radio.  You’re welcome.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, August 14, 2011
4:58 p.m.

CORRECTION:  It took me all this time to realize that I misspelled Rihanna’s name (it’s not Rhianna).  My apologies.  The correct spelling now appears in the piece.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, February 25, 2012
5:50 p.m.

Published in: on August 14, 2011 at 4:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

5 More Musical Acts Who Deserve A Greatest Hits Release

Five years ago in this space, I wrote about high profile musicians who had earned the privilege of issuing a collection of their hits.  Bands like AC/DC, Nine Inch Nails and Metallica who have accumulated dozens of successful singles over several decades but have never celebrated their ongoing triumphs by gathering them all in proper compilations.

In the half-decade after those two pieces were written, several of the acts I singled out have since put out greatest hits albums.  The Best Of Radiohead, Absolute Garbage, Closer:  The Best Of Sarah McLachlan and Iron Man 2 (which features 15 AC/DC hits), to name just a smattering of examples.

Well, it’s time once again to make the case for more hits packages.  Here are five more musical acts ready to join a long list of legends.

Coldplay

Back in 2000, you couldn’t escape Yellow.  It was all over the radio and TV.  Who knew there’d be more where that came from?

Led by the self-deprecating Chris Martin, this sterling British quartet has since gone on to become one of the most successful bands in the last decade.  Yellow, their third A-Side, was the first to connect.  Then came Trouble.  Both tracks were taken from their multi-platinum debut full-length, Parachutes.

Two years later, In My Place, The Scientist and Clocks all hit the Top 10 in their native land.  All were big reasons why A Rush Of Blood To The Head became such an acclaimed record.

Just when you thought they couldn’t get any better, Coldplay issued X & Y which spawned Speed Of Sound, Fix You, Talk, The Hardest Part and the criminally overlooked White Shadow.

As the music industry continued to struggle thanks to the proliferation of digital downloading and diminishing CD sales, Coldplay continued to thrive.  Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends, like all their previous albums, became a multi-platinum international sensation due in no small part to a succession of great singles like Viva La Vida (their only American number one), Violet Hill, Lost! and Lovers In Japan. 

Even the follow-up EP, Prospekt’s March, found a decent-sized audience after the release of Life In Technicolour II, a lyricized version of the instrumental that appears on Vida, and Lost+, which features a cool rap by Jay-Z.

With a new album coming later this year, the band are on the singles charts again with Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall which has already reached the Top 10 in the UK and Top 20 in America.  Place all of these hit songs on one CD (plus any others I’ve forgotten) and you’ve got one hell of a compilation.

Kelly Clarkson

Despite being on the air for a decade and inspiring countless imitators, American Idol really hasn’t produced many longterm success stories.  I can count on one hand the number of performers who broke through on the show and continue to have a career today.

This Texas cutie is one of them.  The winner of the first season when it was a moderately successful summer replacement in 2002 has managed to have hit after hit after hit long after her big victory.

You could easily fill one CD with all her big singles.  Start with A Moment Like This, her first chart topper, and work your way through all the hits from her four studio albums.  You’ve got Miss Independent, Low and The Trouble With Love Is (from Thankful); Breakaway, Since U Been Gone, Behind These Hazel Eyes, Because Of You and Walk Away (from Breakaway); Never Again and Sober (from My December); and My Life Would Suck Without You (her second number one), I Do Not Hook Up and Already Gone (from All I Ever Wanted).

Throw in a couple of hit duets (a cover of Shania Twain’s Because Of You with Reba McEntire and Don’t You Wanna Stay with Jason Aldean) and you’ve got a hits package Clarkson fans will spin for years and years to come.  In the meantime, look for her next studio album later this year.

Beyonce

When this Bootylicious singer made her first solo album at the height of Destiny Child’s fame, it spelled the beginning of the end for the trio.  (They split up for good in 2006.)  Meanwhile, the Diana Ross of the group has rarely flopped on her own.

Crazy In Love (which features her husband Jay-Z), Baby Boy (with Sean Paul), Check On It (with Slim Thug), Irreplaceable and Single Ladies all hit number one.  Add to those five chart toppers Me Myself And I, Naughty Girl, Deja Vu (another hit with Jay-Z), Ring The Alarm, Beautiful Liar (with Shakira), If I Were A Boy, Diva, Halo, Ego, Sweet Dreams, Run The World (Girls) and Best Thing I Never Had, and that’s quite a list of popular songs.  The last two are from her current release, 4, which may spin off even more hits in the near future.

And that list doesn’t even include her guest appearances on other people’s songs like Jay-Z’s 03 Bonnie & Clyde and Telephone (with Lady Gaga).  Put it all together and Beyonce might need two discs to store all her hit singles.  Not bad for someone who turns 30 in September.

Linkin Park

At the start of the last decade, it was still possible to have a Diamond album.  This nu metal outfit from California proved it with Hybrid Theory which has sold at least 10 million copies since the fall of 2000, half of which happened in 2001.  (It was the biggest seller that year.  The Beatles’ 1 was number two.) Ever since, the band has seen their next four albums receive either Gold or Platinum certifications.

None of that would’ve happened without big radio hits.  All of them should be thrown onto a singles compilation.  You’ve got One Step Closer, Crawling, Paper Cut and In The End (a number two smash, their biggest hit on the Hot 100) from Hybrid Theory; Pts. Of .Athrty from Reanimation; Somewhere I Belong, Faint, Numb, Lying From You, and Breaking The Habit (all number one Alt-Rock chart toppers) from Meteora; Numb/Encore (with Jay-Z) from Collision Course; What I’ve Done, Bleed It Out, Shadow Of The Day, Given Up and Leave Out All The Rest from Minutes To Midnight; and The Catalyst, Waiting For The End and Iridescent from last year’s A Thousand Suns.

Throw in their Top 10 hit, New Divide, from the second Transformers soundtrack and there’s your compilation.

Alicia Keys

Coldplay and Linkin Park weren’t the only new acts of 2000 to have a great decade.  This Manhattanite did even better.  Her very first single, Fallin’, topped the Hot 100 that year, as did No One in 2007.  Her brilliant collaboration with Jay-Z (the busiest man in music) on Empire State Of Mind and her duet with Usher on the track My Boo were also number one blockbusters.

Ten other singles cracked the Top 40:  Gangsta Lovin’ (with Eve, it peaked at number two), A Woman’s Worth, You Don’t Know My Name, If I Ain’t Got You, Diary (with Tony! Toni! Tone!), Karma, Unbreakable, Like You’ll Never See Me Again, Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart, and Un-Thinkable. 

If there’s room, add these four R&B radio hits to the list:  How Come You Don’t Call Me, Teenage Love Affair, Superwoman and Doesn’t Mean Anything.

Put it all together and you’ve got a collection that will disappoint none of her fans.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
1:30 a.m.

Published in: on August 10, 2011 at 1:31 am  Leave a Comment