Benny Jay: Purple Prince

April 28th, 2016

For the better part of the last few days, I’ve been watching dozens and dozens of Prince videos on my computer.

It’s like if I watch enough videos, he’ll come back to life.

Though we know that’s not going to happen.

There are so many classics.

Like the one where he’s on stage with Michael Jackson and James Brown.

I’m like–Prince, nooo, don’t grab that street lamp thing…

Or the one where he’s on stage at the George Harrison tribute, playing lead on While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

He slays that solo!

Or his Super Bowl show, in the pouring rain, where he pays tribute to Jimi Hendrix with a brief, bluesy version of All Along The Watchtower.

Let’s face it–Jimi Hendrix was Prince before Prince was Prince.

And my absolute favorite–at least for the moment–where he’s alone on stage for a sound check at a big stadium in Japan and he starts playing Summertime.

Man, George Gershwin himself never played it so well.

princeandapolloniaPrince & Apollonia…

 

There’s also the tributes that others have made to Prince. Seems like everyone’s singing Purple Rain–Bruce Springsteen, Adam Levine.

I’ve been singing it a lot myself these days.

I’ve got the last images of the movie constantly running through my brain.

There’s Prince on stage singing the song. And there’s Morris Day in the crowd singing along, cause he knows Prince really got the best of him in their competition.

And Billy, the club owner, also singing along.

As is Apollonia.

And Wendy & Lisa on guitars. No man ever had so many women in his band. Prince was way ahead of his time.

People in the crowd are waving their arms back and forth.

From there, I flash to other scenes from the movie, while the song’s playing in the background of my brain…

Prince making love to Apollonia in a barn. I think it’s a barn. Where did they find a barn in Minneapolis?

And Prince rushing into his house to keep his dad from beating up his mom.

And Prince racing across the bridge on his motorcycle.

The bridge they lit up in purple after he died.

Yeah, man, I can’t get enough of Prince these days.

Wish I could bring him back…

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Benny Jay: Weird Man

April 26th, 2016

Champagne bottles are popping at The Third City because…

Weird Al is number 1!!!

That is — Weird Al Yankovic, one of the premier artists of our time, has the number-one selling CD in all the land.

It’s called Mandatory Fun, it features his chart-topping single, Tacky — a parody of Happy. And it’s the first comedy record to hit the top spot since 1963, with My Son, the Nut by Allan Sherman.

Speaking of geniuses.

Actually, I might be Weird Al’s only fan at TTC.

As near as I can tell no one likes Weird Al cause 1.) he’s a parodist, so they think he’s not really an artist. Like parody is easy to do. And 2.) he looks really nerdy.

That doesn’t keep my from trying to win them over. I’m always emailing my friends links of Weird Al videos, along with notes like…

“I think you’ll like this one.”

Or…

“Forget all the others — you’ll really like this!

 

allansherman

The great Mr. Sherman…

 

And they’ll write back things like…

“I don’t find this funny.”

Or…

“I can’t believe you find this funny!”

Or…

“Stop sending me Weird Al shit!”

I will now take a break to list the three greatest Weird Al bits of all time.

Amish Paradise, Eat It, his fake interview with Bruce Springsteen, and Bob, his Dylan parody done in palindromes. Do you know how hard that is, people?

I know that’s four. But limiting this man’s 30-years of genius to three is like eating just one piece of fried chicken — it can’t be done!

I even have a hard time coming up with my favorite line from a single song.

For instance, I’ll be thinking this is the greatest line from Eat It (imagine it sung to Michael Jackson’s Beat It)…

 

WeirdAlYankovic1

We love you, Weird Al!

 

“Just eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it
Get yourself an egg and beat it…”

But then I’ll think — no, this one’s funnier…

“Have some more chicken, have some more pie
It doesn’t matter if it’s boiled or fried
Just eat it, eat it, just eat it, eat it…”

Then, I think — no, this is the funniest!

“Don’t want no Captain Crunch, don’t want no Raisin Bran
Well, don’t you know that other kids are starving in Japan
So eat it, just eat it…”

At this point, I’d like to introduce you to Jennie. She works with my wife, and, yes, she too loves Weird Al!

So we are not alone, my friends!

She was a skeptic till she saw Weird Al in concert. “That’s when I knew — he’s a genius!”

For sometime, Jennie and I have been sending my wife links to Weird Al songs in the hopes that she will see the light.

Alas, I think my wife’s about to hire a lawyer to send us a Weird Al cease-and-desist letter.

In any event, congratulations on being number 1, Weird Al. You deserve it!

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Benny Jay: Miles Davis–Private Eye!

April 24th, 2016

For the last few hours, I’ve been in Miles Davis frame of mind, having finally seen Miles Ahead.

That’s the biopic starring Don Cheadle as Miles Davis.

Though it’s really not a biopic so much as a private eye flick in which Miles Davis is the leading character.

It reminds me of a Coen Brother movie filled with sleazy slicksters, trying to con each other. This includes a gangster played by Michael Stuhlberg, who’s great in just about any role he plays.

The plot caught me by surprise because I was expecting to see a biopic along the lines of the ones they made about Ray Charles, Buddy Holly, and Johnny Cash.

But Cheadle–who also co-wrote and directed the movie–obviously said: Let’s take this in a different direction and see where we wind up.

What we get is better than a biopic–in my opinion.

And I am the writer of this blog, so, really, my opinion is the only one that matters.

It’s also a buddy flick cause Cheadle adds Ewan McGregor to the cast. He plays Dave–a British writer for Rolling Stone–who’s Miles’ charming but dimwitted friend.

milesdavisandmcregorMiles & his trusty sidekick…

 

Dave spends a lot his time looking dazed after getting slugged in the face. That may not sound funny. But McGregor plays it for laughs.

Cheadle told reporters he had added McGregor’s character to the movie cause it wouldn’t have been financed without a white guy in a major role.

It’s good to know that white guys are good for something.

The plot’s about as convoluted as the one in The Big Lebowski. Basically, Cheadle and McGregor race around New York City, getting stoned and trying to retrieve a tape of Miles’ music that Stuhlberg’s character stole.

Every now and then, Cheadle seems to remember that, oh, yeah, this is a biopic. So he adds some scenes regarding Miles’ marriage to Frances Taylor.

That’s the woman Miles bullied into giving up her successful dancing career–she was in West Side Story–so she could sit around an apartment being his wife.

That has to be the dumbest decision Frances Taylor ever made.

francestaylordavis

Miles loved Frances so much, he put her on a record cover…

 

Frances is played by Emayatzy Corinealdi–who is beautiful! I’d like to see Emayatzy make a movie about Frances Taylor. Maybe she can solve some crimes, too.

Back to Miles Ahead

The movie also shows Miles making great music with people like John Coltrane, Bill Evans and Herbie Hancock.

All in all, I haven’t loved a movie so much in years.

I hope Cheadle makes more Miles movies with McGregor at his side.

If Kinky Friedman can be a private eye, why not Miles Davis?

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Benny Jay: Funny Shoes

April 21st, 2016

As part of my other existence as a humble political reporter, I find myself rising early one Saturday morning and heading to the south side to rant and rail to a group of businessmen and activists about Mayor Rahm.

Well, that’s not specifically what they invited me to do. But that’s what I wound up doing.

Anyway, after the discussion, I was talking about this and that with Craig–the event’s organizer–when we were approached by a guy wearing cowboy boots. So I’ll call him Tex.

“I’m against that tax on financial transactions that you we’re talking about,” Tex said.

“Okay,” I said. “We’ll have to agree to disagree.”

“I think we should cut pensions for public employees,” he continued.

“Gonna have to disagree about that, too…”

“Those pensions are killing us…”

“You sound like a Republican…”

“I’m not a Republican–I’m independent.”

That gets me started on one of my favorite topics–Republicans who are ashamed to admit they’re Republicans.

So they call themselves independents–or libertarians.

Apparently, they’re too embarrassed to have anything to do with the yahoos in their party–other than vote for them.

“I’m telling you I’m an independent,” says Tex. “I’ve voted for Democrats and Republicans.”

FullSizeRender

What’s so funny about these shoes?

 

That reminds me of the story about Charles Barkley, the great basketball player.

He was telling his mother–or maybe it was his grandmother–about  his plans to vote Republican in an upcoming presidential election. And she said…

“But, Charles, Republicans are for rich people.”

“But, mama,” said Charles, “I am rich.”

Funny thing about Barkley–he’s the opposite of Republicans who call themselves independents.

For all his talk about being Republican, Barkley’s confessed to having voted for Clinton, Gore, Kerry and Obama.

So I guess he’s Republican, except when it comes to voting.

At some point in our discussion, I looked at Tex’s boots and said: “You must be a Republican.”

“Why?” he said.

“Cause only Republicans wear cowboy boots.”

“That’s not true,” he said. “I know plenty of Democrats who wear cowboy boots.”

“Are those boots comfortable?” I ask.

“Very,” he said.

“Well, they can’t be more comfortable than my shoes.”

At that moment, Craig, having looked at my shoes, felt compelled to pipe in.

“Your shoes better be comfortable, looking the way they do.”

Even I had to laugh at that one.

Craig happens to be a liberal Democrat.

Guess everyone’s bipartisan when it comes to cracking jokes about my funny-looking shoes.

Thanks for the invite, Craig!

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Benny Jay: The Bookie Pays Off

April 19th, 2016

As part of my scheme to scam the guys I love, I set up a betting pool in my bowling league.

Back in October, I tell the guys…

Gimme $5 and I’ll let you predict how many games the Bulls will win this year. If you’re right, you win the pot.

I talk 15 guys into giving me $5.

Only problem–I’m one of the 15.

I’m like a drug dealer who falls in love with his product–a no-no in that profession.

Moreover, thanks to an inexplicable wave of optimism, I predict 60 wins for the Bulls.

What follows is the most disappointing tank jobs in Bulls history. They only win 42 games.

In short, I scam myself.

On Monday, with the season over, it’s time for me to pay out the winners: Cuz and Bob.

That’s right–it’s a tie.

Cuz predicted 39 wins, Bob 45.  Since 42 is smack between the two, I figure–let `em split the pot.

Call me Solomon.

Just so you know–neither Bob nor Cuz knows much about basketball.

Bob’s a hockey fan. So you have to speak slow when you talk to him.

Cuz does something with computers. Not sure what.

A lot of guys in the bowling league do something with computers. I don’t even think they know what they do.

By the way, Cuz is not present to receive his cash, cause he’s on vacation in Cancun.

Obviously, whatever he does with computers pays well.

stella-got-herCuz was somewhere like this…

 

Collecting the money on his behalf is AP, who actually knows a thing or two about basketball, as he played it in high school a few years ago.

Not that his basketball knowledge helped him in my Bulls pool. He predicted they’d win 49 games.

In computers as in basketball, the secret to success is knowing nothing.

As I dole out the dough, I must endure Bob’s jokes about Derrick Rose’s vagina.

As I may have said before, Bob can’t talk about the Bulls without mentioning Derrick Rose’s vagina.

I’m pretty sure Derrick Rose has no vagina.

But that never stops Bob from talking about it.

Fast forward an hour…

AP tells me he just got off the phone with Cuz in Cancun.

And?

He thinks he should get all the money…

Why’s that?

It’s a complicated explanation having to do with something Cuz heard on The Price is Right.

Have you ever noticed that everyone’s an expert, when it comes to being a bookie?

Better luck next year, Bulls.

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Benny Jay: The Kobe Test

April 17th, 2016

On the night of Kobe’s last game, I follow the action on my cell phone, while sitting a few feet from my wife, who’s trying to read a book.

I keep interrupting her with updates, like…

“He has 40!”

And…

“It’s 50!”

And…

“Good golly Miss Molly–Kobe scored 60!”

I get so excited, I rip off my shirt and run around the block.

Fast forward to the next day…

kobesfinalgame

Farewell, Kobe…

 

Having discussed Kobe’s 60 with just about every basketball fan I know, I find myself needing more Kobe conversation.

In desperation, I turn to my wife: Let’s see how many people in your phone have heard about Kobe’s big moment?

Having nothing better to do, my wife goes along with me.

First, we craft a question: “Has the word Kobe meant anything to you in the last 24 hours?”

Then she texts it to a few of her smartest friends.

As we wait for answers, I try to predict responses.

Is this fun–or what!

CindiReads the New York Times–she’ll definintely know.

Cindi’s response: “Nothing different than what it always means–beef and a basketball player.”

Oh, well–but give her credit for knowing the beef thing…

Chris: Punk rock fanatic from Cleveland, he’s like Rain Man when it comes to Browns, but basketball? Could go either way.

Chris’ response: “Yes, succulent Japanese beef.”

Have to count that as a no, unless he’s being ironic.

Colleen: Big sports fan. If she doesn’t know, all is lost.

Colleen’s response: “Yes, 60 points in his last game.”

Told you!

More from Colleen: “But he had to split the publicity with Steph Curry, who shot over 400 three point shots this season.”

Wow! Double bonus for Curry conversation!

Wait–there’s more: “I live with two boys –a ten-year-old and 12-year-old–who read the sports first thing and tell me about it during breakfast, while we eat RizzO’s cereal.”

Sounds like my kind of family!

anthonyrizzocereal

It’s a cereal named for the Cubs first baseman…

 

Jeanne: Always listening to NPR, so she should know.

Jeanne’s response: “Nope–but I’m on vacation.”

That explains it.

Zoey: Tough call. A guitar player of few words, he’s known for enigmatic texts that are hard to decipher.

Zoey’s response: “For sure.”

I think that’s a yes, but then–maybe not.

Jenny: The only team she closely follows is the White Sox. So it could go either way.

Jenny’s response: “I believe he’s been involved in a sex scandal.”

Give her partial credit, even though the sex scandal occurred over 12 years ago.

Gail: Impressively oblivious to sports–even if the game’s on the TV right in front of her. If she knows, it’s a miracle.

Gail’s response: “Not until now, when I Googled it.”

And even then she instantly forgot it.

Marci: An artist in Brooklyn? No way, she knows.

Marci’s response: “No, unless he’s the guy who retired after playing in his last basketball game.”

Boy, was I wrong. Send her a Bulls cap!

Thank you one and all for helping me extend my Kobe conversation for at least another day.

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Benny Jay: Here’s To You, Kobe

April 14th, 2016

After giving it much thought, I’ve decided to bestow upon Kobe Bryant the greatest honor I can give him–a spot in the Benny Jay non-Bulls Hall of Fame.

That’s different than the Benny Jay Bulls Hall of Fame–reserved for the likes of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Norm Van Lier. Especially, Norm Van Lier. I love you, Norm!

The non-Bulls Hall of Fame consists of dreaded opponents about whom I said, when their careers were over…

Man, I wish you’d played for my Bulls!

In short–the highest of praise.

The founding members of this illustrious club are, of course, the holy trinity of ballers from my grammar school years: Bill Russell, Connie Hawkins and Wilt Chamberlain. Especially Wilt Chamberlain.

natearchibald

Lil’ Nate Archibald could play!

 

That was followed by Hall of Famers from my high school days: Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Dave Cowens, Paul Silas and Nate Archibald. Especially, Nate Archibald. I always loved the little guards.

And onto my college years: Bill Walton, Maurice Lucas, Lionel Hollins, Wes Unseld, Elvin Hayes, Rick Barry, and Dr. J. Especially, Dr. J. I revere him so much that, to this day, I order Crown Royal–when drinking shots–cause that’s the brand the Doctor endorses.

And into the `80s, 90s and 00s with Mo Cheeks, Moses Malone, Rickey Pierce, Terry Cummings, Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Charles Barkley, Larry Joe Bird, Magic Johnson, Reggie Miller, Shaq, Allen Iverson and Dennis Johnson. Especially, Dennis Johnson.

You know, some people say my game reminds them of Dennis Johnson’s.

Well, I may be the only one who says that, but still…

At this point, I realize some of you might be thinking–damn, man, you spend way too much time thinking about basketball.

To which I say…

You’re probably right. Now back to the list…

craighodges

The great Craig Hodges!

 

Some guys are enshrined in both of my halls of fame, having played for and against the Bulls. I’m talking about Chet Walker, Clifford Ray, Artis Gilmore, Charles Oakley, Nate Robinson, Doug Collins (he coached the Bulls), Ben Gordon, Jannero Pargo and Craig Hodges.

Especially, Craig Hodges. I love three-point shooters!

As for Kobe, I used to hate on him with unabashed abandon. In large part because he had the audacity to act as though he were as good, if not better, than Jordan.

In truth, he deserved to act that way. Cause, in truth, he comes as close to being as good as Jordan as any player I’ve seen.

So now that Kobe passed Jordan on the all-time list of scorers, I might as well officially enshrine him into my Hall of Fame.

Congratulations, Kobe–if this was your Bar Mitzvah, I’d give you a fountain pen.

But it’s not. So what I’ll do is this…

I’ll raise glass of Crown Royal–what else–in your honor

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