don't make me over
I’ve been featuring songwriting duos from the Sixties in my last few Forgotten Music posts. I started with Goffin and King here, Mann and Weil here, and Greenwich and Barry here. But maybe my favorite songwriting duo is Hal David and Burt Bacharach. Songs like “Don’t Make Me Over,” “Any Day Now,” “Tower of Strength,” “Only Love Can Break a Heart,” “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With My Self,” and a dozen other hits became part of the soundtrack of the Sixties for me. Who can forget Joanie Sommers’s “Johnny Get Angry”? This 2-CD set costs $13.99 on AMAZAON and it’s packed with 60 songs. Lots of great listening here! What’s your favorite Hal David/Burt Bacharach song?
Disc: 1
1. Don’t Make Me Over (Dionne Warwick)
2. Any Day Now (My Wild, Beautiful Bird) (Chuck Jackson)
3. Tower Of Strength (Gene McDaniels)
4. Baby It’s You (The Shirelles)
5. Only Love Can Break A Heart (Gene Pitney)
6. The Answer To Everything (Del Shannon)
7. Forgive Me (For Giving You Such A Bad Time) (Babs Tino)
8. My Heart Is An Open Book (Carl Dobkins Jr)
9. Mexican Divorce (The Drifters)
10. Make It Easy On Yourself (Jerry Butler)
11. You’re Telling Our Secrets (Dee Clark)
12. Crazy Time (Gene Vincent)
13. I Looked For You (Charlie Grace)
14. Sea Of Heartbreak (Don Gibson)
15. Johnny Get Angry (Joanie Sommers)
16. Dream Big (Sonny James)
17. Winter Warm (Gale Storm)
18. The Story Of My Life (Michael Holliday)
19. Sittin’ In A Tree House (Marty Robbins)
20. Loneliness Or Happiness (The Drifters)
21. Another Tear Falls (Gene McDaniels)
22. I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself (Tommy Hunt)
23. Anonymous Phone Call (Bobby Vee)
24. The Blob (The Five Blobs)
25. Two Hour Honeymoon (Paul Hampton)
26. Keep Away From Other Girls (Helen Shapiro)
27. I Smiled Yesterday (Dionne Warwick)
28. Waiting For Charlie (To Come Home) (Etta James)
29. True Love Never Runs Smooth (Gene Pitney)
30. The Love Of A Boy (Timi Yuro)
Disc: 2
1. Please Stay (The Drifters)
2. Wishing And Hoping (Dionne Warwick)
3. Broken-Hearted Melody (Sarah Vaughan)
4. (You Don’t Have To Be) A Tower Of Strength (Gloria Lynne)
5. Donna Means Heartbreak (Gene Pitney)
6. It’s Love That Really Counts (The Shirelles)
7. This Empty Place (Dionne Warwick)
8. I Wake Up Crying (Del Shannon)
9. Don’t Envy Me (Joey Powers)
10. Boys Were Made For Girls (Everit Herter)
11. Feelin’ No Pain (Paul Evans)
12. Come Completely To Me (Steve Rossi)
13. Third Window From The Right (Dean Barlow)
14. Three Friends (Two Lovers) (The Turbans)
15. (There Goes) The Forgotten Man (Jimmy Radcliffe)
16. Someone Else’s Sweetheart (The Wanderers)
17. The Breaking Point (Chuck Jackson)
18. In Times Like These (Gene McDaniels)
19. Warm And Tender (Johnny Mathis)
20. Loving Is A Way Of Living (Steve Lawrence)
21. Magic Moments (Perry Como)
22. (It’s) Wonderful To Be Young (Cliff Richard)
23. Love In A Goldfish Bowl (Tommy Sands)
24. Don’t You Believe It (Andy Williams)
25. Out Of My Continental Mind (Lena Horne)
26. Faker Faker (The Eligibles)
27. Don’t Unless You Love Me (Paul Hampton)
28. Along Came Joe (Merv Griffin)
29. Take Me To Your Ladder (I’ll See Your Leader Later) (Buddy Clinton)
30. Three Wheels On My Wagon (Dick Van Dyke)

GRIFT SENSE By James Swain

grift sense
Rick Robinson recommended James Swain’s Funny Money as one of his Friday’s Forgotten Books posts. You can read Rick’s review here. I had some James Swain books on my shelves (surprise!) so I figured this is a good time to read one. The first book in the Tony Valentine series is Grift Snese from 2001. Valentine retired as a cop and began consulting on casino security. Nick, the owner of the Acropolis Casino in Vegas, hires Tony Valentine in investigate a player that has taken his casino for big money. Nick suspects a beautiful dealer. who he had a relationship with years ago, is involved. Valentine’s investigation finds a much bigger threat to the casino on the eve of a Heavyweight Boxing match. If you’re looking for a quick read in the Ocean’s Eleven mode, Grift Sense delivers. GRADE: B
Grift Sense, 2001 Hardback, 2005 Softback, Balantine Books, 336 pages, Softback ISBN 0-345-48035-X ISBN 978-0-345-48035-4
Funny Money, 2002 Hardback, 2007 Softback, Atria, 304 pages, ISBN 1-4165-7502-2 ISBN 978-1-4165-7502-3
Sucker Bet, 2003 Hardback, 2004 Softback, Fawcett, 336 pages, ISBN 0-345-46323-4 ISBN 978-0-345-46323-4
Loaded Dice, 2004 Hardback, 2005 Softback, Balantine Books, 320 pages, Softback ISBN 0-345-46327-7 ISBN 978-0-345-46327-2
Mr. Lucky, 2005 Hardback, 2007 Softback, Balantine Books, 432 pages, Softback ISBN 0-345-47545-3 ISBN 978-0-345-47545-9
Deadman’s Poker, 2006 Hardback, 2006 Softback, Fawcett, 384 pages, ISBN 0-345-47549-6 ISBN 978-0-345-47549-7
Deadman’s Bluff, 2006 Hardback, 2004 Softback, Fawcett, Page 384, ISBN 0-345-47551-8 ISBN 978-0-345-47551-0
Wild Card, 2010 eBook
Jackpot, 2010 eBook


George Clooney plays a stock market guru TV guy (think Jim Cramer on CNBC) and Julia Roberts is his producer in the Control Room. During one of his shows, Clooney gets taken hostage by a disgruntled investor who followed Clooney’s advice on a stock that instead of going up went down down down. The investor, Kyle, lost his entire $60,000 investment and now he wants payback. Jodie Foster directed this movie, but the result is muddled. Is a a thriller? Not really, not enough action. Is it a psychological suspense movie? No, because we all pretty much know how this is going to end. Clooney and Roberts are polished and don’t break a sweat despite some of the antics of the police. I enjoyed this predictable movie, but I’m a fan of movies about the stock market. Your mileage (and interest) might differ. GRADE: B-


My College is offering an Incentive to Retire to senior faculty (like me) in hopes of reducing the overhead of the organization. The College is struggling, as most colleges and universities are, with declining enrollments and steadily increasing costs. In December 2015, the College offered an incentive and 49 faculty members accepted it. The average Incentive was around $50,000. I considered the offer, but I wasn’t ready to put down my chalk and laser pointer yet. But this Incentive is rumored to be more money–and probably the last Incentive for a long long time since the College is running on fumes financially. Diane says she’ll go along with whatever decision I decide on, but I have a feeling she’d like me to be retired like she is. In fact, Diane will begin her 13th year of retirement in September. Astonishing! My original plan was to continue to teach until I turned 70, then retire and collect Social Security and my New York State Teacher’s pension. But now this Retirement Incentive and Social Security Spousal Benefits have changed the equation. As The Clash asks: “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?”

PLAYING WITH FIRE By Jennifer Nettles

jennifer nettles
I’ve been a big fan of Jennifer Nettles’s singing since her days in Sugarland. This solo CD features songs that display her versatility. There are traditional Country & Western songs, ballads, and pop songs on this CD. I liked “Unlove You” a lot. “Three Days in Bed” brought back some memories, some good some bad. If you’re in the mood for a special singer with talent to burn, I’d recommend a listen to Playing With Fire.. I included a sample below. GRADE: B+
Playing with Fire
Unlove You
Hey Heartbreak
Drunk in Heels
Stupid Girl
Three Days in Bed
ing Over
Salvation Works
Way Back Home
My House [Feat Jennifer Lopez]


Sing Street will delight fans of The Commitments. The story is set in Ireland in the mid-1980s. John Carney, who wrote and directed Sing Street, gave this summery of his movie: “Boy meets girl. Girl Unimpressed. Boy starts band.” Connor (Ferdia Walson-Peelo) deals with a troubled family situation. Connor is sent to a crappy (but cheap) school where he gets beaten up and harassed by the priest running the cruel enterprise. But things change when Connor falls in love with Raphina (Lucy Boynton) who has aspirations to be a model. In a stunning maneuver, Connor invites Raphina to be part of his band’s music video. Amused, she agrees. The only problem is Connor doesn’t have a band. Life in Ireland in the Eighties isn’t much fun. Economic malaise stifles life. But Connor has a plan and you’re going to root for him to succeed. Carney also provides original music in the mode of Duran Duran, the Cure, and Joy Division. The soundtrack to Sing Street is worth a listen, too. GRADE: A-
1. Rock N Roll Is A Risk (Dialogue) – Jack Reynor
2. Stay Clean – Motorhead
3. The Riddle of the Model – Sing Street
4. Rio – Duran Duran
5. Up – Sing Street
6. To Find you – Sing Street
7. Town Called Malice – The Jam
8. In Between Days – The Cure
9. A Beautiful Sea – Sing Street
10. Maneater – Daryl Hall & John Oates
11. Steppin’ Out – Joe Jackson
12. Drive It Like You Stole It – Sing Street
13. Up (Bedroom Mix) – Sing Street
14. Pop Muzik – M
15. Girls – Sing Street
16. Brown Shoes – Sing Street
17. Go Now – Adam Levine
18. Up – The Score
19. Drive It Like You Stole It – Hudson Thames

FORGOTTEN BOOKS #372: SCIENCE FICTION OF THE 50’s Edited By Martin H. Greenberg & Joseph Olander

science fiction of the 50s

science fiction of the 50s2
Science Fiction of the 50s is part of a trilogy of anthologies; the other two volumes are Science Fiction of the 30s and Science Fiction of the 40s. You can read more about the AVON series here. Of the three volumes, I prefer Science Fiction of the 50s. Just glance at the stories in this volume. I started reading SF in the 1950s so many of these stories bring some fond memories with them. I recommend that you don’t read the informative introductions to the stories until you’ve finished reading the stories first. Sadly, those introductions contain spoilers but no warnings! If you’re as big a fan of 1950s Science Fiction as I am, you’ll really enjoy Science Fiction of the 50s.
Preface by Frederik Pohl
Spectator Sport by John D. MacDonald
Feedback by Katherine MacLean
DP by Jack Vance
The Liberation of Earth by William Tenn
A Work of Art by James Blish
The County of the Kind by Damon Knight
The Education of Tigress McCardle by C.M. Kornbluth
The Cage by A. Bertram Chandler
The Last of the Deliverers by Poul Anderson
A Bad Day for Sales by Fritz Leiber
Saucer of Loneliness by Theodore Sturgeon
Heirs Apparent by Robert Abernathy
Adrift on the Policy Level by Chan Davis
Short in the Chest by Margaret St Clair
5,271,009 by Alfred Bester
The Academy by Robert Sheckley
Nobody Bothers Gus by Algis Budrys
Happy Birthday Dear Jesus by Frederik Pohl
Bettyann by Kris Neville
Dark Interlude by Fredric Brown & Mack Reynolds
What Have I Done by Mark Clifton
Love O Careless Love by Barry N. Malzberg

THANK YOU By Meghan Trainor

I liked Meghan Trainor’s first CD, Title. My review of it is here. I liked Meghan Trainor’s doo-wop sound in songs like “My Selfish Heart.” This newly released CD, Thank You, is a hodgepodge of songs and styles. There’s some rap, some ballads, some pop songs. Diane listened to a few songs and remarked, “These songs all sound the same.” I did enjoy “NO,” “Kindly Calm Me Down,” “Friends,” and “Champagne Problems.” The best songs on this CD are the BONUS TRACKS: “Goosebumps” and “Throwback Love” which wouldn’t sound out of place on a transistor radio in the 1950s! But you can only get those tracks on the TARGET version of the CD. Let’s just says Meghan Trainor is having a slight “sophomore slump.” I’m sure her next CD will be much better. Check out Meghan singing “NO” in TARGET below. GRADE: B-
1 Watch Me Do 2:50
2 Me Too 3:01
3 NO 3:34
4 Better (feat. Yo Gotti) 2:48
5 Hopeless Romantic 4:05
6 I Love Me 2:48
7 Kindly Calm Me Down 3:59
8 Woman Up 3:29
9 Just a Friend to You 2:45
10 I Won’t Let You Down 3:20
11 Dance Like Yo Daddy 3:03
12 Champagne Problems 3:42
13 Mom
14 Friends
15. Thank You
16 Goosebumps
17 Throwback Love


the atlantic
The Buffalo News has published another one of my articles. You can read the original here. Some of you may have read this article thanks to Bill Crider’s blog. Bill provided the link and some of you commented insightfully here.

Or you can read the text below:

“I’ve worked for General Motors for over 20 years. I’ve earned over $2 million … and I’m broke.”

I was hired by General Motors to teach “It’s Your Money,” a financial literacy course. About a dozen GM workers signed up for the course. I opened the first class by going around the table asking each worker why he decided to take the course. That’s when one of the participants admitted he had no savings despite earning millions of dollars.

The other workers jumped in with similar stories. These were hardworking assembly line employees. Frequently, they worked 10 hours a day, six days a week. Some admitted they had six-digit incomes. Yet almost every worker in my class said that he had zero savings.

In the latest issue of the Atlantic, writer and critic Neal Gabler appears with a paper bag over his head. Gabler confesses he could not come up with $400 cash if an emergency struck. And Gabler says 47 percent of working Americans couldn’t come up with the money, either.

How did we get to this point in America where people who work hard, have graduate degrees and own homes find themselves so cash poor?

I found most of my GM workers, despite making a lot of money, spent a lot of money. The worker who uttered that statement about making $2 million working for General Motors over the years admitted that he had an all-terrain vehicle, Jet Skis and a boat. One of my suggestions was that he divest himself of some of these “toys” and bank the savings.

Few schools offer courses in money management. Gabler confesses he knows very little about money matters, which explains a lot about his current insolvent monetary position. But if Gabler had a course in handling money back in high school or college, he probably wouldn’t be in the cash-strapped position that he and millions of Americans find themselves in today.

In America, the middle class is being squeezed. Technology transforms jobs. The old Little Rock needed 300 sailors to man the ship. The new Little Rock needs only 64 sailors to do the work because of all the new technology. You can see this same scenario being played out in industry, health care and agriculture.

At the same time technology changes the workplace, students discover they need more and more education to make themselves employable. A generation ago, a high school diploma could get you a pretty good job. Now, many jobs require a college degree. And in order to acquire that college degree, many students plunge into massive student loan debt.

The total of student loan debts exceeds credit card debt in America. But the two debts go hand in hand. The same people working two jobs to pay off their student loan debts frequently resort to using their credit cards to pay for necessities when they come up short.

Young Americans also find themselves stuck in a “gig economy.” Gone are the days where you would work for a company for 30 years and get a pension. Now, many jobs are short term “gigs” where the worker is hired as a private contractor with little or no benefits. Once the project is concluded, the job goes away. And the stressful job hunt begins again.

How can stressed-out members of the middle class survive in this new, transitory economy? I have three suggestions:

1.) Lower your expenses. Do you need a 2,500-square-foot house? Downsizing to a 1,500-square-foot home would save a lot of money in heating, cooling and taxes. Do you need two cars? Do you need 500 channels? Reduce your expenses and the result will be money you can save or invest.

2.) Have multiple revenue streams. Your job may pay for your day-to-day expenses, but you might need a second job to keep yourself financially secure. Investing in high-dividend stocks can also provide needed cash flow.

3.) Take a money management course.

These steps should ensure that you’ll have at least $400 if an emergency strikes.

George Kelley, of North Tonawanda, is a professor at Erie Community College City Campus.

SPLASH [Blu-ray]

Splash just appeared in Blu-ray format so of course I had to buy a copy. I really like this silly movie about Ton Hanks falling in love with a mermaid. Daryl Hannah, Eugene Levy, and John Candy fill out the talented cast. This was an early film (1984) in Ron Howard’s directing career so it bursts with energy and fun. Special features include an audio commentary and Making A Splash, a 24 minute interview that includes Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Daryl Hannah, Eugene Levy, Babaloo Mandel, Lowell Ganz, and Tom Hanks as they talk about the making of Splash. I really enjoyed the Audition Tapes with both Tom Hanks’s and Daryl Hannah’s original auditions for Ron Howard. Nice package!