10 Albums/Songs that shaped me

Since both my sister and my wife have tagged me on their lists, I had to come up with my own! I, too, went a little over 10.
1) The Roaring 20’s, Vol. 4 (Enoch Light) – One of my earliest recollections of snappy, up-beat jazz; this album is full of feel-good music and lyrics that don’t weigh you down. With song titles like "Ain’t We Got Fun?", "Barney Google", and "S’wonderful", you can’t HELP but smile when you hear this album! I’m glad my Dad had TWO copies of this album. I’m pretty sure I wore one of them out! It was the first LP I digitized with my MP3 turntable.

2) Xanadu movie soundtrack – God help me, I fell in LOVE with this movie when it came out! I don’t know WHY. I was all of 12. Maybe it was ONJ at, arguably, her hottest. Maybe it was Gene Kelly, whose dancing I had seen and admired. Maybe it was the ELO songs. Or maybe it was the notion that dreams can come true. I would play my LP over and over while studying the enclosed lyrics sheet. When I later got my own boom box, the soundtrack was one of the first tapes I bought and played frequently. I bought the movie when it came out on VHS, DVD, and now always have it on my iPhone. As well as the soundtrack. 🙂

3) Eddie Murphy: Delirious – Any serious critic will have to list this somewhere on their top 10 comedy albums of all time. I first heard portions of this on the school bus heading to/from soccer games. One of the older guys had a boom box and a copy of Delirious and we would all huddle in the back. Loud enough for all of us to hear was, however, not quiet enough for Coach Bassett, sitting up front, NOT to hear it. I remember noticing him sitting in the front seat right behind the driver, facing forward, and literally bouncing up and down in his seat as he was stifling giggles and pretending not to hear it because hearing it would mean telling us we had to turn it off. The "Ice Cream Man" sketch and the Barbecue sketch are some of the funniest things done by anyone anywhere. Goonie Goo-Goo.

4) Allan Sherman’s Mother Presents: My Son The Folk Singer – My introduction to Borscht Belt humor (though I didn’t know it was called that at the time), this album was full of stuff that sounded funny to me as a kid, though I didn’t know why and would not discover and understand the references to Jewish culture for decades. I remember listening to "Sarah Jackman" with Brian Fagan and him giggling at the line, "a regular Lolita" and not knowing why (and wondering if HE knew why!). I remember not getting the double entendre in the line "My Zelda, she found her big romance when I broke the zipper in my pants" from "My Zelda". I listen to this album today and still giggle, though I still wonder what’s so funny about "Stein with an ‘e-i’ and "Styne" with a ‘y’."

5) Super Trouper (ABBA) – I’m a huge ABBA fan in general, but if I could have just one album to which to listen on a desert island, this would be the one. It has a little bit of everything I enjoy.

6) Gordon (Barenaked Ladies) – This is EARLY BNL when they were all about FUN and making fun music. There are some messages if you care to listen for them, but the music is GREAT "gettin’ stuff done" music. I will frequently just set iTunes to loop through this album for hours at a time while I’m churning through stuff at work.

7) Overture, Die Fledermaus – I know every note of this thanks to the Tom & Jerry short, "The Hollywood Bowl". I would watch T & J religiously every day after school on WPIX and this was one of my favorite episodes. I know nothing about the opera, but I LOVE the music!

8) Stuttering (Ben’s Brother) – This song appeared on TV a couple of years ago (well, 30 seconds of it, anyway) as the soundtrack for a breath mint commercial. It struck a chord in me when I was at perhaps the loneliest point of my Life. It gave me a bit of hope, and I dreamed of the day I’d play it FOR someone instead of just wishing to HAVE that someone. (AND now I have her!!!)

9) The Best of the Manhattan Transfer – The soundtrack for my senior year of High School and Freshman year of college. One of the first CDs I ever owned and still play frequently. Lots of jazz, and their rendition of "Body & Soul" is practically an education in jazz all by itself.

10) The Little Mermaid Soundtrack – This movie heralded Disney’s return to animated movie feature. I fell in love with the movie and the soundtrack. You know how with a lot of movie soundtracks most people never play the instrumental stuff? After all, that stuff never gets any radio play! Well, I play this album all the way through and LIKE IT.

11) Holding Out For A Hero (Bonnie Tyler) – Everyone has that one song that can always "get them going" no matter what. This one’s mine. I find it grossly unfortunate that it rose to fame as the soundtrack for a farm tractor chicken fight. 🙁

12) Vienna (Billy Joel) – I someday will visit this city because of this song. If #11 pumps me up, this one always makes me relax.

Cash and Credit: Time to change places!

It’s time for people who still use cash to start paying up. If you patronize small businesses, you’ve likely seen signs informing you that they have a minimum purchase amount before they will let you use a credit/debit card in their establishment. This is because of the exorbitant fees they must pay on each transaction. If they allow a transaction below that minimum, they will actually LOSE MONEY on that sale. You can’t stay in business very long by doing that! (These minimums are a direct violation of their Merchant Agreement with Mastercard/Visa, but I’ll save that rant for another day.)

When credit cards first came on the scene, they were a huge inconvenience to merchants. They had to fill out the paper slip with the customer’s information, submit the slip to the credit card company, and then wait for their money. Cash was practically instant money in the bank (after it had been officially recorded on the next business day).

But NOW “instant” truly IS instant! Technology now allows for near-instantaneous transfer of funds from account to account. The vendor gets his money immediately. CASH is now inconvenient! It means having to reconcile your cash drawer on a regular basis and schlepping to the bank to make a deposit and waiting a full day for that money to show up in your account. Even though it’s “in hand” immediately, it’s not available for your use in paying bills by check or online until the bank officially receives and acknowledges it.

So I think it’s time for a shift. Credit card companies need to completely overhaul their fee structure and make use of their services by merchants more reasonable and affordable for low-price transactions (or waive their fees for all transactions under, say, $10). And merchants should now start charging an “inconvenience fee” to cash-paying customers to discourage their use of cash and encourage the use of debit/credit cards.

Oh…and people writing checks in a retail establishment should pay double the price of whatever they’re buying!