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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Basic Biittner: Lisztomania and other stuff

Monday, January 9, 2006

In 1975, British film director Ken Russell wrote and directed a "rock fantasy" about the 19th-century Hungarian pianist and composer Franz Liszt (hey, this was the 70s - it probably seemed like a good idea to Russell at the time - though what condition he was in when he got this inspiration is subject to speculation!)

Anyway, the title of this all-time bomb was Lisztomania, and, in a roundabout way, is the subject of this column - my first of the new year.

Anyone who reads newspapers, watches television, or surfs the internet has no doubt run into a real-world "listomania" in recent weeks. Everyone seems to come out with lists at the end of the year - "The 10 Best... " you name the topic, and there's a list that someone has compiled to inform all of us what the best (or worst) movie, albums, TV shows, etc., etc., etc. were in the past year.

My own favorite list is the "Forbes 400," which Forbes Magazine presents each year to tell us all who the 400 wealthiest people in the world are. When this list comes out, I peruse it intently, trying to see where I ranked last year. This takes about five seconds. It's also a list that changes little from year-to-year. Bill Gates is always number one, Warren Buffet is always number two, and then it's primarily Sam Walton's heirs filling out the Top Ten.

There are also two cable television channels which seem to air various lists all the time, not just at year's end. VH1 and CMT have such thought-provoking lists as "Greatest Drinking Songs Of All Time," "Greatest Country Love Songs," etc. These are usually not limited to just 10 items, either. More often, they start at number 100, or at least 50 (counting down to number one, of course).

Speaking of counting down to number one, David Letterman of course has been the king of Top 10 Lists in recent years, as his writers come up with topical (humorous) lists several times each week.

I must also admit that I used to do my own personal favorite lists - I used to have my All-Time Favorite Movies (further broken down by decades, too, of course). A few years ago, I decided to select my Favorite 100 songs of all time, and make five CDs (twenty songs each), so I could listen to my favorites in the car. This was SUCH a great idea, that I then decided to make further CDS of my favorites which didn't make the cut for my Top 100... well, to make a long story short, I now have the five CDS of my All-Time Favorites and 17 CDs called "Missed The Cut." This means that I have burned CDS of my "favorite" 450 (approximately) songs! That's a little insane, if I do say so myself. I mean, I'll hear a song come on on the "Golden Oldies" radio station, and say "that's one of my favorites!" Well, duhhh, with 450 favorites, it's quite possible I'll hear one (or more) on that particular radio station.

Anyway, I obviously am a fan(atic) about lists. So, since you all asked for it (humor me here, gang), I herein present my personal list of favorite internet websites (keep in mind my passions are music, movies, and sports):

For music buffs, I heartily recommend imdb.com (stands for Internet Movie Database). If you want to know anything about specific movies or TV shows, or the actors, directors, etc., this is the site for you. It's very addictive, though. Best use is using it to look up an actor you've just seen on TV to check their filmogaphy, and figure out where you've seen the actor before. It's much better than letting it bug you the whole night (or longer). A similar site is ibdb.com , but it is a reference for Broadway shows and actors. Not as useful here in "the sticks", but not bad, if you want that information.

A great music site, for fans of all music genres, is allmusic.com. It does the same thing for artists and albums as the previously-mentioned sites do for their subjects.

Another passion of mine, related to music and sports as well, are Halls of Fame. All Halls have their own sites, which tell you about their inductees and the Hall itself. My own favorites are rockhall.com ( Rock & Roll Hall of Fame) and the baseball hall of fame at Cooperstown (www.baseballhalloffame.org ).

I'm sure I could probably name the traditional "Top 10" websites, but I'll just quit with the ones I've listed, and a couple more - the first sounds a little ghoulish , but believe me, it can come in handy when you find yourself wondering if a particular actor, athlete, politician, or other famous person is still among the living. The site is called www.deadoraliveinfo.com , and it's pretty much what it sounds like. I only wish there was similar site for all us "non-famous" people also. Maybe the Census Bureau could come with one.

Finally, www.biography.com , from the folks who bring you the Biography TV program, is a great site for looking up information about famous people both dead AND alive.

That's all from here. Enjoy your surfing... beachboys.com ?

Dan Whitney
Basic Biittner