Thursday, January 03, 2008


Hi and welcome to 2008, the year the music stores closed forever!!!!

Okay, that’s an exaggeration. They’re still around and will likely be around in SOME form for a long time. But with the announcement that two FYE stores in my area will be closing their doors, I can’t help but remember the closing of Tower Records last year. (Note that FYE itself is not going out of business- yet). Oh, by the way, do you know what FYE is? It’s the former Wherehouse Music stores. You say you’ve never been to one? Hmmmm.

When I visited the Tower Records stores prior to their closing, I found them relatively exhausted of all the "good stuff." (There were a few gems to be found, but “few” was the operative word.) So when I heard about the FYE closings, I decided to go and visit one of the stores that weekend to see if I could find anything special. I kind of expected a small crowd of some kind. Wrong! It was a relatively normal day, except for the signs indicating that a sale was going on. It was an OK sale, I suppose. . . Buy two used Cds, get one free. 10% off every new CD. Not bad, I guess. But they certainly weren’t being attacked by rabid music fans. That, I suspect, will come later, as the stores try to release more and more of their inventory. Now I begin to see the economic impact of cell phones. “Hey Louie! Get over here, they’re finally selling the stuff for half off!” So those folks will get the good stuff, and us normal guys will have to pick up the leftovers.

In the tower records posting, I talked about how high costs and lack of good material were keeping me from buying many Cds. Well, the same rules still apply. Even at lower-than-usual prices, there wasn’t much there that spoke to me. Nothing that made me go, “I’ve gotta get this!” I’ve been blessed in many ways. I can afford to say “no” to what may be a good album, because I’ve got other good albums already.

I’ve begun to buy some Cds for one of my “home-made” albums. During my music store shopping, I was only able to find one out of four that I was looking for. But when I look for those albums online at, there they are. Good news for, but this is a textbook example of why music stores are in trouble. I came in as a customer ready to buy something, but couldn’t find it in your store. So I had to go to another “store.” All the sales in the world aren’t going to make me buy a bunch of things I don’t want or need.

But to be fair, I did decide to check out the other closing FYE store, one I had not visited before. While there, I did give in and bought some things. By this time, the DVDs were 20% off. Man, if I could just time it right, I could really splurge. But again, they didn’t have much in the way of specific things that I was looking for.

I’ll try to report back when the prices get lower. If the prices don’t get lower, then I’m sorry to say that FYE will have to make some room in their warehouse. In the meantime, here’s my look back at the last days of Tower Records:


STILL WE LIKE THIS SHOW: On to happier things. As Grover has recently announced, the beta version of the Sesame Street video player is now online and serving the whims of die-hard classic Sesame Street fans! One of my favorite "missing clips" has been found there: Grover singing "Still We Like Each Other." It’s great to see it again. If you’d like to enjoy it too, visit the site and type in “still we like each other” in the search field. Or you can take Grover’s advice and click on his loveable, furry image at the top of the site. Nice song - and no, Mike, the girl is not Farley in a wig!

This new site really is a dream come true in many ways. We’ve gone from despairing of ever seeing this stuff again to watching it at our leisure whenever we have a free moment at the computer. You can actually type in keywords to find a specific clip. It really is amazing how far we’ve come. It’s also important to note that this video player is evidence that Sesame Workshop is aware of the numerous adult fans of the show (well, at least of the early show) and wants to try and help them out. Way to go, SW! The video player is a success. Keep up the great work!

From a technical note, the Sesame Street video player is not quite the same as the YouTube video player. Whereas a YouTube video will download temporarily to your computer memory (and thus can be played again without having to reload every time), the Sesame Street video player doesn‘t seem to work exactly that way. To make a long story short, you really need a high-speed connection to appreciate the video player. While it’s sometimes possible to watch the videos on a slower connection, they usually don’t look very good and are often “choppy”. That’s good news for fast connections, but bad news for the handful of us who use slow connections sometimes. All I can say is that if you’ve been putting off getting a fast connection, this site may be what changes your mind. Time to bite the bullet - or at least find a friend with a fast connection! (As an aside, Sesame Workshop should consider that not all inner-city kids have high-speed connections, either.)

Speaking of friends, have you considered what a good opportunity this is for us to show others why we like this show? Now you can direct somebody to the exact clip you like and say, “You want to know why I liked this show? Here’s why.” We have a chance to show them the clips we haven’t been able to before. With any luck, people will slowly begin to understand why the show was so much fun. Maybe they’ll even get “hooked” and watch some clips on their own without telling anybody.


BIRD'S WORD ON ELMO: Big Bird muppeteer Carroll Spinney was interviewed last year, and we’re just now finding out about it! Here are some quotes from this short but sweet interview.

Q: When did his worm Slimey first appear on the show?
A: As many as 15 years --- the last few years, he’s been much more prominent because each show ends with Oscar reading him trash stories. It’s the only time you see him being very understanding and never negative, like he is to the humans.

Q: Why is Elmo’s World given so much importance?
A: What a good question. I never got a “Bird World.” I guess they just felt that it was a good idea. The thing that made Elmo a big success was the Tickle-Me-Elmo doll. Of course, we do need the money to keep on the air. They thought, ‘OK, Elmo is where we should go to keep the show popular.’

Q: How much longer do you think you’ll be on Sesame Street?
A: I have a new three-year contract, so I’m doing it until the 41st year of the show, and I would love to go on beyond that.

Mr. Spinney seems to understand the true nature of the rise of Elmo. "Follow the money. . ." Well, that’s not the WHOLE story, but it’s certainly part of it. Here’s the site where you can read more. Thanks to SSLFan from MuppetCentral for directing our attention to this!

Later this month will mark the anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy. There’s a Big Bird/Carroll Spinney connection to that as well! You can read about it here:


STAYING STRONG: Again, I’m thankful for all of your good thoughts as I endure an illness. Along those lines, Meredith Vieira’s husband Richard Cohen has written a book chronicling five people who live with chronic illness. Meredith blogs about it below:

Keep an eye on Meredith’s blog for answers to some viewer questions, including this one about hats:

I like hats, actually. The problem with wearing a hat on the show is that every time you go back inside, you have to have your hair fixed all over again. And there’s never enough time. I like berets, and I also like those Irish caps, and the British bollers--those rounded ‘top hats. But I look particularly fetching in a dunce cap…

And in a bikini, and . . .sorry. :)