The Four Voices, “Lovely One”

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Lovely One The Four Voices (Columbia, 1956)

A vocal harmony quartet based in Tennessee, the Four Voices had quite a string of moderate hits with Columbia Records in the 1950s. Their best outing was in 1956 when they peaked at #20 with Lovely One (B-side was Geronimo. The Four Voices were Allan Chase, Sal Mayo, Bill McBride and Frank Fosta.

Fritz the Cat (film)

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Fritz the Cat (film) (Cinemation, 1972)

Based on the comic strip of the same name by Robert Crumb, Fritz the Cat was an American adult animated comedy film about an anthropomorphic feline (voiced by Skip Hinnant) living in the mid-1960s in New York City. Fritz the Cat is a satire focusing on American college life of the 1960s, race relations, the free love movement and left- and right-wing politics. (This focus on politics would cause comic creator Crumb to have numerous disagreements with filmmakers.) Fritz the Cat was the first animated film to receive an X rating in the U.S. It was also one of the most successful independent animated features of all time, grossing an astounding $90 million(+) worldwide. A sequel, The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat was produced without the involvement of Crumb or Ralph Bakshi (the director).

“Green Onions”

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Green Onions (Stax, 1962)

A template was the Stax soul sound was made in the summer of 1962, when 17-year-old organ player Booker T. Jones, guitarist Steve Cropper, upright bassist Lewie Steinberg and drummer Al Jackson Jr. got messing around in a Stax Records recording studios. When the “record” button was hit and the instrumental song, Green Onions was recorded, not only did it become a template for the label, but one of the first multi-racial bands in music was born, Booker T. and the M.G.’s. Green Onions also gave Stax Studios their first #1 hit. This debut album became a worldwide hit. Green Onions peaked at #33 in the U.S. Green Onions only features instrumental tracks.

Belt Buckle Derringer Toy Gun

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Belt Buckle Derringer Toy Gun (1959)

It is really difficult to understand how some manufacturers think they can get away with selling certain items. This toy is one of those. This toy gun attached to a belt buckle and actually fired a cap when the wearer would push their stomach forward. Note it did not fire bullets and no objects were projected, but a “flame” was and, you guessed it, the cap could actually catch fire. The Belt Buckle Derringer Toy Gun has since been banned.

The 4-Hour Body Diet

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The 4-Hour Body

This diet is brought to you by author and blogger Tim Ferriss, better known as the 4-Hour Business guy. In his second book, The 4-Hour Body, Ferriss (mainly through his own personal experience) looks at diet, sleep, exercise, sex and the perks of medical tourism (undergoing tests or medical treatments outside the U.S.) His premise is less is more and that small, simple changes can produce long-lasting effects. Is there any scientific proof? Keep in mind, Ferriss is not a doctor, dietician or nutritionist. He did spend three years interviewing numerous athletes, doctors, scientists and other experts and does make a disclaimer about consulting a doctor before following any of his advice. Most of his tips you may have heard many times before. When you’re trying to make a big weight change, starting small is the best advice you will ever receive. Note that there are some outlandish tips in the book. But they’re easy to spot.

Mason Williams, “Classical Gas”

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Classical Gas Mason Williams (Warner Bros, 1968)

Classical Gas was originally an instrumental piece composed and performed by Mason Williams. (He has tinkered with his own piece several times over the years.) Classical Gas was born off Williams’ 1968 album, The Mason Williams Phonograph Record. Williams intended the piece to be the “fuel” for the classical guitar repertoire (hence “gas”). At the time, Williams was head writer for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Yes, Classical Gas debuted on the show. Classical Gas peaked in the top ten.

Jimmy Hoffa

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Jimmy Hoffa (February 14, 1913 – July 30, 1975)

Jimmy Hoffa was born in Brazil, Indiana. One of the most famous labor leaders in American history, he quickly rose through the ranks of the Teamsters Union, culminating in the office of president. In 1967, Hoffa went to prison for jury tampering, fraud and conspiracy. He disappeared in 1975 and is presumed dead.

Hoffa’s childhood had a profound impact on his adult life. His father was a coal miner who died when Hoffa was still a youngster. This caused his mother to have to go to work to support her family of four children. Obtaining a limited education (there are still conflicting reports about whether Hoffa reached high school), he did at some point drop out of school in order to help his mother support the family. He took a job on a loading dock for a grocery store chain in Detroit (where the Hoffa family had to relocate to after Hoffa’s father’s death). There, he staged his first labor strike to help the employees get a better contract. (He used a newly delivered shipment of strawberries as his bargaining tool. The strawberries would not be moved until they had a better deal.)

Hoffa joined the Teamsters Union in the 1930s and became vice president of the entire organization in 1952. Five years later, he was president. Hoffa was often under the watchful eye of the FBI as they were considered that the Teamsters may have been assisted by organized crime, but for the most part, Hoffa was able to keep his nose clean and avoid legal troubles. The Justice Department tried many, many times to indict him, but they often failed to win the cases against the popular labor leader, until his 1967 conviction of jury tampering, fraud and conspiracy which sent Hoffa to prison for 13 years. President Ronald Reagan commuted Hoffa’s sentence in 1971. Nixon banned Hoffa from holding a leadership position with the Teamsters until 1980.

On July 30, 1975, Hoffa left his Detroit home to meet with a local crime figure and mob-connected New Jersey union leader at a restaurant in Bloomfield Township. They were supposed to be settling an old score. Hoffa was the only one who showed up. What happened to Hoffa after that is not known. His car was found in the restaurant’s parking lot, but the car contained no clues as to Hoffa’s whereabouts. Hoffa was declared legally dead in 1982.

Hoffa married Josephine Poszywak in 1936. The couple had two children, daughter Barbara and son James. James has followed in his father’s footsteps; he has been the president of the Teamsters since 1998.

“The Natural History of the Sperm Whale”

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The Natural History of the Sperm Whale (1839)

Written by Thomas Beale, a trained surgeon who sailed on a British whale ship to the south seas in the 1830s, Beale became fascinated by sperm whales. He published The Natural History of the Sperm Whale in 1839. His was the first book to accurately write about the extraordinary sperm whale. In fact, when it came time for Herman Melville to write his tome called Moby Dick, Melville lifted numerous passages from The Natural History of the Sperm Whale almost verbatim.

Reece’s Elvis Peanut Butter and Banana Crème Cups

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Reese’s Elvis Peanut Butter & Banana Creme Cups (Hershey’s, 2006)

In a tribute to the King of Rock and Roll to commemorate the 30th anniversary
of his death, Hershey’s produced a collector’s edition of their famous peanut butter cups: Peanut Butter and Banana Creme. Elvis loved peanut butter and banana sandwiches, but if you were able to get your hands on this, did you? A definite rare item; I never even knew these existed. The King Size Big Cup was also available — which would make total sense. (Elvis was known as the King, right?)

“Profit”

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Profit (Fox, 1996)

An American drama series that TV Guide called “shockingly memorable,” Profit sits at #4 on their list of 60 TV shows that were “Cancelled Too Soon.” Profit is considered to be a series ahead of its time and a precursor to the early 21st-century edgy melodramas such as The Sopranos, Mad Men, Dexter and Breaking Bad. Profit’s controversial themes that stemmed from the lead character, Jim Profit’s amoral, Richard III-style ways made the show a sometimes uncomfortable viewing. Profit was cancelled after three episodes (and the pilot) aired. Adrian Pasdar played the title character. Profit aired from April 8 to 29, 1996.

You can purchase the entire series of 8 episodes (four of which Fox was unable to air due to the cancellation) on DVD in both regions 1 and 2.