Lionel Richie Is A Genius

As a child of the 1980’s, one of the more long-standing musical memories is that of Lionel Richie’s music.  I admit, I was a geek and I listened to America’s Top 40 (go Casey Kasem!) religiously every week.  It seemed Lionel Richie was on the charts every week with some hit or another.

Who didn’t think about dancing on the ceiling at some point after hearing his song with the same title?

Admit it, you did.

Anyways, his music has held up pretty well over the years.  He hasn’t had a lot of new stuff that I can think of, but most of his ‘hits’ are still played frequently on Adult Contemporary or Light Rock stations everywhere.

His latest album, Tuskegee, is pure genius.  He has re-recorded most of his greatest hits as duets with country singers, including the likes of Kenny Chesney, Rascall Flatts, and the guy I figure he had to take inspiration from, Darius Rucker, who jumped from pop (lead singer of Hootie & The Blowfish) to a straight country artist. With smashing success.

All of the songs have the same familiar feel of the originals.  There are no wild changes here.  But, they add the element of country music, which is a pretty big market.

And I love it.  Here’s why:

  • It introduces a new generation to Lionel Richie – Sure, younger people have probably heard a lot of his songs, but probably classified them as ‘oldies’.  Now, they can actually listen to his ‘current’ stuff.
  • It opens a new audience – Pure country fans probably also heard of Lionel Richie, but were likely never fans.  Now, they can be.
  • He can make royalties galore – Now, country stations can add his songs to their playlist, and the stations that play his music can substitute the newer versions of his songs, and likely give him more spots in their rotation.  Ka-ching to Lionel Richie.

I bet we’ll probably see a lot of older artists try to make this move.  Or at least, if they’re smart, they could try.

Here are a few that I think could pull this off pretty well:

  • Neil Diamond – I’ve always loved Neil Diamond, so I think this would be awesome.  He’s a little cheesy but I think the country singers would line up to perform with him.  He’s got a catalog spanning five decades.  There have to be some hits somewhere.
  • Elton John – Another one of my favorites.  He has gracefully aged into somewhat of a elder statesman in music, and I would think he could easily pull a country duets album off.
  • Fleetwood Mac – Many of their 1970’s hits still hold up today, and I think classics like “You Make Loving Fun” and “Silver Springs” could easily transition to country, just like Lionel did, without many changes to the sound.

Have you heard anything from the ‘new’ Lionel Richie album?  What other artists do you think could make the country jump?

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I’m Anxious To See What My Paycheck Will Look Like

Tomorrow is payday.  I’ve been at my current job for over five years and haven’t gotten a raise in three years running.  So, you’d think I would know exactly what my paycheck will look like…but I don’t.

Why?

Because we made two significant changes on our health care plan that will take effect beginning the first of the year.  Normally we get paid on the 15th and 31st, but because the 15th falls on a Sunday, payday is the Friday before…or tomorrow (yikes, just realized it’s Friday the 13th!).

The changes we made were both tied back to the fact that we are not anticipating any major health care expenditures in 2012.   While there is always the case of a major cost item taking place (for which we have an emergency fund), we had significantly higher costs in 2011 due to the planned birth of our baby daughter, which took place in June.  Knowing that we were going to incur that major expense, in 2011 we were on the highest tier plan and also contributed a significant amount to our Flexible Spending Account (FSA) to cover the projected out of pocket costs.

Since we aren’t anticipating a major cost, we went back down to the mid-range health plan and also reduced our FSA contribution signifcantly.

My guess is that this will result in a net paycheck increase of around $50.  Once the dust settle, I’ll put any extra towards a split of increased 401(k) contributions as well as beefing up a few saving categories that have been needing some attention.

It’s not a windfall by any means, but the fact that my paycheck will be going up slightly is something I haven’t seen in a very long time.  So, though the base salary amount is staying the same, I’m still a bit excited.

Is your paycheck amount changing for better or worse this year?

 

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Being Mean Is OK, I Guess, According To AT&T

My least favorite ad on TV these days is an ad for AT&T advertising free mobile-to-mobile minutes with the purchase of a messaging and data plan.  Or something like that.

The commercial is basically a guy bursting in to tell his wife that he just signed up the entire family for unlimited minutes.

She replies, sarcastically, saying “Great, and how are we supposed to pay for that?” and proceeds to berate him for making such a costly decision without consulting her, ending her rant by basically saying that she never should have married him.

And this is supposed to make me want to buy AT&T products?!?

The rest of the commercial is the guy trying to defend himself by telling her that they were free, but at that point I don’t even remember the rest, because it’s so irritating and off-putting to me.

I don’t think every commercial should be filled with images of boats and friends and noodle salad, but do we really need to be shown the idea of spouses being spiteful and mean to one another as a message for selling cell phones?

Count me out.

What commercials get on your nerves?  

Footnote: My second least favorite these days is the Master Card ‘Stand Up To Cancer’ commercial where Ray Romano ‘surprises’ a customer using her Master Card, who is making a behind-the-scenes donation to cancer research with each card swipe.  I’m all about donating to cancer and trying to knock it out, so in their case, the message is perfect.   I just don’t like Ray Romano!  *lol*

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How Can 62 Students Fit In A Classroom?

The Detroit Public School system is one of the worst in the country.  It has horrible dropout rates, low test scores, and has been plagued with corruption for years and years.  The poor school system is one of the many things that gives the city of Detroit (and the surrounding region) a terrible reputation.

For years, many leaders have pledged to turn things around and improve the system.  Instead, it’s never happened.  There is optimism in the leadership trio of Robert Bobb (the emergency financial manager for the district), Dave Bing (the recently elected mayor of Detroit) and Rick Snyder (the newly elected governor of Michigan, who has said that a healthy Michigan *has* to include a healthy Detroit, including schools).

Bobb recently presented a fact that if the current projections of enrollment and funding hold true, the school district will be forced to close half of it’s schools in the next four years.  This would result in high school classrooms with as many as 62 student.

My wife brought up a good point that most classrooms, as built, would be ill equipped to handle that large number of students.

Now, Bobb went on to say that there’s no way this should ever be allowed to happen, and was using it as a ‘doomsday’ example to try to get additional funding, more favorable financing of existing debt, better cooperation from the state and local governments, etc.  He’s throwing the numbers out there, but as a scare tactic.  What’s even more scary is that they are based on actual numbers, not pie in the sky projections.

I think everybody knows that the school system can’t turn around with class sizes that large.  No high school can handle that, let alone high schools with some of the most troubled kids in the country.  Everybody knows that this can’t happen.  I think Bobb was throwing the message out there as a first step to ensure that it doesn’t happen.

The poor school system is one reason that millions have fled Detroit for the suburbs or have left Michigan altogether.  Without a good school system, many continue and will continue to avoid Detroit and the metro area.  The trio I mentioned above seem to be cooperating and on the same page in ways that I haven’t seen in my lifetime.

I just hope it translates into results.

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