Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Mac & Cheese Candle | Foodbeast

Imagine the look on your guests’ face when your cheese noodles are letting off a cute little flame. That’s the experience the Koko Candles brand is giving you with this self assemble DIY Mac & Cheese Candle. The noodles are hand-shaped without molds, and have a burntime of 7-10 hours. The kit comes with an eggshell colored fluted porcelain ramekin and a package of mac & cheese noodles.

The ramekin measures 3″ x 1.5″ height and the candles are unscented. ($22 @ KokoCandles)

All I can say is "I gotta get me some of these". Consider this my "Christmas In July" tip. Thanks to for the Food Porn find of the month!

Posted via email from Mark Edwards 3.0

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

50 Years of Adult Contemporary: From Johnny Mathis to Elton John, From Celine Dion to Bruno Mars |

July 19, 2011

By Gary Trust, New York

"I was on my way to an airport," said Richard Marx, "flipping the dial. I was like, 'Awesome, it's the new single!'" At a June 23 performance at Clear Channel's P.C. Richard & Son Theater in New York, Marx is talking about hearing his new song, "When You Loved Me."

"At the end of the song, the DJ came on and said, 'That's brand-new from Richard Marx. Next up: Nickelback with 'Photograph.' I freaked out, because usually, if I hear my song on the radio, it's like, 'That was Richard Marx, and next up is ... Bette Midler's 'Wind Beneath My Wings,' which is cool," Marx said to the crowd's chuckles. "But, that day, I was sandwiched between Daughtry and Nickelback - and it was a little cooler."


Marx's reaction is a fairly typical response to an artist finding success on adult contemporary radio-often maligned as the vanilla of radio formats. And in truth, AC was designed not to offend, but to provide background companionship during the workday, and to lull listeners to sleep with gentle ballads on late-night love songs shows. While Marx did add, "Thank God I hear my songs on the radio," being pegged as an AC act, for those who consider themselves hipper than Midler's "Wings," can be humbling. When you think you're Phish Food, you find out you're vanilla. The flip side? Vanilla is the top-selling ice cream flavor (according to the International Ice Cream Assn.'s latest rankings).

And, AC is routinely a top-rated format.


The Top 50 Adult Contemporary Artists Ever


A few stats: In Arbitron's May ratings for persons aged 6-plus, AC stations ranked first in top 20 markets New York (WLTW); Houston (KODA); Philadelphia (WBEB); Seattle (KRWM); Nassau-Suffolk, N.Y. (WALK); and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. (WDUV). New York's WLTW (Lite 106.7) likewise led the nation's top market with a 7.5 share in women 25-54 and a 6.4 share in persons 25-54. "In Boston," says Don Kelley, VP/director of programming at Greater Media, which owns the city's WMJX (Magic 106.7), the station "has celebrated No. 1 rankings [in] persons 25-54 44 times since 1991. That's a market record."

That's also why Marx understands that being heard next to Midler ultimately means you're being heard. By a large audience. "With approximately 35 years of music to choose from," Edison Research VP of music and programming Sean Ross says, "AC is the format most likely to be playing a song that people are passionate about at any given time. 'Uncool' isn't quite an issue. Successful AC stations always turn up a wide swath of listeners-including men and 18- to 34-year-olds. Even when a successful station was mocked in TV campaigns by a competitor for being 'lite,' the taunt ultimately didn't take, ratings-wise."


In line with the AC format's image, the Billboard chart that is celebrating its 50th anniversary debuted unostentatiously in the July 17, 1961, issue. Without any editorial mention of its debut, the first survey appeared next to the Billboard Hot 100 as the 20-position Easy Listening chart, with rankings of songs considered "not too far out in either direction" (according to the chart's legend) culled from their standings on the airplay/sales hybrid Hot 100.


Brook Benton's "Boll Weevil Song" (Mercury) ranked as the first AC No. 1. (The chart's current leader, Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" [Columbia] is the 756th topper.) The list joined previously launched Hot C&W Sides (today, Country Songs) and Hot R&B Sides (now R&B/Hip-Hop Songs) as a tool for those who were programming current hits but, as rock'n'roll was emerging, opted to offer a softer mainstream musical menu. The chart repeatedly changed names, with Middle-Road Singles and Pop-Standard Singles alternating as the list's title through 1965, when it reverted to Easy Listening. Adult Contemporary took hold to stay the week of April 7, 1979. (It became an airplay-only chart beginning Aug. 21, 1982.)


The Top 100 Adult Contemporary Songs Ever


Similarly, the format itself has evolved. In its early history, the AC chart was devoid of acts that today would be considered easy listening. The Beatles, for instance, didn't chart an AC single until "Something" peaked at No. 19 in 1969. The Fab Four had placed 62 entries on the Hot 100 by then. Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl," the format's most-played '60s song for the week ending July 3, according to Nielsen BDS (whose radio airplay data has powered the chart since the week of July 17, 1993), never made the list as a current in 1967.

Instead, the mellow tones of Roger Miller, Barbra Streisand and Bobby Vinton scaled the survey throughout much of the '60s. Elvis Presley did, too, but generally with such lush ballads as "Can't Help Falling in Love." It wasn't until the '70s that the AC chart began to welcome uptempo hits more regularly, as stations started specializing in different sides of pop. The AC format began to more closely resemble its current form and, from the decade's start, even such rock-leaning acts as Chicago, the Eagles and Elton John dominated the tally from early in their careers. From Michael Jackson and Madonna in the '80s to Mariah Carey and Celine Dion in the '90s, to boy bands, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry today, AC radio has chiefly played the top adult-friendly pop hits, once top 40 has warmed them up. The blueprint has worked for both radio stations and record labels.

"AC airplay has always been a major asset and outlet for us to reach the upper-demo consumer, which, thankfully, remains a loyal physical CD buyer," says RCA Music Group senior VP of adult music Adrian Moreira, who cites the value of between 15 million and 20 million in audience that an AC No. 1 accrues weekly. Still, AC radio itself fights its vanilla stereo­type. Longtime RMG acts Rod Stewart and Barry Manilow have combined for 13 top 10 albums on the Billboard 200 since 2002, but Stewart added just two AC top 10s in that span after logging 19 between 1986 and 2001. Manilow notched his 27th and most recent top 10 in 1989.

Moreira has seen that as adult listeners have begun to accept some of the rhythmic/pop ubiquitous on today's top 40 radio - in addition to Gaga and Perry infusing AC playlists, even Usher's dance club thumper "DJ Got Us Fallin' in Love" reached the format's top 20 last month - AC is making sure to keep a foothold in current pop music.

"We've seen a fairly tidal shift in what AC will play," Moreira says. "Whereas it was once always a very specific home for heritage acts, like Stewart and Manilow, with storied pasts and long histories, in most cases now, AC has essentially become a time-shifted top 40 playlist, trailing proven hits at mainstream and adult top 40 by a few months. I'd like to see more of a balance between proven hits from other formats, which I understand ACs need to play, and support for those acts which have always defined AC in the past. There's room for both. It's a missed opportunity for radio and labels when great songs from established upper-demo acts get passed over."

Not that AC is in danger of ceding its identity as the radio dial's gentle resting place. "AC radio broke Michael Bublé and Josh Groban," Warner Bros./Reprise VP of adult formats Debbie Cerchione says of the Reprise vocalists who now represent a rarity: largely AC-exclusive superstar acts. "While AC is playing mostly multiformat hits, programmers also know that their listeners will come to them exclusively to hear these artists.

"A great example of AC radio's ability to actually break a song is Bublé's 'Haven't Met You Yet,' which started at AC, reached No. 1 and then crossed to adult top 40 and, ultimately, pop, which now rarely happens," Cerchione says. "Playing artists like Bublé and Groban define an AC radio station and separate it from the rest."


Great read from Billboard on the 50th anniversary of their Adult Contemporary chart. I've been programming Adult Contemporary stations of one kind or another for 27 years and involved in the format since starting in radio in 1975.. This story, and the sidebars like the all time songs and artists, make for a tremendous trip down Memory Lane and show how adults and Adult radio have changed over the years.

Posted via email from Mark Edwards 3.0

Friday, July 08, 2011

Death at the Ballpark: The national pastime's shocking death toll. - By Jon Mooallem - Slate Magazine

On Thursday night, a 39-year-old Texas Rangers fan fell to his death from the outfield bleachers after catching a ball tossed his way by outfielder Josh Hamilton. As Jon Mooallem explained in 2009, there's a long history of tragic deaths at American ballparks. The original piece is reprinted below.

Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers (click to expand)

I caught a foul ball once. Sort of. It was in the fall of 1998, at Coors Field in Denver, and I was sitting on the third-base side. The ball blazed over my head, then thudded into a woman's left breast a few rows back. A second later, it shot out from under my seat and rolled into my foot, as though it had just finished a trip through the interior of a miniature golf course obstacle. I reached down and picked it up.

I did the whole ecstatic exercise. I held the ball over my head. I turned right, then left, showing off my trophy. Then I caught sight of the woman behind me. A small crowd of loved ones and wincing strangers had huddled around her. I decided the only gentlemanly thing to do was to toss her the ball. But I had to wait a moment, until she straightened up and stopped moaning.

Related in Slate
Timothy Noah found that other forms of leisure can be dangerous as well. David Roth described how even fantasy baseball can be damaging, if only to one's mental health. Josh Levin explained why baseball itself is, by definition, perpetually dying.

The typical baseball game sends 35 to 40 of these projectiles into the stands, some of them rocketing in at upward of 100 miles per hour. But it was a nice night for baseball in Denver, and so, for five or six more innings, even as the foul balls kept being popped, poked, lined, and ripped into the seats around me, I just sat there, blanketed by all the warm feelings our national pastime inspires. Even then, it never occurred to me that, as the introduction to a strange recent book puts it, "baseball is sometimes lethal."

Death at the Ballpark: A Comprehensive Study of Game-Related Fatalities, 1862-2007 is an impeccably sourced compendium of the men, women, and children who have died or been fatally injured while playing, officiating, or watching baseball in the United States. Its authors, Robert M. Gorman and David Weeks, two librarians and baseball historians at Winthrop University in South Carolina, have spent the last eight years scouring local-newspaper archives (sample search terms: "baseball and death" and "baseball and killed") for examples, in some cases going so far as to track down death certificates to confirm their results.


Given the fetish for statistics in baseball, it was probably inevitable that someone would get around to recording this, too: the number of people baseball has rendered incapable of generating more statistics. Gorman told me he was drawn into this morbid line of research after stumbling across the death of a minor leaguer named Herb Gorman. ("He had my last name. It kind of piqued my interest.") Neither Gorman nor Weeks had ever really thought about baseball as a deadly activity before, and, Gorman told me, after publishing two preliminary articles—one on beaning fatalities and another on fan fatalities at major league stadiums—"we thought maybe we'd exhausted whatever was out there." They were very wrong. They chronicled 850 baseball deaths in Death at the Ballpark, spanning professional, amateur, Little League, and even backyard pickup games. And though the book purports to be comprehensive, readers have already tipped them off to about 50 incidents they missed.

The authors say their aim was to "raise awareness" about baseball's many dangers, but there aren't any recommendations for making the sport safer here, no real signs of impassioned outrage, and no warnings to suburban parents about aluminum bats. Death at the Ballpark is fundamentally a reference book—a list carefully organized into categories like "Thrown Ball Fatalities, Amateur Fatalities—Position Players" and "Thrown Ball Fatalities, Amateur Fatalities—Baserunners." Often, however, the authors pause for a half-page to narrate a death in noirlike detail. The opening paragraph of one entry ominously begins, "Patrick J. McTavey, 38, worked home plate during a heated semipro championship game on Long Island, NY, on September 26, 1927," and ends: "It was the last call he ever made."

It's weirdly moving, if not exactly consoling, to learn just how many of baseball's casualties made the play before expiring. There's the amateur shortstop who, in 1902, caught a bad hop in the throat and used his last moments to throw out the runner at first. The third baseman in an Indiana league who, in 1909, tagged out the runner plowing headfirst into his gut, then succumbed to the resulting internal injuries three days later. There's just something about baseball that inspires a kind of heroic resolve. John McSherry, the major league umpire who collapsed at Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium in 1996, had actually postponed treatment for the heart condition that felled him so he could call the game.* It was Opening Day.

All the old romantic baseball tropes turn up again and again in Death at the Ballpark. But the effect is haunting, since here each is mercilessly punctuated with a death. There's the aging minor leaguer, battling his way back to the majors after a couple of stints in the show—except that Millard Fillmore "Dixie" Howell, who played in the White Sox farm system in the '50s, never gets called up again and dies of a heart attack instead. A few incidents are such ruthless perversions of our shared baseball idylls that it's as if Roman Polanski had recut Field of Dreams. One July night in a backyard in Houston in 1950, a 7-year-old boy asks if he can throw his dad one more pitch before heading inside. The father says OK. The son pitches. Then the father swings and connects, inadvertently "striking his son over the heart." The son dies before they can make it to the hospital.

There's no underestimating baseball's versatile capacity for killing us. Late Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti famously wrote that baseball "is designed to break your heart," and the statement takes on new meaning reading Death at the Ballpark, particularly Gorman and Weeks' section on commotio cordis, or concussions of the heart. A commotio cordis can be brought about only by getting struck at a particular place in the chest at the exact moment between heartbeats. And yet it manages to dispatch several pages' worth of victims.

Fatal fastballs to the head, meanwhile, aren't nearly as common as you'd expect. In the past 150 years, only one fan at a major league baseball game has been killed by a foul ball—a 14-year-old in Los Angeles named Alan Fish. The liner that fractured Fish's skull came off the bat of Dodger pinch-hitting specialist Manny Mota, whose own teenage nephew would be killed 14 years later while playing shortstop in New York—a coincidence Gorman and Weeks don't stop to note. Mota's nephew, a high-schooler, was struck by lightning as he stood in the field, five minutes after the umpire announced he was going to call the game at the end of the inning.

Lightning is another improbably frequent killer (though perhaps it's less improbable when you consider that baseball is played in summer, typically on flat fields surrounded by metal bleachers and fences). During a 1949 amateur game in Florida, the third baseman, shortstop, and second baseman were all killed by a single lightning bolt, which struck the backstop, then shot around the infield as though completing a double play.

The grim catalog rolls on. A semipro pitcher in Cincinnati is "struck simultaneously on the head by both a thrown and batted ball while warming up before a game." Pickup games played on improvised fields lead to outfielders chasing balls into the paths of cars, buses, trains, and, in one case, a hearse. At Ebbets Field in 1950, a man slumps over in his seat, shot through the back of his head by—it only becomes clear after days of police work—a teenager who was fooling around with a rifle on the roof of his apartment building several hundred yards away and with no clear line of sight.

Then there's a story Gorman and Weeks had both heard versions of but always assumed was apocryphal until they ran down a local newspaper account confirming it: In Morristown, Ohio, in 1902, one man asks another if he can borrow his penknife so he can sharpen the pencil he's using to keep score. The second man hands his penknife to the guy seated between them, named Stanton Walker, and asks Walker to pass it on. At that exact moment, a foul ball whaps Walker on the wrist, and he stabs himself.

Still, in the end, you could choose to see something slightly uplifting about the sheer volume of these freak and incomprehensible accidents. Take it as an indicator of just how much time Americans have spent on and around baseball fields over the last century and a half—of what baseball means to us. We've managed to die on the diamond in so many crazy ways only because it's one of the places we've done the most living. We've all been shagging flies in that minefield together.

Gorman told me that, while working on the book, he himself got smacked square in the forehead by a foul ball at a Triple A Game in Charlotte, N.C. "And my wife, she got hit in an odd way!" he added, almost as an afterthought. Then he launched into another story, about another game, on another night.

Correction, May 26, 2009: This piece originally and incorrectly stated that John McSherry collapsed while umpiring a game in St. Louis. It was in Cincinnati. (Return to the corrected sentence.)

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Jon Mooallem, a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine, lives in San Francisco.
Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images.

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Scary facts about our National Pastime, and it doesn't even count how many fans the Chicago Cubs have killed (or at least shortened their lives) by playing the way they do. Thanks to for sharing.

Posted via email from Mark Edwards 3.0