TGIF (Yes, the one from your childhood)

This week, I had no idea what I was going to write about until Thursday morning. I’ve had the Friday post for a couple months now, and I was thinking about what I used to do on Fridays as a kid. Then I knew. I knew I had to write what might be the most important blog post that will ever run on, if not the internet. I knew I had to rank the top 5 shows to ever grace the airwaves of the wonderful TGIF lineups.


TGIF was a mid 90s programming block on ABC. It featured some of the best family sitcoms of all time. Both my wife and I have very fond memories of watching with our families as we ate Domino’s pizza. It was the only day of the week I got to watch more than 30 minutes of TV. I very much took advantage of it.

Here is my list of the top 5 shows from the TGIF lineups, in very particular order:

#5 - Step by Step 1991-1997

If you don’t remember it, Step by Step was a rip-off of The Brady Bunch. I thought Alan Thicke starred as the dad instead of Patrick Duffy. Man, that would have been a helluva better show. It also featured creepy nephew Cody who lived in a van and invented crystal meth.

#4 Family Matters 1989-1997

When I saw how long this show ran, I was astonished. Nine years for any show is great. Once upon a time, an 8 year old Casey Carpenter went as Steve Urkle for Halloween. As I walked out of the school bathroom in my high water pants, suspenders, and enormous glasses, I was proud to be associated with the dorkiest black man that has ever graced television. Yes, I did do that.

#3 Sabrina the Teenage Witch 1996-2000

Melissa Joan Hart and Salem the smart-ass cat. The only reason this show didn’t rank as #2 or #1 is because there weren’t any Pearl Jam references. Would it have killed the writers to include a shout out to Clarissa Explains It All?

#2 Boy Meets World 1993-2000

It was really hard to put this show at #2 instead of #1. The antics of Cory Matthews and his loyal, dim-witted sidekick Shawn often made me laugh and cry. Now that I’m an old fart, I want to emulate the dad-isms of Mr. Feeny and Alan Matthews. Damn, I loved this show. I hope this remake isn’t as ridiculous as all of the other crap on Disney these days. But there can only be one…

#1 Full House 1987-1991

This was the best family sitcom of the 1990s, regardless of TV block. Before you mildly write your grievances in the comment thread about how there’s no way this should be #1, please consider what the cast of FH achieved after the show was off the air:

  • one inspired the best selling album of the 1990s (Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette)
  • one married and divorced Mystique
  • one may have contributed to the death of the Joker
  • one is currently dancing with the stars
  • most did a lot of drugs, but only one did a lot of METH
  • one hosted America’s Funniest Videos then became a vulgar comic
  • one was the voice of Aladdin
  • and one was a badass dog named Comet


Good Friday everyone!





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How to Repair Almost Anything: The Automobile

By: Alan Meincke

Cars are expensive and frankly a pain in the ass most of the time. As a man, you should at least know (even if you never do it) how to change your own oil. I confess I’m no serious mechanic. I live in an apartment, and I don’t have a garage. However, in the last year, I’ve replaced my car’s front rotors and brake pads, put in new spark plugs, replaced an ignition coil, repaired the wires going to the ignition coil, replaced the solenoid, and repaired several burnt-out interior lights in my old Volvo.

These days, we’ve all been scared into never working on our own cars. Talk to your grandpa, and I’m pretty sure he’ll tell you about the time he dropped the entire engine out of the car, rebuilt it, and ran it like new back in the day.


While there are much more complicated systems in cars today, a few simple tricks can save you major dollars when it comes to maintaining and repairing your vehicle (and you can impress the ladies).

First of all, understand auto repair shops charge you for labor and parts. They most definitely add time to their “labor,” and they absolutely charge you a premium for the parts they order. At a minimum, you can save yourself some expense by purchasing the parts yourself–even if you don’t know how to do the repair.

Granny wasn't even afraid to tinker under the hood back in the day.

Even Granny wasn’t afraid to tinker under the hood back in the day.

Either way, take the time to sort out your car issue through the following:

1)    Auto Repair Supply Shops. I didn’t realize this until about a year ago, but it turns out almost all of these places will run the error code on your car for free (rather than charging you $80 for a 5-minute test the car repair shops charge). Oftentimes, the employees at these places can be very helpful if you treat them courteously and stop long enough to talk to them about your issue. These shops also have tools they will lend out to customers. I’ve used tool rental programs to replace spark plugs (torque wrench) and to run a compression test (compression test kit) on my car.

2)    The Internet: Coupons & Forums. Not only have I realized I can Google coupon codes for certain car repair supply shops (cough, Advance Auto Parts, cough) that have saved me upwards of 40% off parts orders, but I also discovered nearly every make and model car has dedicated enthusiast forums online. These sites are full of DIYers and sometimes even mechanics who work on your exact make and model vehicle.

3)    Youtube. Yes, Youtube is on the Internet, but it gets it’s own category, because I’m writing this article and not you. Youtube has endless numbers of videos about how to do a variety of different auto repair jobs. If you can’t find one for your exact vehicle, you can typically find the repair done on a similar model vehicle made by the manufacturer. These videos are incredibly helpful as you can see how the guy got his hand around X to get to Y.

4)    Owner’s Manual. Ah, the humble owner’s manual. It has sat, lonely and unused, in your glove box for years. Now’s the time to pull that sucker out! It will give you helpful information like the proper gap in your spark plugs, how often you should change your oil (3,000 miles is no longer the rule of thumb it once was), and proper tire pressure.

Whenever you’re faced with a potential auto repair job, always check these avenues first! As I started implementing these strategies, I realized in the past I paid some dude $80 an hour to pop one thing open to pull out and replace my cabin air filter. I paid some guy to push and hold the button by my odometer to reset the service light. DO NOT DO THIS!!

Not only will you save a lot of money, you will come to appreciate the design and complexity of your car. Plus, you can go out to a nice dinner with all that money you saved!

Have you every done any repair or maintenance on your vehicles? How’d it turn out?

Alan realized the irony of writing this article the night before he took his car into a repair shop. Sometimes, jobs are too big to do yourself…Transmission leaks are on that list for him.


The Joy of Vinyl

By: Andy Crawford

This Saturday, April 19th, is Record Store Day. In celebration, I want to share my journey into the wonderful world of vinyl music.

I can’t remember the first time I heard Aerosmith’s classic, Dream On. But I remember vividly the first time I heard it on vinyl.

At UGA, I had to go through my roommate’s room in order to reach my windowless little nook in the back of the basement. Since he was a member of the Redcoat band, I would often find him playing an instrument or listening to music. I had little interest in music, and even less so in band nerd stuff. One day, he stopped me on my way through and told me I should listen to his new 45, as he knew I was an Aerosmith fan. I didn’t expect much as he dropped the needle, but my mind was soon blown.

The warm crackle of the spinning record turned into a guitar strum so crisp that it sounded as if Joe Perry was playing in the room.

My friend and roommate, fellow BBT writer Jason Smith, explained to me that vinyl played music in analog, so the sound waves were similar to hearing the performance live. A pressed vinyl loses virtually none of the recorded music, and emits a nice, flowing sound wave. Digital formats compress music into sequences of “0s” and “1s”, losing much of the music’s subtlety in the transition.

So that afternoon, when I heard Steven Tyler start, “Every time I look in the mirror…” I was truly hearing him utter those lyrics for the first time in their entirety.

To put it another way, listening to CDs and mp3s all of my life was like eating a hot dog for every meal. When I listened to vinyl, it was like having a steak for the first time.

I tucked that experience away, and made sure to acquire a record player as soon as I moved into my own house a few years later. I rescued my parent’s large antique player, which was collecting dust in their basement. After cleaning it up and kindly telling my mother I had no interest in her Donny and Marie records, I had what I needed to start my own vinyl collection.

Here are three of my favorites that I have bought from Amazon and the legendary Wuxtry in downtown Athens, as well as why vinyl has helped make each album better.

Aerosmith – Toys in the Attic


No vinyl collection is complete without some 1970s era rock from the heyday of the format, and the Bad Boys from Boston are a great place to start. Like the aforementioned Dream On, the songs on this album were meant to be heard on vinyl. Featuring some of the biggest hits of all time like Walk This Way and Sweet Emotion, even its deeper tracks are gems. Plus, I got it for only $5 at the Wuxtry!

Bon Iver – Bon Iver


In 2006, U.S. vinyl sales totaled only $36 million. In 2012, that number had climbed to $171 million. This is thanks in no small part to newer artists embracing the vinyl format. In 2012, 9 of the 10 top selling vinyl records were from contemporary artists, such as Mumford & Sons and Adele. My favorite contemporary vinyl is the Bon Iver album. I didn’t care much for this album when I first heard it. However, the Blessed Format (as vinyl is often referred) showed me the way. I dare you to listen to this album ten times and not pickup something new every time you hear it. If I had only ever heard this album on my iPod, it would have been long forgotten. Since I can enjoy it in all its vinyl glory, a month rarely goes by when I don’t pour an inch or two of bourbon, close my eyes, and take in the warm sounds this amazing record has to offer.

Junior Kimbrough – You Better Run: The Essential Junior Kimbrough


That is the face of an authentic blues man.

My absolute favorite thing about vinyl is that it has opened me up to entirely new areas of music I would otherwise never have experienced. Instead of just jamming to some classic or alternative rock while I was on a run or in my car, I make sitting down and just listening an event by itself. The music isn’t just a distraction or a mood setter, but the actual focus of my attention. I now enjoy the music on an entirely different level.

As I got in the habit of enjoying music in a new way, I soon found myself gravitating to jazz and blues. The first blues artist I came across was Junior Kimbrough. Junior is a legend of the Mississippi Delta Blues, and one of the key influences on the Black Keys (their entire EP Chulahoma consists of covers of Kimbrough’s songs). From the eerie You Better Run to the anguished Done Got Old, this album demonstrates the intensity of blues. Without a doubt, I know I would never have experienced such special music had I not gotten into vinyl.

Do you listen to vinyl? How did you get started listening to the Blessed Format? Do you have any recommendations for readers considering starting their own record collection?

Andy lives near Athens with his wife and daughter. He promised to write on something other than politics and history, so here you go.