Just my opinion…

Last night on ABC, Norman Lear and Jimmy Kimmel presented a live broadcast of two original scripts from All In Family and The Jeffersons.

I was working, so I only got to see bits and pieces of the show. I will give credit where it is due, however:

First, it was an all star cast, it almost had to be – look at the great people who were in the original roles! Some seemed to fit perfectly, others, well, not so much. Second, the sets we’re amazing! If I didn’t know, I’d swear they were shot on the actual set from the 70’s! Very well done. Lastly, kudos for doing it live. That takes guts.

Now, here’s my opinion:

I understand Jimmy Kimmel’s personal desire to do this. I also understand Norman Lear’s involvement. My question, however, is – why?

This wasn’t your typical reboot. With those, you either have the old cast reunite for some new episodes (like Rosanne, Will and Grace, and countless others), or you have new episodes with a new cast in a “updated version” of the show (Like the One Day at a Time on Netflix). This special, however, was a new cast in the classic roles doing a word by word rendering of an old script. That’s right – an old show, word for word, the only thing that changed was the cast.

I read an article about the reboot and Sally Struthers, who played Gloria on the original All in the Family, basically trashed the idea! She asked the same question I did – why? She stated that it would not be the same without the original stars. I tend to agree with her. Did we really need this?

Hollywood proves again that they are out of original ideas! It’s bad enough it’s a reboot, it’s also not an original story idea! It’s an old script! Sure, you could replace the Nixon references and make them Trump references and they still work. You can also point out that even though the script is 40+ years old, the story is relatable. That only proves my point of this blog (in my final thought below).

The characters of Archie and Edith and George and Louise will forever be associated with the actors who played them in my mind. (I was impressed with Jamie Foxx and Marissa Tomei’s performances, but they weren’t Sherman Hemsley’s or Jean Stapleton!)

Final Thought

While it was interesting to have these shows back with a new cast, I didn’t really understand the point. It was a word for word production of an old script. You know what? If you are going to do that….I’d rather you just air the original episodes. If they were good enough to copy word for word, then just play the original!

Thoughts?

25 Things

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One of the daily writing prompts I read today asked to list 25 Things I’ll Never Do.  I grabbed a piece of paper and thought, “This will be easy.”  It was a bit harder than I thought.  I jotted them down one by one and stopped at 25.  I didn’t go any further.  I am sure if I thought more, I could expand the list.  For now, here at the ones that hit me immediately:

I will never ______

  1. Stop loving my wife and children
  2. Smoke a cigarette
  3. Go bungee jumping
  4. Stop writing
  5. Lose my faith in God
  6. Be perfect
  7. Beat my kids at that stupid Super Smash Brothers game
  8. Get a piercing
  9. Stop saying “I Love You”
  10. Take for granted someone’s presence in my life
  11. Give up on dreams
  12. Stop listening to music
  13. Intentionally hurt someone I care about
  14. Go downhill skiing
  15. Stop watching the Three Stooges
  16. Apologize for who I am
  17. Stop hugging my family and friends
  18. Forget those who have passed away
  19. Stop reading
  20. Sky dive
  21. Understand people who enjoy making other people miserable
  22. Act “my age”
  23. Ride in a hot air balloon
  24. Stop trying to make people laugh
  25. Realize how truly lucky I am to be living my life

How about you?  Can you list 25?  10?

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Tune Tuesday – True Love

Today’s tune is another one that you have probably never heard before.  It’s from a 1991 album that the critics gave poor reviews.  That’s the thing about music – we each have our own tastes and not everyone is going to agree on what’s “good” or “bad”.  I happen to really like this album, and play it often in the car.  Here’s how I discovered it, and maybe you’ll find it different and interesting, too.

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In 1991, I had broken up with a girl I had been dating for 3 years.  I was working part time in radio and an old buddy called me up and asked if I’d like to move to the west side of the state to do afternoon drive for his country station.  It didn’t really pay well, but it was a full time job.  Since the relationship was over, I decided maybe it was time to move out.  In April of 1991, I moved to Ludington, MI.

As a 20 year old guy, who had never been away from home, it was a bit scary.  I won’t lie to you, my first night away, I heard every noise inside and outside of my apartment. I really hated being away from my friends and family.  I knew a few of the people at the station and that was the extent of it.

I worked from noon-8pm.  My on air shift was 2p-7p.  I ran an satellite show until 8p and someone came in after me to keep the station on the air until midnight. I lived about 10-15 minutes from work and when I would get home I would sit in front of the TV.  The internet was probably around at the time, but I didn’t have a computer (and if I did, it would have been dial up!!).

I only had 3 or 4 stations, because I couldn’t afford cable TV.  It was during this time that I really began watching Johnny Carson and David Letterman and gained an appreciation for late night TV.  One night, Carson had Pat Benatar on as a musical guest. I was familiar with her music, as it was a big part of my childhood.  Love is a Battlefield, We Belong, and Hit Me With Your Best Shot were huge hits in the 80’s!  When Johnny introduced her, I was waiting for some kind of rock guitar lick, but it never came.

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The song opens with a very bluesy bass line, and I was completely thrown for a loop.  Pat’s vocal was sultry, smooth and sexy!  I was totally digging this song!  It was a HUGE departure from what she was known for.  Word is that she had always wanted to do a “jump blues” album, and this was it.  The album featured some covers (BB King and Wynonie Harris) and originals.  True Love was an original.

This is one of those songs I can listen to over and over again.  I just love her vocal and the arrangement.  Give it a listen –

True Love

Never been no fragile flower
I always got too much to say
Never had much luck with love and romance
I guess it’s always been that way

But I’ve been seriously thinking
About slippin’ on the velvet gloves
I know it’s strange but my lucks about to change
‘Cause what we got here is true love, yeah, yeah

True love, you can’t buy it no, no
You know it ain’t like nothin’ else
True love, you really ought to try it
You owe it to yourself to get you some true love

You know I wake up every morning
It’s the first thing on my mind
This is a permanent condition
Of the most serious kind

Now let me tell you baby
That you were sent from up above
Give me a sign let’s not waste any more time
‘Cause what we got here is true love, yeah, yeah

True love, you can’t buy it no, no
You know it ain’t like nothin’ else
True love, you really ought to try it
You owe it to yourself to get you some true love

I called the man at the video store and I said
Cancel my membership, I won’t be needing it no more
Found something else to occupy my nights
And baby it’s just the right amount of true love, true love, yeah

I called the man at the video store and I said
Cancel my membership, I won’t be needing it no more
Found something else to occupy my nights
And baby it’s just the right amount of true love, true love, yeah

Everybody wants it, everybody needs true love
Don’t get me wrong about the bad love
I gotta have good love
True love, yeah true love oh

True love

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Pat actually did 4 songs from the album on the Tonight Show.  The night she did True Love, she returned to do The Good Life, which was a blast because all of the Tonight Show Band members joined the band.  It was pretty cool.  It’s probably on You Tube somewhere.  She also, on another show, did the mellow So Long, and Wynonie Harris’ Bloodshot Eyes.

It doesn’t always work, but I am always curious to hear when a singer tries something a bit out of their genre.  Pat is a very talented singer and I really enjoy this album.

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Monday Memory – The Great Joke Off

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It’s a dirty job …. but somebody’s gotta do it!

I don’t remember if it was something I was picked to do, or if it was something I volunteered to do, but in elementary school I worked as a lunch helper. After lunch, we washed the plastic trays with one of those heavy duty water sprayers and run them through this huge dishwasher.

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I remember the over powering smell of bleach in the kitchen, and I remember working hard. I remember Ed and I worked together back there, and I am sure there were others too. I remember we got to split up the left overs and take them home if we wanted to, (They used to make these Mexican pizzas called Fiestadas that I used to love!) which was kind of a bonus!

I don’t recall if we were in the kitchen first, or if we cleaned the lunch room first (maybe Ed can remember), but we also got to help in the lunch room. Now, back in the day, the lunch room was the gym. There were tables and benches that folded up into the wall. They would be pulled out and that’s where we sat with our classes. When lunch was over, we would wipe the tables, help put them back in the wall and sweep the floor with the big dust mop.

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Mr. Steve was the head custodian at the time. He was ancient, but he was a fun guy. He was always singing and told jokes that had terrible punch lines. I really don’t know how long he worked there, but it was LONG after I left elementary school. I know that because after I graduated years later, and in between radio jobs, I worked for the school district as a custodian part time. Mr. Steve (or Mr. Friendly, as he sometimes called himself) was STILL there when I worked there!

I enjoyed working as a custodian. You had a section of rooms that you were responsible for and stuff that had to be done nightly. In the middle school and high school, there were many more after school activities to clean up after. There were also more things that had to be set up. Before basketball games, the bleachers had to be pulled out, etc… At the elementary schools, you had some after school stuff, but it was never as often as the middle or high schools. As a part timer, when they needed me, I went wherever they needed me. Sometimes I worked during the day, and sometime I worked at night. Mostly I worked at night. You went in at 2 or 3 after school let out and you went to work cleaning your section. You always brought along your cart from room to room.

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One vivid memory I have of working as a custodian was whenever you worked days, there was always the possibility of a student throwing up. If that happened, you got called to go clean it up. Not sure how they do it now, but back in the day, they had this sort of minty smelling sawdust that they sprinkled on the floor to soak it up. After it soaked it up, you swept it up and were done. I will never forget the smell of that sawdust!!

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Best Custodial Memory

Nancy was my bus driver all through middle school and high school. She was awesome. I probably drove her crazy. I sat up front because I wanted to be the first off the bus. She had my sense of humor. She laughed at my dumb jokes and often shared some of her own. She was the best!

The bus drivers, the cooks, and the custodians were all in the same union at our district. It was not odd to have a bus driver bid on a custodial or kitchen job and get it. Nancy ended up working at one of the elementary schools in the head custodian position. I would get to see her occasionally when I was sent to work at her school. If I knew I was going to be there, I’d always make sure I had a bad joke to tell her.

Summer Cleaning

I don’t remember who it was, but one of the custodians was off on medical leave one summer and they asked me to work for her all summer. It was at Nancy’s school. The first few weeks of the summer, I stayed on night hours, and then eventually, worked days.

Most custodians hated summer cleaning. It meant taking every thing out of the rooms and deep cleaning. It meant stripping the floors and waxing them. It was a lot of hard work. Some of those file cabinets and other things that were in teachers rooms were heavy!! In some cases, the painters needed to paint, the electricians needed to re-wire something, or the carpenters were in to do something.

I remember the first time I had to strip the wax off a floor. You had to use this huge floor machine. You spread the stripper on the floor and then used this machine to strip the wax off. I remember Nancy showing me how the machine worked. She turned it on and started moving it back and forth with no effort at all. She then told me to try. That machine almost threw me across the room!! It took me almost 2 hours to get the feel of that thing, and the minute I let my guard down, I might get tossed across the room again! It was crazy!!

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It was also embarrassing! That machine whipped me around like a two year old!!

The Great Joke Off

That summer was one I will never forget because of the “Great Joke Off” as we now refer to it. There was a room that had one of those blackboards on wheels. When that room was cleaned, they moved it into the hallway. The room was pretty close to the custodial room. When Nancy and I were on the opposite schedules (she on days and I was on nights) it was often the place where Nancy left me my “Things to Do” list for that day.

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I don’t recall who started it. It was probably me, at least that’s how I remember it. Before I left one night, I wrote a joke on the chalkboard, knowing it would be the first thing she saw when she walked in the next day. She would then return the favor and leave one for me, when I walked in. If memory serves me correctly, despite the fact that we both enjoy a good dirty joke, the jokes posted on the chalkboard were always clean. After all, teachers, the principal (who I now know, has the same sense of humor as both Nancy and I), or our boss could walk in at any time!

Many of the jokes I put up on the board were jokes (“stories”) told by my Life in America Teacher, Manny Balos. Other jokes were ones I had heard Soupy Sales tell on his radio show. The rest I used were ones that my dad or uncle told me, or that I found in old Larry Wilde Joke Books (Remember those?!).

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Here are a couple jokes from that summer that come to mind immediately:

A young husband just married a couple of weeks comes home from a really hard day at the office. As soon as he walks in, he collapses on the couch. He is just worn out.

His bride comes in and looks at him sympathetically and says, “Darling, you look so tired and hungry. How would you like a nice steak smothered in onions, with vegetables, mashed potatoes, and some delicious pie a la mode for dessert?”

The new husband looks up at his bride and says, “Not tonight, Honey, I’m too tired to go out!”

This is one of my favorite Soupy jokes –

A guy is at a bar after office hours and he is drinking with his friend. He sighs, and says to his friend, “Boy, I just have to have another drink before I go home. My wife is always on me from the moment I get home till I leave the next day about money. She is always nagging me and asking me about money. Last week she wanted two hundred dollars. The day before yesterday, it was one hundred dollars. This morning she asked me for another one hundred and fifty dollars!”

His friend says, “Wow! That’s awful. I’m sorry, pal! What could she possibly do with all that money?”

And the guy says, “I don’t know I never give her any!”

(Rim shot)

Imagine an entire summer filled with bad puns, stupid punch lines, and laughter to start the day! I worked my tail off that summer, and that joke at the start of each day made it worth coming to work! It was a summer I won’t forget.

Thanks to Facebook, Nancy and I have remained friends. Depending on her mood, or my topic, she even reads my blog every now and then. She continues to post silly puns on my Facebook page and I return the favor. In a way, the Great Joke Off continues, only it is not daily. Thanks Nancy, for your friendship and the many laughs!

So this dog walks into a bar ….

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My 5 Favorite Films of the ’50’s

Fave Films 50s Blogathon Poster Ver 3

National Classic Movie Day

Today, May 16th is National Classic Movie Day.  This blog is part of a blogathon being hosted by my friends at the Classic Film and TV Cafe’.  This is the first time I have participated in it, but it is something they have done for the past few years.  According to other bloggers, it started with the “You are stuck on a deserted island” premise.  “What are the ‘must have’ movies you have to have?”  Over the years, the theme of the blog has changed yearly.  This year, bloggers were asked to pick their five favorite films of the 1950’s.  You can find links to all of the blogs that are a part of this blogathon by going to their website at: http://www.classicfilmtvcafe.com

Lauren Bacall once said, “It’s not an old movie if you haven’t seen it.”  There is SO much truth to this quote.  I don’t remember where I first stumbled on it, but it was a quote that stuck with me. The reason I start this blog with this quote is to prompt you to expand your thinking and attitude a bit.

The movies I am going to write about are what some would consider “old.”  This does note mean that they lack in a good story or a good performance.  As a matter of fact, as I look over my list of movies, I feel that they all have a good story and some powerful performances.  What makes them even better, in my opinion, is that they lack the CGI special effects and modern day movie magic!  They are good films without all that.

Honorable Mentions

Trying to trim my original list down to 5 movies was a difficult task.  I started with a list of about 50 films.  I whittled that down to a list of about 17.  Certainly, any of these could be in my top 5 and are well worth a watch if you have never seen them:

  • Rear Window
  • Singing in the Rain
  • Ben Hur
  • Dial M for Murder
  • Shane
  • North By Northwest
  • Forbidden Planet
  • On the Waterfront
  • Vertigo
  • The Ten Commandments
  • Gun Fight at the OK Corral
  • The Young Lions.

The star power in the movies listed above is amazing!  Now, here are the 5 I have chosen to write about for National Classic Movie Day (in chronological order):

The Wild One (1953)

The film opens with these words on the screen:  “This is a shocking story.  It could never take place in most American towns – but it did in this one.  It is a public challenge not to let it happen again.”  Well, right from the start you are hooked.  The film is based on Frank Rooney’s short story “The Cyclists’ Raid”, which was inspired by media coverage of a motorcycle rally that got out of hand in July of 1947.

The film stars Marlon Brando as Johnny, the leader of The Black Rebels Motorcycle Club.  Word is Brando only took the role because of producer Stanley Kramer.  It’s an odd role for him, at least for me because I am use to him delivering these great monologues in other films.  He rarely speaks in this film, but it is still a powerful performance.

Even though he is only in the film for about 10 minutes, Lee Marvin’s performance as Chino, the leader of the Beetles, is very memorable.  Other members of the cast include Mary Murphy as Brando’s love interest and Robert Keith and Jay C. Flippen as law officers.

While the “shock” value today is a whole lot less than it was when this film is released, there are still moments that will stick with you!  Perhaps this is a bit stereotypical in the portrayal of rebellious teens, if you can get past the 50’s jive lingo, it’s worth a watch.

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Night of the Hunter (1955)

This film is the only film directed by Charles Laughton.  It is also one of those films that scared the hell out of me.  Robert Mitchum is simply amazing as Reverend Powell.  Powell is a serial killer who has the words “L-O-V-E” and “H-A-T-E” tattooed on his hands, and often uses them for spur of the moment sermons.  While in jail, Powell’s cell mate speaks of the money he has hidden from a bank robbery he committed.  Powell only learns that the man’s children are aware of where the money is hidden.  After the man is executed for his crimes, Powell finds the man’s children and widow and marries her in hopes of finding the money.

The cast also includes a young Peter Graves, James Gleason, Lillian Gish, and Shelley Winters.  This movie still freaks me out when I see the “under water” scene!  Mitchum is the perfect villain and this movie will stay with you long after you watch it!

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Patterns (1956)

This is one of those films that not many people know about, and that is a shame!  The screen play is written by Rod Serling (Yes, Rod Serling of the Twilight Zone!) and it is a marvelous and suspenseful drama.  It was originally broadcast live on the Kraft Television Theatre in 1955 with Richard Kiley in the starring role of Fred Staples.  In the film, Van Heflin takes over the role.

Most of the movie takes place at the offices of Ramsey & Co – an industrial corporation headed by Walter Ramsey, played brilliantly by Everett Sloan.  You think you hate your boss?  Wait until you see Sloan in action.  He is the ultimate JERK!

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Ed Begley Sr. plays the role of Bill Briggs.  Briggs and Ramsey are always at odds with each other.  Briggs and Staples hit it off and become good friends.  In a story that could happen at any company anywhere, Staples finds out that he has been brought in to replace Briggs.

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The movie is a true representation of corporate America.  We see the every day stress and the effects of it on the employees of the company and their family members throughout the film.  Serling was very careful to make the dialogue of the film as “normal” as possible.  One source stated that he re-wrote the screen play often to be sure the dialogue was honest.

The end of the film features a very tense confrontation between Staples and Ramsey.  The performances of Heflin and Sloan are Oscar worthy, in my opinion.  It may not be loaded with a whole lot of action, but it truly is an amazing film.

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12 Angry Men (1957)

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Hands down, this is one of my favorite films of all time.  It is a film that is often showed as part of management training or employee orientations because it shows a group of men with different morals and personalities working toward a solution (in this case – a verdict).

I have never been picked for jury duty.  I cannot imagine the weight or stress that is put on 12 people to decide whether someone is guilty or innocent of a crime.  I can’t imagine the stress of possibly sending someone to death as a result of the verdict either.  Watching this film is an experience, without a doubt.

The film basically takes place in one room.  After the first vote, there are 11 votes for guilty and one for innocent, which begins the process of examining the evidence.  In one of the most effective camera tricks in film, it continues to close in as the film progresses.  In other words, we start seeing the entire jury room and all 12 men.  As the movie continues, the camera gets closer and closer to each of the jurors as tensions continue to build.  It may or may not be noticed to the casual viewer, but it is really adds to the movie and the eventually conclusion.

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The cast is also top notch!  Henry Fonda is juror #8, the one who starts all the trouble.  Martin Balsam, John Fiedler, E.G. Marshall, Ed Begley Sr., Joseph Sweeney, Jack Warden, Edward Binns, Jack Klugman, Robert Webber, George Voskovec, and Lee J. Cobb comprise the rest of the jury.

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The personalities and the conflicts that go on between them are a clear picture of what we deal with each and every day in human nature.  We are all different.  We all come from different backgrounds and beliefs.  It is no wonder this film is used to help people in management understand the differences in humans and human nature.

While all the performances are spot on, the one that stands out the most to me is that of Lee J. Cobb.  His performance is exhausting and perfect – and just one of the many reasons to see this movie.

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Rio Bravo (1959)

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This one made my list as a guilty pleasure.  I love John Wayne, and have plenty of his films among my favorites, but it’s not his performance that stands out to me – it’s Dean Martin’s.

After Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis parted ways, there were many people who thought that Dean Martin’s career was over.  It almost was because of his first solo film (Ten Thousand Bedrooms), which flopped.  He came back to become quite a good actor and this is one of those performances that often cited as one that made his critics re-think what he could do. No surprise, Dean plays a drunk in this film.  His performance in this movie, to me, is one of his best.

The film was produced and directed by Howard Hawks.  Along with John Wayne and Dean Martin (who would also star together in The Sons of Katie Elder), the cast features singer/actor Ricky Nelson, the lovely Angie Dickinson, Ward Bond, and Walter Brennan.  It’s a good story, with something for everyone.  For me, I always come back for Dean’s performance.

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Conclusion

If you have never seen these five films (or the “honorable mentions”), I encourage you to check them out.  I also encourage you to surf over to the Classic Film and TV Cafe’ (www.classicfilmtvcafe.com) to read other entries in this blogathon, and read some other great posts.  I thank them for allowing me to participate and look forward to the next blogathon!

What are YOUR five favorite films of the ’50s??

 

“For the record …”

In keeping with my tradition of following Jack Benny’s example, today I celebrate the 10th anniversary of my 39th birthday.

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My wife is the best gift giver – hands down.  She picks up on things that I say in passing and turns it into an amazing gift.  She knows I love the Godfather and mafia related stuff.  For Christmas, she found the Godfather Notebook, which is a simply amazing book compiled of some of the novel, Francis Ford Coppola’s notes, and some very cool pictures.

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My dad and I were talking about how my grandpa used to use a cup and brush to lather up to shave one day.  For our anniversary, she bought me this sweet shaving set with razor, cup, brush, and more.  Truly a unique and wonderful gift!

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She topped both of those for my birthday. I guess one day my dad and I were talking about vinyl records.  I was talking about how I would sit in on the floor in our front room and listen to them.  I was raised listening to vinyl records – and just a few blogs ago talked about them!  As a kid, I had this red and white record player and played my records on it – if you’re old enough, you probably did too!

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My wife has a hard time keeping secrets.  She tried to give me hints:  “It’s something you were talking to your dad about.” That could be anything from music to TV to movies…you name it!!  “You were just talking about it.”  Again, no help.  I told her to stop trying to tell me or give me hints.  I told her I would wait until my birthday and see what it was.  She was obviously quite happy with whatever she was giving me and said, “It’s gonna be hard to beat this one…”

Over the weekend, my brother came up from Ohio for a visit.  He wanted to visit my mother’s grave for Mother’s Day.  I also had my sons for the weekend, so she decided that when I got home from work on Saturday, we were doing a small birthday celebration.  She got a cake, ice cream, and I had to open my present.

No doubt, you know what it is based on what I have written.  She had me open the album she got me first.  A perfect choice –

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A double album of Sinatra!  I have to be honest, it had been so long since I held an album, I thought it was a picture or something.  I mean, the cover art is beautiful and could easily be framed!  Then, I opened the main present –

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I’m not going to lie, I got emotional.  What an amazingly thoughtful gift!  I was speechless.  My brother captured the moment in pictures, but the angle makes me look awful, so I am not posting those pictures!  This machine is wonderful.  It has speakers on the front, a headphone jack to listen privately, the capability of recording to a USB device, and RCA outputs to play through my DJ equipment, if I am so inclined.

As I pulled the album out of the sleeve, I could feel my hands shaking.  I carefully put the album on the turntable and dropped the needle gently in the grooves……and there was Frank singing “One For My Baby”.  Wow.  The sounds of Sinatra on vinyl.  Only those who appreciate the sounds of music on vinyl can relate to what I was experiencing.  I probably could have sat in the corner with headphones on and spent the rest of the afternoon like that.  What a surreal experience.

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As I mentioned a bit ago, I had just blogged about missing record stores a few days ago.  You can read that blog here:

https://nostalgicitalian.com/2019/05/08/i-miss-record-stores/

She thought I was on to her when I posted that blog!  What a coincidence, huh?  What are the odds?  She literally had purchased the record player a few days earlier!

This weekend, she has more plans for me.  She let the cat out of the bag that we are celebrating my day throughout the weekend with more surprises.  She did let me in on one stop – we are going to make a trip to the record store, so I can purchase a few albums to listen to on my birthday present.

Thank you, baby, for your wonderful gift!  I love it and I love you more than I can say!! Thank you for making my birthday and my life so special!

 

 

Tune Tuesday – Mack the Knife

 

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Bobby Darin was a talent.  He was a songwriter, a singer, an actor, and played multiple instruments.  Today is the anniversary of his birth – he was born May 14, 1936.  As a baby, he had bouts of Rheumatic Fever, which caused some damage to his heart.  He beat many odds and lived longer than most doctors expected him to.

He began his career writing songs for Connie Francis, and eventually recorded his first song, “Splish Splash” which was a hit in 1958.  He followed it with many other hits including “Dream Lover,” “Beyond the Sea,” “If I Were a Carpenter”, and “Mack the Knife.”

Mack the Knife was Bobby’s biggest hit spending 9 weeks at #1.  It was the #1 record of 1959.  It won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1960, and Bobby won a Grammy Award for Best New Artist of the Year.  The song later received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award.  But it was almost NOT released as a single.

The song is from The Threepenny Opera.  Bobby saw this show at a theater in Greenwich Village in 1958 and thought he could present it in a more “jazzy” way.  He began to sing it in his nightclub act and got a good response.  He recorded it on an album and the sales of the album and his nightclub act had audiences wanting more of it.  Originally Bobby did not want to release the song as a single.  After all, he was a teen idol and had an image to uphold.  A old song about a murderer could easily tarnish that.  The record label decided that it should be released – and the rest is history!

One cool piece of trivia (at least for me, as a trumpet player):  Doc Severinsen, who would go on to work with Johnny Carson as the bandleader of the Tonight Show Band, is one of the trumpet players on this song.

Mack The Knife

Oh, the shark, babe, has such teeth, dear
And he shows them pearly white
Just a jackknife has old Macheath, babe
And he keeps it out of sight

You know when that shark bites with his teeth, babe
Scarlet billows start to spread
Fancy gloves, though, wears old Macheath, babe
So there’s never, never a trace of red

Now on the sidewalk, ooh, sunny morning, uh-huh
Lies a body just oozin’ life
Eek, and someone’s sneakin’ ’round the corner
Could that someone be Mack the Knife?

There’s a tugboat down by the river, don’t ya know
Where a cement bag’s just a-droopin’ on down
Oh, that cement is just, it’s there for the weight, dear
Five’ll get ya ten, old Macky’s back in town

Now d’ya hear about Louie Miller? He disappeared, babe
After drawin’ out all his hard-earned cash
And now Macheath spends just like a sailor
Could it be our boy’s done something rash?

Now Jenny Diver, ho, ho, yeah, Sukey Tawdry
Ooh, Miss Lotte Lenya and old Lucy Brown
Oh, the line forms on the right, babe
Now that Macky’s back in town

I said Jenny Diver, whoa, Sukey Tawdry
Look out to Miss Lotte Lenya and old Lucy Brown
Yes, that line forms on the right, babe
Now that Macky’s back in town

Look out ol’ Macky’s back!

There are many biographies available about the life of Bobby Darin.  His son, Dodd, wrote one entitled Dream Lovers which talks much about his dad and his mom (Sandra Dee).  It’s an honest read.

Bobby had health issues throughout his life and his heart already had issues.  In 1973, he neglected to take the antibiotics he was prescribed for his heart before a dentist visit.  He ended up developing sepsis which spread throughout his body.  This made him weak and affected one of the valves in his heart.  He checked himself into the hospital for another open heart surgery (he had two heart valves replaced in 1971).  After a six hour surgery, he died in the recovery room on December 20, 1973.  He never regained consciousness.  Bobby Darin was 37 years old.

Bobby