My Mind Overflows With Random Thought

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Life used to have a routine.  I could plan my day.  Phrases like: Business as usual, status quo, day to day affairs, normal activities, daily grind, staying the course, standard practice, and as per usual – don’t mean anything anymore.  Nothing is normal anymore.  As a midnight shift worker, it’s hard to know what day it is, but when the routine is thrown off, it becomes more difficult.

Give Me Just A Little More Time

I have been seriously trying to make time to sort through thoughts.  Believe it or not, it’s been a little easier to do since I have been at home a bit more.  Last week I only worked about half of my 40 hours because of low census and the eventual closing down of our lab.  I was able to get some hours helping out in the Labor Pool at the hospital.

Our techs were reassigned.  Some had jobs in the hospital, but I was reassigned on Wednesday night to go to the hospital to help direct traffic.  We were given one of those orange vests and we were sent out to the main parking lot.  Our job was to make sure the cars that were lined up to be screened for the Covid-19 virus had first been checked in at the ER.

Basically, a check in at the ER determined whether or not your situation or symptoms warranted actually getting the test.  You probably know that there are a limited amount of tests, so the ones who would benefit from a self quarantine were sent home, while others drove to where I was and got in line to be screened.  Screenings were done in their cars.

I reported to work at 6:45 pm.  Seeing the line of cars made this whole thing much more of a reality for me.  There were plenty of cars in line.  Some of them had not been screened at ER, so we had to instruct them to go there first.  As you can imagine, there was a lot of stress, worry, and anger going on.  I saw a road rage incident while we were out there.  Apparently, a car in front of another was not pulling up far enough and the rear car kept beeping at him to move forward.  A few beeps and the driver was out yelling at the other.  Security had to be called. It was nuts!

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As the evening progressed, the line became shorter.  Testing ended at about 2 am, and that was when we left.  I had to go inside to use the restroom at one point and I can tell you that the doctors, nurses, and staff in the hospital were busy!  They were frazzled, but it was a picture of controlled chaos.  Kudos to these men and women, who are doing everything they can to help stop this thing!

My Anniversary

I was standing in the parking lot directing traffic at midnight yesterday.  I set an alarm so I would not forget to wish my wife Happy Anniversary.  I posted this on my Facebook page:

“Two years ago today, I married my best friend. Two years ago today, I married my one true love. Two years ago today, I married the woman who completes me, brings me joy, companionship, encouragement, support, and love. I swore two years ago that I could never love another female like I loved her … then she gave birth to our daughter. I am blessed beyond measure having these two in my life!

Happy anniversary, Sam, I cannot wait for the years ahead.

Thank you for two amazing years – our adventure continues….”

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People Unite

Covid-19 is a worldwide issue!  It is everywhere and it is effecting everyone.  In my many years on the radio, I have had the chance to meet and become friends with some musical artists.  Working in country radio, I can tell you that the country artists are just amazing.  I could sit and chat with them about songwriting, their tour, their families, etc…  I always enjoyed having the chance to interview them on the radio.

With all of the social distancing and people being told to stay home, the musical artists are taking a hit.  You may be upset that the concert you planned to attend has been postponed, but I can tell you that the artists are just as upset.  Going out on tour, talking to radio stations, meeting fans, and performing for you is what they love to do!  Covid-19 has forced them to stay home, too!

You probably read where Garth Brooks is going to do a live concert on the internet this week.  There are many other artists who are doing the same!  Brad Paisley did an acoustic session on Facebook, so did Jewel.

My buddy, James Otto, was the first one I heard mention that he was going to do it.  I was at work when it was live, but I did catch it afterward on Facebook.  It was great!  It was so simple and awesome.  It reminded me of the time he had come through town before his hit Just Got Started Lovin’ You hit the air. He came in, we interviewed him on the air, and then he did a little acoustic set for the staff in the conference room.  God, do I miss those!  My apologies to James for this incredibly terrible screen shot of his live stream.

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He sounded great!  Thanks for the much needed “pick me up”!

It’s also been great to see video messages from Simon Pegg, Matthew McConaughey, Michael Buble’ and other celebrities!  These messages have brought music, hope, laughs, and entertainment to folks cooped up in the homes.  I have read about celebrities offering dance instruction, comedians doing comedy sets, celebrities reading books to kids, chefs doing cooking lessons, and more!  It’s great to see so much good amidst the craziness in the world.

Staying Connected

The WiFi is working at my house, and I use it not only to surf the internet, check e-mail, and to write this blog, I also use it to make video calls.  I have an Android phone and just can’t convince myself to switch to an iPhone.  My wife tried to get me to switch so we could use FaceTime.  Well, I found Google Duo does the same thing.  So I am able to video chat with her and see the baby while at work at night.  I can also video chat with my dad and my brother so they can see the baby, too!

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My buddy Johnny Molson (more on him in a minute) has been taking part in Zoom meetings.  Basically group chats with friends, so they can all keep in touch.  Restaurants, bars, and places to gather have been closed, so these video group chats can allow folks to gather while social distancing themselves from others.

My new doctor has tele-medicine available.  We can video chat with her if we need to.  My therapist is actually going to be doing my session via video today. It should be interesting.  I will keep the phone above the waist….I am wearing my Minion pajama bottoms!  LOL

Already bored with TV

I don’t have a whole lot of stuff I watch on TV.  Lately, it’s been The First 48, Forensic Files, Live PD, and a few others.  Some of these cable channels are doing these all day marathons, and I wish they wouldn’t.  I love a good rerun, but I I don’t think I like them with these types of shows.  Maybe I am just picky.  Hell, I will watch reruns of old shows like Sanford and Son, Columbo, Perry Mason, and Mission: Impossible all day – it doesn’t bug me at all.  I just can’t sit and watch these over and over.

This is where the internet is helpful again.  Does your imagination need a workout?  Books can help, but if you want to “watch a show”, may I recommend Old Time Radio Shows? They are like watching TV shows, only without the video.  Families would gather in front of the radio at night and listen to their favorites – remember the scene in A Christmas Story when Ralphie is listening to Little Orphan Annie?

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I have Sirius XM in my car, and I love the Old Radio Show Channel.  I’m not sure if the copyright on some shows are a factor or what, but I have heard the channel host say that “certain shows are no longer available” for them to play.  I end up hearing a lot of shows that I was never really interested in.

I realize that these shows are dated, but they are still very entertaining.  Many are available on YouTube.  If you like crime shows – check out Dragnet, Broadway is My Beat, Sherlock Holmes, or Gangbusters.  If you like mystery and suspense – try The Mysterious Traveler, Suspense, The Whistler, or Nightbeat.  For Movie adaptations – try Lux Radio Theater, Screen Directors PlayHouse, or CBS Radio Mystery Theater.  If you want to laugh – try The Jack Benny Program, Fibber McGee and Molly, Amos and Andy, Our Miss Brooks, The Fred Allen Show, Burns and Allen, The Life of Riley, or Abbott and Costello.  Sometimes I do a google search for an actor and find shows they were on (“Edward G. Robinson on radio” will bring up a few). Let your imagination get a workout while stuck at home!

New Sleep Habit

As a sleep technologist, we tell patients all the time of the importance of having a bedtime routine.  That can really help assure that you fall asleep and keep you in a regular sleep pattern.  With a 6 week old baby, you can imagine how the bedtime routine has changed!  Sam has a routine with the baby ever night.  When I am home – I basically throw that routine off.

The baby has a sound machine that plays music.  The bassinet has a button that makes it vibrate.  Then she has a stuffed animal that lights up and puts lights on the ceiling.

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Hers is an elephant, but the dog above shows how it works.  At any rate, all of these things are on as Ella goes to bed.  It’s been a routine now for 6 weeks.

I noticed this week after coming home after my shift and trying to sleep during the day, that I was having an issue falling asleep.  You know what it is?  I have found that I actually find it hard to fall asleep now without that silly music on!  I thought it was crazy, until Sam told me that she felt like she had to turn the stars on so she could see them on the ceiling to fall asleep.  If you are a parent, has something like this happened to you?

“Buy me a coffee”

I noticed this recently on some of the blogs I follow.  At the end of their blog, there is an icon that says “Buy Me a Coffee.”

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So, is this like a “tip?”  “Hey, buddy.  Nice blog – have a coffee.”  I hadn’t noticed this before, but I am seeing it more and more.  Don’t get my wrong – I LOVE coffee, but I am not going to beg my readers for one.  I’m all for getting together and having coffee together, I would love that!  I just think it’s odd.  I mean, if you really want to buy me something, I’m not going to turn away diapers or formula!  LOL

Parting thoughts ( that I wish I had written )

I mentioned Johnny Molson, above.  He wrote a very cool piece that I shared on Facebook and I wanted to share it here as well.  I could have copied and pasted it, but I didn’t want to be accused of plagiarism.  So surf over here and check out this piece that really speaks to our current situation.

I’m Proud of You (Us)

Take care of yourself!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mystery Mania 2019

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As someone who loves a good mystery, I jumped at the chance to take part in the “Mystery Mania Blogathon” being hosted by Robin and her site, Pop Culture Reverie.  For this event, the topics could include movies, novels, video games, and TV shows.  While there are plenty of books and TV shows that I would have loved to write about, two movies immediately came to mind and I have chosen to write about them.  You can read what other bloggers have chosen for this event here:

https://popculturereverie.wordpress.com/

The Old Dark House Genre

Both of the films I am writing about would fall into what movie critics would call “The Old Dark House” genre.  This would be a sub-genre of the suspense/thriller/mystery film.  The genre tends to lean toward comedy, farce, parody, or whodunit mysteries. I wouldn’t call them “Haunted House” movies, as those tend to involve ghosts or the supernatural. Some common themes you may find in an Old Dark House movie include: (1) a group of people or strangers having to spend the night in some sort of castle, house, or mansion, (2) a murderer, creature, or some sort of madman on the loose, (3) usually the setting is a dark, foggy, or stormy night, (4) the house has hidden rooms or some sort of secret passageway (5) a butler, maid, or servants (6) a mysterious host, (7) pictures with removable eyes for spying on guests, and (8) possibly, a murder.

These movies are referred to as “Old Dark House” movies because they are similar to the plot of the 1932 film “Old Dark House” which starred Boris Karloff, Charles Laughton, and Gloria Stuart.  Other famous films of this genre include 1945’s And Then There Were None and The House of Fear, 1948’s Who Killed Doc Robbin?, 1941’s Murder By Invitation, 1975’s The Spiral Staircase, 1978’s The Cat and the Canary, 1985’s Clue, and 1980’s Private Eyes, which will be the second film I am writing about.  Oh, and of course, the first film I am writing about ….

Murder By Death (1976)

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There are a few reasons I chose to write about this film.  First, it is a very funny film written by Neil Simon.  The film is a comedy/parody that is loaded with quick and funny lines.  Second, it is a send up of some of the greatest literary sleuths and detectives.  The film parodies Charlie Chan, Nick and Nora Charles, Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, and Sam Spade.  Finally, it has a simply wonderful and amazing cast.  Peter Sellers is Sidney Wang (Charlie Chan), David Niven and Maggie Smith are Dick and Dora Charleston (Nick and Nora Charles), Elsa Lanchester is Jessica Marbles (Miss Marple), James Coco is Milo Perrier (Hercule Poirot), and Peter Falk is Sam Diamond (Sam Spade).  Other greats in the cast include Eileen Brennan, Nancy Walker, Truman Capote, James Cromwell, Estelle Winwood, and Alec Guinness.

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A keen observer will notice that the opening credits are drawn by Charles Addams, who created the comic strip The Addams Family.  We see a body with 11 knives lodged in the back, followed by the 11 “suspects”.

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Whether it is deliberate or not, the plot to the film is fairly ridiculous.  Millionaire Lionel Twain (Capote) invites five of the world’s greatest detectives to his home to solve a murder that hadn’t been committed yet (it will happen at midnight that evening).  He offers a million dollar prize to the one who can solve the murder.  The cast avoid numerous attempts on their own lives, while stumbling on more than one apparent murder throughout the film.

One of the true joys of this film is the performance of Alec Guinness as the blind butler, Jamesir Bensonmumm.  The dialogue between Guinness, David Niven and Maggie Smith regarding his name plays out like an Abbott and Costello bit.  He has some very funny lines and he delivers them perfectly.  When asked about Mrs. Twain, Bensonmum says, “She murdered herself in her sleep, sir.”  When asked if it was suicide, he replies, “Oh no.  It was murder alright.  Mrs. Twain hated herself!”  Sidney Wang asks about loud growling and barking from a cage.  He is told by the butler that it is the cat.  When he is questioned again in disbelief, Bensonmum replies, “I’m afraid he is a very angry cat. Mr. Twain had him fixed … and he didn’t want to be.”

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It was while filming Murder By Death, that Guinness received his copy of a script for Star Wars.  He read the script between takes while in his dressing room. Guinness was not one to spend a lot of time in Hollywood, but he liked the script so much that he made the trip to play the part of Bensonmum.  He is also on record as saying, “The script made me laugh, and not many things in recent times have done that.”

Peter Sellers plays Mr. Wang as stereotypical as Charlie Chan was.  One of my favorite lines from him is: “Conversation like television set on honeymoon: unnecessary.”  James Coco plays his role very self centered and prissy.  He has some funny scenes with James Cromwell and some good lines.  He finds a bill in the butler’s pocket and notes “Everything here has been rented for tonight. The butler, the cook, the food, the dining room chairs, everything!”  When Jessica Marbles begins to question, “You mean …”, he interrupts and states, “Yes. This entire murder has been… catered.”  After he drinks wine and begins to choke, the guests gasp and react, but he puts them at ease by saying, “No, no, it’s all right. My wine is not poisoned. It was just a bad year.”

Not to take away from fine performances by Peter Sellers, David Niven, or James Coco (they are all wonderful!), but a highlight for me is Peter Falk’s performance as Sam Diamond.  He plays it almost in a Humphrey Bogart sort of way.  Throughout the film, the detectives are often scurrying and unorganized.  Falk does such a great job with this.  He has some very funny lines in the film.  One of my favorites follows a bit of a monologue from Sam:  “Now, if one of you gentlemen would be so kind as to give my lady friend here a glass of cheap white wine, I’m going down the hall to find the can. I talk so much sometimes, I forget to go.”  When the issue of trust comes up, he proclaims, “The last time that I trusted a dame was in Paris in 1940. She said she was going out to get a bottle of wine. Two hours later, the Germans marched into France.”

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As hard as it is, I won’t spoil the ending.  I will tell you that the climax of the film has many revelations that are just ludacris, more theories and unmaskings than every episode of Perry Mason, Scooby Doo, and Agatha Christie novel put together!  By the time it is over, you wonder what happened, in a good way.  Wang has a great line as he and his adopted son are leaving the Twain mansion in the morning.  His son says, “I don’t get something, Pop. WAS there a murder, or WASN’T there?”  His reply:  “Yes: Killed good weekend.”

Despite the wonderful script and all-star cast, there were some who had their doubts about the film.  David Niven’s son worked for a company that invested in the film and thought that it would be a flop and expected it to be a tax loss.  Peter Sellers wasn’t happy with his performance and the film in general, so he sold back his percentage of the film for a little over a million dollars.  To everyone’s surprise, the film was the eight biggest money maker of 1976.  The film is included among the American Film Institute’s 2000 list of the 500 movies nominated for the Top 100 Funniest American Movies.

The Private Eyes (1980)

The next film I chose to write about stars two comedy legends who are just as funny separately as they are when paired together – Tim Conway and Don Knotts.  Tim is best remembered for his work on McHale’s Navy and the Carol Burnett show and Don is remembered for his work on the Andy Griffith Show and Three’s Company.  The Private Eyes is not the first film where they starred together, but it is their last.  They were in Disney’s The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975) and the sequel The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again, (1979) and The Prize Fighter (1979).  They did do a brief cameo together in Cannonball Run II in 1984, a film that was pretty much a flop.

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The Private Eyes is, again, an Old Dark House film.  Don Knott’s character Inspector Winship is an obvious parody of Sherlock Holmes and Tim Conway’s character, Dr. Tart, is a parody of Dr. Watson.  The film opens with Lady and Lord Morley being murdered in their car by a cloaked shadowy figure.  Winship and Tart are two American detectives who are transferred to Scotland Yard.  They travel to the Morley Mansion with a letter from Lord Morley, asking them to investigate his own murder.

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When they arrive at the Morley Mansion, they meet the Morley’s adopted daughter (and heiress), Phyllis.  They also meet the odd array of staff members who work for the Morley’s.  They include a samurai, a busty blonde maid, a hunchback, a gypsy, an insane butler, and a Nazi Nanny.

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As Winship and Tart begin their investigation of the Morley murders, the members of the staff begin to show up apparently murdered one by one.  A message is left with each body (more on that in a second) and each time they bring Phyllis back to where they body had previously been, it has disappeared.

The first of two running gags in the film is Dr. Tart’s pigeons.  He insists on sending messages back to “the Yard” via homing pigeons.  They never seem to make it, however, as each time he tries to send the message the pigeon usually ends up dying.  The other is the messages that are left on the dead bodies.

Outside of Tim Conway’s performance, the reason to watch this film is for the messages.  The messages are written as poems.  They follow a similar pattern each time and rhyme consistently right up until the last line, where all of a sudden, they don’t!  Each time the last line is read, you can see Tim Conway’s Tart, trying to make sense of it.  He knows there is another word that would rhyme – and actually make more sense – but the author doesn’t use it.  Once it happens in the first poem, you know it’s coming with each future poem, and it is a consistently funny gag throughout the film.

A few worth mentioning:

In this house it’s hard to survive
Some will be dead who are now alive
Mr. Uwatsum is gona cuz he knew too much
Bye for now but rest assured, we will keep in constant contact with each other
(Instead of keep in touch)

If Jock could talk, he’d give you a clue
But now that he’s dead, what can you do?
He deserved what he got, I don’t regret it a bit
By the way, you’re standing in bull caca
(instead of Bullsh*t)

And my favorite:

I said when I died that I’d come back
If you believe in ghosts then you’re on the right track
I’m out of the grove and roaming the moors
If you wanna be safe you’d better lock all the windows and screens
(instead of doors)

What is disappointing about the movie is there is so much potential for it to be a very good film, but it winds up being just mediocre.  We are introduced to these crazy house servants in the beginning and yet nothing really comes from any of it.  If the movie had been handled as more of an ensemble comedy (as with Murder By Death and Clue), it would have been a much better film.

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Tim Conway does not disappoint, but Don Knotts seems slow and tired.  I recently read where he had contracted mononucleosis during filming, so I am guessing his performance is lackluster because of this.   Outside of our stars, I should note that the relationship between Nanny & Justin (seen above) are fun to watch.    Justin has a very funny line when introducing Winship and Tart to Nanny.  Upon learning that they are from Scotland Yard, he says, “This is Inspector Winship and Dr. Tart. They were in the yard.”  To which Winship corrects him, “That’s FROM the Yard!” Sadly, again, there is so much that the film makers could have done with their characters.  They are very funny together, but their time on screen is limited.

I should also mention that Trisha Noble does a wonderful job as the very stunning daughter, Phyllis.  If she looks familiar, its because she went on to appear in the TV Series Strike Force as Sergeant Rosie Johnson, various TV series, and in Star Wars Episode III as Jobal Naberrie. In 1967, she changed her stage name from Patsy Ann Noble to Trisha Noble in order to distance herself from her years as a teenage popular singer.

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The film is more of a “who is left to have done it”, rather than a “whodunit” because of how fast the members of the staff are being bumped off.  There is a bit of a twist at the end, and I won’t spoil it for you – after all, this blog is all about mystery.  While there are some funny moments, it is one of those movies you want to sit around on a weekend and watch with the kids, they will probably find it funnier than you.

Thanks!

Thanks to Robin for allowing me to participate in the Mystery Mania Blogathon.  I hope you enjoyed reading this and I encourage you to read the other entries at the link provided earlier in this blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birthday Tribute to “Fred”

If you have read my blogs in the past, you know that it consists of a mixture of pop culture things (like movie, TV and music thoughts) and personal things (radio stories, school memories, and things from my childhood).  As I thought about today’s blog topic, I realized that without this man in my life – this blog would probably not exist!  I guess I didn’t really realize it until now. As I scrolled back over the blogs of the past, I see just how much influence he has had in almost ALL of them!  I am talking, of course, about my dad.  Today – is his 72nd birthday.  So here are some birthday thoughts for dad.

In March I wrote a blog about his musical influence.  My musical taste is very broad, because I was introduced to so many different genres by him.  He introduced me to rock and roll with the music of Little Richard, Bobby Darin, Roy Orbison and Elvis.  He introduced me to the “Great American Songbook” with music from Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Bing Crosby.  He introduced me to Jazz with Louis Prima, and Ella Fitzgerald.  He played me music from Johnny Paycheck, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard to introduce me to country music.  The list goes on and on … but what about other influences?

Movies

I could spend an entire week writing about the various movies he introduced to me!  As far as the classic films, most of those were introduced to me because he saw that they were playing on the Monday Night Movie on regular TV or something.  You have to remember VCR’s and DVD players were not a staple in the home yet.  You also have to remember that I grew up at the time where “pay TV” was just being incarnated.  One of the first pay services was “ON TV”.  It came on channel 20 at like 8 or 9 at night.  They put an antenna on your roof and it unscrambled the signal so you could watch movies.  I remember one time I wanted to record Smokey & the Bandit – but as I said, VCR’s were not for home use yet.  The last showing of it on ON TV was at 1am one Friday night.  My dad actually stayed up with a cassette recorder in front of the TV and recorded the audio for me.  What makes this even better is there were scenes that were so funny to him, you could hear him laughing in the background as the movie played.

With Cable TV came The Movie Channel and HBO.  As more and more channels became available, American Movie Classics, Turner Classic Movies, and others were the way to watch them. So he’d tell me “You gotta watch AMC at 3 today – they’re playing ‘Angels With Dirty Faces’!”  Growing up, I remember hearing my dad talking with my grandparents, my Uncle Tom, or his friends about actors and actresses and the movies they were in.  “Great Movie!” or “What a great flick!” I’d hear him say.  Well, if he thought it was great – I wanted to see it!  Movies I remember watching – only because I had heard him talk about them included The Godfather, White Heat,  Little Caesar, Key Largo, Patton, Midway, The Maltese Falcon, and Night of the Hunter.  Many of these were films that I’d walk in to the living room and dad would be watching and he’d tell me about them and catch me up so I could watch it with him. I was introduced to Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, The Marx Brothers, The Three Stooges, Abbott and Costello, Alfred Hitchcock, Robert Mitchum, Burt Reynolds, and SO many actors just be casually walking into a room where he was watching TV!

The Godfather Part 1 & 2 and Patton are probably some of my favorite films.  I remember watching Godfather the first time trying to keep all the names straight.  Don Barzinni, Don Stracci, Luca Brazi, Sonny, Fredo, and Tom Hagen were all characters that I had to remember (amongst many more).  Dad was there to explain so many things to me as I watched this film the first few times through.  I have found myself doing the same thing when I sit and watch it with someone who has never seen it.  (On a side note, for one class I had to read books and write book reports for it.  I remember dad wrote a book report for me on The Godfather! He got an A!)

TV

Look through my DVD collection and amongst the movies are entire series of classic TV shows.  This, again, is a direct result from my dad’s influence.  I remember watching re-runs of The Honeymooners on channel 50.  I remember when dad told me that Ralph Kramden and Sheriff Buford T. Justice from Smokey and the Bandit were the same person!  I don’t know if I would have known that as a 7 year old!  I remember staying home sick and watching re-runs of the Dick Van Dyke Show on channel 9 out of Canada.  I knew about Carl Reiner because he was one of many cameos in the movie It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (which should have been mentioned in the movie section of this blog).  The other stars of “Mad World” were also known to me because of my dad:  I knew Mickey Rooney from a flick called Quicksand he rented.  I knew Milton Berle from The Dean Martin Roasts and other TV appearances. I knew Jonathan Winters from a classic Twilight Zone episode (Loved watching TZ with him).  Among the other “classic” TV shows he introduced me to:  The Untouchables, F-Troop, The Munsters, Car 54, Where Are You?, McHale’s Navy, Perry Mason, Combat, Star Trek, Hogan’s Heroes, Mission: Impossible, and Get Smart.

With the availability of video rentals, I remember dad bringing home TV shows that were not shown on TV anymore or shown late at night.  You couldn’t really watch The Little Rascals, Laurel and Hardy, or The Three Stooges on TV unless you stayed up late for comedy classics – which usually was on at 11pm or midnight.  With the VCR, though, we could go to the store and rent them!  I had listened to Jack Benny and Amos and Andy on cassette tapes of old radio shows (again, thanks to dad), but now I was able to see these TV shows – and they were amazing! I used to love watching these shows with him.  One thing I always love seeing is my dad laughing and these shows (and a couple I will mention in a minute) always made him laugh – I mean big belly laughs!

I guess you could say that I grew up at a time where some of  the “current” shows are now considered classics.  Those shows, my brother and I watched on a weekly basis and watched in re-runs.  These shows included The Love Boat, Mork & Mindy, Happy Days, Lavern and Shirley, The Dukes of Hazzard, Emergency!, Welcome Back, Kotter, All In the Family, The Jeffersons, The Carol Burnett Show, Barney Miller, Fantasy Island, and Charlie’s Angels.  Some of those dad introduced me to, while others he really couldn’t stand.

Sanford and Soupy

The one show that I will forever associate with my dad is Sanford and Son.  These shows, no matter how many times we see them remain funny.  I can be on the phone with my dad and say, “So last night I watched “the piano movers” and we will both start laughing!  Years later, we can quote this show to each other and still crack each other up.  Why do we and can we bond over this show? Perhaps it’s the fact that the show is about a father and son and their relationship.  I remember how I thought it was odd that Lamont always called Fred, “Pop”.  I never used to call my dad that, although somewhere over the years, dad has become “Pop” to me.  I call him that all the time now.  As a matter of fact, he still often calls me “Lamont”!  It is not used flippantly, I use it as a genuine term of endearment!  He’s my Pop – and I use it with much love and affection!

Another show that dad introduced me to was The New Soupy Sales Show.  He grew up watching Soupy at lunch time.  My grandmother often told stories of how Soupy would say “Tomorrow, we’re having bologna sandwiches for lunch” and if dad didn’t have them, he was pissed!  Soupy’s new show on channel 20 was pretty much just like the old show.  It was full of puns, bad jokes, clips of old movies, funny horoscopes on the radio, the Words of Wisdom, and his friends White Fang, Black Tooth, Pookie and Hippy.  It may have been on right after school and before dad came home from work, because I don’t recall him watching it too much with me, however, when it became available on video – we talked about it just like we talk about Sanford and Son.

Traits of a Good Dad

When I became a father, I remember reading something about what makes a good dad.  Let me say here that none of us is perfect.  My dad was not perfect and neither am I.  My point is that when you look at these things, we can assess things we are doing well, things we can improve, and things that we will start doing.  As I think back on those things – I can see where I strive to achieve those things and, at the same time, can see a lot of those things in my own father.

For example, a father must be a good disciplinarian.  All dad’s love their children, but you know and I know that you can’t let them get away with everything.  Dad was this way.  The old story about mom saying “Wait till your father get’s home” and the child being scared to death?  Yep!  That was me!  You didn’t want to make dad mad!  I would say I made him mad more than a few times.

One time in particular I remember telling him I was spending the night at a friends house.  I was out with my girlfriend at the time.  We were still in high school, and it was a weekend.  We had no money, so we weren’t going to a hotel or anything like that.  We just planned on staying out all night.  I don’t remember how he found out, but  I remember getting a page from the friend who I said I was staying with and he asked why my dad thought I was there!  I think my girlfriend’s mom had called my house or something.  At any rate – I was in BIG trouble! Dad’s punishment was a fair one (even though I didn’t think so at the time).  He proved a point and I NEVER did that again.  He let me know that he was in charge.  Another time, I got in trouble at school for something.  We had a meeting with the teacher and he said what he would go on to tell every teacher afterward in parent teacher conferences, “If he gets out of line again, you have my permission to smack his ass!” (Yes, this was back before a teacher giving the kid a paddle was considered wrong).

A good dad allows his kids to make mistakes. Dad watched me make a TON of them, but he knew that if I was going to learn, I needed to make those mistakes.  He’d never let me make a mistake that was life threatening or would put me in danger, but he’d let me make mistakes that he knew, when all was said and done – I’d mature and learn from it.  While there were things he questioned, he never really interfered.  I learned a lot from that – even though there were times I wish he HAD said something!

A good dad has an open mind.  Times change.  The way that things were done when he was growing up, well, they may be handled differently now (the paddling in school is a good example).  He respected that and embraces it to a degree.  As someone who loved all kinds of music, I will never forget the time he called me into the living room to play me this “cool song” he heard and liked.  It was “Groove is in the Heart” by Deee-lite.  The song was not like anything he’s ever played for me, but he liked it and played it at DJ jobs!  He embraces change!

A good dad teaches his kids to appreciate things.  Those things can be anything.  My dad certainly taught me how to appreciate family and friends.  He taught me how to appreciate good music, movies and TV.  He taught me how to appreciate what you have and the importance of living within your means.

A good dad accepts that his kids aren’t exactly like him. This may or may not have been a lesson he learned from my grandpa.  My dad had always been very accepting of my brother and I.  While we all have a lot of similarities, we are all SO very different.  He respects that our religious and political views may not be the same as his.

A good dad spends quality time with his children. This is one of those things that is difficult to do in today’s society.  We spend so much time working and trying to get things done, that we often spend the hours we are not at work doing these things.  As a divorced father with limited time with my boys, I really try hard to make the time we spend quality time, even if it is just a car ride.  Some of my favorite memories with my dad are just him and I throwing the ball around in the front yard.  That meant more to me than he will ever know!

A good dad leads by example.  Dad was never really the “Do as I say, not as I do” kind of guy.  He was a hard worker and knew the importance of providing for our family.  I never once thought of growing up and not having a job.  Dad wasn’t always perfect in this area, but because of that, I was also able to take some of the things that I didn’t like him doing (like smoking) and not doing them.

A good dad is supportive and loyal.  I am sure that in my 30 year radio career, my dad probably thought “he needs to get out of that career and find something more stable”.  If he thought it – he never once told me that!  He was nothing but supportive!  If I ever came to him with something that he questioned, he might ask a question or two regarding the opposite viewpoint, but that was it.  He might ask “are you sure you want to do this” or “have you thought about what might happen if…”, and then he let me decide.  Whatever the decision, he supported it.  I have a great respect for that.

A good dad is someone who challenges his kids. I’m sure that there were many ways that dad challenged me.  I know there were times I wanted to quit something and he gave me the pep talk to keep going.  I cannot recall specific incidents, but I know they were there.

A good dad is a teacher.  While dad taught me how to throw a “submarine” ball and how to swing a golf club, he also taught me some valuable lessons.  One of the things I have hoped to do is to write down some of those lessons and pass them down to my own children.  To illustrate my point: there is a cartoon I saw once of two guys standing in front of three piles of stuff.  The one guy asked what they were.  The second guy points to the first pile and says, “this stuff is the stuff my dad gave me that I want to pass on to my kids.”  He points to the second pile and says, “this is the stuff my dad gave me that I don’t really need.” He points to the third pile and says, “this is my stuff that I want to pass on to my kids.”  That’s the way it is – as a father, you take things that you learned from your dad and keep the stuff you want to share, throw out what you don’t, and then add stuff of your own.

A good dad protects and provides for his family.  When times were tough and money was tight, my dad would DJ or play in the wedding band to bring in extra money.  I remember as a young boy my dad going back to college to get a degree so he could move up in his place of employment.  It took me over 20 years, but I also decided to go back to school to better provide for my family.  I know that my dad would do anything for us, and I would do the same for my family.

Finally, a good dad shows unconditional love.  I read where this is the greatest quality of a good father.  Even though his child may let him down, upset him, make him mad, disrespect him, and disappoint him … the love remains constant.  Not to get theological, but it is one of the great principles spoken of about God in the Bible.  It says that no matter how much a child of God angers Him, ignores Him, or disappoints Him – His love is never ending and ever present.  THAT is the kind of love a father has for his children.

I am lucky that I have never had to question whether or not my dad loves me.  He has done so much for me during my lifetime and continues to do so.  I can only hope that he knows how much he is appreciated.  I can only hope he knows how thankful I am that he was chosen to be my father.  I can only hope that he knows of the impact that he has made on me.  I hope that he will never have to question how much I love him.

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Thanks, Pop, for being such an amazing man!  Thanks for being a wonderful example to me.  Thanks for everything you have done to support, encourage, accept, and love my family.  Today, I wish you a very happy birthday and wish you many more in the future!  I love you, Pop.

“Lamont”

 

 

 

 

Spooky Flicks

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My friends Brian and Elaine look forward to October every year. They LOVE Halloween movies! They spend each evening in October in front of their TV watching a different horror movie. What a perfect way to work your way to Halloween! I liked this idea so much, I stole it.

I, however, do not care too much for the really scary or gory movies. I also don’t care too much for the “slasher” movies. While some people might prefer Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Freddy Krueger movies, I tend to watch what I call “the classics”. These would mostly be the movies that were put out by Universal studios in the 1930’s and 1940’s. I also like some of the comedy/horror films, which would fall in to the more “modern” category.

I thought you might like a list of my Halloween themed movie recommendations. Here now, in no particular order, are enough movies for you to get through the rest of the month (and then some), and that you can file away for next October:

  1. Dracula (1931)
  2. Dracula (1974)
  3. Frankenstein (1931)
  4. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
  5. The Wolfman (1941)
  6. The Mummy (1932)
  7. Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954)
  8. Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman (1943)
  9. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
  10. The Birds (1963)
  11. House of Wax (1953)
  12. The Invisible Man (1933)
  13. The Mummy’s Curse (1944)
  14. House of Frankenstein (1944)
  15. House of Dracula (1945)
  16. Son of Frankenstein (1939)
  17. The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)
  18. Psycho (1960)
  19. Young Frankenstein (1974)
  20. The Shining (1980)
  21. The Sixth Sense (1999)
  22. Ghostbusters (1984)
  23. Beetlejuice (1988)
  24. Silence of the Lambs (1991)
  25. Army of Darkness (1993)
  26. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
  27. Abbott and Costello Meet The Invisible Man (1951)
  28. Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy (1955)
  29. The Addams Family (1991)
  30. Addams Family Values (1993)
  31. Creepshow (1982)
  32. Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
  33. Sleepy Hollow (1999)
  34. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
  35. Hocus Pocus (1986)
  36. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966) (not really a movie, but a classic)
  37. Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
  38. Zombieland (2006)
  39. Alien (1979)

You’re list may differ from mine. You may prefer the REALLY scary ones. You may prefer the bloody and gory ones. These, however, are some of my favorites. I am sure I left some off the list … feel free to add yours.

Toon Tunes …

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As I stated at the end of yesterday’s blog – I could easily write an entire blog about Cartoon Theme songs.  Some readers messaged privately with suggestions, while others commented on Facebook.  So, I sat down and gathered some thoughts and have come up with a list of some of my favorites.  In doing so, I noticed that some cartoons were great cartoons, but their theme songs were just not that memorable to me.  Those I will omit.  Perhaps they are some of your favorites, and again, feel free to add them to my initial list.

 

The Classics

“Overture, curtains, lights. This is it, the night of nights.

No more rehearsing and nursing a part, We know every part by heart

Overture, curtains, lights. This is it, you’ll hit the heights

And oh what heights we’ll hit … On with the show, this is it!”

 

Every Saturday morning, we’d sit in front of the television and hear Bugs Bunny and his cartoon pals sing this song as the Bugs Bunny Show began.  Cartoon after cartoon kicked off with the Merrie Melodies or Looney Tunes theme.  We watched Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, Sylvester and Tweety, The Roadrunner, Wile E Coyote, and countless others make us laugh with sticks of dynamite and anvils.  Oh, what a time to be a kid! 

 

Outside of the Looney Tunes, Hanna Barbera churned out a lot of the classic cartoons we all have come to love.  In 1958, kids were introduced to Yogi Bear and his pal Boo Boo.  The theme song told us that he was “smarter than the average bear”, and he was!  No Pic-a-nic basket was safe!  Yogi was a take off of Art Carney’s Honeymooners character Ed Norton.  Daws Butler nails the voice perfectly.  From opening theme, you know you are in for some great fun with Yogi trying to outsmart Ranger Smith.

 

Speaking of the Honeymooners – Hanna Barbera literally stole the entire show idea and just set it in the stone age.  That’s right, The Flintstones was a direct rip off of the show.  It worked.  It was the first prime time cartoon show and it did very well.  The adventures of Fred and Barney commence after we are introduced to them via the theme song “Flintstones!  Meet the Flintstones, they’re the modern stone age family!”  Fred and Barney also would up on Saturday morning cartoons with newer versions and varieties of the 1960’s show including a cartoon about their grown up kids Pebbles and Bamm Bamm. 

 

My buddy Vince immediately mentioned the theme song to Jonny Quest in response to my last blog.  As far as theme songs, this one is awesome.  Quest first appeared on TV in 1964 and from the moment it starts you get the feeling something big is coming.  There is a sense of urgency in it.  You are joining him on an adventure!  In my 30 years of radio, I have heard this theme song as background music for contests, traffic reports, and more.  Why?  Because it is one cool theme song!

 

In 1962, Hanna Barbera took us on another travel through time.  This time is was the future. “Meet George Jetson” … the theme starts by introducing us to each member of the family.  We are wowed with flying cars, tubes that allow people to travel from one place to the other, folding cars, and more.  The Jetsons lacked some of the luster of the Flintstones, but it still was a success and a favorite of kids my age.

 

There were MANY incarnations of Scooby-Doo.  The best one in my opinion was Scooby Doo, Where Are You?  Some cool teenagers and their dog always seem to stumble on a mystery – and solve it!  So many bad guys would have gotten away with it, “If it hadn’t been for those meddling kids”!  “Scooby doobie doo – Where are you?  We got some work to do now…”.  Not only did they have a cool theme, they often had another song that would play during a chase scene!

 

I want to mention a couple more 60’s cartoons to mention before moving on.  I mentioned Henry Mancini in my blog yesterday, he is responsible for one of the all time greatest cartoon themes:  The Pink Panther.  It was the theme to the 1963 movie, and also used for the cartoon starting in 1964.  There are so many things that make it such a magnificent piece, but the one that stands out is the tenor sax solo.  It is perfection!  The song was released as a single and was a top 10 hit.

 

Part of the Pink Panther show was the Ant and the Aardvark.  It is a very Tom and Jerry/Cat and Mouse type cartoon.  John Byner does the voices for the cartoons and his choices were to do the ant in a Dean Martin-ish voice, while doing the aardvark in a Jackie Mason-ish one.  The theme reminds me of a Dixieland-swing song.  The theme song basically plays as an underscore throughout all 17 of the series cartoons, and you will be humming it for a few hours after you’re done watching!

 

In 1967, Hanna Barbera offered up The Abbott and Costello Cartoon show.  These cartoons were unique in that Bud Abbott provides the voice for himself.  Costello had passed away in 1959, and his voice was provided by Stan Irwin.  I don’t recall the cartoon itself much, but I can recall the opening sequence and the music of the theme.  The only words spoken …..well, yelled, during the theme are “Hey Abbott!” by Costello.

 

The Super Heroes

 

What kid doesn’t want to be a super hero?  I know we did.  We spent Saturdays after cartoons were done pretending to be Batman, Superman, etc…  We could watch them on the Superfriends show.  Very heroic music would play as actor Ted Knight (of Caddyshack and the Mary Tyler Moore Show) introduced us to each of them.  There were a few different Superfriends shows – one featured Wendy, Marvin, and Wonder Dog, another featured The Wonder Twins, and another featured some of the lesser known heroes. 

 

The Super Heroes had some of the best theme songs.  Underdog’s theme was one I can still sing to this day:  “When criminals in this world appear, and break the laws that they should fear, the cry goes up both far and near for Underdog!”.  Wally Cox voiced Underdog and spoke entirely in rhyme.  He was always trying to save Sweet Polly Purebread from Simon Bar Sinister and Riff Raff. George S. Irving was the narrator of the show – he is known for playing The Heat Miser in the holiday special The Year Without a Santa Claus. It is one of my favorite theme songs.

 

Who was your number 1 super guy?  Well, Hong Kong Phooey, of course!  He tells us so in the theme song!  It’s another Hanna Barbera classic!  The theme is sung by Scatman Crothers, who many may know from the Shining, Sanford and Son, and other films.  He plays Penrod “Penry” Pooch, a janitor who is a Kung Fu Master, thanks to his Hong Kong Book of Kung Fu.  The theme reminds us that he is quicker than the human eye, and he’s got a groovy style – ah, the 70’s!!!

 

The all time best super hero cartoon theme song has got to be, hands down, Spiderman!  We all know the story of Spiderman – Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider and gets his super powers.  I love that this is referenced in the theme song:  “Is he strong?  Listen, bud, he’s got radioactive blood!”  That is brilliant writing right there!  We all love Spidey, and we know that he’s got our backs…..after all, he is our “friendly neighborhood Spiderman”.  There is only one version of the theme that is as cool as the original – be sure to check out Michael Buble’s version of the theme song!  It’s pretty sweet!

 

One Full Musical Toon

 

I have got to give praise to a cartoon that is entirely musical.  This is a cartoon that has been referenced by friends I grew up with as well as my kids.  That cartoon is “The Three Little Bops”.  It’s a modern day take on the Three Little Pigs. 

 

What makes this cartoon so memorable is that these three pigs are now a musical trio playing jazz for clubs (House of Straw, House of Sticks, and finally, the House of Bricks).  The Big Bad Wolf is also a musician….but not a very good one.  He keeps trying to join the pigs and they keep telling him to beat it because his playing is awful.  The crowds don’t like his playing either.  At first, he is kicked out of the house of straw, so he “huffs and puffs” and blows the place down.  He does the same for the house of sticks.  The house of bricks, however, is a bit more of a challenge.  “I’ll show those pigs that I’m not stuck, if I can’t blow it down, I’ll blow it up”.  He attempts to light the fuse on a big tub of TNT, and the fuse is blown out.  He moves farther away from the target and lights it again, but he’s too far from the building and as he is carrying it back, the TNT explodes – and takes him with it. 

 

The narrator states, “The Big Bad Wolf was really gone and with him went his corny horn.  Went out of this world without a trace, didn’t go to heaven, was the other place”.  We then see the wolf down there playing his horn brilliantly.  One pig notes, “The Big Bad Wolf, he learned the rule – you gotta get hot to play real cool!”  The wolf’s spirit, with his horn float up through the floor and join the pigs on the end of the song. The pigs lobby card now reads “The Three Little Bops Plus One”. 

 

The music for the cartoon is done by the great Shorty Rogers who was a jazz composer and trumpeter.  The vocal is done by the one and only Stan Freberg.  This cartoon is fun, jazzy, hip, and so well written!  Another thing that makes this cartoon unique is that Mel Blanc was under contract with Warner Brothers during this time and his voice is not used in the cartoon at all (at least according to all the sources I checked). 

 

Now it’s your turn.  Which cartoon theme songs were your favorites? 

 

That’s all folks….