Modern Tech Can Ruin A Classic

As a fan of old movies and old TV shows, I sometimes find myself thinking about how modern technology can immediately take an entire show or movie and destroy it. Just to prove my point, I will quickly look at a movie that I have been meaning to write about for some time – It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963).

This movie is a classic and almost anyone who is anyone in comedy was in it. The main characters are played by Spencer Tracy, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Mickey Rooney, Jonathan Winters, and Buddy Hackett. There are countless comedian cameos throughout the entire movie.

Here is a quick synopsis: A criminal who has been just released from prison has a car accident and drives off a cliff. Five motorists who witness the accident rush down to help the driver (Jimmy Durante) who is fatally injured. Just before he dies, he tells the motorists about $350,000 that he has buried in Santa Rosita State Park under “a big W.”

As police arrive, and question the motorists (who say nothing about the money), they climb back up to their cars and all eventually pull over to discuss what has transpired. They decide that they will all go to see if there even is any money, but first begin arguing over the best way to divide up the money between themselves.

After failing to come up with a satisfactory way to split the money, it becomes every man for himself and everyone begins racing each other to the park. What they don’t know is that they are all being watched by a police captain who has been following the case for years. The remainder of the movie consists of car chases, plane mishaps, car thefts, and plenty of property destruction as the motorists race across the country to get to the money first.

You don’t have to think hard about what piece of modern technology would stop the plot of this movie dead in its tracks – a cell phone.

All these motorists would have to do is call someone close by to look for the money, right? As a matter of fact, in the film Ethel Merman’s character calls her son (Dick Shawn) to tell him about the money because he lives close by. However, the son is so dumb and doesn’t listen to her and gets in his car and drives toward her instead of to the money.

Sid Caesar’s character charters a plan for him and his wife and the actually arrive in town first. They go to a hardware store to buy tools to dig with. They enter the store as the store closes for lunch (who does that anymore?) and are locked in the basement. A cell phone would have easily allowed them to call for help. Without the cell phone, however, he and his wife manage to destroy the basement of the store with fire and even dynamite!

It’s funny to think about how modern technology could change or completely erase story plot. The characters only knew that the money was buried under a “Big W.” They didn’t even know what that meant! Many of them were shown driving in their cars guessing what it could be (A water tower, or a windmill). Today, you could simply type into Google or ask Siri, “What’s a Big W located in Rosita Beach State Park?”

You could easily watch countless movies and TV shows from the past and say, “That would never happen today!” Think about how many old detective shows or courtroom shows would be different just because of the use of DNA evidence today?

What IS important is to sit back and watch these classics understanding the culture of the day and remembering the time frame they were created in.

What are your thoughts?

National Humor Month Suggestion

April is National Humor Month and I only recently discovered that Sirius XM had added a comedy channel that I really have enjoyed. The Comedy Classics channel can be found for a limited time on Channel 104. Here is what Radio Insight quoted from the press release:

This is not a prank: SiriusXM announced today a new channel, Comedy Classics, that will honor timeless stand-up from the 1950s-1970s. The line-up includes iconic moments from legends who shaped the landscape and defined comedy for generations. The limited run channel is available now on SiriusXM channel 104.

Building on SiriusXM’s enormous classic stand-up library, the channel will add material from legendary comedians like Bob Hope, Jonathan Winters, and the infamous Friars Club Roasts that paved the way for the comedy that we love today. SiriusXM’s Comedy Classics now pays tribute to these icons showcasing their immense talent and funniest moments. In addition to the aforementioned legends, each week the channel will spotlight both never-before-heard and rare stand-up highlights that haven’t been heard in decades, featuring comedy from Jackie Gleason, Buddy Hackett, The Smothers Brothers, Flip Wilson, and more.

Also not to be missed are Bob Hope’s Thanks for The Memories special, stand-up from The Garry Moore Show, and the Colgate Comedy Special featuring Nipsey Russel, Rowan & Martin, Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, and more.

“Whether you’re feeling nostalgic, looking to discover the roots of modern-day comedy, or just hankering for a great laugh, Comedy Classics will appeal to a wide range of listeners,” said Jack Vaughn, SiriusXM’s Senior Vice President of Comedy Programming. “The era provided such a wealth of amazing talent, material, and inspiration that we had to properly honor it with its very own channel.”

Comedy Classics is available now on channel 104, and will subsequently be available exclusively on the SiriusXM app and desktop player.

What I have really enjoyed is hearing some of the early stand up stuff from guys like Jon Byner, Buddy Hackett, Johnny Carson, Richard Pryor and more. Some of these cuts are taken from the Ed Sullivan Show and other TV appearances. Others are cuts from classic comedy albums. What I enjoyed listening to the most are the cuts from the Friar’s Roasts and the Dean Martin Roasts.

Some of the material is dated and some of it might be considered “politically incorrect” today, but I found myself enjoying much of it!

Want a laugh? Check it out!

Happy Thoughts

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I once heard someone say, “In a world of darkness – be the light.”   If I may alter that quote just a bit … “In a world of negativity – be the positive.”  You wouldn’t know it, but it has been a very challenging couple weeks for me.  I just have to keep reminding myself that “some people are just not happy unless they are trying to make others unhappy.”

Here are some things that made me happy this week:

Bless You Boys!

I was reminded that 35 years ago this week, the Detroit Tigers beat the San Diego Padres in the 1984 World Series.  Remembering that amazing season always brings a smile to my face.  In the final game, Kirk Gibson faced Goose Gossage.  There was some chatting at the mound because they couldn’t decide whether or not to walk him or pitch to him.  Gibby launched an amazing homerun off him!  I can still remember Vin Scully calling it by saying, “And there it goes!!!!”  Pandemonium!  I rewatched that video more than once this week!

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Autumn Leaves

The leaves are changing.  Fall is probably my favorite season.  It makes me think of high school homecoming parades and football games.  It makes me think of Alumni Band.  It makes me think of sitting around bonfires in hooded sweatshirts.  It makes me think of those last few weekends up north closing up the trailer for winter.  I love the beauty of autumn.  Here in Michigan, we have such wonderful fall colors.  I love to walk outside in the fall and just get lost in thought.  Fall makes me happy.

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Here’s Johnny!

This month Sirius XM Radio has a Johnny Carson channel (105) and they are playing old episodes of The Tonight Show.  I cannot even begin to tell you how much I am loving these!  Johnny was the best.  These dated monologues are still funny today!  Today, I laughed a little bit harder than I should have at one of the jokes.  He was talking about a previous joke he did about McDonalds.  He then asked “Have you ever been to the Beverly Hills (California) McDonalds?  They serve escargot there.  They call them, McSlugs!”

Listening to his reactions to when a joke bombs is just hilarious!  His banter with Ed and Doc is also very funny.  It’s been great to hear classic interviews with Mel Brooks, Eli Wallach, Buddy Hackett, Don Rickles and more!  It’s also been neat to hear some of the early stand up from Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen DeGeneres, Garry Shandling, and others.  He was a master – and he still makes me laugh.

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Baby Kicks

I have saved the best thing for last.  My wife is 22 weeks along now and she has been feeling our baby move.  Earlier in the week, she started to feel baby kicks.  We were lying in bed this week and she said the baby was kicking.  She placed my hand exactly where she was feeling them, and I felt her kick!  It was light, but it was there!

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I don’t care how many times I feel it, it still amazes me!  My wife feels her move a whole lot more than me, so to feel this little “bump” against my palm makes me more and more excited for her arrival!  It gets more and more real as we get closer.  I get emotional thinking about it.  She’s going to be here soon!  We’ll be able to hold her and kiss her.  I’ve been creating my “Bedtime Song List” for her.  There are some favorites that I sang with my boys when they were babies, and I will be singing them for her too.  I probably need to start working on “Daddy’s Little Girl” and “My Special Angel” – songs that I obviously couldn’t sing to my boys!

February will be here before we know it – and I am sure there will be many stories to be shared about her here!

Final Thought

It really isn’t hard to find things that make you happy.  Look around – they are right there!  Find the happy & SMILE!

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A Few Laughs …

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The great Red Skelton once said “Live by this credo: have a little laugh at life and look around you for happiness instead of sadness. Laughter has always brought me out of unhappy situations.”  In a world where there is so much sadness, sometimes you need to be the one to share something funny or make someone laugh.  As I take a break from musical blogging – here are some quotes that I hope will make you smile and laugh.

“I went to a restaurant that serves breakfast at any time. So I ordered French toast during the Renaissance.” – Steven Wright

“I went down the street to the 24-hour grocery. When I got there, the guy was locking the front door. I said, ‘Hey, the sign says you’re open 24 hours.’ He said, ‘Yes, but not in a row.'” – Steven Wright

“According to most studies, people’s No.1 fear is public speaking. No.2 is death. Death is No.2. Does that sound right? This means, to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” – Jerry Seinfeld

“Here’s a picture of me with REM. That’s me in the corner.” – Milton Jones

“I needed a password eight characters long, so I picked Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” – Nick Helm

“A government survey reveals the prime minister is doing the work of two men. Laurel and Hardy.” – Ronnie Corbett

“God gave men a penis and a brain, but unfortunately not enough blood supply to run both at the same time.” – Robin Williams

“The worst time to have a heart attack is during a game of charades.” – Demetri Martin

‘Got a waterbed to spice up our love life. Doesn’t work, we’ve drifted further apart.’ – Keith Chegwin

“Starbucks says they are going to start putting religious quotes on cups. The very first one will say, ‘Jesus! This cup is expensive!’” – Conan O’Brien

“I like video games, but they’re really violent. I’d like to play a video game where you help the people who were shot in all the other games. It’d be called ‘Really Busy Hospital.” -Demetri Martin

As a child my family’s menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it. – Buddy Hackett

People say New Yorkers can’t get along. Not true. I saw two New Yorkers, complete strangers, sharing a cab. One guy took the tires and the radio; the other guy took the engine. – David Letterman

Italians are fantastic people, really. They can work you over in an alley while singing an opera. – Don Rickles

I once made love for an hour and fifteen minutes, but it was the night the clocks are set ahead. – Garry Shandling

Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac? – George Carlin

Whenever I’m on my computer, I don’t type ‘lol’. I type ‘lqtm’ – laugh quietly to myself. It’s more honest.  – Demetri Martin

I must say I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a good book. – Groucho Marx

I once wanted to become an atheist, but I gave up – they have no holidays. – Henny Youngman

If life was fair, Elvis would be alive and all the impersonators would be dead. – Johnny Carson

Married men live longer than single men. But married men are a lot more willing to die. – Johnny Carson

My doctor told me that jogging could add years to my life. I think he was right. I feel ten years older already. – Milton Berle

Why do they call it rush hour when nothing moves? – Robin Williams

A girl phoned me the other day and said… ‘Come on over, there’s nobody home.’ I went over. Nobody was home. – Rodney Dangerfield

Director Mel Brooks said, “Humor is just another defense against the universe.”  The universe has no shortage of things to make us unhappy.  Every day we see sadness and unpleasant images in the news.  Defend yourself against the evil and the pain.  Arm yourself to take on life’s challenges – by smiling … by laughing.