For the Record: Famous Monsters Speak

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Happy Halloween!!

While I don’t always plan ahead what I am going to blog about until a day or so before, today’s Halloween Blog was something I planned on writing about a few months ago.  I was reminded of the topic after listening to one of the shows I did with my partner, Rob, on Honey Radio.

Somewhere down the line, I plan on writing an entire blog about “drops”.  In the radio biz, a “drop” is a snippet from a movie, a TV show, or some other form of audio that is used in pieces of production, or on it’s own.  So how do you use a “drop”? Above, you see a picture of The Three Stooges.  In their short “Micro-Phonies”, the boys end up in a recording studio.  Moe stands at the microphone while Larry and Curly make noise.  Moe yells, “Quiet, numbskulls! I’m broadcasting!”  I used this drop all the time.  I would use it with stuff our voice guy sent us.  The piece would be produced and it would play between songs.  The entire piece would start with some sound effect, then the voice guy saying “You’re listening to Keith Allen! (Insert drop – “Quiet, numbskulls!  I’m broadcasting”!) Then the voice guy would tag it by saying the station – “on Flint’s Classic Rock Authority – 103.9 The Fox!” (or whatever station I was at).

My buddy Johnny Molson, who I worked with at my first radio job had a bunch of funny drops.  Some were from movies, while others were from listener phone calls.  He had one he’d play that always made me laugh (some guy yelling “Listen kid, why don’t you just beat it!”)

Rob and I spent hours watching TV and movies looking for little lines that could be taken out of context to play on the show.  He had plenty of drops from the Steve Reeves Hercules movies, Star Trek the original series, Spencer for Hire, Batman, Dragnet, and so many more!  When we were live on the air, I used to purposely throw drops in when Rob was talking as one of the characters just to make him laugh.  He was so good, he rarely did.  As a matter of fact, he would often just react to the drop.    There were, however, a few drops that would crack him (and me) up.  They came from a record album that he had growing up.  Which, incidentally, is the topic of this blog.

Famous Monsters Speak

When I think about monsters, I think of the Universal Studio Monster movies from the 30’s!  Bela Lugosi will always be Dracula to me!

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…and in 1931, Boris Karloff was the Frankenstein monster!

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In 1963, screenwriter Cherney Berg (who is the son of actress, screenwriter, and producer Gertrude Berg), wrote the script for the album Famous Monsters Speak.  Side 1 focused on a story that featured the voice of the Frankenstein monster.  The story is set at some scientist convention and they are playing the tapes of the Frankenstein monster.  Side 2 focuses on a story of Dracula, when someone stumbles on his crypt.  The voice work for the entire album is done by Gabriel Dell.

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Gabriel Dell (on the right in the photo above) was an actor who starred in movies with the Dead End Kids, the East Side Kids, and the Bowery Boys.  I have often said that a good actor is one who can act by just using their voice (which is why I really love listening to old radio shows).  The entire album is voiced by Dell.  As the Frankenstein monster he is terrifying, while as Dracula he is equally creepy!  Keep in mind this was an album that would be found in the children’s section of the record store!  Rob told me his dad had bought it for him as a gift for a birthday or Christmas or something!

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When Rob and I worked together, he had a few drops from this album.  As a morning show, we often looked for drops that talked about waking up, drinking coffee, etc…  On this album, Dracula simply said, “I command you – Awaken!”  We often used that.  He also says, “Stupidity has always been my best protection”, which we used when saying that one of the characters on the show was stupid.  Then there was this clip of Dracula gaining the trust of an unsuspecting victim by asking for directions.  In context, it is not funny, but out of context … (In a Transylvanian accent) “I beg your pardon, but I am a stranger to your city and have lost my way.  Can you tell me pleas – the bus to Kensington Gardens?” (This was one that I would throw in on occasion and would make him laugh – just because it was so bizarre).  On the Frankenstein side of the record, there is a 4 or 5 second clip of the monster making a growling/howling/yelling noise.  We used to promote that Richard D. was coming in after us, and we’d say the sound was Richard “warming up in the next studio”.

Those short clips/drops were all I knew of this album, until long after we were off the air.  I knew where they came from.  I had just those audio clips and would laugh when I heard them.  Then one day I was out at some used record store.  I found the album!  I called Rob and told him that I had found it and was going to listen to it.  He laughed like hell.  “I can’t believe you are so excited to find that damn record!  I guess that’s why I love you, kid!”  I can still hear him saying that to me.

When I listened to the album, instead of laughing (ok, I did when the monster made the “Richard D” noise), I was genuinely freaked out.  I couldn’t believe that this was a kids record!  It was done in the same vein as so many of those “Headless Horseman” and “Superman” records that had stories and a book.  There was no book with this album, and really, you didn’t need one!  Dell’s performance on the album is brilliant.  A guy named Hal Johnson is listed as the sound effects man and those effects are awesome!  The album is just as good as an old episode of Suspense, The Mysterious Traveler, Lights Out, or The Whistler.  Gabriel Dell’s performance makes me tired just listening to it – he really get’s into it!

So, here for your Halloween listening enjoyment – turn down the lights – and listen to Famous Monsters Speak.

Side 1 – The Voice of the Monster

(The Richard D “warming up” sound can be heard at 4:50-4:54 of this clip)

Side 2 – Dracula Returns

(Kensington Gardens line begins at 10:44 – they way he says “Kensington Gardens” always made Rob and I laugh)

 

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You can read a bit more about this album here:

Cherney Berg “Famous Monsters Speak”

 

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What’s Up, Doc?

Doctor's Office

This week I found out that the doctor’s office where my primary care doctor practices is going private. To be honest, this is the first time I have ever had this happen. They offered all of the current patient’s the option to stay with the practice – at a cost. So for $90 a month, I can stay with my doc, get his cell phone number for after hours questions, unlimited visits with no co-pays or deductibles, “unhurried appointments that start on time”, and a bunch of other “perks”. While this sounds great, I still have to pay my monthly insurance in case I need to go to ER or have a hospital stay. Bottom line: it’s gonna cost me more money.

I think the hardest part about this is the fact that I finally found a doctor I like. He’s Italian (we’ve talked about Italy and Sicily often). He listens to me. He doesn’t rush me. He is honest. I trust him. I’ve really only had a few doctors where I felt like this. Now, because the entire practice is going private, I have to begin a new search for a doctor!

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Finding the right “doc” should be an easy task, right? Well, it really isn’t for me. Because I work an hour and 15 minutes from home, AND work for a health system, I have to take the insurance provided by them. I have to use doctors that are affiliated with the health system. This is not really a big deal. What makes it difficult is that the closest practices are about 30-50 minutes south of where I live.

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Not only do I have to find a new doctor for me, but the new doctor has to be one that I can take the boys to as well. The options keep getting fewer and fewer, especially since there are only a few practices in that area.

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The old doctor will see me through the end of December. So I have about 2 months to research, visit, and make a choice. Oh, and amidst all of that, it is time for open enrollment and there are all kinds of changes in that too that I need to look at and consider.

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Why must health care and insurance be such a major pain in the ass?! Urgh! I am really hating that my doctor’s office is doing this!! I understand why, though. I mean, really, if I were a doctor and could avoid all the insurance company bullshit, I’d do it too! It’s just very frustrating and unfair to the patients who are established. To assume that a patient can afford an extra $1100 a year on top of what they already pay for insurance really sucks!

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It is no secret that in many cases all it would take is one major medical emergency to put a family into financial distress! Hell, one ER visit with my son, at the health system I work for cost me over $800! He wasn’t even admitted! Health care costs are astronomical (not to mention pharmaceutical costs)!

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So the search is on … I have a short time to interview, research and make the decision on my new doc. I am loathing ever damn second of it. Who is the right Doc??

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Doc Bricker?

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Doc Brown?

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Doc Severinsen?!?!

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Doctor Howard? Doctor Fine? Doctor Howard?

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Dr. Van Helsing??

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Dr. Nick?!?

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Gratuitous Grey’s Anatomy photo (cause my wife loves that show)

Doctor McSteamer? McSteaming? Or McDreamy? Whatever the hell they call him?!?!

Wish me luck … I am NOT looking forward to this at all ….

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BLOG ADDITION!!!

My brother read this blog and reminded me that there are many other doctor options that I forgot.  So, here are a few more I will look into:

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Dr. David Banner – although his temper may be an issue.

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Dr. Samuel Beckett – though he is often in and out

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Dr. Bombay – he’s magical!

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Dr. Frasier Crane and Dr. Niles Crane – they are crazy fun!

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Dr. John Watson – The game is afoot!

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Dr. Rumack – I am serious!

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Dr. Honeydew  and his faithful companion, Beaker.

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Dr. Richard Kimble – although he’s on the lamb

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Dr. Bob Hartley

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Another Dr. Bob …

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Dr. Zhivago

Dr Zaius

Dr. Zaius

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Dr. Strangelove

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Dr. Fu Manchu

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The Family Practice of Dr. Jones and Dr. Jones

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Dr. Frankenstein – it’s not pronounced how it looks.

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Dr. Cockroach – he creeps me out a bit

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These doctors!

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Dr. Spaceman – not pronounced how it looks either!

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Dr. Teeth – I have all his albums!

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Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz – He has his own jingle and nemesis.

With all of those wonderful choices …. I may just go with the Dr. I can relate to the most … perhaps you have heard of him….

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Dr. Johnny Fever!

Thanks to my brother for reminding me that I have many more options … LOL!

 

Back in Time?

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All writers get writer’s block.  I am hardly a “writer”, but sometimes stare at the blank page and wonder what to write about.  Since I began blogging, I have stumbled on blogs written by others who share some of the same interests as me.  I have followed blogs that feature movies, TV, music, nostalgia, positive thoughts & quotes, and more.  There have been many instances where I read another blog and an idea will pop into my head.  My friend Max and I tend to “borrow” ideas from each other often.

Many ideas I adapt from those blogs.  For this blog I am literally stealing the idea, and giving credit, and creating some rules for it.  The Anxious Teacher wrote a blog after watching Back to the Future III.  You can read it here:

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/94480307/posts/2458827458

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What a great idea for a blog!  If you had a time machine – where would you travel?  As I thought about this, I wanted to limit myself to a few things.  First of all, because I have watched the Back to the Future movies, I know that if you go back and change something in the past – it will affect the future.  So Limit #1:  If I go back, I am simply there to observe.  Many of the things I thought I would like to go back and witness happened over a period of time, so Limit #2 – no real time limit.  Limit #3 – wherever I go, I will be dressed appropriately as to not raise suspicion.  I know, it’s silly, but it’s my blog and my rules.

I actually thought about adding what I would call the “Ebenezer Scrooge” element to this.  What is that?  Well, remember when Scrooge was transported into the past, present & future?  He could witness everything, but he could not interact with anyone.  Those events happened and the people were not aware he was even there.  Perhaps that would be the best thing, right?  That way, if I went back in time, I would not be tempted to change things.

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General times and places

As my blogger friend said, I think it would be very cool to visit the old west.  I have watched many westerns on TV and in the movies.  I have read many books set in the old west.  I think it would be pretty cool to walk through one of those western towns.  How cool would it be to visit the saloons, or the general store?  I think it would be cool to don a cool cowboy hat, boots & spurs and ride a horse to get from place to place.

I also think it would be cool to visit the ancient times and watch the building of the pyramids, or buildings like the coliseum.  Those historic buildings are still standing.  How awesome would it be to see just how they put them together?

As someone who has been a huge fan of the 1950’s, I would love to live a year or two in this decade.  It’s fun to see how the ’50s are portrayed in movies like Back to the Future, and I would love to see it in person.  I would love to hear the old radio stations playing those early rock and roll songs.  I would love to see those classic films in a theater.  I would love to have a meal at a real 50’s diner or drive a classic car!

I would love to visit the 1940’s, too!  The music of the great band leaders, the early music of Sinatra, and of course, those great old radio shows! Of course, World War II was going on, but it would be interesting to see how life in America was at that time.

Everyone wants to visit the future … that peaks my interest, but is it something I would do?  I don’t know.  I’d be tempted to come back to the present and use the information for personal gain, or to alter outcomes.   I’m not sure visiting the future would be something I’d want to do – unless I knew it was something specific I wouldn’t be able to see.

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General People of Interest

I would love to watch Beethoven or Bach (or any composer, really) writing and composing a piece of their music.

I would love to watch someone like Edgar Allen Poe or William Shakespeare writing a poem or story.

I would love to sit on a set and watch them shooting a Three Stooges or Laurel and Hardy film.

I would love to be in the room where the First Continental Congress held meetings and watch men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and others in action.

I would love to attend a taping of an old episode of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson or a taping of the Dean Martin Show.

I would love to be in the audience at a Rat Pack show in Chicago or Las Vegas.  Come on!  Dean, Frank and Sammy!!

I would love to be an extra in one of my favorite movies.

I would love to watch Elvis in the recording studio.

I would love to watch Thomas Edison working on the phonograph or the electric light.

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Specific Events

I would love to watch the moon landing (on TV or from space).

I would love to watch the first flight with the Wright Brothers.

I would love to see JFK’s inauguration.

I would love to see a Beatles concert.

I would love to see Lincoln deliver his Gettysburg Address.

I would love to witness the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I would love to witness the launch of Titanic on her maiden voyage.

I would love to be in the stands at Tiger Stadium at the final game of the 1984 World Series.

I would love to be in the crowd at 1985’s Live Aid concert.

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Personal Things

I know I put some limits on what can or cannot happen if I went back in time, but if there were no limits there are a few things I would like to do with that time machine.

I would love one more conversation with my mom.

I would love one more pinochle game with grandma and grandpa.

I would love one more Christmas Eve with grandma and grandpa.

I would love one more radio show with Rob.

I would love one more cribbage game with my grandpa.

I would love to play my trumpet in one more high school band concert.

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Just One Day

For whatever reason, writing this blog made me think of the Nat King Cole song, “That Sunday, That Summer”.  The lyrics of the song say:

“If I had to chose just one day, to last my whole life through, it would surely be that Sunday, the day that I met you.”

With a time machine, you could go back to one day.  You could pick the day.  You could relive whatever happened that day.  What day would that be?

I don’t know that I could pick just one.

What I do know is that there are plenty of days that I am looking forward to that haven’t happened yet – the birth of my daughter, the graduations of my sons, etc…. I am perfectly content moving forward and experiencing the days to come.

Here is sit, remembering the past – loving the present – and looking forward to the future.

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Father’s Day Reflections -2019

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As Father’s Day approached, I found a few minutes to reflect.  In a world where you hear constantly about “deadbeat dads”, I am lucky enough to have a dad who played a HUGE part in my life in SO many ways.  I have blogged about his musical influences on me (Which you can read here: https://nostalgicitalian.com/2018/03/30/my-biggest-musical-influence-dad/) and wrote a blog for him on his birthday (which you can read here: https://nostalgicitalian.com/2018/11/01/birthday-tribute-to-fred/).  I was truly blessed with a great dad.

One of the hardest jobs in the world is being a parent, I’ll be the first to admit that.  I will also say, though, that while it is a difficult job, it is also one of the most amazing things a man can do! As I look at my two sons, I consider myself blessed.  Being a father is one of the most satisfying, frustrating, fulfilling, and life-affirming things I have ever done!  I have been a dad for almost 18 years, and as I thought about my boys, I began to make a list of the things I love about being a dad.  I thought I would share that list with you.  Perhaps you can add to it or relate to mine.

Things I Love About Being a Dad

  • Your kids think you know it all.
    • If I had a dollar for every time my kids have asked me a question about something…LOL.  Many times, you know the answer, but sometimes, they ask you something that throws you for a loop!  They truly believe you are the smartest person alive!
  • Playing catch.
    • One of my favorite memories of my dad and I was playing catch in front of our house. I remember the first time he threw his “submarine” pitch to me and how much my hand stung when it hit the mitt!  Throwing the ball around with my sons is something I will never get tired of doing!
  • Coaching – Sports.
    • I was lucky enough to coach both of my sons in T-ball and baseball.  I truly wish they had both continued to play ball, but as they grew older, they lost interest.  I also helped the coaches out when my oldest son was on the bowling team in middle school.  I loved watching them play soccer and taking them to the driving range to hit golf balls, too. I only got to really go fishing with them a couple times, but I hope that it happens more in the years ahead.
  • Throwing them around in the pool.
    • We lived at one place that had a huge pool.  One of the thing I never got tired of was picking the boys up and tossing them back into the water in the summer.  I also loved letting them push me in the pool, thinking they had surprised me, when all along I was waiting for them to do it.  My oldest is as big as me now, and he still wants me to throw him around!  Pool fun is always great as a dad!
  • Your kids think you are the strongest person!
    • I remember arm wrestling with my dad and being amazed at how strong he was.  I remember “helping” my dad move things and struggling with my end of it because it was so heavy.  Dad wasn’t phased at all, though.  As kids, we are always amazed at how strong dad is!
  • Rocking and singing them to sleep.
    • Whether it is at the beginning of the night or in the middle of the night, I never grew tired of rocking my kids to sleep.  Holding them with their head on my shoulder and singing Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra songs is forever etched in my memory!  The songs changed from son to son, but some remained the same.  I used to sing “Bouna Sera,” “On An Evening in Roma,” “Watching the World Go By,” “Vieni Su,” “Cruising Down the River,” and other songs.  I used to love when they would sing them to me, too!
  • You become aware of your bad habits.
    • My dad used to smoke.  He used to say, “Don’t ever let me catch you doing this!”  He eventually quit cold turkey, whether or not it was because of my brother and I, I don’t know.  I do know that you are extra cautious about doing things or saying things you don’t want your kids repeating.  My dad always tells the story of driving while I was in the car seat behind him  Someone cut him off and he yelled, “You stupid prick!” and I said, “What did those pricks do, daddy?!”  “Sticks – there were sticks in the road!” was his response.  HA!
  • Play time and using your imagination.
    • I remember my dad coming into the bedroom and pretending to be a bear while my brother and I were under the covers.  I remember him pretending to be a wrestler and bouncing us on the mattress.  I remember pretending that way with my sons, too.  I remember playing superheroes with towels tied around our necks for capes!  So much fun!!!
  • Embarrassing them.
    • This gets more fun as they get older.  My dad did it to me.  I do it with my kids.  Just recently, we were walking down the street to go to the city fair.  On the walk I started skipping and both kids were like, “Dad!  Stop it!”  This one car was playing some song with a really loud bass, so I started dancing.  Again, “Stop it!” When the petting zoo came into view I screamed, “Oooo!  Look at the baby goats” and started running toward them.  They were so embarrassed!  It’s what dads do!!
  • Introducing them to things from your childhood.
    • For me, dad introduced me to a lot of music and such.  For my sons, I shared movies and music, but thanks to technology, I was able to share with them the Atari 2600!  They had some retro Atari that was loaded with 200 games or something one Christmas.  My oldest loved it.  He was always playing Maze Craze!  We used to hit the thrift shops and I would love when there was some old toy from my childhood there!  Of course, I passed down the Three Stooges to them!  I also introduced them to the Classic Scooby Doo cartoons, Hong Kong Phooey, and the Muppets.
  • True and unconditional love.
    • It’s a mutual thing.  I have never felt such an unconditional love for someone or from someone, until I became a dad.  Holding each of my boys for the first time, you melt!  The love just gushes out from you.  It is an amazing thing.
  • Hearing “I love you” from them.
    • This kind of goes with the above item.  As if you can’t love them any more, the minute they tell you “I love you” is just an amazing, emotional, and wonderful thing that you will never forget.  I still have voicemails from both boys as toddlers on my phone.  I need to find a way to get them into an MP3 or something.  I never want to lose those!
  • Halloween
    • There were a few years I worked nights and missed out on taking them out trick or treating.  I was able to be at all of their Halloween parades at school.  I loved being able to help pick out costumes with them.  Pulling them around the neighborhood as babies was something very fun.
  • Gibberish talk.
    • As parents, we all do this. Especially when they are babies.  I wish I could remember all the things I said to my kids, I don’t.  I know there were gibberish phrases that I used for each boy, though.  I used to love saying them to make them smile.
  • Making them laugh.
    • My kids were always my best audience.  “Do it again, Daddy!”  There is nothing like making your child laugh.  Their laughter is like music!  Even as they grow up, I still love listening to them laugh.  They may not laugh at it everything like they used to, but that’s ok.  It’s still fun to make them laugh.
  • Roughhousing.
    • It’s a bit different now that they are older, and have the potential of kicking my butt!  I love when they want to rough house!  I remember my mom yelling at my dad, “Stop that rough housing!”  Why?!  It was fun for all of us!
  • Being silly.
    • Adulting sucks.  Sometimes, you just have to be silly!  Being a dad allows you to be silly.  Silly is good.  Sometimes, you have to break away from the serious and embrace the silly!
  • Letting them win.
    • Oh how many games of cribbage did my dad let me win?!  With Uno, he wasn’t so nice.  I think he used to love putting down that Draw 4 card – much like I do with my kids today!  Sure, I have let them win occasionally, and there is some satisfaction in watching him and his brother brag about how they beat dad at the game.  Every once in awhile, though, you gotta show them you can beat them at it too!
  • “Caving” at the store.
    • I don’t do this as much now, but I used to.  You know how it is – you go to the store and there is that “can we get this?” or “I need this!”  All too often, I would cave and buy whatever it was.  Now that they are older, they understand a bit more when you tell them you don’t have the money to buy that right now.  they younger they are, the easier it is for dads to cave!
  • Getting beat at video games.
    • I love spending time with my boys.  They love their video games.  They have this one called Super Smash Brothers.  I really don’t understand it, but the gist is that you are a character (there are many) and you beat each other up until someone wins.  They kept asking me to play, so I did.  They wiped the floor with me.  Both of them were laughing as they beat the snot out of my character.  I was just pushing buttons trying to make it hit or whatever.  All of a sudden, my character started to light up and did this crazy punch/kick thing!  My youngest said, “Dad, you figured out how to use the special!”  There was some special move – every character has one!  They just neglected to tell me about it and let me lose!  LOL!  Smart boys!!  I don’t care whether I win or not, I just enjoy the time with them.
  • Carrying them on my shoulders
    • I remember as a kid, loving when my dad carried me on his shoulders.  I used to hold on to his hair!  My boys did the same thing!  I would give anything to be able to carry my sons again on my shoulders.  I used to love walking through the store with them up there.  I loved taking walks in the park with them up there.  I wish I had more pictures of them up there.
  • Snuggling/Hugs
    • I have always been a hugger.  I love hugging my kids.  I miss the days of snuggling up next to them for a nap.  I miss holding them while we watch TV.  I remember many times trying to get up from the couch, trying not to wake them because they fell asleep.  Those moments are so special for a dad.  I love when they come up and hug me for no reason.  It is still an amazing thing.
  • “Pull my finger”
    • This is probably the one thing that is exclusive to dads.  Not many moms do this!  Farts, dads, and kids mean laughs.  It’s probably such a huge annoyance for moms.  Dads fart.  Kids laugh at farts.  I remember one time my friend and I were outside in the front yard playing with Matchbox cars.  Dad came home from work and as he was walking in the house he made the “finger gun” with his hand and “shot” it as he farted.  We still laugh about that!  The fart will always be a funny thing that dads and kids both laugh at together.
  • Looking at your relationship with your kids and being able to connect it to memories you shared with your dad.
    • Go back and read how many times I mention something I love about doing with my sons, and how many times I can connect them with something my dad and I shared!
  • The “bond” that is eternal.
    • There will never be anything that can come between me and my kids.  I love my sons with all that I am.  They are my flesh and blood and will forever be my little boys.
  • The firsts and lasts
    • Those firsts stay with you forever.  The first steps.  The first words.  The first day of school.  The first concert.  Both of my sons are still in school, but if social media is an indicator, the last day of school is just as emotional as the first!  Watching each of my sons get on the bus for the first time was very emotional for me.  Big days – big emotions.
  • Artwork
    • Back when I had an office at work, I used to have countless drawings that they did in school.  I used to have a macaroni bee that my oldest son made.  The noodles eventually broke on it.  I still have some paintings they did and the coffee mug coasters that each boy made me for Father’s Day in kindergarten or first grade.  Those little things hold special meaning for me.
  • Bedtime Stories
    • It starts as you reading to them.  I don’t know how many times I read “Goodnight Moon” or “I’m Thankful Each Day” to my sons, but I enjoyed it every time.  I am sure there were other books, too.  “Snowmen at Night” was a favorite, too.  I used to love when they would read to me!  I wish the video games weren’t so accessible, because I really wish they would find more time to read.  I loved when they would tell me about a story of book they read in school.
  • The emotions that they make me feel.
    • They make me proud.  They make me happy.  They make me cry (both happy and sad tears).  They make me worry.  They make me thankful.  They make me feel a never ending love for each of them.  I am not ashamed to admit how emotional I have gotten watching them in a play, a band concert, a baseball game, or during an awards ceremony.  God help me, when they graduate, get married, and have children – I can barely hold it together now!!

I am sure if I had a few more minutes, I could add many more items to this list.  Being a dad is the greatest thing I have ever had to do.  My sons have been tremendous blessings to me and fill my heart with joy and laughter.  I love them so much.  If and when I am blessed with another child, I will look forward to reliving some of the things mentioned and creating new memories with that child, because being a dad is one of the coolest, most special, and fulfilling things I have ever done, or will ever do in my lifetime.

Happy Father’s Day!

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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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It’s a “Guy Thing” …

I can’t wait for this weekend!  I have my tickets.  I am anxiously awaiting 2 hours of laughing.  I will exit the Redford Theater on Friday night with my sides aching from laughter!

My dad, as I have mentioned in many blogs, introduced me to many things – music, movies, old radio and more.  One of the things that I am forever grateful for, is his introducing me to three of the funniest men who ever lived – The Three Stooges.  Now there are many folks who say that they are “a guy thing” and this is just not true!  I know many females who love the Stooges.  My friend Roxanne and I are forever referencing the Stooges in phone calls and social media posts!  There are plenty of Stooge fans, both male and female, and many of them will be in the audience with me watching and laughing.

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There is something to be said about watching them on TV or at home on video or DVD.  Yes, they are funny. There is, however, nothing like watching them on the big screen with an audience laughing with you!  That’s exactly how audiences saw them in the first place – in the theater!

I bought my tickets this past week and am looking forward to going to see “the boys” with my sons, my father-in-law, and my brother-in-law.  I was finally able to see the shorts that will be showing this weekend, and it only adds to the excitement!  There are some classics playing!!!

Men in Black

This was the third short the Stooges ever released.  For those who say that the Stooges never did anything worth watching – this short was nominated for an Academy Award!  This is such a wonderful short full of quotable lines and running gags (“Calling Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Doctor Howard”, “For Duty and Humanity”).  The Stooges are new doctors who reek havoc on the hospital. Larry has two very memorable moments – when he sings into the stethoscope and when he is in the operating room, both which crack me up every time!  Comedian Billy Gilbert’s cameo is funny, too!

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Hoi Polloi

One of the great Stooge stories – and an idea that came from Moe’s wife, Helen.  The boys are garbage men, who are the subjects of a bet.  A professor and a colleague are debating whether environment or heredity make a man.  The professor bets that he can take the lowly Stooges and make gentlemen out of them.

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The Stooges often went head to head with the folks of “high society” and this was one of the great examples.

Ants in the Pantry

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Here is another short where the Stooges go up against the upper class.  They are exterminators who are looking for business.  In an effort to drum up some, they actually plant mice, ants, and other pests in homes!  Of course, they are then hired to remove the pests that they planted.  A highlight is the destruction of a piano due to mice and cats!

The boys are then invited on a fox hunt and end up with a much different, and smelly animal.

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Violent is the Word for Curly

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This one is a classic that will forever be remembered for the song “Swingin’ the Alphabet.”  The Stooges are working at a gas station giving “super service” to customers.  They come across three professors who are off to speak at a college.  They toss their luggage into a truck so they can “do their job.”  The Stooges end up blowing up their car and jump in the truck to get away.  They dress in the professor’s clothes and are mistaken for them by a college staff member.  Their speech is the song mentioned above.

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I don’t care how many times I watch the scene where they cut to Larry – I laugh because of him staring off into space!

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Priceless!

Dutiful But Dumb

The Stooges are photographers who fail to get a photo of a starlet.  They are fired by their boss, then rehired and sent to a country where taking pictures is punishable by death (LOL).  Of course, they are asked to take pictures!

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This short has two of my favorite Curly moments.  The boys are hiding from officers of the law.  Curly is hiding inside a huge radio and when one of them goes to turn the radio on.  Curly has pulled almost all the wires out of it.  When they wonder what is wrong with the radio, Curly pulls out a harmonica puts a cymbal on his head and begins to play music.

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The other Curly moment is his wonderfully orchestrated fight with an oyster.  Curly orders some oyster stew.  Each time he puts a cracker in it, the oyster eats it.  It is such a masterpiece and a great example of just how he can make you laugh without saying anything!

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Out West

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There is a great debate over who was funnier – Curly or Shemp.  I avoid this debate at all costs, because in my opinion, they were both very funny men.  They each had their own style.  I love that the Redford plays one Shemp short at their Stooges festivals.  While this one is not one of my favorites, it still is worth watching.

I always love when the Stooges do a period piece, and this one is obviously set in the Old West.  Anytime the amazing Christine McIntyre plays alongside the Stooges, it’s fun.  Jock Mahoney, who is probably best known for playing Tarzan in a few feature films, also stars in this one.

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It’s going to be a blast, for sure!  The Redford Theater is a beautiful theater and has a Barton organ that has been in the theater since 1928!  It really is a wonderful place and they often show classic movies for a very reasonable price.  If you are a fan of the Stooges and live in Michigan, you need to make it out to their annual Three Stooges festival!  Check out their website for upcoming events –

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If you already have your tickets …. I will be laughing with you!

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A Peak at Mom’s “Project”

Today would have been my mom’s 71st birthday. I wrote a very emotional blog about her last year and for new followers to this blog, you can read it here:

https://nostalgicitalian.com/2018/04/04/moms-70th/

The Project

Last year, my brother Chris told me that he wanted to create a project that would honor our mom. I have a list of things I am supposed to be doing for this project, and as I sit here remembering her today, I thought I would share one of the things I wrote for our project. I hope my brother doesn’t mind me sharing this here.

“S” Meals

“Just like mom used to make” is a phrase you hear often when someone tries something at a restaurant or when a restaurant is promoting their menu. Maybe YOUR mom cooked like that, but mine did not. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of meals that I would love for her to make for me today. I loved her Impossible Cheeseburger Pie, Meatloaf, and her amazing Tuna Noodle Casserole. I have an old cookbook she had, but I really have no idea how she tweaked those recipes.

Here’s the deal, it wasn’t that mom wasn’t a good cook, the issue was she didn’t change the menu too often. We had a joke in our house – Mom’s menu consisted of “S” meals. What is an “S” meal? Well, it’s just what you think it is – meals that start with the letter “S”. Now, it is a possibility that they were also called “S” meals because they were very simple to make, I don’t know. Here now, is a sampling of mom’s core menu items:

  1. Spaghetti. It was a staple at our house. No surprise, after all, we are Italian. Sadly, her sauce always came out of a jar and was almost always Ragu.
  2. Sausage. She would go to the store and buy one of those rings of Italian sausage and fry it up in one of those square electric fry pans.
  3. Sloppy Joes. Could this meal be any easier to make? Brown up some meat and throw in some Manwich!
  4. Soup and Sandwiches. Two S’s for the price of one! A “combination” “S” meal! This was a frequent meal at our place – usually closer to payday.
  5. Steak. Usually, it was fried up in the square fry pan I mentioned an item or two ago. As kids, we hardly ever ate steak. I’m not sure why we didn’t, maybe it was because a fried steak was almost always tough. Usually when this meal was served, my brother and I opted for the alternate “S” meal, Spaghetti-O’s!
  6. Subs. Let’s be real here – this is really just another form of a sandwich, but served on a roll instead of bread! (Side note: My dad used to make what he called “Flubby’s”, which was a take off of Tubby’s subs. It was ground hamburger, lettuce, tomato, and Italian dressing.)
  7. Swedish Meatballs. Sometimes we called this Sweet and Sour Meatballs or Waikiki Meatballs. As a kid, the taste of these made me want to throw up. As I have grown up, I am actually a big fan of sweet and sour meatballs and chicken. I’d probably like them now. I remember the recipe was on a recipe card, which is sadly long gone.
  8. Salad. Yes. Salad could be a meal at our house. She got a recipe from my great Aunt Lois I think. It was leaf lettuce, vinegar, and grilled bacon. It was actually very good. I may have to see if I can make it sometime.

In a nutshell, those were the meals. We look back on this memory often and laugh. I miss her very much and would give anything to sit and enjoy conversation, food and laughter with her.

One last dinner story

If my mom were still alive, she’d probably kill me for telling this story. This, however, is one of my favorite dinner time stories:

Every now and then, mom would make corned beef and cabbage. Most of the time she’d cook it up in the crockpot, and it would be very tender. There was one time, however, where the corned beef turned out very dry. As we ate it, we were all thinking it, but NO ONE had the courage to speak up and say anything, so naturally, I did. I will say up front that as I look back at it, I regret the way I handled it. It does make a great story, though.

I started by simply saying, “Does this seem a bit dry to anyone else?” This made my dad laugh almost instantly. When he started laughing, I figured this had opened the door for me and allowed me to keep making fun of the meal. I proceeded to do what The Three Stooges would do with something like this. I began to:

  • tug at my throat
  • act like I was choking
  • put one hand on my chin and the other on the top of my head and pretended to force my mouth up and down to make myself chew
  • slam my hands against my chest
  • pound at my shoulder blade like I was choking

All of these things made my dad laugh. They made my brother laugh. My mother, however, was not happy. You could see her getting more and more angry with each of my actions.

She finally threw down her fork and stormed off to her room and slammed the door. My dad, brother, and I all sat in silence at the table for some time. I think my dad went to make peace, but the damage was done. I didn’t understand at the time, and she even laughed about it later (much later). It hurt her very bad that day. I apologized for this more times than I can remember. I still feel bad about it today.

Happy Heavenly Birthday, Mom. I miss you and I love you. I would give anything in the world to have a piece of that dry corned beef with you right about now….