Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Thunderbirds, Fireball XL5, and Space:1999 creator Gerry Anderson dies

Gerry Anderson obituary - One News Page

Note: This link may have you jump through a bunch of hoops to get to the article, but it was the best I could do on a short notice. Click the link that says "Full News Story." It should take you to The Guardian website.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

BEST VERSIONS OF "SLEIGH RIDE"

I am not a big fan of Christmas music. The problem for me is repetition or just plain awfulness. There are some songs that should be exclusive to the person that introduced it. The perfect example of this is "Happy Xmas (The War Is Over)" by John Lennon. There have been several bad cover versions in the past few years. The original is the best.

There are those novelties that we once heard only on Dr. Demento or once a year. Now thanks to radio's obsession with "wall-to-wall" Christmas music (to mask mass layoffs by the corporate radio outlets), these songs get beat to death. Yes, I am thinking of both "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" and "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer."

I have come to the conclusion that "Sleigh Ride" is a perfect song that you can not ruin, especially if you do it as an instrumental. Let me give you my nominations for the top five versions of "Sleigh Ride."
  1. Arthur Fiddler & the Boston Pops with Leroy Anderson (The Original)
  2. The Ventures ("Walk Don't Run" style)
  3. Herb Alpert & The Tiajuana Brass
  4. Al Caiola
  5. Lex Baxter with Ferrante & Teichner   

Saturday, December 22, 2012

DESDINOVA'S CHRISTMAS PLAYLIST

Here are some of my suggestions for a cool Christmas playlist for your Ipod. Enjoy. No disco, but I love that LP cover.

  • "Mistletoe & Wine" Cliff Richard
  • "Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy" David Bowie and Bing Crosby
  • "Frosty the Snowman" The Beach Boys
  • "Chipmunk Song/Christmas Boogie" The Chipmunks with Canned Heat (Best fuzztone guitar riff in a Christmas song)
  •  "Feliz Navidad" Jose Feliciano
  • "Happy Xmas (The War Is Over)" John Lennon and Yoko Ono
  • "Silent Night" The Temptations
  • "Happy Holidays/Holiday Season" Andy Williams
  • "I Believe In Father Christmas" Emerson, Lake & Palmer
  • "Jingle Bells" The Hollyridge Strings
  • "Rockin Around the Christmas Tree" Brenda Lee
  • "The Christmas Song"  Jethro Tull
  • "Run Rudolph Run" Chuck Berry
  • "What Child Is This" The Moody Blues
  • "Father Christmas" The Kinks
  • "White Christmas" Bing Crosby
  • "All I Want For Christmas Is You" Mariah Carey
  • "Blue Christmas" Elvis Presely
  • "Santa Claus is Coming To Town" Jackson 5 (I also like the Bruce Springstein version)
  • "Christmas Light" Coldplay
  • "Deck The Halls" Mannheim Steamroller
  • "Here Comes Santa Claus" Billy Idol
  • "I'll Be Home For Christmas" Tony Bennett with Count Baise (THE ONLY GOOD VERSION OF THIS DEPRESSING SONG! "Take me home, Count!")
  • "Jingle Bell Rock" Hall & Oats
  • "Do You Hear What I Hear" Carrie Underwood
  • "Christmas Time Is Here" Ray Parker Junior
  • "Silver Bells" The Supremes
  • "Calypso Noel" Johnny Mathis
  • "Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer" Dean Martin
  • "God Rest You Merry Gentlemen" Mitch Miller
  • "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" Perry Como
  • "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts)" Nat King Cole
I tried to pick a few that I enjoy and are not the usual choices. You may notice the absence of "Sleigh Ride." It is not because I don't like it, it is because there are too many good versions. So I plan a follow up post on my favorite versions of "Sleigh Ride."

Iron Butterfly bassist died of natural causes

St. Louis native Lee Dorman is second from the right.
Iron Butterfly bassist died of natural causes - KansasCity.com

On the old blog, I once said that when I took over America and became emperor, I was going to change the national anthem from the "Star Spangle Banner" to "In A Gadda Da Vida."  You would be surprised how many people thought this would be a cool idea. Of course, I had about two people said they didn't want "In A Gadda Da Vida" nor did they want me to be emperor. Probably some of those stupid KSGF listeners.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

CHRISTMAS MOVIE CONNECTIONS

This is a kind of free form, stream of consciousness post that may lead to a sequel, but I've tried to think of as many of these as possible. I began noticing that several things in the popular Christmas films were connected. Sometimes on purpose and sometimes on accident. If anyone thinks of one I left off, post a comment and I'll check it out.


Lionel Barrymore was originally to play Ebeneezer Scrooge in the movie version of A Christmas Carol, but suffered an injury. He played the role on radio every year. Because he was so good at playing Scrooge, Frank Capra chose him to play Old Man Potter in It's a Wonderful Life.




In this scene from Santa Claus Conquers The Martians, the kids defeat the bad guy, Voldar, using toys (provided by Ideal Toys). MST3K and others have pointed out the violent and dangerous nature of some of the toys used. The film was made in 1964. A year after that film came out a movement by parents to have toy company stop selling war oriented toys. It was around this time that New York radio personality Jean Shepard, talked to a "concerned woman" in a coffee shop about the "Ban War Toys" movement. It brought back a memory from his childhood of wanting a Red Ryder BB gun and being told by several adults "You'll shoot your eye out." That story was included in his book, In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash. It became the basis for the movie A Christmas Story.


A Christmas Story was directed by Bob Clark, who also directed a horror film called Black Christmas in 1974 (Above). Peter Billingsley, who played Ralphie in A Christmas Story, plays an elf named Ming-Ming in Elf.


Obviously, Holiday Inn and White Christmas have both Bing Crosby and "White Christmas" in common, but what does White Christmas and It's a Wonderful Life have in common? If you said Alfalfa, you're right. Former Our Gang/Little Rascals star Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer played Mary's date at the dance in It's a Wonderful Life (His big moment is opening the gym floor to plunge George and Mary into the swimming pool in an act of jealousy). In White Christmas, he is only shown in a photo (below) as Vera-Ellen's brother "Freckle Face" Benny Haynes.



Also the gag involving the photo is similar to the one in another Christmas film, Home Alone. Kevin finds a photo of his bully, big brother Butch's girlfriend (above), which cause Kevin to say, "WOOF!" (below) It is actually a photo of a boy in drag. Director John Hughes felt that using a photo of a "real girl" would be cruel.


The 1934 film version of Victor Herbert's Babes In Toyland, starring Laurel and Hardy, there are several joking references to Walt Disney, including a Mickey Mouse clone (Below) and Three Little Pigs (accompanied by "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" in the background).



 In the 1961 Disney version of Babes in Toyland, Barnaby's henchmen are Laurel and Hardy clones (Above).

Character actor Dick Elliot plays the Judge in Christmas in Connecticut. In It's a Wonderful Life, he is the neighbor, who yells at George Bailey, "WHY DON'T YA KISS HER?" when he is escorting Mary home. 

  
 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

WHAT KIDS FROM CHRISTMAS MOVIES LOOK LIKE NOW

You have probably seen this current photo of actor Peter Billingsley from the 1983 film A Christmas Story.


But how about some of the other kids from popular Christmas movies. I managed to track down two others.
Karolyn Grimes, who played Zuzu (on the right) in It's a Wonderful Life.



Above is a photo of what Karolyn Grimes looks like today. She also appeared in another Christmas movie, The Bishop's Wife.

I get a lot of flak for friends and family because I say this is my favorite Christmas movie. It doesn't seem like Christmas to me with out watching the 1964 film Santa Claus Conquers The Martians. Girmar, the little girl Martian (Get it! Gir-mar -girl Martian), was played by Pia Zadora (right).

 Pia Zadora later became famous in the 80's appearing in the films Butterfly, The Lonely Lady, Hairspray, Troop Beverly Hills and Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult. She also had a Top 40 hit with a remake of Shirley Ellis's The Clapping Song. These days she mainly performs in concerts singing. Here is a recent photo.

Ravi Shankar passes away

The Hindu : Arts / Music : Pandit Ravi Shankar passes away
Here is Ravi Shankar on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1967.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

WHY NO COUNDOWN TO CHRISTMAS POST? (Good Question)

I should address this before it turns into something ugly. Someone will probably ask why I haven't participated in a Countdown To Christmas, like I always do with Countdown To Halloween. I'm sure someone will say it has something to do the "War on Christmas" and that I'm really in league with Satan.

Last year, I made several Christmas post on a daily basis, much like I did with Countdown to Halloween. This year, I believe I have only one Christmas related post so far.  Do I have reasons for there not being any Countdown to Christmas post? Yes.
  1. Lack of time - I'm busy at work (even though I still consider myself "on the beach")
  2. I'm a guy - We procrastinate on Christmas things. Women put up their Christmas trees in November and have Christmas shopping done in August. Guys really don't decorate for Christmas and we usually get our Christmas shopping done at 11:30 p.m on December 24th.
  3. Not as much variety with Christmas as with Halloween. I still have ideas for Halloween post, but unfortunately that holiday has come and gone. As I have mentioned before, most of the Christmas music is the same song over and over. I posted several cartoons and movie trailers last year and they are luckily still here (You Tube never yanked these). You can go back and enjoy them again.
  4. The Countdown to Halloween is a coordinated effort with a blog site. I thought there was a Countdown to Christmas blog last year. I couldn't find one, but noticed several links to a Countdown to Christmas on Pinnerst. If there was a Countdown To Christmas blog last year, it was probably started by a craft blogger and may have been moved to Pinnerst. 
 Don't worry if I find anything Christmas oriented from the past few decades, I will post it.

DAVE BRUBECK FOR SEARS KENMORE DRYERS

CLICK TO ENLARGE
A few days ago, I mentioned that somewhere, amid the ray guns and killer robots in my mad scientist lab beneath Springfield's Park Central Square (The readers of my old blog will get this reference),  I had a magazine ad that the late jazz Dave Brubeck and his wife did in the late 60's for Sears-Kenmore appliances. I found it in a Better Homes and Gardens from November 1969.  I apologize for my scanner not being big enough to accommodate the whole magazine. There were several versions of this ad featuring well-known celebrities. The idea was "If a famous person with lots of money can by appliances from Sears, I shouldn't be ashamed of getting my appliances from Sears." The tag line on the ad (That unfortunatly was cut off by my scanner) is "Sears Kenmore Dryer for women who want the best even if it does cost less."

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

SKINFLINT: THE FORGOTTEN CHRISTMAS CAROL

The actual title of this should be "Skinflint: A Country Christmas Carol," because that was the title of this forgotten Christmas TV special. It aired in 1979 amid a glut of TV versions "Christmas Carol" that included a one man version by Rich Little on HBO and a Waltons-ish version featuring Henry Winkler as a greedy old man (complete with age make-up).

Skinflint featured Hoyt Axton (pictured above) as a Cyrus Flint, a greedy banker, who runs the town of Flint City, Tennessee. Like Ebaneezer Scrooge, Flint had an abused, underpaid employee with a dying son played by Mel Tillis. His wife is played by Lynn Anderson. Flint has nephew, played by Larry Gatlin, that ask him to a Christmas party. Flint is visited by the ghost of a deceased partner, played by Tom T. Hall. He is visited by three more ghost. The ghost of the past, played by Martha Raye (Who is dressed like Minnie Pearl, which is odd) shows us that Flint's greedy cost him a relationship with a woman, played by Barbara Mandrell.

Also in the cast include Nashville Brass leader Danny Davis, Dotty West and the Statler Brothers. This TV special is not on video. As a matter of fact it was only shown once (that I recall). The actor, who played Mel Tillis and Lynn Anderson's son, posted on another blog that he is wanting to post his copy on You Tube.

   
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