Monday, December 28, 2009

What's New... Elsewhere?

By now, I'm sure most -- if not all -- of you have given up on my ever finishing Old Home Week, the multi-parter I began last October. Well, I will be finishing it, but I want to wait until I have time to devote to it, which frankly, won't be for a couple of months or more. (At that point, I'll probably re-post the first three segments.)

Regular readers know that I've been dealing with a lot of crap in the real world lately, so I'm not going to dwell on that right now. And when I have had time to devote to blogging, I've been sticking to shorter posts (for me, that is) here, and to the plotting/writing sessions for Simpson/Lynch Studios: Pleasantview, the blog I share with my once-and-future writing partner, Skip Simpson. (Skip also has a solo blog, Skip's Stuff, by the way!)

If you're not reading Simpson/Lynch Studios: Pleasantview, you're missing out on some of the most creative stuff I -- and by "I," I really mean "we," in this case -- have done! The blog started out as a place to talk about our collaborative projects, past and present, but has proven to have a life of its own. It's transformed into a soap opera of sorts, featuring storylines concerning "The Skipster" and "The Foxster" -- younger-looking, somewhat idealized, incredibly successful and rich versions of Skip and myself! -- as well as a great supporting cast.

I want to announce an upcoming internet crossover "event," the Grand Opening of the Kewl Beanz!TM coffeehouse on January 26th! But Kewl Beanz!TM is hardly "just" a coffeehouse; the team of Skipster and Foxster never do anything in a small way!

We're hoping that plenty of Blogger-bloggers sign up to participate. Those who don't will hopefully still enjoy reading our posts on the SLP site.

So, as the slogan goes, "Be There Or Be Square!"

Thanks for your time.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas (Let's Try This Again!)

Let's see if Blogger cooperates this time...

For obvious reasons, I'm feeling somewhat ambivalent about Christmas this year. So I thought I'd just talk about some of my likes and dislikes about Christmas, or more specifically, about Christmas music.

Personally, I usually prefer the older, more religious Christmas carols... "We Three Kings" as opposed to "Here Comes Santa Claus," and such. And I generally like these songs better when they're sung by the more established singers of an earlier era -- Crosby, Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, etc. -- as opposed to whatever some modern pop or rock artist has chosen to "gift" us with. But there are exceptions to that ill-defined rule, as you'll see below... if you make it that far.

I wanted to showcase some of my favorite Christmas songs -- in between some characteristic "RantZ" about songs I don't like, or at least, certain details about certain songs that bother me -- and was thwarted in my efforts to find the proper versions.

For example, my absolute favorite version of "Do You Hear What I Hear?" is by Robert Goulet, and it's not on YouTube. So I decided to "settle" for the song as oh-so-ably performed by Bing Crosby.


And hey, speaking of favorites... Can anyone tell me why "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music is now considered a Christmas song? And don't give me any of that crap about how certain lines have "winter imagery," etc., please?

Another favorite song version which I searched for and didn't find was "The First Noël" as sung by Dennis Day. Instead, I'm offering that Christmas classic -- one that "struck" me for no apparent reason when I was still a child -- as performed by Andy Williams.


"The First Noël" does have a line that bothers me now, even more than it did when I was about seven or eight, and first realized that something was "wrong" about the song.

The second verse begins "They looked up and saw a star..." Two notes are devoted to the word "they," so it comes out "they-ey." Those two notes are followed by another two -- "look-ed" -- which force the singer to sing "look" and "ed" as two separate syllables, rather than pronouncing it as "look'd." WTF? I'm hoping that this awkward construction can be blamed on the nuances of 16th century English. Otherwise, it seems like pretty amateurish writing. (Even at seven, I asked "How come they didn't say something like 'They all looked up?' That would've been better!")

In the song "It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year," the following lines appear: "There'll be parties for hosting / Marshmallows for toasting / And caroling out in the snow / There'll be scary ghost stories..."

Wait a minute. Time out. "Scary ghost stories?" Excuse me? Who the hell tells ghost stories on Christmas?!?

But now that I think of it, has anyone else ever noticed the similarity between "Carol of the Bells" and "Danse Macabre?"

I've already ranted elsewhere, at length (of course), about how and why the line in "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" which calls Rudolph "the most famous reindeer" bothers me.

Another song with a line that irks me is "I'll Be Home for Christmas," because it begins by saying "I'll be home for Christmas / You can count on me" (emphasis mine), and continues to say "I'll be home for Christmas / If only in my dreams" (again, emphasis mine).

Well, make up your damned mind.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I understand the point of the song itself. This person wishes he/she could be home for Christmas, but knows it won't happen. But why say "count on me" when you know this?

So again, make up your damned mind! I gotta know how many table-settings to put out!

Okay, okay, when I start getting that picky, it's time for more music!

Successfully mixing the traditional songs I've mentioned with a modern treatment, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra has been blowing audiences away for years now. However, if you've never heard of them because you've been living under a rock, here's not one, not two, but three songs they've whipped together, featuring such Christmas favorites of mine as "the Nutcracker Suite," "O Holy Night," and "Carol of the Bells."




Yup, there are a lot of Christmas songs I love. Here are some more recent tunes -- "recent" meaning they were written in the last century! -- which I'm just throwing out at random. Some are a bit depressing, which is only fitting. Not everyone is happy this time of year, for whatever reason. Here's a pleasant thought, one which you probably knew already: More people commit suicide at this time of year than any other. Isn't that cheerful?





If I hadn't used up so much room with stuff I liked, I could have filled this space with YouTube videos telling you about Christmas songs I don't like, and why.

Neil Diamond did an ambitious version of "God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen" which I really can't stand. It has almost a "barbershop" feel to its arrangement, but kinda falls apart in the middle.

I usually love instrumental versions of "Sleigh Ride," but between the "giddy-up" lines and the "comfy cozy" bit, I think the lyrics are sorta lame.

And this ought to tick off more than a few readers: I really dislike the song "Little Drummer Boy." I don't care how popular it is; I think it's stupid. And don't try telling me about how cool you thought the Bing Crosby & David Bowie duet was. It's a dumb song.

Here's a note I wanted to include because I didn't know where else to put it: Often, a person who seems less than enthusiastic about Christmas is asked, "Are you a 'Bah-humbug?' "

"Bah! Humbug!" is not a freakin' noun. It's an exclamation expressing Scrooge's opinion that Christmas was a "humbug," a fraud. The modern-day version of "Bah! Humbug!" would be something like "Ha! Bulls**t!" So calling someone "a Bah-humbug" would be like calling him or her "a bulls**t." Just plain wrong.

Back to the music...

One of my all-time most-loved Christmas songs is "O Holy Night." My favorite version is by Enrico Caruso, recorded in 1916. In my collection of cool stuff I have an original 78 rpm disc of The Great Caruso singing this song in French. Here's a video of it. Caruso's voice still gives me chills, and that's in spite of the poor recording quality of roughly 100 years ago.


Now, lest you think I'm going to let the sarcastic comments or depressing remarks override the theme of this post, my final two songs will be upbeat, I promise.

First, one of the few rock'n'roll Christmas songs that I really love!


And last, but not least, this re-working of a classic really kicks butt! Crank it up to "11," and... Merry Christmas.


Thanks for your time.

My Christmas Present from Blogger

I worked for hours drafting a Christmas post, filled with YouTube videos.

I posted it, and noticed that thanks to the erratic editing glitches I've encountered on Blogger lately, there were huge white spaces instead of a video wherever the videos had been inserted.

And I don't have time to fix it now, so I deleted it. Maybe I'll post it late tonight, maybe tomorrow. Or maybe I'll just say the hell with it for another twelve months!

So much for a timely Christmas post.

Thanks for nothing, Google team!

Thanks for your time.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

ANITA LYNCH, 1917-2009, R.I.P.



My mother passed away early this morning at the age of 92, in her sleep.

She'd been through an awful lot lately, medically speaking, and was just tired of it all.

I visited with her on Friday afternoon. My sister Kathy saw her in the early evening. One of the last things my Mom said to Kathy was "Tell David I can't go on like this." So she knew her hours were numbered, I think, and wasn't bothered in the least. On the contrary, based on some other things she'd said lately, I'm pretty sure she welcomed it.

Sometime when time permits, I'll probably write a much longer post about her. Right now, all I want to add is that my mother was quite impressed by the birthday wishes she received from all over the USA, and all over the world, in response to my birthday post about her on October 20th. And I want to thank those of you who sent those wishes via the comments section of my blog.


Wedding Day, 1940


Circa 1969, 1970


After having consulted with me, this waiter at a
Mexican restaurant took Mom for a spin on the
dance floor. She was just eighty-five at the time!

Thanks for your time.

David'Z RantZ -- Smoke 'Em If Ya Got 'Em

According to a recent article in The New York Times which I finally got around to reading -- I "subscribe" via email to three sources of national and international headlines per day, but have been so effin' busy lately that I've got over 200 still unread! -- the FDA has banned "flavored" cigarettes. This was done in order to discourage the Precious Youth of America from taking up smoking.

This reminds me of something I've wondered about for years, ever since the PC "Nazis" and other people worried about "The Children!" started shoving their opinions down our throats in the form of laws or other bits of nay-saying designed to protect the impressionable young minds in our otherwise-perfect country (*ahem*):

Why the f**k do they still make candy cigarettes and bubblegum cigars?

I'm not saying whether I think they should or shouldn't...

I'm just askin'.

Thanks for your time... Now, anyone have a light?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

They Called Him Bat... Bat Masterson -- A Theme Thursday "History" Post


When I was a little spud -- very late 1950s and early to mid-1960s -- TV Westerns were all the rage. I grew up idolizing characters like the Lone Ranger and Disney's version of Zorro. I also remember liking shows such as The Rebel (featuring Nick Adams as "Johnny Yuma," a character that inspired me to plead with my mom to get me a Confederate cap until she finally gave in) and Have Gun, Will Travel (and its hero, "Paladin," who, it only now occurs to me, might have provided the initial spark igniting my later interest in dressing in black... an interest that pre-dated all the little Goths running around today).

But I was really too young to fully appreciate the so-called "adult" Westerns of that period.

Roughly three years ago, the Encore Western channel showed the entire five-season run of The Rifleman, and all three seasons of Bat Masterson. I loved having the chance to watch both series in their entirety, but I developed a special affinity for Bat Masterson's character, as portrayed by Gene Barry.

As you probably know, Bat Masterson (pictured above) was a real-life figure in the history of the American "Old West." He was a contemporary of Wyatt Earp's.

When it comes to Wyatt Earp, I prefer the depictions of him which look more authentic -- think Kurt Russell in Tombstone -- but I don't mean in any way to slight actor Hugh O'Brian, who portrayed Wyatt on TV in The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp!

It should come as a surprise to no one that I own a cane
like the one in the above photo, obtained courtesy of eBay!

When it comes to Bat Masterson, however, I prefer to think of him as he was brought to TV "life" by Gene Barry. What a class act!


In 1991, Gene Barry played the role of Bat once again in the fun-filled, light-hearted memory fest called -- deep breath here, fellow babies! -- The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw, starring Kenny Rogers and Reba McEntire. This TV-movie gave cameos and longer parts to many actors -- Chuck Connors, David Carradine, Clint Walker, Brian Keith, Hugh O'Brian, Jack Kelly, and more --who were familiar faces during the 1950s and 1960s on American television. And they all played their original characters! (Well, not exactly in the case of James Drury and Doug McClure... I assume it had something to do with unobtainable rights to their characters from The Virginian, but let's not get into that right now.)

Unfortunately, the vast majority of the actors who reprised their earlier, iconic roles in The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw are no longer with us. And sadder still, a few days ago, the illustrious name of Gene Barry was added to that list of departed Western stars.

In addition to three seasons as Bat Masterson, Gene Barry appeared in TV series and movies like Burke's Law, The Name of the Game, China Gate (which featured Nat King Cole, Lee Van Cleef, and Angie Dickinson as a Eurasian!), and the incredible, classic The War of the Worlds.

"Which The War of the Worlds?" Why, is there more than one? Heh, heh. (Actually, Gene Barry had a part in the Tom Cruise film, too!)

But to me, Gene Barry will always be Bat Masterson.

Rest in peace, Mr. Barry.

Thanks for your time.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

David'Z RantZ: A Bird in the Hand is Worth U2 in the Bush... Or Something...

(This is only a "David'Z RantZ" post by default, since my proper "Silver Fox" entries are primarily my own writings. But this was too good not to share, fellow babies!)

I don't really care what your politics are, nor how you feel about the USA's former president, George W. Bush. Whether you love him, or hate him, or somewhere in between, you still ought to get a kick out of the following video, which has him "performing" one of the best songs by U2 (IMHO, anyway!)


Thanks for your time.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Something Appealing, Nothing Ap-PAUL-ing...

As I have mentioned constantly on this blog -- so constantly that it's become a running joke -- I used to work at a comic shop and "pop culture emporium" called That's Entertainment in Worcester, Massachusetts. Simply put, the three years I spent there (1985-1988) as a full-time employee and de facto albeit untitled assistant manager provided my first opportunities for amateur and professional comic book publication, and more importantly, acquainted me with a few people who -- in varying degrees -- remain friends to this day.

One of those friends is Paul Howley, the owner of That's Entertainment.

Paul has been serializing his life story on a few internet locations, but unfortunately, these locations have dwindled over time. Therefore, Paul has started his own blog, My Life With Comic Books, which is re-telling his story from the beginning.

Don't let the title "fool" you, however. It is indeed a history of Paul's involvement with comic book collecting and selling, and is crammed with fascinating information about the growth of comic books as a real collectibles business, but as you read each successive chapter, you happily realize that you've been "tricked" into reading an intriguing story about a man and his family, and their friends, etc. That's why I highly recommend it, as I said above, but not only to comic book fans. The blog should provide interesting -- sometimes captivating -- reading for anyone interested in the so-called "human experience."

That may sound like I'm over-stating it, but I have the advantage of having seen over 150 chapters so far. For most of you, the ride is just beginning.

(By the way, in order to read it from the very beginning instead of whatever chapter Paul has most recently posted, you may want to click here instead. This will bring you to Part One.)

Paul Howley... kinda

Thanks for your time.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

John Lennon: You Learn Something New Every Day (Almost)!


This post originally appeared on my now-deleted blog, You Learn Something New Every Day (Almost)!

The 29th anniversary of John Lennon's assassination is December 8th. Doing some late-night research, I found a detail I'd somehow missed about his tragic shooting by Mark David Chapman.

John Lennon was shot, four times, in the back.

I'd always assumed he was shot in the chest, because of the probably-apocryphal story that before firing, Chapman called out "Mr. Lennon?" which presumably would have made Lennon turn to face him. But apparently, Chapman himself said he never said that.

Well. In the past twenty-four hours, I've written entries for all three of my active blogs. I'm going to bed...

But I'll leave you with Elton John's tribute to his departed friend.


Thanks for your time.

Monday, November 30, 2009

By George!

George Harrison died eight years ago yesterday. (This post was supposed to be finished and published yesterday, but late Sunday night, something inside me demanded "Screw the blogs. Go to sleep, idiot!" And for once, I did.)

In spite of George's impressive and lengthy solo career, the Concert for Bangladesh, his work as a member of the Traveling Wilburys, his "wink, wink, nudge, nudge" associations with the Rutles, and a long list of other accomplishments, he will always be best remembered as one of The Beatles.

But then again, that ain't too shabby!

As I wrote approximately eighteen months ago on my old David'Z RantZ blog, "if you were one of The Beatles, you were one of the coolest people in the universe, ever. Or at least you were cool for a period long enough so that you'll be indelibly stamped in the minds of Earth's citizens as a 'former Beatle,' and nothing you can do -- not even a stint as Mr. Conductor -- can take that away from you. I mean, if Paul McCartney -- I'm sorry, I meant Sir Paul McCartney -- were to be elected Prime Minister of Great Britain, you just know that even if he were assassinated in office we'd read this: 'British Prime Minister and former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney was shot today outside of... ' Hell, Ringo could become an astronat and a serial killer, and the eventual news article would read, 'Ringo Starr, former Beatle, astronaut, and accused mass murderer, was apprehended today...' "

Anyway, this is not a full-fledged tribute to George. Basically, all I'm going to say about George and the other Beatles -- at this time, anyway -- is the following:

1. I was seven years old when the Beatles and their music made their big splash on American soil. (A "splash" on "soil?" Am I mixing metaphors there?) Therefore, while the teenage girls mostly chose -- "chose" meaning "had the hots for" -- Paul or John, my favorite Beatle was the comical, goofy Ringo. That changed as the years went by and I entered my so-called adulthood. George became my favorite. For some reason, I identified more with the spiritual, so-called "quiet Beatle" more than the others. (And to anyone who read that and said "You identified with somebody described as spiritual and quiet?"... leave the room, wiseguy.)

2. Although I was shocked and saddened at the fatal shooting of John Lennon in 1980, it was Harrison's death that had a more profound effect on me. Something about the youngest Beatle dying of lung cancer, a disease more associated with older people -- and yes, of course I realize that cancer far too often claims the lives of young adults, and even children -- forced me to face my own mortality.

Although tempted to include, like, 47 YouTube videos showcasing George's singing and/or songwriting skills as evidenced by his solo work, his Beatles contributions, his Traveling Wilburys stuff, et al, I decided on two.

This is the first song George ever wrote. I first heard it when my sister bought the American Meet the Beatles LP.



And this is a lesser-known Beatles tune that I simply love, from the soundtrack of the movie Help!


One final note: Coinciding with the 30th anniversary re-release of the All Things Must Pass album in 2001, George went online to do a webchat. The entertaining transcript of that chat may be found here. I recommend it; George was his usual clever self.

Thanks for your time.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Scooby-Doo: You Learn Something New Every Day!


This post originally appeared on my now-deleted blog, You Learn Something New Every Day (Almost)!


I just learned something that should have occurred to me years ago.

The four human characters on Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! were modeled after the main characters in The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis!

Thanks for your time.

David'Z RantZ: Commas




(The following post is an example of the rantz I often did on my old David'Z RantZ blog. You've been warned.)

Did Wal-Mart have a freakin' sale on commas that nobody told me about?

I mean, I'm getting used to the fact that people either don't know or don't care where they use their apostrophes. I often see a word made plural by the incorrect addition of an apostrophe and an S...

Examples?

Correct: Toys.
Incorrect: Toy's.

There's a company in my town called "Two Guy's Trucking." [sic] That would only work if the business were owned by one person, a Native American known as "Two Guy."

Not to mention, "it's" only needs the apostrophe if you're writing a contraction of "it is." If you're using the possessive pronoun, such is not the case.

Examples?

Correct: "It's getting late."
Incorrect: He used the word without knowing it's meaning."

I mean, you wouldn't write things like "hi's" and "her's" instead of "his" and "hers," would you?

Maybe you would. But I digress.

Anyway, I'm seeing an awful lot of people using commas needlessly lately.

Examples?

Correct: My good friend Bob likes to watch television.
Also Correct, Technically: My good friend, Bob, likes to watch television
Incorrect: My good friend Bob, likes to watch television.

If you're not sure whether or not you're doing it correctly, try reading the sentence with a medium-sized pause after each comma. If it sounds odd, it's probably wrong.

Examples?

My good friend Bob likes to watch television.
My good friend [pause] Bob [pause] likes to watch television.
My good friend Bob [pause] likes to watch television.

The second one, although formatted in a pretty-much-accepted way, could cause confusion. Do you mean that your good friend likes to watch television, and that your good friend is named Bob? Or are you telling Bob that your good (but unnamed) friend likes to watch television?

That third one only works (verbally) if you want to build suspense and make us say "Bob does what? Bob does what? What does Bob do?!?"

I'm kidding... kinda/sorta.

End of the lesson.

And thanks for your time.

P.S. -- Anyone who leaves a comment purposely screwing up the usage of a comma, or any other punctuation mark(s), is automatically declared "predictable." And a doody-head.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

David'Z RantZ: Blogga, PLEASE!

Short post, equally-short intro...

The following post appeared in shorter forms as 1. part of an introduction to one of my recent posts, and 2. as a comment on -- IIRC -- the Theme Thursday blog at some point. I'm making it an official post in hopes that more people will read it, and take my admittedly unasked-for and possibly intrusive "advice."

In the meantime, those of you who are wondering where the f... I mean, where the heck my fourth chapter of "Old Home Week" is, its lateness is a combination of all the crap going on in my personal life right now and the fact that I'm just not satisfied with Chapter Four yet, as it now stands! Shame, really, as Chapter Five is fleshed out quite nicely in this ol' Silver Noggin.

But... such is life in The Lair of the Silver Fox.

Here's the "offical" post for today, fellow babies:

* * * * *

I have a quick plea for all of other Blogger-bloggers whose sites I frequent -- and I do read your stuff whenever time permits, although time too often has not allowed my usual prolific, wordy comments -- especially the Theme Thursday folks:

If your blog has a music playlist of some kind -- as mine does -- pleasepleaseplease set it so it won't play automatically? (You should very easily be able to set it this way!)

I often open multiple tabs at a time, and sometimes, one -- or worse, more than one -- of the sites I'm visiting has a song playing... usually while I'm trying to watch or listen to something else... and, as I said, your stuff is also playing... and I don't know which of the other tabs is (or are) playing its playlist (or their playlists)... and... and...

AAUUGGHH!!!

Get the picture? Please change your settings, just for the sake of me and whatever is arguably left of my sanity?

Thanks for your time... and your cooperation, if I've swayed you.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Topo Gigio: You Learn Something New Every Day (Almost)!


This post originally appeared on my now-deleted blog, You Learn Something New Every Day (Almost)!


When I was a child, back in the Stone Age 1960s, I used to love it when the Italian mouse, Topo Gigio, appeared on Ed Sullivan's variety show. (That's Ed Sullivan on the right; the mouse is on the left. Just sayin'.)

However -- and I'm not sure this really counts as qualifying for a YLSNED(A) post -- until today, I had no idea that the ten-inch puppet was an international sensation. We Americans are so self-involved! It reminds me of hearing Willie Nelson on the Tonight Show, talking about how he'd heard Julio Iglesias sing, and suggested the duet "To All the Girls I've Loved Before" to boost Iglesias' career... blissfully ignorant of the fact that Julio was already an international superstar!

Topo Gigio's worldwide fame continues to this day. In fact, there's even a restaurant named after Topio Gio, Topo Gigio Ristorante... but I'm not sure how comfortable I'd feel eating at a place so evocative of mice!

Thanks for your time.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Grass Roots: You Learn Something New Every Day (Almost)!


This post originally appeared on my now-deleted blog, 
You Learn Something New Every Day (Almost)!

From the official website for The Grass Roots: "The Grass Roots are a highly successful rock and roll group that consistently produced quality music in their heyday from 1966 to 1975. Although they never attained a number one hit on the charts, they were consistently in the top end of popular music in the turbulent rock music scene." (Read more about them here.)

Never attained a number one hit? Never attained a number one hit?

I find that highly improbable, but assuming it's true...

I did not know that!


Thanks for your time.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Requiem

While you -- and I -- are waiting for Part Four of "Old Home Week," I thought I'd post a little poem I wrote about a lost love. I can be brief when I want to be! Just hit the "play" button on my little Playlist before you read the poem itself...

And thanks for your time.


Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

REQUIEM

Her name evoked sweetness, exotic delight,
Our love against logic was found.
We burned like a skyrocket, lighting the night,
Till we sputtered and crashed to the ground.

It didn't end badly, yet didn't end well.
She's a part of me still. This I own.
And I fight being thrust toward my personal Hell,
As I sleep with a ghost, all alone.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Helpful Jesse -- A Theme Thursday "Telephone" Post


Sorry I'm dragging my silvery, foxy butt as regards Part Four of "Old Home Week," fellow babies, but those gosh-durned real-world concerns I've often complained about lately have been taking me away from much of my blogging time.


However, I did manage to toss off a relatively short Theme Thursday post, for today's theme, "Telephone."


And here it is.

Thanks for your time.

* * * * *

Jesse Adams, Jr. had just finished an extremely busy day. He'd coordinated all his class schedules, bought the few remaining books he'd needed, and even made time for a little clothes shopping at a nearby thrift store.

Freshman year at Newbury College in Massachusetts promised to be overwhelming.

His errands done for the day, Jesse headed for his new home, the two-room off-campus apartment in Brookline which his father, a young but moderately-successful lawyer, had arranged for him. As he reached in his pocket for the key, he remembered that his neighbor across the hall, Sharon, had it. Today was the day his new telephone service was supposed to have been connected, and Sharon had graciously agreed to let the phone installer in to do his work.

Jesse's knock brought Sharon, an older but still-attractive blonde woman, to the door. "Oh, hi, Jesse!" she exclaimed, happy to see him.

"Hey, Sharon, everything go according to plan with the phone today?"

"Oh, sure. Let me go find your key," she said, leaving him at the door while suiting her actions to her words.

Once inside his apartment, Jesse dropped a few packages unceremoniously onto a recliner and headed for the kitchen counter.

There sat his prized possession, an early touch-tone telephone from the mid-1960s. Jesse owned a cell phone, of course, but this antique was a special thing! He had bought it at a flea market roughly a year ago and -- with help from his brother -- had painstakingly altered it to work with modern telephone outlets. Other than that adjustment, it still looked as it had more than forty years ago. It was even missing the * and # keys, which hadn't yet been included as features at the time of this phone's creation!

Even as Jesse reached into his wallet for his new telephone number, as provided by the phone company, the antique telephone rang!

That's odd, thought Jesse. Who the hell has this number already?

"Hello," said Jesse. There was no reply. "Hello?" he repeated.

"Who's this, man?" said a lazy-sounding voice.

"You called me, so tell me who you are."

"Don't hassle me, man. Just get Sunshine to the phone."

"Sunshine? Nobody by that name here." Not that I'd admit it if there were, thought Jesse. Sunshine! Geez!

More to himself than to Jesse, the man exclaimed, "Wow, man, I can't believe she's shackin' up with someone else already!"

"She's not 'shacking up' with me! She doesn't live here. I don't even know her."

"Stop messin' with my head, man!"

"I'm not! Look, you've obviously dialed the wrong number..." It suddenly, absurdly occurred to Jesse that after nearly fifty years of touch-tone technology, nobody had yet come up with a word to replace the erroneous "dial."

"No way, man. You think I'm high or somethin'?"

"I hadn't even considered that. Until now."

"Well, unconsider it, man! Right now, I'm as straight as Dick Nixon."

Unconsider? Is that even a word? Jesse wondered, as the man began slowly and sarcastically recitng the number he'd called.

"6-1-7..." he began, stating the area code, "7-5-4..." Jesse waited patiently until finally, the man had given him the remaining four numbers.

"Okay, that is my number, but I just had it installed today. When was the last time you called this chick?"

"Less than a week ago, man, right after me'n'my old lady split."

"Split? You broke up?"

"Well, yeah, man. And she's still got my albums. And my bong."

"Your albums? You mean, like LPs?"

"What else could I mean, man?"

"Sorry, I just have a thing for old stuff... Anyway, it's none of my business, but... why don't you just cut your losses and get on with your life? That's usually best, after someone dumps you."

There was a long pause. "She didn't 'dump' me, man, I dumped her."

"Oh. Then this really is all about the LPs... and your bong?"

"No, man, I..." For some strange reason, the man was evidently mellowing toward Jesse. And Jesse was feeling somewhat concerned about this archaic-sounding guy as well. "I only dumped her because I got vibes she was gonna dump me."

"What 'vibes?' What did she do, or say?"

"She didn't say nothin', but she was, like, always pushin' me away whenever I tried to make it with her. She'd tell me not to touch her boobs, 'cause they were sore..."

"TMI, dude."

"Huh?"

"Too much information. Anyway, go on."

"Or she'd have a headache... And the mornings were, like, the worst bummer, man. I'd try to get cuddly and she'd jump off the mattress and run to the bathroom to puke! I was literally makin' her sick, man, you dig?"

"And those are the reasons you assumed she wanted to break up with you? Headaches, sore breasts, and morning sickness? You dork, it sounds like she's pregnant!"

There was a long pause before the other man spoke again. And, as he had earlier, he spoke more to himself than to Jesse. "Pregnant. Pregnant. Far out."

"Look... What's your name, anyway?"

"Huh? Oh, nobody calls me by my real name, man. Everybody just calls me M.C." He laughed softly. "You know, like the MC5?"

Whoever or whatever that means, thought Jesse. "Look, M.C., if you still care about this Sunshine, and it certainly appears that you do, hang up this damned phone and go to her." Jesse thought for a second. "Umm... You do have a car, don't you?"

"I got a VW van, man." Of course, thought Jesse. And I'll bet there's a bumper sticker from the 1969 Woodstock Festival on it, too. "She's about an hour away from me, but I'll make it. And hey, man..."

"What?"

"What's your name?"

"Jesse."

"Like Jesse James? Far out. Look, man, if she is pregnant, and it's a boy... I'm gonna name it after you, man!"

The two men said their goodbyes. Jesse hung up, feeling rather pleased with himself.

He called his parents' number.

"Hello," said his father, answering after only two rings.

"Hey there, Jesse, Senior! It's me, Jesse, Junior!" he said brightly. "I just got my new phone connected."

"Your old phone, you mean," teased his father.

"Well, yeah," the younger Jesse agreed, "but you know what I meant. I was just calling to give you my new number."

"I've got it now, on my caller ID screen. I'm writing it... Oh, wow."

"Oh, wow what?"

"The number they've given you is the same number I had when I was a little boy! Right down to the area code, in fact."

"The area code? How is that possible? I'm in 617, but you were raised in 508, where you and mom live now!"

Referring to his home town of Worcester, the elder Jesse said, "Actually, it wasn't 508 then. When I was a child, the population of Massachusetts was quite smaller than it is now. There were only two area codes for the state then. Worcester was in 617. The western part of the state -- like Holyoke, where your Grandpa Morton came from -- was 413. 508 didn't even exist until... Well, I don't remember the exact year, but it was shortly before you were born."

Jesse laughed. "You crack me up when you do that."

"When I do what?"

"Start explaining things in detail like you're filming a documentary! How has Mom put up with you all these years?" he joked.

"She likes it. In fact, she finds it sexy!"

"Ew. The thought of you, Mom, and the word 'sexy' is just TMI."

"Oh, stop. So tell me, what's new? How are you adjusting, so far?" Jesse (the son) started regaling Jesse (the father) with his day-to-day activities, leading up to the strange phone call of a few minutes earlier.

"And this character said his girlfriend's name was 'Sunshine,' did he?"

"Yup. I thought all the hippies were Grandpa's age. How'd I wind up with one who sounded like a relative kid?"

"Not sure. But I swear, half the women back then must have had 'Sunshine' or 'Sunflower' for a nickname! In fact, even your own Grandma Irene was nicknamed Sunshine! I remember hearing her called that when I was a toddler."

All of a sudden, half a dozen details came together in young Jesse's mind. The hippie on the telephone who called himself "M.C." and his odd references. The whole area code thing. Grandma Irene's "Sunshine" nickname years earlier. "Holy...! Dad, can I call you back?"

"Sure. Why?"

"I have to call Grandpa Morton."

"Fine, but... Again, why?"

"Well, for one thing..." Jesse began enigmatically, staring with an almost awed expression at his antique telephone, "I just remembered that Grandpa Morton's middle name is Charles... which starts with a C."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

"My Sweet Lord" and "He's So Fine": You Learn Something New Every Day (Almost)!

This post originally appeared on my now-deleted blog, You Learn Something New Every Day (Almost)!


The story of how George Harrison was sued over the resemblance of his song "My Sweet Lord" to the earlier Chiffons hit "He's So Fine" is legendary.

I knew most of the facts in the case up until now.

The following is abridged from Wikipedia. I have emphasized the really cool fact included toward the end in bold print. That's the part I did not know before now, a fact which makes the whole story oh, so sweet!

Following the song's release, musical similarities between "My Sweet Lord" and The Chiffons' hit "He's So Fine" led to a lengthy legal battle over the rights to the composition... Harrison stated that he was inspired to write "My Sweet Lord" after hearing the Edwin Hawkins Singers' "Oh Happy Day".

In the U.S. federal court decision in the case, known as Bright Tunes Music v. Harrisongs Music, Harrison was found to have unintentionally copied the earlier song. He was ordered to surrender the majority of royalties from "My Sweet Lord" and partial royalties from All Things Must Pass. Former manager Allen Klein, who earlier had supported Harrison's case, became the owner of Bright Tunes, after they parted ways. In the long run this worked against Klein, but it resulted in the case continuing for years in court...

Shortly thereafter, Harrison (who would eventually buy the rights to "He's So Fine") wrote and recorded a song about the court case named "This Song", which includes "This song, there's nothing 'Bright' about it." Did you catch that, fellow babies? Harrison ended up owning both songs, meaning in effect that he both lost and won the very same lawsuit in the long run!

Too cool.

Thanks for your time.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Castle Dracula -- A "Theme Thursday" Post by a Special Guest Blogger!


Hi! Orson the Cat, here! This blog's usual writer, David M. Lynch, a/k/a The Foxster Silver Fox, has been really busy writin' a multi-part story on this blog, and feudin' with his former writin' partner, Skip Simpson, on their Simpson/Lynch Studios blog. So he allowed me to write today's Theme Thursday post.

I was glad he finally let me write somethin' on this blog. I ain't got any airtime since this post, and this one, and this one on his old "David'Z RantZ" blog.

And the good part for you is that I'm nowhere near as long-winded as The Silver Fox is!

I was originally gonna post about the castle in Citizen Kane, since I was named after the great Orson Welles himself, but while doin' a Google image search, I found the followin' photo of a cat that looks a lot like me, and it inspired me.


So today, fellow kitties, I'm gonna leave you with some informational Tender Chunks about Castle Dracula!

You probably know that Bram Stoker's fictional Dracula character was inspired by a real guy nicknamed Vlad the Impaler. But did you know that there are not one, but at least three castles which lay claim to being the "real" Castle Dracula?

This is, like, the #1 tourist trap in Romania, known as Bran Castle.



The there's this one, properly known as The Hunyad Castle (Castelul Huniazilor or Castelul Corvineştilor in Romanian).
But it's the Poenari Castle, also known as Poenari Citadel (Cetatea Poenari in Romanian), which seems to have the most authentic claim to fame as far as how much time ol' Vlad actually spent here.

If you want to see more great shots of Poenari Castle, click here.

And for more info on Castle Dracula, you can start here, if you wanna take the time. Me, I gotta go use the litter box!

So... Thanks for your Friskies!

(Now, who the heck is that knocking on the door at this ungodly hour? Better go see...)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Old Home Week -- Part Three

Okay, fellow babies, after having read the first two chapters of "Old Home Week," some of you are beginning to catch the little gimmick I'm working with here. The plotline itself is going to delve into what will become my most fantastic story yet on the Silver Fox blog... and by "fantastic," I mean "fantasy-oriented" rather than egotistically saying it's "wonderful" or "terrific," etc.

Having said that, I do hope y'all enjoy the ride.

As you encounter -- or... re-encounter? -- these characters, feel free to remark about their past & present selves.

* * * * *

As Karen Magarian climbed out of the van, Howard walked up to her to greet her. She hugged him tightly but briefly. "Sorry we're late, Howie! This old mechanical beast nearly died on us just a few miles from here. Frankie got it going again, thank God." She paused, as Howard shrugged. "Good to see you, Howie."

Then she was all business. As her camera and audio crew people emerged from the van as well, she wordlessly but frantically made a few gestures in the air, gestures that translated to "Let's move!"

Pat, Howard's cameraman and the sole person in Howard's "crew," had already set up enough lights to illuminate the little pumpkin patch and its surrounding area.

Mark Arthur -- clad in his superheroic "Golden Mask" garb -- stood next to his friend, Jack Mac, as Howard explained his complicated plan to Karen.

Both Howard and Karen would read their respective introductions separately, each filmed by their own cameramen. Then both Howard and Karen, each of them off-camera, would consecutively read the exact same questions for Golden Mask from both of their lists, deleting any questions that echoed one from the other as they went along. After that, each would tape their closing comments.

It would admittedly be a bit confusing, but in the end, when the individual tapes were edited, it would look like each reporter had gotten an exclusive interview!

The only real difference was that Howard's interview would be aired on his small station's six o'clock newscast, while Karen wouldn't be allowed to broadcast hers until her own Boston channel's eleven p.m. telecast.

That was their agreement, and Howard knew that Karen was as good as her word.

As everyone got into their respective places, Howard realized that this Golden Mask bozo had been right about Karen's vehicle having broken down... something he should have had no way of knowing.

* * * * *

A short while later, the white-haired, middle-aged man looked at his clock. It was almost six p.m.

Almost six.

"Shit!" he exclaimed. "Ohhh, shitshitshit!" He jumped up from the chair in front of his computer, and reached for his keys and wallet on the nearby bed. Where the hell did I put my shoes? And my belt? And my pants, for that matter?

Then, he stopped. There was no way he'd be able to get to anyone's television before Howard's broadcast aired. (He owned a set, of course, but it wasn't hooked up to a cable or a satellite feed. The bearded man only used it to watch DVDs or videotapes.)

He shook his head, temporarily disgusted with his own habit of playing on the computer endlessly and -- especially -- giving his blogs last-minute edits and tweaks, over and over. He walked slowly to the telephone, and dialed the private number of Howard's cell phone.

He got Howard's voice mail, of course.

"Howard? This is David. Umm... I got a little tied up with things, and I'm going to miss your Halloween feature tonight. I am so sorry! Is there any way I..." He paused, as he realized that Howard's spot -- that is, the entire half-hour news show on which Howard Enz's featurettes appeared almost nightly -- would be shown again at ten o'clock that evening. David deleted his message when prompted to do so by the voice mail. He hung up the phone, smiling.

Then he returned to the computer to email a friend in Worcester. He could be at her home -- and in front of her TV -- long before ten p.m. arrived.

* * * * *

Earlier that morning, somewhere on the west coast of California, a tall man in a cheap suit was trying not to raise his voice as he argued with a clerk at a bus terminal.

After showing the clerk a mug shot of a clean-shaven, round-faced, sixty-something white male with a thinning "duck's ass" hairstyle -- a style the man had worn since Elvis had hit the pop culture scene -- the man placed his badge on the counter meaningfully. And demanded information.

"I'm sorry, officer..."

"Detective."

"Whatever. I can't tell you where he was headed, or..." The clerk paused. "Actually, I can't even confirm that he was on any bus."

Detective Peter Streimekis tapped the badge where it lay. "And this means nothing."

"Not without a warrant, or whatever the hell you need for my boss to okay this."

The clerk looked down again. A fifty-dollar bill had miraculously appeared on the counter, next to the detective's badge. Just as miraculously, the bill seemed to disappear, and the clerk quickly rifled through some papers, and checked a small computer screen.

Looking up at the detective, the clerk gave the name of a Massachusetts town located somewhere between Boston and Worcester. "That's all I've got. Knock yourself out. I mean... Have a nice day."

The detective stood there, obviously waiting for something.

"You need anything else, buddy?" Maybe for another fifty, thought the clerk...

"Yes. A ticket. And... I'm not your buddy."

* * * * *

Don, a beefy man with a bushy brown mustache and thinning hair, got up from his seat at the bar and walked over to where the attractive blonde was arguing rather one-sidedly with her husband, who had been playing the bar's piano until her arrival.

"Hey, excuse me, lady, but would you mind keeping it down to a dull roar? I'm trying to hear the news."

The pretty, curly-haired woman glared at him. "Why do people go to noisy barrooms to watch television?" she asked him. "Isn't that sort of stupid?"

"Whoa! No need to get insulting, honey."

"Don't call me honey."

"Fine. Sorry. Then, don't call me stupid." She looked at him, coldly. "Anyway, this bar usually isn't noisy. At least until you showed up tonight and started yelling at this poor guy." He didn't mention that he'd also been annoyed by the man's piano-playing as well.

The woman stared him down. "If you don't mind, this is a family argument."

"Good. Then take it -- and Burt Bacharach here -- home."

She tilted her head, as if in acquiescence. "Let's go, Marty," she said to her husband.

"Angie..." her husband began, but then fell silent.

As the two exited the bar, Don returned to his seat. Sitting next to him was a man who looked like Woody Allen would, if Woody were to put on a bad black wig.

"I'll tell you something, Phil," said Don, "I feel sorry for that guy tonight, going home with her. What a bitch!"

* * * * *

Dr. Rachel Janson was the administrative head of a renowned psychiatric hospital. Aggravated by continually-rising cable TV rates, she had finally taken the plunge and signed a long-term contract with a satellite service to provide the institution's TV reception instead.

That was almost three weeks ago.

Tonight (Halloween), two of the interns in the hospital were in the community room. It was nearly 8:30 p.m. They were watching the final feature on an 11:00 news feed from a network affiliate based on the opposite coast, and having a moderately friendly disagreement about one of its commentators.

"I'm tellin' ya, it's her, Kevin!"

"No, it's not, Brian."

"Look," Kevin continued, firmly. "She hasn't acted in anything for years. So she's changed a little. She's older. And now it looks like she got herself a job with TV news. That's a natural enough move, don't ya think?"

"It isn't who you think it is," Kevin reiterated. "This woman is named Karen Magarian! Why on earth would she change her name from...?"

"Maybe this is her real name."

"Jeez! Enough! Now let me hear this."

As the two young orderlies fell silent, a middle-aged inmate wearing a bathrobe and pajamas entered the community room and approached the television.

He also, quite honestly, was approaching a date with destiny.

* * * * *

To Be Continued...

And next time, maybe we'll finally have that bloody interview! (UPDATE: Due to pressing "real world" concerns, culminating in the death of my mother, this storyline was interrupted and never completed. The rhythm was broken, you might say. Sorry to get you all the way to this point for nothing. Someday, I fully intend to finish this mess.)

(If you want more background on Jack Mac, Mark Arthur, and "Golden Mask," click here.

For more info on Detective Streimekis and the man he's chasing, click here!

Want to know who these Don and Phil characters are? click here!

And finally, as for "Angie" and her musical hubbie, click here!

And thanks for your time.

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