12/4/2010


item 1 >>> First off, yesterdays puzzler about why Christmas Day and New Years Day were not a week apart in 1951. This is a classic “bar bet,” it does have a trick to it, but at the same time it’s completely true. And it’s true not just for 1951, but every year! Because Christmas 1951 was at the other end of the year from New Years Day…358 days apart, not 7 days apart. The day that was 7 days after Christmas 1951 was New Years Day 1952, get it?

item 2 >>> Second off…I remembered that Paul McCartney song I mentioned yesterday…it was on the Band on the Run album, called “Let Me Roll It To You.” Listen to it, and tell me that isn’t John’s “primal scream” period! Near the end, Paul gives a yelp that sounds exactly like John, but then they were always excellent mimics, along with everything else. Yeah, it finally came to me…when brain-cells check out, they don’t check back in, do they? I’d like to see a version of “Jeopardy” for Baby Boomers, and Alex Trebek would say to the viewers: “Remember folks, all of today’s questions will be continued on tomorrow’s show…”

item 3 >>> You may not realize it, but many old TV shows from the 50s and 60s are out of copyright and now in the public domain. This means anyone can sell them, and a company called Mill Creek Entertainment is doing a whale of a job bundling them on DVD and selling them for a song…150 episodes of 50’s crime shows for under $20? Outstanding! One of the shows is interesting…”The Court of Last Resort” chronicled the files of a real group of 7 crime experts who reviewed real cases, where there was some possibility the guy might have been innocent. This group was formed in 1946, consisting of ex-cops, lawyers, a doctor, a private eye, even the publisher of Argosy Magazine. But the kicker is who founded the Court…

item 4 >>> …and that was Erle Stanley Gardner, writer of the Perry Mason mysteries. He was trained as a lawyer, and from what I read was prouder of his work with the Court than his massive Perry Mason empire. In 1952, his book “The Court of Last Resort” earned him his one and only Edgar Award in the True Crime category. He quit the group in 1960, and it died a natural death within a few years, after reviewing 8000 cases. The show centered around the investigator that did the leg-work, played by Lyle Bettger…the 7 Court members made cameo appearances, but then only portrayed by actors!…even Gardner, portrayed by Paul Birch.

item 5 >>> Paul Birch was one of those actors who appeared on every TV show in the 50s and 60s, but never as the star, so I can’t reference him for you. But he had this peculiar face, every time he talked, it looked like he was smiling, whether appropriate or not. Hey, he looks like me! sez Erle Stanley? Well, his production company made the show, so he must’ve been OK with it. The show lasted just one season, 1957-58 on NBC, then rerun 2 years later on ABC…half-hour, black-and-white of course, double-breasted suits and fedoras, sweeeeet…

item 6 >>> You might be a Baby Boomer if…you could get your yo-yo to “sleep,” no problem.

item 7 >>> Not for nothing, but Erle Stanley Gardner was born in Malden, Mass., altho he was raised in California. Others born in Malden include the Ames Brothers, Jack “Chico & the Man” Albertson, and Norman Greenbaum. Speaking of the Ames Brothers, Ed Ames’ famous Mingo tomahawk-tossing routine with Johnny Carson is indeed on YouTube…what a riot…Welcome to Frontier Bris!…

item 8 >>> Yeah, Norman Greenbaum, “one hit wonder” with “Spirit in the Sky.” Hold on, let me cross that out: “one hit wonder,” because he made a lot of cool music, not the least of which was the novelty tune “The Eggplant that Ate Chicago” under the name Dr. West’s Medicine Show. Not to be confused with “The Cockroach that Ate Cincinnati” by Possum, aka Rose and the Arrangement, altho I can see how that could happen. Greenbaum studied music at BU.

item 9 >>> I’m gonna keep trying, but for some reason I can never seem to find pictures on the net of those big statues they’d put up in the parking lot of the North Shore Shopping Center at Christmastime. What were they…toy soldiers? nutcrackers? both? What I remember about them was how big they were…Christmas giants. And I wonder what they did when the stores closed, and nobody was looking…

item 10 >>> You might be a Groovy Geezer if…in those before-and-after weight-loss ads, you invariably prefer the “before” to the “after.” Happens to me all the time…what’s wrong with having some meat on your bones, sez me.

Wicked Ballsy

Was Babe Ruth partly black, like the current POTUS? People have wondered for a long time. Spike Lee said he was told that by his father. There are stories about Ty Cobb calling the Babe a “nigger,” and the Babe publicly saying: “Call me anything, but not that.” After they retired from the game, Cobb and Ruth reportedly became good friends, and there is one school of thought that says it was just professional needling, that Cobb didn’t seriously believe it. Some people might ask: What difference does it make? Well, my ethnic heritage is Italian, Polish, and French Canadian. Is it still OK to say that, let alone indulge in a wee bit of pride about it? Well, I’m gonna, regardless…

shameless plugeroos…

Podcasts at http://stolfpod.podbean.com and   http://thewholething.podbean.com

Daily blogs at http://stolf.wordpress.com and  https://deepfriedhoodsiecups.wordpress.com

More bloggage at http://travelingcyst.blogspot.com and  http://www.examiner.com/retro-pop-culture-in-watertown/mark-john-astolfi

Resume and audio samples at http://home.rr.com/mastolfi

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