item 1 >>> Week ago yesterday, I got the shock of the season, finding Diet Moxie at my local supermarket. Yesterday? Not only was there none, but the space where I had found the 2 cases before was empty…hmmm…they’re trying to tell me something, I’m just not sure what. Anyway, thank you, Santa, I ‘preciate it.

item 2 >>> I mentioned the Phil Spector Christmas LP…one of the best ever. I remember back in the 80s, there was this strange phobia about oldies from the 60s…they were played as a niche format, on Saturday nights or Sunday mornings only. The rest of the time, if you wanted to hear a song by the Beatles, heck by anybody, you had to settle for the Anne Murray or Glen Campbell version of it, remember? One of the things that broke us out of that funk was on a Christmas episode of Moonlighting, when one of the background songs they played was the Ronettes “Sleigh Ride”…and everybody went, damn! that sounds good! And since I remember it like it was yesterday, I sure hope it really happened that way. But I found out just today that Cher was among the many background singers Phil used on that LP…he liked crowds.

item 3 >>> We all have our favorite Christmas records…as far as instrumentals go, pure melodies, to me nothing tops Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride.” He was born in Cambridge, died in 1975 in Connecticut. When I was very young, one of the first “grown-up” records my folks got me was an LP of Anderson’s greatest hits…Syncopated Clock, Plink Plank Plunk, Blue Tango…geez, this was one creative dude. Don’t make ’em like that anymore, but at least they made him. Altho it’s funny how the Fox TV Football theme has that “Sleigh Ride” passage…Giddyup, Giddyup, Giddyup, Let’s go. Has everybody in the world noticed that but them?

item 5 >>> Another very cool instrumental is called “Santa’s Got a Brand New Bag” by the Hollyridge Strings…well, I think of it as by Stu Phillips who was the Strings. Not to be confused with 2 other songs with the same title, an old one spoofing James Brown, and a newer one by SheDaisy. Thing is, the Phillips one I believe has a vocal version by Jim and Cathy, a 45 on Cadet records.Well, it could be yet another song with the same title, but the first 7 notes of the instrumental do fit perfectly with the words of the title…I’ll know when I find it. Every Christmas for the last decade or so I troll the net for new old Christmas goodies…don’t usually stop until the middle of January.

item 6 >>> Christmas Myth #6…During the dance scene in A Charlie Brown Christmas, the 2 twins in purple, and the kid in orange with the buzz-cut, doing those side-to-side shrug moves, are no-name extras, thrown in to simply fill out the crowd. Nothing could be further from the truth. These kids debuted in the comic strip in 1963, and the boy is named 555 95472, or 5 for short. His twin sisters are 3 and 4.  See today’s Wicked Ballsy. He explained: “My Dad says we have so many numbers these days, we’re losing our identity. He’s decided that everyone in our family should have a number instead of a name.” Lucy asks: “This is his way of protesting?” 5 replies: “No, this is his way of giving in!” After a month of numbers-for-names gags, the siblings faded into the background, one-trick ponies that they were. For the record, 95472 is the Zip Code of Sebastopol, California, north of San Francisco, where Charles Schulz was living at the time, which pretty much settles of question of where the Peanuts strip takes place, altho some fans refuse to accept the obvious and posit other locations.

item 7 >>> While watching A Charlie Brown Christmas, if you ever got tired of the story and started really listening to the background music, you may have noticed some melodies not included on the wonderful Vince Guaraldi soundtrack LP. Likewise, the album is fleshed out with several tunes not used for the TV show. All will be explained here tomorrow…and check out the Brazilian Drummer Boy on Stolfpod 45.

item 8 >>> I commented last week how I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Patriots more dominant, even the 16-0 season. But I have to say something about the Super Bowl…and that is: Who needs it? Don’t think I’ve seen more than 2 tops in the past 15 years, even when the Pats were in it. And that’s the point…with the multiple layers of playoff games, having a terrific season doesn’t mean much any more. Again, 16-0. Now they’re talking about expanding from 16 to 18 games, which is fine, I love football season…but also adding yet another post-season level, a wild-card play-in game. And the Super Bowl will be when, in March? To me, the NFC and AFC Championship games, to decide who goes to the you-know-what, are the most exciting. And that’s why the Bills winning 4 in a row, regardless of what happened after, is one of my all-time top sports feats. Yeah, they’re my adopted 2nd favorite team…up where I am, it’s mostly Giants or Cowboys, but some New England fans spill over. Red Sox too…in fact, I was at the UPS store this week, and not one but 2 of the counter guys were wearing B-caps…

item 9 >>> Speaking of the Dark Hose, sorry to see Bill Hall go, signed as the starting 2nd baseman for Astros…some say he doesn’t have it in him, but we’ll see. Sure I follow Boston teams, I like to see them do well, but I also have my favorite players, and don’t quit on them when they switch teams. Well, unless they become Yankees, but that’s a different thing. For some unknown reason I always liked Fernando Tatis, and when he became the only player to ever hit 2 grand slams in one inning, wow!, didn’t see that coming. So good luck to Hall…

item 10 >>> Here’s the first verse, Pogo fans…more tomorrow…

Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla Walla, Wash., an’ Kalamazoo!
Nora’s freezin’ on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!

Don’t we know archaic barrel
Lullaby Lilla Boy, Louisville Lou.
Trolley Molly don’t love Harold,
Boola boola Pensacoola hullabaloo!

Wicked Ballsy

These ran earlier this year…Newspapers can pick from 2 sets of Classic Peanuts, currently offered are 60s and 90s. And BTW…you might hear somewhere that the first airing of A Charlie brown Christmas in 1965 lead directly to the demise of the aluminum Christmas tree. I don’t buy that for a minute. They were on a steady decline anyway, and most people I know don’t base their preferences on what cartoon characters tell them, precious as they may be…altho…push comes to shove, it’s hard to go wrong when you ask yourself: What would Daffy Duck do?

all I want is what’s coming to me…all I want is my fair share of shameless plugs…

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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