item 1 >>> Silly me…I just thought it might be fun to see what the heck a “Humbug” really is …but I came up dry. There are at least half a dozen guesses as to the origin of the word, but nobody’s sure of anything. Hug Bummer! Well, anyway, here’s a Tickle-Bee..
item 2 >>> Will someone please explain to me why advertising inserts steadfastly refuse to use the word “Christmas,” while at the same time offering for sale no items for any holiday except Christmas? No peppermint Kwanzaa kanes, no Winter Solstice cards, no spinning dreidels, no miniature chocolate headless goat carcasses…nothing but Chr*stma*s st*ff. Well, I can answer my own question: the ultimate decision-makers are not quite right in the head. One nudnik says: do this…a hundred underlings realize it’s crazy, but what can they do? It’s the 21st Century Law of Inverse Irritation…when faced with the prospect of offending either a small minority or a large majority, offend the majority, on the grounds that you’re championing the underdog, plus the majority can take it…that’s one of its “perks.” And I say, Bah Humbug to that, thank you very much, and Happy Everything Else…Boxing Day, Wrestling Day, all of ’em…
item 3 >>> Woof! If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it…313-pound guard Dan Connolly rumblin’ bumblin’ stumblin’ for a 71-yard kickoff return…thought to be the longest in NFL history by an offensive lineman. Tough game, but the kind you have to win, and they did, God bless ’em. I still don’t hold out much hope for the Super Bowl, what with that cockamamie post-season single-elimination tournament, but hoo nose? Anyway, my back-page Herald headline, over a big photo of Brady sans helmet…HOW DO YOU LIKE THE HAIR NOW?
item 4 >>> Yeah, but it said in the paper Brady broke Don Meredith’s record of, get this, 7th straight game with at least 2 scoring passes and no interceptions. Right, that’s one of those Elias Sports Bureau “records” that nobody’s heard of till after it’s “broken.” So how ’bout consecutive games without a pick, period? Well, I didn’t expect anything remotely like that in the official NFL Record Book and I wasn’t disappointed. Closest they have is “Lowest Pct., Passes Had Intercepted, Season.” And the trouble with that, it’s based on “Qualifiers,” which can apparently include as few as 150 attempts. Of those they list, only 3rd place is relevant: 0.90, Steve DeBerg, KC-1990, 4 picks in 444 attempts. With 2 games remaining, TB has 4 in 449. Anecdotally, the best I can find is 8 games, David Garrard in 2007, and TB is up to 9. What they seem to think is significant is Attempts Without Interception…record is Bernie Kosar’s 308…Bart Starr is 2nd with 294, and right now TB is at 292, so there ya go…
item 5 >>> The Ain’t Nuthin’ on TV Blues, part Infinity…Well, I figured there might be something on Boomerang…and sure enough, when I clicked it on, there was one of the great minor characters of the Hanna-Barbaraverse: Alfy Gator! But it only lasted a couple of seconds, and then there was some doofus named I think Ben Ten or something. Alfy had a voice like Alfred Hitchcock, and his deal was trying to eat Yakky Doodle, who was a backup feature on Yogi Bear. OK, he was second string, but apparently generated enough buzz for Marx to make of toy figure of him in the Tinykins line…
item 6 >>> Christmas Myth #7…The 7th of Santa’s reindeers is named “Donner.” Well, technically it is, but it’s also “Donder,” and if you correct someone who says “Donner,” don’t be surprised if they tell you to go sit on a fruit-cake. Here’s the timeline..
1823, “An Account of a Visit from Saint Nicholas” is published in the Troy Sentinel newspaper on Dec. 23, anonymously. The 7th and 8th reindeer are named Dunder and Blixem, a Dutch exclamation, literally “Thunder and Lightning!” This makes sense, since we’re in Rip Van Winkle country, and the poem sets out the traditional Dutch image of St. Nick, jolly fat elf, pipe in mouth, etc. The poem is popular, and printed annually.
1837, For the first time, Clement Clark Moore, a Bible Professor at a New York City Seminary, is credited as the author. Also, publisher Charles Hoffman has changed Blixem to Blixen, to rhyme with Vixen, and Dunder to Donder, closer to the English pronunciation.
1844, Moore publishes his own version, retaining Donder, but changing Blixen to Blitzen, and this is the standard version generations of children grew up enjoying.
No one knows precisely when the switch to Donner occurred, but Snopes.com found the New York Times’ earliest use of that name was in 1906, and the paper explains: “[they] were originally given Dutch names, Donder and Blixen (Blicksem), meaning thunder and lightning…it is only modern publishers who have rechristened them with the German Donner and Blizten.” And indeed, Donner is German for thunder. Then in 1949, Gene Autry’s recording of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” pretty much fixed Donner in the public’s mind, and ear.
item 7 >>> But dig: in 1947 a German author translated the poem, naming the reindeer: Renner, Tanzer, Flieg and Hitz, Sternshnupp, Liebling, Donner and Blitz. In English: Racer, Dancer, Fly (the insect) and Heat, Shooting Star, Darling, Thunder and Lightning. Near as I can parse it, Blitz is “lightning,” Blitzen is “flashes of lightning.” Vixen would be Fuchsin in German, but it’s replaced to make a rhyme. And yes Virginia, the German botanist who named the Fuchsia plant was by us “Mr. Fox.”
item 8 >>> I had the lyrics to Pogo’s favorite carol the other day, but even I don’t know the 2nd and 3rd verses…here they are…
Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Polly wolly cracker ‘n’ too-da-loo!
Donkey Bonny brays a carol,
Antelope Cantaloupe, ‘lope with you!
Hunky Dory’s pop is lolly gaggin’ on the wagon,
Willy, folly go through!
Chollie’s collie barks at Barrow,
Harum scarum five alarm bung-a-loo!
Dunk us all in bowls of barley,
Hinky dinky dink an’ polly voo!
Chilly Filly’s name is Chollie,
Chollie Filly’s jolly chilly view halloo!
Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Double-bubble, toyland trouble! Woof, woof, woof!
Tizzy seas on melon collie!
Dibble-dabble, scribble-scrabble! Goof, goof, goof!
item 9 >>> Sad to see Walt Dropo died Dec. 17 in Peabody, aged 87. He had a short but illustrious career with the Red Sox. Born and raised on a farm in Moosup, Connecticut, he attended UConn, and was chosen in the baseball, football, and basketball pro drafts. Listed at 6’5″, 220 pounds. Debuted as first baseman with the Red Sox in 1949. His first full season of 1950 was a monster: lead the league with 144 RBIs and 326 Total Bases, second in HRs to Al Rosen, and second in Slugging % to Joe DiMaggio. He was voted AL Rookie of the Year, ahead of Whitey Ford, and made his only All-Star appearance that year. In 1951 he suffered a broken wrist, and was traded to the Tigers in July 1952. Finished up in 1961, .270 career BA, 152 dingers. But listen to what happened after he was traded…
item 10 >>> And a monster trade it was…the Sox shipped Walt Dropo along with SS Johnny Pesky and 3 others to Detroit for George Kell, Dizzy Trout, and 2 more. Dropo proceeded to tie the Major League record for consecutive hits with 12! 5/5 on July 14, then 7/7 on July 15 in the first game of a double header…tailed off in the second game going 4/5. That 12 consecutive hits tied Pinky Higgins’ 1938 record (also with the Red Sox), but there’s an *. Pinky’s streak contained 2 walks, while Walt’s didn’t…12 consecutive at-bats, 12 base-hits. We report, you decide…
Some claim A Charlie Brown Christmas in 1965 doomed the aluminum tree, but they were on the decline for some time, as evidenced by this ad from 1963. Adding something extra, in this case pom-poms, means you’re trying to pump up a fad that’s running out of steam. According to Uncle Wiki, the first were made around 1955…someday I’ll try to pin that down. Most famous perhaps, with a million sold between 1959 and 1969, was the Evergleam brand, from the Aluminum Speciality Company of Manitowoc, Wisconsin…and they were sold at a joyous 100% markup.
shameless plugs roasting on an open fire…
Resume and audio samples at http://home.rr.com/mastolfi