item 1 >>> As far as I can tell, Baseball is still America’s pastime, despite protestations from Football and Nascar. Still, without a fundamental sense of fairness, all the good things you like about Baseball ultimately have a hollow ring. I’m thinking of course of last season’s non-Perfect Game. That this terrible mistake could not, or would not, be corrected taints a a lifetime of following the sport. It makes me feel sick just to think of it, so I simply don’t think of it. Come what may, and especially if some batter strikes out 250 times in 2011, I’ll enjoy the small pleasures…but in a very real sense Baseball is dead to me. Like politics was dead to me when the 2nd Kennedy brother went down…
item 2 >>> Always wondered about this LP cover from 1966 (bottom, right)…David Seville of Chipmunks fame released it under his real name of Ross Bagdasarian. (Seville, Spain was where he was stationed during WWII.) The car is a Rolls Royce, and I always assumed they did that slanty headlight treatment to keep their styling “with it.” Well, not quite. What is still called today the “Chinese eyes” model was not a regular factory Rolls, but a custom body made by the coachwork firm of Mulliner Park Ward in 1964 and 1965. Uncle Wikki says only about 100 were made. Some Bentleys also had the weird headlights. And fins, sort of…but don’t blame Mulliner Park Ward. Turns out they were owned since 1959 by…Rolls Royce!
item 3 >>> To tell you the truth, I never saw the appeal of those “canted” headlights, to use the automotive term. But several automakers took their shot: the 1958-60 Lincolns, the 59 Buick, the 61-62 Chryslers and the 61 DeSoto. And customizers in the 50s went gaga for the look, as you can see here…
item 4 >>> Deja Vu (“already seen”) you’ve heard of. It’s something, especially a place or situation, that seems eerily familiar altho you’re certain you’ve never encountered it before. But the French have 2 other Vu’s. There’s Presque Vu (“almost seen”)…this is the equivalent of what we’d call “on the tip of your tongue.” And also Jamais Vu (“never seen”), which is the opposite of Deja Vu…it’s when something familiar temporarily seems unfamiliar…like, Is this really my coat?
item 5 >>> A while back I mentioned my favorite Christmas ornament when I was a kid. Didn’t realize I actually had a picture of it…here it is blown up from the photo in today’s Wicked Ballsy. As you can see, a clear glass bulb, with clear blue and red stripes, lined in white…and inside, there’s a sprig of tinsel, similar to what I’ve illustrated on the right. A bit gaudy in retrospect, but you like what you like. Especially at Christmas.
item 6 >>> Did you have a miniature creche, or as we used to called it, a “manger scene”? Our family’s tradition was to set it up when we did the tree, except the Christ Child wouldn’t appear in the bed of straw until Christmas morning…along with all the presents.
item 7 >>> “Found poetry” in high school sports…I always liked the way “Pentucket Sachems” rolled off the tongue. As George Carlin used to say, there’s power in those hard “k” sounds…I am Fuck! Fuck of the Mountain! Is that the same George Carlin who played Ann Marie’s agent George Lester in a 1st season episode of That Girl? Um, yup…it was his first acting roll.
item 8 >>> Just as I’m entering the beginning stages of being “Christmased out,” another mystery emerges. Maybe I’ll have the answer for next year. And just maybe the Internet will be ready for me, because right now all I can find is a jumble of conflicting information. I’m talking about that wonderful stuttering “Blue Christmas” record…the 45 says “Seymour Swine and the Squealers.” For some reason, some people say “Sylvester Swine,” and of course it’s commonly referred to as “Porky Pig.” The story goes that the record was originally issued attributing it to Porky, but Warner Brothers complained, and the Swine named was substituted. But who is it really? Some say it’s from Bob Rivers’ “Twisted” series. Others point to comedian Mark McCollum, who does do musical impressions, but I can’t find him doing this. The leading candidate is someone called Donny Brownlee, a DJ from Ocean City, Maryland, with Bill Lynn on guitar. What year? 1980, 1985, 1999, your choice. There’s also a slicker “cover” version by John-Boy and Billy, 2 Charlotte, NC jocks. And apparently Ray Stevens did a version, too.
item 9 >>> But the real mystery is this: at a great website called forgottenhits.com, someone wrote in that during the 50s and 60s, the Top 40 radio station in Oklahoma City issued, along with its regular weekly survey, a special Christmas listing. He quotes many of the tunes, including “Porky’s Blue Christmas — 1958.” And that’s waaaay before most guesses place it. Hoo nose, sez me.
item 9.5 >>> OK I did a quick check, and John-Boy and Billy say their version is sung by Donny Brownlee, and that’s not the “traditional” version, the one I like. Theirs has jingle bells accompanying the guitar, and insane audience laughter from the very start. The “real” version doesn’t, and sounds a lot more like Mel Blanc. And besides, were John-Boy and Billy around in 1958? Anyway, we got a whole year to sort it out…
item 10 >>> Is the typical day of a public school administrator a joyless one? When you consider the modern-day constitutional right to a lack of decorum that our young people enjoy, I can’t think how it could be anything else. But I’m sure vice principals in charge of attendance do brighten up when they read notes like this from a parent: PLEASE EXCUSE MY DAUGHTER’S ABSENCE, SHE WAS IN BED WITH GRAMPS.
We once figured out what year my parents got this aluminum tree…but I’ve since re-forgotten. Probably 1958 or 1959. And they’ve used it every single year since…this photo is from 2001. We used the “color wheel” the first year, but it got awfully hot, and wasn’t safe with 5 crazed little kids rumblin’, bumblin’, stumblin’ about. The next year I believe it went outside to illuminate the front door, the one we never used. Then it just disappeared. Yes, at some point in my rebellious youth I resented not having a traditional tree, but that didn’t last long. Today, as far as I’m concerned, this is the way a Christmas tree is supposed to look. Notice that older glass ornaments are near the top…on the lower branches you can see some of the styrofoam balls we kids decorated one year.
7 shameless plugs a-pluggin’…
Resume and audio samples at http://home.rr.com/mastolfi