item 1 >>> Now Playing… abba The Eurovision Song Contest has been televised each year since 1956. Each country in Europe sends one contestant, and Sweden had never won before, until they took it with “Waterloo” in 1974. Oddly, this is the only contest winner that went on to become a hit in the U.S., which is why you may have never heard of this Contest till now. Lulu won for Britain in 1969 with “Boom Bang-a-Bang,” a great pop tune, worth checking out.
item 2 >>> LQQK @ †h∆†!… steverino This clip is from 1956, Steve Allen making fun of the lyrics to Gene Vincent’s “Be-Boppa-Lula,” which he inexplicably keeps calling “Luba.” He would do the same routine years later with the Beatles’ “Hello, Goodbye.” Thing is, this was mainly a comic schtick, because Steve was pretty hip to the “new music” back then, having Jerry Lee Lewis on his show a number of times…but I guess he couldn’t resist. And after all, he came from the era of “Mairzy Doats, “Aba Daba Honeymoon,” and “Three Little Fishes in an Itty Bitty Poo,” so what the hey, smock! smock!
item 3 >>> Here’s a brief history of how officer ranks got that way. 2 salient points: first, as armies increased in size, the levels of hierarchy increased as well, so the trend was from fewer ranks to more ranks. Second, altho in this context we think of “major” and “general” as nouns, they are first and foremost adjectives, and this holds one key to the evolution of our current ranks. The basic structure, going back to ancient times, was Sargent, Lieutenant, and Captain. Eventually, the chief Sargent became a Sargent Major, and the head Captain a Captain Major. This is called a “postpositive” adjective, coming after the noun, not before it. Used extensively in some languages, like French, but not so much in modern English, altho there are numerous surviving example: notary public, heir apparent, proof positive, gum arabic, court martial…and “galore” is an adjective that is always used postpositively. Thus, the Captain Major over time became known simply as a Major.
item 4 >>> …and as you’ve probably guessed, the same thing happened with “general.” As early as the 1300s, the commander of the entire army in the field became known as the Captain General, and he was eventually assisted by a Lieutenant General and a Sergeant Major General. Captain General evolved into simply General, while Sergeant Major General was shortened to Major General. This is explains the odd situation of a Lieutenant General outranking a Major General, while with plain Lieutenants and and Majors it’s just the reverse. Two of the most recent ranks are named after the groups they commanded: a Colonel over a “column,” and a Brigadier General over a brigade. And there you have it.
item 5 >>> Ever wonder why the Marblehead High School football team is called the Magicians? Interesting story, according to an article in the Salem News, Nov. 2009. Up until 1934, they had a variety of informal names, Headers, Whippers, Yachtsmen. But that year, the football team went 8-1-1, outscoring opponents 252-47. Invited to play a game down in Florida, they won 52-12, as a newspaper put it: “…displaying the most weird and dazzling assortment of plays ever seen on a Florida gridiron.” The coach was called a Houdini, the team, Magicians, and the nickname stuck, altho hockey squads have preferred to be Headers. Down bucket…up for air!
item 6 >>> Anybody remember Esperanto, the universal “constructed” language invented in 1887? It’s still around…in fact people never stop inventing languages, new ones like Klingon and Lolspeak. Back in the anything-can-happen 60s, some thought it might actually take off, but of course it never did. But did you know they made a full length movie in Esperanto, with English subtitles? It was a psychological horror tale called Incubus, filmed in black and white in 1965. It starred William Shatner, of all people, who proved he could overact in any language, even a made-up one. It’s a pretty lousy movie, even with the subtitles…I watched it once, and the reason was, it was written by Leslie Stevens who created the TV series The Outer Limits. After that show was cancelled, he used the same production team, including composer Dominic Frontiere and cinematographer Conrad L. Hall, so Incubus had much the same same look and sound as The Outer Limits…but even that couldn’t save this mess, perhaps the most boring movie ever made, IMHO. You’ve been warned…
item 7 >>> Speaking of Shatner, before his Star Trek fame, he filmed a TV pilot…a proposed series about Alexander the Great..and he was Alexander, if you can picture that. Interesting bunch of co-stars, including Adam West, John Cassavetes, Joseph Cotten, Simon Oakland, and Ziva Rodann. Filmed in 1964, but such a stinker that it remained unseen till 1968, to cash in on Shatner and West’s success. BTW, that really is how Joseph’s last name is spelled, “Cotten” not “Cotton.”
item 8 >>> Sometimes I discover that something I believed for years to be true…isn’t. That’s fine…better late than never, sez me. In this case, whether it was told to me wrong, or I just misunderstood, I don’t know. But I always thought that the first time the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan, Feb. 9, 1964, they weren’t really “live.” Well, obviously there were there on the show, live with Ed. And their performances were different, so they weren’t miming to their records. But the story as I heard it was, they had recorded their 5 songs before the show, and lip-synced to these new recordings, the music tracks, presumably to avoid slip-ups. But this is untrue…they were absolutely performing right then and there, completely live, in real time, for all the world to see. But I recently found out the origin this misconception: earlier that Sunday, they did tape 3 songs…these were the ones shown on their 3rd appearance, 2 weeks later. The 2nd week, they, and the whole show, were live from Miami Beach.
item 9 >>> This season the Oakland Raiders were 6-0 in their Division, but didn’t win their Division title, or even make the playoffs. They’re saying this has never happened before…I could check, but I’ll take their word for it. What I will say is, Break up the Divisions! And if that idea appeals to you, with the 7-9 Seahawks in the playoffs and the 10-6 Giants out, check my analysis on yesterday’s and today’s Stolf’s Blog, and my suggested reform outlined on Dec. 28th.
item 10 >>> You might be a Baby Boomer if… you miss reading the plot summaries in TV Guide, like: “Scientists think Flipper swallowed a rare fish and they want to dissect him.” This is a real one, honest…yeah, and the weird part is, it was on Bonanza! Oh, cut that out…
On my to-do list is to get to the bottom of this mystery that’s plagued me since 1979…how could the people who designed the advertising for the movie Alien get away with ripping off the design of this soul LP from 3 years earlier. Sure, the group The New Birth weren’t monster hit-makers, but they were on RCA Records for cryin’ out loud, not some tiny indy label in Altoona. Recently it occurred to me, maybe the Alien people somehow bought or licensed RCA’s intellectual property, it was just want they wanted. Still, was I the only one in the world who noticed?
in space, no one can hear your shameless plugs….
Resume and audio samples at http://home.rr.com/mastolfi