1/8/2011

item 1 >>> Now Playing… russell Before the Shelter People and all that, Leon Russell has half of a duo called the Asylum Choir. Funny, I always heard the “asylum” as meaning a safe harbor or a refuge, but now that I think about it, they probably meant it as a nut-house. Here’s a sly spoof of pyschedilerium from 1968 called “Icicle Star Tree.”

item 2 >>> LQQK @ †h∆†! todd In the early 80s, Todd Rundgren assembled a group called Utopia, and put out some of the best music of this long and storied career. From 1982, “Infrared and Ultraviolet” and “Libertine,” live in Boston.

item 3 >>> When Baby Boomers get together to compare notes, some things they tend to agree on…like “The older you get, the faster trees grow.” And “More and more, people are telling me: Don’t worry about it, you were always like that!” Another phrase that rings particularly true is “Back then, we just didn’t think about it like that.” The poster-child for this phenomenon would be Truman Capote, when we saw him on talk-shows…as in “You might be a Baby Boomer if…you thought Truman Capote just talked that way, that’s all.” Truth be told, he was just a strange little an with an odd way of talking, there wasn’t some “lifestyle” lurking behind it. Pretty much the same thing with Paul Lynde and Charles Nelson Reilly, right? It was show business, and they just had an offbeat shtick. Well, maybe a few of you understood what was going on, but the vast majority of us didn’t. And when we did find out, we couldn’t quite believe it…there was that certain “yuck” factor…they really do that? I know, I know, everybody is supposed to think differently about that today, but Old School dies hard, especially when Old School can’t be convinced it wasn’t right in the first place. So on to a classic “we just didn’t think like that…”

item 4 >>> I had one of these Howdy Doody lamps, colored like the one on the right. Yes, he’s got a light-bulb up his butt, but as I said… These were used as a night-light, because there really wasn’t much illumination shining thru Howdy’s plastic body. And I had it burning bright by my bed every night for what, 6 or 7 years? Never once did it occur to me how uncomfortable that might be, sitting on a hot bulb like that. That’s just the way it was. Made by a company in Cambridge called Nor’east Nauticals, 145 Broadway. Try googling them up, and all you get is this lamp, altho I assume they made other products. One I found, they’re asking $150…which seems a little low, but then I guess I hold Howdy collectables in very high esteem.

item 5 >>> This Sunday will be The Simpsons 474th episode, 22 seasons, and still going strong. As of right now, it’s the only “current” show I watch with any regularity. Think about all the information, the people, the places, the connections, the jokes, the songs, the shenanigans that have occurred over 474 shows. Quick, can you name all of Apu’s 8 children? Now think about this: The Howdy Doody Show ran for 2343 episodes! Now you may see the figure quoted as 2543, but on the final show, Sept. 24, 1960, they say #2343. For the purposes of assembling a really complete Howdy Doodypedia, I suppose there were more, if you count the “franchise” spinoffs in Canada, Mexico, and yes, even Cuba. Timber Tom, anyone? As far as I can tell, even the most rabid Howdy websites are just scratching the surface of all the “trivia” the show generated. For example…

item 6 >>> How many actors portrayed Clarabell? Most sources will say 3…the original was Bob Keeshan, who went on to create Captain Kangaroo. The handed down wisdom is he was fired for lack of talent, but in reality, he and most of the other cast members were canned in a contract dispute in 1952, a “Saturday Night Massacre” of sorts. The show survived, barely skipping a beat. He was replaced by Bob Nicholson, then Lew Anderson, who stuck it out till the end, saying “G’bye boys and girls!” on the final broadcast. An article about the late clown Edwin Alberian (more on him Monday) claims he was the replacement Clarabell…it appears he played the part only at live appearances, altho in 2343 shows, he might have been on the show as the clown once or twice. His main character was balloon artist Gus Gasbag. Some sources list a Henry McLaughlin between the 2 Bobs, research pending on that. And actually, Keeshan was fired once before, replace by dancer Gil Lamb, who was much taller, altho that was explained on the show with a Clown-Stretching-Machine-O-Doodle. But viewers hated him, so Keeshan was invited back. A man named Al Scopp played Clarabell on the Canadian Howdy, and for a while there was even a female version, Sarabell, played by puppeteer Lee Carney. And there might have been a couple of Clarabell du jours that everybody’s missed. But then…

item 7 >>> Buffalo Bob Smith’s real mother was once on the show as Buffalo Emma…the Flub-a-Dub had a son, Flub-a-Dub Jr., a smaller version of himself…Don Knotts had a short-lived role as a nervous character named Tim Tremble…and while Mr. Bluster was always trying to start his own show, there was another rival show for a while, Dandy Doody & Elephant Bob…and yeah, Princess Summerfall Winterspring had to put up with Princess Fryingpan Bottlewasher for a time…see what I mean? If you watched only 474 Howdy Doody shows, you probably missed all of this. Some episodes are out now on DVD, but do they all even exist anymore? As someone once said, even the oldest books are just out to those who haven’t read them.

item 8 >>> Gee, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. I was looking at the Curriculum Guide on-line for my old stomping grounds, Danvers High School. Good to see they still have a Math Team, altho the Chess Club is gone…just for now, I’m hoping. But the pompous PC terminology is there in all its glory, and like I said, it’s such an easy target. I’ll just mention 2 examples…Foreign Languages are out…they’re now called “World Languages.” And what’s available? French, Spanish, and Italian. Am I the only one who thinks that 3rd one is an odd choice, not that I’m knocking it. But that’s it…gone from my day are German, Russian, even Latin. Small “world” isn’t it, well language-wise anyway. Why not Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Hindi, Sanskrit, Vietnamese…you could go on and on. Klingon, Lolcat…a little diversity please?

item 9 >>> And remember Gym Class? You know, Phys Ed? How about “Introduction to Wellness Pursuits.” You think I’m making that up, but I’m not. Gone are the days you line up for jumping jacks, then count off by 4’s…today, students “design and monitor their own fitness program based on sound principles of training and exercise.” In other words they get to do what they want? Actually, that does sound like an improvement, altho from the description, it seems like the kids spend most of their time implementing, promoting and evaluating.  But there are lots of cool choices, including yoga, speedminton, pickle-ball, razzle-dazzle football, good old-fashioned ultimate frisbee, etc. The only thing I was any good at, softball, isn’t listed. Those damned aluminum bats, no doubt. Um, I’m gonna hide out in the weight-room…excuse me, the personal fitness/wellness room. Seriously…

item 10 >>> Reminder: tomorrow kicks off my weekly Sunday series “Genealogy for Baby Boomers”…complete with a free chart, whoo hoo! Actually, there will be a LOT of charts along the line, can’t be helped, but they’ll be designed by yours truly, so you know they’ll be the best…

Wicked Ballsy

Look carefully at FRIDAY BUCCANEERS…who is that? Why that’s Dan Tempest, of course. Thanks, wise guy…but the name of the actor who played Dan Tempest? Look closely…answer on Monday.

shameless orange 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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