Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas 2017 from Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog

The folks at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog, struck by both a "happy to have made it to this Christmas alive" conviction (note: Mr. Blogmeister is 61 and more than well aware of 2017 passings and illnesses among his circle) and an obstinate head cold - now offering below market rate rental units (both furnished and unfurnished) in yours truly's nasal passages - send our Merry Christmas best wishes.

At this time of year, there's a key holiday season phrase for people who actually like their families: I like things the way they used to be, when everyone was still living and healthy.

That would be hangin' out at the Christmas tree back in the day - good times, good food, good company, pumpkin pie, eggnog - at the house you lived in that's gone with the loved ones who are long gone. Change happens - and it's not always welcome.

When remembering loved ones who are not with us at this time of year, sadness can be a constant companion. One way to counteract that sadness is to recall a lesser-known Yuletide record or holiday movie that captured everyone's fancy.

One of my family's favorite records was the 1956 Capitol Records Merry Christmas To You compilation, featuring Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Les Paul & Mary Ford, Margaret Whiting & Jimmy Wakely, comedian Yogi Yorgesson and the orchestras of Billy May, Les Baxter and Johnny Mercer.

Still love this album and wish this was available to buy on good ol' vinyl or CD. There's something about hearing The Billy May Orchestra's cha-cha-cha North Pole masterpiece Rudolf Mambo from a thick vinyl platter on a good quality stereo (HI-FI as they used to say then) and top-of-the-line turntable that's better than freakin' homemade apple pie, washed down with homemade eggnog.

In the case of my siblings and I, that lesser-known holiday movie was and remains On The Twelfth Day, a VERY British take on The 12 Days Of Christmas, directed by Wendy Toye and designed by author, satirist and cartoonist Ronald Searle. Our local television stations ran it in the 1950's and early 1960's, but stopped for reasons unknown.

As a would-be grownup quite a few years later, this blogger discovered Allen Sherman's 12 Gifts Of Christmas, a very funny sendup in the vein of Stan Freberg's Green Christmas.

After swapping out a few topical references, the spoof is not dated; simply substitute the words "Indonesian Green Cell Phone" for "Japanese transistor radio" and think of other gifts a person doesn't want or need. That said, we had at least two Japanese transistor radios - which my dad and I loved and listened to broadcasts of San Francisco Giants games with.

Among additional worthy antidotes to wintertime blues would be the Christmas records by Art Carney, actor, comedian and star of arguably the best movie or television script tackling the commercialization of the holiday season, The Twilight Zone episode The Night Of The Meek, penned by Rod Serling.

There were two Yuletide novelty records by Art Carney.

Wonder if the A-side, "all I want for Christmas is a doodle-li-boop" was among the rhythmic inspirations for the Friz Freleng crew's WB cartoon sendup of Three Little Pigs, The Three Little Bops, produced a couple of years later (featuring Stan Freberg on vocals and West Coast jazz trumpet ace Shorty Rogers). Maybe. Maybe not. The opportunity to ask Stan that question passed a few years ago.

Hands-down, my favorite Night Before Christmas reading is the B-side, although Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong's ranks a very close second.

So, as the old song goes, "we wish you a Merry Christmas!"

And with that, and some holiday cheer from Edward D. Wood, Jr. and the Lugosis, a Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night!

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