Sunday, December 31, 2017
Goodbye (and good riddance) 2017, Hello 2018 - Happy New Year from Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog!
For the last post of wretched 2017, a year we at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog are pleased to see end, we wish all the readers a Happy New Year!
Slowly, make that very slowly getting over an obstinate common cold that's hangin' on like a bad memory, this blogger will NOT be whooping it up at the Happy Hour Club to ring in 2018.
Won't even be up to dancing unconvincingly to the less-than-supersonic tempos of Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians.
Instead, we shall watch Jack Benny's New Year's Eve show from 1961.
Next up: a slew of different renditions of that one New Year's Eve tune which has been recorded 1000 times.
It is quite the tribute to Frank Sinatra that I have mistook this recording by Harry Connick, Jr. for one by Ol' Blue Eyes on more than one occasion.
There are some very good unconventional New Year's Eve tunes as well, every one much less played and covered than "What are you doing New Year's Eve?" Always loved Otis Redding and Carla Thomas' Stax Records cover of ace blues guitarist-vocalist-songwriter Lowell Fulson's classic Tramp (which Fulson and Jimmy McCracklin co-wrote) and it turns out this dynamic duo also did an excellent song for New Year's.
Another ace bluesman, Lightnin' Hopkins, waxed his "Happy New Year" single for Decca Records in 1953. The sting, bite and power of his guitar is undimmed 64 years later, so this song remains a great way to ring out the old year and ring in the new one.
We wrap this post and send out awful 2017 in style with the astounding Swedish bandleader, entertainer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Gunhild Carling. Here's Gunhild, just one virtuoso from a three generation musical family, accomplishing something I have not seen since the heydey of the legendary hard bop/free jazz saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk: playing three instruments simultaneously. Happy New Year!
Monday, December 25, 2017
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!
Sunday, December 17, 2017
As we wake up to the news that bandleader, multi-instrumentalist, frequent sideman on Tom Waits records, composer of The Happy Solstice Song, wit, big time classic movie buff and friend of this blog Ralph Carney has passed after injuries suffered in a fall at his home, our holiday spirit has been severely shaken.
Ralph accompanied silent films at several movie events we at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog produced. We mourn his passing but remember his music, lighthearted personality and good humor fondly.
So, feeling sad, we suggest strongly that Bay Area moviegoers darken their spirits further by attending the eighth annual NOIR CITY XMAS program at San Francisco's Castro Theatre on this Wednesday night, December 20.
Film Noir Foundation president Eddie Muller of TCM's Noir Alley will be your noir Noël host for the evening.
The Noir City Xmas double feature will include a brand new 35mm print of ALIAS BOSTON BLACKIE, starring Chester Morris, and arguably the best offering in Columbia's long-running "Boston Blackie" series.
Presented via a special one-night-only arrangement with Paramount Pictures, MANHANDLED (1949), directed by Lewis R. Foster, who much earlier in his career made Laurel & Hardy 2-reelers.
Based on "The Man Who Stole a Dream" by L.S. Goldsmith, it's a sly twist on the conventions of mystery and noir thrillers and the only film this writer can think of co-starring Dorothy Lamour (the glamour gal who fed straight lines to both Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in so many Road pictures that she was for all practical purposes an unofficial member of the comedy team) with genre film mainstays Sterling Hayden and Dan Duryea.
The evening will also feature the unveiling of the full schedule (and poster!) for NOIR CITY 16 coming to San Francisco's Castro Theatre January 26 — February 4, 2018.
NOIR CITY 16 Passports (all-access festival passes) will be available for sale at NOIR CITY Xmas – just visit the FNF's merchandise table on the Castro mezzanine. Tickets for NOIR CITY XMAS are now available online and can also be purchased at the Castro Theatre box office on the day of the show.
Noting the holiday season, there will have collection bins for the San Francisco Firefighters Toy Program and the SF-Marin Food Bank. The San Francisco Firefighters are looking for toys for kids, infants through 12 years old. Toys must be not be gift wrapped. The SF-Marin Food Bank needs the following: peanut butter, low-sugar cereal, whole-grain rice, pasta, oats, low-sodium soups and stews, tuna and other canned meats, and canned fruits and vegetables. Please no glass, opened items, perishables, or items past their "use before" date. Moviegoers are encouraged to give what they can - Holiday Giving is good.
The Film Noir Foundation deserve kudos, bravos and huzzahs for putting their money where their booze-stained, cigarette-burned, red lipstick-smudged mouths are and presenting newly struck 35mm prints of these classic films for the festival. For more info, go to the Noir City website.
Friday, December 15, 2017
This Saturday night, for all who could not make it to the 25th anniversary Psychotronix extravaganza at Foothill College on December 2 - or just need a double dose of Psychotronix big screen fun to make it through the holidays - the Christmas edition of the Psychotronix Film Festival will be presented this Saturday night at the Rheem Theatre on 350 Park Street in Moraga.
Two of the Three Stooges who present the KFJC Psychotronix Film Festivals at Foothill College, Sci Fi Bob Ekman and Scott Moon, shall be the curators/presenters/movie masterminds concocting Saturday's all-16mm extravaganza. Showtime is 7:00 p.m.