Monthly Archives: December 2011

Rock and Roll Saturday – Dick Clark

Dick ClarkConsidering this Rock and Roll Saturday falls on New Years Eve, I thought I would pay a bit of homage to a man that brought rock & roll into our living rooms for many years, Mr. Dick Clark.

Bandstand came to be in 1952 on Philadelphia television station WFIL. The original program was hosted by Bob Horn who left the program in 1956 following a drunk driving arrest. Horn was immediately replaced with another on air talent at the station, weatherman Dick Clark.

In August of 1957 ABC picked up the program for a national broadcast and changed the name to American Bandstand. Clark often interviewed kids in the studio about the music being played. A popular segment of the program was “Rate-A-Record” where two guests would provide opinion on the music being played. The phrase, “It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it,” became synonymous with the program. Cheech and Chong were known to drop in and fill in as reviewers.

The program maintained its success on the advertising dollars spent on the target demographic of the American Teenager. The show aired Monday through Friday until September 7 of 1963 when it was moved to a once a week spot on Saturday afternoons. A year later ABC moved the program from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. In 1967 American Bandstand began broadcasting in color.

Through it all Dick Clark brought top 40 from the radio to the stage and introduced generations of teens to music.

Some of the bands to play on American Bandstand over the years:

  • Aerosmith
  • Adam Ant
  • Bon Jovi
  • Beach Boys
  • Oingo Boingo
  • David Bowie
  • The Carpenters
  • Jim Croce
  • The Cowsills
  • Def Leppard
  • Neil Diamond
  • Peter Frampton
  • The Grass Roots
  • Isaac Hayes
  • Billy Idol
  • Jefferson Airplane
  • Etta James
  • B.B. King
  • Men At Work
  • Van Morrison
  • Pink Floyd
  • Prince
  • Little Richard
  • Run DMC
  • Slade
  • Strawberry Alarm Clock
  • Talking Heads
  • Tommy Tutone
  • War

For a full list of acts to play on American Bandstand click here.

As they say, all good things must come to an end and on October 7, 1989, Bandstand broadcast its last show.

In 2002 Dick Clark hosted a special 50th anniversary edition. Michael Jackson, a frequent Bandstand guest, performed Dangerous.

Dick Clark New Years

Dick Clark Times Square 1986

On December 8 of 2004r, the then 75-year-old was hospitalized in Los Angeles after suffering what was initially termed a minor stroke. On December 13, 2004, it was announced that Clark would be unable to host his annual New Year’s Rockin’ Eve broadcast that had aired for all but one year since 1972. For the 2004 show, Regis Philbin was the substitute host, and during the show on December 31, 2004, he gave his best wishes to Clark.

On December 31, 2005, Clark made his return to television, returning to the Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve broadcast. During the braodcast, Clark remained behind a desk and was shown only in limited segments. Though Clark had noticeable difficulty speaking, he was able to perform his famous countdown to the new year.

On air, he stated, “Last year I had a stroke. It left me in bad shape. I had to teach myself how to walk and talk again. It’s been a long, hard fight. My speech is not perfect but I’m getting there.” Before counting down to 2006, he mentioned he “wouldn’t have missed this for the world.”

Dick Clark brought music to the masses for many years. At 82 years old he’ll be back tonight to host New Years Rockin’ Eve.

Juggling Time

Juggling TimeTime is a constant without end. It’s unwavering, unchanging, precise and stubborn. Everything on the planet could be going to hell in a hand-basket but the tic-tocs of the clock keep a steady cadence of moving ahead.

Tic-toc, tic-toc.

Running hapazardly along with this stringent hearbeat of the universe is the human race, by nature a very imprecise object. We are prone to wasting time and mismanaging the clock, whatever that means. Honestly, we can’t manage the clock. The clock manages us. It scoffs at our feeble attempts to wedge in more and more activity at a pace the Andretti’s fear.

Tic-toc, tic-toc.

I’ve been on a stress reduction plan for a long time now and it started with an understanding of balancing time. As much as I tried to change time to suit me I ultimately saw the futility and the light came on.

Tic-toc, tic-toc. I had to change myself to fit time.

Time … thou ceaseless lackey to eternity.
– WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE,

We needed a sign for that?

So probably there was no sign and then stupidity arrived. And someone’s boneheadedness turned into the need for a sign. For example….

Don’t drive your car off the cliff into the ocean.

Don't drive your car off the cliff into the ocean.

I didn’t need a sign for that. My car works better on the highway. It’s a car. It’s not interchangeable as a boat or airplane.

What about this one? No parking on the lava flow.

Lava Flow

Just more government intrusion on our freedom of idiocy.

Now I don’t know how many of you are race fans. Those of you that are and have spent a Saturday evening camping at the race track may see the irony in this sign. Everybody knows you can’t race coolers when they are full of beer.
Cooler Racing
You can race your cars all you like.

And then there’s this little slice of everyday life on an American golf course. I intuitively know not to approach animals with a thing for human flesh and the teeth to prove it. Apparently that knowledge evaded Stubby McClane, hence the need for a sign to announce once and for all that “Yes, Virginia. Alligators will take your leg off…. Just ask Stubby.”

I also like the approach this group used to caution visitors about wild animals.

Beware

It could be a dog. It could be a gator. It could be a bear. It could be Tyrannosaurus Rex. Venture forth and find out.

How about this one… Wouldn’t your nose tell you to turn back long before you got close enough to read the sign?

I’m still trying to wrap my brain around this one.

So it says either:

  1. Poking squirrels could lead to blood loss.
  2. Park rules prohibit bleeding on the wildlife.

Maybe the sign is for the squirrels. That would actually  make more sense.

Hammer Time

Weirdo Wednesday – December 28, 2011

Weirdo WednesdayWednesdays of 2011 have been dedicated to all the weirdness and oddity this world has to offer. I’ve decided to put wrap on the weird and do something else next year. I don’t know what will replace Weirdo Wednesday until next Wednesday rolls around

So this week’s Weirdo Wednesday is a year in review kind of deal where I’m reaching back into the vault and pulling out the top ten posts. (not in any particular order.)

  1. Cousin Eddie – Feb 2
  2. Officer Bubbles – Feb 9
  3. Skeletons in the Closet – Jun 8
  4. Weird clowns – Aug 24
  5. Weird things sold at Amazon – Aug 3
  6. Lego Man – Oct 26
  7. Webcam 101 for seniors – Sep 21
  8. The Cardiff Giant – Jun 29
  9. Weird California – Jun 22
  10. News of the Weird – Aug 10

The Weirdo Wednesday that has been the biggest surprise in the terms of hits is Cousin Eddie on Feb 2. I can always count on Eddie to bring in a few hits every day. His hit count as of yesterday was 597.

I’ve enjoyed doing these WW posts. They have helped me hone my research skills and through the process I learned a little bit about a lot of weirdness.

This post closes the books on Weirdo Wednesday. Now to figure out what I am doing next week.

Only 363 Days Till Christmas

or… “How I Overcame Stress and Learned to Love Christmas”

Next ChristmasIt’s over. Christmas of 2011 sits two days in the rear view. The nog boxes are empty and Mannheim Steamroller has stepped aside for Maroon 5. The jolly fat dude with the tacky red coat is basking away at an all-inclusive in Montego Bay — sans Speedo. (Wrap your head around that one.)

The annual insanity has subsided and in a few days we’ll all be back to normal, complaining about the weather, the bills, the kids… bitch, bitch, bitch.

You have to wonder what it is about those last six weeks of the year, the days between Thanksgiving, starting off with the annual retail madness known as Black Friday, through a frenzied December to finally reach a crescendo of craziness on Christmas day.  And then to catch your breath for a few days before punctuating the insanity on New Years Eve.

Wal-Mart ChristmasWhat is it about the holiday season that injects a senseless imbalance on the retail landscape of America? What motivates people who struggle to make it to work on time, practically every other day of the year, to easily rise at 3:00 in the morning and then dash off to grab a primo place in the Wal-Mart line on Black Friday? It’s got to be some insidious form of dementia brought on by the holidays.

These are mad times, I tell you.. mad times.

I have my own personal holiday meditation method that I call Zen and the Art of Surviving Christmas. It’s a combination of acceptance, awareness, and amazon dot com. I did break my own rule this year and schlepped out to Wally World on Saturday a week before Christmas. I was amazed to find the aisles cleared, shoppers civil, and an open checkout line waiting for my arrival. I was slightly befuddled by the lack of Christmas shoppers and quizzed the smiling face scanning away at my stuff. “Has it been busy today?”

She stopped sliding the canned goods across the glass. She gave me that Wal-Mart corporate smile and said something that seemed odd at the time, yet brilliant in her deflection. She raised the Mountain Dew bottle in her hand and answered my question with a question, “Would you like to leave this out of the bag?”

I was no closer to solving the mystery of the absentee shoppers. I resigned myself to total ignorance of the retail riddle. I took the Mountain Dew bottle in hand, sighed and replied,  “Yes, thank you.”

She returned to her task and I to my puzzlement. After handing over my hard-earned money, I wheeled my overflowing cart through the parking lot and began to notice a strange phenomenon. Nobody was fighting for parking. There were empty slots near the front. It was like shopping in July except much cooler.

Where was the typical Christmas delerium I remember?

And then the light came on and I remembered things like 9% unemployment, election year, ObamaCare and the Gringe that ate D.C. People are hurting right where they live — in the wallet. People stayed home in droves hanging on to that disposable income because people are unsure what 2012 will bring.

Christmas morning arrived much like every other day with a couple of exceptions. Stockings were hung from the chair-rail with care and I discovered the best traditions are the ones you create for yourself. Dinner and a movie on Christmas is exquisite in its simplicity and lack of stress. The dogs showed as much excitement over the contents of their respective stockings than any child I ever saw.

The message I got this Christmas was simply this.

Christmas LoveIt’s not about the colorful packages under the tree or the food, or the red and green lights hanging from eaves. It’s not about the big game on TV or the new Xbox. It’s not about the stuff you get. It’s about the stuff you give that you can’t see. It’s not something you can buy at the mall or trade for on eBay. It’s something that comes from your heart.

I know, I felt it in abundance around our house this year.

It’s a crazy little thing called love.

The TinTin of My Youth

TinTinThe highly anticipated release of the Spielberg/Jackson adaptation of The Adventures of TinTin released last week to dazzle audiences everywhere.

I was talking to some friends yesterday and discovered not everyone is familiar with TinTin. That’s like saying you’ve never heard of Abraham Lincoln or The Beatles. I just couldn’t fathom that someone had never heard of TinTin. It turns out that’s pretty common.

Not for me. As a child I would slip away to the library and bury my face in the TinTin books for hours. I was absolutely fascinated with the boy from Belgium.

As a child seeking escape the library was sanctuary. TinTin provided the adventure.

Tin Tin - The Secret of the UnicornIn this motion-capture animation treatment of Hergé’s TinTin, Stephen Spielberg and Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit) bring the young Belgium reporter and his dog companion Snowy to life in ways impossible just a few years back.

For the story they selected The Secret of the Unicorn (1943), and added in components of The Crab With the Golden Claws (1941) and Red Rackham’s Treasure (1944) to come up with their movie.

We saw it last night and I can say most enthusiastically it lived up to all the post premier hype. I am a TinTin fan from way back and was awed by the quality of the animation and the strength of story. I believe we are entering into a new age of cinema where the actor is such a small part of the production. Cinematography and effects are king.

Jackson and Spielberg will co-direct the second movie of the trilogy, an adaptation of The Seven Crystal Balls (1948) and Prisoners of the Sun (1949).

“I am having a blast, Tintin is not work, it is just fun”,
—  Peter Jackson interview in Le Monde

TinTinTinTin

My Christmas Gift to Everyone

Merry Christmas all. It’s a beautiful morning here on the plains.

As my special Christmas gift to everybody I am offering my novel HAUNTING INJUSTICE, as a FREE GIFT to download at Smashwords. This is a TODAY ONLY deal.

Head on over to  http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/55588, give it a download and enter the coupon code PB84D on Checkout. You will be given a %100 discount and my novel for FREE. (Today only so act fast)

Haunting Injustice“A bona fide, page turning thriller!” – Apex Reviews….

Ghosts, murder, kidnapping, technology, love and romance. This ghost story has it all. Phoenix Worthy, noted paranormal investigator, lives in the most haunted city in America, Savannah, Ga. His latest hunt brings him face-to-face with a brutal killer. The only question is… Who is more deadly–the killer or the ghosts of his victims?

What Does Christmas Smell Like?

Christmas SmellI heard someone say on a news program that they “love the smell of Christmas.”

So that got me thinking. What exactly does Christmas smell like? What smells elicit memories of Christmas past? I love the smell of Christmas in the morning — it smells like… (fill-in-the-blank)

For me that’s somewhat hard to nail down. That sweet aroma of spruce pine does it. Nutmeg tickles the nose with memories of spiced up egg-nog on Christmas morning.

The smell of rum reminds me of Aunt Ruby’s high-test fruit cake. I miss Aunt Ruby.

Strangely enough the smell of Vienna Sausage reminds me of Christmas. Every December we would pile in the family station wagon and make the dozen hour drive to Alabama to spend Christmas with the grandparents. Dad didn’t much like to stop for anything except gas and if I had to go I’d better plan my pee-breaks around fuel-ups. He was a driver not a stopper.

For meals we had cans of Vienna sausage and saltine crackers. (He would eat sardines but I found the little fish pretty disgusting.) If I was real lucky mother fixed a few PB&J sandwiches for the journey. I don’t remember ever being that fortunate.

Black MariahChewing tobacco reminds me of Christmas, not that I was munching on tobacco as a ten year old. Grandpa Mills chewed it. His brand was Black Mariah and we always brought him a few boxes with us. That stuff was a square that looked a lot like a dark fudge brownie. Papa Mills would pull out his pocketknife and slice off a big hunk of it and pop it into his mouth like it was a piece of chocolate cake. The smell from his spit-can is probably still hovering like a bio-hazard in the skies above Franklin County.

I wish I could put my finger on that smell in the old Mills homestead. That’s the only place on the planet I have ever smelled that smell. It was neither pleasant or unpleasant. It was a reminder that Christmas was just a few days away and I was stuck in Alabama a long way from home.

My conclusion is the smell of Christmas is molded by the path you take getting there. What does Christmas smell like to you?

Fruit Cake (repost)

I guess I am getting lazy in my run up to Christmas blogs. This is a copy of my blog post from 365 days ago.



Fruit Cake Gets a Bad Rap – Dec 22, 2010

Fruit cake is a holiday desert, loved by few – despised by many. In its various shapes, sizes, ingredients and texture, the fruit cake has become more than a Christmas desert. It is the brunt of jokes in family circles and vilified by comedians coast to coast.  Johnny Carson joked that there really is only one fruitcake in the world, passed from family to family.

Speaking of The Tonight Show, we have Jay Leno to thank for introducing us to the Fruitcake Lady, Ms. Marie Rudisill from Monroeville, Alabama.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-1ehDZv6JQ]

I’ve been seeing this outrageous personality for years. A little known fact: She is Truman Capote’s aunt. His mother was her older sister.

Speaking of Aunts, one of mine used to send me a fruitcake every year for Christmas. I am one of those odd human beings that actually likes good fruitcake.  Anyway, the annual fruitcake would show up every year the week before Christmas. You practically needed a fork truck to move this thing around. My concern with this desert was not its weight, but its proof.  You see I think she started the liquor soaking in August so that it would be all ready to go out before Christmas.  My friends would say, “Why don’t you slice me off a sip of that fruitcake.” I’m surprised the ‘Revenuers’ weren’t showing up looking to tax this thing.  Anyway, I figured out I had an allergy to alcohol and had to ask my aunt to stop sending the annual fruitcake.  I still get a bit weepy when I think of having to do that.

At times I’ve been compared to a fruit cake, as in: “nuttier than”



Reality is like a fruitcake; pretty enough to look at but with all sorts of nasty things lurking just beneath the surface. ~A. Lee Martinez