Monday, August 14, 2017

More "Short Shorts"

1. Joseph Bologna, 1934-2017, R.I.P.

Sad to hear that writer/director/actor Joseph Bologna, perhaps best known for his portrayal of "King Kaiser," a character based on Sid Caesar, in 1982's terrific My Favorite Year, has died at the age of eighty-two from pancreatic cancer.

In My Favorite Year, with John Welsh and Peter O'Toole.

With Valerie Harper, Michelle Johnson, Demi Moore, and Michael Caine in Blame It on Rio, 1984.

With wife Renee Taylor in 1974. Love his hair!

In Transylvania 6-5000 with John Byner and Carol Kane, 1985.

Another shot of Joe as King Kaiser in My Favorite Year, with villain Cameron Mitchell. Mitchell
played gangster Karl Rojeck, whom Kaiser was spoofing as "Boss Hijack" on his variety show.

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2. More on Glen Campbell

I wanted to post a few YouTube videos showcasing the late Glen Campbell's talent as a guitarist! The songs below are some of my all-time favorite tunes.

Let's start off subtly. Carl Jackson is really the "star" of this rendition of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," while Glen accompanies him.

Next, from a 1977 episode of the Donny & Marie show, here's Glen doing the "William Tell Overture," which makes the inevitable connection to its use as the theme for The Lone Ranger on movies, television, and radio. I don't know whose idea it was to include the idiotic clips making fun of TLR, but they only distract from Glen's incredible guitar work!

Finally: One of my most beloved songs -- I own at least seven or eight different versions, and I'm always open to buy more -- is "Ghost Riders in the Sky." Here's Glen doing it with living legend Roy Clark, and yes, I do mean "living!" Thankfully, Roy is still with us.

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Thanks for your time!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Glen Campbell, 1936-2017, R.I.P.

Singer, songwriter, musician, actor, and television host Glen Campbell has died at the age of eighty-one from Alzheimer's disease.

I was not quite twelve when I first became aware of Glen Campbell, several years into his career, via his hosting 1968's The Summer Brothers Smothers Show, a summer replacement for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. In 1969, his show The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour debuted, and ran until 1972.

Campbell had a long string of hits during the 1960s and 1970s. The first lines of several of those songs stick in my memory.

"It's knowing that your door is always open and your path is free to walk..." ("Gentle on my Mind," written by John Hartford.)

"I am a lineman for the county, and I drive the main road..." ("Wichita Lineman.")

"By the time I get to Phoenix, she'll be rising..." (It shouldn't surprise you to learn that that was the first line of a song called -- what else? -- "By the Time I Get to Phoenix.")

"Galveston, oh Galveston, I still hear your sea winds blowin'..." ("Galveston," of course.)

"One day, little girl, the sadness will leave your face, as soon as you've won your fight to get justice done..." ("True Grit," the title song from the [original] movie of the same name.)

"I've been walking these streets so long, singing the same old song..." ("Rhinestone Cowboy.")

Of course, he had many other hits, including "Where's the Playground Susie," "Southern Nights," "Dreams of the Everyday Housewife," "Honey Come Back," and numerous others. Dearer to my own heart are three lesser-known songs which found their way into my record collection, "I Knew Jesus (Before He Was a Star),"* "Try a Little Kindness," and his medley of two pop standards "Don't Pull Your Love / Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye."

(*I never understood why "I Knew Jesus (Before He Was a Star)" wasn't called "I Knew Jesus (Before He Was a Superstar)," since that's the actual line in the song, as repeated several times, and it was a reference to the whole "Jesus Christ Superstar" phenomenon of the  early 1970s!)

Glen's music and comedy variety show was usually pretty light-hearted. As I remember it (and I'm going totally on memory here), it used to begin with Glen and some other musicians -- I believe John Hartford was one of them -- standing up at various places in the audience, with Glen himself saying "Hi! I'm Glen Campbell!" In occasional later episodes, other performers or guest stars would stand and claim to be Campbell, for humorous effect.

I remember a lot of jokes about Campbell's hair during his TV show. His hairdo looked somewhat indestructible back then, perhaps due to an excessive amount of hairspray. In fact, I recall one episode in particular where guest Paul Lynde accused Glen of being in a bad mood, and said "What's the matter, did you fall down and crack your hair?"

Campbell is also credited with helping to launch the careers of performers such as Jerry Reed and Anne Murray. (I suppose I can forgive him for that second one...! I also suppose I can forgive the song "Rhinestone Cowboy" for purportedly inspiring the god-awful 1984 movie Rhinestone!)

A sad as it is, Campbell's passing is not really a shock. He'd announced that he had Alzheimer's, that insidious s.o.b. of a disease, in 2011. But it's still quite unfortunate to lose someone whose music and television presence was so much a part of my life during my early adolescence. In fact, I hadn't realized quite how much that show meant to my Sunday night viewing habits until news of his death was released and I started recalling all his hits.

With John Wayne and Kim Darby in 1969's True Grit.

With Tom and Dick Smothers. Love that outfit, Glen!

Another Smothers Brothers photo, obviously from the same scene as
the previous image, where Tom musses the famous Campbell hair!

With Elvis and Priscilla Presley.

With the Beach Boys. Glen toured with them and played on their innovative "Pet Sounds" album.

With Tanya Tucker. The two were a couple for a few years in the '80s,
and their somewhat rocky relationship occasionally made tabloid headlines.

A more recent photo of Glen.

With Dean Martin.

With Merle Haggard.

With David Cassidy.

With Cher.

With Joe Namath in 1970's Norwood, in which Campbell was reunited with his True Grit co-star Kim Darby.

With The Summer Brothers Smothers Show regulars Pat Paulsen and iconic hippie Leigh French.

Yep, the line is "I knew Jesus before He was a superstar," but the song's title is...

Thanks for your time.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Don't MS. the Point...

Before I get into this post, let me say this: Somewhere in your travels, you've probably heard that Wonder Woman graced the cover of the first (standalone) issue of Ms.

Well, she didn't. She was on the cover of the second issue (pictured above).

The illustration below shows the cover of the actual first issue.

Anyway, other than the above bit of trivia and an unrelated photo at the bottom of this post, today's post isn't really about Wonder Woman at all. (Yeah, me, writing a non-comic-book-related post. Who'da thunk it?) And today's post isn't really about Ms. (the magazine), either. Not exactly.

A month ago, more or less, I read an obituary for a woman named Sheila Michaels. (Today's post isn't quite a "tribute" post because I didn't know of the woman until then.) Ms. Michaels was the woman who took an old, relatively-forgotten honorific -- "Ms." -- and brought it into wider use. Click on her name if you want to read the whole interesting story.

Now I want to share a related story, an anecdote about an argument I had with my then-fiancée, back in the late 1980s or early 1990s. (I won't use her name for reasons of privacy, not that she herself would ever encounter my blog.)

When I met and began dating my ex -- we'll call her "Faith Salami" due to a private joke I won't get into here -- she was a divorcée who'd been married once before. She'd kept her husband's surname when she'd divorced him, mainly to eliminate confusion where her two children were concerned.

Every so often, she'd receive a mailing from the church she and her two kids belonged to, and the letter was always addressed to "Mrs. Faith Salami." She often commented that it wasn't supposed to be "Mrs." since she was divorced. It should be "Ms.," because "Ms." was the proper term for a divorced woman.

I explained to her that technically, it was proper for the church to write "Mrs." because she'd kept her husband's last name, but naturally, "Ms." was also correct from Faith's standpoint because the whole idea of the term "Ms." was that a woman could use it regardless of her marital status. In fact, that's the whole raison d'être of the word.

I also explained that the use of "Ms." did not automatically signify that she was divorced. Again, "Ms." purposely did not inform anyone of the woman's marital status.

Faith replied with those words I often heard from her during a disagreement: "Well, that's your opinion."

I swear, to this day, some twenty-five to thirty years later, the woman still doesn't comprehend the difference between "fact" and "opinion." (Her granddaughter recently confirmed that to me, in an out-of-the-blue comment, with no prompting from me!) I used to tell Faith, "If I say that two and two is four, that's a fact, not an opinion."

She never understood that.

And, since the internet was a long way away in what was then the future, I couldn't look up the word "Ms." online to prove my point. So, I had to go to the public library instead, find the definition of the word "Ms." in a dictionary, and make a photocopy of the page that contained the entry in question. I brought the photocopied page to Faith and showed it to her.

Guess what she said.

"That's just the opinion of the guy who wrote the dictionary." (Emphasis mine.)

This was the kind of situation that was common enough to insure that our engagement didn't last long enough to become marriage!

Anyway, since I used a pseudonym for "Faith's" real name, I suppose that telling that story doesn't exactly ridicule her.

So, today's post wasn't really about Wonder Woman, wasn't really about Ms. magazine, wasn't really a tribute to Sheila Michaels, and wasn't really designed to embarrass my former fiancée.

I guess it "wasn't really" a post, then, right? And for this I "bumped" my tribute post to June Foray?

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Oh, lest I forget: Last but not least, speaking of Wonder Woman, this is just... wrong.

What the hell were they trying to say?!?

Thanks for your time.


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