Saturday, May 31, 2008

Shake it, Sister Kate

One of the two things I don't like about modern jazz is, it's usually played without vibrato. A sax with no shake is just a honk and a trumpet sans vibrato is a blat. I'm not asking for Guy Lombardo's simpering saxes, just a little vox humana.
That's why I don't listen to classical organ music, either. Give me the trembling tones of a theater organ, please. Maudlin when done right. I love it. I will reveal my other problem with jazz after I recover from the virtual wounds I expect from angy jazz fans.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Harvey Korman has died

Thanks to blogger Scott for being the first to let me know. If there's comedy in heaven, Harvey and God and the angels are now breaking each other up, rolling around on the clouds.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mounting Bettie

Got your attention, didn't I. But wait! Before you flag me or invoke your God-given duty to clean up the mess that is the blogosphere, let me explain. Those who know me best and wish they didn't, know the only thing I mount these days is new photos, paintings and drawings of the bodacious 50's pin-up girl Bettie Page on the wall of my den of nostalgic iniquity. She shares space with a Packard roadster from the 30's and the huge Zenith radio representing the 40's. I am dangerously close to finding room for a vintage Hammond Organ to add to the mix. But then I will need a Hammond clock, which the amazing Laurens Hammond invented before his organ rose to great heights. I must figure out how to post a You Tube so I can share my naughty, nostalgic wall of wonder with my fans. All two of them.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Foolish Finales

Thank God for Boston Legal. They actually had a season finale without a main character getting killed. Two straight guys who love each other have a fight, make up and go fishing. That's my kind of finale.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Crazy album covers

Audiophiles are all excited about the possible return of old fashioned vinyl Lp's that they can play on their vacuum tube equipment. They think they can actually hear a better, warmer sound from the old technology. Maybe they can. Others, like me, who don't hear all that well anyway, are more interested in seeing those big 12 inch album covers come back.Give me Julie London!! Who needs those dinky CD covers in their plastic cases. Warning: Do not go to these wacky covers unless you are in a position to laugh your butt off while you roll on the floor. It's from a great antique radio group that I check every day.

Keillor's aging audience

Sixty-five year old Garrison Keillor filled our 1700 seat theater last week. I was not there. Too pricey for me. The local reviewer wrote, "He regaled an audience of 1725, the majority of which appeared to be his age or in the vicinity." If I could find the review of his previous performance here in 2004, I suspect that the audience was younger. The sage of Lake Wobegon has given way to the young and more edgy humorists like David Sedaris. Too bad they didn't use the restored theater pipe organ as an opener. The old folks would have loved it. I'm not sure the Wurlitzer in Minnesota's Fitgerald theater is operational right now.

Old Farts and Computers

It's time for me to grind out another article for our senior magazine that's published by the area council on aging. I think it will be "Why You Need a Computer," suggesting that people my age (slightly older than dirt) oughta get computer-friendly enough to get some of the good stuff that's available on the 'net. Will anybody be convinced? Not likely. Too bad.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Hammond and Leslie

One of the great examples of 20th century American pop culture is a revolutionary musical instrument invented in 1935 that changed the way music was made in church, theaters, on rado and in homes. I wrote about it bsck in '06. Hook a 60 year old Hammond B-3 up to a Leslie speaker and you will send a present day jazz fan into ecstacy. You will also send him to the bank to get funds to buy it from you for several thousand bucks if you are willing to part with it.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Radio Organists

Here is an extensive list list of organists and the radio shows they worked on. It was my memorable opportunity to re-create WLW's famous late night "Moon River" program with Lee Irwin, who was one of the WLW organists who provided the beautiful music for the sentimental poetry on that show. I stood beside the pipe organ console at our local theater and read the poems, including the original opening and closing lines used on WLW, while Lee Irwin re-created his "Moon River" style that he played on the WLW Wurlitzer. Parts of the WLW organ were in a restaurant pipe organ North of Cincinnati for a while but I believe the place is now closed and I'm not sure what has happened to the organ. Our re-creation was taped and carried on the local station where I was a deejay. One of these days I will put a bit of it on here. I will say Lee Irwin got more beautiful sounds from that eight rank Barton organ (that's pretty small as pipe organs go) than any of the other big name performers who have played it.

Funny White People Stuff

The latest STUFF WHITE PEOPLE LIKE is so funny it made me laugh my left buttock off. And the right one is getting loose. Alright, you nutty grammarians. Don't bother to tell me I shouldn't oughta start a sentence with "And."

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Fine Romance

I just watched Fred and Ginger in "Swing Time." That's fun. That's romance. Comcast is not all bad after all. At least they give me Turner Classic Movies. Well they don't exactly give it to me. But it's worth the price to wallow in nostalgia.

Ghosts and Vampires

I watched a bit of "Numbers" last night, but all that math boggles me. I went to bed and listened to an old "Silver Theater" radio show with Joan Crawford emoting something fierce. I couldn't take much more TV after watching Jennifer Love Hewitt help ghosts cross over to the other side and the vampire guy leap tall buildings with a single bound while his eyes get all weird and his neck biting teeth stick out. I wonder if the actors on those shows laugh their butts off at what they do. Probably do, all the way to the bank. The vampire show ended with a bit of a song, as referred to in the previous entry. At least it was from my era and I could understand the words. I think it was a Glenn Miller recording that included the word "Moonlight." OK, I get it. Vampires do their thing by moonlight. But they might better have used Bing Crosby's "Moonlight becomes you."

Friday, May 09, 2008

Old Time Radio Drama Music

Has anybody else thought about how different the use of music was in OTR drama as compared to the way music is used in TV today? Listening to old radio shows, I am struck by the absence of background or mood music during dialogue. I find myself yelling at TV producers to eliminate the loud production music or turn it down, especially the contemporary "message songs" that end so many of the popularTV shows. I can't understand the words, I'm too old to be familiar with the songs or to appreciate how they somehow bring it all home to young viewers. I have no doubt that's what it does for them, but it goes right past me. OTR made wonderful use of music for transition or to set the scene, but was seldom used during the actual dialogue. In the days of radio station pipe organs, later replaced by the Hammond with its percussive attack so perfect for musical exclamation points, many organists who learned their craft accompanying silent films came up with brilliant musical ideas that helped the story along, moved the listener to a new scene or indicated passage of time. Great organists like George Wright, Dick Liebert, Gaylord Carter, Paul Carson and Rosa Rio knew how to make those keys and pedals tell a story with just a few well chosen notes. Take some time to check those links. Paul Carson played the "One Man's Family" theme music. Gaylord Carter made "The Perfect Song" a national institution as the "Amos 'n Andy" theme song. Dick Liebert and Rosa Rio both worked with Ted Malone. George Wright, the king of Theater organists, worked on many soap operas.
TV borrowed its production values from the movies, with elaborate musical soundtracks that often outlive the films. Today's theater sound is clearly designed for the very young who grew up with ear-busting audio. If I want to experience good writing and acting without uncomfortable musical distraction, I find it in "Old Folks Radio."

Monday, May 05, 2008

Paul Harvey's "Angel" dies

Paul's beloved wife, known to his fans as "Angel" has died after a long battle with leukemia. She was 92.

Spiritual, not religious

Another great blog is Stuff White People Like. My favorite entry is this one.

Bing Was Hip

A blogger who calls herself Trombonology quotes Artie Shaw, who said Bing Crosby was the first hip white person. Please check out's one of those special blogs that rewards you for wading through the junk to get to it.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Ben Stein Expelled

I saw Ben Stein's documentary, or whatever it is.
I don't have a whole lot of interest in the science/Intelligent design debate.
Playing the role of a film reviewer, it didn't impress me. The producers, trying to keep it from being a dull documentary about science, philosophy, religion, Darwinism, creationism and freedom of speech all rolled into one, jazzed it up with quick shots of Hitler, the Berlin Wall, Nazi death camps and who knows what. Way over the top.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Favorite Berlin Song

Has anybody else ever heard it? FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME. I know of only two recordings but I hope there are others. An instrumental by Mantovani and a superb vocal by Bunny Paul, A Detroit singer. "For the very first time there won't be a next time ... all my love affairing was simply preparing to love for the first time, you." And the melody is as good as that poetical lyric.