I post a weekly diary of historical notes, arts & science items, foreign news (often receiving little notice in the US) and whimsical pieces from the outside world that I often feature in "Cheers & Jeers". For example .....
OK, you've been warned - here is this week's
tomfoolery material that I posted.
ART NOTES - an exhibit showcasing the art of the Santa Fe Art Colony is at the Boca Raton, Florida Museum of Art through December 29th.
THEATER NOTES - a stage musical entitled "Sunny Afternoon", telling the early life story of Kinks frontman Ray Davies opens in London next year (marking the band's 50th anniversary).
BRAIN TEASER - the BBC offers not a quiz of the week ... but a four-part News Quiz of the Year ... with one for the 1st Qtr 2013 at this link.
AT A RAILWAY STATION in the London suburb of Dartford in 1962: a chance encounter on a railway station platform between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards - without which the Rolling Stones might never have existed - is to be marked with a plaque.
FILM NOTES - a feature film about The Beatles' manager Brian Epstein - who was just age 32 when he died in 1967 - is scheduled for next year.
THURSDAY's CHILD is Ulysses the Cat - actually, one of three tabbies who portray Ulysses in the new film Inside Llewyn Davis (which is loosely based on the 1960's folk/blues singer Dave Van Ronk).
PROGRAMMING NOTES - this is being posted a bit early; am heading-out for some holiday shopping in Boston (and some Guinness with Irish tunes at the Black Rose pub) today.
There will not be an Odds & Ends next week, due to travel to visit family over the holidays. If you celebrate it: Merry Christmas (and to all, a great 2014).
One of the things I'll be doing is hosting a birthday party for three old chums whose birthdays fall during Christmas week. We've been doing this for 38 years now, and one feature: giving out gag (and not-so-gag) gifts.
This DVD is going to our boyhood friend Bill, a lifelong horror film buff and who accepted a two-year assignment to teach English in Japan ... where he met his wife, who lived in a neighborhood where Godzilla rampages through. Bet he'll get a kick out of this.
THE OTHER NIGHT yours truly hosted the Top Comments diary with a look at The Little Rascals - and how an excellent book on the series clarified the names of these films when they were in theaters (and later on television) with one of the child actors who went on to further success in the entertainment world still alive.
ALTHOUGH rather lengthy: do have a look at this American Prospect essay about young people who have been able to flee the Christian patriarchy movement - including the Quiverfull, home-schooling and young-earth creationism aspects - and how they are adjusting to life on their own.
FRIDAY's CHILD is Campbell the Cat - a Philadelphia kitteh who was partly set on fire last month ... but has been adopted by firefighter Stephen Paslawski, and is recovering, with a new lease on life.
...... and finally, for a song of the week ......................................... with such a busy week, I'll simply reprise my annual holiday profile. One reviewer called him "the most listened-to jazz pianist of all time" and with the Christmas season upon us, it might well be true that Vince Guaraldi achieved that status - in a quiet way - due to a certain comic strip of note.
A San Francisco native, Guaraldi attended San Francisco State College and worked as an Army cook in the Korean War. His career began in 1956 (playing in Woody Herman's band) and went on to perform with such varied musicians as Nina Simone, Cal Tjader, Stan Getz, Jimmy Witherspoon, Paul Winter and Mongo Santamaria before forming his own piano trio. In the "File under Impossible Tasks" department, it was written that his first important gig was .... "filling-in for Art Tatum". Yikes!
His breakthrough hit (in more ways than one) was the 1963 Grammy-winning tune Cast Your Fate to the Wind - a gorgeous melody that eight years later the James Gang's guitarist Joe Walsh - later to join The Eagles - worked into a medley (most improbably) with a hard rock song entitled The Bomber in 1971.
In the early 1960's, Vince Guaraldi was successful in the jazz world, yet comparatively unknown to the American public. But that changed - dramatically - with a 1965 cab ride that TV producer Lee Mendelson took across the Golden Gate Bridge.
In much the same way that The Sopranos producer David Chase decided upon his show's theme song - by hearing the UK band "Alabama 3" perform it on the radio - Lee Mendelson heard "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" on the radio in that cab ride. He asked for help from the noted music writer Ralph Gleason (who helped co-found Rolling Stone magazine later that decade) - and was thus able to contact Guaraldi about composing for the upcoming Charlie Brown Christmas special.
Sixteen TV shows (and one feature film) later, the music of Vince Guaraldi is an integral part of the Peanuts experience - with the theme song Linus and Lucy plus the irresistible song Skating among his best-loved Peanuts music.
Vince Guaraldi died in 1976 (at only age 47) in-between sets of a gig in Menlo Park California. The musician David Benoit cites Guaraldi as an inspiration, and it's difficult to imagine Peanuts with any other music backing it. For the trumpeter Wynton Marsalis "Peanuts" was the only chance to hear jazz on TV in his youth. Wynton was also excited that his pianist father Ellis - the patriarch of the quite talented Marsalis musical family - knew Vince Guaraldi. "Our father knew somebody who was connected to television!", he later exclaimed.
While most of Vince Guaraldi's work is instrumental: appropriately for the season, the song Christmas Time Is Here had lyrics written by the show's producer Lee Mendelson for kids to sing. A nice grown-up version was recorded a few years ago by Diane Reeves - the featured nightclub singer in the film "Good Night and Good Luck". And below you can hear Vince Guaraldi's original version.
Christmas time is here
Happiness and cheer
Fun for all that children call
Their favorite time of year
Snowflakes in the air
Olden times and ancient rhymes
Of love and dreams to share
Sleigh bells in the air
Yuletide by the fireside
And joyful memories there
Christmas time is here
We'll be drawing near
Oh, that we could always see
Such spirit through the year ...