Thursday, December 27, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

So Much for the End!

On the silly-season-sounding Day of Doom, December 21, 2012, God found a new way to say YES to life amidst the sounding clamor of Chicken Littles.

Andrew Lee came to us (through our younger daughter) on 12-21-12.

Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Musical Monday: MA-42 - Happy Christmas Time

I set out to find all of my favorite Christmas songs or versions of them and boil it all down.

This comes pretty close I hope you can enjoy it. Lots of these tracks are available on various albums, such as Ultra-Lounge and God with Us and Joan Baez's Noel. You can't go wrong with them!

In the case of "A Charlie Brown Christmas," I edited together the song from the soundtrack CD with a clip from the TV show.

Here are the songs:

1 - Hark! the Herald Angels Sing The Philadelphia Orchestra
2 - Joy to the World The O.C. Supertones
3 - Exotic Night Martin Denny
4 - Little Drummer Boy Georgia Kelly
5 - Sweet Little Jesus Boy Chris Willis
6 - Happy Birthday Jesus Sparklepop
7 - Cha-Cha All the Way Capitol Studio Orchestra
8 - Carol of the Bells Teja Bell
9 - O Come, O Come, Emmanuel Joan Baez
10 - Heaven's Got a Baby Sarah Masen
11 - Away in a Manger The Philadelphia Orchestra
12 - I Need Christmas Erin O'Donnell
13 - We Three Kings Bop Claymation Christmas Celebration
14 - Here Comes Santa Claus Elvis Presley
15 - Jingle Bells Johnny Mercer
16 - Silent Night Twila Paris
17 - Christmas Time Is Here Again The Beatles (VM)
18 - White Christmas The Drifters
19 - Winter Wonderland Fleming and John
20 - Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer Mambo Billy May
21 - Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree Xmas! The Beatmas
22 - You Gotta Get Up Five Iron Frenzy
23 - Hark, the Herald Angels Sing A Charlie Brown Christmas
24 - Christmastime Is Here Seranova
25 - I Wonder as I Wander Joan Baez
26 - Silent Night, Holy Night The Philadelphia Orchestra

It's a deliberately eclectic mix, but the basic idea is --well, celebration! The idea that God loves us enough to become one of us to try and romance us back onto the path to Him! Why, that's worth changing your calendar for!

Now get out there and be joyful!

Whoops! Forgot the link!

Here it is:

Monday, December 10, 2012

Breathless Tales of Empty Mysteries

Here is another installment in some of the books on mysteries/conspiracies that I have shelled out bucks for, sometimes to my regret.

There's a certain category of books that is kind of like a carnival barker for a freak show.  Sometimes once you are inside the tent, it's never as impressive as those garish paintings on the outside tent wall or trailer.

In this fine 1989 book by J R Church, a sincere guy, we learn that evil guys like the Illuminati are going to link hands with the Antichrist who is going to rule the world through computers and microchips implanted in people.  There's a lot of goings-on about Daniel's prophecies and how they relate to today's world.  In my opinion it is sincere hogwash, a sincere attempt to scare people into meeting God, a paper fire-and-brimstone sermon. 

Here's another book that is probably heartfelt in every way, at least until it gets around to suggesting that low-level (and low-pay) NASA grunts colluded to deceive the world.  Evidence is trotted out, such as -- where are the missing stars in the Man-in-the-Moon photos?  ANSWER -- they are too faint to register on the film.  -- And things like that.

There is whole cottage industry of books that talk about old buildings as if each worn rock or crumbling statue is a secret to an earthshattering mystery that can only be elucidated if you pay $19.95 for their book.  What do the ruins of Rennes le Chateau mean?  How are they related to secret explorations of the New World before Columbus?

Well, I don't know, but the authors should get a commission from the local tourist board.  To me it's thin gruel, but to New-Age-crystal-consciousness types it is doubtless bread-and-butter.

Getting jaded in my old age, aren't I?

I don't remember who said it, but it is true and perhaps applicable here (paraphrased):  "Any moron can ask a question that a wise man cannot answer."

Think about it -- Why aren't dogs curled?  Why is popcorn happy?  When do smiles green?

See you later.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Salute to Music of Cool

Dave Brubeck died on Wednesday, December 5, 2012, one day before his 92nd birthday.

In so many ways the music produced by his group, The Dave Brubeck Quartet, defines "the essence of cool."

Their 1959 album, Time Out, was the first jazz album to sell a million copies.  It contained perhaps their most famous song, "Take Five," written by saxophonist Paul Desmond.  Its suavity is given a joyous distinction by its 5/4 meter, referenced in the song title.

This 5/4 time, when used well, adds a kind of unstoppable-seeming, driving force to compositions.  Familiar uses of the meter include
  • Jerry Goldsmith's 1st-Season theme for The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
  • Lalo Schifrin's TV theme for Mission: Impossible
  • "Within You Without You" by George Harrison on Sgt Pepper
  • Jethro Tull's 1969 song "Living in the Past"
  • "Everything's Alright" in Jesus Christ Superstar
The song "Take Five" has become so iconic for "the good life" that nearly forty years on, it was used for a 1997 Infiniti car commercial, unfortunately narrated by the insufferably smug-sounding Jonathon Pryce.  Here is the only link I could find to this commercial.

A quotation I wrote down in high school says something like, "Some people strengthen the society simply by being the person that they are."  That certainly applies to the musical life of Dave Brubeck and his Quartet.

S-a-l-u-t-e !!

Monday, December 03, 2012

Star Trek Models Instructions

Even when the models are broken or lost, the instructions are still kicking around the Fortress of Markitude.

Model kits like this Command Bridge set raised up a whole generations of nerds.

See how on the above page we have IDENTIFICATIONS for the different pie-shaped pieces -- "Defense Deck," "Environmental Deck" and so on? 

Something makes me wonder if these labels were actually dictated by Matt Jefferies or Gene Coon or somebody involved with the show; or if they were just nifty-sounding labels that somebody at Paramount Licensing or AMT came up with.

Nevertheless, you could build this kit and then, while watching an episode, try and identify where Chekov or some unnamed crewman was standing, to see if they were doing defense-deck things, or whatever.
You'll note that Spock and Sulu got to roam the Bridge at will, while the poor Captain was stuck sitting around.  While he was "made for" the Command Chair, you might be able to perch him precariously on one of the other little chairs.

That's assuming your pesky little brother or sister or didn't lose some of the pieces or start teething on them!

"Mom!  Bobby's chewing on Mr Spock's feet again!"


Friday, November 30, 2012

MA-26 - Break -Ins from Beyond!

Here's another anthology of songs about space exploration and encounters with critters from another world.

The theme for this CD is "break-in" records. Here's a definition from Digital meltdown:

"Essentially, “break-in” recordings are a specific type of novelty song. The gag is this: usually there is a brief clip of a song playing that is interrupted for some important breaking news (the break in). From there, it cuts to a reporter who is interviewing eye witnesses of an event, various experts about the event, or sometimes even fictional characters about whatever the breaking news has been reported to be. The responses to the reporter come in the form of snippets from popular songs of the time; in other words, there isn’t an actor playing the eyewitness, instead, you hear samples from various songs played back that respond to the reporter. That, in a nutshell, is what a break-in recording is."

Imagine somebody doing a "Dragnet" parody using Beatles songs:
DETECTIVE: Where was the victim when they were beaten to death?
SONG: "I saw her standing there."
DETECTIVE: Had you seen her before?
SONG: "Yesterday."
DETECTIVE: She was bludgeoned with a walking stick. What was it made of?
SONG: "Norwegian Wood."
DETECTIVE: Can I have your name for our records?
SONG: "I Am the Walrus."

This is the general idea, except instead of reading it, you'd hear snippets of the song cut in.

Here's a Wikipedia link to an article about Dickie Goodman, perhaps the best-known popularizer of the "art form."

Here are the songs:

1 - Marty on the Planet Mars Part 1 Martty 1954
2 - Marty on the Planet Mars Part 2 Martty 1954
3 - Santa and the Satellite Part 1 Buchanan and Goodman 1957
4 - Santa and the Satellite Part 2 Buchanan and Goodman 1957
5 - Destination Love Jan Davis 1958
6 - The Outer Space Looters Part 1 The Mad Martians 1958
7 - The Outer Space Looters Part 2 The Mad Martians 1958
8 - Flying Saucer the 3rd Buchanan and Goodman 1959
9 - Blast Off! Jimmie Haskell and His Orchestra 1959
10 - Comic Strip Rock N Roll Robert Ashley 1959
11 - Space Ship Dickie Goodman 1960
12 - Santa and the Touchables Dickie Goodman 1961
13 - Moon Gas Dick Hyman and Mary Mayo 1963
14 - The Flying Saucer Chickenman 1966
15 - Luna Trip Dickie Goodman 1969
16 - London, London Ceatano Veloso 1971
17 - Spaceship Spontaneous Combustion 1973
18 - Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft Klaatu 1976
19 - Hey ET Dicklie Goodman 1982
20 - The Martian Boogie Brownsville Station 1977
21 - The Ballad of William Robinson Bill Mumy 1997
22 - Return of the Flying Saucer Jon Goodman 1997
23 - I Took A Trip on a Gemini Spaceship David Bowie 2002
24 - UFO Darryl Rhoades 2005
25 - le flying saucer hat Chairlift 2008
26 - Flying Saucers Breakfast in Fur 2009

And the songs that aren't break-ins are a general mix of "space stuff."
And here is the link: 

Have fun, and see you next time!
All original content
© by Mark Alfred