Monday, December 24, 2012

What An Unexpected Christmas Present - Laurel and Hardy Live On Forever

When I was around 8 to 9 years old, I began to love watching Laurel and Hardy on television. It was a different time back then and a kid of that age did not have the understanding of such things as reruns, or about the immortality of films. Then again, maybe it was just me  who did not understand and I guess I believed that anything on television was live. I said something to my brother one day, I do not have a clue as to what it was that I said, that got this response from him (or pretty close to it): 'Don't be stupid, they aren’t alive anymore, they’re dead'. To which I replied along these lines: ‘How can they be dead, there they are right now on the television!’ My brother then briefly explained the facts of life to me about being immortalized on film. I was thunderstruck, I was sad, I was mad, I was helpless and it looked as if the world was about to end. I got over it somehow but I never got over Laurel and Hardy. 

They were two very funny men. Their shorts and movies are true classics and as far as I am concerned, as long as I am alive, they will never die. I don’t watch them much now, but if they are on for a late night movie, that is what I will watch. They always make me laugh and oddly enough always make me sad because they are gone but the laughter wins out every time.

Something today came as a Christmas surprise when I opened an email a friend, Pete A. had sent me a day or two ago. It was a video clip from YouTube featuring Laurel and Hardy edited into a music video. Not only did it make me happy to see them but it made me even happier to realize that they are still appreciated today. They are still alive aren't they? Just watch this video and try to convince me otherwise. I mean: ‘How can they be dead, there they are right now on the television YouTube!’

That video and that rendition of Bei mir bist du schön (German name), by Ilhama Gasimova, also called Bei mir bistu shein (original Yiddish name) and not scheen, was excellent!

Thanks Pete, for one of the best Christmas presents I have ever received! Knowing they live on because they are still appreciated by a younger generation is absolutely excellent because it means they will live forever even after I am long gone. I guess, in a way my brother was right but how I wish he was still here among us for me to be able to tell him, not so much just how wrong he had been, but rather to let him know the good news that they live on after all. Then again, he probably knew that all along in his adult years, I am pretty sure he remained a fan.

By the way, this song was written in 1932, by Yiddish composers. It was a big hit for The Andrews Sisters (link to Wikipedia info) back in 1937 or 1938 once rewritten with English language lyrics (source). Here is one of the versions by the Andrews Sisters with some great photos of them.

I used to love The Andrews Sisters (link to official website) too, with their angelic voices. I guess I still do because they too live on (and I suspect so too will Ilhama due to her version of this song). They were in a couple of Abbott and Costello movies and were always great. What fabulous memories for a wonderful Christmas morning and what a great fairly new rendition of an old classic! Thanks again Pete. Merry Christmas.

All the best,
Glenn B

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all. Now it's time for me to go HO HO HO, that is, right after I plant the presents around the tree.

All the best,
Glenn B

The Best Holiday Of The Year... only just over one month away. It may come in the middle of the winter, at the nastiest time of the year, it may be absolutely meaningless (except maybe for the money it brings to places like Punxsutawney, PA) but it is an all American extravaganza like none other and all about a rodent. How could you not like Groundhog Day! No obligatory or expected: Groundhog Day tree, no tinsel or lights or garland, no spending on presents, no lines in the stores, no pushing, shoving, no mannerless nasty bastard shoppers looking for that special something at the last minute and trying to knock you over to grab out of your hand the last one that you just picked up, no grumpy salespeople who don't give a shit that your wife wants the red ones instead of the black nylons gloves, no Groundhog Day Eve shopping, heck no Groundhog Day Eve anything, no church going (unless maybe it falls on a Sunday), no dressing up, no having to wake up everyone and get their asses in gear early enough to make it to grandma's house on time, no putting presents under the tree on Groundhog Day's Eve, no staying up til just after midnight to give the yearly Ho-Ho-Ho (even though the kids are both adults now), no giving out and opening presents before morning coffee, no cleaning up the wrappers putting away the gifts and maybe saving some of the boxes for next year, not a friggin thing! Nothing to do but sit back, maybe with a with a hot cuppa' Joe, and watch some guy dressed to the hilts in a monkey suit, top hat included, hold up a furball and predict without any true reliability whether or not the winter will last another 6 weeks and of course, it will last that much longer whether or not the little buck-toothed booger is afraid of his own shadow or not. Even watching that is not obligatory but it is fun.

 That it is not a real holiday and only a somewhat unofficial one may also have something to do with it being my favorite holiday. Thanksgiving comes in as a not so close second and would have been first except it usually requires cooking or helping in the kitchen and then acting nice with relatives and other guests when they show up to eat us out of house and home and maybe even leave a little (or a lot of) something behind in the way of an aroma I would rather not smell. There is absolutely nothing that anyone needs do to enjoy Groundhog day though and that makes it the best holiday by far.  

All the best,
Glenn B

Most of My Christmas Shopping Done

Yes, I said most of it, as opposed to all of it. That means I will b out there again today, on Christmas Eve, fighting through the crowds of last minutes idiots, like myself, who waited until today to get it all done. I might have actually gotten it all done yesterday had I not spent about 2 or 3 hours online looking for a microwave oven to replace our old one that just went belly up two days ago.  I started looking, online, for a model that would fit into the nook in our kitchen where we will be keeping it. It took over an hour to find about three models in the size and power range we wanted. I was hoping to find a 1.2 cubic foot oven with the right outside dimensions. There were not many of them made by what I consider reputable companies that have quality merchandise, not even many if you added on the ones made by companies with reputations for lack of quality; the cubbyhole into which it will go is pretty small. Well, after about 1.5 hour, I had found three of them that fit the bill. I had been hoping at least one would be a convection microwave but all of those were too big. So I settled on a conventional one. Then I did some research on Consumer reports to see if they had tested any of those models. They had tested one, a Frigidaire, and it got a good rating.
Of the other two I found, that would fit, one was a Kenmore (like the one that went belly up and was a piece of junk in my opinion) and the other a Panasonic. I figured that Panasonic would make a decent one and found that model available in a Best Buy store several miles from me for immediate pick-up. I do not think that Best Buy lives up to their name, I think they could use the name Worst Buy in a more fitting manner so I also looked for the other model, the Frigidaire, to see if anyone had it locally. I immediately found it for sale at Lowe's, much closer to home, and figured I would by it there. Then I saw that it was only available, for store pick-up, in early February! How they stay in business with that long of a wait is beyond me. I kept looking. Finally, I remembered a very local retailer, a small mom and pop appliance shop pretty close to home. They had it in stock but not in store, it was in their warehouse. They said I could pick it up on Wednesday. I knew my wife wanted it as soon as possible and just figured if she wanted it sooner she could go out and find one. I ordered that one from that shop. The surprising thing is tat they had it for the same price for which owes was selling it. Usually their prices are somewhat higher than major retailers, I suppose it was a good deal and was local too.

Oh well, as I was saying, that cut into my hopping time yesterday and now I still have to g today. I hate it when I have to go shopping today although I must admit I like to shop on Christmas Eve. It is just that I do not like being under pressure today, looking for this or that in particular at the last minute. I prefer shopping on Christmas Eve only after I have already gotten everything I need to get and thus can make it a leisurely shopping day. When I need to find a specific item or three, it can be a miserable day of it. As it turns out, I do not need to find anything in particular and it should wind up making it a nice easy going day of last minute Christmas shopping to make up for some imbalances among whom is getting what. I try to keep it even as to how much gets spent for each of my kids and need to even it out a bit. I also want to get my wife one more thing. Amazingly, since I usually wind up hectically searching for something for her on Christmas Eve, I already got her a couple of things including something I am sure she will love; thus my need to go shopping for anything for her is nil. I am just looking for an icing on the cake sort of a gift for her today, maybe a few scratch off lottery tickets, some flowers, a funny looking pair of socks, a small bottle of perfume - anything that catches my eye but I am in no way desperate in that department as I almost always am every other Christmas Eve. I also need to get my mom both a Christmas gift and a birthday gift, yes she is a Christmas baby. Being that she is going to be 88 years old tomorrow and that she has dementia, she is pretty easy to please, so shopping for her will be pretty easy too. Funny, over all the years I have gotten out to buy Christmas presents on my own, it has almost always been that I wind up frantically shopping on Christmas Eve for either my mother's or wife's Christmas present(s) (Freud would have been fascinated but I think it just typical of sons and husbands who procrastinate like me).

Oh well, I will be headed out early this afternoon to get that done. Yeah, I know it would have been easier had I started this morning but I have a doctor's appointment late this morning for a nasty sore throat. If I am feeling up to it and really adventurous, I may walk to the LIRR station and hop on a train in Manhattan in NYC to go shopping there and to stop at St. Patrick's Cathedral, the tree at Rockefeller Center and at the Empire State Building. I did not get the chance last year and I miss visiting those places at this time of year, so just may do it tonight after the future in-laws stop by for Christmas Eve cookies.

Merry Christmas.

All the best,