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Halloween 2018: Random Notes

28 Oct

October 28, 2018

Halloween is usually this blog’s favorite time of year. But this season things are a little light on the Mr. Blog spooks and scares. But don’t worry, there’s a perfectly good reason for that. A perfectly good spooooky and scary reason! (Read that in your best Count Floyd voice.) Nevertheless, I’ve got a few things to say about Halloween 2018.

The Monster Mash

Now matter how old I get, I will still love this song. It takes me back, way back (way way back it seems on some days) to when I was a kid. Not that Mr. Blog is old. In fact, I feel as good as a man almost twice my age. (No, that’s not a typo. That’s exactly what I mean. Oy vey.)

I honestly feel that it is not Halloween until I hear Monster Mash on the radio. Really, I feel unfulfilled and without the Halloween spirit if I don’t hear it. That’s true. But it’s getting harder and harder to hear it on the radio since it’s hard to find stations that play songs like that. Last year I did not hear it until Halloween day and I was getting tense, believe you me. And I have a strict rule. I have to hear it on the radio, at random, whenever the station decides to play it. I cannot listen to the CD, I can’t find it on Pandora or search for it on YouTube. I have to independently stumble across it. Think it’s hard being me? You should ask my wife what it’s like being married to me.

This year I first heard it last week. BINGO! And then every single day since then, sometimes two or three times a day. And frankly I’m running the risk of getting burnt out on it. But I have a confession to make. Although I have to stumble on Monster Mash at random, I stacked the deck by playing the Halloween station on iHeart Radio. So on the one hand yes, I  heard it at whatever random time they played it, but no, I knew they would eventually play it. Did I cheat? I don’t know. It isn’t like when I reshuffle the cards in the middle of solitaire and yes, I do that too.

There were so many good images for the Monster Mash that I made this Monster Mash Mash-Up

The Addams Family

When it comes to the great Addams Family vs. The Munsters feud, I am firmly in the Addams Family camp. (I also side with Kirk vs. Picard and Cocoa Pebbles over Count Chokula.)

The Munsters is fun, no doubt about it. I like it. But The Addams Family cracks me up. I watched an episode this morning and I literally laughed out loud like a loon. Luckily no one was home. It was the episode where lurch was learning to dance for the big Butler’s Ball and he threw his back out. Gomez wanted to help him align his back but Lurch was nervous. Here’s the dialogue that cracked me up.

GOMEZ: Don’t worry Lurch. These hands have healed more people than Albert Schweitzer!
MORTICIA: It’s true. The medical community was agog over his cure for Granmama’s bad back.
GOMEZ: Agog? Aghast!

It may not be lol here, but if you saw John Astin deliver that last line you would have stained your shorts too. (Not that I did that. It’s just an expression.) And that is what makes The Addams Family better. While they both have similar broad humor, the writing is simply better and funnier than The Munsters. But it takes a good actor to deliver a good line and John Astin is amazing. Just look at him. Look at the expression on his face and especially the look in his eyes. When you see Gomez, you think “John Astin is insane.” There’s a subtle yet manic lunacy in his performance. It is very similar to what he did with the role of Buddy, Harry Anderson’s father on Night Court, except he was less manic and more laid back. But the lunacy was in his eyes. He really is a great actor and if you go back to his small scene as Glad Hand in West Side Story he shines in that too, even if he is only on screen for mere seconds.

And yeah, I side with Carolyn Jones over Yvonne DeCarlo too,

 

The eyes have it!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN FROM THE EDITORS AND STAFF OF MR. BLOG’S TEPID RIDE!

 

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Hello Caller. How Can You Help Me?

11 Aug

August 10, 2018

Radio is intimate and personal. There’s a live voice on the other end of the speaker. You close your eyes and you see him or her, not as they want you to see them, but as your imagination wants you to see them. Radio fosters a sense of community that television is simply unable to.

Art Bell, founder and former host of Coast To Coast AM had a fantastic rapport with his listeners. Five nights a week, from 1am to 5am Eastern Time, he took callers on a journey of the weird. UFO’s Big Foot, time travel, all of it was on the table, and none of it was laughed off and no callers were insulted. Listeners came to know Art Bell. He spoke to them about his life, his family, his daily chores. And he listened to callers when they spoke to him, really listened and cared. To millions of people he was a friend, or even an extended family member.

So when Art’s wife died in 2006 it hit hard.

Art’s wife Ramona was not a presence on the show. She was rarely on the air, even though she was often in the studio. Art broadcast out of a studio he built on his own property in Nevada. One year on New Year’s Eve Art posted a photo of the two of them celebrating in the little homemade broadcast center, both wearing party hats, she sitting on his lap as the ball dropped. Listeners knew her through Art, and when she died, swiftly and unexpectedly at the age of 47, Art took it hard, badly, and the listeners took it hard too.

Art had taken a step back in the previous years, becoming the weekend host of Coast To Coast AM while letting someone else take the bulk of the week’s shows. Anyone would be forgiven for taking some time off the air to grieve, to work out what comes next. Anyone else.

Art had been a broadcaster his whole life. And if he suddenly left the air now, it would be a double loss for him; first his wife, then the thing he loved almost as much. He needed to be on the air, to talk to the audience, to share his grief, and theirs. Those shows in the days and weeks after his wife’s death were therapy for him. But as entertainment they were awful. Painful to listen to at times.

Art would have guests but he was woefully distracted. He talk to them and listeners could hear that Art was not really committed. His mind would wander and he’d ramble off topic. Each show began with a monologue, but during this time Art would not talk about the events of the day. Instead he’d wonder aloud how he could go on. He decided that he no longer needed two cars and tried to sell one over the air. He asked listeners if anyone was interested in an old blender or other things around the house he figured he no longer needed. He asked callers who were in the area to come over and take things off his hands. He debated the best way to dispose of his wife’s clothes. He considered selling his house and asked callers to send him offers. He was talking into the microphone, but he was really talking to himself. He was working things out. He was mourning.

During this time he had a guest who was blind since birth. She began to describe a car accident she was in during college. Art was clearly somewhere else. He truly tried to give his attention to his guests, and when he was on top of his game he was one of the best interviewers on the air. But on this night there would be long pauses when Art didn’t realize the guest had stopped talking. He asked questions he’d already asked. And when the blind guest talked about the car accident, after a long pause, Art asked “were you driving the car?”

There was another pause, an uncomfortable one. The guest finally said “no, I’m blind.” And then another pause, followed by Art murmuring an apology. The whole exchange, the whole show, in fact the whole month or so following his wife’s death were all cringe-worthy listening. The producers of the show never should have let Art on the air. The shows were terrible. But in a larger sense, it was the right thing to do.

It was therapy. Live on the air, real self-help. Over the course of each five-hour show, the listeners would be witnesses, and through their calls and offers of love, support, and advice, be part of, the therapeutic journey of one man coming to grips with the loss of his true love.

It eventually worked out. Art gradually came to terms with his loss, and he even found new love with a new wife. And the listeners haeard every bit of that journey too.

But as radio goes, and as entertainment goes, those shows were both powerful and awful.

 

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