Saturday, December 19, 2009

An early Christmas

I'm lucky enough to live relatively close to my family, but my holiday work schedule has made Christmas hectic for me this year. There's not a lot of time to spare. So I told my family last week that I'd visit them a little early so we could spend some quality time before the hectic holiday, when I probably wouldn't have a lot of time just to hang out with loved ones. Not long after I arrived, my family indicated that they wanted to have Christmas early - as in while I was right there - so that my holiday wouldn't be quite so hectic. I was resistant at first, but you know how it goes, you see those presents. . .well, no, that's not how it goes. It goes that my family went out of their way for me just to make things easier on me. This is a wonderful gift in itself. I am very blessed. Thank you wonderful people so much, I love you.


CHRISTMAS WITH DANIEL: This has become a favorite post of mine and I look forward to reading it again. I hope you enjoy it:

Christmas is where you find it. This Christmas story has nothing to do with the actual holiday – and everything. The story is from episode 1550 of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, the classic PBS series. Since Fred Rogers' death, I have collected several episodes of the show (anybody have any really early episodes? Contact me for a trade!). This episode aired earlier this year and hopefully will be rerun for many years to come. That's assuming MRN will stick around. Sadly, many stations have dropped it from their schedule.

Anyway, the story opens with Daniel S. Tiger attending a bass violin festival (long story, folks). During the festival, two of the characters decide to put on a puppet show using bass violin puppets. The play begins with the two bass violin puppets talking to each other – the tall one is the older brother, the short one the younger brother. The older brother decides he doesn't want his younger brother playing second fiddle to him anymore, so he tells him that he is going away to play with his older friends.

“But I want to play with you!” the younger brother cries. “Sorry,” the older replies as he walks (slides?) away from the younger brother. Alone on stage, the younger brother begins to cry. “Boo-hoo! Boo-hoo-hoo!” After a few moments, forgetting that it's only a play, the shy Daniel Tiger walks up to the crying bass violin. “I'll play with you,” he says.

If all we ever do this holiday season is make someone feel that they are not alone, and that we care for them, then we probably will have fulfilled more of the work of Christ than we could ever imagine. But heed a word of warning: it will only work if you meet THEIR needs, not just your own. Don't kid yourself: True love involves bravery. I wish we could always be guaranteed that we would be loved in return. That would certainly make the job easier.

If I were in charge of Heaven, the first rule I would make is, “All right, from now on, nobody will ever be without love again. Everybody will always have someone special to hold them and help them when they need it. Everybody will always be loved.”

This holiday season, I wish for you – and for me – the love of someone very special to fill your heart, whether that someone be a family member, a friend, the Lord, yourself, a fantasy, or even a certain striped tiger.

I'm thankful for each of you who takes time to peek in on this blog & I wish you a very happy holiday season!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Rare Sesame audio

Years before home video recording was possible, there was. . . home audio recording. And it was pretty low-tech (at least for me). It involved putting my tape recorder next to the TV set and recording the sound from the speaker. You had to be quiet so that your voice wouldn’t be recorded on the tape. This was not easy when you are a little kid with other people in the house who you have to tell to shut up. (And worse when those people wouldn’t.) But this was how I recorded many classic shows & clips from way back when. I have had a small collection of Sesame Street-related audio clips that I put onto my own CD. “Sesame Street Rarities” is its official title. Here’s the track list:

Selections from: SESAME STREET CAST ON EVENING AT POPS with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops orchestra, circa 1971

1. Sesame Street theme/ Toy Symphony with Cookie Monster/ I’ve got two
2. ABC-DEF-GHI - Big Bird & the cast
3. Rubber Duckie/ Big Bird conducts/ Song of five/ Sesame St. theme reprise

4. “Yes”- Judy Collins, Biff and Sully
5. Ernie and Bert imagine going their separate ways
6. Maria and Bert’s imaginary helicopter ride
7. “Snooky” (Beautiful Day monster) tries to go through a hoop (incomplete)
8. SESAME STREET FLIES: Audio clips from an episode circa 1982
Big Bird and Poco Loco the parrot talk; “Flying” by Joe Raposo; Music from film about building blocks (incomplete); Big Bird as an airplane; Cartoon- Counting planes on the runway; Grover’s airplane; Marlena, Kermit and Grover; Anything muppets - “Rocket”; Luis’ serenade /Pat the pilot cartoon (incomplete); Big Bird and Maria in a balloon - “I’m flying” song; Bald Eagle film (slightly different dialogue); “Danger” film music of man narrowly missing danger (incomplete); Dark clouds cartoon with scary cats (incomplete, unfortunately!); Pinball count- 12 (incomplete); Big Bird and Maria land.

With my slow connection, it has been impossible to share these tracks with others. Until now. The album is currently available to download on the Sesame Street Block Party site! As you can imagine, the audio quality is often not very good. But it is listenable, and it is a treasure for fans of these skits that are currently unavailable anywhere else.

This project has been a long-time coming due to my inability to share the files myself. But again, Bob at the “Sesame St. block party” Web site has been kind enough to post the files, and my friend Peter has been kind enough to upload the files. So very special thanks go out to Bob and Peter for making it all possible.

To learn more about Sesame Street‘s appearance with the Boston Pops, click here:

From Sesame Street Unpaved: "According to Danny Epstein, musical coordinator for Sesame Street, when the cast played ["Rubber Duckie"] with the Boston Pops (Big Bird conducted), the musicians were not allowed to squeeze rubber duckies in addition to playing their own instruments unless they were paid extra. Apparently, a rubber duckie was considered to be a second instrument, and each musician was supposed to receive additional pay if they played a second instrument. When it came time for the actual performance, only the percussion players squeezed the ducks. It was determined that the rubber duck was to be considered a percussion instrument."


UNCENSORED, BUT INCOMPLETE: In my Christmas shopping I came upon a book called “MTV Uncensored.” It is several years old now, but it seemed at first glance to be an excellent history of MTV’s early days. I thumbed through it, and it does seem like a great book, with many great historic photos. But there’s one important element missing. I thumbed through this thing looking for one person, but . . . Nope, I couldn’t find Carolyne Heldman in it anywhere! DANG! Not even her name seemed to be included in the book! This is particularly upsetting when you realize that several other Vjs, including others from the “Carolyne” era, are included in the book. That stinks, man. I hope I’m mistaken, but I really couldn’t find her mentioned in this book which is supposed to be “uncensored.” Phooey.

You know what this reminds me of? You know that person who you knew in high school but who somehow never got their picture taken for the yearbook? It’s like that. I know that person existed, but there’s no photographic proof. Despite the lack of evidence, I know that I am not mistaken in my memories. Yes Virginia, there is a Carolyne Heldman.

Just for revenge, I think we should go over to the Aspen Public Radio site and listen to Carolyne read from one of my favorite books of all time, “The Velveteen Rabbit” by Marjery Williams. There are plenty of other cool readings available at the site, too:


POPEYE ON GOOGLE: Hey, did you happen to catch Popeye’s appearance on the Google homepage? It’s been a pretty cool month for Google fans - first the Sesame Street muppets, now Popeye! His appearance was in celebration of the birthday of E.C. Segar, the cartoonist who created the legendary sailor. Read all about Popeye here:


ANOTHER YEAR: Sigh. I had a good streak going there, didn’t I? I was posting at least once a week for several weeks. Then it stopped. Life happens, and it pushes blog posting way back on the list of things to do. That's true even as the blog celebrates its anniversary this week. No offense folks, but I hope that the blog will always be pushed back. I enjoy it a lot. . .but it’s not all I enjoy. Among other things are spending time with family and friends and wishing them. . .a very Merry Christmas!