Saturday, May 19, 2018

A Sloshed, Smashed Sing-Along!

I'm taking a break here from the Newsday TV Books of 1974 (a break, he says, as if he's even started on May yet) to hearken back to a more recent time, when I lived on the coastal border of North and South Carolina in my twenties.
(Sweet Jesus Henry Winkler, I'm nostalgitatin' on the 90's! I told you to brain me with that pick-axe I gave you if I ever did that again!)
This time it's a coffeehouse in Myrtle Beach I'm thinking of, where my buddy Mike and I used to play as "The Martyrs." (Seriously, have you found that pick-axe yet?) We weren't really The Martyrs--that was our late-80's basement band along with Mike's brother Jim and his best pal Chris. I guess we just couldn't be bothered to come up with a name for our duo, despite our erstwhile fondness for coming up with new band names for no reason. The whole fascinating story of the Martyrs can be found on a blog of Mike's (with my personal reminiscences here).

The coffeehouse was called Ibby's (later becoming Nocturna) and sat very near the old Myrtle Beach Pavilion amusement park. Mike played guitar and sang, I just sang. We did originals and covers, tried to work in a lot of harmony. Here's a poster I made for one of our gigs. That's a photo of me as a Halloween hobo in the mid-seventies, duplicated on a copier at work.
We did a song by the Ass Ponys? I'll take my word for it. (Look at that, January in Myrtle Beach--I bet we had upwards of five people at that show!) Anyway, this joint was frequented by AA and Narcotics Anonymous types. I don't think we were trying to offend anyone when we wrote our own words to the classic drinking song "Little Brown Jug," but we also kinda didn't really care.

The song is sort of a hillbilly's ode to booze. You may recall the Glenn Miller instrumental, or the version Alfalfa warbled (or maybe even this old theater sing-along cartoon, which I suggest you watch if you don't know how the song goes--it's funny stuff). We passed lyric sheets out to the audience, which we also used to perform from--who the hell can remember 25 verses? I'd like to think some still exist out there.

The original opening verse sets the tone:
My wife and I, we live alone
In a little log hut we call our own
She likes gin and I like rum
Together we have lots of fun

The chorus, you'll remember, goes like this (go ahead, sing along, no one is judging!): 
Ha ha ha, you and me
Little brown jug upon my knee
Ha ha ha, you and me
Little brown jug, how I love thee

These may not be the exact words written by Joseph Eastburn Winner in 1869, but you get the idea. 

Mike and I took it upon ourselves to pad the song to the brink of insanity. We originally intended to repeat the chorus after each verse, but even we couldn't take it, so that plan was abandoned for consecutive verses. Here are my favorites, some of which I can't even remember if I wrote or Mike did. I'll denote which I believe it to be, and Mike can correct me in the comments as necessary.

I love my wife, her name is Gert
I spilled my beer all down her shirt
I drunk my fill and then some more
Then I sucked dry the blouse she wore
(I wrote that.)

My best friend Gus can be a pain
For breakfast he drank all my grain
I made a still from a cuckoo clock
Now I can't wait for twelve o'clock
(That's me, rhyming "clock" with "clock." Idiot.)

My sister Ida came to stay
She'll drink me under any day
I should have passed on that last shot
Now I don't feel so good a lot
(Not sure who wrote that. The last line is a Martin-Short-as-Jerry-Lewis reference, I think.)

I chase my vodka with some juice
I goosed the Widow Smith's caboose
And when my wife learned all the facts
She chased me with the kindling ax
 (Mine. I really did always chase with juice. Now I use decaffeinated iced tea and seltzer water. Lots of seltzer water. I'm not a kid anymore.)

Oh, I'm a liquor matador
The bulls are beers that I adore
I wave my cape and they attack
And now my liver's blue and black
(Mike's verse. You can see the difference in our styles. He was always a little more poetic in his songwriting, while I tended to tell stories.)

I can count and I can add
I was once a clever lad
A pint plus a fifth plus a shot plus a jug
Equals my face on the rug
(Mike's.)

I like the way my buddy Hank
Drinks moonshine from an old fish tank
He gulps it down and never spills
But boy he gets green 'round the gills
(Mine.)

Yes, I brew hops and I brew barley
I have named my liver Charley
The doctor said to me in town
That it was an unnatural brown
(Mike's. I think your liver is supposed to be brown. Just saying.)

The town mortician's name is Burke
He mixes pleasure with his work
Sits and drinks formaldehyde
And wonders why he's gone cross-eyed
(Mine.)

My dear dead grandpaw made me save
A jug to pour on his fresh grave
I poured it on to quench his thirst
But ran it through my kidneys first
(Mine. Old joke.)

Oh, I have stumbled, I have knelt
I drunk more whisky than a Celt
My pal Jack Daniel stayed too long
And now I sing a chunky song
(Don't know, but the Celt part sounds like Mike.)

I like the dainty way my maw
Drinks all her spirits through a straw
I do the same, except I chose
A foot-long piece of garden hose
(Me.)

I drink for fun, I drink for sport
I drink an ounce, a pint, a quart
Sometimes my legs and feet go numb
But I'm not one who's worrisome
(Mike's. That just made me LOL, as the children say.)

I went to the Empire State
The rooftop view was really great
But I sure got some icy glares
When I fell down ninety flights of stairs
(Mine.)

Oh monkey see and monkey do
I seen them monkeys in the zoo
Half in the bag, I laughed with glee
And they laughed just as hard at me
(Mine.)

They say no matter where the place
You'll find a wretched drunk disgrace
I've heard one lives 'round here and yet
Somehow we two have never met
(Another old joke retooled by me.)

I like my vodka in the spring
In summer, wine is just the thing
In fall, I drink vermouth in bed
By winter I'll be gone and dead
(Mike's... or mine, I seriously can't remember.)

I wrote one verse each for me and my roommates (that was Mike and our pal Brian). They go like this:
A fella I know well named Mike
Cannot decide what booze he likes
He samples every one each day
But passes out 'fore he can say

A guy I know whose name is Paul
Is nice but dumber than a wall
He always gulps tequila down
Afraid that poor li'l worm might drown
In fact, I was not a big tequila fan (despite having drunk my fair share). I once shared the worm with some gal at a party (eh heh HEE!), and did so by biting the little bugger in two. The half left in my fingers squirted up my nose, and it was as if someone had stuck the nozzle of Clorox Clean-up into my nostril and sprayed--Jesus it burned like hell...

Ol' Brian fell into a vat
Of beer and drowned and that was that
If that sounds cruel, consider this
He got out twice to take a piss
I was very proud of how I contorted that creaky story-joke into a simple verse to suit Brian, who in fact is the author of "Fearless Brewing," a delightful guide to making your own beer. He once used a couple of Mad Dog 20/20 empties (yes, we were just that poor and undiscriminating) when he ran out of regular beer bottles. He left them in his closet, and later, while he was at work, Mike and I were watching TV and BOOM! One exploded and startled the fuck out of us. Good thing Brian stashed them away--imagine if one of us had been hit by shrapnel and killed. It would surely be the quickest death attributable to Mad Dog 20/20.

I don't really have an ending for this, so I'm gonna see if I can dig up an old set list or something related and scan it. This will happen, um, later.
Footnote: The wife and I are trying to eat better, and that includes laying off the booze. Haven't touched it in at least a month, and it's been many months since we drank more often than once every few weeks. To which twenty-five-year-old me says:
BOO!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Newsday TV Books, April 1974.

Alright, I let April slide a bit, leaving it until the last minute. Chalk it up, perhaps, to the dismaying fact that I lack two guides for this month, the weeks beginning with the 14th and the 21st. While I'm ecstatic that I got my hands on these TV Books--almost three year's worth consecutively, early '72 to early '75, starting with the inaugural issue--the gaps still annoy me. And you wouldn't like me when I'm annoyed. (I'll write something scathing! It'll smart, I tell ya!)

Anyway, I published this cover last time, and I'll be damned, I'm doing it again.
The TV Line prints a pic of Sandy Duncan lookalike Marni Nixon, parts a sea of Jell-O, and gets John Wayne's real name very wrong.
A Gary Viskupic drawing accompanies an ABC presentation on the history of the movies, using his familiar theme of symbolized mechanical elements.
Here's your Oscar ballot of the 46th Academy Awards (with the unnamed Newsday TV Book Reviewer being John Cashman, of course).
Burgess Meredith (seen here sporting either a remarkable toupee or a spectacular comb-over) gave his voice to the titular vertebrae in the health special I am Joe's Spine. Joe's friends were inclined to occasionally comment, "Doesn't Joe's spine sound whimsical and wizened?"
Late Thursday night. No reason. Although there are some good Cashman reviews, including a memorable one for Nightmare Alley.
The first full week of April brings a cover for The Story of Jacob and Joseph.
It seems appropriate that Colleen Dewhurst looks like a cigar-store Indian, because Tony Lo Bianco, in the program close-up below, looks like Kramer with his underpants on his head.
Back in the TV Line, we learn of Stevie Wonder's back-biting brother and Rose Marie's baffling bow. And we at last learn John Wayne's real name.
Another Viskupic drawing for another Easter program.
The Woolworth at Sunrise Mall in Massapequa says its Easter plants are sensibly priced, but then says prices begin at 99 cents! Well, which is it, Woolworth?
At last, a Ben Gazzara cover! I knew there'd be one at some point!
He's talking about his TV mini-series QBVII, in which Sicilian Gazzara plays a Jew. He could pass. (The series was not the ratings hit ABC had hoped for.)
A TV Line reader asks why Bill Roe, who would occasionally appear on WSNL channel 67's Saturday newscast, has a real job. I guess she figured that a part-time gig at a tiny UHF station in Patchogue really padded the passbook. (Her local celeb encounter reminds me of the time in the late 80's when I went to chase some raccoons out of our trash and it turned out to be Bill Zimmerman. "Aren't you the anchor for News12 Long Island?" I asked. "That's not all I am!" he shouted, and scurried away with a pizza crust.)
This close-up on an episode of MacMillan and Wife features a masked Satanist. Remember Satanists? The 70's was lousy wid 'em! That is definitely not a Tor Johnson mask, btw, looks more like Boris Karloff to me, maybe even Lionel Barrymore.
Viskupic did love his barbed wire...
...but on the other hand, to my knowledge, he didn't render many cash register beds, as he does for a five-hour Emile Zola-thon on WNET. Check it out: Long Island Bowling on 67--right after Celebrity Bowling on WOR! What a world! Who have guessed that one day I'd rue not watching more televised bowling?
Try this: Go to a Best Buy and inquire about their "quadrophonic 8-track players." They might think you're from the future! But no, you're really from the 1970's, when a Monday morning of tee-vee could begin with Barbara Walters dwoning on about wiboflavin, to be followed up on another channel by a doc about Frenchmen eluding pygmies and cannibals--with The Flying Nun in between!
Lastly, to properly take in this back cover ad for Holiday Spa, let's disrobe, take a knee and ask ourselves, "When you gonna do it?"
(I said 'take a knee,' Chad. Take a knee, that means all the way down! Ah, forget it!)
 Bye for now, but I'll tell you that the first cover in our next installment features Glen Campbell and Peter Sellers dressed as Scotsmen, with Sellers sporting some really off-putting faux facial hair.
(And just like that I hooked ya, din I? See ya then!)

Monday, March 26, 2018

Newsday TV Books, March 1974.

Here we are, freshly sprung and nearly unMarched, and at last another edition of vintage Newsday TV Books blooms in the prickly, poisonous garden of World Wide Webdom. Let's hearken to a day when this gentle fella could be an American superstar...
On the inside cover, TV Line tells us all about Nicolas Beauvy (now a real estate agent), Florence Henderson (now dead), and Marlin Perkins (yes, he spelled it like the fish), who probably would not have been 113 on this coming March 28th.
In his cover story, John Denver talks shit about Toledo, Ohio and touts est, for which he wrote a sort-of theme song, "Looking For Space," covered here by Olivia Newton-John.
On Sunday night, New York City-area viewers had their choice of Cash on Columbo, Matthau and May, or Judy Garland five years before packing it in.
Alice Cooper spooks the Snoop Sisters (along with George Maharis and Cyril Ritchard), and Tony Geary kidnaps sorority girls at 11:30. And Alan Ladd, as ever, takes his shirt off.
On Wednesday one could have enjoyed the movie that infamously interrupted a football game (God forbid!), or some comedy gold from Bobby Riggs roasters (and later a stellar line-up on ABC's Wide World of Entertainment).
Raquel Welch gets the Krofft treatment from oddball artist Gary Viskupic for this special close-up. (Here's a clip from the show, with Tom Jones.)
Yep, it's time again for Hicks Nurseries in Westbury to trot out the animatronic bunnies for their annual Easter display!
The following week, Sir Laurence Olivier takes on the role of Shylock in an ITC production of The Merchant of Venice.
Paul Lynde's marital status, Dinah Shore's department store, bad advice from a doctor prompting a Telly Savalas query--TV Line's got it all! (Except who performed Thing, but I can tell you that it's since been reported that it was the hand of either Ted Cassidy or, if Ted was appearing in the scene with Thing as Lurch, then it was assistant director Jack Voglin. Sorry if I ruined that for you.)
Olivier hoped to put a kinder, gentler spin on Shylock, "portraying him as an early Rothschild-type Jew." Well, I guess that's... better.
Here's a full afternoon of NYC programming (and Long Island, when you include WLIW 21 and WSNL 67), but I'm mostly including this for the prime-time close-up spotlighting the premiere of Marlo Thomas and Friends in Free to Be... You and Me. See kids--you can grow up to be a bum!
Viskupic draws on The World You Never See for inspiration in this close-up. For the night owl, there's the Twilight Zone episode "The Changing of the Guard," a good premise hobbled by weak writing and worse acting.
The spa known as Spa serves up some dynamite cheesecake this time out, and I left in the coming attraction for Sunday Newsday's magazine, LI.
There's more va-va-voom on view with this unusual back cover ad.
Alan Alda winningly shakes a fist at us from the cover of the next week's TV Book
This week, Long Islanders were preoccupied with the vital stats of Dennis Weaver, the voice of Morris the Cat and wagering on Harold Lloyd's mansion. Presumably, it was Carol Burton who obliged, although her byline was omitted.
She does, however, get credit for this piece primarily concerning Alda's special play adaptation, 6 Rms Riv Vu.
Here's another daytime schedule with a prime-time close-up, no great shakes but I'm a Viskupic completist...
Now it's Vincent Price hamming it up on The Snoop Sisters!
It's been a while since I've posted a full morning sched (plus Newsday's delightfully 70's graphics), so here's Wednesday.  I look at this and I immediately want to dig out some vintage video of The Galloping Gourmet, Courageous Cat and The Price is Right. Then I recover.
The week beginning with the 24th is such a dull one, they featured a show from next week on the cover! It stars Greer Garson and somebody I never even heard of! And although there's an elegant Tony Gentile painting to go with it, the program is called Crown Matrimony, two words that, when placed together, guarantee me a good night's sleep.
At least the TV Line has some Bowie, and a Long Island-centric story about a team of young women playing ice hockey at the Racquet & Rink in Farmingdale.
The opening paragraph of this piece about Garson mentions that  she's a member of the local "sheriff's posse" in New Mexico. Unless you're a fan, it's all downhill from there.
I'm gonna pack it in right here, despite there being one more day in the month. I'll just present the next cover as a tease, because nothing should whet your appetite for more teevee nostalgia like a hunchbacked Sandy Duncan mobbed by Disney characters. I think she needs to refer Pluto to a good ophthalmologist. Something going on there.
See you real soon! Why? What the hell else I gotta do?

Monday, February 26, 2018

Newsday TV Books, February 1974.

I'm back in the swing of things (whatever the fuck that means) with another look at a month of old Newsday TV Books! We're well into February/damn near into March, so let's get cracking with a look at the littlest month of 1974!
(Remember: click on images to enlarge.)
GAAAH!!! Unenlarge! Unenlarge! Yikes, I wasn't expecting Jeanette Nolan without makeup. Or teeth. Or Dack Rambo trying to lingually extract a Jujube from his own choppers, for that matter. As the titular Dirty Sally in this Gunsmoke spin-off, Nolan played it heavy on the cornpone in a performance that had Irene Ryan saying, "Jeez, turn it down a notch, lady." Here's the explanatory theme song.

This week's TV Line tells us about Ricky Segall, who was born a fortnight before me in my very own hometown. I mainly recall him singing "Say Hey Willie" on The Partridge Family (although he also sang this memorable tune). Also, creepy P.D. of Elmont wants TMI about the kids of Zoom.
Here's more about Dirty Sally, and I don't mean the kind mentioned in the Urban Dictionary.
There's quite a cast in Sunday's "The Migrants," an episode of the revived CBS Playhouse 90.
And there was another fine cast on Monday's Mitzi Gaynor special, including Josephine the Plumber.
I've already posted this Gary Viskupic drawing for the TV movie version of Dracula, but not only is this one slightly different, the caption mentions that the original airing was pre-empted by Watergate business.
Here's Saturday's late-night schedule, just because I like Saturday late-night schedules.
Bonus Ad: It's Howard Stern's beloved Camp Baumann!
I almost didn't include this article written by Leslie Gourse, who typically covers jazz musicians. However, it's unusual for the TV Book to include a second article, and the topic (celebrity commercials of the day) is totally up my alley. I just don't think it's particularly well-written.
As with last December, I'm missing another issue here, goddamn it, so we jump ahead to this Paul Winfield cover. He played Roy Campanella in the TV movie It's Good to Be Alive, detailing the Dodger catcher's career-ending paralysis. Is it just me or is there something seriously spooky about Winfield's eyes in this pic?
The TV Line has an interesting note about why Peter Sellers didn't appear on a Bob Hope special as advertised, and claims that Amos and Andy were played by white guys in blackface on their TV show, which is not true. TV Line will eat its words.
Late Monday, sleepy New Yorkers had the bedtime choice of watching Psycho, a classic Twilight Zone, or Gary Collins playing against type. (I'd go with Mr. Corwin.) Wait, I just noticed that Wayne Newton was guest-hosting The Tonight Show--now there's your chills!
This Viskupic drawing is elsewhere on the blog, so I present it now in its original Wednesday night context. Check out the "Horror Hall of Fame" special at 11:30.
The reputedly unpleasant Joey Bishop appears perplexed by his booking on Thursday's Music Country USA.
Now here's a Visku-pic that I haven't reproduced anywhere: It's Jack Benny being literally roasted, get it? Because he's being "roasted" on The Dean Martin Comedy Hour, by show biz pals such as... Mark Spitz?
Since I'm missing that issue this month, and next week's edition is scant on items I found interesting, here's the entire Saturday schedule. (Plus, I realized I haven't posted a Saturday morning sched in about a year, and that needs to be remedied.)
Now here's something for you true TV nostalgia fans: a crossword puzzle filled with now-obscure references! Print it out and give it a shot, answers at the end of the post...
Bonus Ads: TM at the Vet's Club, and GW's B-Day...
Here's the back cover, an atypically subdued Colonial Shoppes ad. (Yes, this is subdued for the Colonial Shoppes.)
Lastly, a chewed-corner cartoon cover for the aforementioned Music Country USA (nee Dean Martin Presents Country Music).
Musings on the Batman theme, 70's hottie Christina Raines, and the misandrous All in the Family chair trick are among the delights to be found in this week's TV Line, (along with that mea culpa about Amos N' Andy).
This Sunday evening would have been a long-awaited one for many, as it featured the annual pre-Easter airing of The Wizard of Oz. This one was shortly before my fifth birthday, so it may have been my introduction to its enchantments and wonders (to which reviewer John Cashman refers).
If the week began with enchantment, let Viskupic end it with horror--his gruesome depiction of the unquietly doomed Rosenbergs for a Saturday PBS special.
Here's that puzzle answer. If you couldn't solve it, well, eat my Will Shortz!
Stay tuned for March--I'll be coming in like a teevee-addled lion!