Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Year's Winding Down

2009 has been a year of...well...a lot of things.

Out there in the real world, we've been hit with an economic crisis like we haven't seen the severity of since the early 80's or the duration of since the 1930's. The end of it is continually just out of our grasp and relief isn't coming as soon as we'd like.

Here in my world...well...things are good. I've been proud of myself for some things and learned from some other things. What more can you ask of life?

I'm going to relax here in the last week of 2009 and take full stock of it all. I hope to see you all back here next Friday January 1, 2010.

I know you'll all probably be doing the same, and I hope the balance sheet looks good when you're finished. I don't mean the financial balance sheet...that's gonna be crappy, and does it really matter?...I mean your emotional and happiness and health balance sheet. At the end of the day, at the end of the year, that's what really matters anyhow.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas everyone!!!

I sent Roommate Mike out to get 2,009 candles for Jesus' birthday cake, and he didn't quite get it right.

As always, click the thumbnail to embiggen. That's right "embiggen", it's a perfectly cromulent word!

But remember...even if Christmas doesn't come out as what you think is perfect...enjoy it for what it is.

As John Prine says, "Hell man, it's Chrstmas!". It don't come no better than that.

Here's a bonus Christmas morning I just discovered by Loudon Wainwright III.

I can't say it enough. Merry Christmas, and thanks for reading my blog.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Jimmy Buffett and the Parrothead Madness!

Attention all Parrotheads: Jimmy Buffett will turn 63 tomorrow, born December 25, 1946!

That's right, gentle reader...I have a problem I'm here to confess...I am a Parrothead.

I, however am not anonymous, nor does any real Parrothead ever seek recovery!

Parrothead's come from everywhere in the world. In fact, the more landlocked your situation might be, the more devout a follower you are of our "Pirate-in-Chief".

The Flying Spaghetti Monster would be proud! I can feel the global warming lessening with every chorus sung of "Cheeseburger in Paradise"!

We come in all shapes and sizes and ages.

All we really crave, is the weekend, the beach or at least have it be 5 o'clock on a weekday so we can get rid of these damn shoes and socks and sing a song instead of punch that clock.

Jimmy cracked into the music business at just the right time. It was the early-mid 1970's and the big record companies were looking to find a "lifestyle artist" to fill the role left vacant by the recently departed Harry Chapin and Jim Croce and the like. It was before the devil's disco came to be and corporate urban cowboy country crap.

Jimmy was there, guitar in hand and took the gig.

Then he parlayed it into something bigger. Something bigger than himself, something bigger than all of us.

Armed with the tools he needed, a storytelling upbringing in Mississippi that took him across the country and with heroes like Jerry Jeff Walker, he honed those tools.

Jimmy has never won any major music awards for his music. But he answers to a higher calling.

He makes little 3 1/2 minute nuggets of magic with his music that make us all, not only forget where we are, but let us be somewhere else.

Some of my favorites:

Happy Birthday Jimmy! Thanks for all the beaches!


Any good boy born on Christmas Day with a guitar in hand would be remiss not to write a Christmas song. Jimmy's not remiss.

Christmas in the Caribbean:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"The Little King" and Otto Soglow

Born today in 1900, Otto Soglow would be 109 years old.

Otto Soglow's chief claim to fame was a quiet little comic strip called "The Little King". One of those rarities that shifted from magazine cartoon panel to daily newspaper strip.

It was never a giant in the field, but Soglow was one of those cartoonists who's simple style was easy on the eyes but who's work was never simplistic. It seemed even more simple for the fact that the main character was a pantomime character. His work was highly regarded by his peers. He was a true master of minimalism.

Like I said, never a power hitter on the page, but the strip lasted from 1934 to 1975 when Otto passed away.

Soglow also did a vast amount of advertising work for print. His quick easily read work was perfect for getting the product across without undue clutter.

He drew ads for a lot of products now defunct, but here's a few you'll recognize that are still sold today:


Royal gelatin and puddings...a perfect brand name for incorporating his Little King...


Mmmmmmmm Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer...

His work even made the transition to animation as theatrical shorts. They were produced by a kind of low budget studio out of New York (rather than the usual Hollywood) called the Van Beuren Studio. They were a chief rival of the Fleischer Brothers because of their geographic proximity. One of the Van Beuren films is posted below as a "Christmas Bonus" of this post.

Ironically enough, after the Fleischer's success with Popeye, it was they that "King Features" first offered the Little King film rights too. Never one to shy away from an excuse for a Betty Boop cartoon, here's that very pilot film.

"Betty Boop and the Little King":

Otto Soglow's brand of cartooning is a lost art I fear. A quiet, well crafted type that is harder to understand than it seems on the surface.

Thanks Otto, for the simple beauty.


Here's a nice film rarity. Van Beuren Studio's "Christmas Night" from 1933 featuring "The Little King":

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Humphrey Bogart Was the Coolest Guy Ever!

Born December 25th, in 1899, Humphrey Bogart would have been 110 years old this coming Friday, Christmas Day. However, due to a lifetime of hard drinking and smoking, he died in 1957 of "Chronic AWESOME!"

Bogie was born to a surgeon father and a successful commercial-illustrator mother. He was stricken by the acting bug early and we're all the better for it.

Bogart was the last of the "Real Men" out there. It's been down-hill on the testosterone front ever since he left.

From "Petrified Forest" to "High Sierra" to "Maltese Falcon" to "Casablanca" to "To Have and Have Not" to "Key Largo" to "The African Queen" to "The Caine Mutiny" to "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" to "Dark Passage" to "The Big Sleep" to "The Desperate Hours". In any one of his nearly 80 films, he's the guy you want to be.
Even when things didn't work out that well for his character, Bogie took it like a man and showed us how.

This is one of those biographies I write, where I'm not sure what to say. It seems everyone should already know everything there is to know about this icon. I feel I'd be repeating myself.

But, like all the bios I do here, the real purpose is for introducing myself by showing you who my heroes are.

Here's a cool tribute someone put on YouTube. Lot's of great Bogie quotes too. Maybe I can say it best by letting him say it.

Another great image. No one ever got Bugs Bunny nervous...Yosemite Sam and his guns, giant Russian bears, huge Mexican body ever blew Bugs' cool. Except Bogie...and Lauren "Baby" Bacall...

Thanks Bogie. I got nothing to say. Tongue-tied at a guy who's been dead since 6 years before I was even born. I'll always love your films.

Here's lookin' at you.


Yes, Bogie was in a Christmas film. "We're No Angels" with Aldo Ray, Peter Ustinov, Basil Rathbone and Leo G. Carroll

It's about 3 escaped convicts from Devil's Island (Bogart, Ray and Ustinov) who attempt to murder and rob a shopkeeper and his family (Carroll) until they see that he is the victim of something much worse, poverty. The three then commence to provide a Christmas the family won't soon forget.

It's a heart-warming comedy without any undue holiday schmaltz. You owe it to yourself to see it.

Here's a quick preview:

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Yuletide! Pagans and the Winter Solstice!

It's the MOST wonderful day of the year!

The Winter Solstice is here and FINALLY the days can start getting longer again. These frigid days here in Huntington Beach in the low 70's will soon be a thing of the past!

Makes me want to celebrate the way my pagan ancestors back in Germany used to. Dancing the night away, drinking Wassail and Mead, running naked through the moonlit snow and coaxing the Sun back to it's throne in the sky.

Worshipping the towering evergreen trees, hanging holly leafs from the door to keep away evil faeries and burning a Yule log to keep us warm through the night.

We didn't mind it so much when the Christian Church tried to get us to join their celebration, but they took it kinda hard. It made us feel bad, 'cause we pagans are good people. Luckily we poured some more Mead and Wassail and sang some more songs and forgot about them.

Then one year they moved their "magic baby Jebus' birthday" over a few months so they could celebrate at the same time as us and that seemed to make them happy.

I still don't see how they correlate our evergreen trees, holly berries, snow, burning Yule logs and generally making merry to appease our sun god symbolism with something they say happened in the desert hundreds of years after we started celebrating...but that's those crazy Christians for you!

"The more the merrier!", we pagans say. Let 'em join in.

Besides, if we play nice, they promise to tell their stories about "Zombie Jebus" rising from his tomb during our Spring festival again! Scaryyyyyy.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Ain't Perfect - Get Over It!

Christmas in Prison.

Depression and suicide rates in America are highest around the Christmas holiday than any other time of the year. People need to "rub some dirt on 'it' and take a lap".

The reason as I see it, is people have an idealized vision of Christmas in their minds forced down our necks by advertising knuckleheads trying to sell their crap. Pretty red bows and silvery tinsel and the concept of happy, smiling families gathered 'round the hearth.

Here's the truth...these visions don't exist in real life. There ARE happy families everywhere you look. But they don't fit the images foisted on us by Madison Avenue, so maybe they're harder to see.

Take a look at what you have around you. No matter who you are. I'll bet you have things and people there that make you happy.

I'll bet you have more than you think you did before you looked.

Every one's in a different place in their life and it rarely coincides with Norman Rockwell or Courier and Ives images. But there are bright spots nonetheless. Some are really bright.

Shield your eyes. They're brighter than you think.

So, no matter where you are or who you're with, make sure you remember what and who it is that makes you smile.

They're just have to look. I'll bet you smile and whisper "Merry Christmas" when you recognize them.

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Dan Band - now I'm a "Concert-Going-MFer"

Now I'm feeling all "Hollywood Rock Star". We just went to the Todd Snider concert last weekend and at the last minute we found out my new favorite band, "The Dan Band" was coming to Anaheim this week. So off we went!

My buddy's Mark Crowley and Naomi "Little Sissy Nay Nay" Barraza were my posse.

Here they are relaxing pre-show in The Grove Theatre's "Terra Rosa Room"

My new favorite picture: Me, Naomi and her verrrrrrrrry warm and soft left breast. Mmmmmm.

For those of you still uninitiated to the music stylings of The Dan yourself a favor and enjoy.

Take off on Beyonce's "Single Lady":

Florence "Mrs. Brady" Henderson joins The Dan Band for Christmas:

Michael "American Idol" Johns joins The Dan Band:

Ah, there was beer, music, love and bro-mance in the air.

This is what happens after a night of Beyonce and Abba music apparently.

Hope you enjoyed it...if not for The Dan Band's take on it all, you'd never hear this putrid drek on this blog.

Merry Christmas Dan and the Band. It was a fun spontaneous night had by all!

Friday, December 18, 2009

"Flying Spaghetti Monster Friday" 4 of 4

For previous FSM Fridays, click the "Flying Spaghetti Monster" label in the list on the right, or click here, here and here.

It's December week until ChriFSMas...only a few more shopping days left to find that perfect Meatball Snow-globe for your significant sweetie.

All over town you see people hustling and bustling from one store to another to get that Parmesan shaker for Uncle Ned or sauce ladle for brother Bill.

Little home-grown choirs are singing Pasta Carols door to door. It makes your heart warm and bright with the love of His Noodliness at this special time.

But remember gentle Pastafarians, we have no real annual holiday to celebrate. ChriFSMas is something designed by those ignorant scientists who have tried to get us to coincide a celebration with theirs, just so they can shove "Sir Isaac Newtons Birthday" down our throats on December 25th. Yes, ChriFSMas is as false as his "Gravity Law" Pfaw!

We true Pastafarians celebrate our holy day each and every Friday. Our love for Him is something that lasts all year long. You wouldn't want Him to decide to just push you down with His Noodily Appendage to the Earth only once a year would you?

I thought not.

Every Friday, drink a beer. Imagine and taste just a little of what waits for you in Heaven at the base of the beer volcano waiting for you there.

Find a stripper who's down on her luck and console her with stories of the Great Stripper Factory in the sky. Do this while she gives you a lap dance so you can be consoled at the same time.

This will be my last in my active missionary posts for His Holy FSM. We don't like to beat folks over the head with the truth. We know that when non-believers see the beauty of beer, strippers and pirates, they usually come to the right conclusions.

My first post on this was 22 days ago and Christmas is in 7, that makes a total of 29 days. I hope you've considered the indisputable facts and proofs I've laid out for you and your heart has guided you. If not, the FSM church offers and backs up a "30 day God Back Guarantee". If you don't want to live in the world of the truth and happiness of His Carbo-Goodness, we understand.

Your God will probably take you back. He seems like a pretty good guy too.

Plus, the 30 day mark will be right after Christmas, that gives you a full 365 days to re-convince Santa that you still believe in him.

I want to leave you with a joke I made up. A good ice-breaker for the next conversation you have with a pirate, a stripper or a bartender.

Jeffy and The Flying Spaghetti Monster walk into a bar...


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy Holiday Music: Hardrock, Coco, Joe, Frosty and Susy

Oh, to live in a time when local TV was more than just orange-spray-on-tans, bleached-teeth and bolt-on-breasts giving me the "news". I put "news" in quotation marks, because "What color panties Lyndsay/Brittney/Paris are or are not wearing on a given day", "Winter fashion make-overs" and "What new skank has been texting Tiger" is NOT the real news anyway.

There was a time, before my time, when local television produced content that was worth watching and worth remembering.

Hobo Kelly, Sheriff John, Garfield Goose, Bozo the Clown.

Luckily with the Internet opening up the information stream and taking it away from marketing firms and multi-media conglomerates and with podcasting, blogging and the rest, there are creative folks again out there doing things worthwhile.

"Flying Spaghetti Monster bless YouTube" for letting us unlock those gems from the past side by side with everything else that's offered out there.

This post was inspired by comments from my big brother Bob and my friend Kate Campbell, who filled me in on a favorite from the past. WGN Chicago's contributions to the Christmas Music Mash-Up.


Dig in to the treats kiddies. There's more out there than just stale fruitcake!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" Wednesday 3 of 3

Here, in my third and last post about Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer for this Christmas season, I'm going to make a sidetrack and mention one thing.


Remember Little Golden Books? They're still out there you know. The scan for this post are of my very own copy of Little Golden Books' version of our favorite sleigh-leader, which I've probably had since I was 3 or 4...since 1966 or 67 at the very latest.

There's my name on the inside cover leaf to prove it. Eat your heart's out.

Little Golden Books began in 1942 with a couple of innovations that sent them onto almost every American child's bookshelf since.

They were sturdy....proof in the pudding right here evidenced by my 43 year old copy still standing up to strenuous scanning...which had never been thought of before.

They were sold in outlets other than bookstores. Department stores. 5 and Dimes. Clothing stores. Supermarkets. This leads to the final one.

Because they would be produced in such quantity to fill all these outlets, they were affordable.

Extremely affordable.

In 1942 they had a cover price of 25'll note that mine own copy from 24 years later is still only marked at 29 cents. In fact, if you pick one up today, in 2009, they are only $2.99. What the hell can you buy for $2.99???? What else that has this much to offer, isn't worth 5 times that price?

I remember what they felt like in my small 3, 4, 5, 6 year old hands...they were easy to handle, but they had weight which gave it import. And all those shiny gold spines look (yes, I said "look" not "looked"...present tense, they're still there) so good lined up on my bookshelf. All square and uniform in size. As a child they looked important, like grown-up books. But they were better than grown-up books. They were filled with magic.

And they were mine.

This book and the Gene Autry record of the Rudolph song were my big connection with this character. As much as I love the Rankin-Bass animated TV special, this was a different era. There was no home video, there was no cable TV. The special was on once a year. That was it. You watched it on TV, then it was gone until next year.

And remember when you were a kid...Christmases were about 10 years apart it seemed, not every 3 months as seems now!

So this book (which still SMELLS the same as when I was a kid by-the-way) was my "hold-it-in-your-hands-and-stare-for-hours-and-get-lost-in-it-forever-or-until-someone-thinks-you-may-have-gone-goofy" experience.

Gorgeous artwork by Richard Scarry. Color schemes and character expressions/poses that are SOOOOO deceptively simple, but mean so much to the eye that "really" looks.

And all in easy to hold, sturdy and important looking Little Golden Book form.

Let's read it together - like always, just click on the thumbnails to enlarge:

That is minimalist set dressing if ever I saw it. Stimulating still for the magic that hides behind it's red, blue and brown.

Them's some mean and hateful names for a reindeer that just wants to fit in and be valuable.

It's hard to draw hoofed animals anthropomorphically. They always want to be drawn on all fours and have rigid backs. Richard Scarry had the secret though...them reindeers is "butt-sleddin'" fools!

Ratted out by rabbits.

Rudolph knows he won't cut it. Everyone told him so. And you know what experts "everyone" is.

There it is again. How'd he undo the lock with hooves? And if I drew this, this way, you'd swear he was doing permanent damage to his spine! Scarry pulls it off though.

Great to hear how the other famous reindeer qualified! I used to try and tell who was who in the crowd of reindeer.

Like trying to tell football players apart without their jerseys though. Just faceless mooks.

There they go again! How's he working that train switch with a hoof?? Scarry makes it possible.

A paintbrush?!? NOW he's gone too far!

Ooooooooooooh...a foggy Christmas the plot thickens. Like the fog.

Dasher and Dancer are ego-maniacs. I've always suspected.

Yes. I did notice. My name is NOT on the good list. I've reread this book every year and it's never there.

My favorite picture in the book. Brilliant composition. As brilliant as Rudolph's nose.

That's right Bitches! Y'all can SUCK IT!

That's a happy Christmas!

I hope you liked it.

I hope you go get your kid or grand kid or the neighbors kid a Little Golden Book and you read it together.

I'm going back to the bookshelf.

I got a hankerin' to see what "The Pokey Little Puppy" is up to.

Merry Christmas!

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