A NOSTALGIC SPOOF: THE LAST OF THE SILVER SCREEN COWBOYS – Garry & Marilyn Armstrong

A Nostalgic Spoof of a Beloved Movie Genre

We watched “Rustler’s Rhapsody” again last night. I love this movie. It’s an affectionate spoof of the B-Westerns of the 1940s starring Tom Berenger, Patrick Wayne, G.W. Baily (currently with “Major Crimes” on which Berenger has a recurring guest role), Andy Griffith and Fernando Rey.

The women include Sela Ward, a solid dramatic actress perhaps best remembered as Dr. Richard Kimble’s slain wife in the movie version of “The Fugitive”. There’s also Marilu Henner who riffs on all the “Miss Kitty/Miss Lily” saloon ladies of our favorite TV westerns.

Andy Griffith and Fernando Rey both play power-mad cattle barons. Fernando usually plays an international drug czar and you probably remember him in “The French Connection”. He is slimy sinister personified. Rey and Griffith make a very odd couple. Check out the scene where they argue about who gets to do the countdown for killing the hero. They are hilarious, but Andy Griffith steals the show.

We love the movie so much we own two identical copies of it on DVD. It wasn’t going to be available for long, so Marilyn bought a copy for us, another for our best friends … and an extra. Just in case.


rustler's rhapsody dvd cover

NOTE: As it turns out, “Rustler’s Rhapsody” is available. Again. Who knows for how long? If you are interested, Amazon has the DVD and the download.


Tom Berenger is The Hero who shoots the bad guys in the hand. Pat Wayne is the other good guy, but he used to be a lawyer, so be warned. Casting Pat Wayne was an inspiration. “Rustler’s Rhapsody” could easily be an homage to his Dad’s ‘poverty row’ westerns of the 1930s. Pat even nails Duke’s acting range of that period.

My heroes have always been cowboys, even the stalwarts of those budget-challenged B movies. I had the good fortune to spend time with two legends of the genre. Buster Crabbe and Jack “Jock” Mahoney.

Crabbe, most famous for his “Flash Gordon” days, contends he had more fun playing the lead in the oaters where the line between good and bad is always clear and you get to wear nice costumes. He considers his westerns as “small classics” not B movies. (Crabbe continued his career into the late 60’s when producer A.C. Lyles revived the B cowboy movie with over the hill actors including Johnny Mack Brown, Rod Cameron, Bob Steele, Hoot Gibson and Richard Arlen among others).

Jack “Jock” Mahoney, known to many as TV’s “Range Rider,” is a former stuntman who graduated to supporting roles as nimble villains and finally established a following at Universal-International, playing literate good guys in lean, well-written westerns. Mahoney clearly is proud of his work in the B movies. I remember the smile on his face as he recalled the fun of being recognized as a cowboy hero.

I think all the cowboy actors I’ve met (Including John Wayne) would heartily approve of “Rustler’s Rhapsody”. It’s an affectionate tribute to their work.

This is the song they play at the end of the movie when the credits are rolling. I love the song and the memories it brings because I’m of the generation that went to the movies and watched those B movies as part of the afternoon doubleheader at the Carlton or Laurelton, the second or third-run movies houses where you could see two movies and a cartoon for a dime. Eleven cents if you were considered an adult. Which turned out to be any child older than 10, but they still made you sit in the kid’s section — which I firmly believed (and still believe) was unconstitutional.

Warner Brothers, 1982. “Last Of The Silver Screen Cowboys” by Rex Allen Jr. and Rex Allen Sr. Be sure to listen for Roy Rogers in the final commentary and chorus!

FEELIN’ GROOVY: SIMON & GARFUNKEL – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP #42 – Groove with Simon & Garfunkel

Those definitely were the days, my friends.

This song has always made me happy. It reminded me of waking up in New York and just enjoying life. I was young. So were they. And they lived sort of next door, so you never know. I might be the next great songwriter.

The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)

Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy
Hello lamppost, whatcha knowing?
I’ve come to watch your flowers growing.
Ain’t cha got no rhymes for me?
Doot-in’ doo-doo, feelin’ groovy!

Got no deeds to do, no promises to keep
I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me
Life, I love you, all is groovy.

Songwriters: Paul Simon
The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

ELEMENTS IN TRACES – TOM LEHRER AT HAHVID – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP #35 – TRACE ELEMENTS

No one said it better than Tom Lehrer and now, he’s going to sing it again. For me and you and all of us. Trace element. Elements.

All the elements. In song. With a piano. Thanks, Tom! Excuse me. That would be Dr. Lehrer.

RDP #7 – PURPLE FLOWERS, PURPLE HAIR, PURPLE HAZE – Marilyn Armstrong

PURPLE FLOWERS, BETTER SWEATERS

Purple is the color of half the stuff leftover for clearance sales! Enter the annual purple sweater of the year.

It really is. Orange and purple. I know because during the poorest years of my life, those were the colors of all my shirts and sweaters. They were the only things left in my size. Eggplant, aubergine, pumpkin … whatever it was called, it was orange and purple.

I’ve always like dark purples and sometimes, the more lavender or red-violet purples, but there have been a few that were just a bit overly intense for my neutral mind to fully grasp. Orange is an okay contrast color if the rest of what I’m wearing is dark brown or black, but other than as a nightgown, I have a little more trouble with orange.

To wear that is. I absolutely love it as a Jack O’Lantern!

Purple is the color of the Mayflower, the classic iris, lilacs (sometimes more lavender, but close enough), and the spots that float across my eyes if I look into the sun for a moment.

For a brief few days, I vaguely contemplated dying my hair purple, but fortunately, no one shared my enthusiasm for the project and it died off on its own.

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/fjwWjx7Cw8I?rel=0

Let me add just a little nostalgia for long ago years when drugs were fun. Not something you took to make the pain in your back ease away. Not only was this quite the song of a generation (to be fair, it was not one of my favorites; I was more “Judy Collins” than “Jimi Hendrix”), but look how young they are! My granddaughter is older. I was that young too, but it’s hard to remember. Fifty years have passed. Fifty.

Purple Haze! Not just a song, but a crazy, mad state-of-mind … for about 12 hours with a residual fade of four more, give or take a couple. Oh, those really were the daze.

SEND IN THE CLOWNS? DON’T BOTHER, THEY’RE HERE – Garry Armstrong

“Send In The Clowns”, on its own merit, is a beautiful song from the show, “A Little Night Music.” Judy Collins’ cover has made it a popular favorite for decades. A Frank Sinatra version is especially poignant.

Jimmy Stewart (clown) and Charlton Heston in “The Greatest Show On Earth”

In the early 70’s, a seemingly more innocent period, I used “Send In The Clowns” as a musical wrap around a political TV piece. I was covering local Boston politics. A primary campaign. Those were the days of political and community icons like “Dapper,” “Fast Freddie,” Trixie, “Kevin From Heaven,” “Wacko,” and “Raybo.”

Those were influential folks, beloved by their constituents and bearers of much political clout. I was on “friendly”terms with most of these folks. There was less Sturm und drang between the media and politicians in those days. There was respect.

My piece was shot with silent black and white film.  We were still in the pre-video tape and digital days. I chose silent film over sound because I wanted the music to have more presence, less competition from people talking.

We used a montage of candidates faces, posters and campaign slogans. The lyrics of “Send In The Clowns” soared as the video zoomed in on campaign slogans and candidates kissing babies and pressing the flesh.

I anticipated a flurry of angry calls from campaign directors.  Nothing. Nada. One candidate, over happy hour drinks, praised the cleverness of my piece but said he would’ve preferred the Sinatra version of “Clowns”.

So much for being glib in those days.

Imagine using “Send In The Clowns” today.  For the coming mid-terms.  The  ’20 Presidential race. How would the “Clowns” lyrics fare over the screaming POTUS?  The ranting Rudy? The shouting Sean Hannity?

Should we intercut snippets of circus clowns with “breaking news” video and clips of all the President’s minions?  Don’t forget those shots of the President’s supporters, the “People,” with their “Jail Her” signs and the racist banners flying over political bonfires.

Send in the clowns?  Don’t bother. They’re already here.

 

WAXING NOSTALGIC – Rich Paschall

My Top Albums On Vinyl, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Those who have lived through the eras of music on vinyl, reel to reel tape, 8-track and cassette tapes, CDs and digital formats may tell you that the best of all was the vinyl era.  Yes, audiophiles will tell you that the best sound actually comes off of records, not the other formats.  As records and recording equipment, speakers and headphones evolved over many decades, the sound steadily improved.  Before the giant rush to tape formats, recordings on actual vinyl records became quite advanced.  When mono became stereo, and stereo advanced to multi channel sounds, people were piling columns of speakers around their rooms in order to make it feel like the music was being played right there in the room with you.

record player

There were people who could tell you which albums had the best “channel separation” and would place speakers where certain instruments would appear in one place, while others could be heard from elsewhere in the room.  As recording techniques became sophisticated, so did the listeners’ equipment.  If you had a great turntable, receiver, speakers and headphones, you probably needed an equalizer so you could balance your sound perfectly.  I had a friend who loved classical music.  His many speakers were placed strategically so as to have the symphony orchestra placed perfectly.  With a little mixing magic on the equalizer, you might feel you were hearing the music live.

Those days are gone and no matter how much you insist the sound is better today, no one with a “sophisticated stereo system” in the 1970s will agree with you.  Why that diamond needle riding along groves in vinyl produced such a great sound is definitely a wonder I do not understand, but it did.  Every now and then I heard a CD in my last car that impressed me with some channel separation that produced different instruments from different speakers, but that was rare.  It did not compare with recordings of older times.  Now I must plug my phone into a USB port to get music, or revert to FM radio, which sounds like the old AM radio stations to me., but I digress.

Albums continue to be released on vinyl but they do not match the numbers from the eras before cassette tape.  I must remind you here that 8 tracks were a “flash in the pan” and I am pleased to say I never owned one.  In 2016 more albums were sold on vinyl than any year since 1991, still, the numbers are paltry compared to the decades before that.

You may be surprised to learn the biggest selling vinyl album of 2016, according to the VinylFactor.com hit 68,000 copies.  It was Twenty One Pilots’ Blurryface . If you said “Who?” you are probably not a Millenial.  With their other album in the top 10, Vessel, they sold over 100,000 albums.  Apparently, 10,000 copies is considered a hit today.  Boomers may be pleased to find The Beatles on the top of the 2017 vinyl sales with Sgt. Pepper.  Nevertheless, the vinyl era is gone.

So, with that in mind I offer my eclectic selection of 5 vinyl albums I have for decades and still think worthy of playing often.  The first is from my dear departed mother’s multitude of records.  Her collection featured show tunes, which I guess is appropriate for me, as well as Caruso and Mario Lanza.  I can not tell you how many Saturday afternoons were filled with Mario Lanza.  Perhaps that was to drive us out of the house to play outside, I am not sure.  I still have an album called Andy Williams Million Seller Songs.  They were not all his million sellers, but a few were hits for him.  I like the whole thing.  It was released in the fall of 1962 and hit Billboard’s Top LPs in January 1963 and stayed there for 43 weeks.


If I loved a group, I inevitably wanted their Greatest Hits album.  A lot of my early favorites were by The Hollies.  The group was formed in 1962 and have continued on with various members. They had so many early hits they actually put out a greatest hits album in 1967.  Some of the songs were co-authored by one of the founding members, Graham Nash.  He left the group in 1968 to form another group on my list.

One group I have mentioned before in The Time It Is Today.  The Association were known for songs with a message.  I just about wore out their Greatest Hits album as it is filled with my favorites from the late 1960s.

I actually had the next album on cassette first.  Later, someone gave me Willie Nelson’s Stardust on vinyl.  This 1978 album was a revelation to me as I heard Willie sing standards from other eras.  Willie picked his favorites and did them proud with his unique interpretations.  This is a treasured piece of my surviving vinyl collection.

In my humble opinion, one of the greatest vinyl albums of all time is actually a double album by a group formed of David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young.  The 1970 album 4 Way Street was recorded live at the Fillmore East in New York, The Chicago Auditorium, and The Forum in Los Angeles.  All four individually wrote the songs on the album.  The harmonies were classic and enduring.  The messages were timeless.

Sources include: “US vinyl sales hit record 13.1 million in 2016,” thevinylfactory.com
“2017 was the highest year for vinyl sales since 1991,” thefader.com

I DREAM OF LILAC TIME – Marilyn Armstrong

Flower of the Day – Lilac Time

Lilacs are my favorite flower.

Possibly, it is also my favorite scent. It all started with when Owen was born. May 7th in the middle of lilac season.

Back in the olden golden days, you were allowed to bring flowers into dreary hospital rooms and for the few days in the hospital — I think back then it was three or four — my room was absolutely full of lilacs.

Lilacs at the top of the tree

They were blooming and everyone went outside and cut them into huge bouquets.

Of course, you can’t do that anymore. There might be a bug on a branch or someone might be allergic and  hospital rooms can’t be cheery or hospitable. They have to be barren and easy to clean.

I ought to mention that the previous song was the top song of 1928 and was a big seller for many other performers, too. I know music has changed, but I don’t know any other songs about lilacs, so this one will have to do.

Despite this, I do love lilacs and I am glad we have a huge lilac tree. It would be nice if it were a little smaller and I could see the lilacs without a super zoom lens.

Closeup lilacs

I planted some miniature Korean lilacs when we first moved here and they were doing pretty well, but I think the past three or four winters just killed them off. That and having oak tree branches, which are often the size of ordinary trees, fall on them. I could find no sign of them at all this spring.

Our badly damaged old lilac tree is blooming and I thought you might enjoy looking at them. I wish I could include how wonderful they smell, but that’s not available yet in WordPress.