Friday, July 26, 2019

Give me some of that old time music… my music video roundup, Volume One

I’ve probably seen more than my share of Youtube videos; I usually watch ‘em on my tablet for 1/2 hour or so, before going to sleep.  I’m fond of Stephen Colbert, George Carlin, abandoned mansions, people who live in RVs or converted vans, vintage SNL skits, movie reviews, anything with food. 

But here’s the thing—I watch most of those videos only once.

Mini-Mom & her kids, the Cowsills which ironically, are not featured here 

Old music videos are another story.  Every few months I get hooked on a bunch and watch them again & again.  

I think it’s time I acknowledged the most recent batch—you may notice a trend (I’m fond of late 60s/early 70s stuff mostly). 

To make it to my list, I had to watch each of these AT LEAST 10 times.  So in ascending order, from great to greatest, here we go!

9.  We Five – “You Were On My Mind” (1965)

I love Beverly Bivens.  From that deep voice to her pretty bob of hair & white go-go boots, I can’t get enough of this gal (who left the entertainment industry in the 1960s). 

Beverly says they once opened for the Rolling Stones (here in Pittsburgh!) and when her group approached Mick Jagger & his mates to introduce themselves, were snubbed.  Mick referred to them as “just another one trick pony”.  

Maybe so--but 50 years later I’m not listening to the Stones, I’m listening to We Five

8.  Van McCoy & The Soul City Symphony – “Do The Hustle” (1975) 

Who needs a time machine when you got this classic tune—2 seconds after hearing that chorus of “oohs” and I’m back in 1975!  The accompanying video is just perfect.  It makes me feel like I’m at the Playboy Mansion, attending Hugh Hefner’s 50th birthday party and this is the main act.   I’m a little embarrassed.


7.  Shelly Fabares – “Johnny Angel” (1962)  

This is one of those “it grows on you” videos; the first time I watched this, I almost barfed.  THIS IS SO WHITE!  But Donna Reed’s awestruck look always made me laugh, and Shelly Fabares grew on me.  I began watching interviews with Shelly about her 1960s “music career” and wow, she’s terrific.  So funny & modest.  I love her.

(Creepy side note:  the man in the college sweater beside Donna Reed is actor James Stacy, who would lose both his left arm & leg in a motorcycle accident in 1973.  In 1995, he went to prison for 6 years for molesting his friend’s 11 year old daughter.)

6.  Peppermint Rainbow – “Will You Be Staying After Sunday” (1969)  

The first time I watched this, I was wincing left & right.  Are those 2 girls sisters?  (Yes, Bonnie & Patty Lamdin.)  Is the second one a hunchback?  Those dresses are awful!  And who’s that guy in glasses hiding in the back?  (Their drummer, couldn’t they have given him a tambourine or something?)  AND WHAT’S WITH THOSE COLLARS ON THE GUYS!  All is forgiven, it was 1969! 

I’d love to know what’s going on in the background while this quintet attempt to lip-sync to their tune.  And yep, I’ve fallen in love with Patty the Hunchback Girl.

5.  Boyce & Hart – “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight” (1967)  

When I was a kid, I loved this duo—you’d see them on shows like “I Dream of Jeannie” & “Bewitched”, and I thought Tommy Boyce (the shorter one with the bowl-cut) was too cool in his purple fringed vest or love-beads.  In fact, I used to fantasize I was Tommy Boyce.  These songwriters (for other groups like the Monkees) deserved more fame than they had.

Sad note, Tommy Boyce committed suicide in 1994 at the age of 54.  Damn.

4.  Eartha Kitt – “I Want to be Evil” (1953)    

The first time I saw Eartha Kitt was as Catwoman on the live-action series 'Batman’ in the 1960s—as a 7 year old, she both frightened & excited me.  Then a couple weeks ago I stumbled across this early Kitt video from 1953; I almost feel like I’m 7 again!  My God, she’s awesome!

3.  The Vogues – “Turn Around, Look at Me” (1968)  

Not much to see here—I just love the song.  And I didn’t know (until very recently, after rediscovering this golden oldie) that the Vogues were a local group from Pittsburgh; how cool is that?  

2.  Andy Williams – “Music to Watch Girls By” (1967)  

I love Andy Williams smooth tones, but this is all about the video.  THIS IS ALL ABOUT THE VIDEO.

1. The Osmonds – “Down By the Lazy River” (1972) 

I LOVE THE OSMONDS.  Not so much Donny & Marie, I’m talking the original quartet--Alan, Wayne, Merrill & Jay.  Don’t ask which one’s my favorite, I’ve been trying to choose since 1971 (why??) and can’t do it.  But if you held a gun to my head, I’d say Wayne.

I watch ALL their stuff, from their early days on The Andy Williams Show to their senior stuff now; but this one will always be their best!

Friday, July 19, 2019

It was a mad mad mad mad world then… aren’t we glad those days are behind us

A week or so ago I read MAD Magazine was ceasing publication (of its monthly magazine) after 60 years.  Wow.  My first thought was  “Aw, what a shame”  and my second thought was “They still publish MAD Magazine??”

From April 1971; if MAD only knew what was coming!

Aimed mostly towards 11-16 year olds, I can’t imagine any boy growing up in the 1960s-70s not reading this awesome magazine.  I always felt like I was getting away with something when I was reading it.  

Filled with politics, hilarious satires of movies & TV shows, comic strips of rebellious teens, snarky housewives & grumbling middle-aged men, nothing (and no one) was sacred.  Even the advertisements inside were phony.    

(At the time, I assumed the mag was so rotten that no one WANTED to advertise in there!) 

I remember in 1975, my older brother Duke & I attended a Boy Scout Jamboree in Wheeling, WVa.  Troops from the tri-state area were gathered there, some with circus-sized tents and rows of boys in uniform standing at attention, and smaller troops, with 6-7 pup tents and matching t-shirts.   The first night there, one of these smaller camps must’ve had 50 boys clustered around their tents.  Our own scoutmaster (Mr. Scott) warned us not to go over there, he suspected some of those “lesser Scouts” had sneaked cigarettes or worse into the Jamboree.  

So of course, as soon as Mr.Scott left to meet with the other scoutmasters, we high-tailed it over there as fast as we could—and learned some kid had packed his gear with a hundred Mad Magazines!   I think that was one of the 10 most fun nights of my life.

Speaking of Washington… and the Seventies

DC 1974

In the summer of ‘74, about two months before President Nixon resigned, Mom & Dad took us to Washington DC for our summer vacation. 

My brother Duke & sister Donda, me in the Superman shirt, Shawn looking like a young Jackie O & our brother Steve, in our hotel in Washington DC

Duke was in seventh heaven.  (He didn’t know it yet, but in 10 years this was going to be his home—well, for most of the Eighties, at least.)  As for the rest of us, we were left scratching our heads.  “When do we go swimming?  We want swimming!”  

We were there because Duke had been after our parents for months to visit our nation’s capitol that summer.  I always suspected it was because he thought he could talk some sense into President Nixon, if he could just get him alone.  “Stay strong, Mr. President!  Don’t let Congress take you down!”

I wish I could remember more about this trip, other than the few blurry photos and odds n’ ends tucked away in my noggin.  We visited everything, from the Capitol building to the Lincoln Memorial to Arlington Cemetery to Ford’s Theater, my mom snapping pictures the entire trip—only to come home and learn she’d left a couple of film cartridges behind.  

v15-2_thumb14 1974-June-2_thumb13

In the second pic of us on the Capitol steps with our mom, people are staring as Mom shouts to Dad “Don!  You’re too far away!”  

What I remember most about our time there is probably something I shouldn’t even share here.  Whatever, I’m old now!  Shortly after we’d gotten to our hotel in downtown Washington, Shawn & I were itching to go exploring.  Mom said it was okay if we went downstairs and ask where their indoor pool was located.

1974 June2 (2)When we got on the elevator, Shawn asked what would happen if she pressed every button.  I said I didn’t know but she should go for it.  (When we stopped on the next floor down and a woman got on & saw the rows of lit buttons, man the look she gave us!)

After we (finally) reached the lobby & asked the front desk for directions, we found the pool.  It was empty of people & GARGANTUAN.  I told my sister I was going to use the nearby men’s room before we went back upstairs. 

I go inside, and there’s a middle-aged man standing at the sinks.  He must’ve just come out of the pool, he’s carefully combing his few strands of wet hair across his bald head.  He was very round, hairy— and naked as a jaybird.  I stood there for a few moments, unsure of what to do.  He either didn’t notice or didn’t care.

After heading back upstairs, Mom asked if we found the pool.  We said yes, then I said “Well, I saw my first naked fat man today.”   My dad said “Your first?”  and Mom said “For the rest of this trip NO ONE is allowed out of my sight!”   She turned to my older brother who was just returning from his own excursion.  “And that goes for you too!”     

Sorry about that Duke, I guess Nixon was on his own.

Duke, in Arlington Cemetery

Saturday, July 13, 2019

I miss him too, but the Doug you knew doesn’t live here anymore

I wake up every morning around 6am, sit on the edge of my bed and gently tug this oral splint off of my top teeth.  It hurts to wear (sometimes too much & I go without) but it helps keep my jaw muscles from clamping my mouth shut while I sleep. 

I wash my hands, then using the first finger of each hand, gently rub the inside of the right & left side of my mouth for a few seconds, massaging the swollen masseters within.  They’re hot to the touch and feel like they’re filled with tobasco sauce.

I then (carefully) brush my teeth, ponder over the medicines in my medicine cabinet (I’ve been trying to stay pill-free for a couple of weeks now) then take a shower and turn on the tv while doing jaw stretching exercises in my entranceway mirror.  Now in it’s 8th month, I’m coming to the sad conclusion that this TMD, this jaw disorder, isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.  It’s not like it comes & goes either.  If someone asks “Is your TMJ acting up again?”  I usually say yes, but it’s always this way.  Sometimes the ache will reduce to a dull burn for a couple hours, and I’m filled with hope, and other times the discomfort will climb a notch or two and I’m on the Hemlock Society’s website, looking for… best not to go there.

No one understands it, no one has real answers.  A couple months ago when I talked to someone from my old dentist’s office, she said “We refer our TMJ patients to a chiropractor right down the street from you.”   This is the same dentist’s office who referred me to an oral surgeon a couple years ago (when I first got TMJ) and asked me if I was seeing anyone else for it, and when I said yes, a chiropractor, said “Stop going, they can’t help you.”  

(FYI, after 13 visits, I’d already come to the same conclusion.)

I don’t sit here and wallow in self-pity.  I watch the morning news, get dressed, head outside if it’s nice, exchange some greetings with people I both know & don’t know.   I have to keep it brief though.  Talking for more than a couple minutes and the inside of my face swells & aches too much.  Then I’m just biting myself when I talk.

Two days ago I went to one of those CBD shops and got a crash course in CBD oils and their supposed anti-inflammatory & pain control properties; it sounded a little hippy-dippy for my old-school thinking, but I’m ready to try anything.

This little bottle (a 1 month supply) cost $85.00

Sometimes a friend will write and say “Don’t tell me you still have that, c’mon!”  like it’s a bad habit I’ve developed and haven’t quit doing.  Or I’ll get something like “I’m going to cheer you up if it kills me” or a promise to make me laugh.   I play along & say okay, but it makes my jaw crackle & pinch for a long time afterwards.

Others (more tired of my TMJ than I am, it would seem) talk normally like everything is fine & dandy, and don’t understand why I’m not being equally engaging or writing gobs back.  Yes I’d LOVE to be old Doug again, and rant and joke & all that fun stuff, but I’m constantly preoccupied with this discomfort.  More than anything in the world, I HATE when someone says “You need to do something to keep yourself busy and take your mind off it!”    They don’t have a fuckiing clue.

You read or listen to all the experts:  You’re not stretching it enough.  You’re stretching it too wide.  You’re not exercising it enough.  You’re exercising it too much.  Don’t use cold, use heat.  Don’t use heat, use cold.  Take NSAIDs.  Stop taking NSAIDs! 

No one really knows.  I think the best advice I read was from a New York orthodontist on the TMJ Forums who wrote “For 9 out of 10 people, it WILL go away.  It can take years sometimes.  If you don’t learn patience, you’re in real trouble.”  

I think after 8 months, my patience deserves a medal.

A part of me feels bad for sharing this here (again).  A blogger friend of mine has been writing more & more about her depression, and the first time she spoke of it I was a little surprised, a little worried for her & curious.  Six months later, it’s become a train she can’t get off from.   I don’t avoid her, but I don’t enjoy her blogs like I used to.  I’ve been trying not to go down that same track here.

What I AM trying to do is to stay positive, upbeat, focus on life after this.  I guess I’m just saying, to the few out there who take my lack of presence in their lives personally, it’s not you, it’s not me either.  It’s the TMJ.


Thursday, July 11, 2019

Enough said, thanks Donald

This is one of Donald Trump’s overnight tweets.  I think it’s great; I want to get one of these antique political buttons you pin to your lapel, personalized with this tweet from our Commander-in-chief, our President of the United States. 

I want to wear it on every shirt, sweater, jacket & coat in 2020.

I think every Democrat politician running for office should toss out their American flag lapel pins, or little pink or blue ribbon pins, and affix this big, round button to their breast pocket. 

Keep your opinions about abortion, climate change, healthcare, gun control & immigration to yourselves until you’re in office—then attack those issues like gangbusters.

For now, just wear the pin.  And when people ask questions on where you stand with these things, tap the pin with your finger.  Enough said.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Once Upon a Time… the Morris Kids & Storybook Forest

Old Woman in a Shoe  

I look at this old photo & smile, because I have a dorky memory and tend to hang on to unimportant things.  And as clear as a blue sky, I can remember what was going on here.

My sisters Shawn & Donda, my brother Steve & me, June 1972

Steve (who was a little over 6 at the time) asked the “Old Lady Who Lives in a Shoe” why she wasn’t inside where she belonged, and without even looking at him, answered with one word.  “Mice.”   Mom snapped the photo and Steve’s goofy expression was caught for posterity.

For those not familiar with Pennsylvania’s attractions, Storybook Forest was (I think still is) a picturesque, wooded park in Ligonier, Pa—about 50-60 miles east of Pittsburgh.  There’s no rides, rather none that I can remember, but is near a traditional amusement park, Idlewild Park.   You’re basically on a tour of Mother Goose rhymes, most of them lifesize settings & statues, with some real-life actors thrown in.  (Mother Goose, Goldilocks, the Lady in a Shoe above, etc.) 

Shortly after entering the Forest, we were approached by a girl wearing a red cloak with a hood, and a wicker basket on her arm.  When she introduced herself & offered us a cookie, I shuddered inside.  Not because she was about to get eaten by a wolf—she looked like a Salem witch from ‘Crowhaven Farm’, a tv-movie I’d seen recently!

ANYWAY, you’re probably thinking “Doug what the hell?”  and I know, I know—but I was going thru some old family vacation photos the other night, and found some of our visit to this trippy wood.   Just thought I’d share ‘em!


Dad can hardly wait (just kidding) to walk us through this giant storybook


I think this giant maniacal jack-in-the box scares me more now than it did then

Old King Cole

Old King Cole was a merry old soul… so why does my little sister Donda look like she’s just seen a ghost?

Peter Pumpkin Eater

Tiny house living, Mother Goose style

Alice in Wonderland

Donda-Lin was very pleased she was the only one who could fit thru Alice’s keyhole—now she’s 2 inches taller than me

Jack be nimble

Y’know what?  I’ve seen this photo a hundred times, and I JUST NOW noticed old Jack up there, jumping over the candlestick!  Why Jack… why

Mom & Steve

The rare one with our beautiful Mom, cigarette in hand, telling Steve “Honey, didn’t you see the sign?  Don’t feed the animals!”   Mom, Steve can’t read yet!

Good Ship Lollipop

Next to Mom, this photo’s my favorite—on the Good Ship Lollipop, I asked Cap’n Candy what his real name was.  When he answered “Clark”, I said “As in Clark Kent?  You got the look”  and man did he laugh! 

Well, that’s it—I just didnt want to see these disappear forever since I’m the only one who has these photos.  I can still remember coming downstairs that morning in those baggy pants & white shirt, and my mom asking “Doug, why aren’t you wearing what I laid out for you?”   When I said I didn’t want to wear shorts because my legs looked too fat, she told me to join the club!   Love & miss you, Mom.

Look who's going to work

Monday, July 1, 2019

Don’t ask, don’t tell: A conflict of patriotism

I’m going to confess something.  As much I write about Trump (or his GOP minions) here, which really isn’t that much, I keep a pretty low profile in my non-online life.   There are people I see or talk to on occasion, people I live with.  I don’t ask questions about their politics, I don’t share mine, it’s easier to keep the peace.

Unfortunately, others can’t do the same.  All I know is, it usually doesn’t work in my favor.

A couple of weekends ago, I ran into Liz downstairs, one of the other residents here who sits in the lobby regularly with a book.  In the last few months we’ve become friends of sorts.  I don’t think we have a lot in common, but we were born in the same year and share that. 

Anyway, when she saw me she asked how my tmj was doing (she’s the one person here I’ve shared that with) and told me the mail hadn’t come yet but our new mailman is delivering early now, he should be here any minute.  I told her I was just going for a morning walk to warm my sore face and stretch my legs, and for a moment I felt guilty after saying it.

It’s difficult for Liz to get around.  She hobbles about with a cane, the type with 4 little legs at the bottom.  (She told me her lower vertebra is fused to her hip, how is that possible?)  She asked if I was going to be passing Kuhn’s Market and could I pick her up a box of teabags.  When I returned and handed Liz her tea, she thanked me and asked how much she owed me.  I said “Ohhh.. fifteen and change, let’s just say fifteen.”  Without missing a beat, she asked if I had change for a twenty.  (The woman who was sitting beside her on the settee... her expression was priceless!)

After the other woman left, Liz asked if I got an email from Steiner (our building’s management) stating that non-residents are not permitted to loiter in front of the building and if it continues, there’d be repercussions.  I said yes I got it, and she asked if I’d seen any of these non-residents.  I said no, at least not when I’m out there loitering.  When she asked what I thought the repercussions would be, I said they may get kicked out of their non-apartments.  We shared a good laugh over that. 

It was right around then that Carl (an older man who lives on the first floor, very polite but never says a word) entered the lobby, tipped his hat towards Liz, nodded to me and headed out.  His hat was one of those bright red MAGA caps.   Liz said “Did you see his hat?”   I said yes, and added I should wear my cap when I go out too, I’m probably going to get sunstroke.  She said “Do you own one of those Trump caps?”  I said omigosh no, mine’s from UPMC.  She asked if I was a Trump supporter, I screwed up my face a little and said not exactly.

She said “You’re not one of those Trump haters are you?”

I stood there for a moment, unsure of what to say.  I was tempted to come up with something phony or glib, but I said yes and I didn’t understand how anyone could not be. 

She said “Well, you can’t blame him for everything.”  I said I could.  She asked me if I watched a lot of news.  I said yes, probably too much.  But I read Trump’s tweets too, they’re frightening and asinine. 

Liz said she didn’t know about any of that (of course she doesn’t) but considered herself patriotic and was raised to stand behind our president no matter who it is.  She asked who I wanted to see win the next election, I said Kamala Harris.  She nodded her head but didn’t say anything.

As I felt the soreness in my face and lower right jaw tighten and burn (damn tmj!)  I told her I was going to head upstairs.  She went back to reading her book. 

That was a couple weeks ago, I haven’t seen her since.  Then this past weekend I went downstairs and saw her again in the lobby.  I said I was going grocery shopping, did she need a $20 loaf of bread or anything.  She didn’t look in my direction or smile or say a word, just shook her head no while staring out the front glass.  Another woman (don’t know her) came into the lobby then, and Liz said (to her) “Did you see where Steiner hung the American flag up outside?” 

The woman said “I think they do that every year for the Fourth” and Liz said “I wish they’d leave it up year ‘round.”  

Happy Fourth of July, Liz.