Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Let Me Hear a Melody...

So...I've been hanging out at Facebook with some old friends from high school, and I saw a picture of our old football coach posted that triggered an acute neuropsychologic transferrence. Okay, I made that term up. In layman's terms it means that a memory bubbled up from the subconscious to the conscious part of my brain...and that's what triggered this post.

If you are of a certain vintage you might recall the Mitch Miller aired in the 60's. The theme song went like this:

Let me hear a melody...I 'd like to sing along...loud and strong…

The Mitch Miller singers would sing all these old tunes and a bouncing ball would appear on the tv screen over the lyrics. Why? case you wanted to sing along, of course.

Anyway...let me get back on point.

Every year the junior class of our school would sponsor a talent guessed it...the Junior Class Talent Show. A couple of us from the football team decided that we would enter...and sing some Mitch Miller songs. Alright, alright...I can hear you saying "Oh My Gawd..he's got to be kidding." Well, I kid you not. We entered.

We decided to call ourselves Mondo's Boys in honor of our backfield coach...whose name was Mr. Kane. Yeah, yeah...I can smell the wood burning're trying to figure out how in hell that has anything to do with the coach's name. on and ye shall be rewarded.

During the 60's there was a movie called Mondo Cane (Latin translation...Dog's World). It was one of the first "shocumentary" films of that era and it featured some of mankind's cruel rituals and bizarre behaviors. I know you're dying for me to tell you about them...but I'm not going to...except for the part about the women in Lapland who would bite the b---s off reindeers. Aren't you glad I mentioned that? I thought so.

So how does that relate to the coach and the group's name? I know that's what you're thinking. Please be patient. if you were a Latin afficionado, you'd know that the correct pronunciation of Cane is Cah-nay. But... if you were a dumb football me and the might you pronounce Cane? I'll give you a hint...fill in the blank...Candy ____... Which rhymes with...K-A-N-E. Oh...and did I mention that the coach was a bit rotund? (Think mondo->world->round) I need to connect the dots for you...or can you see how the name Mondo's Boys was born? Clever huh? I think a few six-packs of beer may have played a minor role in that exercise as well.

So...Mondo's Boys was born. And here's a picture of us. In the back row is Jimmy, JJ, me, and Earl. In the front row there's Carl, Simo, and Ronnie. And Billy aka "Gertie" is at the mike.

We were given time to perform five songs: I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover, Ain't She Sweet, The Man On The Flying Trapeze, By The Light Of The Silvery Moon, and Down By The Old Mill Stream. I can still remember the words to those songs.

We opened with I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover, performed in classical Mitch Miller full-chorus style:

"I'm looking over a four leaf clover...that I've overlooked before. One leaf is sunshine...the second is rain. Third is the roses that grow in the lane..."

Our second number was Ain't She Sweet...performed in conjunction with a soft-shoe routine. Oh yes, we could dance too:

"Ain't she sweet...see her walking down the street. Now I ask you very confidentially...ain't she sweet…"

The third number was The Man On The Flying Trapeze in which I had a solo part:

Chorus: He'd fly through the air with the greatest of ease...the daring young man on the flying trapeze…

My Solo: "Oh, once I was happy, but now I'm forlorn…like an old coat that is tattered and torn…left in this wide world to fret and to mourn…betrayed by a maid in her teens"

And our fourth number, which brought the house down, was By The Light Of The Silvery Moon. We decided to give it our own personal touch:

Main chorus: "By the light..."
Back chorus: "not the dark but the light"
Main chorus: "of the silvery moon..."
Back chorus: "not the sun but the moon"
Main chorus: "we love to spoon…"
Back chorus: "not knife but spoon"
Main chorus: "to my honey I croon love's tune…" the time we finished we got a standing ovation...and won second place. Unlike us, the winners...a jazz & vocal trio...had some real talent.

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Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Flora Dora Sisters

An email from my sister, mentioning some very old relatives, was the catalyst for this post. Two twin sisters, known affectionately as the Flora Dora sisters, are cousins of mine...probably three or four times removed. Those are not their real names, but that's what we’ve always called them. They lived together, always dressed identically, and for the whole time I've known them I couldn't tell Flora from Dora.

For my entire life the Flora Dora sisters have been fixtures at family weddings and funerals. I remember my mother telling me that they loved to dance. My only memory of them dancing was at a cousin's wedding when I was in my 20’s . Every time the band played they’d stand up, clap their hands to the beat, and shift their weight from one foot to the other. I guess that was dancing to them, but to me it looked like two little wooden soldiers marching in place to the music. Not to be too critical…at least they kept time to the beat.

There aren't too many weddings anymore, so for the past few decades I've only seen them at funerals. They’ve always prided themselves on never missing a funeral...and would always seem to show up before anyone else...rosary beads in hand... dressed in identical black mourning clothes. I have this mental picture them showing up at the funeral home 15 minutes beforehand waiting for the doors to open. How quickly they found out who died remains a mystery to me...Facebook perhaps? I think not.

Whenever they'd see me they would always attack approach in tandem, arms outstretched, surround me with hugs, and plant very wet kisses all over my face. Did I mention they had whiskers? Anyway, after slobbering smothering me with kisses, they’d nod towards the coffin. Then Dora…or maybe it was Flora…would invariably say “Such a shame”dabbing her eye with a tissue…and her twin would say…nodding her head knowingly…“God decided to take him.” The only variation in this statement over the last 40 years was that sometimes “her” replaced “him.”

I have no clue how old they are...they've always looked 80-something to me. The family joke was that they'd probably outlive everyone else, and when they died there wouldn't be anyone left to attend their funerals. I'm not even sure if they're still alive...guess I'll have to wait until the next funeral to find out.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Expanding My Vocabulary

There was this guy who lived in my neighborhood when I was a teenager. We called him Jimmy's Taxi…because his name was Jimmy…and he drove a taxi. Yes, we were very creative back then. Anyway, Jimmy was probably in his 30's or 40's, and single. He rented a room in a house about two blocks from mine. His taxi was old…real old. It was painted a bluish gray…with "Jimmy's Taxi" displayed in faded red lettering on the two front doors.

Several evenings per week Jimmy would park his taxi on Taylor Road, which was kind of an access road that ran parallel to the parkway across from my house. It was a very wide road, with houses on one side that were set way back. I'd often see him there when I took my dog for a walk at night. Sometimes he'd be there by himself, smoking a cigarette while lounging back in the front seat with his long skinny legs sticking out from the driver side window. More times than not I saw him with one of his girlfriends. And sometimes I just saw the car…rocking up and down…a definite sign that Jimmy was gettin' some. I often wondered how he could manage a prone position without his feet jamming up against the window because he was more than six feet tall.

Well, one night the car was bucking up and down with more than usual vigor. The front window was open a bit, and I could clearly hear the grunts and groans as I walked the dog on the opposite side of the street. I was tempted to get closer and maybe catch a peek of the action, but was worried that the dog would get spooked by the mating sounds and start barking…and I didn't want to put the kabash on Jimmy's fun. Instead, I just continued down the street.

On my way to school the next day, I stopped by my friend Billy's house. Billy wasn't quite ready, so his mom told me to have a seat at the kitchen table while I waited. Billy's mom was really cool. She was a big, rotund woman. She always had a smile on her face and she had an incredible sense of humor.

"Did you hear about Jimmy's Taxi?" she asked.


"He died in the saddle. They found him parked in his car on Taylor Road."

The look on my face made it clear that I had no clue what she meant by dying in the saddle. She broke into a laugh. I shrugged my shoulders and looked at her expectantly. That made her laugh even harder.

"Billeee…," she yelled. "Come out here and educate Joey."

She resumed her laughing until Billy came into the kitchen.

The first thing Billy said to me was "You hear about Jimmy's Taxi? He died in the saddle last night."

"Joey doesn't know what that means," his mom said. She was now laughing so hard her face had turned a beet red.

"He was porkin' his girlfriend in the car and had a heart attack," Billy said. "Died right there on top of her."

"You're shittin' me," I said, forgetting for a moment that Billy's mother was there. "I saw his car there last night when I walked the dog. He was really going at it."

"They had to call the fire department to pry her loose," his mother said, wiping the tears running down her cheeks. "God, I'd give anything to have seen the look on her face."

Now...I know we should have felt sorry for Jimmy, but for some reason all we could think about was the image of the firemen showing up and finding the two of them like that. I almost peed in my pants laughing.

On the bright side…my vocabulary was enhanced a bit that morning.

By the way, this is a true story. It was inspired by my connection with an old neighborhood friend on Facebook a few days ago. He lived about a hundred feet from where Jimmy died.

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Badabing Is Back

I can't believe it's been more than a year since I've posted here...but, I'm baaaack!!

Oh...and Happy New Year to all. Here's how mine is going so far:

  • I came down with a nasty sinus infection on New Year's Eve...that I'm just now getting over
  • Went to the doc to get something for it and find out that my blood pressure and cholesterol are both sky high...what's with that?
  • Oh...and the doc wants me to have an MRI of the, not to see if I actually have see if I'm about to have a stroke or something
  • The weather here is cold enough to freeze the ballinos off a brass monkey...and my heating costs have increased 300% over the last 10 years...about the same amount as my income has decreased

    Other than that...everything is just dandy.

    Badabing Badaboom...

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