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HEY YOU! YES, YOU!!


However you may have arrived here, this is the old Not Not Silly Newsroom.

It's a long story -- hardly worth going into here -- but after this place was declared a Brownfield Site, we abandoned it for the NEW! IMPROVED!! Not Now Silly Newsroom.

Feel free to stay and read what you came here to read, but when it's time to leave go to the new place by clicking HERE.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

George Carlin, Johnny Carson, and Comedy ► Throwback Thursday

George Carlin, the man who challenged both censors and the institution of Stand Up Comedy, would have celebrated his 79th birthday today, had he not been so foolish to die in 2008. 

Carlin started his career in radio while he was still in the USAF. While it only lasted a few months, it gave him that first taste of Show Biz. Soon he teamed up with Jack Burns as a comedy duo, and the two of them went on to some success, appearing on tee vee and recording an album. After 2 years they went their separate ways. As his official biography tells us:
After splitting with Burns, Carlin spent about a year working in nightclubs without much success and with no television exposure. In 1963, he branched out into folk clubs and coffee houses where the audiences were more progressive, and where he could develop both styles of material he felt capable of. He balanced mainstream material with the more outspoken, irreverent routines that were closer to his heart. In 1963 in he found the CafĂ© au Go Go in Greenwich Village and spent the better part of two years developing his comic style. Ironically, it was in this folk/jazz setting that he developed the first bits which got him on television, the ultimate establishment medium. The Indian Sergeant, Wonderful Wino, and the Hippy Dippy Weatherman were all born during this period. So was George and Brenda’s only daughter, Kelly.
At the time Carlin was still a straight comedian, with short hair, no facial hair, and wearing a suit and tie -- a far cry from the way he looked later in his career.

However, he was already moving away from conformity. As the WikiWackyWoo tells us:
Carlin was present at Lenny Bruce's arrest for obscenity. As the police began attempting to detain members of the audience for questioning, they asked Carlin for his identification. Telling the police he did not believe in government-issued IDs, he was arrested and taken to jail with Bruce in the same vehicle.[21]
Starting in the mid '60s Carlin started to appear regularly on television. But . . .
During the late 1960’s, because of the influence television was having on his career, Carlin’s new material grew bland and safe. The rebellious, anti-establishment tone of some of his earlier routines had disappeared, and increasingly he felt bored and dissatisfied with his material and the places he was working. By 1970, his self-imposed restrictions no longer applied; his acting and career had been put on hold, and the country was changing. The people who had inhabited the folk clubs and coffee houses of the early ’60s were now the “counterculture,” a large ready-made audience which shared many of Carlin’s out-of-step attitudes and opinions. He began to drift in their direction.

During 1970 the irreverent tone returned to his material, he grew a beard, and began to dress more casually. However, the “new” George Carlin didn’t sit well with his middleclass audiences nor with nightclub owners. A series of incidents with audiences and owners that year culminated in his being fired from the Frontier Hotel in September for saying “shit.” In December he worked his last “establishment” job: The San Francisco Playboy Club. From then on, his comedic identity became more and more associated with the counterculture.

Then came his most famous routine, Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television, which itself was subject to an obscenity trial when he was arrested in 1972 for performing it. Eventually, the case was dismissed. While the judge agreed the words were indecent, he affirmed Carlin's First Amendment Right to say them.

Along the way Carlin took up acting, appearing in a number of movies, including the cult favourite Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.

Carlin died of a heart attack on June 22, 2008. Just 4 days earlier he was announced as the latest recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He was the first to given the award posthumously at a star-studded affair in November.

Back in January Antenna TV, one of a several nostalgia stations that have cropped up in the last few years, started running entire episodes of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, renamed Johnny Carson for these rebroadcasts at 11PM every night. As often as I am able -- because it's past my bedtime -- I try and tune into the beginning of the show to catch who the guests are, and to watch the opening monologue. Tuesday night Carlin was Johnny's guest and I forced myself to stay up and watch him performing a very funny routine of non sequiturs, small jokes that had no linkage.

Comedy has sure changed a lot since George Carlin started in the '50s and he is one of the main agents of that change.

On Tuesday night, the same night he was being rerun on Carson's show, his daughter Kelly announced at a private event that she was donating the Carlin's archives to the newly formed National Comedy Center. According to NPR:
"Everybody's gotta have a little place for their stuff. That's all life is about. Trying to find a place for your stuff." — George Carlin

It's one of his most famous routines and, like all great comedy, contains more than a grain of truth.
Since he died eight years ago, the keeper of George Carlin's "stuff" has been his daughter, writer and performer Kelly Carlin. She says he kept everything: Scrapbooks. Arrest records. The pink slip to his first car, a Dodge Dart. VHS tapes.

From "handwritten notes of his actual working on comedy ideas to his kind of OCD-esque way of making lists of things, like every routine he ever did on a late night show," she says. "When comedians would come over to my house and I would say, 'Do you want to take a glance at my dad's stuff?' Their eyes would light up. I knew how to get to their hearts immediately," she says, laughing.
While he was alive George Carlin entered the pantheon of Great Comedians. His fame has only increased in the years since his death.

Here are a few laughs courtesy of George Carlin:

Monday, May 9, 2016

Hank Snow ► Monday Musical Appreciation

Happy Birthday to Canadian Country singer Hank Snow, the man who discovered Elvis Presley. He would be blowing out 102 candles had he not died in 1999 at the age of 85.

Clarence Eugene Snow was born "in the sleepy fishing village of Brooklyn, Queens County, on Nova Scotia's beautiful South Shore, just down the tracks from Liverpool", according to his official web site, which continues:
As a boy, Hank faced many difficulties and shortcomings. He had to face the trauma of his parents' divorce at just eight years old and he was forced to stay with his grandparents. He then had to deal with an abusive grandmother who forbid him to see his mother. He regularly sneaked out at night and walked the railroad tracks to Liverpool where his mother was living. Not willing to return to his grandmother, who would often beat him for visiting his mom, he would sometimes seek shelter in Liverpool's railway station, now home of the Hank Snow Country Music Centre.
He learned guitar from his mother. Running away from home at 12, he worked as a cabin boy on fishing schooners out of Lunenburg and bought his first guitar with his first wages: A T. Eaton Special which set him back $5.95. While onboard the ship he listened to the radio, later imitating the Country singers he heard, especially his hero Jimmie Rodgers.

Once he was back on land Snow continued to practice and improve. The WikiWackyWoo picks up the story:
Soon, Snow was invited to perform in a minstrel show in Bridgewater to help raise money for charity. "Someone blackened my face with black polish and put white rings around my eyes and lips," Snow recalls. When his turn came in the show, he played a song called "I Went to See My Gal Last Night." "My debut was a big success," Snow writes. "I even got a standing ovation."[2]

In March 1933, Snow wrote to Halifax radio station CHNS asking for an audition. The rejection letter he received only made him more determined and later that year he visited the station, was given an audition and hired to do a Saturday evening show that was advertised as "Clarence Snow and his Guitar." After a few months, he adopted the name "The Cowboy Blue Yodeler" in homage to his idol Jimmie Rodgers known as "America's Blue Yodeler." Since Snow's Saturday show had no sponsor, he wasn't paid for his performances, but he did manage to earn money playing halls and clubs in towns where people had heard him on the radio. He also played in Halifax theatres before the movies started and performed, for $10 a week, on a CHNS musical show sponsored by a company that manufactured a popular laxative. At the urging of the station's chief engineer and announcer, he adopted the name Hank because it went well with cowboy songs and once again, influenced by Jimmie Rodgers, he became "Hank, The Yodeling Ranger." Snow also appeared occasionally on the CBC's regional network.[2]
Signed to RCA Records Canada in 1936, the radio hook-up brought him greater fame and he started touring across Canada. Eventually radio stations south of the border started playing his records and Snow moved to Nashville, where he had a growing audience. In 1950 Ernest Tubbs invited Snow to perform at the Grand Old Opry. He didn't go over so big until he wrote his first hit song, I'm Moving On:


Even had he not discovered Elvis, Hank Snow would still be remembered today for his music. However, as the Wiki tells us:
A regular at the Grand Ole Opry, in 1954 Snow persuaded the directors to allow a young Elvis Presley to appear on stage. Snow used Presley as his opening act and introduced him to Colonel Tom Parker. In August 1955, Snow and Parker formed the management team, Hank Snow Attractions. This partnership signed a management contract with Presley but before long, Snow was out and Parker had full control over the rock singer's career. Forty years after leaving Parker, Snow stated, "I have worked with several managers over the years and have had respect for them all except one. Tom Parker (he refuses to recognise the title Colonel) was the most egotistical, obnoxious human being I've ever had dealings with."

One of my favourite jokes:
If Hank Snow married June Carter, there would be 6 inches of Snow in June.
But I digress. According to his website:
Hank Snow sold over 70 million records in his career that spanned 78's, 45's, extended 45's, LP's, 8-tracks, cassettes and compact discs.

Throughout his life he recorded over 100 LPs, including everything from hit parade material to gospel, train songs, instrumentals (alone and with Chet Atkins), tributes to Jimmie Rodgers and the Sons of the Pioneers, and recitations of Robert Service poems. He has always kept a warm spot in his heart for Nova Scotia, and he paid homage with his album "My Nova Scotia Home". He also recorded "Squid Jiggin' Ground" in honor of the fishermen he sailed with out of Lunenburg in his early youth.
Every August Liverpool, Nova Scotia, holds a multi-day Hank Snow Tribute. This year's shindig will happen August 18-21 and tickets are already available. However, as Not Now Silly likes to say: It's all in the grooves. This is why people still sing and play Hank Snow tunes: