HEY YOU! YES, YOU!!

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.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Beany and Cecil ► Saturday Morning Cartoons

When I was growing up in the '50s and '60s every tee vee station -- all 3 of 'em -- played cartoons on Saturday mornings. The Not Now Silly Newsroom launches a new regular feature: Saturday Morning Cartoons.


True story: I got my love of punning from Beany and Cecil. I can remember the exact moment that switch was turned on: When they traveled to the No Bikini Atoll. Prior to that revelation, I missed many puns on the show. But, from that moment on I watched for them. Whenever I saw one, I'd think I was especially clever because I was probably the only one who got it.

Beany and Cecil was the first cartoon I can remember -- other than Disney -- where you knew the name of the cartoonist. It was in the opening theme, fer crise sake, and every kid at home sang along. You can, too:


Who was Bob Clampett? Born in 1913 near Hollywood, he demonstrated an early talent for entertaining. As the story goes on the official website:
At aged 12 years Bob Clampett saw the 1925 silent film “The Lost World.” As a boy full of imagination, sitting in the audience for that film was a life altering experience for Clampett.. Special effects supervisor Willis O’Brien brought alive the creatures with his stop motion wizardry. Wallace Beery cut a larger than life figure as Professor Challenger.
Puns like these were hidden all over Beany and Cecil
At the end of the film a brontosaurus jumps off of the London Bridge into the Thames River and as he swims away only his neck is visible from out of the water. Clampett immediately saw an interesting character in the action from that final scene.

Clampett came home and set about with his mother’s help to sew a sock puppet of this character. He then performed puppet shows in front of the neighborhood kids delighting them with the antics of his sea serpent character who bested the professor in the pith helmet.

For years after that Clampett frequently entertained with this sock puppet serpent character and in fact kept it nearby in a handy place. 
Eventually, in an early example of merchandising and marketing, toy departments all across the country were selling green Cecil the Sea serpent hand puppets.But I'm getting ahead of myself.

However, speaking of merchandising: While still a teenager he came close to being sued by the Disney company when he tried to mass produce a Mickey Mouse doll. Luckily he got to show it to Walt himself, who not only liked it, but helped Bob and his father set up on the studio lot to mass produce the doll.


Having always demonstrated a facility for drawing, Clampett dropped out of high school to go to work as an "inbetweener" for Harmon-Ising, which eventually became Warner Bros. Cartoons. However, he never lost his interest in puppetry. As his website tells it:

In 1935 Clampett attended the California Pacific International Exposition in San Diego.
 

At this show he saw a demonstration of television for the very first time. He ran to his car and pulled his sea serpent hand puppet out of the glove compartment. Clampett was able to test for the first time what a puppet might look like on live television and recognized the power of this brand new medium.

In 1937 while at Warner cartoon studio, Clampett built a puppet studio directly across the street. He worked there primarily on nights and weekends with his friend Al Kendig to develop 3D stop motion puppetry.

[...]

In the early 1940’s Clampett pitched his idea for filmed puppet shorts about a sea serpent and sea captain to Warner Cartoon studio head Leon Schlesinger. However, Schlesinger turned the project down by saying, “A shoemaker sticks to his last.” This was what Clampett later referred to as a critical moment in his career because Clampett was then able to retain the rights to his most important original 3D creation.
You can read more about how Bob Clampett continued to develop his television puppet show and how that eventually led him back to his original vocation of animation HERE. However, I'm as bored as a 5-year old waiting for the cartoons to start. Pass the popcorn.


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Thursday, October 13, 2016

After I Left College ► Throwback Thursday

At different times I worked for both companies named
on this plaque: Record Week and Island Records Canada.
"Some people say" if you haven't unpacked a box in a few years, you should give it away. If I did I would have lost stuff like this. These two plaques, newly rediscovered, tell the backstory of my life.

While I was going to Sheridan College of Applied Arts and Technology in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, the two things I played with most, when I wasn't finding new ways to hoodwink my instructors:
  • Station Manager at Radio Sheridan;
  • Editor of A Student Magazine.

At the latter I wotked with artist Matthew Rust (who I've reconnected with recently on the facebookery) and Martin Herzog. Soon afterwards Marty and I started Zoundz Magazine, a little giveaway found next to the cash registers at Toronto area record stores. Soon we were taking advertising from the majors and adding pages to what had been a one-sheet folded cleverly. I was writer and editor and Marty had the business plan. However, in the end the business plan was that Marty would keep moving up, partnerships be damned.

He came to me one day and said that he was approached by Concert Productions International to take over Cheap Thrills, the house organ for members of the Cheap Thrills Club, in which membership had its privileges. Among them was to be first in line for concerts before tickets went on sale to the general public along with other perks. I followed Marty over to Cheap Thrills as Editor, but we were never partners after that.

Marty had his eyes on even bigger game than that.

One day he came to me, handed me a small pile of records, and told me that he had promised positive capsule reviews on them all. I argued that that's not how record reviews work. I was young and dumb and had journalistic integrity. [I am no longer young.] Eventually, he told me that either I would write them or he'd find someone who would from the stable of writers we had started building. I told him that I would write the reviews, but to not put me in that position again.

No one ever noticed, but those 3 record reviews never once mentioned the music. I reviewed the covers, the producer, session musicians, whatever I could get away with. In one I actually reviewed the quality of the vinyl, wondering where it was pressed.

The next month Marty did the same thing and I quit on the spot. Yes, I walked away from a company owned by the man who went on to mount Rolling Stone tours, Broadway shows, and personally kick Donald Trump out of his own buildings. It's a great story that ends thusly:

But, anyway, the bottom line is I look at Donald and said, “You and Marla (Maples) have to go.

You’re fired.” He looks at me and goes berserk.

“You don’t know anything! Your guys suck! I promote Mike Tyson! I promote heavyweight fights!”

And I notice the three shtarkers he’s with, in trench coats, two of them are putting on gloves and the other one is putting on brass knuckles. I go on the walkie-talkie and I call for Jim Callahan, who was head of our security, and I go, “Jim, I think I’m in a bit of trouble.” And he says, “Just turn around.”

I turn around. He’s got 40 of the crew with tire irons and hockey sticks and screwdrivers.

“And now, are you gonna go, Donald?”

And off he went.

And that was the night I fired Donald Trump.
I don't know who Marty promised positive reviews to and I never asked. However, all 3 records were from CBS, where Marty later found a job. Isn't that convenient? Bygones be bygones, once he landed at CBS, he'd hire me to write the salesmen one-sheets, the occasional band biography, and the words to populate entire promotional campaigns.

After all, freelance writing work is freelance writing work.

Other related stories:

The Officials' Story
The Day I Met Bob Marley
Me and Pink Floyd and
Ivor Wynne Stadium
When I left Cheap Thrills I immediately landed at Record Week, a Canadian music industry trade publications that not only went out to every radio station, record store, and player in the business in Canada, but was also subscribed to by movers and shakers in the U.S. and around the world. My masthead title read Concert and Gig Guide Editor.

To be honest, I wasn't at Record Week very long when I got a great offer to become part time Campus Record Promoter for Island Records Canada. This happened right about the same time I finished my 3rd year at Sheridan College (all of the above was extracurricular). I moved to Toronto, to live in the basement of the house on Bedford Road where Island Records had its Canadian Headquarters (and the only office in the country).

To be honest, I wasn't at Island Records very long when I got a better offer from United Artists Records Canada to replace Pete Taylor, a legend in Canadian record promo. The pay was stunning to me, having just left school, where I had been surviving on student loans and a part-time McDonald's job. [There's a story I should tell one day.]

To be honest, I wasn't at United Artists very long. I had climbed too high, too fast. I wasn't ready for Big Time Record Promo™. On my 89th day I was called into the Vice President's office and fired on the spot. Had they waited another 2 days, after my 90 day probationary period, they would have had to pay severance.

I went back to Island Records with my tail between my legs and I was taken back with open arms. There I finally learned the music promotion business.

Here's the punchline: In the period between working for Island Records and returning to Island Records, Record Week decided to surprise me with that year's Taking Care of Business Award. Apparently I had worked for Record Week for so short a time that they misspelled my name on the award.

I eventually went on to manage bands, write for a variety of publications (mostly non-music related) and spent a decade as a News Writer at Citytv. I have also had a lifelong love affair with music. This Throwback Thursday is dedicated to the time in my life when I couldn't decide what I wanted to be when I grew up, so I chose ALL OF THE ABOVE.

Crank it up and D A N C E ! ! !

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Where Does The Magic Go When The Magic Goes Away? ► A Pastoral Letter

Dear Pastor Kenny: 

SPOILER ALERT: I firmly believe that due to the immutable laws of physics and the Laws of the Universe, the magic never really goes away. Here's why:

If you recall, in my last Pastoral Letter I had just been Pastorized after visiting you in Ann Arbor on this year's version of my yearly road trip.

[For readers just tuning in: Pastor Ken Wilson is my oldest friend on the planet. A capsule chronology: When I moved into my house on Gilchrist Street at the age of 5, Kenneth John Wilson was the first kid I met. He lived catercorner across the street and we grew up together. We lost touch after he visited me in Canada at the age of 18-19 when he tried to sell me on Jesus. Over the years (especially after Al Gore invented the internet /snark) I tried to find him. Do you know how many Ken Wilsons there are in the world? Adding his middle name didn't help much.

Until I located him a few years back, I didn't know he became Pastor of the church he started in his living room in Ann Arbor. Nor did I know that after 45 years he wrote a book called A Letter To My Congregation, which argues for the full acceptance and loving embrace of LGBTQ communities into the life of the church. I consider it a very important book, which is why I provide the Amazon link. Buy it and read it.

I began writing these Pastoral Letters after we found each other again.]

Coincidentally, Connections is one of
my favourite Tee Vee documentaries,
finding synchronicity in the universe.
Ken, when I visited in August, I asked you the question that had been on my mind during all those miles on the road. What is the answer when Jesus is not the answer? Your reply was a single word: Connections.

I've been thinking about that a lot ever since.

How is it that you chose the one thing I seem to be the worst at? Maintaining connections has been a struggle for me since -- well, since you and I lost touch in 1972. Time and time again I've lost friends as I have moved through ome phase of my life after another. Not just lost friends, but have jettisoned entire groups of friends all at once, as I burned bridges behind me.

Once, a couple of decades back, there was a group of us that always got together on the weekend. We had done so through the years as we all acquired spouses and moved to new houses. We'd meet at one house, or another, and each week I'd always call around to find out where.

One week I decided not to call to see if anyone called me. I'm still waiting. There is an entire clique I stopped connecting with overnight. I have other stories like that.

I'm rambling, Ken, because I know what I want to say, but I'm not sure of the exact words that will get me there. Rather than continue to spin off on tangents and tell you in all the ways I'm bad at keeping connections, let's just stipulate I am.

I've been thinking about CONNECTIONS ever since we spoke. It occurred to me recently (because there are times my brain is very slow to make even the simplest of connections) that connections could also mean synchronicity, which I've written about. The interconnectivity of the Universe.

Late last year, after an adulthood of being an atheist, I started believing in something bigger than myself: MAGIC. And then I didn't anymore.

Where does the magic go when the magic goes away?


Recently I had a conversation with the magical person in my life where we decided to call it quits. She said, among other things, that she found it hard to keep up the connection. I wish I were making that up, Ken, but that's the exact word she used.

From the actual police report
During the same conversation I told her that I thought I could identify the exact moment the magic disappeared. It was late October. I was returning home from a productive day of research in Coconut Grove, a 35 mile drive. To pass the time, as we had done so many times before, she accompanied me on the trip. I called her when I left Miami and we talked about everything, anything, and nothing on the phone all the way up I-95 and across I-595, and up Nob Hill Road.

I was about a mile from home when a teenager made a right turn on a red light and ran right into the side of the car. I wasn't hurt, but the car was a write-off.

That's the last moment I could remember feeling the magic. A lot has happened since then, and so little of it's been good. Actually, none of it's been good, unless you count me saving Pops' life, but that's another story entirely.

Irony alert, Ken. After my magician and I had our recent conversation, I remembered I had actually written about that moment in one of my Pastoral Letters, of all places. I went back to read what I had written. And, that's when the light bulb FINALLY went on. [As I said above: I am often the last one to make a connection.]

I am just guessing, Ken, but I think I can identify the exact moment she stopped feeling the magic. That would have happened when she read Before and After Synchronicity, another one of my Pastoral Letters. I published it very soon after the accident. I had been working on it for a long time. I finally decided to rush it to completion, maybe before it was even ready. Probably before it was ready.

I say that because in that post, in my fumbling to find the right words to express the magic I had been feeling, I offhandedly used the term "mumbo jumbo" more than once as a way to express what I used feel about deep spirituality, a force beyond my limited understanding, but one that I was finding myself opening up to despite myself. [In a run-on sentence.]

What I was REALLY saying (in my clumsy way) is that prior to meeting that extraordinary woman, I didn't believe in that mumbo jumbo. After stating that, I then listed all the magical synchronicity that brought us together. All these things had me doubting what I had previously believed, or non-believed, as the case may be.

And, as for my loose language I am truly sorry. It came off in a way I never meant it to and I have only myself to blame because I didn't choose my words wisely.

However, if I am right about this, I also think I am owed an apology. Rather than tell me her feelings had been hurt, and why, the magician kept it to herself and allowed it to eat at her. Furthermore, I was never given a chance to explain, to clarify, to make amends.

I should have seen it. I felt her pulling away, but I put it down to the holiday season. I even remarked once that she felt distant, and as proof I pointed to Facebook, which had already noticed she was not coming up in those algorithms that show who you are close to and who is close to you.

And, more than once, when I expressed something magical she would ask, "But what about the mumbo jumbo" and I would explain again how everything I had once believed had been turned on its head. In other words, while I didn't know what it was, it was no longer mumbo jumbo.

And then one day the magic was gone. I could no longer rouse in her those feelings that I once had, which led to a disappointing visit to Toronto in August and a more disappointing conversation recently, where it was decided that we pull the plug.

That's when I started to ask, "Where does the magic go when the magic goes away?"

Then, on the very day I began this post (and it can sometimes take me weeks to get these thoughts down the way I want them, I took another one of those Facebook quizzes that use your algorithms:



That's when I realized that due to the immutable laws of physics and the Laws of the Universe, the magic never really goes away. Either that or the Universe has a really sick sense of humour.

But, I have talking to the crows again.

And, it has not gone unnoticed that I am publishing this on Yom Kippur.

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Ennio Morricone ► Monday Musical Appreciation

Blowing out 88 candles on his birthday cake today is composer Ennio Morricone, who has written the soundtracks to more than 500 movies and tee vee shows. 

Born in Rome, Morricone played trumpet and, apparently, composed his first piece at the age of 6. In 1953 he was asked to arrange for Italian radio shows. A few years later he started playing trumpet in a Jazz band, which may be why some of his soundtracks are so trumpet-laden.

Morricone became known for his soundtracks to several of Sergio Leone's so-called Spaghetti Westerns, including my favourite western of all time, "Once Upon A Time in the West."

"Once Upon a Time in the West" is the only Western anyone ever needs to see. It contains all the Western tropes we've come to expect and weaves several story lines together into a broad canvas about the civilizing the west. And, for Bonus Points: Henry Fonda plays against type as the meanest sumnabitch on the planet.

Almost everyone recognizes this movie theme, reinterpreted by Apollo Four Forty:


I'll let The WikiWackyWoo pick up the slack:
After having played trumpet in jazz bands in the 1940s, he became a studio arranger for RCA and started in 1955 ghost writing for film and theatre. Throughout his career, he composed music for artists such as Paul Anka, Mina, Milva, Zucchero and Andrea Bocelli. From 1960 to 1975, Morricone gained international fame by composing the music to westerns. His score to 1966's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is considered one of the most influential soundtracks in history[3] and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[4] With an estimated 10 million copies sold, Once Upon a Time in the West is one of the best-selling scores worldwide.[5] He also scored seven westerns for Sergio Corbucci, Duccio Tessari's Ringo duology and Sergio Sollima's The Big Gundown and Face to Face. Morricone worked extensively for other film genres with directors such as Mauro Bolognini, Giuliano Montaldo, Roland Joffé, Roman Polanski and Henri Verneuil. His acclaimed soundtrack for The Mission (1986)[6] was certified gold in the United States. The album Yo-Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone stayed 105 weeks on the Billboard Top Classical Albums.[7]

Morricone's best-known compositions include "The Ecstasy of Gold", "Se Telefonando", "Man with a Harmonica", "Here's to You", the UK No. 2 single "Chi Mai", "Gabriel's Oboe" and "E Più Ti Penso". He functioned during the period 1966–1980 as a main member of Il Gruppo, one of the first experimental composers collectives. In 1969, he co-founded Forum Music Village, a prestigious recording studio. From the 1970s, Morricone excelled in Hollywood, composing for prolific American directors such as Don Siegel, Mike Nichols, Brian De Palma, Barry Levinson, Oliver Stone, Warren Beatty and Quentin Tarantino. In 1977, he composed the official theme for the 1978 FIFA World Cup. He continued to compose music for European productions, such as Marco Polo, La Piovra, Nostromo, Fateless, Karol and En mai, fais ce qu'il te plait. Morricone's music has been reused in television series, including The Simpsons and The Sopranos, and in many films, including Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained.
As always, the proof is in the grooves: