Archive for June, 2010
26 Jun

A Stack o’ Fun at 45RPMs

My original 45 that started it all.

I miss vinyl. No matter how great the remastering, music originally put out on vinyl just sounds better on that format. Yes, the digital transfer can clean up the sound to near perfection, but the results are like covering beautiful furniture in plastic – kinda pretty and shiny, but not really comfortable and homey. I miss the pristine sound of a brand new record right out of the sleeve, or the pops and crackles of something played over and over again. And while I loved albums, my favorite format was always the 45RPM single.

When I was a kid I had a portable record player. I loved getting 45’s together, stacking them on the player and letting them go. Every 3 minutes or so a 45 would drop and a new song would start. It was bliss. And the trick was to sequence the songs so that there was a flow to the music or even a theme. I bought singles consistently beginning in 1974 with Barry Manilow’s “Mandy,” and continued collecting them through the late 80s. The collection also includes older singles from the 60s that were later purchased or inherited. I still have them all.

Some of my 45’s are songs that have yet to be reissued on any CD. These were usually minor hits by forgotten artists, but I remember them well. There are even popular singles where the mix sounds so much better than what was transferred digitally – believe me, if you listen to a song 50 times, you know what it is supposed to sound like. Every once in a great while I’ll dig out the box and give them a spin. Decades later they still sound great.

It’s funny how music has come a bit full circle with the digital world. Singles were originally king in the 50s and 60s, but then albums began to rule the market followed by the CD. Now, single songs can be downloaded in an instant allowing you to create your own collection of songs – the digital equivalent of the 45 stack. I enjoy my iPod and creating fun playlists, but it is nothing like holding a song in your hand, setting a needle on the lead, and the anticipation of music beginning within a second or two. Maybe I’m just an old fart now starting to say “back in my day…” Or perhaps the younger generation, in this case, is really missing out on something truly wonderful.

Anyone out there still have their 45’s?

Categories: Essay, Music Tags:
23 Jun

A Blip of a Movie Review – Toy Story 3

Alternate Title: “BL and the Bear”

Short Plot: Andy is leaving for college, the toys are mangled in a day care, there is a power hungry bear, Buzz goes Spanish, the day needs to be saved, emotions all around.

Pros: After 10 years the toys haven’t lost their touch, two hilarious moments involving a disgruntled clown and Spanish Buzz, Mr. Tortilla Head, no sappy musical numbers, a worthy addition to the series, a freaky monkey.

Cons: Didn’t need to be in 3-D (adds nothing), not as good as 1 & 2, story is good but I wonder what the original plot line for 3 would have been like (a malfunctioning Buzz goes to Taiwan to be fixed but the gang finds there is a recall on all Buzz toys and they go save him), a freaky monkey.

Verdict: I enjoyed it. Not as much as the first two, but the franchise holds up well after 10 years. If you liked 1 & 2, chances are you will like 3 as well.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Blips  •••

Categories: Movies, Review Tags:
22 Jun

The Real Life: Tales from the Telegrams, Pt. 1

Yup, this is me as the Pink Elephant!

During my college days in Boston, I ended up working as a singing telegram. The job had its advantages – I traveled all around Boston, made great tips, and barely ever worked before 11:00 a.m.  The telegram company had several costumes that a client could choose from for the delivery. Included in the menagerie was a basic circus ringleader outfit (boring) and two popular client favorites, the gorilla and the chicken. The gorilla was an expensive, nice costume, but it was heavy and hot making it awful during the summer. The chicken was getting old and raggedy, but I created a character for the chicken that people liked and I often got requests to do the chicken from repeat clients. Then there was the bumblebee. I really hated that one. Luckily, it was rarely requested so I was able to keep the mental damage to a minimum. If you remember the killer bees sketch from SNL, that was the costume. As if singing a lame song to a roomful of people isn’t humiliating enough, add the bee costume with tights and antennae to it and the phrase “paying your dues” takes on a whole new meaning. But my favorite costume was the pink elephant. It was brand new and I was the first one to use it. The costume was a bit cumbersome with the round feet, big head, and hooped center, but it was very light and when I walked the hoop moved back and forth creating quite an image. Plus it just looked fun.

My favorite telegram in the pink elephant was something I did on the spur of the moment. I had finished a late morning telegram in downtown Boston and had some down time before the next job when I heard on the radio that Natalie Cole was going to be appearing at a record store signing autographs and promoting her latest album “Dangerous.” This was in 1985 right before she started to burst back on the pop music charts with “Pink Cadillac” and other hits. I’m not sure what possessed me, but I thought it would be an interesting promotional thing to pop in on Natalie Cole and do a singing telegram for her. My thought was that there would be a lot of people there and I’d easily get in with the costume and do the promotion and hand out cards. The record store was on the way home so I drove over, got in the pink elephant costume, wrote up some special lyrics to one of our standard songs, and waddled my way into the record store. Unfortunately, when I walked in there was barely anyone in the store. Just a few shoppers and a table in back where Natalie Cole was with her mother, a PR person and a handful of folks getting autographs. I felt kind of bad that hardly anyone was there, so I decided to buy her album. I grabbed the album and did a little skip-dance over to the table. I put the album on the table and then proceeded to do the telegram and hand her a certificate. They really liked it – more so than I expected. All of a sudden everyone is taking pictures of me with Natalie Cole! Her mom was snapping pictures and then I had to pose with her as well. They were all very nice and really appreciated the effort. I was always sad that I never got one of the pictures that was taken that day, but I did get the album signed.  It says “To Aaron the Pink Elephant – Thanks!  Love, Natalie Cole.” I still have it and always will. It was one of my favorite moments as a singing telegram. But there are a few more…

Stories real and surreal of days singing telegrams will be shared in upcoming posts.

12 Jun


Thanks for checking out theBlippity. I’m in the process of developing the site, so stay tuned and expect changes as I’m still getting used to this bloggin’.  What can you expect from theBlippity? Most likely posts that include music and movie reviews/comments, personal stories, mini-essays, humorous stuff, interesting links, photos, food talk/recipes and other junk that most everyone will consider non-essential. But who knows – maybe you will like it!

Categories: Commentary Tags: