Two for Tuesday: Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians

Happy New Year, everyone! A few hours late for the celebrations of yesterday, but I thought honoring Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians was appropriate. He and his orchestra were a fixture of New Year’s Eve from 1928 until 1976, a few months before he died of a heart attack.

Gaetano Alberto “Guy” Lombardo was born in London, Ontario to Italian immigrants Gaetano Sr. and Lena Lombardo in 1902. His father was a tailor and a baritone singer who encouraged Guy and brothers Carmen, Lebert, and Victor to learn musical instruments so that they could accompany him. The band rehearsed in the back of Dad’s tailor shop. They began their prolific recording career in 1926. (Louis Armstrong was a big fan.) They started playing New Year’s Eve at the Roosevelt Hotel in 1928. Generally, their New Year’s Eve broadcasts (both radio and TV beginning in 1956) were carried on the CBS network, though they were syndicated in the late Sixties and early Seventies.

The first song here is “On a Slow Boat to China,” featuring a vocal by ?. “Auld Lang Syne,” the tune for which they are best known, is the second; the tradition is that it’s the song that plays at Times Square at midnight.

I wish you success, happiness, love, and fulfillment in 2013.


RIP, all of them…

Music means a lot to me, as you’ve probably noticed, and I’ve honored a number of musicians who died this past year. The New York Times put together this slide show as a way to remember all of them. There must be one heck of a jam session in heaven…

May they all rest in peace.


EDIT: Evidently, the NYT embed code doesn’t work here. I’ve changed it to a link. Sorry about that…

Three for Christmas: Chicago classics

I debated making today’s Two for Tuesday about Burl Ives, but then I thought “nah, share the Christmas videos.”

I grew up in Chicago (which I’m sure everyone knew) at a time when locally-produced children’s television was at its peak. One of the key programs of the day was “Garfield Goose and Friends,” on WGN, starring Frazier Thomas and featuring several puppets, paricularly Garfield, a goose who thought he was the King of the United States.

The cast of "Garfield Goose and Friends": Romberg Rabbit, Beauregard Burnside III, Garfield Goose, Mackintosh Mouse, Frazier Thomas, and Christmas Goose. (Image courtesy Wikipedia)
The cast of “Garfield Goose and Friends”: Romberg Rabbit, Beauregard Burnside III, Garfield Goose, Mackintosh Mouse, Frazier Thomas, and Christmas Goose. (Image courtesy Wikipedia, from a postcard that WGN-TV sent in response to letters from viewers)

The day after Thanksgiving, in the days when only the employees of department stores called it “Black Friday,” WGN would start playing one of today’s videos every day until Christmas on Gar’s show, typically in the order shown here. The first, “Hardrock, Coco, and Joe – The Three Little Dwarfs,” is the story of Santa’s three main helpers: Hardrock, who drove the sleigh; Coco, who navigated; and Joe, whom the song tells us Santa had really no use for, “but takes him ’cause he loves him so.” The second, “Suzy Snowflake,” is the whimsical story of a snowflake who brings hapiness whenver she comes to town. Years later, I realize that some of the lyrics have an unintended double meaning. These were filmed using stop-motion animation by illustrator Wah Ming Chang for a company called Centaur Productions around 1953. The third, “Frosty The Snowman,” was cartoon produced in 1954 by United Productions of America (UPA), creators of such cartoons as “Gerald McBoing-Boing,” “Dick Tracy,” and “Mr. Magoo.” No one knows who the quartet who sang this was, but I really wonder if this cartoon inspired The Manhattan Transfer. (On a more personal and somewhat bittersweet note, this was the cartoon shown on “Garfield Goose” the day my brothers and I saw our father for the last time, in 1966.)

WGN created a show several years ago called “Bozo, Gar, and Ray: WGN-TV Classics” which includes these cartoons as well as scenes from some of their more memorable kids’ shows of the Sixties, and they show it on WGN America on Christmas at noon Central Time (which, as you remember, is Sierra time). If you get WGN America on your cable or satellite TV and it’s not too late, it’s worth a watch.

Merry Christmas!

The Thursday Ten: “Blog of the Year”? Me?

Hunter Emkay of Hunter’s Writings has nominated me for the “Blog of the Year” Award!

And here it is!
And here it is!

I am humbled (I mean, this blog’s only been around a year and this will be the 140th post) but nonetheless happy that I’ve received this honor, and now that I actually understand how these awards work, here are the rules:


Blog of the Year Award Rules

The “Blog of the Year” award is a little different from some other awards, because you accumulate stars.

Here are the ‘rules’ for this award:

  1. Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award
  2. Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award.
  3. Please include a link back to this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award – and include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!)
  4. Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them.
  5. You can now also join our Facebook group – click ‘like’ on this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award Facebook group and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience
  6. As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars…


Yes – that’s right – there are stars to collect!

Unlike other awards which you can only add to your blog once – this award is different!

When you begin you will receive the ‘1 star’ award – and every time you are given the award by another blog – you can add another star!

There are a total of 6 stars to collect.

Which means that you can check out your favourite blogs, and even if they have already been given the award by someone else, then you can still bestow it on them again and help them to reach the maximum 6 stars!

For more information check the FAQ on The Thought Palette.


Okay, with that out of the way…

The link back to Hunter’s page is above. As for blogs that I would recommend for this honor, it would be safe to say that I’ve learned so much from every blog and blogger, and there are just so many blogs far more worthy of this award. I’m going to pick ten; after all, it IS Thursday, and I haven’t done anywhere near a post every Thursday. Here then are my ten


  • If there was a Hall of Fame as far as this award were concerned, Jenny Hansen’s Blog would certainly be in it. She’s that good: funny, informative, and has built a wonderful community.
  • If I were to name one person who is most responsible for my setting up this blog and keeping it going, it would have to be the Goddess of Social Media, Kristen Lamb. Kristen has written two books, We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer, both of which I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed. She’s also responsible for the #MyWANA hashtag on Twitter, which she explains here.
  • One of my most faithful readers is Louise Behiel. She is a fine writer who has written two novels, a novella, and contributed a story to an anthology. She is also a counseling psychologist who writes informative blog posts about matters such as bipolar disorder, family dynamics, addiction, etc. I’ve found them to be a lot of help to me because her articles explain a lot of what’s happened in my life.
  • Then there’s Tammy, who operates the blog Laughing At Everyday Life, who always shares funny stuff that she’s found all over the Internet, silly jokes, and stories about her crazy life. In light of the horror of last Friday, where so many good people lost their lives, I think you would agree that we can use all the humor that we can get our hands on.
  • Jennifer Eaton calls her blog “A Reference of Writing Rants for Writers or ‘Learn from My Mistakes’.” which is aimed at “helping all writers be the best they can be.” And I appreciate the help.
  • One of the first blogging initiatives that I participated in was the Blogging From A to Z Challenge, where I met Judy from Raising the Curtain. She blogs on her life, or as she says, “a look at life at the crossroads in preparation of the second act…because life does not come with signage.” I enjoy it; it’s like hearing from a friend from the other side of the world, mostly because she is on the other side of the world.
  • I get updates from a lot of blogs, meaning that I occasionally miss the posts that I really could learn a lot from, which is why I’m also nominating Gene Lempp and Yesenia Vargas, who are fine bloggers who do a weekly roundup of the best writing posts around the Internet. Gene is fom northern Illinois, as I was, and Yesenia lives in the Atlanta area, so I have something in common with them.
  • Stan Mitchell, from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, is an action fiction writer with two books, Sold Out and Little Man and the Dixon County War, available wherever you get your e-books. He’s a former Marine (I’ve always heard that there was no such thing), and writes an excellent blog where he discusses military issues, offers help and encouragement, and talks about football.
  • One of the best initiatives I’ve seen is A Round of Words in Eighty Days, better known as ROW80. The person behind ROW80 is Kait Nolan, who also writes a great blog that is always worth reading.

There are just so many “thank you”s to give to so many great and encouraging bloggers out there. Everyone who has come by, everyone who has offered support or written something that has been helpful to me, deserves the honor. I simply chose the top ten, mostly because I’d be here all night otherwise…

#ROW80 Round 4 2012: Somebody pulled the plug…

Tell me if this happens to you: You reach the end of the year, and all of your motivation goes away. That’s where I’ve been this week. Lots of reasons: the upcoming holidays, the carnage in Connecticut, several overcast and rainy days over the weekend, the ever-shortening daylight hours (which, fortunately, start getting longer after Friday, assuming that the Mayans were wrong), worries about the health of several members of the clowder, etc.

But there are bright spots. The beauty that is Christmas, or as I prefer to look at it, the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord; days where we see the sun longer; Mary and the clowder; and that, no matter how lousy the weather is, I don’t have to shovel it.

So, as the latest round of ROW80 draws to a close, I can celebrate the fact that, even if it wasn’t what I expected, I still made progress. I continue to write my 750 words a day and keep up my schedule here. I did a halfway decent job of being an encouragement to everyone, though better at the beginning of the round than toward the end. The same can be said for my tweeting and my reading: great to start, not so good by the end.

After three rounds of ROW80, I can see that my focus for future rounds is MORE:

– MORE volume
– MORE consistency
– MORE ideas
– MORE focus
– heck, MORE more…

I thank everyone who stopped by to leave comments and encouragement and thank Kait Nolan (who started ROW80) and all of the sponsors for making this possible.