Monday, December 30, 2002

The Un-Illustrated "MAD"

© EC Publications
We have a wonderful 16-year-old sweetheart living with us. One of her few failings is her inability to hold or read a book, so all reading material must be read to her. We have enrolled her in our state's Talking Library program. We have been provided with a slow-speed 4-track cassette player and tapes. Often, we receive magazines on tape, usually once a month. For some reason, this month one of the magazines was MAD.

So I sat and thought, "How does a comic book like MAD translate to the spoken word?" Well, for starters, the really bizarre stuff is left out. This includes, oddly enough, most of the works of Sergio Aragones. His marginal cartoons and a fullsize feature were left out of the recorded version, as well as "Spy Vs. Spy".

Some of the rest of the stuff translates quite nicely to spoken word, such as Dick DeBartolo's satire of "Signs" and a narrative detailing what Martha Stewart might be writing into her datebook these days. Even Al Jaffee's Fold-In is described in its folded state and a Duck Edwing punchline is described in detail. However, some of the newer humor by MAD's cadre of young turk writers puts me off my feed, and there's a Frank Jacobs "All Purpose Do It Yourself..." deal (you fill in each of a number of blanks with items from a pre-defined list) that doesn't go over. Letters page consisted mostly of an identifier of roughly 100 artists and writers whose pictures appeared in a previous issue marking MAD's 50th anniversary.

She seemed to like it, laughing appropriately in spots, but fell asleep near the end. (I'm sure that MAD would love to hear about that one!)

Now, all I need to satisfy my curiosity on such matters: how do they do Playboy for books-on-tape?

Friday, December 27, 2002

Why Dave Frishberg Rocks

One of my favorite singer/songwriters is a guy most of you have heard, but never heard of. You've seen his name on my Schoolhouse Rock pages, as author of such songs as "I'm Just A Bill", "Hardware", "Number Cruncher", "Dollars And Sense", "$7.50 Once A Week" and "Walking On Wall Street", the latter two of which he sung.

But Dave Frishberg is more than just those songs. He has an entire catalogue of quirky songs with names like "My Attorney, Bernie", "Blizzard Of Lies" (a tune inspired by wife Samantha who collected lots of "yeah, right" type epithets like "The check is in the mail", "Your secret's safe with me", "I am not a crook", etc.), and some songs that have actually become standards like "Do You Miss New York" and "Let's Eat Home" (both recorded by Rosemary Clooney, a fervent promoter of Frishberg's work who also covered "Sweet Kentucky Ham"). He's collaborated with the likes of Bob Dorough (a Schoolhouse Rock colleague on a tune called "I'm Hip") and Alan Broadbent ("Marilyn Monroe").

But Frishberg is probably best known for a song whose lyrics entirely consist of the names of baseball players - "Van Lingle Mungo", named for a pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants from 1931-1945. Frishberg noted that growing up in pre-Twins Minnesota, baseball players were nothing more than names in newspaper boxscores.

This page documents one baseball card collector's quest to obtain one card from each of the players mentioned in the song "Van Lingle Mungo". Some of the more prolific players mentioned in the song include Johnny Mize, Roy Campanella and Early Wynn; the obscure, rare ones who only played a few years and don't have many cards include Pinky May, Augie Bergamo, and a player who shares his name with one of my nephews, Danny Gardella. Frishberg followed up "Van Lingle Mungo" with a slightly similar, but more coherent tune called "Dodger Blue" which was premiered at a Dodgers old-timers day game.

Frishberg is like another of my jazz favorites, the beautiful and talented Diana Krall, in that they both have voices that you wouldn't associate with a singer. Frishberg has a very nasal, pinched tone. But their delivery is first rate and their piano playing is impeccable. Catch Frishberg if he ever shows up in your area (he does a great live show), and go find his CD's on Amazon, CD Now, or eBay.

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Merry Christmas

Happy December 24th, everyone. At this Holiday season, when my brain goes into neutral for a few weeks before I must return to the classroom, I will tell you that after a number of years with HostCentric, it is finally time to change web hosting providers. I have not yet chosen a new provider, but hope to do so by the end of the year. HostCentric is a good company, but I feel as a legacy customer from an acquired operation, I got a little lost in the shuffle and was allowed to flounder for too long under an outdated web hosting package.

So will soon be parked elsewhere. There may be further changes to the site, so stay tuned. None of the URL's are expected to change, so the only things you see will be cosmetic and philosophical changes.

Thank you and Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 01, 2002

How To Get Me To Delete Your E-Mail (Revised And Updated)

  • Subject line of merely "Hi" or "Hello" - this ain't Jerry Maguire. You won't have ME at Hello.
  • Advertise printer cartridges or the X-10 camera
  • Anything having to do with being single - I am married, thank you
  • I like my "equipment" the size it is, thank you
  • That damn Wealth Builder guy!
  • Mini RC Racers
  • Anything with a vague attachment
  • A funny website
  • You're the first player