Monday, December 28, 2015

Columbia Oratorio Chorus--"Hallelujah Chorus" (1916)

Christmas is over?  Not here, it isn't.  At least, not until I've posted this gem of a 1916 78:

Great fidelity, though the disc contains more than the usual share of rumble.  I was able to cancel most of it out, but I didn't dare bring out the lower frequencies.  So, things are little more trebly than I wanted, but it works, because the voices ring out loud and clear, and the voices are the thing.

Our third (?) vintage recording of Hallelujah Chorus for your just-after-Christmas.

Click here to hear: Halleljuah Chorus (Handel)--Columbia Oratorio Chorus, 1916.


Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas pieces--Your blogger on the Casio WK-3800!

It's Christmas 2015!  But of course we're all focused on the GOP presidential candidates.  As in, exclusively and obsessively.  Well, at least MSNBC is.

Maybe, like me, you've been wondering why MSNBC, which prides itself on not being Fox, is nevertheless spending 99 percent of its time hyping Donald Trump.  Well, MSNBC explained it tonight: You see, by giving tons of free publicity to the GOP frontrunner, we (the left) are hurting the GOP.  Yo, ho ho!  We're so smart.

Dems: "We're helping our cause by ensuring the GOP frontrunner's primary victory."  
Attending psychiatrist (writing in his pad): "Uh-huh.  I see.   Tell me more."

But let's try to focus on Christmas.  To help, I've recorded four Christmas selections on my Casio WK-3800.  Here they are:

Vom himmel hoch, da komm ich her (Luther-Scheidt)
Good King Wenceslas
Angels We Have Heard on High
Come, All Ye Shepherds

Lee Hartsfeld, Casio WK-3800, multi-tracked and live.


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

"Keeping Christmas," and other seasonal gems!

Here are three of the things to come in this sleightlist.  Don't say you weren't warned.  ("I wasn't warned.")  I asked you not to say that....

I had been numbering these Christmas zip files, but I lost count, so... here we are.  On Number Whatever.

In this zip, two tracks by Don's brother Jim Ameche, of whom Wikipedia says, "James Ameche was a familiar voice on radio, including his role as radio's original Jack Armstrong on Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy."  We'll hear him on the 1949 Line Material single, Keeping Christmas and the not-sure-when disc called The Story of the First Christmas Tree.  I'm sure the latter predates A Charlie Brown Christmas by at least a decade, so could it have inspired Schultz's "little Christmas tree that could" theme?  Both texts concern the true meaning of Christmas, as well as a runt tree that triumphs. (I've always wanted to type, "a runt tree that triumphs.") The 50th anniversary of Schultz's cartoon has been an occasion for much hype and praise from the media, but a certain Kentucky school district deemed some of Schultz's text unfit for kiddies.  Oh, well.  I guess they didn't get the the NYT, USA TODAY, Huffington Post, NPR, et al. memo.

American Chamber of Commerce Executives Presents At Home with Santa is just as campy as the title suggests, only much more so.  In other words, it's great stuff.

We have two recordings of One Solitary Life, which went by another name, too.  Once upon a time, I had a lot of data about the number and its long history.  In another life, at another blog.  (No, wait--it was this one.)

And... two gorgeous John McCormack sides, two rousing Bonnie Gulan numbers (Greetings to her daughter Kathy!), and Allen and the Lads' The Ghost on Christmas Eve.  An eBay dealer describes Ghost as "sought after."  I wonder if I had anything to do with that?

Click here to hear: Keeping Christmas


Keeping Christmas--Jim Ameche (Line Material, 1949)
ACCE Presents At Home with Santa, Part 1--Mutual Radio Networks
ACCE Presents At Home with Santa, Part 2--Mutual Radio Networks
Ave Maria (Bach-Gounod)--John McCormack-Fritz Kreisler, 1914
The Holy Child (Easthope Martin)--John McCormack, 1925
Sohio ET #54 ads (Radio station acetate)
Jingle Bells Fantasy--The RCA Victor Salon Orch., 1948, Arr. and Cond. By Rosario Bourdon
One Solitary Life--Frank La Spina (Holy 6010, 1983)
Christmas Yodel (Bonnie Gulan)--The Do-Gooders, 1980
Christmas in Our Town (Bonnie Gulan)--The Do-Gooders, 1980
Ghost on Christmas Eve--Allen and the Lads (Beaver 8679)
One Solitary Life (Fred Brock)--Robert Goulet, w. Choir of Bel Air Presbyterian Church
The Story of the First Christmas--Jim Ameche (Regina Recording E3CB-5192/3)
Jingle Bells Galop (Bowmar Records 1554)
Santa's Toy Shop (Voco VX-630; 1952)


For your Christmas sound effects party....

So, it's December 22, and you're thinking, "Wherever can I find 'Horse and Sleigh (Continuous)' sound effects, especially at this late date?  Where?  Where???"

And then you stumble across this blog post.

From the early 1930s.  Author Rick Kennedy reports there were nearly 400 recordings in this series!  Whoa....

Horse and Sleigh (Continuous)--Gennett Sound Effects (Gennett 1195)


Monday, December 21, 2015

"Santa Claus is Flying Thru/Through the Sky," and more!

Santa Claus is Flying Thru the Sky is one of my favorite cheap-label Christmas tracks, and I believe I discovered at one point that Enoch Light was connected with it, but don't take my word for it.  Anyway, today's rip is from the Treasure label LP, Merry Christmas!, on which Santa Claus rides thru the sky.  On the Tops for Tots 78 rpm single shown above, he's riding "through" the sky.

Exact same recording, however.  I thought I'd clarify this vastly important point before moving on.

Merv Griffin's wonderful Christmas City was recorded for....  Well, let me refer you to a site which explains it all: The Real Story Behind Merv Griffin's Iconic Song Christmas City.  Thank you, Chris!  And gives me a recording year of 1962.  I'd have guessed more like mid-Sixties, but there you go.

Winter Song appears for the third time this season, in a version by the Goodfellows Male Chorus, a Camden label pseudonym for the RCA Victor Male Chorus.   Meanwhile, for everyone who came to my blog this season hoping to encounter a square dance version of Jingle Bells, your dreams have been answered--Massachusetts Mixture is here!  And you get two non-square dance versions, to boot--Johnny Cole's, from a Grand Award LP, and a super high fidelity rendition by the legendary ensemble, "Vocals and Orch. By Popular Artists," from a Value Hit Parade Tune 78 rpm EP.

All this, and more to rock your almost-Christmas holiday!!

Click here to hear: Santa Claus Is Flying Thru the Sky


Christmas City--Merv Griffin (WDSM GRC 7999; 1962)
Santa's Christmas Party--Kathryn Hume and Grace Lynne Martin--Rhythms Productions CC-617
Activity Songs for Christmas--Ruth White and Grace Lynne Martin--Same
Parade of the Wooden Soldiers--Ray Bohr, pipe organ, 1956
Massachusetts Mixture--Lawrence Loy, Wilbur Waites, 1951
Santa Claus Is Flying Thru the Sky--from LP Merry Christmas! (Treasure 824)
Jingle Bells--Dick Byron and the Sandpiper Cho., Dir. Mitch Miller
All Around the Christmas Tree--Vocals and Orch. By Popular Artists (Value Hit Parade Tunes)
Snow Flakes--Fontanna, His Orch. and Chorus (Palace label)
Deck the Halls--Up on the Housetop--Michael Stewart, Sandpiper Cho., Dir. Mitch Miller
The Santa Claus March--Russ Morgan Orch., voc: Joey Alfidi, 1956
It's Santa Claus--Scott MacGregor, 1948
Jingle Bells--Vocal and Orch. By Popular Artists (Value Hit Parade Tunes)
Jingle Bells--Johnny Cole (International Award)
Winter Song--Goodfellows Male Chorus (RCA Victor Male Chorus), 1925 (Camden CAL-134)


Friday, December 18, 2015

Merry Christmas from Line Material!!

                                 Scans by me, from my collection

Ahhhh... Line Material Christmas singles--one of the best parts of any Christmas, anywhere. How to explain? How about with a capsule history of the company: Line Material.

Luckily for all of us, Line Material gave Christmas booklets and records to its employees during the holiday season.  A number of these have survived.  Here are eight of the LM singles, starting with 1956's The Magic of Christmas.  (I own a ninth--1949's Keeping Christmas--but I haven't yet located the CD-R containing it.  I could always re-rip it....)

Oh, yeah--and London-born John McCarthy (1919-2009) was the arranger on tracks 2-7.  That's why they sound so incredibly professional.  John is way better known for his Ambrosial Singers Christmas sides.  From 1961 to 1966, the Ambrosian Singers were known as the London Symphony Orchestra Chorus.  (Last bit of info swiped from Discogs.)

Here's John, from 1989:

Click here to hear:  Merry Christmas from Line Material!


The Magic of Christmas--1956
Santa's North Pole Band--1957
The Kinds of Christmas--1958
The Sound of Christmas--1959
Santa's Factoree--1960
The Day That Santa Was Sick--1961
Let's Trim the Christmas Tree--1962
The Story of Santa Claus--1964

Ripped and de-clicked by Lee Hartsfeld, 2007.


Protecting our children from Charles Schultz

                                 "That's not a Newton Tree, Charlie Brown!  It's a Christmas Tree!"

I was eight when A Charlie Brown Christmas first aired, and I remember being surprised by Linus' Bible reading.  "Can they do that on TV?" I wondered.  Apparently, yes.  My 81-year-old foster mother, Bev, says she was surprised at the time, too.

Seriously--this seemed daring.  The non-stop secular claim that our past pop culture was saturated by religion is a line of woo-woo.  It's baseless propaganda.  If faith was all over the place in 1965, why was this eight year old astonished to hear a Bible reading on network TV?  And I'm from the flyover state of Ohio, thank you.

Anyway, 50 years later, a Kentucky school district is censoring Charles Schultz in the name of ACLU's version of the establishment clause.  (File under, "You Can't Make This Stuff Up.")  Here's the story.  Per my consistent Googling, it appears that none of the usual suspects--Hufington Post, Atheism Rocks! (a.k.a. Religion Dispatches), Salon, Friendly Atheist, et al. are covering this story, probably because 1) it's true, 2) the behavior it documents is indefensible, and 3) because it's true and indefensible, they don't feel all that easy about ridiculing the situation in their usual fashion.

The tragic truth is that the left-of-center press (on line and off) tends to respond with mocking scorn to any story of this type.  It's the default response, and it's quite stupid, because a "laugh at the rubes" stance is not a sustainable one.  Why?  Because popular perceptions are not always incorrect, nor are the concerns of average folks always invalid.  So what do we do when, say, Bill O'Reilly (who broke the story) makes a valid point about something as absurd as censoring a beloved 50-year-old Charles Schultz text?  Well, if we're smart, we say nothing.

That, or maybe Huff-Po, et al. just haven't gotten around to the story yet.  Well, I wish them luck in concocting a good and snarky dismissal to this situation, because it's clearly a case of the down-on-faith attitude run amok.  I can't imagine how anyone could downplay this.

I eagerly await left-of-center coverage.

There's no war on Christmas--just on poor Charles Schultz, I guess!  My, my.  Write a cartoon that people are still loving half a century later, and have the state deem a portion of your script unfit for children!!

Gotta protect the kiddies from Peanuts.  In the name of preserving our democracy, ya know....

Update: Meanwhile, get your A Charlie Brown Christmas stamps here.  Hurry, before the Eastern Kentucky school district bans them!


Thursday, December 17, 2015

The miracle of the rescued Christmas 78: "Hallelujah Chorus"--Arthur Pryor's Band, 1908.

When I placed the needle on Arthur Pryor's 12" 78 of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus, the tonearm did a bunny hop over the starting grooves.  Examining the disc closely, I spotted a pronounced lip warp.  Another side for the dead disc pile. (Muted trumpet, descending in "wah wah" half steps.)

Luckily, I thought to Google for a solution to the problem, and I found it at Youtube, where I witnessed a badly warped big band 78 being flattened with a blow dryer and some gentle pressure.  A blow dryer!  I was thinking glass plates and an oven (the conventional remedy).  Something I've never tried, because someone told me the possible fumes/heat combination could be bad news.

So I plugged in Bev's blow dryer and held it over the warped area until it was nice and hot.  Then I placed a small stack of 12' 78s and some books atop the area (light pressure wouldn't do for a thick 1908 12" Victor 78), and I left it overnight.  (The Youtube video had noted that 78s retain heat for some time.)

Next morning, not expecting much in the way of results, I unearthed the disc, took it to the Media Room, and played it.  The needle tracked flawlessly.  No warp!!

I'll have to re-find that video and link to it (Youtube link).  Meanwhile, here's Arthur Pryor's Band, from 1908.  I think you'll agree it was worth the extra trouble:

Hallelujah Chorus--Arthur Pryor's Band, 1908.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas 78s, Part 5--Al Goodman, Gilbert Girard, Arthur Pryor, Hayden Quartet!

Fifteen titles in today's sleighlist, but you actually get seventeen sides, since two of the files (Christmas Time in Merrie England and Gilbert Girard's Santa Claus sides) combine A and B sides.  Why did I combine the sides for some medleys and not for others?  Beats me!

I'm too busy ripping and restoring these things to plan logically.  Getting these things labeled and numbered is enough work in itself, owing to the weird sorting feature of my free mp3 converter.  Technology helps and victimizes us at the same time.  (Yes, you may quote me.)

The great-sounding Al Goodman side (Christmas Fantasy) was ripped from my near-pristine copy, and, because it's from 1949 or 1950, my pre-amp's 78 curve made it sound tinny and lousy.  "Why not switch to the LP curve?" I thought.  I did, and it sounds great.  I think, anyway.  A light concert classic.

Memories of Christmas is also from a looks-new 78, and you don't get many of those from 1918.  A very charming medley--straightforward and unpretentious.  I find equivalent modern pop/pops numbers a bit overstated, at minimum, and I think this is because, in our post-rock era, people feel the need to be entertained LOUDLY.  The Boomer label is kind of ironic, giving my generation's love for BOOM BOOM BOOM.  In the distant popular past, one could mark time gently and without an incessant accent on 2 and 4.  How quaint, no?

Massenet's Angelus is a gorgeous concert piece from, um... well, sometime.  A quick search didn't give me the year.  My guess is late 1800s.  The 1925 fidelity on this Victor-recorded pipe organ solo (always wanted to type that) is absolutely unreal.  As in, superb.

The sound effects on Gilbert Girard's Santa Claus sides are marvelous--in a few spots, the audio presence is uncanny.  (Keep in mind they were recorded with a large horn.)  Listening to this track in my car, I could swear the effects were happening in stereo.  This kind of thing happens when your ears are 58 years old....

Enjoy!  And always remember that Christmas, the biggest festival on our planet, is just another December holiday.  It's easier that way.  That way, no one accuses you of being a benighted culture warrior.  ("Oh, yeah, Christmas.  I think that's... in December?  Maybe? Dunno.")

Click here to hear: Christmas 78s, 2015--Part 5


Christmas Fantasy, Part 1 (Arr: Goodman)--Al Goodman and His Orch., 1949 or 1950
Christmas Fantasy, Part 2 (Arr: Goodman)--Al Goodman and His Orch., 1949 or 1950
Memories of Christmas, Part 1--The Village Church (R.H. Bowers)--Prince's Orch., 1918
Memories of Christmas, Part 2--The Tree at Grandmother's--Prince's Orch., 1918
Christmas Time in Merrie England--Regimental Band of H.M. Grenadier Guards, 1922
Angelus (Massenet)--Charles O'Connell, Pipe Organ, 1925
Christmas Chimes (Vandersloot)--Salon Orch., 1932
Cathedral Chimes (Arnold-Brown)--Salon Orch., 1932
O Come, All Ye Faithful--Temple Quartet, 1925?
Yule-Tide--A Christmas Fantasia--Arthur Pryor's Band, 1912
Christmas Carols--Collegiate Choir, 1924
Silent Night, Hallowed Night--Hayden Quartet, 1908
Santa Claus Tells About His Toy Shop--Santa Claus Gives Away His Toys--Gilbert Gerard, 1921
The New Born King (L'Espoir)--Hamilton Hill, 1909
The Sabbath Morn (The Holy City, with Chimes)--Harry Macdonough, Tenor, 1909


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Christmas 78s, Part 4--A Paul Whiteman Christmas!!

We start with a 12" Columbia Paul Whiteman Christmas 78--Ferde Grofe arranged the first side, Bill Challis the second.  Then, a guest appearance by the Peerless Quartet, with a tune that quotes a portion of Snow Time.  Looks like the same guys also recorded this for the Victor label.  Back to Whiteman for the acoustical (1923) and electrical (1928) recordings of Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, and I ripped the second track from two sources--a 1930s reissue and an original copy.  The tuba tones were shredded on the reissue, so I subbed two portions from my 1928 copy.  If you listen for the cuts, you might hear them--listen for a subtle EQ change.

Several more guest recordings follow, including the exact same Trinity Choir arrangement of Christmas Hymns and Carols, but in (you guessed it) acoustical (1921) and electrical (1926) versions.  It's a chance to compare pre-microphone and microphone fidelity on essentially the same performance.  (Timing's different, of course--I tried overlapping with no success.)

We close with the season's second appearance of Frederic Field Bullard's Winter Song, this time by the Peerless Quartet.  Er, with Orchestra.  We mustn't forget "Orchestra."

Click here to hear: Christmas 78s 2015 Pt. 4


Christmas Melodies (Arr: Ferde Grofe)--Paul Whiteman Orch., 1928
Silent Night, Holy Night (Arr: Bill Challis)--Paul Whiteman Orch., 1928
On a Good Old-Time Sleigh-Ride (Gumble)--Peerless Quartet, 1913
Parade of the Wooden Soldiers (Arr: Grofe)--Paul Whiteman Orch., 1923
Parade of the Wooden Soldiers (Arr: Grofe)--Paul Whiteman Orch., 1928
Day of the Lord (A Carol Scene) (Kruetzer)--Criterion Quartet, 1924
Silent Night, Holy Night--Columbia Mixed Quartet, 1926
Christmas Hymns and Carols (Electrical recording)--Trinity Choir, 1926
Christmas Hymns and Carols (Acoustical recording)--Trinity Choir, 1921
Winter Song (Bullard)--Peerless Quartet w. Orch., 1920


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Christmas 78s, Part 3--Trinity Choir, Zonophone Orch., St. Olaf Choir, Shannon Quartet!

No time for notes--I'd add them later.  Three versions of Martin Luther's great Vom Himmel Hoch hymn, starting with the second selection (Fra himlen hoit kom budskap her), which is a cool instrumental recorded in 1909 in Germany and marketed to several ethnic groups on the Victor label in the U.S.

Click hear to hear: Christmas 78s 2015, Part 3

Gloria from Twelve Mass (Mozart)--Trinity Choir (1926)
Fra himlen hoit kom budskap her--Apollo Musikkorps (Zonophone Orch., 1909)
Vom Himmel Hoch (From Heaven Above)--Christmas Chorus w. Orch. and Chimes (year unknown)
Messiah--Hallelujah Chorus (Handel)--Trinity Choir (1926)
Calm on the Listening Ear of Night--Shannon Quartet (1925)
Silent Night, Hallowed Night--Shannon Quartet (1925)
Ave Maria (Bach-Gounod)--Elizabeth Wheeler w. Orchestra (1910)
From Heaven Above (Christiansen)--St. Olaf Choir (1927)
O Tannenbaum--Kinderchor (1908)
Ihr Kinderlein Kommet--Kinderchor (1908)
Stille nat, hellige nat--Apollo Musikkorps (Zonophone Orch., 1909)
Around the Christmas Tree--Little Christmas Tree--Elsie Baker, Contralto (1914)
Merry Christmas--Sleighing Song--Olive Kline, Soprano (1913)
The Christmas-tree Man--Bessie Calkins Shipman, w. Orch. (1920)
Christmas Tree (Niels W. Gade, c. 1901)--Members of the NY Philharmonic Orch., Dir. Henry Hadley (1925?)


Thursday, December 10, 2015

The inevitable Christmas essay by me

I can't help it.  I've been trying not to do this, but I guess my desire to editorialize at Christmas is too strong to resist.  Music is coming after this post, so feel free to skip this essay.  ("Sure thing"??  Hey, wait a minute.)

Well, we've all heard that Jesus is NOT the "reason for the season" (It's the winter solstice, dude), and that Christmas is a rip-off of Dies Natalis Solis Invicti.  But now an additional claim of the same type has emerged.  (At least I think it's new--maybe not.)  Namely, that Christmas never had anything to do with Christ.

I'm not making this up.  Now, I don't know through what process of logic'n'reason anyone concluded that the festival of Christ's birth has nothing to do with Christ, but....  Well, actually I do.  You see, the logic'n'reason folks seem to be limited to a single logical thinking template: namely, debunking.  They take claims and test them.  For instance, "we Christians" will claim that Jesus is the reason for the season, and they'll test that claim and conclude that, no, Johnny Cash is the reason for the season.

The problem with the debunking approach is that it simply "tests" common wisdom.  At most, it tells you what select portions of the public think about one topic or another.  Now, if you want to know whether or not Christmas is about Christ, logic dictates that you consult the scholarship of holiday experts--and there's a ton of same out there (paging Jack Santino).  In other words, if you want to know what's up with some aspect of cultural history, you check out the scholarly consensus.  DUH.  Or, if you if have absolutely no respect for yourself or the people who love you, you Google Bill Maher or Penn Jillette to find out what they think.

And the scholarly consensus appears to be that Christmas is about Christ.  Therefore, those folks who insist otherwise have a pretty substantial burden of proof to deal with.  That's how these things work.  For instance, those who insist that global warming is nothing to worry about have to contend with the consensus of climate scientists.  And those who claim Christ has nothing to do with the festival of his birth have to contend with the consensus of serious scholars.

Did I mention that the scholarship in question (largely Christian scholarship) dates back to the 19th century, if not earlier?  None of this stuff is new.  The mess media makes it its job to treat old controversies as if they sprung up last week, but they're idiots--ignore them.

For instance, the controversy over the choice of Dec. 25 for the celebration of Christ's birth dates back nearly 1800 years.

Holidays evolve.  They change in form, sometimes drastically.  They merge.  They have their original themes altered when they turn up in a different portion of the year than when they were originally conceived.  And so on.

After all these centuries, the celebration of Christ's birth is still going.  Those who consider that a bad track record need to keep whatever they're smoking away from my person, because I don't want to be sniffing any of the fumes.


Saturday, December 05, 2015

Christmas 78s, part 2--"Santa Claus Polka," "The Skaters Waltz," more!

Yes, the Santa Claus Polka, from 1926, no less.  It's pretty cool.  No words, however.  Here are four of the five sides you'll be hearing this time around:


Messiah--Hallelujah Chorus (Handel)--Mark Andrews, Pipe Organ Solo, 1925,
The Skaters--Waltz (Waldteufel)--International Concert Orch., Dir. Nat Shilkret, 1926.
Santa Claus Polka--Ottar Argee's Quintette, 1926,
Parade of the Wooden Soldiers (Jessel)--International Concert Orch., Dir. Nat Shilkret, 1928.
Winter Song (Bullard)--Shannon Four, 1922.

Ripped by me from my 78 collection.

Click here to hear: Christmas 78s, Part 2 .

The sound quality on Mark Andrews' 1925 Hallelujah Chorus organ solo is fabulous.  Astounding, really.  Remember that 1925 was the first year, commercially at least, for electrical recordings.  I played this arrangement on the piano many years ago for a choir concert, and it's tons of fun, especially the last part and the 16th (8th?) notes in the right hand.  Unlike Joy to the World, Hallelujah Chorus really was written by Handel.  Great piece, but it starts sounding like modern pop music by the umpteenth time, owing to its incessant repetition.  Is Handel the father of today's play-the-same-phrase-over-and-over school of pop composition?  (No.)

Leon Jessel's Parade of the Wooden Soldiers (Die Parade der Zinnsoldaten) hails from 1897, though it achieved mass popularity in the 1920s.  We'll be hearing Nat Shilkret's 1928 recording.  Wonderful piece, even if the composer was in with the Nazis.  Or so he had hoped.  Didn't work out that way, according to Wikipedia.

Winter Song isn't really a Christmas song, but why let that get in the way of including a neat season-of-snow number in the sleighlist?  And so here it is.  The Shannon Four (soon to become the Revelers) is superb, as usual.  The piece, composed in 1898 by Ferderic Bullard, is pure glee club.  (I'd say "hardcore glee," but this is a family blog.)

The Santa Claus Polka is beautifully performed and, polka-wise, very much of its time (1926).  I revised my initial equalization to help the xylophone ring out.  Be prepared for some virtuoso polka-ing.

Emile Waldteufel's pops concert staple The Skaters Waltz is something my brain insists on associating with Alvin and the Chipmunks, which means I must have first heard it on their cartoon.  I can't believe that I once found the Chipmunks hilarious, but I did.  Of course, the waltz predates the Chipmunks by many decades--French composer Waldteufel penned it in 1882.  A gorgeous piece of composing, and its simplicity is completely intentional.  It takes a master composer to pare a piece down to only the essential notes and chords.  Many decades later, that was Leroy Anderson's forte, too.


My foster mom, Bev

First off, thoughts and prayers for Bev, if you will.  (Unless you're one of those thoughts-and-prayers dissenters,)  We had to have her taken by squad to the local hospital on Thanksgiving eve for what turned out to be bleeding stomach ulcers, gastritis, and congestive heart failure.  Her blood oxygen was quite low, and her lungs had fluid in them.  She was treated for possible pneumonia, too, though her hospital doc is skeptical--he thinks it was the CHF masquerading as pneumonia.  Of course, they gave her antibiotics just in case.  Erring on the side of caution is standard procedure when your patient is old and frail.  (But, because she's Bev, also mentally sharp and fully alert.)

Apparently, while Bev's 81-year-old heart is strong, she tends to retain fluids, owing to her age and small size.  That, plus the drastic decrease in her physical activity since she broke her hip in 2013.  The fluid build-up prevents the left side of her heart from fully functioning.  Shortness of breath, plus other complications, result.

She's in nursing home rehab right now, and while some of the aides are terrific, others aren't.  The place has the usual moronic, corporate-dictated "get the patient up and moving" policy (hey, it's rehab), despite the fact that Bev is suffering a major sleep deficit right now.  Since there's absolutely no coordination between the various folks who visit her room, no one got the "Do not disturb" memo. For Christ's sake, if the woman can't get any sleep, how can she perform the various exercises they want her to do?  A bureaucracy is a dysfunctional organism wherein one limb has no clue what the other limb is doing (or not doing).  It's all about checking off boxes.

Update: Bev reports that she's up to the rehab requirements, now that they've been explained to her.  Things aren't as dire as I thought.  Which is always a good thing.


Friday, December 04, 2015

Thoughts and prayers--some thoughts

Apparently, a mass shooting over the holidays is the perfect occasion for select journalists, comics, and whoever to lecture the clueless masses on our heinous habit of closing our tweets, emails, etc. with the phrase "Thoughts and prayers."

To use this cliche is discriminatory. That's because there are people in our midst who want nothing to do with praying or thinking, and we need to respect their disposition.

Please modify your behavior accordingly.

Disregard and curses,

PC Lee