Tag Archives: Dean Martin

The John Russell Effect

27 Dec

The other day, I visited my parents and found my dad watching the Western Channel. He always watches that channel, and I am usually familiar with whatever is on. After all, me and my brother were raised watching old Westerns. However, I had never seen what he was watching this time.

It was a television show called Cheyenne that stars Clint Walker. Some of you Western aficionados probably know it. As I watched it, my mind focused on the actor playing the bad guy. With his features and his voice, I knew that I had seen him, and I had a feeling where. Despite my dad jumping on me for looking at my phone, I did a quick search.

The actor in question was John Russell, and I knew him from Rio Bravo. In that movie, he plays Nathan Burdette, the local land baron who goes up against John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson and Walter Brennan. Obviously, he loses in the end.john-russell

That discovery was not surprising. However, it was surprising to learn that John Russell was in another of my favorite movies, The Outlaw Josey Wales. In that one, he makes a brief appearance as Bloody Bill Anderson.

Wait, there is more. He also plays the bad guy in Pale Rider and appeared in Honky Tonk Man, which was partially filmed in Nashville. Of course, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Pale Rider and Honky Tonk Man have something in common other than John Russell. They also star Clint Eastwood. Apparently, they were buddies.

I thought that I had seen John Russell in one movie. As it turns out, he has shown up in several places. Heck, he just got shot on my television screen as I typed this. The mysterious stranger got him in Pale Rider before disappearing into the distance. Coincidence? I am not so sure. It could be the John Russell Effect.

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From Tex Ritter to Tex Ritter

26 May

I have been out of town for a while, which means that I have been away from my iPod. It was good to get back to it because you never know what it is going to do. A good example of this happened a few minutes ago. Tex Ritter came through the speakers singing the theme to High Noon.Tex Ritter

Of course, this made me think of John Ritter, the son of Tex Ritter. Most people remember John Ritter as Jack Tripper on Three’s Company. However, I also remember him in a movie called They All Laughed. It was also the last theatrical starring role for Audrey Hepburn.

Of course, Audrey Hepburn was in a ton of great movies. However, Breakfast at Tiffany’s has always been my favorite. The only downside is Mickey Rooney’s turn in the racist comedic role of Mr. Yunioshi.

Of course, Mickey Rooney was known for his many marriages, the first of which was to Ava Gardner.

Of course, Ava Gardner was also married to Frank Sinatra. A famous quote about Frank Sinatra’s, ahem, anatomy has been attributed to her, but I have no idea if she really said it. Said or not said, the quote has gone down in history.

Of course, Frank Sinatra was the leader of the Rat Pack, which included Dean Martin, one of the great singers of all time.

Of course, Dean Martin, like Frank Sinatra, did more than sing. He acted in a bunch of great movies. Some were comedies. Some were serious. Some were Westerns. Rio Bravo was one of my favorite Dean Martin movies.

Of course, many movie critics and historians believe that Rio Bravo was John Wayne’s response to the theme and point of view of High Noon, for which Tex Ritter sang the theme that popped up on my iPod.

An Ode to Frank Sinatra

12 Dec

The other night, I watched a television special honoring the 100th birthday of Frank Sinatra. It had several people who should never sing a Sinatra song doing exactly what they should never do. There were also some people who did the music justice.

Anyway, the show made me think about Frank Sinatra and how I wished I had seen him in concert. My parents saw him perform in Las Vegas. They have not attended many concerts, but they saw Sinatra and Elvis Presley. When you have seen two of the biggest stars of all time, I guess there is no point is seeing anyone else.Frank Sinatra

Despite not seeing Frank Sinatra in person, he is one of my favorite performers. However, I like some of his stuff better than others.

“It Was a Very Good Year” is my favorite Sinatra song. For as long as I remember, the lyrics have struck me on a deep level.

When I was seventeen, it was a very good year
It was a very good year for small town girls
And soft summer nights
We’d hide from the lights
On the village green
When I was seventeen

When I was twenty-one, it was a very good year
It was a very good year for city girls
Who lived up the stairs
With all that perfumed hair
That came undone
When I was twenty-one

When I was thirty-five, it was a very good year
It was a very good year for blue-blooded girls
Of independent means
We’d ride in limousines
Their chauffeurs would drive
When I was thirty-five

But now the days are short, I’m in the autumn of my years
And I think of my life as vintage wine
From fine old kegs
From the brim to the dregs
It poured sweet and clear
It was a very good year

Tony Rome is my favorite Frank Sinatra movie. It is even included in my Sinatra version of Movie Wisdom. He plays a Miami private detective who lives on a boat and has issues with gambling. Basically, it is Sinatra having a good time. Nancy Sinatra sings the theme song, and Rocky Graziano makes a cameo appearance.

Dean Martin is my favorite Frank Sinatra pal.Dean Martin

As a famed member of the Rat Pack, he was, in my opinion, one of the few performers who could go toe-to-toe with Sinatra. He was a singer and an actor. He could handle Westerns, Drama and Comedy.

Ava Gardner is my favorite Frank Sinatra wife.Ava

I mean, how can you not like Ava Gardner? She was one of the great Hollywood starlets. I just never could figure out why she married Mickey Rooney.

Anyway, that is my ode to the Chairman of the Board Frank Sinatra. Otherwise known as Ol’ Blue Eyes.

My iPod Has Issues – Losing Bill Dance and Finding Eddie Feigner

24 Sep

We are having a garage sale, and everyone knows what that means. We are dragging out stuff that we forgot we had. Some of it is coming from the attic. Some of it is coming from our closets. Some of it is coming from the Land of Discarded Items.

In the process, I am giving up the autographed Bill Dance t-shirt that I got when the famed fisherman made an appearance at the Hollywood Casino in Tunica, Mississippi. It is definitely a sacrifice to give up something that cool.

However, some cool things are staying. While digging for artifacts, I came across a booklet celebrating the 25th Anniversary of The King and His Court. If that name does not mean anything to you, then let me explain. Eddie Feigner was a fast pitch softball pitcher who traveled the world with a four-man team. They took on all comers and won over 9,000 games. Along the way, Eddie “The King”  Feigner did tricks with the ball. There are a few people around here who played against them. I need to collect stories and write a post about them.

Anyway, we have dragged a bunch of stuff into the garage and are ready to do business. Hopefully, we will make some money. Every quarter counts.image-2

To commemorate the event, I have decided to look into my iPod and see what it is doing.

“Be Careful Who You Love (Arthur’s Song)” by Hank Williams, Jr.

“For the Good Times” by Isaac Hayes

“Judy” by Frank Howard

“Hardline” by Tom Kimmel

“Memphis Exorcism” by Squirrel Nut Zippers

“Clubbed to Death” by Rob Dougan

“Up On Cripple Creek” by The Band

“Kansas City Shuffle” by J. Ralph

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel

“Alone Again” by Dokken

“Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

“Ruby (Are You Mad at Your Man)” by The Osbourne Brothers

“I Wanna Ummm With You” by Stacy Mitchhart

“Thirteen” by Big Star

“Still and Always Will” by Vintage Trouble

“T for Texas” by Tompall Glaser

“Dazed and Confused” by Led Zeppelin

“The Peacocks” by Howard Alden

“The Wind, The Wind” by Dean Martin

“Tomorrow Never Comes” by Ernest Tubb

My iPod Has Issues – Western Writer’s Block

9 Jul

There is a post that needs to be written, but I cannot wrap my mind around the thing. It is on an interesting topic that is right in my wheelhouse. Except, I cannot get it started. The right words will not come to me.

Anyway, I have promised myself that I will not write a post of substance until this one is done. That is why I am writing a post of no substance. Hopefully, putting words on the screen will unblock my mind and get this thing rolling.

Cranking up the iPod might help. This list has a theme that is close to the topic in my mind. You never know. The music might jar something loose.Gunsmoke

“My Rifle, My Pony and Me” by Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson

“El Paso” by Marty Robbins

“Jesse James” by Jim Greer and the Mac-O-Chee Valley Singers

“The Way That You Wander” by John Rubenstein and Tim McIntire

“Slow Movin’ Outlaws” by Waylon Jennings

“Ballad Of Davy Crockett” by Fess Parker

“Arriving In Deadwood” by Michael Brook

“Song Of The Wagonmaster” by Sons of the Pioneers

“El Dorado” by George Alexander and the Mellomen

“Silverado” by The Marshall Tucker Band

“Great White Buffalo” by Ted Nugent

“Kaw-Liga” by Hank Williams

“Sweet Baby James” by James Taylor

“Desperado” by The Eagles

“The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers

“Don’t Take Your Guns To Town” by Johnny Cash

“A Man With True Grit” by Glen Campbell

“Old Turkey Buzzard” by Jose Feliciano

“The Legend Of Judge Roy Bean” by Nevada Slim

“Amarillo By Morning” by George Strait

Songs of the Year

3 Jul

When I put together the Songs of the Week post, I knew that this could be taken further. Why? Because there are a ton of songs that go along with the months. A Songs of the Year post could be easily compiled.

Except, I was wrong. Some days inspire more songs than other days. Likewise, some months inspire more songs than other months. Apparently, there are certain time slots that have little artistic value.

Despite the obstacles, I trudged through my iPod and other resources to put together my favorite songs of the year.Months

January – How can you beat Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, going to her gospel roots and singing “Amazing Grace”? Answer: You cannot beat that. Her live version, titled “Amazing Grace (Live at New Temple Missionary Baptist Church, Los Angeles, January 13, 1972)“, is the best version you will ever hear.

February – This month does not provide much in the realm of music. There are plenty of songs about February, but I do not know many of them. Of course, I could be prejudiced against February. With that being said, I will go with “February Stars” by Foo Fighters. It is as good as any.

March – Going after the fanboy traffic, I am picking “The Imperial March” from the Star Wars soundtrack. It is John Williams. It is Darth Vader. In other words, it is cool.

April – Now, we are getting into some good stuff. Straight off of the iPod comes “Pieces of April” by Three Dog Night. the singer is remembering a month-long romance. I wonder why they did not make it to May.

May – Speaking of May, there is an awesome song by Little Jimmy Dickens. “May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose” was his top charting song and was inspired by Johnny Carson. Dickens is a cheapskate, and the chorus is what people say to him.

June – Dean Martin was the coolest of the cool. Frank Sinatra may have been the leader of the Rat Pack, but Dean Martin was the soul of the Rat Pack. No list is complete with him, which means “June in January” is next on the list.

July – It was written by Bruce Springsteen, but I am not a fan of his. For that reason, this month is represented by “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” as performed by The Hollies.

August – Wow, August has inspired hardly any songwriters. Does it not rhyme with anything? Just. Must. Au jus. There has to be something about August that is worthy of song. If you know of something, then let me know. I cannot find anything worthy of listing.

September – It is not his best, but “September Morn” is a decent Neil Diamond song. Have you ever taken your mom to a concert only to see women throw their underwear at the performer. It happened to me at a Neil Diamond show.

October – Deadmau5 was at Bonnaroo. In fact, that is the only thing I wish I could have seen at this year’s show. For that reason, “October” makes the list. One day, I will go to a Deadmau5 show.

November – It is the greatest Power Ballad of all time. It is the greatest video of all time. If Axl Rose had not been nuts, then Guns N’ Roses could have been the greatest band of all time. Ladies and gentlemen, “November Rain” is the best song on this list.

December – The year will end with a legend. Merle Haggard’s “If We Make It Through December” is about a man facing hard economic times. If he can make it through the disappointment of Christmas without gifts, then everything will be fine.

We made it through an entire year with August being the only disappointment. Do you know of any August songs? What about the other months?

Roasting Like the Pros

4 Apr

For the past 25 years, our local library has held an interesting fundraiser. Every year, they choose a prominent person in the community to roast. I have been a couple of times, and those events were pretty fun. The audiences laughed, and the guests of dishonor worried about what was going to be said next.

This year, a good friend of mine was put on the spit, and I was asked to be a roaster. Before it started, I was worried that no one would laugh. It would be terrible to bomb. These types of events are rough on the person getting skewered, but it is not easy on the jokesters, either.

As I worked on my routine, I thought about another series of roasts and the people who took part in them. It was not the past library roasts. It was also not those stupid roasts we see on television, like the one they did to Justin Bieber.

I thought about the granddaddy of a roasts, The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast. Through the 1970s and into the 1980s, Dino and other comedians roasted a bunch of his friends. I loved watching those shows. Heck, I will even watch that infomercial channel that tries to sell DVD’s of the show because the clips are hilarious.

As I put my words on paper, Dean and the gang came to my mind and, in my imagination, tried to figure out if I could be as funny as them.

There was Foster Brooks, who built a career out of acting drunk. That gave him a kinship with Dean Martin, who basically did the same thing. That act would probably not work in our politically correct world.Foster Brooks

There was Rich Little, who was the king of impersonators. A few people have built a career out of the same thing, but none can compare to him.Rich Little

There was Nipsey Russell, who rhymed his way to television fame. He was not only big on the roasting circuit. He was a game show mainstay.Nipsey Russell

There was Ruth Buzzi, who showed up as Gladys Ormphby and proceeded to hit everyone over the head with her purse.Ruth Buzzi

Heck, there were a ton of people on these shows, but those are the ones I remember the best. For our roast, I could have combined all of them. All I would have to do is show up dressed like a drunk old woman who could recite limericks in other people’s voices.

I did not do that. Instead, I told some old stories from high school and got plenty of laughs. I also had the satisfaction of knowing that all of my stories were true.

I also had the good fortune of going first. This meant that they had not yet started getting tired and looking at their phones. It also meant that they did not have a funnier person to compare me with.

Everyone had a great time, and a bunch of money was raised for the library. The best part? When my friend got the chance to fire back, he took it easy on all of us.