Tag Archives: The Rat Pack

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.

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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.

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?

The Westerns of Dean Martin

11 Jun

I have been reading about the Rat Pack and the exploits of its members – Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop. Together, they were legendary. However, I have been thinking about their individual careers.

Obviously, Frank Sinatra is one of the most famous performers of all time.

Sammy Davis, Jr. also had a great career.

Peter Lawford is probably best known as a Kennedy in-law.

I’m not sure what else Joey Bishop did.

Dean Martin, though, is my favorite. He sang great songs and made great movies. Some of the best movies were Westerns. For a cool crooner, Martin was pretty handy on a horse and with a gun.

In my mind, his best Western was Rio Bravo, starring John Wayne, Ricky Nelson and Walter Brennan. Here’s a trivia question. How many people in Rio Bravo had records that reached Number 1? The movie is about a sheriff who has arrested the brother of a wealthy rancher. He and his deputies have to fight to keep him in jail and to stay alive. Martin plays Dude, a deputy who doubles as the town drunk.Dude

Another great thing, Rio Bravo was filmed at Old Tucson Studios, one of my favorite places to visit.

5 Card Stud is another good one. Martin plays Van Morgan, a gambler who has to solve a series of murders before he becomes the next victim.5 Card Stud

Everyone who is killed was playing in the same card game. It also stars Robert Mitchum and Inger Stevens but suffers from what I call the “law of diminishing suspects”. There are so few suspects that solving the mystery is too easy.

Bandolero! pairs Martin with James Stewart as brothers who have taken different paths but find themselves in trouble together.Bandolero

Along the way, they take Raquel Welch hostage.

My least favorite Dean Martin Western is The Sons of Katie Elder. It stars John Wayne and has the makings of a great story, but the “sons” are mismatched. The youngest “son” is way too young to play the part. I hate to say that a Western starring John Wayne and Dean Martin is bad, so I will say that it’s not very good.

Martin is the gambling brother, Tom Elder, and he follows older brother John in trying to figure out who killed their father. One of the best scenes has Martin playing a “fake eye” trick in a bar.The Sons of Katie Elder

Dean Martin made other Westerns, but these are the ones I have seen. Honestly, I don’t think I could make it through the comedy ones with Frank Sinatra.

A Plumber, a Presentation and Willie Nelson’s Book

11 Jan

I was going to write a post about the movies I saw this weekend. Three in three days. However, I don’t feel like putting a lot of thought into a cinematic analysis. Instead, this post is about today’s activities.

It started with the usual waking up process. It takes a while for me to get out of bed, but, when I do, I hit the floor running. There is no drinking of coffee or watching of the Today Show.

It's always weird to hear an announcer say, "Tomorrow on Today!"

It’s always weird to hear an announcer say, “Tomorrow on Today!”

It goes from bathroom activities to getting dressed to hitting the door. Getting up to flake around the house is not for me. It wastes good sleeping time.

I made it to campus in time for today’s in-service session. Several of the teachers who received summer grants talked about how they used to money. We learned about Chemistry, Biology, History, Economics and working with deaf athletes. Unfortunately, I had to go before the last presenter took the microphone.

They didn't use this kind of microphone, but it would have been cool if they did.

They didn’t use this kind of microphone, but it would have been cool if they did.

After a quick lunch, I returned to my office and worked on a few of the assignments for the upcoming semester. I have some new ideas that I hope will work out well. I also had to mess around with my iTunes. This new version got downloaded, and I am trying to figure out why songs that I deleted popped back up.

There was also an enlightening conversation with one of my History mates. We members of college faculties can have some interesting talks. I know the students would be surprised by that.

Once the conversation was over, I headed to the house to take care of some domestic issues. This included calling a plumber to work on a running toilet. It has already been looked at twice. You would think it would be tired of running by now. It also included calling someone to look at the gas logs. I need a little ambience around here.

On to the treadmill where I spent 45 minutes getting my heart rate up and reading Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die by Willie Nelson.

Appropriate title.

Appropriate title.

It’s not a scholarly work by any means, but it’s a good treadmill read. Yes, we members of college faculties like easy reads, too.

Let’s see. Treadmill. Willie. Then, the second shower of the day before a dinner of salad, chopped steak and a baked potato. Now, I am blogging and watching the Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team beat the crap out of the Missouri Tigers. The Lady Vols are pretty good this year, but it isn’t the same without Pat Summitt prowling the sidelines.

She is Tennessee basketball.

She is Tennessee basketball.

After the game, I may watch the original Ocean’s 11 with the Rat Pack.

Some real cool cats.

Some real cool cats.

Or, I may read some blogs. Or, I may think of a better blog post for next time.

Deadaroo

18 Jun

Last weekend, my state hosted Bonnaro, the music festival that has become a destination for those looking for a good time and good music. They have a wide variety of acts, and I have often said that I would like to go if I could fly in on a helicopter for a few hours. Listening to music would be awesome, but I am too well into my years to be hanging out in a field without a hot shower.

After reading a lot of blogs and tweets about Bonaroo, I began to think about what performers I would like to see at a festival. Then, I took it a little further. What performers have I never seen live but would like to see? Then, with an idea string going, I began to think about the performers I would like to see live but never will because they are, well, not live. They are dead.

After coming up with a list of dead performers that I wished I had seen, I came up with my own music festival fantasy -Deadaroo. These are not zombie versions of famous people. This is a collection of people in their primes. This is a music festival of some of my favorites at the top of their game.

The following is a list of acts; the stage where they will perform; and, the thing I would most want to see them do (with links).

Appearing on the “Knockin’ ‘Em Dead” Comedy Stage:

Jerry Clower, the Mouth of the South, telling his greatest stories, including A Coon Huntin’ Story.

Rodney Dangerfield with his self-deprecating routine and trademark line, “I get no respect.”

Jackie Gleason, famous for television and movies, was also great at stand up comedy and was known for the signature line,”How sweet it is.” The video is from The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast (begin watching at 5:03).

The Rat Pack, consisting of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., and others, brings their Vegas act to the stage.

Scheduled for the “Dead Zone” Music Stage:

Big Joe Turner, early R&B and Rock and Roll pioneer, performing his hits, including “Shake, Rattle and Roll“.

Jim Croce, folk singer extraordinaire, singing “I Got a Name” and the rest of his classics.

Waylon Jennings, one of the original Outlaws of country music, with a passel of hits including “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys“.

Johnny Cash – the Man in Black, the legend, and someone I actually met – singing songs that span decades but ending with one of the early ones, “Folsom Prison Blues“.

Sam Cooke, paragon of R&B and Soul, bringing his best and “Bring It On Home to Me“.

As the finale, THE country legend known to many as Luke the Drifter, Hank Williams singing “Hey Good Lookin’” and many more classic songs.

At “Rock in Pieces”, the main stage, Deadaroo brings you:

Isaac Hayes, Black Moses of 70s Soul, with his Academy Award winning theme, “Shaft“.

James Brown, the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, performs all of his hits, including “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag“.

Stevie Ray Vaughan, one of the greatest bluesmen ever, breaks out his guitar and plays “Mary Had a Little Lamb“.

The Reggae man himself, Bob Marley, straight from Jamaica with songs such as “No Woman No Cry“.

Ray Charles, genius and master of all musical genres, performs songs known to all and promises to stoke the crowd with “What’d I Say“.

Who could top those legends? Who is worthy to close the show of such greatness? Jimi Hendrix, the greatest guitar player of them all, as he electrifies Deadaroo with “Purple Haze” and other songs of psychedelic form.

That’s Deadaroo. The End