You know the holidays are here because decorations are going up, traditional music is playing, fans are sending each other carefully nonsectarian greeting cards with pictures of snowflakes or animals that live in the Arctic circle – and friends online are reminding each other to read their favorite humorous and heartwarming blog posts.
The entire internet tilted to one side yesterday morning as people rushed over to Whatever and read the repost of John Scalzi’s ever-popular “The 10 Least Successful Christmas Holiday Specials of All Time”. It was the first time I’d seen it and is it ever funny.
If you remember what the Mercury Theater did for Halloween you may be surprised to hear what Orson Welles did before the next big holiday:
Listeners of radio’s Columbia Broadcasting System who tuned in to hear a Christmas Eve rendition of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol were shocked when they heard what appeared to be a newscast from the north pole, reporting that Santa’s Workshop had been overrun in a blitzkrieg by Finnish proxies of the Nazi German government.
Today, Facebook users are being prompted to read Mark Evanier’s great anecote about Mel Torme, whose memory is evergreen because he co-wrote and recorded the classic carol which begins “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” There’s a whole encounter which ends:
Then the gent I’d briefed said, “You know, you’re not a bad singer.” He actually said that to Mel Tormé.
Mel chuckled. He realized that these four young folks hadn’t the velvet-foggiest notion who he was…
Oh, I love that story of Mark’s. It was great to be reminded of it, thanks!
That’s a great story and certainly in the vein of uplifting holiday stuff, but the kids not knowing really sticks in my craw (an old expression most ‘kids’ won’t be familiar with either).
I finally figured out why this bothers me so much: lack of respect, and possibly lack of interest, or maybe self-centeredness or a bunch of other ‘nesses.
When I was that age, I wanted to learn all I could about folks who’d gone before me – OUT OF RESPECT. If someone was obviously deserving, I’d make sure to find out everything I could before opening my mouth and looking like a clueless fool.
I’m not talking unfounded awe or reverence, certainly not toadiness; just the simple idea of having enough respect for previous generations to realize (up front) that all of them have done a lot more than I have at that point in my life, living to an older age takes guts and luck just by its ownself and the experiential knowledge that heck, I’ve already learned a heck of a lot from my elders, chances are very, very good that the trend will continue (even if what I learned was that after a certain age you probably ought to stay away from the mall…).
Back in the 1970s I was in Fullers Bookshop in Hobart, Tasmania, when I heard a very familiar voice coming from behind me. “If I ordered the set of Flashman books, could you send them to me in America?”
I let my eyes slide sideways.
It was Mel Torme.
I’ve always thought this a wonderful, magical story, full of the spirit of Christmas, and have told it orally to a few friends over the years as the conversation went that way, and prompted by you, put it into my own Facebook feed. I’m glad it’s getting recirculated by others again as well.
As for the John Scalzi post, I actually started to buy the bit until I got to the ones with Ayn Rand and Star Trek and realized that, no, these weren’t accounts of events I hadn’t heard before.
He got me good.
@David: I wanted to believe the one about the Algonquin Table but I recognized the Welles one was satirical and took my cue from it.