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Archive for the ‘Thurl Ravenscroft’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966).

Back in the early days of CDs (1996), it was exciting when things that you never expected to see available were right there for the asking.

Who knew anybody wanted a CD of How the Grinch Stole Christmas?

This CD contains the entire narration from the movie.  He even narrates Cindy Lou Who in this version.  The songs are included–and are even interrupted by the narration–as in the movie.

The rest of the disc includes four songs from the movie, sung by the original artists.  You get “Welcome Christmas” as well as a reprise of it and “Trim Up the Tree” sung by the Whos in Whoville.  The final song is “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” sung by the irrepressible Thurl Ravenscroft and his amazing voice.

Does anyone need to listen to this?  Probably not, but it is fun to listen to without having to sit down and watch a movie.

[READ: December 1, 2018] “Sea Monster”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my third time reading the Calendar (thanks S.).  I never knew about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh).  Here’s what they say this year

Fourth time’s the charm.

After a restful spring, rowdy summer, and pretty reasonable fall, we are officially back at it again with another deluxe box set of 24 individually bound short stories to get you into the yuletide spirit.

The fourth annual Short Story Advent Calendar might be our most ambitious yet, with a range of stories hailing from eight different countries and three different originating languages (don’t worry, we got the English versions). This year’s edition features a special diecut lid and textured case. We also set a new personal best for material that has never before appeared in print.

Want a copy?  Order one here.

Like last year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection.

Most of the stories have nothing to do with Christmas.  In fact, some of them are quite dark and unhappy.  But others are just kind of weirdly enjoyable.

This story is weirdly enjoyable. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: “Grim Grinning Ghosts (The Screaming Song) Disney’s Haunted Mansion ride (1963).

When producer/musicians John Congleton was a guest DJ on NPR, he played some expected and then some very unexpected songs. The most surprising (although it does make sense) was this song from the Disney Haunted Mansion.

Maybe this song is the reason why he likes the dark so much.

It’s a fun bouncy song, like most Disney stuff it’s hard to believe anyone was really afraid of it, and yet as a kid, that voice and those sounds could certainly be frightening.  The song has all kinds of sounds in it–keys, tubular bells, xylophone, hammered percussion marimba, and a lot of backing vocals.  And of course the amazing vocals (and laughs) Thurl Ravencroft and others.  There’s also great effects with analog tape.  He also points out that the chord progression is quite chromatic: A to B flat to B which is jagged and close together and not easy to listen to.

Congleton says (listen around 34:50):

The vocals are done by Thurl Ravenscroft, who was the voice of Tony the Tiger and the Grinch. I mean, This is Tom Waits before Tom Waits. When I was a kid, I was so attracted to this song, but I was scared of it. The record would sit with my other records and I would see it in there, and I would be like, ‘Do I have the bravery to listen to it right now?’ And sometimes I would, and I was mesmerized by it. But the then I grew up, and I went back and listened to it, and was like, ‘This is brilliant. This is really, really well done.’ I never in my entire life heard background vocals that sounded as tight as that. Never in my life. The harmonies are the tightest harmonies I have ever heard ever. And it’s like, this is for a silly kid’s record — but they were committed to making something special. Everything about that song is incredible to me.”

And yes, it is a silly song, but the recording is really impressive.

[READ: April 20, 2017] Why Is This Night Different from All Other Nights?

It has been almost two years since I read Book 3.  The fact that I’ve had book 4 all this time and simply not read it was not a good sign.  And, ultimately, I found this story ending to be strangely annoying, vaguely compelling and ultimately unsatisfying.

This book mostly follows young Snicket on his solo mission.  He awakes in the middle of the night to see his chaperone S. Theodora Markson sneak out of their room.  He follows her to a warehouse where she steals something and then to a train.  She boards but he is unable to.

The train used to make stops in town but it no longer does and Snicket jumps on board at the only place he can think of).  While he’s hanging on the outside of the train, Moxie drags him in through the window.  That’s about the first third of the book.  It was nice to have another character for him to talk to.

Then a murder happens (this is a pretty violent series for kids).  And the blame is laid at the wrong person’s feet. (more…)

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 qwikpSOUNDTRACK: THURL RAVENSCROFT AND DISNEY FRIENDS-“Grim, Grinning Ghosts” (1960s).

hauntThis song is the theme to Disney’s Haunted Mansion.  I’ve been to the Haunted Mansion perhaps a dozen times and I recognized a line from it (when the ghosts appear next to you in the ride), but I can’t say I ever paid attention or even thought about to this song before.

It was brought to my attention by John Congleton during his excellent interview with Bob and Robin on NPR.  The whole interview was outstanding–I learned so much from him–but I wanted to focus on this song because he raves about it (and because it is Halloween).  And because I absolutely wanted to type the name Thurl Ravenscroft.

  He loves the vocals by Thurl (who was also the singer of The Grinch songs) and the bizarre chord progression: Am, B, Am, B♭, Am, F, Am, F7, Am, E7, Am.  And about the song, he says:

When I was a kid, I was so attracted to this song, but I was scared of it. The record would sit with my other records and I would see it in there, and I would be like, ‘Do I have the bravery to listen to it right now?’ And sometimes I would, and I was mesmerized by it. But the then I grew up, and I went back and listened to it, and was like, ‘This is brilliant. This is really, really well done.’ I never in my entire life heard background vocals that sounded as tight as that. Never in my life. The harmonies are the tightest harmonies I have ever heard ever. And it’s like, this is for a silly kid’s record — but they were committed to making something special. Everything about that song is incredible to me.

So yes, it’s a goofy song, and if you don’t pay too much attention to it, it’s just a not very scary ghost song, but there’s a lot going on (hand it to Disney for being really into their production values).  Like this note from Wikipedia: “the organist actually played the song backwards to achieve the discord that the composer intended.”

Not bad for a song you only hear if you go on a ride.

[READ: October 19, 2014] Poop Fountain!

I have enjoyed just about everything that Tom Angleberger has written (interestingly, he is famous for his origami Yoda series, which I actually like less than his other books).  This book was actually his first book published.  But he published it under the name Sam Riddleburger and it was called The Qwikpick Adventure Society.  It has clearly been republished since he is now famous.

I brought the book home for Clark but he said he didn’t really like the way it was written (it is typed with handwritten comments).  I actually found it very easy to read and thought it was a super fast read–two hours at most.

So the book starts with a note from Tom Angleberger in which he says that before he wrote books he was a reporter and one of the stories he wrote was about a sewage plant in Crickenburg, Virginia (which is not a real town).  His original article was about how the local sewage plant was getting over-burdened by all the new residents and so it would need to be enlarged.  He went to interview the manager and man did it stink.

He says that many years later a guy called him up to say that he had found a bunch of papers (including his article) in a Qwikpick gas station.  And that’s how he came across this first person account of an adventure to the same sewage plant.

He then tells readers that this was in 2000, before kids had cell phones or the internet, when kids basically just did stuff outside.  And that is how the Qwikpick Adventures Society’s trip to see the Fountain of Poop came about–thre bored kids looking for something to do. (more…)

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