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Falling Down a Manhole

(can be quite painful and should be avoided)

Vol. 6, No. 2, March 1, 1994

Michael moves!

Michael has moved out of his mother, Lucy's, house. "It's the first time I've been able to afford it," he says. "Believe me, it would've happened sooner if it could have been helped."

Sharing a house with three friends now, Michael's new address and phone number are Turlock, CA 95380, (209) ???????. He gave us this information reluctantly.

"I'm only giving you this," he explained, "because I owe you one for that time you saved my life. Otherwise, you'd be the last person I'd ever let have my phone number, let alone my address."

Lucy had this to say about her son's departure: "I'm so happy. Now I can sing and dance and walk around the house in silly hats if I want to; not that I would ever do that sort of thing, of course."

Ice storm hits Tennessee!

An ice storm hit Tennessee February 9 and 10. The accumulation of ice uprooted hundreds — possibly thousands — of trees and snapped — oh, I don't know — maybe millions of branches. These, in turn, landed on power lines and knocked out power all over the middle portion of the state (which is Tennessee, in case you skipped the headline). Electricity was out (meaning no heat!) for 2½ days and three bone-chilling nights at the Holmes residence in Nashville.

"It was awful," said Diane.

"It was worse than awful," said Don. "It was terrible! No, it was horrific! No, dire. No ... apocalyptic! Yeah, that's what it was. It was apocalyptic!"

"I don't know," said Bill with a shrug. "I kinda liked not having any electricity, roughing it, living off the land. It was quite exhilarating."

For those of you wondering what an ice storm is, it's basically normal rain, but it freezes once it lands on whatever it's going to land on, making for the worst possible driving conditions, not to mention (even though we just did) the other problems it causes.

Doug off to Portugal again

Doug's going to Portugal in mid-March "for about one month." This makes it his fifth trip to Europe in as many years! Must be nice to be young and rich.

How did he get so rich? Well, he's not, really, but his business, Doug's Mugs, brings in a steady income. He's been in Sacramento's Arden Fair Mall for a couple of years now, and is looking into expanding to Yuba City (north of Sacramento) and Modesto (south of Sacramento) — two really "happening" towns. About the Modesto mall, he says, "We'll do it for May and June, at least, and then see if it's worth it for Christmas."

Michael written up

Michael (yes, the same guy as the one in our top story) had an article written about him and a fellow disc jockey in that fine newspaper, The Turlock Journal. We've reprinted it below (without permission, of course). The article came out in December, and we're just now receiving it through our "crack" news sources.

And now for something really different ...

By Darla Welles

The Turlock Journal

Getting a little tired of the traditional Christmas tunes? Heard just about enough about chestnuts roasting and silver bells ringing and figgy pudding? [figgy pudding?] Well, twist that tuner to 91.9 on the FM dial Friday and lend an ear to some very nontraditional sounds of Christmas. That's when a pair of zany [bet you didn't know Michael was — zany'] disc jockeys on Cal State-Stanislaus' radio station, KCSS, put out their own slightly twisted version of musical holiday cheer.

There's Michael , who in his respectable daytime persona is a graphic designer, but who emerges on the airwaves as "Mr. Happy." When he talks radio station business, he becomes that alter ego. And there's his sidekick from Sacramento, who broadcasts as "The Dry Heaver," and won't allow his real name to be revealed.

Together they've scrounged up a collection of some of the most peculiar bits of music and comedy routines ever to hit the holiday entertainment market. "We scour the record bins all year long to get ready for this show," says Mr. Happy. "We look for the bizarre. We don't get into the well-known things like the barking dogs' — Jingle Bells.' We try to go for the things that you won't hear anywhere else."

Giving a quick listen to excerpts from last Christmas Eve's show, which the pair call the "Unusual Christmas Show," demonstrates their success in ferreting out the little-known and off-beat. Oh, some of the tunes may be familiar. But their renditions are definitely oddball.

Consider "The Little Drummer Boy" pounded out to a heavy-metal beat or played on instruments that might be used in India. And the Madonna to be found on this show bears no relation to the one that sat by the side of a manger in a stable those many years ago. [What?]

The original cast members of the western TV series "Bonanza" can be heard harmonizing on a tune called "Merry Christmas, Neighbors." There are tunes from such diverse entertainers as The Monkees, The Osmonds, popular [unlike the Monkees and Osmonds] rock groups, rappers, singer-comedian Danny Thomas, and even a number by actor Cary Grant.

One song reports that "Santa's gonna leave the White House a lump of coal." [he-he, that's a good one (not)] Also on the play list are such titles as "Praying For A Cheaper Christmas," "There Ain't No Sanity Claus," "Burn Down The Malls" and "Buy War Toys for Christmas." It's the kind of quirky collection that makes a tune like "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" seem like a classic example of logic and good taste. [What, are you saying it isn't?]

By way of explanation, Mr. Happy says, "The Dry Heaver has been doing the show for five years and I've been with it for three. It started in response to all the big Christmas specials on TV: the Bob Hope Christmas Special, the Bing Crosby Christmas Special. We were just fed up with that bland approach to the holiday celebrations. So we pulled together a generous dose of satire and cynicism and started our own collection. We're always on the lookout for little nuggets to add to the show. And each year we add a few of the highlights — or maybe I should say lowlights — that we find during the year. We go for the most depraved, nonconformist stuff we can find, and instead of just playing it at home in our living rooms, we share it with our listeners."

A Little Bit of History

This week's subject is Folsom, California ...

[For those of you saying to yourself, "Who cares about the history of Folsom?" maybe we should explain that our illustrious editor and his somewhat less illustrious siblings were raised in Folsom. For those of you still saying to yourself, "Who cares about the history of Folsom?" all we can say is give us something better to write about!]

In 1852, the Sacramento Valley Railroad, which was the first chartered railroad west of the Rockies, was incorporated. Theodore Judah from New York was hired to lay out a rail route between Negro Bar (on the American River) and Marysville. ["Theodore Judah," by the way, was the name of the grade school Doug and Bill Holmes attended for 1st and 2nd grade, if that helps to make this more interesting.] In 1855, Captain Joseph Libby Folsom assumed the presidency of the SVRR, but died just three weeks before construction of the railroad began. In February 1856, the first train from Sacramento pulled into Folsom. Eventually, the railroad became the oldest link in the western line of Southern Pacific.

Pony Express mail was carried for one year [only one year?] from July 1, 1860 to June 30, 1861 between St. Joseph, Missouri and the Wells Fargo building in Folsom. By 1861, freight and mail stages from St. Joseph were coming to Folsom to connect with the railroad.

Mormon Island [probably settled by Mormons, eh?] was the earliest settlement in the Folsom area. This mining camp had a population of more than 2,500 by 1855. Mormon Island was located north of present-day Folsom, near the old stage route along Green Valley Road.

After the Sacramento Valley Railroad came to Negro Bar [politically incorrect terminology], Mormon Island began to decline. The town was all but gone by 1880. The area then was home to many ranchers and farmers until 1955. That year, the cemetery was relocated to higher ground, and the rising waters of the new Folsom Lake buried Mormon Island.

How to size clothing

CHEST: Men's—Take measurement up under the arms and around chest. Women's—Measure at the fullest part of the bust.

SLEEVES: Measure from the base of the neck, across shoulder, down arm to slightly bent elbow and up to wrist.

WAIST: Measure at the narrowest part. [Assuming there is one.]

HIPS: Measure at fullest point, standing with feet together.

INSEAM: Measure from the crotch to bottom of cuff along inside pant seam. [It's more fun if you have someone of the opposite sex do this for you.]

Dog News

[Warning: For those of you completely sick of hearing about dogs in this newsletter, we recommend that you skip this article, if you haven't already done so.]

Lucy sells puppies

"Three down, one to go," says Lucy. Two puppies were sent to Texas (Lubbock and Amarillo), and the other one was sent to Elk Grove, CA, just south of Sacramento.

The names of the two remaining puppies are: Feisty (the one Lucy's keeping), Faraway Thunder (just "Thunder," for short). the one sent to Elk Grove was name Firestorm. Says Lucy, "I love the name — Firestorm,' but I've already got a dog named Stormy, so I had to sell her. Her nickname could have been — Fire,' I suppose, but that would have caused problems whenever I called her, you see."

Puppies get tattoos

Lucy and the two puppies remaining at home got drunk one night and went down to the local tattoo parlor. "It was totally up to the puppies as to what sort of tattoo they got," Lucy explained. "Thunder got one of a battleship and Feisty got one that said — Born To Kill.'" We asked what sort of tattoo Lucy got, but she said it was none of our "damn business."

Lucy to judge Vegas dog "match"

Lucy will be traveling to Las Vegas soon (probably will already have gone and come back by the time this newsletter goes out) to judge a dog "match." We say, "match" as opposed to "dog show" because ... well, because Lucy told us to. "There is a difference," she stated emphatically, though she refused to explain what that difference is. And since she is the Western Regional Director of the U.S. Rottweiler Club (pretty fancy title, huh?), we'll just have to take her word for it.

Coyotes can't jump

Remember the movie "White Men Can't Jump"? Well, the sequel is now out and it's called "Coyotes Can't Jump."

Actually, it's Lucy's dog "Coyote" that we're talking about. And the sad truth is that she's just getting too old and can no longer jump fences like she used to. Neither can Coyote.

"I found her one day crying at the foot of the fence," Lucy explains. "It was truly sad. She wanted to jump the fence so bad. She just couldn't. So I picked her up and threw her over the fence."

Current weights of two dogs

Feisty: 15 lbs.

Thunder: 15 lbs.

Actual classified ad (found in recent Nashville Tennessean)

FREE—Persian, to good home. 4 yr. old female Himalayan or 36 yr. old husband. House not big enough for both. Cat loves children and is litter trained. Kids give my husband a headache, but he's basically housebroken. Cat is registered, husband is Heinz 57.

This Dream I Had

by Bill Holmes

I was wandering around this huge maze-like nightclub looking for my date, a beautiful girl named Kim — a girl I knew in L.A. When I found her, she was carrying what alternated between being a little girl, then a puppy. I refused to be held responsible for either one. She just laughed at me and disappeared again.

I went outside to get some fresh air and soon realized I was in France. I presumed this because everyone around me and the guy on the radio were speaking French. My brother Doug and friend Eric were there, speaking English. Eric and I had our cars with us. Eric had just bought a shiny cherry red Firebird. I had one of my old pickup trucks.

Eric and I both needed to have our cars smog-checked. There were several bays of smog-check stations, and all the smog-check personnel wore bright yellow (pimp-style) business suits & ties. As Doug, Eric and I waited for our cars to be checked, a song played over the radio extolling Burl Ives as the reason the Cheese Council was having such a good year. THE END. [Go figure.]

Baseball News

Major League Baseball has decided (finally!) to re-align its divisions. They're also considering changing the names of all the teams, as given below. Starting with this season, the divisions will consist of:

NL East

Atlanta Chokers

Florida Tunafish

Montreal Exposers

New York Mutts

Philadelphia Follies

NL Central

Cincinnati Commies

Chicago Dogs

Houston Shopping Mallers

Pittsburgh Aspirators

St. Louis Woodpeckers

NL West

Colorado Outcroppings

Los Angeles Yuppies

San Diego Child Molesters

San Francisco Tall Persons

AL Least

Baltimore Orios

Boston Half-Baked Beans

Detroit Alleycats

New York Yankers

Toronto Bluebirds

AL Central

Chicago Wasps

Cleveland Native Americans

Kansas City Prairie Dogs

Milwaukee Alcoholics

Minnesota Triplets

AL West

California Earthquakes

Oakland Jockstraps

Seattle Men-Overboard

Texas Cowpies

Entertainment News

Well, I just got back from a show (2/20/94) by a group called "October Project" at the Ace of Clubs. All I can say is: Wow! These guys are great! They're definitely one of my favorite groups now. Their lead vocalist is a woman with the most emotional, perfect-pitch voice I have ever heard. In fact, I must admit, if it wasn't for this woman's vocal talents, the band would be just another experimental jazz/rock band. But, like I said, they're more than just another band. This band reminds me a lot of that old '70s group "Renaissance," only the vocals are better and they're more up to date. Also in the band are two keyboardists (one male, one female), an electric guitar (complete with guitar player), and a drummer/bongo player.

The headliner of the show was a group called "Crash Test Dummies." A great name, and I like their hit ("Coffee Spoons," recently performed on "Saturday Night Live"). But I didn't stick around to hear them. The club was just too crowded (I was forced to stand the whole time), and I couldn't get service at the bar. So I checked out early. Besides, October Project was the reason I went, anyway.

Two weeks ago I saw "Dreaming in English" and "Fugitive Popes" at Blue Sky Court. The "Popes" can only be described as "grunge metal." They were pretty good, actually, with a charismatic lead singer/guitarist. But by the time they were done playing, I was half deaf.

"Dreaming in English" were pretty good, too. They played what I guess could be called "progressive rock." (It's so hard to categorize these things!) They claimed to be missing a key band member that night, but I couldn't tell what was missing.

The following week, I saw the blues group, "The Mark Holt Band" at a club called "Third & Lindsley" (which is also its street location). Holt was an excellent blues guitarist (the bartender informed me that Holt once played with Buddy Rich or Buddy Guy, which did not impress me since isn't Buddy Guy/Rich about 100 years old now?).

The funny thing about the Mark Holt Band was that the same three backup guys from "Dreaming in English" were Mark Holt's backup band, and the two bands play completely divergent music.

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