At some point, even I need to take a break from all those scamsters and fraudsters who plague Wall Street. Sorry, but this isn't going to be one of my typical BrokeAndBroker blogs. You'll just have to wait for another day when I return to my keyboard and pound out another sarcastic, cynical, irreverent diatribe about the follies of securities regulation and the exasperation of litigation.
For now, though, I want to stop snorkeling in the cesspool of Wall Street and just have a bit of fun.
Nietzsche's High Score
That Existentialist party-animal Nietzsche wrote that a man reaches maturity when he rediscovers the seriousness he possessed as a child at play. And to think, poor Friedrich didn't have an XBox, a PlayStation, and couldn't even play Rock Band or Guitar Hero -- although, from what I was told, he was a high scorer in the old Symphony Ubermensch (Version 1.0/LudwigTakesTheFifth). Let us now rediscover the seriousness of our child's play.
As any self respecting husband will tell you, on a Saturday morning, you don't just sit on the couch waiting for your wife to get ready. No, there are the subtle arts of computer gaming, web surfing, and television multi-tasking to keep us distracted during that hour or so between when we yell in "Are you ready yet? What the hell are you doing in there? How much longer?" and she yells back, in a noticeably annoyed tone, "Just a few more minutes." Fact is (and let's just keep this quiet and among husbandselves -- yes, husbandselves is a word, trust me), nowadays, a lot of us husbandly couch potatoes sort of look forward to the wife-waiting thing.
One of the basic skills of Saturday morning television multi-tasking is designating a specific program as the anchor (an "anchor" program is the show that you set as the "home" on your television zapper), so that as you start searching out other crap to watch, you can simply hit "BACK / PREV" and return to the anchor. WARNING: Do not try this at home without the assistance of a television viewing professional.Advanced television anchor viewing allows the typical Saturday morning couch-bound husband to select a 1950s Western or a 1960s vampire movie or Australian Rules Football game as the anchor program. With that chosen home-base set, the waiting husband can then flip through hundreds of other channels with the safety of knowing that he can always return to the anchor program. Advanced practitioners can augment this anchor technique with a picture-in-a-picture format. Again, this is not for amateurs and you should only try this with expert supervision.
For whatever reason, wives are usually driven nuts by their spouse's multi-tasking-channel-surfing: "Can't you just pick one channel?" To husbands, this borders on heresy. Of course you can't just watch one channel - that would require staying on the same channel between sports plays or during commercials -- incurring the risk of missing something interesting, somewhere else, and inviting unmitigated disaster.
I mean, seriously, what if I didn't watch that annoying guy with the food chopper throw the thing over his shoulder into the sink or those wonderful actors oohing and aahing over that mini-blender? More to the point, imagine the damage that could be caused to the time-space continuum if I missed - even once - that scene in Rudy where Dan Devine finally puts Rudy in the game and he tackles the quarterback and is carried off the field (you know, no one else at Notre Dame has had that honor since).
Anyway -- so I'm sitting on the couch the other Saturday morning, waiting for my wife, and she comes in, amidst the getting-ready-to-go-out part of her morning, and stares at the television. She stops dead in front of the television, looks at the screen, looks back at me, looks back at the screen, shakes her head in dismay, and with disdain in her voice, asks, "What the hell are you watching?"
Fact is, I was watching a film noir (ooh, Singer knows French!) art film. It was that 1964 American classic Western Rio Concho. You may not have heard of that film, and, to be blunt, I don't think that I had ever seen it before that Saturday morning, which is why I might have started to watch the thing midway into the film, but it was on some cable channel, and I was waiting for my wife to get ready, and, geez, it was a Western on Saturday morning - need I say more?
To you skeptics out there, let me offer you the scintillating description of Rio Concho from the International Movie Database website at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058525/
Two Army officers, an alcoholic ex-Confederate soldier and a womanizing Mexican travel to Mexico on a secret mission to prevent a megalomaniacal ex-Confederate colonel from selling a cache of stolen rifles to a band of murderous Apaches.
Truly, they just don't write 'em like that anymore. Alcoholic soliders. Womanizing Mexicans. Murderous Apaches. Talk about political incorrectness. Nonetheless, I mean, come on now, you must admit that it's a very compelling storyline.
Not just one but two ex-Confederate soldiers and a womanizing Mexican. And they're on a mission -- not just a mission, but a secret one . . . shhhh!. And they're trying to prevent a megalomaniacal colonel from selling stolen rifles to murderous Apaches. I mean, what more needs to be said? Who in their right mind would click past a film about an alcoholic ex-Confederate, a womanizing Mexican, a secret mission against a megalomaniacal ex-Confederate and murderous Apaches? Clearly, this is a captivating plot.
If you still aren't sold on the riveting storyline, let me offer you the cast of characters:
Richard Boone ... Maj. James 'Jim' Lassiter
Stuart Whitman ... Capt. Haven
Anthony Franciosa ... Juan Luis Rodriguez
Jim Brown ... Sgt. Franklyn
Wende Wagner ... Sally (Apache girl)
Warner Anderson ... Col. Wagner
Rodolfo Acosta ... Bloodshirt (Apache chief)
Barry Kelley ... Croupier at Presidio
Vito Scotti ... Bandit Chief
House Peters Jr. ... Pardee Officer
Kevin Hagen ... Maj. Johnson / Blondebeard
Edmond O'Brien ... Col. Theron 'Gray Fox' Pardee
An edgy plot. An awesome cast. Need I say more?
Edmond O'Brien was in the film, for godsakes - sure, maybe past his prime but you don't just flip by an Edmond O'Brien film on a Saturday morning. And, not that I want to let the cat out of the bag here, but he played a very convincing megalomaniac. The last time I can recall seeing such a compelling portrayal of a megalomaniac was in Jurassic Park when the Tyrannosaurous Rex got in the fight with the Megalomaniac while the kids were hiding in the trees. Edmond O'Brien's portrayal of that dinosaur as an ex-Confederate officer was an inspirational stretch.
Of course, let's not make light of Vito Scotti's performance. Unless I'm wrong, Scotti played virtually every ethnic Italian or Mexican in virtually every 1950s and 1960s television show that I watched. And in Rio Concho he had the very critical role of the "Bandit Chief." His stellar performance in Rio Concho was highlighted in the scene when he and his fellow banditos tried to get the drop on the good guys - alas, it didn't end well for the poor Bandit Chief.
Then there was the character of Bloodshirt, the evil Apache Chief. A very nicely nuanced performance by someone named Rodolfo Acosta. Also, there was the deeply moving performance by Wende Wagner as Sally, the Apache Girl, who ran around in a very, very short skirt and tried to kill all the white guys in the film before she eventually saved them.
Now, if none of the above persuades you that Rio Concho was worth watching on Saturday morning, let me bring out the big guns of persuasion.
Jim Brown. Yes, that Jim Brown. The Cleveland Browns' all-everything running back, gave up professional football to play Sgt. Franklyn in this film. Jim Brown was my football idol as a kid, and his role as Sgt. Franklyn hit the big screen only a few years before what I thought was his 1967 Academy Award performance as Robert Jefferson in the "Dirty Dozen." You can see him practicing some of his stunning moves for the WWII epic in Rio Concho, except for the fact that he's using 19th Century rifles instead of 20th Century machine guns and grenades, but, if you use your imagination you can almost see him dropping the hand grenades into the Nazi smokestakes.
Isn't That Tony Franciosa?
At some point my wife's derisive comments about Rio Concho stopped. She seemed a bit mesmerized by something on the screen: the handsome Mexican good-guy/bad guy played by Tony Franciosa, a 1950s/1960s heartthrob. Seems that my wife's heart throbbed quite a bit for him when she was younger. So, when she saw that Tony Franciosa was on screen, all of a sudden it was "Isn't that Tony Franciosa?"
Oh, excuuuuse me - Jim Brown and the whole Rio Concho storyline weren't good enough for her, but now, all of a sudden, it's Tony Franciosa and maybe the film isn't such crap? And let's not forget that both Mr. Franciosa and Mr. Scotti were Italian, same as my wife, so it's possible that there was some bias going on there, but, to be fair, I don't think she came in to the living room until Scotti, the Bandit Chief, was shot and killed while trying to rob the good guys.
Okay, so the Tony Franciosa thing aside, Rio Concho was hoisted by two mega-stars. The first was Stuart Whitman. Let me put it this way, there wasn't a television show or movie made in the 1950s or 1960s in which Stuart Whitman didn't have a role. In Rio Concho he was apparently some Captain who negligently allowed some bad guys to steal some rifles that they were going to sell to the Apaches, and then Captain Haven volunteered to go after them. Like I said, I turned on the movie somewhere in the middle, so don't hold me to that, but I think it's pretty close.
Still, I've saved the best for last.
Starring in Rio Concho was the great Richard Boone in the role of Major James "Jim" Lassiter. I like the fact that they explain that James Lassister was also known as "Jim" on the International Movie Database website. A lot of folks might not have caught that subtle point.
Anyway, need I say more when it comes to Richard Boone? I mean, we're talking about Paladin himself from the "Have Gun Will Travel" television show that mesmerized many a young boy from 1957 until 1963 when it was shamefully pulled from the airwaves. It wasn't until 1972, when Boone made it back as Heck Ramsey in the eponymous television show, only to be cancelled, unceremoniously, in 1974. (Hey, I've always wanted to use the word "eponymous" in a sentence. Guess I can now cross that off my Bucket List). And let's not forget that Richard Boone stole the 1960 John Wayne epic, "The Alamo," with his stirring performance of Sam Houston! Oh my, John Wayne . . . the Duke . . . please, don't get me started on him, truly a Saturday morning, wife-waiting, channel stopper of a star if ever there was one.
In shocking disproportion to her adoration of Tony Franciosa, my wife cringed when she saw Richard Boone. She doesn't' like him. She harbors some incredibly bizarre animosity towards him because of his edgy performances as Heck Ramsey, which she was apparently forced to watch years ago when her brother called dibs on the family television for that hour. I dunno, like what, Flipper or Lassie were on at that same hour? Whatever -- my wife has a Richard Boone / Heck Ramsey phobia. I do not think there is a known cure. Shocked, absolutely shocked at her distaste for such an American acting icon as Richard Boone, I pointed to him when he was on screen and asked my wife how she could mock Paladin? At which point, to add fuel to my fire of outrage, I started singing the theme song from "Have Gun Will Travel" -- Paladin, Paladin, where do you roam?
Channelling Homer Simpson
Amidst much eye rolling, my wife shook her head at me and challenged me to sing some additional verses. It was a cruel, heartless mocking because after some 28 years of marriage, she knows that, alas, I can't remember much beyond the opening fragment of the theme song - which might explain my Homer Simpson like renditions of so many 1950s and 1960s television theme songs that include frequent resort to such verses as "Paladin, Paladin, where do you roam? A knight without honor something, something, something, something. Paladin, Paladin, Paladin, something, something something, something, Paladin . . ."
It was at this point that my wife went for the low blow. "Why don't you sing "Sugarfoot," while you're at it."
Cruelties of cruelties! Among my all-time favorite theme songs of television years gone by is the powerful almost anthem-like Sugarfoot, which, oh sadness of sadnesses, I am woefully unable to recall much more than "Sugarfoot, Sugarfoot, something, something, something, Sugarfoot. Sugarfoot, Sugarfoot . . ." According to my wife, her friend Jackie can sing the entire song. I also think her buddy Pat can too. Oh big deal! So two women friends of my wife can sing Sugarfoot. Like what? I'm supposed to feel inadequate about that? Okay, so I do -- so what? At least I like Richard Boone. It's not like I wasted an hour in the Sixties watching some damn fish -- yeah, I know, dolphins aren't fishes.
Warning: Plot Spoiler Alert!!!
Having successfully mocked me for the umpteenth time, my wife returned to her getting-ready-to-go-out preparations and left me crestfallen and defeated on the couch. How I managed to watch the end of Rio Concho is merely a testament to some amazing inner strength that I was able to summon up, but it still left me drained for the remainder of that Saturday. And there, on the couch, as I watched Stuart Whitman get stabbed in the leg by an Apache spear and then dragged around behind a horse along with Richard Boone and James Brown, who all then managed to escape and blow up the wagon with the gunpowder that, in turn, melted the stolen cases of rifles and then spread the flames throughout the Confederate camp where Edmond O'Brien stood before the burning shell of his half-built Southern mansion - there on the couch, I resolved to set things right, in the future, for all put-upon, Saturday-waiting husbands.
Gentlemen, I have done it! Eureka!!
I simply ask that you find a place to sit down before reading further because this may be too much for you to handle standing up.
Below, I have located some of my -- dare I say, our -- favorite theme songs from the great television shows of our Baby Boomer youth. No more Homer Simpsonesque renditions of theme-song fragments. Salvation is nigh.
As you may recall, not only was Sugarfoot a gunslinging hero but he was also a recent law school graduate. He stood at High Noon in the middle of the street, debating whether to draw down upon you with his gun or pull out his trusty law book and dazzle you with statutory citations. No wonder I became a lawyer!
Sugarfoot, Sugarfoot, easy lopin', cattle ropin' Sugarfoot, Carefree as the tumbleweeds, ajoggin' along with a heart full of song and a rifle and a volume of the law.
Sugarfoot, Sugarfoot, never underestimate a Sugarfoot, Once you got his dander up, ain't no one who's quicker on the draw.
You'll find him on the side of law and order, From the Mexicali border, to the rolling hills of Arkansaw;
Sugarfoot, Sugarfoot, easy lopin', cattle ropin' Sugarfoot, Ridin' down to cattle town, a-joggin' along with a heart full of song and a rifle and a volume of the law.
Then there is the stirring, truly moving, theme song from Cheyenne. Ah yes, another song I can sing virtually from heart: "Cheyenne, Cheyenne, something, something, something Cheyenne. Cheyenne, Cheyenne, something, something, something, Cheyenne." Brings a tear to your eyes, no?
And for all you aficionados of the great Richard Boone, here is one of the classics of TV Westerns: Have Gun Will Travel. If I had a dime for every minute I spent practicing my quickdraw in front of the mirror so that I beat Paladin, why, I'd be a wealthy man. As it is, all these years later, that young boy has blossomed into a mature adult with an amazing ability to draw iron from my holster, slung low on my right hip, as I stand sideways to present a smaller target.
HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL
Among the better Western thems was the one from Wyatt Earp -- and long may his story be told.
Then there is this other iconic show and song. Who could possibly forget the theme from Jim Bowie? This show blazed new ground because instead of doin' his killin' with a six-shooter, the hero of this show used a Bowie knife. Instead of Have Gun Will Travel, it was Have Knife Will Travel -- you can see how that makes all the difference in the world, right?
I loved Gene Barry as Bat Masterson. I actually still remember quite a bit of this theme song. However, it never made sense. You know the part where they sing, "He wore a cane and derby hat . . ."? Well that never, ever, no way at all, made sense to me. You don't wear a cane. You carry a cane. Nonetheless, Gene Barry was one cool dude and if he wanted to wear a cane, who the hell was eight-year-old Bill Singer to say it was wrong? Nonetheless, the signs were there -- this young kid Bill Singer was troubled by the syntax of a verse in a TV Western that suggested a gunslinger wore a cane. You could easily predict a stunning legal career for this youngster.
For sheer power, for the glory of all that is moving in TV Western music, no theme seemed as compelling as that from the Lawman. Sadly, about all that I ever recalled was "Lawman, something, something, something, Lawman . . ." However, I always loved that cool toss of the rifle that opened the show.
Over 50 years ago -- oh, wait, it's actually more than that, it's like 55 years ago -- there was this odd little show called the Tales of Texas Rangers and everytime that the show opened or closed, I'd feel the hairs on the back of my neck rise (or whatever the hell was back there in 1955 through 1958) when the first Ranger stepped into the street, and then the second, and then the rest of them to the stirring refrain of "I've Been Working on the Railroad." Think I'm kiddin'? Watch this:
TALES OF TEXAS RANGERS
Then there's Wanted Dead or Alive. Need I say more than Steve McQueen as Josh Randall and that fabulous sawed-off Winchester rifle?
WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE
And let's not forget Johnny Yuma! Do you remember who sang that theme? I'll bet you forgot that it was Johnny Cash.
That's about it for the Westerns that I hum or only know partial verses for. I've left out some classics: Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Wagon Train, Rawhide because most of us seem to know the tunes or the verses fairly well. No slight intended to fans of those shows. And just to make sure we're all on the same page, a tip of the hat to Whirlybirds, Ripcord, Sheena Queen of the Jungle, Yancy Derringer, Rin Tin Tin, Annie Oakley, Roy Rogers, Cisco Kid, Hopalong Cassidy, Lone Ranger,Superman, Andy's Gang, Wonderama, and all the rest of our Baby Boomer television babysitters.
However, before ending this article --likely destined to go viral on the Internet and earn me millions of dollars -- let me offer a few more special tunes.
I drive my wife nuts by singing, "Swamp Fox, Swamp Fox, tail on his hat, no one knows where Swamp Fox at . . ." Unfortunately that's about all that I remember. I was quite surprised when looking up the old show that Francis Marion, the famed Swamp Fox, was played by, of all actors, Leslie Nielsen. I also recalled the tail being quite a bit larger.
Then there is this oldie but goodie -- the Cisco Kid. Talk about an opening roll of the credits that really stirred things up. Those hats. Those horses. That music! Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark has nothing on this opening.
And who among us Baby Boomers can forget Sky King? Much less his niece Penny? What a wonderful show. Sky would drive out to the airport, with Penny. They would fly to the bad guys. Penny would get kidnapped and tied up. The bad guys and Penny would wind up on the plane. Sky would put the plane in a nosedive and grab the gun. Penny would be untied. They would land at the airstrip. And then, next week, pretty much the same plot. Hey, it was the 50s, if you weren't there, you wouldn't understand. Of course, in retrospect, what the hell was Sky doing running around all the time with his teen-aged niece Penny? Hmmm . . .
Of course, how could we forget that exotic theme from Sea Hunt, much less Lloyd Bridges - as Mike Nelson, ex-Navy frogman who became an underwater private eye. Frankly, I was never quite sure what the hell Mike Nelso was doing underwater all that time. Of course, much of what he did was grab the knife or speargun from the bad guy, then cut off the air hose to the killer or robber, and then they would share Mike's mouthpiece as they made their way back up to the surface. Think of it as a combination of Jim Bowie and Sky King but with a boat instead of an airplane and no niece Penny but a lot more fish.
To my Canadian friends, let me not forget the old standby Sgt. Preston of the Yukon. What a horse -- Rex. What a dog -- Yukon King. What a bright red uniform. Of course, when I was a kid it was all black-and-white TV but now that I see the color, wow!
SGT. PRESTON OF THE YUKON
Before I say adieu (wow!! Singer uses another fancy-schmanzy French word -- geez, this guy is some linguist), I just want to post this special link for my wife. She actually knows the entire song.
As I now bid you adios (whoa, yet another foreign word -- that's Spanish, right? Si, verdad), how could I possibly end this piece without reference to that wonderful theme we all sang? Out of the Night, when the full moon was bright.