Showing posts with label grease. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grease. Show all posts

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Ghosts of Halloweens Past

I was searching for Halloween pictures to bring to work for one of my department's holiday initiatives. Okay, it was sort of my initiative, but nevertheless, it was a good idea and an attempt to lighten the workplace mood a tiny bit. I've since learned that some people hate fun, but naysayers are everywhere. I'm choosing to ignore those people.

The thing some folks don't get about work is that every job isn't soul-quenching. For most of us a job is simply a means to an end ~ the end being a way to pay our monthly bills. We're not uplifted by our daily tasks, nor do we expectantly await never-delivered kudos. Work is essentially drudgery, but we deplete the large measure of our essence at work, so if we want to alleviate some of the slog by having a bit of fun, is that too much to ask?

It wasn't always this way. I used to work in an environment in which Halloween was almost a national holiday. Employees looked forward to the day. It started innocently enough, with a company announcement that folks could dress up. Before long, props got incorporated; and finally actual group performances became the expected norm. A cheap gold-plated trophy was the prize, and we worked damn hard to win it. It is correct to assume that no actual work got done on that particular day ~ in addition to performing for the roaming band of judges, we traversed the office to ogle other units' costumes and affirm our own superiority. Generally, too, there was a pot luck lunch involved, and mass quantities of fun-size candy bars.

I recall driving to work in the dark on Halloween morning hoping to hell I wouldn't get pulled over for some infraction and having to explain why I was dressed as a freak. I remember fluorescent work bathrooms and makeup being artfully applied by a willing accomplice. I remember the local second-hand store's costume basement and rifling through shelves to find just the right costume accessories. It was a quest ~ a holy mission. After all, that peeling-chrome trophy was within our grasp! Halloween was better than Christmas and Thanksgiving and Easter, rolled into one big ball of excitement.

As a naturally shy person, I'd always indulged my creative impulses with solitary pursuits ~ a bit of writing, photography, crafts. I spent my life itching for the next new thing that would allow me to create...anything. It's not that shy people don't crave attention as much as the next-door extrovert; it's just that we're mortified by the thought of being ridiculed. We're convinced we'd die if that ever happened. Creativity expressed behind my own four walls, therefore, was safe; though obviously not celebrated by the world at large.

In my first year of employment at the apple company (no, not "Apple"), a fellow cube-mate who I found loud and obnoxious approached me about doing a group Halloween ensemble. I don't know why I said yes ~ that wasn't like me. I don't even know why she asked me. Maybe everyone else had turned her down. Once committed, though, I wholly dedicated myself to playing my part. And guess what? I liked it.

 (I'm Ace Frehley ~ third from left ~ I had no idea at the time who Ace Frehley was.)

By the following year I was a supervisor; thus I was obliged to join the other supes in their dress-up concept. We were still doing nothing besides showing up in our thrift store wigs and castoffs. 

(I'm the faux blonde on the right.)

By the time 1997 rolled around, I was in charge, at least of my own division. And by then dressing up just wasn't going to cut it. In order to grab that trophy, one had to put on a big show. I canvassed my staff and someone said, "Hee Haw!", so that's what we did. We became hillbillies. We even had our own Minnie Pearl and an old man puffing a corncob pipe. Someone brought in an iron and ironing board. I was missing a tooth and I had a cap that spelled out, "CAP" and one of my shoes read, "left".

(Apparently I also carried a jug of apple cider.)

Things settled down a bit in '98. I don't remember if we were too busy to bother with Halloween much, or had run out of ideas. My staff expected a show, though, and I didn't want to let them down. My treasured friend Laurel and I became Sonny and Cher. We had no performance planned, but daily announcements turned into a Bob Dylan-ish a capella rendition of "I Got You Babe".

My last Halloween at the apple company became the ultimate blowout. I'd never before seen the movie "Grease" (truly), but somehow I found it that year and became enamored. That was it ~ we would turn our little corner of apple world into Rydell High School. Because I had short hair, I would be Danny Zuko. Lovely Laurel was thence Sandy. An employee's daughter had once done a Grease dance routine with her cheer squad, so she came into the office to teach Laurel and me and a phenomenal group of staff members the dance moves. We practiced in my office behind closed doors, accompanied by gales of laughter and quizzical glances from people passing by. We decorated our corner of the building as a county fair, and when the judges made their way into our area, we shocked the hell out of them with a spectacular performance of "We Go Together".

Needless to say, there was no contest that year. We walked away with that tarnished trophy.

Ahh, Halloweens past, when we actually knew how to have fun.

I don't regret my late-in-life awakening to making an utter fool of myself. I'm rather proud of it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My "Career" ~ Part 7 ~ Another New Boss?

I will readily admit that I liked having my boss 1,594 miles away.

It's not that we ever tried to hide anything, or misrepresented anything that we were doing.  It was just freeing to not have a boss sitting with his spyglass trained on me every waking hour of the day.

Peter was young (the first boss I ever had who was younger than me), and earnest.  I will give him his due (and later, I will give him his what-for; but that's another discussion).  He was a good boss.

Peter was all about incentivizing people.  That was important, in our biz.  Our people didn't get paid a lot, and the work was tedious.  We needed to give them a reason to hang in there (aside from the fun).


And he, rightly, understood that he also needed to incentivize me.  I was doing a manager's job on a supervisor's pay.  And I was basically turning over my life to my job and to the company.

One of our first telephone conversations involved the logistics of where I was to put all the additional supervisors.  We had two supervisor cubicles; one in the front of the unit, and one in the back.  I had five supervisors!  Two cubicles were fine, if we were only talking about the day shift and the second shift, but things were getting a bit cramped, and sharing cubes was sort of like the Warner Brothers cartoon of the wolf and the sheepdog, Sam and Ralph, punching in and punching out.

Peter said to me, well, what about that empty office back there in the corner?  I said, an office?  I'd never had an office before.  Nobody's using it, he said.  It's dark.  The light's never been turned on.  You should just move in.

Really?  I could do that?  Why not, he replied.  I said, I think that's not going to go over well.  "Just do it.  Move in."

So I did.

And it did not go over well.  I'd had a manager, Linda, before I'd made the transition from Claims.  Linda was Phil's lackey.  She occupied the office next door to him.  The contempt she felt for Phil dripped like tears of leather and acid.  But at least bleached-blonde, perfectly-coiffed Linda had an office!  That was her one consolation, seeing as how she had to play go-fer to Phil.

Now I had an office just like hers!

 Dennis, Lynnette, and Peg ~ "decorating" my office for my birthday.  Grrr!!

The first time she walked past that suddenly brightly-lit room, she actually did a double-take.  She was walking, and then she stopped walking, and then she began backtracking, until she backed over to my doorway, and said...."Congratulations?"

Ooh, Linda was not happy.  And I didn't have to report to Linda anymore, so I waved to her, sweetly, and replied, "Thanks!"  And then Linda fumbled a bit for words, and managed to propel herself forward again, on down the walkway to her own, identical, office....leaving trails of angry smoke in her wake.

Thank you, Peter.

Peter was also generous with the Super Saturday budget ("Hat Day", to us in the know).  He'd give us $300.00, and my main supervisor, Laurel, and I would head out and do some serious shopping, and buy enough nice prizes as we could with our allotment.

 My "main" supe ~ Laurel ~ decorating one of the other supe's cubes for her birthday

Oh sure, Peter would call once a day.  That was what a good manager should do.  Sometimes he would initiate conference calls, so I would make sure all my supervisors were in attendance, there in my office, and I'd put Peter on speaker phone, and the five of us were free to roll our eyes as much as we needed to, and to silently mouth replies to one another, and to stifle a giggle or two, but overall, we were respectful, because we respected him (at the time).

And our IKFI units kept right on producing.   The year after the "Hee Haw Halloween", I believe I made a promise to the staff that if they exceeded their goal, a famous singing duo would stop by and do a song for them.  They hit it out of the park, naturally.

So, along came Sonny & Cher:

Everyone remarked that I looked so much like Phil, with that mustache.

And we serenaded them with, "I Got You, Babe", although I somehow sounded more like Bob Dylan than Sonny Bono.

Our little department became such a success that it was determined that the company would try to replicate that achievement, in other locales.  A division was started in Allentown, PA, and later, one in Blue Bell, PA ("Blue Bell" ~ doesn't that sound pretty?).  I patiently schooled the new supervisors of those divisions in the workings of the IKFI Department.  I had, after all, authored the training manual, and I had developed the performance standards.

I took endless calls from the dolt, Pat, who was in charge of the Allentown office.  I became concerned that she didn't seem to understand things, since she asked me the same questions over and over, but I exercised patience, and I was blindly confident that she would eventually catch on.  I tutored the Blue Bell guy, as well.  Daily.

As a respite from the constant telephone irritation, the IKFI Department decided that we should hold our first annual (and, as it turned out, one and only) picnic.  We didn't rely on Peter, this time, to furnish us with an operating budget.  We financed it all on our own, and we solicited local businesses to donate door prizes.  Somewhere along the line, it was determined that we would have a Hawaiian theme (I think because the Oriental Trading Company catalog was featuring cheap party favors, including straw beachcomber hats).  We had volleyball, and face painting for the kids, and we offered the opportunity for everyone to have their "official" picture taken next to the surfboard, which had the welcoming logo, "You're Next", printed on it.

Official IKFI Party Planning Committee

Meanwhile, we were aware that Halloween 1998 was rapidly approaching.  I had become enamored of the movie, "Grease", so I suggested that we do a Grease theme for our contribution to the annual rite of October.

Once again, we outdid ourselves.  One of our people was a good graphic artist, so she created some signage, replicating the Grease logo.  We also designed one of those "test your strength"  hammer games, and we had numerous Grease carnival midway attractions.

 Dennis and Gaby (or "Gabby", as Phil would say.)

A bunch of us corralled one of our employee's daughters into showing us some moves for the song, "We Go Together", which she had at one time performed with her dance troupe, so she stopped by and tutored us in the proper moves, and we spent a few hours practicing our routine in my....nice,

 We were ready.

One of my supervisors, Lynnette, was designated to be "Frenchy", so I bought a can of pink spray-on hair coloring, and proceeded to spray her blonde hair pink.  She looked beautiful when I was done.

 Lynnette ("Frenchy") and Laurel ("Sandy")

I, as was my wont, was Danny Zuko, and my main supervisor, Laurel, was Sandy.   We, too, had our gangs.  Another brave lady, she, too, with short hair, became my Kinickie, and we also had Jan and Marty, and the whole crew.

 The T-Birds

When the judges made their way to our little corner of the world, we switched on a boom box recording of "We Go Together", and proceeded to dazzle them with our tightly-rehearsed moves.

During the instrumental break in the song, we actually grabbed hands with the various judges and performed a jitterbug with them.  Getting the judges involved in the action!

At the end of the song, everybody in our troupe boogied on down the aisle and were handed their yearbooks at the end of the line, and danced on off, just like in the movie.

It was spectacular.

People still talk about it to this day. 

Once again, we blew everybody away.  Over on the other side of the building, the self-insured employees did a "Titanic" theme.  But all they stupidly did was stand there stupidly in front of their cardboard boats.  Where was the dazzle in that?  They took second place (a "pity" designation, I have no doubt).

And, meanwhile, back in IKFI,  all the people loved us, and hated us.  But we got the trophy, so la dee DAH!

Alas, however, while we were savoring the good times, we had no clue about the bad times to come.

To be continued......

My "Career" ~ Part  8 ~ "Everything's Great!"

My "Career" ~ Part 9 ~ A Cold Wind

My "Career" ~ Part 10 ~  Thank You ~ Goodbye

My "Career" ~ Part 11 ~ Breaking the News

My "Career" ~ Part 12 ~ Loose Ends 

My "Career" ~ Epilogue

Previous Chapters:

My "Career" ~ Part 6 ~ Who Do You Think You Are?

My "Career" ~ Part 5 ~ Welcome to the I-Land

My "Career" ~ Part 4 ~ Phil

My "Career" ~ Part 3 ~ Karma

My "Career" ~ Part 2 ~ Evil Bosses

My "Career ~ Chapter One

Friday, May 27, 2011

Musicians = Gullible

Oh, not all musicians, of course. Just us amateurs. You know, those of us who make our own music, at home, in our $1.99 studios.

Maybe I should have titled this, "Musicians = Naively Hopeful". Because without hope, where are we? (That's true of life in general, isn't it?)

My husband and I went away for a few days; a long weekend; just us and the dog and cat (yes, my husband insists that we also take the cat). This makes for an interesting stay at a resort. Thankfully, the resort we stay at does not have maid service. Otherwise, bringing a cat is really kind of a losing proposition.

When we returned, I checked my email, and found the usual.

One email was titled, "Great News!" Okay, what could the great news be? Could we have had one of our tracks licensed? Yippeeee! Oh wait. No, the great news was, one of the sites we use for licensing is recommending yet another website, where we can upload our music. For what reason? Well, just because!

Another email proclaimed, "Fast-Track Your Music!" How much will it cost us? Well, it's such a great deal that the email didn't include the price! But it did say, "It's not going to be cheap!" Cool! Frankly, if it costs more than $50.00, it's a no-go! (I thought I would use exclamation points as well, just to feel like part of the clique!)

Here's one: "Imagine 6,500 Radio Programmers Getting Your Music!" Imagine! Imagine that I have anywhere from $100.00 to $600.00 dollars!

Those were the highlights from my in-box. I also had the usual, you know, "#@@!)$ is now following you on Twitter". Nice. The problem is, I rarely (meaning three times a year, tops) post anything on Twitter, plus all #@@!}$ wants to do is sell me something; some seminar about how to get rich in the music business, or something else just as useful.

Overall, I'll have to say, I felt darn special! And honored, really, to have been chosen to receive these once-in-a-lifetime offers.

Oh wait; you got them, too? Oh, never mind, then.

So, fame, or non-fame, as the case may be, is fleeting. And expensive, apparently.


But on a serious note, and speaking of fame, I don't want to be remiss in not noting the passing of Jeff Conaway today.

I don't watch reality shows as a rule, but I happened, one time, to catch an episode of something called Celebrity Rehab. It was too sad for me to even consider watching any additional episodes. Sad in a few ways. Sad that these people were so desperate that they were willing to air their troubles on a cable TV show, but more sad in that, addiction is a mean, heartless demon; one that will strip you of your dignity and your soul and your humanity. Some people make it through; a lot of people don't. Jeff didn't.

I remember when I watched that episode thinking, he doesn't have long in this world. Well, Jeff had a few more years, but ultimately, I believe he gave up, and said, enough is enough.

I prefer to remember Jeff like this:

Addiction affected my family in an all-encompassing way. My dad, and others in my family, made it through, by the grace of God. It's so easy to say, I give up. It's too hard. My dad said, I give up, and I give my life to a higher power.

It ain't easy. In fact, it's damn hard (and I promised myself I'd curtail the cursing, but I think it's appropriate here).

I think about all the little gripes that I have, and while it makes me feel better to write about them, I know, and everybody else knows, that I'm just bitching, just to bitch.

I do know what's important in life, and it's not some silly song, or somebody liking some silly song. Or somebody trying to wring money from us for our songs.

This is one I wrote for my dad. I wrote it the best I could. And that's what it's really about, right? That's why we do it, isn't it? That's really what this whole music thing is about; truth. It's not some fa-la-la thing. Or the right beats. At least, for me. It's about life.

I'm glad my dad made it.

Saturday, April 5, 2008


As I think about preparing my Waylon Jennings post, I thought I'd ponder a few things I've noticed lately:


I'm just curious, because my husband and I always come across one of these idiots on our way home from work. Here's a sampling of the things they do:
    • Weave in and out of lanes - so you don't know if they want to change lanes, or if they're just drifting over, mindlessly.
    • Step on their brakes every 5 seconds. There's no one in front of them; they're not making a turn. There's no godly reason why they're hitting their brakes. They just do.
    • Stop at a green light.
    • Drive 10 miles under the speed limit.
It's a scientific fact that one cannot focus on two things at one time. Try it sometime. If I'm at work, concentrating on something on my computer screen, and someone calls me to ask a question, it's either the computer or the call. Not both. I have to force myself to concentrate on the person on the other end of the line. If not, I'm constantly going, "What? What did you need?" And then I look like a moron. Even more so than usual.

So, either these cell phone imbeciles don't know how stupid they are, or they just don't care. I'm guessing it's the latter.


I apologize in advance if you drive a mini-van, but these people are living in a world all their own. I'm not going to cast aspersions on them. Okay, yes I am. If you have ever been behind one of these people, you will notice that they love to drive really s-l-o-w-l-y.

I've often wanted to test-drive a mini-van, just to see if there is some mechanical reason why they can't get up to speed. I'm serious.

I think this phenomenon may be linked to their political affiliation. You know the one I mean. They either, (a) just want everyone to cooperate; or (b) they want to dictate to everyone else in the world what the speed limit should be. Because, much like smoking, if they say something is bad, doggone it, it's got to be outlawed. And that includes driving the speed limit.


There was a time when (okay, you probably have to be a woman to understand this) a size 5 was really, really small. A size 7 to 9 was medium. A size 11 or 13 was a large.

Okay, those are the rules, right?


I love Old Navy clothes. But whenever I go there to try anything on, I know (now) to choose an Extra Large, which is probably equal to a size 5.

I don't know who wears a minus 7, but I guess there must be people out there who do. Because, apparently, in Old Navy terms, a size 10 is an extra, extra large. And heaven forbid if you wear something larger. Forget it. Go to Lane Bryant.

Who are these skeletors who are wearing these sizes? I mean, c'mon, eat already! A 500-calorie per day diet just isn't going to sustain you. It's going to cause lots of health problems down the road.

And I'm sick of calling 911 every time you pass out. You know, I've got other things to do.


I went to have an eye exam today. I've been seeing things like this lately. And it's really starting to annoy me.

So, after my exam, I had the "helper lady" show me the various styles. I don't know if she thought I was 23 years old (I doubt it) or what, but everything she had me try on was hideous.

And then she hands me a pair of "cat-eye" glasses to try. I said, "No thanks. I really don't want to go back to the fifties."

These cool, hip designers want to bring everything back, because it's "retro". Well, you know, I guess if you were born in 1978, "retro" might be something to brag to your friends about. But I remember those styles. They were hideous then; they're hideous now.

I don't know why these designers aren't offering polyester mini-dresses. You know, the ones that can never be destroyed. They just live on forever. You can't burn 'em, you obviously can't rip them. Because they're made from some titanium compound that will withstand a nuclear holocaust.

Bring those back. And preferably in lime green. Or orange.

That'd be really cool.

Friday, March 14, 2008

As The Decades Turn - The Seventies

We (I) like to denigrate the '70's. Who doesn't? That's truly not fair, though. There was some really good music in the '70's. And some really bad music. I think the problem, for me, is that there was so much bad music, that I tend to only focus on that.

As I surfed the net to find the top songs of the seventies (since I had totally blocked them all from my mind), I found a whole cornucopia of widely divergent songs.

So, for fun, I thought I'd mix in a few cringe-worthy songs with the good stuff. You be the judge.


This obviously isn't a vintage video (you think?) This was from a PBS show, which I happened to watch, at least up until the point where Crystal Gayle came on and slurred the words to "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue". Then I had to turn it off. Anyhoo, this song starts us off on an upbeat note. Even though the lead singer can no longer hit most of the high notes, this is still a very decent performance. Then they all hobbled off to their waiting ambulances. ha ha ~ no, that's most likely untrue. As I was browsing YouTube, I was reminded that ABC Network used this song as a promo way back when, you know to advertise their classic shows, such as Starsky & Hutch. Before we say goodbye to Orleans for now, let's remind ourselves that they really look nothing like they did back when this song was a hit:

(Wonder which one is the bald guy....)


Okay, don't even get me started on this one. Here it is, in all its 8 minutes and 30 seconds of glory. You know, Don started to write a novel. Then he thought, wait! I'll make it a song instead! Some people tell me they like this song. I think I might have liked it if, say, there were 2 verses and a chorus. That's about all I can take. Not EIGHT FRICKIN' MINUTES AND 30 SECONDS! Good god! Edit, Don. Edit. Anyway, if you watch this video and like it, cool. I just don't have the time, so I'll take your word for it.


I bet Little Eva is turning over in her.......bed........(cuz she's probably still alive, I guess). This is a wee bit different from her version. I liked this one when it came out. Still like it. It's about as close to heavy metal as I choose to come. Well, this and Deep Purple, of course. And might I say, nothing says THE SEVENTIES more than a lime green leisure suit!


See, you thought I was doing good song, bad song. Right? Ha! This is a GOOD song! I confess, I never liked John Denver when he was at the height of his success. In hindsight, I was wrong, for the most part. This is a great song, well performed, well arranged. It's sort of a classic (now). If this song were released today, it would fall under the heading of "Americana". And it wouldn't get any airplay, because, you know, that's just the way things are nowadays. But luckily, radio stations weren't so inanely stubborn back then. Oh, I'm not saying John didn't get his share of flack. He got a lot of flack. From the country folks. And I was one of the "flackers". "How does he deserve a CMA award?" "He's not country!" Well, today, he would be considered too country to be deserving of any type of award. My, my, my. Haven't the chickens come home to roost? Or some other saying that probably makes more sense in this context.


Hey, I've got no quibbles with this song. Yes, it's disco. And we can basically "thank" the Bee Gees for disco, but this song is aiiight. It's got a good beat; you can thrust your arm up in the air to it. I am struck, however, by Barry's matching white teeth and tight white pants. I'm surprised he could even walk in those pants. No wonder they were walking reallllly slowwwwly at the end of this video.


Again, catchy tune. I wonder how the motorcycle cop got to do the lead on this. I guess the cowboy in the little tiny hat and the Indian were busy fighting border wars. And the construction worker was busy arguing with the leather-clad hell's angel. And the army dude was probably the understudy, in case the motorcycle cop couldn't fulfill his lead singing duties and/or direct traffic. I don't know. I'm just a viewer. I'm not privy to the in-fighting amongst the People.


Grainy video, but well worth watching. I didn't know much about Harry Nilsson, other than this song, and "Everybody's Talkin'". He sure had some pipes! When he gets to the last chorus, and the "Can't LIVE" part, wow! Nothin' wrong with this song! Oh, and by the by, a certain pop star who wears absurdly short, tight dresses, and looks AWFUL in them, re-recorded this song in the nineties. It doesn't hold a candle to the original. Nice try, though.


Well, people make fun of ABBA, but I don't really know why. I liked them. They were pop at its best. And aside from the Saab, what other Swedish import can you think of? None. I will say, however, that Agnetha (apparently) ~ one of the "A's" in ABBA, could have made a better fashion choice than the too-tight pants (sorry, but that midriff bulge was evident) and the Elton John silver boots. But, ah, the Swedes. They march to the beat of their own Swedish drummer. And here he is:


Funny how fate works. Not funny, literally, but odd. Jim Croce was taken before his time, as they say. But I guess God said it was his time. But this was a uniquely talented individual. I would have liked to have him hang around awhile longer, to hear more of his songs. In 2008, he would be recording albums that somebody like me would buy. Just to breathe in his beautifully written songs. But I guess there's been a few (or more than a few) that we wish were still around. We have to console ourselves with what they've left behind.


Gee, is it me? I'm starting to get all sentimental here. Here's Karen singing a brilliant Bacharach/David song from 1970. I'm starting to wish that these folks (like Karen Carpenter and Jim Croce) were still around, because their music was so lovely, and there's not much lovely music out there anymore. At the point in the song when they get to the "ahhhhh's", you kind of just melt. I guess my original assessment of seventies music was kind of off the mark. Because I'm finding some beautiful, timeless stuff. Glad to be wrong.

Okay, I really hate to do this, but here it is:


You knew this one was coming. "Finally a chance to say, hey, I love you." "Hey, love you, babe." And not to be overly critical, but why did Debby always wear her bathrobe when she performed this song? Is it because she, along with the rest of us, was verrrry sleepy?

GREASE - Need I say more?

Well, I've seen this movie approximately 3,548,019 times. And counting. I LOVE this movie.

So, bear with me, as I relive this classic moment:

And finally, to close out this installment of the seventies, I am choosing this one. From a band that just keeps going and going. And frankly, hasn't lost anything in more than 30 years: