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November 11, 2020:

THE STEREO AFFAIR

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, yesterday we had a mono affair so today I thought it would only be fair to have a stereo affair. I have been trying very hard to figure out what my first stereo record was.  I’m fairly certain that purchase would have been made in early 1960 because prior to then we only had a monophonic record player in our house.  But that changed when I boldly joined the Columbia House Record Club and for joining got a stereophonic record player with detachable speakers for $9.99 and agreeing to buy twelve records over the coming two years or something.  I’ve written about said record player before, and I even think I purchased the same model on eBay, or at least saw one at some point.  But what was my first stereo record?  It would have been something from the record club, I’d imagine, and most likely would have been a show album.  But which show album?  Gypsy?  I know I eventually got that one and Subways are for Sleeping, but that one wouldn’t have been until 1961.  I know I got a Ferrante and Teicher stereo album with Exodus on it, but that would have been later. And I had the stereo Exodus soundtrack, which came out in December of 1960.  No, the more I think about it, my first stereo recording was probably either Gypsy or, more likely, the box set of Ben-Hur, which I have vivid memories of playing over and over again in my room, whilst reliving scenes from the film by gazing at the stills in the souvenir book that came with the record.  I know I saw the film in either late 1959 or early 1960 so it makes perfect sense.  But the stereo reality is that 1961 (I turned 13 in December of 1960) was my banner stereo year. From that point on I never again purchased a mono record.  And I began going to the theater regularly in 1961, and so I know I bought the stereo gatefold of A Thurber Carnival from the record club, the aforementioned Subways are for Sleeping, I know I also bought The Fantasicks, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, and probably a lot of other stuff during that year, including in December of 1961 the soundtrack of West Side Story.  I probably got all twelve record clubs that first year and did not re-up because it was much cheaper to go to the record store and get them.  And I also got some nice stereo recordings at the A&P in the ninety-nine-cent bin.  Oh, how I loved sound coming out of both speakers and sounding so real.  I thought my record player was the be-all and end-all of high-tech stereo.  Little did I know it was a piece of junk – that I would find out fairly quickly when I began hanging out at what would become my favorite record store on Wilshire Blvd. near Beverly Drive – Chesterfield Records. They had a Thorens turntable behind the front counter and big speakers and oh the sounds that issued forth from them.  It would take many years for me to get a decent stereo, but once I did there was no looking back. Well, that was a detour, wasn’t it?  So, let me also say that I’m sitting here like so much fish, listening to more Entremont solo piano, after having taken a two-day break.  My favorite so far is an album of French piano music – Satie, Ravel, Debussy, Chabrier, and those types – very lovely.  And now it’s Entremont playing Burgmuller 15 Easy Pieces.  I have no idea who this composer is and must look him up, which I’ll do shortly.

Yesterday was a pretty okay day as pretty okay days go.  I got seven hours of sleep, got up, answered a lot of e-mails, forwarded more orders – I do think that Lolita, My Love is our best-selling title in years – and then I did some work on the December Kritzerland show.  After that, I moseyed on over to the mail place and picked up one package, then came right back home.  I had a frozen dinner – Marie Callender’s meat loaf, mashed potatoes, and corn – it was okay, not great, but very low in calories.  I then made another frozen dinner from Marie Callender’s – fettucine with broccoli and chicken.  That one was inedible and went directly into the trash.  So, still being very hungry, I made the last of the Regina pizzas.  It was excellent and with the frozen dinner it put me up to about 1200 calories, which is perfectly fine at this point in time.

After that, I had to go hunting in the garage for a couple of music charts which, thankfully, I found very quickly.  I scanned them into the computer and got them where they needed to go.  Then I finally sat on my couch like so much fish.

Last night, I tried to watch a few more Tex Avery MGM cartoons, but fell asleep, so that will have to be another night’s viewing.  Then I finished watching Judy.  I know people enjoyed the film but I just found it trite and banal and wallowing in the depressing stuff, save for one nice scene where she accompanies a gay couple home.  Renee Zellwegger, good actor that she is, is okay in the acting scenes but her singing is nothing like Judy’s and that is the film’s biggest failing, I’m afraid.  And most of the supporting performances are really bad. They have a lot of Brits playing Americans – the guy who plays Louis B. Mayer can’t pull off the American accent at all and the sound engineers in the mix, as always with today’s films, pump so much bass into his voice that it’s just laughable.  And Rufus Sewell – I’m not sure I’ve seen this guy in anything else, but he’s terrible in this as Sid Luft.  Michael Gambon has a totally thankless turn as producer Bernard Delfont.  And the scenes in the club where Judy is too wasted to give a performance and the audience is throwing things at her – just stop, really.  The direction is typical of today and poor.

After that, I did a quick Gelson’s run.  I got a Wolfgang Puck chicken Caesar salad for today’s food, but also got some pasta, eggs, more salsa, some soup, tortillas, and a few other little things, then came home.  And then it was time to relax and listen to music and then write these here notes.

Today, I’ll be up when I’m up, I’ll do whatever needs doing, I really need to finish choosing songs (about six left), I’ll hopefully pick up some packages, I’ll eat, I’ll get everything ready to announce our two new titles at midnight, and then I can watch, listen, and relax.

The rest of the week is more of the same, plus planning our rehearsals and shoot for Doug’s play, and continuing to get charts done for project one and perhaps start in on project two.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, be up when I’m up, do whatever needs doing, finish choosing songs, hopefully pick up packages, eat, get everything ready to announce our two new titles, and then watch, listen, and relax. Today’s topic of discussion: It’s Ask BK Day, the day in which you get to ask me or any dear reader any old question you like and we get to give any old answer we like.  So, let’s have loads of lovely questions and loads of lovely answers and loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, happy to have reminisced about my stereo affair.

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