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Jan 202016
 

If you recall back when I blogged about Sesame Street Old School CD sets: Volume 1 and Volume 2, I was so glad that they released some of the old records on CD. It turns out that there are two other old albums that have been released not too long ago and when I got them this past Christmas it was like getting back a piece of my childhood.

The first is Sesame Street: Sing the Alphabet, which is about Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Ernie, Bert, Grover, Oscar, and other assorted Muppet characters going through the alphabet one letter at a time. Surprisingly, the first track has Elmo singing ABC-DEF-GHI. Personally I think it’s better when sung by Big Bird.

Each letter has its own track with a song and skit which makes a total of 27 tracks, most of which were on the series like C is for Cookie, I Stand Up Straight and Tall, Two G Sounds, Sammy the Snake, etc. Hearing these classics again really brings me back.

There were also some tracks I don’t remember too well because they weren’t on the show like The R Machine, The Tale of Tom Tattletall Turtletut, U Lecture, and Ha Ha. Still, they are good segments just the same.

The second album is Sesame Street: Numbers. Now this was a huge favorite of mine back in the day. I used to play the record all the time until it got ruined. That’s why I was so thrilled to find out that it finally came out on CD.

After all these years the songs are all very memorable. Each track had a separate Sesame Street character singing about the numbers 1-10. Big Bird sings Just 1 Me, Oscar sings Knock 3 Times, the Count sings 8 Beautiful Notes, and so on.

Ernie and Bert get two songs in segments together, but that’s acceptable because One and One Make 2 is Ernie’s song and 6 (My Favorite Number) is Bert’s song.

The only track I dislike was about Grover’s song, Climbing 9 Stairs. It’s a segment about Grover making several trips up and down nine stairs to bring heavy stuff outside for Ernie. Luckily, Grover didn’t get a hernia. And to think, Ernie didn’t even bother to help Grover. Can you believe it?

This album ends with Cookie Monster singing 10 Cookies. He starts with ten cookies and counts backwards as he eats them one by one. Once the cookies run out, Cookie is more sad than full. Then he gets ten more cookies and becomes so happy he’s ready to sing his song again and eats those. Seriously, ten cookies are more than enough for one setting.

It is so wonderful to have these classic albums on CD along with the other CD box sets. What other old Sesame Street records do you look forward to coming out on CD for easier and better convenience?

Jan 132016
 

One of Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous poems is The Raven. I first heard about it as a segment on the very first Simpsons Halloween Special. Then shortly after I discovered that back in the 60s there was a full-length movie about The Raven based on that old poem, but with many new additions.

Dr. Erasmus Craven (Vincent Price) is a sorcerer mourning the loss of his wife Lenore (Hazel Court). Then it’s revealed that Dr. Craven has a daughter, Estelle (Olive Sturgess), and that’s just the first of many added elements to the movie that were not in the original poem.

The raven that comes to Dr. Craven through his window is actually another sorcerer under an enchantment and can say a lot more than just “nevermore”.

This sorcerer is Dr. Bedlo (Peter Lorre). He loves wine and has hilarious antics. The chemistry between Peter Lorre and Vincent Price is so great that I can always tell that whenever they team up, it’s easy to see that the movie will be a hilarious horror feature.

Dr. Beldo also has a son named Rexford (Jack Nicholson). Even though The Raven was one of Jack Nicholson’s earlier films, I can’t get over how amazing it is to see how young he looked back then.

The main villain is master sorcerer Dr. Scarabus (Boris Karloff). It was he who transformed Dr. Bedlo in an unfair duel and took his magic equipment. Now Dr. Bedlo wants revenge. Dr. Craven joins him after realizing how powerful Dr. Scarabus has become and that Lenore’s spirit is also involved.

First when Dr. Bedlo takes him on, Dr. Scarabus stops him easily. He actually melts Dr. Bedlo’s wand by blowing on it. That’s a funny highlight when Dr. Beldo reacts to it by saying, “You dirty old man.”

The real display of power is shown when Dr. Craven and Dr. Scarabus battle in a magic duel to the death. The effects may appear cartoonish compared to today’s standards, but are still just as exciting.

This is a real horror classic and it’s so poetic how Vincent Price narrates as he recites part of the original poem. He’s such an amazing actor. In fact it was this movie, The Raven, that first got me interested in other Vincent Price horror films of that era. I’ll be blogging about some of those in the future.

Feb 282014
 

Welcome back. Let’s move on with Sesame Street Old School Vol. 2, which also contains three albums from the Sesame Street collection, but are all solo character compilations.

First we have My Name is Roosevelt Franklin. The main tracks I remember from this album are the ones about Roosevelt and his mother going over numbers and the alphabet. Other tracks feature characters that I never saw on the series before. Ones like Mobity Mosely, who sings about the months of the year and A.B. Cito singing about sharing. I can only imagine what those guys look like.

Next there’s Grover Sings the Blues. I thought that sounded appropriate since Grover has blue fur. As for the songs, some of them like What Do I Do when I’m Alone, I’m So Blue, and Has Anybody Seen my Dog are actually pretty sad. However, Grover has happier songs also like when he sings about the letters G, Q, and I. Not to mention all time favorites like Near and Far and Over, Under, and Through. That’s when Grover gets so tired from all of that running. Maybe he needs some vitamins, or an energy drink.

The final album is The Count Counts. Unlike the others, this one features all of the songs and segments as a radio show. It’s called The Count’s Countdown Show from Radio 1-2-3, hosted by the Count. Many of the songs are from the animated segments based on the numbers 1-12 going backwards like Ladybug’s Picnic, The Alligator King, and Martian Beauty. However, the lead vocals seem different.

There you have it. These Sesame Street albums are true classics. What did surprise me is how short these tracks really are. Of course it’s much easier to see an album’s length on CD player than on an old record player. And in case you were wondering, all six of these albums are from the 70s, before Elmo.

Feb 252014
 

If you grew up in the time of record albums then chances are that you would know about the many classic Sesame Street albums from back in the day. That’s why I was thrilled to find that some of these old records became CDs, starting with Sesame Street: Old School, Vol. 1: 1969-1974.

Within these box sets there are individual covers for each CD that look exactly like the old record covers. That really brought me back, since I used to have some of the original records when I was little. However, the records kept skipping at times, which made them hard to keep up with while listening. That’s no longer a problem now.

Let’s go over the CD sets themselves. Volume One features three albums. The first is The Sesame Street Record, which was one of the very first of many records of the franchise. I remember this one well since it has some of my all-time favorite songs like Big Bird singing about the alphabet as one big word (ABC-DEF-GHI), Cookie Monster singing about Up and Down with another monster, and Oscar singing I Love Trash.

Speaking of Oscar, this album contains a subplot. Oscar wants to sing his song, but he’s forced to wait for everyone else to perform their songs. It sometimes makes me think of Oscar’s solo album, Let a Frown Be Your Umbrella. Too bad it’s not included here among other Sesame Street records.

The second album is Big Bird Sings, which features the best of Big Bird’s songs like ABC-DEF-GHI and I Just Adore 4. Big Bird also performs poetry. The one I remember best is the one about the Nine Naughty Noodles that he reads to Oscar. For the record, many of the separate Sesame Street records were solo albums on certain puppet characters.

The third album in the first volume set is Bert and Ernie Sing-Along. I never heard of this one before and like the first CD, it has a subplot. Bert is taking a bath and Ernie barges in with a piano to begin a sing-along featuring children’s songs like Old McDonald Had a Farm, On Top of Old Smokey, and She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain. When it starts to take off, the whole Sesame Street gang comes into the bathroom to join in. I can’t help but feel sorry for Bert because he’s shivering in the tub the whole time and keeps asking for a towel, but no one will do it. (How rude can you get?) Honestly, I would enjoy this album more if it weren’t for the dragging subplot.

How’s that for Sesame Street nostalgia? It’s not over yet though. Check my blog for Part 2 for the next volume.

Oct 112013
 

For many years, classic monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolfman, and the Mummy have been horror icons. They all unite with a bunch of other monsters at Hotel Transylvania, which is the one place monsters can party and never have to worry about humans coming for them. This is also one of few monster movies where the monsters are all good guys.

I must admit that the monsters in this movie are so creatively funny. Dracula (voice of Adam Sandler) runs the hotel and claims to have never said, “Bleh, bleh, bleh”. Frankenstein (voice of Kevin James) and his crabby wife Eunice (voice of Fran Drescher) prefer to travel by mailbox. The Wolfman (voice of Steve Buscemi) is a family man that’s always frumpy. It most likely has to do with having so many kids. Even the Invisible Man (voice of David Spade) and the Mummy (voice of Cee Lo Green) join in the fun.

The hotel has zombie staff, housekeeping witches, and haunted armor that always informs Dracula of emergencies, including a clogged toilet in Bigfoot’s room. It’s hilarious seeing how gigantic he is.

Things take a new turn as Dracula’s daughter Mavis (voice of Selena Gomez) turns 118. She wants to travel and see the world, but Dracula forbids it because he’s too overprotective. However, he lets Mavis visit a human village nearby and the humans attack her with garlic bread. As silly as that sounds, it was still a disaster, or was it.

But the hotel really gets turned upside-down when Johnny (voice of Andy Samberg) a human arrives. Dracula does all he can to hide him from the other monsters, even though Johnny isn’t really a threat. Since Dracula can’t get rid of him without any of the other monsters finding out, he disguises Johnny as a monster and tells everyone that he’s a party planner. The others found that hard to believe because Dracula is always such a control freak.

Of course Johnny is frightened at first, but once he warms up to the monster hotel he comes up with fun ideas for the party and everyone loves him for it. If only Dracula would just lighten up.

Eventually, Dracula warms up to Johnny after he experiences having fun on flying tables. After rescuing Johnny from Quasimodo (voice of Jon Lovitz) the chef, Dracula reveals why he built the hotel to keep monsters safe from humans, especially Mavis, even though she and Johnny have fallen for each other.

I really enjoyed this movie. It’s definitely the funniest monster film I have seen since Mad Monster Party and matches the brand of humor used on many of Adam Sandler’s films. Though I am surprised that Happy Madison Productions didn’t produce Hotel Transylvania, as many of Adam Sandler’s other comedy films were.