Sunday, December 19, 2021

Christmas and Matches

I overslept this morning and barely had time for breakfast and Firestone Presents Your Christmas Favorites Volume 7. I have all seven of these collections of classical pieces and a few vocalists. Heard a medley of "Joy to the World," "Hark the Herold Angels," and "The First Noel," Leontyne Price sing "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks" and Vicki Carr perform "I Still Believe In Christmas."

Rushed out the moment I finished eating. I was supposed to be semusiceing the apartment building in West Collingswood on Collings Avenue, but I got there five minutes late. Had no idea how to get in; the building has a rather sophisticated security system that involves codes and calling people. Thankfully, two people came out and I was able to duck in.

It took me another five minutes to find Artie. I wandered all over the narrow, three-story building. It's a 30's-vintage block, with the laundry room in a steep basement and a nice view of the surrounding area on the third floor. Slightly dusty gray carpets lined the floor. The staircases were actually a pretty good size, not too narrow or steep.

Finally found Artie with two other gentlemen in an apartment on the third floor. Turns out he's a resident who does jobs for the manager Michael Smilow, including showing people around. While the apartment doesn't have the storage that the one I looked yesterday does, it's also larger. The walk-in closet would make a wonderful combination office-closet (Artie confirms that this is what he does with it at his place), there's a beautiful, just-remodeled kitchen, and the bathroom was also in the midst of being redone.

Dashed home, went to the bathroom, grabbed my lunch, and dashed off to work. Got there just in time. Truth be told, we were never more than steady all afternoon. The baggers complained about having a lot to do, but the lines up front were pretty normal. It probably helped that we had a lot of people open, and that the Eagles game was pushed back to Tuesday.

Headed straight home after work. Listened to Dickens' Christmas Carol as I had leftovers for dinner. This is the original LP version of Mickey's Christmas Carol. Here, Merlin from The Sword and the Stone is the Ghost of Christmas Past, and the Evil Queen in hag mode from Snow White is Christmas Future. It's also a full-blown musical, with eight songs including reprises. Most of them aren't terribly memorable, though I do like the delicious "Money" for Scrooge and Mickey Cratchit in the beginning. 

Switched to The Pac Man Christmas Album while making cranberry sauce. This kid's record from 1982 is about as early 80's as you can get. The Pac Family invites the Ghosts to celebrate their Christmas festivities with them, even giving them gifts. Most of the music is the tinny synthesizer songs common in inexpensive productions at the time, though I do like Mrs. Pac Man's opening song "The Magic of Christmas" and the duet "Snowflakes and Frozen Lakes."

Finished up the night on YouTube with more Christmas game show episodes. Christmas and the holidays go back a long time. What's My Line celebrated Christmas Day in 1960 with a quartet of unusual Mystery Guests - the husbands and wives of panelists Dorothy Kilgallen, Arlene Francis, Tony Randall, and Bennett Cerf. I also liked the lovely twin women who were men's barbers. 

Match Game always did a Christmas episode, usually with Charles Nelson Reilly as Santa Claus.  My favorite of these came in 1978, when Charles appeared as Santa and his buddy Brett Somers dressed as a little girl on his knee. Charles was away during Christmas Eve on Match Game '90. Confetti-tossing Rip Taylor took his place. 

Celebrities figured into other holiday game show episodes, too. Comedians Johnny Brown and Patti Deustch played actress Joyce Bulifant and comedian Ronnie Schaal on Beat the Clock in 1979. Monty Hall lead them through stunts involving decorating a mini-tree while wearing hand puppets and tossing plastic Santas into cardboard chimneys. (And note Joyce mentions having just finished filming a movie called Airplane. For those of you who are familiar that classic comedy, she was the concerned mother of the sick little girl.)

The game's a little less wild as Carol Burnett and Bert Convy join Allen Ludden for Password Plus, also in 1979. Burnett proves she's more than just a lot of goofy voices by absolutely killing at this. She got her contestants to the Alphabetics round twice and left Convy in the dust.

Of course, Christmas is for family, and it makes sense that family got involved on other shows. Peter Tomarken's two little daughters woke their daddy up just in time to do Press Your Luck in his bathrobe on Christmas Day 1986. Rod Roddy dressed as Santa in the announcer's booth. Family Feud also decorated elaborately for Christmas 1990 as Ray Combs lead families through holiday-related survey questions. Alex Trebek gave away video cameras and giant stuffed polar bears as contestants figured out Christmas rebuses on Classic Concentration in 1987.

Let these ghosts of Christmas game shows past play in the background at your holiday party, and see if guests don't try to play along!

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