Darlene Love Alert

Late Show with David Letterman Guests   CBS.comThis Friday marks David Letterman’s annual Christmas show, always featuring Darlene Love singing “Christmas, Baby Please Come Home.” I wait for this performance every year. Last year, as the grateful guest of Matt Scott, I watched Darlene perform it live!

There is a formula followed year-after-year, which is why I’m currently worried.

First there’s Jay Thomas. He tells the story of the Lone Ranger at a car dealership. Then a guest with something to promote comes on. Last year the beautiful, but cold as a fish, Naomi Watts. Then (after an interminable production stop while the studio gets reconfigured) Darlene, full orchestra with strings and a choir.

I checked this year’s lineup. John McEnroe, Kristen Wiig, Darlene. No Jay Thomas!

Uh, oh. This isn’t good. I’ll keep my ear to the tracks to find out what’s happened, kimosabee.

Note: See the comments for more on Jay’s absence.

I Got To See Darlene Love Live!

I’ve been spending a lot of time home recently. You can imagine. With that in mind, when Matt Scott called a few days ago and asked if I wanted to see Darlene Love perform “Christmas, Baby Please Come Home” live on the Letterman show how could I say no!

Actually, I could. That was my gut reaction. Helaine convinced me getting out of the house would be good–and it was.

We met at the Fairfield train station and caught an express to GCT. We needed to be at the Ed Sullivan Theater by 4:30 PM. Our train opened its doors on the lower level at 4:15 PM.

We ran the 1.1 miles!

It’s been a long time since I was an Olympic track star&#185, but we made it to the theater at 4:35 PM.

Uh oh. They’re strict when it comes to punctuality.

A woman who seemed in charge took mercy on us, wrote RED (with a line through it) on the back of our tickets and told us to be back at 5:10 (also, which local bar didn’t mind Late Show audience members using their bathroom)!

This was my fifth time to see David Letterman, twice at NBC and now three times at CBS. On one trip with my friend Harold I wrote how we had the worst seats in the house. Wrong! Matt and I ended up with an obstructed view in folding chairs behind the last row!

Let me pause a second. None of what I’ve written until now matters. For years I’ve raved about this particular Letterman show and how I’ve grown to love Darlene Love’s iconic performance of Phil Spector’s classic. Now I would see it live!

The show started with Jay Thomas telling his Lone Ranger story, then knocking a meatball off a Christmas tree with a football. Honest, this happens every year.

The second guest was Naomi Watts promoting her new movie, “The Impossible.” Matt and I agreed she was cold, aloof and not a very good guest.

She left, meaning it was time for Darlene’s number, but as I looked down (far down) at the studio floor there were no horns or strings or choir–all fixtures of this performance. And then, as the band played (and tape was undoubtedly stopped), stagehands set up chairs and music stands and out came the players.

Oh my God, it was magical.

I stood in the back row and sang every word with Darlene. At the point where she and the choir alternate, “please, please, please…” I threw out my pointed finger in sync with the chorus.

Whatever Darlene once had, she has retained. Her performance was magical.

The lights came up and we went to leave the theater, but before we exited Matt stopped and passed a note to Alan Kalter, who he knows. We went up to the stage and spent a few minutes chatting. He was a nice guy and quite gracious.

Matt’s two children were with the sitter, so we rushed toward Times Square in the rain, got a sandwich at GCT and caught the 8:04 express back to Fairfield.

Thank you Matt. This was among my coolest experiences ever!

Note: Darlene’s performance airs tonight (12/21/12) at 11:35 PM on CBS. Don’t miss it.

&#185 – Never.

Behind The Scenes: Darlene On Letterman

It’s a behind the scenes look at Darlene Love’s annual Letterman appearance and a rendition of “Christmas (Baby, please come home)” produced by editing all the previous performances.

The one-and-only Matt Scott sent me this link tonight. It’s a behind the scenes look at Darlene Love’s annual Letterman appearance and a rendition of “Christmas (Baby, please come home)” produced by editing all the previous performances.

Darlene Love Means It’s Christmas

I realized I was acting like those people who’ve seen Rocky Horror Picture Show a few dozens times and now talk back to the on-screen dialog.

darlene-love-christmas.jpgIt is said Jews have written the best Christmas songs. This is what we talk about while going to the movies and having Chinese food on Christmas Day. There’s White Christmas and The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) and Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). The latter has the distinction of also being the finest Christmas song from a convicted murderer–Phil Spector.

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) was performed tonight on the Letterman show by Darlene Love. She’s been doing it on his last show before Christmas as long as I remember and I look forward to it every year. I’m not alone.

For late night TV this is a big budget production. Along with Paul Shaffer and the band there was a nine voice chorus, six string players plus a few brass pieces and other instruments I surely missed.

Darlene’s still got it. She belts the song. She hits the notes while staying mainly on key. She wears a skirt short enough to shame women a third her age and gets away with it.

Darlene is always on last. That makes her appearance late enough that I’d never watched it with company until tonight. I had to drop off something at my friend Rick’s house and we watched from his basement.

What a scam! The man works from a studio in his basement. Sorry–jealousy getting the best of me.

Rick is an announcer. You have heard him a million times. He sounds like God.

I always wanted to be an announcer, but wasn’t born with the equipment. I told him tonight he is my Mickey Mantle.

Darlene finally came. I waited a year for this. I was excited. Rick, not so much.

As the song began I told him what was coming next. I realized I was acting like those people who’ve seen Rocky Horror Picture Show a few dozens times and now talk back to the on-screen dialog.

It made no difference. Darlene was magical. The song is hers alone.

I left Rick’s a few minutes after Darlene’s exit. I watched her again a few times on the DVR at home.

This is obsessive behavior right? It’s the way I know it’s really Christmas.

From Your Christmas Doofus

The weather here is awful. We’ve been warming for 15 or 16 hours, it’s raining and there’s slushy snow everywhere. Rain de-fluffs snow!

santa-hat.jpgI follow “PhotoJeff” on Twitter. Jeff, whom I don’t know, is with Microsoft. He just wrote:

“PhotoJeff: …here’s a holiday fashion tip for men. Stop wearing the Santa hats! They look cute on girls and women, but make you look like a doofus…”

Great–like I’m not already guilt ridden. I’m wearing the hat on TV today anyway. Jeff lives in Seattle. He won’t see it.

I used to wince “tracking Santa” with the NORAD animations. Who knows why, but a few years ago it started seeming like more fun and I’ve embraced it. So tonight, in my doofus hat, I’ll be tracking Santa.

I’ve had parents tell me how their kids enjoy the Santa tracking, but the happiest of all are our producers who are working with a skeleton staff and happy to get a full serving of “Newscast Helper!”

The weather here is awful. We’ve been warming for 15 or 16 hours, it’s raining and there’s slushy snow everywhere. Rain de-fluffs snow!

On top of that, last night’s performance from Darlene Love was a disappointment. It wasn’t Darlene as much as it was HDTV! What always seemed like a huge and glittery production on Letterman looked more like a high school pageant on the wider and more highly resolved LCD screen. The studio looked old and worn. Then the show ran long, meaning my recordings (yeah–two) were snipped at the very end.

I’m sure my mood will brighten later. The folks who work Christmas are always in a good mood. Honest. I’m not sure how that works, but they are.

Merry Christmas. Happy Chanukah.

Darlene Love Alert

I almost forgot. Tonight’s the night! It’s Dave’s annual last show before Christmas. That means Darlene Love and “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home).”

I almost forgot. Tonight’s the night! It’s Dave’s annual last show before Christmas. That means Darlene Love and “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home).” I have written about this voluminously since this blog’s birth.

Here’s the listing from the Late Show site. What’s Mickey Rourke doing there? This is hallowed ground. This is tradition. Don’t be coming in promoting movies!

Tuesday, December 23

Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)

Jay Thomas

Darlene Love (“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home”))

I don’t record The Late Show anymore except this one.

Sobering Thought

This comes from Matt Scott, not me, but I’m in total accord.

What happens if the Writers Guild strike lasts to Christmas? You know me – every year I impatiently wait for Darlene Love to sing Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home) on Letterman.

Matt wonders if they’ll come back for that one night? It’s doubtful. I’m afraid no contract, no Darlene.

That’ll really be a Blue Christmas (without you).

Darlene Returns With Dave

I can’t believe I almost forgot! It wasn’t until a few minutes before I left work that I remembered it was the night of Darlene Love’s annual appearance with David Letterman.

Actually, Friday night on Letterman must have been really weird for Cate Blanchett. She was the middle guest, between Jay Thomas’ yearly retelling of the Lone Ranger story and his football toss (trying to knock a meatball off a Christmas tree) and Darlene Love’s singing Christmas (Baby, please come home).

There must have been a “what am I doing here moment” for poor Cate.

This was not the best I’ve ever seen Darlene. But, to paraphrase an old saying, even her worst would be amazing.

This is a big budget night with strings, extra horns, a standup bass and various percussionists. As ridiculous as it sounds, I enjoyed hearing Paul count down (1,2,1,2,3,4) under Dave’s intro.

I remember seeing a full gospel chorus backing Darlene a few years ago. This year it was nine singers. Hey, nine is a pretty big number.

Not everything was perfect. It looked like the timing for the ‘delivery’ of Bruce Kapler&#185 and his saxophone was off, but the effect was still nice. He came out in red, head-to-toe.

I so look forward to this performance every year. A minute or two before it aired, I switched on my homebuilt DVR. This afternoon, I edited a clean version which now sits on my computer desktop.

It isn’t Christmas without Darlene Love.

&#185 – I originally credited the sax playing to David Sandborn. I appreciate the correction.

Write And They Will Respond

I never know how, or if, what I ‘blog’ will be valued. It never ceases to amaze me that my words are read at all.

I seem to have become some sort of London Lee expert, though I’ve never met him. I get emails asking about London all the time.

It’s been at least 30 years since I’ve even seen him on TV!

Ditto for the somewhat more contemporary John Mayer. I wrote about him and how we met. Now people who want to meet him write me. Sorry, no contact. I can tell you he’s a nice guy.

He seemed very bright. I value that. He was close to his folks. I value that too.

He might be the best guitarist I’ve ever heard – really.

Today I got an email asking if Darlene Love was going to make her yearly appearance with Letterman. I hope so, but how would I know?

Sure, I write about it every year, but Dave’s not confessing to me.

Finally, this weekend I wrote about Playboy Playmates. Wouldn’t you know it; a note came concerning that.

Darlene Love Kills Again

Though I was taping the performance, I still convinced Steffie to let me come downstairs, interrupt whatever slice of reality was currently airing on VH1 or MTV, and watch Darlene Love perform “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” on David Letterman’s last show before Christmas.

This is more than an obsession to me. I start pining for Darlene around Thanksgiving.

Tonight’s performance was great.. spectacular… choose your own superlative.

David Sanborn, who stepped out of a box to play saxophone last year, flew in from the lighting grid this year, ending his solo as his feet hit the ground.

Later this morning I’ll convince Helaine to watch, then I’ll watch again… and again. I’m sure I watched last year’s performance at least 20 times.

Some Stuff I Don’t Want To Know

You know I get excited about Letterman’s last show before Christmas. It is Darlene Love, Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home) night. My DVR is set and I will force my family to re-watch the segment… more than once.

I don’t want anything to spoil that for me.

From Page Six NY Post –

Even a guy as laid-back as Paul Shaffer can lose his cool every once in a while. At a taping Monday of tomorrow’s David Letterman Christmas show, “there were lots of nice, touching holiday moments, including Darlene Love singing with a choir amid falling snow. The show ended with a nice positive feeling,” said one audience member. “But once the show ended, Paul Shaffer stormed over to one of the people working on stage and started spewing profanities and getting in his face. A complete tantrum.” Shaffer, the leader of Letterman’s band for 21 years, was man enough to admit he lost his temper. “It was a long day. I’m an ass. I’m sorry,” he told PAGE SIX. “Late Show” executive producer Rob Burnett cracked, “I also think Paul is an ass.”

Bah humbug!

Darlene Love Alert

I wait for this moment every year. Darlene Love makes her annual appearance with David Letterman this Friday, December 23. It’s worth taping.

She was on Saturday Night Live, singing “Frosty The Snowman” on-camera for a few seconds before a commercial break, and as the lead singer in Robert Smigel’s “Christmastime For The Jews.”

The Letterman appearance will be even better.

Blogger’s addendum: It is now Monday, December 19, 2005 and I am seeing lots of Google hits coming to my site from people searching “Christmastime for the Jews.”

I am surprised, especially since these hits are coming from many traditionally non-Jewish areas. Obviously, this short film struck a responsive chord.

So, What Brings You Here – Website Analysis

Nice to have you reading my prose. My website is here to be read, so you’re scratching my itch, so to speak.

Often I ask, why does anyone care? Are you a Geoff Fox stalker… God, I hope not. Is my life so interesting? Probably not. Yet on any given day, well over one thousand pages are read on this site by not quite a thousand people.

This has never been mentioned on the air at my television station (though there does seem to be a link to this site from their site). How do people find it?

I have logs. They are immense, taking up megabyte of space every month. Looking through them can make a grown man twitch!

I often look at an overview page. In fact I have a number of overview pages I look at and each gives me a slightly different insight into what’s going on here.

The page attached to this site says 236,238 unique visitors have been here so far in 2005, looking at 1,572,912 pages. That is the most misleading set of stats I can post!

Because of the way my pages are set up, one can sometimes count as two. And then there are the pages read by robots, scouring the Internet for who knows what. Some are friendly, like the search engine crawlers. Others… well I have no clue what they’re doing, but they pull down pages and images and take them somewhere.

A more accurate reading comes from a company I can’t mention (or maybe I can. I’m not totally familiar with my contractual agreement with them). They say, this year, there have been 435,466 pages read.

That’s a more realistic number, because it excludes robots and the like. I consider that an impressive number, 1,258 per day, for a personal website. Whether it is or isn’t, just humor me.

Recently, I’ve added another service which looks at this website. Among the things it looks at are referrals, to find out where viewers are coming from.

It didn’t take long to see Google is my friend! Less than half my daily traffic comes to my home page! The rest go directly inside, because they’ve been sent here from elsewhere.

What intrigues me are the search requests that bring people here. Enter “Blue Angels Video” on Google and this is your second hit! People come every day to see my Blue Angels video&#185.

Stranger are the off-the-wall requests. Some was here looking for “John Mayer Marijuana,” “inappropriate commercials,” “Who is the Monopoly guy?,” “Darlene Love on David Letterman&#178,” “Todd Gross WHDH&#179.” When Elena Demenieva does well in a tennis tournament, people come looking for her pictures (I took some excellent shots at the Pilot Pen Tournament in New Haven).

My favorites always have to do with “Carrot Top shirtless.” It’s a long story, but that’s a subject that has been dealt with here.

Over time, as this site has amassed an archive, the number of search engine hits has increased. Maybe this is a good time to remind myself, be careful what you write about. It’s around forever.

Not only are some requests weird, they’re from everywhere. It’s not unusual to look at the plots and see people coming here from India, Thailand or Peru.

So there you go. Maybe you find reading ‘me’ interesting. Probably not as interesting as trying to figure ‘you’ out.

The following list is ‘live,’ meaning what you see is current – not something canned when I wrote this.

&#185 – I have added a better version of the Blue Angels video, but so much traffic goes to the old one, I can’t remove it.

&#178 – Every year, I wait for the show before Christmas when Darlene Love sings on the Letterman show. Do not miss it. Tape it if you must. I believe it will be next week.

&#179 – Poor Todd was fired after 20+ years at his station. I wrote about it.

My Wife And I Have Balls

It’s cold. It’s the winter. The countryside is covered in snow. This is not perfect weather for the Fox Family.

It’s also Saturday. We wanted to do something and not waste a perfectly good weekend day.

A quick check of the paper showed nothing at the movies we wanted to see. The Yale Rep and Yale Cabaret are both dark&#185.

I looked for a comedy club. The Treehouse, in Fairfield County, had listings for Wednesdays and Saturdays in November (update the website guys) and December, but is mysteriously empty this weekend.

Finally Helaine suggested we go bowling. She made the suggestion knowing full well I’d find an excuse to say no. I didn’t.

I called our local bowling alley (I’m sure they’d rather be called a bowling center… and they can, on their blog). There were lanes open, but they asked for my name, in case things got busy. No names – I had my info.

We went and had dinner at the local Chinese buffet. Overhead speakers blasted Christmas music from a local radio station. My favorite, Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” played.

The bowling alley was only a few minutes away. We walked in and found the place more empty than full.

Helaine and I have a history with bowling, and this seems as good a time as any to tell the story.

Back in Buffalo, among other duties, I was the weekend weatherman. Helaine, living and working in Philadelphia, would come and visit on weekends. We were the proverbial strangers in a strange land.

Saturday nights, after the late news, we would join a bunch of people from the station and go to “Moonlight Bowling.” There would be Phil Kavits and Mike Andrei, Rhona Shore (one of our reporters) and Jim Sherlock (assistant news director and her boyfriend).

I’m sure there were others, but this was nearly 25 years ago. Forgive me.

The concept of “Moonlight Bowling” is simple. You turn off most of the lights, light a few black lights, add a smattering of multicolored pins on each lane, and pay bowlers cash when certain pin arrangements come up and they make a strike.

It was a quarter here, fifty cents there. Not big money. It was a blast. And we had fun blowing off a little steam. Like all employees, we weren’t adverse to second guessing our bosses.

This group from the TV station would go nearly every Saturday night. Then, when it was over, we’d get breakfast. That was around 3:00 AM.

It should be noted, somehow in those years I had entered into a pack with the Devil, allowing me to eat anything and never gain a pound. The Devil and I have had a falling out since then.

None of us were ever good at bowling. But, we had a great time bowling.

Flash ahead to Connecticut. When we first moved here, Helaine met some people and ended up in a bowling league. When she bought a ball and shoes, I did too. So, as the title says, we both have balls. Even better, neither of us wear rented shoes – one of life’s stranger concepts.

Over time, we just haven’t bowled much. Steffie had a bowling birthday party while growing up and I’m sure we went to parties thrown for other kids, but that’s a long time ago.

12-10-05_1910Actually, there’s a better way to demonstrate how long it’s been since we bowled. When we went to unzip our bags to take out the balls and shoes, the zippers were rusted shut! Really. You could see a tinge of green around the immobile zipper.

The bowling bags ‘live’ in the garage, so the culprit is probably salt spray from our cars’ tires. Another reason to dislike winter.

Luckily, the guys behind the counter were happy to help… and much stronger than me. Before you knew it, the zipper was zipping and we were ready to bowl.

12-10-05_1915We moved to lane 11.

Just as we were about to begin, the lights went out and the music started blasting. It was “Moonlight Bowling” all over again! There was one addition, stage fog, and one subtraction, no cash payouts.

We started slowly. My first ball was a gutter ball. In the first game, I barely broke 100. Helaine wasn’t far behind.

The second game went a little smoother, but I was still out ahead. In fact, Helaine trailed by thirty pins in the seventh frame.

bowling1Then, she caught fire!

Helaine rolled a strike in the eight frame… and the ninth… and two in the tenth – four strikes in a row! By the time all was said and done, Helaine had beaten me 158 – 143. She will be tested for steroids later.

Did she want to bowl again? Hell yeah!

bowling2We started our third game, and this time it was my turn to get hot. I made marks in my first 8 frames, finishing with 175, my personal best.

Helaine probably won’t admit this, but she’s just as competitive as me. Now there’s incentive for us to go again.

I’m a lucky guy. Two decades and change since “Moonlight Bowling” and I still have fun with the girl I took back then… and I still beat her.

&#185 – I’m embarrassed to say we’ve been to neither. That’s a shame. As much as I enjoy theater (and I really do), I need to be taking advantage of local resources like that.

Right Song – Wrong Artist

After everyone left the house I turned the TV on. As it turned out, Jay Leno was on and Smash Mouth was singing.

Let me establish, I’m a fan. I really like Smash Mouth, especially their first hit, All Star.

OK – am I off the hook? Good, because they committed a major sin in my eyes by performing Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).

Every year, on his last show before the Christmas break, David Letterman has Darlene Love on and she sings Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). Hers is the definitive version. No matter how good Smash Mouth is, they’re not Darlene Love.

Why intrude on this Christmas tradition? There are so many other songs they could have used.

I know this seems petty, but if you watch Letterman when Darlene appears in a few weeks, you’ll understand. She’s that good.