Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving: the most underrated holiday of the year

Thanksgiving has the unlucky spot of being between Halloween and Christmas. But Thanksgiving is one of the best holidays out there. It gets overlooked all the time because of everyone's insanity when it comes to Christmas.

In the old days no one even mentioned Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving. Christmas music did not get played until then. Malls would decorate for Christmas the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and finish up on Black Friday. Santa would show up right after thanksgiving as well. Thanksgiving was it's own holiday and it had respect. Now Christmas stuff replaces Halloween on November 1st. Christmas movies that normally did not arrive until the Wednesday before Thanksgiving now were showing up the first friday after Halloween. Christmas music has started on local radio stations at least a week before Thanksgiving. Advertisements on TV are now all about Christmas. Christmas is the popular big brother, Halloween is the spoiled younger child, and Thanksgiving is the cliched Middle child. And that is wrong.

Yes Thanksgiving is an American holiday. Most countries have a version of Thanksgiving, but it rarely overlaps with America's version. But we are Americans and this is our TV we are watching, our music we are listening to, our movies we are seeing. We should treat it has an American holiday and get it's popularity back instead of jumping right into Christmas as most of the world does.

I love Thanksgiving. It's not flashy like the other holidays, but it is still a very nice time, and until recently it was the point where I really started to get excited for Christmas because I knew that starting on Black Friday the Christmas season officially started. We would start seeing Christmas ads, Christmas tv, Christmas movies, listening to Christmas music. Now when Thanksgiving arrives, the excitememt of Christmas is not as prevalent since we have been knocked over the head with it.

Nowadays I really like it because it is a 4 day weekend, and I get to spend time with family and just rest. I've also had a lot of good memories of Thanksgiving. When I was younger and my parents were still together Thanksgiving always meant going to my Grandparent's house down in Oxon Hill Maryland near Andrews Air Force Base right outside of DC and Virginia. Most of the time my cousins and Aunt and Uncle from New Jersey would come down and we would have a good time. My grandfather who loved making fires in the fireplace would have one roaring for us, we would watch Football, when not watching tv we would play football in my grandparents yard or hide and seek in their upstairs. I remember one year I ate so many Andes Candies that I threw up. Now I never eat Chocolate and mint anymore. I tried radishes for the first time their before also. But as we all were getting older and my folks soon split, we would go to New Jersey for the Thanksgiving weekend. I remember one year getting terribly sick during Thanksgiving at my Aunt and Uncle's house. My stomach was so bad that on Black Friday when we decided we wanted to go to the mall and I wanted to go with them to get out of the house I could only walk hunched over. Now I know that sounds like a horrible Thanksgiving, and it was, but it was memorable. There was also the year of the snowstorm on Thanksgiving day (when we usually drove up) and the car in front of us spun out into a 360 and almost hit our car. But we got lucky.

When I was in College we stopped going up to NJ and stayed home. Sometimes we went to my Grandparents, but at this time they were in the twilight of their lives and not doing so well. In 1993 my sister got married on November 20th. She had a Thanksgiving style wedding dinner. So when Thanksgiving hit the next week, we ate Italian. Once I graduated and was still living at home, we stayed home and did a no fuss Thanksgiving dinner so I got to watch a lot of TV. At that time SYFY (which was the Sci-Fi channel at that time) aired Mystery Science Theater 3000 that was a classic show and set the stage for my involvement with the SnarkAlecs. It was a show about a guy and two puppets who watched really bad movies and made comments about it. Funny as hell comments. On Thanksgiving Sci-Fi always did a marathon Turkey movies for a Turkey day.  It was also around that time for the first time ever I saw Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and The Godfather and The Godfather Part 2. Because other channels ran marathons also and I finally watched these and enjoyed them. Football was still around as well.

One constant throughout all the Thanksgiving's is the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, an annual ritual that I always watched and still watch. Here in Maryland we also had the Turkey bowl, Loyola vs Calvert Hall high School football (huge rivalry) and before they stopped doing it on Thanksgiving (City vs. Poly) another huge local high school football game. 

And surprise Comics also had an impact on Thanksgiving. I remember reading Gotham by Gaslight on Thanksgiving at my aunt's house (the year I got sick it just came out with art by one of my fave artists Mike Mignola). Paul Dini and Alex Ross would produce a fully painted big size graphic novel every Thanksgiving week and they were all gorgeous.

Recently the day after Thanksgiving has been the time that my wife and I take our kids to the Festival of Trees, a great event that helps give money to Kennedy Krieger a group that helps sick children. Local companies commision artists to decorate Christmas Trees and make them as artistic as possible and then sells them with all proceeds going to Kennedy Krieger. They also have vendors selling things, Christmas choirs, Celebrity Christmas story readers, a huge train garden, Santa Claus, a kids area with Pony rides, bouncy houses, Carousel's, and crafts. A great event that gets you into the Christmas spirit, the day after Thanksgiving. it goes all weekend so you can hit it at any time.

It is just a pleasant all around time of the year with the only stress being self imposed if you have issues with your family. Otherwise it is just a pleasant meal, good company, and fun. And hopefully relaxiation for those who don't go Black Friday shopping. The food is always good, the drink is always good. And you have leftovers that last awhile. It is purely and simply FUN. No huge anticipation that brings you down after it is done like Halloween and Christmas, there is no real build up to Thanksgiving it is just there. And it is wonderful. The day after Thanksgiving you can go all the Christmas crazy you want, but til then please give Thanksgiving some props.

The Thanksgiving Song from Adam Sandler.

Friday, November 16, 2012

3pm on a Friday. It's time for It's Dylan A. Lange's radio Show

Alot of you may not know this but in my senior year of college I was a DJ on our College radio station. WXAC 91.3 FM READING PA.  I had 2 two hour shows in the Fall and Spring semester, and one massive 3 hour show during January Interium. I hadn't thought about it in awhile but for some reason today it popped into my head. You see my shows were on from 3pm-5pm on Fridays and 10pm-12am on Saturday nights.  My January show I think was 9pm-12am on Saturdays.

When I first went to Albright College we had the radio station but it was not very powerful so they only did a few shows so the guys and girls who were really into it got the shows, so I never went out for a show. At the end of my Junior year, a bunch of my best friends from College were picked to run the station. AND we were getting a new state of the Art, more powerful Antenna that will allow us to expand, which we did our Senior year. So many slots opened up and since my buddies were in charge, why not? So I went to the meeting and we signed up for slots. I was lucky enough to be allowed to slots. I would do two different shows to keep things interesting.

The main show I wanted to do became the 10pm-12am Saturday night show It's Dylan A. Lange's radio show. A radio show that would play nothing but music from Movie soundtracks and scores. I had accrued a large amount of them since I loved movie music, so I had more than enough to do a different show every week. Plus I would buy new soundtracks anytime I wanted to, or got some for the holidays. We also had a movie soundtrack section in our record collection. (it was 1994-95 we still had vinyl and tape recorders and CDS). It was a blast. You could also tape record your show from the station, so I did that a number of times. I was told one time that my show was the only show that a local jail would play, because they always played the radio from 10-12am and our station was the clearest??? HUH? It was not a joke because I actually got a phone call from them a few times requesting songs. So go me!

I have an ecclectic taste in music so my Friday 3pm-5pm show And now for something completely different (yes I used two Monty Python jokes for the names of my radio shows. Sue me.) showcased that. I would start off with say an 80s song, then jump to a 90s grunge song, to a new age song, to an Indy rock band song, to opera, to a disco song, etc. and so forth. My radio show was like a box of chocolates, you never knew what you were gonna get. I had a 2pm class on Friday so I would pack up my backpack with a ton of CDS and tapes and my books were in there also. Then when I was done at 5pm go right to the cafeteria for dinner since dinner started at 5pm and then would be free for the weekend.

We did everything. We had PSA's. Community calendar's. Station ID breaks and my voice was actually going out over the airwaves. We were located in the basement of the Library, but it was still great fun. We hosted concerts on campus, it was a great time to be a senior in college. oh by the way. I also wrote a colimn for the school newspaper my Senior. But that's a story for another time.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The End of an Institution

I grew up in an area called Rodgers Forge/Anneslie/Stoneleigh in Baltimore County, the same area great olympian Michael Phelps grew up. It is a group of three neighborhoods between Baltimore City and Towson, MD. We have the main road York road that runs through the neighborhoods. We have rowhomes, stand alone houses, a mansion, swimming pools, churches, shopping areas, schools, we have everything. And we had Harry Little's.

Harry Little's wasn't anything special to look at. A corner sub shop at the intersection of York and Register. It was family owned by a family who lived in my neighborhood of Anneslie. It had been there for as long as I remember. It served greasy pizza, crisp fries, onion rings, and Mozzarella sticks. It has your typical sub menu, cold subs, hot subs. you get get whatever you wanted to on it. It had an ice cream freezer and a cooler that had soda's and snapple in it. You could eat on the inside if you want, except there were no tables, a few years ago it appeared that they had put some inside and also outside if you wanted to eat outside. The scent of fried onions wafted through the area whenever you drove by or walked by. The workers were very nice never really bitter or mean. You could call ahead and pickup if you wanted to or just drop in and order something. Prices were reasonable, food was good sized and delicious. They came wrapped in an unimpressive white paper, though I will always remember it as sub paper. If you had a warm sub, they would wrap it in aluminum foil then the sub paper. They had gumball machines, and it was within walking distance of my house. It was an institution, always had been there for as long as I remember. When I moved away I occassionally got a hankering for a Turkey Club sub, or a fried shrimp sub, or even a BLT with extra meat. I would call up and drive up to get it. Or when I went to get my haircut, (I still go to my old haircut place even though it is far away from where I live) I may pop in for a sub. It was always there whenever I drove by on my way to my mom's house. Now it's history.

I found out about this through what else Facebook. One of my old friends who lived behind my house Angela Lacey nee Armstrong posted a picture of a sub she was eating. Captioning it the last Harry Little's sub ever. I was surprised and wrote a comment on it. She responded by stating that someone else bought the store and closed it down and will be putting something else in it's place. Sadness, an institution gone. I suppose you could blame progress, but still an unexciting local sub shop closing gives me pause and a deep sense of nostalgia. Sure there are tons of locally owned sub shops. There is one near where I live, which I go to every once in awhile. it's good food, but not quite like Harry Little's. Nothing ever will be. An institution that has been around since I was born almost 40 years ago, is now...History.