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According to National Day Calendar, today is NATIONAL DO A GROUCH A FAVOR DAY. Of course the website, which we assume is authoritative, doesn’t offer any insight into the history of this observation. We imagine it has something to do with the most famous grouch in the world, Oscar.

We learned from Carroll Spinney in the must-see documentary I Am Big Bird that Henson, collaborator Joe Stone and he named Oscar for the tavern in New York and based the character off an exceptionally disdainful waiter. Spinney has performed the character since his first appearance (as an orange grouch!) on Sesame Street in 1969.

Oscar has performed numerous acts of kindness throughout the years, although he would never admit to them. He is known to dote on his pet worm, Slimey, and has always said the only people he can be nice to without ridicule from his fellow Grouches are human children. When Big Bird goes missing during the original Christmas Eve on Sesame Street special, Oscar goes out of his way to help find his friend. And in a more recent Muppet Family Christmas he allows Rizzo the Rat to stay in his trash can for the night. Still, his holiday song is “I Hate Christmas,” which we posted way back here.

Its been nearly a decade since Oscar’s girlfriend Grungetta derided television’s grumpiest grouches with a dig at ‘Pox news’ (“Now there is a trashy news show!”) prompting conservatives to call for a crackdown on the partly publicly-funded program. Sesame Street has long been a focus for those looking for liberal leanings in the media, an argument which hit its fever pitch two years later in Ben Shapiro’s book Primetime Propaganda. The book also broke the *shocking* story that MASH had an anti-war agenda.

If we can learn anything from the ‘Pox News’ crisis, its that we can’t learn Oscar’s politics. He plays his cards close to his chest. Besides, anyone who really understands Grouch lexicon can recognize the bit contrasting CNN (parodied as ‘GNN,’ the Grouch News Network) and Fox cast the latter in kinder light. Grouches love trashy — it’s a compliment in the same way that Michael Jackson’s “Bad” was good — but this sort of nuance is entirely lost on the sort of people who didn’t see that the larger story that day was about expressing your emotions.

By the time Sesame Street‘s 45th anniversary rolled around a few years later, the news network had forgiven the children’s program (maybe they’d been watching all along, after all) and Abby and Grover were guests on “Fox and Friends.” Oscar, always the iconoclast, was no where to be seen. Later that year he was embarrassed when shown a reel of clips showing the various times Oscar had done something to help the environment.

There’s no shortage of mean people in this world, but true Grouches like Oscar are a rare breed. If today is their special day, we hope it rains.

Here’s a song that reminds us even monsters fall in love!

Sunday’s post about Dizzy Gillespie had the dubious distinction of being the 2,000th to appear here on the Hymies blog. Since launching this website on October 20th, 2009 that’s an average of five posts a week for just over seven years! We’re reminded of that moment in Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant Mascaree” when he says

I’ve been singing this song for twenty-five minutes, and I could do it for another twenty-five minutes
I’m not proud … or tired

best of arlo guthrie lpActually, the first thing which came to mind was a different Arlo aside, during his explanation of “the significance of the pickle” in “The Motorcycle Song” from a live recording which appeared this 1977 Best Of collection:

You know it’s been about 12 years now, that I’ve been singin’ this dumb song

It’s amazing that somebody can get away with singin’ a song this dumb for that long

But you know, hey you know what’s more amazing than that is that, uh somebody can make a living singin’ a song this dumb

 

 

This promotional record was produced by Black Heritage Cosmetics and Toiletries, likely to be marketed in department stores. Proceeds were given to the Southern Christian Leadership Council.

This second record presents all the addresses recorded from the August 28, 1963 March on Washington. Here is Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

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A little over a year and a half ago Pleasure Horse, Minneapolis’ finest cosmic American country outfit, rustled our hearts with a self-titled EP full of big stories from the open plains. At the time, we posted that the disc’s arrangements were “so consistently inventive its impossible to pick a favorite moment on this album,” and we’ve recommended it to nearly every country fan we know. Along the way we also encouraged everyone who’d listen to catch ’em at a show because Pleasure Horse is one of the best live country acts in the Twin Cities. Unfortunately, those shows are few and far between.

And while we celebrated the season of year’s end “best of” lists by writing about how the critics are sometimes downright wrong, we’re pretty enthusiastic about their new disc, too. If you like country music, especially the good ol’ outlaw stuff, you’re gonna like this.

Lost on the Mountain is half the length of that first disc, but doesn’t lose its depth. These five new songs by Tim Evanson frame short stories in catchy riffs and country nuggets. Where the last disc roamed the range from honky tonk to tejano, Mountain is more focused on the classic country-rock sound found in “Poco territory” to great success. Townes van Zandt himself would have been fortunate to be backed by a band which works together this well a little more often. There’s enough familiar sounds from that era, like Celeste Huele’s keys on loan from the brown Band album, to satisfy the outlaw country enthusiast, and enough new ideas — notably guitarist Ben Hahowald’s sharp solos and interplay with bassist Darin Dahlmeier — to expand the range of the cosmic American sound. Best of all, they’re playing a release show for the new disc this weekend so you can hear it all straight from the horse’s mouth.

Pleasure Horse will celebrate the release of their Lost on the Mountain EP with a late show this Saturday night at the Icehouse. Also performing will be Suzie and Fletcher Magellan. Details here.

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We’ve been invited to play some records at the Pistol Whippin Party Penguins‘ 8th annual Yuletide Sweater Ball tonight at the Cedar Cultural Center. So we dusted off the DJ case, which we haven’t used much this winter, and rushed over to the thrift store to get ourselves some sweet Christmas sweaters.

We’re hoping our playlist of local country records and holiday tunes helps set the yuletide mood. Doors at the Cedar are at 7pm, and the live music starts at 8pm!

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