Archive for the 'Trivia And A Tip' Category

If Who’s On First And What’s On Second, The Short Stop Is…?

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Answer: I Don’t Care (sometimes rendered as I Don’t Give A Damn.)

When you are planning an event honoring a special person or couple (ie. retirement dinner, birthday, or anniversary), the last thing you want to hear from your guests is I Don’t Care. But, all too often, the persons who should be the focus of the evening are lost (or at least blurred) due to too many preliminaries.

Case In Point 1: At a 50th wedding anniversary recently, one of the couple’s children turned the spotlight on herself for a long and self-serving retrospective “tribute” to her parents’ marriage. Some of the elderly guests (friends of the honorees) actually left before the bride and groom ever got to rise and say a word.

Case In Point 2: Due to extended thank-yous from winners in lower categories (whose “2 minute” speeches average closer to 20), Mary Kay’s annual awards dinners in my town routinely run hours over schedule. As a result, the Top Salesperson Of The Year receives her prize before an exhausted – and half empty – room. This is grossly unfair (but totally understandable.)

What’s the solution? As the batting coach says to Who (or What): “Keep your eye on the ball!” Just as the bride is the center of the wedding universe, the honoree (or – in the case of multiple winners, the TOP honoree) is always the central figure of an awards gala. Every element of the evening leads to their special moment – including whatever it takes to get to that moment before anyone says, “I don’t give a …!”

Ann-Margaret Starred In Which Re-Make Of A John Wayne Classic?

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Answer: The 1960′s version of “Stagecoach,” the story of a very eventful ride on the Lordsburg Stage. Instead of the Duke, A-M appeared with the immortal (?) Alex Cord.

If you are planning a special event, a stage may be in your future, as well. The additional height of a stage makes it easier for audience members to see a featured speaker. Band or deejay wires, speakers, and lights are also less likely to be tripped over by your guests when they are off the dance floor and on an elevated surface.

So a stage is a good thing – usually. Two common exceptions to this rule are (1) when your venue has a low ceiling that makes those onstage likely to bump their heads on light fixtures (or on the ceiling itself), and (2) when the stage is not configured properly for your music provider. For instance, a stage that is 8′ deep and 20′ feet wide has the same number of square feet as one that is 20′ deep and 8′ wide. But one may work perfectly for your band, while the other is useless.

So listen up, Pilgrim, and listen tight: a stage is only good when it’s right for the room and right for your band, deejay, or featured speaker. If it’s not, the only stage they’ll be gettin’ on is the next one out of town!

Who Sang “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia”?

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

Answer: It was Vickie Lawrence, Carol Burnett Show alum, game show hostess, and star of “Mama’s Family.”

If you don’t want the lights to go out at your next event, you need to be in possession of 2 critically important facts: (1) how much electricity your party will require, and (2) what power is available at your venue.

Today’s PA and lighting needs for bands or deejays are enough to blow the breakers at many older venues (or places – like a train station, gymnasium, or art museum – that were never designed as party palaces.) Margarita machines, spotlights on every centerpiece, coffee pots, and heat lamps on the buffet table also drain precious power your party may need. Ask all of your vendors what their total electrical needs will be. If they’ll have to economize, it’s better that they – and you – know it, up front.

(You really don’t want your guests walking out the door humming, “That’s the night that lights went out…”)

Can You Picture Ronald Reagan Starring In “Casablanca”?

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Believe it or don’t – our 40th President was announced as the star of Casablanca during the early days of that immortal film’s pre-production. And Sly Stallone was once slated for Eddie Murphy’s “Axel Foley” part in Beverly Hills Cop. Either movie might have turned out fine, but they certainly would have been different than the final films we know so well.

It’s almost impossible today to imagine anyone other than Clint Eastwood or Peter Falk playing those ace detectives, Dirty Harry and Columbo. But again, neither of them were the first picks for the roles. In fact – if the original casting plans had gone forward – both cops would have been played by crooners. Who? I’ll hum the answer, right after Today’s Tip:

As a rule, younger guests at a party are more comfortable with louder music than your older guests will be. So – whenever possible – plan your seating chart so that you leave a buffer of space and bodies between the PA speakers and Aunt Fanny. (She still might complain, but not quite as strongly.) Another option is to have Open Seating at your event, letting guests choose for themselves where they wish to sit. What you want to avoid – if at all possible – is having (a.) miserable guests all night long, and (b.) having the music volume for your event dictated by a few grumpy folks.

Now – who did the geniuses in Hollywood have in mind when they originally created Inspector Harry Callahan and Lt. (no first name) Columbo? Well, Frank Sinatra was slated to be Mister “Make My Day”, while the rumpled “Just One More Thing” Columbo was conceived as a role for – - – Ba-ba-ba Bing Crosby. (Like I say – that would have been “different.”)

Who Was Really Ticked-Off By “God Bless America”?

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Since Kate Smith first sang “God Bless America” on November 11th, 1938, it has become our unofficial National Anthem. It would have made its composer, Irving Berlin, filthy rich – except for 2 things:
1. He was already filthy rich.
2. He donated every penny of the proceeds to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

So – how could you not like such a song? And yet, one American composer of that era hated it so much that, in protest, he wrote a bitter response called “God Blessed America For Me.” We still sing that melody today. What is it? I’ll answer that question, right after Today’s Tip:

If you are planning an upcoming event at which “Seasoned Citizens” will be taking part, remember that they operate on “Senior Time.” They will show up at (or even before) the announced start time, and will be among the very first to leave. So, to the extent that want them to enjoy the evening too, adjust your schedule to theirs. Serve all food (including dessert) and make all important speeches early. There will be plenty of time later for your younger guests to party.

Okay – which composer was offended by Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America”? Folk singer Woody Guthrie, that’s who. He dashed off a response called “God Blessed America For Me.” It included angry verses about bread lines and dishonest bankers. We seldom hear those verses any more. In fact, Guthrie’s rant has become a patriotic, rather than a protest, song. And most of us today know the tune by it’s “other” name – “This Land Is Your Land.”

Not-So-Famous Names With A Very Famous Job

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

What occupation do the following men have in common: Leslie King, William Blythe, Hiram Grant, and Barry Soetoro?

I’ll tell you, right after Today’s Tip: When the economy takes a downturn, party professionals are on the front lines. Bands, deejays, and even venues are extremely sensitive to tough economic times (because – when money is scarce – folks don’t party). That’s why, if you have an upcoming event, you should have a “Plan B” regarding all of your vendors. What will you do if any of them go out of business? The last problem you need is to be caught at the critical moment without a key vendor. So stay in touch with those you have chosen, and – just for insurance – keep a list handy of those vendors who didn’t make the final cut. You may need one of them yet.

Now – what job did all those guys you never heard of share? Uh… that would be President of The United States. Leslie King was Gerald Ford’s birth name. You know William Blythe better by the name of his mom’s second husband – Clinton. Hiram Ulysses Grant later changed his name to Ulysses S. And Barry Soetoro? Well, Barack Obama attended an Indonesian school under that name as a child. (As Casey Stengel used to say, “You could look it up.”)

How Well Do You Know Your Beatles Trivia?

Monday, January 19th, 2009

On most Beatles albums, John sang a few tunes, Paul sang a few, then they sang one or two together. George and Ringo, if they were lucky, may have gotten one lead vocal opportunity each per album.

With four vocalists to choose from, you might expect an album called Best Of The Beatles to feature a similar division of lead vocals. But surprisingly, on that album, every single vocal is by the same person.

My question for you is – who was it? Who sang every lead on Best Of The Beatles?

I’ll have the answer for you, just as soon as I pass on Today’s Tip: when hiring a band for your next big event, always try to see them in person before you sign the contract. The band whose photos look terrific and demos sound perfect may – when seen live – project no personality at all. They may take excessively long breaks, dawdle interminably between songs, or play at volumes that are inappropriate for your party. A bad band can ruin your night. So check them out personally, before putting your name on the dotted line.

Now – who was that singer on every Best Of The Beatles track? It was… (drum roll): Pete Best, the former Beatles drummer who was replaced by Ringo Starr. Attorneys for the Fab Four tried to stop Pete from releasing the album, but lost. By his very name, he was indeed “Best” of the Beatles.