alice’s restaurant is closed today

Day 26, November daily post challenge.

It was hard to decide what to say today since it is a national holiday here in the U.S., and a favorite one for a lot of people. I won’t try to say all that meaningful stuff, because most everyone else is far better than I at that style of writing. So here goes with stuff you probably never needed or wanted to know.

According to Thanksgiving facts gleaned from an internet sweep,  over 535 million pounds of turkey will be consumed today, those apparently coming from 45 million brave turkeys who had no other choice but volunteer for the occasion because that’s how things are. And because of lots of other things that will appear alongside whatever the cook has planned for your dinner table today, the average American will probably have consumed 4,500 calories by the end of the day. It might be good to be thinking about a long walk after dinner or tomorrow first thing.

Now these facts could be easily disputed; it depends on the source you go to, but one of my favorite sources is the funny paper. They have about the same shot at accuracy as anybody else in my book, so I thought it might be fun to throw one more fact at you, this coming from Grand Avenue (Steve Breen & Mike Thompson). It’s estimated that Americans will consume ten million pounds of turkey today . . . and due to turkey’s high sulfur content, Americans will also produce enough gas to fly a fleet of  75 Hindenburgs from Los Angeles to New York in 24 hours.

While I was contemplating these fun facts, Hubby played a Youtube video of Arlo Guthrie singing Alice’s Restaurant. Apparently it has become a tradition for radio stations to play this every Thanksgiving at exactly 12 noon. It also seems to be catching on in blogs, and even the ABC network today will be featuring it.

The original Arlo Guthrie video that started all this runs 18½ minutes and the sound quality isn’t that good on the ones I saw, so I shopped around and found this one instead. It only runs a little over a minute so if you have time to read this, you could probably spare another minute or two to enjoy this guy. He’s a real treasure I’m glad I’ve discovered, another thing to be thankful for.


Alice’s Restaurant, the one Arlo Gurthrie wrote the song for, was located down an alley behind a grocery store at 40 Main Street in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. It was roughly six miles from the church, and true to the song’s lyrics, just half a mile from the railroad track. It ran the length of the building from front to back along a side alley. It was only owned by Alice for a year and then she and her husband Ray divorced. Since Arlo’s song became so popular, Alice’s Restaurants have sprung up all over the country, and I’m sure you can find one today if you know where to look. Also, I hear the original Alice is still out there somewhere too.

One further note, I can’t accurately count the number of strings on his guitar, but it sounds much too good to be the standard number of strings (six?). I think it might be twelve, which leads me to mention a post I have planned for tomorrow–to introduce a new blogger to my blogging world. She’s MountainWoman Silver, an artist and woman of many talents–one of which is playing the 12-string guitar–but that’s tomorrow. I hope you’ll come back for that.

As for today, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday, because if you’re able to or just plain have time to read this, then that means you have access to a PC so that means you have a lot to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 🙂

Concert Evokes Memories of Friendly Beasts

We spent Friday evening among 21,000 other guests at the Conference Center on Temple Square as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, along with the Orchestra and the Bells on Temple Square, rang in the holidays in grand style with special guests baritone Brian Stokes Mitchell and actor Edward K. Herrmann. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy the concert, it reminded me when animals were always an important part of  Christmas specials (at least in my memories).

Edward K. Herrmann is probably best known for his portrayal of FDR in “Eleanor and Franklin,” but appeared more recently as Richard Gilmore on TV’s The Gilmore Girls. Against the background music “I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day,” Herrmann related the story of how Henry Wadsworth Longfellow came to write his poem of hope and renewal of faith as inspired by the christmas bells he heard chiming on Christmas morning of 1864. Herrman’s voluminous story-telling voice was particularly inspiring as we are reminded of the current state of unrest in the world of 2008.

With his matinee-idol looks, baritone Brian Stokes Mitchell beguiled us with seemingly effortless renditions of several holiday favorites, as well as a couple not-so traditional, but no less memorable, songs  (“New Words” about re-learning about life through your young children, and “Through Heaven’s Eyes” from the 1998 movie The Prince of Egypt).  For lyrics, click here.

The selection I enjoyed most, the one sparking a special childhood memory however, came near the beginning of the program as Mitchell sang “The Friendly Beasts” in his engagingly versatile style. It took me way back to the early 1950s as I was reminded by the lyrics of the TV show  I Remember Mama.” Does anyone else besides me remember the beginning of the show, when Katrin leafs through an album of family photographs and speaks these memorable lines:

“I remember the big white house on Steiner Street, and my little sister Dagmar, and my big brother Nels, and Papa. But most of all, I remember Mama.”

These days you can get DVDs and VHS versions of almost any TV show or movie you can think of, but not this one. “I Remember Mama” was presented live each week before a studio audience–except for the last 13 episodes. Sadly, this is the reason I’ll never be able to re-view my favorite one that aired around Christmastime in perhaps 1950 or 1951. The youngest character, Dagmar, fervently believed that animals could talk once every year, at midnight on Christmas Eve.

Everyone remembers Mama as played by Peggy Wood. And Judson Laire was Papa Lars. My favorite, because she was around my age, was Dagmar Hansen who was played by Robin Morgan. In my research around this post, I learned that this former child actor is now a radical feminist activist, a prolific writer and poet, as well as stints as editor of Sisterhood is Powerful and Ms. Magazine.

I was still pretty young and new to TV so I can’t remember the whole plot line to this Christmas edition, but I vividly remember at the very end Dagmar slipped out of the house to the barn to join the animals at midnight so she could hear them herself even if no one else believed her. Of course the rest of the family are very amused but accepting of her innocence.

What could have been more thrilling in the very last scene as the animals began to stir. . . then slowly began to talk among themselves as the clock struck 12. It was absolutely thrilling for me, a country girl whose own best friends at various times were a pig named Buster, a cow named Betsey, and a stubborn cuss of a mule named Jack.

Ask the Right Questions and Still Dare to Dream

Even though the material presented here on today’s post is not my original work, I feel compelled to put it up today. I may be breaking some sort of copyright law, but the fact that it’s “out there” on the internet already makes me feel the author would be happy to have it circulated.  It was sent to me in an email (how else?) and the questions are too good not to reach the largest audience possible. If anyone knows the origin, please let me know so that I can contact them directly. This exceptionally smart observer has this to say:

I’m a little confused. Let me see if I have this straight…..

* If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you’re “exotic, different.”

* Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, [you’re] a quintessential American story.

* If your name is Barack you’re a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.

* Name your kids Willow, Trig and Track, you’re a maverick.

*Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable.

* Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you’re well grounded.

* If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate’s Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran’s Affairs committees, you don’t have any real leadership experience.

* If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you’re qualified to become the country’s second highest ranking executive.

* If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you’re not a real Christian.

* If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you’re a Christian.

* If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.

* If , while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state’s school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant , you’re very responsible.

* If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family’s values don’t represent America’s.

* If your husband is nicknamed “First Dude”, with at least one DWI conviction and no education, who didn’t register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.

OK, much clearer now.

And now, another discovery through a separate email, for those of you who need a little “pure pleasure,” or something that will take your mind of the election for a little while so your blood pressure can go down, there’s this video from YouTube and American Idol. I would say also it reminds us that in spite of the chaos around us in a country that’s becoming harder and harder to recognize from the one most of grew up in, we can still dream . . . and DARE to hope that this election turns out right after all the s**t making the rounds. I think you’ll find it very entertaining.