Tuesday, January 8, 2013

'Gram of the Week (12/12/11 - 12/18/11)


Kelly and Matt are celebrating their 20th Anniversary. Their daughter, Madison is finally 18 and old enough to vote…..and go as far, far away as she can from her crazy family!

Matt’s business partner in advertising decided to send a chicken singing telegram to the family to wish a Happy Birthday AND a Happy Anniversary.

So imagine, if you will, a cold night in December, up in Ridgefield, CT.  It’s not exactly dinner hour. It’s more like 9:00 PM and it’s dark up in Ridgefield. The last thing you’d expect at your front door is a chicken. But there I was in full plumage. 

Madison, is applying to colleges; all on the west coast. She’s let her family know that’s where she’s going and that’s where she’s staying.  In truth, Matt and Kelly are from Santa Barbara originally. That’s where they met, as a matter of fact; in high school.

Also, there is a woman named Deborah Ann, who has a chocolate shop in town and everyone in this family has worked for her at some point.

I got to announce that in the morning, Matt was taking Kelly away to Turks and Caicos for three days, leaving Madison in charge of her two younger sisters. How’s THAT for a Birthday present, Maddy?

I quickly got the “flock” out of there, hearing Madison protesting as I drove away.


Sunday, January 6, 2013

'Gram of the Week (12/5/11 - 12/11/11)


Ever hear of Patch?  Patch is a hyperlocal online news service. They are community-specific and encourage community contribution in order to realize the success and survival of their operation. They have a presence in many towns and cities in about half of the United States. Chances are high there’s a Patch online publication in your town.

Jude is a sales manager in the New York City office, selling local digital time to advertisers. A die-hard Jets fan, his coworkers wanted to celebrate with a singing telegram of a rapping gorilla. It gives me a chance to enhance my usual gorilla with some bling,  a leather jacket, and baseball cap. This group added a New York Jets jersey to spice things up a little.

Very conscious of his health, Jude lives for his protein shakes, eggs, and peanut butter. He’s up every day at 4:30 AM to lift weights, box, and workout. Then he bitches and moans on his way to work, because he commutes from New Jersey and sweats on the train.

All week long, he avoids carbs like the plague and then binges every weekend. For lunch every day, it’s “street meat” from a vendor. He bites his fingernails until they bleed and “pec pops” (flexes his pectoral muscles).  He wears extremely tight clothing and because his biceps are so big, his wife has to peel his t-shirt off every night.  And apparently, he has a “thing” for Nick Lachey.

This guy’s a hot mess!

(delivered a la rapping style)

This job can’t be the easiest, it causes stress indeed
You always bite your fingernails until they’re known to bleed
Your boys are not complaining, but they might sue you for libel
Do Luke and Matthew know they’re named for Gospels in the Bible?
Your diet’s like a paradox, I’m serious, no joke
One minute healthy, then it’s chocolate chips and Diet Coke
Every thing you do is macho, still I have to say
I’ve been told that you have a “man-crush” on Nick Lachey !


Saturday, January 5, 2013

'Gram of the Week (11/28/11 - 12/4/11)


…they got some crazy little women there, and I’m gonna get me some!

John again! He frequents a lot of places and he's always calling me to sing to the  barmaid of his favorite hangouts, or even the bank tellers at the banks his strip club has his business accounts with.

Sara is a barmaid at Canz-a-Citi Roadhouse in Patchogue. For the uninitiated, the “cans” ain’t for the beer. It’s  similar to a Hooter’s. This Jameson-shot-drinking barmaid will tell you that Blue Curacao comes from blue oranges (who knew?). And after a few “Irish Car Bombs” and “Jaeger Bombs”, she’s known to growl like a bear and rolls around on the floor….all while she’s working! And when she’s ready for a nap, you’ll find her sleeping next to the ice machine. I was born 25 years too late!


'Gram of the Week (11/21/11 - 11/27/11)


It’s the perfect tune to use for just about the perfect woman. Vanessa turned 40 this week and her husband, Alex, flew her up from Florida to celebrate with family and friends. In the interest of full disclosure here, I know Vanessa and she’s as sweet as they come. So when Alex called me, I was ready to do whatever needed to be done to ensure this would be perfect.

For me, finding a special tune for a special delivery is very important. It helps to define the person and the event. Sure, I use some “old standards,” but every once in a while, a singing telegram that I’m writing will just scream that it has to be written to a specific song. And that urge just won’t quit until I’ve chosen it and written the lyric to fit the tune.

All I could think about when Alex was providing the information, was Mary Poppins’ “It’s a Jolly Holiday With Mary” that Dick Van Dyke sings to her when they’re in the animated park with the dancing penguins.

I arrive at Meehan’s of Huntington down in Huntington Village, dressed as a big red heart, which allowed me to point out to everyone there that I had a “big heart on for Vanessa!”

(sung to “It’s a Jolly Holiday With Mary”)

(verse) Your Great-Granddad was quite a guy
He gave you some money to buy
A bathing suit, I guess
That bikini, you recall
Was very small
He said, “Where’s the rest?”

(chorus) He’d also ask you to stop sunbathing
From the roof, I understand
Because it was scandalous and scathing
You were causing traffic jams

A C.O.O. and C.F.O. accountant
You’d think she is a gal whom you could trust
On a wine-tasting trip, she
Was so tipsy
She stole a lot of wine accessories!

She leaves the fridge open when she’s cooking
No wonder it’s Vanessa whom we love!

'Gram of the Week (11/14/11 - 11/20/11)


Young and Rubicam, one of the world’s largest consumer advertising agencies, got some very good news via a Preppygram Singing Telegram this week. After months of creative review and research testing,  Hampton Hotels rewarded them with their account; choosing Y & R to be their new creative advertising agency! Hampton Hotels

The hotel chain wants to introduce people to  “Feel the Hamptonality”:  a proactive, friendly service that the hotel team members offer their guests daily, aligning with the product and amenities at their hotels. It’s all about anticipating and fulfilling guests’ needs; going above and beyond. Free hot breakfasts, free high-speed internet access, and a clean, fresh bed. No more need to ask “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” With “Hamptonality,” there’s always a friendly face at a Hampton Hotel.

Based in Memphis, Tennessee, Hampton Hotels sent a singing Elvis to announce the selection. They see Y & R as a perfect fit for their needs. Like “peanut butter and bananas,” which is what Elvis used to say.

The advertising team had no clue as to why I was there. They truly had been kept in the dark and were eager to know the outcome of their proposal. I’m sure they were thinking “Don’t Be Cruel,” but once I started  singing, they got “All Shook Up” and started to “Shake, Rattle, and Roll,” with a whole lotta whooping and hollering and high fivin’ each other.

             (sung to “Jailhouse Rock”)

You traveled down to Memphis and you got that feel
I’ll bet you walked with your feet ten feet off of Beale
Now with you in our corner, we’re bound to excel
You’ll show the world we’re different from the other hotels!
We want you
To help make our dream come true
We’re full of confidence, can’t be denied
With Young and Rubicam right by our side

Once Young and Rubicam get to work on their advertising campaign, “You Can’t Help Falling In Love” with Hampton Hotels. 


Friday, January 4, 2013

'Gram of the Week (11/7/11 - 11/13/11)


Poor Elaine. She REALLY wanted to get up to Woodstock in 1969. In fact, she was supposed to go and made plans to go with friends. Unfortunately, her boss at the A & P had plans of his own and that was for her to work the checkout as a cashier that legendary weekend in August. To this day she’s still complaining. (I imagine she might feel a little like Pete Best, the former drummer of the Beatles, before he was unceremoniously replaced by Ringo Starr!). And missing that concert might explain why today her favorite band is The Village People (ewwwww) !

An alum of Maria Regina High School, she was retiring from the Town of Hempstead in Planning and Economic Development with a dinner celebration at King Umberto’s in Elmont. Her co-workers had me deliver a singing telegram dressed as a nun: Sister Bernstein from Our Lady of Perpetual Motion.

Elaine has quite the storied past.  And each story is more “fantastic” than the previous one. She claims Oliver Cromwell drove her ancestors out of England and they ended up in Freeport, New York, where she would hang out on street corners drinking Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill and Tang. (Cromwell died in 1658 and Freeport was settled in 1640, so there is an element of truth in that!)

Aside from being a Foosball legend, her claim to fame is that she’s had a drink in every bar in Nassau County (that’s some feat!). In the late-’70’s and early-’80’s she hung out with Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground at Studio 54 (But didn’t the V. U. disband in ’72 and not play for some 18 years?).

Her retirement plans are to settle on land she owns in Virginia, and make moonshine to supplement her income…….or to become a holistic health counselor.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

'Gram of the Week (10/31/11 - 11/6/11)


Spec (that’s his name -- Spec) saw me do an Anniversary singing telegram recently at the Sovereign Motor Cars Mercedes dealership off the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn and it got him thinking. He’d been dating his girlfriend, Lena, since High School, and he was trying to figure out how and where he wanted to propose to her.

There’s just one big problem; his culture. He’s Albanian. And so is Lena. And there are rules. As I was to discover, it is a very, VERY conservative, strict, protective, family-oriented culture. They had to keep their dating private because if Lena’s brother or her family found out, it would be Bad-News-Bears for Spec. Like I said, he’s Albanian, too. It’s not like she was dating “outside” of the culture. I’m guessing the guys can be wild and crazy, but don’t even think about messing with their sisters!

Spec has a good job with Sovereign and even gets to drive a nice-looking 2011 white CLS as a perk. Lena’s in college now; specifically at the College of Staten Island for education. I assume by now, he’s made nice with the family. He already went to Lena’s Dad to ask for her hand in marriage. The only thing left was the proposal.

So Spec found out Lena’s classes and went to her professors. Professor Gold gave the OK and even went as far as telling the class at the previous lecture, that he was going to bring in Dr. “Fox”,  from the psychology department to talk about a new and exciting teaching technique the psychology department wanted to implement.

I show up to campus at the appropriate time. Spec is smoking like a fiend, nervous as hell, and drawing a lot of attention from campus security.  I asked “What are you nervous about?  I’M the one who has to sing! All you have to do is get down on your knee on cue and pop the question.” He made the mistake of waving his video camera around a little too liberally. Security came over and told him to put it away or they’d kick him off campus……and stop smoking; it’s not allowed. (I’m thinking he’s going to blow it before we get anywhere near the class.)

I agree to secrete the camera inside my lab coat (I’m a professor from the psych department, remember?), thereby making me an accessory to the “crime”.  Our window of opportunity was closing, so I said, “le të shkojë ” (“let’s go” in Albanian). I knock on the door, was greeted very warmly by Professor Gold and proceeded to ad lib my way through some BS about how the use of song is very effective as a teaching method and I was going to prove it to them by singing to them and then testing them. Lena’s girlfriend was also taking the class and was able to make hand motions behind Lena to indicate who she was (she looked nothing like her picture!)

Halfway through the song, I look at Lena and start to sing some very personal material (Philly Eagles fan, collects designer pocketbooks, sleeps with her socks on, wouldn’t kiss Spec on their first date, etc.) and she’s thinking it’s still part of the teaching technique and that she’s the guinea pig with all the personal info that I’m going to test the class on.

It wasn’t until:
“When you first dated Spec, it’s known
You changed his name on your cell phone
You renamed him ‘Lu’, no doubt
So your brother would not find out

C.S.I. is where Spec chose
To be the place to propose
So now he’s down on bended knee
And he’s asking……….”

At which point Spec walks in the room, pulls out a ring, gets down on one knee and asks,
“Lena, will you marry me?”

The whole class erupted. No one knew what was going on. They’re cheering, Lena’s crying, Spec’s crying, Lena’s sister is recording, and Professor Gold wanted me to talk more about the “singing teaching technique” !

Lena said “yes,” by the way. I hope they’re very happy and have lots and lots of little Albanian children. At the very least, just so Spec can continue the tradition and put his daughters’ boyfriends through hell when it comes time for them to start dating!