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Missing My Friend

Today is the one year anniversary of the death of my dear friend Bill Moody, whom many of you knew as Percy Pringle and Paul Bearer in WWE.

Here is a tribute I wrote for him, which is posted on his official web site.  PercyPringle.com – My Tribute

There will never be another Bill Moody.  I miss him like crazy.

Here’s something fun for you all to enjoy… Percy Pringle Sings

In the photo posted above, you will see Bill, myself, and Gulf Coast wrestling legend “Cowboy” Bob Kelly.  Bob was a childhood hero to Bill, and he was very happy to call him his friend (as am I).

Bob lost his wife of over 50 years, the wonderful Chris Kelly,  just a few months back and is still dealing with everything.  As you take a moment to think about Bill Moody, do say a prayer for Bob and Chris, too.  I know they would appreciate it.

I wish like anything I could be down at the Gulf Coast Wrestler’s Reunion this week to be with my old friends in Mobile, Alabama.  Alas, fate has other plans for me.  But I am sending all of my very best thoughts to all of you as you celebrate all your memories and years of kinship.   Just save me some banana pudding, if you will.

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Keeping It Light

Well, friends, I have to admit I have a whole pile of obituaries to write here, but I am going to take my time putting them out.  I just wrote two today, and that’s enough to take a toll on somebody for a very, very long time!  Phyllis Diller, Andy Griffith, Robin Gibb — they will get their proper tributes.  But one can only get so morose in one sitting.

I think I’ll be keeping it light for the rest of the day.

Lately I have been into the whole art of proper grooming, and all the frilly stuff that goes with it.  I got tired of the disposable razor scene, which I found to be wasteful and expensive.   There is a reason why men used to groom and maintain themselves a certain way years ago… and they looked fantastic.  I decided to throw myself into that world.  Oh, the education I got!  I’m going to write a whole piece on safety razors, talcum powder and my love for Pinaud products.  But that will be coming soon.  It’s worth the wait.

This morning I treated myself to coffee at a local restaurant, but took the added measure of bringing my own container of real cream, instead of subjecting myself to the stabilized coffee whitener  in little plastic cups that most places offer you, which floats about like an anonymous mass and tastes like nothing from the dairy universe.  And the coffee tasted so much better!  I am not above doing such things, of course, and feel it’s perfectly acceptable to eat on your own terms.  If you like fresh ground pepper, why subject yourself to stuff that has been sitting on the table for years, pre-ground and thoroughly without identity?  Bring your own pepper mill with you.   If you don’t like margarine on your toast (as many will serve it), ask for it dry, and take a container of real butter out of your satchel and live like a king, to the envy of all around you.  Food should be as YOU want it, not as THEY want it.  Restaurants are there to serve you, and if they can’t do that by all means serve yourself!

I just ordered the new Don Williams album (on vinyl, of course) and I can’t wait to hear it.  That boy is just pure, sweet, understated greatness.  Not familiar? Here you go… Good Ol’ Boys Like Me

Recently I have been watching the old Dark Shadows television series, enjoying the absolute heck out of it.  The acting, the wacky storylines, and the overall camp of it make this an irresistible and enthralling experience. I always seem to catch on to certain things long after they are current, don’t I?  Well, that’s just the way of things.  After this I plan on catching Fanny Brice down at the Palladium.  I hear she’s an absolute howl!

I need to get myself some lunch before I fade away to nothing.  But I thank you for your time.

 

 

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Paint it Red

Rolland “Red” Bastien, the “Flying Redhead,” was one of the top professional wrestlers in the Golden Age of the sport (back when it was called a sport).  The younger generation may not be familiar with his name, but he was a legitimate legend, and could tie anybody into knots in his heyday.  After all, Red started out on the old carnival circuit, where you had to be tough or you would never survive.

When I started to watch professional wrestling in the late 1970s, Red was working the San Francisco territory.  He was in his late 40s and his career was coming to a close.  Red’s knees were shot after decades of abuse.  He could not move as well as he could in earlier years — it was quite obvious — so he made up for it by being extra stiff in the ring.  Playboy Buddy Rose once told me that Red worked that way so the other wrestlers still gave him the respect he deserved.  But, by that point, his reputation was enough to carry him through anything, and he was definitely respected everywhere he went.

I was lucky enough to call him my friend.  We spent many a time together getting snockered on red wine (his potable of choice) at the Sportsman’s Lodge in Studio City, CA.  One night he arrived just after his artificial hip snapped.  Though he must have been in considerable pain, he refused to let it sideline him from his activities.  He only wanted to go to one hospital — in Minnesota! — and went on as if nothing was amiss.  We spent several hours together that night talking and drinking like nothing was wrong.  I cannot tell you how impressed I was by his fortitude and spirit.

It’s like the old quote of Ray “The Crippler” Stevens (which Red constantly referred to) goes: “In life, you can either choose to have a good time or a bad time.  I choose to have a good time!”

Red was as sweet and charming and interesting as you could ever imagine.   A dear man, beloved by all.  And that’s no malarkey: EVERYBODY loved Red Bastien.  What more could any person ask for in this world?

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One Month Down!

Well, gang, 2012 has started off strong, and the month of January has ended.

In that time, we’ve seen the passing of music icon Etta James, famed football coach Joe Paterno, and former “sweat hog” Robert Hegyes.   I’ve always felt “At Last” was overplayed, I’m not a fan of football, and Welcome Back Kotter was never one of my favorite shows, but these folks all had an affect on our culture, and they will be missed.

McDonald’s was forced to reformulate their hamburgers. I have not eaten there in over a decade, but I’m certainly glad those of you who do eat there, even on occasion, don’t need to put ammonium hydroxide and assorted cow scraps in your body any longer, especially when you think you are just eating plain old ground meat.

I started the month sleeping in my car, and I am ending it in my own bed — a big upgrade, if you ask me.  And as I sit here in my room, amidst nothing but happy silence, I want to be more wordy and descriptive in my reflections.  I want to be more wordy, but I’m not feeling it.    That’s okay!

I made a promise to myself at the end of 2011 that I would eschew soda and fast food, and I’ve made it one whole month without complaint or regret.   I also promised to cook more things at home, and bring my prepared food with me as often as possible, instead of relying on restaurants and convenience foods.  The fact that I know how to cook does make a difference.  I picked up a hand-crank pasta maker, and I must say the stuff you do at home blows anything from the store right out of the water.  I have been going back to my old cookbooks, where inspiration abounds.  I’ve fallen in love with James Beard all over again.

2011 saw the much anticipated release of Antiquated, my first album since Travelogue.  It has been a long time coming for my music career, and now I think I’ve hit a stride that will carry me along nicely in this new year.  Soon you’ll be able to purchase Antiquated through my web site.  Rest assured there will be another album in 2012 — no more of these 12 year gaps!

I will continue to write, create, eat, and generally make a donkey out of myself, but in the most positive, loving way.

As always, I thank you all for your love and support.

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Life in Gilbertville

It certainly has been a busy time for me — the reason for my long absence here.   I know I was going to update every few days, but life sometimes gets in the way of our best intentions, and we have no choice but to attend to its needs.

Gilbertville, the latest album from the one and only Gilbert O’Sullivan, was released at the end of last month.  It is classic GOS, filled with memorable tunes, clever and personal lyrics.  Gilbert’s ageless performance style is always brimming with life and enthusiasm.    He never ceases to amaze me with the turns he takes, and how he constantly challenges himself to go in different directions musically (this album was recorded in Nashville, which adds a wonderful quality to the production).  The first single off the album, “All They Wanted to Say,” deals with the 9/11 attack in an extremely touching, thoughtful manner.  If you can listen to that song and not start to cry, you are made of stone.

I am honored to have two of my illustrations in the CD booklet, one of which is being used for tee shirts being sold at his concerts across Europe.  How can one not be thrilled to say that?  I am so grateful to Gilbert for giving me the opportunity to be a small part of such a fine project.    And if you like my artwork, feel free to purchase yourself a copy of the CD from Bygum Records and I will be more than happy to sign it for you (just e-mail me for the contact information).  The happy caveat to your purchase will be the wonderful music within — it is sure to fill your life with plenty of joy.

I have several projects floating now, none of which I am at liberty to speak of, but all are fantastic.  I will be back in a day or so, however, to update all of you on some other developments, plus my usual nuttiness, such as my latest obsession with a local brand of pickles.

Thank you, everyone!

– Kurt

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The Saturday Gone

It’s Saturday, which once meant cartoons, cooking shows and wrestling to me, but now it’s just a day when the bank has different hours, and more people are at the barbershop.

Saturday morning cartoons were almost like a religion to kids for about 40 years.  The fact that this staple no longer exists leaves a huge void inside of my brain.  I still find myself waking early, half expecting to turn on the set and partake in some old-fashioned viewing.  Then it dawns on me that if I want to see those cartoons again, I have to pop in a DVD or go to You Tube… and that’s really not the same thing.  The onslaught of ideas, the variety of concepts — all of that really served as a huge inspiration for my off-kilter mind.  Saturday morning cartoons pretty much defined my sensibilities as an animator, much more so than I may ever understand.

Cooking shows on PBS were in the mid-day.  I loved The Frugal Gourmet, Great Chefs, Yan Can Cook and anything else they threw at me.  Good or bad, if it was food-related, I watched it all.  And I learned!  We did not have Food Network back then, and people were not as educated to the ways of eating as they are now.  Things were a little more innocent.  I watched and learned.  I became a good cook because of these shows, and I am beyond grateful for that.   The Frugal Gourmet, by far, was my biggest influence.  Meeting him in 1993 was a really big thing for me.

Saturday used to also mean local wrestling, plus AWA, WWF and stars of the NWA on Superstation TBS.   Most of my contemporaries looked at me like I had eight eyeballs when I would praise the virtues of “Boogie Woogie Man” Jimmy Valiant or  Nick Bockwinkel, who I saw as incredibly talented and remarkable characters.  It was a thing I had to savor alone, pretty much.  And Saturday was when I would simply shut the world out and revel in all the pro wrestling action I could absorb.  I didn’t have DVR or Tivo to hold my hand — I simply sat there and drank it all in, for hours at a time.  Of course, I used this knowledge many times over the years, in and out of the wrestling business.

So, you can see, I once sat inside for an entire day and watched nothing but television, morning until night.   Now, I might see 2 hours of broadcast television a week, if that.  It’s funny how things change.  But I sure miss that magical time when Saturday satisfied my every interest and inspired great things in me.

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It’s a Productive Day

Yep.  I went into the basement and cleaned out some crap.  Then I did some laundry.  I also cleaned up the kitchen a bit.  All the while, I listened to great music, ate good food and got myself mentally prepared for the upcoming week.  Ain’t this what Sundays are for, anyhow?

And it feels like a Sunday to me, too.   Does that make any sense?  This day has a particular quality about it, at least to me, one of contemplation and serenity, joy mixed with a bit of sadness.   It doesn’t have anything to do with church, really — I just think Sunday has a personality all its own.

As I went through my things in the basement, I stumbled upon some vintage 7-Up bottles, back from the days when you would return your bottles to the grocery store for your nickle or dime, and soft drink companies used real sugar.  Man, did sodas taste so much better back then!  It was with real joy that I found the Pepsi company to be releasing their “Throwback” line of products: Pepsi and Mountain Dew, both featuring real sugar.  Mountain Dew, quite honestly, I can take or leave (sorry, kids).  But the Pepsi Throwback is a real treasure.  It reminded me why I used to love drinking cola as a kid.  My first sip brought happy memories flooding through my brain, as the carbonated goodness tickled my tonsils in a way they hadn’t been tickled in many a moon.   This Pepsi was the kind that you could savor, with a clean, pleasant glow about it, and real cola taste.  It’s a fabulous thing, and I suggest it to all who want to see how it should be done, instead of accepting that modern, corn syrup concoction as the genuine article.

Pepsi Throwback

Okay, I better go attend to the rest of my day.  Thank you for your time!

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Yeah… it’s Thursday

I just listened to Roger Miller‘s gorgeous, impromptu version of “Leaving’s Not the Only Way to Go,” and my heart just melted.  What a fabulous song, by such a remarkable performer.    I have always loved Roger, and listen to him on a regular basis.  But sometimes even somebody you know so well can take you off guard, and remind you why you love them to begin with.  Here’s that song, so you can melt right along with me: PLAY SONG

I’m laying low today, still nursing my ills.  I am, however, well enough to shoot a video to say a few things on my mind.

Mr. Kurt Nielsen – First Video of 2011

I started my morning eating fried okra, cupcake-flavored Pebbles cereal and cold tomato ding-ding, washing it down with an entire pot of perked black decaf coffee.  It may shock you to know that it’s not that unusual for me to eat as such.  Well, I had a tummy ache all day, and that leads me to believe I’m still gunna need some time before I can call myself completely well again.  The old cast iron stomach failed me.  I am no Pepper Gomez!  As it stands, I’ll just have to do the best I can with what the good lord has provided me with.

Bed is made.  Sanka is sipped.  Almost time to call it a day.

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It’s 1/11/11

You know what this date means?  Probably not a whole lot to most of you.  Probably not anything, really.  It’s my buddy Loren’s birthday, and it’s the 40th birthday of Mary J. Blige.  But that’s not really why I am writing this.

I’ve just decided today is where all the bunk ends for me.  I have a little list that I have made that I am going to stick to, which will make my life more forward-moving and beautiful.  “What is on this list?,” you ask.  Well, it’s for me to know solely.  However, the changes it will spark will become apparent in time.

Now let’s take the day we have and love one another just a little bit more.

– Kurt

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I Still Sound Like Suzanne Pleshette

Yeah, my voice is as raspy as can be… still.  I feel like uttering one of Pleshette’s throwaway lines from Hot Stuff, like “Hey, gun slinger… who did you arrest today, a guy with a tuba?”  But as soon as I would say it, I would quickly realize that nobody would get the reference, or care, or perhaps even understand my scratchy voice.  Oh, to love a film that most have forgotten, and to love it dearly.  Oh, to sound like you opened up a can of tuna with your neck.  But, I’m still alive, and there are a lot better things out there to worry about!

I  just ordered my copy of Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1.    Like everybody else in the reading world, I understand the book’s release to be a huge moment in publishing.  I have been looking forward to it for quite a  long time, and now that my life will become a tiny bit more stable, I can start chewing away at something so magnificent.  Twain was simply one of the most brilliant and insightful minds ever, whose ideas still seem fresh and relevant today.  How can any sane person not be excited about writings that have been locked up for 100 years, penned by the master, himself?

I’m sipping bitter lemon tea with Southern Comfort tonight.    Oh, I adore Southern Comfort.  I have a slew of old promotional bartender guides, which show you how you can make any drink better by replacing the base liquor with Southern Comfort.   In many cases it works extremely well (if you happen to like Southern Comfort).  But the one that gets all my attention and accolades is the Comfort Manhattan, which I have been enjoying again (and again) after years of forgetting its glory.

Here is the recipe, I go by:

COMFORT MANHATTAN

2 oz. Southern comfort, 1/2 oz. dry vermouth, a dash of Angostura bitters, a twist of lemon peel

Stir together with ice cubes and serve.

Okay, I think I have confused you all enough.   May your week be one of joy and good fortune!

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