This past New Year's Eve, my sister and brother-in-law threw a small party to ring in the new year. It was a PJ party, and while I didn't think it would turn out this way for myself, I ended up crashing the night on their couch. The party officially ended when the pizzas arrived for lunch the next day.
It was a fun evening, with plenty of food, drinks and playing board games. Then, at some point, my sister gave everyone a jar with our names on them and 12 slips of paper inside each one. Then, she told us to think of 12 things to accomplish during 2013 and write them down on the slips of paper. Then each month during the year, we would have to pull one out to do.
Three months later, I've actually done good and accomplished three of my "resolutions". In January, I went to a midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, my first time ever. The next month, I visited the Ronald Reagan Library, a place I'd never been to before, where they were hosting an exhibit I wanted to see, Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives.
This month, the card I pulled read "Visit the Hollywood Sign". March has been a busy month for me, performing every weekend as one of the "12 Angry Men" for the Torrance Theatre Company and also fortunately getting some steady freelance work during the weekdays. But this last week of the month, I finally got a free day - and some sunny weather to boot - yesterday to check off my third resolution of the year.
Now again, here was another something-I-never-did-before thing, so the night before I hit the internet to look for some tips. Hollywood Sign Trip was the first site I looked through, and I was grateful for the photo-by-photo guide of the trail they recommended you take to reach the sign.
I looked for other sites and found an article on LAist which offered three hiking trails up to the sign, rating them by physical challenge from easiest to more difficult. As soon as I saw two words in the second suggestion, I knew immediately that had to be the one I'd take.
Route 2: Rated PG
I hit the freeway a little after 10am for the Brush Canyon Trail. It took me less than an hour to get there. I drove up Canyon Drive through a quiet neighborhood and at the end of the street, it reached a park. I drove through the park as far down as I could and parked in the last parking lot, near this sign.
After taking advantage of the Gump (Renaissance Faire-speak for porta potty) there were one of two trails to take. I took the one at the end of the road that headed in the direction of the Hollywood Sign that I'd seen on Google Maps rather than the one that seemed to head down to where the Batcave would be.
In the map above, I've traced out the path I took on what ended up becoming a 3 1/2 hour hike, and I never even bothered to find out how long the trail was. And as I write this, I still haven't. Going in, I just had an idea of the hike. But now that I've traveled it, I recognize pretty well the routes I took.
And when I say "hike", OMG it was a hike! I don't hike regularly, and while on the trail, I discovered that reading the words "hike" and "trail" didn't really sink in until I was actually hiking on this trail.
I left the park around 11:15a and the start of the trail has a steady uphill grade that lasted for about half the distance of the journey, weaving and snaking around the sides of the canyon. All the way up as I maintained an internal dialogue of whining and moping, I kept wondering if I'd make it or if maybe someone would come around a hill and see my body lying prone on the trail, unable to take one more step under the noontime sun! But I persisted, thinking "slow and steady" and took my time and resting occasionally. And with my ONE SINGLE BOTTLE OF GATORADE as my only nutrient on this excursion, I also thought I was a complete idiot!
But this idiot had a mission, and after reaching the halfway point, the trail got noticeably easier for me. A sense of accomplishment renewed my spirit and I got to enjoy the hike a lot more. Horse packs shared the trail with me and the many other hikers this day. And can you believe some of the families were also pushing strollers on the trail!?
As I mentioned the trail wrapped around the rolling hills of the canyon, and often as I rounded a hill I could see the Hollywood Sign looking just a little bit larger than the last time I saw it. Finally, I reached paved road. It would be a sign that I'd reached the last part of the trail on my journey to reach...
The trail dead ends at the edge of a neighborhood. To be honest, I was hoping the trail led closer to the sign. But by this point, I was glad to say "mission accomplished".
Until, on my way back, I looked up at the sign again and was able to make out tiny people on the hilltop above and behind the sign. They were taking pictures from there. From my research, I knew folks were able to reach that backside of the sign too, and thinking about the trail I took up here, I remembered a split in the trail, where a second trail headed up the mountain, probably up and around the back side of the hill that the sign sits on.
By this time, I had hiked about two hours. It was close to 1pm, I had half a bottle of Gatorade with me standing under a hazy sunny sky. I was a tired idiot. But this idiot knew his mission wasn't fully accomplished. So as I backtracked on the trail and reached that fork, I chose the trail not previously traveled and continue on up...
...until finally reaching the top and viewing not only the back of the Hollywood Sign but also an amazing view of Los Angeles county. If it weren't so hazy, I know I'd've see the Pacific Ocean as well.
With just days left in the month to accomplish this latest resolution and too many things already scheduled on a number of those days, today's adventure was pretty much an impulse decision. It started out exciting, became torturous when the hike began, but ultimately I accomplished a lot today and felt good about the whole thing. I also realized this put a pretty strong dent into catching up on a lot of exercising these past three months that I haven't done, so there's that too.
On my way back down the the mountain, I found the first half easy. But there was a patch of uphill grade I ran into just before the midway point that threatened to strangle the back of my left thigh into a tight, painful cramp. So I sat down and rested a bit before moving on. Then, and I can't believe this, I found myself hiking further and further up hill. I soon realized I'd missed another split in the trail and was on a hiking path heading for the Griffith Observatory, way further than where my car was parked!
I quickly double backed and found the right trail to be on. And the rest of the trail was literally down hill. But I found it still wasn't as easy an effort heading back to my car as I'd hoped. The grade was still noticeably steep, so I had to put some effort into my legs walking down the steep grade. And because of that, you know that feeling you get that the trip going home is always quicker than the trip heading to your destination? Didn't happen for me here. It was long trek back.
But I made it safe and sound back to the park and to my car. My legs, feet and body were pretty spent, and with it now approaching 3pm, I figured it was time to finally get some food and then hit the freeway earlier than later and avoid getting stuck in LA traffic.
But I will be back to this park. There's still a need to visit the Batcave!
To see more pictures from my hike, they're posted on Flickr.
Thanks for reading!
My theme song collection on 45 rpm
Sometime in the 80's when I was going to college in San Diego, I somehow became enamored with television theme songs. It was also around the time a series of records - yeah, those vinyl ones - had just debuted in commercials, simply and succinctly entitled "Television's Greatest Hits". I can't remember if buying the first volume (there would eventually be seven) fueled my collector's mentality or if it was my many visits to the local Tower Records with its well-stocked 45 rpm shelves that did it. But it was certainly around that time that my interest in searching for and collecting theme song recordings was born.
Some treasured LPs of mine
Now I was bred on sixties and seventies sitcoms, so I remember with fondness the shows of those decades. And in my humble opinion, those shows contained The Best theme songs ever written! There was such a variety of them too, ranging from pop to jazz and novelty to epic orchestral, that without knowing it, they also were teaching us kids about the varied styles of music that existed. So, when I eventually started getting into researching and collecting theme songs I, in my own geeky way, began to appreciate them even more. And I coined, to myself anyway, the term "20th century folk songs" to describe them, to elevate them, from just fun, nostalgic jingles to what I felt they really were.
TV Theme Songs are a unique invention of the 20th century, used to tell, share and identify stories about our culture. And when they are shared down from generation to generation, it's the same practice as was done with traditional folk songs like . Granted, some may argue these stories are nonsense, that they aren't meaningful. But I say you're just an ol' fuddy duddy if you do. Remember the time when someone mentioned an old TV show you grew up watching and thinking about its theme song made you smile? Or the time you pointed out to someone that there were different lyrics at the end of the Gilligan's Island theme? Or when you started singing a few lines or hummed a melody from a theme song like Peter Gunn or Hawaii Five-O because friends around you would recognize it or it was just plain fun to do? And when you did that, didn't you just share a moment with others that uniquely sprang from our modern culture, our youth, from the days were grew up? Didn't you just share a folk song?
"Leave It to Beaver" lyrics...and my warning
Alright, maybe I did or maybe I didn't convince you that they're our folk songs. But that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
But that fact that I thought of them as folk tales comes from the moment when I discovered another magical quality about TV theme songs, that some of the ones I'd only known of as wordless yet signature musical compositions actually HAD LYRICS!
In 1984, I discovered a timely little book called "The TV Theme Song Sing-Along Song Book" by John Javna. I still have it, along with the second volume he released a year later (both are shown in the photo above). And in it was a revelation. That classic instrumental theme songs for the shows Bewitched, The Andy Griffith Show, Bonanza and more actually had lyrics written for them. And they were included in these books with sheet music to boot. A companion LP followed, The TV Theme Song Sing-Along Album, and that's about when my head exploded. For the first time, I heard these lyric-filled recordings of the "I Love Lucy Theme" and "The Andy Griffith Show Theme", songs that for decades were only instrumental tunes in my memory, now fortified with vocals, vocals sung by Ricky Ricardo and Sheriff Andy Taylor themselves. (Now, I wasn't that big an I Love Lucy fan at the time, but now I know the song had actually been sung on one of the episodes. So to Desi and Lucy fans, it wasn't a revelation. But it was to me.) The album also included extended versions of some of my favorite theme songs like Mission: Impossible and Bonanza which until then I'd only heard in their minute-long broadcast version at the top of their shows.
The TV Themes section of my CD library
So for the past twenty-odd years I've been the proud collector and owner of hundreds, maybe thousands even, of these 20th century folk songs across 45 rpms, 33 1/2 LPs, CDs and even a cassette tape or two. Why? Because "fan" comes from the word "fanatic", and I'm wear that title fairly often as it is being a Star Trek fan, comic book fan and Disney fan. Just par for the course.
And I'm certainly not alone! I've wanted to do this blog for some time now. And when I planned to include recordings of some of my favorite TV theme songs, some with those unknown lyrics, I knew there were bound to be other fanatics like me who not only owned them too but would post them as videos on YouTube. So for your enjoyment, I present some of my favorite 20th century folk songs below, presented in ways you likely haven't heard them presented ever before.
And if you liked this blog, "Y'all come back now, y'hear?"
Retro Warning: If you were born in the last, say twenty years, and don't watch much TV Land or retro TV type stations, these tunes may not mean a darn thing to you.
"I Love Lucy" (with lyrics)
Lyrics by Harold Adamson
Music by Eliot Daniel
Vocals by Desi Arnaz
"The Fishin' Hole"
Theme from The Andy Griffith Show
Lyrics by Everett Sloane
Music by Earle Hagen and Herbert Spencer
Vocals by Andy Griffith
"Hogan's Heroes March"
Words and music by Jerry Fielding
Vocals by Robert Clary, Richard Dawson, Ivan Dixon and Larry Hovis*
* These are the cast members from the show.
Composed by Neal Hefti
Arrangement by David Slonaker
Performed by Joel McNeely conducting The Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Chorus
Arrangement inspired by "The Batman Theme" by Danny Elfman composed in 1989
"Medley of Television Themes"
- The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
- Dr. Kildare
- Room 222
- Star Trek: Voyager
- The Waltons
- Barnaby Jones
All composed by Jerry Goldsmith
Arrangement for concert performance by Morton Stevens and Jerry Goldsmith
Jerry Goldsmith started composing for television before going on to create memorable films scores for films such as Patton, The Omen, Poltergeist, Planet of the Apes, Total Recall, Mulan, Gremlins, Rudy, Hoosiers, The Mummy and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. (wikipedia link)
All About Me
A fan of Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Batman, comic books, Blu-rays, Disney, soundtracks, taking pictures, theatre and...Barry Manilow!