Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Shorts, flip-flops and reindeer games

You think Wal-Mart jumps on Christmas early? Let me tell you, sugar plum, they don’t hold a motorized multi-hued LED candle to Land Line.

The editors and designers start sweating deadlines long before the temps at Grain Valley fall below 90. Sunset’s still about 8:45 CDT when “Land Line Now” news anchor Mark Reddig starts testing his permanent outdoor Christmas light display. And we contributors have to pretend it’s chestnuts, not hot dogs, roasting on an open fire.

I was still in a T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops when they reminded me my “cracked carols” column was coming up like January bills.

Writing parodies isn’t easy, or everyone would be Bob Rivers, a Seattle radio jock who is the fallen angel atop the Christmas song parody tree.

His classics include “Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire,” “Wreck the Malls,” and the irresistible “Walking Round in Women’s Underwear.” I am not worthy.

It’s even harder to write parodies when it’s not the season, but my friend and ace gearjammer Rufus Sideswipe helped by humming his favorite Christmas song – “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” – to get me in the right frame of mind. (That’s a tough tune to write new lyrics to, by the way.)

About half the time, a tune will prompt me to replace a few words with something trucking related, and that cranks the creative engine. Other times, I’ll think about something in trucking and hum until a tune sounds like it will fit.

And it has to fit. Because Senior Editor Jami Jones thinks tune is something you do to an engine, Associate Editor David Tanner checks the songs to make sure my lyrics more or less follow the same pattern as the original. I’m glad he does that, since neither Rufus nor I could carry a tune in a tanker. But I’ve had to do some deadline rewrites, counting syllables on my fingers while trying to sing new lyrics.

But these hashed-up hosannas must be popular, since I’m still invited to do them after six – or is it eight – years? And they kinda make me miss being closer to the gang in Grain Valley and to the other Land Line stalwarts like Perfessor Paul Abelson, Suzanne Stempinski and Jeff Barker and his Bionic Burrito. It’d be a great Christmas if we could all spend it together.

So, here’s hoping you enjoy the latest installment. Maybe Bobby Boofay will video one of them for YouTube.