Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Box set a tailor made present

Let’s see. We were talking about birthday presents, right? OK. I’ll refresh your memory.

Last week I wrote about the birthday present the lady of the house got me last year, one which underwent a unique transformation.

It was a TaylorMade "Blazer," a weapon of golf intended to propel the ball a reasonable distance — far enough, at least, so as not to cause embarrassment to the owner.

It was in my bag of clubs at the annual outing of Crossroads at Quail Hollow in Concord Township, and in a moment of a rare transmogrification, or perhaps it was just mischief, it ended up with a Callaway head cover.

I have no idea what happened to its TaylorMade head cover. My TaylorMade head cover. But I want it back — or at least one that is of a like nature.

That was last year’s birthday present. Let me tell you about this year’s. Relax. Nothing is lost, stolen or misplaced.

We were sitting around one day, the pangs of hunger were mounting, and I said, "Let’s go out to the mall and get a Chick-Fil-A sandwich."

She wasn’t overly enthused. Why, she wondered.

"They are the best chicken sandwiches in the world," I said. "And after that I will buy you a butterscotch sundae at Dairy Queen."

That promise sealed the deal. I hadn’t mentioned that I intended to get a large swirl cone, half chocolate and half vanilla, but I had already made the sale and didn’t want to mess it up with too much trivial information.

As we sat there, enjoying our treats, I peered at the store across the concourse. It was what we used to call a record store, although records are now what most of the public officials in Cuyahoga County have.

"I wonder if they have ‘Kill the Irishman,’ " she wondered. It was a movie we talked about a lot, but hadn’t seen yet.

"I don’t know," I volunteered. "Let’s go over and see."

We quickly found the movie about the late Danny Greene and purchased it. That evening we enjoyed watching it immensely. And yes, I knew Danny Greene. He had a reputation as a very tough guy. But he never messed with me. Maybe it was because I never represented any kind of threat to him.

Besides, I liked him. Probably because we’re both Irish.

But something on the "Sale" table caught my eye. It was a rectangular black box, a couple of inches think. In silver letters on the top it said, "SINATRA."

Allow me to inject a personal thought. It is my belief that Frank Sinatra is the greatest individual entertainer who ever lived.

Excluding no one. He was the best. A few others were close, but he was the best.

I examined the package carefully. It contained four CDs and one DVD. The latter was a concert at Carnegie Hall.

I have more Frank Sinatra 78s, LPs and CDs than you can shake a baton at. Not many are "live" performances, though.

One of the best "live" CDs is Frank with Count Basie at the Sands in Las Vegas. I have it with me at all times in the car, in case I need to hear it immediately.

Naturally, the DVD was a "live" performance. What else? But the four CDs, although the songs are mostly Frank’s traditional numbers which I own hundreds of, all seemed to have been recorded under "live" circumstances.

I have all of the Rat Pack DVDs and "live" CDs with Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., but what I was looking at appeared to be different versions of songs I already owned.

As I studied the music in my hand, I began to get a little short of breath. It wasn’t the Chick-Fil-A sandwich or the ice cream. It was the prospect of some Sinatra material that was new to me.

"Look at this!" I exclaimed. "It was $100. Marked down to $50."

"This is your birthday present," she said.

"But my birthday isn’t until September," I protested. I didn’t protest too vigorously, however.

She took the Sinatra package over to the clerk, who advised that the next day it would go back to the regular price. Perhaps that is mere salesmanship. Or, in this case, saleswomanship. I don’t know.

At any rate, it was a wonderful birthday present, ranking right up there with the TaylorMade "Blazer" driver.

True confession: I didn’t wait until my birthday to begin enjoying the newly discovered treasure trove of music of the man who had peers but no equals in the world of entertainment.

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