A com-POSE-r BY ANY OTHER NAME…. (Part 1 of 2)

Tomorrow, Feb. 15, is the birthday of one of America’s greatest composers of popular songs, Hyman Arluck. Hyman WHO, you ask? Never heard of him? If you’re a fan of America’s Golden Age of Popular Music, this song of his is probably one of your favorites:

….not to mention this one:

You say you thought those songs were composed by HAROLD ARLEN?
From what I hear, no doubt they was….
of the wonderful whiz he was.
But before a wonderful whiz he was, he was Hyman Arluck, so born on Feb. 15, 1905. If you were fooled, you should be grateful because, as Arlen (nee Arluck) notes in another of his songs, it’s….

Speaking of which, I thought it might be fun (for me, anyway) to fool around with a selection of birth names of other great Golden Age songwriters (each of them listed with one of their most popular songs), followed by a list of their noms de plume in scrambled order. Unless you Arluck-y, you’ll probably be unable to correctly pair more than 70% of the names (but at least half are guessable even if you don’t know them):

a. Israel Baline (HOW DEEP IS THE OCEAN?)
b. Benjamin Anzelwitz (SWEET GEORGIA BROWN)
c. C. K. Dober (BARNEY GOOGLE)
d. Vladimir Dukelsky (APRIL IN PARIS)
e. Charles N. Daniels (CHLOE)
g. Johnny Kluczko (RACING WITH THE MOON)
h. Edward Chester Babcock (LOVE AND MARRIAGE)
i. Andrea Razafkeriefo (MEMORIES OF YOU)
j. William Samuel Rosenberg (I’VE GOT A FEELING I’M FALLING)

1. Albert Von Tilzer
2. Irving Berlin
3. Ben Bernie
4. Con Conrad
5. Vernon Duke
6. Neil Moret
7. Billy Rose
8. Andy Razaf
9. Jimmy Van Heusen
10. Johnny Watson

In Part 2, I’ll post the answers plus clips of a few of the above songs. Meanwhile, if you’d like to hear one of the songs in particular, comments are open — please make a request. I’ve got a feeling I’m filling it.




Tomorrow is the first official day of smelly armpits season (unless, of course, you live in the southern hemisphere of earth — or in any hemisphere of Ur-anus, where, they say, it stinks the year round). To greet the season, I’m saluting summer with a look back at several good old summer films (and I mean films that actually have “summer” in the title).

It’s unthinkable that there’s no unstinkable way of sweating as I wrack my brain composing a fulsome introduction to each movie, so I’ll make do with a minimum of b.s. (background setting) preceding each clip….then sum(mer) it all up with bonus b.s. at post’s end.

First we have SUMMERTIME (1955), starring Katherine Hepburn as a spinster vacationing in Venice. After meeting and being attracted to shop owner Rossano Brazzi in his antiques store, they unexpectedly encounter each other again in this scene:

Next: IN THE GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME (1949) starring Judy Garland & Van Johnson as lonelyhearts pen pals in a musical remake of THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER (1940), directed by Ernst Lubitsch and starring Jimmy Stewart. Here is the trailer:

Last we have SUMMER AND SMOKE (1961), a film adaptation of a Tennessee Williams play, neither of which I have seen, but which I include here because its title serves as a “Perfect!” lead-in to this anecdote told by the late actor Tony Randall (and which relates back to the first of our films):

David Lean, one of the world’s finest directors, is a meticulous and fastidious craftsman, compulsive and uncompromising about getting things exactly the way he wants them. There is a scene in Summertime in which the [female] owner of a Venetian pensione arranges a tryst with a young American guest at night on the terrace of the pensione. Lean put the couple in two high-backed wicker chairs that completely envelope them,  placed with their backs to the camera so that all the lens could see were her left hand holding his right hand and puffs of white smoke from their cigarettes curling above the backs of the chairs. The brief scene, which could have been shot with any two people sitting in the chairs and the voices of the couple dubbed in later, took an entire night and a carton of cigarettes to film. Lean made the two actors do it over and over. Just as dawn was about to break, Lean finally got a shot that satisfied him.
“Perfect! Perfect!” Lean exclaimed enthusiastically. “The puffs were perfect!”

It seems we’ve come to the end  — but where, you might ask, is the promised “bonus b.s.”? Will you settle for the bonus without the b.s.? Here is the trailer for the aforementioned THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER, directed by that master of “the Lubitsch touch” of happy memory to Golden Age film buffs:




All my life I have been thrilled by the names of famous trains. The Orient Express from Paris to Istanbul, the Train Bleu rushing through the night to the Riviera, the Flying Scotsman and the Brighton Belle rolling north and south from London, the Twentieth Century Limited, the Santa Fe Chief and Super Chief crossing the vast continent of America — these were magical names to people of my generation, but on a dark November evening in 1963 the rather dingy train awaiting us in the Zurich station offered no interest until, at a second glance, I noticed that under the grime it bore a name in letters which had once been of polished brass — the Wiener Waltzer [Vienna Waltz]! My spirits rose. How charming, how romantic and how right, I thought, for I was on my way to Vienna to play the part of Johann Strauss in a picture.
–Brian Aherne, English-American actor (1902-86)

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I, too, have long been fascinated by trains — probably since the age of 12, when I traveled with my family by train from Cincinnati to Mexico City. Perhaps my most vivid memory of that trip: the elegant dining car, lined on each side of the aisle with tables covered by immaculate white tablecloths topped by spotless linens and tableware, at which we would sit like ‘big wheels’ eating leisurely meals as the scenery rolled by. “Dinner in the diner, nothing could be finer” — like the old song, now echoing back over time.

On the wall near where I sit as I write this post, hangs a large 1966 calendar published by the Union Pacific Railroad (“Road of the Domeliners”). Above each month is a color photo of a scene which is presumably within viewing or dreaming distance of a Domeliner: Sun Valley, Idaho; Morro Bay, California; Heceta Head Lighthouse, Oregon; Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona; a covered bridge somewhere in northern California; and so on. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge in 51 years.

But the handwriting was already on the wall for iconic streamliners in America by 1966. Numbered were the days of such storied trains as the CHATTANOOGA CHOO CHOO and railroads like THE ATCHISON, TOPEKA AND THE SANTA FE. Sad to say, the new kid on the track, AMTRAC, would lack their imagery….not to mention, their soundtrack songs from films such as SUN VALLEY SERENADE (1941) and THE HARVEY GIRLS (1946):

Those were the days, my friend. Clickety-clack, echoing back. It’s enough to give one the….

NOTE: I will be taking a one-post break. Until my next post on June 20, keep your dreams intact and your hopes on track.




“They had a story written that at times impinged on the truth, but not very often.” –Richard Rodgers (re Metro Goldwyn Mayer’s filming of the 1948 Rodgers & Hart biopic WORDS AND MUSIC)

The Hollywoodized version of the life of Rodgers and Hart may be for the birds regarding the facts of their life, but above and beyond the cornball script are such treats for the ears as Betty Garrett, Judy Garland and Lena Horne singing those sophisticated R & H songs. But at least — though MGM had no conscience with regard to the narrative — they took no liberties with respect to Hart’s Words And Rodgers’ Music.

Without further ado, then, on with the show. Carrying forward the theme of the previous post, here are (you have my word) three great ‘love’ songs from WORDS AND MUSIC:

But wait — you want unadulterated love and sophistication? R & H had nothing on Cole Porter:


Either heaven or hell has continuous background music piped in; which one you think it is tells a lot about your personality. –Bill Vaughan

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I rarely listen to radio, and spend as little time Christmas shopping in stores as possible. Even so, I hear Christmas music almost everywhere I go, from dentist office to automobile service waiting rooms. If my reaction to much of this music makes me seem ‘ear-itably’ Scrooge-like, my reaction to that characterization is “Bah! Humbug!”

For example, after hearing “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” (not one of my favorite Christmas songs to begin with) for the umpteenth time this month (and a million times over the years), I’m dreaming of receiving ear plugs for Christmas (or sooner, if Santa wants to get a head start). I admit I once owned a recording of the song, but I evicted it from my record collection long ago….unfortunately, to no apparent avail.

Nevertheless, there are far worse outrages in the world, and there are a number of numinous Christmas songs which earn “Likes” from the likes of mistermuse. You won’t be hearing from me again until Dec. 30 (no post on Dec. 25), so I thought I’d include a few of those songs (with a little help from YuleTube) in my early Merry Christmas wishes to you:


When I remarked, in a comment to my last post, that some mugwump Republicans would “hold their noses” while voting for you-know-who, it brought to mind (who nose why?) the old college football exhortation, HOLD THAT LINE!….which, in turn, suggests a catchy campaign slogan for the GOP’s Offensive Lines Man: HOLD THAT NOSE! VOTE FOR TRUMP!

The nose, it seems, has long been a useful appendage when it comes to exhortations:


I don’t nose about you, but I find people with noses fascinating — especially thoses with long noses….especially thoses whose noses made them famous.

On the other hand, I don’t think it’s fair that animals with big noses are often seen as having faces only a mother could love:

Animals with Big Noses

Did you notice that several humans managed to horn their way into that mix of pix, one of whom seems bent on cutting off his nose to spite his face?As Jimmy “Schnozzola” Durante used to say, “Everybody wants to get into the act,” but that guy is apparently trying to take a short cut. Oh, well, it’s no skin off of my nose.

Of course, not everyone is blessed with a big nose, otherwise mistermuse might be known as misternose. HAHAHA!  The point is that you don’t have to have a natural big nose to clown around and be a big hit with the young at heart:


Mary Christmas is her name.
Merry Christmas is her game.
So, Merry Christmas, Mary Christmas!
Merry, the way you made your list less
The merry day you lined off your wish list
The last name that you became
When you married Mister Christmas.

And now you’ve heard the gospel of how Christmas, Mister,
Made Maid Mary’s Merry Little Christmas….a tongue twister.