TO V OR NOT TO V….

To V or not to V….  Verily, I wouldst
say, That is the question; methinks I shouldst
look for those old V gals wherever I couldst.

From what I’ve heard, there were at least three….
including one who’s as inViolate as she can be.
Now I remember “My Song” — will she hear me?

This time of year, many newspapers reprint an editorial which appeared in the New York Sun on Sept. 21, 1897 — an editorial which famously responded “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” to a letter written to the paper by eight year old Virginia O’Hanlon. Today I would further respond to Virginia that not only is there a Santa Claus, but Santa assures me that, just as in those indelible childhood days, he is coming back to wherever is home on the night before Christmas — and this time he hopes to stay, if only in spirit:

As for #3: They say it ain’t over until the fat lady sings. Far be it from me to say any such things.

None-the-less, and in any case, it’s over.

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MINED MY Ps and Qs

I had to dig deep to come up with a few tunes for this post. When it comes to good old songs with girl’s names beginning with P, the pickings are paltry, so I decided to add Q — which I found to be even paltry-er. But perhaps I’m too particular — after all, if Peggy’s good enough for The Three Stooges, she should be good enough for Mimi and Youyou:

Who knew The Three Stooges sang? I soitainly didn’t — at least, not until I checked THE THREE STOOGES SCRAPBOOK, which has a whole chapter devoted to “The Three Stooges on Record” (“Peggy O’Neil” is from their early 1960s record album titled THE THREE STOOGES NONSENSE SONG BOOK).

If you think Three Stooges singing is Moe-stly nonsense, don’t get miffed. Just get Miff:

Now we come to Q. There is a bygone song called Queenie, but I can’t find a clip of it…or of any old song with a girl’s first name starting with Q in the title. So this will have to do:

And right on cue, this Miss Q is thru. Naught left to do but bid adieu.

‘LLZAPOPPIN (PART ONE)

The above title (a contraction of HELLZAPOPPIN, a 1941 movie based on a long-running Broadway show of the same name) sets the stage for letter L in our fem song series. Ere we proceed, just for the L of it, let’s pop in on the film’s frenetic LINDY HOP dance number:

Speaking of numbers, I’m breaking L up into two parts — due, not just to an abundance of Lady L songs to choose from, but to previously needing to combine two letters (H-I) into one post. Part II will get the focus back on locus, becoming opus #12 of this hocus-pocus, once again matching the post with the corresponding letter of the alphabet.

Our first Lady L is the title song of the 1944 film noir classic LAURA, with lyrics by Johnny Mercer, who Must Have Been A Beautiful (November) Baby*. Believe it or not, Mercer wrote what has to be a record 20+ songs with a girl’s name* in the title — none more haunting than….

We conclude Part One with the indelible SWEET LORRAINE (instrumental version):

If you want to ‘sing along’ with the song (assuming your family and/or neighbors won’t object/protest), here are the lyrics:

http://www.carsieblanton.com/lyrics/sweet-lorraine/

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* Johnny Mercer was born November 18, 1909. YOU MUST HAVE BEEN A BEAUTIFUL BABY was one of his many hit songs.

* Mercer “girl’s name” list (#2 after Cinderella signifies two songs with that name in the title):

Amber
Antonia
Ariane
Bernadine
Blossom
Celia
Cherie
Cinderella (2)
Cindy
Deirdre
Emily

Georgia
Jezebel
Joanna
Jo-Jo
Kate
Laura
Mandy
Mary
Pollyanna
Sally
Tangerine

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s In YOUR Toilet?

In his incisive biography of Spencer Tracy, author Bill Davidson tells of a problem which arose during planning stages of a Tracy film based on a short story titled BAD DAY AT HONDO. He quotes Millard Kaufman, who was writing the screenplay, as follows:

Our picture still was called Bad Day at Hondo, when, to everyone’s surprise, there came the release of a John Wayne movie called HONDO. So our title went out the window.

Davidson continues, “Such coincidental flaps can cause weeks of delays at a studio, while everyone tries to think of a new title. In this case, Kaufman was out in Arizona looking for locations for another picture, when [he] stopped for gas at one of the bleakest places [that] was not even a ‘wide place in the road’, just a gas station and a post office. Kaufman looked at the sign on the post office. The name was Black Rock, Arizona. Kaufman rushed to the phone and called the studio. ‘I’ve got the title for the Tracy picture,’ he said. “We’ll call it “Bad Day at Black Rock.”

You may be wondering what the foregoing has to do with the title of this post….and the answer is diddly-squat (or just squat, for short). So what’s the deal? Simply to serve as a pun-gent example of a title’s potential to entice you in to a creative work, whether it be film, story, poem or poop. Did the serendipitous (and delay-saving) spotting of the Black Rock post office sign lead to a perfect fit for the title of the movie? Perhaps this scene will tell you all you need to know to answer that question (Tracy plays a one-armed WW II officer, just returned from the service, who goes to a middle-of-nowhere desert town to present a posthumous medal to the father of one of his soldiers):

But suppose, after chewing it over endlessly, you still can’t come up with a killer title for your opus delicti? Friends, just swallow the bitter pill that there are times indiscretion is the better part of valor, and settle for a title such as this post’s. And what if even doo-doo doesn’t do the trick? There’s still the when-all-else-fails last resort I used when I titled this poem….

UNTITLED

This poem’s title is Untitled —
Not because it is untitled,
But because I am entitled
To entitle it Untitled.

If I’d not titled it Untitled,
It would truly be untitled….
Which would make me unentitled
To entitle it Untitled.

So it is vital, if untitled,
Not to title it Untitled,
And to leave that title idled,
As a title is entitled.

NOTE: This is the Random poem leftover from my previous post

 

RHYMES AT RANDOM

In a comment to my last post (CERF’S UP), I raised the possibility of re-publishing several of my poetic baubles from THE RANDOM HOUSE TREASURY OF LIGHT VERSE. Generous soul that I am, suppose I add a bonus of bangles and beads to the baubles….for man does not live by words alone, but with the inspiration of Blyth spirit beautifully begetting beguiling music, without which our Kismet (fate) would be drab indeed:

Yes, my friends, I have rhymes — or, conversely, should I say….

And now, having strung my lead-in out this far / I wish upon a wishing star / to make appear my Random rhymes / from the pages of bygone times. / These rhymes abode in poems four / nothing less and nothing more / but not having used up all my string / I’ll save one of the poems for my next post-ing:

LOVER BOY

Narcissus was too perfect for sex or pelf —
He longed only to gaze in love at himself….
The moral of which is that, even in myths,
Too much reflection may be your nemesis.

THE BOOK OF WISDOM

Thou shalt not commit adultery;
Nor shalt thou covet thy neighbor’s spouse.
Shouldst thou succumbeth to temptation,
Thou shalt not do it in thy neighbor’s house.

CONCEIVABLY, THE COMPLEAT HISTORY OF HUMAN SEX

Adam and Eve,
I believe,
Were the start of it.

Everyone since,
I’m convinced,
Played a part in it.

NOTE: Ann Blyth, who played Marsinah (daughter of The Poet, played by Howard Keel) in the film version of Kismet, is one of the last surviving stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

 

 

A TAXING SITUATION

Preparing an income tax return is like a girl preparing to go to the beach: you take off as much as the law allows. –Evan Esar

Speaking of which, I’ve mustered enough resolve to start on my federal and state tax returns (rather than procrastinate ’til it’s almost too late, as I’ve done for decades), so I’m going to strip some preparation time from this post by re-publishing an old poem. But at least it’s for a good cause — ’cause if I don’t get a move on, that age-old last minute stress could cause an old-age heart attack, which would not be in my best interest.

MAX AT TAX

“Hello, Sam!”
“Good morning, Max!”
“Have you done
your income tax?”
“Taxing though
it be to say,
know I did
it yesterday.”
“Did you take
your deductions?”
“I deduced
for reductions.”
Four reduced?
I laud your feat!”
“I took off
my hands and feet.”
“That’s the way
to keep ahead!”
“Yes, I used
my limbs in stead.”
“Instead of
head? Way to go!
That’s the way
to save some dough!”
“Have you done
your income tax?”
“Goodbye, Sam!”
“Good morning, Max!”

’nuff wisecracks! Jills and Jacks, here is Max on the stacks with the facts about tax, so relax:

THIS POST IS FOR THE BARDS

Larry was writing rhyme at the age of six; by 1910 [age 15], he’d been christened “Shakespeare” by friends. [He had] a passion for Shakespeare, a delight in wordplay, and a fondness for anachronistic juxtaposition. Not for nothing was Hart known as “Shakespeare.” –Dominick Symonds, author of WE’LL HAVE MANHATTAN (subtitled THE EARLY WORK OF RODGERS & HART)

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My previous post featured the words and music of Richard Rodgers and Larry Hart, which — along with the above — conveniently serve as segue into Shakespearean speculation:

BARD’S TUNE

What would William
have done with jazz?
Would he take jazz
where no one has?

Would jazz-you-like-
it, he accost?
Would he find jazz
love’s labor lost?

Would he have played
jazz instrument
measure for meas-
ure, or hell bent?

Or would he have,
a jazz voice, been —
the ‘King of Sing’
of noted men?

No! Peerless bard,
writer of wrongs —
if you dug jazz….
you’d write the songs.

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BARDSTOWN

is an itty-bitty city in my neighboring state of Kentucky, voted “Most Beautiful Small Town in America” and noted for its annual KENTUCKY BOURBON FESTIVAL, MUSEUM OF WHISKEY, and MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME STATE PARK, site of the farm which inspired Stephen Foster to write “My Old Kentucky Home” (the state song of Kentucky).

http://www.visitbardstown.com/

I find the story of Stephen Foster most interesting, starting with the date of his birth: July 4, 1826 — the same day that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died hours apart. Foster was a dreamer whose love of music trumped more profitable ways of earning a living. Though he composed almost 200 songs (many of them popular in his own time), his last years were marked by poverty, a craving for liquor, and suffering from what may have been tuberculosis, dying 153 years and one week ago today (Jan. 13, 1864).

Foster can truly be considered the original bard of American music, as this 1946 quote by the late American composer and music critic, Deems Taylor, suggests:

What quality have they [Foster’s songs] that gives them such tremendous staying power? After all, other men in his day wrote songs that were as popular as his, possibly more so. What was his secret? It was, I think, that he helped fill a gap that had always existed in our musical culture. Our ancestors, coming here from all quarters of the globe, brought with them the folk songs of their native lands, but they were not peculiarly ours. It is ironic that the only race that developed a folksong literature in this country is the race that was brought here against its will, and was and has been the most brutally exploited of all — the Negro. The Negro spirituals and Stephen Foster’s songs are the nearest to completely indigenous folksongs that we have. Nor is it a coincidence that most of the best of his songs are in Negro dialect and sing the woes of the Negro. 

But I will close, in keeping with the theme of recent posts, with one of Foster’s love songs: