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:

 

THE OLD MAN AND THE SEASON

 

In the unscheduled post which appeared here on my birthday (October 18th), my youngest daughter let the cat out of the bag — her old dog of a dad had just turned certifiably ancient, though I didn’t feel more than a day older than I did on October 17 as a young pup of 79. More’s the pity. Some say age is only a number….but it goes without saying that October is autumn. Yes, if you look at the calendar, September and November lay claim to autumn as well, but let’s be clear — nobody does autumn as well as October. So this will be a post of poems and quotes about aging and autumn, in that order (age before beauty).

AGE DEPLORE(s) BEAUTY

What passed for time
Before time was invented?
Before there was time,
How was time prevented?

If time had a beginning,
When did time start?
When it’s time that time end,
How will time depart?

Why are there times
When time frustrates and vexes….
And last, why must time
Do its thing to the sexes?

THE BIG FIX

While passing through,
I noticed that
this world is too much.
What big teeth it has.
What big eyes you need.
What big talk is heard.
Speak to me.
But not big.

I OF THE BE OLDER

If you think
I take life
too seriously you

are either

a night and
day younger than
I am or

I do.

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I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. –L.M. Montgomery

Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves;
we have had our summer evenings, now for October eves.
–Humbert Wolfe

Anyone who thinks fallen leaves are dead has never watched them dancing on a windy day. –Shira Tamir

The tints of autumn … a mighty flower garden blossoming under the spell of the enchanter frost. –John Greenleaf Whittier

For anyone who lives in the oak-and-maple area of New England, there is a perennial temptation to plunge into a purple sea of adjectives about October. –Hal Borland  

Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower. –Albert Camus

Spring is too rainy and summer’s too hot;
fall is soon over and winter is not.
–Evan Esar

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. –George Eliot

Autumn sunsets exquisitely dying. –Langston Hughes

Now Autumn’s fire burns slowly along the woods and day by day the dead leaves fall and melt. –William Allingham

NOTE: There have been many recordings of AUTUMN LEAVES over the years; I chose the French chanteuse Edith Piaf’s version because it was originally a 1945 French song titled “Les Feuilles Mortes”  (“The Dead Leaves”), and because October (1963) is the month Edith Piaf died and drifted by the window.

 

 

 

 

TWO BAD

Well, no one has blasphemed against the one-line poems in my last post, so by all that is holy, I should forget about my threat to up the ante with a post of two-line poems this time around. Ha ha — I’ll forget when Hell freezes over! Although no one commented to complain, I expect the thought crossed the minds of some….and even if it didn’t, the very suspicion demands consequences. Consequently, I am left with no choice but to proceed with the poems I intended to post anyway, and it serves you right!

My first two-line poem is unWitt(er)ingly brought to you by….

SPIES LIKE US*

We measure success
one imposter at a time.

*If this title sounds familiar, but you can’t quite ‘picture’ it….there’s always Google! Ha ha ha!

THIS IS A TITLE

Sometimes a poem
is entitled to be obvious.

ENVIRONMENTALLY CORRECT [previously published]

Poems don’t grow on trees….
however, some are recycled.

HEARING I’M PAIRED

Poetry is that
conversation we could not
otherwise have had.
–Cid Corman, Kyoto, Japan

Sorry I do
not speak haiku.

We interrupt this post for another commercial:

OBSESSION

buy Calvin Klein.
Sell futures.

GIVE ME THAT OLD-TIME RELIGION

Of course God knows everything —
He’s been around forever.

WHAT GOD TOLD ADAM AND EVE

You don’t want to know
(so, on with the show).

IS THIS GREAT POETRY, OR WHAT?

The power of suggestion
is that it begs the question.

Is this a great job, or what? But apparently not everyone shares my view:

OLD TESTAMENT RE-VIEW

Take this Job
and shove it.

FINNEGAN’S DYING WISH

Wake me when it’s over
(re Joyce).

We conclude with….

TWO MORE POEMS BY MISTERMUSE

One
short.

 

 

AN EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES

Water, water, everywhere, / [And not a] drop to drink.
–Samuel Taylor Coleridge, THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER

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So much I could write about, but of nothing can I think.
Oh, fie on my dilemma, scheduled post day on the brink!
Such embarrassment of riches is an albatross ’round my neck….
All this water all about; sound the call: all rimes of “riches” on deck!

An embarrassment of BITCHES: complaining to the max
An embarrassment of DITCHES: the downside of digging, sore backs
An embarrassment of GLITCHES: my computer is prone to upheaval
An embarrassment of HITCHES: my computer is a necessary evil

An embarrassment of ITCHES: too unreachable for scratching
An embarrassment of KITCHES: bad taste beyond patching
An embarrassment of MITCHES: too many friends named Mitchell
An embarrassment of NICHES: easily found places that hide a missile

An embarrassment of PITCHES: throes of what The Donald doth tout
An embarrassment of RICHES: what this post is all about
An embarrassment of STITCHES: what I hope this post’ll leave you in
An embarrassment of WITCHES: wicked ones melt (they’re inhuman)

NOTE: I didn’t want you to think I’m too big for my BRITCHES, so I left them off — the list, that is — WHICH IS cool with me and, I assume, with you.