Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Sing a Song of Summer

Summer has arrived--school's out, there are picnics in the park, sand in your shoes at the beach, perhaps a wedding or two, all sorts of reasons to sing.

And there are many singable summer songs, including "Summer in the City," the Brubecks' "Summer Song," and the best known, "Summertime," from "Porgy and Bess" (which is really a lullaby, but we like the austere reading given by Miles Davis with Gil Evans, and John Coltrane's version, which turns the Gershwin song into a very funky blues).

Our new favorite, however, our choice for this summer, is "Now that the Summer's Here," by clever Michael Franks, composer-singer of such quirky numbers as "Eggplant" and "Popsicle Toes." Franks is a native of La Jolla, but he studied contemporary culture at the University of Montreal, and we wouldn't be surprised to learn that one of his mentors there was Marshall McLuhan.

Here's one verse from "Now that the Summer's Here":

"With my chores I only flirt
Hung in my hammock reading Kurt
Struggling to remain inert
Now that the summer's here."

If you can't find the record, try YouTube, and at least check the lyrics.
Meanwhile, we're going back to struggling to remain inert.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

New Season, Ancient Song

With the turn of the season, it is time once again to blend our voices in the oldest known English song: "Sumer is Icumen In," composed sometime in the 13th century. We trust your Wessex-accented Middle English is in good form as we link arms and sing together:

Sumer is icumen in
Lhude sing cuccu!
Growep sed and blowep med
And springp pbe wde nu
Sing cuccu!

Awe bleep after lomb
Lhoup after calue cu.
Bulloch stertep, buck uertep,
Murie sing cuccu!
Cuccu, cuccu, wei singe pu cuccu.
Ne wik pu nauer nu.

Sing cuccu, sing cuccu.
Sing cuccu. Sing cuccu!

And now, a 20th century translation. Caution: occasional vulgarity.

Summer has come in,
Loudly sing, Cuckoo!
The seed grows and the meadow blooms
And the wood springs anew.
Sing, Cuckoo!
The ewe bleats after the lamb.
The cow lows after the calf.
The bullock stirs, the stag farts.
Merrily sing, Cuckoo!
Cuckoo, Cuckoo, well you sing, Cuckoo.
Don't you ever stop now.

Sing Cuckoo now. Sing, Cuckoo!
Sing Cuckoo. Sing Cuckoo now!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Ciao, Count Negroni

June 24-30 has been declared Negroni Week--seven days in which to raise a glass to Count Camillo Negroni, who created the cocktail. The year was 1919 and the city was Florence. Count Negroni enjoyed an Americano, but thought the drink would have more zip if its soda water were replaced by gin.

Thus, the Negroni: Campari, gin, and a splash of Italian vermouth over a large ice cube, with an orange wedge on the side. (One imaginative bartender rubs the rim of the glass with orange peel.)

A wonderfully refreshing drink, especially on a warm summer day, except for those whose palates reject the bitterness of Campari. One friend told us, "They should give that to people who want to stop drinking."

The American cousin of the Negroni is the Boulevardier, in which gin is replaced by bourbon. Equally tasty, if more Kentucky than Florence.

Also of interest: the grapefruit-Campari sorbetto, one of the 238 flavours offered at La Casa Gelato, on Venables Street in east Vancouver.

So, next week is Negroni Week. But if you can't wait, there's no rule that says we can't start practicing now.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Father's Day Play List. Or: Pops for Pops

If you're putting together a mix tape for the paterfamilias, we suggest you skip the schmaltzy "O Mein Papa."

There is, however, still a certain cowpoke charm to "That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine." And while the song has been recorded by everyone from Johnny Cash to Simon and Garfunkel, we would stick with the original, by the guy who wrote it: Gene Autry.

But on the silver standard, the classiest of all songs in this rather small category is Horace Silver's "Song for My Father."

There is, of course, the plea to a parent who spends his hours in a saloon, a temperance song from 1864: "Father, Dear Father, Come Home with Me Now."

But our choice remains Woody Herman's 1945 "Your Father's Moustache," by the reliably rowdy Herman Herd. Catch it on YouTube. Note that in Woody's pronunciation it becomes "Your Fahdah's Moustache."

Stay happy, Pappy.

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Presidential Sumo Debates

Inspired by his recent visit to Japan and attendance at championship Sumo wrestling matches has given Donald Trump an idea: "I propose that in 2020, the Presidential debates be changed to a series of wrestling bouts."

One commentator said, "Trump could have the edge. He has a lot of flab to grab."

But Sumo experts are not sure he can make the weight. "It is unlikely," said Hideko Yamaguchi, "that by 2020 he could match the weight of the great Orora." Orora, of the USSR, hit the scales, or possibly demolished the scales, at 644 pounds.

However, Trump has announced he is bulking up. Aides are now pushing the triple Quarter-Pounder Breakfast.

"I'll be ready," he says."Bring on Beto O'Rourke or Pete What's-His-Name or Skinny Joe Biden. I'll flatten 'em all."

The challenge now is to change the President's famous hairstyle into the traditional Sumo topknot, or gingko leaf shape. A team recruited from the "Game of Thrones" makeup crew said, "We're working on it."

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Traveling with Trump

Sorry to have been out of touch the past few days, but your correspondent has been traveling with Big Don.

Not entirely a success, but it might have been worse. It's true his white waistcoat was too long with his tails at the Royal dinner, but I did talk him out of wearing his Make America Great Again tee shirt. And when the Champagne toasts were raised, I managed to cancel his Diet Coke.

It was unfortunate that he wanted to demonstrate some Sumo moves to Her Majesty, but everyone cheered when she defeated him at arm wrestling.

And that was that for the President's UK state visit, apart from offering Theresa May a job at one of his golf courses and meeting Boris Johnson to compare hair.

More notes to come.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Sister Acts

The term "bromance" has long been in use to describe a buddy-buddy relationship between two guys, but what word might denote a similar relationship between two women?

It's time to give it serious thought, for we have a new team on the scene. Here, so far, is the stellar lineup of sister acts:

* Laverne and Shirley
* Thelma and Louise
* Grace and Frankie
* And now--Jodi and Jane.

All suggestions welcomed. No prizes to be awarded.