Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Bloop Bleep, and other classics

Dealing with a leaking gold-encrusted faucet in the penthouse studios of Pointless Digressions, Inc., made us think of that famous ode to a dripping tap: "Bloop Bleep." This classic late twentieth century ballad, not to be confused with the current "Bleep Bloop," opens with these immortal lines:

"Bloop bleep, bloop bleep, bloop bleep
 The faucet keeps a-drippin' and I can't sleep."

The composer: Frank Loesser. "Bloop Bleep" may not be as well known as "If I Were a Bell" and "I've Never Been in Love Before," but still--Frank Loesser!

And this musical memory took us back to another song celebrating sound: "Cement Mixer, Putti Putti." This memorable 1940s art song was the work of the incomparable Slim Gaillard, perhaps best remembered for his "Groove Juice Symphony." "Cement Mixer, Putti Putti" can be found on Slim's album "Ice Cream on Toast."

And from the same rich period: "Milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet!" Ella Mae Morse sang this, but we recall with pleasure the Woody Herman version. The song is a plea from a World War Two factory worker, and begins:

"Been jumpin' on the swing shift all night
Turnin' out my quota all right
Now I'm beat right down to the sod
Gotta catch myself some righteous nod."

This deeply moving song was the work of Gene de Paul and Don Raye, a follow-up to their great "Cow Cow Boogie." De Paul and Raye might also be remembered for "Star Eyes" and "I'll Remember April," neither of which, of course, has the emotional impact of "Milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet!"

Finally, a song most suitable for a sizzling summer: "Splish Splash." For this, we can thank Bobby Darin and Murray the K. And Murray the K's mother, who came up with the opening line.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Pop Songs for Pop, Ditties for Dad

In response to a total absence of requests, we are pleased to present our Father's Day play list.

First, what not to play: definitely not "O, Mein Papa" by Eddie Fisher. You should also skip "Papa, Won't You Dance with Me?" because (a) Papa doesn't dig polkas, and (b) he's a terrible dancer.

Do not consider "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," because no matter how good Cole Porter's song may be, this is not the kind of filial affection the song celebrates.

So what's left? The best choice of all: "Your Father's Moustache," recorded by Woody Herman's great first Herd, the 1940s band that included Bill Harris, Flip Phillips, Ralph Burns, Sonny Berman, Neal Hefti, Chubby Jackson, Dave Tough, Billy Bauer, the Candolis, et al.

They were billed originally as "The Band That Plays the Blues," but a more accurate tag would have been "The Band That Likes to Laugh." And there is no better salute to Father's Day than when, at the end of a romping, raucous, rowdy Herd stampede, the band cries out, in one voice, "Awwww--Your Father's Moustache!"

Friday, June 15, 2018

You Gotta Love Football!

Opening kickoff for the first game of the 2018 season for the Edmonton Eskimos and Winnipeg Blue Bombers was at 7:35 p.m. Thursday. Final play: 1:17 a.m., Friday.

Lightning strikes interrupted the Eskimos-Blue Bombers game for two hours and fifty-five minutes, making it the second longest game in CFL history. The longest was the 1962 Grey Cup game--the Fog Bowl, which ran over two days, after no one could see the ball. But this is the way the game is supposed to be played--outdoors, in whatever weather, on real grass.

A challenge for the players, but a tip of the fedora also to cheerleaders and fans who hung in until Sean Whyte scored a 44-yard field goal with eight seconds to go. We hope there was something left in the fans' Thermos bottles. Final score: Eskimos 33, Blue Bombers 30. "It was like five games in one," said Eskimos coach Jason Maas.

Mike Reilly, the (one hopes) indestructible Eskimos quarterback, said, "It was crazy, for sure."

That's why you gotta love football.

--Slap Maxwell.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Art of the Meal

President Trump on his historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un: "It was a very successful negotiation. I agreed that the U.S. would end its military exercises with South Korea, and in exchange, he gave me his recipe for yakbap."

Monday, June 11, 2018

Quick, Watson--the Needle!

The phonograph needle, that is. We have found a shelter in music from the wretched news of the day.

Let us explain: One of our faithful followers announced in December that her gift to herself would be a Trump-free Christmas; she would not listen to the Big Orange or read his tweets over the holidays.

The escape from Trumpland worked such wonders, restoring a sense of sunny stability in the universe, that she has moved forward into a Trump-free year.

It is difficult to escape Trump or Trump's thugs or Trump news--and he probably doesn't care what it is, subscribing to Oscar Wilde's dictum: "There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."

We have reached back to another quotation, this from Groucho Marx, who said, "I find television very educational. Whenever someone turns it on, I go in another room and read a book."

So this now is our escape from the Trump miasma: whenever a Trump story looms, we move to music. We have renewed and deepened our relationship with Bach and Thelonious Monk, Sinatra and Shostakovich, Sonny Rollins and Ravel, Miles Davis and the Carter Family. Mental health abounds!

Let us know what happens in the U.S. midterms. As long as it's good news. Otherwise, it's back to Mark Murphy and Darius Milhaud, Max Roach and Lyle Lovett.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Odd Man Out

Pressed on how they will deal with Donald Trump at the G7 conference in Quebec, Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron said, "We intend to speak in a language he doesn't understand. Like English."

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Under the Volcano

"The mountain chains traverse the republic roughly from north to south, forming between them a number of valleys and plateaus. Overlooking one of these valleys, which is dominated by two volcanoes, lies, six thousand feet above sea level, the town of Quauhnahuac."

Those are the opening lines of Malcolm Lowry's "Under the Volcano," and it was on this day--June 7, 1945--that the fourth draft of the novel was lost when Lowry's shack on the Dollarton flats in North Vancouver burned down. Twelve years later--ten years after "Under the Volcano" finally was published--Lowry died in the Sussex village of Ripe, and is buried there in the graveyard of the church of St. John the Baptist.

Lowry composed an amusing epitaph for himself, but a more serious farewell might be one of his poems:

"The ship is turning homeward now at last.
The bosun tries to read but dreams of home.
The old lamptrimmer sleeps, the engine thrums.
His lamps are set to light us from the past
To a near future unmysterious as this mast
With iron and what iron loves of kingdom come.
Patient iron! But, beyond the mainstruck, dumb
Blankness, or the twitch of reeling stars cast
Adrift in a white ocean of doubt.
Perhaps this tramp rolls toward a futurity
That broods on ocean less than on the gall
In seamen's minds. Is that star wormwood out
Among love's stars? This freighter eternity?
Where are we going? Life save us all."