Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Autumn Serenades

"Autumn Serenade" is the name of a song by Peter DeRose, better known for "Deep Purple," but probably neither title would be recognized by anyone under fifty. Make that sixty. But there is a fine recording of "Autumn Serenade" by John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, on their classic ballads album.

It's a toss-up whether there are more songs about spring or about autumn, but it's September, so we're going for autumn. 'Tis Autumn" is a song by the famed hipster and practical joker Henry Nemo. More famous--most famous, probably--are "September Song" and "Autumn Leaves." No one has ever touched the first version of "September Song" (Kurt Weill-Maxwell Anderson) sung by Walter Huston. And the gold standard for "Autumn Leaves" is the performance by Yves Montand (sung as "Les feuilles mortes" in the original French).

The English lyrics to "Autumn Leaves" were written by Johnny Mercer, who wrote as well "Early Autumn" ("...there's a dance pavilion in the rain") for the coda to "Summer Sequence," that evocative jazz tone poem composed by Ralph Burns for the Woody Herman band. Mercer's last, elegiac lyrics were "When October Goes," set to music, after Mercer departed, by Barry Manilow.

"September in the Rain" introduced the sound of the George Shearing Quintet in the mid-1940s, and almost everyone has done Vernon Duke's "Autumn in New York" ("Lovers who bless the dark/on benches in Central Park").

Then there are the songs that bid a rueful farewell to a summer romance--"The Things We Did Last Summer" ("How could a love that seemed so right go wrong?") and still the leader in that category, Victor Herbert's "Indian Summer" ("You're the ghost of a romance in June, going astray..."). Sarah Vaughan sang it with Basie, Sinatra sang it with Ellington.

Enjoy your own autumn serenades.

Monday, September 22, 2014

3-Day Madness

The sadists behind the annual 3-Day Novel Contest report that 454 writers pushed themselves thru the 2014 72-hour literary marathon. Manuscripts come from everywhere English is written, and from some places where it's not. We understand one entry was carved on stone tablets in Sumerian characters.

Results of the contest will not be announced until January, as readers work their way thru the mountain of manuscripts. But our friend Arto the art director has an idea for a retaliatory contest, in which readers are required to read all 454 novels in three days.

How about it, 3-Dayers? The challenge is out.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Scots, Wha' Hae!

Now that the votes have been tallied in Scotland, we can be assured that:

* We will still get marmalade, haggis and single malt whisky;

* We will be able to watch Sean Connery films and "the Scottish play";

* We can re-hang our autographed portrait of Jack Webster;

* We will have to endure more bagpipe music.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Call Vince!

When labor struggles make you wince,
Call Vince!

Don't say words that cause your mouth a soapy rinse--
Call Vince!

Who's the guy
Who makes it fly,
The Mediator Prince?

It's Vince!

He's Ready when you are.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Mano a Mano Negotiation

Positively the last word (we hope) on the duel to death of the BC Teachers Federation and the British Columbia government:

Both sides have agreed to a final round of negotiations. However, the former and failed negotiators will be replaced in this encounter by Solomon Elimimian of the BC Lions (for the government) and John Chick of the Saskatchewan Roughriders (for the teachers).

Seats available thru Ticket Master.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Test for the BC Government

In Maple Ridge today, Premier Christy Clark told listeners that binding arbitration in the BCTF/Government war of attrition would mean five cents more per litre on gasoline and an extra $200 on personal taxes. Not mentioned, but implied, was that Jim Iker would come around to residents' homes and take away whatever was in the sugar bowl and piggy banks.

Not disputing these statements, for we know that the Premier and her government are all honorable persons, the Centre for Meaningful Education has prepared a short test for Ms. Clark, Mr. Fassbender, and their followers.

One: Can you spell disingenuous? Can you define it? We know, five syllables, that's tough. Try the next one.

Fabrication: Can you handle, that is, can you give an example of this in practice? No? All right, on to the final question.

Spin: Only one syllable, and yes, we see all hands up. Excellent, BC government, you've passed again.

Oh, one more question for those who accept the government's position:

Gullible: Can you define gullible? No? We thought not.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Saint Steve of the Arctic

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced today that he had found one of the ships from the lost Franklin Expedition. Okay, the PM didn't actually go underwater himself, but he was the de facto leader of the exploratory venture in the Far North.

Conservatives see this as a major advantage as the country heads toward a federal election. One Tory MP said, "What have Trudeau and Mulcair found recently?"

Now there is a move in the PMO's office to have Harper elevated to sainthood. A spokesman told reporters, "We know that Anthony is the patron saint of lost objects, and there are several patron saints of sailors, including Cuthbert and Brendan, but there is no patron saint of lost ships. We believe Prime Minister Harper is ideally suited for this title."

So far there has been no response from the Vatican.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Switch

"Life of Crime," a film with Jennifer Aniston and Tim Robbins, soon to open at a theatre nowhere near you, is based on an Elmore Leonard novel called "The Switch." The switch here is the title, and while "The Switch" might not be an audience magnet, it is truer to the story than "Life of Crime." Not that that would matter to the guys who market movies.

"The Switch" is the story of a woman who is supposed to be the victim in a plot conceived by a lot of dopey guys, and who outsmarts them as easily as she sprays on Givenchy. When Elmore's principal characters are female, they are invariably smarter, and often tougher, in a stylish way, than the male characters.

While waiting for the movie to get past X-Men and Gladiators and comic book super heroes, you might want to drop by your friendly neighborhood book store, if your neighborhood still has a book store, and pick up a copy of "The Switch." You can think Jennifer Aniston while reading it.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Nutz 'n' Boltz

BC Education Minister Peter Fassbender said today he was relieved to learn that binding arbitration is not an S&M practice.

In other political news, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has turned upside down Theodore Roosevelt's advice to "Speak softly and carry a big stick." In Harper's case, it is "Speak loudly and carry a weeny stick."

The Toronto International Film Festival declared Friday "Bill Murray Day." The star of "Ghostbusters" and other films was delighted, until he learned he would have to live the day over the next day. And the day after that. And the day after the day after that. "Please," he pleaded, "somebody call Andie Macdowell." But the organizers said, "Let's not have a tiff at TIFF."

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

End-of-Summer Clearout

Hang up your seersucker,
Shelve your whites.
Get ready for
Some chilly nights

(One of the forgotten Wordsworth poems)

"Now! Just in time for autumn yard clean-up, a remarkable, noise-free, pollution-free instrument for gathering leaves! Get ready for--The Rake! Yes, now you can deal with fallen leaves without endangering yourself by (a) inhaling toxic exhaust fumes and (b) infuriating your neighbors with ear-splitting noise! Phone now, to the number on your screen--only $29.95, for The Rake! But wait--there's more! Phone right now, and we'll include a free bag of leaves! That's right--the Revolutionary Garden Rake and a bag of hand-picked, multi-colored, only slightly mouldy leaves for only $29.95! Call now! Not available in stores."

Premier Christy Clark's office said today that she has not responded to a demand from Burnaby Central that she send back her high school diploma.

Report from the 3-Day Novel front: Several grammatical casualties, including split infinitives, dangling participles and fractured syntax.

Finally, we wish to apologize to Stephen Harper and John Baird for posting those intimate photos on-line.