Friday, June 26, 2015

Bermuda Schwartz

This is the sort of weather that brings out men wearing Bermuda shorts who should never be seen in Bermuda shorts. That reminded us, however, of a fine if little known recording by the Moe Koffman quartet called "Bermuda Schwartz," featuring a blistering guitar solo by Ed Bickert.

This is also the sort of weather that brings forth girls in their summer dresses, which happens to be the title of an excellent story by Irwin Shaw--"Girls in Their Summer Dresses," one of Shaw's many wonderful short stories, including "Search Through the Streets of the City," "Tip on a Dead Jockey" and "The 80-Yard Run."

Look for them on your book shelf, turn on the fans, and pour yourself a frozen daiquiri.  And feel free to wear your Bermuda shorts. Just don't go outdoors.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Technology for Tots

We ran into a nine-year-old of our acquaintance the other day, and asked about his plans for summer. He told us he was going to attend a robotics camp.

"Interesting," we said. "What will you do there?"

"First," he said, "we're going to build a robot that can kick a soccer ball."

"Sounds great," we said.

"That's only the beginning," he told us. "Then we move on to really fun stuff."

"What's that?" we asked.

He said, "We're going to learn to make robocalls."

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Grid Guy's Guide

With football season upon us--earlier for the CFL, later for the NFL--gridiron obsessives may want to explore some of the works on the peripheries of the action; e.g., books and films (and maybe songs--how long since you've launched into "Buckle Down, Winsocki"?).

Recent book to arrive is "Why Football Matters," by Mark Edmundson. Edmundson played on the line for a high school team near Boston, but has long since worked in academe. His book is a deeply thought evaluation of what the game can mean in the development (or sometimes misdevelopment) of character, personality, and ethics. It's a book with both praise for and skepticism about football, and necessarily ambiguous; but in the end, Edmundson comes back to love for the game.

"Why Football Matters"--recommended by Slap Maxwell, our locker room literary critic.

The book many people think of first when talking football is "Paper Lion," by George Plimpton. Plimpton, the ultimate sports dilettante, also wrote--or co-wrote, with Bill Curry (Green Bay Packers, Houston Oilers, L.A. Rams, Baltimore Colts)--an excellent but less known book titled "One More July." Hard to find, but rewarding when you do.

But what we're working around to is recommending you search out the 1968 film of "Paper Lion," with the then unknown Alan Alda playing Plimpton, the Sports Illustrated writer who goes in incognito as last string quarterback for the Detroit Lions. Wonderful scene at training camp, when new arrivals are asked to stand and declare their football backgrounds and sing their school song. Plimpton/Alda tells them he has come down from Canada, where he played for the Newfoundland Newfs. He then sings his Harvard school song.

There is a backup of actual Detroit Lions players, including Alex Karras and John Gordy. And Lauren Hutton is okay, too.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Hot Enough for You? (heh heh)

The annual summer meeting of the Climate Change Deniers Society (aka "What Global Warming?") will be held this weekend in Kamloops, British Columbia, where the temperature is expected to reach 39 degrees Celsius, a condition regarded as moderate in Death Valley.

Those attending will park their Hummers and vintage Caddies at Fred's Fossil Fuel Inn, and gather for drinks in the Melting Iceberg Lounge.

Highlight of the weekend will be the crowning of Miss Tar Sands 2015.

"Come early," advises chairman Howie Kulphlug. "Expect to get well oiled."

Monday, June 22, 2015

What You Can Play and What You Can't Play

We were taken aback to hear, on the once prudish CBC radio network, a song which had as its principal, if not only, lyric: "I want your body--Why don't you take your clothes off?"

The singer was Ria Mae of Halifax, and we presumed this was a new breakthrough for freedom of expression, but found that Ms. Mae's version was actually a reworking of a song originally released in 2007. 2007--in these fast-moving times, that makes the song a Golden Oldie.

We then thought how greatly radio has changed since we were deejaying our way thru life. There was a time when we couldn't play Count Basie's "Harvard Blues" on the air, because in it Jimmy (Mr. Five-by-Five) Rushing sang the George Frazier lyrics that included these lines:

"I don't keep dogs or women in my room.
I don't keep dogs or women in my room.
But I loved my Vincent baby
Until that day of doom."

If only we could have Mr. Five-by-Five singing "Why don't you take your clothes off?"

On video.  Wide screen.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Summer Songs

Summer approaches, and programmers everywhere will be making up playlists of summer songs.  And there are lots of choice offerings, from what is probably the best known--Gershwin's "Summertime" (and the livin' is easy) to the less familiar, but no less lovely "Summer Song" by Dave and Iola Brubeck (hear Louis Armstrong's tender growl on "Love, to me, is like a summer day").

But the ancestor of all these, and the oldest extant song in English, is "Sumer is Icumen In."

"Sumer is icumen in
Lhude sing cuccu!
Growep sed and blowep med
and springp pe wde nu.
Sing cuccu!"

Or, in modern English:

"Summer is a-coming in
Loudly sing cuckoo.
Groweth seed and bloweth mead
and springs the wood anew.
Sing cuckoo!"

And then, not far off, are the two best laments for a summer past: "Summer Wind" by Heinz Meier and Johnny Mercer, and "The Things We Did Last Summer" by Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn. But it's not now the time for regret and rue, for sumer is icumen in!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Yoga & Seersucker

We learned too late that Thursday was National Seersucker Day. In the US Congress, Democrats and Republicans showed a rare gesture of solidarity, with all senators and representatives turning up in seersucker suits.

Meanwhile, International Yoga Day has run into problems, at least in Vancouver, where the plan to have several thousand yoga enthusiasts murmuring "Om" on the Burrard Street Bridge has fallen through. (The plan, not the bridge.)

Even though yoga is not in our repertoire, we were looking forward to taking part, wearing our seersucker suit from Harold's of Fort Worth, and joining Premier Clark in attempting the lotus position.

(And hoping not to get locked into it, as one unfortunate lady did in a yoga class at Vancouver's Christ Church Cathedral. She had to be carried out, still in position, by a pair of firemen, at the height of the downtown rush hour. I don't believe she ever came back.)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Senator Graham's Rotating First Ladies

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of the ever-growing troop hoping to secure the Republican Party nomination for US President, has addressed one key problem: Senator Graham is not married; therefore, who would assume the important ceremonial duties of the First Lady?

Senator Graham's answer: he would have a "rotating First Lady."

And is there a list of possible First Ladies? There is indeed--one for every occasion and every day of the week.

Monday: Lady GaGa
Tuesday: Sarah Silverman
Wednesday: Queen Latifa
Thursday: Tina Fey
Friday: Paula Deen ("We know she has said some unfortunate things," said a spokesman for Senator Graham, "but we do love that southern cookin'.")

And the weekend?  Caitlin Jenner.

We're not sure how we feel about Senator Graham as leader of the free world, but we do like his First Ladies.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Headless Headline

As one who misspent many years composing headlines, often under a fast-ticking clock, we honor today one of the great headline writers of all time, and raise a glass to Vincent Musetto.

Mr. Musetto (probably "Vinnie" to his buddies) wrote this imperishable headline for the New York Post in 1998:


Celebrated as this is within the newspaper world, Vinnie's personal favourite was:


Mr. Musetto has now departed for the Great Newsroom in the Sky. Watch for his next headline on your Ouija board.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Report from the G7

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN: "This is Waldo Lydecker, reporting from the G7 conference in the Bavarian Alps.

"The weekend with Angela and the Guys began with a traditional Bavarian welcome--lots of oompah, lots of beer. US President Barack Obama slipped off his jacket and clinked glasses of lager with friendly folks in liederhosen and dirndles. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was believed to have been seen consuming a boysenberry smoothie.

"Once again, Russian President Vladimir Putin was not invited. The group sent him a stern message, saying "Vlad, you're bad." Putin consoled himself, we're told, by playing his balalaika and pumping iron.

"Good news on climate change: The G7 group has vowed to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the 21st century. This is excellent news for those planning to be born in the next twenty years.

"And, said Mr. Harper, 'There's more good news! At the end of the century, I will still be prime minister!'

"It's reported the PMO has been screening 'Psycho.'

"Waldo Lydecker in Garmisch-Partenkirchen returning you to the studio and going out for schnapps und sauerbraten."

Friday, June 5, 2015

Senate & Soccer

It is being reported as one of the great trades of all time: FIFA and the Senate announced today that disgraced FIFA officials will move to Ottawa to take the seats of several senators under investigation who will in exchange take over the running of world soccer. Shaking hands, Sepp Blatter and Claude Carignan called it "a win-win situation."

Quotes of the Week:

"I'm the most successful person ever to run for the presidency, by far. Nobody's ever been more successful than me. I have a Gucci store that's worth more than Mitt Romney." -- Donald Trump.

"If you're in this business long enough, you're going to fire a lot of your friends." -- Wally Buono.