Monday, February 29, 2016

And the Oscar goes to...

Oscar Levant. Who said, "Behind all the phony tinsel of Hollywood, you'll find the real tinsel."

There are variations on this, but it was the great Oscar Levant, best Oscar since Oscar Wilde, who said it.

Some may remember Levant on radio's "Information, Please." He can still be seen on TCM in "An American in Paris" and "The Band Wagon," among other films. And you might find his funny and neurotic books somewhere.

Certainly you can still him hear him perform, on his recordings of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" and "Three Preludes." Levant said to Gershwin, "George, no one plays your music better than you. Except me."

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Oscar Night Menu

I know your Superbowl party was a great success.  Tom Brady and Russell Wilson, having nothing else to do that day, dropped in, and you served chile, six-foot nachos and beer.

But now, Oscar night is coming. What's appropriate for watching the Academy Awards ceremony? Especially if George Clooney and Rachel McAdams are coming. (Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith are not expected.)

First of all, you can't slouch on the couch in the torn tee-shirt and sweat pants you wore for the Superbowl. Get out your tuxedo. And you might get a haircut, as well.

As for the menu, we recommend shakers of Martinis and Manhattans, blinis and caviar, foie gras with truffles, and an entire endangered species of your choice. Champagne and croquembouche for dessert. Of course, if DiCaprio comes, he'll just run out and seize some wild beast.

Seating is important. If you lack sufficient chairs, have some guests sit on others' shoulders.

And don't forget the traditional swag bag when they're leaving. Good way to get rid of a lot of stuff that needs recycling.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Sadie Hawkins Day

What do we think of (and possibly fear) in Leap Year?
Yes--Sadie Hawkins Day.

Sadie Hawkins Day is...well, here's an expert on the subject:
Mr. Abner Yokum.

"Sadie Hawkins Day, as any fool must plainly know, was started by Mr. Al Capp, when he was writin' that hysterical comical strip "Li'l Abner," based on the adventures of an abnormally handsome and pow'fully strong young man living in Dogpatch.

"Now, the point of this event was that the Hawkins folks had a peculiarly unattractive daughter named Sadie, so, to help her hogtie a husband, they organized this once-a-year race, on what become known, unevertably, as Sadie Hawkins Day.

"On this dreaded day, all bachelors or otherwise unattached males had to race, wif all unattached females in hot--and Ah do mean hot--pursuit. Any pore soul who got caught belonged to the female what caught him, and she was entitled to drag him off to Marryin' Sam to git hitched.

"Natcherly, bein' a splendid example of manhood, Ah was the main object of affection, and the speediest, most determined pursuer was one Daisy Mae Scragg.

"Sadie Hawkins Day is on the way agin, brothers of the masculine variety. Available Jones ("Ah will do anything for a dollar") is selling runnin' shoes and a gentleman's bear grease cologne guaranteed to repel anyone, and Hairless Joe and Lonesome Polecat are here to fortify us wif their famous Kickapoo Joy Juice."

Editor's note: Daisy Mae eventually caught Li'l Abner, and they went on domestic bliss, wif--I mean with--their little boy, Honest Abe. Oh, happy day!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Spinsters, Prepare; Bachelors, Beware!

As 2016 is a Leap Year--annus bissextus, to the Romans--it should be remembered that it is a year in which maiden ladies may propose marriage to eligible gentlemen. And, should a gentleman reject a proposal, the lady may claim a silk gown.

It's a law, passed in Scotland in 1288. The law declares "during the reign of hir maist blissit Megeste, for ilke yeare known as lepe yeare, ilk maiden layde shal hae liberte to bespeke ye man she like, albeit he refuses to taik hir to be his lawful wyfe, he shall be mulcted in ye sum of ane pundis."

And it wasn't only Scotland: France passed a similar law, and by the 15th century, it was legally observed in Florence and Genoa.

So, spinsters, beware, and bachelors, beware--or have ane pundis ready.

Information gleaned from "Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable,"
Ivor H. Evans, editor.

Monday, February 15, 2016

And now, the Playlist for Lent

Lent is the forty-day period of contrition and penitence, and to aid you in these pursuits, we offer our Lenten playlist.

First, "Blow Gabriel Blow" by Cole Porter. Recommended recording: Patti Lupone.

Sample lyric:

"I've been a sinner, been a scamp,
But now I'm willin' to trim my lamp
So blow, Gabriel, blow!"

And then, "Sing You Sinners." Sermonizer of choice: Jeff Healy.

"You're wicked and you're depraved,
And you've all misbehaved,
So if you want to be saved,
Sing, you sinners!"

And who, having heard her, can forget Ivie Anderson singing Duke Ellington's "I Got It Bad, and That Ain't Good"?

"And when the week is over,
And Sunday comes around,
My man and I we pray some,
And gin some,
And sin some..."

Now, don't you feel better?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Music, Maestro, Please

Okay, is it too late for a Valentine's Day playlist?
We don't care; here it comes:

"I'll Take Romance" -- Eydie Gorme

"Love Me or Leave Me" -- Nina Simone

"The Real Thing" -- George Shearing

"It's Love" -- Lena Horne

"Isn't it Romantic?" -- Maurice Chevalier

"This Love of Mine" -- Barbara Carroll

"At Long Last Love" -- Frank Sinatra

"Let's Face the Music and Dance" -- Rosemary Clooney

"Why Shouldn't I?" -- Bobby Short

"My Foolish Heart" -- Bill Evans

"You Are the Sunshine of My Life" -- Stevie Wonder

Now go chill the Champagne.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Two in Love

...the title of a forgotten ballad recorded by, of all people, Gene Krupa.

Valentine's Day approaches, and the People's Radio Network has been celebrating great romantic duos of the past--Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, Tristan und Isolde, Dick and Liz.

But we remember and salute other great love pairings: Mickey and Minnie Mouse..Donald and Daisy Duck..Porky and Petunia Pig..Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow.

Blondie and Dagwood, Hi and Lois, Popeye and Olive Oyl, Rex Morgan, M.D. and Nurse June Gale, who never age, although they've been together for at least fifty years, and, for both love and endurance, Maggie and Jiggs, and Pansy and Lemuel Yokum.

Where can true and lasting love be found?

Take a trip to a comic strip.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Strings Attached

It has come to our attention that February 11 has been designated National (or International or possibly Cosmic) Guitar Day.

And so, we have invited a few pickers and strummers to join us in a Guitar Extravaganza. Ready, gentlemen? And ladies? Then pick up your picks.

Performing now, if not in your living room, perhaps in your head: Django Reinhardt, Les Paul, Jimi Hendrix, Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Chet Atkins, Emily Remler, Keith Richards, Ed Bickert, Chuck Wayne, Al Henrickson, Sharon Isbin, Scott Harding, Charlie Christian, Herb Ellis, Billy Bauer, Jim Hall, Robert Johnson, Barney Kessel, Oliver Gannon, Grant Green, Freddie Green, George Benson, Kenny Burrell, Tuck Andress, Eric Clapton, Charlie Byrd, Slim Gaillard, Eddie Lang, B.B. King, Flatt & Scruggs (okay, Scruggs played banjo, but that's close enough) and Blind Lemon Jefferson.

With gittars, that's as good as it gits.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Political Valentines

St. Valentine's Day is rapidly approaching, and in the United States, presidential hopefuls have been advised to send cards to all eligible ballot holders. Here is a sample of verse for voters:

"Violets are blue, roses are red--
Give your heart to Texas Ted."

"Of lifetime bliss you'll have your fill
If you only pledge your troth to Hill."

"Come, my sweet, don't be a grump--
Show you love me. Donald Trump."

"Love and life are such a journey--
Go hand-in-hand with Good Old Bernie."

And finally, this from one Manny Goodman, urging voters to ignore all the declared candidates, and, instead, use the ballot to write in another name:

"Folks, please listen, we're in peril.
The one to save us is Will Ferrell!"

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Hey, Hey, We're the Monkees!

A very large weekend. A celebration of the Year of the Monkey. The fiftieth Super Bowl (players in the first are watching now from their wheelchairs). And Family Day in British Columbia, reminding us of a friend who said that family activities were "interfering with my personal life."

Our plan: To pull on a monkey suit, phone the family (if they'll accept the call), and catch the Super Bowl.

Hey, hey--we're the Monkees! We like to monkey around!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Suiting Up for the Super Bowl

The Food Network has come up with a Super Bowl snack for those who find the six-foot sub insufficient. TFN's idea: the six-foot nacho.

This is only one of the surprises awaiting football fans on Sunday. Another is the appearance of the regal Helen Mirren doing a commercial for Budweiser. There Dame Helen sits, elegant in pearls, a bottle of Bud in front of her, lecturing viewers who might be tempted to drive drunk.


Commercials produced for the Super Bowl, usually as long in preparation as a five-act opera, famously cost zillions of dollars. It has not been revealed what the Oscar-winning star of "The Queen" received for her performance. We're guessing two cases of Budweiser.

Meanwhile, all over North America, bettors will be trying to guess the point spread when the Carolina Panthers' young hero, Cam Newton, faces the Denver Broncos' aging gunslinger, Peyton Manning. In the end, will it be Camelot or Peyton Place?

Now we have to start constructing our six-foot nacho. Pass me a Bud, bud.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Febs & Flubs

So here we are once more in February, a month loved by romantics and restaurateurs, and loathed by radio announcers, 98 percent of whom cannot get their tonsils around the month's name.

They may have no problem with remote villages in Kazakhstan, or the names of eight-foot Tanzanian basketball players, but give them February, and it comes out as "Feberry" or "Fooburry" or "Febebbery" or "Febrewery" (Freudian slip).

The golden-voiced Bill Gilmour, a notable eccentric even in a field not renowned for normalcy, had a solution for unpronounceable words. He advised brushing a hand across the lips. And he demonstrated:

"Violence broke out today in the Indonesian village of SWOOSH! when three gunmen..."

Bill explained: "Listeners will think there was some brief interference on their radio, and you can continue with the newscast."

It's February. However you say it. Expect a lot of swooshing.