Sunday, March 27, 2016

Cruz at the Movies

It was widely noted that Senator Ted Cruz recently borrowed a line from the Michael Douglas film "The American President," in his ongoing battle with Donald Trump. But we were surprised to find that Senator Cruz has also used lines from "Jerry Maguire," "The Usual Suspects," "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," and even "The Princess Bride."

We look forward to Senator Ted picking up some lines from "Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies"--we can hear him now, saying "I'll get you yet, you wascally wabbit!"

Other US presidential candidates may follow his lead; e.g., Senator Bernie Sanders after Hillary Clinton complains of defeats in Alaska, Washington and Hawaii: "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."

Marco Rubio to Jeb Bush, apologizing for attacks on his former mentor: "Nothing personal, Jeb. It was just business."

And finally, Megyn Kelly to Messrs. Trump, Cruz and Kasich after none has won enough delegates for the nomination: "The problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you'll understand that."

Or maybe not. Here's looking at you, kid.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Adieu, Ernestine

A day to play Ernestine Anderson records, as we deal with the news that the kittenish Seattle-based singer has--as jazz musicians say--caught the last bus.

Ernestine Anderson was one of several young Seattle performers--Quincy Jones and Ray Charles were others--who went on to do wonderful things. Over six or seven decades she worked with Johnny Otis, Lionel Hampton, the Nat Pierce-Frankie Capp Juggernaut, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, George Shearing, Stix Hooper, and many others. She appeared at Sam Yehia's Plazazz on the North Shore, on a dual bill with Betty Carter. It was a performance one could not miss, but, some, to their everlasting regret, did.

She had an earthy sound--Diana Krall picked up some of that in her early recordings--and great jazz feeling--how many singers would try a vocal rendition of Dizzy Gillespie's "Night in Tunisia"? And she had a subtle, slightly mocking sense of humor.

Her career had ups and downs--whose doesn't?--and for a time was in eclipse, but then Ray Brown propelled her back on stage and into the studio. She made dozens of recordings, and two of the best are "Now and Then" and "Blues, Dues & Love News," recorded for Qwest, the label of Quincy Jones, her pal from high school band days.

There was a jazz club in Seattle named for her--Ernestine's. Perhaps some fans will put a plaque on a Pike Place Market wall. And her name is still up on South Jackson street, at Ernestine Anderson Place, a residence for low-income seniors and homeless folk.

Adieu, Ernestine.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Who's That Lady in Your Wallet?

The Bank of Canada has begun plans to feature the faces of notable Canadian women on currency. There are some rules. One is that the women chosen must have been out of circulation for at least twenty-five years, gone from the scene like the copper penny and the one- and two-dollar bills.

This is unfortunate, as it prevents the portraits on our folding money of some worthy women who are still, happily, with us. So we have prepared our own list of recommendations, ignoring that 25-year requirement.

$100 bill: k.d. lang

$50 bill: Madame Benoit

$20 bill: Just Mary, the Story Lady

$10 bill: Christine Sinclair and Haylie Wickenheiser (a double bill bill)

$5 bill: Lili St. Cyr. Or Mackenzie King in drag

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Wearin' of the Green

It is indeed the Glorious 17th of Ireland, and we are celebrating with several of the great sons of the Emerald Isle--John O'Hara, Peter O'Toole, Eugene O'Neil, Frank O'Connor and Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wilde.

We  have just sung several rousing choruses of "Wasn't It a Lovely Time That We Had at Finnegan's Wake." Next we'll raise the roof with "Phil the Fluter's Ball" and "Who Threw the Overalls in Mrs. Murphy's Chowder?"

The menu, of course, includes cock-a-leekie and colcannon, corned beef and cabbage, stovies and soda bread, Dinty Moore's Irish stew, and a great deal of Guinness with which to toast St. Patrick.

Now it's true that although we're all very jolly, not all of us are true lads of what the good Reverend Arthur Nash calls "The Holy Land." But happily, my mates have brought along some Old Bushmills, so I may have a drop of Irish in me.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Does Anyone Have the Time?

Yes, friends, dreaded Daylight Saving Time has returned, which is why everyone is looking bleary-eyed, and even the cop on the beat is snoring.

The province of Saskatchewan is one of the few places free from this nuisance; that's because time in rural areas is dictated by cows, who do not hold with changes in their schedule. "Cows," observed Mr. Berkeley Bigler of Horizon, "have a mind of their own."

The unanswered question is, what is done with all the time saved? Do Ottawa bureaucrats use it for their vacations? Or do they invest it, and give it back to us later as a statutory holiday?

We continue to believe there should be a Moonlight Saving Time, as set out in these lyrics:

"There oughta be a Moonlight Saving Time
So I could love that girl of mine
Until the birdies wake and chime 'Good Morning!'"

A good day to all, and especially those whose favorite radio program is the Dominion Observatory Official Time Signal.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Go, AlphaGo!

In what may be the most closely watched board match since Spassky and Fischer in Reykjavik, AlphaGo, a computer designed by Google's Deep Mind lab, is taking on the world champion of the ancient Chinese game of Go. The five-game match is being fought in Seoul. The score so far: Computer 1, Human 0.

The news of this triumph of artificial intelligence has created great excitement in other areas. Among them:

The National Football League. The Denver Broncos have signed AlphaGo to replace the retired Peyton Manning at quarterback.

The Republican Party. The GOP has found in AlphaGo the only candidate likely to defeat Donald Trump.

Pointless Digressions: This blog is now written by AlphaGo.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

International Women on International Women's Day

To name a few, current and on the road, and one or two imaginary: Billie Holiday, Dorothy Parker,  Eleanor Roosevelt, Michaelle Jean, Aung San Suu Kyi, Samantha Power, Ellen Gilchrist, Dorothy Fields, Rosalind Franklin, Barbara Stanwyck, Nina Simone, Margaret Sanger, Betty Comden, Judy Holiday, Rachel Notley, the Boulanger sisters, the Andrews Sisters, Lil Hardin Armstrong, Jill Lepore, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Madame Chiang, Sylvia Plath, Joan of Arc, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marge (Marjorie Henderson Buell), Coco Chanel, Alicia de Larrocha, Jessye Norman, Babe Didrickson Zaharias, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Katie Malloch, Emily Bronte, Emilie-Claire Barlow, Martha Argerich, Ann Reinking, Bebe Neuwirth, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Anne Boleyn, Deborah Eisenberg, Serena Williams, Cyd Charisse, Portland Hoffa, Anna Moffo, Mary Lou Williams, Florence Nightingale, Marjorie Hyams, Teddi King, Joanne Brackeen, Susie Arioli, Jane Withers, Judy Canova, Pansy Yokum, Brenda Starr, Little Lulu, Olive Oyl, Ma Perkins, the Dragon Lady, Mrs. Nussbaum, and, far from least, the long line of strong women that began in Bromsgrove and Bad Axe.

Pointless Digressions--proud supporter of International Women's Day.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Little Donny, Marcy and Teddy

Watching Messrs. Trump, Rubio and Cruz--the Curly, Larry and Moe of US politics in debate--brought to mind the "Triplets" song from "The Band Wagon," performed by Fred Astaire, Nanette Fabray and Jack Buchanan, wearing baby clothes and sitting in highchairs. Think of Donald, Marco and Ted in a similar setting, and singing:

"We do everything alike
We look alike
We dress alike, we walk alike,
We talk alike.
And what is more,
We hate each other very much.

"How I wish I had a gun,
A widdle gun.
It would be fun to shoot the other two
And be the only one."

And they do support the Second Amendment.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Cartoon Candidates

A startling revelation! Our crack investigative team has discovered that the candidates for the US presidency are not real people at all--they are cartoon characters imagined by Al Capp, Ham Fisher and Chester Gould.

Somehow Messrs. Trump, Cruz and Rubio and Ms. Clinton have escaped from the drawing boards and ink pots of their creators and are being taken for actual people.

If this is going to continue, we're hoping that Smilin' Jack and Blondie Bumstead soon declare their candidacy.

One more note: Have you ever seen anyone named Mitch McConnell who looks less like a Mitch McConnell? Please rename as Homer Scrubs.