Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Oh! Canada?

Another Canada Day, and grumbling continues over the lyrics in the national anthem--or, to be precise, over one word in the English lyrics (written by Robert Stanley Weir).

In 1908, Weir wrote "..thou doest in us command." In 1914, this was changed to " all thy sons command." It has been proposed that this be changed to the gender neutral " all of us command," but people who object to any change, except what they get back from the coffee machine, are against this. There could be--sigh--another national referendum. Oh, Canada.

Zoot Finster's excellent suggestion--"in all us cats command"--was not accepted. "In all persons of whatever gender and/or sexual orientation" was thought to lack rhythm.

There has aways been a problem in choosing a truly all-embracing Canadian song. "The Maple Leaf Forever" has been politically incorrect for fifty years, and no one in Quebec would ever sing "Wolfe, the dauntless hero, came.."

The most loved Canadian music was written by Don Messer and Stompin' Tom Connors and Wilf Carter ("When the Iceworms Nest Again").

The one person who seemed able to get it all together was Bobby Gimby, in his song for Expo 67, in the country's Centennial year.

All together now: "Ca-na-da!"

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Too Much Information

We have been alerted that Canada Post employees will be in position to strike starting July 4, should they so decide.

This news reminded us of a postal strike several years ago, when we were sharing an office with Terry Garner. Garner said, "Now if only the phones would go out, too."

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Long Shot in Las Vegas

The National Hockey League has awarded a franchise to the city of Las Vegas. The announcement was made by NHL Commissioner Gary "Sky" Bettman, who concluded his address by singing "Luck, Be a Lady Tonight."

So far, no name has been attached to the team. But here are a few said to be on the promoters'  short list:

* The Las Vegas Highrollers
* The Las Vegas Blackjacks
* The Las Vegas Snake Eyes
* The Las Vegas Goodfellas

Good shooting--on the ice and at the table--to them all.

Slap Maxwell, for PD Sports.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Christy! The Movie

"Entertainment This Afternoon," the low budget version of "Entertainment Tonight," reports that movie moguls are scrambling to get the film rights to "Christy Clark: Behind the Smile," the tell nothing biography by Judy Tyabji.

Rumors are rife about who might play Premier Clark. The easy choice is Reese Witherspoon, who starred in "Election," but it is said that Ms. Clark herself favors Beyonce. Seth MacFarlane, one of the hopeful producers, has said he would cast Sarah Silverman.

Also in the projected cast: Louis C.K. as Mike de Jong and Steve Carell in a cameo as Gordon Campbell.

MacFarlane said he regrets that Ward Bond is no longer available to play John Horgan, but he believes that Horgan can be believable playing himself.

Watch for "Christy!" coming soon to a Liberal fund-raiser near you.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Summer with Ralph Burns

As summer made its official entrance (hesitantly, not sure it heard the cue) we thought of Ralph Burns.

Ralph Burns was a pianist, composer and arranger who worked with--among many others--Bob Fosse, Martin Scorsese and Mikhail Baryshnikov. He wrote for stage and film and television, and his work won an Oscar and a Tony.

But for those of us lucky enough to be around at the time, he will be remembered primarily for the fifteen years he spent with Woody Herman's band. Among the famous pieces he wrote and arranged for the Herman Herd was the exquisite "Bijou," which opens with an insinuating piano and rhythm setting of scene (Burns, Chubby Jackson, Dave Tough, maybe Billy Bauer), leads to a wall of saxophones, and then bursts forth with Bill Harris's memorably quirky trombone solo.

Burns wrote big band barn burners for Herman, like "Apple Honey" and "Northwest Passage," all tailored to the required three-minute length for ten-inch 78 rpm records.

But he also wrote longer works, which, if he had been a European composer, would have been called tone poems--now, sadly, almost impossible to find, but still playing in memory. One was titled "Lady McGowan's Dream." More famous, at the time, and the reason Ralph Burns came to mind today, was "Summer Sequence."

We wish you a serene and sunny summer sequence.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Oh Dad, Poor Dad...

We celebrate Father's Day this weekend, and, as one who spent a long time learning on the job, I am keenly aware of Bill Phillips's definition of parenting: "It is like conducting Beethoven's Fifth in front of a full audience at Albert Hall while reading the score for the first time."

A song for the day? There was once a drippingly sentimental ballad called "That Silver-haired Daddy of Mine," and Eddie Fisher sang "O Mein Papa."

But we're going for Woody Herman's "Your Father's Moustache."

Monday, June 13, 2016

And coming next--

Following the enormous success of "Hamilton," on stage, at the Tony awards, and especially at the box office, Canadian theatre impresarios are rushing to produce a hip hop musical based on a towering Canadian political figure.

So this summer, be at the Stratford Festival for the world premiere of (drum roll) -- "Diefenbaker!"

Producers are now in discussion with Drake for the title role.

As one said, "Get him the jowls, he can do the growls."

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Queen's Big Nine-O

There used to be a custom, in schoolyards across the land, that when it was someone's birthday they got what were known as the "Royal Bumps."

Do you suppose royalty practice the Royal Bumps?

I see Philip and Harry warming up now...

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Heat Parade

"Love, to me, is like a summer day..."

That's the opening line of "Summer Song," lyrics by Iola Brubeck, melody by Dave Brubeck, memorably sung by Louis Armstrong.

The second chorus begins "I'll take summer, that's my time of year."

If it's your time of year, there are many songs for you on the Heat Parade, starting with the lullaby "Summertime" and "In the Good Old Summertime," and including "Estate," "Heat Wave" and "Those Hazy, Lazy, Crazy Days of Summer."

But not all songs are in praise of summer. There is, for example, "Ain't It Awful, the Heat?" from the Kurt Weill-Langston Hughes-Elmer Rice musical "Street Scene." And Cole Porter wrote:

"I'd like to sup with my baby tonight,
And share the cup with my baby tonight.
But I'm not up to my baby tonight,
'Cause it's too darn hot!"

And if you're one of those trying to crawl inside the freezer compartment of your refrigerator, there is this 1930s classic:

"Tain't No Sin to Take Off Your Skin.
and Dance Around in Your Bones."

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Oh, Say Can You See...

The current non-issue providing some activity for our Members of Parliament is a member's bill suggesting--yet again--minor changes in Canada's national anthem. The member proposes changing the line "in all our sons command" to "in all of us command," thus including moose and beavers.

The official opposition, the Conservative Party, insists there should be a national referendum on what they consider "these sacred words," which makes one wonder if they understand what "sacred" means. The Conservatives always push for national referendums, no matter how costly, awkward, delaying, and ultimately ineffective they are.

But this is nothing compared to the dilemma in the Frustrated States, where they are dealing with changes to their anthem proposed by the presumptive Republican nominee for president. It begins: "Oh, say can you see, by the Trump Tower light..."