July 6th, 2007


Hooray for Mort Sahl!

This is the reason why there's still hope for America: 80-year-old men are bringing us great lines such as this:
"[George W. Bush] is born again, you know. Which would raise the inevitable question: If you were given the unusual opportunity to be born again, why would you come back as George Bush?"
Mort Sahl is coming back to Jimmy Tingle's theater in August: 23, 24, 25 and 26. Tix are $35 and I'll probably throw the 5 extra bux down for a cabaret table. I will probably also be the youngest one in the place who isn't working ths show. Sahl is one of the most influential humorists of the last half of the 20th century and he's an octogenarian with a wit quicker than most folks half his age and I didn't see him last time he came to town so by gum, I better meet him when I can. In fact, I actually found the tour schedule after I was looking at cnn.com, and a saw a link to an article on Sahl with the sub "Comedian blazed a path for topicality in the 50s and 60s" and it was right above the link to Beverly Sills' obituary and I went "Oh, no. Oh, no."

Fortunately this time I was wrong on Sahl. Sills is still dead, though, and that is still makin me a bit sad to think about.
Don Music

"It was a very sunny day; it seemed like all days were sunny days then, not wet days"

Fifty years ago, on July 6, 1957 (or 6 July, 1957 if you prefer) St. Peter's Church in Woolton, South Liverpool held its annual garden fete complete with a procession around the village, fancy dress parade for the children, the crowning of the Rose Queen, fair attractions in a field by the church, and a musical performance by a local skiffle band. A few young lads from the Quarry Bank School and a friend or two had formed a group and named themselves The Quarry Men, and played American rock and roll songs to a rollicking washboard beat named "skiffle", popularized in the UK by a singer named Lonnie Donegan. (Dementites and Dementoids from America may know him for his spirited novelty recording of "Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor On The Bedpost Overnight?" But that's neither here nor there; that was then.)

A lad named Paul visited the fete with a friend and watched the Quarry Men perform the Del Vikings' "Come Go With Me". The lead singer John knew the chorus, all right, but wasn't so good on all the lyrics. So he kept making them up. The Quarry Men performed once and were supposed to go on again after a police dog demonstration, but the dogs ran late. Later, the Quarry Men performed during the evening dance when the "real" band, the typical schmaltzy dance music type, took breaks.

The whole proceedings have been remembered and memorialized in a new BBC documentary, combining interviews of Woolton residents and some of the band, too. There's even a story from a couple who'd been married that day, who tell how the groom's visiting relatives couldn't understand why so many people had turned up for the wedding.

That lad Paul also tells a story of how, before the band set up in the church hall, he hung out with the Quarry Men and their pals. He took hold of one of the guitars, tuned it properly, held it upside down (he was left-handed and had learned how to play right-handed guitars upside down) and played Eddie Cochran's "Twenty Flight Rock". John was impressed by the proper tuning and the fact that Paul knew all the words and didn't have to make any lyrics up.

At any rate, a week or so later, John Lennon extended an invitation to Paul McCartney to join the Quarry Men.

Happy 50th.

(the BBC radio link requires a Real-type player of some sort in order to listen. yeah, yeah, tell it to mrs. trellis.)
The Simpsons - Screw You

(no subject)

Now we have a Very Smart and Very Learned Man (you can tell because he's got "Professor" in front of his name) blaming Mr. Rogers and his "you are special just by being you" message for creating the self-entitlement generation.

Hog. Wash.

Absolute hogwash. So much, in fact, that I had to comment on the WSJ forums (and self-editing a bit when I repost it here.) It started as a response to someone's comment about how come this wasn't written while Mr. Rogers was alive, because it's "a tad difficult to expect a response from the man."
[The article couldn't have been written then] because Mr. Rogers would have delivered an passionate, reasonable, quiet defense which would have addressed every single point and gently, but firmly, rebuffed what could be rebuffed.

More to the point, he'd have completely shot down this "blame" (Yay for the blame game! Can't be my fault, blame someone else!) and helped point us towards what we could to do help.


Not sit around pointing fingers.


Obviously the article couldn't have been written when Mr. Rogers was alive, because it would have been useless and all involved would have failed in making their point. So instead, we fall back on rhetorically stacking the deck. (this is as close as I got to accusing the author and professor of kicking a dead man because it's easier, and that's part of what got me so mad in the first place.)

Mr. Rogers' message "You are special just by being you" meant "like yourself for who you are." It's not his fault Parents Who Know Their Wunderkind Are The Most Incredible In The World have distorted his message and run with it.

Their attitude disgusts me, but not as much as the attitude of the article and Professor Chance. I was incensed when I read the piece. I mean, I was furious. I was ready to come on over and start swinging and holler and stomp and scream "WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!! AND I'LL SOCK THE NEXT GUY IN THE MOUTH WHO THINKS OTHERWISE!" but then I remembered Mr. Rogers wouldn't have done that. Mr. Rogers may have felt angry if he'd read that, but he would have been the first to say that it's okay to feel angry sometimes. It is not okay to act out towards others that way.

Mr. Rogers taught compassion, respect for oneself and for others, and the power and wisdom to recognize one's own mistakes and take responsibility for them. And if all you can get out of that is "he taught a generation of kids self-entitlement", then perhaps you should take an inward look and wonder if you may be projecting a bit of your own feelings of self-importance and entitlement (or lack thereof) onto that.
Don't think I'm not still raging mad. I just kept the obscenities and invitations to taste curb to myself.