Thursday, September 27, 2012

Brought to You By Nabisco

Andy Williams died--lemme check--two days ago. I can't say I paid much attention to him over the  years. I'm in no way prejudiced against his style of singing, which in my youth was referred to a "easy listening." I just have an easier time listening to Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, or Perry Como than I do Williams. "Moon River" is a great song, but I prefer the way Audrey Hepburn sang it in Breakfast at Tiffany's. And it's nice Williams stood by his ex after she was accused of shooting and killing her ski instructor, but I can no longer remember if she was found guilty or not (well, I am on the Internet, so let me check again...misdemeanor criminal negligence, 30 days in jail plus a small fine.)

Now that I think about it, there was a point in my life when I did pay attention to Williams. I was 8 or 9 and used to watch his variety show on TV. I didn't watch because of him particularly. I just happened to have liked variety shows, of which there were many when I was a kid. Singing, dancing, and comedy skits all under an hour. The format seems just about extinct now. You can still find singing and dancing and comedy skits on TV, but it's all been divvied up. Saturday Night Live gets the skits, American Idol the singing, and Dancing With the Stars, obviously, the dancing. A further example of the fragmentation of the media.

William's show had this recurring skit that I eagerly looked forward to each week. A talking bear would try to finagle some cookies out of Williams, but to no avail. I found this hilarious when I was 8 or 9. Now I just find it a bit strange. Of course, that may even be a better reason to look forward to it each week. Here's a clip of one such skit, in which the bear enlists the aid of a svelte Kate Smith (don't ask me to explain that countdown in the middle of the screen; best I can figure is that whoever originally put this on YouTube taped it on a 40-year old VCR):

A word about Kate Smith, a popular radio performer of the 1940s. If you're not familiar with her, you may be puzzled, after watching that clip, as to why I referred to her as "svelte".  Well, here's what she looked like in her prime:
That's in the 1940s. As you can see, she had slimmed down considerably by the time she appeared on Andy William's show in 1970. She was relatively, comparatively, svelte.
As for that talking bear, did you see how he fell backwards at the end of that skit? Obviously, the poor creature collapsed from hunger. And what did Kate Smith do? Just stand there and laugh. How cold. How callous. I hope those cookies made her fat all over again. It would be her just desserts! 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Quips and Quotations (Algonquin Round Table Edition)

To err is human; to forgive, infrequent

--Franklin P. Adams

Posterity is as likely to be wrong as anybody else

--Heywood Braun

A hick town is one where there is no place to go where you shouldn't go

--Alexander Woollcott

I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I'm under the table,
after four I'm under my host. 

--Dorothy Parker

Epitaph for a dead waiter - God finally caught his eye

--George S Kaufman

For a nation which has an almost evil reputation for bustle, bustle, bustle, and rush, rush, rush, we spend an enormous amount of time standing around in line in front of windows, just waiting.

--Robert Benchley (and just think, he died a good half-century before the first Apple store opened)

Razors pain you,
Rivers are damp,
Acids stain you,
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful,
Nooses give,
Gas smells awful.
You might as well live. 

--Dorothy Parker (a four-time suicide survivor)

There are two kinds of people in the world, those who think there are two kinds of people in the world, and those who don't.

--Robert Benchley

Nothing risque, nothing gained

--Alexander Woollcott (allegedly impotent due to a bad case of the mumps)
I didn't like the play, but then I saw it under adverse conditions--the curtain was up

--George S. Kaufman 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

In Memoriam: Hal David 1921-2012

Lyricist. Best known for his collaborations with Burt Bacharach. Magic Moments. (There's) Always Something There to Remind Me. Alfie. Walk On By. What's New, Pussycat? What the World Needs Now. I Say a Little Prayer. Do You Know the Way to San Jose? What Do You Get When You Fall In Love? I'll Never Fall In Love Again. The Look of Love. Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head. (They Long to Be) Close to You. To All The Girls I Love Before (music by Albert Hammond Jr.)

The songs should be like a little film, told in three or four minutes. Try to say things as simply as possible, which is probably the most difficult thing to do

--Hal David

Hal, we had a great run and I'm so grateful we ever met.

--Burt Bacharach

"Say a Little Prayer." Performed by Dionne Warwick, the artist David and Bacharach worked with most frequently.

"What's New Pussycat." Tom Jones intro to the 1966 movie of the same name. Dig that psychedelic animation!

"What the World Needs Now." Performed by Jackie DeShannon. Dig that psychedelic black-and-white!

"Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head." Performed by BJ Thomas. More psychedelic black-and-white.
"Always Something There to Remind Me." Performed by Naked Eyes. The 1960s meets the 1980s.