Friday, September 25, 2020

Quips and Quotations (Come Hear the Music Play Edition)

 I simply enjoy watching her. But if I ever got a chance to meet her or talk to her, it would be great. As for our stage show, you can probably pick out certain similarities to Liza's show. Well, not similarities, but influences.

--Freddie Mercury 

Saturday, September 19, 2020




twirl \twǝrl\ vb : to turn or cause to turn rapidly

--The Merriman-Webster Dictionary

A baton, maybe, but never her principles.


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Vital Viewing (You Have a Right to Remain Silent Edition)

Actor Peter Falk was born on this day in 1927 (he died in 2011.) He's best known for playing Lieutenant Columbo, the highly-effective homicide detective who successfully cons murder suspects into believing he's anything but. The made-for-TV movie series ran, off and on, for about 20 years. Early in that run, Falk won an Emmy for the role, which he accepts in the following clip as William Conrad and Mitzi Gaynor look on:  


In his acceptance speech Falk thanks a writer named Steve Bochco. This is the same Steve, or Steven, Bochco, who would later go on to create and produce Hill Street Blues, LA Law, and NYPD Blue. It took a bit of detective work of my own, but after combing through various pieces of evidence found at both IMDb and YouTube, I found a Bochco-scripted clip. Patrick O'Neal plays the person of interest:

I'm not going to tell you who the murderer is. You'll just have to figure that out for yourself.


Thursday, September 10, 2020

Quips and Quotations (British Intelligence Edition)

I sort of vaguely knew Patrick Macnee, and he looked kindly on me and sort of husbanded me through the first couple of episodes. After that we became equal, and loved each other and sparked off each other. And we'd then improvise, write our own lines. They trusted us. Particularly our scenes when we were finding a dead body—I mean, another dead body. How do you get 'round that one? They allowed us to do it.

--Diana Rigg


Sunday, September 6, 2020

Sung Off-Key


Please stand for the playing of...


Here's the lyrics:

To Anacreon in Heav'n, where he sat in full Glee
A few Sons of Harmony sent a Petition,
That he their Inspirer and Patron would be;
When this answer arriv'd from the Jolly Old Grecian
"Voice, Fiddle, and Flute,
"no longer be mute,
"I'll lend you my Name and inspire you to boot,
"And, besides I'll instruct you, like me to intwine
The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine."

I guess an explanation is in order. Anacreon was an ancient Greek poet who was something of a party animal and playboy, both of which informed his lyrical output. He died about fifteen years before Socrates was born and a good three centuries-and-a-half before Christ, but was still well-known enough in 1766 for a bunch of fratboyish amateur musicians in London to name their gentleman's club after him, a club dedicated to wine (Bacchus), women (Venus), and song (Harmony). So their club anthem, the first stanza of which is above, has them asking the late Anacreon's permission for use of his name and getting it. Reputedly written by John Stafford Smith, it was such a popular drinking song that it survived the breakup of The Anacreon Society around 1792, and by 1814 had made it across the Atlantic where the melody was apparently running though the head of  a young American lawyer and amateur poet who just then was being detained on a British warship during the...

…Battle of Baltimore, in particular the defense of Fort McHenry. The young lawyer put down on paper in rhyme what he witnessed that night, a rhyme that Mike Stivic would later argue to his father-in-law glorifies war. But I think that's too broad an assessment. The poem actually glorifies being under siege in a war, the young lawyer's personal predicament eventually becoming a metaphor that casts the United States as history's perennial underdog in a dangerous world (no matter how bloated the Pentagon budget.) But that's still many, many baseball, football, and basketball games in the future. For the time being, the young lawyer, who was not an amateur composer, needed some music to set his poem to, and "The Anacreon Song", which had no U.S. copyright, was there for the taking.

I'm not going to tell you this young lawyer's name, but you should have figured it out by now. God knows I've left enough clues, not least of which is the song's melody, which surprisingly fit the new, high-minded lyrics quite well. Maybe not so surprisingly. Shorn of its original party hearty verses, there's nothing particularly alcoholic about the tune. Still, it strikes me as odd that when writing his patriotic paean, the young lawyer should find inspiration in a Jolly Old Grecian. Of course, I have no way of knowing for sure, but I'd like to think that as he caught sight of the rocket's red glare, and heard bombs bursting in air, the young lawyer said to himself:  

"Man, I could use a good stiff drink right about now."