Keeping your eyes open
Including: The highfalutin pleasures
Jim Fitzsimons of St. Paul reports: “Subject: That seems familiar.
“Are you aware of the excellent rock ‘mockumentary’ ‘The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash,’ from 1978? It’s a made-for-TV movie that parodies the Beatles (a band of some note) by documenting an eerily similar band called the Rutles.
“The film was co-produced by Eric Idle of Monty Python fame. He is also in the film as the Paul McCartney character Dirk McQuickly, and he provides the narration for the film, appearing as the reporter doing the story of the band. He also appears as a professor of applied narcotics. AND he co-wrote and co-directed the film. Yeesh! Eric, delegate!
“The film is very funny as it follows the career of the Rutles, which closely resembles the Beatles’ career. And the songs, all written by Neil Innes, also an alum of Monty Python, are all quite funny and very catchy. After all, they do follow the template of the Beatles — and they were pretty good.
“Why do I bring it up? Well, I was watching a YouTube review of the film the other day, and I noticed something very interesting. In the segment parodying John Lennon’s controversial statement about the Beatles’ being bigger than Jesus, Ron Nasty (the John Lennon character, played by Innes) claims the Rutles were bigger than God. Newspaper headlines are shown, decrying the outrageous claims.
“One is from a certain newspaper with which I think many of us are familiar.
“The other had me sit up and exclaim: ‘What did that other headline say?!’
“I backed up the video and paused. The main headline, which reads ‘Nasty
claims Rutles bigger than God’ can be clearly seen. But it’s the second headline on the page that caught my eye. It is cropped, but one can see that it indicates that someone named Fitzsimons was denying something. Fitzsimons?! Why! That’s my name!
“However, having the ability to pause and get screen shots, something not possible for most TV viewers in 1978, I was able to see that the Fitzsimons referred to in the headline is actually former Teamsters President Frank Fitzsimmons (one of the two-M’s clan; we one-M’s don’t associate with them). And we can also see that the article meant to be about Nasty’s sacrilegious claim is really about Francis Gary Powers, the pilot of the American U2 spy plane who was shot down and captured in the Soviet Union in 1960.
“The film production team used actual newspaper articles with mocked-up
headlines cut and pasted in place. Who would notice the deception?
A “Hitch”-ing post
From Zoo Lou of St. Paul: “Subject: The Master of Suspense.
“I recently watched the movie ‘Hitchcock’ (2012), starring Anthony Hopkins, which focused on the trials and travails the great director faced as he made his horror classic, ‘Psycho.’
“Hopkins gave a solid performance as the eccentric, brilliant and often intimidating Hitchcock, a man of few words and a perpetual dour expression. I remember seeing him on ‘The Dick Cavett Show’ years ago, and he never smiled once as he gave only the briefest responses to Cavett’s questions. It seemed as if Hitchcock was being purposely condescending toward Cavett, a very intelligent and engaging man, who appeared to be frustrated by Hitchcock’s laconic behavior.
“One aspect of the movie I enjoyed was Hitchcock’s confrontations with the censors, who had serious concerns about Janet Leigh disrobing, the famous shower scene, and even a toilet being flushed (how shocking!). ‘No American movie has ever found it necessary to show a toilet,’ Hitchcock mused sarcastically, ‘let alone to flush one.’
“Through persistence and clever manipulation, Hitchcock got his masterwork approved, and the rest is ‘histrionics.’
“Watching ‘Hitchcock’ brought back memories of the first time I saw ‘Psycho’ — in the fall of 1964, with my friend Clyde. It was at the old Lyceum Theater, which, appropriately, had a reputation for having rats, bats and things that go bump behind the big red curtain, like a creepy gothic mansion (e.g., the Bates house).
“A sense of dread and foreboding hung over the audience like a shroud. But when Norman Bates carries his mother down to the fruit cellar, and she cries in protest, ‘No! I will not hide in the fruit cellar. You think I’m fruity, huh?,’ Clyde and I burst into uncontrollable laughter. It wasn’t very polite, but it did provide a little comic relief. If Hitch had been there, I think he would have agreed, and maybe even cracked a slight smile.
“Thus did Hitchcock start a trend: ‘Psycho’ made people afraid to take a shower, ‘The Exorcist’ made people afraid to eat pea soup, and ‘Jaws’ made people afraid to go in the water.
“One thing, however, I was never afraid to do, the censors notwithstanding, and that is to flush a toilet. I can just hear Sir Alfred deadpan: ‘There is a brave man.'”
Fifteen Nanoseconds of Fame
Big Eek of Southeast Minneapolis: “Having just learned to read, I followed the fortunes of the New York Giants and their star pitchers, lefty King Carl Hubbell and righty Prince Hal Schumacher, in the newspaper as the Giants won the National League pennant and lost to the hated Yankees in the 1937 World Series.
“Many years later, I was watching a Gopher baseball game. I gradually became aware that the gentleman making notes in the row behind me was the Giants’ farm director, Carl Hubbell. I twisted around in my seat and asked if I could shake his hand. King Carl obliged with his right hand, not the old soup bone. [Bulletin Board says: After 60 years as a baseball fan/nut, we had never known that “soup bone” was (is?) slang for a pitcher’s throwing arm. Live and learn!]
“Back at the boarding house where I took my meals, only freshman Geno was around. I said: ‘How would like to shake the hand that shook the hand of Carl Hubbell?’
“Geno held out his hand, and we shook. Then he said: ‘Carl who?'”
Our pets, ourselves
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills writes: “Subject: The first staredown.
“This is a picture of Buttercup, granddaughter Eve’s guinea pig, and Garfield (a gift from my students) as they meet each other for the first time.”
Till death us do part
From the Permanent Spousal Record of The Astronomer of Nininger: “This past week was the Good Wife’s birthday. Now, what do you get someone who has lived to her mid-70s and can afford to buy herself whatever she wants? She shops online nearly every night, supporting Amazon or whatever retailer she can find as she works her magic on those computer keys. She already has whatever she needs, so any celebratory event that should be recognized with some kind of gift presents itself as a challenge. No matter what, you don’t want it to be frivolous.
“The first thing that came to the mind of this bumbling male, determined to give her the best birthday present ever, was flowers. I have been prompted online by several different bouquet-delivery vendors. I decided on FTD, and sure enough, a highly diverse and colorful arrangement, extra-large size, was delivered right on schedule, early afternoon of her birthday. But, as you might have guessed, she was off playing bridge, so was not here to be surprised by the charming gentleman bringing them to the door. Our trusty Weimaraner, Harper, did enjoy sniffing his uniform, surveying an assortment of scents left by other pets on his sleeve and trouser leg. She always finds that new people have interesting smells.
“Since this birthday was her 76h, I thought I’d be clever and give her ‘Seventy-Six Trombones.’ I purchased tickets to the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres’ production of ‘The Music Man.’ We found the music stimulating and the singing and dancing extremely well done. Anyone who attends will find the evening enchanting.
“We celebrated her birthday with several nights of gala activities on our newly reconstructed deck. I think that officially ‘broke’ it in, less than a week after the final inspection. I purchased a birthday cake that (I thought) was scrumptious. It was white cake with raspberry filling between two layers topped with tons of whipped cream and highly decorative flowers. But the most treasured evening was with our immediate family: Favorite Daughter and Favorite Son brought along our grandchildren. I know the Good Wife always enjoys having the family visit. Favorite and only son, Chuck, brought about five pounds of Traeger-grilled pulled pork, while favorite and only daughter, Julie, provided nearly everything else. Together we had a delightful time. We celebrated not only the Good Wife’s birthday, but the graduation of the twins from their respective colleges. Both graduated Summa Cum Laude, and we are so proud of them. Still, the evening was focused on the Good Wife — and rightly so.
“Finding the right birthday present is sometimes a challenge. One can spend a lot of money on flowers and tickets and whatever else, but what means most comes from the heart. She deserves all the love and support we can give her.
“Our anniversary is next month. Where do I start?”
Joy of Juxtaposition (responsorial)
Plus: Everyone’s a (film) critic!
Both from Kathy S. of St. Paul: (1) “Subject: I never ‘got’ Janis Joplin, back then.
“Janis Joplin, mentioned in the most recent Bulletin Board column, led a hard life. She died when I was a 20-year-old who preferred folk songs to the heavier rock-and-roll. As a sheltered and practicing (though antiwar) Catholic working my way through St. Kate’s, she struck me as a wild, crude woman — though I resented that she was nominated as ‘the ugliest man on campus’ by a fraternity at the University of Texas in Austin. She was strong and successful and one of a kind, in a time when she — and other women — struggled extremely hard in order to succeed in rock-and-roll. She was treated so roughly by so many people back then. It is not surprising that she became addicted to drugs and alcohol.
“Janis would probably fit into the mainstream much better now, and her variety of lovers would not raise so many eyebrows. Plus, feminists would probably be busy right now making the lives of the guys from that fraternity in Texas as miserable as possible on her behalf. I don’t normally go after guys like that, but I would make an exception to try to rattle their cages. I really hate the way they attacked and damaged her spirit.
“Janis died almost 51 years ago, at age 27 — the same as Jimi Hendrix. They accomplished so much, but had hardly gotten started on adult life when they were gone. I wish I could go back to comfort and praise and listen to them and their music — though with a good pair of earplugs.”
(2) “Subject: A nice movie from my library.
“Tonight I watched the movie ‘Soul’ for the second time. It is animated and labeled a children’s movie, but I don’t think adults need juvenile chaperones in order to enjoy it.
“‘Soul’ reminds me of the movie ‘Heaven Can Wait.’ [Bulletin Board interjects: “Heaven Can Wait” (1978) was itself a remake — of “Here Comes Mr. Jordan” (1941).] In ‘Soul,’ a young man loves music — especially jazz — and works as a music teacher. Then, just as his life is shifting, he is hit by a car and finds himself traveling toward the Great Beyond. But he rebels, and ends up in the Great Before — where small future souls gather until they take off for lives on Earth. And one becomes his friend.
“This movie explores personality, choice, and how negative assessments can damage people’s souls, in a way that I figure ‘reaches’ kids. It definitely cheered me up tonight.
“If you need some fun, DVDs of this movie are available in local public libraries. And, for fans of musicians, the main character is patterned on the talented Jon Batiste, who plays on the Late Show With Stephen Colbert.”
The vision thing
Sight Reading Division
Bill of the River Lake: “Friday’s front page of the paper had an article highlighting a parade on Sunday to host Suni Lee. The article also listed freeway closures ‘to remove ornamental bridgework, part of a two-year interstate resurfacing and repair project.’
“A neighbor read this article aloud and stated that it was ‘Oriental bridgework.’
“I don’t recall noticing any of this on I-94 freeway bridges. Maybe I wasn’t looking closely enough?”
Keeping your eyes and ears open
Grandma Pat, “formerly of rural Roberts, Wisconsin”: “Subject: Miracles abound.
“Here in ‘senior living land,’ there are miracles. Just this past week I have been gifted with four of them. Two of them happened right in my allotted rooftop garden space. The first was a Monarch butterfly posing atop a perfectly color-coordinated orange Zinnia. The next was a brilliant yellow goldfinch on a purple Bachelor’s Button. Breath-stopping!
“Then, on my evening walk around campus, I saw something glowing and amber-colored in an old pine tree. I stopped to look more closely, and saw that it was thick sap hanging from a pine cone, back-lighted by the setting sun.
“The fourth miracle occurred as I walked past our adjacent homeless shelter. I heard a little girl’s voice calling out to the sky: ‘Hello, Birdies. Hello, Birdies.’ I glanced upwards and saw no birds at all. The little girl kept on calling, and suddenly a large crow flew right over her. The little voice exclaimed: ‘Oh, there you are, there you are!’ The crow answered her.”
Could be verse!
A “timerick” from Tim Torkildson: “When writing in limerick style / most poets use plenty of guile / Their grammar’s ferocious / with spelling atrocious / Results, though, can bring a wide smile.”
Joy of Juxtaposition (responsorial)
Semi-Legend writes: “I mis-sourced a song performance in a recent JofJ submission.
“I wrote ‘a fun “Sesame Street” number, “Mahna Mahna.”‘
“I shudda had it, ‘a fun “Muppet Show” number, “Mahna Mahna.”‘
“Only Kermit the Frog populated both Jim Henson productions.
“Apologies to both.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: You were apparently right the first time, Semi-Legend, if today’s Website of the Day is to be trusted (and we do)!
We also heard from Gab: “In the August 4th BB, I was reading the stories with delight till I came to the one ‘phenomenal JofJ.’ It’s a nice story, of course, but ‘Mahna Mahna’ by the Muppets is just wrong. Anyone who knows knows that it’s by Piero Umiliani — and it’s ‘Mah Nà Mah Nà.’ [Bulletin Board warns: Earworm directly ahead!]
“My sister who is mentally challenged loved that song, and requested it all the time. Fortunately for us, WCCO Radio played it all the time, and we could request it as well. But when the Muppets came out with it, she cried, and you could not play it with them singing. She wanted the original, and lucky for her, her big sister (me) can sing the Mah Nà Mah Nà part just right to keep her happy.
“Oh, and we did finally sell the house in Minnesota and now live in Naples, Florida, so are very happy to get BB online. Thank you for that.”
Out of the mouths of babes
Dave the Bus Driver reports: “The other day, I was in Cub with two of my granddaughters — Aiyana (8) and Nyeela (3).
“Two ladies walked past with rather large posteriors.
“Ny looked at me and out loud said: ‘Papa, those are two big booties.'”
Band Name of the Day: The Big Booties
Website of the Day: Mah Nà Mah Nà