Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Morgan Freeman says, "Sit up straight!"

It has been announced that Morgan Freeman will soon be issuing commands to SkyTrain passengers. Not that the Academy Award-winning actor will be riding the TransLink system; but we will hear his voice, delivering messages like this:

"Remember what your mom told you: don't put your feet on the furniture."

Each message will conclude with a reminder that you can now use a Visa card to charge your fare--one more way to increase your debt load.

We have a few suggestions for Morgan's messages. These include:

"Put down your phone and spare us all the details of your personal relationships."

"Please do not bring cartons of garlic chicken wings on board."

"If you have to sleep, do not rest your head on some stranger's shoulder."

"Did you remember to shower today?"

This is Morgan Freeman for Visa. Have a nice trip.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Philip Roth

If Philip Roth can die, who is safe?

He made light of mortality. He browsed grave sites, rejecting one because it wasn't near anyone he knew. "Who would I talk to?" he said. There was one he considered, but the gravedigger said it was too short for him--"You'd feel cramped."

Just recently, Roth said, "I go to bed with a smile, having lasted another day. And I wake up with a smile, having gotten through the night."

Some of his last books dealt with death or its approach--"Everyman," "Nemesis," "Exit Ghost."

He was eighty-five. Tony Bennett and Christopher Plummer keep on going.

Inside our copy of "Everyman" is this Emily Dickinson poem:

"The Only News I know
Is Bulletins all Day
From Immortality.

"The Only Shows I see--
Tomorrow and Today--
Perchance Eternity.

"The Only One I meet
Is God--The Only Street--
Existence--This traversed

"If Other News there be--
Or Admirabler Show--
I'll tell it You--"

Exit Ghost.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Cocktails with Cohen

"Summertime, and the drinkin' is easy..." Oops! Sorry! Who let Slap Maxwell in here?

But as he has raised an important issue, let's consider warm weather restoratives. The classic, of course, is gin and tonic, created in the 1850s by British officers serving in India. A daily dose of quinine was prescribed as a protection from malaria for soldiers under the Raj. Quinine, derived from the bark of a South American tree, is not the most appealing beverage, straight up, but it was found that by mixing it with soda water it became more palatable. The addition of gin made it even more so. Winston Churchill credited gin and tonic with saving "more Englishmen's lives, and minds, than all the doctors in the Empire."

Another classic English cocktail is the gimlet, possibly named for a Dr. Gimlette, a British naval surgeon. It requires a lime cordial made first in 1857 in Edinburgh by a ship's chandler named Lachlan Rose. For many of us, the introduction to the drink came in Raymond Chandler's "The Long Goodbye," when Terry Lennox tells Philip Marlowe "A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose's Lime Juice and nothing else. It beats martinis hollow."

Then there are the great Italian contributions to the cocktail cart. Certainly Campari and soda alone, in a tall, ice-filled glass, is refreshing, but the most aristocratic is the invention of Count Camillo Negroni. At the Bar Cassoni in Florence, a little less than a century ago, the Count ordered a variation on the popular Americano. A Negroni, mixed to his specifications, combines gin, Campari and sweet Vermouth, and is served over ice with a large wedge of orange. Kingsley Amis, who knew his way around a bar, said, "This is a really fine invention. It has the power, rare with drinks and indeed with anything else, of cheering you up."

But today we feel compelled to raise a glass to Leonard Cohen, who at a recording session in Needles, California, in 1976, mixed tequila and cranberry juice, added a splash of Sprite, and topped it all with a handful of fruit. Later, he refined the recipe to simply tequila and cranberry juice over ice, with a lemon slice. Cohen called his creation Red Needles.

What can we say to all that? Simply, cheers!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Ding Dong, the Bells are Going to Chime

It has been called a fairy tale wedding, and the nearer we draw to it, the more fairy tale aspects appear, now including envious siblings and the possibility of a wicked witch wielding a curse.

Not yet known is who will walk Rapunzel down the aisle to meet Prince Charming. The bets are on Louis, pronounced "Lewis," from "Suits."

And still to come--the groom's stag party! We hope to join in the three a.m. chorus, when Harry sings "Get Me to the Church on Time."

Monday, May 14, 2018

Summer Song #2

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

That's the opening line of "Summer Song," written seven hundred years after "Sumer is Icumen In."

This twentieth century summer song was composed by Dave Brubeck, with lyrics by his wife, Iola.

"I'll take summer, that's my time of year"

The great performance of the song was recorded by Louis Armstrong--surely a genius--with the composer at the piano.

There are several other summer songs to sing, from the Gershwins' "Summertime" to the Lovin' Spoonful's "Summer in the City" to the Italian/Brazilian "Estate." But the one that keeps playing in our cerebral concert hall is by the Brubecks and Louis.

It's summer with Satch.

"Now the days are getting long,
I can sing my summer song."

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Summer Song

Svmer is icumen in
Lhude sing cuccu!
Growep sed and blowep med
and springp pe wde nu.
Sing cuccu!

Awe bletep after lomb,
Ihoup after calue cu,
Bulluc stertep, bucke uertep.
Murie sing cuccu!
Cuccu, cuccu,
Wel singes pu cuccu.
ne swik pu nauer nu!
Sing cuccu nu, Sing cuccu!

Oldest surviving song in the English language.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Pointless Digressions blog shut down

Constable Dudley Dubledoo, speaking for the RCMP Irresponsible Posting Division, said the blog known as Pointless Digressions will be closed until further notice.

"Our action," he said, "was necessary in light of the recent posting providing instructions for the preparation of what are known as hash brownies. There were two outstanding egregious offences," the Constable continued. "The first was employing the obscure French term 'haschich.' The second was spelling cannabis with only one n. Who does this person think he is, arbitrarily fooling with spelling? He is not Gertrude Stein or the President of the United States."

The operation, said Constable Dubledoo, "was part of a joint effort by police forces to crack down on irresponsible postings. Uh--sorry to say 'crack.' Sorry about 'joint.'

"However," he concluded, "this should be viewed as a serious measure. It is not merely a toking gesture.

"Ha ha--of course I meant 'token gesture'. Ha ha.""