30 September 2009

Not many of the students knew the allusion, alas, but...

From Sarah Vowell’s The Wordy Shipmates (Riverhead Books, 2008), an insightful (and very funny) examination of the 17th-century Puritans in America:

[John Winthrop and Roger Williams] personify what would become the fundamental conflict of American life – between public and private, between the body politic ad the individual, between we the people and each person’s pursuit of happiness. At his city-on-the-hill best Winthrop is Pete Seeger, gathering a generation around the campfire to sing their shared folk songs. Williams is Bob Dylan plugging in at Newport, making his own noise (128-129)

As Vowell writes shortly before:

In his tormented, lonesome, obsessive, Calvinist way, [Roger Williams] is free. I find him hard to like, but easy to love (127).

Lyric of the day from the Gigliotti vinyl collection

Down with dirty names
Up with fun and games
Make the world a happy thing
Get some brotherhood
In your neighborhood
Let everybody sing (aloud and clear)

Long live love! (6 times)

If everyone would start
To do their little part
A lot of good it sure would do
So when you pass the plate around
Let benevolence abound
And, brother, that means you!

The Banana Splits, "Long Live Love" (the 45 rpm single, 1969)

(The best knock-0ff EVER of the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love"!)

29 September 2009

Lyric of the day from the Gigliotti vinyl collection

Beyond a shadow of a doubt your the devil
You're the devil in disguise
Do you really change me?
Or am I going crazy?

Chameleon, Chameleon, Chameleon,
you're free again, my child

"Chameleon" (E. John/B. Taupin)
Elton John, Blue Moves (1976)

28 September 2009

How do you spell "H1N1"?

From Michael Wigglesworth's "God's Controversy with New England" (1662):

Our healthfull dayes are at an end,
and sicknesses come on
From yeer to yeer, becaus our hearts
away from God are gone.

New-England, where for many yeers

you scarcely heard a cough,
And where Physicians had no work,
now finds them work enough.

Now colds and coughs, and Rhewms, and sore-throats,
do more and more abound:
Now Agues sore and feavers strong
in every place are found...

Lyric of the day from the Gigliotti vinyl collection

You may think that we need a revolution
Or you may think that the world is going to rot
You may never make your social contribution
Or you may give the people everything you've got

But it don't matter what you do

Where you're coming from
Or where you're going to
You can do what you like in the queue
but there's no spitting on the bus

It's as plain as the nose on your face
It's there upon the sign
Spitting is infra dig and prohib
It's a very common line
From the people to the people

"No Spitting on the Bus"
The Steve Gibbons Band, Down in the Bunker (1977)

27 September 2009

Pushing Frank Sinatra around the Hospital

Yesterday, at the Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain, I gave a Sinatra talk to the alumnae of the New Britain General Hospital School of Nursing. It celebrated its 100th Anniversary last year and graduated its last class in 1976.

As I try to do, I picked a playlist that would be appropriate to the group (or the time of year or...), so yesterday's had a medical theme!

“I’ve Got a Restless Spell” (12/26/1940 radio broadcast)

“It’s All Up to You (to Make North Carolina Number One in Good Health)” (11/07/46)
w/Dinah Shore
“A Song Written for and Donated to the Good Health Association by Sammy Cahn/Jule Styne”

“What’s Wrong With Me” (2/26/48)
From the MGM film The Kissing Bandit

“If You Stub Your Toe on the Moon” (1/4/49)
(intro’d by Bing Crosby in A CT Yankee in King Arthur’s Court)

“The Hucklebuck” (4/10/49) -- because it mentions the sacroiliac!

“You’re Getting to be a Habit with Me” (1/10/56)

“Not As a Stranger”
Theme Song from the film Not as a Stranger, in which Frank and Robert Mitchum play doctors

“Adelaide’s Lament” (performed by Debbie Reynolds, produced by Frank for the Reprise Musical Repertory Theatre recording of Guys and Dolls)

“The Man in the Looking Glass” (4/22/65) -- because it also mentions the sacroiliac!!

“I Love My Wife” 11/15/76 -- beacuse it mentions the swine flu (which is a lot better name than H1N1)

Oh, and the title of this post refers to the fact that, to get my memorabilia to the meeting room and back out to my car, I used...a wheelchair. Man, those contraptions are convenient.

26 September 2009

Perhaps I'm hopelessly stuck in the late 80s...

...but when I receive in the mail a catalogue with pictures of Cindy Crawford on a bed, I'm sure not interested in the designs of the sheets, pillow cases, comforters, shams, and bed skirts.

I'm all for people developing their talents and growing as individuals and entrepreneurs, but, if you want me to pay attention to the bedding, by gum, get outta the picture, Ms. Crawford.

Sinatra lyric of the week from the Gigliotti vinyl collection

When Adam bit the fruit
as fashions were then
he wore that fig leaf suit
(for which "Amen")

So, if it's decided, I'm wearin' the pants,
then, Eve,
I'd say we've
got romance
I like to lead when I dance

"I Like to Lead When I Dance" (Sammy Cahn/Jimmy Van Heusen)
Frank Sinatra, Robin and the Seven Hoods (196?)

If I had a hammer...

On this past Wednesday, the 7th season of tapings for Central Authors began with a swell talk by Professors Katherine Hermes and Karen Ritzenhoff of the CCSU departments of History and Communication, respectively, about their new edited volume, Sex and Sexuality in a Feminist World. (I, as "producer," schedule the speakers and host the tapings at the CCSU Bookstore.)

It was an engaging and informative talk about their wide-ranging volume that includes traditional scholarly articles (from across the disciplines), essays, poetry, student contributions, and even a dvd.

I had known that Kathy's contribution to the book, "Getting Nailed: Reinventing the European- Pacific Encounter in the Age of Global Capital," was an examination of the recurrent stories about English sailors' trading sex for nails. My initial thought (which is rarely academic and almost always light-hearted) was to bring a bunch of nails to jokingly wrap things up (after the taping was finished, of course), but I was told by several gentlemen to whom I had mentioned this concept that that would've been a bad idea...indeed quite "culturally insensitive."

The good news is Professor Hermes brought her own nails as props (so my instincts weren't as off as some feared)!

The better news is that, by not bringing my nails, I avoided supreme embarrassment because the size of the nails that Kathy brought were bigger than any I have currently in my house and indeed far bigger than I had ever used (or, for that matter, ever imagined a need to use)! Not a lot of hammering goes on at Chez Perry/Gigliotti.

Was I envious of her nails? Not precisely, but, it was obvious that, if I had been a sailor in the South Pacific, it would have been VERY important for me to deliver a large quantity of nails to counter my obvious lack of size.

Song lyric of the day from the Gigliotti vinyl collection

The night nurse is gone,
and the sexy one's here
and she telling such beautiful lies.
Her uniform's tight
on her marvelous rear,
and you've only to open your eyes.

Get up, Jimmy Newman, you're missing the fun.
They're taking us next, Jim;
it's time to go home.
It's over for us now; there's no more to be done
So why do you lie there still sleeping?

"Jimmy Newman" (Tom Paxton)
performed by John Denver, Take Me to Tomorrow (1970)

24 September 2009

Lyric of the day from the Gigliotti vinyl collection

Come with me
Don't say no
Hold me close
Tracy, never, never, ever let me go!

"Tracy" (Pockriss/Vance)
performed by The Cuff Links (1970)

Twitter Schwitter...Damon Runyon was doin' it in 1919

From Guys, Dolls, and Curveballs: Damon Runyon on Baseball, edited by Jim Reisler (Carroll and Graf, 2005):

In mid-1919 for no apparent reason, Runyon abandoned his traditional game story, turning his coverage into virtual short-hand -- loosely connected observations that took in the game, who showed up in the press box, and whatever else struck his fancy (387-391):

Two out. Baker doubled. Lewis beat out a poke. Pipp couldn't help. Easy bouncer to (Joe) Gedeon.

Ollie Chill, the limited edition of umps, worked behind the plate yesterday. Ollie is about as high as (catcher) Truck Hannah's belt buckle. Quiet day for Ollie.

Lower stand packed. Upper stand fairly well filled and both bleachers nicely populated yesterday. The firm of Colonel and Colonel did a lot of loose beaming.

Good ump, "Brick."

Lyric of the day from the Gigliotti vinyl collection

They all laugh at angry young men
They all laugh at Edison
And also at Einstein
So why should I feel sorry
If they just couldn't understand
The idiomatic logic
That went on in my head
I had a brain
It was insane
Oh they used to laugh at me
When I refused to ride
On all those doubledecker buses
All because there was no driver on the top

Joni Mitchell, Court and Spark (1974)

22 September 2009

Lyric of the day from the Gigliotti vinyl collection

Not long ago, our circle was broken
when God called on mother one night.
In a voice sweet and low,
her last words were spoken,
asking our daddy to raise her children right.
The angels rejoiced in heaven last night.
I heard my daddy praying, "Dear God, make it right!"
He was smiling and singing with tears in his eyes
While mother with the angels rejoiced last night.

"Angels Rejoiced" (Ira and Charlie Louvin)
as peformed by Nicolette Larsen (w/ Herb Pedersen), Nicolette, (1978)

(And I just learned that NL died in 1997)

Lyric of the day from the Gigliotti vinyl collection

Americans dream of gypsies, I have found
gypsy hearts and gypsy thighs
that pound and pound and pound and pound and pound
African appendages that almost reach the ground
little boys playing baseball in the rain

America, America

step out into the light
you're the best dream that man has ever dreamed
and may all your Christmases be white

"Sigmund Freud's Impersonation of Albert Einstein in America"
Randy Newman, Little Criminals (1977)

21 September 2009

A Very Brady Health Hazard

Avoiding work by watching Brady Bunch on Nick at Nite, I'm amazed that any of that family survived!

In one scene Alice (Ann B. Davis), the housekeeper, is making hamburgers and, in an attempt to show her how much the Bradys need her -- even with a mother/wife (Florence Henderson) in the house again -- the entire family starts begging her to help them. So, called away from the hamburger preparation, Alice perfunctorily wipes her hands on a dry towel and heads upstairs to find Mr. Brady's (Robert Reed) black bowtie, touching the bannister with each stair she takes, only to stop half way up and return downstairs when the phone rings -- which she answers, leaving raw ground beef fingerprints all across the Brady homestead.

Even granting that food inspection in 1969 may have been more thorough or at least better staffed and/or regulated than it is now (and that's probably a fairly generous hypothesis) how'd those Bradys not drop over regularly from e coli or the like?

I won't even mention that the episode begins with the helmet-less Bobby's taking a major spill on his bike -- which, according to the lad, ended up looking "like a pretzel.")

They didn't need a housekeeper or a Dr. Mom; they needed Julia (Diahann Carroll)!

Name that tune

Is it just me or is the instrumental playing in the background of the latest Wachovia radio advertisement really the theme song to the early 1980s television show The Greatest American Hero, "Believe It or Not"?

Lyric of the day from the Gigliotti vinyl collection

There’s a sucker born every minute
Each time the second hand sweeps to the top
Like dandelions up they pop,
Their ears so big, their eyes so wide.
And though my tale is bona fide baloney,
Just let me spin it,
And ain’t no man who can resist me wait and see
‘Cause there’s a sure-as-shooting sucker born a minute,
And friends the biggest one, excluding none, is me!

“There’s a Sucker Born Every Minute”
Barnum (1980)
Performed by Jim Dale
Written by Michael Stewart and Cy Coleman

20 September 2009

Frank Sinatra + Noise = Everyone Else

While listening to my MP3 player as I cut the lawn today, I suddenly heard a version of "Summer Wind," the performer of which I couldn't determine. (On the one hand, that's not surprising because I have many versions of "Summer Wind" by other singers, but, on the other, it seemed odd because why would I put any of those on my player?) Puzzled, I checked, and, very much to my surprise, I discovered it was SINATRA'S version.

Wow, how'd I not recognize Frank?!

Then it dawned on me: all the "Frankensingers" sound like Sinatra only when you're listening to him through the noise of a running lawnmower engine. All the nuance, subtlety, and distinctiveness get washed out, and, there you have it, it's Frank no more...it's _______________________ (fill in your favorite Michael-Buble-like performer).

I lied about not posting any more about "Pretty in Pink"

One more Pretty in Pink posting, although this really has nothing to do with the movie. I was very pleasantly surprised to run across one of my all-time favorite actresses, Margaret Colin, as the teacher in PIP. Why didn't she become a bigger star?

Here are my five favorite famous (or else, of course, my wife jumps to the top of any list!) brunettes -- in alphabetical order.

1. Margaret Colin (seen above as Margot Hughes, with husband Tom -- how cool was he?--, from As The World Turns in the early-to-mid 1980s)
2. Dana Delaney (in the China Beach years, although she seems to have red hair here)
3. Ava Gardner (no introduction necessary)
4. Lauren Graham (best fictional mom ever!)
5. Christine Lahti (in the Whose Life is it Anyway? days)

19 September 2009

Frank Sinatra lyric of the week from the Gigliotti vinyl collection

The room was so alive with all her feelings and longings
I saw the spark of danger in her eyes
Well, how would it have hurt me
If I turned back and held her
A moment passes; something lovely dies

But it’s so easy
Looking at the game the morning after
Adding up the kisses and the laughter
Knowing how’d you play it if the chance to play it over ever came
But then a Monday morning quarterback never lost a game

“Monday Morning Quarterback” (Don Costa/Pamela Phillips)
She Shot Me Down (1981)

They should've just killed off Duckie

One last Pretty in Pink posting, I promise.

As my very-soon-to-be-fourteen-year-old noted during her first viewing of PIP, "This movie's more about Duckie (Jon Cryer) than anyone else." This observation, of course, is absolutely correct, which is why the original ending the filmmakers intended and really wanted, i.e., Andie's (Molly Ringwald) and Duckie's dancing together at the prom, made perfect sense to them. Duckie's the most compelling figure in the movie -- whether it's his lipsynching and dancing to "Try a Little Tenderness", fighting that evil James Spader character in the halls of the high school, proclaiming his love for Andie flat on his back alone on her bed, or smirking at the audience near film's end. (The Andie/Duckie ending, of course, made no sense to a teen audience who wanted true love with Blane, across the great economic divide, to win out. And the audience won, as is Hollywood's way.)

But, in essence, what John Hughes faced -- and failed to reconcile -- is precisely what Shakespeare did in Romeo and Juliet (and, believe me, this is the only time John Hughes's and Shakespeare's names should appear in the same sentence!): What to do with a character who's far more interesting than your romantic leads?

Mercutio is far more exciting and dynamic than Romeo and/or Juliet could ever even dream of becoming. So, what's a playwright to do? That's right, kill him off early -- before the writer and the audience can become too infatuated with him and make a mess of the arc of the love story. So Shakespeare does just that to the benefit of his play, while Hughes doesn't get rid of the trouble and ends up needing to produce a future-Buffy-the-Vampire-Slayer (but not the one everyone knows!) out of the blue for the Duckman.

Lyric of the day from the Gigliotti vinyl collection

Tonight, you're mine
Let's not waste time

Let's make a date to see a movie
some foreign film from gay Paris
I know you like to think you've got taste
so I'm gonna let you choose the time and place

"Kiss and Say Goodbye"
The McGarrigle Sisters, Kate and Anna McGarrigle (1976)

18 September 2009

Lyric of the day from the Gigliotti vinyl collection

She was slappin' the cakes on me, my friend,
She was slappin' the cakes on me
Now to tell you the truth that's exactly what happened
Just the other night when the lady started slappin' the cakes on me
Slappin' the cakes on me.

"Slappin' the Cakes on Me"
Dave Frishberg, The Dave Frishberg Songbook, Volume I (1981)

17 September 2009

So, there's this great Hannah Montana song, the chorus of which goes...

If we were a movie
you'd be the right guy
and I'd be the best friend
you'd fall in love with;
in the end, we'd be laughing
watching the sun set
fade to black
show the names
play the happy song

Now, Frank Sinatra made a career, it's been quite well argued by Phil Furia and others, by exploiting the inherent vulnerability of singing Broadway songs originally written for women. While he changed all the obvious pronouns (for the heterosexual world that is the "Great American Songbook"), the basic longing and suffering that was meant for the female characters in these Porter/Gershwin/Kern/etc. musicals, remained in the songs -- which allowed Frank to mine a level of hurt previously unheard of in the popular singing performances by men.

I call this to mind because, as much as I love to join in on the Hannah Montana song quoted above, I can't just change "guy" to "gal" and sing along. Why? Because the best "guy" friend NEVER gets the "right girl" in the movies.

Frank doesn't end up with Kathryn Grayson in Anchors Aweigh (lost to Gene Kelly) or It Happened in Brooklyn (lost to Peter Lawford). (He might get her at the end of The Kissing Bandit, but, since I've never been able to make it to the end of that movie, it doesn't count...and I don't think he's anyone's best friend in it anyway.)

To be slightly more contemporary...let's face it, the Duckies (Jon Cryer) of the world NEVER get Andie (Molly Ringwald).

So, what to do?

I sing:

If we were a movie
you'd be the right girl
I'd be the best friend
who loses out to Andrew McCarthy
(or some such bland, waspish, rich kid who,
admittedly, is not as bad as James Spader,
the blander, waspier, richer kid,
who, since then, has really put on a lot of weight,
so now he's just kinda creepy)
fade to black
show the names
play the happy song


Lyric of the day from the Gigliotti vinyl collection

Daddy I want to let you know somehow
The things you said are so much clearer now
And I would turn the pages back
But time will not allow
The way these days just rip along
Too fast to last, too vast, too strong

Somewhere something went wrong
Or maybe we forgot the song
Make room for my forty-fives
Along beside your seventy-eights
Nothing survives
But the way we live our lives

Jackson Browne, "Daddy's Tune," The Pretender (1976)

16 September 2009

Lyric of the day from the Gigliotti vinyl collection

All you toy soldiers and scaremongers,
are you livin' in this world?
Sometimes I wonder
in between
saying you've seen too much
saying you've seen it all before.

"Human Hands"
Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Imperial Bedroom (1982)

13 September 2009

If television tennis coverage can track the flight...

...of balls in such an exact way that viewers (and umpires and line judges) can declare when a ball is less than a fraction of an inch in or out, why can't anyone tell us if the line judge's foot fault call on Serena Williams in last night's US Open semi-final was correct?

All sorts of commentators are more than willing to say that such a minor penalty should never be called at that point in a major match (an assessment with which I don't necessarily agree), but it'd still be nice to know if the line judge was at least correct in the call.

There are no cameras directed at the baseline? Fault!

12 September 2009

My year-long wait ended today!

The Wethersfield Cornfest returned today, so we went to eat the best corn of the year!

I only discovered the 'Fest last year, when my daughters performed at it with the Newington Children's Theatre, but this year's corn proved that last year's taste sensation was no fluke and well worth the trip (even with no other obligation to draw us there).


One of my heroes has died...

I'm pretty sure he had what I'd consider the perfect writing career (and, if not perfect, then darn close to the most entertaining writing career--- EVER:

A (very) few highlights:

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
(coming to the Goodspeed Opera House in October!)

Sid Caesar's Show of Shows

M*A*S*H, the television series

Oh, God


and the almost utterly forgotten United States, starring Beau Bridges and Helen Shaver

As a Pete Rose fan, I think Derek Jeter...

...is the one ballplayer I wouldn't mind seeing break Pete's all-time hits record of 4,256.


I'm no Yankees fan, but, from my watching his career, I think Jeter is very much like the player Rose was.


Because, like Rose, no one has ever considered him the most naturally talented player at his position or even on his team, but nevertheless he was Rookie of the Year, a past MVP, and is the Captain of his team.

Because he's achieved what he's achieved as a direct result of the way he approaches the game: he works at it constantly, wants to win every game, plays it as a team player, and hustles on every play on offense and defense.

Because he simply loves baseball.

I don't think he will break the record, even though he's reached Gehrig's total of 2,722 at a younger age than Rose did, but, if he did, I wouldn't complain too much.

(In the meantime, baseball writers, feel free to elect Peter Edward Rose to the Baseball Hall of Fame. If all players played the game as he did and Jeter does, baseball would still be America's Pastime,)

The brand new Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center opens...

...in Old Saybrook, CT, and the opening act is....

(drum roll, please)

Pure Prairie League?

Hey, I'm as big a fan of "Amie" as the next guy, but if I were scheduling the opening night act at "The Kate" PPL wouldn't be high on the list.

Who knew Ms. Hepburn was a particularly big fan of country-rock?

10 September 2009

If Obama's health care plan can cure America...

...of Grey's Anatomy, I'm on-board big time!

If this plague will continue unabated under the new system, I see no point in passing anything.

Where have you gone, Joe Gannon?

07 September 2009


Seniors Citizens are invited to a very special "free" event at Playhouse on Park on Thursday, September 10th at 10am. Please join us for coffee and donuts followed by a lecture on the topic of Frank Sinatra given by CCSU English professor and author Gil Gigliotti.

The talk entitled "The Septembers of Sinatra's Years" highlights Frank Sinatra's many September recording dates throughout his long and varied career, Gil Gigliotti will recount the singer/actor/entertainer's remarkable successes (and failures) in music, film, and love. From Tommy Dorsey, Mitch Miller, and Nelson Riddle to Jimmy Durante, Nikita Khrushchev, and Shirley MacLaine (not to mention Nancy, Ava, Mia, and Barbara), Sinatra's world is never less than fascinating -- and always a good listen!

This discussion will include a question and answer session. Mr. Gigliotti's books will be available for purchase immediately following the question and answer session. All attendees will receive a coupon to purchase a lunch (beverage, entrée and dessert) next door at A.C. Peterson Farms for only $9.99 (optional).

Reservations are required, please contact Playhouse on Park 244 Park Road, West Hartford at 860-523-5900 ext 10, info@playhouseonpark.org or www.playhouseonpark.org

06 September 2009

Have we really gotten to NIMKS (not in my kid's school)!?!

Who'd have thought that American political "debate" (and I use that term very loosely) would ever reach the point of people's objecting to a President's addressing school children?

Now, there's no doubt that critics of President Bush would have had a field day imagining how he might send all sorts of bad messages to our impressionable youth with his mangled syntax and fractured pronunciation, but I'd be hard pressed to think of any sane person/pundit who'd object to the idea of W's talking directly to them or to his asking them the decidedly innocuous question, "How can you help me?" (Feel free to link to anything that might refute this statement, but, no, Michael Moore isn't a sane pundit.)

Here's hoping that New Britain schools do take the opportunity to have my kids hear the President. Will it be life-changing? No. Will it be worth a half hour? Of course.

Now, here are the top 5 things the President probably shouldn't say during Wednesday's address to American school children:

5. "Send me your favorite Dick Cheney joke."

4. "Hey, kids, 'borrow' your parent's credit card and make a donation to Moveon.org."

3. "At my signal , start banging on your desks and shouting: 'What do we want? Health Reform! When do we want it? Now!'"

2. "The history of Socialism is a long and noble one..."

1. "Pssst. Wanna know a secret? I'm not an American citizen! Hee. Hee. Hee."

Instead of fining Jonathan Papelbon a couple thousand dollars...

...because of slow play why not penalize him (and other such Cunctators) by awarding the batter a ball? Or, if it's the batter who's stalling, awarding the pitcher a strike?

Such delaying tactics can work, but there should be a real price (not a monetary one) to pay, and, since financial penalties don't bother these guys a whit (how could they?), hit 'em where it matters -- in the count!

This might actually have the effect of speeding up play in MLB (imagine that).

03 September 2009

Another question

I now know that the third person (along with Whoopi Goldberg and Phil Jackson) in the T-Mobile MyTouch 3G commercials is Jesse James, but who the hell is Jesse James?

A bonus question: What's a 3G?

From the man who still turns off his little Tracfone more often than not when trying to answer it.

A question

What are the H1N1 contingency plans for the University of Phoenix?