I’ve enjoyed seeing composer Steven Sondheim, lyricist for West Side story, a funny Thing happened on the Way to the Forum, and many, many other musicals, a couple times on television recently, promoting his book “Finishing the Hat: Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes.” I’ve ordered the book if only for the lyrics themselves, and what he’ll have to say about them. I enjoyed hearing about the strong tutelege of family friend Oscar Hammerstein. He has appeared on Stephen Colbert‘s program and on The Newshour on PBS. Part of the latter interview is here:
JEFFREY BROWN: And the greatest focus is on words that rhyme….He uses an old rhyming dictionary and a 1946 edition of “Roget’s Thesaurus.”
STEPHEN SONDHEIM: A rhyme draws the ear’s attention to the word. So, you don’t make the least important word in the line the rhyme word. So, you have to — and also a rhyme can take something that is not too strong and make it much stronger…
BROWN: And…he believes words that are spelled differently, but sound alike, such as rougher and suffer, engage the listener more than those spelled similarly, rougher and tougher.
SONDHEIM: I think we see words on — as if they’re on paper, sometimes when you hear them. I don’t mean it’s an absolutely conscious thing, but I’m absolutely convinced that people essentially see what they’re hearing.
BROWN: Yes. So, I’m hearing rougher and suffer rhyme…then I quickly think…
SONDHEIM: And that’s a surprise… I have got a rhyme in “Passion,” colonel and journal. Now, you look at them on paper, they seem to have no relation to each other at all. So, when you rhyme them, it’s, ooh, you know? It’s — it — I really may be wrong about this. It’s just something that has struck me over the years.

So what lyrics immediately, and I mean IMMEDIATELY, come to mind? Hit Me with your Rhythm stick by Ian Dury and the Blockheads, a staple on my favorite radio station of the late 1970s, Q104.
Specifically:
In the wilds of Borneo and the vineyards of Bordeaux
Eskimo, Arapaho, move their body to and fro

But also the foreign language rhymes:
Hit me with your rhythm stick/Je t’adore, ich liebe dich
Hit me with your rhythm stick/Das ist gut, c’est fantastique
Here are a couple recordings HERE with some misspellings, and an odd ending and HERE, after an ad.
***
Jaquandor found this nifty cartoon that explains climate change.
***
Eddie shares this Go Go’s video. Eddie notes that Belinda Carlisle’s memoir states their repertoire was limited to the songs on the first album in
their early touring days. This confirms my recollection that when I saw them at JB Scott’s in Albany in 1981, or late 1980, around the time of their 1st album, they played every song on the album plus one non-album B-side.
***
The Playing For Change Foundation’s new Song Around the World – John Lennon’s “Imagine”
***
The Twilight Zone Marathon is on again. The December 31 lineup has been posted at syfy.com. But the Marathon will be interrupted for two hours that evening by one of those dopey wrestling shows.
***
How cats lap up milk, in slow motion
***
Painting Like Jackson Pollock
***
I’m afraid I cannot condone this abuse of perfectly good coconut creme pies. Well, maybe for a good cause.
***
STAN LEE is on their side! Spidey an agent of the Illuminati? Say it ain’t so, Stan! Say it ain’t so! Especially now that you’re 88, as Johnny Bacardi notes.
***
I mourn the loss of Matt Staccone, SBDC advisor, at the age of 55.
***
A friend of mine came across this eBay sale of ‘Two Decades of Comics’ fanzine booklet from March 1981; “Fantastic Brian Bolland cover art featuring Brother Power The Geek, Nightshade & Indian? looking at book with characters heads flying out: Storm, Man-Thing, Sgt Rock, Cain, The Demon, Howard The Duck, Metamorpho, The Spectre etc.
Very scarce – Book comprehensively views A-Z of comic book titles with fan-art – notably: Dave Hornsby “The Creeper” art 1pg, Nik Neocleous “Deathlok” art 1pg, Kev F Sutherland “Iron Jaw” art 1pg, Steve Whitaker “Red Wolf” art 1pg, Steve Lowther “The Werewolf” art 1pg, Eagle Awards 1976-1979 Results feature 4pg.” And boy, did that cover look familiar. As it turns out, FantaCo published it as an inside cover in our Chronicles Annual. That Annual was based on that same magazine.

Five Sci-Fi Children’s Books, including Kirk and Spock are Friends.

4 Responses to “December Ramblin’”

  • Demeur says:

    Music for me was much like a heartbeat. Call it a metronome of life if you will. It bookmarked our growing up. But now that I’m older it’s not that important. It’s more like the elevator music you pay little attention to on the trip up or down. As for Sondheim even he realizes his stuff isn’t that important. He laughs at his own lyrics from West Side Story. I saw WSS when it came out. I saw it again about ten years later. It doesn’t stand the test of time. Pure camp if you ask me.

  • Roger says:

    Oh, I think lots of music is camp. But still my metronome.

  • Sondheim’s book “Finishing the Hat: Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes” was one of the books I ordered in my first-ever Amazon dead-tree book order (and at a fraction of what it would cost here). I admit the “heresies and grudges” part is what attracted me to it… In my defence, I once lived with a couple musical theater actors, so, yeah, that explains a lot.

  • Republicans win because their voters don’t have this mentality. They did not need anything tangible to vote for to be galvanized into voting in the midterms.

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