New Vintage Reviews Carnival, 4th Edition

New Vintage Reviews Carnival
New Vintage Reviews Carnival
Reuse, recycle — rejoice!

Welcome to the fourth edition of the New Vintage Reviews Carnival, where we review “old stuff” that is likely new to someone… And (most of the time) it still has great entertainment value!

Games:

Chris presents Game of Round the World with Nellie Bly posted at Book Hunter’s Holiday.

Derek presents Game Night: Password posted at Collectors’ Quest.

I present Mall Madness (Retro Electronic Version), at Collectors’ Quest.

Cliff Aliperti presents 1939 Wizard of Oz Card Game posted at things-and-other-stuff.com.

Records:

Jaynie presents Listen To Busby Berkeley? posted at Here’s Looking Like You, Kid.

Books & Magazines:

Sarah Sammis presents Destination Moon posted at Puss Reboots: A Book Review a Day.

I review I Like It Here, by Kingsley Amis here at Kitsch Slapped.

Sarah Sammis presents The Postman Always Rings Twice (yes, the novel, not the film!) at Puss Reboots: A Book Review a Day.

Sarah Sammis presents The Motorman’s Coat at Puss Reboots: A Book Review a Day.

Film & Television:

Cliff Aliperti presents Louise Brooks stars in William Wellman’s Beggars of Life (1928) posted at NY Classic Movies Examiner.

Jaynie presents A Real Peach Of A Film posted at Here’s Looking Like You, Kid.

Jaynie presents Don Knotts As Hugh Hefner? at Here’s Looking Like You, Kid.

Collin David presents The State, Finally on DVD at Collectors’ Quest.

Cliff Aliperti presents Diamond Jim (1935) starring Edward Arnold as Diamond Jim Brady posted at NY Classic Movies Examiner.

Jaynie presents The Fantasy Of Star-Crossed Cursed Lovers at Here’s Looking Like You, Kid.

Classic Kitschy Travel Destinations:

jen from windy ridge presents Main Street Station posted at The Chronicles Of Windy Ridge, saying, “A review of our local Vintage & Retro “junk” shop. Acquire things that you absolutely love and incorporate them into your home.”

Emma Taylor presents 100 Best Curator and Museum Blogs posted at Online Universities.com.

Honorable Mention:

Central Kentucky Antiques & Collectibles presents Antique Jewelry – Investment and Fashion posted at Central Kentucky Antiques and Collectibles.

That’s it for this month. We hope we’ve inspired you to go into that attic, basement, or closet (maybe even the thrift store or yard sale) dust off that old stuff and let it entertain you!

Please submit your blog articles to the next edition of new vintage reviews using the carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts (maybe you’ll be one?!) can be found on our blog carnival index page. (For more info, read this.)

The What I Think You Should Know Relationship Round-Up

There’s a whole heck of a lot of good relationship stuff on Twolia; I thought, just in case you never leave Relationship Underarm Stick, that you should see some of it…

Twolia now has a new relationships blog where you can make your own post — sort of like a forum. It covers not only dating & marital relationships, but friendships & relationships with family members & coworkers as well. Go check it out.

Over at Kitsch-Slapped, Deanna’s done the research on a sad story of romantic misfortunes that took place in the late 1940’s.

Deb Amlen (her book, It’s Not PMS, It’s You is due Spring 2010 from Sterling) has answered a letter about sleeping with your professor over at Miss In Your Business.

Survived all your relationship stink, and now you’re getting married? Congrats! Now see what you need for your wedding over in the Twolia Shops.

Married, single, divorced, whatever your situation, music tells your story. You know… Without breaking up and making up, there might be no music… So check out the music on Twolia — I’m digging Bri Anne Michelle and Ellee Ven’s Dangerous Diversion. (Yes, I can enjoy pop-country & hip hop too; how about you?)

Ah, The Sights & Sounds Of 80’s Flicks

The Monday Movie Meme is I love The 80’s; here are some of my quick thoughts on my favorite 80’s films…

Desperately Seeking Susan — I was dressing like slutty Madonna; but like Rosanna Arquette’s Roberta Glass, I wanted more of Madonna’s life (as Susan, anyway). I recently watched the movie again, and felt the same stirrings now. Still a cheap, fun thrill!

The Lost Boys — Still an excellent film. A great blend of adventure comedy with enough chills & thrills to make you grip your boyfriend’s arm. Of course, Jami Gertz & Jason Patric gave you chills & thrills of a different sort (and maybe that lead to different sort of grips between you & your boyfriend… I’m not judging you if it did.)

I wore out my cassette version of the soundtrack; had to get it on CD.

Pretty In Pink — Molly totally chose the wrong guy. How can anyone turn down The Duckman?! His performance of Otis Redding’s Try A Little Tenderness, & the rich kid was forgotten. Yes, I know that song was lip-synced; but I melted. (Jon Cryer, as Duckie, did sing Love in the film though.)

James Spader was in the film too — as the rich jerk you loved to hate. Too pretty for me to like him then, it was too easy to lump Spader into the group of vain guys who thought they were better than me.

james_spader_molly_ringwald_pretty_in_pink

But…

Along came Secretary & then Boston Legal, and I completely, utterly fell in love with Spader. He’s on my list of “people I’m allowed to ‘do’ if I ever have the opportunity.”

I may have to write more about my love affair with James Spader later.

The Breakfast Club — This time Molly Ringwald got the guy right; but somehow, I knew that once she drove off with her (movie) dad, she’d forget all about Judd Nelson…

I wouldn’t.

Judd was never hotter. (I know because I kept waiting for him to appear so hot again. :sigh: I still wait.)

But to me, the ultimate 80’s flick is Valley Girl. If I couldn’t be brave enough to live life as Madonna’s Susan, well, I’d get me Nicolas Cage, the dangerous yet misunderstood “bad boy” who’d love me, even if I would have uttered “gag me with a spoon” — which, trust me, we only said to mock those we felt were lame enough to say that… I don’t think anyone ever said that outside of a movie or a cliché.

Actually most of the movie is cliché. But it’s the height of cliché! It’s full of romantic cheese done with an incomparable stylistic edge set to Modern English’s I Melt With You, yet (and loads of other greats on a kick-ass soundtrack).

New Vintage Reviews Carnival, Second Edition

new-vintage-reviews-carnival_bigWelcome to the second edition of the New Vintage Reviews Carnival, where we review “old stuff” that is likely new to someone… In the hopes that it inspires you to dust off the things in the closet, basement, attic etc. and put them to use. (Maybe even head to the thrift store rather than the mall?)

Reuse, recycle — rejoice!

Books & Reading:

The Dean presents Old Time Modern Priscilla posted at Collectors’ Quest.

Sarah Sammis presents Don Quixote: Sancho’s Big Score posted at Puss Reboots: A Book Review a Day, saying, “Don Quixote was my first series of reviews that use pop culture to review the book. I posted the final one in the series which has links to the previous posts.”

Azrael Brown presents Book vs Film: Immortality Inc / Freejack posted at The Double-Breasted Dust Jacket.

Films:

Jaynie presents The Knack (And How To Get It) In Romance & Fashion posted at Here’s Looking Like You, Kid.

I present Does Sparkle Shine? here at Kitsch-Slapped.

Games:

Collin presents Vintage Board Gaming : Mr. Know-It-All posted at Collectors’ Quest.

I present Bingo, Anyone? (a word of caution — and hope! — about old Bingo games) posted at Collectors’ Quest.

Audio:

Collin presents Tag Sale Finds : Sounds of Terror LP posted at Collectors’ Quest.

Collin presents Tag Sale Finds : Armand Schaubroeck Steals posted at Collectors’ Quest.

Things To Do & See:

Sheila Scarborough presents Classic kid movies in classic theaters – yay! posted at Family Travel Guide, saying, “Why the Austin, Texas Paramount Theater rocks my household with its annual summer Film Series of classic movies.”

NAOMI presents Laurel and Hardy Statue Unveiled in Ulverston posted at Diary From England.

Honorable Mentions:

Kyle Boyd-Robertson presents “The Rialto” or “If That Old Theater Could Talk” posted at his TEN blog — it’s a nostalgic post about old movie theaters (with plenty of comments & photos!) Maybe it will inspire you to visit &/or support your old downtown theatres this summer?

Sam presents Famous Baseball Players and Their Teams posted at Surfer Sam and Friends — it’s certainly interesting to note this time of year. (Maybe it will inspire kids to collect & learn as well as play!)

I present What A Collection Can Do: A Love Of Vintage Inspires Designer Of Hot Trendy Fashions posted at Collector’s Quest — to inspire you to take a look at “old clothes” as “a pile of fabric possibilities!”

This concludes this second edition. Please submit your blog articles to the next edition of new vintage reviews using the carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts (maybe you’ll be one?!) can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Technorati tags: , .

Does Sparkle Shine?

I’d never heard of the movie Sparkle. Maybe because in 1976 I was a white tween, getting my fill of film angst from The Bad News Bears (gawd I knew just what Jackie Earle Haley’s Kelly Leak wanted — and what Tatum O’Neal’s Amanda Whurlizer couldn’t give him!); I don’t know. But the list of names which accompanied the title on the cable’s info screen was intriguing…

sparkle-1976-movie-posterPhilip M. Thomas (later Philip Michael Thomas, the pretty one of Miami Vice fame), Irene Cara (Fame), Lonette McKee (a beauty whose career credits include The Cotton Club, The Women of Brewster Place & Jungle Fever), Mary Alice (an actress I don’t think has ever been given proper attention or credit — save for, perhaps, at Stinky Lulu’s), Dorian Harewood (a man who has been in so much it’s ridiculous!), & Beatrice Winde (a great character actress you’ll recognize on the spot).

So, even if Sparkle was a retro train wreck of a film — especially if it was a retro train wreck of a film — I had to watch!

Sparkle (1976) is approximately a twenty year old film which takes place approximately twenty years earlier, in 1958. Got it? Good.

The movie tracks the lives of three young sisters — biological sisters — from Harlem: Sister (Lonette McKee), Delores (Dwan Smith), and Sparkle (Irene Cara).

The eldest, is Sister, “the prettiest girl in Harlem.” And she knows it. She’s gonna be trouble for single mom, Effie (Mary Alice) — something Effie’s friend & Harlem busy body, Mrs. Waters (Beatrice Winde) is only too happy to warn the matriarch about. When we meet Sister, she’s being courted by the handsome but fast & criminal-element-attached Levi (Dorian Harewood).

Sparkle, the quintessential good girl, adores her older sister. Sparkle is 15 and never been kissed — until Stix (Philip Michael Thomas) steals a few while she’s getting the laundry off the roof.

The middle daughter is Delores, a good looking young woman whose beauty & strength are over-shadowed by the chips on her shoulder. Yes, that’s “chips” plural. Because Delores isn’t just the morality preaching (annoying) middle child who feels duty bound to correct both her older sister (commenting about Sister’s straightening her hair to look like Marilyn Monroe) and her younger sister (threatening to be a tattle tale about Sparkle’s kiss on the roof). No, Delores also has a sassy mouth she uses to lip off to mom with regarding mom’s work as a maid.

Delores: We’re old enough to iron for ourselves. You ain’t our maid.

Effie: I always iron clothes for the ones that I love.

Delores: I suppose you love them crackers that you work for?

Effie: You watch your mouth. Now, go get your homework before I give you a sign in a place you won’t forget.

So, you’ve got three very different siblings.

Yet they come together, at Stix’s urging, to form a singing group — first with Stix and Levi , as The Farts Hearts. (Hey, the MC made that corny slip; I’m just quoting it! The MC also had other stale jkes, such as, “You all heard about the Cookie sisters? Lorna Doone and Nuthin’ Doone!”)

The Hearts are a hit, especially with Sister’s sexual enticing of the audience, but then, because sex sells, Stix promotes the sisters as an all female group, Sister & The Sisters.

sister-and-the-sisters-perform-in-sparkleUnfortunately, as the singing trio begins to become popular, Sister catches the eye of Levi’s gangster boss, Satin (Tony King). No good can come of this…

Just as momma warns, Satin drags Sister into the gutter with him. Not just sexually (which wouldn’t exactly be a shock for Sister, or a film which has 15 year old Sparkle messing around with Stix), but she’s beaten by him — and hooked on drugs too. Classic lines (no drug pun intended) include Delores’ concerned & accusatory, “What else has he been pushing into you besides his fist?” and Sister’s pleading, “Can’t you see? Sister can’t fly on only one wing…”

The montages of Sister’s fall are told rather beautifully; even if the story seems clichéd, the telling of her downward spiral while the trio performs Something He can Feel is rather artsy.

In fact, at this point, I’m wondering why the film isn’t called Sister; where the hell is the Sparkle story?

Even poor old Delores has a better plot, a more fully developed character. For, upset with Sister’s weak victim status, Delores gives up her virginity to another of Satin’s cohorts in order to find out about Satin’s plans — which she promptly calls in to the police. But it all goes horribly wrong when the police shoot, then imprison, Levi — who Satin has sent in his place.

Distraught, Delores packs to leave home, where she is caught and engaged in a confrontational conversation with Effie:

Effie: Well, whatever troubles you got here are going right with you and that suitcase.

Delores: You don’t understand, Mama. Like, there’s education like there never was before. Mama, we don’t have to slaves to the white establishment anymore.

We don’t have to live off what the white man throws our way. Thanking him for his chicken-shit pay and chicken-shit jobs. We don’t have to run around shining his shoes and driving his cars and cleaning his floors and being his ma – …

Effie: Go on, now, say it. Being their maid. Hmm?

Delores: Yeah, Mama. Being their maid.

Mama, I seen you, ever since I was a little kid, getting up in the middle of the night to take the subway to ride for two hours to go to their house, to do their cooking and to do their ironing and do their cleaning and wash the shit out of their toilet. And for what, Mama? For WHAT?

Delores may leave with the final word, but you just know, wherever Delores lands, that her failure to save Sister plus get Levi in trouble, will be in that suitcase just as Effie said… And she’ll have the added baggage of knowing that her self-righteous and lame justification were tissue-thin too.

I’m not entirely sure the film should have ended right there… There is, after all, Sparkle’s story to consider. Delores’ leaving & Sister’s poor condition combine to leave Stix’s group unable to perform, so he too bails. He offers Sparkle the chance to leave with him, but she’s “the only one left who cares for Sister,” so she stays.

Montages of Sparkle enabling Sister, culminating in Sparkle’s singing at Sister’s funeral.

After the service, Stix, who of course is back in town, visits Sparkle — and this is probably the finest acting I’ve seen from Irene Cara. I’d quote from this scene, but it would read horribly — for it’s not the words or writing, it’s all Cara’s acting, her voice and body.

Perhaps this is where the film should have ended. Like some bleak film noir. But instead, Sparkle opts to plunge full-steam-ahead down the predictable path of fame & romance.

irene-cara-and-philip-michael-thomas-in-sparkle-1976

Now the film isn’t just a chick flick cliché, but 80’s kitsch too.

The guy wins the girl, with his help (via borrowing money over matzah ball soup with the man Effie works for) the girl cuts a record resulting in fame and a performance at Carnegie Hall (wearing 80’s fashions & singing an 80’s song), and the boy miraculously impresses a mob boss (the soup contains more than matzah balls!) by refusing to participate in a shakedown — managing to show up during the very 80’s Carnegie Hall performance, with none the wiser (including a mystified audience who wonders just how that all happened).

cara-as-sparkle-at-carnegie-hall

It’s this shoddy rush ending which leaves the kitsch taste in your mouth. One that prompts Jae-Ha Kim, at Amazon.com, to say that Sparkle has “somewhat of a cult following among fans that enjoy a good cry along with their kitsch.”

So, does Sparkle shine?

Like rhinestones. It may not be as satisfying as the real thing, but it has great charm — as long as you don’t inspect it too closely.

PS Another thing to note about Sparkle is the film’s music. While all the actors were considered good enough to sing the film’s scores by legendary Curtis Mayfield, the film never had a proper film soundtrack album — instead, Mayfield produced Aretha Franklin singing over the existing music tracks.

Simon Cowell Says My Blog Is Self-Indulgent

Is it it wrong if I find myself crying while Danny Gokee sings with Lionel Richie?

If so, I don’t care.

If you live long enough, the cool becomes kitsch — and then it becomes cool again.

That’s worth getting emotional over.

See? Just look at my girl Paula Abdul dancing & singing along. She knows what I’m talking about. Hell, just look at Paula’s career, for that matter.

Plus, there was Rubin Studdard — my first American Idol love. The Velvet Teddy Bear. Too bad he didn’t record what he sang on the show.

So add tears of regret to those of nostalgia.

And then you add in my 6 year old niece who’s a huge Danny Gokee fan. She even got to see him recently at the Milwaukee bash. Well, as Maddie will be (un)happy to inform you, she didn’t see him, she saw his bus. But still…

It’s one thing when my own kids rock out to AI and music, but when even littler kids do it too? Especially your sister’s kids, because then I can remember my sister and the where & when of our shared musical loves, from sing-alongs to dance clubs, from sneaking her under-age-ass in at the bars in my college days to karaoke a month ago… Oh, it’s all so Lion-King-circle-of-life.

How cool to feel all the full circle moments.

And now I just realized I didn’t record the damn show. Poop. On a stick, no less.

So just let me cry, OK?

Mixed Reactions To A Literal Three-Ring Circus

Trying to move past my fear knowledge of clowns and their assassination attempts on my life, we went to the circus on Saturday — El Zagal’s 58th Annual Shrine Circus, at the Fargodome. You’ll never guess who the opening act was…

Sanjaya Malakar.

sanjaya-malakar-fargo-shrine-circus-2009

Yup, that kid with the weird hair from American Idol season 6. The one who makes young girls cry (and that, I guess, is due to puppy love — not the whine of his voice or the sight of his knotted-up hair).

sanjaya-malakar-fargo-shrine-circus-2009_2

My daughter, Destiny (age 12), upon hearing the news that we were going to the circus, warned alerted me to the Sanjaya performance with a, “Everyone from school is going to see Sanjaya!” I guess he still makes pre-teens swoon. I don’t get it. It’s not like he’s Andy Gibb or Parker Stevenson… But hey, I guess I’m just old.

But how far down the talent totem pole do you have to sit to perform at a circus? A circus in Fargo, North Dakota, yet.

Pretty far down.

Even if folks are talking about his being here for some flood relief benefit. (Bryan Shinn, public relations spokesman for the El Zagal Shrine Circus, supposedly said that “Malakar’s appearance is a byproduct of the region’s flooding, which postponed the first scheduled dates of the circus earlier this month and threatened cancellation when replacement acts were hard to find… Malakar will congratulate us on what a great job we did fighting the flood.” I didn’t hear the kid say that…

Oh, but see, he was in town for a local bar’s American-Idol style singing competition called Fargo Star. And while that’s not a hell of a lot better than performing at the circus, I guess the boy’s got a book, a five-song EP — and, yes, a reality television show to promote.

sanjaya-malakar-fargo-shrine-circus-2009_3

Anyway, my hysterical laughter at Sanjaya’s performance wasn’t a thing to be contained. I cackled like an old lady from my nose-bleed seats. Especially when he shook is tiny butt.

But several acts later, I found myself crying.

It was over a bear act — Rosaire’s Bears. Call me crazy, call me a chick; but bears are not supposed to walk on their hind legs (for such lengths of time), suck from bottles and fake-smooch men.

bear-show-shrine-circus-2009

I don’t care if young men and women in gilttering Lycra outifts swing from trapeze or are juggled by their parent’s feet; they (sort of) have a choice. In fact, that stuff pretty darn thrilling. At least for me. Not many of the kids seemed as impressed as the adults. But maybe that’s because today’s kids are overweight and only “do” stairs when the escalators are broken — or when they have to walk steps to get into the house to sit and play a video game.

Yeah, I’m saying that too many kids are so out of shape & mesmerized by digital action & special effects that they don’t even realize what a feat it is to do the stuff that was right in front of their cotton-candy-eating faces.

But I loved the human circus performances. Then my entertainment isn’t spoiled by wild carnage (other than my motherly sense of worry) or neglect/abuse.

Maybe I should just be expecting my period.

But the other acts cheered me up a bit — until the elephants came out. They were also a ticketed ride attraction too. Riding an elephant… Mmmm, OK… But why did one of the women have an elephant lay down on it’s side & do the splits on top of it? Demeaning. And probably a sticky mess too, based on the skimpiness of her costume.

All I could think of was what has happened to trained performing elephants, and I was ready for another cry over them and the bears…

Bears aren’t supposed to pose for photographs with kids either. For the sake of the bears & the kids. (I don’t care that they had pretty painted canvas dividers — I know what bears can do. And these are tamed wild animals, not domesticated animals. Even domesticated dogs bite, maim, kill…)

Sanjaya was posing for photographs at the circus intermission (autographing stuff too, I guess); but he has a choice. And if thinks the promotion helps his career, his choice to be a dancing bear, fine. But spare the bears. Please!

And then it hit me; the best photo-op of the day would have been to get a photo of Sanjaya with the bear. Because that one photo would have summed up so many things that are wrong in this world.

Dancing With The Stars, My Age Is Showing

Watching Dancing tonight, the results show, I saw Hall & Oates perform one of the songs from my glory days, Maneater.

Now the interesting thing, the thing is not just that I feel old because I watch the show with my kids, but because I’ve seen Hall & Oats perform live, in concerts. And I thought I’d already seen the duo’s life cycle.

But I was wrong.

The first time I’d seen the band I was 19 or 20. It was at the great party on the lake, Summerfest — back in the day when the old stage had true general seating. Not some general seating (like today on ‘the hill’, with partially obstructed views, vs. the ticket seats closer to the stage), but all the seats were general seats.

The only price you paid was your general admission to the fest (and the food and drink bill — which was no small thing, but still cheaper than it is today). The true fans, those dedicated to the principal of the fest and music, would arrive in a group at the festival park before the gates opened, and at 10 A.M., when the gates opened, rush the main stage.

There you’d scrounge for and stake-out the best seats you could get. You had to be a group because in order to keep you seats, at least a pair of you would need to sit, lounge and/or lay upon the old wooden plank seating from 10 in the morning until 7 P.M. or so when the opening act would begin their performance.

You’d guard in shifts, with other members checking back in either to take their shift at seat saving or to bring you wine coolers, beers & real brats (not the grey hotdogs many try to pass-off as bratwurst). I personally loved my seat saving duties. Despite the great number of other seat savers (and the scavengers who tried to poach seats) and music occasionally billowing by from one of the other stages, it was one of the more quiet places on the lake to actually have a conversation. Conversation, sunlight, wine coolers, music, lake breezes… What’s not to like? Oh yeah, and the inevitable run-in with old friends who spotted you on your concert seating stake-out. (Remaining in place, letting others come to you, has always been one of the best ways to be found.)

Anyway, the first time I saw Hall & Oats was at Milwaukee’s Summerfest — they were just approaching their biggest days and as a college student on the cutting edge of music at the time, it was freakin’ fantastic. Being slightly drunk on beverages, the feeling of cool night lake air caressing hot sunburned skin, the intoxicating mix of old and new friends (and lovers), and youth was topped-off by awesome music & dancing on the wooden plank benches as we scream-sung the lyrics. Hall & Oats was on fire and so was I.

But just a few short years later, or so it seemed to me, Hall & Oats was once again back at Summerfest — but this time, at one of the smaller music stages. I still went to see them & had a fantastic time. But it was a stage demotion, symbolic of their loss of cool status — and my own. No longer were any of us on fire… Smoldering, maybe; but not on fire.

I noted it, this temporary ‘hot’ status in pop culture, and how it mirrored my own fleeting popularity in our youth obsessed culture. I didn’t like it; but I accepted that this was how others would see us. They were wrong; but let them move along with their fads & fancies.

Flash forward to now. A few weeks ago, Hall & Oates appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (yes, I am old; but I’m also cool enough to have intelligence and good taste, thankyouverymuch). Their appearance may have seemed a slice of retro kitschy goodness to many — a big “Howdy” to gods from the 80’s, a decade now so “vintage” that it’s back “in” again — but to me, it was a fond remembrance. Not just of my glory days, but of my “they’re wrong, they don’t know what they’re doing” thoughts. Seeing them with Stewart wasn’t a nod from a current pop culture collegiate deity to gods that once were; it was, at least, mutual recognition of one another’s cool factor — with neither’s being over with.

Seeing the duo’s performance on Dancing tonight, with that hot Karina Smirnoff in a flaming red jumpsuit and black leg warmers, I realized that I may no longer look as hot as she did — but I once wore those leg warmers, those heels, and mesmerized audiences grooving to Maneater. My audience was smaller, my moves less professional; but by boobs were bigger and I was entertaining and cool to those who watched. Like Hall & Oates, I may not be the looker I once was, but I’m not dead. Or irrelevant.

I hope to keep seeing more of them; because, boys, every time you go away you take a piece of me with you.

You Can’t Judge A Racist Nun By Her Habit, Part Three (Or, The Little Chink In Sister’s Armor)

That darn Sister Patricia also owned a copy of Little Chink, one of (at least) three Musical Recitations by Helen Wing.

Little Chink is by one Mildred Merryman — who, as it turns out, is quickly becoming an obsession. More on that in a bit; first, here’s the lyrics.

Chink, Chink, Chinaman, named Chow-Chow,
Lives all alone with his dog Bow-Wow,
Sits and drinks his tea all day
Out of a tea-pot, Chinese way.
Chinese girl thinks he’s just right
She sings to him with all her might:

Little Chink Chink Chink
I think think think
You must be wise
Little Chink Chink Chink
When you wink wink wink
With your funny little beady, little eyes.
Little Chink Chink Chink, I love-a, love-a you
Lets you marry me and I’ll marry you,
Little Chink Chink Chink
What do you think-What Do you think?
I saw you wink! Little Chink.

I get that the word “Chink” lends itself to easy rhymes like “wink” and “think”, but geeze.

Now, the second verse is not printed with the actual music composition, so when I saw Sister’s penciled lyrics, I immediately thought that she herself had (as she had done with Japanese Love Song) made her own lyrics, creating the “pig-wig tail” part.

But inside the front cover, the entire lyrics are printed. Here’s the second verse:

Once came a big bear Woof! Run, run!
Poor little Chink, Chink have no gun,
But he such a brave boy, He no fail!
He shoots him down with his pig-wig tail
Chinese girl thinks he’s so smart
She sing to him with all her heart.

So while Sister is guilty of purchasing, playing & likely directing a choir of children to sing this song based on the titular ethnic slur, she is free of the sin of writing any part of it. That honor goes to Mildred Merryman…

Mildred Merryman is Mildred Plew Merryman, nee Mildred Plew Meigs. Very little is known about Mildred — something that only makes me more obsessed. I do know that she wrote a number of poems for children, so silly & full of rhyme that they naturally lend themselves to children’s songs — making each poem a potential ditty. (In some cases, a real doozy of a ditty.)

From what I can see, neither her other poems or ditties are so offensive. In fact, they are quite cute. So I continue to hunt for more and am doing some heavy research. Stay tunned for more on Mildred.

You Can’t Judge A Racist Nun By Her Habit, Part Two

More vintage sheet music owned by Sister Patricia; this time, Story Poems with Musical Settings by Phyllis Fergus.

The song, The Woodpecker (copyright 1925 by Clayton F. Summy Co.), takes its lyrics from an anonymous poem previously published in The Millgate Monthly, and is dedicated to Fergus’ niece, Elizabeth Clifford. Something which likely makes poor Elizabeth cringe — roll over in her grave? — why couldn’t her aunt just pat her on the head and exclaim, “My haven’t you grown!” and give her an ugly frock like the rest of the relatives? Because this is one racist little song:

The Woodpecker

A woodpecker picks out a great many specks
Of sawdust when building his house.
He works like a nigger
To make the hole bigger,
He cuts thru’ the wood like a mouse.
He doesn’t bother with plans of cheap artisans,
But there’s one thing can rightly be said;
The whole excavation has this explanation
He builds it
By working, Well! by using his head!

Can’t you just imagine a classroom full of students with bright shining faces who, at the urging of Sister M. Patricia, are happily singing the n-word as part of their religious dedication?

Singing their way into heaven? Hmmm, more like sinning their way to hell.

Ah, but it was the times… The roaring, racist 20’s.

But if the image of a nun leading a choir of earthly angels in singing the n-word doesn’t illustrate how entrenched and insidious racism is, then what will?

If the name Clayton F. Summy sounds vaguely familiar, it likely is due to the Happy Birthday hullabaloo. (See also: Google Answers.) Which means that the same folks who claim to own the rights to Happy Birthday likely also own this racist little ditty.

You Can’t Judge A Racist Nun By Her Habit

Normally the most interesting thing to me about vintage sheet music is the cover art; this is because I’m musically illiterate and can’t use it for anything but decoration and/or parts for altered arts (honestly, the only way I am able to carry a tune is to buy sheet music *ba dum dum* ). But this weekend I bought hundreds of sheets of vintage sheet music & some of the most fascinating ones were those that had little to no artwork at all.

All of the pieces I’m showing you today were owned by one Sister M. Patricia, O.S.B. (Order of Saint Benedict), from Sacred Heart Convent, East Grand Forks, Minnesota. (Puzzling then, that at least The Naughty Little Clock Song sheet music would come all the way from Boston! Surely there was a cheaper option in the Twin Cities?)

But anyway, Sister M. Patricia was a racist nun — and I can say that based on her musical habits.

First up, her copy of Japanese Love Song, copyright 1900, words by “Anon”, music by Clayton Thomas aka Salome Thomas Cade aka Nellie Salome Thomas, and dedicated to Madame Alberto Randegger. Only Sister has crossed-out “Japanese” and replaced it with “Chinese” —

Because apparently one Asian is as good, or as heathen, as another. Hey, I’m not calling anyone a heathen! The original lyrics read:

She was a maid of Japan
He was the son of Choo Lee
She had a comb and a fan,
And he had two chests of tea.

She wore a gown picturesque,
While he had a wonderful queue,
Her features were not statuesque,
Which matter’d but little to Choo, to Choo,
Which matter’d but little to Choo.

He smiled at her over the way,
She coquetted at him with her fan;
“I mally you,–see?” we would say
To this queer little maid of Japan.

And day after day she would pose
To attract him, her little Choo Lee,
All daintily tipp’d on her toes,
This love of a heathen Chi-nee, Chi-nee
This love of a heathen Chi-nee.

But Fate was unkind to them, quite,
For he never could reach her, you see,
Though she always was there in his sight,
And she look’d all the day on Choo Lee;

For a man mayn’t do more than he can,
Tho’ a maiden may languishing be,
When she is a maid on a fan,
And he’s on a package of tea, of tea,
And he’s on a package of tea, ah!

Her revisions also include changing lyrics in the newly created Chinese Love Song:

For continuity purposes, of course, “Japan” was changed to “Chi-nee”. And Sister is nothing if not consistent in her racism, as we’ll see in part two. (Yup, that’s a tease to come back soon.)

PS This little song was performed at a The New York Times, August 31, 1902:

The Naughty Little Clock

The amazingly cute and gay lyrics to The Naughty Little Clock:

There once was a frivolous and giddy little clock,
A little French clock very gay;
Very trim and very neat but a creature of deceit,
When you wished to know the time of day.
It’s goings on would shock
The old hall clock, Till it held up its hand aghast;
I’m sure to tell the truth, It went wrong in early youth,
Had a natural inclination to be fast.

Chorus:
Tic-toc, tic-toc, said the silly little clock,
“Oh, life in the house is slow,
So cold and grim, very dull and prim,
I’m getting run-down I know”
So she sighed all day for a life more gay,
She longed for a shady past.
This naughty little, haughty little clock, tic-toc,
That had an inclination to be fast.

“I’m quite wound up,” declared the giddy little clock,
“I’m weary of the mantel shelf;
For years I’ve had to chime to give other folks the time,
Now I’d like to have a time myself.
I’d even run away
With a gay roué,
If he’s show me the town’s great sights;
So she took up with a lamp,
And incorrigible scamp,
Who smoked and always went out nights.

Tic-toc, tic-toc, said the foolish little clock,
“Oh, won’t you elope with me?
I’m yours from today if you’ll take me away
Where something of life I’ll see.
Well, they ne’er came back and the bric-a-brac
Had scandal enough to last
In gossiping about the little clock, tic-toc,
That had an inclination to be fast.

Copyright 1899; music by Reginald De Koven, lyrics by Harry B. Smith. (My copy of the sheet music states that the copyright was assigned 1930 to Theodore Presser Co.)

Gimme Back That Filet-o-Fish

Not since “Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame-seed bun” have I enjoyed singing along with a McDonald’s commercial so much, so many kudos to Arnold Worldwide for the latest Filet-o-Fish commercial. Here are the lyrics, so you can sing along with the video which follows:

Gimme back that filet-o-fish
Gimme that fish
Gimme back that filet-o-fish
Gimme that fish
What if it was you
hanging up on this wall?
If you were in that sandwich
you wouldn’t be laughing at all!

Normally McDonald’s falls so far behind the trend curve that they become not fun & kitschy but irrelevant (leaving Burger King to reign over kitsch & cool) but this time the decade delay in mocking Billy Bass works. Not just because you’ll find a dozen of these plastic mounted wall fish thrown back into the consumerism pond via thrift shops, but because of the incredible music & lyrics.

The music is not, as rumored to be, by the band Holy Fuck. However, if you are looking for 6 minutes and 26 seconds of similar sounding retro Casio Keyboard nostalgia (with a bit more heat & noise from the mutated rhythm), then get Casio Bossa Nova. I totally enjoyed it myself; but it’s not the music in the commercial.

Determined to find out who it was behind the fab song in the McDonald’s ad, I got on the phone with the folks at Arnold Worldwide — who, by the way, answer the phone with the perplexing, “Good afternoon, Arnold,” which prompted me to respond, “My name is not Arnold.”

Anyway, Arnold Worldwide didn’t write the tune or the lyrics, but they still get my kudos because they hired the folks who created it: Pulse Music.

So thanks, Pulse Music. I’m off to get a Filet-o-Fish. Humming & singing Gimme back that filet-o-fish all the way.

PS My dog especially loves it when I sing the “ahh!” at the end.

Alone Today? Valentine’s Day For Singles

You didn’t think I’d ignore you today, did you my lovelies? Of course not. Real friends don’t ignore their friends just because they are one part of a couple, and years of being alone on Valentine’s Day, my birthday, and other holidays has left me ever-sensitive to the needs of my single friends on such days.

The folks at Lifetime also must have spent a few holidays alone because they’ve put together a collection of 13 “worst breakup stories” — two-minute videos of women (and a few men) telling their once-heartbreaking-now-funny breakup stories. The series, called The Breakup Diaries, has classics — and some scenarios that might make Paul Simon want to revise the count in 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.

One of my favorites is the story of Beth’s break up — it involves maple syrup, but that doesn’t make the story any sweeter. Her story combines three of the classics: The No-Show, The Walk-In-On, and He Comes Bearing Gifts.

Lauren’s story involves “Shmen” making — and sharing with her — a list of reasons why he was breaking up with her. This one is probably my favorite one. Not just because it’s funny, but because Lauren found the silver lining, which is what we all need to do when we’ve lost a lover.

Reassured by Lauren’s story and remaining ever hopeful, you will now download the free Let’s Get It On by Marvin Gaye MP3 from Amazon. You can mock its smarmy sex-fest mentality with your bitterness today, and then save it for play again on another day when you’ve got a partner to groove in the bedroom with. And yes, dear, that day will come.