Carpeted Afterhours will perform at the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival on Sunday, January 11.
I will be performing as part of the house band of the Encyclopedia Show on Wednesday, January 7 at 7:00 p.m. at the Chopin Theatre in Chicago.
Last week was very cold. It's not as cold now. But last week was very cold. Let's celebrate getting through it with this delightful wintery sunshine pop song from 1968 by The Allen Brothers, another fine musical product of Australia.
Made up of Peter Allen and Chris Bell (not of Big Star fame), the Allen Brothers were discovered by Judy Garland while on tour in Asia. Peter even ended up marrying Liza Minelli, despite suspicion that he and Chris were lovers.
This is the first song I recorded after acquiring a ukulele, which means my playing is even worse than it is now. It was written by Joe Raposo, one of the great unsung heroes of songwriting, for the soundtrack of a film by Richard Williams, one of the great unsung heroes of animation. The movie was Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure - a failure when it was released in 1975, but perhaps the film that I watched the most as a kid. My mother can tell you of many occasions when I would prance around the house singing songs from it.
The film, like so many other great films, has yet to be released on DVD. If you happen upon a VHS copy in your local library, it's well worth checking out. Williams, the director, won Oscars for his work as the animation director for Who Framed Roger Rabbit and also made the unfinished masterpiece The Thief and the Cobbler. There's some particularly trippy animation here, as memory serves, particularly in a sequence with a character who is an enormous blob of candy and sweets who seems to snack on himself.
Joe Raposo was responsible for some of my favorite songs of all-time - and likely yours too - many of them written while serving as the original musical director for Sesame Street. The title song, "Being Green," "C is For Cookie," "Somebody Come and Play" - all are Raposo originals. The original recordings of these songs may be saturated with cutesy instruments and sometimes children's choirs, but stripped down, they often betray a real sense of melancholy.
I suppose stripping down this song is what I attempted to do, though I'm not sure how much of the emotional impact comes through my uneven voice and playing. Here's the sad context for the song within the film: Raggedy Ann and Andy have just met the Camel with the Wrinkled Knees - an old, worn-up, blue stuffed camel who has somehow been separated from the rest of his family. He frequently sees mirages which he believes are his family, but they never turn out to be real. A truly tragic figure, here he sings about wandering alone all these many days.
It all started when I went into bed. I heard someone yell across the street over the thunder. Although it was loud, I heard light screaming in the distance. It sounded as if it was a girl.
Suddenly, I heard someone yell help. I dashed out of bed. I put on my raincoat and hat and boots. I ran a far distance and looked through a window. There all it was the stabbing of the runaway stabber. His clothes were dark black.
“You nasty old critter, I got you now!” I said.
“Hey, son, I heard there was a stabbing.” said the police captain.
“ Yes, sir, there is, up the hall and to the bedroom.”
“ Thanks, son,”
“Yep.” I answered. “ Man, they’re fast.” I thought to myself.
“Son, do you know how to dust for fingerprints?”
“ Yes, sir .”
“You do?”said the chief.
“It’s a cool mystery. Let’s get back on the story. As I was going to say... Hey! Here it is!”
“Lifeguard, lifeguard,” said Fred.
“Lifeguard? What is that?”
“That is someone who saves someone’s life. We’re dealing with police.
“Hey, son did you say you know how to dust for fingerprints?
“Yes, sir I do.”
“Good, you found out who the stabber is.”
“The stabber is Mr. Wattigin.” I said.
Targeted web ads are pretty amazing/creepy. With Gmail, it's usually pretty easy to trace how that ad got targeted to you. A simple use of the word "mustache" in the body of an e-mail might yield, "Mustache Cups: Great anytime gift for men Many styles to choose from www.countrycc.com." As with everything, however, Facebook's coding just doesn't seem to be quite as precise. I am completely baffled as to what might have prompted this ad:
Moving to Akron?
Let me, Donna Deagan, help you find a great deal on a new home. I've helped others, let me help you. See what others have had to say.
Perhaps it is a response to the thoughts I've had in the last year about possibly relocating from Chicago to some other city? I can't say I've ever considered Akron, but maybe it has some hidden charms that I'm unaware of. It reminds me of this passage from Mary Chase's wonderful Pulitzer Prize-winning play (and later, my favorite film) Harvey, starring Jimmy Stewart as Elwood P. Dowd, the best friend of an invisible 6 foot three and a half inch tall magical rabbit named Harvey. Elwood has just explained to Dr. Chumley, the director of the mental institution where he has been committed, that Harvey is able to overcome both time and space and take you anywhere in the world for as long as you want and no time will have elapsed. Dr. Chumley explains what he would do with this power.
CHUMLEY. I know where I'd go.
CHUMLEY. I'd go to Akron.
CHUMLEY. There's a cottage camp outside Akron in a grove of maple trees, cool, green, beautiful.
ELWOOD. My favorite tree.
CHUMLEY. I would go there with a pretty young woman, a strange woman, a quiet woman.
ELWOOD. Under a tree?
CHUMLEY. I wouldn't even want to know her name. I would be - just Mr. Brown.
ELWOOD. Why wouldn't you want to know her name? You might be acquainted with the same people.
CHUMLEY. I would send out for cold beer. I would talk to her. I would tell her things I have never told anyone - things that are locked in here. (Beats his breast. ELWOOD looks over at his chest with interest.) And then I would send out for more cold beer.
ELWOOD. No whiskey?
CHUMLEY. Beer is better.
ELWOOD. Maybe under a tree. But she might like a highball.
CHUMLEY. I wouldn't let her talk to me, but as I talked I would want her to reach out a soft white hand and stroke my head and say, "Poor thing! Oh, you poor, poor thing!"
ELWOOD. How long would you like that to go on?
CHUMLEY. Two weeks.
ELWOOD. Wouldn't that get monotonous? Just Akron, beer, and "poor, poor thing" for two weeks?
CHUMLEY. No. No, it would not. It would be wonderful.
ELWOOD. I can't help but feel you're making a mistake in not allowing that woman to talk. If she gets around at all, she may have picked up some very interesting little news items. And I'm sure you're making a mistake with all that beer and no whiskey. But it's your two weeks.
CHUMLEY. (Dreamily.) Cold beer at Akron and one last fling! God, man!
ELWOOD. Do you think you'd like to lie down for awhile?
CHUMLEY. No. No. Tell me Mr. Dowd, could he - would he do this for me?
ELWOOD. He could and he might. I have never heard Harvey say a word against Akron.