A Bad Southwester

It was shorts and tee-shirt weather today. It got up to 77 °F and was as windy as all get out. Anne and I had a lovely breakfast at the Southwest Diner, on Southwest Avenue and features Southwest cuisine. They had a movie poster on the wall there for a 1950s gangster film, featuring Steve McQueen. Called “The Great Saint Louis Bank Robbery”, this black and white motion picture was based upon actual events. It even included some of the participating policemen and bank employees as extras. It was filmed on location at Southwest Bank, where the robbery occurred and which still stands there and operates to this day. After breakfast, we drove over to Southwest and Kingshighway and took a picture of the bank’s trademark golden eagle.

Since we were so close then, we decided to visit the botanical gardens next. We had been listening to KDHX, the non-corporate public radio station in town. So, just as we were pulling into the garden’s parking lot, Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” came on the air. Anne claimed a driveway moment, so we sat in the car and listen to the song in its entirety. Today was a week after the anniversary of that wreck, but the unseasonably warm weather and the forecast for storms today must have led the DJ to channel those November witches of long ago.

I kept a weather eye on the sky and the other one on my iPhone weather App. We stayed close to the Climatron, so we could duck into it at a moment’s notice, which we did at the first sign of rain. The YouTube video shows those unfortunates who hesitated only a minute. At the height of the storm, I got to thinking that maybe taking cover in an all glass (really Plexiglas) building wasn’t the best of ideas. This thought was confirmed a moment later, when the climate control fans at the apex of the dome kicked on with a very loud thud. It scared the bejesus out of everyone.

Rainbow at the Garden

Rainbow at the Garden

The storm cell passed over us quickly, leaving only minor damage at the gardens, mostly downed limbs and damage to one of the holiday lights displays. However, when the storm line crossed into Illinois it exploded into dozens of tornadoes that raced across that state and then on to Indiana. We warned Dave, who eventually took the hint. After the storms passed, there were reports of scattered, but widespread power outages. We decided that maybe we should check on the house and headed for home, but there were no problems there. Later, one of our Facebook friend, Chris Romer, published a wind map of the Eastern US. It showed all of the winds funneling up through Michigan. He subtitled it, “Canada is sucking the soul out of America.”

We lucked out today. We dodged a bullet. We have the luxury to read about others misfortune. As that movie poster said, “Real as the screaming headlines – True as the bullets that wrote them.”

It’s A Small World!

Aunt Jane's - What A Pickle!

Aunt Jane’s – What A Pickle!

One of its usual features on the website and podcast The A. V. Club is HateSong. In HateSong, guest musicians, writers, comedians, actors, and so forth are asked to expound on the one song they hate most in the world. Yesterday’s HateSong guest was director David Lynch. Lynch is a director known for creating rather creepy fare, like the TV show Twin Peaks and the movies Mulholland Dr. and Blue Velvet. I find it interesting then that this creep show director is in turned creeped out by the likes of “It’s a Small World!” 

“It’s a Small World!” is a 1964 Sherman Brothers song that has been made popular by Disney through their theme park ride by the same name. This ride first appeared at the 1964 Worlds Fair in New York. It has since migrated to the Disneyland theme parks. I rode it once in Florida, without any ill effects, while on business. Visitors are conveyed through the ride in small boats, surrounded by tableaux full of tiny animatronics children from around the world. All the while the Sherman Brothers’ song serenades the ride’s guests. I suppose that I could have claimed workmen’s compensation, if I had any of the experiences that some other people have experienced with this ride or song.

Lynch’s bad experience with this song occurred when he took his daughter to Disneyland. The song acted as an earwig and bore into his brain. In his own words, the experience was “traumatic”. “The tune got suck in my head,” Lynch said, “and it was like having a disease.” Later he added, “like the swine flu.” Lynch was so traumatized that he required The A. V. Club to only refer to the song using the code word, “flappy”. This is because, even hearing the song’s title was too painful for him to hear.

Pooh's Pic, 1965 - Bubs, Jay, Jane and Harry

Pooh’s Pic, 1965 – Bubs, Jay, Jane and Harry

Lynch is not the only person to have suffered at the hands of “It’s a Small World!” Earlier this year Jose Martinez won a lawsuit against Disney. This litigation of many years stemmed from both the ride and the song. In 2009, Martinez, a disabled man was left stranded on the ride when it broke down, half in the cave and half out. The non-disabled passengers were evacuated, but Martinez was left in his seat by Disney personnel. According to his attorney, “The music was blaring. They couldn’t get it to go off.”

Both of these proceeding incidents pale in comparison to the one that I’m about to describe next. This run in with “It’s a Small World!” occurred when the ride was still at the NYC Worlds Fair. This was year’s before I ever knew Anne or her family, so I can only relate the interested parties different stories. I don’t know if the above family portrait that Anne took was taken while at the Worlds Fair or not, but it is certainly contemporary. According to Jane, who had to be only two or three at that time, she was left at “It’s a Small World!”, for hours. The parents of course deny that this event ever occurred. Still, both the ride and the song have been shown to exhibit a pattern of abuse.

Norwegian Wood

Fisherman's Cottage, Harald Sohlberg, Norwegian, 1906

Fisherman’s Cottage, Harald Sohlberg, Norwegian, 1906

I once had a girl
Or should I say she once had me
She showed me her room
Isn’t it good Norwegian wood?
– The Beatles

This painting was photographed at the Art Institute, when we visited Chicago earlier this year. Sohlberg’s Norway is close enough in latitude to Michigan’s UP to share some similarities. Both locals are part of the boreal forest that rings the Earth’s northern pole. Both are situated on the shore of a large body of water. Both places have a cabin by this water, his was white, while ours is black.

Riffing off this painting, I was reminded of the Beatles tune, Norwegian Wood. Per Wiki, this song was a collaboration between Lennon and McCarthy. Lennon’s motivation was an affair that he had had. According to McCarthy, his then future brother-in-law had his room done out in wood, “A lot of people were decorating their places in wood. Norwegian wood. It was pine, really, cheap pine. But it’s not as good a title, ‘Cheap Pine’, baby.”

M Is for the Many things …

Flowers for Mom

The original lyrics were written in 1915 by Howard Johnson and the song is titled Mother: It turns out that Howard Johnson also wrote, “I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream”.

M Is for the Many things she gave me,
O Means only that she’s growing Old.
T Is for the Tears she shed to save me,
H Is for her Heart of purest gold.
E Is for her Eyes with love light shining,
R Means Right and Right she’ll always be.

Put them all together, They spell MOTHER

A word that means the world to me.

The picture with this post is of some flowers for Mother.

This is a repost of a post that was written several years ago. It was written for my mother, but also for my mother-in-law. My mother has passed away, while my mother-in-law is still kicking. Actually, Gene, my mother-in-law really owns this post. Her three lovely daughters grew up singing this song to her, much to her chagrin. Maybe this parody of the Mother song that I found on the internet, is closer to what she hears when the original lyrics are sung:

M is for the many things she gave me
O is for the other things she gave me
T is for the things she gave me
H is for her things, which she gave me
E is for everything she gave me
R is for the rest of the things she gave me

Anne asked me not to repost this post for fear of the pain that it might cause her mother. I only heard her childhood guilt speaking. In truth it is I who should feel guilty, because it is my naked ambition that drives this post. Informed readers might ask, how is this different? Since, ’09 this post has been a gold mine of blog hits. Every April it begins. About now, it begins to crest and come Sunday, interest will crash. That is why now is when I should act. I just did a google search looking for the author of this song. I typed in, “M is for the many things she gave me lyrics” and RegenAxe is the number one website returned. I feel lucky. Thank you, Mother.

To all of the forlorn sons and daughters that have found the previous post, the poem MOTHER is in the public domain. It is an old troupe, much copied, but it is free to use. If you are emailing your mom, I cannot compete with the simple cut and paste. If you are willing to go the extra mile, I offer this advice. Say, “I love you Mom.” Praise her. Say she looks nice, say she said something interesting. Tell her something you did that would make her proud. This last one is the toughest, but is likely the one that will make her the happiest on Mother’s Day.