30 October 2007

Beware of Wild Animals

These are floating all around the internet in an email but they don't give the website. I was able to find it, in order to provide a link to a wonderful photographic service. Tom Arma, Signature Collection


You Are Here

The incomparable MO has decreed that today's word is "Earth" and I can't think of the earth without thinking of Eric Idle's great "Galaxy Song". So during this week of Peace Globes, remember to be kind to each other. We are all sharing a very small place:

Your Morning Awwwwwwwwwww

28 October 2007

Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

This whole dinner idea is taking on a life of its own. I will get it all done eventually. In the meantime, enjoy the hamster and Manic Monday

26 October 2007

Your Guest of Honor

Her awards include the William Allen White Award from the University of Kansas, the Smith Medal from her alma mater, the Ivan Allen, Jr. Prize for Progress and Service and the Pringle Prize for Washington Journalism from Columbia University. She was elected to membership in the National Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her freelance work appears in many national magazines, and she contributes essays to both the Lehrer News Hour and National Public Radio. She has written several books, most recently, Shrub; the Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush. She is an active participant in the journalism network of Amnesty International and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Your Hosts

With the assassination of President McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, not quite 43, became the youngest President in the Nation's history. He brought new excitement and power to the Presidency, as he vigorously led Congress and the American public toward progressive reforms and a strong foreign policy.

Tuning up

Playa Cofi Jukebox and Swing Orchestra

The staff is setting the tables. The musicians are practicing. In the meantime, click on the links above for the evening's selection of music. If you have a favorite song to dance to, please put in a request.

23 October 2007

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner

It is time to select the gentleman to host the Presidential table and his or her guest of honor. Poll on right will run through Wednesday Morning before the final tuning of the violins and takes place.

You may select two Presidents or use write in and enter your choice in the comments.

Pick only one Guest of Honor.

Have Fun

20 October 2007

Where We Stand

The White House engravers are printing the invitations. The Caligraphers are addressing the envelopes. The Marine Band is practicing. If you are coming to the party, I need a guest list. As you can see, it is shaping up to being quite an affair.

Rules: Before Sunday Night name 9 guests living or dead to sit at your table. Name a guest of Honor and a President to be voted on at a later date. Make any silly remarks you would like. Do you best not to duplicate guests, but I'll sort it out later if you do.

Host: Enigma4ever
Grandmother Flo
Ray Charles
John Amato
Keith Olbermann
George Clooney
Jimmy Carter
Peter Gabriel
The Edge
Guest of Honor: Nelson Mandela
President: JFK

Host: Jamie
Louisa May Alcott
Craig Crawford
Thomas Jefferson
Jane Austin
Bill Clinton
Elizabeth Blackwell
Guest of Honor: Abraham Lincoln
President: Biden

Host: dnd
Thomas Jefferson
Alexander Hamilton
Richard Feynman, Physicist
CC Goldwater
Stephanie Miller
Kinky Friedman
Billy Joe Shaver
John Belushi
Dan Aykroyd
Guest of Honor: Molly Ivins
President: Bush (41 or 43?)

Host: The Teach
John Updike
Joyce Carol Oates
Edwidge Danticat
J. M Coetzee
Ernest J. Gaines
Amy Tan
Stephen King
Ian McEwan.President Barack Obama
Guest of Honor: Hillary ClintonU.S. Marine Band is playing which means my dear nephew, my brother's son, is there playing the French horn.

Jamie said...
Enigma, Showing up shortly Renee and dnd who are throwing a beer bash, smashing the good china, wearing blue jeans and inviting the Blues brothers to entertain.I don't have a whip and chair to keep them in line so you are welcome to join their party. At least you picked an "imported" beer.
1:59 PM
dnd said...
Jamie,Just to clarify, I'm bringing the beer. Renee is bringing the tequila. This is why Ms Ivans will be partying at our table. And in her honor, we'll have some Kinky Friedman and Billy Joe Shaver to serenade her. Enigma, you are certainly welcome.

Host: Katherine Graham Cracker
Jane Smiley
David Steinberg
Gary Trudeau
Bill and Hillary Clinton
John and Elizabeth Edwards
Bella Abzug
Shirley Chisholm
President Russ FeingoldHonored guest Al Gore

Enigma4ever said ...
Oh dear...I can not party with such a rakish bunch...and I don't go near tequila..I just wanted a sip of Heinken..sigh..and now they have gone and taken Molly from my table...sigh...so I have had to ask a replacement guest, I am bring Ray Charles, since my grandmother Flo loved him so, and he will fawn all over as she looks great in Red ( being a redhead...) oh, and he has very nicely asked if he could serenade us with America the Beautiful after dinner ? ( and I have to say Katherine Graham Cracker just melted my heart, PRESIDENT FEINGOLD .... be still my heart...)

RebelliousRenee said...
Enigma is going to join us at our table, dnd..... oh goody!I'll make some homemade Sangria as well as the margaritas.....dnd.... sweetie..... don't forget Aretha....

RebelliousRenee said...
Enigma....you're bring Ray Charles.....I'm bring Aretha Franklin.....maybe we'll get the to sing a duet...oh yeah.... dnd and I want Larry Sabato as our guest of honor.... hope he like Sangria.... :)

Host: Linda

1) Ulysses S. Grant
2) Robert E. Lee
3) Mark Twain
4) My father who would just LOVE all this!
5) My best friend Cyndi for the same reason plus I need someone to make snarky remarks with!
6) John Cusack (yeah, yeah, I'm shallow!)
7) Matt Lauer so he'll get the story straight on The Today Show8)
8) John Adams
9) Abigail Adams

President - hmmm, Stephen Colbert!
Guest of Honor: Abraham Lincoln

Host: Corey

John Mayer
Michael Buble
Amy Sedaris
Lisa Robertson (QVC)
Stan Laurel
Bobby Kennedy
Dean Martin
Ben Franklin
Sara Evans

President: Teddy Roosevelt
Honored Guest: Thomas Edison

Host: Rebellious Renee

Larry Sabato
Bronson Alcott
Richard Russo
Margaret Atwood
Judi Dench
Bill Maher
Al Franken
Keith Olbermann
Stephen King.... I get an author and a Red Sox fan

guest of honor.... Henry David Thoreau

Host: Lisa
Eleanor Roosevelt
Jerry Seinfeld
Helen Keller
Charles Gibson
Leonard da Vinci
Lewis Carroll
John Lennon
Ellen DeGeneres
Audrey Hepburn

president will be JFK
guest of honor nominee, I'll go with Abe, he's a good choice.

Rob popped in but didn't leave a table list

Host: Travis
2. Pam
3. General Alexander Archer Vandegrift, USMC
4. Lieutenant Audie L. Murphy, USA
5. Julia Roberts
6. Merle Streep
7. Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth of England
8. William Shakespeare
9. Mom
10. Stepdad

17 October 2007

You Are Cordially Invited

Your table has ten place settings. You are sitting in one of them. You can invite anyone living or dead to join you for dinner. You have two missions. Name the people seated at your table and then nominate someone to be the guest of honor and President to be seated at the President's table. We will have a vote later for the guest of honor slot from the nominees.

Just to get your creative juices flowing:
The menu, place settings & entertainment:

Celery Broth with Crispy Rock Shrimp
Newton Chardonnay "Unfiltered" 2002

Medallions of Buffalo Tenderloin
Roasted Corn
Wild Rice Pancakes
Glazed Parsnips and Young Carrots
Peter Michael Pinot Noir "Le Moulin Rouge" 2002

Mint Romaine Lettuce with Blood Orange Vinaigrette
Vermont Camembert Cheese and Spiced Walnuts

Petits Fours Cake
Chartreuse Ice Cream Red and Green Grape Sauce
Iron Horse "Wedding Cuvée" 2002


Dinner Table Settings and Music
The State Dining Room, The White House State Floor
Clinton China
Vermeil flatware
Gold pintuck silk tablecloths
Sprays of white phaeleanopsis orchids with camellia foliage
in the historic White House vermeil candelabras

The United States Marine Band Flute trio - The East Entrance
The United States Marine Band - The Grand Foyer
The United States Marine Band "Strolling Strings" - The State Floor

After Dinner Entertainment - The White House State Floor
Yo Yo Ma, Cellist - The East Room
Kathryn Stott, Concert Pianist - The East Room

The United States Marine Dance Band - The Grand Foyer

12 October 2007

Mad Dogs and Englishmen

Manic Monday logo courtesy of Jannagraphics

If you have never seen the object at the top of the page you have not spent much time watching murder most foul taking place in the English Country side courtesy of BBC or PBS the investigation of which is often interrupted by that most English of all games: Cricket. You might not recognize that the young gentleman on the left is a bowler while the one on the right is a batsman who could be defending a "sticky wicket".

If you have not been raised with the game that is now played in every country where the sun never set on the British Empire, it will be almost impossible to fully understand. I know this because of an extensive exchange of emails involving the finer points of baseball vs. cricket. He could probably tell you quite a bit about baseball while I, on the other hand, know that some form of cricket has been played since 1300 and tea will be served at 4:00 p.m.

I will prove this to you by posting just a bit of the article from Wikipedia

During the play of a cricket match, two members of the batting team are on the field, while their team-mates wait off the field. Those two players are the current batsmen. Each batsman stands near one of the two wickets at either end of the cricket pitch near the centre of the ground.

The two batsmen have different roles: The striker stands in front of the wicket nearest him and attempts to defend it from balls bowled by the opposing bowler from the other wicket. The non-striker stands inactive near the bowler's wicket.

Got that?

If you have the time, do at least take a look at the Wikapedia page as the pictures of the virtually incomprehensible are wonderful, and the history is fascinating and has often involved major disputes between devotees that have risen to the level of diplomatic outrage almost leading to the severing of governmental relations.

Now test matches in Cricket are known for their length. In researching this article, I found another delightful research website called The longest list of the longest stuff at the longest domain name at Long Last to find out that the longest recorded test match was between England and South Africa which began on March 03, 1939 and continued till March 14, 1939, although they did not play on the 5th, 11th or 12th. During this time they played a total of 43 hours and 16 minutes, finally calling the game a draw at 1,981 runs because the English had to take a ship home.

Arthur Salway has written a humorous poem about cricket called The English Game. Enjoy and then if you have never seen it, rent a wonderful movie called Hope and Glory about World War II through the eyes of a child with a minor theme of him learning how to throw a "googlie" that is unhittable by a cricket bat before his father comes home.

08 October 2007

Tracking Down A Story

Manic Monday logo courtesy of Jannagraphics

Marvelous Mo has decreed that the Manic Monday word for today is "Track". As usual this produced any number of possibilities for me, but I kept coming back to the first record I ever bought for myself: The Wayward Wind by Gogi Grant

In a lonely shack by a railroad track
He spent his younger days
And I guess the sound of the outward bound
Made him a slave to his wandrin' ways

Add to this the fact that one of my favorite names for a girl comes from a song with a train in the lyrics, "And you see Laura on a train that is passing through. She gave your very first kiss to you, but she's only a dream".

Now this quite naturally made me think about train songs: Trains or tracks in the title, Name of a particular train, and events happening on a train. So I got out a paper and pen and by the time I got to the 50th song off the top of my head, it occurred to me (I can be a little slow at times) that song writers and singers from every imaginable genre like to write or sing about trains and you can make the instruments do such nice whiney sounds for the train whistle heard from the tracks when the train goes by.

The next trip was to my buddy Google. Is there a list of train songs? Of course there is ... three lonnnnnnnnnnnng pages of lists of train songs. One of the best is a blog done by a lady for her husband who loves trains: The Train Song Collection. Feel free to browse. You will be surprised at how many you not only recognize, but know well enough to sing a few bars.

This brings up the question. What is your favorite train song(s)?

Now on to You Tube for today's entertainment: Several sound tracks making up a concert of a few good train songs:

City of New Orleans - The Highway Men

Wabash Cannonball - Boxcar Willie

Take the A Train - Duke Ellington & Ella Fitzgerald

Last Train To Clarksville - The Monkees

Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe - Judy Garland

Sentimental Journey - Les Brown & Doris Day

Chattanooga Choo Choo - Glenn Miller Orchestra - Dorothy Dandridge singing and The Nicholas Brothers Dancing

And last but not least: 500 Miles - Peter, Paul and Mary

04 October 2007


I've always liked themed albums where music is used to tell a story even if they aren't associated with a particular musical. One of my favorites is The Eagles, "Desperado". Today in history is the event that made the songs and back cover of that album possible. For those familiar with the album, it opens with the line, "They were duelin', Doolin-Dalton" and goes on to tell of the wild life in the outlaw gang and ends with the deaths of Grat and Bob Dalton in Coffeyville. Small aside: If I were a choreographer I've always thought this music and story would make a great story ballet.

On October 5, 1892 the Dalton gang made their last robbery attempt by trying to rob two banks at once in Coffeyville, Kansas. The citizens killed four of the five bandits. It was the classic scene from your favorite western. The good citizens gunning down the outlaw gang. As the gang was about to make their getaway, they were surprised by the town defenders. The five thieves shot their way to the alley where their horses were waiting and tried to defend themselves, but they were greatly outnumbered. In the gunfight that followed, all five men were shot, but not before killing a number of the townfolk.

The previous year in 1891 they had tried to rob a Southern Pacific train heading to Los Angeles, CA. That fact alone tells you that the very short history of what we consider the "wild west" (from the end of the civil war to the turn of the century) was coming to an end. Civilization was catching up with all the characters that became famous in the penny novels. The automobile had been invented and Edison was making movies

Emmett Dalton, who had been shot more than 20 times at Coffeyville, was the only one that managed to survive. He received a life sentence for the murder of the men who tried to stop him but was released a mere 15 years later. He lived a peaceful and law-abiding life until his death in 1937. On April 19, 1894, law enforcement officials shot his younger brother Bill Dalton, who was not at the Coffeyville robbery, Bill Doolin, The Bitter Creek Kid and Jack Boone finally bringing an end to the Doolin-Dalton gang. Emmett Dalton returned to the scene nearly 40 years later with this advice, "The biggest fool on earth is the one who thinks he can beat the law, that crime can be made to pay. It never paid and it never will and that was the one big lesson of the Coffeyville raid."

Better keep on movin', Doolin-Dalton
'Til your shadow sets you free
If you're fast, and if you're lucky
You will never see that hangin' tree

The Party's Over

Over the months, you have all become aware how much I love musical theater. Recently, I wrote about the revival of A Chorus Line. Unfortunately, there are musicals that it would be almost impossible to bring back without major changes unless it is darn fast simply because the audience wouldn't understand the premise of the story.

How long has it been since you have seen a phone answering service advertised? For the younger readers, in this age of cell phones and voice mail, do you even know exactly what they are/were or how one works? We are not so far removed that younger readers might not have seen the 1960 movie version on one of their parent's DVD's, but the last professional production of Bells Are Ringing was a less than successful broadway revival in 2001. At the time of it's original 1956 production, it was a collaboration of Broadway legends: Jule Styne, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Jerome Robbins, and Bob Fosse, and starred the brilliant, luminous and lost too soon, Judy Holliday. Now I have a real soft spot for this musical since my first job out of high school while going to college was as a telephone operator.

If an answering service weren't enough, there is a subplot about police pursuing illegal bookies. Now "Off Track betting" may still be illegal in some states, but your access is fairly simple via your home computer, but the comic lyrics of "A Simple Little System" sung the bookies mentions some race tracks that no longer exist. What makes this dating of material unfortunate is that songs get lost. A few of the songs from Bells Are Ringing have become standards and will show up when good singers are looking for material such as the duet below with Tony Bennett and Michael Buble singing Just In Time, but can you hum "Long Before I Knew You" or "The Party's Over"?

Do you have a favorite musical that you would like to see brought back in revival? Are there ones that you think would require major rewrites or have production problems because their premise is so dated?

03 October 2007

If You Think It's Dirty Now

I am currently reading A Magnificent Catastrophe by Edward J. Larson about the political campaign between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson that so clouded their former friendship at the time of the American Revolution that they did not speak for decades after the election and only resumed writing to each other in their final years. The bitter infighting was so bad that it set up the current wide division between political parties and forever turned elections into contentious battles rather than gentlemanly group discussions of enlightened philosophy that was their ideal.

Imagine learning that this towering battle between founding fathers and heads of opposing powers is only ranked fourth in hard fought, contentious, and bruising campaigns. Here is the rundown from fifth to first (Winners of the elections are listed first) with some of the shenanigans:

1972 - Richard Nixon vs. George McGovern - (IRS intimidation of Democratic big wigs, the Enemies List, press manipulation, and, of course, the Watergate burglary by the Special Investigations Unit, aka "the Plumbers.")

1800 - Thomas Jefferson vs. John Adams - (Adams accused of being a "hideous hermaphroditical character", Jefferson's sexual relations with slaves, and an election thrown into the House of Representatives, where Jefferson almost certainly made a secret deal to win it all.

2000 - George W. Bush vs. Al Gore - Republicans acting in a truly narrow, partisan fashion at every stage to subvert the democratic process and hand victory to George W. Bush. Charges of racism and voting fraud against Bush. - Hanging chads and Supreme Court anyone?

1964 - Lyndon Johnson vs. Barry Goldwater - Anti-Goldwater stories planted in newspapers; children's coloring books portraying Goldwater as a Klansman; CIA invasion of Goldwater's campaign; FBI bugging of Goldwater's campaign plane, and the famous daisy commercial.

And the most destructive election of them all?

There they are. Don't they look like nice, respectable gentlemen? Couldn't you easily believe they are each someone's kindly great grandfather hanging on the family tree? Why one is even a President of the United States. Which one? Well that is a little difficult since one served and one won, and the outcome is still referred to as "The Stolen Election". Number one is the contest between Rutherford B. Hayes (bearded) and Samuel Tilden (clean shaven).

1876: Rutherford Hayes vs. Samuel Tilden -- This is the granddaddy of them all: a truly stolen election in which Republicans turned defeat into victory for Rutherford Hayes. Democratic votes were miscounted in the Southern states. Both parties used violence to intimidate former black slaves. Republicans extorted money from the salaries of Federal employees while Democrats accused Hayes of shooting his mother and robbing the dead, and Republicans claimed that Samuel Tilden suffered from venereal disease.

So the next time you think the mud slinging is just too much to stand and no sane person wants to have anything to do with politics consider Hayes and Tilden. It could get worse, it could get better. Either way, the nation will probably survive.

01 October 2007

Squeezing Out A Memory

Mother and one aunt lived in Los Angeles, one aunt in Fowler, two aunts in Fresno, and the last of the six Pifer girls in Chowchilla: A sisterhood chain down Old Highway 99. Their children (the cousins) migrated up and down that road every summer almost at will to mix and match, occasionally by bus or train, but usually by car driven at speeds unheard of today except by cars being chased by police while TV station helicopters whirr overhead.

Going north, you climbed up the grade from LA to Gorman and then started the long twist of the grapevine hitting the great drop above Bakersfield where it was pedal to the metal on an empty road, only slowing down for the tinier three block main streets equipped with stop signs and cruising through Bakersfield to look at the bridge that it recently took Buck Owens to save.

With that drop came the heat in an age when auto air conditioning was high speeds and open windows. When the heat became too great we started looking for them. The great orange blobs dotting the landscape and the howls would start: Stop, please stop .... oh please, please, please.

In the searing summer heat of the San Joaquin, those orange blobs had an elixer of such heavenly proportions as to make children weep when without halting one faded in the rear view mirror. When you stopped there was the flimsy wooden Mammoth Orange with a window. It meant shade, a glass filled with ice and fresh squeezed juice from oranges that had been on the trees just that morning. In the blazing sun and rural valley dust, it was the most remarkable drink ever served with just the right acid bite to quench thirst.

It is over fifty years later now. But every once in a while you will see one of the giant oranges dusted and boarded up. Only a few still exist, and almost too late there is a move to preserve the few that remain in museums, while a couple are still trying to stay open for business, just in case you find yourself in Chowchilla or heading over Pacheco Pass to Los Banos.

To this day, when I order a breakfast juice or a champagne Mimosa for breakfast or brunch, I judge the quality of a restaurant by one question, "Is your orange juice fresh squeezed?"