Thursday, February 25, 2010

The queen was in the parlour...

In the last couple of posts, I've been having a little fun with references to the old nursery rhyme "Sing a song of sixpence"...


The painting above is called “The Queen Was In The Parlour.” It was painted in 1860 by Valentine Cameron Prinsep (1838-1904) and it hangs in the Manchester City Art Gallery in Jolly Olde England. So says Wikipedia, except for the Jolly Olde part, which I added on my own, just because I felt like it. The painter was born in Calcutta, but died in London, which only goes to prove that the saying “All roads lead to Rome” plays havoc with the truth.

Wikipedia also says that in Bahasa Melayu (Malay language), there is a slight variation of the “Sing a song of sixpence” song called “Lagu tiga kupang” (Three penny song). Here’s the Malayan version:

lagu tiga kupang - three penny song
saku penuh padi - pocket full of rye
enam ekor burung - six birds
masuk dalam kuali - go into frying pan

bila sudah masak - when it is cooked
burung nyanyi saja - the birds sing
tentu sedap makan - it must be delicious to eat
beri pada raja - give it to the king

raja dalam rumah - king in the house
buat kira-kira - doing calculations
suri dalam dapur - queen in the kitchen
makan roti gula - eating sugar bread

dayang tepi kolam - maid beside the pond
mahu jemur tepung - want to dry out the flour
datang burung hitam - the black bird come
patuk batang hidung - peck at her nose
hidung, hidung, hidung... - nose, nose, nose...


I would like to stay and play longer, but this raja must be about his kira-kira. I cannot go, however, before pointing out that in translation from English to Behasa Melayu several changes occurred. Six became three, twenty-four became six, pie became frying pan, parlour became kitchen, garden became pond, and hanging out the clothes became want to dry out the flour.

No wonder international diplomacy is so difficult.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

When the pie was opened...


All right, here are the answers to the song game in the previous post. I expect each one of you to be singing one or more of the songs all day long (not on purpose, of course -- you just won’t be able to help it). It would have been nice if more of you had played, but that’s all right. I had a grand time all by myself.

1. My bonnie lies over the ocean
My bonnie lies over the sea,
My bonnie lies over the ocean,
Oh, bring back my bonnie to me.

2. Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam,
Where the deer and the antelope play,
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,
And the skies are not cloudy all day.
Home, home on the range...

3. My country, ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died;
Land of the pilgrims' pride;
From every mountain side,
Let freedom ring.

4. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord,
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored,
He has loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword,
His truth is marching on!
Glory, glory, Hallelujah!
Glofy, glory, Hallelujah!
Glory, glory, Hallelujah!
His truth is marching on!

5. Silent night, Holy night,
All is calm, All is bright
Round yon virgin, mother and child,
Holy infant, so tender and mild.
Sleep in heavenly peace;
Sleep in heavenly peace.

6. I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know,
Where the treetops glisten
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.

7. Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.

8. Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
’Tis the season to be jolly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

9. Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday, dear ______,
Happy birthday to you!

10. Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle, see his banners go.

11. Swing low, sweet chariot,
Comin’ for to carry me home;
Swing low, sweet chariot,
Comin’ for to carry me home.

12. There’s a church in the valley by the wildwood,
No lovelier spot in the dale;
No place is so dear to my childhood
As the little brown church in the vale.

13. Alouette, gentille Alouette,
Alouette, je te plumerai...


14. Adeste, fideles, laeti triumphantes,
Venite, venite in Bethlehem.


15. Oh, beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

16. (There is no number 16. I goofed.)

17. Ol’ man river, dat ol’ man river,
He must know sumpin’, but don’t say nuthin’,
He jus’ keeps rollin’, he keeps on rollin’ along.

18. Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb --
Mary had a little lamb; its fleece was white as snow.

19. Ding dong! merrily on high
In heav'n the bells are ringing:
Ding dong! verily the sky
Is riv'n with angel singing.
Glo-o-o-o-o-oria, Hosanna in excelsis!
Glo-o-o-o-o-oria, Hosanna in excelsis!

20. I dream of Jeannie with the light brown hair,
Borne like a vapor on the summer air...


Actually, I goofed twice. First, I left out number 16. I didn’t mean to leave it out. It just sort of happened. And I didn’t even notice the omission until I was writing this post. Secondly, I see now that I missed a perfect opportunity. If there had been 24 songs in the game, it would have fit so nicely with the post’s title, “Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye” (you know the rest: “Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie”).

Oh, well, live and learn. Hindsight is always 20/20.

Sharp-eyed readers may also note that I continued with the song in the title of today’s post, “When the pie was opened, the birds began to sing...”

Someone simply has to say it, and it might as well be moi:

Now, wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before the king?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye...



Back on November 5, 2009, we played a little game I invented -- if someone else invented it, I don’t want to know -- and since this seems to be a slow week (one tires of watching the Winter Olympics), I thought we might play it again.

Here’s how it works: I write down the first letters of the words of a well-known song, and you guess the song. By “well-known” I mean songs written before 1950. They might be nursery rhymes or folk ditties or hymns or Christmas carols or patriotic songs. But no pop music. I don’t think any of the following songs ever made it to Your Hit Parade. Oops, one did.

1. MBLOTO, MBLOTS, MBLOTO, OBBMBTM
2. OGMAHWTBR, WTDATAP, WSIHADWATSANCAD (H, HOTR...)
3. MCTOT, SLOL, OTIS, LWMFD, LOTPP, FEMS, LFR (Brits get a pass)
4. MEHSTGOTCOTL, HITOTVWTGOWAS, HHLTFLOHTSS, HTIMO (GGH, GGH, GGH, HTIMO)
5. SN, HN, AIC, AIB, RYVMAC, HISTAM, SIHP, SIHP
6. IDOAWC, JLTOIUTK, WTTGACLTHSBITS (think “Bing Crosby”)
7. RRRYB, GDTS, MMMM, LIBAD (you’ve been singing it your whole life)
8. DTHWBOH, FLLLL, LLLL, TTSTBJ, FLLLL, LLLL (and this one)
9. HBTY, HBTY, HBD_, HBTY (and this one, too)
10. OCS, MATW, WTCOJGOB, CTRMLATF, FIBSHBG
11. SLSC, CFTCMH, SLSC, CFTCMH
12. TACITVBTW, NLSITD, NPISDTMC, ATLBCITV (for Jeannelle)
13. A, GA, A, JTP (this one’s in French)
14. AF, LT, V, VIB (this one’s in Latin)
15. OBFSS, FAWOG, FPMMATFP, A, A, GSHGOT, ACTGWBFSTSS
17. OMR, DOMR, HMKSBDSN, HJKR, HKORA
18. MHALL, LL, LL, MHALL, IFWWAS
19. DDMOH, IHTBAR, DDVTS, IRWAS, G, HIE, G, HIE (especially for Brits)
20. IDOJWTLBH, BLAVOTSA (helpful hint: think “Stephen Foster”)

OK, I mean okay! I think that’s enough to keep you occupied for a while. I’ll provide the answers later.

By the way, today is this fellow’s birthday:


Somebody really ought to finish that portrait.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Dhimitri through the years


The other day I showed you my father-in-law's 1917 passport photo, taken when he was 22 years old and coming to America.

I thought you might enjoy following him on his journey.

Here he is at 35 in 1930 with Ksanthipi:


Here he is at 46 in 1941 with Ksanthipi and their children:


And here he is at 65 in 1960:

A few months later his son married that North Carolina girl. A couple of years after that I married his daughter.

He never made a lot of money. He never became famous. He worked hard to support his family. He was someone the world didn’t notice.

When he died in 1983 at the age of 88, he was loved by everyone who knew him.

He is my idea of a very successful man.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

From out our bourne of Time and Place


Today at 11:00 a.m., the funeral of the Rev. Dr. John Linna, 70, who died on Monday, will be held at St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Neenah, Wisconsin. I never met Dr. John in person, but for the past year or so I have looked forward daily to reading Dr. John’s Fortress, his blog. His love of words was obvious. His weekday posts could be a bit silly, but they were always inventive and engaging and full of fun. He wrote of dragons and of Pigeon Falls, the little town in his basement. Once you visited Pigeon Falls, you were hooked. He was a master of the cliffhanger. Because of him I even learned a little about Ukrainian (not that Dr. John was Ukrainian; I believe he was Finnish). His Sunday posts were always beneficial and thought-provoking and filled with the love of God. His body may have “waxed old like a garment” but his spirit seemed to grow younger all the time. He fought the good fight, he finished his course, he kept the faith.


Crossing the Bar
by Alfred Lord Tennyson


Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.


I have that same hope. Rest in peace, Dr. John. We will miss you.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Dhimitri Kuçi



It is 1917. You are a 22-year-old man named Dhimitri Kuçi. You were born in Vlonë, Albania, on February 15, 1895. When you were twelve you were sent to Italy to attend school. Now you are on your way to America to try to find your older brother. Someone took this photograph and put it on your passport.

Although you search, you will not be able to find your brother. Eventually you will settle down in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Seven years from now you will become a naturalized citizen of the United States and your name will change. Two years later, when you are 31 years old, a friend who runs a butcher shop will persuade you to return to Albania to marry his 19-year-old niece, Ksanthipi Rista, and bring her to the United States. Her widowed grandmother will come along on your honeymoon.

When you are 36, Ksanthipi will bear a son, who will be named after her uncle. When you are 40, she will also give you a daughter, whose godmother decides should have the same name as the wife of the President of the United States.

During the Great Depression, you will move your family to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. To support them, you will make and sell snow cones from a pushcart. During World War II, Ksanthipi will also become a naturalized citizen of the United States and her name will also change. You both will work in a defense plant for a while until you decide to open a restaurant outside a Marine base in Philadelphia. After the war ends you will move your family to North Carolina. Your son will graduate from college there and marry a North Carolina girl. Your daughter will graduate from nursing school.

When you are 66 years old, you and Ksanthipi will move to Orlando, Florida. Your daughter will marry a Texas fellow who joined the Air Force and was sent to McCoy Air Force Base. He will take your daughter to exotic places like Bellevue, Nebraska, and Poughkeepsie, New York, and Boca Raton, Florida, and Marietta, Georgia.

You will tend to the citrus trees in your backyard and every day you will walk around the block with Ksanthipi. Eventually your children will give you five grandchildren.

You will live to be 88, a ripe old age, and when you die you will be buried in what was once an orange grove. Three years later Ksanthipi will join you there. Eventually there will be six great-grandchildren.

But today you know nothing of this. It is 1917 and you are 22 years old and you are on your way to America.

Today -- the real today -- is the 115th anniversary of the day you were born.

Happy birthday, Pop!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Everything you ever wanted to know about Valentine’s Day but were afraid to ask...



Years ago when Mrs. RWP and I lived in Palm Beach County, Florida, our pastor tried to make a little joke one Sunday while referring to various Concordances of the Bible. He said, “Young’s for the young; Cruden’s for the crude; Strong’s for the strong.”

I hadn’t thought about that remark in years. It popped into my consciousness as I was doing research for this post, which, as you might guess from the title, is going to tell you everything you ever wanted to know about Valentine's Day but were afraid to ask. You won’t have to wonder about Saint Valentine or Valentine’s Day ever again. I am indebted once more to Wikipedia, which, if it is wrong, is certainly misleading a lot of people.

Here goes:

Valentine’s Day for the young

Valentine’s Day for the crude

Valentine’s Day for the strong

I’m only joking that the links are for the young, the crude, and the strong. They’re all for you, the readers of this blog. That was just a way of breaking up a lot of information into bite-size chunks.

In these times of extreme political correctness, let me make it perfectly clear that in the previous sentence I was not suggesting or advocating in any way that anyone bite anyone else on Valentine’s Day.

Although, if you are a vampire....


P.S. - A shout-out to my good friend Ernie (Ernest Valentine Cziraky), who was born on Feb. 14, 1931, in Ohio and died on Nov. 12, 2006, in Florida after a long battle with mesothelioma. Thirty-five years of knowing you was not enough, my friend. The rhymeswithplagues send love today to Ruth, Ron, Dan, Jenny, all the grandchildren, and all the great-grandchildren.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy 201st Birthday, Abe!



When I was young we observed both Lincoln’s birthday on February 12th and Washington’s birthday on February 22nd. Nowadays there is only “Presidents Day” or “President’s Day” or “Presidents’ Day” or whatever it is. Pick a president, any president. Or pick ’em all, if that suits you. Never mind about stuffy old Abraham Lincoln and even stuffier and older George Washington. Never mind about their individual, laudable accomplishments. In today’s climate of groupthink and political correctness, someone’s self-esteem might suffer if one person is recognized above another.

I don’t care. You can read lots of stuff about our 16th president here.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Let me correct an oversight here

Two posts ago I mentioned Laverne and Shirley. One post ago I mentioned Lenny and Squiggy, who were upstairs neighbors of Laverne and Shirley, and I included biographical material from Wikipedia about Lenny and Squiggy for your reading and reminiscing enjoyment. Let me correct an oversight here by including as well some biographical material from Wikipedia about Laverne and Shirley themselves, also for your reading and reminiscing enjoyment (or, if you happen to reside in New Zealand or the United Kingdom, for your enlightenment):

Laverne De Fazio (Penny Marshall). Known for being a tough-talking tomboy, Laverne grew up in Brooklyn, with her Italian immigrant parents and grandmother; Laverne’s parents moved to Milwaukee, where her mother died and was buried. Laverne works alongside best friend and roommate Shirley Feeney and is known for being the cynic of the pair. She would consider herself a realist, and she sees her life for what it is. Laverne’s motto is: “This is it, this is our life.” Laverne enjoys dating tough guys of the “Purple Fiends” gang and picking up sailors at the dock with old lady neighbor Mrs. Colchek. (The show’s dialogue was always clear, however, that both Laverne and Shirley were “good girls” according to the standards of the 1950s.) Laverne is also a fan of the TV show Sea Hunt and enjoys 3-D Monster Movies, such as The Bride of Bwana Devil. Milk and Pepsi was Laverne’s infamous favorite drink (Penny Marshall drank milk and Pepsi in real life and added it to her character). Along with her poodle skirts, her trademark was the letter “L” monogrammed on her shirts and sweaters (another idea introduced by Marshall).

Shirley Feeney (Cindy Williams). Shirley Wilhelmina Feeney is the perky, positive one. With apple cheeks to match her personality, Shirley never “lets her balloon land.” She also tends to be a meek little “girly-girl,” while Laverne is more outspoken and athletic. One of Shirley’s most prized possessions is “Boo Boo Kitty,” a large stuffed cat which sits next to her bed. Her favorite song is Frank Sinatra’s “High Hopes” and that song is featured in several episodes, often used by one of the girls to cheer the other up. Shirley later becomes a huge fan of teen-idol Fabian. She has an overbearing mother named Lily (Pat Carroll) who had moved to California, and an alcoholic sailor brother Bobby (Ed Begley, Jr.). In episode 32, “Buddy Can You Spare a Father?” (which aired Feb. 15, 1977), Shirley’s father Jack Feeney was played by Scott Brady (who turned down the role of Archie Bunker on All in the Family). Shirley dotes on her never-seen nieces, nephews, and cousins and adores her “Feeney Family Photo Album.“ Shirley is also well-known as a conservative in her personal life: for example, “I don’t vo-dee-o-doe-doe” was an early catchphrase (to which Laverne once replied, “You vo-dee-o”). Despite her more blue-collar veneer, Laverne was also relatively conservative. This was made clear, for example, in an episode where Laverne nearly accepted a proposal of marriage; when Shirley asked if the marriage was being driven by necessity, Laverne reacted strongly against the insinuation. In the series’ earliest episodes, Cindy Williams used a coarser accent for her character, but it was soon softened considerably. (This speech pattern had been previously used by Williams in a commercial for Foster Grant sunglasses.)

Time and space do not permit me to tell you about Frank De Fazio, Edna Babish De Fazio, or Carmine “The Big Ragu” Ragusa. By “time” I mean, in the immortal words of Cole Porter, the tick-tick-tock of a stately clock as it stands against the wall. And by “space” I do not mean somebody’s arbitrary and artificially-imposed limits on a post’s length but the great emptiness out there beyond the stars.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Aspiring Rock Stars (pre-American-Idol)


I am indebted to Wikipedia for the following biographical material:

Lenny Kosnowski (Michael McKean) is a lovable goof who pesters Laverne and Shirley along with his best friend and roommate Squiggy (who both live upstairs from Laverne and Shirley’s basement apartment). Lenny works as a truck driver at the Shotz brewery. Raised by his father after his mother abandoned them, during the series it was learned that Lenny was the 89th in line to the Polish Throne. When Lenny attempted to have the words “Lone Wolf” embroidered on the back of his red jacket, a mistake left him with “One Wolf” instead; Laverne was kind enough to sew on one of her own fancy-script “L’s” to complete the phrase. Lenny says that, while he’s not completely sure, he thinks his last name (Kosnowski) is Polish for “Help, there’s a hog in my kitchen.”

Andrew “Squiggy” Squigman (David Lander) is the most obnoxious of the bunch, and the greasiest. Squiggy works and lives with childhood friend Lenny. Squiggy grew up with neglectful parents, and is often scheming to get rich or succeed by somewhat devious means. For some reason, he collects moths, and prizes a stuffed Iguana named Jeffrey. Squiggy, like Lenny, loves the chocolate-flavored drink Bosco Chocolate Syrup, and makes nearly every entrance with his trademark “Hello” said in a slightly dopey voice. In the final season, we learn Squiggy has a lookalike sister named Squendoline.

I am indebted to Wapedia for the following:

Lenny and the Squigtones is a fictional musical group headed by Michael McKean and David Lander, the two actors who played the characters Lenny and Squiggy on the television series Laverne & Shirley. Recorded live at the Roxy in Hollywood, they perform parodies of 50’s rock ballads (“Night After Night,” “Creature Without A Head”). In between, there’s plenty of schtick and patter (“So’s Your Old Testament,” “Babyland”). The group’s eponymous debut album, Lenny & Squiggy sing Lenny and the Squigtones, was released on the Casablanca label in 1979. The album is now a collector’s item because of credited guitar work by future Spinal Tap member Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest). A photo on the inside cover also includes two band members who look a lot like Derek Smalls and David St. Hubbins of Spinal Tap. Also includes “Murph,” the keyboard player from The Blues Brothers, and “Ming the Merciless,” actually Kiss drummer Peter Criss without his famous cat costume and make-up.

* Side A

1. Vamp On
2. Night After Night
3. Creature Without A Head
4. King Of The Cars
5. Squiggy’s Wedding Day
6. Love Is A Terrible Thing

* Side B

1. Babyland (For Eva Squiggmann)
2. If Only I’d’ve Listened To Mama
3. So's Your Old Testament
4. Sister-In-Law
5. Honor Farm
6. StarCrossed
7. Only Women Cry
8. Foreign Legion Of Love
9. Vamp Off


Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I give you:

Lenny and the Squigtones!

There are more videos of Lenny and the Squigtones out there. I’m sure you can find them if you really want to.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My life is over.


There’s this guy, David Barlow of Ephraim, Utah, who refers to himself as Putz, probably because he isn’t aware of the original meaning of the word. Somehow, because of a comment someone left on his blog the other day, he has gotten it into his head that a blog must end after 500 posts. And that if it doesn’t, it should.

I sincerely hope not.

Because this is my 500th post.

Remember how Laverne De Fazio (Penny Marshall) and Shirley Feeney (Cindy Williams) used to open their weekly sitcom by skipping down the street yelling, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, Schlemiel, Schlimazel, Hasenpfeffer Incorporated”? Now, using the links in this post, you can figure out what they were saying.

You’re welcome.

Ever helpful, that’s me.


It could have been worse. I could have gone out in a blaze of glory with a tribute to Lenny and Squiggy.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Punxsutawney Phil has spoken...



and there will be six more weeks of winter.

The other guy is probably Punxsutawney Gordon or Punxsutawney Marvin or Punxsutawney Sam. No one cares what he thinks.

Here is everything you could ever possibly want to know about Punxasutawney Phil.

In Atlanta we have our own groundhog, General Lee, who lives at Stone Mountain. We don’t care what Punxsutawney Phil thinks.

Monday, February 1, 2010

From the archives, thanks to jinksy


jinksy, who lives across the pond in the United Kingdom, has been on a little kick about rhyming for the past few posts, and what she’d like to know is, what is stopping all the potential rhymers from occasionally posting a rhyme of their own? I know that’s what she’d like to know because she said so right there in her blog today. One of her commenters even suggested yesterday that we launch a Rhyming Nit-Wits Club.

Well, I wouldn’t go quite that far, but, never one to leave a thrown-down gauntlet unretrieved, I have decided to reach way back into my archives all the way to April 20, 2008, for my contribution today, because most of you probably weren’t reading my blog then. The post was called “Ogden Nash, anyone?”


Ogden Nash, anyone?


Ogden Nash (1902-1971) was an American poet who amused us for many years with his observations on such subjects as marriage (“To keep your marriage brimming / With love in the loving cup, / Whenever you're wrong, admit it, / Whenever you're right, shut up.”), progress (“I think that I shall never see a billboard lovely as a tree. / Perhaps, unless the billboards fall, I'll never see a tree at all”), wild animals (“The panther is like a leopard, / Except it hasn't been peppered. / Should you behold a panther crouch, / Prepare to say Ouch. / Better yet, if called by a panther, / Don't anther.”), and babies (“A little talcum / Is always walcum.”). Contrary to popular opinion, however, he did not write, “Oh, a wonderful bird is the pelican! / His bill holds more than his belican. / He can take in his beak / Enough food for a week. / But I'm darned if I know how the helican.” That was written by someone else.

Over at the online magazine Slate (www.slate.com), one regular feature is a category called “Culturebox” where former American poet laureate Robert Pinsky holds forth weekly on poetry. In this week's column, “Why Don't Modern Poems Rhyme, Etc. (Frequently asked questions on the business of poetry),” which was published on April 17, Pinsky didn't really answer any of the questions listed. Instead, for the most part, he ignored each question and printed, without comment, poems that made the questions and questioners appear foolish and uninformed. For example, the question “Why don't American poets write about politics or current events?” was followed by Allen Ginzberg's well-known poem, “America.” And the question “Why don't modern poems rhyme?” was followed by two of Thom Gunn's poems that do. In answer to the question, “How come real poetry in our great-grandparents' time was easy to understand and great?” Pinsky responded, “Do you mean like this?” and showed an extremely difficult-to-understand poem by Emily Dickinson , “or like this?” and showed a trite, sing-songy one by Edgar A. Guest. Intentionally or not, Pinsky started a minor firestorm in the readers' comments section; readers disliked his rudeness and arrogance, and took him to task for his general lack of helpfulness.

As usual, I could not resist entering the fray and left the following comment:

Many in these comments have asked what is wrong with light poetry, and I say, “Absolutely nothing, but it's not rocket science.” One commenter asked where do we find a poet still living who can rival Ogden Nash in poetry that is light or happy or funny...Well, I'm certainly no Ogden Nash, but I did write a poem a few years back called “The Ogden Nash Travel Agency.” I thought some of you might enjoy it. It might even wash the taste of Pinsky out of your mouth. Here it is:


The Ogden Nash Travel Agency
by Robert H. Brague

The next time you go to Cambodia,
Be sure that you see Angkor Wat;
The Khmer Rouge will all say hellodia,
But some other natives may not.
Avoid controversial discussion
In the capital city, Phnom Penh;
Prefer Chinese cooking to Russian --
You may want to go there agenh.

When sailing upon the Aegean,
Remark on the dullness of Crete.
To do otherwise is plebian;
’Twill help make your visit complete.
Don’t make the mistake in the Bosphorus
Of calling the place Dardanelles;
A slip here could mean total losphorus:
We’d be laughed at from here to Seychelles.

While backpacking through Micronesia,
You’ll have, we expect, a real ball!
The folk there go all out to plesia;
Some natives wear nothing atoll.
They’ll know that you’re not a wahine (“wah-heeny”)
If you don’t sport an all-over tan.
For modesty, take a bikini;
It’s called the American plan.

A weekend in Mesopotamia
Or one on the coast of Brazil?
Do both! Go on, splurge! We don’t blamia
For wanting to have a real thrill!
So float down the mighty Kaskaskia
Or tour Vladivostok by bus;
Just one little thing we would askia:
Please purchase your tickets from us.


So there you have it, my small contribution to the mirth and merriment of nations. Actually, my favorite poem by Ogden Nash, “The Middle,” is neither funny nor light, but achingly poignant in four short lines:

The Middle (by Ogden Nash)

When I remember bygone days
I think how evening follows morn;
So many I loved were not yet dead,
So many I love were not yet born.

(End of archived post)

I hope jinksy is happy.