Saturday, May 8, 2021

My muse must have taken the last couple of weeks off

... and gone to Florida on vacation or something, because I cannot think of one solitary thing to write about. Well, that is not exactly true, Mabel. I thought of several things to write about and started off with high hopes, only to end in despair. I gave up on each one of them as a bad job, and discarded them all, gave them the old heave-ho. Had I been writing with an actual pen on actual paper instead of pecking away on this keyboard, there would be by now a large and growing pile of crumpled-up paper balls in the corner of the room, my inability to toss anything through the basketball hoop neé wastebasket in my office being legendary. Michael Jordan I am not, or Larry Bird, or Kobe Bryant, or Wilt Chamberlain, or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Heck, Mabel, I'm not even LeBron James.

We are apparently in the midst of creating a new tradition at our house. For the third Sunday in a row we have not turned the television set on. The silence is wonderful, only it is not really so silent. I can hear the clock on the mantel ticking, and the grandfather clock competing with it from across the room, and the refrigerator running in the kitchen. I can hear the dog next door barking, and a little girl walking past our house talking to someone else, and our little dog Abby breathing as she sleeps in my arms. It is absolutely amazing what one can hear when one's television set is turned off. I remember reading several years ago that Larry Hagman -- surely you remember him, Mabel, he was the actor who played J.R. Ewing on Dallas and he was also in real life the son of Mary Martin of South Pacific fame, that Larry Hagman -- did not speak at all on Sundays because he wanted to rest his vocal cords, but he did whistle. Seems counter-productive to me, but what do I know?

When the well runs dry and the muse is away, there's always trivia.

I suppose young people today do not even know who Mary Martin is, or rather was, but she was the original Nellie Forbush in Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific on Broadway in 1949, the original Peter Pan in their Peter Pan in 1954, and the original Maria von Trapp in their The Sound of Music in 1959. She was not Anna in their The King and I, that was Gertrude Lawrence, nor was she in Carousel or Oklahoma!, but there for a while she helped Rodgers and Hammerstein make a lot of money. If people think of those musicals nowadays at all, they probably think of the film versions, not the theatrical productions. Mitzi Gaynor played Nellie Forbush in the film version of South Pacific instead of Mary Martin, and Rossano Brazzi played Emil de Becque instead of Ezio Pinza, although Giorgio Tozzi dubbed all the singing that was supposed to be Rosanno Brazzi.

No one has ever explained to my satisfaction why a French planter named Emil de Becque would be portrayed by an Italian non-acting singer in the theater and an Italian non-singing actor in the film version.

Moving right along on our stroll down memory lane, in the film version of The Sound of Music Julie Andrews famously had the role of Maria von Trapp instead of Mary Martin and many theater people were appalled. What goes around comes around, though. Several years later after Julie Andrews played Eliza Doolittle in Lerner and Loewe's My Fair Lady on Broadway, Audrey Hepburn was chosen to play Eliza in the film version (this time Marni Nixon dubbed the singing) and many theater people were appalled once again.

Why I remember this knd of stuff instead of, say, the last 25 winners of football's Heisman trophy or the last 25 Final Four in basketball's annual March Madness or the last 25 winners of the Kentucky Derby is anybody's guess. By the way, a horse named Medina Spirit won the Kentucky Derby last Saturday afternoon in what amounted to an equine version of the Final Four as you can see right here (0:44).

Speaking of whistling, Mabel, did you know there is a kind of whistling that does not involve the lips? Well, there is and it is called laryngeal whistling. Here, in fact, is an article about it from the late 19th-century, a presentation made by a Dr. J.O. Roe, MD, to the 1881 session of the American Laryngological Association in Rochester, New York.

You must admit, folks, that I go to great lengths to keep you entertained, even when my muse is on vacation.

11 comments:

  1. It's nice to see you posting. I understand how that muse can leave as I've hardly done any posts for the past month. I've been thinking about you and Mrs. RWP especially since I know there were quite a few tornados near where you live I believe. I hope all is safe there. I grew up with tornados and know how frightening they can be.

    It looks like your muse is back, at least for this post. You have mentioned a lot of oldies that I remember well. When I hear Mary Martin's name I always think of Peter Pan as that is how I most remember her. Oh, and who is Mabel? (possibly “Joe and Mabel” from 50's TV?)

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    1. Bonnie, last week’s storms did more damage and caused more flooding in Alabama than in Georgia, though Georgia did have one fatality in Newnan (about 50 miles south of us) when an EF-1 tornado caused a tree to come crashing down on a car, killing its driver. To put a face on it and make the death more than just a statistic, the man who died was a fellow named Scott Hudson who owned a locally popular restaurant called Hudson’s Hickory House BBQ.

      There is no Mabel. I made her up. She is fictitious, she does not exist, she is a literary device, a figment of my imagination. In my other blog, I invented Udella Mabry to serve the same purpose.

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    2. I like made up people so Mabel must be nice! ; ) When I was a very young child I had an imaginary friend and I still remember her. (I don't think I'm crazy, just imaginative!)

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  2. I have no idea what to say. I frequently cannot think of a blog subject. Unfortunately 'trivia' is totally beyond me. My mind has always had trouble memorising the important things so trivia doesn't stand a chance. Not quite true. I do remember odd things that are so trivial that even I don't find them interesting when they suddenly present themselves to what passes for my mind.

    I have heard of Larry Hagman and Julie Andrews.

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    1. Graham, I said a lot for someone who had nothing to say. I'm glad you "have heard of" Larry Hagman an Julie Andrews. I can't decide whether you are a sly old dog or a sly old fox.

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  3. This was very entertaining. Your muse will return as will your writing. By the way if you put soft slippers on the refrigerator the sound of it running might not be so loud. Hee hee.

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    1. Emma, I think my muse did return when I wasn't looking. You made me laugh about putting soft slippers on the refrigerator, but then I have always been an easy mark.

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  4. Glad you posted, and I'm glad you are ok!
    Happy Mother's Day to Mrs. RWP. Hope your daughter is doing well.
    I remember Larry Hagman in Dallas and I dream of Jeannie.
    I have heard of Mary Martin, and I really liked Julie Andrews in Sound of Music.
    I haven't seen many Broadway shows although I have seen Phantom of the Opera at the Kennedy Center and tours of Cats and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Didn't really care for Evita though. My husband is an Andrew Lloyd Webber fan.
    And that is my trivia for today.

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    1. Kathy, my wife and daughter thank you for the Mother's Day greeting. Our daughter is nearing the halfway point of her chemotherapy. She has good days and not-so-good days.

      The only show I ever saw actually on Broadway was not even a musical. I saw Woody Allen's play, Don't Drink The Water, a comedy starring Peggy Cass, Lou Jacoby, and Anita Gillette way back in 1967. My daughter saw Cats on Broadway when she was 17. The rest of my/our exposure to "Broadway shows" has been made possible by touring companies in other cities.

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  5. I now have the tune "All Bob wants is a room somewhere..." in my head.

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  6. Tasker, not to get away from it all, and not to fantasize over the non-existent Mabel, but to write and write and write and write! If that’s not what you mean, then I don’t really know what you mean.

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