Saturday, June 28, 2008

Back to basics

It's a sick joke, the likes of which I can't say I expected to find in Palmer-Hughes Accordion Course, Book 1. When I first got this volume and paged through it, I of course noticed "Vegetables on Parade," in part because it's got a great illustration, in part because it reminded me of the psychedelic Beach Boys song "Vegetables," a current favorite. But I only glanced at the music, then flipped on.

But tonight I picked up the squeezebox and played through Book 1, and I was surprised, when I came to "Vegetables on Parade," to realize I already knew the tune. It's familiar from many a polka dance at the Essen Haus, and indeed is probably the third or fourth best-known polka tune (after "Beer Barrel Polka" and "In Heaven There is no Beer" (and "Chicken Dance"?)).

It is, yes, "Too Fat Polka," featuring the indelible refrain, "I don't want her, you can have her, she's too fat for me (hey!)." The song doubtless was considered a hoot in 1947, but these days it can induce cringes. The sentiment is not so friendly.

So I am left bemused by the 1952 Palmer-Hughes rewrite. "To be healthy, you must eat your vegetables each day," go the lyrics to "Vegetables on Parade." True enough, but are these words meant to rebuke the poor woman in "Too Fat Polka" -- to warn her she ought to eat better? Or is "Vegetables on Parade" meant as a snarky send-up of "Too Fat Polka" itself? The mind reels.

By the way, part of me feels silly about working my way through the youngsters' material in the Palmer-Hughes books. (Book 1 begins, "Dear Parents, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE PROUD!") But I've had this beautiful accordion a few years now, and all I've done so far is get it out every six months or so and clumsily play "Tennessee Waltz." These books, at least, are structured, which is something. Maybe I'll break down and take some lessons. At any rate, soon, I think, I'll get past these simple songs ("Charlie the Chimp" is a highlight) and on to bigger things.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I love David Letterman

If you missed the broadcast, I could try to explain to you what this image from Tuesday's "Late Show With David Letterman" means -- the gasoline, the blindfold, the platter of luncheon meats, the cocktail dresses. But I'm not sure it would make sense anyway, and that's not really the point. The point is that it was another moment of inspired lunacy from Letterman, who commented on the image with the note-perfect quip, "That looks like something Amnesty International would be looking into."

I've been a Letterman fan since I was 13, and my dad would storm into the family room late at night demanding that I shut off "Late Night With David Letterman" and go rest up for school. (He had a point, and I started taping the show instead.) Much of what Letterman pioneered a generation ago has pervaded all of pop culture, especially his glibness. But I say no one does it better than Letterman, all these years later. No one is smarter than Letterman. No one is funnier than Letterman.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Good word

I like to listen to Hank
While I'm being spanked

-- Jerry Dale McFadden, "Country Beats the Hell Out of Me"

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Shoes that fit

Read my Daily Page article on Le Dame, a Verona, Wis. company that sells women's shoes in men's sizes.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Inside politics