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improbable-looking limestone karsts in Guilin

Monday, July 30, 2007

While fetching a copy of FitzGerald's "Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam" for my iPod ,
I happened to distract myself with Project Gutenberg's edition of humorous English poetry.
Buried within that worthy volume is this.
Run, you fools! It's a COOK BOOK!

*****

THE POETICAL COOKERY-BOOK.

from PUNCH
THE STEAK.
Air.--"The Sea."

Of Steak--of Steak--of prime Rump Steak--
A slice of half-inch thickness take,
Without a blemish, soft and sound;
In weight a little more than a pound.
Who'd cook a Stake--who'd cook a Steak--
Must a fire clear proceed to make:
With the red above and the red below,
In one delicious genial glow.
If a coal should come, a blaze to make,
Have patience! You mustn't put on your Steak.

First rub--yes, rub--with suet fat,
The gridiron's bars, then on it flat
Impose the meat; and the fire soon
Will make it sing a delicious tune.
And when 'tis brown'd by the genial glow,
Just turn the upper side below.
Both sides with brown being cover'd o'er,
For a moment you broil your Steak no more,
But on a hot dish let it rest,
And add of butter a slice of the best;
In a minute or two the pepper-box take,
And with it gently dredge your Steak.

When seasoned quite, upon the fire
Some further time it will require;
And over and over be sure to turn
Your Steak till done--nor let it burn;
For nothing drives me half so wild
As a nice Rump Steak in the cooking spiled.
I've lived in pleasure mixed with grief,
On fish and fowl, and mutton and beef,
With plenty of cash, and power to range,
But my Steak I never wished to change:
For a Steak was always a treat to me,
At breakfast, luncheon, dinner, or tea.


ROASTED SUCKING-PIG.
AIR--"Scots wha has."

Cooks who'd roast a Sucking-pig,
Purchase one not over big;
Coarse ones are not worth a fig;
So a young one buy.
See that he is scalded well
(That is done by those who sell),
Therefore on that point to dwell,
Were absurdity.

Sage and bread, mix just enough,
Salt and pepper quantum suff.,
And the Pig's interior stuff,
With the whole combined.
To a fire that's rather high,
Lay it till completely dry;
Then to every part apply
Cloth, with butter lined.

Dredge with flour o'er and o'er,
Till the Pig will hold no more;
Then do nothing else before
'Tis for serving fit.
Then scrape off the flour with care;
Then a butter'd cloth prepare;
Rub it well; then cut--not tear--
Off the head of it.

Then take out and mix the brains
With the gravy it contains;
While it on the spit remains,
Cut the Pig in two.
Chop the sage, and chop the bread
Fine as very finest shred;
O'er it melted butter spread--
Stinginess won't do.

When it in the dish appears,
Garnish with the jaws and ears;
And when dinner-hour nears,
Ready let it be.
Who can offer such a dish
May dispense with fowl and fish;
And if he a guest should wish,
Let him send for me!

BEIGNET DE POMME.
AIR--"Home, Sweet Home."

'Mid fritters and lollipops though we may roam,
On the whole, there is nothing like Beignet de Pomme.
Of flour a pound, with a glass of milk share,
And a half pound of butter the mixture will bear.
Pomme! Pomme! Beignet de Pomme!
Of Beignets there's none like the Beignet de Pomme!

A Beignet de Pomme, you will work at in vain,
If you stir not the mixture again and again;
Some beer, just to thin it, may into it fall;
Stir up that, with three whites of eggs, added to all.
Pomme! Pomme! Beignet de Pomme!
Of Beignets there's none like the Beignet de Pomme!

Six apples, when peeled, you must carefully slice,
And cut out the cores--if you 'll take my advice;
Then dip them in batter, and fry till they foam,
And you'll have in six minutes your Beignet de Pomme.
Pomme! Pomme! Beignet de Pomme!
Of Beignets there's none like the Beignet de Pomme!


CHERRY PIE.
AIR--"Cherry Ripe."

Cherry Pie! Cherry Pie! Pie! I cry,
Kentish cherries you may buy.
If so be you ask me where
To put the fruit, I'll answer "There!"
In the dish your fruit must lie,
When you make your Cherry Pie.
Cherry Pie! Cherry Pie! etc.

Cherry Pie! Cherry Pie! Pie! I cry,
Full and fair ones mind you buy
Whereabouts the crust should go,
Any fool, of course will know;
In the midst a cup may lie,
When you make your Cherry Pie.
Cherry Pie! Cherry Pie! etc.


DEVILED BISCUIT.
AIR--"A Temple of Friendship."

"A nice Devil'd Biscuit," said JENKINS enchanted,
"I'll have after dinner--the thought is divine!"
The biscuit was bought, and he now only wanted--
To fully enjoy it--a glass of good wine.
He flew to the pepper, and sat down before it,
And at peppering the well-butter'd biscuit he went;
Then, some cheese in a paste mix'd with mustard spread o'er it
And down to be grill'd to the kitchen 'twas sent.

"Oh! how," said the Cook, "can I this think of grilling,
When common the pepper? the whole will be flat.
But here's the Cayenne; if my master is willing,
I'll make, if he pleases, a devil with that."
So the Footman ran up with the Cook's observation
To JENKINS, who gave him a terrible look:
"Oh, go to the devil!" forgetting his station,
Was the answer that JENKINS sent down to the Cook.


RED HERRINGS.
AIR--"Meet Me By Moonlight."

Meet me at breakfast alone,
And then I will give you a dish
Which really deserves to be known,
Though it's not the genteelest of fish.
You must promise to come, for I said
A splendid Red Herring I'd buy--
Nay, turn not away your proud head;
You'll like it, I know, when you try.

If moisture the Herring betray,
Drain, till from moisture 'tis free;
Warm it through in the usual way,
Then serve it for you and for me.
A piece of cold butter prepare,
To rub it when ready it lies;
Egg-sauce and potatoes don't spare,
And the flavor will cause you surprise


IRISH STEW.
AIR--"Happy Land."

Irish stew, Irish stew!
Whatever else my dinner be,
Once again, once again,
I'd have a dish of thee.

Mutton chops, and onion slice,
Let the water cover,
With potatoes, fresh and nice;
Boil, but not quite over,
Irish stew, Irish stew!
Ne'er from thee, my taste will stray.
I could eat
Such a treat
Nearly every day.
La, la, la, la!


BARLEY BROTH.
Air--"The King, God bless him!"

A basin of Barley Broth make, make for me;
Give those who prefer it, the plain:
No matter the broth, so of barley it be,
If we ne'er taste a basin again.
For, oh I when three pounds of good mutton you buy,
And of most of its fat dispossess it,
In a stewpan uncover'd, at first, let it lie;
Then in water proceed to dress it.
Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!
In a stewpan uncover'd, at first, let it lie;
Then in water proceed to dress it.

What a teacup will hold--you should first have been told--
Of barley you gently should boil;
The pearl-barley choose--'tis the nicest that's sold--
All others the mixture might spoil.
Of carrots and turnips, small onions, green peas
(If the price of the last don't distress one),
Mix plenty; and boil altogether with these
Your basin of Broth when you dress one.
Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!
Two hours together the articles boil;
There's your basin of Broth, if you'd dress one.


CALF'S HEART.
Air--"Maid of Athens, ere we part."

Maid of all work, as a part
Of my dinner, cook a heart;
Or, since such a dish is best,
Give me that, and leave the rest.
Take my orders, ere I go;
Heart of calf we'll cook thee so.

Buy--to price you're not confined--
Such a heart as suits your mind:
Buy some suet--and enough
Of the herbs required to stuff;
Buy some le non-peel--and, oh!
Heart of calf, we'll fill thee so.

Buy some onions--just a taste--
Buy enough, but not to waste;
Buy two eggs of slender shell
Mix, and stir the mixture well;
Crumbs of bread among it throw;
Heart of calf we'll roast thee so.
Maid of all work, when 'tis done,
Serve it up to me alone:
Rich brown gravy round it roll,
Marred by no intruding coal;
Currant jelly add--and lo!
Heart of calf, I'll eat thee so.


THE CHRISTMAS PUDDING.
AIR--"Jeannette and Jeannott."

If you wish to make a pudding in which every one delights,
Of a dozen new-laid eggs you must take the yolks and whites;
Beat them well up in a basin till they thoroughly combine,
And shred and chop some suet particularly fine;

Take a pound of well-stoned raisins, and a pound of currants dried,
A pound of pounded sugar, and a pound of peel beside;
Stir them all well up together with a pound of wheaten flour,
And let them stand and settle for a quarter of an hour;

Then tie the pudding in a cloth, and put it in the pot,--
Some people like the water cold, and some prefer it hot;
But though I don't know which of these two methods I should praise,
I know it ought to boil an hour for every pound it weighs.

Oh! if I were Queen of France, or, still better, Pope of Rome,
I'd have a Christmas pudding every day I dined at home;
And as for other puddings whatever they might be,
Why those who like the nasty things should eat them all for me.


APPLE PIE.
AIR-"All that's bright must fade."

All new dishes fade--
The newest oft the fleetest;
Of all the pies now made,
The Apple's still the sweetest;
Cut and come again,
The syrup upward springing!
While my life and taste remain,
To thee my heart is clinging.
Other dainties fade--
The newest oft the fleetest;
But of all the pies now made,
The Apple's still the sweetest.

Who absurdly buys
Fruit not worth the baking?
Who wastes crust on pies
That do not pay for making?
Better far to be
An Apple Tartlet buying,
Than to make one at home, and see
On it there's no relying:
That all must be weigh'd,
When thyself thou treatest--
Still a pie home-made
Is, after all, the sweetest.

Who a pie would make,
First his apple slices;
Then he ought to take
Some cloves--the best of spices:
Grate some lemon rind,
Butter add discreetly;
Then some sugar mix--but mind
The pie's not made too sweetly.
Every pie that's made
With sugar, is completest;
But moderation should pervade--
Too sweet is not the sweetest.

Who would tone impart,
Must--if my word is trusted--
Add to his pie or tart
A glass of port--old crusted
If a man of taste,
He, complete to make it,
In the very finest paste
Will inclose and bake it.
Pies have each their grade;
But, when this thou eatest,
Of all that e'er were made,
You'll say 'tis best and sweetest.


LOBSTER SALAD.
AIR-"Blue Bonnets Over The Border."

Take, take, lobsters and lettuces;
Mind that they send you the fish that you order:
Take, take, a decent-sized salad bowl,
One that's sufficiently deep in the border.
Cut into many a slice
All of the fish that's nice,
Place in the bowl with due neatness and order:
Then hard-boil'd eggs you may
Add in a neat array
All round the bowl, just by way of a border.

Take from the cellar of salt a proportion:
Take from the castors both pepper and oil,
With vinegar, too--but a moderate portion--
Too much of acid your salad will spoil.
Mix them together,
You need not mind whether
You blend them exactly in apple-pie order;
But when you've stirr'd away,
Mix up the whole you may--
All but the eggs, which are used as a border.

Take, take, plenty of seasoning;
A teaspoon of parsley that's chopp'd in small pieces:
Though, though, the point will bear reasoning,
A small taste of onion the flavor increases.
As the sauce curdle may,
Should it: the process stay,
Patiently do it again in due order;
For, if you chance to spoil
Vinegar, eggs, and oil,
Still to proceed would on lunacy border.

STEWED STEAK
AIR--"Had I a Heart for Falsehood Framed."

Had I pound of tender Steak,
I'd use it for a stew;
And if the dish you would partake,
I'll tell you what to do.
Into a stew-pan, clean and neat,
Some butter should be flung:
And with it stew your pound of meat,
A tender piece--but young.

And when you find the juice express'd
By culinary art,
To draw the gravy off, were best,
And let it stand apart.
Then, lady, if you'd have a treat,
Be sure you can't be wrong
To put more butter to your meat,
Nor let it stew too long.

And when the steak is nicely done,
To take it off were best;
And gently let it fry alone,
Without the sauce or zest;
Then add the gravy--with of wine
A spoonful in it flung;
And a shalot cut very fine--
Let the shalot be young.

And when the whole has been combined,
More stewing 't will require;
Ten minutes will suffice--but mind
Don't have too quick a fire.
Then serve it up--'t will form a treat!
Nor fear you've cook'd it wrong;
GOURMETS in all the old 't will meet,
And GOURMANDS in the young.

GREEN PEA SOUP.
AIR--"The Ivy Green."
Oh! a splendid Soup is the true Pea Green
I for it often call;
And up it comes in a smart tureen,
When I dine in my banquet hall.
When a leg of mutton at home is boil'd,
The liquor I always keep,
And in that liquor (before 'tis spoil'd)
A peck of peas I steep.
When boil'd till tender they have been,
I rub through a sieve the peas so green.

Though the trouble the indolent may shock,
I rub with all my power;
And having return'd them to the stock,
I stew them for more than an hour;
Then of younger peas I take some more,
The mixture to improve,
Thrown in a little time before
The soup from the fire I move.
Then seldom a better soup is seen,
Than the old familiar soup Pea Green.

Since first I began my household career, How many my dishes have been!
But the one that digestion never need fear,
Is the simple old soup Pea Green.
The giblet may tire, the gravy pall,
And the turtle lose its charm;
But the Green Pea triumphs over them all,
And does not the slightest harm.
Smoking hot in a smart tureen,
A rare soup is the true Pea Green!


TRIFLE.
AIR--"The Meeting of the Waters."

There's not in the wide world so tempting a sweet
As that Trifle where custard and macaroons meet;
Oh! the latest sweet tooth from my head must depart
Ere the taste of that Trifle shall not win my heart.

Yet it is not the sugar that's thrown in between,
Nor the peel of the lemon so candied and green;
'Tis not the rich cream that's whipp'd up by a mill:
Oh, no! it is something more exquisite still.

'Tis that nice macaroons in the dish I have laid,
Of which a delicious foundation is made;
And you'll find how the last will in flavor improve,
When soak'd with the wine that you pour in above.

Sweet PLATEAU of Trifle! how great is my zest
For thee, when spread o'er with the jam I love best,
When the cream white of eggs--to be over thee thrown,
With a whisk kept on purpose--is mingled in one!

MUTTON CHOPS.
AIR--"Come dwell with me."

Come dine with me, come dine with me,
And our dish shall be, our dish shall be,
A Mutton Chop from the butcher's shop--
And how I cook it you shall see.
The Chop I choose is not too lean;
For to cut off the fat I mean.
Then to the fire I put it down,
And let it fry until 'tis brown.
Come dine with me; yes, dine with me, etc.

I'll fry some bread cut rather fine,
To place betwixt each chop of mine;
Some spinach, or some cauliflowers,
May ornament this dish of ours.
I will not let thee once repine
At having come with me to dine:
'T will be my pride to hear thee say,
"I have enjoy'd my Chop, to-day."
Come, dine with me; yes, dine with me;
Dine, dine, dine, with me, etc.

BARLEY WATER.
AIR--"On the Banks of Allan Water."

For a jug of Barley Water
Take a saucepan not too small;
Give it to your wife or daughter,
If within your call.
If her duty you have taught her,
Very willing each will be
To prepare some Barley Water
Cheerfully for thee.

For a jug of Barley Water,
Half a gallon, less or more,
From the filter that you bought her,
Ask your wife to pour.
When a saucepan you have brought her
Polish'd bright as bright can be,
In it empty all the water,
Either you or she.

For your jug of Barley Water
('Tis a drink by no means bad),
Some two ounces and a quarter
Of pearl barley add.
When 'tis boiling, let your daughter
Skim from blacks to keep it free;
Added to your Barley Water
Lemon rind should be.

For your jug of Barley Water
(I have made it very oft),
It must boil, so tell your daughter,
Till the barley's soft.
Juice of a small lemon's quarter
Add; then sweeten all like tea;
Strain through sieve your Barley Water--
'Twill delicious be.

BOILED CHICKEN.
AIR--"Norah Creina."

Lesbia hath a fowl to cook;
But, being anxious not to spoil it,
Searches anxiously our book,
For how to roast, and how to boil it.
Sweet it is to dine upon--
Quite alone, when small its size is;--
And, when cleverly 'tis done,
Its delicacy quite surprises.
Oh! my tender pullet dear!
My boiled--not roasted--tender Chicken;
I can wish
No other dish,
With thee supplied, my tender Chicken!

Lesbia, take some water cold,
And having on the fire placed it,
And some butter, and be bold--
When 'tis hot enough--taste it.
Oh! the Chicken meant for me
Boil before the fire grows dimmer,
Twenty minutes let it be
In the saucepan left to simmer.
Oh, my tender Chicken dear!
My boil'd, delicious, tender Chicken!
Rub the breast
(To give a zest)
With lemon-juice, my tender Chicken.

Lesbia hath with sauce combined
Broccoli white, without a tarnish;
'Tis hard to tell if 'tis design'd
For vegetable or for garnish.
Pillow'd on a butter'd dish,
My Chicken temptingly reposes,
Making gourmands for it wish,
Should the savor reach their noses.
Oh, my tender pullet dear!
My boiled--not roasted--tender Chicken
Day or night,
Thy meal is light,
For supper, e'en, my tender Chicken.

STEWED DUCK AND PEAS.
AIR--"My Heart and Lute."

I give thee all, I can no more,
Though poor the dinner be;
Stew'd Duck and Peas are all the store
That I can offer thee.
A Duck, whose tender breast reveals
Its early youth full well;
And better still, a Pea that peels
From fresh transparent shell.

Though Duck and Peas may fail, alas!
One's hunger to allay;
At least for luncheon they may pass,
The appetite to stay,
If seasoned Duck an odor bring
From which one would abstain,
The Peas, like fragrant breath of Spring,
Set all to rights again.

I give thee all my kitchen lore,
Though poor the offering be;
I'll tell thee how 'tis cook'd, before
You come to dine with me:
The Duck is truss'd from head to heels,
Then stew'd with butter well;
And streaky bacon, which reveals
A most delicious smell

When Duck and Bacon in a mass
You in the stew-pan lay,
A spoon around the vessel pass,
And gently stir away:
A table-spoon of flour bring, A quart of water bring,
Then in it twenty onions fling,
And gently stir again.

A bunch of parsley, and a leaf
Of ever-verdant bay,
Two cloves--I make my language brief--
Then add your Peas you may!
And let it simmer till it sings
In a delicious strain,
Then take your Duck, nor let the strings
For trussing it remain.

The parsley fail not to remove,
Also the leaf of bay;
Dish up your Duck--the sauce improve
In the accustom'd way,
With pepper, salt, and other things,
I need not here explain:
And, if the dish contentment brings,
You'll dine with me again.

CURRY.

Three pounds of veal my darling girl prepares,
And chops it nicely into little squares;
Five onions next prepares the little minx
(The biggest are the best her Samiwel thinks).
And Epping butter, nearly half a pound,
And stews them in a pan until they're brown'd.

What's next my dexterous little girl will do?
She pops the meat into the savory stew,
With curry powder, table-spoonfulls three,
And milk a pint (the richest that may be);

And, when the dish has stewed for half-an-hour,
A lemon's ready juice she'll o'er it pour:
Then, bless her! then she gives the luscious pot
A very gentle boil--and serves quite hot.

P.S. Beef, mutton, rabbit, if you wish;
Lobsters, or prawns, or any kind of fish
Are fit to make A CURRY. 'Tis, when done,
A dish for emperors to feed upon.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

glory

Leonardo DaVinci writes:

OF THE WAY OF REPRESENTING A BATTLE.

First you must represent the smoke of artillery mingling in the air with the dust and tossed up by the movement of horses and the combatants... The more the combatants are in this turmoil the less will they be seen, and the less contrast will there be in their lights and shadows. Their faces and figures and their appearance, and the musketeers as well as those near them you must make of a glowing red...

The air must be full of arrows in every direction, some shooting upwards, some falling, some flying level. The balls from the guns must have a train of smoke following their flight. The figures in the foreground you must make with dust on the hair and eyebrows and on other flat places likely to retain it...

And if you make any one fallen, you must show the place where he has slipped and been dragged along the dust into blood stained mire; and in the half-liquid earth arround show the print of the tramping of men and horses who have passed that way. Make also a horse dragging the dead body of his master, and leaving behind him, in the dust and mud, the track where the body was dragged along.

You must make the conquered and beaten pale, their brows raised and knit, and the skin above their brows furrowed with pain, the sides of the nose with wrinkles going in an arch from the nostrils to the eyes, and make the nostrils drawn up -- which is the cause of the lines of which I speak -- and the lips arched upwards and discovering the upper teeth; and the teeth apart as with crying out and lamentation.

And make some one shielding his terrified eyes with one hand, the palm towards the enemy, while the other rests on the ground to support his half raised body. Others represent shouting with their mouths open, and running away. You must scatter arms of all sorts among the feet of the combatants, as broken shields, lances, broken swords and other such objects.

And you must make the dead partly or entirely covered with dust, which is changed into crimson mire where it has mingled with the flowing blood whose colour shows it issuing in a sinuous stream from the corpse. Others must be represented in the agonies of death grinding their teeth, rolling their eyes, with their fists clenched against their bodies and their legs contorted. Some might be shown disarmed and beaten down by the enemy, turning upon the foe, with teeth and nails, to take an inhuman and bitter revenge.

You might see some riderless horse rushing among the enemy, with his mane flying in the wind, and doing no little mischief with his heels. Some maimed warrior may be seen fallen to the earth, covering himself with his shield, while the enemy, bending over him, tries to deal him a deathstroke. There again might be seen a number of men fallen in a heap over a dead horse.

You would see some of the victors leaving the fight and issuing from the crowd, rubbing their eyes and cheeks with both hands to clean them of the dirt made by their watering eyes smarting from the dust and smoke... And there may be a river into which horses are galloping, churning up the water all round them into turbulent waves of foam and water, tossed into the air and among the legs and bodies of the horses. And there must not be a level spot that is not trampled with gore.

from The Notebooks of Leonardo DaVinci (reprinted from my LJ, July 2006)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

My Object All Sublime


In 2000, I decided that the theatre program at Christopher Newport University was a class act, and determined that, over the hill as I was, I would use my position as a faculty spouse to justify trying out for shows. I auditioned (using "The Girl Friend of the Whirling Dervish" as my song) , and was offered a part in the Chorus, which I accepted, knowing full well it would be harder than any part I'd ever done. And it was, but it was so worth it. I got to work with director George Hillow, who not only brought out humorous scenes and situations I never suspected were in the original script, but who also created fantastic sets.

(In the photo, I'm the really pale one. My character was called "Honorable Third-From-Left".)

Early in rehearsals, George put out a call for new lyrics in two of the show's numbers, "I've Got A Little List," and "A More Humane Mikado." Though most of the show's lyrics have aged well, the social offenders on whom the characters were wishing death and humiliation have been replaced by much newer annoyances to revile. It turned out quite soon that he was happy enough with a set of lyrics for the little list that had been used in another production, and I turned my attention to the Mikado's number.

One or two verses I initially wrote were axed and replaced by better ones (also by me). In the course of rehearsal, bits of business were added in.

It was just wonderful, hearing my lyrics sung by a soloist with chorus and orchestra for a live audience that gave the impression they were enjoying it. (The highest compliment the show received, in my opinion, was a student sitting behind my wife, who remarked to his chum, "This is more fun than getting wrecked!")



Allow me to set the stage. The Mikado of Japan, feared by all for his jovial enjoyment of torture, comes to the town of Titipu, where he is greeted by all the other principals and the chorus. The laughter heard in the opening lines of his song comes because the factotums have brought a huge box out onto the stage, and the Mikado has just popped out of it like a mikado-in-a-box. (Jon, our Mikado, carried this off with hauteur and aplomb, despite being claustrophobic.)

By way of introduction, he sings the words of W.S. Gilbert (which I will put asterisks in front of, just in case anyone thinks I'm trying to pass off his lyrics as more of my work):

Mikado:
*A more humane Mikado never did in Japan exist!
*To nobody second, I'm certainly reckoned a true philanthopist.
*It is my very humane endeavor to make, to some extent,
*Each evil liver a running river of harmless merriment.

*My object all sublime, I shall achieve in time--
*To let the punishment fit the crime, the punishment fit the crime--
*And make each prisoner pent
*Unwillingly represent
*A source of innocent merriment, of innocent merriment!

The boring breadwinner who rings you at dinner
To change long-distance plans;
We'll let this annoyer try calling his lawyer
With string and two tin cans.

The dowager old, who makes so bold
As to 'lift' her form and face --
When she has healed, 'twill be revealed
Her nose they did misplace.

The chip-eating chap in his easy chair's lap
Who's wild for spectator sport
Will play them all from inside the ball
Being bounced around the court!

The lout who enjoys his musical noise
And shares it with you on the street;
We shall make a drum of his bum-bum-bum
And kick it on every beat...

*My object all sublime, I shall achieve in time
*To let the punishment fit the crime, the punishment fit the crime,
*And make each prisoner pent
*Unwillingly represent
*A source of innocent merriment, of innocent merriment.

Chorus:
*His object all sublime, he shall achieve in time (etc)

Mikado:
The caliginous creep with his cell-phone's beep
In crowded concert halls;
His number we'll lend to the Psychic Friends
And let them receive his calls!

The lawyers who...

At this point, a cell phone is heard. Jon stops singing. The orchestra stops playing. The chorus and everyone else on stage starts digging frantically through their costumes, looking for the phone. A Gentleman of Japan, who is somehow third from right at this point, triumphantly comes up with the chirping instrument, opens it up and says, "Moshi-moshi? ... hai... hai... " Sudden realization that the call is for the Big Guy himself, who regards me with royal impatience. I knee-walk over and hand him my phone. "Mikado," says Jon. "Sorry, I'm in the middle of a number. Yes... Yes, I love you too, Mumsy." He clicks off and puts the phone in his pocket. I grovel back to my place.

Mikado:
...The lawyers who race and ambulance chase
As a business strategem
Will see how they like to pedal a bike
While the ambulance chases them.

The mentalities small, who write on a wall
That "So and So is a Jerk" --
We'll see to it these'll be everyone's easel
Of calli-o-graphic work!

The playgoer loud, so exceedingly proud
To announce how the show comes out
Will be condemned to announce the end
Of himself; quite soon, no doubt.

*My object all sublime, I shall achieve in time (etc)

Chorus:
*His object all sublime, he shall achieve in time (etc)

(We moved from Virginia in 2005, but for as long as we were there, George was telling people that the biggest laugh ever was when I said "Moshi-moshi." I believe it was Jackie who provided me with this standard telephone greeting. Nowadays I think I should have turned out as the reaction was dying down and shushed the audience, but we only think of these things when it's twelve years too late. Edited to add an audio file, and I think I might be able to provide video of it in the near-ish future.)

15 Nov 2013: I was thinking about the show again today, wearily working out at the Y, and the remarkable talents we had. Fred, our Ko-Ko, has been working steadily on stages in New York City and around, since he graduated. Erik, our Pooh-Bah, has been a fixture on professional stages farther south. When Erik and Fred and Chad performed the trio, "I Am So Proud," the star power on that stage was downright scary. And Jon, who popped out of a box as The Mikado, did so with grace and confidence each night, notwithstanding his nigh-overpowering claustrophobia. The things we are able to do in front of an audience! (My back had gone out, and as I stepped away from the stage, I'd sag more and more until I had to crawl to a couch until my next entrance. I remember seeing Mike doze on the same couch, and when a stagehand gave us the customary alert, "Five minutes," he replied "Thank you five" without waking up.)

What I wanted to say was that I still admire Erik, not just for his virtuoso performance (without changing a word of dialog, he made the scene where he advises Ko-Ko as a variety of functionaries into a cadenza of celebrity impersonations) but for his curtain call. All through the show, he was stern and unbending. As he took his bow, he glared at the audience one last time, raised his fan to his face, and when the fan came down, he was smiling broadly. He had dropped the mask with a wonderful gesture I will steal if I ever get the chance, facing the audience for the last time as himself.

The closest I came to an inspired curtain call was for "Where's Charley?", a show in which I spent my time trying to woo a wealthy widow, never suspecting it was Charley. The real widow, played by Angela, was to my left as we came out. Every night, I gallantly offered her my arm, and every night, she didn't even see me, turning to the gentleman who had won her affection in the last act, at which I would turn away and pretend not to mind. Angela didn't even know I was doing it. Somebody told her, and she said it made her feel so sorry for me! Or rather, for Simon Sylvester Salsonberry Spettigue, I suppose.

Monday, June 04, 2007

For Geckoman
It might have been me that warned you about pocket change and batteries. When I was at McDonald, I was standing back in the production area and my thigh felt warm. A second later, it was hot, and I jumped. The culprit was a couple of AAs and some jingly money, burning a hole in my pocket, or trying to. Since then, I've been very careful about it. I even thought about it as recently as this week.

{This comment is here because LiveJournal is rejecting almost all my attempts to reply to the journals of my friends, or even post anything on my own journal longer than a line.}

Our Hero Treads Some Boards

After almost two solid years, it finally happens. I got my audition at the Majestic Theater in West Springfield. If I can get into the upcoming season of shows, in any part whatever, I'll get to hang out with theatre people and (I fully expect) will show them that I'm capable of good things.

I think it went well. I rehearsed my prepared cutting for weeks, and practiced my chosen musical number, "The Girl Friend of the Whirling Dervish." I practiced vocals and accompaniment, and a few nights before time to put it on a CD, I had a wondrous thought: I could edit a good performance in SoundForge! So, instead of settling for a relatively decent single take, I worked on getting each part just right and stitched them together. The result was seamless. I had to laugh like a mad scientist. It worked so well! MWAHAHA! (Wait, that's Blinky the Clown's laugh. Let's move along.)

Still there was a touch of uncertainty about the CD. As I took the disk out, JukeBox told me that was my last free sample of CD burning -- I didn't know these were samples! -- and after that they'd be slower. Wasn't that already the slow kind? Oh well. I tried the disk in the old boom box I used to use at work, and it wouldn't play. I tried it in the DVD player and it worked.

So yesterday I finally quit goofing around and went in to make my 2:45 appointment, printing out new copies of my theatre resume and head shot. It takes less than ten minutes to get from here to there. I love convenient venues! I filled out a form (neatly) and pulled out the head shot. Interesting -- the details of my appearance had been replaced by solid black areas. Good thing I printed more than one. I was given three cuttings to look at and some time to prepare.

Cutting number one was from "Guys On Ice -- The Ice-Fishing Musical." Number two was from "The Taming of the Shrew," and the third was from "The Full Monty." The director's assistant talked to me some, and was happy to hear that I have relatives in Escanaba (and thus might have some insight into da You Pee accent for "Guys On Ice"). I asked how to pronounce "satiety." Nobody was really sure, but we decided on a pronunciation anyway. After a while, it was my turn to go in.

On the way, she asked what I'd be singing. She knew "The Girl Friend of the Whirling Dervish," which is apparently a big number in For The Boys. Maybe I'll see that some time. They said, why not sing first and get it over with, so I watched with some feeling of suspense as the disk was loaded into their boom box and the button was pressed. Nothing happened. She pressed it again and it started playing, so there was one obstacle out of the way. I read the three scenes, after which they gave me a couple of others to read, which I hope was a good sign. I had time to prepare a bit, as before.

Then they thanked me, and I went out to the car. I was just a little unhappy that I never got to deliver my speech (a compilation of Slanthead Elder's words from Mister Zip by H. Allen Smith), and almost went back in to do it. Prudence won out. Thanks, Pru!

Now I'm wondering what happens if I get in. To I have to shake my thang if I get into "The Full Monty"? If I get into the cast of "Guys On Ice," will I have to sweat under hot lights for a month of performances wearing a heavy coat and a cap with flaps?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Hello, LJ Friends. Here's the post LJ won't let me put up.

Last week, we took Sarah to see the Wiggles at Six Flags New England. When we got home, the camera was gone, and their Lost & Found doesn't have it. So somebody somewhere is looking at my camera, trying to use it, deciding it's a piece of junk and throwing it away, and I'm without a camera.

Yesterday, Cathy was going to go with me to drop my car off at the Saturn place to get the AC fixed, and then we were going to go places. Maybe look at cameras. Instead, Sarah swallowed a coin, so Cathy went to the hospital with her while I waited a couple of hours to find out that my car will cost another thousand to fix (in addition to what it cost to find that out). When I got to the hospital, they couldn't find them and said they must not be there, but as I was leaving the parking garage, I saw Cathy's car, so I went back in and located them in the X-ray department. Then we ate at Friendly's, and I burned the roof of my mouth on my first bite of clam chowder (which was otherwise tasty).

This morning, Sarah was up bright and early for no good reason. I asked her if she wanted to take a walk to the park with me, and she did, riding on her scooter, which I carried halfway there and all the way home. She played on the swings. We had the place to ourselves until we were about to leave, when suddenly two or three other families showed up. It was thundering, though, so we decided to head on home. After that, we went to Friendly's for breakfast (not the same one as yesterday -- that was a cafe-style mini-Friendly's at the hospital) and walked home in the rain, carrying our umbrellas. I carried mine right-side-up, over my head. Sarah swung hers and then asked me to carry it for her.

Later today, Cathy & Sarah might be at a picnic (depending on the weather) while I go audition for the Majestic's upcoming season. I have prepared a CD with the accompaniment to "The Girl Friend of the Whirling Dervish," which I recorded, using Sound Forge to edit together a more-or-less adequate version. (It plays on our DVD player, not on the boom box. I wonder what they'll have. I can't try burning it again because the program says it won't do any more for free.)

Tomorrow I'll get back to the book I'm working on for my sister's layout business. When completed, it will pay almost enough to fix the car's air conditioning, if everything goes as it's supposed to go. I also have the option of calling salvage yards to see if they have a used compressor, but caveat emptor if I do.

After six attempts to post this at LJ, including breaking it up, I've given up and am posting it here.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Yes, we all think we have a blog in us. The question is, how many? If Live Journal counts, then at least one. Go on over there to see what I've posted (kip-w), and if you need to mail me, my address is in the user info there. And one day, I'll start filling this up with my old LJ posts, and keep using that for the new stuff.

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