Friday, April 30, 2010

Magpie Entry #12

Song: “Down in the Fish-Bowl”
(For those who remember…)

Down in the fish-bowl in an itty-bitty pool,
Lived a lovely she-fish, looking rather cool.
“Swim!” said her mama-fish, “swim if you can.”
So she darted about like a wet Peter Pan.

(Lively, happy tempo)
Boop boop dittem dattem wattem Chu!
Boop boop dittem dattem wattem Chu!
She darted about like a wet Peter Pan.

“Whee!” said our girl-fish, “here’s a lot of fun!
I can swim like this until the day is done!”
She swam and she swam; it was all such a lark,
Till tragedy struck: she came upon a…

(Slowly and lugubriously)
Boop boop dittem dattem wattem Chu!
Boop boop dittem dattem wattem Chu!
Tragedy struck: she came upon a shark.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Magpie Entry #11

Song: "Puttin' On My Top Hat"

(With belated and somewhat insincere apologies to Irving Berlin)

The message was clear: “Your presence tonight, it’s formal.” I knew what that meant: a top hat, white tie and cane.

I’m puttin’ on my top hat,
Tyin’ up my white tie,
Dustin’ off my cane.
Gotta dude my shirt front,
Put in all the shirt studs,
Check that weathervane!
I’m steppin’ out, my dear,
To breathe an atmosphere
That simply reeks with class.
And I have to trust
You’ll excuse my dust
When I step on the gas!
For I’ll be there
Puttin’ down my top hat,
Mussin’ up my white tie,
Twirlin’ with my cane!

Happy Birthday, Will!

My hobby is Shakespeare. So, since today is William Shakespeare's birthday, I thought I'd reprint an older post for the occasion.
I call this “That Whatley Girl.”
In a recent post, we were talking about young Will Shakespeare’s marriage to Anne Hathaway. But there’s a mystery about that marriage that has had scholars puzzled for a couple of centuries. When the clerk of the court wrote out the license, he gave the bride’s name as “Anne Whatley.” Her name – she’s known as the Second Anne – appears there and nowhere else.
Could it be that the clerk was just careless or incompetent? That he had meant to write “Hathaway” but it had been a long day and he was tired? Because it’s a fact that the mistake, if it was a mistake, was corrected and the marriage that finally did take place was definitely between Will S. and Anne Hathaway; she was his wife and the mother of his children.

So novelists have made up a True Romances story; it would make a good TV soap. In their scenario, Teenager Will had as his true love the beautiful Anne Whatley (they might have looked like the couple above); she was the girl he wanted to marry. He went so far as to make application for the marriage with the clerk of the court.
But the Hathaway family, not to mention his own family, told Will that was out of the question. The Hathaway Anne was visibly pregnant and he was responsible so he could just forget about that other Anne, the Whatley girl – who wasn’t even from Stratford.

So Will had to forget about his true love.
Well, that’s the story. It’s all pure speculation, but it makes for a more interesting scenario than the one about the clerk of the court who simply had a bad day and mistakenly wrote down the wrong name.
Again, have a nice birthday, Will.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Magpie Entry #10

Webber: Okay, gentlemen, what’s this special meeting about? What’s the emergency?
Emmerich: Our meeting is about this. Here, have a look at it.
Webber: Looks like a picture of a watch.
Emmerich: It does, doesn’t it? It’s a picture of Alexander Hamilton’s watch, the watch that was in his pocket back in 1804 during the famous duel he fought with Aaron Burr.

Webber: During which, of course, Hamilton was killed. American History 101. What’s it got to do with us?
Thompson: Two weeks ago this watch was given to Mr. Strohmayer as a retirement gift by his loyal, devoted employees.
Webber: What? Must have cost them a fortune!

Thompson: It would have, if it had been the actual watch. There’s a company in Rapid City, South Dakota named “Chic Replique, Inc.” that makes copies of famous watches. They sell for about a hundred and fifty dollars each. They’ve got George Washington’s watch, for example. Their best seller is Abe Lincoln’s watch, the one he used to time the Gettysburg address. They’ve sold hundreds of those. And they made this Alexander Hamilton watch, now in the possession of our esteemed CEO.
Webber: They don’t claim these knockoffs are authentic, do they?
Emmerich: Of course not. All anyone has to do is turn any of these watches over and see “Chic Replique, Inc.” along with their email address, on the back.
Webber: Well, gentlemen, this looks like an easy problem to solve. All that’s needed is for one of the more courageous of you to go up to Strohmayer and tell him to turn the damn thing over and read what’s on the back.
Thompson: You don’t understand! Mr. Strohmayer is very moved by this present. He has called a press conference for tomorrow morning – local and national media – to make a brief speech of appreciation for this wonderful retirement gift from his devoted, loyal employees.
Webber: I can’t believe this! You’ve scheduled a press conference without even notifying the PR guy?
Thompson: Mr. Strohmayer didn’t want you or any other public relations person involved in this press conference. He wanted to come across as sincere, authentic.
Webber: What he’ll come across as is a sincere, authentic jackass.
Thompson: That kind of attitude isn’t going to be of much help.
Emmerich: To make things just a bit worse, the boss has hired an architect and is having an elaborate alcove, with special lighting, built in the living-room of his home to hold the watch. That niche is going to cost him about eight thousand bucks.
Webber: Eight thousand bucks to hold a hundred fifty-dollar watch. Makes sense.
Thompson: Way I see it, if we’re being charitable, we might assume the employee’s committee, the group who presented the watch to Mr. Strohmayer, was not aware it was a fake. If we’re not so charitable, the whole thing would seem to be a kind of wise-guy prank that’s being played on the CEO. The end result of that could be catastrophic – for a number of us.
Emmerich: “Train wreck” wouldn’t begin to describe it.
Thompson: Okay, P R person, you’re supposed to know what to do in emergency situations, what’s your recommendation?
Webber: Wait a minute. You wait till the bridge has collapsed, the train is headed over the cliff toward the river below, and now – now – you want the PR guy to do something about a possible train wreck?
Emmerich: Come on, this is serious. What are we supposed to do?
Webber: Okay. First off, someone’s got to notify Strohmayer that he’s been “punk’d.” I don’t envy the guy who gets that job. Second, you can’t cancel tomorrow’s press conference; you’d wind up with a large group of hostile media. Tell the boss to hold the conference but make this the topic: the large donation our corporation is making to a worthy charity.
Thompson: What charity?
Webber: Any charity – the National Association of Lame-Brained Business Executives, for example. Whatever.
Emmerich: And then?
Webber: And then sit back and hope the train stays on the tracks. Enjoy the ride!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Magpie Entry #9

With apologies to Edna St. Vincent Millay
What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten.
That umber lipstick, though, I can't forget.
The rain is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply.
I cannot say what loves have gone before;
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Magpie Entry #8

Victor: I’ve told you before, I don’t like doing this.
Mike: I know, but this is something special. I really need your help. An expert like you can tell me if this thing is worth real money. If so, well, there’s a big chunk of dough in it for you.
Victor: All right, let me have a look at it.

Mike: There. What do you think? Yeah, go ahead, take your time, no hurry. Look it over good.
Victor: I don’t need to look it over at all. I know what it is.
Mike: You do? You mean it’s famous?
Victor: You could say that. How did you get this?
Mike: There are two young men who sort of work for me. They – er – acquired it.
Victor: You’re a fence, aren’t you, Mike? And the two young men are punks who steal stuff for you, right?
Mike: Now, wait a minute. How they got it or how it got here isn’t the question. All I want to know from you is, what’s it worth?
Victor: What did you pay for it?
Mike: Well, I figured I could always sell it for fifty dollars – a hundred if I’m lucky. So I gave them thirty-five bucks for it.
Victor: Thirty-five bucks. Unbelievable…
Mike: It’s worth more? A lot more?
Victor: To you it’s worth nothing. You wasted your thirty-five bucks.
Mike: What are you trying to pull? It’s gotta be worth something.

Victor: Let me give you a bit of history. Way back in the year 1918, the royal family of imperial Russia, the Romanoffs, were assassinated by Bolshevik secret police. You’ve heard about this?
Mike: Sort of.
Victor: Then maybe you also heard that one of the daughters, Anastasia, managed to live through the assassination attempt and escaped.

She later lived in Europe for years under the name of Anna Anderson. The word got around in recent years that she had moved to the States and spent the rest of her life here. Nobody could verify this; she wanted to avoid all publicity.
Mike: And this thing belonged to her?
Victor: You guessed it. She had it with her at all times, the only thing she had been able to save.
Mike: And you’re trying to tell me it isn’t worth anything?

Victor: It isn’t worth anything to you. That girl, just a teenager at the time of the assassination attempt, was a royal princess: the Grand Duchess Anastasia. If you could put this up for auction I imagine the bidding would begin at around twenty million.
Mike: Holy smoke!
Victor: But if you tried to sell it you’d have cops and FBI and God knows who else after you. And they’d learn a lot about your operation you’d just as soon they didn’t know.
Mike: You wouldn’t consider buying it, would you?
Victor: I would not. There’s never going to be anything but headaches with this. Way I see it, the person who owns it – or owned it before it was stolen from him – was keeping it very quiet, and probably for good reason.
Mike: So what am I supposed to do?
Victor: I’ll tell you what you should do. Pay the two hoodlums who stole this to carefully take it back to the home they stole it from. Leave it on the doorstep with a note saying “Easter egg. Happy Easter!” Then press the doorbell and run like hell.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Laid-Back Shakespeare #7

If you’ve been reading this series, “Laid-Back Shakespeare,” you’re aware that these are posts on my blog that might be labeled “Shakespeare Trivia,” little-known info on William Shakespeare’s life and times.
In the first six posts, we covered the importance that Will Shakespeare and his father John placed on obtaining a family coat of arms, which would allow them to move up in the world.

The final word on this subject might be said to come from Ben Jonson, another great Elizabethan playwright, as well as a friend, competitor and general all-around nag to Will S. Ben deserves at least one post in our “Laid-Back” series.
To many scholars, Ben Jonson was the greatest dramatic genius of that Golden Age of Theatre, after William Shakespeare. As a personality, he was the opposite of Will: the word “irascible” is often used to describe him.

Picture this: a guy who rose from nothing – I mean, he was a bricklayer – who was unable to go to university, and who decided to educate himself. He became one of the best-educated men in the country. Ultimately, Oxford, which previously wouldn’t have allowed him to deliver a pizza in the back door, granted him an MA.
He was also contentious, argumentative and constantly in trouble. He had a rap sheet that was almost unbelievable. He had killed a soldier in man-to-man combat in the Low Countries, and he killed another man in a duel. He was locked up in prison from time to time for “leude and mutynous” behavior, which seemed to sort of sum up his life.
It’s worth pointing out that the report of his heroic man-to-man combat experience came from him; no one else ever mentioned it.
As for the duel, that really happened, and Ben J. was in trouble; he could have been hanged for such a killing. He managed to get off by using a legal ploy, something that says a lot about life in Elizabethan England. He got off by pleading “benefit of clergy.”
It worked, even though there were few who would have described Ben Jonson as clergy, or even having much to do with clergy.
However, there were so few educated people in the country at that time that authorities decided it would be best not to execute a person if he could prove he could read and write. In that case he would be considered to be “clergy.” Ben did well in this test: he aced the exam by reciting a Bible verse in Latin. He got off lightly: he was just branded with the mark of a felon.
This tough guy was capable of magnificent writing; imagine a roughneck writing the light and lovely “Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes,” which he did.
As for the profession of playwrighting, it was at that time a dangerous business. Write the wrong words in a script and your punishment was severe. In Ben Jonson’s play “Eastward Ho!” he committed the fox pass of appearing to suggest that King James the One had accepted payment for creating knighthoods. That was a mistake. He not only wound up in jail but endured torture. Will Shakespeare was careful throughout his career to keep his nasal passages clean; he stayed out of trouble. Ben sort of stayed in trouble.

As an example of what could happen, the playwright Thomas Nashe wrote a play titled “The Isle of Dogs,” which the Privy Council did not, to say the least, like very much. Aware of the possible impending imprisonment and torture – everyone was aware that the horrible rack, among other such devices, could be waiting for them – Nashe hurriedly left town and hid out in the country. The Privy Council threatened to tear down all the theatres. That would have brought the Golden Age of Theatre to a grinding halt, not to mention Will Shakespeare’s career along with it. Fortunately, the Council never got around to actually carrying out its threat.
If Ben Jonson were around today, my guess is he would be a writer of plays for off-off-Broadway, and he would usually be dressed, even for formal occasions, in worn-out jeans and a dirty T-shirt with an offensive motto printed on the front, and he would be sporting a huge bushy beard, with bits of whatever he had for breakfast embedded in it.

Ben J. regarded with amusement his friend Will Shakespeare’s efforts to turn himself into a gentleman. It would seem he especially got a kick out of the Shakespeare coat of arms, with its “Not Without Right” motto. We know this because he proceeded to write a play which has a character who has received a coat of arms (which he got through bribery); the character, by the way, is a clown.
His coat of arms has a picture of a boar, with a three-word motto beneath: “Not Without Mustard.”
Everyone who was in any way connected with the theatre in London at that time undoubtedly found that hysterically funny. It’s probable that Our Will wasn’t as amused.

As a totally irrelevant side comment, Pocahontas – yes that Pocahontas – was in England and was actually in the audience for one of Ben’s productions.
Ben Jonson died on Aug. 6, 1637. Once he was safely dead, the country decided that he was the foremost man of letters of his age and he was buried with great ceremony in Westminster Abbey.
(He was one up on his friend Will; Shakespeare was not buried in Westminster Abbey.)
Ben was buried under a slab on which was carved the words, “O Rare Ben Jonson!”
He was rare; there were none rarer.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


I met Andy Warhol once.
It was quite a while ago. It would have to be; he left us – died, to be more specific – back in 1987. According to people who know about such things, “He was one of the most famous and important cultural figures of the late 20th century.”
We both used the same film lab. One day I was patiently waiting for work I was there to pick up when a messenger came in. He was dressed like any other NYC messenger: dirty jeans, worn-out jacket, etc. But then I noticed that shock of platinum hair; that could only be one person. It was no messenger, it was definitely Andy W.
“Morning,” I said to him. He glanced in my direction and uttered a brief, low-pitched sort of gurgle which could have been his version of “Good morning” or perhaps, rather, “God, I wish people would leave me alone.”
That was the extent of our conversation. The only reason I bring up this historic occasion is that he, of course, was known for his theory that everyone was going to be famous for 15 minutes – and it looks like my time has arrived.
That remarkable duo, Sandy and Pam, have seen fit to bestow their WOW – “Words of Wisdom” – accolade on my modest, fitfully-entertaining blog, “Savage Reflections,” beginning today. Though I’m relatively new to this blogging deal (I still haven’t figured out links), I’m well aware that it’s an honor to be a BON, a Blogger Of Note, and I thank them for it.
According to the rules of the organization, I am to wear the prescribed BON uniform, with epaulets, as well as carry the ceremonial sword (which comes in handy when reviewing troops). In addition, I am supposed to list three of my posts that might be representative of the type of stuff I churn out here. So, assuming you’re really that interested – which is assuming a lot – here are three suggestions.
You might check out “Meeting Sylvia Beach Again”; “Blogs With ‘Content’”; or any of the Magpie Entries.
And by all means, visit the “Words of Wisdom” blog and get to know Sandy and Pam, two remarkable women who believe in blogs with content.
Or you can email ‘em at:
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