October 29, 2018
Got a comment or trivia answer? Just email us at email@example.com. I’ll take note of them next week.
Happy Almost-Halloween, it’s Week Number 373 of Spooky Syntax, brought to you in part this week by dictionary wizard Noah Webster, who was once quoted as saying, “I wish I would have invented Pictionary instead.” Or maybe I dreamed that.
We were ridin’ along, just a-hummin’ a song last week on our way to Hutchinson, when I switched over to another station, where lo and behold, they were playing the ’68 classic ‘MacArthur Park’ by Richard Harris. I begin singing along, you know, the part about “someone left the cake out in the rain,” etc.
Sally began to laugh. “Whaaat?” she asked incredulously. “What’s he saying about cakes in the rain?”
Now, mind you, this lady is a proud GBHS grad, Class of ’67, and she KNOWS this song. She just never listened to the words. This was a Top Five song, written by the great Jimmy Webb (‘By The Time I Get To Phoenix’ and many more huge hits.) And saying it’s a very dramatic performance by Richard Harris is an understatement. How could one person NOT hear the words when it was on the radio 49 times a day back then? Amazing.
So I had to sing some more: “I don’t think that I can take it, ‘cause it took so long to bake it and I’ll never have that recipe again.” I wish you could have heard me, because I was pretty good. I sometimes think I have talent. Meanwhile, she’s collapsing from laughing, not at me but at the sheer unusual-ness, shall we say, of this song’s lyrics.
“Well, I always liked the song, I mean, just the sound of it,” she explained once she caught her breath. “I just never paid attention to the words. I was never a big word girl back then.” This from a very intelligent and well-read English, Speech and Theatre major. Wasn’t a big word girl back then? Puh-leeze. I know SHE knows the words to every early Beatles song, so what happened between then and 1968? Must have been too busy learning all the lines to all the plays they did in the Emporia State theatre program to pay any attention to pop music.
Anyway, we laughed all the way to Hutchinson. In our 43 years of marriage I’d never heard her laugh so hard over an ‘oldie goldie.’ When we got home I looked up everything I could find on ‘MacArthur Park.’ Turns out the story of what the song was about is a bit murky. Jimmy Webb himself says the song was about a broken relationship, but other folks close to him say other things.
All of this makes me wonder if she ever listened to the lyrics of ‘Judy in Disguise’ by John Fred and his Playboy Band in 1967. Now THAT’S an eye-opener. I’d better not say too much. She reads this feature occasionally. Forget I mentioned it.
Okay let’s check your comments and trivia answers from last week…
Got a winner right out of the chute! Former Great Benders John and Connie Strobel–now in Colorado–knew what ‘ghost sign’ I was asking about. Yes, it’s very faint, but on the north side of the former R.B. Teller building, now OPI building on the alley in the 1200 block of Main, you can see traces of a sign advertising the Plaza Theatre, which I believe was located in that very spot. When Sally managed the Crest Theatre we saw a lot of old pix of the Plaza and Strand Theatres. Joe also checked in here just before we published this and agreed about the sign. He also mentioned that the Strand was a block west on Lakin where the former Masonic building is now.
On the ‘food substitute for shave cream’ question, Terry mentioned he had at one time or another used shampoo, baby oil and Irish Spring soap as substitutes. Mark guessed ‘Cool Whip,’ which actually sounds pretty good, but I would be too tempted to just swallow the stuff instead of shaving. He’s on the right track, though; it is a brand name product, but not anything sweet. Hint: it’s kind of yellow-ish.
Congrats to Tim: he got half of the cartoon series question. Yep, the goofy lion was Snagglepuss. Who was the incompetent marshal who often showed up on the same program?
So, that question and the shave cream substitute question are still available, as is the one about the genetic thing that Australian aborigines and Native Americans have in common. Hint: it’s above the neck. Just look at some old pictures and a certain something will become evident.
The question about tools used by ancient Egyptians and Chinese to catch live food is still out there, too. ‘Water’ is the key hint here.
Let’s toss out a new one: Faberge launched this cologne on the mid ‘60s. What was it?
Oh heck, here’s another: This Number 1 song in 1964 was performed by an artist the Beatles often called their favorite American ‘girl singer.’ Name the song or the singer.
Well, it’s been fun, but I got to run. Correspond with us by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy Halloween and save some Kit Kats for me.