Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Monday, August 16, 2004


Like the Shirelles said, it’s a swingin’ thing.


I heard the original (? I think) Henry Mancini recording of his movie theme (ace lyrics by ace lyricist Johnny Mercer) on the old people’s radio station today, and the bland white group muzak-y singers made me hear Leon Russell in my mind’s ear instead, the lyrical closeness to Russell’s great song “This Masquerade” making me realize how well Mancini & Mercer’s great song would work sung by a pained wry singer.


Also heard Stevie Wonder’s lovely song on the old people’s station today. “And I mean it from the bottom of my heart.” First reaction: how trite. Lasting reaction: So what! I believe him. The guilelessness overwhelms with embarrassment and charm. Then, at the end, a la Kenny Rogers and Barry Manilow, a gratuitous key change! Incorrigible. Irrepressible. Delightful. Reading the lyrics, I notice Wonder’s craft, saying it’s just an ordinary day, not New Year’s, Valentine’s, April shower, June wedding, July warmth, August harvest, fall, Libra, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas -- a whole calendar from start to finish, just tucked in conversationally. An ordinary day. Any day. Everyday.

From the bottom of my heart.


Martina McBride’s current country hit -- well, she’s always an excellent singer, and here she combines yearning pathos with a rousingly uplifting chorus. Like she really wants all the girls to be uplifted, and it pains her that so many girls can use the uplifting, and that want and that pain come through her singing even as the music uplifts, uplifts, uplifts.


My dad installed new cabinets in the kitchen. My mom found in her mother’s things sheet music for a four-handed piano arrangement of Beethoven’s 6th Symphony (the “Pastoral”). My new nephew Michael is a very pretty baby. My childhood friend Jay is working on a beautiful lullabye for his kids; he thinks he needs a second verse but I’m not convinced that he couldn’t go straight to the bridge after the first verse. My cousin Skip is figuring out whether to buy 2 Michigan football season tickets or 3; his family seems well and his son has grown amazingly since I saw him at Christmas. My mom’s sister pointed out to the widow of my dad’s late brother that she plans to join my dad and his family in voting for Bush, unlike my mom and her children. Mrs. Ransel, Mr. Longman, Mrs. Turner, and Miss Ellsworth all died (in their 90s, though Mr. Longman may have only been in his 80s) this winter and spring, leaving my mom the senior member of the beach; Mrs. Ransel is the only one I knew very well; she was a really charming person, energetic and friendly; she grew up in the summers with my maternal grandfather and in the winters with my paternal grandparents. Her son, Mr. Melvin, plays golf every Monday with his next-door neighbor Chris, who’s cognitively disabled and has the most courtly manners of anyone I know; Mondays and Saturdays are Chris’s days off from the grocery store. Chris’s sister Amy and brother-in-law Andy and their two sons moved back to Ann Arbor from Boston, making everyone in the family happy (me too). My childhood friend Peter changed his name to Guven, got his PhD in anthro, and this year published his dissertation as a book; I hadn’t seen him since his sister’s wedding in 1988 (a picture of me with my immediate family from that wedding adorns my kitchen window sill); his kids (11 and 10 now) are really nice. His sister Ellen has three kids, two of whom have the same names as me and my sister -- she stays home with them and they all seem well and happy. My mom’s second cousins still aren’t on speaking terms with most of us (Mom has exchanged pleasantries with them), which is how we want it anyway, but it can be uncomfortable since we’re next-door neighbors.

These are all people I’ve known all my life.

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Come and check it out if you get time :-)
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