02 December 2006

Why Scott Simon is in my top 5

Very important announcement first:

I am copying this directly from the program for Blair's current production of A Christmas Carol, which I saw (and greatly enjoyed) last night. As Brett can tell you, Blair is my own beloved high school, but as he may not know, I was also in a Blair production of Guys and Dolls way back then. So without further ado:

The Montgomery Blair Players on Channel 26!

In 2001 The Montgomery Blair Players produced Guys and Dolls, with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser. We are happy to announce that video clips from that Blair production have been included in the new documentary on Mr. Loesser that will air Sunday, Dec. 3rd (this Sunday) on WETA Channel 26. We have not seen the show, but the producers tell us that Blair is featured and named in the broadcast. Please consider tuning in, and feel free to forward this note to anyone you feel may be interested in watching, especially alumni.


And now back to our regularly scheduled blog post.

NPR geek that I am, I happily spend my Saturday mornings listening to Car Talk, Weekend Edition Saturday, and Wait, Wait. And like most NPR geeks, I have favorites. I love listening to John Burnett, Wade Goodwin, and Julie Rovner's stories; I adore Robert Siegel's warm, engaging laugh; Beej is just a lovely person to know; etc. I'm fickle enough that people drift in and out of my favorites list - which I will never be foolish enough to laminate - but a couple of positions are pretty solid. My pal Stacey is my all-time, no holds barred, favorite NPR staffer.

But Scott Simon is never out of the top 5. Warm laugh, goofball sense of humor, and he runs stories that apparently were chosen just to reward me for listening. This morning we got stories on famous poisonings in the Classical era; an interview with the author of a book about diagramming sentences, a school activity that I used to enjoy; an interview with Frank Loesser's daughter about the documentary which will feature the above-cited Montgomery Blair Players; and (oh my beating heart) an update of Ko-Ko's list song from The Mikado making fun of the new airplane security watch lists.

He likes Gilbert & Sullivan!! (Note to Scott - I was in the chorus of the Victorian Lyric Opera Company's production of Iolanthe from which the late Chief Justice Rehnquist got his robe stripes. I'm just sayin'.)

I wrote to Scott and asked for permission to post the lyrics. When he wrote back (!!) he pointed out that "since I did not sing, I did not exactly follow the rhyme scheme, but merely used it as a suggestion" and gave me the lyrics. Yes, yes, they can also now be found on NPR's website, but I got them directly from Scott.

All in all, a fine day for radio.

--The Transportation and Safety Administration, which is often assailed for wasting resources by checking infants in strollers and grandmothers with walkers, faced criticism this week for trying to focus its efforts by keeping a list that apparently assigns some kind of Threat Assessment Level to each passenger.

By now, probably every flier has a favorite story of what looked like an absurdity: a toddler who was made to take off his tiny rubber shoes and get wanded; an elderly war veteran who had to remove his plastic leg.

The wife of Senate Commerce Committe Ted Stevens, Catherine, was questioned at an airport because her name is the same as singer Yusef Islam, who used to be known as Cat Stevens.

But you ought to hear Mrs. Stevens sing, "Moonshadow."

There are also complaints that many lists do not contain the names of more plausible terrorists--because investigative agencies don't want to tip off people that they're being scrutinized.

The alarm over each flier being assigned some Threat Assessment level is that inaccurate or misleading information could lay around for years in some data base. Could an employer refuse to hire someone because they had a high Threat Assessment number? Could a bank turn them down for a loan? Will young couples in coffee bars ask, "What's your Threat Assessment Level," instead of "What's your sign?"

A lot of us who fly may have our own lists of people we'd like to leave at the departure gate:

As someday it may happen that a Watch List must be made
I've got a little list! I've got a little list!
of irritating passengers I'd choose to barricade
And who never would be missed! Who never would be missed!

There's the fellow with a backpack
that's the size of Zanzibar
He slings it o'er his shoulder and
leaves your nose all scarred

All people who just want to chat
when you just need to sleep
who tell smutty jokes about acrobats
rabbis, nuns, and sheep

And those who eat burritos
just before they board
they think they are discreet-o
but burp like harpsichords

There's the man with travel luggage
he dragged through yellow snow
who puts his grimy wheels on your coat
and crushes your hat like a bus rolling over a banjo

All people who shout into Airphones
"I'm calling from the plane!"
What was so damn important?
They never do explain.

And pilots who must point out--
"Uh, folks. Flying over Toledo now,"
as if beholding the Taj Mahal
Each access road and shopping mall
holds them in a thrall.

There's the man who has six martinis
and crawls on the drink trolley
Then sings drinking songs from Rawalpindi
all the way to Bali.

But it really doesn't matter whom
you put upon the list.
They'd none of them be missed.
I'm sure they'd not be missed.

I thought that instead of Toledo he said "Silver Spring," and a reference to my hometown would probably have pretty much cemented him in the #2 slot, but perhaps I misheard...


Liza said...

Heeheehee! I heard the G&S story in question and thought of you as I was listening.

Sylvia Poggioli has the best name at NPR. My other particular soft spots are for Cokie Roberts and Daniel Shore.

And I miss the days when the weekly production credits went to Sarah Sarason, Laura Loreson, [someone else with lovely alliteration and internal rhyme] and librarian Key Moleski.

Enlightenment said...
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Enlightenment said...
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Anonymous said...

"There's the fellow with a backpack
that's the size of Zanzibar:" I dropped into this post in the middle and for a moment I thought these lyrics went with the "Car 54, Where Are You?" theme.