Saturday, July 01, 2023

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Over There (1942)
... because it's 4th of July 

Unfamiliar with this rendition? Hear it here.

1) George M. Cohan wrote this song in 1917, inspired by our country's entry into WWI. It was not only popular with the young men who enlisted, it was reassuring to their families. Tell us about a time when music was a comfort to you. It was November 2004. I had worked very, very hard as a volunteer on John Kerry's Presidential campaign and let's just say it didn't turn out as I'd hoped. My much-loved cat Billy had just died. I was as sad as I thought I could possibly be. I was racing to Walgreen's to buy a birthday card for my nephew's 3rd birthday. I didn't want to go to his party, but he wouldn't have understood my not being there. Anyway, as I ran across the busy street, I got honked at and remember thinking, "Hit me. Go ahead. I don't give a shit." Then this song came through my headphones and suddenly, at least for 3:36, I was happy.

2) "Over There" was revived at the start of WWII, and President Franklin Roosevelt cited this song specifically when he awarded Cohan with the Congressional Gold Medal. What's your favorite patriotic song? America the Beautiful. I especially love the verse we sing in church: "Oh beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife, who more than self their country loved and mercy more than life." I would like America to live up to this. I want to believe our heroes died for a merciful, more inclusive nation (despite the disheartening anti-LGBT backlash this past month).

3) This rendition of the song is from the 1942 film, Yankee Doodle Dandy. James Cagney won an Oscar for his performance as George M. Cohan. Also nominated that year was Gary Cooper, who portrayed a different Yankee, Lou Gehrig, in Pride of the Yankees. Tell us about a movie biography you have enjoyed. If it wasn't for Funny Girl, I wonder if the name "Fanny Brice" would mean anything to anyone anymore.

4) Cagney had a rebellious streak. His boss, studio head Jack Warner, nicknamed Cagney, "The Professional Againster." Cagney joked that he was proud of the title. How about you? Are you rebellious? Let's just say I have a very sensitive bullshit detector.

5) In the clip linked above, a woman sings with Cagney. Her name was Frances Langford, nicknamed the "GI Nightingale" because during WWII she performed for the troops at bases throughout Europe, North Africa and the South Pacific. Do you have any nicknames? Not anymore. When I was little, my dad called me "Mouse."

6) In 1942, when audiences were enjoying this performance of "Over There" in movie theaters, the fashion trend was for mothers and their young daughters to wear identical dresses. Moms would buy lots of fabric and patterns for the same casual day dress in both their own sizes and their little girls'. Can you sew? I can hem and mend and replace buttons.

7) The Fourth of July means we're in the middle of summer. Are you careful about applying sunscreen? Of course. I'm fair skinned and must be careful. 

8) Mosquito bites an be a major summer annoyance. Are you scratching any itches right now? Nope. 

9) Celebrity chef Rachael Ray says she considers mini-hamburgers, or "sliders," the All-American food. What will you be eating this 4th of July? I'm grilling salmon filets, and looking forward to it thoroughly.

Around town

Thursday I treated myself to a coffee shop lunch. I settled into the booth with my book, ready to be transported to wherever the author wanted to take me. But I was distracted by the drama in a nearby booth.

He was in his late 60s or early 70s. White hair, middle aged spread. She was in her early 20s, nose-ringed and tattooed. He was enjoying his lunch. She was trying to make a living. It didn't go well.

Photo by Esther Lin on Unsplash
He wanted to know her last name. He said it was because he was "into genealogy." He wanted to know how often she flew and where she vacationed, because he had been a pilot in the Army. He wanted to know how close to the restaurant her apartment was. 

She was firm and consistent. "That's not appropriate. I'm uncomfortable because you sound like a stalker." She repeated it every time he tried to make unwelcome, flirtatious small talk. 

I was proud of her. When I was her age, I went along with uninvited workplace flirting. I didn't want to be thought of as one of those "humorless feminists." I was also proud of the restaurant manager. If I could hear the ongoing exchange between server and diner, so could they, and clearly they supported her.

Friday I volunteered again in preparation for the local library book sale. Once again I overtaxed my back. But my stupidity isn't what alternately amused/annoyed me. It was the Queen of the Volunteers.

She had perfect makeup. Yoga pants and a blue/white striped blouse. Cork-heeled sandals. In short, she didn't appear ready to perform physical labor. And she didn't. A member of Friends of the Library board, she mostly gossiped with the real volunteer coordinator and hovered, ready to tell us what we were doing wrong.

Trust me on this: there wasn't much we could do wrong. We were taking already categorized books (I first handled cookbooks, then I moved on to mysteries/thrillers) and put them in packing boxes. Then we labeled the boxes with black markers. It was an important chore and I was happy to help but an advanced degree was not required. 

One year ago today I was creating content for a client who has a $600,000,000 advertising budget. There were actual consequences to creative decisions I made. And speaking of consequential jobs, there are doctors, dentists, cops, firefighters, air traffic controllers ... Nothing this officious woman did Friday mattered. 

I thought it was funny that she thought I needed assistance to sort and pack. If she really wanted to help, she would have offered to help me lift the full boxes and slide them under the table! I thought it was sad that she got dressed up to come over to the library to be bossy with volunteers she should just be thanking. Most of all, I thought I never want to be her. I never want my self-worth to become so tenuous that I have to be high-handed to feel important.

Then and Now

June 30 was our Rizzoversary! 11 years ago, my friend John and I were in the stands when Anthony Rizzo got his first home run as a Chicago Cub. I remember it so clearly because I believed then (correctly, it turns out) that Rizz was the going to be the linchpin of the next really great Cub team. 

Of course, hindsight is 20/20. One of the nice things about blogging this long is that I can look back and see how I felt about things in real time. And, on June 30, 2012, here's how I gushed about him.

Fast forward to 2023. 241 home runs, three All Star appearances and a World Series ring later. Now he's a Yankee, and he's hurt. He was plunked by a pitch in Oakland. Not an unusual occurrence for Rizz. The way he crowds the plate, he's one of the league leaders in HBP. I've seen him take a 90 mph ball to the thigh, the butt, the upper arm, and hardly flinch before trotting to first base. But Thursday it hit him in the elbow and he actually left the game in pain. Friday he didn't play in St. Louis. I hope he's better for Saturday. I want him to go into the All Star break on a high.