Friday: Hili dialogue

We’ve reached the weekend: for most of us one day closer to leisure, for all of us one day closer to death. It’s February 10, 2017, and a double brownie holiday: National Cream Cheese Brownie Day and National “Have a Brownie” Day. I did in fact ingest a brownie just two days ago, though it didn’t have cream cheese on it.

On this day in 1840, Queen Victoria married Prince Albert, a love match that, sadly, was ended by his early death. In 1942, Glenn Miller was awarded the very first “gold record” for selling 1.2 million copies of a popular song. Do you know the song that won it for him? Hint: it contains the words “ham and eggs.”  ANSWER AT BOTTOM. On February 10, 1962, Gary Powers, the pilot of a captured American U2 spy plane, was exchanged for the captured Soviet spy Rudolf Abel. In 1967, the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution, relating to Presidential succession, was ratified. Finally, on this day in 1996 , chess champion Garry Kasparov was beaten by the IBM supercomputer “Deep Blue”: a first.

Notables born on this day include Boris Pasternak (1890), Bill Tilden and Jimmy Durante (both 1893), Bertolt Brecht (1898), Leontyne Price (1927), the mountaineering twins Jim and Lou Whitaker (1929, both still alive), Mark Spitz (1950), and Laura Dern (1967). Those who died on this day include Joseph Lister (1912), Laura Ingalls Wilder (1957), Alex Haley (1992), Arthur Miller (2005), and Shirley Temple (2014). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the poor Princess is mired in the snow:

Hili: And how will I get out of here?
A: Jump or take one step after the other.

In Polish:
Hili: Jak ja teraz stąd wyjdę?
Ja: Albo wyskocz, albo krok za krokiem.
Reader Randy Schenck sent a picture of his “laptop cat” with the caption: “What becomes of old laptops? Just bring in the lap cat.  Even comes with her own mouse.”
And here, to answer the question above, is the first song to earn a gold record in the U.S.: “Chatanooga Choo Choo“, written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren and performed by Glenn Miller’s Orchestra with Tex Beneke and the Modernaires on vocals. The song debuted in the 1941 movie “Sun Valley Serenade”: the version shown below. It became the #1 song in the US on December 7, 1941: a day that, for other reasons, will live in infamy.
I love this song, which exemplifies the white swing bands of the 1940s. Glenn Miller is on the trombone. He died in 1944, when, flying over the English Channel to entertain Allied troops, his plane disappeared. (I realize that the previous sentence contains a grammatical error, as planes don’t entertain troops; but I can’t be arsed to fix it.) Can you spot Milton Berle and Sonja Henie?

And while we’re at it, how about another Glenn Miller/Tex Beneke collaboration: “I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo” from the movie “Orchestra Wives” (1942). This is notable for its classic big-band singing, the monicker “piperoo” for that Gal, and especially for the spectacular dance routine of the Nicholas Brothers that starts at 4:18. Don’t miss it! If you don’t know these guys, you should.


  1. Dominic
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    “can’t be arsed” – 🙂 Made me laugh…
    Happy Friday!

    • Bob MURRAY
      Posted February 10, 2017 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      I firmly believe that all of our Colonial cousins should revert to the olde English. ‘Assed’ to me has always sounded so half-arsed!
      Well done Mein Host!

      • Gregory Kusnick
        Posted February 10, 2017 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

        It’s all about assonance. If you pronounce “half” with the “at” vowel (as most US English speakers do), then “half-assed” sounds right. If the you pronounce “half” with the “pot” vowel and drop the “r” in “arsed” (as most UK English speakers do), then “half-arsed” makes sense.

  2. James Walker
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    I can’t listen to “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” without thinking of “Young Frankenstein”:

  3. Barry Lyons
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    That was great. Yes, the Nicholas Brothers are new to me. Thanks for posting this!

  4. W.Benson
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Hoping I’m not jumping the gun, and just a reminder, Sunday, Feb. 12 is Darwin’s Birthday.

    • Blue
      Posted February 10, 2017 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      Thus, Ms Benson, a favored valentine I sent out just yesterday to m’grandkiddos ! =

      (and, along with that ‘ne, sent m’self this valentine ! ! Not ? !)


      • Mark Sturtevant
        Posted February 10, 2017 at 8:40 am | Permalink

        I made the same one for my Mrs a couple years ago!

  5. Mike
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    He had a great sound Glenn Miller,love String of Pearls

    • Mike
      Posted February 10, 2017 at 7:39 am | Permalink

      is one of my favourites, they don’t make em like that anymore. Great Lyrics with not a four letter word in sight.

  6. Randy schenck
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Emma thanks you for the photo.

    Glenn Miller was born in the same small town in Iowa where I started. I think he lived there all of 3 or 4 months but don’t tell the town. They still have the little house there where he was born and a large museum close by that was just built a few years ago. Every year they have a Glenn Miller festival.

  7. rickflick
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    These performances were from a time when popular music was a fairly elaborate affair. It was displaced by the likes of Elvis and Pat Boone in the 50s. The shift must have been induced by the smaller payroll for the band.

    I grew up in a town not far from Kalamazoo. I always wondered about the town in the song but I don’t remember ever going there. Together with Battle Creek, Kalamazoo was known for manufacturing crunchy cereals in cardboard boxes. The history of the cereal industry in Battle Creek involved John Harvey Kellogg and the Seventh-day Adventist Church who was on the lookout for a healthy breakfast devoid of eggs and bacon.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted February 10, 2017 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      No kidding. SDA is devoid of most anything.

      The big band demise was probably a combination of many things. Certainly the cost of keeping a big band on the road always tough and they didn’t play huge venues like they do today. Even the invention of television and just the changing fads in music. Maybe the big change from brass to guitar as well. A thing called rock and roll.

  8. Posted February 10, 2017 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Actually, having been to air shows, I believe planes can entertain Allied troops; so no grammatical error after all!

  9. jaxkayaker
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know a lot about big band music, but I do have Sing, Sing, Sing by Benny Goodman in my music library. The ones you posted are fun.

    Beautiful laptop cat!

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