It wasn't even a soft-shoe performance, as there were no shoes at all ... at least not on Bert Cooper, who famously eschewed shoes in the office. Mad Men sent Bert on his way this Sunday, in the mid-season finale that will have to do us for most of the next year. What a great way to have Robert Morse say goodbye: a song and a dance, and a wink.
I loved the scene. And, really, didn't the choice of song - The Best Things In Life Are Free - not only tip its hat to that episode's moon landing plot but more importantly to the very crux of the ending episodes, between material success and emotional happiness?
David Bowie's performance of Wild Is the Wind was the first I had been aware of, but once I learned that he modelled his version on Nina Simone and thus tracked down her recording of it, I now think of the song as hers. It was actually brought to the public eye, or ear, by Johnny Mathis, but five decades on, it's still Simone's song.
This is my mother, Sheila Gushue, when she was about 10 years old, near Rennie's River in St. John's. When she was a girl, going along Rennie's River meant going for a walk into the country; now, of course, it's long been in the heart of the city, or even just its east end.
Nick assembled this and other photographs for a heritage project a few months ago. I love seeing photos of Mom when she was growing up, just as much as I love seeing her today.
It's always amazed me that Britain, which gave us the Beatles (not to mention the Kinks, the Who, the Stones, the Faces, David Bowie, Queen and Dusty Springfield, just to get some names roling), have had a bizarre habit over the years of putting godawful songs at the No. 1 position in the charts. I still remember Shaddap You Face by Joe Dolce, which somehow made its way to the top in 1981.
This week, courtesy of the BBC Radio 4 serial drama The Archers, I learned of another. The characters in the fictional village of Ambridge are getting ready for a Seventies-themed party. The fantasy of the younger folk is matched by the weary "well, we were actually there" of the older ones. Jazzer, one of the characters, remembers a band he recalls being called "Captain Pigeon, was it?" with "somebody's mum playing the piano."
I was curious, and found the band was actually Lieutenant Pigeon, which went to the top in October 1972 ... and yes, somebody's mum actually did play the piano on the song, Mouldy Old Dough. And yes, it was No. 1 for four weeks in a row!
And ... it's wretched! As best I know, the song did not travel much across the Atlantic.
1972 turns out to be a spotty year for No. 1 singles in the U.K. Yes, there was Rod Stewart's You Wear It Well and T. Rex's Telegram Sam, but there were also appearances by Donny Osmond and Jimmy Osmond ... you can see the full list here.
This Sniff 'n' the Tears song came out in 1979, and reminds me of very much being in tune with the time, at least what was coming out and being branded as new wave. I was curious to learn that a) the album had been recorded a year earlier and b) a lot of the band quit just as the song became a hit. That might explain why they didn't have hits in the subsequent months and years ..
Cage The Elephant revives the spirit of 1976, right down to the old-school "play" super at the very start, in this nod to rollerskating and retro dancing. (The leader sing was born in 1983, so the band isn't exactly working from memory!)
We're planning a cocktail party, having had a blast last year mixing up retro and new drinks for a bunch of people. (A good night for the taxi trade, that one.)
One of the problems I have is that even though I have several cocktail shakers, the result of several gifts over the years, it's really easy to go through them, especially when you're mixing up different recipes. Starting off with a cold shaker is key, so having a bunch would be handy through the night.
I saw this video from America's Test Kitchen, and I've taken notes.
The Small Faces burned brightly for a few years before Steve Marriott split off to launch Humble Pie and the rest became, well, just The Faces. Tin Soldier features PP Arnold, who is still going strong, as far as I know.
From last year, here's the Lumineers covering This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody), which might be one of the sweetest Talking Head song ever. The Lumineers lose the groove and strip the song bare; this version was recorded live for a radio feature called Like a Version (ho ho) on the Australian network Triple J. I have to say: I love how they reinvented the song.
On Friday night, Martha and Nick took me to dinner, and it was a new spot among St. John's restaurants: Rio Brazilian Restaurant, on Torbay Road. It's on the intersection with Newfoundland Drive, taking up the space of a former Pizza Exprerts restaurant.
It's an interesting concept: you're seated at a table and invited to check out the salad bar (which also features, oddly enough, chicken nuggets, I guess for families with young kids) before the main event happens. Everyone pays about $27 for a meal (except for drinks desserts), and you can keep the food coming until you turn the green card on your table over, and leave the red side facing up: the visual cue to the staff that you've had enough.
Every few minutes, a server comes by with a long, two-pronged barbecue stick with a type of meat. It may be sirloin, it may be pork ribs, it may be chicken wings. If you want some, they'll off a slice ... or two, or three. It's an all-you-can-eat affair, so no one's judging. We loved the lamb, and had different preferences for other things, like sausages and beef ribs. Martha was delighted to have cod and shrimp offered up. My seafood allergies, of course, had me choosing sirloin and lamb.
There's more to choose from, too: barbecued pineapple, which we liked, and grapefruit and banana given the same treatment, which didn't catch my fancy. We also waited a bit for some of the All the same, it's a fun way to eat, especially with a group; we noticed a number of tables were quite enjoying themselves.
Rio does not offer fine dining, so expectations need to be in check. As well, if you're not hungry or only need an appetizer, this is not the place to come. But for a night out with the family and/or friends, I'd recommend it. We didn't feel rushed, and we enjoyed a night of food and conversation.
It's also nice to see a new alternative in the city for restaurant choices, especially one that's in walking distance of our neighbourhood.
Above is yours truly with my new glasses ... or at least new to my head. I bought them in June when we were on the road, and they've effectively been sitting in my dresser waiting for me to get around to getting an update on my prescription. (One of the vagaries of age: your eyes don't get any better!)
I bought the frames at a stall at the Brooklyn Flea, the one in Fort Greene, to be precise. It's quite the event: dozens of vendors, with everything under the (hot) sun, from records to lemonade to pickles to robot collections to belts ... and on and on. That day, there were at least three vendors selling frames. My colleague Kathryn had recommended the stop, and I'm glad we went. The frames are a good fit, and it's nice that they were a good buy, too.
Dot Dot Dot is Morse code for the letter 'S,' the full message Guglielmo Marconi claimed to have received atop Signal Hill in St. John's in 1901. It ushered in the age of telecommunications. My maternal grandfather worked as a telegraph operator for Canadian Marconi on Signal Hill for many years.
As well, I have a habit of overusing the ellipsis when I write ... as frequent readers might notice.