Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

12 February 2009

Come Speak Me A Song

We all appreciate artists who are multi-talented: screen actors who can also sing and/or dance, beginning with Al Jolson I guess, up through Fred Astaire, then to my favorite, Dean Martin. In the 1960’s we were treated to Richard Harris’ wonderful, “MacArthur Park.” It helped if the actor/singer also played an instrument, like Andy Griffith or Dudley Moore. Some were more successful than others. Like Elvis…who was more of a singer-turned-actor come to think of it.

Although rare today, there still are stars who can pull it off. Like John Travolta, who had a couple of hit records and danced up a storm in films like Saturday Night Fever and Grease.

There have always been actors who wanted to get in on the crossover appeal, but couldn’t actually, you know, sing. Think Lorne Greene. The star of TV’s Bonanza had a number of spoken-word “songs,” like “Ringo” which had nothing to do with the Beatles but was about a gunslinger in the old west. At least Lorne did original stuff.

Some stars tried to use their acting “chops” to reinterpret songs into spoken-word dramas. Think Star Trek’s William Shatner, who's not shy about poking fun at himself now. But before he realized what a caricature he'd become, he once did an ultra-serious spoken-word rendition of Elton John’s “Rocket Man.” It’s on YouTube, and it’s nothing short of hilarious. You should check it out. Shatner parodies abound, of course.

But you all know I’m a big fan, so at this point I’m forced to scream like Chris Crocker, “Leave William Shatner alone!” There are worse. There were the actors who took themselves really seriously. There was Telly Savalas. Ol' Kojack did a spoken-word rendition of a great song from the 1970's called "If." Replacing David Gates' beautiful soprano is Savalas' trademarked gravelly voice. See here (it really is worth clicking - is that a smoking jacket he's wearing?).

I love the very beginning. As Telly lights that cigarette he looks (glares?) at the camera as if to say, "What the hell are YOU lookin' at?" and looks like he's about to kick our ass. Then he launches into a sappy love poem accompanied by the cherubic, big-eyed blond. Bizarre, man, bizarre.

Which brings me of course to Scott Meyer and “Basic Instructions,” the funniest comic strip in the world, perhaps the funniest comic strip that ever was or will be. (Right-click and select "Open Link in New Window" if you want to see it bigger.)

Every panel in this strip makes me laugh. I love how Rick says, “I hope you get some enjoyment out of…what’s about to happen.” And Missy complaining about getting dragged into it. And the smoking jacket, of course!

I woke up this morning thinking about this strip and began laughing out loud, chuckling uncontrollably. For the first time in my life I was happy no one else was there, because they’d surely be thinking, “What kind of lunatic am I sleeping with?”

Some people are better off being single.


Bob said...

The Telly Savalas thing cracks me up!

Believe it or not, this is the second time today I've heard "If." A truck driver called in to our local country station this morning and said he wanted to hear "Ee-yuf" (remember I'm in Tennessee). The DJ had to ask him twice before he understand it was "If." It took him a while but he found it and played it.

There's on old SNL bit with Shatner at a Christmas party doing just this kind of schtick. Hilarious.

Mike said...

Very funny!

Your stars who can't sing theme reminded me of Lee Marvin trying to croak out "I was born under a wanderin' star" in Paint Your Wagon, which impressed me as the most masculine singing mishap ever.

Bob said...

Also, do you remember Clint Eastwood singing in that movie? That was pretty classic too. And how about, more recently, Pierce Brosnan in 'Mama Mia'? For some reason, actors sometimes just think they have to sing!