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October 23, 2005

Judy Sings Holliday
Posted by John M. Ford at 03:55 AM * 28 comments

My old Plame
Perhaps I was free with her name
But itís funny now and then
How a bunch of well-connected men
Talked to this dame
My old Plame
I guess now it looks like a frame
So perhaps Iíll cop a plea
Before the Times is through with me
For my old Plame

Iíve said so many things
Nice gents told me to say
Nice gentlemen with pals at the top
And now they have all let me drop
I listened when theyíd speak
But they just took a leak
My old Plame
I might be misspelling her name
Iím a player just the same
And I wonít swallow all the … blame
For my old Plame

Comments on Judy Sings Holliday:
#2 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2005, 11:56 AM:

John M. Ford strikes again... Meanwhile, here's what Last Kiss has to say about the state of the Press.

#3 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2005, 11:58 AM:

By the way, John, have you ever done Aubrey sailing into Lovecraft territory? Or maybe Amelia Peabody digging her way into it? As far as the latter is concerned, the eldritch entities would probably decide they just don't want to taste of her deadly umbrella.

#4 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2005, 12:56 PM:

Are we in open thread teritory? If so, can anyone reccomend a good agent for writers of children's fiction?

#5 ::: Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2005, 04:20 PM:

Miller sure gets around... what was she doing in an Israeli General Security Service (shabak) cell, watching an interrogation?

And how did it happen that the man trying to blow the whistle on the WMD scandal (Kelly, whose whistleblowing attempt left him definitively desceased - here:

Funny how her name keeps coming up...

#6 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2005, 05:08 PM:

Of course, for an added fillip, imagine it sung à la the terrible Mel Blanc impression of Peter Lorre used in the Spike Jones version.

For even more, imagine the original as sung by Peter Lorre.

#7 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2005, 06:11 PM:

I think I'm going to go read a Simon Barber story. I'm getting bored with the politics, and there's a certain delight in a plot which climaxes with a rampaging Smurf being brought down by 18-inch battleship guns firing in full-auto mode.

#8 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2005, 06:32 PM:

Mel Blanc's impersonation of Peter Lorre... Was that in the old cartoons about the mad scientist who'd made a very big and very furry monster that went around wearing sneakers?

#9 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2005, 07:08 PM:

Serge - The monster's name was Rudolph, and he'd do anything for a nice spider goulash...

I seem to recall Peter Lorre impersonations elsewhere in the Warner Brothers' Canon.

#10 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2005, 07:17 PM:

Serge, Larry -- the big furry monster in sneakers wasn't Gossamer?

I remember the Peter Lorre mad scientist, but he turned up other places, too.

#11 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2005, 09:00 PM:

Yes, it's the same Peter Lorre impression as in the Warner Brothers' cartoons.

Mind you, Blanc was a genius &c., but I've got a beef against the impression of Lorre, though it's not Blanc's fault that everyone ended up imitating his impression instead of Lorre's actual voice.

But whose Lugosi impression was everyone else imitating? They all sound like Lenny Bruce's, but I'm sure he didn't originate it....

#12 ::: Carl ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2005, 11:10 PM:

I'm just glad the Lorre voice wasn't a unique hallucination to me, though I heard it singing the Spike Jones arrangement.

#13 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2005, 11:27 PM:

Oh, dear, those Earth creatures have pushed my Warner cartoon button. It's the large, red one that says "Do Not Push or You'll Be Sorry."

Warners did a string of movie-caricature toons, mostly before the war -- "The Coo Coo Nut Grove," "Hollywood Capers," and so on. These naturally tended to feature Warners contract players. They were mostly spot gags, rather than plots, and now they're useful for trivia competitions --
"Who the hell was that?"
"Arthur Treacher (Jerry Colonna/Fred Allen/C. Aubrey Smith, etc.)."
"Can I repeat the question?"
In "Hollywood Steps Out," from 1941, Lorre's dreamily watching Sally Rand (you know, Ayn's cute sister*) bubble-dance, until Harpo Marx shows up with a peashooter . . . Karloff's in there too, though he's doing the Monster and has no dialogue.

In 1942, in "Horton Hatches the Egg," there's a "Lorre"-voiced fish.

In '46, Lorre's in the first of the Mad Scientists, "Hair Raising Hare," which is also the debut of the Big Orange Sneaker Monster, who doesn't have a name yet (except the "Monster" on his door), though Bugs calls him "Frankenstein" and "Dracula." (At the beginning of this picture, Lorre is watching Bugs on a "Televisor." Obviously we should all object to the absence of this film from John Scalzi's Canon.) Later that year there's "Racketeer Rabbit," with Lorre playing Second Gangster ("Hugo") to an Edward G. Robinson caricature.

There are probably some other appearances, but Lorre left Warners at about the time the war ended, and the star-caricature toons also became a lot rarer.

The second Sneaker Monster appearance, from '52, is in "Water, Water, Every Hare" (if you went to that, wouldn't you be expecting a monster picture, hmm?) has a different Mad Scientist, who has the lines about "Rudolf" and "spider goulash."

The Monster doesn't show up again until 1980, in "Duck Dodgers and the Return of the 24 1/2 Century," where he is indeed called "Gossamer," and is working for Marvin Martian. Or maybe they're on the Sneaker Monster Planet (you know, like the Wookiee Planet, but with better art direction).

And, uh, the voice doing "My Old Flame" for Spike Jones isn't Blanc, it's Paul Frees.

*Well, not really, but she was a classmate of Robert Heinlein's.

#14 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2005, 12:12 AM:

Michael Turyn, so far as I know, Peter Lorre never did sing "My Old Flame", but I understand that Boris Karloff once went on American Bandstand and sang "The Monster Mash", which Bobby Pickett, of course, had recorded in a "Boris Karloff impression" voice.

There's an interesting sort of irony beyond postmodernism in such a performance. I'd like to hear it sometime.

-- John M. Burt (no relation)

#15 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2005, 01:30 AM:

But as we all know, even though he was credited, Boris Karloff didn't sing any of the songs in "How The Grinch Stole Christmas". Those were sung by the late Thurl Ravenscroft, best known as the voice of Tony The Tiger (They're Grrrrrrrrrreat!) and the voice of Darth Vader.

In the Donny and Marie version.

Yes, that's the one with the female Stormtroopers on rollerskates. And Redd Foxx as Ben Kenobi. And Paul Lynde as Grand Moff Tarkin. "That 70's Show" really should be viewed as horror.

#16 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2005, 05:42 AM:

Sally Rand was a classmate of Robert Heinlein's?

Good heavens, all is revealed. Explained. I meant explained.

#17 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2005, 09:00 AM:

Dave, if all was revealed there wouldn't have been any point to it--although the desk sergeant would have fun doing the booking.

#18 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2005, 09:35 AM:
In "Hollywood Steps Out," from 1941, Lorre's dreamily watching Sally Rand (you know, Ayn's cute sister*) bubble-dance, until Harpo Marx shows up with a peashooter

I preferred the costume-drama version of that one - outtake from the Singing Cavalier, you know - where it's Talleyrand doing the bubble dance. Syncopated rhythms. It was an anachronism to make Karl Marx do the pea shooting, but an effective one.

#19 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2005, 10:52 AM:

Sally Rand was a classmate of Robert Heinlein's?

In MY time-line, Annapolis didn't admit women until the '70s. I like your version better, with Lt. (j.g.) Rand '29 going on to command, say, the U.S.S. Kentucky.

#20 ::: Dave MB ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2005, 01:09 PM:

In MY time-line, Annapolis didn't admit women until the '70s. I like your version better, with Lt. (j.g.) Rand '29 going on to command, say, the U.S.S. Kentucky.

James Gifford's RAH FAQ says in passing that Heinlein and
Rand "shared a hometown and a slight acquaintance". Some
timeline's version of her shows up in _To Sail Beyond the Sunset_,
mentioning her voracious reading habits lasting into her performing career.

According to Wikipedia Rand was born in Elkton MO in 1904,
three years before RAH was born in Butler, a few counties away.
RAH attended high school in Kansas City -- I suppose they
might have been schoolmates there but probably not classmates
given the age difference.

#21 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2005, 01:40 PM:

Duh; sorry to mistake Paul Frees for Mel Blanc.

I should also not give disrespect to impressions that are not good impersonations: Jon Stewart's GWB is a terrible impersonation, but a wonderful impression. In the case of Lorre impressions, though, I think they basically get him wrong: his voice is usually about quiet menace, with occasional ravings thrown in (none at all in the "Mr Moto" movies that were his primary cash-cow for years). He couldn't have played Peachum with anything like the impressions' voice, the whole point of the character was control....

On the fourth hand, though, by the time he did the AIP movies, he may have been imitating his impressionists.

Maybe Judith Miller was actually just talking to Noel Blanc (or Maurice LaMarche) when she thought she was talking to a few high government officials. I don't think her impression of a journalist is particularly good, anyway---like the Lorre voice, it pays attention to the loud stuff (talking with powerful men, getting embedded, going to jail) but fails in most areas (actually working on getting it right).

#22 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2005, 04:54 PM:

There's a 1948 episode of Spike Jones' radio show, "Spotlight Serenade," that features My Old Flame -- first with Paul Frees, and then again with special guest -- ta-da! -- Peter Lorre. I'm listening to it right now -- I suffer pure fanboy meltdown every time I hear it. Datajunkie was offering this as a download a few months ago, but it's expired now. You might check a site like

#23 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2005, 05:54 PM:

"Classmates" was the wrong word, but they were at high school together. When RAH was Guest of Honor at the 1976 Worldcon, Sally Rand attended, as I recall on her own initiative (rather than being invited by the committee). She was around and available for pretty much the whole con, and was quite popular with the crowd. And yes, she danced. Fans, what else?

#24 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2005, 09:50 PM:

"Classmates" was the wrong word, but they were at high school together.

Nah, I still like "classmates" better. I'm waiting to read the story of Lt. Rand, Annapolis '29 - - the first co-ed class in some (more enlightened) parallel world.

#25 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2005, 10:12 PM:

It is conceivable that I might have been misinformed, but I have been told that Ms Rand never appeared unclothed on stage in her life. The audience might have thought to the contrary, but illusion is the essence of the theatre. She always wore a flesh-coloured leotard. The form might have been visible, but no more.

It is true that she was once banned by the City Fathers of Boston, a distinction that she used in her publicity for the rest of her distinguished career. It would appear that the worthy gentlemen were themselves misinformed about the nature of the entertainment, and acted without witnessing it.

Personally, I can't imagine what came over them. The ban might, for all I know, have been fair enough by their lights, but not to see for themselves! It passes all understanding. Civic duty should have compelled.

#26 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2005, 11:29 AM:

Aha! I in fact had forgot that I own a CD of the Peter Lorre Spike Jones appearance---though I've probably heard the Paul Frees version many more times, most recently probably on the KACV webcast of Barry Hanson's Dr Demento Show (which is a living monument to Sturgeon's Law).

#27 ::: Dave Harmon sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2014, 08:48 PM:

They want your Googlejuice. Good lock with the nofollow tags...

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