Monday, May 16, 2022

Chipmunks & Hopscotch

Oy. It's A Long Story: But, in accordance with them newer literary traditions - let's start at the end of the story, with a photo that Abq Jew posted on his personal Facebook page a few weeks ago.

Walla Walla Where

Only those of you, Abq Jew's loyal readers, who happen to be of a certain age, will get the joke. For everyone else - yes, there is a joke here. 

Old Broken Windmill

Regardless of the sorrowful condition of the windmills of Abq Jew's mind (see last May's Windmills of Ezekiel) - you can trust Abq Jew on that.


And now, again in accordance with them newer literary traditions - let's jump back to the beginning of the story. With the absolutely charming and otherwise wonderful 1980 movie Hopscotch - one of Abq Jew's favorites - about which Wikipedia tells us:
Hopscotch is a 1980 American spy comedy film ... that stars Walter MatthauGlenda JacksonSam WaterstonNed Beatty, and Herbert Lom. The screenplay was written by Bryan Forbes and Brian Garfield, based on Garfield's 1975 novel of the same name ...

... in which a CIA field officer walks away from the Agency in order to keep from being retired and placed behind a desk, and invites the Agency to pursue him by writing an exposé and mailing chapters of it piecemeal to all the major intelligence agencies around the world, including the CIA. 

Hopscotch won the 1976 Edgar Award for Best Novel. 

The hero of the story, CIA field officer Miles Kendig, is played (of course) by Walter Matthau - about whom Wikipedia tells us:
Walter John Matthow (October 1, 1920 – July 1, 2000) was born in New York City's Lower East Side.

His mother, Rose (née Barolsky or Berolsky), was a Lithuanian-Jewish immigrant who worked in a garment sweatshop, and his father, Milton Matthow, was a Ukrainian-Jewish peddler and electrician, from Kiev, Ukraine.
It's important to bring Jack Lemmon into this post (see 2011's Dying Is Easy), so Abq Jew can also bring in his favorite Walter Matthau story:
Jack Lemmon told a story that he was working on a movie with Walter Matthau and Walter was doing some sort of minor stunt and accidently fell on his back and hurt himself. He was lying on the ground in agony, and everyone told him to stay still while they got the doctor. Lemmon leaned over and said, "Walter, are you comfortable?" and Matthau replied, "Oh, I make a living."
Lucy Saroyan Walter Matthau

Okay ... you can forget about Jack Lemmon now. Let's go back to the movie - to the part when Miles Kendig (Walter Matthau) hires a charter plane to fly him out of the US. The charter pilot, Carla Fleming, is played by Lucy Saroyan. Carla tells Kendig -

"You remind me of my father." 

This is what's known in Hollywood as an inside joke. For, Wikipedia tells us -
Lucy Saroyan (January 17, 1946 – April 11, 2003) was born in San Francisco, California, the daughter of the writer William Saroyan and the actress Carol Grace. 
Following her parents' second divorce, her mother married the actor Walter Matthau, and Lucy later worked alongside her stepfather in a number of his films. 
Are you still there

Lucy Saroyan died in Thousand Oaks, California, on April 11, 2003, at the age of 57, from cirrhosis of the liver caused by hepatitis C. Her mother died later the same year.

And about Carol Grace, Wikipedia tells us:

Carol Grace (September 11, 1924 – July 21, 2003) was an American actress and author. She is often referred to as Carol Marcus Saroyan or Carol Matthau.

Grace was born in New York City's Lower East Side; her mother, who was sixteen when she gave birth, was the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants. Grace never knew her biological father. Her mother Rosheen Marcus later identified him as British actor Leslie Howard [Steiner; yes, another MOT]. 

She was placed in foster care until the age of eight when her mother married Charles Marcus, the wealthy head of the Bendix Corporation. Grace would take his last name as her own.

She was reportedly the inspiration for the Holly Golightly character in Truman Capote's novella Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Saroyan Gravesite

Which, in delightfully roundabout fashion, brings us to William Saroyan. But, Abq Jew must tell you - this is not the end of the story. In a way, the story is just beginning. As Wikipedia tells us -

William Saroyan (August 31, 1908 – May 18, 1981) was an Armenian-American novelist, playwright, and short story writer. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1940, and in 1943 won the Academy Award for Best Story for the film The Human Comedy

When the studio rejected his original 240-page treatment, he turned it into a novel, The Human Comedy. Saroyan is regarded as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century.

Saroyan wrote extensively about the Armenian immigrant life in California. Many of his stories and plays are set in his native Fresno.

Audra McDonald

Now - do you know who else grew up in Fresno, California? Audra McDonald! But, as talented as Audra most certainly is, this blog post is not about her.

The answer that Abq Jew was, in fact, looking for, is - Ross Bagdasarian! You know - William Saroyan's cousin!

Whom you may know better
as David Seville

David Seville Chipmunks

See where we're going here? Wikipedia tells us -

David "Dave" Seville is a fictional character, the producer and manager of the fictional singing group Alvin and the Chipmunks. The character was created by Ross Bagdasarian Sr., who had used the name "David Seville" as his stage name prior to the creation of the Chipmunks, while writing and recording novelty records in the 1950s.

One of the records, recorded in 1958 under the David Seville
stage name, was Witch Doctor, featuring a sped-up
high-pitched vocal technique. 


And thus the story ends - right back
where where we started from:

Walla Walla Where

There's more

Yes, Abq Jew is going to wreck enhance this story (it has a beginning, a middle, and an end!) - by adding a fascinating (to Abq Jew) coda.

Come On-a My House

Yes, everyone - at least, everyone who happens to be of a certain age - remembers this 1951 Rosemary Clooney (she's George's aunt) classic. With lyrics that definitely wouldn't make it past a Florida school board today.

So - guess who wrote Come On-a My House? Wikipedia tells us:

"Come on-a My House" is a song performed by Rosemary Clooney and originally released in 1951. 

It was written by Ross Bagdasarian and his cousin, Armenian-American Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Saroyan, while driving across New Mexico in the summer of 1939. 

The melody is based on an Armenian folk song. The lyrics reference traditional Armenian customs of inviting over relatives and friends and providing them with a generously overflowing table of fruits, nuts, seeds, and other foods.

It was not performed until the 1950 off-Broadway production of The Son. The song did not become a hit until the release of Clooney's recording. 

It was probably Saroyan's only effort at popular songwriting, and it was one of Bagdasarian's few well-known works that was not connected to his best-known creation, Alvin and the Chipmunks. 

Bagdasarian, as David Seville, went on to
 much fame with his Chipmunks recordings.

You're welcome

So - buy Abq Jew a cup of coffee maybe?


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