Quiz Question

Number 265 of a series

A shadowy figure in the previous World War was Nazi military operative Otto Skorzeny. He is famous for his elaborate operation to free Benito Mussolini from prison, and later he headed up an operation to subvert Allied defenses in the Battle of the Bulge. He and his men dressed up as American soldiers and infiltrated American lines. They spoke perfect English, but Americans caught on and began to ask suspicious characters questions from American culture. Like, who or what are the White Sox?

Decades have come and gone, and we now learn American troops are finding a bounty on their heads. We can never be too careful. That stranger you meet on the street could be a Russian assassin. Here are some questions you should ask. Only a real American can answer correctly.

  • How many days did it take to hitch hike from Saginaw?
  • So, you drove your Chevy to the levee. What did you find there?
  • Where did you leave your heart?
  • You should set your feet to the sunny side of what?
  • What does Old Man River keep doing?
  • “Ain’t …” What is it you ain’t doing?
  • You need to get out of the way of Old Dan Tucker, because he’s too late to get what?
  • There are no stars up in the sky. Why?
  • I can’t get no… What is it I can’t get no?
  • If you got the previous one, then this will be easy. I see a red door, and I want to paint it what color?
  • How long is the Camptown racetrack?
  • What can you get at Alice’s Restaurant?

You know what? If a stranger can answer all these correctly he’s obviously a Russian agent. Shoot him?

The Government You Paid For

Number 69 of a Series

You paid for it, and now it’s yours. It’s the Government You Paid For. But, I’m thinking you never thought you were going to get Steve Mnuchin for Secretary of Treasury. You did! All right then. Time to move forward.

You did vote for Donald Trump, or else you couldn’t sleep over Clinton’s emails, so you didn’t vote for either, and now you have Mnuchin.

Mnuchin advocated for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, a bill expected to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit. Mnuchin claimed the bill would pay for itself by causing explosive economic growth; he promised the treasury was working on an analysis that showed that, and that the analysis would be made public before Congress voted on the legislation.[79] However, on November 30, 2017, sources within the Treasury department said Mnuchin had ordered no analysis of the tax plan and that there was no Treasury analysis that showed that the tax cuts would pay for themselves.[79] In December 2017, the treasury released a one-page report on the tax plan which acknowledged that the plan would not pay for itself through economic growth.

Yes, that Steve Mnuchin.

But what’s this all about? See the meme above. It’s a screen shot from yesterday’s “A Closer Look” with Seth Meyers. It shows President Donald Trump, Mnuchin’s boss, in a visit to a Honeywell plant in Phoenix making surgical face masks. The president is not wearing one, but that’s not what this is about, either. We presume the workers put in full shifts making these masks, and music keeps their spirits up. At the time of this video clip Paul McCarthy’s “Live and Let Die” is blasting in a cover by Guns and Roses. It’s hard to hear what anybody, especially the president, is saying, but the workers are happy. I’m sure the one who selected this number for the president’s visit is happy.

Which gets us to the dust up between Steve Mnuchin and G&R frontman Axl Rose.

Axl Rose and Mnuchin engage in not-so-civil pandemic Twitter war

Here is where I get a chance to chime in. Yes, what has Axl Rose done for the country lately? Fronted a world class rock band, for one. Some may consider this does not shake the earth, but at least Rose is not kissing the ass of a  social-climbing grifter. That has to count for something.

But, full disclosure: I never was a fan of the McCarthy piece. To my taste it drips of corn. The movie is based on what I understand to be Fleming’s second novel, and I am sure I never read the book, and I likely never saw the movie. Then, I have never considered myself to be a classy guy.

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

I don’t know a lot about music, but I do go to the symphony from time to time, and I notice one thing. Everybody has to tune up before the performance starts. If there is a piano, the concert master will walk over to the instrument and hit the middle C key. Else he will play the note on his violin. Then everybody will get in tune with that note. But here’s what happens.

Close up view of hand fingering violin strings while playing the instrument

Close up view of hand fingering violin strings while playing the instrument

The string players will tune slightly higher. The brass players will tune slightly lower. Why?

Post your answer in the comments section below.

West Side Story San Antonio


Anyhow, that was the program bill. It turns out there was more. The program also included:

  • Scherzo Crypto (Alexander Miller)
  • Over the Plains (George Antheil)
  • Prelude and Fugue on a Southern Folktune (Jaromír Weinberger)
  • Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in A minor, Op. 22 (Samuel Barber)
  • “Thanksgiving and Forefather’s Day” from New England Holidays (Charles Ives)
  • Symphonic Dances from West Side Story (Leonard Bernstein)

The Scherzo Crypto was a commissioned work by the orchestra’s concert master, Alexander Miller. Enjoyable, but a bit too opaque for me.

Over the Plains also passed by me almost unnoticed. Possibly for reasons of brevity (the program was stretching a bit) the Prelude and Fugue was dropped from the night’s bill.

Julie Albers was stunning with the cello concerto. And the slinky red gown she blessed us with, as well. However, I grew up on Brahms’ Double Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, especially with Leonard Rose on the Cello and Isaac Stern playing violin. I got spoiled that way.

I can take Ives or leave him. He was independently wealthy and composed major works as a hobby. Again, much too untraditional for me.

What we came for and what we waited for was the Bernstein suite. Here the orchestra, mostly, nailed it. Particularly the prologue captured the intensity and the drama of the opening dance number featuring the gang members. This, and other sequences in the suite, involve multiple, interwoven themes, that, when properly balanced and executed, as in this case, made for an emotional musical experience.

Not so endearing was the second sub theme, based on “Somewhere.” Maybe my hearing is going, but conductor Teddy Abrams left this one a trifle mushy. Not “mushy” as in syrupy and sentimental, but mushy as when you’re trying to walk on deep sand. There doesn’t seem to be a firm footing. Again, through the remainder, the orchestra delivered a crisp and snappy handling of the Bernstein score. Standing applause all around.

This was at the new Tobin Center. It was something else.


I had been down there before. It’s not an easy place to get to, and my past experience was it was not an easy place to park. Barbara Jean, however, assured me we should park in the underground garage. She has in the past been mistaken.

Saturday evening turned out to be one of those seldom times in San Antonio it rains. This did not keep us from arriving on schedule, but finding where were supposed to park was hampered by the darkness and the drizzle, which obscured the few street signs. Street barricades set up all over didn’t help navigation. We inquired about parking. Valet parking, $20. An inquiry at the center: “No parking garage. You need to park on the street. Somewhere. Or try the valet parking.” We paid the $20. I resolved at the time to make plans to miss future events at the new Tobin Center.

Good news! Subsequent investigation by Barbara Jean confirms there will be parking. Next year. The center managers figured it should be performances first, parking sometime in the future. Come next year we will give it a look.

Are You Tuned In?


It’s a new month. It’s time for a new edition of Are You Tuned In? Here are ten more lyrics from American classics. No peeking. Send your answers to me at jf_blanton@yahoo.com. Correct answers will be posted Sunday.

1. Bye bye Miss American Pie. Drove my Chevy to the levee… But what?

2. Speaking of goodbyes: Goodbye, Old Paint, I’m… I’m what?

3. Don’t wanna be a bum
You better chew gum
The pump don’t work… Why?

4. Ma, he wants to marry me
Be my honey bee
Every minute he’s getting bolder
Now he’s leaning on my shoulder
Ma, he’s… He’s doing what?

5. The Campptown ladies sing this song, Doo-da, Doo-da. The Camptown racetrack’s… How long is the Camptown racetrack?

6. Don’t cry for me, Argentina! The truth is… The truth is what?

7. Well, ya got trouble, my friend, right here,
I say, trouble right here in.. Right here in where?

8. Oh, I got plenty o’ nuttin’ / And nuttin’s… And “nuttin’s” what?

9. Bloody Mary is the girl I love.
Bloody Mary is the girl I love.
Bloody Mary is the girl I love.
Now… Now what?

10. I got spurs that jingle, jangle, jingle
As I go ridin’ merrily along
And they sing… What do they sing?

Are You Tuned In?

Quiz is over, boys and girls. Here are the solutions:

And more jazz

American Bandstand

This is for fun. It’s all about stuff you really should know. First and only hint: It’s all about music. It’s a knowledge quiz. Don’t look the answers up, and don’t post your responses on Facebook. Send your answers to me at jf_blanton@yahoo.com. The contest closes Monday morning. Get started now.

1. How long did it take to hitchhike from Saginaw?

It took four days to hitchhike from Saginaw…” If you didn’t get that one you need to go back to the Soviet Union, if it’s still there.

2. Stagger Lee threw seven, Billy swore that he threw… Threw what?

The night was clear
And the moon was yellow
And the leaves came tumbling down

I was standing on the corner
When I heard my bulldog bark
And he was barkin’ up at two men
Who were gamblin’ in the dark

It was Stagger Lee and Billy
Two men who gambled late
Stagger Lee threw seven,
Billy swore that he threw eight

The rest, dear readers, is pure American tragedy.

3. Johnny’s in the basement, Mixing up the medicine, I’m on the pavement… Doing what?

Johnny’s in the basement
Mixing up the medicine
I’m on the pavement
Thinking about the government
The man in the trench coat
Badge out, laid off
Says he’s got a bad cough
Wants to get it paid off
Look out kid
It’s somethin’ you did
God knows when
But you’re doin’ it again
You better duck down the alley way
Lookin’ for a new friend
The man in the coon-skin cap
By the big pen
Wants eleven dollar bills
You only got ten

Read more: http://www.bobdylan.com/us/songs/subterranean-homesick-blues#ixzz2wELKCHdB

It’s an American classic. Nobody should be allowed to graduate from high school and not know this one.

4. Three little children, lying in bed
Two was sick an’ the other ‘most dead
Sent for the doctor, the doctor said
Give those children some… Some what?

Three little children, lying in bed
Two was sick an’ the other ‘most dead
Sent for the doctor, the doctor said
Give those children some short’nin’ bread

Mama’s little baby loves short’nin’, short’nin’
Mama’s little baby loves short’nin’ bread,… (×2)

Lyrics from the ToneWay Project: http://toneway.com/songs/shortening-bread#ixzz2wELkZvcv

5. When Cass was a sophomore, planned to go to… Go where?

When Cass was a sophomore, planned to go to Swarthmore
But she changed her mind one day.
Standin’ on the turnpike, thumb out to hitchhike,
“Take me to New York right away.”
When Denny met Cass he gave her love bumps;
Called John and Zal and that was the Mugwumps.
McGuinn and McGuire couldn’t get no higher
But that’s what they were aimin’ at.
And no one’s gettin’ fat except Mama Cass. 

If you don’t know Creeque Alley, then you are culturally deprived.

6. He wore black denim trousers and motorcycle boots

And a black leather jacket with… With what?

He wore black denim trousers and motorcycle boots
And a black leather jacket with an eagle on the back
He had a hopped-up ‘cycle that took off like a gun
That fool was the terror of Highway 101

This is straight out of 1955. Where have you been?

7. Drifting along with the tumbling… What comes next?

I’m a roaming cowboy riding all day long,
Tumbleweeds around me sing their lonely song.
Nights underneath the prairie moon,
I ride along and sing this tune.

See them tumbling down
Pledging their love to the ground
Lonely but free I’ll be found
Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds.

People, it’s the Sons of the Pioneers.

8. I’m my own… My own what? [Hint: it’s the song title.]

Now, if my wife is my grandmother
Then, I am her grandchild
And every time I think of it
It nearly drives me wild

For now I have become
The strangest case you ever saw
As the husband of my grandmother
I am my own grandpa.

It’s Willie Nelson, for Christ sake.

9. This was on a 78. One side was Dynamite Woman. What was on the flip side?

This is a trick question. I only heard this at McDonald Observatory. There was a crew there that played both sides of this—could have been a 78, could have been a 45. One side was “Jesus was a Soul Man.” The flip side was “Dynamite Woman.” You really needed to hear it to appreciate it.

10. As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that… What?

This Land Is Your Land
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie

This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

But this land was not made for you if you scored fewer than 8 on this quiz. This stuff is pure American.