Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Tribute To E.V. Body

Browsing through a box of very old music I came into possession of recently, I discovered a booklet of 'Hill Country Songs and Ballads' published in 1929 by Joe Davis. As I leafed through pages containing such traditional songs as "Red River Valley" and "She'll be Coming Along the Mountain", I noticed that these tunes were written by an E.V. Body.

Many songs written by E.V Body appeared in this booklet including, "Mister, Can I Sleep in Your Barn Tonight" and "Birmingham Jail." Yet I had never heard of this composer who wrote so lyrically and poignantly of everyday life in pioneer times. I decided to do a tribute here to E.V. Body, whose name surely should stand alongside Stephen Foster's in the annals of American folk music. Honestly, that's how this blog started.

But when I began my research, I hit a brick wall. I could not find a biography on E.V. Body searching Yahoo and Google. At the local library, I checked the World Book Enclopedia, Merriam Webster's Biographical Dictionary, Who Was Who in America and The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Nothing--zip, nada, zilch. On a hunch, I decided to pair "Joe Davis" and "E.V. Body" in a Google search. Bingo! Here's what I found at Answer.com.

"Song publishers of the '20s and '30s (like Joe Davis) were into accumulating as many titles under their control as possible. An entire collection of songs . . . would be published under the name of E.V. Body once the original copyright lapsed, or if there was any indication that the material was sourced from folk music."

Oh, oh. Had I been duped? Well, here's what else it said there:

"The doofus type that doesn't get the joke might consider E.V. Body some kind of songwriter's songwriter, responsible for such absolute classics as "Hand Me Down My Walking Cane," "Ain't Gonna Rain No More," "Frankie and Johnny," "Birmingham Jail," "Willie the Weeper," "Barbara Allen," "Lonesome Road," and "Can I Sleep in Your Barn Tonight?" The name is commonly taken as a simple joke on the supposition that anybody or everybody could have written these folk songs, but the royalty money certainly didn't go to everybody. It went straight to Joe Davis."

After the flattering comments I received from my blogging buddies last week, I felt chastened. Maybe my blog should really be Doofus Dave's Blog. Well, I'm going to put what I learned to good use. Going to copyright and publish a songbook of popular old tunes. It'll feature such favorites as "Happy Birthday" by Ann Naunamus and "For He's A Jolly Good Fellow" by Arthur Unknown. Royalties to me, please. I'll see that Arthur and Ann are compensated.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Other Big Daves

If I had pondered another second, I never would have named this Big Dave's Blog. Surely I could have come up with something more clever or descriptive or original. But I didn't. I was only experimenting when I signed onto Blogspot, testing the waters of HTML programming. Didn't think I'd be still posting almost two years later.

Oh, well. One of my personal philosophies is that life is what happens when you've made other plans. So it goes.

When I check my sitemeter statistics to see how folks stumble upon my blog, a great many of them are Googling "Big Dave." But chances are they're not looking for me. Here are some Big Daves who have garnered celebrity status.

Big Dave B: Whenever someone hits my blog by Googling “Big Dave’s Line Dance”, I know they’re looking for Big Dave B, an Englishman who teaches line dancing in the United Kingdom. He won a Crystal Boot, which I assume is for dancing though he doesn’t say so. I tried line dancing once, but everybody else on the floor was going the opposite way I was. Maybe I should have become a line dance teacher myself. Then I could have set those others straight.

Big Dave O: In the “Gee I wish I’d thought of that”, this Big Dave is the author of Big Bucks with Big Dave. He’s a pizza magnate who ran a pizza and sub shop up north in my home state of Michigan here. A foodservice consultant now, his web portal offers tips for “pizza professionals who want an unfair advantage.” Mmmmmmmm, I’m all for a fair advantage myself. It seems more American, doesn’t it?

Big Dave, “the hardest man in Manchester”: If you look up Big Dave in the on-line encyclopedia Wikipedia, this is whom you will find. This Big Dave stopped Saddam Hussein’s plan to conquer the world, then later had a fling with two prominent members of the British royal family. He’s an “infamous comic book character”, Wikipedia says, but it doesn’t say why.

Big Dave G: Another Englishman (The Brits like their Big Daves). This Big Dave’s website tagline bills him as “The strongest man who ever lived.” He won a National Oyster Award for an anti-bullying campaign he’s promoted. Oyster Award? Not sure I like the sound of that. Wonder if thought was ever given to naming this honor after another denizen of the sea. Maybe crab, or whale, or flounder, or . . . On second thought, I guess oyster’s not so bad.

Big Dave P: This Big Dave was badly in need of a new kidney some years back. His website had some information on being a live donor for a kidney, liver, pancreas or lung transplant. (Gee, it used to be they only wanted your blood.) Big Dave P. had a lot of folks cheering him on in his quest for health, including a runner’s group named Hot Mamas for Big Dave. I tried to Google to find out whether he ever got his kidney. Never could find out. I hope he did.

Big Dave Patlak: He ran for Congress down in Florida last year. In his website, his first priority appeared to be legislating for national windstorm insurance. I’m not sure that’s a top priority for Americans. Maybe that’s why he lost to the Republican incumbent in his district.

So I’m just one small fish in a big sea of Big Daves. Maybe someday I’ll come up with a better name.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Doogie, The Bionic Beggar

My last alumni magazine from Central Michigan University had a cover photo of John Grogan. Yes, the author of the best-selling Marlee and Me, attended the same University I did. Probably took some of the same classes, maybe even from some of the same professors. But he was lucky enough to acquire a Labrador Retriever whose antics have entertained countless readers.

Not so my dog Doogie. About all he does lately is beg for a Beggin Strip. Or a T-Bone, or a Canine Carryout, a Pupperoni, a Riblet, or whatever people-food you might be eating yourself.

To paraphrase some lines form Arnold Schwarzenegger's movie The Terminator--That's what he does. That's all he does! You can't stop him. He can't be bargained with. He can't be reasoned with. He doesn't feel shame, or remorse, or fear. And he absolutely will not stop, ever, until you give him his treat.

Yes, we know it shows poor discipline on our part to let our dog have his way with us. My brother-in-law chides us about this every time we have a cookout at his house. Doogie mooches a morsel here, a morsel there. Not from my brother-in-law, though.

What's odd is that Doogie seems to violate the laws of basic of psychology in this regard. Through the years, my brother-in-law NEVER has given Doog as much as a crumb. Yet, my dog will today stare at him endlessly while he pounds down his hamburger. Never mind that there are others eating nearby that Doogie knows would be an easier touch.

Now I don't know if dogs have goals in life but Doogie apparently has as his mission to successfully beg a hand-out from my brother-in-law. It's a real case of irresistable force meets immoveable object.

Lately, I have tried to reason with the mutt. If he scratches at the kitchen cupboard where his treats are kept, I'll have him sit down while I explain to him that he just had one an hour ago. And if he eats too many treats, it will spoil his supper. Doogie will dutifully sit there and stare unflinching straight into my eyes as if recording every word.

But if I don't make a move towards the cupboard after I'm done with my speech, he will go to the cupboard himself and scratch again. It's as if he's saying, "I understand what you say. Your opinion obviously is well thought out and quite profound. But where is my treat?"

So to get him to stop bugging me I relent and give him his hand-out.

Stupid dog.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Hep Cat's Steppin' Out

Wendy and I are going to be puttin' on the groove this week. Really rockin' with the hip cats. Or is it the hep cats?

I gotta know because we're making a cross-state journey to see my teenaged nephew Billly's rock band play at the Kraftbrau Brewery in Kalamazoo. We're going to have to fit in with a much younger crowd. In fact, looking at pictures of previous concerts at the brewpub's website, I didn't see anybody in the crowd who looked over 25.

"I'm going to have to shave my head into a mohawk and you're going to have to dye your hair purple," I told my wife.

But what to wear? And what about the vernacular? If I want to compliment the band's music, do I say it's (A) Swingin' (B) Groovy (C) Radical, or (D) Far Out. "Far Out" sounds too John Denver on the Muppets. And "Radical" sounds too Michaelangelo on the Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles. So I'll go with (B), Groovy. Can't go wrong there.

Now the wardrobe. Bulletproof came to mind first when I read the brewpub's calendar of events. "Kill Tomorrow" and "Tonight It Ends" were two other rock groups playing this same week, though thankfully not the night we're there (or the day before).

When I told my sister-in-law the other bands playing at the brewpub where her son was performing, she responded, "His band sounds like the Brady Bunch after hearing the names of those bands."

Hea! That gives me an idea. There was no cooler dresser on TV than Mike Brady, the dad from the Brady Bunch, right? Now there was truly a man for all seasons, for all generations. All I need is one of those funky ties and a tweed jacket and I'm in.

We're groovin' now baby.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Fun With Bill

Holiday’s over. Time to pay the bills. Now the real fun starts.

Our problem began a couple weeks before Christmas when among our Christmas cards we also received in the mail a letter from the postal service. Inside the letter were the chewed up contents of one of our mailings and a sorry-but-crap-happens apology. All that apparently was left was the mangled corner of one check wife Wendy had written.

Yikes! Though we received precious little back to investigate, we determined that it was the check that paid for our Citibank credit card bill. Double yikes!! Wendy called the credit card company. Other than confirming that they had not received our payment, they were more interested in selling us "credit guard" than helping to resolve the problem.

Never mind. Our payment was due in two days. Still time. I rushed to the post office and stood in the long holiday line. Our local post office would rescue us, for sure. They said they could ship our payment overnight and it would arrive the day before it was due. All right! The cost? About $15.

"Could we get a discount since it was the postal service’s mistake?" I asked.

Heck, no. Afterall, this is "if it’s your fault, it’s your problem; if it’s our fault, it’s your problem" America. I paid the $15.

But the story doesn’t end there. Heck, no. When government or big businesses screw up, they screw up big.

Our latest credit card statement showed that Citibank received and cashed BOTH checks--the check that we thought the post office had eaten (but apparently had only taken a bite of) AND the replacement check we had written and rushed through.

But the story doesn’t end there either. Though Citibank says it cashed both checks, our bank statement that records our checks doesn’t agree. It still shows the original check outstanding. So . . . will our local bank eventually credit Citibank for the mutilated check? Or will they return it unpaid? Will Citibank charge us a fine for the returned check? And maybe our local bank too?

Stay tuned for another chapter of "if it’s your fault, it’s your problem; if it’s our fault, it’s your problem" America.