Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Jo Stafford, Ginger Rogers, and driving in Australia

Jo Stafford has nothing to do with driving in Australia.  However, she is my all-time favorite singer.  Though I don’t have a copy of everything she recorded I’m getting close.  Of course these include her iterations as Cinderella G. Stump singing “Tim-tay-shun” and as Darlene Edwards (Thanks Jane, I laugh hysterically every time I hear her sing  the hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo’s in “Staying Alive”) trying, and one must emphasize the word trying, to sing a range of songs to the Cheap Nightclub Pianist accompaniment of her husband Paul Weston.  GI Jo, as she was known by the troops for whom she recorded, was a singer of impeccable taste who noted in an interview that while she didn’t have perfect pitch she had good relative pitch.  She also had a clear tone and very little vibrato. She said “you don’t sing an A flat the same way you sing a G sharp.”  That statement explained everything about singing.

Jo Stafford’s recording of “Whispering Hope” with Gordon McCrae was the soundtrack of my childhood.  Grandma played it almost daily when I visited (she lived all of four blocks away).  I enjoy listening to a lot of the girl singers (Rosemary Clooney, Margaret Whiting and their contemporaries) but Jo Stafford is tops.  If you’ve never heard her sing, download a few songs from iTunes. If you are only going to download one get “You Belong to Me.”   Evocative of everything about being young and abandoned by your true love for the summer. 

Ginger has more to do driving in Australia.  Several years ago I was on the road and saw a bumper sticker that read, “Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did . . . only backwards and in three-inch heels.”   That bumper sticker explains everything about driving in Australia.   The roundabouts are not to be believed.  Each state has its own approach to who has the right of way.   The best approach seems to be close your eyes and turn.   Very few stop signs and red lights here but the roundabouts are omnipresent, especially in the small towns.    

You can tell the American drivers on the roads.  Whenever we want to make a turn we flip on the windshield wipers, say damn it and then flick the turn signal.  Levers are reversed.  Fortunately the gas and brake pedals are in the usual places and configuration.  With the exception of the heels I can certainly sympathize with Ginger’s predicament.

Then there is being a pedestrian.  After six months in Australia I still look, and am,  confused and lost when crossing the street.  Look both ways.  Three times.  And then make a perfect act of contrition just in case. 

All goes well in Port Lincoln.  It has been busy with the pastor away for a few weeks.  I would certainly be willing to come back here, or somewhere in South Australia where it is cool during the heat of the U.S. summer, to fill in for a few parishes while the priest gets away for some R&R.  Great place. 
Among the photos are some animals.

The first is an emu.   Gives these rather large things exactly what Aretha Franklin demanded:

Next is the beach at Whyalla and the dog that lived in the parish where I stayed while there.  I wanted to bring the pooch home but there was a visa problem.

And here we have my housemate.  After the seminarians leave on Saturday it will be my only housemate.  Sinn.  The cat.  Who hisses and arches her back if I so much as try to touch her, or him or it.  Nice kitty, kitty.  Would you like to ride on that fun carousel in the microwave? 
Finally, a shot of the inside of the church at night with minimal illumination using ASA 100, f 22 and a 60 second exposure. 
+Fr Jack

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