70 F
Fort Worth
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Opinion In Market: The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)

In Market: The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)

Other News

Commentary: TCC Chancellor Eugene Giovannini: Maintaining Our Mission

Since our inception, one of Tarrant County College’s hallmarks has been our unwavering commitment to serving our community. As we all work to navigate...

Commentary: M. Ray Perryman: The Fed is taking largely unseen but essential action

The inevitable and unavoidable result of the extraordinary measures taken to curb the tragic health effects of the coronavirus has been a strong shock...

Commentary: Rising to the Challenge: Coronavirus Spurs Sacrifice and Generosity in Time of Need

These are difficult days. We’re frightened by the havoc COVID-19 may wreak on our families, friends, local businesses and the simple pleasures of life...

Analysis: Notes from a coronavirus hot spot

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans is right outside my door. But I can't go out. Not much, anyway. My wife and I are...
Robert Francis
Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

Want to have some fun?

Make some mistakes.

Last week I wrote a column about a politician who played fast and loose with the facts, particularly facts about who said what and who didn’t.

To summarize, Gov. Abbott sent out a tweet purportedly with a quote from Sir Winston Churchill that turned out to have nothing to do with the great cigar smoker.

I chastised our governor, and many others, for not checking their facts. Of course, as they used to say on Laugh-In, the fickle finger of fate was waiting in the wings for me.

After writing about the Postal Service doing Maya Angelou a disservice by printing a stamp with a quote that she liked, but didn’t say, I tossed out that I loved Martin Mull’s quote: “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy,” but that I didn’t want it on a stamp bearing my photo.

Of course, I was completely wrong. Comedian Martin Mull didn’t say it. As was pointed out by several people, the quote is often attributed to one of several witty folk from the 1930s. The credit is primarily given to either Dorothy Parker, who is given authorship on 90 percent of the witty things that were said in the 1930s, or Fred Allen, a radio and movie personality. “The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue,” is attributed to Parker, while Fred gets credit for “Hanging is too good for a man who makes puns; he should be drawn and quoted.”

But was I totally wrong to attribute this quote to Mull, a slightly off-kilter comedian who seemed to add a weird vibe to any sitcom, talk show or film in which he appeared? This spoonerism of a sentence apparently has a long history. A spoonerism, by the way, is itself attributed to Rev. William Archibald Spooner, an English priest known for his verbal confusions. His verbal malapropisms were later dubbed “spoonerisms”. These included “it is kisstomary to cuss the bride,” among others.

During an appearance on Fernwood Tonight in 1977, hosted by Mull and Fred Willard, Tom Waits is a guest. He sings a great version of The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me) and then joins the hosts. At some point, he says, in his laconic style, “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy,” receiving a lot of laughter from the hosts and maybe the audience, or the laugh track, whichever it was.

There’s the Mull connection. You can find the whole episode on YouTube.

Waits is a student of language, particularly American vernacular, which he used to great effect in many early songs. He often used a litany of hip slang from the 20s, 30s and 40s in his songs and concerts, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Waits heard or read the “bottle in front of me” quote in his research. That doesn’t absolve me of the error but, heck, it was fun to research my mistake. I should make mistakes more often.

Latest News

Millennial Money: A new set of shopping tips in the pandemic

By COURTNEY JESPERSEN of NerdWallet Prior to March, shoppers would go to the mall or grocery store — without masks — and...

Commentary: Five Trends that could define our post-coronavirus lives

Richard Holt and Joan D’Amico As the Metroplex continues to grapple with the impact of COVID-19,...

Richard Connor: Your first vote is a vote you should always remember

My bet is she will remember this presidential election and how she voted better than I recall my first.

In Market: So, he’s the one

Well, I tried to do my civic duty on Oct. 14. No, I didn’t head to a local bar now that they’re...

Commentary: Going once, going twice, SOLD!

M. Ray Perryman Two Americans, Dr. Paul R. Milgrom and Dr. Robert B. Wilson of...