Autumn and A New Album From Pink Martini

Autumn is on the way.  You can feel it in the breeze, in the lowering of temperatures, see it in the rain, and in front of stores where the pumpkins are stacked in rolling piles.  The traditional pumpkins are lovely, but I'm partial to the more exotic "Fairy Tale" pumpkins, which remind me alternately of the "crinkled leaves roasty toasty" presence of fall, and the magic of "Once Upon A Time" which seems possible just because these giant gourdes exist, because I've only ever seen them in the pages of folktales.

One thing I'll miss is the sound of the frogs at night as I fall asleep.  My apartment is near a little pond and I love opening the windows at night to hear to the chirping and humming of the bugs mingled with the croaking of frogs.  Occasionally, I even hear the hooting of an owl perched on the tree outside, and this natural symphony lulls me to sleep.  It reminds me that there are other creatures are out there living their own dramas, and I am not the center of life's universe, as I often imagine myself to be.  I'm just one of many creatures in this wild world. 

Thankfully the wasps are gone, and I won't miss them.  For awhile I was duking it out with them over who was going to own the back porch.  That little patio area can be a lovely place to read and nestle, feel at one with the outdoors, but it isn't when there's a mound of mud up in the corner with four or five hornets buzzing around it.  So every day or so, I'd have to throw a cup of soapy water up there and then race into the living room and slam the door, hoping I'd gotten them all and one wouldn't come flying at my face, stinger ablaze.  Luckily, I have the balls to get pretty close to the nest before I toss the water, and my aim is true.  That usually took care of them for awhile, unlike the dish of soapy water and sugar sitting on the porch, which didn't do anything, for the record. But August is over, and they are gone, which is nice, because not only am I free of them, but I'm free of the guilt I feel from killing them.

On a completely different topic, Pink Martini has come out with a new album called Get Happy, with lots of collaboration on it, from from Ari Shapiro (hubba- hubba you ball of delicious erudite sexiness) to Phyllis Diller in her final recording in which she sings "Smile".  Rufus Wainwright is also represented, dueting with China Forbes on the Judy/Barbra classic "Get Happy/Happy Days".  It's a lush, an lovely arrangement, but it also irks me a little bit, as it inevitably will when I hear anyone doing a Garland standard.  And I have to wonder how Rufus became the go to singer for Judy classics.  Just because he had the hutzpah to do  the Carnegie Hall tour? 

Wainwright is to my mind, one of the best song writers around, and his combining of classical and pop sounds is brilliant, with his languid, lolling vocal style is the perfect conduit for his lyrics and melodies.  He doesn't however, have the background or vocal technique to pull off Judy's material, or other material of that time period.   As far as I'm concerned, he's far better at interpreting his own works. 

Joe Hartman