Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Song Round-Up: Lou Monte

This year I can't say that I've been in the Christmas spirit to the extent of those around me. I bought gifts for my loved ones and dearest friends, but I didn't put my tree up and I don't do Christmas cards. Why no tree? Well, I don't spend Christmas at my house, but at my parents, so I don't even enjoy my tree on Christmas day.  

And then there are the Christmas songs on the radio. Why do they start the day after Thanksgiving? I think what tires me out and keeps me out of the Christmas spirit is the crass commercialism that every holiday has embraced. Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, even MLK Jr Day and President's Day is yet another excuse to have a long weekend. So, when I hear Christmas songs for four weeks, I am driven crazy. If they were good Christmas songs, then I wouldn't mind so much. But no, I am forced to endure things like "Don't they know it's Christmas time at all?" or "Dominic the Christmas Donkey." 

Hee Haw. Hee Haw. 

So, imagine my surprise and lack of delight that Lou Monte had more than one Italian animal hit! There was "Pepino the Italian Mouse", which, according to Wikipedia,  "tells the humorous tale of a mischievous mouse who lives within the walls of a man's kitchen and who comes out at night to eat cheese, drink wine, frighten Lou's girlfriend when she comes over and befriends the cat, sent out to catch him." Then let's not fail to mention "Pasquale, the Italian Pussycat" and "Paulucci, the Italian Parrot." 

But I'm going to move away from that to touch on another aspect of Monte's illustrious animal career and digress momentarily. Recently I heard Stephen Peters talk at my school about how essential it is to know the students we teach. One part of his presentation that hit me was how, in the past fifty years, the way students receive their information has changed radically. Instead of having the home, school, and church being the top three influences on children, this has changed to having Media/TV being the top spot, followed by peers! Wow, this has changed drastically, and not for the better. 

I have witnessed this in my own job. Most of my students' history "knowledge" has come from movies, especially those starring Mel Gibson. For the love! I am so tired about hearing about Braveheart and Patriot, two very historically inaccurate movies. How many times have I heard from Honors students, "So, when Mel Gibson...." They can't differentiate between good entertainment--or even bad entertainment--and reality! 

And so this brings me back to Lou Monte and his songs. Specifically "What Did Washington Say (When He Crossed the Delaware)?".  Again, according to Wikipedia
At one point in the song, "Washington" complains that the pizzas his wife Martha baked were as "cold as ice". His solution? "Sell them to the Indians for only half the price." He then asks his boatsmen to row faster because "tonight I'm posing for my picture on the dollar bill."

What? Sheesh, at least back when Monte wrote the song kids knew better than to believe it, but now I have to climb uphill to convince students that Martha Washington did not cook pizzas. My saving grace? Luckily my students have not heard of Lou Monte. 

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