Saturday, January 13, 2018

Be Direct With Me

I am a huge fan of a CBC podcast called "Under the Influence with Terry O'Reilly". Tales of drunk Canadians engaged in Molson-fueled shenanigans? No. Each half-hour episode tells a carefully woven story connecting some element of advertising or marketing to the world where you live. You will learn things you didn't know about things that you do know with each episode. And each episode is the product of 20-30 hours of research. Subscribe to the podcast right now while you're thinking about it.

In an episode called "When Madison Avenue Met Broadway: The World of Industrial Musicals," O'Reilly played a few seconds of "Be Direct With Me". Just a few-second bite with not much to identify it. But I was transfixed. I deployed my hard-earned blue belt in google-fu and sourced the track. I then saw it was available on iTunes and paid for it immediately (I'm old and from the midwest).

I quickly set the track to a Keynote preso and roughed out a nice delivery. Then I spent several days refining and improving. I simply had to show this gem to my colleagues at the High School Share-a-Thon attached to the American Association of Physics Teachers Winter Meeting 2018 in San Diego.

High School Share-a-Thons can be lively affairs, typically held in the evening on Day 2 of the conference: between the workshops and the invited/contributed talks. For reasons nobody ever explained to me (and I asked), this year's Share-a-Thon was scheduled for 8:30am on Day 2, conflicting with many workshops. And... in the morning!

A few dozen intrepid instructors braved the San Diego rains and made it to the event. Sadly, the session presider did not. A few years ago (I want to say it was the Omaha Summer Meeting), the Share-a-Thon was left without a presider and I stepped up to awkwardly host.

Someone in the room in San Diego remembered that, and promptly ratted me out. So I was once again drafted into service. When the session began, only two of the several dozen attendees signed up to share. We had the room from 8:30am until 10:00am. I made the executive decision to dispense with the five-minute time limit and encouraged my colleagues to not be bashful—we're all friends here!

I showed a couple of things (videos of those things, anyway, as has become the trend among traveling physics sharers). Then I hit them with the video below. I truly didn't want to be up first for this event, but it was what it was.

In any case, the presentation. You will want to be sitting down for this.

I had a few more slides of humor and fun for my live preso; I intend to show it again at the NCNAAPT Spring Meeting.

Eventually more folks came up to share. Questions were asked and answers were given. We ended the session at 9:59:50am.

But industrial musicals? I had no idea. And they were huge in terms of budget, scale, and talent.

UPDATE: GE's Go Fly a Kite—the industrial musical from which this song comes—was written by the composer/lyricist team of Kander and Ebb, who also wrote Cabaret and Chicago. The double-album original soundtrack (souvenir recording) can be had via eBay for $99.99 as of this update. But it has also been posted to YouTube. I found "Be Direct With Me" as the opener for Side 3. The video shows the liner notes and dress rehearsal stills that correlate to the currently-playing track. While Valerie Harper was arguably the biggest enduring star in the cast, she did not sing "Be Direct With Me". Who did? Carole Woodruff. The only other credit I was able to find for her was a musical called Pleasures and Palaces, written by Frank Loesser and choreographed by Bob Fosse. It ran for a month in Detroit and was not reviewed kindly. Woodruff is the last singer listed in the credits. I have found no other relevant information on her.

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