New & Improved Posts Featuring Leonard Cohen, A.E. Housman, And Joni Mitchell

In addition to creating new Heck Of A Guy entries, I spend a considerable amount of time and effort updating and revising already published posts. Most often, this involves routine tasks, such as correcting typos, replacing embedded videos that are no longer available, and re-coding dead links. More rarely, egregious errors are found and put right. The most recent example of this sort was a photo that should have featured A.E. Houseman that was actually a shot of his brother, Laurence Housman.

On occasion, however, I have the opportunity to substantially  improve a post, typically because new data or materials have become available.  Such is the case for at least  two posts, each of which is several years old.

Today’s post, indeed, is devoted to alerting readers to these newly refurbished classics.

A.E. Housman On Toads And Unicorns

Left to Right: Laurence Housman, A.E. Housman

OK, substituting a photo of A.E. Housman for the incorrectly labeled shot of his little bro, Laurence, probably doesn’t notably enhance the post, but this March 18, 2009 entry is worthwhile reading, regardless of whomever is portrayed in the picture.

The post spotlights two Housman poems, “The Use And Abuse Of Toads” and “Inhuman Henry or Cruelty to Fabulous Animals,” which are rarely found in Freshman English Lit anthologies or, in fact, rarely associated with A.E. Housman.  For starters, both are considered children’s literature.  But children’s verse, as practiced by the Brits, is a far cry from, say, the Walt Disney version of fairy tales. British poetry for children often has a – well, a vicious streak.

“The Use And Abuse Of Toads” resonates with sibling discord, internecine sadism, and collateral damage.  And, while “Inhuman Henry” has been (non-pejoratively) described as silly, it hardly seems random chance that Housman chose a lion and unicorn, heraldic emblems for England and Scotland and the objects of legions of literary allusions,  for his poetical menagerie. But, it is delightfully silly.

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A.E. Housman On Toads And Unicorns

Leonard Cohen, Ventures Induced To Enter Wrong Hall At 2008 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction

Cohen Turns Back - Gets Help

Leonard Cohen Heads To The Wrong Hall

When Leonard Cohen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, the internet was awash in (much deserved) accolades and acclaim for the Canadian singer-songwriter. Here at Heck Of A Guy, however, I chose to focus on Cohen, along with The Ventures and John (Don’t Call Me “Cougar”) Mellencamp being run through a maze before being allowed on stage. The first shot fired was in the form of the extract below, addressed to those hosting t he show:

Unsolicited Advice To VH1-C Production Crew & Waldorf Event Planners

Here’s a wacky idea – what if, when the honorees leave the waiting area (AKA the Waldorf Hotel kitchen) to mount the stage, the direction to their mark on the stage were made clear? Now, no one enjoys slapstick antics, not unlike that practiced by the Keystone Cops in their heyday, more than me. Watching the Ventures mill about before someone standing idly by pointed them toward the stage was a hoot. Even watching my man, Leonard, walk through the door into the bright lights only to realize that he was face to face with the live and TV audience with no means of determining the correct route to the stage gave me a tiny jolt of Schadenfreude-infused delight. And, when I saw John Mellencamp nearly sprint the wrong way, toward the backstage area, … well, let’s just say, a knee was slapped and mirth prevailed. Heck, I’ll even admit to being a little disappointed when someone literally took Madonna’s arm to guide her to the stage.

Still, you might want to consider adding a navigational aid to assure that the show runs smoothly. I don’t see a need to pop for a GPS, but maybe you could – and I’m just blue-skying here – plant a big sign outside that door with an arrow pointing to the stage or instruct a flunky to stand outside the door through which the inductees enter and imitate a sign pointing unambiguously toward the stage.

 Part of Leonard Cohen’s journey that, with the kindness of strangers lurking in the hallway, ends up on the stage is shown above.

Now, this post (and the associated post dealing with Mellencamp) has been rendered even more entertaining with the addition of video clips (not available when this post was first published) showing  the actual wanderings of the stars.

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Leonard Cohen, Ventures Induced To Enter Wrong Hall At Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction
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Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell – Just One Of Those Things

Initially designated a “casual Saturday post,” this March 31, 2007 essay on the Leonard Cohen – Joni Mitchell relationship has not only evolved into a popular read but has also become a  frequently used reference.  Because of this continued interest in the topic, I’ve conscientiously revised and updated the post as new material becomes available.

Most recently, I’ve added material from Sweet Judy Blue Eyes – My Life In Music by Judy Collins (Crown Archetype, October 18, 2011) and replaced two audio tracks of Joni Mitchell singing “That Song About The Midway” and  “The Gallery,” both of which address her relationship with Leonard Cohen, with embedded videos of those songs.

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Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell – Just One Of Those Things

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