What the Ella??

Cidu Bill on Jan 23rd 2013


Filed in Bill Bickel, CIDU, Frazz, Jef Mallett, comic strips, comics, humor | 21 responses so far

21 Responses to “What the Ella??”

  1. Kilby Jan 22nd 2013 at 11:56 pm 1

    Maritime usage assigns the female gender to ships, which is one of the rarest exceptions in the English language (an inanimate object that is not referred to as “it”). Frazz seems unaware of this odd custom. That said, I still have no idea what he’s talking about in the fourth panel.

  2. Arthur Jan 23rd 2013 at 12:19 am 2

    I don’t think he’s unaware of the custom, just that it doesn’t seem proper
    when the ship has a masculine name.

    Ella Fitzgerald recorded the One Note Samba.

  3. Lost in A**2 Jan 23rd 2013 at 12:25 am 3

    People criticise Lightfoot’s song?

  4. Larry Lunts Jan 23rd 2013 at 12:47 am 4

    “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” by Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot about the 1975 real-life sinking of the ship of the same name, with the loss of the entire 29-man crew; was one of the singer’s greatest hits. It’s also regarded as one of the greatest “story” ballads ever. Some have criticized Lightfoot for taking poetic license with some of the factual details, though most say it stays pretty close to the facts. (In fact, Lightfoot later revised one line to reflect the fact that later forensic evidence showed that the sinking was not the result of crew error.)

    Some on the internet have suggested Lightfoot was in error when he wrote “The church bell chimed ’til it rang twenty-nine times…”(once for each lost crew member) at the memorial service; because the custom now is to ring one additional time, for all the sailers who have ever been lost at sea. However, this is not correct. The minister who presided over the memorial service confirmed that the bell was chimed 29 times, not 30. The custom of chiming the bell one additional time postdates the Edmund Fitzgerald memorial. Maybe that disputed 30th chime is the “one-note refrain” Frazz refers to. If not, I got nothing.

  5. Proginoskes Jan 23rd 2013 at 01:38 am 5

    2nd panel: Evidently a lot of people confuse the Edmund Fitzgerald with Ella Fitzgerald.

    4th panel: Evidently Arthur nailed it, especially since TWOTEF’s chorus doesn’t have any lyrics to it. (It’s just a melody line which drones; this is what I originally thought Frazz referred to.)

  6. Larry Lunts Jan 23rd 2013 at 03:10 am 6

    I thought Frazz objected to Lightfoot’s reference to the ship as “her” because it had a masculine name: “Edmund,” and that Frazz could easily have said “Edmund, not Eliza,” instead of what he did say. If the joke involves confusing the jazz singer with the ship, which I considered; then the meaning is certainly not very clear, nor particularly funny.

  7. Bleeding Gums Murphy Jan 23rd 2013 at 07:22 am 7

    People also criticize the song (erroneously, IMO) for being monotonous, as the melody doesn’t really go anywhere and is repeated about a million times. I think that’s what he was trying to get at.

  8. farmer Jan 23rd 2013 at 08:45 am 8

    I believe Russians refer to ships as masculine. Frazz could translate it if he’s offended. Regardless, it doesn’t fit his character not to know the fairly basic fact that ships in the US/English world are feminine.

  9. Mark M Jan 23rd 2013 at 09:02 am 9

    I was expecting a geezer alert considering it’s a 36 year old song that never quite made it to number 1 on Billboard.

  10. fj Jan 23rd 2013 at 09:05 am 10

    Bleeding Gums Murphy nailed it: Lightfoot’s song is often criticized for its length and monotonous melody (which some would claim Gordon’s singing style makes seem even more monotonous). Perhaps this is just a Michigan thing, where we take our Great Lakes quite seriously, and the Fitzgerald and her story still resonate in the local culture. However, it is not uncommon for folks around here to make fun of TWOTEF. For example, one of the local radio stations used to do a “Christmas Carols with Gordon” bit during the Christmas season each year, where someone doing an over-the-top Gordon Lightfoot impression would sing Christmas songs, but the would all sound like the same droning version of the “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”

    My take is that Frazz is equally poking fun at the song and the poeple who make fun of it: the people who make the same old complaint are as monotonous as they claim the song is. The Ella reference is just thrown in for fun, and to provide the set-up. He was betting that Burke would bite.

  11. Powers Jan 23rd 2013 at 09:50 am 11

    I didn’t get the One-Note Samba reference, which is the only thing that ties it all together. (I know Ella Fitzgerald, and I know the One-Note Samba, but not that Fitzgerald recorded it.)

  12. Judge Mental Jan 23rd 2013 at 10:34 am 12

    I think others have captured *most* my thoughts on it, but not sure one person covered it all.

    Frazz *is* aware of the custom of referring ships as “she”, but it does sound incongruous to refer to “Edmund Fitzgerald” as a she. I don’t think he is suggesting that confusing Edmund Fitzgerald with Ella Fitzgerald is common (it isn’t); it is just Ella is the most famous female with that surname.

    As Burke points, out, that isn’t the normal criticism of the song. Not only is the song long, and some might say monotonous, but it has *no* refrain — there isn’t a chorus to the song. I didn’t think about the “One Night Samba” and while I think it is a nice little reference to tie it together, I don’t think that was the crux of the joke that Mallet intended.

  13. Ian Osmond Jan 23rd 2013 at 02:34 pm 13

    For what it’s worth: I am Facebook/Livejournal/limited real life friends with Pat Kight, the woman who was the actual reporter on site for the wreck, waiting with the families to hear if there were any survivors.

  14. DPWally Jan 23rd 2013 at 02:52 pm 14

    Nice summary, Judge Mental.

    I’ll add that this feels like a followup to an off-panel conversation with Mrs. Olsen, the character most likely to refer to “The Wreck of the Ella Fitzgerald”.

  15. Arthur Jan 23rd 2013 at 03:38 pm 15

    The “one note refrain” referred to in the last panel is
    a metaphor for the one thing people complain about
    with reference to the song. His reference to Ella
    Fitzgerald completes the joke because it ties together
    the one-note harping with the One Note Samba.

  16. Keera Jan 23rd 2013 at 04:24 pm 16

    I do not find TWOTEF tedious. One of Lightfoot’s more energetic offerings, IMO. He only needed enough notes to tell the story. It’s the lyrics that matter in this case.

    I don’t care for this Frazz strip: It seems out of character for Frazz to get hung up on an irrelevant detail in a song about a real tragedy.

  17. Lola Jan 23rd 2013 at 05:34 pm 17

    I think the tune and lyrics are perfect for what it is …. a funeral dirge that’s highly evocative of the loneliness and sorrow and feeling of loss that the crew and a lot of us Michiganders felt at the time. Now if it was meant to be a toe tapper or dance tune, it failed miserably.

  18. Molly J Jan 23rd 2013 at 05:57 pm 18

    So many posts about the tunelessness of the verses, so few posts about the mourneful awesomeness of the intervening guitar solos!

  19. Mark in Boston Jan 23rd 2013 at 06:47 pm 19

    This would not translate to many languages. For instance, in French you could correctly say “Monsieur Frazz est une personne”, and there’s no neuter gender so everything must be masculine or feminine, and that’s what it is regardless of name, or even regardless of actual sex. Mon chien s’appelle Lisa. If I were talking to a stud owner about breeding her she might be ma chienne, but for everyday purposes she is mon chien.
    Google Translate says “the ship” is “le navire”, or “le vaisseau”, both masculine, so already it won’t work.

  20. Ooten Aboot Jan 24th 2013 at 06:27 am 20

    If Gordie were an American, and a bunch of Canucks were criticizing his song and his singing style, y’all would’ve launched 1,000 drones before I finished typing this. Say what you will about Celine, but hands off Gordie!

  21. mitch4 Jan 24th 2013 at 07:52 am 21

    Okay then: Celine is certainly a powerful writer, but clearly anti-Semitic.

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