Channel-surfing last night, I couldn't get away from the recurring image of GOP contender Rick Santorum whipping his devoted followers into a frenzy over something called "the war on religion."
Then I came to the Turner channel, where Morton DaCosta's "The Music Man" was in progress and Robert Preston, as con man Professor Harold Hill, was whipping the townspeople of River City, Iowa, into a frenzy over the presence of a pool table in their hamlet.
The juxtapostion was uncanny.
"Now, Marcellus, I need some ideas if I’m gonna get your town out of the serious trouble it’s in," Prof. Hill says to an old friend (Buddy Hackett).
"River City ain't in any trouble," Marcellus responds.
"Then, I'm gonna have to create some," Hill informs. "Must create a desperate need in your town for a boy’s band."
This dialogue, about trumping up an emergency, is the set-up for Meredith Willson's classic, "Ya Got Trouble," during which Hill successfully instills fear in the denizens of River City, a song which ends rousingly with:
Harold: "Oh, ya got trouble! Ya got lots & lots 'a trouble! That game with the 15 numbered balls is the devil's tool!"
Townspeople: "Devil's tool!"
Harold: "Oh yes, we've got trouble, trouble!"
Townspeople: "Oh yes, we've got trouble here, we've got big, big trouble!"
Harold: "With a "T"!"
Townspeople: "With a capital T!"
Harold: "That rhymes with P!"
Townspeople: "That rhymes with P!"
Harold: "That stands for pool!"
Townspeople: "That stands for po-o-ol!"
I've been amused for years now by the constant state of (feigned?) outrage of the GOP, which always seem to be shocked and appalled.
Last night, Robert Preston added a melody to the aggrievement.