Category Archives: Making the Grade!

Making the Grade: Items from “My Favorite Things”

Raindrops on roses
This first entry is a good example of why the songwriter should have considered an extra verse or two of exposition, or perhaps a brief foreword outlining the selection criteria involved in his or her selections. A camera zooming in on raindrops on roses during the chorus of a Sting video = favorite thing. The actual feel of raindrops on roses when you’re locked out of the house, it’s pouring down from the heavens, and you have to climb through the neighbour’s damn rose bushes to get at your dining-room window = not a favorite thing. Context is the key here. C-

Whiskers on kittens
Personally, I don’t get this one. This seems to me like an odd thing to include in a list of favorite things, especially if — like me — you’re a cat owner. Oh sure, they feel all soft rubbing against your face, but sooner or later you’re going to remember that this is the same cat that just drank out of your toilet and rolled in its litter box and brought you a dead bird for a housewarming present and you start to feel like maybe this degree of closeness isn’t such a good idea. And it’s not like you can collect and trade cat whiskers with your friends. D+

Bright copper kettles
You’ve probably noticed that nowhere in the song does it explain why these assorted items are a few of the singer’s favorite things. You know what I would base my list of favorite things on? The ability to create sound effects. Whoopee cushions, old jugs, sports cards in bicycle spokes, long cardboard tubes inside rolls of gift wrap… if there’s a way for me to make noise with them, then my inner child is all over that. Hence, copper kettles make the cut — but just barely. Just give me a set of wooden spoons and five of them shiny puppies and I’m out of your hair for ten, maybe fifteen minutes before I move on to my next distraction. C+

Warm woollen mittens
Here’s where the songwriter finally gets the importance of making distinctions. They’re not just mittens, they’re not just woollen mittens, they’re warm woollen mittens. A definite improvement over the snow-encrusted, freezing-cold poly-cotton blend gloves, I assure you. B

Brown paper packages tied up with string
Do I really need to bring up the obvious question here? I mean, sure, I can appreciate feeling wistful over the disappearance of brown paper packages in our mailboxes as much as the next erstwhile recipient of mail-order porn, but isn’t it what’s inside the package that ought to be the issue here? Or to put it another way — if we were talking about, say, a brown paper package tied up with string and it’s on fire and it’s sitting on your doorstep, would you feel compelled to write an appreciative ditty about it? No. Ergo and ipso facto, C-

Cream-colored ponies
I don’t know. Outside of 19th-century coal mines, birthday parties for spoiled rich kids and Christmas wish lists for 12-year-old girls, the pony’s usefulness to society is limited, to say the least. The whole point of having horses is to either ride them or put them to work, and on both counts ponies — if you’ll pardon the phrase — come up short. But they are cute to look at so hey, whatever floats your gondola. The question of what difference the horse’s color makes to one’s pony appreciation is frankly beyond me. Maybe cream-colored ponies remind the songwriter of the importance of calcium, or something. C

Crisp apple strudels
Now we’re getting somewhere. They don’t even have to be crisp, either. Or apple, for that matter. As long as I’m fairly certain it’s some form of strudel-like substance, I’ll scarf it down and give three cheers to the fine Teutonic folks who invented it. By the way, is it just me or does “strudel” sound like Aussie slang for some sort of mentally deranged person? (“Aw, don’t mind ‘im, luv, that billybonger over there, ‘e’s just a strudel, ‘e is. Fancy a Fosters?”) A-