You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch

We’re at the point in the holiday season where many of us have begun to experience Christmas music soundtrack overload, and we feel like we might go into a saccharine sentiment coma if we hear It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year even one more time. That’s why You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch has become such an essential part of the holiday season. You can be sitting in a restaurant, hearing a standard mix of songs like Up On The Housetop and Frosty the Snowman, and then suddenly detect the strains of You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch cutting directly through the sugar content, and you find yourself using your best super-deep voice to sing about bad bananas with greasy black peels.

Written as a key part of the TV broadcast of How The Grinch Stole Christmas that was first broadcast in 1966, the music for You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch was composed by Albert Hague, and the song was memorably sung for the TV show by Thurl Ravenscroft, the same actor who voiced Tony the Tiger and his “they’re great!” catchphrase. But it is the lyrics to the song–penned by Dr. Seuss himself–that are a hilarious revelation and a wonderful antidote to the unrelenting spun sugar sweetness of most holiday soundtracks. Here they are, in all their glory:

You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch
You really are a heel
You’re as cuddly as a cactus, you’re as charming as an eel, Mr. Grinch
You’re a bad banana with a greasy black peel!

You’re a monster, Mr. Grinch
Your heart’s an empty hole
Your brain is full of spiders, you’ve got garlic in your soul, Mr. Grinch
I wouldn’t touch you with a thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole!

You’re a vile one, Mr. Grinch
You have termites in your smile
You have all the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile, Mr. Grinch
Given a choice between the two of you I’d take the seasick crocodile!

You’re a foul one, Mr. Grinch
You’re a nasty-wasty skunk
Your heart is full of unwashed socks, your soul is full of gunk, Mr. Grinch
The three words that best describe you are as follows, and I quote
“Stink, stank, stunk!”

You’re a rotter, Mr. Grinch
You’re the king of sinful sots
Your heart’s a dead tomato splotched with moldy purple spots, Mr. Grinch
Your soul is an appalling dump heap overflowing with the most disgraceful
Assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable, mangled up in tangled up knots!

You nauseate me, Mr. Grinch
With a nauseous super “naus”!
You’re a crooked dirty jockey and you drive a crooked hoss, Mr. Grinch
You’re a three decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce!

You have to give Dr. Seuss credit for coming up with lyrics like “your heart’s a dead tomato splotched with moldy purple spots.” He understood that the Christmas spirit is best demonstrated with some negative contrast, before the central character is redeemed. It’s the same approach that makes Dickens’ A Christmas Carol such a classic.

And maybe I’m wrong–but doesn’t it seem that You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch becomes more popular every year?

Green Eggs And Obamacare

Yesterday Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican, took to the Senate floor for an extended period in his effort to avoid funding for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.  In a filibuster-type move, Cruz read Dr. Seuss’ classic Green Eggs and Ham into the Congressional Record.

We all remember Green Eggs and Ham.  It featured some poor, benighted soul who claimed to hate green eggs and ham being badgered relentlessly by Sam I Am until he finally tried the dish . . . and found to his surprise that he liked it.  Of course, that part of the story doesn’t fit into the Republican story line.  They would end the story, instead, by saying that the country has tried Obamacare as various provisions have rolled out over the past few years and has decided — Uncle Sam I Am’s hectoring notwithstanding — that they really don’t want the Affordable Care Act.

In any case, it’s easy to see the diehard Republican opposition to Obamacare stated in the cadence of Green Eggs and Ham:

We do not like it on a stair.

We do not like it in the air.

We do not like Obamacare.

We do not like it anywhere!

On Green Eggs And Ham And The Pleasures Of Reading Aloud To Your Kids

Fifty years ago, on August 12, 1960, Green Eggs and Ham was published.  The simple story of the annoyingly persistent Sam-I-am and his put-upon friend who finally caves in and tries green eggs and ham, it uses only 50 words.  Nevertheless, it has become one of the most popular children’s books ever.  It has sold more than 200 million copies.

Hearing about the 50th birthday of Green Eggs and Ham made me think of reading aloud to the boys when they were little — and how much I miss doing that.  Green Eggs and Ham is a great book to read aloud.  The reader can impersonate the voices of the two actors, the pictures are funny, and the text has a wonderful read-aloud rhythm that nevertheless allows you to add your own inflection and emphasis.  (“That Sam-I-am!  That Sam-I-am!!!  I do not LIKE that Sam-I-Am!” is how I read it.)  And, of course, the book teaches a good lesson:  namely, you might as well try something, because you just might like it — and the unpleasant alternative is to be relentlessly browbeaten by the likes of Sam-I-am.

Any parent who doesn’t read books aloud to their kids is missing out on something that is wonderful and timeless.  Those 200 million copies of Green Eggs and Ham made readers’ and listeners’ lives more fun and brought many parents and children a bit closer together.  The 50th birthday of Green Eggs and Ham is one worth celebrating.