Category Archives: “Flower Drum Song”

Chop Suey

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I remember a bygone day of listening to musicals

on my parents’ stereo. There was a Chinese love

story, called “Flower Drum Song.” This was taken

from a book written in 1957, made into a musical

by the famed duo of Rodgers and Hammerstein. The

film version was done in 1961, with Gene Kelly

playing a stage director. Themes of assimilation of

Chinese immigrants into our American culture, a

teenager’s rebellion, and an intergenerational

family living in China Town was popular on Broadway.

As time passed, it left the stages of Broadway and off

Broadway, until it was rewritten and made into a newer

production in 2002.

The same songs were kept with ‘tweaks’ in the character

development. It has been awhile since I have heard this

musical but some of the songs were very enchanting!

I sometimes wonder, how this would hold up to the

test of time!

Does anyone remember “Flower Drum Song?”

The real recipe for a Chinese dish of Chop Suey may

include meat(s), eggs, a starchy sauce, with vegetables.

These can include thinly sliced carrots, celery, bean

sprouts and other Asian vegetables. I would like to

have a bowl of this right now!

Another musical I was captured by the story behind

the book,”Anna and the King of Siam.” On stage, it

became “The King and I.” Yul Brynner did a wonderful

acting job in this, as did Deborah Kerr, in the movie

version. This was based on the autobiographical story

about a nanny for the king, who does fall for her over

time. They never ‘consummate’ their relationship but

are friends, conversationalists and until he passes

away, the one woman the King admires for her ‘brains!’

Anyway, “Chop Suey” was a fun loving song in the first

musical that I listed. This is going to be a post that

includes the many ways ‘chop’ or ‘chopped’ can be used.

This began, on a winter’s night, while my two grandsons

were over visiting. I was watching on my tiny, old t.v.

(it has a VCR unit in it!)on one side of my apartment the

show, “American Idol.” I enjoy watching this more than

“The Voice,” “The Singing Bee,” and “America’s Got Talent.”

This year, with Harry Connick, Jr. playing a bit of the

‘tough judge’ role, Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban, is

going very well! I have seen at least three young singers

who I would choose, without further training or coaching,

to be my “next American Idol.” There is a lot of raw

talent out there in America (and the world, too!)

While watching this, my two grandsons were across the

room watching on my bigger flat screen television two

shows. They were alternating between Nick, Jr. (which

has some of the younger one’s favorites like “Diego,”

“Blue’s Clues,” and “Bob the Builder.”) He will honestly

watch other shows, like “Dora,” and the girly ones with

me, too. The older one is starting to like Disney’s

‘teen-oriented’ shows and will study how to date, how to

tip a bucket over a person’s head and she will still

like you. With other silly premises and pranks that

those shows have. I wish I could tell you that it is

above his head, but I do remember my brothers and I

watching, “Beach Blanket Bingo” and other Annette

Funicello with handsome actor, Frankie Avalon movies.

We seemed to enjoy the rather silly plotlines and the

innocent sexual innuendoes, along with the flirtatious

atmosphere of people barely clothed. (That was made back

in 1965!)

I exclaimed about one of the younger female singers

who had done an excellent performance of singing

Adele’s song, “Chasing Pavement.” I said,

“That young girl has some ‘chops’ on her!”

When Skyler came over to see what I was talking

about, he half kiddingly said, “I like pork ‘chops,’

but what are you talking about, Nana?”

I came back with,

“Well, in Alice in Wonderland, the Queen of Hearts

says, “‘Chop’ off her head!”

And Sky, teasingly went along with this word play,

joining in with more,

“My Mom ‘chops’ apples and my Dad ‘chops’ onions!”

Micah came over and noticed our voices being animated,

wondered,

“Do you mean that ‘chops’ can be for food? I thought

you were talking about karate ‘chops!'”

Skyler says, “I wish you could make us some ‘chopped’

steak and enjoy it with some ‘chopped’ peppers.

I replied,

“In the month of February, you will learn about George

Washington who was so honest he confessed he was the

one who ‘chopped’ down the cherry tree.”

He scoffed and shook his head,

“I already knew that, Nana!”

I thought a moment and said,

“I bet you didn’t know that a ‘chop shop’ was a

car garage that takes stolen auto parts and fixes

cars up to be resold for a profit!”

The all knowing Sky answered,

“Since you never play video games, you probably

don’t know about Grand Theft Auto!”

I came back with a feeble attempt, I was losing

this battle of words…

“When I used to want to get my hair cut, a botched

up job would make me say my hair got…” (pause)

and Sky finished the thought,

“‘Chopped!'”

I told Skyler since my show was back on, that the

only way I had heard of ‘chops’ in the musical

world was when someone really belted out a song,

gave it their all and it came out sounding wonderful.

That the use of ‘chops’ was a compliment. I promised

I would check Wikipedia to give him the root meaning

of how this word came about…

On Urban Dictionary, the slang term, ‘chops’ means good

singing ability or singing talent; he/ she can truly

sing. Here, I thought that there may be a little bit of

a reference to the fact that in the olden days, when

men grew their sideburns out, they were called, ‘mutton

chops.’ Thinking that almost went with the throat area

where belting a song out would come. I did find that

this did get included in the free online reference

dictionary where the jowls of a person are meant to

indicate the ability of a jazz artist or musician to

sing loudly and well. There was another reference to

Louis Armstrong, who could sing well and use his

musical ‘chops’ in playing the trumpet, too.

Lastly, as I will call my grandson tonight to tell

him my findings, I thought of my youngest brother

pecking away on the piano, practicing (you may have

guessed the ending!):

“‘Chop’ Sticks!”