Letters

NPR'S Scott Simon reads from the listeners' email.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

Time now for your letters.

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: Last Saturday, we broadcast from Culver City, California. I described California as the largest state in the nation. Of course, Alaska and Texas are geographically larger. California, as many listeners pointed out, is merely the most populous.

Our interview with Sharon Mitchell, a former adult film actress and now heads the Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation, brought a lot of mail, much of which echoed Richard Hinckley(ph) of Houston. While the subject of pornography is not one, I would say, is totally off limits from journalism, at the very least, I have found the inclusion of a brief audio clip from a foreign porn movie to be offensive.

Former "Seinfeld" writer Peter Mehlman took us on his tour of an imaginary L.A. We introduced Peter as the man who invented the phrase yada, yada. Dozens of listeners disagreed. Steve Favor(ph) of Mill Valley, California wrote: Despite prevailing opinion, every modern catchphrase in American vernacular does not tract its origin back to "Seinfeld." Probably the most glaring is the phrase yada, yada, which those of us old enough and curmudgeonly enough remember as one of Lenny Bruce's favorites.

Lenny Bruce did use the phrase in his 1961 recording of "Father Flotski's Triumph," a story of a prison riot led by an inmate named Dutch.

(Soundbite of movie, "Father Flotski's Triumph"):

Unidentified Man: All right, Dutch. This is the warden. You've got 18 men down there - prison guards who have served me faithfully. Give up, Dutch, and we'll meet any reasonable demands your men want. Can you hear me? This is the warden.

Mr. LENNY BRUCE (Actor): (As Dutch) Yada, yada. Yada, yada, yada, yada, warden.

SIMON: William Gourd(ph) Midland, Michigan says that the phrase was born in a song recorded March 9, 1945 by Bing Crosby and Judy Garland.

(Soundbite of song, "Yah-Ta-Ta Yah-Ta-Ta")

Ms. JUDY GARLAND (Singer): Hoe's your golf, Bing?

Mr. BING CROSBY (Singer): My golf? Oh, I'm really moving that ball out there -striking it a ton. I had a 69 Sunday, it should have been a 65. Terrific wind blowing. Couldn't drop a single put. It was murder.

Ms. GARLAND: Oh, I lost my head with this question.

Mr. CROSBY: And of course, the equipment, you just can't get any golf balls anymore. The actors are hoarding them all. And the caddies, hmm, they want an annuity for 18 holes. You've got to take an option on one to be sure he'll show up.

MS. GARLAND: Stop.

Mr. CROSBY: Sorry.

Ms. GARLAND: (Singing) When the parlor lights are lowered and the family isn't in, must you ya ta ta, ya ta ta, ya ta ta, ya ta ta, chin, chin, chin? When there's music softly playing and I'm sitting on your lap, must you ya ta ta, ya ta ta, ya ta ta, ya ta ta, yap, yap, yap? Forward…

SIMON: We welcome your thoughts, your e-mails, yada, yada, yada. Go to npr.org and click on Contact Us. Please remember to tell us where you're from and how to pronounce your name.

(Soundbite of song, "Yah-Ta-Ta Yah-Ta-Ta")

Mr. CROSBY: (Singing) But if you're ya ta ta, ya ta ta, ya ta ta, ya ta ta, same old line.

Ms. GARLAND: What do you mean the same old line?

Mr. CROSBY: Same line.

Ms. GARLAND: You asked me about my hat.

Mr. CROSBY: Well, I…

Ms. GARLAND: You've been standing there…

Mr. CROSBY: But I…

Ms. GARLAND: …an hour and a half…

Mr. CROSBY: I just…

Ms. GARLAND: talking your big, fat head off…

Mr. CROSBY: I thought …

Ms. GARLAND: …about golf.

Mr. CROSBY: Well…

Ms. GARLAND: You didn't even let me finish my story. The least you can do is (unintelligible)…

Mr. CROSBY: I told you what I do. Steady.

Ms. GARLAND: …Oh, now, Bing, let me finish.

SIMON: This is NPR News.

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