Mandarin orange at the Malamute Saloon

Yesterday’s morning names. I have a ghost of a clue as to why Mandarin oranges came to me at dawn, but the Malamute Saloon is a total mystery.

Mandarin oranges. My 4/28/13 posting “Orange and apple” has a note on Mandarin oranges (Citrus reticulata). Fruit on the tree:


From Wikipedia:

Mandarins are generally peeled and eaten fresh. The fresh fruit is also used in salads, desserts and main dishes. Fresh mandarin juice and frozen juice concentrate are commonly available in the United States.

… [Canned mandarin segments] are often used in salads, desserts, and baking.

The segments (which are small and compact) are peeled and canned in light syrup:


It’s possible that my mind came to Mandarin oranges through my 8/28 posting “Annals of appalling food, dessert division”, which starred Twix Apple Fluff Salad — a remarkable composition involving canned pineapple, though canned Mandarin oranges would be an entirely plausible alternative.

The Malamute Saloon. The setting for the dire events of Robert W. Service’s ballad “The Shooting of Dan McGrew. From Wikipedia:

(#3) The principal players: at the table, McGrew and Lou; at the bar, the stranger (cover design by Mariken Van Nimwegen)

“The Shooting of Dan McGrew” is a narrative poem by Robert W. Service, first published in The Songs of a Sourdough in 1907 in Canada.


The tale takes place in a Yukon saloon during the Yukon Gold Rush of the late 1890s. It tells of three characters: Dan McGrew, a rough-neck prospector; McGrew’s sweetheart “Lou”, a formidable pioneer woman; and a mysterious, weather-worn stranger who wanders into the saloon where the former are among a crowd of drinkers. The stranger buys drinks for the crowd, and then proceeds to the piano, where he plays a song that is alternately robust and then plaintively sad. He appears to have had a past with both McGrew and Lou, and has come to settle a grudge. Gunshots break out, McGrew and the stranger kill each other, and “the Lady that’s known as Lou” ends up with the stranger’s “poke of gold”.

One of a number of Service ballads — “The Ballad of Blasphemous Bill” and “The Cremation of SamMcGee” are two others — celebrating, in rolling anapestic tetrameter, rough frontier life in the Yukon.

Ordinary C.M. (common meter) is — four lines of iambic tetrameter, with rests in foot 4 of lines 2 and 4, which rhyme. The quatrains of Service’s ballads are like this, but with a lot of anapestic rather than iambic feet. Service’s ballads are customarily printed with the couplets as a single line, but here (in the first four quatrains of the “McGrew”) I’ve divided them:

A bunch of the boys were whooping it up
/ in the Malamute saloon;
The kid that handles the music-box
/ was hitting a jag-time tune;

Back of the bar, in a solo game,
/ sat Dangerous Dan McGrew,
And watching his luck was his light-o’-love,
/ the lady that’s known as Lou.

When out of the night, which was fifty below,
/ and into the din and the glare,
There stumbled a miner fresh from the creeks,
/ dog-dirty, and loaded for bear.

He looked like a man with a foot in the grave
/ and scarcely the strength of a louse,
Yet he tilted a poke of dust on the bar,
/ and he called for drinks for the house.

It’s crude and ridiculous, and wonderful. It cries out to be declaimed, dramatically.  A number of performances are available on YouTube, but maybe you should start with a rendition by Service himself ca. 1958, which you can listen to here.

There’s an especially fine recitation of parts of the ballad by Margaret Rutherford, but I’ve found no good videotape of it. From Wikipedia:

Murder Most Foul is the third of four Miss Marple films made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Loosely based on the novel Mrs McGinty’s Dead by Agatha Christie, it stars Margaret Rutherford as Miss Jane Marple, Bud Tingwell as Inspector Craddock, and Stringer Davis (Rutherford’s real-life husband) as Mr. Stringer. The story is ostensibly based on the original Christie story, but notably changes the action and characters. Hercule Poirot is replaced by Miss Marple and most other characters are not in the original story.

… Marple performs a section of the poem “The Shooting of Dan McGrew” by Robert W. Service in the film.

(Grossly unfaithful in both content and tone to the Christie book, but great fun.)

Then briefly on Service:

Robert William Service (January 16, 1874 – September 11, 1958) was a British-Canadian poet and writer who has often been called “the Bard of the Yukon”. He is best known for his poems “The Shooting of Dan McGrew” and “The Cremation of Sam McGee”, from his first book, Songs of a Sourdough (1907; also published as The Spell of the Yukon and Other Verses). His vivid descriptions of the Yukon and its people made it seem that he was a veteran of the Klondike Gold Rush, instead of the late-arriving bank clerk he actually was. Although his work remains popular, Service’s poems were initially received as being crudely comical works. (Wikipedia)

Well, they are crudely comical. They are also immensely enjoyable.

Finally, a note on the animal for which the saloon in “Dan McGrew” is named:


The Alaskan Malamute is a large breed of domestic dog … originally bred for hauling heavy freight due to their strength and endurance, and later as a sled dog. They are similar to other arctic breeds and spitz breeds, such as the Greenland Dog, Canadian Eskimo Dog, the Siberian Husky, and the Samoyed. (Wikipedia)

One Response to “Mandarin orange at the Malamute Saloon”

  1. bebopple Says: margaret rutherford recitation (animated)

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