What Is The Matter With Me, from A is for Anything (Day 69)

A Is For Anything cast photoYesterday I posted the opening number from my 1988 children’s musical A Is For Anything, and today we’ll get to the “inciting incident,” as they say in the dramaturgical racket. This consists of two linked songs, “What Is The Matter With Me?” and “Magic Telescope.”


Anna is a bright young girl who prides herself on being clever and well-behaved. Her antagonist in the opening scene is a young boy named Asa, a neighbor kid with a hyperactive imagination and a knack for stirring up trouble.

ANNA
I can do fractions, I always say “please.”
I know that the moon isn’t made out of cheese!
I write, I recite, I’m as bright as can be.
There’s nothing the matter with me!

No coloring book could be neater than mine.
I’m careful the colors stay inside the line.
Use red for the flowers and not for the sea.
There’s nothing the matter with me!

I always behave when I go to a show.
I don’t mess around like some people I know.
In spelling and fractions, I always get “A’s”
And I’m a sensation at multiplication!

But just look at you and your juvenile toys!
It’s obvious girls mature faster than boys.
So go on and chatter your maddening patter.
There’s nothing the matter with me!

ASA
Suppose that you’re an astronaut
A-zipping round the stars
Enjoying a vacation on the other side of Mars
When your rocket blows a sprocket,
And you haven’t got a spare,
So you take a chance and dock it
On a planet where there isn’t any air, anywhere!

You know what to do?
(ANNA: Haven’t a clue!)

Magic telescope!
Always keep one standing by!
Magic telescope
Has an oxygen supply!
When the situation’s hopeless, and you don’t know what to do,
Magic telescope will see you through.

So you sit beside a crater
And you try to catch your breath,
When you hear a sound from all around
That scares you half to death.
You look into the telescope,
And there, up in the skies
Is a green and scaly alien
With murder in his six or seven eyes! Surprise!

You know what to do?
(ANNA: Let me guess…)

Magic telescope!
Once again, it saves the day!
Magic telescope!
With its neutron blaster ray,
You can blow that nasty alien from here to Timbuktu!
Magic telescope will see you through.

It’s a wonder, you’ll agree,
And the best part is, it’s free!
Magic telescope will see you through!

(after ASA goes)

ANNA
Okay, I’ll admit, it’s a little bit true.
Pretending’s a thing that I really can’t do.
I try and I try, but it’s always the same.
At making believe, I’m an under-achiever!

I tried his old telescope! How can it be
I don’t see the things that he says I should see?
He’s either a brat or as mad as a hatter
Or something’s the matter with me.
Perhaps there’s a specialist I ought to see.
Oh, what is the matter with me?

Asa’s “magic telescope,” a cardboard tube from the middle of a roll of paper towels, is the sort of thing kids love to play with, a perfect example of an ordinary object transformed into something extraordinary through the power of imagination. Asa has the soul of an artist, the ability to “make shit up,” as I said in yesterday’s post, and despite her protests and expressions of contempt for him, I think Anna envies Asa. After all, there’s only so much fun to be had coloring inside the lines.

What is it that accounts for the robust imaginations of some individuals and the meager endowments possessed by others? Seeking a “specialist,” Anna goes to see a doctor who’s wacky dialog was inspired by the old vaudeville “doctor’s sketch.” Diagnosing Anna’s problem as a “Vitamin A deficiency,” the Doctor prescribes an adventure, and offers to take her for a ride in her “aeroplane.” Turns out the Doctor is (or thinks she is) Amelia Earhart, the legendary aviatrix, and the two get airborne in the song “Let’s Go,” which I posted on Day 1 of my Project 194 adventure. Go on, click the link and listen to it! What are you waiting for?

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