Decades ago, I heard an interview with the actor who supposedly came up with “Walla, walla.” Whether he did or not, I don’t really know because the term was used in radio days and I don’t remember if he said anything about radio in the interview. I do remember he specifically mentioned being an extra in a courtroom scene on a television show, where after a Perry-Mason-like pronouncement by the lawyer, the folks in the courtroom were supposed to murmur in approbation and surprise. He said that he said, “Walla, walla, walla, walla,” syllables that are supposed to mimic human speech without actually meaining anything. One reason for the non-word is that actors were paid by the word, and since the syllables weren’t actually words, or at least not assigned words, they didn’t have to be paid as an actor with a speaking part. (As a matter of curiosity, in England, they use the word “rhubarb” for the same purpose.)
What made me remember this interview is that yesterday I watched the news with the friend I get paid to sit with (a great gig if I do say so myself), and all the newscasters talked about for a solid hour (and since it was “breaking news” they didn’t even break for commercials) was a fire. It wasn’t a particularly bad fire — at the time it was only about thirteen acres in a flat rural area, and only one dwelling had burned (the dwelling where the fire started, actually). I realize that it is a terrible and terrifying thing for the people involved, especially those who were under mandatory eviction status as well as those on the ground fighting the fire, but otherwise, it’s not a particularly noteworthy event. And yet, the news people talked and talked and talked, saying the same thing over and over again in various ways, and when the newscasters interviewed the “authorities” (the fire chief and others whose occupations I didn’t catch), those people said the same thing. Then the newscasters took over the microphone again and repeated what the interviewees had said.
At least I think they did. Around about that time, all I heard was, “Walla, walla, walla, walla.”
Because of the walla-walla-ing, I was able to tune out the newscast despite the high volume, and finished reading one of the woman’s Reader’s Digest condensed books published many years ago. (Normally I wouldn’t read such fare, but I can’t get immersed in a “real” book while I am working because I need to keep an eye and ear out for her, even if she is napping in a nearby chair, so the digest versions work well.)
Luckily, I have a day or three off from work to give myself a rest from the walla wallas.
Despite the cavalier tone of this article, I truly do hope the people affected by the fire are lucky too and that they and their property come through the crisis unscathed.
What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?
A fun book for not-so-fun times