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f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

January 17, 2006

dancin’ on thin ice

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 8:08 pm

Over at simply senryu, we’ve been having a discussion

today about the advice:

“if you’re walkin’ on thin ice, then you might 

as well dance”



I’ve been trying to locate the source of the maxim. Last

January, I posted the words to the 1972 song “Do It” by

Jesse Winchester, from the LP “Third Down, 110 to Go,”

which was my introduction to the notion:

          Do It

If the wheel is fixed
I would still take a chance
If we’re treading on thin ice
Then we might as well dance
So I play the fool
But I can’t sit still
Help me get this rock
To the top of this hill

Do it
‘Til we’re sick of it
Do it ’till you can’t do it no more


Erick Houck Jr. had seen it recently and first brought

up the quote, in reaction to this dagosan senryu:

new ice
on the river –
still can’t walk on water


Matt Morden pointed to this article by a hypnotherapist,

who saw the slogan on a button. says the

author is unknown.  About did, however, quote this

Japanese proverb: “We’re fools whether we dance or

not, so we might as well dance.”


The Layabouts used the line repeatedly in the chorus

of their 1989 song “Thin Ice(lyrics by Ralph Franklin),

from their “Workers of the World Relax” album. 




Key West (via NH) singer-guitarist Scott Kirby named

his 1999 album “Walkin’ on Thin Ice, and the title

song incorporates the lyric in question.

tiny check One webchat site has an entry that seems

to suggest that “Fiddler on the Roof” used

the line, but I can’t find the reference, and

am not familiar enough with the play to have

an opinion. (maybe polymath George Wallace


How about you?  Do know of any use of this line

prior to Jesse Winchester’s 1972 song “Do It”?  Please

email or leave a Comment, if you can help run down the

original source.





original by Arthur J. Giacalone, Esq., in full color

Central Park, NYC, ice rink, “The Gates (March, 2005)



coldest day of the year

the lone skater laps

his breath




figure skaters on lac la belle pirouetting into snow squalls






cold wind
      the sweep of the speed skater’s arms





dancin’ on thin ice?

the old guy’s

doin’ The Slide




p.s. All day, while chasing the source of the “might

as well dance” quote, I’ve had this nagging thought:

Thirty-four years ago, at 21, I thought this was a

wonderful quote. Now, in my mid-50s, it seems a

bit rash — which is why I would recommend, if you

must dance, that you do The Slide and avoid jumping

up and down. Of course, getting down and rolling is

probably the safest way to go.


“snowflakeS” potluck – more thin ice

tiny check In Gonzales v. Oregon [No. 04-623, Jan. 17, 2006; Scalia dissent; Thomas dissent],

the Supreme Court upheld an Oregon law that permits doctors to prescribe medica-

tions in certain assisted suicide situations. (SCOTUSBlog explains).   As often

happens when a strongly held personal belief is involved, Prof. Bainbridge seems

to have misplaced his legal analytical mind.  Steve declares that he is “confused”

and cries out:

“I”m sure there’s some hypertechnical explanation for why this all makes

sense, but do we really want unelected and unaccountable judges deciding

key social issues on the basis of hypertechnicalities?”



That’s right, a law professor overwhelmed by technicalties and distinctions.

The Court upheld a state legislative choice over a questionable regulation by the

unelected, non-expert U.S. Attorney General.   If you’re not simply looking for

results-oriented judging, it seems to me that Mark Zuniga  got it right at his

Hanging a Shingle weblog:

I think the important difference here is that Marijuana was

classified in the federal law as a drug that can never be pre-

scribed while the drugs used in the assisted suicides may be

prescribed for a “legitimate medical purpose.” The narrow

holding of the Court appears to be that the statute leaves the

question of legitimate medical purposes to the states. What

we don’t know is whether Congress could actually outlaw

suicide as a legitimate medical purpose. That probably is


“noyabutsSN”  Matt Homann says he likes to “think Big Thoughts,” but it

always looks like he wants lawyers — under the guise of “value pricing” — to

“think Big Fees.”  On Jan. 11, he pointed to the article The Price is Never Wrong,

calling it “Good practical introduction to concepts of price vs. value.”  In

it, the author brags about how much easier it was to sell a seminar he gives

for $6500 than for $1500 to $2000.   As I stated in “ethics aside”, and the

materials linked there, modern psychological marketing techniques may be

acceptable in some businesses, but the legal profession needs to have

higher ethical criteria.  The notion of unreasonably high fees can’t be avoided

because a lawyer can fool a client into accepting the “value” of a tripled fee.

That “value billing” approach is skating on ethical thin ice, even if the lawyer

gets to dance all the way to the bank.                                                                  



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