Saturday, April 23, 2005

Dis Is Gettin' Ridiculous

Came to the office today, by way of the PATH to the World Trade Center, and it seemed as if I were reliving last Saturday. As we pulled into the station, a lady of a certain age--obviously a tourist--looked out the window of the car at the carnage and asked no one in particular, "Is this Journal Square?" Several people, including Your Correspondent, corrected her misimpression with perfectly straight faces and encumbered with advice on how to get to Journal Square.

So much for my ever professing astonishment now at the absence of the Empire State Building's Ugly Stepsisters. What once might have been sulphitic is now so bromidic, that I'll be dead and gone before such a joke again becomes crackworthy.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

When Good Ideas Go Wrong

The first line of a new lyric popped into my head the other day. It was a killer; seemingly perfect in every way. The catch--you knew there was a catch, didn't you?--was that the last word of the line was unrhymable, and another word of it, at a point where another rhyme would have to go, was rhyme-poor.

When something like this happens, there's nothing for it but to work the idea through to the bitter end, and get it out of the system; otherwise, one will never be able to move on to the next idea that may come along. The result is a song that may charitably be called an etude or finger-exercise.

It's to the tune of Allie Wrubel's The Lady in Red, a 1930's song recorded by Xavier Cugat, not to be confused with the maudlin 1980's hit, Lady in Red.

Oh! the Lady Macbeth!
There's no one as crazy
As the Lady Macbeth:
Mad as a hatter,
She'll splatter
Blood on your upholstery.

Oh! the Lady Macbeth!
The John Cam'ron Swayze
Of the Culture of Death.
Mother of Mary!
It's scary,
When you know the whole story [see what I mean?].

She keeps on tickin'
The names of all of her prey
Off, one corpse at a time,
But all the lickin'
Can never scour away
The one damned spot that hints at her crime.

Oh! the Lady Macbeth
Is never so lazy
As to pause for a breath;
Constantly killing,
And spilling
Blood on the upholstery.
And that's the whole story!

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

I can't deny my fondness for "the John Cam'ron Swayze of the Culture of Death." I can't explain it, mind you. But I like it.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

He Who Hesitates Is Lost

Ever since the World Trade Center PATH station reopened, I've been wanting to turn to the passenger sitting next to me and ask, "Hey, what have they done with the buildings?" Never had the nerve to do it, though. Now, as "September 11" slowly recedes, the idea has less and less appeal; in today's climate, it would probably not shock my audience, merely annoy them.

Well, I should have struck when I had the chance. This morning, somebody stole my thunder. The train emerged from the North River tunnel into the open air of Ground Zero, as usual. It wound slowly around Osama Crater, the devastation clearly visible on all sides. It came to a stop at the starkly gray al fresco platform. We all got up to disembark. And one passenger--a latter-day Geoffrey Holder with a charming English accent--looked up and asked the fellow across from him, "Excuse me. Is this the World Trade Center stop?" "Yes," the other replied; and no one in the car batted an eye. Me, I almost plotzed.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Beatification of W.C. Fields?

American Bystander reports that Cardinal Ratzinger may be our next Pope. But the Nyok Times, courtesy of the Associated Press, reports today:

Two Belgians eager to see their countryman, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, as pontiff held aloft a banner reading ''Godfried for Pope'' on Wednesday. Vatican police escorted them off St. Peter's Square.

Godfrey Daniels!! Is this evidence that the Spirit of W.C. Fields is attempting to work a wee miracle?

Perhaps not.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

The Quiet Genealogy

I've been toping of late with one Maeve, a lady of a certain age with a lovely Irish brogue and a history of residences in exotic places like Saudi Arabia and a wardrobe that would choke a horse. She tells me she's related to Maureen O'Hara. It goes something like this: There were once two Mulvany sisters, Rose and Evangeline. Rose married a Mr. Bough and begat Patricia, Maeve's mother. Evangeline married a Mr. Burke and begat Imelda, Patricia's first cousin, and therefore Maeve's first cousin, once removed. Imelda married Maureen O'Hara's brother, Bart Fitzsimmons.

Maeve's ability to rattle off this genealogy may explain why she's such a whiz at Jeopardy. How so accomplished a woman ended up toping in a neighborhood bar is something she hasn't divulged. We're not on terms of such intimacy that I feel at liberty to ask. She did say that she's met Miss O'Hara at family gatherings, and the nosiest I could manage to be was to ask, "Did she tell you what Victor McLaglen was really like?"

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Death and Marriage, Death and Marriage

I rejoice that H.R.H. The Prince of Wales has finally been permitted to marry Camilla Parker-Bowles, the distant cousin of Our Own Miss Sallie Parker. Well, good on 'im. He has, to my eye, landed a more prepossessing specimen this go-around. From the wedding pictures, she looked like a million quid, invested in all the right places.

These Windsors are certainly no strangers to the Groves of Eros: first his great uncle, then his aunt, and now he have fallen victims to the Divine Pash. There'll always be an England, where there's a lovers' lane, as the old song says.

The other day, Sarah Lyall wrote in the Nyok Times,

How do you solve a problem like "Camilla"?

If you are Andrew Motion, Britain's poet laureate and the man charged with producing a cheerful commemorative poem about Prince Charles's impending marriage to Camilla Parker Bowles, none of the obvious rhymes - vanilla, flotilla, Godzilla - seem appropriate, somehow.

I charitably refrain from pointing out that Ms. Lyall's "Godzilla" dig shows that she wouldn't know a goddess if one bit her in the leg, and merely note that the solution to the problem she poses is childishly obvious, especially now, when visions of John Paul II are dancing in one's head:

Dies ludi, dies illa
Solvet vita in tranquilla:
Teste Carolus cum Camilla.

Verse © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov (what little there is of it that's original, of course)

I look forward to reading Mr. Motion's epithalamium. From a brief glance at his bio, I like the cut of his jib.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Akira Yoshizawa Folds

The Times reports that Akira Yoshizawa, the origami master, has died. This brings back memories of childhood; one of the first educational TV shows I remember--it seems to me now to have been coeval with the show hosted by Max Morath--was a fifteen (?) minute series on origami, hosted by a realio, trulio Japanese Person (probably not Yoshizawa-san himself, although how could one tell?).

Our family watched the program religiously and invested in a packet of colored squares from an art supply shop so that we could follow along. I felt utter frustration at being unable to fold a piece of paper diagonally, so that the opposite corners met. Another reminder, if one were needed, that I was a klutz in any human activity in which klutziness was possible.

Lost, But Not Forgotten

Well, Frank Perdue has finally lived up to his name, the New York Times reports. Lived up to it, though dead.

Mr. Perdue is the poster-boy for the late 20th Century consumer economy. He took a barely passable product and built an empire on it, thanks to a perennially amusing ad campaign, an efficient but stomach-turning factory method of chicken-breeding, and (according to the obit) some sharp practices, like union-busting, courtesy of the Mafia.

His chickens were bland and mealy; chewing the meat made your teeth sticky; and, despite his boast that his birds were fresh, not frozen, their bones roasted black--a sure sign that someone in the chain of commerce had iced 'em, but good. They used to say that the notorious color of the chickens' flesh--a rancid yellow--was induced by putting marigold petals in their feed; an additive that did nothing to improve taste or food value, needless to say. And the folds of skin next to the cavity were always pendulous with gobs of disgusting fat. The best that could be said for a Perdue chicken was that it hadn't come from a company run by Clinton supporters.

But those ads! And the cachet of eating a gamboge bird! The little buggers sold like hotcakes, driving decent chicken from the market, as bad money drives out good.

I close with an old clerihew:

Frank Perdue
Has something new:
Chicken franks!
. . . No, thanks.

Verse © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

Friday, April 01, 2005

Twice-Told Old Jokes Are Best

A friend with experience in show biz expressed the opinion that my parody of Waitin' for the Robert E. Lee needed a second verse and chorus, so here it is. It came as easily as a pulled tooth. In fact, I'd go so far as to call several of the lines mere dummy lyrics, until something better suggests itself.

At last he was able
To hook up my cable.
(I now have a gable
That's slightly unstable;
But with broadband,
Why should it worry me?
Home renovation
Is always in syndication.)

Clickin' my clicker,
The images flicker;
But here is the kicker:
I'm suddenly sicker
Than a drowned rat
Caught in a torrent of
Commercials on cable TV.

Crikey! Look at those ads!
What's with all of those ads?
They're pushing soap,
The cellular 'phone ads
Are busting my gonads.

Couldn't someone tell me who knows:
Where in hell are my shows?!
It's such a sick
Clickin' till I'm frickin'
Sick 'n' tired of cable TV.

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov
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