Thursday, May 26, 2005

Almost Homological Parody

To spike the guns of my adoring public, let me say here and now that the following did not turn out as it was conceived. First of all, the idea is so obvious as to be puerile. Still, I thought I might excuse that failing, if the execution was sufficiently ginchy. Alas, what started as an exercise in the specific and concrete (the second and third lines) soon became a vague, generalized primal scream, lacking in any finesse. And some of the lines, particularly in the second release, come across (if at all) better when read than when sung. Ah, me. Pencil this one in, folks. The tune, incidentally, is Bricusse's and Newley's A Wonderful Day Like Today. A link to 30 seconds of Cyril Ritchard singing it can be found by scrolling down the page here.

On a pestilent day like today,
I expect to contract some contagious disease—
Lock myself out after losing my keys,
On this social-disease-ridden day.

On a scrofulous morning like this,
When the sun is a big melanoma machine,
Nothing can spare us the mujihadeen
Metaphoric’ly bombing our bris.

On a morning like this, I’m so piss-poor in spirit,
I’ll probably end the day dead;
You may argue I won’t, but I don’t want to hear it;
Forget it, guys—I realize
I shoulda stood in bed.

If I seem incoherent, okay—
That’s the price that you pay for a really good grouch.
Deep in my heart is a feeling of ouch,
For the best-laid of plans gang agley
On a pestilent day like today.

* * * *

On a morning like this, the Abyss seems to bait me;
It patiently waits for my fall.
I’d appeal to the gods, but the odds are, they hate me.
The likelihood that I’m in good
Is vanishingly small.

I would fall on my soup-bones and pray,
But the spark in my soul has completely gone out;
Ravenous dingoes are prowling about—
I no longer can keep them at bay,
On a pestilent day like today.

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Importance of Being Ernest T.

Yes, I realize that the voice of Tony the Tiger is stilled. And Thurl Ravenscroft was certainly a name pregnant with possibility.

But of more moment to me is the death of the more dully monikered Howard Morris, of Your Show of Shows and The Andy Griffith Show. I never saw the former until they assembled some segments and released them in theatres as Ten of the Best from Your Show of Shows, a title whose diction mystified me at the time. Still, I'll never forget the segment in which Mr. Morris latched onto Sid Caesar's leg in a burlesque of This is Your Life, and stayed latched. Or the segment (did I see it in the feature-length show, or on some other retrospective?) in which he assists Sid Caesar to don the uniform of a Field Marshal in some obscure Teutonic duchy, before Sid stepped outside to take up his post as a doorman.

But the pinnacle of Mr. Morris's career must be Ernest T. Bass: absolutely unforgettable; a character I'll take with me to the grave. And I wonder why. Certainly, when we see videotapes of early sit-coms, we blush at the asinine plots, grainy pictures, cheap production values, puerile themes, and corny jokes (even on the best of 'em). What makes something like Ernest T. Bass stick in the mind? Perhaps the low production quality itself: the performances, set in such primitive simplicity, become mythic. (To take another example, we who were there will never forget Jerry van Dyke calling everyone "Beresford"--but don't get me started on The Dick van Dyke Show; it's got a million of these memories.) Somehow, either because of the cheesiness of it all, or in spite of it, the performers' art shone through.

Part of this unforgettability, no doubt, is that we saw these things when we were infants. But isn't that half the reason that myth has such staying power? Telling it to impressionable youth ensures that it makes an impression. Well, Ernest T. made one on me, of which Adam Arkin's character on Northern Exposure was a hollow echo.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Masterpiece Theatre

What I often wonder, watching PBS, is, how the hell they define a “masterpiece”? If a book’s not downright dull, it’s a candidate for Death by Slow Episode. I would not begrudge ‘em dusting off a trilogy, if only they made a faster piece—but the thing drags on so long, it’s like sitting through the whole Napoleonic Code. When they’re not breaking out in Cockney, dropping every “H” like a hick who hasn’t heard of Henry Higgins, then they speak with an Oxbridge accent, dropping every "R," till you simply want to scream! Then the theme song’s not exactly rock ‘n’ roll; it couldn’t pass as a ghetto-blaster piece—play it ten times through, and bang! Leroy Anderson is swearing off the major mode.

The foregoing post is set to a possibly recognizable tune. I'll give you three guesses what it is.

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

Friday, May 13, 2005

Theme Song

It struck me yesterday that I ought to have my own theme song. (Actually, everyone ought to have his own theme song, but I can't be responsible for everyone.) What prompted the notion was a lyric that popped unbidden into the ol' noggin, to the tune of Richard Rodgers's 1929 goo-fest, "With a Song in My Heart": "With a song in my spleen." My feelings exactly. So I switched into Foggy Mode as I went about my usual business, and the lyric below was the result. A really rousing midi, done as only the Japanese can do it and perfectly suited to the following lyric, can be found here (you'll have to sit through the verse, at least until I write one).

With a song full of spleen
And a passive-aggressive approach—
Partly caused by caffeine
And a lifetime of flying in coach—
I express my views
(Like anyone cares!)
On news
And affairs
Of state. There's
Not a lot I can say,
Dishing up all this corn-on-the-cob;
It's degrading, but hey—
Better this than a regular job.
For I did the math,
And I chose the path
Of a song full of wrath and spleen.

Lyric © 2005 Nathanial DesH. Petrikov

Monday, May 09, 2005

Mother's Day, Part II

Anent my last post: Theo Morse's original had two choruses, so why shouldn't mine? Here goes:

M is for her monumental mamm'ries;
O is for her overstuffed brassiere;
T is tits, like two Toyota Camrys;
H is hefty hooters--here and here.
E is elephantine Bristol Cities;
R is for Raquels--she's quite a grilf.
Put them all together, they spell “Mother”
(And, yes, my friends, I still mean MILF).

And, if you're wondering, "grilf" is early Usenet slang for girlfriend. You think rhyming "MILF" is easy?!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

What's Mother's Day Without a Song?

What, indeed?

I awoke this morning with any number of things I ought to be doing, at home and abroad, and consequently had no difficulty in neglecting them all, to bend my mind to the problem of a Mother's Day Song. It's set to Theo Morse's "M-O-T-H-E-R" (1915), and a lovely midi of it can be found here. The lyric:

M is for her major-league maracas;
O is for her oversized bazoom;
T is her titanic titicacas;
H is how her headlights flood the room.
E is extra-ordinary fun bags;
R is rack—this chick is not a sylph.
Put them all together, they spell “Mother”
(By “Mother,” I, of course, mean MILF).

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

Sunday, May 01, 2005

21st Century Marriage

The nation is all of a doo-dah over Jennifer Wilbanks, the Georgia bride who repented in haste. From the news reports, she's obviously a very confused young lady: she traveled from Georgia to Albuquerque by way of Las Vegas. By bus. By way of Las Vegas. Reminds me of the night we went to Birmingham by way of Beachy Head.

I picture Ms. Wilbanks vividly: here's a virginal 32-year-old young lady, hardly more than a girl, really; fresh out of high school and feeling for the first time that spirit of rebellion that comes to all thirty-somethings. She hankers to leave her little room in Mom and Dad's basement (it used to be on the second floor, but Jennifer threw such a fit about her "privacy," that Dad finally fixed up a room downstairs) and strike out on her own. She meets John Mason, a nice young man; here, at last, is her means of escape. He proposes; she accepts. They set The Date.

A week or two before the big day, Mom sits Our Jennifer down and finally has that little talk that all mothers have with their daughters, sooner or later. She explains, as delicately as she can, about the Needs of Men and What One Can Expect on the Wedding Night. Jennifer listens calmly, but inside she's feeling a tempest of horror and revulsion. She had no idea that marriage was like that! In short, Mom has chucked a spanner, or should I say a cherry bomb, into the works.

What is Jennifer to do? She cannot possibly marry a man and do that . . . that thing. But she can't postpone the wedding or break the engagement off altogether; people would call her a giddy little schoolgirl, too young ever to have thought of marrying. But she isn't! She's a big girl now! No, there's only one rational course of action: stage an abduction and flee to Albuquerque. Whatever else it may accomplish, it will avoid any chance of being embarrassed hereafter. Secretly, Jennifer can't help thinking one delicious little thought as she plots and plans: How they'll miss me when I'm gone!

Well, the best-laid plans of mice and maids gang aft agley. Like Leopold and Loeb, Jennifer overlooked one little detail: she forgot to pack money for the trip. (Albuquerque turned out to be one of those places that use money.) So there's nothing for it, but to 'fess up and fly back to Georgia. But there's still one way to save that last shred of dignity: on the trip home, don't square your chin and hold your head high, 'cause people will say you're stuck up. Instead, cover your head with a brightly colored towel. That way, you won't attract attention to yourself.

Welcome home, Jenny! We hardly missed ye.
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