Thursday, June 30, 2005

New York City, or Boston, Jr.?

If New York City has a fault, it's a tendency to emulate the Hub of the Universe. Boston builds its Charlie, or T, or whatever they call it nowadays, so New York must have its Subway; Boston puts Art in its T-stops, so New York follows suit; Boston makes a mall of Quincy Market, so ditto the Fulton Fish Market; Boston evinces an insular attitude with that old joke that ends "by way of Dedham," so New York plasters its walls with that Steinberg cartoon (you know the one I mean). Whatever Boston does, New York must then do, not necessarily with improvements.

Well, it's happened again. The latest is Snapple's giant melting popsicle in Union Square. Shades of the Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Jingle Hell, Jingle Hell . . .

The trip down this morning, with my daughter to entertain me, was not as painful as I was expecting, for reasons that will appear below. The trip back up, alone, was six and a half hours of sheer hell, owing to lack of sleep. I won't scar the sensitive souls of my public by giving details; suffice it to say that my public is dashed lucky that I arrived home in one piece.

On the way down, my daughter was playing her favorite radio (a gift from Miss Sallie Parker), and out of the corner of my ear, so to speak, I heard a pitch for an Oreo jingle-writing contest--the theme, "Milk's favorite cookie," Oreo's current slogan; first prize, $10,000. By the time we reached our destination, I'd found a tune to fit the phrase and the lyric was done. And not bad it was, for it resonated with several Oreo themes. Its principal flaw was that it was too long--but we did a little testing, and discovered that the 55-second (!) spot I'd created could be cut and pasted to make a 30-second or a 15-second spot, with tinkering.

On arriving home this evening, I went to the webpage to find out how to submit my entry, and discovered that the damned thing was a jingle-singing contest, not a jingle-writing contest. Oh, well--at least writing it helped to pass the time.

My jingle's set to the tune of Food, Glorious Food, from Lionel Bart's Oliver! (though it needn't be sung to it):

Hands up, if you know
Milk's Favorite Cookie!
What pleases the pro [cf. grandfatherly type in recent ad campaign]?
What tickles the rookie [cf. cute li'l grandson in ditto]?

What thrills 'em from New Rochelle
Out to San Francisco?
It isn't too hard to tell--
Think "Nabisco."

One wonderful snack
Unravels the riddle.
Take one from the stack
(First eating the middle):

Far sweeter than honeycomb,
Far smoother than silk;

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

On the way home, a thinnish idea occurred to me for a song about Interstate 95. Watch this space for further developments.

Hemlock, Take Two

Oh, goody, goody. Not a minute's sleep last night, and now four hours on the road to deliver my daughter to a summer camp of sorts, and four hours back, where (shudder) a dose of salts awaits me. But sleeplessness afforded a chance to revise a recent lyric:

Life is just a cup of hemlock.
I'm very serious—
Life's deleterious.
You sweat, you strain, you pay your dues,
But with all the snafus, it's a cinch you'll lose.
You're caught in what you call a grem-lock—
A gremlin traffic jam.
You fall for a dame—you still haven't learned—
Your heart is on fire, and so you get burned.
Yes, life is just a cup of hemlock;
Drink deep—and don't give a damn.

Much better denouement than that pedestrian and non-sequiturian plaint about taxes, however heartfelt it may be. Still, "you sweat, you strain" is a bit reminiscent of Ol' Man River. Hmmmm.

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

Saturday, June 25, 2005

"Father's Day" Encore

Walking home this afternoon from a few errands with my daughter, I allowed her the inestimable boon (poor child!) of listening to me improvise nonce lyrics using phrases from our conversation. These maunderings soon coalesced into a not-very-original parody of Harry Ruby's unique "Father's Day" (memorably sung by Groucho Marx, among others), which, because of its unoriginality, I denominate a second or encore chorus to that song:

Today, Father, is Father’s Day,
So we’re letting you sleep in.
We’re sure gonna try
To be so mousy qui-
Et, you can hear someone dropping a pin.
It offers recognition of your status,
So we do these little favors with zest;
For according to our mother, you begat us—
And Mom, after all, knows best.

Lyric (what little of it's original) © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

Friday, June 24, 2005

There's Treasure Everywhere!

. . . as Calvin and Hobbes used to say—even down in the dumps. Today, a parody of the chorus to Brown and Henderson's Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries occurred to me, and the following is the beta. Lines 8-9 are just dummy lyrics at this point, and lines 4-5 need work, but the idea is sound, I think:

Life is just a cup of hemlock.
I'm very serious—
Life's deleterious.
Our hopes, our dreams are bound to lose,
When they run into crews of obscene snafus.
We're faced with what you'd call a grem-lock—
A gremlin traffic jam.
We tell Uncle Sam to get off our backs,
So what does he do? He raises our tax.
Yes, life is just a cup of hemlock;
Drink deep—and don't give a damn.

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

"Paro Dies" Means, "I Furnish the Days," Right?

A passable idea occurred to me the other day for another parody of that Caesar-Marks-Lerner oldie, Is It True What They Say About Dixie? (A frightful midi [at least, it sounds frightful on my machine; all the midi's I found of this one did] can be found here.)

Like lots of passable ideas, this one passed, all right: it passed right into turgidity. What should have sounded like Irving Berlin on an average day came out sounding like W.S. Gilbert on a bad day. Still, for the record:

Is it true, if it says ipse dixit?
Is it false, if it's not Q.E.D.'d?
Could Rome have hoped to flatten
Illiterates in Gaul,
If it had swapped its Latin
For proto-Provençal?
Does it help, using sound bites from Virgil
As a crutch
For a much
Thinner screed?
Well, the hic
Takes a haec
When the hoc-um starts to flow,
So I guess that it must be so.

Alternate-but-not-any-better substitute for lines 3-6:

Would we kowtow to Caesar,
And do it with such grace,
Had he not said, "divisa
All Gaul in partes tres"?

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

Friday, June 17, 2005

'60's Variety, and a Throwaway

Last night, PBS profiled, or rather eulogized (and quite rightly, too), Dinah Shore, with clips from her variety show. Wow. I'd forgotten how good '60's variety was. And unforgettable moments: where else can you find Ella Fitzgerald singing with Jimmy Durante, or Dinah Shore singing with Groucho, of all people?

So I awoke this morning with Sinatra in my head, and came up with the following nonce lyric, to the tune of Youmans's Great Day (sorry, no link yet; you'll have to google it yourself):

When you cook with eggs,
Make sure they still have legs—
Always insist on Grade A.

Those eggs, over there—
Older than camembert?
Trust me—they've had their heyday.

"Check for fresh albumens!"
Sez Vincent Youmans—
And (I assume)
Yolk-o Ono.

Open up the shell:
If it should smell like Hell,
Send out an urgent "Mayday,"
And trade it in for one that's Grade A.

If the foregoing does nothing else, it may at least rid my mind of the tune to Downtown, which is beginning to annoy the hell out of me.

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Uses of Insomnia

Insomnia ain't all bad. Some weeks ago, I had the germ of an idea for a parody of Downtown, and this morning it bore its first fruit. Later today, while standing outside a Dunkin' Donuts in Hoboken awaiting my daughter's return from a sleepover, most of the rest of the song formed itself in bits and pieces, and I've been tinkering with them off and on since, taking time out only to focus on my daughter's graduation.

I can’t ignore the smells that come from next door,
Because my townhouse stands

Started to roam, but left my BlackBerry home:
I’m sitting on my hands—

I’ve looked around, and I have found that life is full of downers;
I’ve suffered through the Asian flu and seen The Out-of-Towners.
What can I say?

The world’s a depressing place—
And, from reports that I’ve heard, things are lousy in space;
So I’m
Deeply dejected and
Just as expected, I’m
Boy, am I down on my luck.

Look at GM—when Fortune sticks it to them,
Then what does GM do?

Plays like Macbeth that end in violent death
Have got the proper view—

I think it wise to recognize we’re none of us in clover.
You’re so naïve, if you believe you’re better off than Rover!
Don’t be a fool:

The world’s a depressing place—
So give the bullet a bite, then be ready to brace
For your
Maybe you’ve dreaded your
Everyone’s headed for
Ending up down in the dumps.

* * * *

Oh, yes, indeed, the good succeed—but only in romances.
I wouldn’t give an adjective for anybody’s chances.
Bugger it all!

The world’s a depressing place—
You greet the day with a smile and get slapped in the face;
So let’s
Down tools!
Give up the struggle and
Down tools!
Don’t be a Muggle—just
Down tools!
All it comes down to is [raspberry].

(I've never used [raspberry] in a lyric before. And I seem to be going through a Blue Period.)

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Homework, Forsooth!

A friend of mine bet me, in a manner of speaking, that I couldn't write another parody of the Yellen-Ager-Bigelow-Bates (yep, it took four men to write it) Hard-Hearted Hannah. The proviso was that the parody had to be about a "nice" girl. (Now, what do I know from nice girls?) A week's thought, and one lousy chorus is all I have so far. I won't waste time criticizing it:

They call her
Mild-mannered Millie,
The vixen of Philly;
The baddest gal in town.
Lightning is fast, but Millie's even faster;
She plays hymns, but with a ghetto-blaster.
She's hep to the lingo
Of mah jongg and bingo--
And she's been known to play.
I watched her at canasta in the barber shop,
And I'll swear she wasn't dealin' 'em from off the top!
She's mild-mannered Millie,
The vixen of Philly,

Lyric (such as it is) © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

Monday, June 06, 2005

Waxing Patriotic at the Mall

I spent this hellishly hot afternoon sitting in a mall, while my daughter shopped for an elementary school graduation dress and, against her matriculation next September at a local high school, dress-code-compliant schoolwear. (I wonder: does the shop call itself Charlotte Russe, because the merchandise is apple-pan dowdy?) From time to time, through the Merkel of Cellular Telephony, I was summoned by Herself to attend at this or that shop, there to act the part of exchequeur.

In the meantime, in between time, I bent my mind to a parody of Irving Berlin's Steppin' Out With My Baby. It did not turn out as conceived--not by a jugful. The following is a roughed-out version, which I'll tweak at my leisure:

If I seem to be irate,
It's because we gravitate
Toward never-ending war,
À la 1984.

We thought 9/11
Could not happen here,
But on 9/11,
We caved in to fear.

Stampin' out all the Arabs--
Plottin' stings, and launchin' probes--
Plantin' bugs (call 'em "scarabs").
From now on, we're xenophobes.

Stampin' out foreign leaders--
Velvet glove and iron hand.
(Try to blame Newsweek readers,
When things don't go quite as planned.)

We'll make dam' certain the deck's properly stacked,
With a new Soviet--oops! Patriot--Act.

Stampin' out all dissension--
Novel thoughts are in our sights.
By the way--did I mention?
We don't need no Bill o' Rights--

We don't need no stinkin' Bill o' Rights!

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Birthday Honors

A creative constipation that had afflicted me for the past week or so anent Cy Coleman's If My Friends Could See Me Now came to an end this evening under the influence of Campari, administered by one Scott Ailing, a bartender-cum-singer plying his trades at Danny's on West 46th Street. Mr. Ailing was celebrating his unknownth birthday this evening, and consequently furnished the inspiration. The following rough draft is the result, upshot and outcome:

If I look seamy now,
You ain't seen nothin' yet.
I look like Chairman Mao,
When seen in silhouette.
I've rubbed my back with salve
Until it was raw;
Around my waistline, beaucoup av-
If I were keepin' tabs,
I'd have a freakin' cow--
I've lost my washboard abs
And gained a washboard brow.
I'm as old as Tony Dow
(Or maybe the Beaver):
Dig my grave and plant me now.

Mercifully short, at any rate.

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Rubbing Felt the Wrong Way

What do President Nixon and President Garfield have in common? Their Presidencies were toppled by disappointed office-seekers. The minute I heard yesterday that the FBI's Number 2 (or, as the RN mystifying calls 'em, Number 1) had been Deep Throat to Burnwood and Steinmetz, or whatever their names were, I asked myself about his politics. I was willing to bet real money that the old coot was a liberal Democrat. Well, I overshot the mark; not political principle, however misguided, but simple ambition was at the bottom of it all. Mr. Nixon was well-advised to have kept an enemies list. The trouble, of course, is that one can't watch every one of 'em 24/7.

They say that Deep Throat, the whilom villain, is now considered a hero. I'm astonished to find him considered at all; I doubt that I've thought or heard tell of him once in the past twenty-five years. My curiosity about his identity ranks far below my desire, say, to unmask Jack the Ripper, or to know whether Lizzie Borden took an ax, or to find the remains of Crater, Earhart and Hoffa. And this lack of curiosity benefits journalists, for it is only a refusal by the vast majority to give a rat's arse about who their sources are that preserves their charade about a "constitutional right" to keep sources confidential.

Mr. Felt is a hero in much the way that our recently-memorialized veterans are heroes: they go off to fight a war to end war, but they've hardly come home when a new war begins, and all that weary work to do again. Any lesson that Watergate might have taught us about abuse of power had been forgotten by the time the White House set out to destroy Paula Jones, while its boneheaded enemies, instead of attacking Clinton as a serial perjurer and a tyrant, bellyached about blow jobs.
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