Sunday, July 31, 2005

"Thus the Barrister Dreamed . . ."

The strange world betwixt sleep and waking is one usually populated (in my case) by thoughts, at once intense and inexpressible, of my nearest and dearest.

This morning, however, my brain composed a lyric—something it's never done before in that weird state. I freely admit that the scansion and rhyme are faulty—but what do you expect from a drowsing lyricist? The tune is Porter's I've Got You Under My Skin.

I’ve got your underwear on.
I’ve got your panties inside of me.
And now (good God!) they’re starting to ride on me.
I’ve got your underwear on.

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

At the mo, I doubt that I'll take this any further. Save it as a curiosity and move on to something else.

New Release

No, not a new release of an album (as we used to call 'em); a new release to a song parody.

I spent the day (mentally, that is; geographically, I was in Hoboken, rejuvenating the household cache of spectacles) in rehashing bits and pieces of old stuff. For instance, in "Broadband Blues," of March 10, 2005, "'Cause I can't stand/Waiting around to see" is now "'Cause I won't wait/One minute more to see," an improvement in euphony (only Lina Lamont could sing can't on that high note), as well as in meaning and diction.

The new release is to Persianality, of March 2, 2005:

And what if Persian bombs
Should proliferate?
What would imams
When Uncle Sam says, "J'accuse!"?
You know.

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

I'm not sure what emphasizing would does to the sense, although I don't see how to avoid emphasizing it. Still, the thing beats the old stuff, which was merely a vague complaint that everyone hates America. This may or may not be so, but it was scarcely relevant to the theme of Persian-American relations. The new release continues the timeline now: Shah-Khomeini-whoever's-next. The question is also clearer (by a bit), so the coyly withheld answer is clearer. And I can't remember the last time I had occasion to use a three-syllable rhyme. (Ooh! Just like Gilbert and Sullivan!)

What it comes down to is that the release of van Heusen's Personality is a bitch. It's sing-songy, flat as a pancake, and full of long pauses. This, of course, is simply perfect for the original lyric, which is coquettishly sexy. But try to be satirical to the tune to it—can't be done. At least, not by me.

Friday, July 29, 2005

The Hallmark of a Great Lyricist

Harry Warren: I'd forgotten how much I liked him. So this evening, I printed out the lyrics to Lulu's Back in Town (don't forget Mr. Jenkins's monumental web site) and toddled 'round to my local pseudo-English pub, "Pounds and Pence," to see what I could make out of it.

Three Camparis and soda later, I was chagrined to find that a Hallmark card was what I could make out of it. File this one under "G" for "gooey," folks. I've written a wry love song or two in the past few years, but never a sentimental bit of gush like this. Still, the thing simply flowed out of me, with hardly a burp:

Let's suppose that Daughter wants to play:
We begin to argue—yea or nay.
You can bet that Daughter gets her way—
Papa's backin' down.

Walkin' through the mall, she sees a dress.
I may tell her "no," but she says "yes."
So the end result—well, can't you guess?
Papa's backin' down.

When an old geezer meets
With the Sweetest of Sweets,
Mr. Otis retreats,
And Sweetie goes to town.

What's the use of taking any stand?
Daughter always gets the upper hand.
When the system works the way it's planned,
Papa's backin' down.

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

My parodies seldom seem to have anything to do with the original lyric, and yet I do intend my lyrics to criticize (whether to pan or to express admiration for) the original lyric. In this case, the criticism is negative: I've never liked the way Dubin's You can tell all my pets fits Warren's tune. The relative unimportance of tell, and its short e, and the high, sustained note on which it falls simply don't go together. Dubin and Warren nodded, to my mind. My old, I suggest, is an improvement.

Honeywell Redux

Editing again. A syllable or two of Honeywell Cartel has been changed to improve the scansion and tighten up the POV, and there's a new release, which, if it has no other virtue, replicates the "love to love" of the original. "Infrastructure" may be a tongue-twister, but, my addiction to preposterous words is such, that I couldn't jettison it.

Now that we've destroyed Iraq completely—
Blown its infrastructure all to hell—
We'll rearm a few of 'em discreetly
Through the Honeywell Cartel.

First, we bombed 'em back into the Stone Age,
Then we formed an Arab Baby Bell.
Pretty soon, they'll join the Mobile Phone Age
Through the Honeywell Cartel.

So what, if it breaches
Every rule in Hoyle?
Spare us all your speeches;
The fact is, oil is oil—

So everybody's gonna make a profit
(Cheney's done particularly well).
If you've got a hat, you'd better doff it
To the Honeywell Cartel.

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Oops . . .

My skepticism regarding the Gematriculator has resulted in demotion, and I'm duly chastened. My score now reads 24% evil, 76% good.

I can see how this Gematriculator gizmo might be the seed of OCD.

Moving Up in the World?

For the heck of it, I clicked the link on this blog to the Gematriculator just now. It now rates my blog as only 20% evil; 80% good. Is this progress? I'm not sure.

I try so hard, in my petty way, to lash out at the world around me in a snotty, passive-aggressive tone. I'd hoped by this means to be perceived as more and more evil as time went on.

Is my tone so ineffectual, that it actually exudes goodness? Or might there be--and the thing is wildly possible--some flaw in the method by which the Gematriculator gauges these things?

All I can be certain of is that my faith in something has been shaken.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

To the Victor . . .

The tag to the following parody popped into my head last night, and the whole thing was dashed off this morning with little effort, and shows it. The release stinks; the allusion to annuit coeptis is too obscure for the average audience. But there it remains, until something better comes along. I hasten to add that "Honeywell Cartel" is a completely fanciful name, meant to suggest the gaggle of gigacorps who'll be rebuilding Iraq, and not any gigacorp in particular. The tune is Harry Warren's Honeymoon Hotel, a midi of which may be found at David Jenkins's absolutely fabulous tribute to that unsung hero of Tin Pan Alley, The Harry Warren Web Site (click on "The Songs"; there, you'll find links to the whole library in alpha order).

Now that we've destroyed Iraq completely—
Bombed their infrastructure all to hell—
We'll rebuild their weapon systems neatly
With the Honeywell Cartel.

First, you bomb 'em back into the Stone Age,
Then you form a Baghdad Baby Bell,
Launching a fantastic Mobile Phone Age,
Through the Honeywell Cartel.

Mammon gives us motive—
Also other perks.
Offer Him a votive,
That He may bless our works.

Oh! Everybody's gonna make a profit—
Cheney's done particularly well.
If you've got a hat, you'd better doff it
To the Honeywell Cartel.

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Evil Osama

The New York Post reports today that, back in 2002, Osama bin Laden attempted to buy tons of cocaine from the boys in Colombia, with the intention of poisoning it and then distributing it to consumers in America.

The evil plot failed when the Colombian drug lords bin Laden approached decided it would be bad for their business - and, possibly, for their own health . . . ¶Although the drug lords would have reaped millions of dollars in profits by selling the cocaine to bin Laden, they knew that if his plan succeeded it might effectively destroy the market for their coke in America for years, sources said. ¶But that was only one reason they declined bin Laden's offer. ¶The other was their fear of retaliation from the U.S. government once its citizens started to die from the drugs, according to sources.

I'm fond of the New York Post, generally—it does publish the only decent crossword puzzle in the City, and Cindy Adams is a hoot—but every now and again, its editorial slant seems a bit cockeyed. Does a scheme to sell poison—which is what cocaine is—that's been adulterated with poison to crooks—which is what coke users are—rise to the level of an "evil plot"? I think not. Mr. bin Laden's proposal might not earn him another Nobel Prize, but there is such a thing as caveat emptor. Dopers have always entered the marketplace with knowledge of a substantial risk that what they were buying might be adulterated stuff.

But leaving that aside, am I wrong to smell something fishy in this simple tale? Are we to believe that Mr. bin Laden, a man of principles (however alien to our own) yet, at the same time, the shrewdest of operators, would approach men who have no principle apart from their purse and bluntly propose a scheme that was directly contrary to the latter's financial interests? I'm afraid I have to give him credit for more intelligence than that. If there's a kernel of truth to this story—if it's more than Administration propaganda—that truth must be more complex than the New York Post's story suggests.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Winston Tastes Bitter

I read with sickening dread the Nyok Times account of the House vote to make permanent the provisions of the USA Patriot Act, which prompted a little googling. Sickening dread became horror.

Somehow, I'd missed it: the Act is called the "USA Patriot" Act, because (good God!!) it's an acronym! The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001, if you ruddy well please! Newspeak par excellence: not merely false, no, no, no; but outrageously, cretinously, oppressively, sadistically, ungrammatically false. Room 101 false. My own Representative, an alleged Democrat, voted in favor of the measure. I'm so proud that I've never voted for him.

Well, if we're going in for acronyms, I suggest we rename the Act the Undermining and Subduing America by Supplying Oppressive and Vicious Instruments for Establishing Tyranny Act of 2001. Let's at least call a spade an "excavating implement," and not a "long-stemmed rose."

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Four, the Hard Way

Yesterday, a neat idea occurred to me for a parody. An outdated idea, as is so often the case with me, but nevertheless neat. Only one difficulty: the idea fit the refrain of Porter's You Do Something to Me (a cheesy midi of which can be found here). As the link reminds us, You Do Something to Me contains the perfectly impossible lyric, "Do do/That voodoo/That you do/So well." Try that one over on your pianola!

Still, I carried on as best I could, and came up with the dummiest of dummy lyrics (mind, the first four lines are written in stone):

Who knew Ernie was gay?
Nothing from now on could surprise me.
Who knew Bert was—"that way"?
(Why is it no one notifies me?)
Good grief! Where will it lead?
On Snoopy?
Or Droopy
On speed?
[dumbfoundedly:] Still—who knew Ernie was gay?
(I wonder—is Big Bird blue?)

I can't say whether the assonance of now on/no one and the (arguable) triple pun of blue compensate for the identity in the autoerotic Snoopy/Snoopy, but that's what I intend to argue at my criminal trial.

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

Monday, July 18, 2005

The Press—Why?

The Nyok Times reports that corruption in San Diego has reached epic proportions.

I've a hunch that this mess has been in the making for ten years and more, and another hunch that an abdication of responsibility by the local press is to blame for it. Once The San Diego Reader decided to cease intelligent news coverage, and simply to regurgitate whatever it was fed by the flacks, it was inevitable that scandal would engulf San Diego's government.

Politicians take care to misbehave only when no one's looking. Sort of like shoplifters. Journalists, on the other hand, are expected to think and write at the same time. Sort of unlike typists.

Christmas Snow—Take Three

I was afraid this would happen: instead of dashing off a lyric, blogging it, and moving on to the next item on the agenda, I'm beginning to edit in public. Boring to read, and it stalls the feast of reason and the flow of soul. But, having come this far, I press on, like Lee's Nails.

Somewhere along the line, folks took to singing Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer with interjections after each line. Wikipedia reports the usual ones, with a few variations. So I figure mine ought to have 'em, too, before someone else writes 'em for me:

There was Hendrix, and Joplin, and then Harry Nilsson;
Jerry Garcia, and poor Brian Wilson:
Only one survived,
Though his fame was rather shortlived—

Ricky, the snot-nosed rock star (rock star),
Hadn’t any septum left (what a freakazoid).
Doctors who saw his palate (palate)
Told him that the thing was cleft (who—Montgomery?).

Younger and hipper rockers (rockers)
Thought of Rick as just a joke (cut the comedy),
Strung out like someone’s laundry (laundry)
Hangin' on a line of coke (not the soda pop).

At Live 8, the cops arrived,
Seizing all the snow (what a tragedy).
Rick’s, alone, escaped the bulls—
Taped behind his testicles.

Now all the cokeheads praise him (praise him),
Sucking up with all their might (like Electrolux).
Ricky, the snot-nosed rock star (rock star)
Keeps 'em high as Franklin's kite (in the stratosphere).

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Christmas Snow II

Here, I think, is the verse to Ricky, the Snot-Nosed Rock Star (preceding this post):

There was Hendrix, and Joplin, and then Harry Nilsson;
Jerry Garcia, and poor Brian Wilson:
Only one survived,
Though his fame was rather shortlived—

Ricky, the snot-nosed rock star, etc.

The echo of "famous reindeer" in "fame was rather" works, I think. And referring to poor Brian Wilson, who showed us that some conditions are worse than death, is muy touching, nicht wahr?

I confess that "then," while chronologically accurate, was inserted only to take up the metrical slack, and is therefore to be condemned.

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Christmas Snow

It's that time of year again—high summer. Time to develop material for the coming Yuletide. The following, to the tune of Marks's Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, is an old idea that never got off the ground until now, thanks, partly, to Rif, a short story by Tim Lees from his new collection, The Life to Come.

Ricky has shortcomings that even I can see. As usual, the last quatrain lacks oomph; frankly, I never really know how to finish these things. The bridge or release requires the listener to understand that "Rick's" implies "stash"—and requiring the listener (as opposed to the reader) to understand anything is nearly always futile.

Finally, the tagline doesn't fully replicate the original "Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer," with its triple R-D and the pair of N's. Substituting "reckless" for "snot-faced" would have meant taking care of the sounds and letting the sense take care of itself. Ah, me. Perhaps revisions will suggest themselves someday.

Ricky, the snot-nosed rock star,
Hadn’t any septum left.
Doctors who saw his palate
Told him that the thing was cleft.

Younger and hipper rockers
Thought of Rick as just a joke,
Strung out like someone’s laundry
Hangin' on a line of coke.

At Live 8, the cops arrived,
Seizing all the snow.
Only Rick’s escaped the bulls—
Taped behind his testicles.

Now all the cokeheads praise him,
Sucking up with all their might.
Ricky, the snot-nosed rock star
Keeps 'em high as Franklin's kite.

I do like "strung out," etc., and "sucking up." But, then, I'm a pushover for puns. Now, I must think of a verse. Perhaps something like:

There were Joplin, and Hendrix, and Lennon and Ono;
Jerry Garcia, and Bŏno, and Bōno; . . .

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

Friday, July 08, 2005

A Public Service Announcement

Never let it be said that I don't Do My Bit: to assist the Surgeon General in his battle against the growing problem of adult-onset diabetes, I offer the following jingle, to the tune of Burke's Tiptoe Through the Tulips. Composing it was about as pleasant as having a tooth pulled, and the end result is elliptical beyond belief; but, such as it is, I offer it in service of The Cause:

Type II
Eat your Wheaties
And avoid the beer,
Or Type II
May at some point

Type II
Holler, Bollocks!
But it's all too clear
That Type II
May attack them
Some year.

Don't gorge—
Eat half the amount.
Don't forge
Your calorie count.

Make this condition
A precedent—
Watch your diet,
And you needn't fear
That Type II
Will abort your

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Agony of Defeat

The Nyok Times reports that London will host the 2012 Olympics (not to be confused with the 2010 and 2014 Semi-Olympics, which are held in wintertime). New York City didn't even make the final cut, but was squeezed out along with its sister city, Moscow ("nyet tabak, tovarishch!"), and Madrid, in the semi-finals. (Poor Hillary--first, the health care plan, and now this! Luckily, the girl has a hide like a rhinoceros.)

An Olympics would have done the Big Apple a world of good. It might have turned this town into an economic force to be reckoned with, instead of the sleepy little hamlet of blacksmiths and corset-makers that it's been ever since anyone can remember. We might have induced, at long last, a real sports team to make its home here--maybe not a big-league one, but at least triple A--, if only an Olympics had given us the incentive to build a stadium in Greenwich Village or City Island or somewhere.

And then, the intangible benefit: if nothing else, an Olympics would have shielded us from further terrorist attacks. (They wouldn't dare!!)

Now, I wonder: do you suppose that President Bush induced Prime Minister Blair to support the invasion of Iraq by rigging the whole thing to ensure a London Olympics, and that New York's bid was just a feint? After all, President Bush and Mayor Bloomberg are practically twins, ideologically speaking.

In any case, the Dream is dead. Long live the Dream!!!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

"Beame Me Up, Scotty"

William J. Brink, credited with the 1975 Daily News headline, Ford to City: Drop Dead, has dropped his agenda and adjourned.

Although noting that "Those six syllables . . . almost certainly lost [Ford] New York State in his 1976 race against Jimmy Carter, and with it, the presidency," the Nyok Times omits to mention the sequel. When the City returns came in, the News ran the headline, City to Ford: Drop Dead.

The Times, noting that the headline still has legs, and how, modestly concludes,

The corresponding headline in The New York Times that day, FORD, CASTIGATING CITY, ASSERTS HE'D VETO FUND GUARANTEE; OFFERS BANKRUPTCY BILL, remains unsung.

The Brink banner's got rhythm, yes; that of a tagline to a Gershwin song. But the Times's headline is just as lyrical: it has the rhythm of something out of a libretto of an American opera, vintage John Adams.

The difference is ease of memorization. Still, I highly recommend to all my readers that we all take the trouble to memorize the Times headline. Then, the next time someone at a cocktail party says, "Remember that headline about the City fiscal crisis?" we can all look innocent and say, "Do you mean 'Ford, Castigating City, . . .'?"

Friday, July 01, 2005

Fetching Mancunians from Idlewild

A visit last night to Kennedy Airport to meet a man from Manchester furnished occasion (as I waited for him to negotiate Customs) to develop my thinnish idea of Sunday anent I-95.

The idea didn't change, but the result was nothing like what I'd expected. The idea proved to be, not thinnish, but donnish. It's set to the tune of Irving Berlin's Let's Face the Music and Dance, a song that, to my mind, positively crawls along:

You see construction ahead.
The traffic's bumper-to-bumper wherever you drive.
This must be I-95.

You weave like needle and thread;
You out-maneuver with all your skill,
And yet you still
Don't arrive—
You're stuck on I-95.

We to have up and bought
Heraclitean thought
So soon?

I'd vote for Zeno, instead.
That Heraclitus was crazy. All motion is jive,
When you're on I-95,
Why even bother to drive?

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov
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