Wednesday, August 31, 2005

And It's Not Even an Election Year, Pogo

Last night, around 10:00 pip emma, I was walking up 8th Street in Jersey City, along the concrete wall that rings the back yard of the old folks' home, when I suddenly caught sight of a shadowy critter scuttling before me. It was about the size of a small cat, but its gait and the way it kept its right flank against the wall made me think of rats, and a frisson ran through me at the size of the thing.

It reached the point where the wall becomes a chain-link fence and began to climb. I then saw that it was neither rat nor cat, but an opossum, by cracky! In the middle of a metropolis—and a Yankee one, at that. I paused to study it, and it squatted on the top of the fence, studying me. I offered it directions back to the Okeefenokee, since I always like to do the civil thing, but it did not answer. After a moment, it turned, descended the other side of the fence and disappeared beneath the bushes.

A passerby came up at this point, and I mentioned the recent apparition to him. "Oh, yes," he said, as cool as some cucumbers; "there are lots of 'possums around here." Well, that was news to me. Until that moment, I'd never seen anything rural in Jersey City, apart from fireflies.

Incidentally, I wonder whatever made Walt Kelly think that he could draw a 'possum.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Now, You're Just Being Silly

I was crossing West-Broadway-or-is-it-Varick-Street-at-that-point-I-never-know, on my way to retrieve an abandoned credit card, when the song Wonderful Copenhagen, from Frank Loesser's Hans Christian Andersen, popped into my head—a song I hadn't thought of in years. (A clip of Danny Kaye and chorus singing it can be found here—click on the little pair of eighth notes preceding the song title, then wait a bit; it takes a while to load.) A substitute for Copenhagen immediately suggested itself, and here's the rather odd result:

Farcical, frivolous
What a magnificent clown!
He can state a case
With so straight a face,
That you’d think
That pink
Was brown.

For fun-loving, fanciful
Kidding Around is a creed.
Would our lives today
Be so light and gay,
Frisky and frolicsome
To read?

To answer my own question: I think not! Lyric, by the way, © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Any Publicity . . .

Attention to my stuff—as in stuff and nonsense!—comes from an unlikely direction: a cosmetic surgery site has linked to my parody of Miss Sallie Parker's parody of You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby. I get the feeling, though, that the site found me and posted a link to me entirely by automation, and that the link does not represent actual attention by some human.

Ron, my DAMP (director-arranger-manager-pianist), once suggested that I perform at medical conventions to get exposure, but I hadn't taken the suggestion very seriously. Perhaps I was wrong. Lord knows, doctors are as much in need of a little kidding around as anyone.

And, now that I think of it, I've got a few "medical" songs in the hopper: The Melancholy Glute (song no. 6 here); Let's Not Do It, and Say We Did (in execrable taste, but still) and Male Chauvinist Pygmalion (songs nos. 1 and 5 here); and a parody of Tiptoe Through the Tulips (song no. 23 here). That much material ought to be good for a ten-minute appearance: enter stage left, exit stage right, and it's all over before I've had time to wet my pants in terror.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Still Bleeding

Still working on the Scottish medley. Stop Your Ticklin', Jock has run into a stone wall (I'll leave it to you to guess the tag for the parody of that one), but, in the meantime, here's an idea for A Wee Deoch-n-Dorris (if that's how you spell the song title; googling it turned up several variants that I'm certain are wrong):

Shouldn't we talk to Doris?
Just a wee talk, that's a'.
But if she should ignore us,
We'll have to tell her Pa.
There's a bun in the oven,
And the wolf's at the door
(If you can say,
"Rubber baby buggy bumpers,"
You know the score).

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

Looking this over in cold print, I can see that about half of it is dummy lyric. But getting the first sketch done is usually the hard part; fiddling with it is not only easier, but most gratifying to my obsessive-compulsive tendencies.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Bleeders, Part II

It may not be Harry Lauder, but any medley ought, I think, to end with a rousing rendition of Loch Lomond:

The wee bonnie banks are now food for the worms,
While the big, braw banks grow the stronger.
The Anchor and Dime are forgotten banking terms;
Even Manny Hanny Banks are no longer.

They pay us the low rates and charge us the high rates;
The pirates are rich, and no wonder!
But me and my banker have not been introduced,
Since the bonnie little banks have gone under.

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

Scots Wha Hae wi' Wallace Bled

I spent Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning in Flavortown, among a company that included a Scotsman who now lives in New Hampshire. As thin as a lath, with a close-trimmed snow-white beard. Besides telling me a string of jokes starring that venerable trio, the Scotsman, the Irishman and the Englishman, and describing to me a five-couple Scottish dance he had recently choreographed, he re-introduced me to the delights of finnan haddie by cooking Sunday brunch for us. In a word—repeated—: yum, yum!

After dinner on Saturday, my host begged for a song and I, feeling that the company was not too mixed, sang my posting of August 17, 2005 (below), the second line of which now (fortunately) reads By someone who's a whiz at collage. At the mention of Deloitte & Touche, the Scotsman doubled over with laughter. Mind, he was a most undour Scotsman to begin with; still, it was gratifying to get a rise out of him.

Some Caledonian influence must have come home with me, for this morning a parody of Harry Lauder's I Love a Lassie (link it yourself, dammit) popped into my head in the time it took to descend one escalator at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. When I reached the office, an idea for Roamin' in the Gloamin' came upon me. A medley of Harry Lauder stuff seemed like a fruity scheme, and the following is der Anfang:

Roamin' Willy Loman
Has come home at last to die.
Loman's the cognomen
Of a most successful guy;
Yes, with sons like Hap and Biff,
He's a very lucky stiff.
Χαίρετε νικώμεν, Willy Loman!

* * * *

I love a brassie,
A niblick and a mashie,
And I'm keener than mustard on the links.
Yes, I'm keener than mustard,
But one thing has me flustered:
Frankly, my golf game stinks.

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

For those whose ancient Greek is rusty, Χαίρετε νικώμεν is what Pheidippides is said to have remarked on arriving from Marathon. It means, roughly, "Rejoice! We are victorious!"

The trip to and from Flavortown was ginchy, by the way. I took the back roads instead of the Thruway. It added two hours to the trip each way, but it was two hours of pure pleasure. We found a scrumptious book store just this side of Ashokan and a farm in Jefferson that sells maple sugar candy. Truly, upstate New York is Paradise enow.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A Parody of a Parody

Last Saturday, I was motoring with Miss Sallie Parker and friend on U.S. 6. Somewhere in southeastern Massachusetts, my frustration with the third stanza of If I Only Had a Brain reached its limit, and I knew there was nothing for it but to move on to the next item and forget it. Perhaps someday . . .

I don't know who did so first, but someone mentioned, or hummed, or otherwise caused me to think of Harry Warren's You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby (don't forget David Jenkins's yummy web site). I pounced on it, saying that it would make a perfect vehicle for a parody. Without missing a beat, Miss Sallie Parker sang, "You ought to have a Valvoline Lube-Job" (I believe we had just passed a garage to starboard; this may have suggested the idea). I was as sick as mud. Her improvisation was so grotesquely mundane, so ludicrously droll and so vaguely obscene, that it would be impossible for me to top it; and "borrowing" it was out of the question. I do have ethics, you know. I told her that she had to finish it, and then (figuratively speaking) went off and sulked, but not before laughing my head off.

Last night, I recounted this unfortunate occurrence to a convenient barmaid, and explained my problem: can't top, can't steal. Then why not, she suggested, try to parody her parody? A subject immediately presented itself, and the lyric below is the upshot, or outcome.

Mind, the clumsiness of the opening verse is the result of having hastily patched together any old thing to serve as a makeshift lead-in.

Did your mother not advise
You not to be obsessed with size—
That sexy doesn't need a double D?
Did your dad forget to say
There's nothing wrong with modest A—
That risks attend cosmetic surgery?
If they didn't, surely now you see—

You must have had an amateur boob-job
(Unless, of course, it's just a mirage).
Your bosom's badly bolstered
And poorly re-upholstered;
I deprecate your décolletage.
You're listing just a little to larboard,
And "Touche" is not as large as "Deloitte."
You were treated by a quack,
So demand your money back,
And, next time, buy direct from Voit!
Oh, I've never seen a funkier boob-job—
A boob-job made in Detroit.

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

Thank you, Miss Sallie Parker. This one's dedicated to you—whether you want it or not.

Friday, August 12, 2005

If Only, Part II

I have now hewn a second chorus to the parody of If I Only Had a Brain from the rockface, and that's about how it reads, too. Not at all the effortless flow that one desires: scansion funky, rhymes forced, ideas obscure—all in all, a bad job, or should I say a bad Jobs. Still, something may come of it in the hereafter.

Incidentally, the more astute of my readers may recall my criticizing Messrs. Dubin and Warren for setting the word tell on a high, sustained note. Well, look at how the release to this one begins. Hypocrisy, thy name is Petrikov.

Now, my personal computer:
Perhaps it could be cuter,
And maybe not so black.
I'd be "cute-saturated"
And be color-c'ordinated— [see what I mean about scansion?]
If I only had a Mac.

I'd have gigabytes of power
Without the phallic tower
(I'd ship the sucker back);
And I'd sit there and giggle
At that button with the squiggle—
If I only had a Mac.

I'd tell
The boys at Dell
To go to Hellespont;
Now that Apple could fulfill my every want,
I could retire
To Stowe, Vermont.

I would haunt the secret loft where
They sell their special software
For lots and lots of jack.
I'd be bitch-slapped by Apple
Like an altar-boy at chapel—
If I only had a Mac.

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

The only redeeming feature I see: "bitch-slapped." I've been simply dying to use that word in a lyric.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

If Only, If Only, If Only

Dinner in TriBeCa this evening with Miss Sallie Parker having put me in as good a mood as it's possible to be in and still remain earthbound, I was in consequence receptive to suggestions from my Muse; to wit, a parody of Harold Arlen's If I Only Had a Brain (for which, I trust, no link to a midi is necessary), of which the following is the first chorus (don't try reading that sentence all in one breath):

I’d pontificate for hours
On Francis Gary Powers
And keep ‘em all agog;
I’d permit one opinion
In my virtual dominion—
If I only had a blog.

After sounding off on cloning,
I’d spend some time bemoaning
The market price of POG;
I’d debate Terri Schiavo,
Pick the best Hawaii Five-O
If I only had a blog.

Is how I’d sound
(Like Captain James T. Kirk!)—
I would sit ‘n’ shoot my mouth off like a jerk,
And do it all
While I’m at work.

If my fans were fond of drinking,
I’d do some hyper-linking
To recipes for grog;
I’d be wise, I’d be witty,
And be sittin’ awful pretty—
If I only had a blog.

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

Needs polishing, of course; for one thing, I don't like the stress on the last syllable of virtual. And choruses II and III to follow, I hope. But, as Fats used to say, one never knows, do one? And so to bed.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Election: 2008

So as to be prepared for the national election three years hence, I thought I'd drum up something now (something tentative, mind you; note the reference to Kerry, who may no longer be among us at that point).

What started as high-minded satire turned into vulgar abuse in pretty short order. Luckily, in this benighted age, abuse beats satire, even if it gives up cards and spades. The tune is Warren's Would You Like to Take a Walk?, a midi of which can be found at David Jenkins's phenomenal tribute to Harry Warren (as ever, click on "The Songs"; go to the W's, and click on the song title).

Omigod! It’s election time again!
Holy crap! The Republicans are back.
Oh, good grief! Kerry isn’t in the running?!
Someone must be funning—
Nothin’ good ‘ll come of that.

Oh, good Lord! It’s another dam’ debate!
Jesus Christ! This is ab-solutely wack.
Freakin' A! Where the heck is Law and Order?
Stop the tape recorder.
Heaven knows, I don’t want that.

At the National Convention,
We seek conviction—but is it there?
Alas! there’s no conviction. There’s just convection—
Hot air.

Bless my stars! Have you seen ‘em meet the press?
Golly gee! Do you think they need a flack?
Bloody hell! What a bumper crop of bunkum!
Maybe if we dunk ‘em;
Somethin’ good ‘ll come of that.

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

The reader should understand, in reading these things, that Job One is getting an idea, and Job Two is simply filling the available space one time through. All the tinkering, polishing, revising and so on can come later—if I ever get around to it.

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Fourth Estate

On a recent trip to Flavortown (and you'll have to dig pretty deep into the archives of American advertising to find out where that is), an idea came to me for a parody that, by my standards, was downright fresh and new. After struggling with it for hoursnhoursnhours, though, it's turned out, as usual, different from how it began. As the Master said, "When exigence of rhyme compels . . ." Once I started trying to shoehorn thoughts into the melody, the whole superstructure collapsed.

The idea, you see, was to compare the MSM to blogs, poking as much fun as possible at the former (the penultimate line was the first line written, you see).

In the end, most of the complaints turned out to be pretty shopworn. Valid, mind you; but shopworn. Still, here's the roughest of roughs, hot off the press. It's to the tune of Irving Berlin's earthshaking hit of 1911, Alexander's Ragtime Band (verse and chorus), and if you need a midi link to that, then you're no American, as far as I'm concerned.

Stop the presses! Stop the presses!. Seen the paper? Well, take a gander.
Sleazy pieces, press releases—incivility—imbecility;
Innuendo in crescendo: that’s the substance of Alexander's
Scumbag news rag—it’s a Beacon of Truth!

You oughta buy, you oughta try Alexander’s small-time rag.
The yellow press is under stress—see our circulation sag.
Watch The Daily Bugle sell bits of Michael Jackson porn,
Au naturel as the day that he was born—
Ain’t he enough to make you gag? (The scalawag!)
We just report—we don’t distort. (On occasion, though, we brag.)
We’re very deft at leaning left, but we sometimes wave the flag.
Unless you want the Mainstream Media replaced by weblogs,
Ya better buy, ya better try Alexander’s small-time rag!

Lyric © 2005 Nathaniel DesH. Petrikov

If I stopped to criticize each errant syllable of this turkey, I'd be here all night. Perhaps the thing will clean itself up in the days to come.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

'Bye, Guys

Pat McCormick, an idol of my childhood, has punched his last line.

The Nyok Times reports him as a gag-writer, and so he was, but etched into the mental retina is a vision of him (on, I believe, a commercial-TV incarnation of The Dick Cavett Show) sitting across a cardtable from Buck Henry. They are playing a game: a sort of middle-aged, indoor Calvinball. Every move is improvised, using whatever object they draw from the box between them and whatever words pop into their heads, and every move is hilarious. It all seems the most outrageous nonsense. Suddenly, McCormick leaps from his chair, faces the audience, and announces with the utmost solemnity that he has won the first round. Pandemonium ensues.

I met with Jack Benny's mugging and Ed Ames's tomahawk lesson only in rerun. So, to me, McCormick's Round One will always be the funniest broadcast moment of all time.

In other news, Robert Wright, partner of George Forrest on such shows as Kismet, has bought it. I saw that show performed at a dinner theatre in the Amboys a many years ago. Speaking of which, I wonder whatever became of Lynn Cafiero?

And farewell to Hildegarde, with whom I shared a sort of a stage (at the 7th Regiment Mess on Park Avenue) in a music hall show commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of D-Day. The pianist called her up out of the audience, and she sang I'll Be Seeing You (of course) and fluffed her lines. I'm surprised she managed to survive to 99; she was pretty fragile at 88.

All in all, a bad day at Black Rock.
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