Fire and Ice

As I sit and write, the teachers in the science department are jamming out, banging their heads to Pink Floyd’s “Brick in the Wall.” Besides the obvious irony — my coworkers practically screamed ‘Teacher, leave those kids alone!’ — those students that have dropped by wrinkle their noses as if they caught us cooking chocolate-covered crickets.

Winter proves a difficult time for school.  Too little snow yields a figurative eternity between Christmas and Spring Break, while too much and you may as well cancel your summer holidays.  All in all, I’d to stay indoors by the fire with a good book and a pot of tea, a schedule broken only by my writing, gaming, napping, and jogging to the bathroom — all that tea, you know.

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Diamond is Forever

“So which one is Neil?”  Rodney asked me between spoonfuls of what looked like rice pilaf.  “Is he behind the zombie in the sequined shirt? Or is this still the cover-band?”

I laughed and inspected my friend’s face for some sign of irony.  Surprisingly, I saw none. Rodney repeated the question, straight-faced, serious.

“Dude, you do know who Neil Diamond is, right?” I asked, somewhat dumbfounded.  ” ‘Sweet Caroline?’  ‘I’m a Believer?’  ‘America?’  Any of this make any sense?”

“These are . . . songs?” he guessed, looking down at his plate.  “That ‘Believer’ song was from Shrek, right?”

“Dude, if you didn’t know Neil Diamond, why did you agree . . .”

“Hold that thought,” he cried suddenly, shocked at the sight of his empty plate.   “I need another quesadilla.” Continue reading

The Sharpest Knife

Every once in a while, I yearn for a little Mack the Knife.  Seriously, very few songs today communicate the energy and excitement as this little ditty from half a century ago.  Moreover, it’s the only song I know about hitmen and killers, so even the lyrics make you want to sing aloud.

One day in the near future they will bring back the big band sound.  Of the two versions here, Bobby Darin and Frank Sinatra, which one do you think succeeds more?  Personally I enjoy the Sinatra’s extended version more, simply because that brass beat never seems to end . . .

Bobby Darin:

Frank Sinatra:

Musical Haunts

Lately songs have become lodged in my head, whispering lyrics as I sleep like the ghost of some blond pop diva.  I speak of course of Natasha Bedingfold’s “Pocketful of Sunshine,” one of the most addictive songs on the radio this year.  If you happen to hear its wispy synthetic prelude, careen off to the median and throw yourself from your car immediately (or turn down the volume), lest you subject your family and loved-ones to long off-key interludes of “Take me Awaaaay . . . to my secret plaaaace . . .”  Airborne infection occurs within seconds; normal healthy siblings will fall into chorus or dance after a single verse:

Natasha’s secret place apparently excludes non-beautiful people who cannot street dance — or look horrible in white.  Ryan meanwhile took most of family to see Neil Diamond Tuesday.  The average age of the audience included 30-year old men and 40-year old women, shaking and dancing to the rhythm of Neil’s blue jeans.   During one energetic song, we told by the row behind us to sit down and slump in our seats as we stood to dance.  Apparently the older curmudgeons, too old or lazy to stand and clap, felt angry at the prospect of paying eighty bucks to watch our porcine rears shake and obstruct the stage.  Some people enjoy to dance; other enjoy to sit quietly and listen.  Either is good, but for those that choose the latter, a $20 DVD succeeds much better than an $80 concert ticket.

Hard of Hearing

Of all my senses, my hearing manifests itself as the most distracted, absent-minded simpleton. Not worthwhile enough to be deaf, for that would at least augment my remaining senses; no, I hear just enough to be comical, like an old pantaloon in Medieval dramas with a funneled brass horn permanently attached to his ear drum and gumming his shouts of “Huh? What he’d say? ”

Song lyrics in particular are my bane, leading me to make up most of what I hear. Pat and Katie laugh whenever Live’s “Turn My Head” airs whose refrain I once passionately interpreted as “termite head/ termite head/ it’s aimed at you.” Bush’s “Glycerine” became “kiss the rain,” a favorite line of mine apparently. In Toto’s Africa, I have re-imagined “I bless the rains down in
Africa” as “I kiss the rains . . .” or “I miss the rains . . .” It all depends really on my mood and what I want the song to say.

The biggest reinterpretation though comes from my sibs, Pat and Katie, who on the way to school one morning heard Elton John’s “Benny and the Jets:”

“She’s got electric boots a mohair suit/
You know I read it in a magazine.”

Only the way it’s sung, it sounds nothing like this. Even if I knew what the heck a mohair suit was – which I don’t – “mohair” would not comprise my top ten guesses for song lyrics. Moreover, Sir Elton ends “magazine” with a bit of a grunt so that it sounds like “maGAzina-uh.” Thus, one can easily pardon the creative tykes for creating this version:

“She’s got electric boobs they all hang loose,and a pack-a, pack-a of hyENa-as.”

It makes no sense, but in terms of singing aloud the new composition far outweighs the original.

I wondered how common this “lazy ear” epidemic had reached so I visited (man-love ironically enough is featured in another story I’ll be telling later on), a website for misheard lyrics. Apparently this disease of mine is quite well-traveled and depending on your inclination towards profanity quite funny as well:

SmashMouth “All-Star”

The real lyrics were:
She was looking kinda dumb with her finger and her thumb
in the shape of an L on her forehead.

But I misheard them as:
She was looking kinda dumb with her finger in her bum
and the shape of a elf on her forehead.


Bryan Adams “Summer of ‘69

The real lyrics were:
Got my first real six string,
bought it at the five-and-dime.
Played it till my fingers bled.
It was the summer of 69.

But I misheard them as:
Got my first real sex dream,
I was 5 at the time.

Played it till my fingers bled.
It was the summer of 69.

Reading through those listed under the “Funny” section made me realize how perverse most people actually are. Many lyrics of these hardcore rockers are actually much tamer than what most people come up with on their own.

Another shock burned into my corneas yesterday afternoon. Pat, Ryan, and I had just stopped at Panera to pick up food for ourselves and Pat’s wife, Tiff, after a long and early morning of golf. I paid for the meal, which for some reason prompted the guy behind the counter to jokingly ask: “Is someone getting married?” I stopped at this; the words “Thank you” seemed to wander off and hold conference with the rest of my vocabulary to discuss what the heck to say in response.

“Uh, no, he already got married,” was the best that they do. I looked at Pat who looked just as confused, and before he asked where we lived or how old we were, we left with soup, sandwiches, and room temp tea in tow. Arriving at Pat’s place– a final bastion from the odd, I thought — I walked up the steps to find Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal naked and in bed together. After a seconds pause and some intense on-screen cuddling, Pat, Ryan, and I decided to escape into the kitchen for lunch, Tiff’s laughs chasing after us. Apparently Saturday Morning cartoons have been replaced by man-love hour, which did nothing to help our digestion. My ears may be faulty, but at that time my eyes remembered too much. Never disparage the curative abilities of mindless entertainment. Oscar winning dramas may broaden your perspectives, but Road Runner and Bugs Bunny can soothe any mood like the sweetest balm.