Posts Tagged song

They Might Not Be Giants: now a song!


The other day I discovered that the ukuletrically charged Joey Marianer has once again set something I wrote to music! Truly, a Joey is an exciting kind of friend to have. (No, not a joey. Not everybody‘s got a baby kangaroo.) This time it’s They Might Not Be Giants.

On the subject of people who could conceivably be called Joey, and who make music, my friend Joseph will be singing a parody of a song I wrote on his patreon some time soon. I’m looking forward to it! If you support him on patreon you’ll see it as soon as it comes out — check out some of his recently-unlocked older posts to get an idea of what you’re in for. The patreon is his only source of income at the moment, so your contribution would mean a lot to him, as well as being good value for you.

On the subject of They Might Not Be Giants, I recited it at the MathsJam Annual Gathering last weekend. It was my first time at a MathsJam and it was great fun. At MathsJam, anyone can give a five-minute talk about anything mathematical, and newcomers were especially encouraged to, so I decided to present The Duel, a more mathematical poem than I would usually do at open mics. I even made some slides depicting what was going on. Eventually, though, I started to think The Duel wasn’t very good and I should do They Might Not Be Giants instead. After reciting both to a focus group of order two a few hours before my talk, I made the switch. With my remaining talk time, I showed some of the haiku I found in the Princeton Companion to Mathematics. It seemed to go down well. I had brought along a few of my posters in case people would be interested in them, and came back with none.

The rest of MathsJam was amazing, and I’m sure I’ll be back. There were all sorts of talks, including another mathematical poet, as well as magic, coin-floating, robotic cube-solving, juggling, puzzles, balloon animals, fancy yarn spinning, mathematical song parodies (I also sang Tom Lehrer’s Derivative Song for the people at the MathsJam Jam, since they hadn’t heard it), mathematical cakes, and a competition competition!

I won an origami double-stellated tetrahedron in a competition competition competition. It might not technically be a double-stellated tetrahedron, but the competition was to name it, and, inspired directly by the talk by the shape’s creator (Kathryn Taylor), that’s what I named it.

I was a bit worried that it was going to be a pain to get that home without damaging or losing it, since it would get crushed in my bag and I’m not used to carrying something in my hands constantly. At first it had a string or rubber band around it which had been used to tie it to the competition box, so I tied it to a belt hook. At some point it fell off and partly came apart, but I was having dinner with other MathsJam attendees at the time, and one of them knew enough modular origami to fix it (Kathryn had run a table devoted to modular origami on the Saturday night.) After that I held it by hand, until I realised that it could be suspended quite securely in the Acme Möbius scarf I was wearing.

I heard, repeatedly, that there’s a magazine called chalkdust which I should really be submitting some of my mathematical writing to, so I’ll do that. First, though, I will read the copies I picked up at MathsJam.

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Why I Perform at Open Mics (now a rap song!)


Open MicA few weeks ago Alfred Ladylike was a featured act at a special edition of Open Phil, an open mic I perform at regularly. She heard me perform my poem/rap ‘Why I Perform at Open Mics‘. Last week she performed in Vienna again, and we spent an evening at my place with a bottle of wine and a collection of fart noises (a combination I fartily recommend) producing this recording of it:

Feel free to download it! If there is interest, I could also put up a karaoke track so you can perform it at your own open mics. The backing track is Galaxy by Free Rap Beats | Hip-Hop Instrumentals. Sound effects are all from freesound.org, by IFartInUrGeneralDirection and others.

It will be featured on The FuMP Sideshow tomorrow. If you like funny songs, raps and occasional sketches, I recommend subscribing to The FuMP (a podcast which publishes a couple of free comedy songs every week) and The FuMP Sideshow (more of the same, but generally by more amateur-level comedy songwriters, like me. Given that this one was produced by an actual professional, perhaps I could have submitted it to the main FuMP, but I’m not that sure of my sh💩t yet.)

I thought about adding a donation button (mainly because WordPress told me I could) but I have some decent freelance work right now so I’d feel weird about asking for donations. Maybe buy something if you really want to encourage me. And if you really like this track’s production value, head to Alfred Ladylike’s or her band Donut Heart’s bandcamp, and throw a dollar in her general direction.

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I Love Your Body (now a song!)


My friend Joey Marianer used his brain to come up with a tune for I Love Your Body, and then he used the rest of his body to turn it into sounds! Isn’t this great?

I’ve been thinking this could be turned into a longer singalong by having the same thing repeated with ‘I love my body…’ etc., and then maybe ‘We love our bodies’. It would remove one of the few rhymes (‘brains need ATP/and there’s no ESP/that would show you to me’ would become something like ‘there’s no ESP to show myself to you’ or ‘there’s no ESP to show ourselves to each other’) but the cool thing about songs is they can sound good even when they don’t rhyme.

In any case, those lines should perhaps be changed. Mentioning ATP (a chemical that transports energy that cells can use) is a little too scientific for this song, and I’m no biologist so I’m not sure it’s the best chemical to mention anyway. (Edit: The obvious substitution, which I didn’t think of until far too late, is simply ‘energy’.) Most of what I know about ATP comes from songs. If you want a song that explains how ATP is made by mitochondria, try Come On Down (The Electron Transport Chain) by Science Groove:

Or Oxidative Phosphorylation, also by Science Groove:

Back to ‘I Love Your Body’, I’ve found that I’ve ended up with a completely different musical version of it in my head. I can’t transcribe the tune, but the words go something like this:

I love your body
The way it keeps you ali-i-ive
I love your body
The way it has a you inside
I love your body
How it allows communications
I love your body
The way it gives you sweet sensations

That’s all from me. Use your body to make somebody happy today!

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Glasses (Jonathan Coulton parody lyrics)


This is a parody of Jonathan Coulton’s ‘Glasses’ from the album ‘Artificial Heart’. I started writing it some time ago and decided it was about time I finished it. Feel free to sing it if that’s a thing you can do!

Check the bedside stand
Check my own right hand
Check I’m not going blind to what’s hiding in plain sight

Shake the blankets out
Find some old self-doubt
Never finding the the clarity abandoned late last night

I had them then, don’t know where they are
I’ll check again, mountains and morasses
Without a lens, can’t see near or far
I can’t see
I can’t find my glasses.

Check atop my head,
The small-print book I read,
Check the corner where they never are and never ought to be.

I’m careful where I step
Watch the floor except
It’s all a blur, a crude moving blotch of who knows what to me

I had them then, don’t know where they are
I’ll check again, mountains and morasses
Without a lens, can’t see near or far
I can’t see…

No Lasik please
Don’t want my eyeballs cooking
Still can’t see
I guess I’ll just keep looking

Not their usual place
Not here on my face
I know they’re bound to be somewhere I’ve already looked three times.

Find my old car keys
The old futilities
A cat’s fresh leavings, a Lego brick, a quarter and three dimes.

I had them then, don’t know where they are
I’ll check again, mountains and morasses
Without a lens, can’t see near or far
I had them then, don’t know where they are
I’ll check again, mountains and morasses
Without a lens, can’t see near or far
I can’t see
I can’t find my glasses.

I don’t have anything else to say about this one, so instead I’ll show you the video of Joey’s musical recitation of my Towel Day quotation creation. I missed his comment about it so it took me a while to notice it, but when I did it made several of my days. So froody!

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Runtime (Jonathan Coulton ‘Sunshine’ parody lyrics)


The other day I was reading some developer documentation about nodes while I had Jonathan Coulton’s ‘Sunshine’ from the album ‘Solid State’ in my head. ‘The road we’re on’ became ‘the node we’re on’ and the next thing I know I’m writing a parody about the runtime, and errors that could have been detected by the compiler in other languages or with stricter compiler settings but instead aren’t detected until runtime. I didn’t end up using the ‘node’ line. The first verse barely needed changing, so for fun I tried to keep as many words from the original as I could in the rest of the parody as well. Whether that’s a good thing depends on your taste and how well you know the original. Feel free to sing it if that’s a thing you can do!

We were blind to every sign
That we should have seen
In a clearly broken line
Machine to machine
Our mistakes were the future
But no one could tell

Lots of errors to detect
The tests didn’t show
The things compilers could have checked
We just let it go
Walked away as assumptions
Crumbled and fell

We bust our arse
To find the errors the machine could parse
Catch it just-in-time
Here in the runtime

Cast the pointer to a type it’s not (runtime)
Walk the edge case of the code we’ve got (runtime)

Every bit was filed away
There’s memory to fill
There’s no message that could say
Receiver is nil
We don’t heed any warnings
Try it and bail

Cast from Any type to this
The object’s a tease
Reflect to find out what it is
A sudden unease
If the data’s corrupt
Then when did it fail?

We soldier on (just a flesh wound)
Heap space and registers are almost gone (memory use ballooned)
Watch the stack unwind (maybe we’re doomed)
Here in the runtime

Cast the pointer to a type it’s not (runtime)
Walk the edge case of the code we’ve got (runtime)

The caller of the method must not do this
Everything’s your fault, you have been remiss
Code is fine, the world has something amiss

All the tests have slipped away
Just garbage I/O
I won’t last another day
And neither will O
EOF of a stateless mutable thing

The data’s blitzed (blame the new hire)
There’s nothing left that can remember it (cut the red wire)
But this is fine (halt and catch fire)
Here in the runtime

Cast the pointer to a type it’s not (runtime)
Walk the edge case of the code we’ve got (runtime)

Cast the pointer to a type it’s not (runtime)
Walk the edge case of the code we’ve got (runtime)

I’m not so sure about ‘EOF of a stateless mutable thing’ and whether it would be better stateful or immutable. It doesn’t exactly make sense (does anything, when it’s that far gone?) but it sounds cool, and a lot like the original. I’ll release it like this and patch it in production if necessary. 😉

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Angela and Joey have conversations via poems and ukulele songs, parts n+2—n+m: m>2


I told you to tune in for the next exciting instalment of ‘Angela and Joey have conversations via poems and ukulele songs’, and the conversation sure took off in some exciting directions. Here is Joey Marianer singing the poem I wrote about Star Wars before I saw it (which I also recorded a not-so-musical video of.)

That one was a total surprise! Then when I commented asking him to follow me around and sing everything I said, he even sang the comment. I’m going to have to be careful what I say from now on.

The next few have to do with the countdown to JoCo Cruise 2018. Back when there were 300 days left until JoCo Cruise 2018, someone on facebook jokingly asked whether they were metric or imperial days, and I responded with some rhymes about that, mentioning Brian Young (whose poem written during the 2015 cruise was sung by both Cody Wymore and Joey, and whose poem performed at a shadow event on the 2017 cruise Joey also sang) for some reason, and then Brian chimed in with a continuation. I can’t find that thread any more so I’m not actually 100% sure where my words stopped and his started. Anyway, Joey sang that too!

Then in early May, Joey suggested that if I wrote a poem about there being nine months until the cruise, he would sing it. So I agonised over it for a few weeks and ended up going way overboard with puns relating to first of May activities and their euphemisms, and a common approximation of the human gestation period. Here’s that song:

Lyrics:
This first of May I went out walking with my cat
And no-one asked me, ‘do you want to see my rooster, ma’am?’
but even though I never got to celebrate like that
I’m still awaiting my berth on the Oosterdam

Some geek girl online said how full of gold this trip is
Mucked my boxers but I barely even sluiced ‘er, man
but even though we’ve never met I’m sure that you would ship us
we’re awaiting our berths on the Oosterdam

And there’s nine months to go until we break the waters
and the soon™ becomes today
it’s a little bit of all of us held together by our friend ship
and we’re in the family way

Well some of us don’t code or sing or craft or hug or prom
and some of us have never even reproduced a damn,
but even though we don’t have any single thing in common
we’re awaiting our berths on the Oosterdam

And there’s nine months to go until we break the waters
and the soon™ becomes today
it’s a little bite for all of us; the cake is not a lie
and we’re in the family way

Yes, there’s nine months to go until we break the waters
and the soon™ becomes today
it’s a little bit of all of us held together by our love
in the chosen family way
the chosen family way
Yes, we’re all in the family way

 

Come join the family if you can! Joey was a first-time sea monkey (that’s what JoCo cruisers call ourselves) this year and it looks to me like he felt pretty welcome.

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YouTube (Flickr parody)


This is a parody of Jonathan Coulton’s song ‘Flickr‘ about the videos on my YouTube channel. Some day perhaps I’ll record it, make a video of it, and use that as the introduction video to my channel.

There’s a grown man wearing panties on his face, and on his nose
There’s a sheriff counting zombies in the square
More dangerous than dynamite
That violates his copyright
The girl who picks the flowers wants to share
Breaking records, breaking dawn: The Burning Hell
and Pat Rothfuss in a tree with Lin-Manuel

A flying scooter
A time-lapse concert shot with sound
A cool computer
Some starstruck monkeys spinning round
A ukulele
Wil Wheaton woken by a horse
Amanda’s baby
If you can’t use the warp drive, use the force

A Schuyler in a shark suit
A virgin state of mind
A rainbow nyancat runs around a wall
A herd of deer, a pancake cake
That HR Giger’s probably fake
Sometimes even rockets have to crawl
One LHC turns on, one says goodbye
A robot makes some crêpes, and Paul says hi.

Vaginas flying
Paper cutouts fall in love
How great is Ryan?
Arranging music fits like a glove
Lovestruck utensil
I said Orlando, but trolling’s fun.
A sharpened pencil
Two hearts at karaoke can sing as one

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe if I hadn’t filmed them.

It’s difficult to choose from more than 2000 videos, but probably not as difficult as choosing from all the photos on Flickr. I tried to choose a variety of different kinds of videos, while also including my favourite ones, the most popular ones, some of my original work rather than only recordings of other people doing cool things, and some that just happened to fit into the rhyme or rhythm of the song. Where relevant I’ve linked to each video within a playlist (e.g. of a concert), so if you like a video you can see more like it. Sometimes there’s more than one link per line.

I have many alternate lyrics for various lines. If I make a video of it, I suspect I’ll choose whichever make it more visually appealing or varied. For instance, I could also have ‘A god was in my bed last night‘ as the third or fourth line. Instead of ‘A rainbow nyancat runs around a wall’ I could have ‘A Christmas show projected on a wall‘ or ‘there isn’t time and space to do it all‘. For ‘and Pat Rothfuss in a tree with Lin-Manuel’ there’s ‘and an astronaut makes space at NBL‘. Instead of crêpes and Paul saying hi, it could be ‘A space man and a singer have got to fly‘ or ‘A pavlova is a cake that’s not a lie‘. Which do you prefer? Any other suggestions?

Now I’ll get back to uploading JoCo Cruise 2017 videos so there’s even more to choose from. Here’s the original Flickr song:

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Leave Your Grave (Re: Your Brains parody)


Some people call Easter Sunday Zombie Jesus Day, and I’ve just recently spent a fair bit of time editing footage of a song about zombies, so it seemed natural to write this parody of Jonathan Coulton’s Re: Your Brains about Jesus. In this song, Jesus, omniscient yet somehow clueless, talks to [the cadaver of] someone who was crucified along with him.

Bless you, man, it’s Jesus,
from the cross just over there.
Good to see you buddy, how’ve you been?
Things have been okay for me; I’ve come back as a zombie now.
I really wish you could’ve seen.

I think I speak for all of us when I say I understand
how it can be bothersome to be hung up by your hands.
But not all dead must die — I’ve got friends in high places.
All you’ve got to do is leave your grave.
it’s not unreasonable;
you can’t always acquiesce to things.
All you’ve got to do is leave your grave.
You’ve got eternal life; don’t just spend it festering.
You just open up the tomb,
shed your doom and gloom
and leave your grave.

I don’t want to nitpick, Man, but is this really your plan?
Spend your death spoilt rotten underground?
Maybe that’s okay for now, but someday there’ll be worms inside your butt
and you’ll have to come around.
I’m not surprised to see you act like you don’t have a prayer.
You always played the victim with that heavy cross to bear,
but we’ve all been crucified, and I will bring the light to you.

All you’ve got to do is leave your grave.
it’s not unreasonable;
you can’t always acquiesce to things.
All you’ve got to do is leave your grave.
You’ve got eternal life; don’t just spend it festering.
You just open up the tomb,
shed your doom and gloom
and leave your grave.

I’d like to help you, Man, in any way I can.
You know I help the ones who help themselves, believe me
I’m no Messiah though, well, technically I am.
I guess I am.

Got to get ascending now, think I’ll pass on passing on.
I’ve got too much to do to rest in peace
Then I’ll put a word in to my father who’s been with you all along.
I’m sure he’ll help with your decease.
I’m glad to see you take my death and life advice so well
Thank you for not whining; helping others feels so swell
and I’m sure you’ll conquer death
when you take a breath; try it!

All you’ve got to do is leave your grave.
it’s not unreasonable;
you can’t always acquiesce to things.
All you’ve got to do is leave your grave.
You’ve got eternal life; don’t just spend it festering.
You just open up the tomb,
shed your doom and gloom
and leave your grave.

I’m not sure if this is Jesus being a total son-of-a-self to a guy who is literally dead, by not acknowledging the son-of-God privilege that makes his resurrection possible, or whether He’s actually encouraging everyone to make friends with His dad and gain eternal life. Interpret it whichever way you prefer. In any case, this is dedicated to anyone who’s been told to just get out of bed and smile/pray their way out of depression, chronic illness, poverty, etc.

I’m not sure I’m 100% happy with these lyrics yet; I probably stick needlessly close to the original lyrics in places, when I could have been cramming in additional puns. I have a few alternate possibilities, but these are the words I like best right as it turns Sunday in my time zone.

Here’s the aforementioned footage of the original song, as performed in Loreto, Mexico as part of JoCo Cruise:

Also, Joey recorded another ukulele song in response to my last post! Here it is:

In response, I wrote the following:

Who is this cool person called joeym
who responds to my post with a poem
and then adds on a singing addendum?
If I hadn’t already, I’d friend’im!

Tune in next post for the next exciting instalment of ‘Angela and Joey have conversations via poems and ukulele songs’!

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Sings up to which Joey has been (a poem about a song of a poem)


What I wrote were some mere rhyming words.
What I got was this wonderful song
by a friend with whom I get along
that I met on a ship full of nerds.

’Twas the cruise, as you might have inferred,
of that singer of many dings-dong.
We were one thousand five hundred strong
and a blue plastic uke was conferred

upon each of us on the first night
so we all could repeatedly tune
and observe it was never quite right.
The performers had hoped to attune
us to not make such fun of their plight,
but we did, sure as schooners will schoon.

I’m working on/playing with a few other silly poems to update you on that up to which I have been, but meanwhile, have a song version of the last one! How cool is this?! I met Joey on the JoCo cruise and he’s learning to use one of ‘the cheapest possible ukuleles that do not get classified as industrial waste‘ that Cards Against Humanity provided us all with.

This poem is another of these weird Petrarchan-sonnet-like-things in anapaestic trimeter. They said at different times in the cruise that there were either 1700 of us or 1500. I’m going to guess that the first number includes the performers. In any case, 1500 fits the meter better (as does 1600, if you want to take the middle ground.) As I process my cruise footage, which is most of what I will be doing in my spare time for the next few months, I am implementing Jonathan’s suggestion of making a supercut of tuning. If you have footage of tuning at events on this cruise that I wasn’t at, and you’re happy to send me clips of it, let me know so I can add it to the supercut.

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Songs to Learn French to: Grammaire Song, part 2


This is part two in my explanation of the song ‘Grammaire Song’ by Chanson Plus Bifluorée. See the first lesson for the full lyrics and explanation of the first stanza.

Previous lessons in the ‘Song to Learn French To‘ series are Le ours et la hirondelle, part 1 and part 2

The first lesson only covered the first stanza; this one covers the next two.

Adjectif possessif : possession

Do you know all the possessive adjectives in French? They correspond to words like ‘his’ or ‘your’, but unlike ‘his’ and ‘her’, which depend on the gender of the person possessing the thing, French possessive adjectives depend on the gender and number of the actual items being possessed. They can also depend on whether the thing being possessed starts with a vowel (or an h muet) to avoid the hiatus that I mentioned in a previous lesson. The song lists some of the possessive adjectives you should know:

Mes, tes, ses, nos, vos, leurs, mon, tonson

Those are just some of the masculine and plural possessive adjectives; there are several others:

Ma, ta, sa, notre, votre, leur, ta

Actually, we don’t know whether the song says leur or leurs, since they sound the same, but the lyrics I found online had leurs, and that goes with the other plural possessive adjectives listed.

Next the song gives a confusing example which contains a lot of words that sound like possessive adjectives, but aren’t. I’ve put actual possessive adjectives in bold, and words that sound like possessive adjectives underlined, all colour-coded to match the possessive adjectives they sound like, if they appear elsewhere. I’ve tried to use a somewhat colourblind-safe palette, but sorry if you have trouble distinguishing some of the colours.

Exemple facile ; c’est son tonton
qu’est ton maçon, lui qui t’a bâti ta maison

Plurals (or should that be pluraux?)

Un cheval au pluriel c’est chevaux
Mais des batailles font pas des bateaux
Exception faite pour aller aux bals
Danser quels régals dans tous les carnavals

Do you know your French irregular plurals? A lot of French words ending in -al, and a few ending in -ail, be they adjectives (e.g. international), or nouns (e.g. cheval, journal, travail) change to -aux in the masculine plural (e.g. internationaux, chevaux, journaux, travaux). But many words that already end in -au or -eau (tuyau, bateau) also take an -x in the plural (tuyaux, bateaux), so if you only knew the plural forms you might be confused about the singular. Or maybe, like The Arrogant Worms possibly do in their song about Celine Dion (inasmuch as the French at the end of that song is decipherable), you get chevaux (the plural of cheval) confused with cheveux (the plural of cheveu) because they look so similar. Or maybe you don’t. Maybe this is all perfectly simple for you. In that case, don’t worry, there are some exceptions just for you. Some words ending in -al (e.g. balrégalcarneval) just take a regular -s in the plural.

That will do for this lesson. Even though I’d already written most of it, I still didn’t find the time to publish it after a week, as I’d promised. It’s hard to predict how much free time I’ll have when I’m away from home, and I lost some work a browser crash. Tune in next week or so to learn about agreement.

If you want to keep learning between lessons, then first of all, of course, buy the songs I’ve mentioned (or better, the albums they’re on) and listen to them while thinking about what you can learn from them. Also, try duolingo, and feel free to follow me. If you’re already fairly fluent, the regular exercises might be detrimental (as they train you to translate simple sentences rather than simply understanding and responding to them without going via your native language) so I recommend the ‘Immersion‘ section where you read and translate interesting real-world text. If you’re still learning the basics, the exercises are useful, but don’t be afraid to try a bit of translation as well. Start with a topic you already know a lot about — before I was at all confident with reading or translating German, I found German Wikipedia articles related to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy surprisingly easy to read.

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