Posts Tagged tom lehrer

GloPoWriMo 2019


Last November, instead of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) I created NanoRhymo, where I wrote a tiny poem every day inspired by a random rhyme from my rhyming dictionary, rhyme.science. April was GloPoWriMo (Global Poetry Writing Month — NaPoWriMo/National Poetry Writing Month to people from unknown nations who think ‘national’ gives their invented holidays a more realistic sheen) so I decided to do the same thing. Here are the poems I wrote.

Day 1, inspired by the rhyme propounds and zounds:

I see the news, and holler ‘Zounds!
That’s downright nuts! That is not cool!’
To see the thoughts that he propounds
I *hope* it’s all an April fool.

Day 2, inspired by the rhyme shenanigan and Flanagan:

There once was a rascal named Flanagan
who magnified ev’ry shenanigan
and when they were caught
repented, quite fraught,
then made their escape and and began again.

Day 3, inspired by the rhyme excavations and replication’s, and also a line from Jurassic Park:

After careful excavations,
came some reckless replications,
running rife, now run away!
Cunning life, uh, finds a way.

Day 4, inspired by the rhyme mutuality’s and theatricality’s, and the idea that the then-imminent Brexit needs to be summarised as a comic opera:

As now we face with Brexit
an end of mutuality,
I need theatricality
to show what’s going on.

It’s really quite complex, it
must be faced with joviality;
I can’t take the formality
or show-stopping fatality…

Before my poor brain wrecks it
by facing the reality
I need some musicality —
the show’s still going on!

Day 5, inspired by the rhyme asylum and subphylum:

This spineless chipolata
brings disgrace to Vertebrata!
I wish to seek asylum
in a different subphylum.

Day 6, inspired by the rhyme while I and styli:

Some scoff at using styli.
I’m not so highfalutin’,
so please excuse me while I
tweet from my Apple Newton.

Day 7, inspired by the rhyme lawmen and for men:

There’s no need to call the lawmen
and exclaim “Oh no! Us poor men!”
when things aren’t tailored for men.
Cast aside “misandrist” strawmen.
Watch how much you hold the floor, men.

Day 8, inspired by the rhyme airway’s and their ways:

I don’t agree with their ways!
Why can’t they learn new skills?
Their ‘breathing’ thing is hokum!
I won’t pay for their airways!
Why can’t they just use gills?
They’ll learn to if I choke ‘em!

Day 9, inspired by the rhymes ineffectually and intellectually, deficiency and inefficiency, and ineffaceable and untraceable:

If you’re ineffectual, although you’re intellectual,
then your inefficiency might stem from some deficiency —
memories ineffaceable which should be made untraceable,
ineffable reverberations crowding useful thought.

Day 10 (a day late), inspired by the rhyme detectable and connectible, and of course the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration’s announcement of the first image of a black hole:

Eight radio telescopes, made connectible,
made a black hole’s light detectable.

Day 11, inspired by the rhyme mending’s and endings, and of course the Beresheet lunar landing:

One small stop, and mission’s ending.
One giant lapse, no lunar mending.
Look at what you learn and hail your
huge success you earn through failure.

Day 12, inspired by the rhyme unlabelled and disabled:

While some propound that we transcend
ignore the boundaries to end
discrimination: life unlabelled
as woman, Asian, bi, disabled,
how you see me, and I myself,
still have myths attached we fell for,
still affect what we expect
to be, or see, and left unchecked
this blinding to the groups we see just
lets those stealthy fictions lead us.

Day 13, inspired by the rhyme reupholstering and bolstering and definitely referring to gunshot rather than immunisations:

If the shot in your arms is a killer,
you’ll find yourself bolstering the holster,
but if what’s in your arms is a pillow
you’d best be reupholstering the bolster.

Day 14, inspired by the rhyme planetesimals and hexadecimals (best read in a non-rhotic accent):

Previous dates say you’re lesser? Miladies,
we all start out infinitesimal.
Growing from dust we become planetesimals;
now you’re sixteen out of ten, hexadecimal.

Day 15, inspired by the rhyme deSitter and bitter:

I’m just very old; I’m not bitter.
I don’t care I can no more transmit a
request that will pass the de Sitter
horizon and get to your Twitter.

Day 16, inspired by the rhyme cassava’s and guavas, and a true story involving Joey Marianer and I hearing Beth Kinderman’s ‘Stop Covering “Hallelujah”‘ at MarsCon, visiting a ball of twine but not a furniture shop, noticing many other phrases that could scan to Hallelujah, and later writing a song to that tune about the ‘purple guava’ meme on JoCo Cruise. This poem is, of course, to be sung to the tune of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah:

At MarsCon just before the cruise,
we heard some Hallelujah blues,
saw Minnesotan places, but not Marva’s.
Beth Kinderman was in our head,
but thanks to Paul we wrote instead
A song like Hallelujah about guavas.
Purple guavas, not cassavas, purple guavas, not cassavas.

We ended up writing and rewriting many songs to that tune, and Joey has been going through our growing list of Hallelujah parodies and singing them on YouTube.

Day 17, inspired by the fact that it was National Haiku Day in some nation or other, and I indeed wrote a Haiku Detector app for macOS a while ago:

Haiku detector
is an app that finds haiku.
I wrote it myself.

Day 18, in reply to a friend who was surprised to have missed that I wrote a haiku detector:

And a robot choir,
a rhyming dictionary,
and an insult app.

Day 19, inspired by the rhyme surviving and depriving:

Let us watch the rich contriving
ways they can continue thriving,
cunning tricks to keep deriving
profits from their deeds depriving
others of the means of striving
for a life above surviving.

On day 20, I considered my post on unintentional haiku in the Mueller report to be my poem for the day.

Day 21, inspired by the rhyme nonvital and recital:

Some may say that art’s nonvital —
mere indulgence for the idle.
But while we breathe with no recital,
without reprieve, we’re suicidal.

Day 22, inspired by the rhymes (in non-rhotic accents) Larousse’snooses, and seducer’s, and some of the dictionary brands in my language bookcase:

In my bookcase of seducers:
Collins, Van Dales, and Larousses.
Some who judge not right from wrong,
Some who tighten grammar’s nooses.
Come to my Chambers, Roberts, Pons,
and I will Reed you all night long.

Day 23, inspired by the non-rhotic rhyme PDA to and cater:

Avoiding PDA to
abstemiously cater
to those who’d subjugate a
self you’ve not revealed
may further make the straighter
subconsciously equate a
same-sex love display to
a sin that’s best concealed.

Day 24, inspired by the rhyme dipterocarpaceous and veracious, to be sung to the tune of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious:

My dictionary says some plants are dipterocarpaceous,
even though it sounds like that is doubtfully veracious.
Lots of plant clades sound like this; it’s really not fallacious!
Caryophyll- amaryllid- hamamelidaceous!

I then got distracted by life for a while and wrote more poems in May, but let’s pretend they correspond to days in April.

Day 25, inspired by the non-rhotic rhymes intersectedunexpected, and sectored:

In a culture split and sectored
sometimes came the unexpected
when two groups who both were hectored
saw their interests intersected.

Day 26, inspired by the rhyme anaphylactic and intergalactic:

In an immune system intergalactic
dark energy swells in repulsive analogy
for self-versus-self, a matter of allergy,
and the Big Rip apocalypse anaphylactic.

Day 27, inspired by the rhyme subsistence and coexistence:

Species risk extinction and your
stocks deplete if you seek grandeur.
If instead you seek subsistence,
you might sustain that coexistence.

Day 28, inspired by hearing about someone being asked this question, to be sung to the tune of Tom Lehrer’s song L-Y:

You love with your minds and hearts
but also have matching parts.
“How do you two have sex?” acquaintances pry.
Consensually, consensually, consensual-L-Y.

Day 29, inspired by the fact that May 12 was both Mother’s Day in America and the first Women in Mathematics Day:

Today’s the day we stand beside
the women who have multiplied,
divided, added, and subtracted,
extrapolated, and abstracted
such that all of us were raised
to heights and powers that amazed.

Day 30, written as I was compiling this post, inspired by the rhyme mallets and ballots:

Some pound pavement swaying ballots,
Some pound foes, build walls with mallets
Some pound notes are worth less… well it’s
some pound of flesh to buy and sell us.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

I sang on stage 😳


In the last post I mentioned that Joey Marianer and I sang ‘I Love Your Body‘ on the Open Phil Broadcast on Radio Orange. During that interview we promised to perform it at the Open Phil open mic that was coming up, so we did:

You can skip to 6:48 if you don’t want to hear me explaining who Joey is, pretending I’m not thrilled that he sets my words to music, and talking about my YouTube channel and Jonathan Coulton’s transition from code monkey to internet superstar, followed by Joey challenging Lill to a laugh-off and finding good positions for the microphones with help from Grey Sweater Guy.

I set the stage before this with another slightly disturbing love poem, Don’t Slip on the Ice, but it’s not the first time I’ve performed that one on stage, or even the best performance of it on video, so you’ll have to click on the link if you want to see it.

After we finished this song, I cajoled Joey into singing The Elements by Tom Lehrer, which he had previously planned to sing but didn’t feel up to doing in the moment. He got me back for that by getting me to sing it with him when it turned out he was indeed not quite up to it in the moment:

This is one of those songs, like Chicken Monkey Duck (which, technically, I have also sung on stage, but it feels more like a rap), where you can amaze people just by knowing the lyrics, so confidence in singing ability (of which I have very little) is not essential, though it is quite difficult to sing fast enough.

, , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

The Vatican Nag (Tom Lehrer Parody)


I visited the Vatican recently, and a friend was kind enough to put this song in my head beforehand:

After arriving early enough to get to the front of the line for Saint Peter’s Basilica fairly quickly, being turned away because of a weapon I’d brought from Geneva (no, not antimatter), coming back unarmed and being let through without waiting in the then-hours-long line because they noticed I had ‘problems’ (I had blisters. Also, I’m not very good at walking), and then being repeatedly offered paid guided tours to skip the line while I was going to the post office and generally chilling out, I decided to write a parody. Here it is; The Vatican Nag:

Half off gods that come in threes!
Twelve for ten on rosaries!
Fourteen euros ninety-nine
to skip the line, skip the line, skip the line!

Buy a stick to take a selfie.
Try a discount saved-from-hell fee.
Whatever your indulgence is,
they’ll upsell the whole Jesus
doing the Vatican Nag.

Get in line for that basilica?
Only clueless pilgrims will, a co-
lossal fee will leave you poor as a m-
onk enjoying guided tourism.
You don’t have to spend the day there.
Save the day and spend your pay there.
Two, four, six… great!
Ninety euros, skip the wait!

Half off gods that come in threes!
Twelve for ten on rosaries!
Fourteen euros ninety-nine
to skip the line, skip the line, skip the line!

Hawkers oft insisting crap’ll
put you off the Sistine Chapel.
Don’t Holy See ’em;
try the Colosseum.
Hide in your attic and
never do that again.
Out of the Vatican Nag!

I used some artistic license here, but a lot of it is true. There were plenty of people selling 12 one-euro rosaries for the price of ten, and the ‘skip the line’ tours were either €15 or €43 depending on the kind of tour. People selling selfie sticks, hats, cellphone chargers, and flat wooden things that magically transform into sets of bowls were all over Rome and the Vatican. I did not see anyone selling indulgences (‘saved-from-hell fees’), however. Also, it wasn’t all that annoying, really. But do see the Colosseum.

I thought about saying ‘then the cost’ll send you Pentecostal’ but I think that’s even worse than the lines I have. I also wanted to use ‘poperies’ in the first line, but since it would be indistinguishable from ‘pot pourris’ if anyone actually sang it, I decided to go with the holy three-for-one deal.

In other news, I’ve been reciting my poems at Open Phil, a great open mic night in Vienna hosted by the Phil half of Crazy for Jane. You can watch some of the performances on the online highlights reels, but to see the whole thing you really have to be there.

Also, Shit Your Inner Voice Says is now on The FuMP Sideshow.

, , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Stochastic induction of epizeuxis is my bird feeder made out of a coconut


The following video is not an example of creative output on my part, for by giving Secretary of Geek Affairs Wil Wheaton the CERN T-shirt featured, I simply did what clearly needed to be done. I am nonetheless pleased to have induced what I believe to be an example of my favourite word, ‘epizeuxis‘:

Here is a picture of the card that comes with the T-shirt, which has an explanation of the equation (click for the text of the card and a higher-resolution version of the photo):

The explanation of the equations on the T-shirts I gave to Wil Wheaton and Julianna on JoCo Cruise Crazy

I have written an ‘origin story’ in the style of Peter Sagal’s, explaining the improbable series of events that led to my being on a boat in a position to give Wil Wheaton a CERN T-shirt, and drawing a parallel between the above video and Peter Sagal‘s bird feeder made out of a coconut. However, it ended up somewhat long (1000 words) and show-offish, and I have been too busy watching concert videos to edit it properly (indeed, I arbitrarily stopped editing it when I noticed the word count was exactly 1000), so I’ll put it below the ‘more’ thingy for you to ignore. I’m not sure whether all of the events are in the right order, but the story is 1000 words long so it’s too late to edit them now. It looks like I’ll even have to include the superfluous second introduction, since I accidentally included that in the word count.

It’s a shame, really, because I promised somebody I’d include the word ‘shanty’, and now I can’t edit it in. But you can’t argue with integer powers of the number of digits most humans have on their hands.

Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 Comments

Queen of Spades: Les Éléments


sing the LMNCeci est en quelque sorte une traduction de “The Elements” de Tom Lehrer, à chanter sur l’air de “Je ne suis pas bien portant” de Gaston Ouvrard. Je cherche quelqu’un qui pourrait la chanter, je chante encore plus mal que je prononce le français.

The following is a French translation of Tom Lehrer’s “The Elements“, to be sung to the tune of “Je ne suis pas bien portant” by Gaston Ouvrard. Sorry, no recording yet, I can neither sing nor pronounce French well enough. You’re welcome to try.

Y’a nickel, bismuth, tantale, gallium,
osmium, carbone, aluminium,
azote, terbium, platine et hafnium,
et les états d’américium.
N’oubliez pas praséodyme,
c’est juste avant le néodyme.

Y’a phosphore
sodium, bore,
plutonium
nobélium
béryllium
samarium
dysprosium
europium
puis calcium
et rhénium,
or, lanthane
et titane
et radon
sur Krypton
molybdène
oxygène.

Ah ! bon Dieu ! Je ne suis pas
très bon en la matière.
Ah ! bon Dieu ! Je ne suis pas !
Chimie c’est la galère.

Manganèse, antimoine, silicium
rutherfordium, gadolinium
astate, thulium, césium, ruthénium
m’a dit Dmitri Mendélévium.
Seaborgium, dubnium protactinium
cobalt, arsenic, californium.

Y’a scandium
polonium
rubidium
ytterbium
baryum, brome
et le chrome.
Fer, tellure
zinc, mercure
et radium
potassium
argent, plomb
et argon.
Soufre chlore
et fluor
puis néon
et xénon
hydrogène
et tungstène.

Ah ! bon Dieu ! Je ne suis pas
très bon en la matière.
Ah ! bon Dieu ! Je ne suis pas !
C’est la croix, la bannière.

Il y a hassium bohrium curium
iode, thorium, étain, actinium
et cuivre, indium, holmium, fermium
et meitnérium et magnésium
et aussi thallium et francium
les gaz à effet de cérium.

Y’a strontium
einsteinium
lawrencium
technétium
puis niobium
et rhodium
berkélium
et yttrium
germanium
et erbium
vanadium
uranium
et lithium
et cadmium
sélénium
zirconium
prométhium
trop d’hélium
neptunium
iridium

Ah ! bon Dieu ! Je ne suis pas
très bon en la matière.
Ah ! bon Dieu ! Je ne suis pas !
Chimie c’est la misère.

Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , , , , , , ,

6 Comments

%d bloggers like this: