Lol, I love doing these. 🙂
I’ve worked on a few lately, had lots of fun. Here’s a link to one of four I did in the last 3 days: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3M8BN7FNT0A
My inspiration came from Rolling Stone record reviews where it was clear that the reviewer either had an axe to grind, wanted to review a different record, or hadn’t bothered to listen to the album at all.
As it turns out, it is very easy to put out a bad review. When one disposes of the entire listening process, all that’s left is the cover and the track list, and those can get knocked out in a matter of minutes.
For me, the trick is in making a connection back to Pink Floyd that reveals my complete ignorance of the band I’m being all pretentious and elitist about. Sometimes I can, and that’s the delivery on the musical joke.
When I was in Boy Scouts, I learned a song that has stuck with me for the rest of my years thus far. It’s called “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More”, and it’s a rousing, irreverent tune that’s a load of fun to sing. The chorus is simple:
It ain’t gonna rain no more no more
It ain’t gonna rain no more
How in the heck can I wash my neck
If it ain’t gonna rain no more
Since I’m a Cubmaster once more, I thought I’d collect the verses I liked best and compose some ones of my own. Here goes:
Bullfrog sitting on a lily pad
He looked up at the sky
The lily pad broke and the frog fell in
He got water all in his eye
Skeeter he fly high
And skeeter he fly low
Skeeter he land on my arm
(smack your arm) He ain’t gonna fly no mo’!
Peanut sitting on the railroad track
Its heart was all a-flutter
Around the bend came Number four
Toot! Toot! Peanut butter
Noah built himself an ark
Got animals two by two
And pretty soon he had himself
The world’s first floating zoo
How much wood could a woodchuck chuck
If a woodchuck could chuck wood?
If he held a saw in his little paw
A ton of wood he could
The Grand Old Duke of York
He had ten thousand mens
But when he counted chickens
He had ten thousand hens
Man lived by the sewer
And by the sewer he died
They couldn’t call it murder
So they called it sewercide
The mice are very quiet
As they skitter all about
But if you ask, “Who wants some cheese?”
Then you’ll hear them shout
A cow walked on the railroad track
The train was coming fast.
The train got off the railroad track
To let the cow go past
I found myself a new pet dog
A strangely-shaped old fella
He’s wide and flat, his tail won’t bend
He makes a fine umbrella
A pig and a hen went for a walk
Just to stretch their legs,
A motorcar came round the bend,
Toot! Toot! Ham and eggs.
I never saw a purple cow
I never hope to see one
But I can tell you anyhow
I’d rather see than be one.
I’m taking a course in Jewish History. It’s not for credit, but for learning. It is offered by Dr. Henry Abramson of Touro College, online, and for free. The course itself deals with the survival of the Jews as a people. As I went through one of the readings for the first lesson of the course, the book of 2 Maccabees, I came across the account of the death of Antiochus Epiphanes in that book. Wanting to check some details (did he *really* indicate a desire to convert to Judaism?), I read that the violent persecution against the Jews under the Seleucids was only in Judea and Samaria. Jews in the Diaspora – as well as Jews under other Diodachi rulers – were not subject to this violence, at least not on this level. Nevertheless, they *were* subjected to the Hellenistic influences of the conquerors. Inside of that frame, I want to answer this question.
All through time, conquerors have imposed their cultural stamp on the conquered to the point where the cultures of the conquered either vanish, become invisible, or leave but a few words, sayings, and dinner entrees behind. Consider the people of the Indus Valley civilizations: we cannot interpret their writings and it does not seem anything of what they once had as a culture has remained in the Indian subcontinent. We have to strain our historical eyes to see what is left of Assyria, Babylon, and Sumeria. And yet, in spite of the massive power of Hellenism, we can look around today and see that Judaism has indeed survived. So, how did it make it through the gauntlet of Hellenism?
On the surface, it seems as though it took the force of arms to sustain Judaism, but as noted above, that was only the case in Judea and Samaria. In places such as Alexandria, the question was much more fundamental: Abandon the law and the covenants or remain true to them?
In this sense, although Philo Judaeus has a heavy infusion of Hellenic philosophy in his writings, at their core they are still Jewish because they hold true to the covenants and the law. He may be saying things that seemed unusual to the scholars both of his day and of later periods, but he’s still working from a world view that prizes the Jewish law and religion. He does not replace it with Hellenism, as the antagonists in Maccabees do. He *reconciles* it with Hellenism.
But even in that reconciliation, there is a danger. Does the philosophical reconciliation introduce elements of culture and thought that undermine or alter the core narrative of the culture in question? In the case of Christianity, the prophetic Christianity of the 1st Century CE (believe me because I was a witness to the miracle) was replaced with Augustine’s philosophic Christianity of the early 5th Century CE (believe because I am using Platonic philosophy to prove it). So, the question now becomes one of whether men like Philo changed the fundamental reason to practice the Jewish faith, namely, that one is descended from a person who made a covenant with the Almighty, and is part of a people who received a law from the Almighty.
Set aside things such as desires or even needs to translate scriptures into Greek or to have Greek signage within the temple. Those things still imply a need to observe the law. Perhaps the greatest challenge to Judaism was when men like Saul of Tarsus were able to leverage general Greek interest in mystery religions with a declaration that one need not undergo convert circumcision to enter into fellowship with a Christian congregation. These congregations of Gentiles were overwhelmingly Greeks or Hellenized populations. When we see a lack of Hellenized Jewish congregations in the world, it may be because those populations themselves were absorbed into the Christian church of the Romans, itself highly Hellenized as a result of Saul/Paul, Augustine, and other early Christian leaders.
Given how Christian rulers in Europe have constantly troubled the Jews living in their borders, one can see that if the Christians themselves are seen as the product of Hellenized Jews, the conflict of the Maccabees is a conflict of today.
Through it all, the Jews have to ask the question of survival. Maybe they have to ask if they should fight or fly, but they have to first ask the question if there is anything worth fighting or fleeing over. If not, why bother? Both Judah Maccabee and Philo of Alexandria held that there was a reason to retain the law and covenants they had been given in their youth. Both determined that, yes, there was a reason to not drop these things and go with the times. To these people and their devout associates and followers, the covenant of Abraham and the law of Moses were worth taking a stand for. Even if Hellenism were accommodated, it was not allowed to replace these core concepts. The true path to survival in the Greek world lay not in force of arms, but in scholarship and creativity. The Jewish people had to know who they were before they could struggle to retain that identity.
The definition of identity is possible only in the face of the *other*, the Greek, the Babylonian, the Egyptian, and so on. One can start to define what one is only when one can point to what one is *not*. The child would not ask a parent why they do not do as the others do if there are no others, and merely do as he or she is told, more or less. (This should not devolve into a discussion about rebellious teenagers, as they are a completely separate challenge to survival…) But when there are others who do this and that which one does not do, the questions will arise from the mouths of children and it is up to the parents to turn their hearts towards their children, that the children might turn their hearts towards their parents and honor the ancient laws and covenants.
It’s been about 5 years since I decided to end my career as a teacher and return to IT. People still ask me from time to time if I miss teaching. The short answer is no, but the long answer is yes.
For the short answer, I love not just my current job, but my current career. Once I had started back in IT, not one day did I wake up and desire to return to the classroom that I had left. I had dreams about teaching, but they involved either dull routine that I was glad to have left behind, or they were about packing up and leaving. Both gave me a sense of closure, that I was done with the profession.
Which leads to the long answer, the “yes”. Truth is, I was missing the classroom my whole last year of teaching. The work I had been able to do, both in the 90s as well as the 00s, that was no more by 2012-2013. School administrations no longer trusted a teacher’s ability to exercise professional discretion in preparing and delivering coursework. When I was doing IT work in the late 90s, I often yearned for the classroom. I had the same yearning during my last year of teaching.
Being forced to buy into the culture of testing that now exists meant selling out on my hopes of continuing to be the kind of teacher that could be flexible enough in the classroom to find a way to make a critical difference in people’s lives. I know I couldn’t impact everyone and that I could come off as a pompous ass to a lot of people… but I also knew that I had a much bigger audience that liked what I did and, within those audiences, I could make connections that would help guide lives.
All that was evaporating before my eyes as I saw mid-level administrators, living in fear of budget cuts that would axe their positions in a heartbeat, spread a culture of fear. Their jobs were safe if they could convince top administrators that their jobs were necessary to maintain the almighty test scores. This was happening not just in my district, but pretty much every urban and suburban district with 2 or more high schools.
So yes, while I miss teaching, I also know that what I once had is gone. It’s not coming back. I can think about the good times, but I have to move forward. I am fortunate and grateful that I have been able to return to IT. I’m working with people that trust my professional discretion, and that makes all the difference.
I’m wondering how much stuff any person in a band says is due to contractual obligations to promote current work. How much of slagging previous work is considered necessary and appropriate to build up one’s current product?
ORIGINAL BAND: “Everything we’re doing now is bold and imaginative, we’re really like nothing else.”
PROMINENT TALENT GOES SOLO: “It was all rehashing of old blues numbers in Original Band, I got tired of going nowhere musically. I’m so glad that I can truly express myself on my solo albums.”
THE REUNION: “What I did as a solo artist, I had to do, had to get it out of my system. Just a flight of fancy. It’s so great to be making magic again with Original Band, the stuff we’re making now is as great as the old stuff.”
AFTER A DISPUTE OVER PERCENTAGES: “I have left Original Band, effective immediately. Please consult the legal firm of Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe for further comment.”
JOINS ANOTHER BAND: “The Original Band reunion was a disaster. Of course, you read about my departure in the press, and I’ll give you the REAL story after I mention how awesome and liberating it is to be with Another Band. These guys are amazing, this is the best work I’ve done.”
SECOND REUNION OF ORIGINAL BAND: “It’s like I never left home. This is the only real music I’ve ever done, my work with Original Band. Our new album will not disappoint!”
NEW ALBUM DISAPPOINTS, DOES ANOTHER SOLO ALBUM: “Most of the reason behind the second reunion was money. I wanted to make music, they just wanted the money. Such a pity. But I’m glad I can fly free again.”
GETS BACK WITH ANOTHER BAND: “We’re not doing the songs recorded by the guy I replaced. They’re not my music and, frankly, I don’t consider them to be truly Another Band. When I’m with Another Band, then, yes, you can be sure it’s really Another Band.”
PARTIAL REUNION OF ORIGINAL BAND: “Me and the guitar player, we were always the core of Original Band. We don’t need the other guys to play amazing stuff.”
FULL REUNION OF ORIGINAL BAND: “If it’s not all four of us together, it’s simply just not Original Band, full stop. Don’t let anyone say otherwise.”
DRUMMER OF ORIGINAL BAND DIES IN FREAK GARDENING ACCIDENT: “We will miss him dearly, but we will also carry on. Original Band will rise from the ashes and continue forth to newer, better triumphs.”
SLIGHT ISSUE REGARDING DISTRIBUTION OF MERCHANDISING PROFITS: “I’m glad to be done with those money-grubbers and, frankly, they can all go to hell, where they can join up with their ex-drummer.”
ISSUE IS RESOLVED, WORLD TOUR RESUMES: “Me and my mates are inseperable! God bless them all, and I wish our ex-drummer were here instead of ‘up there’, where I know he’s drumming with Hendrix.”
OFFERED MORE MONEY TO TOUR WITH ANOTHER BAND: “My heart has always been with Another Band. Original Band, sure I had some laughs with them. But Another Band is where I’ve always felt like I was freest to explore, where we could play like no other band in the world.”
And so on, and so on, and so on…