Sunday, November 23, 2008

Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour

I was commenting on a post over at Better Oot Than In, and I realized that I really am a Novelty Song Geek. My friends and relatives can all attest to this. Loudly. As in, "No! No singing! Not AGAIN! SHUT UP!"

When my brother and I were kids, our parents gave us a "Loony Tunes"1 record. I think my mother picked it because it had My Boomerang Won't Come Back by the late, great Charlie Drake (his catchphrase was,"Hello, my darlings" which my father still occasionally says). Other great songs on that album included:
Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah - Alan Sherman,
The Witch Doctor - David Seville,
Does Your Chewing Gum Lose It's Flavour (On The Bedpost Overnight) - Lonnie Donnegan (actually, this one may have been the reason my mother bought the album for us)
Shaving Cream - Benny Bell
Charlie Brown - The Coasters
Transfusion - Nervous Norvus
Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport - Rolf Harris (Um..., maybe this one was the reason)
Dinner With Drac - John Zacherly
The Streak - Ray Stevens (I'm pretty sure this wasn't the reason)
the #1 novelty song of all time, They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa - Napoleon XIV
And Tip-toe Through The Tulips - Tiny Tim. I do a very good Tiny Tim imitation, if I do say so myself (soundwise only).
We pretty much wore that record out.

One of my friends M (I have three friends M) made the mistake of telling me her new boyfriend knew the song, Along Came Jones and asking if I knew it. "NO! I DIDN'T MEAN SING IT!" Too late. Of course I know it.

In the early '80s, I discovered Dr. Demento. Luckily, Weird Al Yankovic had discovered him several years earlier, or we wouldn't have such classics as Eat It, Fat, and I Lost On Jeopardy. Other songs included:
The Ballad of Irving - Frank Gallop,
Everybody Run, the Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun and Cause I'm a Blonde - Julie Brown,
Existential Blues - Tom "T-Bone" Stankus (I don't even HAVE a little dog Toto),
I still get The Cockroach That Ate Cincinnati by Rose and the Arrangement stuck in my head occasionally.

Barnes & Barnes came out with what would become the Aquatic Ecologist's theme song: Fish Heads. Or is that Wet Dream by Kip Addotta?

And who could forget Tom Lehrer with Poisoning Pigeons in the Park, and the Masochism Tango.

Ray Stevens and Weird Al certainly compete for the title of King of the Novelty Songs, but I proclaim Ray Stevens to be King. One, because his are unique, whereas Weird Al makes a living taking the mickey of current hits, and two because it's my blog and I can do whatever I want :-Pppppppppffffth.

Guitarzan, Would Jesus Wear a Rolex, Mississippi Squirrel Revival, Shriner's Convention, It's Me Again, Margaret and the completely un-PC Ahab the Arab.

Nowadays they just don't write songs like Purple People Eater, Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, and Rubber Duckie (Warning - mildly disturbing naked Ernie version).

Yes, I know all the words to Steve Martin's King Tut. Even the parts he missed in this video. Like He gave his life for tourism (wrong place), Golden Idols!, He's an Egyptian, They're selling you. Ok, my next post is going to be about how I'm obsessive enough to criticize Steve Martin singing his own song. I could do the same for several of the Ray Stevens ones, too...

Soon, 'tis the season for Elmo and Patsy's Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer. Can't wait!

1 Put out by the now defunct Grants store, and not affiliated with Warner Bros. Looney Toons

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Scenes from Dartmoor Zoological Park

My mother heard this interview on the Diane Rehm Show on the NPR station WFYI in Indianapolis.

It's a pretty amazing, heartbreaking, and uplifting story, if you take time to listen to it. In 2006, Benjamin Mee and his family decided to buy a dilapidated zoo on Dartmoor to rescue the animals, many of whom were going to be shot if nobody bought it within 10 days. After a lot of trouble both with banks and family members, he and his wife, his brother, and his mother finally owned an unlicensed zoo with about 200 animals on the edge of Dartmoor. Four days later, Sovereign, the jaguar escaped. Then Ben's wife's brain cancer recurred and she died leaving him with two young children to raise alone. They finally managed to open on July 7, 2007. If you listen closely, you'll find something unusual in an interview like this in the United States. There is no mention of God anywhere.

There was also a BBC2 documentary about it that several of my relatives had seen, so we decided to visit the Dartmoor Zoological Park while we were there.

Animals I wouldn't have expected to find on Dartmoor:I love capybaras. I hopped up and down and squealed,"Look! Capybaras! Capybaras!" As I've said before, it doesn't take much to excite me.

There were lions: Solomon and his mother Josie

And tigers Vlad (Siberian tiger)

And bears Ben (European brown bear)Hailey (European brown bear) and Fudge (Syrian brown bear)

Oh, my!

I looked down into this enclosure and thought, "Humph. These aren't very exotic." Then I remembered I was in England:
Snowdrop and Attitude, the hand raised Asian otters were hungry and begging from anybody who walked by. They were absolutely adorable and sounded like very loud squeaky toys.
According to the book written by Benjamin Mee, Ronnie the tapir is apparently gay. And wouldn't stand still for me to take a good picture. In the book, Mr. Mee explains how common homosexuality is in the animal kingdom - eventually he wants to add gay animal exhibits. This is already being done at the Artis Zoo in Holland. The UK version of the book is here.

In the book, he notes that he was heavily influenced by one of my childhood heroes, Gerald Durrell. I spent many an exciting night reading My Family and Other Animals, Birds, Beasts and Relatives, and Catch Me a Colobus. I would have loved to have owned a zoo. Fortunately for the Dartmoor Zoological Park, Mr. Mee managed to reignite his childhood dream.

We had a very nice lunch overlooking the ostrich/llama/alpaca/fallow deer enclosure.

What struck me about this zoo was that most of the animals actually looked content, and some even seemed interested in us. Nobody was neurotically pacing, the enclosures were large, and most of the animals were out and about even though they could go in and hide if they chose. The grey wolves were a bit restive and kept snarling and attacking each other, but I think it was near feeding time.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Scenes from England

The Birthday Boy. The button says, "I Survived Damn Near Everything."

My Nanna. Next June will be their 70th wedding anniversary.

I got to know some of my relatives a little better:
Seems as though I've known them all my life, after all. The dogs are definitely part of the family.

The evil flat coated retriever of Torrington Commons.
aka Mack.

People who think English food is bad or boring have obviously never eaten in the right places. And many pubs still allow dogs, which is just cool.

In a recent post (caused by me), Barry over at Staring at Empty Pages indicated that a never-ending loop will start due to Newton's Third Law of Pub-Motion - “For every beer treat, there is an equal and opposite beer re-treat.” Definitely true. There wasn't a sober evening while my cousins were around. I actually got up and sang karaoke in a pub one night, which I'm sure embarrassed my brother. The same song I always sing if I'm drunk enough and there's a karaoke machine nearby. The Shoop Shoop Song. My cousin Sarah's daughter Lauren (does that make Lauren my second cousin?) found it on the list after I cery varefully staggered over and couldn't find it. So of course, I had to sing it.

Going back: I flew Virgin Atlantic and took this picture of the seat in front of me just before we got to Greenland

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I was tagged by The Darwin Report. Luckily it didn't hurt very much. Here are the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random (or arbitrary) things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Six random things about me:

1. I just flew in from England, and boy are my arms....[shift forward in time 14 hours] actually my brain was too tired to think of 6 random things last night. Hopefully it's better this morning.

2. I have a concert tonight to which I'm driving the truck, although I'm a little out of practice with both the bassoon and driving on the right side.

This is one we do at a local retirement community on Veteran's Day every year, and makes me cry every time. For the first few years, they had WWII veterans in uniform carrying the flags (very slowly) down the aisle. Last year, I think they were replaced by Korean War veterans. I get all choked up when we play the Armed Forces Salute and veterans of each branch stand as we play their respective songs. Seeing the music through tears and playing with a lump in your throat isn't easy, I can tell you.

3. While in England, apart from attending my Grandad's 100th birthday party and getting to know some of my many relatives a little better, we went to the Dartmoor Zoological Park. I highly recommend going if you're in the neighbourhood. And even if you're not.

4. I didn't know until recently that Alcoholics Anonymous is a load of religious crap.

5. My son appears to be becoming a gay rights activist. He's really pissed off about how the passing of Proposition 8 could affect David and Pete (his Dad and Step-dad). I have more than one reason to be proud of him! Oh, all right. Lots, actually.

6. After 33 years in this country, I got my U.S. Citizenship eight years ago because I was tired of not being able to vote. Finally it's going the way I voted...

Hmm. Six people I can tag? I had a hard enough time coming up with 6 arbitrary things about me...

1. Kia at A Blog About Everything, who is definitely still alive.
2. Mr Farty at Better Oot Than In
3. Barry at Staring at Empty Pages
4. Andrew at Artificial Habitat, even though he hasn't posted anything for months, and may, in fact, be dead.
5. David at Musings by the Hairslave. Welcome to the blogging world!
6. The King of Ferrets at Ferret's Cage

You're it!

Monday, November 3, 2008

How to make a mother proud

My son had to create a representation of something alive for his Theater Arts Stage Electrics class. Electrical plugs, switches, wires, and bulbs: $55The eye-stalks are switches.
Styrofoam ball, glue gun, glue, and googly-eyes: $35Mother's pride in surprisingly expensive electrical art project: PricelessEveryone's interpretation of the FSM is different. In some Pastafarian sects (possibly more closely related to the Rastafarian) he obviously has glowing meatballs.