Friday, April 24, 2015

The Helpful Reader, an Underfable

       The Helpful Reader

          Once upon a time, the Lord God decreed, “Let there be light.” And there was light; and evening and morning were the first day.
          But Mary Sue said, “How can there be evening and morning before there’s a sun?”
The Lord God said, “Let there be a firmament to divide the upper waters from the lower.”
          Mary Sue said, “What upper waters? Outer space is a vacuum.”
          The Lord God continued, “Let earth and water bring forth plants and animals of every kind, and may they be fruitful and multiply.”
          Mary Sue said, “All of this micromanagement is boring. Why bother? A biosphere can evolve by itself!”
          The Lord God said, “But evolution takes aeons.”
          Mary Sue said, “And you have all eternity, right?”
          The Lord God said, “Well, yes…”
          Mary Sue smiled brightly. “I’m glad I could help.”
Mary Sue then proceeded to explain the Golden Rule to Jesus, the Middle Way to the Buddha, geometry to Euclid, universal gravitation to Newton, and general relativity to Einstein.
          Moral: You can’t read with your eyes shut.

          Commentary: I too am Mary Sue, and so are you.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hark, hark

Here is a neglected Mother Goose rhyme. It is deliciously satirical. I have put it to a tune.


Hark! Hark!
The dogs do bark,
The beggars are coming to town;
Some in rags
and some in tags
and some in velvet gown.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Woman Tossed Up In A Basket

Here is a neglected Mother Goose rhyme. I have put it to a tune.


There was an old woman tossed up in a basket,
Ninety-nine times as high as the moon;
And whither she went I just had to ask it,
For in her hands she carried a broom.
“Old woman, old woman, old woman,” said I,
“Whither, O whither, O whither so high?”
“To sweep the cobwebs off the sky.”
“May I come with you?”
“Aye, by-and-by.”

hi-C F G F A A A G A G A# A#
A A# A hiC hiC G F E F
A F G F A A G A G A# A#
A A# A hiC hiC G F E F
hiE hiF hiC hiC hiC A A A# A A# hiC
hiC hiD hiC hiC hiD hiC hiC A# A G
G F F A A G G A#
A# A A# hiC hiC 


I love this nursery rhyme, it’s so dreamlike. I never heard it as a child; only shortly after becoming a father; so I heard it fresh with adult ears. It was indeed with me... by and by.

It comes in many varieties:
in her hand/under her arm
“And I’ll be with you bye-and-by” /
“May I come with you?” “Aye, by and by.”
2*3*2*2 = 24 choices. I happen to like this particular mutation. This is a rhyme you have to co-create.

Who is she? A maid? A witch? An angel? A goddess? An astronaut? All of the above?
I like to think of the web-sweeping as the clearing of the mind during sleep.
The last-line choice creates ambiguity. Is she coming back to us or are we flying off with her?


Here are some historical notes:

And from
Dr. E. F. Rimbault, editor of “Nursery Rhymes” published in 1846, claims that “The Old Woman in a Basket” alludes to James II, the last Catholic monarch to rule over England, Scotland, and Ireland. His claim was possibly influenced by the fact that the rhyme’s associated tune is “Lilliburlero,” which “danced James II out of three kingdoms.” The song “Lilliburlero” mocks Irish Catholic Jacobite values. Another theory, published in “Mother Goose’s Melody,” (1765) states that the rhyme was written about Henry V by parties opposed to his war in France.