Save Net radio

I had just discovered Pandora Internet radio and had begun creating my own “station” (featuring Splashdown [who has a song called “Pandora,” incidentally], among other artists, and called — what else? — “Gee Bobg Radio“) when Pandora, and many other Internet music sites, went silent for a day to protest a greedy move by the recording industry: dramatically raising royalty fees, and doing it retroactively.

You’re either with the change-averse intellectual property vampires clinging desperately to an obsolete business model from your grandparents’ generation, or you’re against them. And if you don’t take some action, then you’re not against them.

West Wing Story

Washington DC, January 2001. George Bush takes the oath of office. Several hundred Republicans converge on the inaugural ball.

When you’re with Bush
You’re with Bush thoroughly
From your first cute nickname
To your last “not guilty”

When you’re with Bush
Let the liberals scream
We’ve got Congress, the White House, and
The Court Supreme

With grownups in charge
We’ll make Bush our Augustus
Our crimes will be large
The bureau now called Justice
Will be called “just us”

Now here comes Bush
Yeah! And he’s gonna say
Some nonsensical stuff
And a mangled cliché
And a botched, mangled, graceless slang

Some months later, Bush is on vacation in Texas.

Can’t be
Hell no
Bin Laden’s due any day
So says my CIA
What do they know?

“He may come cannonballin’ down through the sky”
I don’t know why
They’re saying so

Hell no

It’s all in the PDB
Condi just gave to me
But, man alive

That thing is full of seven syllable words!
That’s for the birds!
Now watch this drive

Will it be?
No it won’t
Need I function?
No I don’t
Them are the facts

Nothing’s coming
That’s for sure
So I can
Keep to plan:
Wipe out all tax

Make a speech, sign a bill
Big state dinner in Brazil
This job’s a snap
Nothing’s coming
I don’t care
What they say
Go away
Time for a nap

Bad news that’s offered
While clearing brush in Crawford
Do not deliver to me

There’ll be no hijacked plane
Nor a big hurricane
Not on my watch
Not on my watch
Not on my watch!

Well guess what: terrorists fly planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a Pennsylvania field.

The most beautiful sound I ever heard
Bin Laden!
Bin Laden! Bin Laden! Bin Laden!

All the beautiful sounds of the world in a pair of words
Bin Laden!
Bin Laden! Bin Laden! Bin Laden!
Bin Laden! Bin Laden!

Bin Laden!
I’ve just been attacked by Bin Laden!
And suddenly that name
Will take all of the blame
From me!

Bin Laden!
I’ll pin everything on Bin Laden!
And suddenly that sound
Will be heard all around
You’ll see

Bin Laden
Say it once and you’re done persuading
Say it three thousand four hundred and sixty-seven times
And Iraq you’re invading
Bin Laden
I’ll never stop blaming Bin Laden

Bin Laden!
Bin Laden!
Bin Laden! Bin Laden!
Bin Laden!
Bin Laden!
Bin Laden!
Bin Laden! Bin Laden!

Say it once and you’re done persuading
Say it three thousand four hundred and sixty-seven times
And Iraq you’re invading
Bin Laden
I’ll never stop blaming Bin Laden

The right loves the way things are going. The left doesn’t.

Check and balance
Peculiar notion
Tends to impede any motion

Always the Congress grandstanding
Always judicial branch demanding
And the factions banding
And the public meeting
And ideas competing

I want enlightened dictator!
Have your democracy later!

I want to reshape America
Let the elite rape America
“Act like a big ape” America
Then will it still be America?

Land of the free and of the brave
Free just as long as you behave!
No man is higher than the law
Except those who feed us that old saw!

Rights disappear in America
Ruling with fear in America
Year after year in America
That’s because we’re in America

I think I’ll vacate the U.S.
No place is in less of a mess!
Maybe in France I can get laid
Maybe in France we will invade!

The administration hustles the world toward war with Afghanistan Iraq to capture Osama Bin Laden Saddam Hussein.

Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld:
Last month, last month
The war began last month
We shocked
And then we awed
And we won

Last month, last month
It only took a month
War is hell —
Hell of a
Lot of fun!

Today, the mission is accomplished
Saddam is out of power
These last throes soon are done

We’ve just begun
There’s more wars to begin
And be won
Next month!

But the Iraq war goes into extra innings. Detainees accumulate in Guantánamo Bay.

My dear Attorney Gen’ral
Ya gotta understand
It’s been a hundred hours
You’ve made us have to stand
We’re cold and wet and naked
We keep on getting dunked
Gen’ral, at politeness you have flunked

Dear Gen’ral Gonzales, we’re very upset
Not habeas nor corpus can our advocates get
Geneva Conventions say what you should do
You should not run this like a zoo
Like a zoo!
Like a zoo, like a zoo
Like a filthy zoo
We’re like animals in some big zoo

My deity is Allah
My skin’s a sandy brown
My uncle is a mullah
In some Mideastern town
I said once Bush was crazy
They came for me that day
Golly gee! They carried me away

Yes, Gen’ral Gonzales, you’re being a jerk
Your experts in the CIA say torture won’t work
It’s simply sadistic and doesn’t make sense
You’re jeopardizing your defense
Your defense!
Your defense, your defense
Your homeland defense
This offense is not the best defense

The trouble is he’s sour
The trouble is he’s smart
The trouble is his power
And that he has no heart
The trouble’s his assistants’
The trouble is his own

Gen’ral, you should leave us all alone!

Gee, Gen’ral Gonzales, we’re hanging by thumbs
And bleeding from our ears because of punctured eardrums
Gee, Gen’ral Gonzales, what are we to do?
Gee, Gen’ral Gonzales,
[waterboarding sounds]!

Everything is going Bush’s way.

I feel petty
Oh so petty
I feel petty
And heady
And big
And I’m ready
To imprison every dirty Whig

I feel scary
I feel saucy
And contrary and bossy and smug
It’s amazing
That America is run by thugs

See “commander guy” in that mirror there
Who can that important guy be?
Such a petty face
Such a petty suit
Such a petty smirk
Such a petty me!

I feel spiteful
And vindictive
It is frightful addictive to be
What I am:
Dictatorial, petty me!

Have you met our friend the Decider?
The craziest guy on the earth
Divider and not a uniter
He’s the one who’s your friend if you have some net worth

He thinks he’s in charge
He thinks that he rules
He isn’t in charge
He’s merely a tool

It must be the desk
Or “Hail to the Chief”
Or all the free press
And their false belief

Pay no mind to him
Send for Cheney
He’s the one who is
Really brainy

Simple, unsure
Confused and inbred
Uncouth, immature
And over his head!

At last the Democrats retake control of Congress. They vow a showdown with Bush over funding for the war.

We Democrats won’t have our way tonight!
We Democrats won’t have our say tonight!
Constituents they grumble: go fight
Republicans say “boo” and
They give us a fright

We’re gonna use ad hominems tonight!
We’re gonna make a fool of them tonight!
We’ll make insinuations, then watch
Those saviors of the nation grow wet at the crotch

Democrats and Republicans:
We’re gonna de-bate tonight
But dog-and-pony shows cannot change our course
We’re gonna make clear tonight
Our poor constituents have backed the wrong horse

Well we won’t stop it!

And we can’t stop it!

Democrats and Republicans:
The whole damn country will have buyer’s remorse

The press:
The press is gonna get its kicks tonight!
The press is gonna get last licks tonight!
The Democrats may talk tough. So what?
The status quo’s not threatened. They’re stuck in a rut

The left:
Tonight, tonight
We’ll end this war tonight
Tonight our side at last has its day
Tonight, tonight
They’ll hear us roar tonight
And we’ll make George Bush do what we say
The past six years have seemed forever
Our setbacks have seemed endless
Although our cause is right
Oh pols, hang tight
And into the abyss shine some light

The Democrats will lose the vote tonight!
We do not want to rock the boat tonight!
The press might say we’re causing gridlock
So let’s just help the Bushies to run out the clock

The left:
Tonight, tonight
We’ll end this war tonight

We’ll paint ’em soft on defense!
We’ll make ’em sit on the fence!

The left:
Tonight our side at last has its day

Let’s hope this all goes away

The left:
Tonight, tonight
They’ll hear us roar tonight
And we’ll make George Bush do what we say

The press:
We’ll gonna snark it tonight!

The left:
The past six years have seemed forever
Our setbacks have seemed endless

They can’t stop us

We can’t stop them

The left:
Although our cause is right

The press:
We’ll keep our narrative whole tonight

The left:
Oh pols, hang tight
And into the abyss shine some light

We’ll disappoint them tonight

We’ll give no quarter tonight

The press:
Bread and circus tonight


The Democrats fold like a wet taco. The left is deeply dejected.

The left:
There’s a place for us
Online, a place for us
Point your browser and log in on

There’s a place where we
Commiserate and we
Try to picture how things should be
Try to take down the GOP

We’ll find a new way of leading
We’ll find a way of succeeding

The left sees one hope remaining.

The left:
Gore, Gore
Albert Gore
Please run, Gore!

Gotta do it
Step up to it
Hear us implore, Gore!

Don’t sit out
‘Cause there’s no doubt
You’d come out ahead

Join the fray
‘Cause that’s the way
The Republicans will fill with dread

Gore, Gore
Albert Gore
Jump in, Gore!

Throw your hat in
Rivals flatten
Do not ignore, Gore!

Run, man, run
So that we can stop the war, Gore!

We’re crying out for
Al Gore

As Bush’s poll numbers sink, the complicit press finds itself on the ropes.

The press:
A man like that who’d wreck the nation
Provides reporters with sensation
We must be spoon-fed
Please keep us spoon-fed

A man like that makes our job easy
And even though you think it’s sleazy
We must be spoon-fed
Please keep us spoon-fed

He tells us what we are to write
He tells us what we are to think
So we can spend
Less time on work
More time on drink!
With a wink and nod, boys!
With a wink!

A man like that wants only one thing:
To leave the rest of you with nothing
“If you can’t beat them, you’d better join”
We could not win
And so we joined him
And so we joined…

The left:
Oh, mainstream media, no
Oh, media, no

That is a craven policy
It’s bad for our democracy
You hear my words
And know they’re true
There’s no excuse
You’re obtuse!
You media are obtuse!

Tell the truth!

You should know better
You went to school, or so you said
You should know better

We have this land and it’s all that we have
That, and laws that we must cleave to

We live here, we vote
We’re all in the same boat
We and you

We have this land and it’s all that we need
That, and laws, but they need us too

They’re only as good
As they are understood
And that’s why we need you

Inform, inform the elect’rate
With real facts
And nuance
And truth!
With the truth!

The press:
The press is
Old news
Now bloggers fill our shoes
The press and the left:
The blogs are our life!

Sgt. Pepper party

It was twenty years ago today my friend Nathaniel had a big “It was twenty years ago today” party in honor of the twentieth anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. He had just hired me as a summer intern. He passed around party invitations that amazed me with their creativity and erudition. The party itself was great hippie fun.

To mark the occasion, I just sent him a message that read, in part: “I think it’s awesome that Paul McCartney is sixty-four now that it was twenty years ago today that it was twenty years ago today that it was twenty years ago today that Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play.”


Recently I discovered that Sony is planning a new in-dash car stereo with a USB port for reading and playing MP3 files from a thumb drive. I had an earlier such model but it got stolen. I replaced it with a JVC model that I don’t much like. (Among other things, its clock won’t display when the unit is switched off. And when it does show the time, occasionally the time display won’t update itself for many minutes in a row!) For someone with a long daily commute, a good car stereo is indispensable. So I’m interested in Sony’s latest and I have been checking Amazon periodically to see when it’ll be available to order.

While checking just now I discovered that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — the final book in the series — is now available to pre-order. Its just-announced release date is 21 July. Yay! Into the shopping cart. I’m proud to be among the first to pre-order it. Thanks to an automated recommendation I also discovered that Universal Hall Pass — Melissa Kaplan’s post-Splashdown band — has a new EP out. On it she collaborates with former Splashdown bandmate Kasson Crooker — yay! Into the shopping cart.

Today’s run of luck continues…

What brings you here?

Herewith, a selection of search-engine queries that resulted in hits on this blog, according to my server logs.

watch neighbor undress; exploratorium; fizzies pulled; thailand’s greatest hits; what happened to fizzies tablets; what are the three kinds of mammals; violet incredible pez; watching neighbor undress; “new rabbi”; Rosh Hashanah; “the federation trading post”; persian candy floss recipes; “citric acid” science pop candy; supine lady; lesbian sex;; how to explain the theory of crystallization to third graders; evil cats; i feel like crying; Comcast Removes West Coast Feeds; boycott disney & abc path to 911; raiders-of-the-lost-ark Pirates-of-the-caribbean; “name the moon” greg; Reality an space-time; “francis heaney”; “smut shack”; squeamish cure; doggie style sex; webby awards; amy linker; cynthia nixon; quarks tangles; “mill valley pediatrics”; “dildo with suction”; proposition moveon endorsements; hypothermia kim; steve elliot bdsm; “instant soda”; trish gee wordpress; song meanings splashdown; “yours yours yours”; fligth to mars; “lesbian vampire fiction”; “needed a diaper”; disney fingerprints; fizzie drink discs; ben kenobi obgyn; linux backup s3; melissa kaplan sings; “adam stoller”; splashdown catalogue; “santa claus ain’t”; vote to boycott abc disney path to 911; joe costanzo; doggie style sex positions illustrated; Fizzies drink tablet recipe; “jack mccoy”; charteris; tune out, turn off; incremental jungledisk; “no fireflies” long island 2006; vampire lesbian; Thai Pilot; boisterous laugh audios; simpsons ulysses; sephardic pirates kritzler; backup osx hardlink incremental; karma slave karaoke; voyager pale blue dot send back the image; comcast digital artifacts; Con Edison; What year did the sitcom premiere I dream of jeannie; Recently got digital cable still receiving all premium channels; joseph costanzo, jr.; Superman reversing time; three kinds of meat; video koyaanisqatsi koyaanisqatsi; chabad palo alto; 9/11 personal; “Calculatrivia”; viscera at&t.

The best band you never heard of

I have no experience as a music critic and in fact I’ve seldom seen anything written by professional music critics to make me believe it’s possible to convey, with words, anything substantive about musical performances. I’m going to press on, though, because there’s an unknown band out there that you absolutely must hear about. I know, everyone’s got their own favorite bands no one ever heard of, but this is my blog, so today we’ll be talking about Splashdown.

The bad news about Splashdown is that it existed for only a few years, producing only about thirty songs, and disbanded in 2001. The good news is that the songs are nearly all terrific. The better news is that each song is unique. And the best news is that the entire catalogue is available for free download (here, here, and elsewhere).

Like a lot of Splashdown fans, I was first turned onto them by the inclusion of “Karma Slave” in the Titan A.E. soundtrack. For a while it was the only Splashdown song I knew of, and until I found more songs and info about the band, I listened to my copy of Karma Slave obsessively. It showcases all the best aspects of the band: unusual harmonies with a Near Eastern influence; complex but driving rhythms; intelligent and evocative lyrics; richly layered guitar and synth instrumentation; and above all the strong, agile, and vaguely pissed-off sounding vocals of Melissa Kaplan.

I’m a slave of karma
Spin the wheel and I’m a king reborn
I’m a slave of karma, I’m coming back
Yeah, I’ll be coming back
But for the last time

The angry edge in Kaplan’s voice — often submerged, but never completely — is more pronounced in “A Charming Spell,” another of Splashdown’s best. Its lyrics paint a spooky, authentic picture of witchcraft.

Tie a knife with a ribbon
With a red, red ribbon
Raise a hand-held mirror
To the light of the moon
With a secret garden
And a heart unhardened
Strike a spectre’s bargain
With a ritual brew

Halfworld” is a song so melodically interesting that there is also an instrumental-only version that’s great for karaoke.

Is nightshade a food or a poison?
Do you follow my reason?
Is reason important?

As I wrote above, each song is unique in the sense that it is unlike anything I’ve heard from other bands, and also in the sense that it’s distinct from the other songs in Splashdown’s catalogue. The snarky fun of “Procreation Chick” (“Don’t you think you’re the shit?”) is the only one like that from Splashdown; then it’s on to a bittersweet childhood reminiscence in “Elvis Sunday” (“Guess I’m still kickin’ and cryin’ when it comes to goodbye”) — again the only one of its kind among Splashdown’s songs, which is good because it leaves room for the woman-scorned roar of “Ironspy” (“Someone stop my hands from shaking”) and the playful eroticism of “Waterbead” (“See her flowering / With seeds of possibility / Inside his imaginings”).

There are two instances of repetition in the Splashdown catalogue (plus a variety of remixes of a few songs): “The Archer” quotes their earlier song, “Pandora.”

I do, I do, I do, I do, I
I feel so elated
Would you, would you, would you, would you
Please bring me joy

And “Games You Play” is an expanded version of their earlier song, “Paradox.”

If your past approaches you preaching comfort
Don’t be fooled into a war you’ll lose

I could write a little something about every Splashdown song, but there’s little point in continuing when you can get them all, for free, right now, and convince yourself that Splashdown is the best band you never heard of — and then go find someone else to convince.

Of course it goes without saying that the best band you have heard of is They Might Be Giants.

Vaster, pussycat

A favorite saying among many of the folks I know is that “the web is vast.” Whenever we find a discursive answer to an obscure question in two seconds flat, or a dimly remembered ad jingle from childhood, or a mint-in-box Steve Austin with bionic eye, we say it: “The web is vast.” Yet sometimes it’s not vast enough, in surprising ways.

Take, for instance, my post of 22 August, in which I described remembering different lyrics to a Gilbert and Sullivan tune than the ones I found in the libretto online:

A perfectly sensible alternate lyric, but apparently manufactured out of thin air by my brain, as near as I can tell (viz., via Google search). I understand how misheard lyrics can become engraved in one’s memory, but this is a different kind of error altogether. How on earth could I have made it?

Since writing that, I recollected another difference between the version I remember from twenty-odd years ago, and the version I’ve watched, read, and listened to lately with my kids. In the song, “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General,” General Stanley “now” sings,

In fact when I know what is meant by mamelon and ravelin
When I can tell at sight a Mauser rifle from a javelin

…but I remember “chassepot rifle” instead of “Mauser rifle.” Twenty-odd years ago, “chassepot” sent me to the dictionary. To date it’s the one and only context in which I’ve seen that word. Having just now confirmed its existence and its meaning, I am certain I cannot be confusing my memory of that word with any other possible source. Furthermore, I’ve found other online mentions of “chassepot” in Pirates of Penzance. And yet there’s no trace of it in the written or recorded versions I’ve been enjoying lately.

Which leads me to the disturbing conclusion that there is an alternate version of the libretto of which the Internet has almost no record whatever — a version I must have seen in my high school or college library and have now all but forgotten, save for these tiny differences. If I were to track down that version now I’m sure I would find my “no hint at all reveal” lyric in it. But the point is I can’t track it down online.

A cautionary tale for armchair researchers everywhere.

Kiss this guy

My kids’ current obsession-to-the-exclusion-of-all-else is The Pirates of Penzance, specifically the Kevin Kline/Linda Ronstadt version of 1983.

As a parent, this is about as unobjectionable as it comes. It’s not Barney, it’s not Teletubbies, it’s not Power Rangers, and heaven knows I’d had enough of dinosaurs and Thomas the Tank Engine. I had regretted indulging their interest in pirates some weeks ago by showing them Pirates of the Caribbean, whose violence is a little much for preschoolers. The Pirates of Penzance has proven to be the perfect tonic for that slight parenting misjudgment. And few things are cuter than a two-year-old and a four-year-old tromping around the house with plastic cutlasses bellowing tunefully, “I am a pirate king!”

I was a pretty big fan of this film myself around the time it came out (to the chagrin of my friend Andrew, an avid Gilbert and Sullivan aficionado [and my mentor in G+S appreciation] who was a D’Oyly Carte purist offended by Joe Papp’s popularizing alterations). So it was with eagerness that I awaited the arrival of my tape of the movie from Amazon.

Upon watching the film, I discovered that my memory of a part of the music turned out to be strangely deficient. One famous song begins,

With cat-like tread
Upon our prey we steal
In silence dread
Our cautious way we feel

But here’s how I remembered it:

With cat-like tread
Upon our prey we steal
In silence dread
No hint at all reveal

A perfectly sensible alternate lyric, but apparently manufactured out of thin air by my brain, as near as I can tell (viz., via Google search). I understand how misheard lyrics can become engraved in one’s memory, but this is a different kind of error altogether. How on earth could I have made it?