2006-05-09 : My OTHER body of work

Not everybody knows this, but there's lots of singing at our house. I heard Peter Schickele say one time, "the family that sings together, sings together," and I figure he's a) tautological and b) right.

Not everybody also knows this, but I'm a pretty accomplished amateur maker up of kids' songs. If you, um, account "accomplished" in terms of "I have made a few and I sing them over and over and over and over, to fix them permanently in the heads of my children and other family members, even until some of said family members look at me with narrow eyes." And if you discount "making up the music thereof" from "making up."

All of which to say: look! a monkey!

4 kids' songs by me

1. On 2006-05-09, Larry Lade said:

Sadly, I only know the tunes of Ode to Joy and Good King W.


2. On 2006-05-09, Meguey said:

My personal favorite is "Variations on How much is that doggy in the window?", especially the verse below:

"I don't want a hop-toad or a turkey,
I don't want some hornets that buzz,
I don't want a shoe-box full of maggots,
because, well frankly, who does."


direct link

This makes...
ecb go "that one's a classic"

3. On 2006-05-10, Kirk said:

Now if only the Wiggles would hire you as their new lyricist...


4. On 2006-05-10, TonyLB said:

Those are awesome.  I'm not stealing them, but they will inspire me to keep on making up children's songs myself, even when my son informs me solemnly "Daddy, those aren't the right words."


5. On 2006-05-10, Gordon said:

I knew this, but these songs are a great reminder:  the fact that Vincent is a dad goes in the "Good Things about the World" column.

Alas, that the number of kids that can have a bunch of fun is restricted to two or three goes in the "Not-so-Good" column.  Still, the Artist must speak Truth :-)


6. On 2006-05-10, Vincent said:

I know, it's really sad. Only two or three parrots ever really talk, only two or three purrs come out the kitty cat, only two or three swans can float on a stream, and only two or three kids can have fun.

I wish there were something I could do about it, but I can't. Sad but true.


7. On 2006-05-11, Tris said:

Man...I have a feeling Vincent is getting at some important, perhaps essential truth about life.

Unable to understand, however, I am plunged into existential misery.

I'm not sure that e word works in that sentence?


8. On 2006-05-11, TonyLB said:

Um ... I'm not sure it's meant as an important comment on life.  I can't help but notice that much of that last comment can be set to the tune of "Row, Row, Row your Boat."


9. On 2006-05-12, Vincent said:

I have this friend, Charlie Donahue. He used to be a big part of my life, now we aren't as close but we bump into each other once in a while in Northampton and it's always a real treat.

He was my boss in the dark times - oh hey, maybe you don't know this. You know "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" by Ursula LeGuin? U.S. liberalism is like Omelas. (Probably every legislative agenda everywhere is; U.S. liberalism is the one I know.) Every NARAL, every Amnesty International, every HRC balances on the backs of these 30 people toiling in hell. 30 people, they're a mix of students, unemployable, and plain hard up, and they're chained, doing the 3rd worst work I know so that the rest of us can feel good about supporting our causes.

Charlie was my boss in those hard times (then he was my colleague - and in fact, after that he got me this much better hospital gig, blessings be upon him). He was the perfect boss: get him telling stories and you'd buy sweet minutes away from the pit.

But - boss then colleague, whatever, he was my friend. We used to walk up the bike path to Whole Foods for lunch between shifts, and I heard stories that none of the rest of us got to hear. "The sixties," Charlie would say, "were very good to me." He was the anti-father I never had.

Now he's teaching modal logic at UMass Dartmouth. (I met Sean Stidd last year, we got talking, Sean's doing philosophy out in Chicago or wherever precisely. I told him my good friend Charlie teaches modal logic and Sean said, "I could be doing modal logic." I said, "Sean, that there's a joke with an extremely narrow target audience.")

Anyhow, the point is that Charlie Donahue had been friends with Andy Kaufman. Charlie had been the East Coast director of the Transcendental Meditation organization ("before the coup," he'd say - "before it all went wrong") and Andy Kaufman used to sweep their office at night.

So this image for you, Tris, is courtesy Charlie Donahue:

Picture a very young Andy Kaufman, pre-Taxi, pre-anything, solemn-faced, shaking his head and clucking his tongue. "Sad but false," he says. "Sad but false."


direct link

This makes...
BL go "Conversation bookmark"*
lpl go "3rd worst work"*
VB go "the 3rd worst work is..."*
MB go "First two"*

*click in for more

10. On 2006-05-26, marknau said:

Nice. There something about Good King Wenceslas that lends itself to good silly songs.

I do the same thing with my kids, but my talents are severely underappreciated. In point of fact, the first multi-word sentence my first child spoke was "Dada no sing."


11. On 2006-06-02, SCS said:

Hi Vincent -

Came across this googling was a pleasure meeting you. Your site must be very well-linked, as you were on page 1 of the hits of a sudden, ousting such pikers as Oxford University Press and Daily Kos.

Let me tell you my favorite philosophy joke, delivered by my wife. In his book on Wittgenstein's Philosophy of Mathematics, Crispin Wright is trying to motivate Michael Dummett's idea that anti-realism ought properly be thought of in relation to different ontological domains than as a general metaphysical position about the universe. Wright says something to the effect that no-one would be a realist about everything - after all, it would be crazy, Wright thinks, to defend the view that our "sense of humor" is a literal 'sense' which detects real comic values out there in the world. So, since we all ought (according to Wright) to be anti-realists about the objects which underwrite the funny-values of jokes, etc., perhaps there are other domains (such as mathematics) about which anti-realism might be a viable position as well.

I told my wife about the passage. Without skipping a beat, she said: "That's really funny."

So anyway, gamers, next time you're in a room full of people snickering "I waste him with my crossbow" in between snorting cheetos, don't feel so bad: you could be at a conference of academic philosophers instead.


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