December 31, 2011

Should “Auld Lang Syne” lyrics be forgot, sing a parody version…


You can read about the origin of the lyrics of “Auld Lang Syne” on my ThisDayinQuotes.com blog. In tonight’s post on QuoteCounterquote.com, I offer some of my favorite alternative lyrics. Happy New Year!


THE GAY LOMBARDO VARIATION:

“When Socrates in Ancient Greece
Sat in his Turkish bath
He rubbed himself, and scrubbed himself
And steamed both fore and aft.
He sang the songs the sirens sang
With Oscar and Shakespeare
We’re here because we’re queer
Because we’re queer because we’re here.

The highest people in the land
Are for or they’re against
It’s all the same thing in the end
A piece of sentiment.
From Swedes so tall to Arabs small
They answer with a leer
We’re here because we’re queer
Because we’re queer because we’re here.” 
       Brendan Behan (1923-1964)
       Irish playwright, poet and novelist
       The best-known song from his play
The Hostage (1958)


THE SARDONIC WORLD WAR I SONG:

“We’re here because we’re here because
We’re here because we’re here
We’re here because we’re here because
We’re here because we’re here.”   
       World War I song of unknown origin,
sung by British soldiers to the tune of “Auld Lang Syne”


THE DWUNK VERSHUN:

“If all the lyrics are forgot
Right after the first line
Don’t worry ‘cause alone, you’re not
That’s how you sing “Lang Syne”!

Now all the lyrics are for naught
We butcher “Auld Lang Syne”!
We drink a couple Jaeger bombs
(Now drunk out of our minds!)

Now awl the lyrics are forga
Wha-eva comes 2 mind (hic!)
Shoo awful lyr-er uh uh what?
Blah blah blah blah lang syne! (blaaarrgh!)”
       The parody song “Old Lame Song”
       Posted
on the AmIRight.com website by “Red Ant”


THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT VARIATION:

“Let drinking rum now be forgot,
And never brought to mind;
Let drinking rum now be forgot,
And cider, beer, and wine.

For rum and beer we pay full dear,
With rosy nose and eyes;
We'll take a glass of water now,
For sure we're growing wise.”
       Anti-drinking song
published in the Signal of Liberty newspaper (Ann Arbor, MI) in 1842


YOUR DAY-AFTER RECOVERY REMINDER:

“We’re Here Because We’re Not All There!”
       Slogan on a button sold by
the Wooden U Recover website, which sells “recovery” merchandise to people on the wagon.

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Related listening and reading…

 

December 13, 2011

“Suppose they gave a war and nobody came.”


THE ORIGINAL INSPIRATION FOR THE SIXTIES SLOGAN:

“Sometime they’ll give a war and nobody will come.”
       Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)
       American poet and writer
       A line from Sandburg’s epic prose poem The People, Yes (1936)
       In the 1960s, several variations of an anti-war slogan began appearing on posters, in print and in songs. The version that became most common (as shown by the comparatively huge number of Google hits it gets) is “Suppose they gave a war and nobody came.” Other variations include “Suppose they gave a war and no one came” and “What if they gave a war and nobody came.” It’s not certain who coined the most familiar version, but this much is clear: all of the various iterations of the saying are ultimately descended from a line in Carl Sandburg’s book-length ode to America and it’s citizens, The People, Yes, first published in 1936.
       In the poem, the line is said by a little girl who sees a group of soldiers marching in a parade. It’s from a part of the poem in which Sandburg seems to foresee the potential devastation of a second and possibly a third world war:
       “The first world war came and its cost was laid on the people.
       The second world war — the third — what will be the cost.
       And will it repay the people for what they pay?...
       The little girl saw her first troop parade and asked, 
       ‘What are those?’
       ‘Soldiers.’
       ‘What are soldiers?’
       ‘They are for war. They fight and each tries to kill as many of the other side as he can.’
       The girl held still and studied. 
       ‘Do you know ... I know something?’
       ‘Yes, what is it you know?’
       ‘Sometime they’ll give a war and nobody will come.’


THE EVOLUTION OF THE SIXTIES SLOGAN:

“Suppose they gave a war and nobody came.” 
       Possibly coined by
James R. Newman 
       American mathematician, writer and editor of
Scientific American magazine 
       In the 1960s, several updated versions of Carl Sandburg’s line became popular. They were often used in the context of opposition to the Vietnam War. The most common version, “Suppose they gave a war and nobody came,” was used as a slogan on posters that were sold in Hippie shops in the late Sixties (like the blacklight poster shown at left). It was also used as the title of
a comedy movie in 1970, giving it even broader recognition. Some posts on the Internet claim the now familiar words were first written by Bertolt Brecht in the 1930s. However, they give no source and I couldn’t find one, so I deem that claim doubtful. (As Abraham Lincoln said, “The problem with Internet quotations is that many are not genuine.”) 
       In contrast, the origin of the variation “Suppose They Gave a War and No One Came” is well documented. It was used as
the title of a widely-read article written by the American poet and author Charlotte E. Keyes (1914-1980). The article, about her growing admiration for the anti-war activism of her son Gene, was published in the October 1966 issue of McCall’s magazine. Charlotte’s other son happens to be the quote and phrase maven Ralph Keyes. He noted in his excellent book The Quote Verifier (2006) that his mother saw the phrase “Suppose they gave a war and nobody came” in a 1961 letter to the editor in The Washington Post, written by James R. Newman. Newman was referencing, but apparently misremembering, Sandburg’s line. Charlotte cut out and kept the letter for future reference and later adapted the title of her article from it. Newman may or may not have coined “Suppose they gave a war and nobody came.” That paraphrase of Sandburg may already have been floating around at the time. However, I found no use of those words dated earlier than Newman’s 1961 letter in any newspaper archive or anywhere else online. So, he may deserve credit for creating the Sixties slogan (though perhaps inadvertently.) 
       Another variation, “What If They Gave a War and No One Came,” surfaced in 1968 as the title of a song by the now forgotten "Symphonopop" composer and musician
Jonna Gault. And, in 1972, poet Allen Ginsberg echoed her version in his 1972 poem “Graffiti,” which included the lines “What if someone gave a war & Nobody came? / Life would ring the bells of Ecstasy and Forever be Itself again.”


THE DONALD DEBATE VARIATION:

“What if they gave a debate and nobody came?”
       Brad Knickerbocker
       Staff writer and editor for the Christian Science Monitor 
       His humorous question
in an article about the Republican “debate” hosted by Donald Trump, which all but two Republican presidential candidates declined to participate in. (Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum were the only candidates who agreed to appear.)


THE VIAGRA VARIATION:

“What if You Took Viagra and Nobody Came?” 
       Double entendre title of
an article in the Jan.-Feb. 1999 issue of Mother Jones magazine
       The tongue-in-cheek article discussed some non-drug alternatives to Viagra, such as an artificial nylon-polypropylene penis, penile implant surgery — or a Corvette.

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December 2, 2011

Charity (and/or love) covers a multitude of sins...


THE FAMOUS BIBLICAL QUOTE:

“Charity shall cover the multitude of sins.”
      
Saint Peter (c. 1 BC-c. 67 AD)
       Galilean-born Apostle of Jesus and early Christian leader
       His famous words in
I Peter 4:8, as given in the King James Version of the Bible
       Chapter 4, Verse 8 of the
“First Epistle of Peter” (usually referred to as I Peter 4:8) is the origin of the sayings “charity covers a multitude of sins” and “love covers a multitude of sins.” These reflect two different translations of a word originally written in Greek by Peter, the Apostle of Jesus Christ who went on to be Saint Peter (the legendary doorman at the Pearly Gates of Heaven).
       Peter used the Greek word
agape for the thing that covers a multitude of sins. In the early Catholic Church’s Vulgate Bible and in the King James Version, agape was translated as charity. In later versions, it was translated as love. But in early Christian theology it didn’t quite mean what we now think of when we use either of those words. Agape refers to a more profound concept that can’t really be translated into a single English word. It means a feeling of charitable compassion, empathy and non-romantic love toward other people, like God and Jesus Christ are said to have for mankind; a higher love that can look past and forgive — and thus “cover” and accept — other people’s faults and transgressions. 
       The famed Bible quote was not intended to mean that if someone gives enough alms to the poor or donates enough money to charities it will atone for or “cover up” their sins and let them get past St. Peter into the Pearly Gates. Nonetheless, in common use, variations of the saying “charity covers a multitude of sins” are often used to suggest that doing or having a certain thing will hide or excuse something else.


ANOTHER SAINT’S POIGNANT VARIATION:

“The conditions under which the leper families live are terrible...Sometimes the pain is so great that I feel as if everything will break. The smile is a big cloak which covers a multitude of pains.”
      
Mother Teresa (1910-1997)
       Albanian-born Catholic nun known for her humanitarian efforts in India
       In a letter quoted in
the book Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light: the Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta (2007), edited by Brian Kolodiejchuk


OSCAR WILDE’S OCCUPY-LIKE SOCIALIST VARIATION:

“The proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible... Charity creates a multitude of sins. There is also this to be said. It is immoral to use private property in order to alleviate the horrible evils that result from the institution of private property. It is both immoral and unfair.”
      
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
       Irish playwright, poet, social critic and wit
       In his essay
“The Soul of Man Under Socialism” (1891)


CARL SAGAN’S OBSERVATION:

“The word ‘god’ is used to cover a vast multitude of mutually exclusive ideas. And the distinctions are, I believe in some cases, intentionally fuzzed so that no one will be offended that people are not talking about their god.”
      
Carl Sagan (1934-1996)
       American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist and author 
       Remark in a lecture included in the book
The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God (2007)


CAPTAIN KIRK’S QUIP:

“That helmet covers a multitude of sins.”
      
Captain Kirk (William Shatner) to Spock (Leonard Nimoy)
       Jokingly noting that the helmet Spock has put on during their visit to a Nazi-like planet covers his pointed ears and thus helps hide the fact that he is a Vulcan 
       In the Star Trek episode
“Patterns of Force” (Season 2, Episode 21), first aired February 16, 1968

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