Do You Hear What I Hear? Contest Winner

Consulting the Wikipedia entry for mondegreen, ((Kudos to Sam Chupp for pointing me to this.)) we find the following:

A mondegreen is the mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase, typically a standardized phrase such as a line in a poem or a lyric in a song, due to near homophony, in a way that yields a new meaning to the phrase.

“He played rubbery with his lips…”

When all is said and done, that phrase may not quite meet the definition of a mondegreen, but it is certainly a profoundly, incredibly incorrect interpretation of a song lyric. Just how profoundly, incredibly incorrect is the interpretation? Well, for starters, I didn’t even get the first word right. Here is the correct lyric:

“You played robbery with insolence…”

…and I played the blues in twelve bars down on Lover’s Lane. The song in question is “Your Latest Trick” by Dire Straits (as heard on the Brothers in Arms album) and, in my defense, it features plenty of lyrics that a ten-year-old boy would find unusual if not downright impenetrable. That it took me more than twenty years to correct my ten-year-old interpretation is merely a testament to the power of procrastination.

“You must have had a pasty made out of wax.”

I have eaten countless Cornish meat pies—pasties—in the past thirty-odd years; they were a staple of my diet growing up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the tale of how my Finnish immigrant ancestors came to adopt them is one I won’t go into here. When I was ten I knew that Dire Straits was a British rock band and that the pasty had its roots in the United Kingdom, so it didn’t seem at all unusual to me that Mark Knopfler would sing about wax pasties. Not unusual at all.

“You must’ve had a passkey made out of wax.”

Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?There was a grand total of five entries in the contest, though I was sure that once the Fabulous Prize was revealed I’d see a flood of new e-mail. Every entry was correct, so everyone who entered had a 20% chance of winning the Fabulous Prize. Having cast the die ((I realize that I’m using this idiom incorrectly, but the winner was chosen by die roll and “[h]aving rolled the die” doesn’t sound as cool. Plus, misusing the idiom fits with the theme of the contest.)) I am pleased to announce that the winner of the contest is Natalie Metzger. Natalie will soon be receiving a copy of Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? by Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert.

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest. If you didn’t enter the contest for some reason, leave a comment or e-mail me at to let me know how I could make future contests (if there are any) more enticing.

Contest: Do You Hear What I Hear?

"Unborken" by judemat
Every once in a while a song winds its way into my brain, a song that I’ve heard dozens of times over the years, a song that I think I know the lyrics to—and then I make the mistake of looking up the lyrics on these here Intertubes and I find that I was not just wrong, but profoundly, incredibly wrong.

That’s just what happened to me yesterday: I found myself humming a tune and I realized that the lyrics I’ve been singing to myself, lo, these many years, are patently ridiculous. A quick lyric search confirmed my fears, as I found I had been singing this song wrong for better than twenty years. ((That’s a hint; this isn’t a Mylie Cyrus song.))

Such a long-running blunder deserves to be corrected in style, so I thought I’d make a game of it; a contest, if you will. My profoundly, incredibly incorrect version of the lyric is below. If you e-mail me the song title, the artist and the correct lyric by 11:59pm EST on Friday, 28 August 2009, your name will be entered into a random drawing to win A Fabulous Prize. ((Prize may not actually be fabulous, depending on your point of view.))

Here’s the profoundly, incredibly incorrect lyric:

“He played rubbery with his lips…”

That’s it. That’s all you get.

[Update: 24 August 2009]

Believe it or not, the profoundly, incredibly incorrect lyric above isn’t alone. When I was but a lad, I heard another line of the song as:

“You must have had a pasty made out of wax.” ((That’s “pasty”, as in Cornish meat pie. Not, you know…the other thing. Hey, the pasty was a staple of my diet growing up. Burlesque and strip clubs, not so much.))

Now I knew that couldn’t be correct, so I looked it up in the album’s liner notes and found the correct lyrics, ((Boy, do I miss liner notes.)) but somehow I managed to overlook the whole “rubbery with his lips” business at that time.

[Update: 26 August 2009]

Some people have told me that they are hesistant to enter the contest because they found the answer after searching on The Googles. There’s no rule prohibiting the use of search engines, and even if there were I’d have no way to enforce it. So, by all means, Google away! The first lyric is so profoundly, incredibly incorrect that I would be shocked (shocked, I tell you) to learn that someone had managed to wrangle the answer out of a Google search. The second lyric, on the other hand…

Oh, and check back tomorrow, when the Fabulous Prize will be revealed.

[Update: 27 August 2009]

Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?Is the Fabulous Prize truly Fabulous? That depends on whether you’d like a copy of Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? by Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert (Deluxe Edition). I know I would, but I’ve only got the one copy and it’s still in the original shrink wrap.

Here’s the skinny on how you could win yourself one (1) prize of potential fabulosity…

Rules and Instructions

  1. The contest is open to U.S. residents only. Sorry, rest of the world, but I’ve gotta pay for shipping and I’m just a poor boy. ((Nobody loves me. This isn’t a hint, by the way.))
  2. Contest entries must be received by 11:59pm EST, Friday, 28 August 2009.
  3. Only e-mail entries will be accepted, and you must use a valid e-mail address. I promise I will not spam you or sell your address; I need it only to inform the winner and get his or her snail mail address.
  4. One entry per person per day.
  5. You must be at least 18 years of age to enter. If you’re under 18, have a parent or guardian enter on your behalf. If you really want to jump through that particular hoop, keep in mind that the song is older than you are.
  6. The subject of your e-mail must be “Incorrect Lyric Contest“.
  7. The entry must include the following:
    1. The name of the song.
    2. The name of the artist.
    3. The correct lyric.
    4. Your name (or pseudonym), which I will use when I announce the winner. Pseudonyms I deem offensive will be disqualified.
  8. Entries must be sent to
  9. The winner will be chosen at random from all qualifying, correct entries. Lacking a correct entry, I will select a random winner from those entries I judge most correct. ((Or “least incorrect”.))
  10. The winner will be contacted on or prior to Monday, 31 August 2009.
  11. The winner will be announced on or after Monday, 31 August 2009.

The Fabulous Prize

I have not yet acquired The Fabulous Prize, so I can’t tell you exactly what it’s going to be, but I can tell you this:

  1. The Fabulous Prize will be new. I’m not going to try to pawn off any of my used crap as a prize. ((Hooray for new crap!))
  2. The monetary value of The Fabulous Prize will be somewhere between 10 and 15 dollars. Fabulous American dollars, naturally.
  3. If you want to get an idea of what might qualify as a prize, take a peek around this blog; you’ll get a pretty good idea of the sort of stuff I would consider Fabulous Prize material: music, movies, books, that sort of thing.
  4. I am not going to feel bad if you win the contest and do not like The Fabulous Prize. If you’re afraid of accidentally winning something you already own or won’t like, your best option is to refrain from entering the contest.

Photo credit:Unborken” by judemat.

Brainstorm (1983)

Brainstorm (1983)Brainstorm (1983)

Starring Christopher Walken, Natalie Wood, Louise Fletcher,  Jordan Christopher, Donald Hotton, Alan Fudge and Uncle Ben Parker.

Directed by Douglass Trumbull.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

My mother-in-law is convinced that Christopher Walken and Robert Wagner killed Natalie Wood.

I mention this because it’s a bit of a running joke at the International House of Johnson; whenever Walken’s name comes up (and it does), one of us is likely to say “He killed Natalie Wood, you know.”

Robert Wagner’s name almost never comes up, ((Because Robert Wagner is simply not Christopher Walken.)) and when it does there’s no mention of his involvement in the alleged homicide.

Laura and I don’t honestly believe that Natalie Wood’s death was anything but a tragic accident, ((For those who may not be aware of the circumstances surrounding Wood’s death in late 1981, she drowned after falling overboard from the yacht Splendour, on which she had been cruising with Wagner (her husband) and Walken. The coroner concluded that she was intoxicated at the time of her death. Wood’s death was ruled an accident, but some people are convinced otherwise.))  but the fact that my mother-in-law is so convinced and is, consequently, so creeped out by Christopher Walken amuses us.

I guess we’re just morbid people.

Brainstorm was Natalie Wood’s final film. When my wife asked if we had anything interesting to watch Saturday night, I said, “We could watch Brainstorm. It stars both Christopher Walken and that woman he killed.”

Yeah. Morbid.

But it worked. She took the bait and we watched the movie. “Ohhhh,” she said when Louise Fletcher’s named popped up in the opening credits, “she plays a good bad guy.”

I think that’s part of why I didn’t like Brainstorm. See, Louise Fletcher—Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest; she does indeed play a good bad guy—doesn’t play a bad guy. Sure, she’s cranky and she chain smokes, but there’s nothing at all malevolent about her character. Hell, she’s Walken’s love interest, for cryin’ out loud! Talk about failing to meet expectations.

*Psst! Spoilers ahead!*

I can’t blame Fletcher for playing against type, but if ever there was a movie that needed a bit more malevolence, Brainstorm is it. You’ve got a bunch of scientists working on a device that can record and play back everything a person experiences, complete with all five senses (and the promise of adding emotion and thought to the mix). Of course the military wants it! Of course there are shady back room deals and underhanded tricks and Michael Brace (Walken) is locked out of his own lab, denied access to his work…but none of it amounts to anything.

Lillian Reynolds (Fletcher), Brace’s partner, insists that she doesn’t want the military to use her work to kill people—which, of course, is exactly what they plan to do with it; they create Project Brainstorm based on Reynolds and Brace’s work. Brainstorm contains tapes that, among other things, can cause the viewer to experience psychotic episodes. When Reynolds suffers a fatal heart attack while working alone in the lab, she chooses to record the totality of her own death with the device…and leave it for Brace to view. When Brace begins to view the tape, he starts to experience a cardiac event and intends to modify the device to allow him to view Reynolds’ death safely.

Brace’s boss, Alex Terson (Cliff Robertson), forbids the scientist to view the death tape. Brace is locked out of the lab and must use every bit of early-1980s computer technology to get back in, hacking the system so he can view the tape remotely and destroy the lab—along with Project Brainstorm—in the process.

Ultimately, Brace is his own worst enemy. He puts himself in far more peril by insisting on viewing Reynolds’ death tape than anything threatened by the government goons (who plan to arrest him). And why does Reynolds, who was so adamant about ensuring that her technology wouldn’t be used to harm people, record her own death, an experience that she must know could be fatal to anyone who relives it with the device? Why, so Brace can get a glimpse into the afterlife, of course. Well, a 1981 version of the afterlife, that is. Lots of pretty lights and stars and nebulae and more lights that might be angels flying around a brighter light that’s probably heaven. ((This is to be expected. Director Douglas Trumbull also helmed Silent Running (1972), which features similarly bedazzling special effects. Between directing Silent Running and Brainstorm, Trumbull supervised visual effects for movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) and Blade Runner (1981). The visual effects in these films have not all aged well—Blade Runner being a notable exception—but as Chris Miller points out in Episode 0020 of The Secret Lair (wherein we discuss Silent Running) Trumbull and his cohorts were revolutionizing modern visual effects. ))

Brace, of course, appears to die as a result of this experience, but his formerly-estranged-almost-ex-wife, Karen (hey, there’s Natalie Wood!) brings him back with—what else?—her newly-rediscovered love for him.

See what I mean about the need for malevolence? How about having Reynolds somehow imprint herself on Brace with her death experience, then editing that experience and using it to kill all the military-types who are after her technology? Better yet, have Reynolds imprint herself on Brace’s almost-ex-wife and do the same, leaving it to Brace to figure out what’s happened and stop her? Or just do something sinister with the military application, rather than hinting at it and destroying it so Brace can see a fancy LiteBrite.

So it was the expectation of something more sinister that led to my being so disappointed with Brainstorm. Terson’s motives for locking Brace out of the lab aren’t anything more than a desire to protect his friend. Sure, the government has nasty plans for Project Brainstorm, but it’s rendered almost entirely peripheral to the story by Brace’s insistence upon viewing Reynolds’ death experience. The journey wasn’t nearly as suspenseful as I wanted it to be and the ending was (to me, at least) a major anti-climax.

Portions of this review originally appeared on the Whateveresque forum.

Welcome to Parenthood: Ice Cream Dreams

Visions of mint chocolate chip dance in his head...
My morning began with a three-year-old boy addressing me from the side of my bed.

“Daddy,” he said. “I had a dream.”

This is pretty standard stuff these days: Kyle marches into our bedroom in the morning to tell us about his dreams of the previous night.

“You were there,” Kyle said, “and mommy was there.”

Nothing at all unusual about that; most of his dreams feature Laura and I.

“And I had ice cream,” he said.

Ah, there’s the wish-fulfillment aspect. Kyle had been denied ice cream twice yesterday: once because he had just eaten a popsicle and a second time because he wouldn’t eat his dinner.

“And Uncle Miller took my ice cream away.”

That’s harsh, Miller. Harsh.