Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The Press War: Said Russian Dan

Of course, you can't get away with that sort of thing in the press releases before somebody responds, in this case my erstwhile Russian colleague with this little riff on an old favourite of mine, Said Hanrahan, by P.J. Hartigan.

"We'll all be rooned," said Italy
In accents of despair,
And turned from France most bitterly
with cunning plots to share.

The politicians stroked their maps
Of nations set for war,
And talked of fleets, and stabs, and traps,
Like every year before.

"If we're to last," came Turkey's call,
"Bedad, to hold our ground,
Sevastopol this year must fall - 
It's Russia we must hound."

"Don't turn on me," Russia bemoaned,
"My force is scant and spread.
For Trieste Rome has not atoned;
It's he whom we need dead."

"I had no choice! I needed lands!"
Came Italy's reply,
"We'll all be rooned if France expands,
To Paris turn your eye."

"Ah, 'méfiez-vous de tout le monde'"
Was all that France could quote,
"Wake up! The Germans have you conned!
Quick, seize the Kaiser's throat!"

"Fight me?" The Gothic leader's eyes,
were wide with great alarm,
"'Tis clearly Britain I despise.
When did I do you harm?"

"They would not dare to turn on me,"
The King of England laughed,
"And any Austrians I see
will soon in brine be bathed."

"My army's strong, and though you'll try
You'll never reach this far,"
The Archduke crowed, "The Turk strike I,
While Ank S Con to BLA"

Once friends and allies, now as stones:
their treaties left to rot.
With ears blocked to conspi'ring tones,
They each alone did plot.

Just then a ray of hope appeared,
"Lets play Ticket to Ride."
And so, just as the Germans feared,
we ruled their countryside.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The Press War

While we're ripping off better poets, let me also share with you a couple of snippets from my ongoing diplomacy game (now down to three players thanks to a debilitating move to Trieste last turn). The press in this game has been a lot of fun, as after our earlier rap efforts, we turned to other sources for inspiration. These verses followed my Spring 1901 move to Trieste, and was mainly (and somewhat unwisely) directed at taunting the Austrian.

"You are weak, Father Thomas," the young Archduke stressed,
"And your armies are looking quite green;
And yet you incessantly hold in Trieste-
Just what, by such moves, do you mean?"

"In my youth," Father Thomas replied "My dear son
I feared it might injure my chances;
But now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
It was either steal yours; or steal France's"

"You are weak," said the Duke "As I mentioned before,
And have grown uncommonly haughty;
And so you have marched your men up to my door-
Don't you think that's a little bit naughty?"

"In my youth," said the Pope, "I rented my corps
To nations in martial trouble;
The price of these legions, one centre,-or four-
Allow me to lend you a couple"

"You are weak, Father Ted, and I'd hardly suppose,
That your wit was as present as ever;
But your scheming is keeping my troops on their toes-
What made you so awfully clever?"

"In my youth," he replied "I studied the moon,
and I wrestled with bears in my prime.
Your neighbours and 'allies' all dance to my tune;
We'll take all your centres in time."

"You are weak," said the Duke, with a wry little smirk,
"If you hurt me you know that you'll rue it.
Yet you plot with the Tsar and you plot with the Turk-
Pray, how do you think that you'll do it?"

"I have answered three questions, and that is enough;"
Said the Pope "You're alone for the rest!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off! Or I'll take Budapest!"

Monday, 22 October 2012

Raptember V: Rap-ematica

It took me a couple of weeks of on and off work to pull this monsterpiece together, but I am perversely proud of it. If I ever find the time, I will be hoping to make a music video based on this little gem from my childhood, but for now you just get the lyrics.

So-ciety, let's wig it!

Ice-ak Newton...

All right, stop.
Put a plug in all your ructions.
'Ice' is here with my brand new deduction.
Something of importance so heightened,
at the end of the age we will all be Enlightened.
Why do apples drop? Yo, you don't know?
Turn up the lights, and I'll show.
Something extreme to rock your naive world-model,
mess with your head, and contradict Aristotle.

We need a bit of background.
Oblige me a while as I attempt to expound.
In Hist'ry, 'til we get to Gallileo
(you're gonna need this to get it to the full, yo),
they said objects stopped 'less you interfered
and when he disagreed, said he was weird.

Seems there's a problem? Yo, I solved it.
Check it out, Hooke, while my DJ revolves it...

Ice-ak Newton... Inertia
Ice-ak Newton... Inertia
Ice-ak Newton... Inertia
Ice-ak Newton... Inertia

That "An object in motion
continues to move (like waves on the ocean),
constant in speed, in constant direction,
unless it's compelled by a force of deflection".
No aether or classical elements
are in action, just rational events.
This is also why a body at rest
will stay right there. Now, ain't you impressed?

Hold on, because I ain't done.
Yo, my Mathematica's just begun.
I'm not just re-statin',
time to get creatin'.
Am I done? No! I'm cognatin'!
Keep on attending to the next one.
Ain't stopping me now, 'cause I'm getting to the real fun.
Momentum time.

Let me continue to "F = m a (multiplied)".
F is force acting upon a center.
m is the mass (as defined by me elsewhere).
a is the change in the speed
on time (acceleration's the word that we need).
Concept's so revolutionary,
when a unit is defined I guess they'll name it after me.

Clearly, from here can be inferred
that momentum has to be conserved.
Fallin' like an apple, real fast,
down from the tree, onto the grass.
A force is acting, to bring it to ground,
bringing that mass its way, sure as the earth is round.
From where comes this flow, and why is it so?
Just let me say, hypotheses non fingo!

Seems there's a problem? Yo, I'm solvin'.
Check it out, Hooke: Why the world is revolvin'.

Ice-ak Newton... Gravity
Ice-ak Newton... Gravity
Ice-ak Newton... Gravity
Ice-ak Newton... Gravity

Take heed, 'cause I'm a physical poet,
discovery machine, just in case you didn't know it.
Law: see that "Each and every action
has an equal and opposite reaction,
in opposing direction". You know it's true,
push on a stone, and feel the stone pushing you.

For engineering, this is a critical concept.
Isaac Newton. I authored these notions,
I've given to you all my laws of motion.
If there is credit due, 'snot mine,
belongs to all science.
Seen further by standing on the shoulders of giants.
Knighthood, your Highness? Then I'll take it, I guess.
Thankyou all for your time. That concludes my address.

Seems there's a problem? Yo, I'm solvin'.
Check it out, Hooke: Why the world is revolvin'.

Ice-ak Newton... Show's over
Ice-ak Newton... Show's over
Ice-ak Newton... Show's over
Ice-ak Newton... Show's over

Yo man, let's get out of here.
Word to your professor.
It doesn't scan that nicely, I know, but I feel like it holds reasonably true to the original, which does'nt either, and with rap it's pretty easy to cheat. That concludes Raptember 2012, and few raps short, but it gives me something to aim for next year. If you want to be in the music video, let me know.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Raptember IV: A Night to Raptember

Just because his partner in rhyme wasn't producing couldn't stop this messenger from going about his appointed rounds, so come another week and Dan Thomas, VIP of rap, delivered this one too:

'twas the night before Chris'mas, the mood was all good.
I was just hangin', chillin out in ma hood.
But somethin' was naggin', tho I couldn't grizzle,
then I knew what it was, I wanted some egg-nizzle.
I leapt on the 'net, found this sweet recipe,
and that's what I'm gonna be rhymin' at ye.

If ya think these beats good, then you should've seen
me beatin' one dozen yolks into a cream.
I added sweet sugar, one-point-five of a cup,
and mixed for 10 minutes 'til the [EDITED FOR RADIO] thickened up.
I added in milk, a whole one-point-five litres,
and stirred it by hand - no more electric beaters.

Now I ain't no fool, who needs booze to feel sweet,
but if you want, Now's the time to add canned heat.
Two cups of Klippies' what you use if you can,
and three-fourths of Marlon if they doubt you're a man.
Whip to stiff peaks, now, two cups of cream,
and separately all of the whites you stripped clean.

Fold ev'ry thing together, fo'shiz
and mix it like it ain't nobody's biz.
Now I must confess to my Yule eggnog vice,
two teaspoons of the Myristica spice.
Keep the mix chilled (that is, if you can wait,)
either way, this recipe should serve eight.
I was really going to have to yet on my metaphorical bike.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Raptember III: Sarajevizzle Rapdizzle

Dan followed up his masterpiece of madness from the week before with this charming little number, which I thought was my favourite of the month. Listening to Dan talk about pre-WWI Europe is always fun.

In the early months of eighteen-seventy-one,
von Bismark was out there, havin' his fun.
He marched his ol' army into Alsace-Lorraine;
Would'nt exit from France, unless they paid for the train.
He took all their cash, kept some of the land,
and to stop other nations from takin' a stand,
proclaimed the Empire of Germany there
and made a network of allies like he just didn't care.

One such alliance, the Dreikaiserbund pact
united Germany with two powers, in fact:
Austria-Hung'ry, the German's ol' friend
and the Bear of the East, who's lands never end.
This was all signed in one-eight-seven-three,
and poor little France looked all lost at sea.
But Russia had visions of it's noble fate,
as protector of Balkan's in '78.

'cos Austria wanted to master the Slavs
and Russia denied them by blockin' their paths.
The Dreikaiserbund at once fell apart,
But Bismark, he knew it was only the start.
The followin' year the Hun was inclined
to charm Austria, the Dual Alliance was signed.
But that was not all, he moved like a shark,
that plottin' ol', schemin' ol' Otto Bismark.

Peace was restored when the Österreich
was forced to back down, and Otto was like,
"Russia, come hang here, Dreikaiserbund's on!
Lets all hate on France because we're so strong."
The followin' year, it was '82,
Bismark tried somethin' a little bit new:
A triple alliance with Italy's state
and once again Austria, his closest mate.

For the next five years, ev'rythin's chilled
then Russia and Austria think blood should be spilled.
Each just starts poppin' caps in the ass
of the other, and Bismarks all "You guys are a gas!"
So he just signs a new deal with the Bear -
I told you he allied just like he don' care -
But in '88 Willy II takes the crown,
and next year von Bismark gets kicked outta town.

But Kaiser Willy, he don' have a clue,
days later he simply forgets to renew
the Russian alliance. France needs nothin' more,
and signs an entente in the year '94.
Up 'til now Britain's been hangin' right back,
but from '99 to '02 they go on the attack.
They're fightin' the Germans in the Boer War,
but only in Africa, where Willy wants more.

The war ends in '02, and Britain real cheesed,
because her two rivals for new colonies
are workin' together, (that's Russia and France)
and now the proud German's refusin' to dance.
"I need a strong ally, someone who can
help me in Europe; wait, I know - JAPAN!"
All the great powers were R-O-F-L
'cos Japan was too small to serve Britain well.

Or that's what they thought, but then in '04
began the Russo-Japanese war.
The Japanese conquered, went straight for the neck,
and Russia fled screamin' "Dude! No! What the heck?"
Meanwhile Britain signs deals with the Frank
The Entente Cordiale is safe in the bank.
Three years post defeat, poor Russia joins in:
"Sign me up, Triple Entente for the win!"

The lines were drawn, though the war's not begun:
Italy, Austria-H and the Hun
versus Britain, Russia, France and Japan.
Though some of the blame goes to the Schlieffen Plan.
Austria's up to its usual tricks,
seizin' the Balkans, gettin' his kicks.
The Archduke is cruisin' about in a car,
when a terrorist cell decides he's gone to far.

This militant group is called "the Black Hand"
and chuck a bomb at ol' Ferdinand.
They miss, the bomb bounces and hits the next car,
and the would-be assassins head for a bar.
The convoy pulls over, checks everyone's fine,
then carry on, all their cars in a line,
when on the way home, the driver gets lost,
goes down the wrong street to a terrible cost.

By chance the car stalls, by chance its outside
the cafe where one terrorist went to hide.
By chance he was packin' some heat just in case,
so he goes out and shoots the Archduke in the face.
Austria thinks he can probably take'em
and issues an unreasonable ultimatum.
Still, Serbia says "We'll comply to thirteen,
but this fourteenth point we'd like to discuss, if you're keen."

"HOW DARE YOU?!" the Austrians give their reply.
"For such disobedience you all shall die."
"Do it," says Germany, right there and then,
"Do it, I'll back you up with my fine men."
But Russia cries "No! These Serbs are my kin.
Hurt one little hair, and our war will begin."
"Do it," Germany urges again,
"Do it, remember I'll lend you my men."

The Austrian strikes, the Russian's yell "Go!",
but over such distance the motion is slow.
"What?" asks the German. "Why did you attack?
Now my men will have to cover your back!"
But Schlieffen, the Gen'ral, expected no fight
with Russia where France had not joined with delight.
The only plan to take on the Tzar
was an early strike at France (Que Sera).

To hit at the east, the Hun headed west,
but not in a straight line, that could not be best.
Through Luxembourg and Belgium they fly
Then Britain yells, "Wait, Belgium's neutrality
is violated - think way back in time
we all agreed in 1839
Belgium is neutral, read it and weep,
we to the Belgians defence must now leap."

It was true they had written, in London that year,
That Belgium would never have nothin' to fear.
Britain had signed it, so had the Hun,
the Frank, the Austrian, the Bear and Belgium.
So A-H hit Serbia, Russia backs Serbs,
Germany backs Austria, and France she disturbs.
France leaps at once to her ally's defence,
and Britain aids Belgium who's trapped on the fence.

He's one hoopy frood.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Raptember II: Can't Build This

Dan Thomas, an old friend of mine with too much time on his hands, is never one to back down from a challenge, so this was his contribution for the next week or raptember, with apologies to M.C. Hammer and the public at large:
You can't build this.
You can't build this.
You can't build this.
You can't build this.
My- my- my-
my pictures hit me, so hard,
with their blatant disregard
for the, laws of physics;
No Euclid for these graphics.
Goodbye, to old Newton,
now left is right and up is down.
I'm not, unskilled.
and this is a house (uh) you can't build.

I told you, Darboux...
You can't build this.
Yeah, that's not realistic, and you know...
You can't build this.
Look at my stairs, man.
You can't build this.
Yo, let this world melt before your eyes.
You can't build this.
All my pics, are great.
a fish and duck gonna tessellate.
Water, flowin' uphill
drivin' my perpetual watermill.
Your mouths are... agape
I'm sketchin'
my reflection on convex shape.
With chairs. And shelves.
Meanwhile my
hands are drawin' themselves.
This art ain't... for the weak willed.
This is a house (uh) you can't build.

Yo, I told you;
You can't build this.
How you standing there man?
You can't build this.
Get down before you come unstuck there.
You can't build this.
My list of works, carries on
nonconvex regular polyhedron
which, they hype
with doors. Inside
a dozen turtles, together reside.
In my, pic called
Metamorphosis III chess towns unfold
into, strange birds
and fish and bees, then squares and then words.
Right to left, of course, you know...
You can't build this.
You can't build this.
Break it down.
Stop. Escher time.
continues up and down the constant, eternal
stair case, recalcitrant folk
briefly rebel, then conform to the main yolk
of our, social system.
as another set of stairs where you fall, fall, fall, fall
You can't build this.
Look man,
You can't build this.
There ain't no council, boy, will ever approve this,
You can't build this.
"This structure's, too unsound"...
Break it down.
Stop. Escher time.
You can't build this.
You can't build this.
You can't build this.
Break it down.
Stop. Escher time.
Then I play some mind games, and draw my picture's sane
I leave you to try to find what's wrong within the frame.
My impact is so great, that when you try
your sure there's something wrong with, a real pond or sky.
My works have influenced, Lemmings and Doctor Who,
You can't build this.
You can't build this.
You can't build this.
You can't build this.
I told you,
You can't build this.
Can't build this.
Can't build this.
That was going to be a hard one to beat. I thought that I was up to the challenge, but it took me a while to come up with a response, and in the mean time, Dan didn't let up...

Tuesday, 16 October 2012


The challenge, a rap every week for September, where 'rap' is defined as any piece of verse that could conceivably be conveyed by a teenager in baggy clothing to the accompaniment of his little brother inexpertly beatboxing. Dan Thomas, of future archeological fame and reknown, leapt into the fray:

I was just hangin'
out in the hood,
doin' whatever I wanted or could.
I looked at the date,
just then I remember
this here is the very first week of Raptember!
I sat down at once
and wasted no time
gettin' down to business and pennin' a rhyme.
I sent it at once
with hopes to engender
Tommy-D to reply on the third of Raptember.
Now there's nothing left
to do but kick back
in a warm leather chair with a glass of cognac
and soak up the warmth
of the coals in the fender,
contentedly glowing, each one a "Rapt-ember".
Break it down.

So, Dan had delivered, it was my turn, and there was no way that I could let a line like that last one go unpunished:

Well the days fly by
like the discounts at Coles,
an' my muse has vamoosed, it's outside my control.
But jus' like Marlon Brando,
I wanna be a contender.
I'll get back on the track, 'cause this is Raptember, yo!

Time is a-wasting
like the Bloods and the Crips.
I wanna tighten my writin' but I'm coming up zips.
Danny-T threw the gauntlet
And I gotta accept 'er,
Or admit I'm not it when it comes to Raptember, yo!

I ain't got what it takes
to re-master the beat?
I ain't ceding to that reading: 'cause I'm here to compete.
Yeah I know it ain't so
An' I ain't just some pretender
been dreaming of Em-Ceein' since I was a Rapt-embryo!

[Baboons and Pigs]

It's your turn, dawg.

But wait, it gets worse...

Monday, 15 October 2012

1901: Disgrace Odyssey

In a currently ongoing game of Diplomacy, myself (as Pope) and my short-lived Russian ally, having exhausted our political and tactical options, set about a campaign of intimidation in the public press wires, designed to terrify our Austrian neighbour into folding before our combined military and ghetto credentials. And what better way than to rap our oppenent into submission?

 On a rest in Trieste where the beaches are fine
 Rehearsin' ma sermons, revisin' my lines
 Don?t go messin' wit' me while I'm watching the surf
 Cause the papa is here, and I'm claimin' ma turf

 When the hood's in the woods, well you better watch out
 When my homies are homin' ain't no room for doubt
 Ain't slackin': we packin', and we got a bad rep
 Watch out for the men from the thirty-nine steppes.

 Thomassino's the name and Popin's the game
 And mountain assaultin' is my claim to fame
 Silver-tongued asp in a slick armoured car
 That's it from me -hit 'em, D-Tzar.

Yo, the popey-posse say that Europe's at war
 Austria's nervous, an' Turkey is more
 Rolling with my armour down Ukrainian hills
 Sayin' 'Sultan/Duke, get out of my (Bear) Grillz!'

Pretty silly and not well executed, I know, but you get the point. As a diplomatic technique, as evidenced by his elimination and my continuing half-existence as a Turkish puppet-state, it leaves a little to be desired, but it set off a yearning to say "Yo" at inappropriate moments and spawned a monster called "Raptember", whose delectable fruit I will share with you in the coming days. It's not exactly high art, but please promise not to laugh at me.