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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #75
Who Beyls Us Out?
David Gunn
  •    An army of Englishmen made
  •    An assault on a Russian stockade
  •    Outmanned and outgunned
  •    They turned and they runned
  •    Twas the Charge of the Backlight Brigade

So begins Alfred Lord Tennyson's famous limerick opus which commemorates the Crimean War battle in which hundreds of British troops were shelled with tons of pastries made of layers of chopped nuts and honey. The Battle of Balaklava also introduced to modern warfare polypropelene hoods, which the infantrymen wore to shield themselves from the fruit flies that swarmed over their ambrosially festooned bodies. Then, as now, they were best laundered in cold water and left to drip dry in southern Europe -- i.e., the infantrymen and the fruit flies.

  •    Some say the attack it was senseless
  •    And the odds against, they were immense, yes
  •    But the Cardigan duke / Swore their strength was a fluke
  •    And assured us the Reds were defenseless

Sylvia "Smiley Face" Plath, noted Fulbright humorist, captured well the lighter side of the mid-19th century drubbing in this selection from "The Bell Pepper Jar."

"(ssssss boom!) All around me, bombs and trampolines. Ha! What made me laugh? Baklava, baklava, my croquet ball is stuck to the sticky wicket. Help! I mean, Ha! The earl of Cardigan sweats like a pig in a blanket, convalescing.(sssss boom!) All around me, tramps and bombazines. Good-bye now; I have to launder Sevastopol Central Park."

Witty delirium from America’s queen of a posteriori neuroses.

A century later, Karl Terzaghi explained the battle as he best knew how, in terms of soil mechanics. "Take a baseball," he postulated, "preferably one that's been roughed up during batting practice by the Odessa Ospreys. Place it in a microwave oven on High for 30 seconds, long enough for the seams to steam. Get a flowering petroleum jelly plant (the best ones can be mail-ordered from Portugal). Harvest the nectar from a dozen buds and spread it evenly over the baseball seams, which should have long since ceased steaming (assuming UPS two-day air delivery). Take the baseball to a barley field in the Crimea known to have been frequented by crop circles. Facing north, unroll a 200- foot roll of duct tape sticky side up in the field with one end touching the baseball, the other end touching a pod of barley awns. Now re-roll the tape into a big ball, trapping the barley inside. By the time you reach the baseball, the pods will be throbbing, which should activate the jelly nectar and chemically alter the constitution of the baseball innards. Foam will leak from the seams; this is good." And here Terzaghi's description ends, with no explanation as to why this is good.

  •    We fought like the mythical Rambo
  •    Though maneuvers were based on the mambo
  •    We gave ’em a shiver / Singing "Crimea River"
  •    But they clobbered le oriange flambeau

    Mr. Tennyson's verse goes on at length, as this prelude to the 75th episode of Kalvos & Damian’s New Music Bazaar surely cannot -- good news to those of you, present company included, who prefer music to verse in two out of three taste tests. And here with more or less of the latter, depending on availability and whim, is Kalvos.

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