Friday, July 20, 2007

Tom Lehrer

Video Find of the Day

I was inspired by the fact that this is Week 17 of my Perpetual Technorati Arc to write about math and math humor, because 17 is such a funny, funny, number. That, in turn, led me to think of Tom Lehrer.

This is a great video of one of his most notorious songs. There were rumors that the German missile-scientist turned American space-rocket-scientist Werner Von Braun wanted to have Lehrer sent to a camp all his own for this song.

Here's 3 more videos that don't show him but illustrate some of his songs. These show what I admire most about Lehrer -- his nerve. Back in those days it was unimaginable that someone would sing a cheery song about poisoning pigeons in the park. He did it and he made it work.

Reviews he enjoyed so much he used them for his album liners:
"Mr. Lehrer's muse is not fettered by such inhibiting factors as taste." - New York Times (9 February 1959)
"More desperate than amusing" - New York Herald Tribune
"He seldom has any point to make except obvious ones" - Christian Science Monitor
"Plays the piano acceptably" - Oakland Tribune

Did I mention he was a mathematician?

I've forgotten, if I ever knew it, what the contemporary inspiration for Masochism Tango was. I'm sure it wasn't Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

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