The Very Model of a Mormon Intellectual (with apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan)

September 8, 2005 | 90 comments
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As some readers of this blog may have guessed, comic operetta is a staple in the Oman home, and Heather and I have written the following lyrics to be sung (with apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan) to the music of “The Very Model of a Modern Major General” from the Pirates of Penzance. Enjoy!

The Very Model of Mormon Intellectual

I am the very model of a Mormon intellectual
I’ve information factual as well as theological
I know the scribes of Joseph and can quote the moves historical
From Zion’s Camp to Council Bluffs in order categorical

I’m very well acquainted to with matters metaphysical
I understand the nature of old Orson’s fluid spiritual
About finite omnipotence I’m teeming with a lot of news
With many cheerful facts about the Prophet’s pre-Adamic views!

Chorus:
With many cheerful facts about the Prophet’s pre-Adamic views!
With many cheerful facts about the Prophet’s pre-Adamic views!
With many cheerful facts about the Prophet’s pre-Adamic views!

I’m very good at poking fun at CES pomposity
I’ve read the diaries of Wilford Woodruff with velocity
In short in matters factual as well as theological
I am the very model of a Mormon intellectual!

Chorus:
In short in matters factual as well as theological
He is the very model of a Mormon intellectual!

I know our secret history from polyandry up to Adam-God
I answer Anti questions with apologetic Dialogue
I quote from Nibley, Arrington, McConkie, and D. Michael Quinn
In context, I can understand why Danites made the Gentiles cringe.

I can tell undoubted documents from Hoffman’s clever forgeries
I know the home-grown chorus in the verse of Orson F. Whitney
I can sing the hymns of Phelps without the vengeful lyrics purged
And whistle all the swelling chords from songs arranged by Mack Wilberg!

Chorus:
And whistle all the swelling chords from songs arranged by Mack Wilberg!
And whistle all the swelling chords from songs arranged by Mack Wilberg!
And whistle all the swelling chords from songs arranged by Mack Wilberg!

I can write in both Reformed and Un-reformed Egypti’an
And tell you every detail of hist’ry Mulekitian
In short in matters factual as well as theological
I am the very model of a Mormon intellectual!

Chorus:
In short in matters factual as well as theological
He is the very model of a Mormon intellectual!

Of course, I’m rather clueless as to how to make a ward run well
An Aaronic Priesthood mutiny I don’t know how to stop or quell
Planning things like firesides and socials I’m more wary at
And I’ve no clue precisely how to raise our sad home-teaching stats.

When I have learnt what progress has been made in church bureaucracy
When I know more of handbooks than about the trial of John D. Lee
In short when I am on the stand as couns’lor at the bishop’s knee
You know the end has come at last and to the mountains you should flee!

Chorus:
You know the end has come at last and to the mountains you should flee!
You know the end has come at last and to the mountains you should flee!
You know the end has come at last and to the mountains you should flee!

For my ecclesial knowledge, though I am plucky and adventury
Has only been brought down to the beginning of last century
But still in matters factual as well as theological
I am the very model of a Mormon intellectual!

Chorus:
But still in matters factual as well as theological
He is the very model of a Mormon intellectual!

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90 Responses to The Very Model of a Mormon Intellectual (with apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan)

  1. Jeremy on September 8, 2005 at 9:10 am

    Brilliant, Nate.

    Beats out my prior favorite resetting of the G&S: one of my professors, a critical-theory-leaning musicologist interested in gender issues, was once roasted during the encore of a recital with an unannounced number — in which, “the very model of a modern musicologist” was set to rhyhme with “musical sexologist” and “lesbian apologist”… [groan]

  2. Steve Evans on September 8, 2005 at 9:41 am

    Bravo!

  3. Mark on September 8, 2005 at 9:43 am

    Nate, We bow before you and Heather. We are truly not worthy. This was AWESOME!

    I especially liked Unreformed Egyptian and Mulekitian.

  4. cameron steinbusch on September 8, 2005 at 9:54 am

    Its good to know I am not the only one notices CES pomposity

  5. Crystal on September 8, 2005 at 10:06 am

    That’s great.

  6. Kevin Barney on September 8, 2005 at 10:18 am

    Quite hilarious. Was this a Family Home Evening or a weekly date night project?

  7. RoastedTomatoes on September 8, 2005 at 10:21 am

    Too much fun, Nate! However, I think you’re wrong about one thing. Mormon intellectuals have a sure-fire way to make the teenage boys calm down: they can threaten to explain Mormon history to the kids if the kids don’t behave.

  8. Ben S. on September 8, 2005 at 10:25 am

    Excellent!
    [/Mr. Burns]

  9. Julie in Austin on September 8, 2005 at 10:37 am

    Bravo!!!!

  10. danithew on September 8, 2005 at 10:43 am

    Nice work! Every line compelled a grin.

  11. Adam Greenwood on September 8, 2005 at 10:57 am

    Who, just last week, was expressing envy of the *creative* writers on the blog? Like I’ll take that seriously again.

  12. Geoff Johnston on September 8, 2005 at 11:27 am

    Classic Nate. I was impressed to even see a Mack Wilberg line in there — takes me back to the conducting class I had with him (don’t tell anyone in my ward I know how to conduct music). I was slightly saddened (and yet somehow pleased) to realize that I’ve become such a nerd that none of the references were lost on me though….

  13. Ivan Wolfe on September 8, 2005 at 12:00 pm

    Uh – polyandry is “more than one husband” – I’m unaware of that in Church history, but perhaps that means I’m not a true intellectual.

    overall, though – a very funny and well done parody.

  14. Aaron Brown on September 8, 2005 at 12:04 pm

    Nate, you and Paul Toscano should team up and write “Music and the Broken Word, Part II.”

    Aaron B

  15. Nate Oman on September 8, 2005 at 12:08 pm

    Ivan: During the Nauvoo period Joseph took as plural wives several women who were married to other men. The precise nature of these marriages is open to some controversy, that they occurred, however, is pretty much undisputed.

  16. Ivan Wolfe on September 8, 2005 at 12:10 pm

    Nate –

    ah!

    thank you – I was aware of those (odd I didn’t make the connection – perhaps I’m just slow)

  17. Jordan on September 8, 2005 at 12:10 pm

    Ivan, remember that is part of the “secret history.” Polyandry is a flag that antis are always waving.

  18. Costanza on September 8, 2005 at 12:11 pm

    Ivan,
    Check out Compton’s IN SACRED LONELINESS to catch up on Mormon polyandry.

  19. Jack on September 8, 2005 at 12:32 pm

    Nate, I was chuckling all the way through it–good show.

    One slight quibble–

    Your choruses should (notice the third line) play out thus:

    With many cheerful facts about the Prophet’s pre-Adamic views!
    With many cheerful facts about the Prophet’s pre-Adamic views!
    With many cheerful facts about the Prophet’s pre-A pre-Adamic views!

    Don’t know why they put that little hiccup in there–just another way to have fun I guess.

    That said–

    Can you do it again? Really fast?

    (a silly line they added in that all too silly movie version with Kevin Kline)

  20. Rosalynde on September 8, 2005 at 12:41 pm

    Hmm, I know who D. is going to be hitting up next for lyrics!

    Fabulous.

  21. Diogenes on September 8, 2005 at 1:56 pm

    Excellent. Tom Lehrer’s recitation of “The Elements” to G&S still takes the prize, though. (“There’s antimony, arsenic, aluminum, selenium . . .”).

  22. Gilbert Sullivan on September 8, 2005 at 2:19 pm

    I know details about the doctrine, both arcane and deep,
    I know about the rituals masonic, and about the stones that peep,
    I’m very good at making gospel doctrine teachers appalled,
    I’m a mormon intellectual. Just don’t call me “so-called”.

  23. Prudence McPrude on September 8, 2005 at 2:36 pm

    This blog is home to the so-called intellectual
    Whose plot to kill my faith is ineffectual
    Make fun of those of us whose faith is actual
    But we’ll laugh last when we’re in realms Celestial.

  24. manaen on September 8, 2005 at 2:58 pm

    I’d stand all amazed — if I could stand while laughing this hard !

  25. D. Fletcher on September 8, 2005 at 4:09 pm

    Hi, guys, sorry to criticize, but your rhymes are all off, unlike old man Gilbert.

    I’ve already written a parody of this song, using the names of the people in my home ward, Short Hills, New Jersey, which I presented to them at a reunion, and at my parents 50th anniversary party. My rhymes, needless to say, are perfect.

    :)

    MAJOR GENERAL’S SONG from Pirates of Penzance

    There’s
    FLANAGAN and KINNAMON, McCALLISTER, DARNELL and BENSON
    HAMBERLIN and HAMILTON and KELLY, JUDD, KOSIR and JENSEN

    JACOBSEN and CHRISTIANSEN and RICHARDSON, ROMANO, RAWSON
    ERICSON and ERB and all three CANNONS – Mark and Scott and Clawson

    MALIN, MILLAN, MENDEN, MOON and
    PRINGLE, PARKER, PROWS and PAUL and
    KELLY, TULLO, TAYLOR, LEE,
    FOLLWEILER, NOWELL, WING and WALL

    with
    GOFF and GOBLE, FARNSWORTH, FLETCHER,
    ROSS and ROBERTS, RUST and WRIGHT and
    NELSON, MUNSON, SKOUSEN, JOHNSON,
    SALMON, COLEMAN, GILMAN, WHITE

    There’s
    HARVEY, HIGBEE, HICKEN, HILTON,
    HOEKE, HOAGLAND, HYDE and HALL and
    BARRUS, BICKMORE, BERGEN, BACON,
    BENFELL, BISHOP, BLADES and BALL

    And
    SONNE, OBLAD, FIRMAGE, POTTER,
    SUMNER, STOKER, NICKERSON,
    THOMANDER, KIMBALL, COCHRANE, COTTER,
    CLOSE and CLARK and DICKERSON.

  26. Nate Oman on September 8, 2005 at 4:21 pm

    Ah D, but my version is funny. Certainly, G&S never let anything so crass as the distinction between ryhme and assonance stand in the way of a good joke…

  27. D. Fletcher on September 8, 2005 at 4:25 pm

    That’s not true about Gilbert, Nate. Your version is funny, but it would be funnier with real rhymes — trust me on this. Intellectual doesn’t rhyme with theological, and it isn’t an assonance. Theological rhymes with pedagogical, and intellectual rhymes with … ineffectual and homosexual.

    And by the way, my version got some very big laughs.

    :)

  28. Kaimi on September 8, 2005 at 4:27 pm

    Personally, I think that “forgeries” and “Whit-a-ney” rhyme just fine. They’re even the same number of syllables.

  29. diogenes on September 8, 2005 at 5:01 pm

    That’s not true about Gilbert, Nate. Your version is funny, but it would be funnier with real rhymes

    Not necessarily. Cole Porter got an awful lot of humor out of near rhymes — pairing words that really shouldn’t ought to have been paired. Half the fun is seeing how he manages to tweak things so they sort of rhyme, and you can almost see him winking at you when he does it. Ditto for Tom Lehrer’s stuff, including “The Elements” which I mentioned above.

  30. D. Fletcher on September 8, 2005 at 5:02 pm

    Perhaps you could come up with an example, Diogenes? Cole Porter never wrote an imperfect rhyme in his life, not one.

  31. Seth Rogers on September 8, 2005 at 5:07 pm

    Now we just need Rosalynde to do a rendition of “Three Little Maids from School.”

  32. Rosalynde on September 8, 2005 at 5:19 pm

    Seth, I may just have to take you up on that challenge.

    D.: Well, if you’re going to be picky, wouldn’t it be “intellectual” and “homosectual”? More proof that real rhymes are funnier.

  33. D. Fletcher on September 8, 2005 at 5:25 pm

    No, rhymes work by sound, not spelling. Intellectual does indeed rhyme with homosexual, but only in this country.

    ;)

    P.S. Rhyming rules are actually very easy (in English anyway). Two words rhyme if the vowel in their accented syllable in the same, but the consonant preceding it is different. Day rhymes with Play.
    But if you have a two- or three-syllable word, everything following the accented/rhymed syllable must be identical. Hence, intellectual doesn’t rhyme with theological, even though the *al* syllable looks the same. By the way, this stuff is the only thing I learned in college.

  34. D. Fletcher on September 8, 2005 at 5:27 pm

    Here’s what that sentence really is:

    “Two words rhyme if the vowel in their accented syllable IS the same, but the consonant preceding it is different.”

  35. Seth Rogers on September 8, 2005 at 5:28 pm

    I’ll be waiting in breathless anticipation.

  36. Jack on September 8, 2005 at 5:31 pm

    I agree with D., about Cole Porter. He pasted words together in amazing ways to get his rhymes to work. Sometimes he would contract syllables and what not, but his lyrics always made sense and were (to the best of my memory) always perfect.

    As for this thread. I wouldn’t give Nate too many red marks. He wasn’t pretending to be a world class lyricist–just trying to have a little fun–and I think he succeeded in making it fun for his readers. No need to campare him to the father of modern lyrics.

  37. Rosalynde on September 8, 2005 at 5:34 pm

    Right, D., but I content that there *is* a (slight) phonetic difference between “homosectual” and “homosexual.” And I don’t think I pronounce “intellectual” like “intellexual”…

    However, having heard your sublime “What Wondrous Love Is This” on KBYU Sunday morning (don’t laugh, I listen and enjoy for sentimental reasons)—sung by a tenor, before I’d only heard Charlotte Smurthwaite’s interpretation—I will humbly submit to your superior judgement on these matters. :)

  38. D. Fletcher on September 8, 2005 at 5:38 pm

    Oh, Rosalynde, you are the darlingest! And Jack, you’re right up there too. And Nathan, I still love you, buddy. I DID have a good laugh when I read those lyrics.

    :)

  39. manaen on September 8, 2005 at 6:06 pm

    27 & 29

    “…pairing words that really shouldn’t ought to have been paired. Half the fun is seeing how he manages to tweak things so they sort of rhyme, and you can almost see him winking at you when he does it.”

    Let’s not forget that Letterman’s first Top-10 list was “Words That Almost Rhyme With ‘Meat’.”

    Humor is based upon tension and its release. Slant rhymes provide their own tension, between themselves and what would be true rhymes. Near misses can be really funny when they come from a master: one of the funniest bits I ever saw was when Dom de Louis told one groaner after another with evil abandon. They were so bad that the joke became that he was telling them. After the audience was rolling from his audacity, he killed ‘em with his trump line, “I got no pride!” That made him accessible, adorable, and really, really funny.

    I can’t believe that we’re starting to talk seriously about what’s funny.

  40. king_of_ekat on September 8, 2005 at 6:38 pm

    Absolutely Fabulous! This is going to my car pool ASAP.

    Re: Cole Porter – it’s not an imperfect rhyme, but I always have to catch myself when singing “Where is the Life That Late I Led” when it gets to this line:

    Where is the fun I used to find?
    Where has it gone? Gone with the wind.

    It’s like an onion – so many layers!

  41. diogenes on September 8, 2005 at 7:55 pm

    Perhaps you could come up with an example, Diogenes? Cole Porter never wrote an imperfect rhyme in his life, not one.

    Oh come on. There’s everything from “You’ll never win laurels because of your morals,” to “Back once more where he started from/ He said, ‘I haven’t a single qualm'” to “If your blonde won’t respond when you flatter ‘er/ tell her what Tony told Cleopatterer” and “Let’s check on the veracity of Barrymore’s bibacity/ And why his drink capacity should get so much publacity/ Let’s even have a huddle over Ha’vard Univassity.”

    I mean, if your argument on the last couple is that the rhymes are perfect so long as you mangle the pronunciation, then of course Nate can get “perfect” rhymes out of his near misses, too.

    I think the difference may be that Porter flaunted his near misses, rather than apologizing for them.

  42. Adam Greenwood on September 8, 2005 at 9:01 pm

    ““You’ll never win laurels because of your morals”

    You must come from different speech patterns then I do. Sounds perfect from here.

  43. D. Fletcher on September 8, 2005 at 10:20 pm

    Those whimsical rhymes are unusual for Cole — something more along the lines of what Yip Harburg did frequently. But they are still good rhymes — in this case, he would alter a word so it would actually rhyme perfectly. This is quite different than setting words which don’t rhyme at all — Adam-God doesn’t rhyme with Dialogue, and you can’t force them to.

  44. Kaimi on September 8, 2005 at 11:15 pm

    We stay up very late debating Sullivan and Gilbert rhymes
    With Oman Nate (the Great) berating commenters a thousand times . . .

  45. Katherine on September 8, 2005 at 11:50 pm

    42–Many people from Utah would pronounce the au in laurels as a short o instead of long. I’ve never heard that shortening anywhere else.

  46. Kaimi on September 8, 2005 at 11:51 pm

    Also, and as evidenced by the song “New Age Girl,” “intellectual” rhymes perfectly well with “sexual” . . .

  47. Gavin McGraw on September 9, 2005 at 8:35 am

    Rhymes Aside Everyone:

    Now twenty-two and twenty-three and, incidently, forty-four
    You conjured up your rhymes with glee but messed up meters by the score
    You’ll notice that in Gilbert’s song it’s iambic octameter
    So keep yourself from writing wrong with this simple perameter!

    So keep yourself from writing wrong with this simple perameter!
    So keep yourself from writing wrong with this simple perameter!
    So keep yourself from writing wrong with this simple pera- perameter!

  48. Gavin McGraw on September 9, 2005 at 9:03 am

    Sorry Kaimi, yours was ok. There were some questionably metered lines in Nate’s original poem too,

    “But we waive that point. We do not press it.
    We look…over it”

    ;)

  49. D. Fletcher on September 9, 2005 at 10:03 am

    Gavin, your little verse is improperly accented. “You’ll notice that in Gilbert’s song it’s I-am-bic octameter.” I-AM-bic should be accented on the second syllable *AM*, not the *I*. And then again on the next line “So keep yourself from writing wrong with THIS sim-PLE parameter.” SIM-ple is accented on the first syllable, not the second.

    Plus, “writing wrong” is not very good writing at all.

    Don’t you just hate me sometimes?

    :)

    P.S. Sondheim rhymes intellectual with homosexual — and I consider him the very the highest standard.

  50. Sara R on September 9, 2005 at 10:04 am

    Here’s the link to Tom Lehrer’s “The Elements,” animated: http://www.privatehand.com/flash/elements.html

  51. D. Fletcher on September 9, 2005 at 10:14 am

    He’s got perfect rhymes, and he rhymes “Haarvard,” with “di-SCAA-VAARD,” very charmingly. He’s had to add “and” in a lot of places, like I had to do with my ward names.

  52. Ryan Bell on September 9, 2005 at 10:49 am

    Weird that this turned into a stingy discussion about pedantry. Nate’s revision of the song was excellent, despite its technical indifference.

  53. GreenEggz on September 9, 2005 at 4:02 pm

    Who’s the guy who lampoons politics and political figures, while playing the piano standing and singing comic lyrics to well known tunes? His shows are or were on PBS.

  54. Adam Greenwood on September 9, 2005 at 4:07 pm

    #45

    I grew up in Deseret, (though not Utah). Quite likely you are right that its a regional thing.

  55. GreenEggz on September 9, 2005 at 4:15 pm

    Intellectual – in-tell-eck-choo-al
    homosexual- ho-mo-seck-shoo-al.

    If you go by the ending “oo-al” they rhyme.
    If you go by choo-al versus shoo-al, they don’t.

    I’ve heard britons pronounce sexual, seck-soo-al, “s” instead of “sh”.

    But it’s always irked me that they put an extra syllable in aluminum.

    Do you say “jay-peth” or “jay-feth” ?

    Quick, say “Shibboleth” and don’t mind those guys standing over there with swords.

  56. Eric James Stone on September 9, 2005 at 5:43 pm

    A worthy effort, Nate. I’ve always liked that song (the original), and I memorized it years ago. I think I still remember most of it.

    As for the issue of rhyming, I tend to be very orthodox — when I write something that’s supposed to rhyme, it really rhymes — but such a position seems to be falling out of favor.

    I don’t write much poetry, but here’s a limerick I composed last year in order to make a point about writing:

    You can start off a tale with a hook,
    And make quite an int’resting book.
    But a good end’s a must,
    For without one it just
    Falls flat.

  57. Gavin McGraw on September 9, 2005 at 7:32 pm

    Greeneggz, I believe it’s Mark Russell.

    D. Fletcher: I am perfectly aware of those items, thanKYOU.
    Gilbert does it too. “Often as in frequently.”

    This goes along with the discussion about near misses in rhyming. Same points apply. If you know what you’re doing, you can bend the rules. The question of who knows what they’re doing is sticky, so I’ll not comment.

    I really didn’t want to get sucked into that mudfight. sigh.
    And no I don’t hate you, I think it’s a pretty petty nitpick you picked to poke.

  58. Harold Curtis on September 9, 2005 at 10:20 pm

    Ode to Oman

    Thy brazen chronicles bespeak
    With lofty wit
    Your wordsmith
    Spining to the knit

    Alas such jocular
    verbage till the line
    The greater
    of thine then mine

    Your a cool guy.

    Harold B. Curtis

  59. D. Fletcher on September 9, 2005 at 11:50 pm

    I apologize most sincerely to everyone I’ve offended here. I’ve studied and written lyrics all my life, and I’m a bit of an ogre when it comes to their creation. Carry on!

  60. Gavin McGraw on September 10, 2005 at 4:42 am

    Mr. Fletcher your points are well taken.
    Where posts on this blog were mistaken,
    I tried to take time
    To correct them in rhyme,
    For prose I have all but forsaken. :)

  61. Heather Oman on September 10, 2005 at 3:11 pm

    Sorry, Gavin, I’m gonna have to go with D on this one about your verse. It’s hard to take your criticism about meter seriously when you force the reader to say simPLE. You can bend the rules all you want, you can say what you want about masters doing it, yada, yada, yada, but you can’t prove a point by trying to show somebody up and then making the same mistake you are trying to correct. It’s just not good form.

    That said, yes, D, we all know that you are a music snob and a lyric Nazi. It’s all part of your charm!

  62. Jack on September 10, 2005 at 3:59 pm

    C’mon man.

    I thought scholars/academicians/intellectuals were used to having there material reviewed by their peers.

    Don’t start acting like artists now!

  63. Daniel Peterson on September 10, 2005 at 4:18 pm

    As you know, Nate, I’m deeply bitter that you got to “The Very Model of a Mormon Intellectual” before I did. I’ve had the title in my mind for years, but never actually sat down to flesh it out. Alas.

    That said, however, you should also know that members of a private list that I’m on, in which various, um, revised lyrics and satirical haikus show up from time to time, have pronounced yours a “10.”

  64. Gavin McGraw on September 10, 2005 at 4:46 pm

    If it’s any consolation to me (and it isn’t, really), I made a different mistake than the one I was correcting (that of improper number of feet). My rule-contortion was in reversing the stress of a word or two.

    I might have written it thus:
    “You’ll notice the iambic feet in lines of wry octameter,
    So keep yourself upon the beat and follow my perameter.”
    Not only is it now complete with stresses all corrected,
    It also rhymes three sep’rate times to keep the words connected.

    However, I fear that my credibility, not to mention my chances of being named Poet Laureate of the Bloggernacle, have been irreversibly damaged. I must therefore defer to my betters.

  65. D. Fletcher on September 11, 2005 at 12:51 am

    To the tune of “My Favorite Things.”

    Our Nathan Oman is really quite brill-iant,
    Lawyer and blogger and husband resil-ient,
    Making the most of his little spare time,
    Trying to conjur up laughs in a rhyme.

    Crafting a poem takes hard work and talent,
    Nate made an effort both funny and gallant,
    My criticism took effortless gall,
    I didn’t mean to have started a brawl.

    Who knew that making a few good suggestions
    Brings to the table some odd quirky questions?
    Sorry if I’m overstepping my bounds,
    If you would sue me, you now have the grounds —

    There are reasons
    Times and Seasons
    Is the place to be.

    For Nate’s erudition and true Legal-ease,
    And now for his
    Po-e-try.

    :)

  66. propono on September 11, 2005 at 2:14 am

    Very well done Nate. William and Sir Arthur would be pleased.

  67. Mark on September 11, 2005 at 1:06 pm

    D.,

    Nate and Heather’s song made this one of the best ever lighthearted threads in the bloggernacle.

    Your well crafted and graceful contribution (comment 65) has now officially pushed this thread to the top. Thanks.

  68. D. Fletcher on September 11, 2005 at 4:30 pm

    I wrote some other verses to my parody that didn’t work with the “mea culpa” theme, but were funny in their own right, like:

    Nate posts with smart intellectual meanings.
    Others impart homosexual leanings.
    Adam-God theories and queries of them,
    Fall behind threads pro- and con- SSM.

  69. Nate Oman on September 11, 2005 at 4:40 pm

    D.: Funny. ;->

  70. scott on September 12, 2005 at 9:13 am

    Hey D.,

    “Mineral” and “general” don’t rhyme. And they never did.

    Hey Nate,

    I still agree with D. Let’s have a new version with the rhymes fixed.

    Scott

  71. D. Fletcher on September 12, 2005 at 9:51 am

    Of course, if you’re from Arizona, you might pronounce it “gineral” kinda like my former Stake President said “timple” all the time.

    LOL

    There are been questions about the general/mineral rhyme for years, but when pronounced very fast, it rhymes well enough. It works like a rhyme, in that it pricks the ear, in a way that non-rhymes don’t.

  72. scott on September 12, 2005 at 10:49 am

    D.,

    The speed of the song does not excuse the bad rhyme.

    It may be forgivable, necessary, “not that bad,” etc. But it is a flaw.

    I noticed it the first time I heard the song. I’ll bet you did too.

    In time I recovered and went on with my life. But the fact remains: “mineral” and “general” don’t rhyme.
    And they don’t sound like they do.

    The most famous of all G&S lines is brilliant, clever, hilarious. But it cheats. And you know it.

    Scott

  73. D. Fletcher on September 12, 2005 at 10:59 am

    Hehe, yes, all true.

  74. Jack on September 12, 2005 at 12:41 pm

    It doesn’t cheat. It says, “oh what the hell.”

    The whole line is filled with fun alliterations and near rhymes that amount to the silliest of rhetoric.

  75. Braden Bell on September 12, 2005 at 3:54 pm

    I realize that this discussion is winding down, but in Nate’s defense about slightly irregular lyrics, I offer two points:

    1. The ultimate standard for critiquing theatre (including comic operetta) is “does it work?” Nate’s song works, very much. There is a delightful wholeness to it. Moreover, it is totally in keeping with the satirical spirit of the original.

    2. As has already been noted, Gilbert himself played a bit fast and loose. Consider these examples from the original song:

    Then I can write a washing bill in Babylonic cuneiform
    And tell you every detail of Caractacus’ uniform

    and, my personal favorite,

    About binomial theorem I’m teeming with a lot of news
    With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypoteneuse.

  76. scott on September 12, 2005 at 6:12 pm

    Of course, G&S did not have a “what the hell” attitude toward rhyming (as they did towards lots of other things). It was cheating by the standards they held themselves to — not the wrong thing to do, mind you, but still cheating. (I read that Gilbert considered rhyming “ten or all” with “general,” but couldn’t make it work.) The mis-rhyme was not funny for its own sake (like “factual” and “intellactual” could arguably be). But, yes, it was a compromise expected to be overlooked in the name of good fun.

    Not everything has to rhyme. But if, like Gilbert, you enjoy language for its own sake, you can have a lot of fun finding unexpected exact rhymes, like “Dialogue” and “trial log”or “Brigham Young” and “dig’em young” or “Whitney” and “bit a knee.” (I’d avoid “Adam God” and “Madame God.”) I’m sure Nate could have done this. It just takes a whole lot more work and time to come up with clever exact rhymes that work (unlike my not especially clever examples). By mostly ignoring the rhyme requirements, Nate managed to get 80& of the potential humor (it was very funny) with 20% of the work. Not a bad tradeoff.

    But if you post on T&S, you have to expect that people will notice your compromises. And then notice again. And then really, really beat the issue to death. Sorry about that, Nate….

  77. John T. on September 13, 2005 at 8:35 pm

    C’mon give Nate a break. However, the poem is much better if you copy it and replace “Mormon Intellectual” with “Mormon: Ineffectual!”

    –May the farce be with you!

  78. Jack on September 13, 2005 at 9:37 pm

    scott,

    Every great lyricist has or will face the problem of compromising a perfect rhyme. Even Lerner allowed himself one imperfect rhyme. My point was about how the line comes across to the listener. Do we cringe every time we hear it? Do we picture Gilbert Spinning in his grave every time it is sung? No! It works. It’s fun. Gilbert understood the compromise he was making–yes. But I don’t think he went to his grave lamenting that compromise. He had to have the word “general” and couldn’t part with the word “mineral” because of it’s connection to the words “animal and vegetable.” So what else could he do but say, “what the hell,” and let it stand.

  79. Mike on September 14, 2005 at 10:43 am

    People in my ward might say that these lyrics apply to me. I don’t think I am quite that far gone but consider it a complement.

    Do some of you folks offer courses at BYU or somewhere for this kind of artistic endeavor? My teenagers seem to have a natural gift for making up parodies of their primary hymns. No where near as good as this masterpiece by Nate, but showing promise. And pants wetting funny to their peers. Maybe we shouldn’t encourage these tendencies, I don’t know.

    Examples: (I can’t remember them exactly or completely)

    We belong to the church of fleas and lice of rattle brained ain’ts.

    or:

    We have been bored like Nephi of old,
    by kooky parents who go over board.

    (I can’t remember the rest of this one, but it rather disturbingly ends like this)
    To bring church back to the truth.

  80. Sonia on September 20, 2005 at 5:52 pm

    Isn’t “Mormon Intellectual” an oxymoron?

  81. Gallant on September 20, 2005 at 5:55 pm

    No, it’s an oxy-mormon. (he-he-he).

    (Thanks. I’m here all week.)

  82. Nate Oman on September 20, 2005 at 6:13 pm

    “Isn’t “Mormon Intellectual” an oxymoron? ”

    No. Stupid question. Next.

  83. Sonia on September 20, 2005 at 7:56 pm

    Oh Nate, take a lesson from Gallant, who knows how to reply with style! Dismissing my question as stupid is intellectually useless.

    Of course “Mormon Intellectual” is an oxymoron (or oxymormon–LOL). If you look at Mormon history and doctrine intellectually, its claims fall apart. You pride yourself on knowing all about peepstones and polygamy, blood atonement and multiple versions of the First Vision etc., yet you still believe. That’s fine in a supernatural sense, but intellectually, it’s in opposition, hence an oxymoron.

  84. Nate Oman on September 20, 2005 at 8:10 pm

    Sonia: One glib dismissal deserves another. Galant, alas, is relentlessly unfunny, so I am disinclined to take him as a model. I don’t really know what you mean by “look at Mormon history and doctrine intellectually” let alone the falling apart part. I don’t see Mormon history and doctrine as falling apart. I see them as messy. However, the same is true of virtually anything that one might study from partical physics to Shakespeare. Your suggestion that no Mormon can be an intellectual except oxymoronically is insulting and moronic, no oxy about it.

  85. manaen on September 20, 2005 at 8:57 pm

    83
    “You pride yourself on knowing all about peepstones and polygamy, blood atonement and multiple versions of the First Vision etc., yet you still believe. That’s fine in a supernatural sense, but intellectually, it’s in opposition, hence an oxymoron.”

    Supernatural (spiritual?) seems to be put in opposition to intellectual here in what’s claimed to be an oxymoron. Oxymoron is an example of it’s own meaning: it’s components are opposed to each other: oxy – “pointed, sharp” and moron – “foolish.”

    But is our intellectual ability sufficient to know these truths unaided or do we need help from somewhere else – an intellectual grace? Assuming belief in the Bible, we have an answer to what seems (oxy)moronic/foolish: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Cor. 2:14).

    Once an intellectual person knows this verse, it is foolish to set aside the spiritual to favor the intellectual. Instead, the ability of the intellect to know a spiritually-defined truth can be developed by accepting the truth and working to understand why it’s true and what that answer has to teach further about God, man, and the universe. Or, as someone posted here a while ago, “once you accept Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith is easy.”

    Intellectual pondering can prepare us for clearer spiritual answers but, according to Paul, it’s unable to yield those answers. Pondering prepares us for what the Spirit then reveals.

  86. Aaron Brown on September 20, 2005 at 11:39 pm

    “Dismissing my question as stupid is intellectually useless.”

    I’m sorry, Sonia, but it looks to me that you’ve decided to borrow a phrase from Nate Oman to denigrate a comment by Nate Oman. (I’m thinking, obviously, of the racism discussion over at FMH and some of Nate’s comments there). And you’ve done so without attribution. I don’t think this is just a coincidence. So I’m wondering what to make of an accusation of intellectual uselessness, coming as it does from someone whose intellect is clearly too useless to come up with pithy phrases all by her little sweet self.

    Aaron B

  87. Prudence McPrude on September 20, 2005 at 11:48 pm

    Prudence is often accused of being an “oxymoron,” usually after she politely points out that her humility exceeds that of her fellow Church-goers by leaps and bounds. Prudence doesn’t know what that word means, and she’s not inclined to look it up, so she just takes it as a compliment. Prudence always responds, “Yes, Prudence is an oxy-Mormon. An ultra-orthodoxy-Mormon, to be precise. And proud of it!” That usually leaves everyone speechless, and that’s obviously because Prudence has, as usual, turned her foes’ words against them with her constant insight and impressive wit. That Prudence always has the Spirit with her has proven to be a blessing during many such episodes.

  88. Sonia Johnson on September 21, 2005 at 12:57 am

    Ha Aaron! You get the prize. I was going to put those words in quotes, but thought that would be too obvious. Nothing gets past you! ;)

  89. Aaron Brown on September 21, 2005 at 1:47 am

    Hey Sonia Johnson,

    You wouldn’t happen to be the “real” Sonia Johnson of ERA fame, would you? (He asks, knowing that there’s probably no way to confirm the truth of the answer …)

    Aaron B

  90. Sonia Johnson on September 21, 2005 at 1:50 am

    Oh no. I’m sure the real Sonia has better things to do.

    Apologies all around for my troll-like behavior.