Does this qualify as a Flashback?

Joe Gregorio

If you remember Tom Lehrer, you'll love this Flash version of The Elements![Via The Shifted Librarian]

Very cool Flash animation that reminds me of a story.

As an undergraduate I took a team taught honors class on Democracy and Capitalism. The role I played as the only conservative student in the class will remain a story for another day. One day during class one of the instructors, to make a point, broke out in song, in particular "Wernher Von Braun" from Tom Lehrer's That Was The Year That Was. Now I was oddly prepared for such an occasion. We had a record player when I grew up but not many albums. Until I was old enough to get a job and start buying music myself, we only had a handful of records, mostly polka music and a smattering of show tunes. And then there was the Tom Lehrer album, which as a kid, I listened to over and over, memorizing the lyrics, which are very funny and easy to sing along to. This, by the way, is nothing you want to hear, as I positively can not sing. Anyway, I was eminently prepared for that day in class and immediately joined in in singing "Wernher Von Braun", which led to the professor stopping the class and us having a long discussion, on how I came to know such an obscure song, the rest of the songs on the album, and the politics behind the songs. Meanwhile the rest of the class, and the other instructor, just sat there silently watching our discussion. Just one of the many surreal moments in my undergraduate education.

My father, not a musical kind of guy, had only one non-Benny Goodman album which I practically wore out on my Webcor phonograph: Tom Lehrer's "Songs by Tom Lehrer." For years, I annoyed my friends with renditions of "The Old Dope Peddler" and "Be Prepared" (the song about the Boy Scouts which my Scout leader didn't appreciate.) In a drawing class at community college, the teacher mentioned that his motto in drawing was, "Be Prepared." At my seat in front of a still life of some abused fruit, I mumbled, "Don't solicit for your sister, that's not nice..." He looked up at me, smiled and said, "...unless you get a good percentage of her price." The rest of the class hadn't a clue what we were talking about, but we went out for a beer afterwards -- and a couple of times over the rest of the semester. I got a B in the class, even though I still see the world with outlines instead of shades.

Posted by evan on 2003-04-14

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