This little tale concerning the perils of cultural appropriation can be found in my collection Sleepytime Cemetery, available from Black Scat Books. Here’s how it starts; for more, buy the book!
THE YODELING DUTCHMAN
Rembrandt van Rijn stepped out of his picturesque cottage and into the crisp October air. I should make it clear at the outset that this Rembrandt van Rijn is not the same as the famous painter, whose works are prized by museums and fetch such high prices at auction. He wasn’t even a painter. To clear up any confusion, I should give him a different name.
Johannes Vermeer stepped out of his picturesque cottage and into the crisp October air. He filled his lungs and started yodeling.
“Oh layee layee oh,” he yodeled, waving his arms in rhythm.
A stout woman bustled out, her poplar klompen clattering on the walkway. She was Catharina, his wife.
“Johannes! Johannes!” she exclaimed. “Stop that infernal racket!”
“I’m yodeling,” he explained.
“I can hear that,” she replied. “But this is Holland, not Switzerland.”
“But we Dutch have no folk tradition of extended vocal technique, like Swiss yodeling, Tuvan throat singing, or Balkan outdoor singing.”
“True,” admitted Catharina.
“Many Dutch jazz bands play music from the African American tradition,” he said. “Why shouldn’t I appropriate the glottal stops of our Alpine neighbors?”
“Because they’re Alpine,” Catharina said. “When they yodel, it echoes. There’s no echo here. The Netherlands are as flat as a pancake, or, to put it in our native tongue, a pannekoek.” (This was before the spelling reform of 1996, which changed the spelling to pannenkoek.)
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It’s distressing when somebody says something offensive. Your face flushes; your heartbeat goes up; it’s like getting mild exercise, or drinking coffee. Here’s a song for those occasions.
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The fifteenth issue of The Black Scat Review is out! This one is subtitled “More Utter Nonsense,” and includes my poem “Pan and Kettle,” as well as my translations of two monologues by Charles Cros, “The Man with His Feet Turned Around” and “The Man Who Made a Discovery.” The other contributors are Edward Ahern, Paulo Brito, Giada Cattaneo, Norman Conquest, Falconhead, Farewell Debut, Jhaki M.S. Landgrebe, Michael Leigh, Jason E. Rolfe, Mercie Pedro e Silva, and Carla M. Wilson.
It’s available from Black Scat Books: $18 for a print copy and $5 for a digital.
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A piece for viola and piano; an octatonic theme harmonized and turned into a canon.
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A drowsy little piece for piano, recommended for nap time. The title comes from Keats. Thanks, Keats.
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From my conservatory days, an idea for a graphic score notated on flipbooks. I did this for my freshman composition class, and it made a cheery racket.
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I think that if I’d lived in NYC any longer, I would have ended up gouging out someone’s eyes. Here I can purge those fantasies in a song.
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A plea for tolerance: remember, someone who disagrees with you may simply have his head up his ass.
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A song about the universe.
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April 11th, 2016 · 1 Comment
Sleepytime Cemetery is now available! In the words of Black Scat Books, “In this new collection of short stories by the author of The Doug Skinner Dossier, you’ll discover a world of ostensibly human specimens behaving in peculiar and unpredictable ways. However, they are often recognizable in a manner we dare not admit. Skinner’s dark humor is deceptively playful and childlike, and that makes our bursts of laughter all the more disturbing. These 40 tales are guaranteed to disconcert and astonish.”
Available from Black Scat Books, or from Amazon.
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