19 April 2005
First Experiment in Amoebic Verse : Gomery Inquiry
[Judge John Gomery]
"Amoebic verse" sounds pretty cool; contrary to what you might suspect, it's a term used to describe verse-making in which one person provides the first verse, another person the second verse, the first person the third verse, the second person the fourth verse, and so on, responsively.
Theoretically, iambic octameter, the meter of The Plains of Abraham, should be good for this. (More soon on whether the meter is actually octameter or in fact paired tetrameters . . .) So, while driving from Lake Louise to Calgary the other day, Dave and I tried it out.
Here are the downloadable results of this first amoebic experiment, a digital video clip in .wmv format.
Update (Feb 2007) I've now uploaded the videos to YouTube.com, which means we get a nice streaming version!
You may have to boost the sound on your computer, as I was holding the camera and not speaking directly into the mike. Also, you'll see that we get better as we go along. We chose the hottest item in Canadian politics these days, the Gomery Inquiry into the Sponsorship Scandal, as our subject.
Here's the transcript -- HTML is wary of leaving you multiple spaces, so I've indicated caesuras (regular breaks in the verse) with colon marks [:] --
Jack. . . . Lake Louise. And Dave and I, keen political addicts, decided that we're going to see what we can do in terms of alternating lines describing the ongoing Gomery Scandal, in spontaneous composition. So, we're going to alternate lines, right?
Dave. Well, we're going to try.
J. We're going to try.
D. . . . And all the nation then : did hearken unto Gomery
J. Judge Gomery, a noble man : who sat before the tribunal
D. Tis bad, he said, and tis corrupt : but worse it is, but small-town cheap
J. Just so indeed Judge Gomery : declaring things to Jean Chretien
D. And then he turned unto the scoundrels : to the men of bad comp'nies
J. And many were their disgraced names : and sprung from far and wide they came
D. And first among them was Jean Brault : the president of Groupe Action
J. And he it was whose name was foulest : of the advertising chiefs
D. And yet in turn, when th' inquiry came : 'twas he who turned his back on sin
J. And yet he could not stain his name : more deeply than it had just been
D. For pure indeed was his reliance : on the federal sponsorship
J. The scandal of the sponsorship : the most disgraceful deed of all
D. And next to him was Corriveau : an ageing man of silver hair
J. Unyielding was his will : and stern his glance : but bad his memory
D. For like unto the Alzheimer's : was the disease which racked his brains
J. And yet some said, in whispered words : it was not illness in his brain
D. But rather it was his cowardice : for well he knew the guilt was his
J. And yet he did not speak : on each in turn : he laid forgetful eyes
D. Polite to him were all the lawyers : [who] asked the questions at th 'inquir[y]
J. Six million dollars in cold cash : he'd walked away with, on a time
D. Yet scornful were the nation's papers : scornful most in proud Quebec
J. And then behold, the Globe and Mail : and even that Toronto Star
D. Did yell and shout and fill their pages : with their bold denunctiat[ions]
J. And then the editorial boards : did gather up within their groups
D. And boundless words did they opine : in columns, banners, op-eds too
J. And all the public did come forth : and sit before the tribunal
D. For many days was it blacked out : and none allowed to cover it
J. And yet they knew there was a blog : some said, in Minnesota's land
D. From which one could, in dark of night : read details, even testimon[y]
J. And all the journalists indeed : knew of this blog, yet could not speak
D. And deeply did it grieve them thus : that they should know and not send word
Breaking news: We just heard that Ratzinger has been chosen by the Holy Spirit as Pope Benedict XVI. Apparently Dave hedged his bets and actually put a euro on this outcome, which at 16-1 covers all his losses. (He had been unable to find out if hedging one's bets on papal elections was covered by the 1591 papal bull which forbade betting on this sort of thing.)