You young whippersnappers with your hard-top motorcars and suchlike contraptions are probably familiar with the whole idea of the "mash-up," but your elders might need an introduction; basically, it's a layering of several pieces of music over one another.  In the old days, you pretty much had to wait for Peter Schickele to compose one of his pieces like the "Unbegun" Symphony in order to hear how Mozart's "Jupiter" Symphony could fit neatly together with "Anchors Aweigh," or get out your guitar and strum along to discover that the Jackson Five's "I Want You Back" is basically the same song as the Grateful Dead's "Friend of the Devil," but digital technology being what it is, now this sort of meeting of the musicians can be done with existing recordings.

DJ Earworm is probably my favorite producer of such mash-ups.  For example, there's his "Stairway to Bootleg Heaven," in which strands of music by Laurie Anderson, Dolly Parton, Eurythmics, Pat Benatar, the Beatles, the Beastie Boys, and the Art of Noise are twisted into a gloriously bizarre whole.  His combination of tunes by the Beatles, the Scissor Sisters, George Michael, and Aretha Franklin, "No One Takes Your Freedom," remains probably the coolest mash-up I've ever heard.

I've been online for about nine years now, so I suppose it was inevitable that I'd start forgetting things I posted long ago.  Some of them have vanished into the ether, but a few have hung on to life like coelacanths, and occasionally I'll turn one up during a search for something else.  One such recently did--and darned if it isn't a mash-up.

It's actually a mash-up of ideas that were thrown out by my old "Loose Canons" partner Paul Clark, who was complaining about having seen the movie "RV," and particularly this scene:

An extended (I'd say at least 15 minutes) scene revolving around cleaning out the clogged toilet of an RV is probably incapable of being funny. You could give a million dollars each to Shakespeare to write it, Preston Sturges to direct it, and the Marx Brothers to act it out, and their combined talents would fall flat. Robin Williams didn't have a chance.

That's the kind of challenge I simply can't ignore, as Paul knows, having in the past unwittingly inspired me to do such things as rewrite Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" as a critique of "Blondie" and other living fossils on the comics page.  But anyway, given the themes of Shakespeare, Sturges, Marx, and an RV toilet, here's what I came up with:

Dad (Groucho): But soft! What broke wind through yonder light?

Uncle Leonard (Chico): At's a no wind. At's a what you call a driving storm.

Dad: Well if it's driving, when does it get to the DMV? I've got a moving violation to report.

Leonard: When I got a moving violation, I always drink a big glassa salty water.

Dad: Fie on't! (Driving in plunger, which sticks in place.) Very well. I'll break my wand and drown my books, and THEN we'll see whether all's well that ends well.

Leonard: When my end swell, I always drink a big glassa salty water.

Dad: Is there an echo in here?

Leonard: Is there an echo in where?

Dad: That's the first time I've ever picked up an extra W when I wasn't pitching.

Leonard: If you been pitching, who's on first?

Dad: Oh, no. I'm not getting involved in THAT lawsuit!

(Mom bursts in)

Mom (Margaret Dumont): Julius, we've been waiting out here since breakfast.

Dad: You've been waiting? I didn't notice a waiter at breakfast. Did you bring that extra half-and-half I asked for?

Mom: We've been waiting for YOU.

Dad: Well, there's your mistake in a nutshell. I'm going to be stuck in this tiny room for some time. In fact, you should probably go find me a nutshell. I hear they're plenty roomy, and later on I'd like to stretch out.

Leonard: Atsa no place for stretch out. Is all fulla nuts.

Dad: What do you think this place is full of?

Leonard: Ey, don't get mad.

Dad: I'm not mad. I'm just pretending. But in your case, I'll make an exception.

I guess the question now is whether this sort of thing is a sign of my web savvy or just of the knots in which my brain is tied. But the mash-up is now over, and the rest is silence.

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on January 2, 2008 4:59 PM.

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