Applying Antisymmetry in ‘concert’

Two weeks ago, I drove out to Chicago for CLS 50 – of course, my teaching schedule meant that I got there just in time for the end-of-conference banquet and sadly missed the actual talks – c’est la vie. BUT! As it turned out, the banquet was worth the drive all on its own, because…the CLS conference banquet has karaoke.* Which means…an audience that can actually appreciate my ridiculous linguistics songs.

I ended up singing ‘Applying Antisymmetry’ with one of the Chicago grad students (who was such a trooper–I taught her lyrics in the hallway about 10 minutes before the singing started). It was a lot of fun, and one of the attendees asked me to make a recording of the song, so here it is!

If you want to read along with the lyrics, here is the original post. Also, if you have any requests for theories I should cover in my next ‘Love songs for linguistic theories’ parody, let me know!


*This is now the standard by which I will judge every annual linguistics conference – ahem, looking at you, LSA.



Can you hear me now?

Apparently some people are having a hard time listening to the music I’m embedding in my posts. Since it’s fairly boring to read song lyrics without listening to the song, that’s rather distressing. If you visit my blog in the next week, can you do me a favor and try to listen to both the mp3 and wav versions of a song or two, and take whichever poll matches the device(s) you are using? If you use something I haven’t mentioned below, please leave a comment about whether it’s working or not.

Thanks for your help! If I need to, I can find another way to make the sound files available, like through youtube.




I just can’t wait to be queen!

This week: Back to childhood, when everything was love, fluff, and baby bilgesnipes for our two hero(ine)s (at least in comparison to trying to kill, maim and/or imprison each other)!

First of all, my friend Patrick painted an awesome picture of Princess Thor and Loki for me! This is the first official fan art for Thor: The Frozen World. Congrats Pat! You get free tickets to the show if it ever happens.
Thor and Loki painting

I am skipping BACK to song number 2 of the musical, which is set immediately following the scene in the weapons vault, when Thor and Loki are children. The song is based on ‘I just can’t wait to be king,’ which is of course from The Lion King instead of Frozen, but how can you possibly write a fake Disney musical based on the Thor franchise and not have tiny Thor and Loki singing this song? Seriously, try it. I challenge you.

Plus, tiny Loki is singing both Zazu and Nala’s parts, and the adorableness…I can’t even handle it. Patronizing authority figure meets loveable side kick? This combo 100% sums up child Loki for me.

One note on the lyrics: Since this musical is a choose-your-own-gender adventure, I had to decide on a song-by-song basis whether to develop a rhyming scheme around ‘king’ or ‘queen.’ I elected to respect the source material, so throughout this song there are places where ‘queen’ is only a near rhyme. I lost a mild amount of sleep over that, but moved on.

The complete set of Thor: The Frozen World songs can be found here.




If one or both of the songs files are not playing on your device, please let me know!

I’m gonna be a mighty queen
my enemies all slain

Plus you’d be the first to rule with only half a brain

I’m gonna be the queen who reigns/rains
like no one did before
with Mjolnir I can reach the sky
and settle every score

You know, Thor, hitting won’t solve everything

I just can’t wait to be queen!

Come on, Loki!
No one saying hit this
No one saying fight fair

No one saying no tricks

No one saying stay here

Free to run around all day

Free to do it all my way!

Or my way!

Your way is usually unnecessarily violent and exceedingly boring.

And leads to less trouble!

Oh does it? And what about that time when—no, Thor, no!


You always fall for that.

Heh, do I?

Stop it! Put me down, Thor!

Don’t you think the ruler of the nine realms should be smart?

Queens don’t need advice from little sisters for a start!

Fine! If stupid oafs like you get to be queen
then count me out!
I’ll leave Asgard, and the nine realms—

Loki, please don’t pout.
I didn’t mean to spoil anything.
It’s just— I just can’t wait to be queen!
You know we’ll do it all together

You say that now…

Whatever happens. I promise!

musical interlude

Everybody look left

Everybody look right

Everywhere you look I’m standing in the spotlight!

Not me…

We’ll cast a spell to make the nine realms sing
The branches of Yggdrasil’ll bloom like spring
We’re gonna be the best Asgard can bring

I just can’t wait to be queen

I just can’t wait to be queen

We just can’t wait…to be queen!

Next Week: Adventures on Midgard! Thor and Jane fall in love (over a single weekend)! Darcy is…a slightly more PG 13 version of Olaf the jazzy snowman!  

Being Green (Blooded)

It is almost inconceivable to me that I am a month into this blog, and haven’t posted a Star Trek song yet. Not to imply that Thor isn’t great, but I’ve been a Star Trek fan since I was *3*. One of my earliest memories is of standing in the middle of the kitchen dressed in my Halloween costume (a TNG uniform), and sobbing because I had just learned that Starfleet didn’t exist, so I couldn’t join and hang out with my idols Tasha Yar and Worf. This was far, far more upsetting than Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, combined.

So let’s fix this situation.

I wrote and recorded this for some friends a few years ago, but now that I’m looking at it again, it’s making me wish that Muppets in Space had been a Trek cross-over. An epic showdown between Gonzo and Kermit as Kirk and Spock versus Waldorf and Fozzie Bear as Picard and Riker (McCoy would be Statler, caught between the two crews), Swedish Chef as Chekov, Animal as Sulu, and…

Weskey Beaker

Tell me you don’t want to see Wesley Crusher as Beaker. YOU CAN’T.

People. Somebody needs to do this. And if that somebody does not come forth by the time I am finished with Thor: The Frozen World, it might end up being me. In the mean time, here is “Being Green (Blooded),” as sung by T’Pei, Vulcan Ops Lieutenant, lounge singer, and Miss Star Trek Universe winner.

A rare photographic capture of that introspective moment just before one bursts into song in the middle of bridge duty.


Being Green (Blooded)

It’s not that easy being green
Having to spend each day around irrational beings
At times I think it could be rather easier
Being Andorian, Terran, or Trill
Something quite emotional like that

No, it’s not that easy being green
When people think that all you are is a machine
And they view you as uncaring
If you’re not screaming out like angry Klingons in a battle
Or breaking down to cry

But green is the color of reason
And green may be cool and dignified
For green means control of emotion
Applying logic to commotion
And efficiency!

When green is what you’re born to be
It could make you wonder why
But why wonder, why wonder?
I am green and that will be fine – because it’s logical
And I find that quite acceptable

Next Week: Back to Thor next Thursday!

Not your average Thor review

As I mentioned in the last post, I had family visiting for the past week; namely, my incomparable mother.

About 45 minutes after her plane landed, we were waiting to be seated at a restaurant, and my mother turned to me and frowned. Deeply. “I watched Thor on the plane,” she announced.

Let me tell you something about my mother: she does not like superhero movies. She doesn’t, as far as I can tell, really like movies, period.

“Oh?” I replied as mildly as I could manage. “What did you think then?”

There was a long pause, during which I – valiantly – succeeded in not laughing at the succession of facial contortions my mother was making as she thought.

“It was so violent! That one guy in the cape kept hitting everything with his hammer, and his brother, the cranky one in the jail cell–”

“Wait a minute. Jail cell? Mom, did you watch Thor 2 on accident? That had to have been fairly confusing.”

“I guess so. Well, I watched the first hour, then I fell asleep. It didn’t make any sense. But I tried, because I wanted to understand your songs.”

Ladies and gentlemen, that is motherly love, right there. Plus, I have to hand it to her– “Thor is violent and Loki is cranky” is actually a pretty good first approximation synopsis of the franchise.

I swear that I had not intended to make her watch Thor, but I couldn’t leave her in a state of plot confusion based on watching only the first half of the second movie. So, we watched it together, and…I took notes on her running commentary. I hope you laugh as hard as I did.

The plot

  • (Alaskans can empathize with the frost giants) “Sometimes living in a cold hell-hole makes me want to kill a bunch of people, too.”
  • “Who are all of these people and why are they all wearing the same armor? The only ones I can tell apart are the fat one and the one with the horns.”
  • “Wait, did Odin just die in order to avoid Loki’s question?”
  • (The beginnings of an excellent prediction gone so, so wrong) “Loki won’t let them [Frost Giants] actually kill Odin. At the last minute, his heart will grow three sizes like the Grinch and he’ll turn good.”
  • (The Destroyer shows up) “What the hell is that and where has it been this whole movie?”
  • The acting

  • (Subconsciously realizing that Chris Hemsworth is Australian) “He looks like one of those Thunder from Down Under men!”
  • (Has clearly never seen Tom Hiddleston in an interview) “I have a really hard time imagining the guy who plays Loki dancing around and singing.”
  • (A bit later) “I’m having a lot of fun imagining these two in dresses.”
  • Asgard is completely screwed

  • Mom: “He just tricked his brother into getting banished?”
    Me: “Well yes, but it was -sort of- by accident. He’s at least correct that Thor would be a terrible ruler.”
    Mom: “Would Loki be any better?! Or for that matter, Odin? The mom would be completely justified in locking all three of them up and ruling this place herself.”
  • “There aren’t enough synonyms for dysfunctional to describe this family.”
  • “Odin should never have been allowed to procreate. Or take anyone else’s kid. Or be around children…ever.”
  • Mom: “He [Loki] shouldn’t be king, he should be locked away in a psychiatric ward! Although it would be a shame if they didn’t allow women to visit.”
  • My mother, the romantic

  • (Thor and Jane are outside the SHIELD facility) “Is he going to kiss her now? They just met!”
  • (Thor and Jane are on the roof) “Are they making out?”
  • (The Destroyer hits Thor) “Is he dead? But they never kissed!”
  • (Thor and Jane finally kiss) “There’s no way he’s going to come back now.”
  • Final verdict
    After the movie was over, I asked my mother if she would take a stab at describing the plot for someone who had never seen the movie. She huffed and gave me a decidedly suffering do-I-really-have-to? face. And yes, yes, she did.

    “Okay… There are two brothers, except one is a tiny secret alien. Then there is their complete jerk of a father, who told both of them they could be king even though he never meant it. Then the non-alien brother gets banished to Earth and he should have stayed here because he fell in love with a girl 15 minutes after meeting her, but NO! He has to say “I’ll come back for you” and you know whenever anyone says that they won’t come back, but he flounces back home anyway and somehow his showing up magically fixes everything including stopping the alien brother from doing…something bad, and waking his dad up from his coma. He destroys the bridge so he’ll never be able to see his girlfriend again, except he barely knew her anyway so who cares? The end.”

    And there you have it. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    Forever reprise & Endless Night

    Today: Thor almost became queen of the nine realms, but…didn’t. Then, she was banished, stripped of her powers, and told her father was dead. This has not been a stellar day for Thor, really.

    The music editing went a bit more smoothly this week. Because I got better, you ask? Haha, no. The strange, buzzy alien high notes are still there despite my best efforts. I just decided to take a page from the Samuel L. Jackson Rulebook of Zen Intergalactic Diplomacy: “You stay up there above the staff, behave yourselves, and we’re cool. But you come down here below F, start breaking new sh#t? I’ll send you on a vacation to Tahiti you won’t come back from. Capisce?* Good. Welcome to the planet, motherf%^#ers.”

    A pretty timely attitude shift, since Thor’s about to get her own warm Midgard welcome, Clark Gregg style. Song #4 of TFW takes place while Thor is being held for questioning in SHIELD’s impromptu what-the-hell-is-this-electromagnetic-hammer-from-the-sky facility. It begins immediately after Loki arrives and lies to her about Odin’s death and extends through Loki’s failed attempt at Mjolnir worthiness** and return to Asgard. This song, a reprise of the end of ‘For the first time in forever,’ technically does not appear in Frozen.

    Song #5 is based on ‘Endless Night,’ from the Broadway version of The Lion King, and does not have a perfect scene correlate in the movies. It takes place sometime after Thor has been sprung from the SHIELD facility, and sometime before the scene with Jane on the roof of–whatever they were on the roof of. Her trailer? Don’t I remember them having a fire up there? That seems perfectly safe! Carry on, you crazy lovebirds.

    A complete song list for Thor: The Frozen World can be found here.

    *Al Pacino also helped develop this rulebook, because of course he did. On a related note, can you imagine how fantastic an action movie starring these two would be? (Sea of Love doesn’t count). I don’t care what genre: buddy cop, spy versus spy, documentary…I would see it in theatres 1 million times. Make this happen, Hollywood.
    **I love how Loki cannot catch a break. Ever. I mean, sure, this is definitely not the most worthy moment of his entire existence, but sometimes I think that Kenneth Branagh and Joss Whedon must have gone out for beers to brainstorm all the creative ways they could show this character getting screwed over, and about 4 pints in, one of them (Whedon) said, “You know what? I’m trashed. Let’s just put them all in.”

    TFW Song 4: Forever reprise


    If one or both of the songs files are not playing on your device, please let me know!

    I’m such a fool, I didn’t see
    I’m not the queen Asgard needs me to be
    Sister don’t leave, please do not go
    Just ask mother – she’ll take me back, I know

    She said you must stay here

    She said I must stay here?

    I’m sorry sister dear

    Sister don’t leave me here

    I must return to watch over the throne

    -the throne!

    (Loki/Thor simultaneously)
    For the first time in forever
    I have what I’ve dreamed of since birth
    A chance to make my family proud
    A chance to prove my worth

    I’m such a fool, what have I done?
    I had it all and now I have no one
    Father… father, mother, how could I know?

    And I know it might end tomorrow
    So it has to be today!
    But for the first time in forever
    For the first time in forever
    Nothing’s in my way!


    TFW Song 5: Endless Night
    Because Loki doesn’t have a monopoly on angst


    If one or both of the songs files are not playing on your device, please let me know!

    Where has the starlight gone
    Dark is the day
    How can I find my way home?
    Home is an empty dream
    Lost to the night
    Sister, I feel so alone

    I promised I’d be there
    Whenever you needed me
    But now if you needed me
    I can’t do anything

    I’m trying to hold on
    Though I know not what I should do
    How can I redeem myself
    and end this nightmare

    When will the dawning break
    Oh endless night
    Sleepless I dream of the day
    When we stood side by side
    Forging our path
    Sister I can’t find the way

    I promised I’d be there
    Whenever you needed me
    But now if you needed me
    I can’t do anything

    I’m trying to hold on
    Though I know not what I should do
    How can I redeem myself
    and end this nightmare

    I know that the night must end
    And then the sun will rise
    I know that the clouds must clear
    And that the sun will shine

    I know that the night must end
    And then the sun will rise
    I know that the clouds must clear
    Because the storm is mine

    I know, yes I know the sun will rise
    Yes I know, I know the clouds must clear
    I know that the night must end
    I know that the sun will rise
    And I’ll find my strength deep inside
    I know that the night must end
    And that the clouds must clear
    Oh, the storm, the storm is mine
    The storm, the storm is mine!

    Next week: I am taking a hiatus for visiting family, so there will be no new Thor:TFW songs. There will be a different song though, so check back!


    Into (technological) darkness – a prelude

    So. I’m a bit late in posting for last Thursday. This is because this week, I learned an Important Life Lesson: knowing how to use Audacity and Praat to record linguistic data in NO way prepares you to even think about mixing music. Neither does knowing anything about singing. Or acoustic phonetics. Or physics. In fact, as far as I can tell, literally nothing I have learned in my life even begins to mitigate how astoundingly awful I am at music editing. I can start with a pretty nice vocal recording and BAM! The moment I add the instrumental backing, every note above an F suddenly sounds like it’s in a very soft, polite, alien insect language. I spent more time trying to fix this than I did writing and recording every single one of the songs for this musical.

    Last night, my metaphorical tail between my legs, I finally gave in and contacted a composer friend, Brandon, who graciously listened to my troubles without laughing (although he has the benefit of being in a different state, so who knows what faces he was making). He even passed on some helpful tips that aren’t in the Reaper manual because…well, because they are actually that basic:

    (1) Turning both the dry and wet gain up all the way in every place you can may not be the best decision (spoilers: it’s the worst decision).

    (2) Auto-tune (at least in Reaper) might help fix the couple of iffy notes, but it will also take perfectly good notes and murder them in their sleep, leaving their little note families bereft. So embrace however you sounded when you recorded the song, because there is no help for you here.

    (3) Your recording equipment sucks compared to the professionally mastered instrumental track you’re pairing it with. This is why the vocals sound fine alone, but wonky with the backing. Write an a capella musical next time (and I will, I will).

    (4) Drinking a glass of wine while listening to the song won’t make these problems magically disappear (I actually figured that one out of my own, using the scientific method).

    So, friends, if you ever decide to record music for a musical about superheros based on karaoke tracks of Disney songs (because who doesn’t have that on their bucket list, really?), learn from my mistakes: become a professional musician first and get recorded by a real studio – preferably one at Hogwarts, because I’m pretty sure mixing music requires magic.

    Now that I’ve  lowered your expectations to the point where I could post an mp3 of me sobbing hysterically and you’d think ‘hmm, not so bad!’ here is a new song for this week!


    Today: A good day for Thor! A conflicted day for Loki (although one supposes that most of Loki’s days fall into that category).

    ‘Forever’ begins prior to Thor’s coronation, predominantly during the ‘helmets, tricks and brotherly love’ cut scene, and continuing into the actual ceremony. The song is based on ‘For the first time in forever.’ (The complete set of Thor: The Frozen World songs can be found here).

    TFW Song 3: Forever – listen along!

    Everything’s ready, here’s my helm
    I think we invited half the realm
    Do I look as awesome as I feel?
    For years I’ve readied for this day
    Leading the realms in my own way
    Now it’s finally starting to seem real
    There’ll be plentiful celebration
    Victories like you’ve never seen
    Norns, am I so ready to be queen!

    Cause from now on until forever
    I will conquer every foe
    From now on until forever
    There’ll be nowhere we can’t go
    And I know you think me reckless
    But who cares? There’s naught to fear
    Cause from now on until forever
    You’ll be with me here.

    Seriously, how do I look?

    Like a queen.

    Tonight I’ll sit with gungnir in hand
    Guarding the people of all the lands
    The picture of true queenly sovereignty
    I suddenly see a distant threat
    An innocent realm that is beset
    Failure’s an impossibility
    But of course we return victorious
    To a celebratory feast
    Today will see my destiny released!

    From now on until forever
    Life will fall under our spell
    From now on until forever
    We’ll have adventures all will tell
    And the task ahead is daunting
    But I will bring my family pride
    And from now on until forever
    We’ll be side by side.

    Too late to change, what I must do
    But sister, never doubt that I love you
    Father, mother, why don’t you see?
    Thor can’t be queen, she’s nowhere near ready

    And it’s happening today
    It’s agony to wait

    Tell the guards to open up the gates!

    – the gates!

    (Thor/Loki simultaneously)
    From now on until forever
    I’ll get whatever I dream of
    A chance for glorious battle
    A chance to fly above

    This can’t go on, it’s up to me
    She’s not the queen we need for her to be
    Sister… you stupid fools why don’t you see?

    I won’t worry about tomorrow
    My new life begins today
    And from now on until forever
    From now on until forever
    Nothing’s in my way!

    Next week: Thor gets a few of her own Important Life Lessons.