October 4, 2000

Chants on the Charts
and Penguins on Their Feet

By Roy Rivenburg

Serfin' USA: Most of you are too young to remember Dick Clark's first music show, "Gregorian Bandstand,'' which debuted 1,100 years ago in Rome and featured the latest smash-hit Gregorian chants.

One of the program's hippest segments was "Rate-a-Chant,'' in which vassals and serfs from the studio audience listened to new chants and offered such comments as, "It's got a good beat and you can slaughter Ottoman Turks to it.''

Although parents frowned upon the phenomenon, kids loved it and Gregorian chants rocketed up the medieval charts.

Now you can relive the excitement of that era with "Masters of Chant,'' a new CD featuring Gregorian chant interpretations of "some of pop's most treasured songs.'' To hear a snippet, visit chants.

Sorry, no "Shake Your Booty,'' "Cop Killer'' or "Louie Louie.'' But the song list does include covers of R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion,'' Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters,'' Percy Sledge's "When a Man Loves a Woman,'' Simon & Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair'' and U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For.''

The CD won't arrive in U.S. stores until Nov. 21, but it's already a sensation overseas. According to a spokeswoman, the record went platinum in Portugal and gold in Singapore and Poland.

Maybe so, but until there's a Gregorian chant version of "Freebird,'' we refuse to buy it.

Rip Van Penguin: As you probably know from personal experience, waking up a penguin is one of nature's most difficult tasks. Here at Off-Kilter, we've tried everything: alarm clocks, loud music, holding them under running water, pressing joy buzzers against their little flippers, even Gregorian chants. All to no avail.

But now, there's a simple scientific solution. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, French researchers with nothing better to do recently discovered that the best way to rouse a slumbering arctic bird is to touch its feet.

This is a major breakthrough, but much more work needs to be done. We're hoping the French will also investigate how to deal with penguins who snore and hog the blankets.

Mark Your Calendars: Oct. 25 is Take Your Fish to Work Day. Unless you can't fit the aquarium in your purse or briefcase.

Big Gulp Mascara: 7-Eleven has announced plans to introduce its own line of cosmetics.

Meanwhile, in other frightening fashion news, ABC newswoman Diane Sawyer reportedly might license a set of Diane Sawyer purses. And Jordache plans to resume production of its early-1980s skintight jeans, complete with rhinestones and gold stitching.

On the Campaign Trail: Shock rocker Marilyn Manson says he is leaning toward George W. Bush in the November election, according to Talk magazine. If so, Bush will be the only candidate to lock up both the Christian AND Satan-worshipper vote.

Canine 31 Flavors: A woman in Gainesville, Fla., has opened the world's first ice cream parlor for dogs. No word on the flavor selection, but we predict "mailman'' and "lick yourself'' would be popular.

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: "Cereal Killer Murders 23--At Their Breakfast Tables!'' (Weekly World News)

Unpaid Informants: Tennessee Tuxedo, Chumley, Wireless Flash News Service, PR Newswire, San Francisco Chronicle, W magazine, Women's Wear Daily, New York Post, Mark Joseph.

Copyright © 2000 by Roy Rivenburg
Distributed by Creators Syndicate