April 3, 2002

Medieval Metal

By Roy Rivenburg
E Pluribus Sabbatum: Ever wondered what the heavy metal band Black Sabbath would’ve sounded like if its members had lived in the Middle Ages? Neither have we. But some musicians from the Baltic nation of Estonia have been pondering the question. And now they’ve recorded a CD.

Introducing ‘‘Sabbatum,’’ a Black Sabbath tribute album sung in Latin and performed with lutes, fiddles, bagpipes, harps and other Medieval instruments. The cover shows Ozzy Osbourne biting off the head of a gargoyle. OK, maybe we lied about Ozzy. But the rest is true.

Rondellus, a ‘‘renowned Estonian medieval music band’’ has transformed ‘‘War Pigs,’’ ‘‘Symptom of the Universe’’ and 10 more Sabbath tunes into 14th century ballads with such titles as ‘‘Verres Militares’’ and ‘‘Symptoma Mundi.’’ It’s the way metal was meant to be played. To hear samples, visit www.sabbatum.com.

Remember The Alamow: On your mark, get set, mow! The U.S. Lawn Mower Racing Association has just kicked off its 2002 season. Competitors include the Lawn Ranger, Mr. Mow It All, the Turfinator, Mr. Mow Jangles, Weedy Gonzales and Geronimow.

Anti-Doll Defamation League: Americans like to think they live in a society where men and women are treated as equals. But discrimination lingers. We’re referring, of course, to the National Toy Hall of Fame’s decision to induct Raggedy Ann into the hall but not her rag doll brother, Andy.

Sadly, this is part of a larger pattern of bias against male dolls. For example, in 1999, Chucky was denied an Academy Award nomination for best actor despite his bravura performance in ‘‘Bride of Chucky.’’ And Ken continues to endure second-class citizenship in Barbie’s world. There are no Ken Dream Houses or Ken Magic Jewel Princess Playsets. All the cool accessories go to Barbie.

But things might change now that George W. Bush has been immortalized in plastic. According to Wireless Flash News Service, a London company has begun manufacturing President Bush action figures (miniature pretzels presumably sold separately). No word on whether someone will come out with a Dick Cheney action figure and special Undisclosed Location Playset.

Alarming Canadian Trends Bureau: More reasons why our nuclear missiles should be pointed north:

-- A Canadian entrepreneur is selling Freudian slips, panties and T-shirts emblazoned with psychiatrist Sigmund Freud’s face. See www.halflife.com.
-- A Jewish Elvis impersonator named Schmelvis will screen a documentary on the King’s Hebrew ties at the Toronto Film Festival.
-- Thirty-one students in an ethics class at Ottawa’s Carleton University were caught plagiarizing on an essay, according to Reuters.

Underwater Grandpa Bureau: Shamu, the killer whale, is about to become a grandfather. Officials at Sea World say Shamu’s daughter, Takara, is expecting a bouncing 400-pound baby sometime this month.

Off-Kilter Encyclopedia: When former First Lady Betty Ford was growing up, she ate so much food that her mom hung a placard around her neck that said, ‘‘Please do not feed this child.’’

Supermarket Tabloid Story of the Week: Hell has a new motto. According to the Weekly World News, a survey of crooks who suffered near-death experiences revealed that the welcome sign posted over the gates of Hades has been updated from ‘‘Abandon all hope, ye who enter here,’’ to ‘‘You’re toast.’’

Unpaid Informants: Rev. Jef, Arizona Republic, Arizona Daily Star, Nan Bucknell, Wireless Flash News.

Copyright 2002 by Roy Rivenburg
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