William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Wednesday, 26, November, 2008

When Educations Attack

Filed under: Uncategorized — williamthecoroner @ 13:01

So this morning, I was at the Arabica on north campus, in search of some hazelnut coffee on a lousy cold morning.  I didn’t get any.  But there was music playing in the background, sort of an up-tempo, Vegas-style nightclub-by sound, very syncopated with a lot of trumpets and sax.  Frank Sinatra began to sing “By the old Moulmein pagoda…”  I thought to myself, “The lyrics are familiar, where have I heard that before?  Is that from Guys and Dolls?”  It took me quite some time to realize that he was singing Kipling’s Road to Mandalay.

Now, several folks have recorded that as a song.  Usually, however, it’s done in a very straightforward march tempo, very evenly.  To hear (and I’ll try to render it phonetically) “And you seeeeee the Sun, Like THUNDER…cross the bay” with heavy wah-wah big band brass behind it just grates on the ear.  Not like I’m opinionated or anything [1] but really.  Also, at least Frank didn’t try to sing with anything but his own accent; but the song really does need to be sung by a Brit.

Having obtained my coffee, I went back to the Medical School.  I related this story in the elevator to someone who has obviously worked in the medical school too long, because she said “Vagus style?  Oh, you mean Las Vegas style!  I thought you were referring to some one with excess parasympathetic tone!  Like the Vagus nerve.”

I realized in an instant that this was a blogworthy moment.  Comedy like this doesn’t come along every day.  Then, of course, I started thinking about excess parasympathetic tone, the mnemonic for which is SLUD–Salivation, Lachrymation, Urination, Defaecation.  The symptoms of acetylcholinesterase inhibitor (nerve gas) poisoning–you get those from unopposed parasympathetic activity.

Now, I don’t think that song would sound that good if Frank had those symptoms.  And I don’t know of anyone who’d pay good money to see Frank drooling, crying, and peeing all over the stage, even if it were in Vegas.  Weimar-era Berlin, perhaps, but still I can’t see filling ninety minutes of a nightclub act like that.  Perhaps as the opener, but of course, 1. could you pay Sinatra to open for someone else and 2. would you like to be the performer who came on stage after that act?  I wouldn’t want to.

1.   HA!


  1. “Salivation, Lachrymation, Urination, Defaecation.”

    “Vagus” act…

    “What do you call an act like that?”

    “The Aristocrats!”


    Comment by Joe Allen — Wednesday, 26, November, 2008 @ 13:19 | Reply

  2. Heheh. Medical field folks are odd. Reminds me of the time I told a med student friend, jokingly, that the song title “Cath…” was probably short for catheter. She just nodded and agreed. “You, uh, do know I was being sarcastic there, right?” I had to ask. Took her a minute.

    Comment by Overeducated Twit — Wednesday, 26, November, 2008 @ 14:45 | Reply

  3. I’d be doing a double take on only the musical part of the weirdness. “Vaguely” got style is where I’d hit on the pun spectrum.
    With the Road movies, it’d be easier to imagine Hope or Crosby crooning it. (Peter Bellamy is likely rolling over in his grave).
    Was it the same melody that the Roberts & Barrand and Friends of Fiddlers Green use? (both fine renditions of the song)
    That’s a very peculiar Arabica, anyhow.

    Comment by TeaWench — Wednesday, 26, November, 2008 @ 16:28 | Reply

  4. I always thought the Vegas/Vagus thing was a good mnemonic, because I’d think of Elvis dying on the throne, and connect it to when people pass out on the pot due to vagal stimulation. Although, honestly, I never have trouble remembering anything that has to do with pooping or reproduction. If only our culture could decide that abnormal heart rhythms were hilariously scandalous, I’d be a much better student…

    Comment by Holly — Thursday, 27, November, 2008 @ 06:41 | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: