The Best of the Millennium

So we’ve reached the end of another millennium. Seems like just yesterday we were eagerly preparing for the year 1000, taking our annual baths, gathering up live chickens to foully eat with our bare hands at the celebration, and marvelling at how we’d lived to the ripe old age of 28 and would indeed live to see another year, provided a Mongol horde didn’t come through the village and wipe us all out first.

Of course I’m aware that the next millennium doesn’t actually start until 2001. I’m aware of this primarily because once a week, every newspaper in the country prints a letter to the editor written by someone who thinks he’s a genius for pointing out this fact. To these people I would like to say two things:

1) Do you READ the letters to the editor, or just write them? Because if you read them, you’d see that this information has already been passed along numerous times. Everyone knows this by now. We are all aware that there was no year “0,” and hence, the new millennium doesn’t really start until 2001. WE KNOW THIS.

2) We don’t care.

Anyway, many of the year-end lists and reflections have focused only upon this year or this century. I’d like to do a true “Best of the Millennium” list, taking into account all the factors that make this world the grand experience it is.

1. North America
2. Africa
3. Marlon Brando

1. Adolf Hitler
2. Genghis Khan
3. Jar Jar Binks

1. Sinking of the Titanic, 1912
2. Sinking of the Spanish Armada, 1588
3. “Speed 2,” 1997

1. America
2. The law of gravity
3. That you can sing the words of “If You Could Hie to Kolob” to the tune of “The Beverly Hillbillies” theme song.

1. Hitler’s cowardly suicide
2. Elvis dying on the toilet
3. The last episode of “Seinfeld”

1. King Tutankhaman’s tomb
2. The Roman Colosseum
3. Elizabeth Taylor

1. Galileo’s theory that the Earth revolves around the sun, not vice versa.
2. Columbus’s theory that the Earth is round, not flat.
3. My theory that Ann Landers and Dear Abby are actually the same person, and that their “separate” columns are word-for-word identical to each other about three times a week.

1. The printing press
2. The microchip
3. Flesh-eating robots that will one day assist me in my plot to take over the world (NOTE: Flesh-eating robots still in development.)

There's a Letterman-esque quality to this column, if I may say so myself. You'll note that there are three entries for each of the categories, and that the third one is always the punch line. This is because comedy works best in threes, a fact which Mr. Letterman has proven himself to be well aware of. Mr. Letterman should hire me as a writer, in my opinion.

Did I feel any pressure for my LAST COLUMN OF THE MILLENNIUM to be really, really, really good? No. In fact, I felt kind of lazy about it. Maybe that's why it's a couple hundred words shorter than usual.

For those who aren't Mormon, "If You Could Hie to Kolob" is a fairly weird (but really pretty) song in the LDS hymnbook. I don't remember how I learned that you could sing its words to the tune of "The Beverly Hillbillies," but I'm pretty sure I was a missionary at the time. That's why I loved being on a mission: new experiences.

You can also sing just about every poem Emily Dickinson ever wrote to the tune of "The Yellow Rose of Texas."

My mentioning of that, and the "Beverly Hillbillies" thing, prompted several people to write in with other songs that can be sung to the wrong tunes. Here are the best ones, many of which relate to LDS-only hymns, though a few are universal. Please note that passing along the information does not necessarily imply the the submittors, or myself, advocate the singing of religious songs to non-religious tunes. We're merely pointing out that it CAN be done. (Also note that most of these work vice-versa, too)

• You can sing "Joseph Smith's First Prayer" ("Oh, how lovely was the morning...") to the theme from "The Muppet Show" ("It's time to put on makeup..."). "Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy" and "Israel, Israel, God is Calling" also work with the same tune if you want to be slightly less sacreligious. -- courtesy of C. Porter Bassett, and Maria Whitehead, who pointed this out independently of each other.

• If you say "oom pah pah" a few times before starting "I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go" it turns into a German-style oom-pah waltz. Works even better with "Master the Tempest is Raging." -- courtesy of Randy Tayler. (Randy actually said polka, but polkas are in 2/4 time, and these songs are in 3/4 or 6/8.)

• You can sing the words of the Lord's prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne." [I tried this, and it breaks apart near the end. Interesting, though, how rhythmic the King James Version of the Bible really is.] -- courtesy of Adam Boulter

• You can sing "O My Father" to the tune of "Clementine," that weird old folk song ("Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling Clementine...". -- courtesy of someone whose e-mail address is "jooky.junk." I think his last name is Giauque.

• You can sing the words for "Give Said the Little Stream" to the tune of "Stairway to Heaven." [I can't make this work at all. Maybe I'm just dumb.] -- courtesy of Blain Crandell

• You can sing the words to "On Top of Old Smoky" (or "On Top of Spaghetti," if you prefer) to the theme from "Chariots of Fire." -- courtesy of Robert Hopkins

• You can sing "Amazing Grace" to the tune of the "Gilligan's Island" theme song. -- courtesy of Ivy Kropf

• "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "God of our Fathers, Whose Almighty Hand" (that's the one with the fanfare at the beginning, #78 in the LDS hymnbook) are interchangeable. -- courtesy of Brian Price

See how fun it is? That last one is my personal favorite.