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Diabolically Arcane

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15 March, 2011

Meet Amy Burvall, better known as Ms B, or the Sexy History Teacher. This Honolulu gal is a history teacher with a bent for contemporary music. A few years back, diagnosed with breast cancer, Amy decided to blend her two passions in a creative bout of therapy.

The result is a raft of super-cool music videos, filmed by partner Herb Mahelona. This Youtube suite of pop–song redrafts cover such human follies as the Trojan War, the French Revolution, the Black Plague, all the while Amy playing dress-up and telling us like it was.

Charlemagne, with Ms B in shoulder locks, is arranged to Blondie’s Call Me. Cleopatra tells her story to the tune of Fergielicious. While Radiohead’s Creep gets the nod for my favourite Hawaiian to narrate the rise and fall of Minoan culture. Meantime, click here to hear about the Bayeux Tapestry, sung to Sexyback.

It’s brilliant stuff, and put me to thinking: why not reverse the flow? Surely we can craft Elizabethan quatrains (with ABAB rhyming patterns) to summarise moments of modern history. Here’s what I made of the BP Oil Spill:

In 2010 an oil well exploded
Deepwater Horizon was its name
Within minutes, the horror was uploaded
Blackening BP in litres of shame.

Pick any event from the last 50 years – that’s Bay of Pigs till now – and compose an ABAB summary. Events in focus can be large or small – Vietnam to Lewinski, St Kilda’s lone flag or Apollo 13 – just so long as we honour the Bard, the same way Ms B flies the flag for Justin Timberlake, encapsulating history in catchy shorthand.

A different Storm, true. But who knows what heights this madcap coterie is capable of scaling? Prizes are available to the deftest verses and rhymes, as well as the neatest and funniest historical recap, with the very best a fusion of all those things. Thursday 7ish is the poetic deadline.

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If you missed my riddle chat with Richard Fidler, then feel free to slurp the podcast at http://ab.co/1I9t1x5

Text-speak is creeping into Scrabble. Where do you sit?
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