'Weird Al' Yankovic Nears Completion Of 'Livin' La Vida Mocha'

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Vol 35 Issue 29

Quake Claims 500 Hours

SAN FRANCISCO—Rescue workers are still searching frantically for any signs of unwasted time in the wreckage of high-school student Jeremy Fanshaw's life, following a devastating Quake game that claimed an estimated 500 hours of his time.

Local Mother Clips Article About Benefits Of Vitamin E

FLAGSTAFF, AZ—In her most recent attempt to feel relevant and necessary in the life of her daughter, area retiree Frances Crandall clipped and mailed a Parade magazine article on the health benefits of Vitamin E to daughter Jennifer Reid of St. Paul, MN, Monday. "Jenny needs to see this," Crandall said. "She can use all the health information she can get, considering how active she is at the bank." In the past month, Crandall has mailed Reid two Reader's Digest articles, the Bill Cosby book Kids Say The Darndest Things, and a sock-drawer organizer that will "keep her socks from getting all mixed up." Crandall also telephoned Reid twice when the Weather Channel predicted rain in the Twin Cities area.

Dog Costumed To Create Illusion Of Sports-Team Preference

APPLETON, WI—Queenie, a 6-year-old Appleton golden retriever, was dressed in a manner making her appear partial to the Green Bay Packers Saturday, when owner Mike Modjieska stuffed the dog into a green-and-gold Packer T-shirt prior to the start of a preseason game against the New York Jets. "I'm a Packer Backer, my wife's a Packer Backer, and Queenie's the biggest Packer Backer of all," said Modjieska, filling Queenie's Green Bay Packers water dish. "I wouldn't own a dog that supported any other NFL team." Modjieska said Queenie's favorite players are Brett Favre, Mark Chmura and Antonio Freeman.

Cable-TV Judge Overruled By Network-TV Judge

NEW YORK—A pro-plaintiff decision by Judge Joseph Wapner of Animal Planet's "Animal Court" was overturned Monday upon appeal to Judge Joe Brown of the eponymous syndicated network program. "Although the general spirit of the law states that owners of dogs are responsible for their dogs' actions, there is clearly evidence of provocation on the victim's part," Brown wrote in his decision in the precedent-setting case "Dog Bites Man." "Now don't give me that eye." Losing plaintiff Oscar Croydon refused to concede defeat in the case, vowing, "I'll take this to the highest ratings bracket in the land if I have to."

Credit-Card Metallurgists Unveil New 'Polonium Plus' Visa Card

FOSTER CITY, CA—In a follow-up to their already successful gold, platinum and titanium cards, Visa metallurgists unveiled the new Polonium Plus credit card Monday. "With its zero percent introductory interest rate, credit line of up to $500,000 and impressive 962º Celsius boiling point, Polonium Plus is the only choice for the discriminating shopper," said Visa scientist Dr. Andrew Manzanillo, one of the developers of the radioactive, no-fee card. "And with more isotopes than any other card, Polonium Plus isn't going to decay any time soon." Polonium cardholders who maintain a good credit record for three years will automatically be eligible for the inert Xenon Card, which comes in an attractive glass tube.

I Must Not Be Stolen

As many of you doubt-less know, my current situation is less than secure. I have, of late, been stolen no less than twice: Once, I was waylaid by Black Scarlet and Mr. Tin, and, more recently, I was abducted and abandoned deep within the bowels of my own 652-room mansion. To top it all off, Standish has fallen into a large fortune, giving me cause to doubt even his loyalty.

Soulmate Dropped For New, Better Soulmate

BLOOMINGTON, IN—The deep and abiding love shared by soulmates Andrew Colton and Brenda Smolensk ended Monday, when Colton broke up with Smolensk to go out with new soulmate Mandy Damrush.
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Man Commits To New TV Show Just Hours After Getting Out Of 7-Season Series

UNION CITY, NJ—Recommending that he give himself the chance to pause and explore the other options out there, friends of local man Jonathan Gember expressed their concerns to reporters Wednesday that the 29-year-old is already committing to a new television show just hours after getting out of a seven-season-long series.

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'Weird Al' Yankovic Nears Completion Of 'Livin' La Vida Mocha'

LOS ANGELES—With an outrageous Star Wars send-up riding high atop the pop charts and countless hit albums under his belt, superstar song parodist Alfred "Weird Al" Yankovic stands as a true giant in the highly competitive novelty-song industry.

A 1996 file photo of 'Weird Al' Yankovic, who is hard at work on his latest satiric masterstroke.

But Yankovic, who first burst onto the scene in 1979 with the seminal Knack spoof "My Bologna," has never been one to let success alter his commitment to constantly pushing the envelope. Refusing to rest on his laurels, the platinum-selling wacky accordionist is taking time out between stops on his sold-out Running With Scissors '99 tour to work on what goofy-music insiders say will be his most incisive satiric salvo yet: the upcoming Ricky Martin/Starbucks Coffee parody "Livin' La Vida Mocha."

Yankovic says the biting "Mocha," an ingenious and unlikely conflation of two unrelated pop-cultural phenomena, represented a musical merger "too good to pass up."

"I take my work as America's premier satirist of contemporary societal mores very seriously, and I didn't want to enter into any project that wouldn't have a long-lasting impact," the Grammy-winning artist explains. "You have to pick a subject with real staying power as a cultural signifier, or the song runs the risk of becoming dated and irrelevant within just a few months. With Ricky Martin-mania sweeping the nation, I knew I'd found the canvas I needed."

Once "Livin' La Vida Loca" was chosen as the song's foundation, Yankovic says, the next step was to sift through various themes until finally coming up with the perfect counterpoint: Starbucks.

"As soon as I came up with the chorus of 'Gulp, gulp, drink it up/Livin' la vida mocha/At four bucks a cup/You're gonna soon go broke-ah,'" Yankovic says, "I realized I'd tapped into something very powerful, something that would resonate deep within the American cultural consciousness."

The song, with approximately half its lyrics already completed, is said to rank among Yankovic's best work. Detailing the crazy, mixed-up life of an overpriced-coffee addict unable to stop his tortured caffeine binges—and facing financial ruin as a result—the piece is "dark... very, very dark," according to noted critic, essayist and syndicated radio host Barret "Dr. Demento" Hansen. A longtime admirer of Yankovic's oeuvre, Demento recently reviewed an advance copy of the partially completed lyrics in The Atlantic Monthly.

"The protagonist of 'Livin' La Vida Mocha,' like all of Yankovic's greatest anti-heroes, is a study in contradictions," Demento writes. "He knows that his crazed desire for Starbucks, a desire that mirrors our society's suicidal embrace of a cruel and morally bankrupt materialistic individualism, is destroying his mind. Yet, like our own out-of-control consumer culture, he is helpless to stop his spiral into the widening gyre. It is sure to make number one on the Funny Five."

A page from one of "Weird Al's" notebooks illustrates the creative process behind his latest work, a satiric attack on corporate America that critic Dr. Demento described as "wacky and devastating."

Advance buzz on the song is so overwhelmingly positive, Yankovic has already been approached by representatives of The VH1 Fashion Awards, The MTV Movie Awards and Mexico's hugely popular comedy/variety program ¡Pedro Es Gordo! to perform the piece on the air.

Yankovic says he is not concerning himself with such offers at this time.

"Right now, I can't let myself think about that sort of thing," he says. "At this point, I need to concentrate and remain focused on what's really important: living the work. As an artist, everything else is secondary."

In addition to finishing the lyrics, Yankovic is working closely with his creative staff to develop a video for the song that will remain true to his unique vision. Proper execution of the video, he says, is crucial, as the visuals must "breathe life into" the song's irreverent depiction of caffeine-fueled mayhem.

"We're currently working with top prop-comics on a possible scene in which Al's dripping head emerges from a steaming coffee urn, surrounded by throngs of gyrating, salsa-dancing women," says Yankovic's longtime collaborator, drummer Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz. "But Al has expressed fears that the image may prove to be too silly, thus lessening the impact of the song. So we're also weighing the option of a giant coffee cup, in which Al would float on an inner-tube crafted to resemble a giant donut. He is a very exacting artist. He demands nothing less than perfection."

Such unflinching, uncompromising parody, however, may prove dangerous: There are rumors that the song's blistering critique of the successful Starbucks chain has already angered the Seattle-based coffee chain's powerful ownership. Some have even gone so far as to predict a possible Starbucks lawsuit intended to suppress "Mocha's" explosive content.

But according to "Weird Al" amateur website discographer and archivist "Stupid Bill" Herberger, Yankovic is unlikely to bow to pressure from corporate America--or even, for that matter, Ricky Martin himself, who recently blasted "Mocha" as "a blatant attempt to sully the integrity of my work."

Despite the feathers Yankovic may ruffle, Herberger says nothing will stop the artist in his quest to probe society's delicate underbelly.

"As a satirist, Al is returning to his indie-rock roots with this one," Herberger says. "The tone hearkens back to the days of the independently released 'Another One Rides The Bus' seven-inch on the short-lived Placebo Records label. He's taking no prisoners."

"This is all about one thing: the parody," Herberger adds. "I am in awe of the courage displayed by this great, nutsy, screwball man."

Whether Yankovic can live up to the pressure remains to be seen. Like any great artist, he's had his share of failures, from the commercial belly-flop of the 1986 album Polka Party! to the lukewarm critical reception afforded his 1989 film UHF. But through it all, he has always come back fighting. A true gadfly, his goofy nasal voice and ferocious accordion solos serve as a Greek chorus to the hypocrisies and excesses of our age. One thing is certain: Whatever happens, "Weird Al" isn't going away. His voice will not be silenced.

Yankovic himself remains stoic on the matter. "I do what I do because I must," he says. "If it brings on the wrath of the powers that be, so be it. I am driven by my own personal demons to seek out the greatest novelty songs I have within me. I am an artist. I must create."

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