Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Tetris Song

Last night Andrew and I were talking about "the future" and we got off on a little tangent. We are narrowing down the list of schools Andrew wants to apply for, one of which is Cornell, the school that the character Andy Bernard (from The Office) went to. Earlier that day, Andrew had been listening to 'Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," a segment by NPR that invites famous people on for interviews/to answer amazingly random questions, and Ed Helms, who plays Andy Bernard, was on.

Apparently he really does play the banjo and is pretty active on banjo forums and things like that. So he's apparently pretty musical.

One of the questions he was asked was about "The Tetris Song." And that's how we got onto our tangent.

"How does that song go?" Andrew asked me. "I can't think of the tune!"

I sang in the Russian Choir at BYU for a few years, which was a whole lot of fun. Ironically enough, the director of the choir was named David Layton and pretty much the whole choir thought we were married for quite some time. The fact that my maiden name is Layton didn't help quell any rumors nor did the fact that my brother's name is David and we were required to provide a black binder to hold our music and the only one that I could find at home had "DAVID LAYTON" written on the spine with permanent marker.

I didn't know that anyone thought we were married until a girl asked me, "So what are you going to do after David graduates? Are you going to move back to Alaska or head somewhere else?"

I looked at her, utterly confused, and said, "Alaska?"

"Yeah, of course Alaska. That's where your husband is from."

And then I looked at her even more confused and said, "Husband?"

"Oh, David's not your husband?"

Yeah, no. David's not my husband. And I wasn't even married at the time (I finished my degree before Andrew returned home from his mission). That conversation was plain awkward--more for her than for me, I'm sure.

Still, choir was a lot of fun and I still have a lot of the music tucked away in a black binder with "DAVID LAYTON" written on the spine. It's...somewhere. I still sing some songs occasionally because we sang some really fun songs, including "The Tetris Song."

But for some reason, "The Tetris Song" just wasn't coming to me last night. The first song I thought of was Katyusha (English or Russian). I started singing that.

"No, no, no!" Andrew said in agony, "That's not right! I almost had the tune and now it's gone!"

He started humming a tune. Gas Truck Theme Song #1 (also known as Lambada) popped into my head. That definitely wasn't right, either. I didn't start humming that one because I didn't want to throw Andrew off the trail.

Next I thought of Kalinka (English or Russian) but I also knew that one didn't go with Tetris.

"It's about a guy carrying a basket and his shoulders get tired so he sets it know any songs like that?" Andrew would ask before closing his eyes and working through some more music in his head.

And then, after about a half hour of wracking our brains, Andrew spilled out a sequence of notes that finally sounded familiar.

"...Пожалей, моя зазнобушка, Молодецкого плеча!" I finished for him, "Korobushka!"

"That's it!" said Andrew.

I sang the bits that I could remember to him. I haven't sung that song in a long time, so I couldn't sing very much, but it was nice to know that we finally figured out what the song was. (Korobushka in English or Russian).

"You know," Andrew admitted, "I knew all along the song was called Korobushka. Would that have helped you figure out the tune?"

Oi! Polna, polna! D'ya think?!

Of course, my subconscious was on the right track all along. I seemed to be going through songs that start with the letter K: Kalinka, Katyusha...I don't know why Lambada popped in there but...I'm sure I would have thought of Korobushka eventually. I'm just glad we thought of the song before 2 o'clock in the morning.

We're both a little nerdy and once we think of a question need an answer. Wikipedia and Google have solved so many of our "disagreements." We were just about ready to race to our computers so that we could find out the answer. In this case, whoever found the answer first would have "won" because we weren't really disagreeing, we just couldn't think of the answer. That means Andrew would have "won" because his computer boots up way faster than mine.

Usually, though, we look things up because one of us says something and the other says, "No way!" and then we have to look it up to see who's right and who's wrong. It doesn't matter who finds the answer first, necessarily, but that whoever was right in the first place is vindicated.

You'd be surprised how many times we've gotten up out of bed to look things up in the dictionary or on wikipedia. Too many times, really.

We both won last night, though, because Ed Helms didn't know that "The Tetris Song" was Russian, and we both did. So, now we're smarter than Andy Bernard, right? And he went to Cornell, so Andrew could definitely get in, too, right?

Granted, Ed Helms isn't Andy Bernard, has no known ties to Russia, and plays the banjo, not the balalaika (although he did teach himself how to play the sitar, so maybe the balalaika will be next). So how could he be expected to know much about "The Tetris Song?" I don't think he even went to Cornell so this probably isn't going to up our chances of getting in any since they only accept 2 applicants per year. Still, Cornell is on our list of "top 5 schools to apply to."


  1. That is funny. I like the story about your Russian choir; I didn't know that one.

  2. I so did not know about the binder with David's name on it!! So funny--it would have been good to just buy a new binder!

  3. I hadn't actually even realized it until that conversation with that girl...

  4. Looks like *somebody*'s forgotten that Cornell isn't in Southern California. You'd think with all that Googlin' and Wikipediain' you'd know that...

  5. UCLA is still on the list, too. Unfortunately, not many schools offer programs in ME studies. Even with UCLA it would be a "build-a-bear" situation where Andrew would work with a hodge-podge of professors from history, journalism, etc., instead of doing an actual prescribed program.

  6. And it would be just as cuddly...

  7. 1. I totally knew David Layton when I lived in the FLSR. When I started reading this post, I thought, "oh, I didn't even think that they were related!" And now I know that you are still not.

    2. I love WWDTM.

    3. What's this about Cornell? Are you talking PhD? Are we both going to end up living in Ithaca??

  8. We are leaning strongly towards Cornell. Andrew looked at several schools in NY, but I kind of want to live somewhere with a yard of sorts and Manhattan doesn't really fit that paradigm.

    We have gotten (what seems like) a very positive response from the professors he contacted at Cornell.

    We've also heard back from Harvard and UCLA.

    I like UCLA because they have graduate student housing that isn't too expensive and has swimming pools in the complex. That's a shallow reason to want to go to a grad school, but still...

    The lady Andrew got a response from at UCLA sounded a little grumpy, but we found out he wouldn't be working with her, anyway. :) So, we're going to try contacting a few more professors there.

    A Cornell prof. that Andrew contacted (don't know his name, graduated from Tucson, might know Jeremy?) said that Andrew's interests are in line with his own, but reminded us again that they only accept 2 applicants per year.

    Since Andrew has this habit of getting 4.0s and is in the top 2 of his class here, I think he might have a good chance at getting in.

    He (the professor whose name I don't know) also told us to look into U. of Arkansas (Arkansas?! I know...but it looks okay) and Oxford (how in the world would we afford to live in the UK for 4-6 years?!).

    So, we're kind of all over the map right now. We'll be applying soon-ish...

    Wouldn't that be funny if we both ended up in Ithaca, though? Small world. :)

  9. Oh, yeah, we're also waiting to hear back from NYU and Columbia. I thought for sure we'd hear back from them before Harvard...but I thought wrong.

  10. A pool is a shallow reason--punny!

  11. So, I love your logic! And your post! And Danny and I do the same thing, needing to look things up online to see who's right. Your post made me laugh.