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Songs With Good Chemistry

Parodies and Commentaries, by David Kritchevsky. AOCS Press, Champaign, Illinois, 2003. ISBN 1-893997-46-4. 46 pages. $5.00. Order through www.aocs.org/catalog/product.asp?ID=wdk&dept=90

reviewed by Norman Sperling, JIR v49 #6, November 2005, p28.

Tucked away under a host of worthy technical volumes like Healthful Lipids and The Biodiesel Handbook, The American Oil Chemists' Society also publishes this songbook by a major scholar at Philadelphia's Wistar Institute.
For decades, David Kritchevsky has enriched meetings with these witty takeoffs, and now they're collected in a handy paperback. Lipid chemistry dominates the author's research, so it pervades his songs, too:

Wiener Blut
Tune: Wiener Blut

Wiener Blut, Wiener Blut
Is lipemic since we're eating gut.
We have plaques, 2 or 3,
Growing on every vascular tree.

We enjoy hunger's call
With a layer of shlag over all.
You're obese – so am I.
What a way to die.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in biochemistry:

Sulfur Chemistry
Tune: Chiquita Banana

I am a sulfur compound,
And I want to say
We all smell in a most peculiar way!
When we are most reduced,
And have the valence 2,
That's when we are the worst, and are the worst for you.

You will find us in mercaptans.
You will fund us in sulfo-ones.
Almost any way you use us,
It is impossible to lose us.

But sulfur compounds are a poison
To most every kind of known catalysator,
So never put a sulfur compound
In your hydrogenator – no, no, no, no!

The career of a lipid researcher seems a lot like the career of other researchers. Here's his take on collaboration:

Tune: Playmate

Hey colleague,
Work on my theory,
And you can share with me
Use all my data,
And my statistics too.
And we'll collaborate,
Just me and you!

I'm sorry, colleague,
I cannot work with you.
Your theory is not new,
And mine's much better, too.
Don't need your data,
Or your regression curve.
I've got 4 cases – and
A lot of nerve!

Researchers who depend on grants try to psych out the sponsor's attitudes and cast their applications accordingly. The grantors often agree, more or less. Well, less.

Study Sections
Tune: Sunrise, Sunset

Is this the little grant I asked for?
Is this the smaller one I got?
I didn't think that they could find a place to cut.

Why did they take away my post-doc?
Why did they take technician 3?
Soon there'll be no one in the lab but me.

Study sections, study sections.
Sit and cogitate.
Mountains shrink overnight to mole hills,
While the investigators wait.

Study sections, seek perfection
In each grant they read.
How can we do a perfect study?
If we don't get the funds we need?

A career of rich achievement brings colleagues' respect, invitations to distinguished meetings, and more. For Kritchevsky, it even brings this review in JIR! But he aspires even higher:

National Academy Song
Tune: Cover of the Rolling Stone

We are the full professors
Faculty aggressors
And our knowledge is really a pearl.
We publish lots of papers,
And we cut our capers
At meetings all over the world.

We've got some real fine students,
Whom we chose with prudence,
So you'd think we should live happily.
But we're all dejected
'Cause we've never been elected
To the National Academy.

We're on some great committees.
Meet in real fine cities.
And consulting's part of the game.
And all those study sections
Merely are reflections
Of our current status and fame.
Consid'ring all the honors
Being heaped upon us,
You'd think we should live merrily.
But we're all dejected
'Cause we've never been elected
To the National Academy.

This book delivers a great deal of pleasure for a mere $5. The witty parodies, the scientific truths, and recalling some great music all make it a winner and a bargain. Mind your HDL and LDL so you can enjoy this to a ripe old age.

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