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November 20, 2008
Nov. 20 -- Starting off the first ever Music Initiative at SC08, Bob Panoff debuted his new re-workings of old classics from "Blue Waters is Wide" to "If I Only Had a Cray." Panoff, founder and director of Shodor, a national resource in computational science education, has been writing such parodies for years. This year's supercomputing conference offered the chance to perform before a knowledgeable audience who can appreciate the tongue-in-cheek jabs at the usually geeky industry.
Panoff's parody style emphasizes keeping much of the original song's words, meter, and rhyming patters the same, tweaking the words only as needed to get the ironic humor across. Those familiar with "The Wizard of Oz," for instance, would think that only a few changes were needed to become "The Wizard of Aus…..tin." In the signature piece, "Somewhere out in the Cornfield," a twist on "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," it's the Water that is Blue, instead of the sky:
Somewhere out in the cornfields
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.
If happy geeks learn MPI
To run at petaflops then
Why o why can't I?
Since many in the Music Room had their laptops, they could follow the posted words from Shodor's website. For instance, another selection from "The Wizards of Aus…..tin" had the audience singing along was "If I Only Had a Cray":
I could while away the hours
Raisin' x to higher powers
I'd sum sums all the day
On my lunch I would be munchin'
While my numbahs are a-crunchin'
If I only had a Cray
I could mastah my compunction
To integrate some function
Wit' bound'ries Dirichlet
My heart would go pitter pattah
As I simulated mattah
If I only had a Cray.
Likewise, "Blue Waters is Wide" takes what had been an Irish love song and turns it into a jab at the huge machine's footprint,
Blue Waters is wide, I can now compile
On stacks of racks my loops will fly.
Give me a code,that will decompose
On many cores, and MPI.
Moving from the soft gentle tones of a ballad, Panoff moved to a more boot-stomping rendition of "Here's a Quarter, Call Someone with Crays":
Ya say that yer parallel zoo's in a bind
An' jobs whut should scream still take days.
You threw out the big iron Seymour designed.
Here's a quarter, call someone with Crays!
Call someone with vectors who might fill their pipes
With every one of yer sorted arrays
Don't come 'roun' here whinin' that memory's tight,
Here's a quarter, call someone with Crays!
All in all, a dozen songs were performed by Panoff, who was accompanied by the mezzo voice of Laura McGinnis of the Pittsburgh Supercomputer Center. All of the new songs are available at http://www.shodor.org/songs
SC08 recognizes the music lovers in the community and their contribution to the high performance computing industry. And, since Austin is dubbed the "live music capital of the world," SC08 is the perfect venue for the Music Initiative. The Initiative encompasses both technical and social aspects of the conference, providing attendees a wide range of music-oriented experiences. For more information see: http://sc08.supercomputing.org/?pg=musicini1.html
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