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The Essay
Show #140
The Day-Old Jello of Humus Krill
David Gunn
Norman Jello Doio, one of those undersung but overappreciated American composers of the last six hundred years, was born on this date in the Key Largo section of New York City so many years ago that the Census Bureau finally assigned him his own age classification. Thanks to his quite mad but equally wealthy aunt Krill, he was originally named Humus, a tribute to her Parisian worm ranch. But Krill's fortune came not from astute vermihusbandry. Rather, her blepharospastic facial grimaces had inspired her one-time neighbor, Edvard Munch, to paint "The Scream," for which he generously paid her a percentage of sales. This was a charitable gesture, indeed, because, according to his half-sister, Flossie, before he foisted that painting onto an eager public, Edv decided to tone down Krill's expression so as not to offend the viewer, not the first time he compromised his artistic vision for political correctness. At any rate, the kid's parents had been bailed out of more than one fiscal pickle by the mad Aunt Krill, so they opted to strengthen their tie to her pursestrings through their son's moniker. Humus seemed content enough with the name until June of 1923, when he discovered that finger in the eye to America's burgeoning haute cuisine, day-old canned pear halves submerged in lime gelatin. According to his late autobiographer, Ernie Kovacs, when Humus first sampled that shimmering green semisolid colloidal protein harvested from animal bones and tendons, he heard the angels keen in parallel fifths. He was deeply moved, all the way to Cleveland, in fact, and he promptly changed his name to Day Old Jello, or, in his native Key Largan, Jello Dayo. The Norman part of his name, on the other hand, just showed up on his doormat one day and refused to go away.

Mad Aunt Krill was not long for this world, as soon thereafter an alien abduction craft whisked her and her worms off to Jupiter to perform scientific experiments. Reports filtering back to Earth through an Algonquin Hole suggest that the aliens have many times over regretted this action.

Norman gravitated towards music the way gnats gravitate into the open mouths of roller coaster riders at state fairs in August ... that is to say, with determination. At an early age, he sailed to Paris and took up compositional studies with Nadia Bougainvillea at the infamous école du flambeau oriange, where he majored in secular contrapuntal gymnastics. Employing quivering harmonies over a lime gelatin basso continuo, he burst onto the world music scene in 1942 with his Magnificat, which garnered him an award and a new Chevrolet. Fifteen years later, he pieced together snippets from that car's owners manual to create the stream of consciousness text for Meditations on Ecclesiastes, a 1957 Pulitzer Prize winner. The libretto for his 1961 opera, Blood Moon, was taken from dim memories of Aunt Krill describing the seedier side of Monsieur Munch. Soon thereafter, however, his music strayed into chromatic chicanery, and he quickly fell out of public favor.

Today, Jello Doio's popularity is enjoying a mini-renaissance, thanks to the string of successful music videos he has produced for the hugely successful headbangers, the Paroleans. While this is not the sort of music Normanly heard on Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, we thought it would be instructive if we took just a moment out of this 140th episode to honor the compositional oeuvre of today's birthday gent, Humus Krill, and of his unwitting silent champion, Kalvos.