Baby Shark: An Appreciation

This week, the Billboard Top 40 chart included an unusual debut song, with “Baby Shark” ranking at 32 on the list for January 12.  If you’re not familiar with “Baby Shark,” it is a children’s song sung at camps and preschools about a family of sharks accompanied by appropriately shark-y hand gestures.  I first heard this song in the early 1990s on a college beach trip, and since the people singing the song remembered it from their childhood, it goes back to at least the 1970s.  Stranger still, the version of the song on the chart is not by a famed popstar, but is from a video made by the South Korean education company Pinkfong in 2015.  The popularity of the song has been aided by the viral meme of the  where people film themselves performing the song’s choreography.

I’m tickled by the “Baby Shark” song’s chart success, because we expect the Top 40 to be filled with finely crafted pop recordings from internationally famed musicians.  “Baby Shark” instead is a song performed everyday by hundreds of thousands of ordinary people, especially children.  It turns everything we know about chart success on its head.

More personally, when my son was a baby, my wife & I sang a version of this song we called “The Magic Shark Song,” because sometimes it was the ONLY thing that would soothe him when he was fussy.  Our version had a slightly different tune and lyrics.  Most significantly, instead of the famed/notorious “doo doo doo doo doo doo” chorus, we sang:

“Baby shark, baby shark, ba, ba. Ba, ba, ba, ba, ba,
Mommy shark, mommy shark, ma, ma. Ma, ma, ma, ma, ma…”

And so on, with the repeated sound being the first syllable of each member of the shark family.  As time went by, I varied the song to sing it in the style of Ethel Merman and Carol Channing (RIP).  Trust me, singing “shark teeth are a girl’s best friend” was a hit with the infant!

So, I lift a fin to “Baby Shark” this week.  Long may it chomp!


Book Review: Made To Stick

Author: Dan Heath & Chip Heath
Title: Made To Stick
Publication Info: Santa Ana, CA : Books on Tape, p2007.
ISBN: 141593553X


This book is basically a guide for people who want to get their ideas across to other people and will be a useful managers, teachers, advertisers, and anyone else with a good idea who doesn’t know how to share it.  The Heaths discuss factors such as the Curse of Knowledge where experts know their field so well that they can’t explain it to outsiders.  There are also tips on creating stories, often with surprise elements, to capture the attention of your audience.  The best parts are the many examples such as teacher Jane Elliot’s “Eye of the Storm” method to teach children about prejudice, urban legends, Subway sandwich shops’ Jared campaign, the “Don’t Mess With Texas” effort to reduce littering and the best car commercial ever.  It’s a good, quick, and intstructional read for anyone needing to learn how to better communicate their ideas.

Recommended books: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell, Simplexity: Why Simple Things Become Complex by Jeffrey Kluger, and Freakonomics by Steven Levitt
Rating: ***

Idea: The Librewery

I’ve been mulling an idea for sometime of opening a biblio-themed brewpub called The Librewery. The Librewery would have a bar and a network of small dining rooms, nice little nooks and crannies, or “snugs” as they’re called in Britain. The walls would be lined with bookshelves filled with real books. In keeping with library tradition, customers would actually be able to read and take the books although I think here it would work best as a swap “take a book, leave a book” system.

The menu would be designed to look like a classic catalog and each menu item given a call number. Since this would be my place, the chef would specialize in vegetarian dishes and the brewer would make cask-conditioned ales, wheat bears, and stouts. Yeah, there would be some meat options and IPA’s too. Of course it would be interesting if the meals and beers could be based on ones from literature. But not from Silence of the Lambs, that would be gross.

While this place would be for random socializing like most pubs, I’d also see to it that there would be quiet spaces set aside for people who want to read and write, work on their laptops (free wifi!), or gather together for book clubs, discussion groups, and gaming (both board games and video). Of course, this being my pub there will also be regularly scheduled sing-a-longs.

So that’s by dream brewpub that brings together many of my favorite things. I’m better at ideas than I am at acting on them. Any entrepreneurs out there who can help out? Investors? Chefs? Brewers? I’d love to see The Librewery brought to life.