Tag Archives: song

99 little bugs in the code

“99 little bugs in the code, 

99 little bugs… 

Take one down, 

patch it around, 127 bugs in the code!”

Genre: joke/song

Source: 20 year old USC student majoring in computer science

Context: The student doesn’t remember exactly when she learned this tune, but says it is the coders’ take on the classic “99 bottles of beer” song. 

Analysis: In this adapted version, the number of bugs increases many instead of going down by one classically. The student explains this is the focus of the joke, because the patching of an error frequently leads to the creation of more “bugs” in the code. Where the traditional version of this song is normally heard during monotonous tasks, or when killing excess time. In this 21st century rendition, the song achieves the same purposes, as fixing code is often a seemingly endless and time intensive process. 

Korean Folksong 1: Arirang

1) Original Performance: 

“아리랑 아리랑 홀로 아리랑

아리랑 고개를 넘어가보자

가다가 힘들면 쉬어가더라도

손잡고 가보자 같이 가보자”


“a-ri-rang a-ri-rang hol-lo a-ri-rang

ari-rang go-gae-reul nuh-muh gan-da

Ga-da-ga him-deul-myun shee-uh-ga-duh-ra-do

Son jab-go ga bo-ja ga-chee ga bo-ja”

Full Translation (Literal / Dynamic): 

“arirang arirang arirang alone

Let’s go beyond the arirang pass

Even if we rest and go because we’re tired from the journey

Let’s hold hands and go, let’s go together”

2) The informant is my grandmother, a Korean who immigrated to the US in the 1970s. My grandmother said that this song is a folk song that “every Korean knows.” She claims she heard it being played outside early in elementary school. She shared it with me because she said she wishes even her family who lives in America could try and understand some of the sentiments Korean’s attach to this song.

3) This was performed after my family came back from a hike during spring break and I asked if my grandmother had any famous folk songs she knew. She said Arirang is the most well-known and has multiple lyrical forms, but that she would share the one she knows.

4) In hearing this song, I’m led to make connections with a theme of Korea’s “suffering yet overcoming” throughout its history. The size of its land was always being altered due to invasions by China, it was colonized during the early 20th century by Japan, yet fought and gained independence, and it was split into North and South during the Korean War, a proxy war of the Cold War. Although different versions have different lyrics, the idea of suffering combined with a brilliant hope and resilience for a better future is echoed in nearly all renditions. This type of history could be what has both initiated and sustained the oral tradition of Arirang throughout generations. The lyrics of two people remaining together in a journey despite all odds has often been tied to a metaphor for the longing of Koreans to remain together despite obstacles like Japanese colonization, the Korean War, and a constant state of diaspora. 

Annotation: For a fuller version of the song, go to UNESCO’s webpage which is dedicated to Arirang and Korean cultural heritage: 

“Arirang, Lyrical Folk Song in the Republic of Korea.” UNESCO, Intangible Cultural Heritage, 2012, https://ich.unesco.org/en/RL/arirang-lyrical-folk-song-in-the-republic-of-korea-00445. 

Miss Mary Mack (“bad version”)


Performed with handclapping: 

“Miss Mary Mack Mack Mack 

All dressed in black black black 

With the silver buttons buttons buttons 

All down her back back back 

She couldn’t read read read 

She couldn’t write write write 

But she could smoke smoke smoke 

Her father’s pipe pipe pipe.”


KY is an 18-year-old American Student at USC. She grew up in North Carolina. I asked her if she knew any proverbs or commonly said phrases and she told me this one. She told me this song/rhyme that was played with handclapping when I asked her about any childhood games she remembers, but she told me she could only remember the “bad version,” which she thinks was “bad” because of the discussion of smoking/pipes.


Miss Mary Mack is rather widespread, and while I’ve heard the beginning before, it wasn’t common where I grew up, so I didn’t know the whole thing. I would be considered a passive bearer of this tradition, whereas my informant would be an active bearer. It’s common that children’s songs like this will have the “good [original] version” and the “bad version” derived from the original with a few things changed to make it naughty. The naughty oikotype might be specific to the area my informant grew up in, and there may be different oikotypes in other places that are similar but have slight variations. And since this can be played as a game with handclapping, it is a way for kids to entertain themselves without a need for toys or things of that sort and it is easy to learn with a simple melody and repeating words. 

13. Blow the Man Down

Tommy Scott:

“Oh, blow the man down, bullies, blow the man down
Way aye blow the man down
Oh, blow the man down, bullies, blow him away
Give me some time to blow the man down!

As I was a walking down Paradise Street
Way aye blow the man down
A pretty young damsel I chanced for to meet.
Give me some time to blow the man down!

She was round in the counter and bluff in the bow,
Way aye blow the man down
So I took in all sail and cried, “Way enough now.”
Give me some time to blow the man down!

So I tailed her my flipper and took her in tow
Way aye blow the man down
And yardarm to yardarm away we did go.
Give me some time to blow the man down!

But as we were going she said unto me
Way aye blow the man down
“There’s a spanking full-rigger just ready for sea.”
Give me some time to blow the man down!

But as soon as that packet was clear of the bar
Way aye blow the man down
The mate knocked me down with the end of a spar.
Give me some time to blow the man down!

It’s starboard and larboard on deck you will sprawl
Way aye blow the man down
For Kicking Jack Williams commands the Black Ball.
Give me some time to blow the man down!

So I give you fair warning before we belay,
Way aye blow the man down
Don’t ever take head of what pretty girls say.
Give me some time to blow the man down!”

Background: This is another sea shanty that my friend Tommy knows from his childhood.

Context: Tommy sung this shanty while we were at a party, unprompted.

Interpretation: This song refers to rough seas and winds“blowing the man down”, meaning almost capsizing the ship, and the chaos it causes aboard the vessel.

North Dakotan German-Russian Childhood Folk Song – “Oh Playmate”

Transcribed Lyrics Sung by Informant

Oh playmate, come out and play with me

And bring your dollies three

Climb up my apple tree

Chuck down my rain barrel

Slide down my cellar door

And we’ll be jolly friends

Forever more

Say, Say, oh playmate

I cannot play with you

My dolly’s got the flu


Ain’t got no rain barrel

Ain’t got no cellar door

But we’ll be jolly friends

Forever more, more, more, more, more


Informant recalls that she learned this song from fellow classmates at recess during her elementary school years in North Dakota. She would sing this song with friends and classmates, and also alone, “if I were doing chores or whatever” she mused. “I don’t really know to interpret the song…it’s just a little jingle about friendship I guess…I think the melody’s the more important part of it.”

My Analysis

I agree with the informant that the melody is very strong and catchy, and probably the reason why the song’s remained a part of the German-Russian North Dakotan folklore. It reminds me a lot of songs I would sing on the playground as a kid, which I think speaks to the universality of childhood songs, even if the melodies and lyrical content are different across cultures.