Monday, October 10, 2016

Some famous songs for "belly dance"

(I'm using these videos with just the music, not the dancers, because so many of the videos that show the dancers seem not very family-friendly!)

(I love the music from this "Beats Antique" group. This represents some of the "tribal" and "fusion" types of "belly dance" music --- i.e., not so much the "Arabian" sound, but with a strong beat that's good for dancing and improvising.)

(Flamenco music is also well suited for "belly dance," and of course has the same roots...)

Speaking of flamenco, here are some great examples, and I think the "belly dance" I'm thinking of for the Colonel characters can involve some kind of mix between these types, including the clothing they wear(!)

But I like the idea of a march, fanfare....

Are all marches military in some way? Do the words "march" and "martial" come from the same root? I Googled this and found a fascinating article on the different verbs used by Martial and Ovid and Flavius. Hmmm, not what I was looking for.

Aha! Later: Yes, of course "march" comes from "martial," which comes from Mars, the Roman god of war.

From Origin: before 1050; Middle English March(e) < Anglo-French Marche; replacing Old English Martius < Latin, short for Mārtius mēnsis month of Mars (Mārti-, stem of Mārs + -us adj. suffix)

 (Chabrier, Marche des Cipayes )

(Grieg: March of the Dwarfs)

(Meredith Wilson: 76 Trombones, from "The Music Man")

(Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera, funeral march)

(Gounod: Funeral March of a Marionette, made famous when used as theme music for the Alfred Hitchcock TV show --- I love it because I can really imagine a marionette marching, sadly, to this music...)

(Nielsen: Aladdin: Incidental Music: Oriental Festive March)


 (Disney: Prince Ali: a march, of course!--- a grand entrance! --- and with an elephant!)

(And of course the greatest march of all time, the Triumphal March by Giuseppe Verdi, in "Aida" -- I chose this version because it has horses. I was hoping for elephants, but horses are, wow!)

(And, finally, this website for a listing of "40 Famous Marches," with links.)

Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night's Dream

(Reminds me of the beginning of the William Tell Overture---You too?)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Overtures: Pirates of Penzance

Here's one I'm more familiar with, having seen the musical a couple of times and listened to the music zillions of times as I was growing up (as opposed to all those operas which are not as familiar to me).

This overture does the usual recounting (fore-counting?) of all the songs in the musical, but not in the order they appear in the musical. I love the structure of the overture, how its beginning is recapped at the end, how themes are repeated, the beautiful melodies, and how it moves from one song to the next. (And I love this version of it for the series of still photos that accompanies the music.)

And here's a treat: a Web site with the "Pirates," including all the words and music --- and a karaoke MIDI file! --- for the whole 90-minute production.

Someone has managed to upload the whole movie version! Here it is (hopefully this will stay up):

 And if you don't have time for the whole thing, here's the Pirate King song:

Ernest in Love

Did you know that a musical has been made of Oscar Wilde's great play "The Importance of Being Earnest"? I did not know, until I found this great website, and, while searching for something else entirely, found a reference to this musical, "Ernest In Love."

Here is the list of songs in that musical:
  1. Overture
  2. Come raise your cup
  3. How do you find the words?
  4. The hat
  5. Mr. Bunbury
  6. Perfection
  7. A handbag is not a proper mother
  8. A wicked man
  9. Metaphorically speaking
  10. You can't make love
  11. Lost
  12. My very first impression
  13. The Muffin song
  14. My eternal devotion
  15. Ernest in love 
Another interesting note here, listing the "instrumentation":
Reed I (Piccolo/flute/clarinet), Reed II (oboe/clarinet), Reed III (bass clarinet [opt]/bassoon), piano, double bass
Really? That's all? Why not just use a Hammond organ with the various appropriate stops pulled out?

There is a great (but long, in my opinion---especially if you've read [and re-read, and re-read] the original play [as I did for a semester-long course once, long ago]) synopsis of the musical.

Why make a musical when there's a perfectly good, and entertaining, play of the same name? I do not know the answer to that question. Well, I admit, I haven't really thought about it for more time than it took me to write that question. So I'll think about it some more.

Maybe listening to a cast recording of the musical will give me some clues. Unh-unh. Ain't gonna happen. Such a thing does exist, and is available on Amazon for about 27 English pounds, but I'm thinking it isn't worth it.

Oh my goodness, it's not even necessary: It's all available on YouTube. Here's the overture:

And you can "sample" each of the songs by going to the Amazon site.  (However, I listened to part of one of them, which reminded me that life is short. 'Nuff said.)

Meanwhile, my point is just that you may be able to understand the story arc simply by looking at the titles of the songs.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Overtures: William Tell

And I love that this one is done by the U.S. Marine Corps Band:

For now, just notice how differently it starts (from the Orpheus overture). No fanfare, but a simple theme (like the rustic/romantic solos that follow the fanfare in the Orpheus overture). 

Then, some equally quiet but somehow foreboding woodwind bit, leading up to the menacing sound of a storm coming, joined in by the brass...then it gets quiet again, there's the flute solo, then the oboe solo, with another theme that we all recognize. Again, more instruments join in, then there's the fanfare, and the most famous part of all, the Lone Ranger theme, AKA "To da dump" to many school children in the U.S. And a big blow-the-socks-off-'em finale.

Here's a synopsis of the opera. This is way better than my clumsy recounting of the main parts of the overture, for sure! And the synopsis of the whole opera explains the main bits in the overture. Interesting note, from that same web page: 
"'Guillaume Tell' is the only opera by an Italian of which it can be said that the overture has gained world-wide fame, and justly so, white the opera itself is so rarely heard that it may almost be said to have passed out of the repertoire. Occasionally it is revived for the benefit of a high tenor like Tamagno. In point of fact, however, it is too good a work to be made the vehicle of a single operatic star." 

Again, I've never seen the opera itself, and apparently not many people have. But read the synopsis on that page to see what the whole story is. You'll love it, I'm sure, as I do. But here's more:
"The care which Rossini bestowed on this work is seen in the layout and composition of the overture, which as an instrumental number is as fine a tour de force as his "Una voce poco fa," "Bel raggio," or "Giorno d’orrore" are for voice. The slow introduction denotes Alpine calm. There is a beautiful passage for violoncellos, which has been quoted in books on instrumentation. In it Rossini may well have harked back to his student years, when he was a pupil in violoncello playing at the conservatory in Bologna. The calm is followed by a storm and this, in turn, by a "Ranz des Vaches." The final section consists of a trumpet call, followed by a fast movement, which can be played so as to leave the hearer quite breathless. It is supposed to represent the call to arms and the uprising of the the Swiss against their Austrian oppressors, whose yoke they threw off.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Mom Song (William Tell Overture)

Overtures: Orpheus in the Underworld

I like that this version is done by the U.S. Navy Concert Band. Also, as I'm reading about this, I'm finding out it was not a true "opera" but more a French version of Gilbert and Sullivan (though I've never seen the whole thing, and have only heard the overture scores of times).

Anyway, the structure: There's a fanfare, then quieting down, then that great clarinet solo, some more pastoral bits, and of course the so-called can-can, then more drama.

Okay, since I'm not that good at doing this, and not that patient, I found a source that did a whole outline: 

Here, I read that if you had seen it in Offenbach's time, you would have found it an 'outrageously funny "send-up" of Greek mythology." This article goes on to say it's a "highly disrespectful romp [and] involves nymphs, shepherds, gods and goddesses, with the fun reaching its climax in the riotous revels of the celebrated "Can-Can". A lively and highly enjoyable show for both performers and audience, with many world-famous tunes."

(More to come....)

Oh, what the heck, here's the whole plot from the link I gave above---which makes me really want to see the whole operetta/musical/opera bouffe---and I must say I *love* the idea of having a character called "Public Opinion."

After the brief overture the curtain rises on a pastoral scene in the countryside around the ancient Greek city of Thebes. Eurydice enters and sings of the shepherd boy Aristaeus, with whom she is having an affair. Eurydice is busy decorating Aristaeus' cottage when her husband, Orpheus, appears. He demands to know what Eurydice is doing. She tells him she loves Aristaeus and adds that she cannot stand Orpheus' fiddle-scraping. In revenge, Orpheus starts to play his latest 75-minute concerto and completely ignores his wife's pleas for him to stop.

Orpheus would love to relinquish Eurydice to Aristaeus, but Public Opinion would not allow it. Instead, Orpheus decides to get rid of Aristaeus and tells Eurydice of the nasty surprise which he has left in the shepherd's cornfield. When Aristaeus appears, Eurydice tries to stop him entering the cornfield, but he ignores her. Eurydice follows him, but suffers a snake bite. Suddenly, Aristaeus turns into his real self: Pluto, Lord of Hades. Eurydice falls, dying, into Aristaeus' arms. Eurydice dies but Pluto brings her briefly back to life so she can leave a farewell note for Orpheus. That done, Pluto takes her down to his underworld realm.

Orpheus finds Eurydice's note and, after his initial surprise, realises how pleased he is to be rid of his wife. His joy is short-lived. Public Opinion enters and demands that Orpheus go down to Hades to get Eurydice hack. Orpheus protests but, mindful of his professional reputation, he grudgingly agrees.

The scene changes to Mount Olympus where the god Morpheus (Dr Morpheus) is scattering poppies to induce the gods to sleep. Venus, Cupid and Mars, however, have been up all night. They return home, decidedly worn out. Soon afterwards, Mercury, messenger of the gods, arrives. The young, swaggering god, ordered by Jupiter to investigate the disappearance of Eurydice, comes breezing on to Mount Olympus to tell of his findings.

Orpheus enters together with Public Opinion, who wants to ensure that Orpheus does the honourable thing, that is, ask Jupiter to restore his wife to him. Pluto, of course, has lied to Jupiter about the location of Eurydice, whom he is keeping in his boudoir in Hades. She is guarded by John Styx. Styx was the King of Beotia. Now reduced to being Pluto's gaoler, he tries to entertain Eurydice with an account of his royal past.

When Orpheus and the gods arrive, Styx locks Eurydice in a back room. As there is no sign of her, Jupiter puts the abduction question before a tribunal. What he really wants, though, is to have Eurydice for himself and, to that end, he enlists the help of his young son, Cupid. Eurydice is located by Cupid's love police. Jupiter then turns himself into a fly to get past the keyhole of the locked door. Eurydice loves the fly. Jupiter reveals himself and invites Eurydice to meet him at a party on Mount Olympus.

Eurydice attends disguised as a bacchante, a follower of Bacchus, god of wine, but Pluto realises who she is and blocks Jupiter's path when Jupiter tries to make off with her. Jupiter again accuses Pluto of abducting Eurydice. When Orpheus and Public Opinion appear, Jupiter tells Orpheus he can take his wife away, but only if he does not look back at her as they go. When Orpheus fails this test, Pluto claims Eurydice. Jupiter, however, takes her away from Pluto by announcing that he is turning her into a real bacchante. Everyone, except Pluto and Public Opinion, is delighted and the operetta climaxes with the energetic Can-Can, danced by all the gods and goddesses.
(Credit: Guide to Musical Theatre)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

J.K. Rowling to Harvard Graduates

JK Rowling receiving an honorary degree from Harvard

This has come out in book form, but if you don't want to buy the book (cute as it is, with pictures on every other page, and so on), you can read it here.
She gave this speech , "The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination," on June 5, 2008.

I'd like to discuss some of her ideas with someone, if anyone would like to comment on this post.

For example, she says in her speech:
So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life....

So given a Time Turner, I would tell my 21-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.
Do you agree with this or any part of it? What has your experience with failure been like? Do you have to go to the very bottom of the pit in order to get to where you're only doing the work that matters to you?

Or what does it take? Or what has it taken for you?

And what advice do you have for someone who is struggling with getting to the essence of what he/she wants to do? (Maybe imagine you are the one giving a speech to the Harvard graduating class of 2008: what advice do you have for them?)

What about this bit, including the quote from Plutarch:

One of the many things I learned at the end of that Classics corridor down which I ventured at the age of 18, in search of something I could not then define, was this, written by the Greek author Plutarch: What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.

That is an astonishing statement and yet proven a thousand times every day of our lives. It expresses, in part, our inescapable connection with the outside world, the fact that we touch other people’s lives simply by existing...
If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped change. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.
Do you think this is true? How has anything you have ever done, helping those who are powerless or need the help you can give them, changed the world?

Finally, from the middle of her speech:

Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s places.

Of course, this is a power, like my brand of fictional magic, that is morally neutral. One might use such an ability to manipulate, or control, just as much as to understand or sympathise.

And many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are. They can refuse to hear screams or to peer inside cages; they can close their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally; they can refuse to know.
I might be tempted to envy people who can live that way, except that I do not think they have any fewer nightmares than I do. Choosing to live in narrow spaces leads to a form of mental agoraphobia, and that brings its own terrors. I think the wilfully unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.

What is more, those who choose not to empathise enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our own apathy.
Do you think this speech helped anyone who heard it that day? Do you think reading it here helps you in any way? Does it make you want to do good in the world? Does it inspire you to be more creative? Does it ring any kind of bell for you?

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Sound of Silence

Paul Simon played this on the 10th anniversary of the bombing of the World Trade Center. Hearing it makes me cry, still 15 years after that horrible day.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Aug 25-29

Frog in Pond

A couple of days before the Montreal trip, as I was cleaning out ivy from around the pond, I saw this little guy:

Montreal, August 2016

Now you know where those clay pots come from.

On the way to the Montreal Olympic Stadium
From outside
Also from outside
Inside---but why did they have to put their logo over someone's face?!?

Outside the insectarium---the rare monarch butterfly to be found this late in the season

Monday, June 6, 2016


While I'm thinking of Paul Simon, here's this one:

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Boxer

Sorry to hear today of the death of the great fighter Muhammad Ali. When I first heard of him, he was still called Cassius Clay, and I remember people castigating him for taking a new name. But he said he was throwing off that "slave name," and good for him.

He fought for his principles, talked a lot, sure, but fought.

The Boxer
(Simon & Garfunkel)

I am just a poor boy.
Though my story's seldom told,
I have squandered my resistance
For a pocketful of mumbles,
Such are promises
All lies and jest
Still, a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest.
When I left my home
And my family,
I was no more than a boy
In the company of strangers
In the quiet of the railway station,
Running scared,
Laying low,
Seeking out the poorer quarters
Where the ragged people go,
Looking for the places
Only they would know.
Asking only workman's wages
I come looking for a job,
But I get no offers,
Just a come-on from the whores
On Seventh Avenue
I do declare,
There were times when I was so
I took some comfort there.
Then I'm laying out my winter clothes
And wishing I was gone,
Going home… 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Weird Word of the Week: Lash

Definition from Google follows. First read this, "The First 50 Lashes." Here's an excerpt:

It [video of the writer's husband's lashing, in front of a large mosque in Jeddah] wasn’t hard to find. By now some of my Facebook friends were referring to it. It also appeared immediately on YouTube when you searched for “Raif Badawi” and “lashes”. It was as if I was being operated by remote control. With trembling hands I clicked on the video to set it in motion. I saw Raif’s delicate frame from behind, in the middle of a big crowd of people. He was wearing a white shirt and dark trousers, and his hair hung down to his shoulders. He looked thin. His hands were cuffed in front of his body. I couldn’t see his face. The men around him were wearing the usual white gowns and shouting “Allahu Akbar”.
The man himself could not be made out in the video. But I saw clearly that he was striking Raif with all his might. Raif’s head was bowed. In very quick succession he took the blows all over the back of his body: he was lashed from shoulders to calves, while the men around him clapped and uttered pious phrases. It was too much for me. It’s indescribable, watching something like that being done to the person you love. I felt the pain they were inflicting on Raif as if it was my own.

The men I had seen in the video might as well have put me in a square and flogged me. But worst of all was the feeling of helplessness. I sat on my sofa, wrapped my arms around my legs and wept.
I myself am not going to post the video or a link to it. Why would I want to see or encourage others to see such a barbaric spectacle, the whipping with the "religious" men standing around shouting "God is great" while watching a man be tortured? No. 
But here, as promised, is the Google definition, to remind us of how passionless some words seem, until we see or experience what they really mean:

verb: lash; 3rd person present: lashes; past tense: lashed; past participle: lashed; gerund or present participle: lashing
  1. 1.
    strike (someone) with a whip or stick.
    "they lashed him repeatedly about the head"
    synonyms:whip, flog, flagellate, beat, thrash, horsewhip, scourge, birch, belt, strap, cane, switch; More
    informalwallop, whack, tan (someone's hide), larrup, whale
    "he lashed the beast repeatedly"
    • beat forcefully against (something).
      "waves lashed the coast"
      synonyms:beat against, dash against, pound, batter, strike, hit, knock
      "rain lashed the windowpanes"
    • drive someone into (a particular state or condition).
      "fear lashed him into a frenzy"
  2. 2.
    (of an animal) move (a part of the body, especially the tail) quickly and violently.
    "the cat was lashing its tail back and forth"
    synonyms:swish, flick, twitch, whip
    "the tiger began to lash its tail"
    • (of a part of the body) move quickly and violently.
  3. 3.
    fasten (something) securely with a cord or rope.
    "the hatch was securely lashed down"
    synonyms:fasten, bind, tie (up), tether, hitch, knot, rope, make fast
    "two boats were lashed together"
noun: lash; plural noun: lashes
  1. 1.
    a sharp blow or stroke with a whip or rope, typically given as a form of punishment.
    "he was sentenced to fifty lashes for his crime"
    synonyms:stroke, blow, hit, strike, welt, thwack;
    "twenty lashes"
  2. 2.
    an eyelash.
    "she fluttered her long dark lashes"

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Death is nothing at all.


Death is nothing at all.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Nothing has happened.
Everything remains exactly as it was.

I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
That, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect.
Without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am but waiting for you.
For an interval.
Somewhere. Very near.
Just around the corner.

All is well.

Nothing is past; nothing is lost. 

One brief moment and all will be as it was before 
only better, 
infinitely happier 
and forever we will all be one together with Christ.

(A sermon, "Death the King of Terrors," preached in 1910 by Henry Scott-Holland (1847-1918) while the body of King Edward VII was lying in state at Westminster)

It wasn't really a poem, and the poetic versions of it we see online often leave out that last bit about the "one brief moment" of life on earth and the fact that we will be infinitely happier and be one together with Christ, forever.


Death Is Nothing At All

By Henry Scott-Holland more Henry Scott-Holland
Death is nothing at all.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Nothing has happened.

Everything remains exactly as it was.
I am I, and you are you,
and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.

Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute and unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident?

Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just round the corner.

All is well.
Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

Source: #FamilyFriendPoems

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Weird Word of the Week: Shrill

Dictionary definition:

Actual usage: To shame women for their "tone," as in, when they're not pretending that everything is okay in the world and that everything is okay with how women are being treated.

For example, in a new book titled "Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman," author Lindy West catalogues some of the ways in which she, and other women, and in fact most women, are shamed for objecting. They are accused of being "shrill," an accusation made against men as an insult, too, in that it attempts to shame them for acting like a woman.

This interviewer says to Lindy West:
The word shrill is interesting to me because I get called that all the time, in response to my writing. I can’t help but wonder, how would you know what tone of voice I “said” that in. I typed it.  
Her reply: 
I have some critiques of my own voice, like everyone does because it’s horrible to have to hear your own voice, but none of them are “shrill.” That’s not my problem. I have like a weird low voice. [Laughs] Shrill is not my problem.

I pretty much exclusively get it in print. So obviously it’s not about sound anyway. It’s about message, but they pretend it’s about sound.
I recommend Lindy West's essay in The Guardian from last July. 

Great excerpt from the article, explaining why her husband proposed to her at her birthday party, a huge, public gesture, and a surprise to her:

Months later, I asked him why he did it that way – such a big spectacle, such an event, not precisely our style – and I expected something cliched but sweet, like, “I wanted to make sure our community was a part of our marriage,” or, “I wanted everyone to know how much I love you.” Instead, his response cracked me up: “One time when you were drunk you told me, ‘If you ever propose to me, don’t do it in the bullshit way that dudes usually treat fat girls. Like it’s a secret, or you’re just trying to keep me from leaving you. Thin girls get public proposals, like those dudes are winning a fucking prize. Fat chicks deserve that, too.’” I probably would have finessed it a bit if I’d been sober, but way to lean in, bossy, drunk past-Lindy!
It’s not that I’d ever particularly yearned for a grand gesture – the relationship I cherish lives in our tiny private moments (and, as I’d later discover at my bridal shower, I’m surprisingly uncomfortable being the object of public sincerity) – but the older I get and the longer I live in a fat body, the harder it is to depoliticise even simple acts. A public proposal to a publicly valued body might be personally significant, but culturally it shifts nothing. A public proposal to a publicly reviled body is a political statement.

"Shrill" is available at


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Brussel Sprout Love

I just watched part of this video and had to share it. The guy is brilliant, and not snobbish or pompous. I love how he points out that recipes are just an idea that you can change the next time.

I also love the way he says "cracked pepper." At first I thought he was recommending some new product called "crocked paper."

Here's a listing of some of his shows.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Weird Word of the Week: Bouba/kiki

You know when you hear a word that sounds like what it means? That's onomatopoeia, right?  

Well, what about when you see an object that looks like what it sounds? That's the bouba/kiki effect: "a non-arbitrary mapping between speech sounds and the visual shape of objects. This effect was first observed by German-American psychologist Wolfgang Köhler in 1929." 

So why wasn't it called the Kohler effect? I'll tell you why: because the very name of this effect says a lot about what it's describing:

From one of my online sources: "To try this experiment, give the volunteers a piece of paper and ask them to draw something that is Bouba or Kiki. Collect all of the drawings and score them for being pointy or rounded in shape."

Scientific American
This Scientific American article helps you design an experiment in which you can test this effect: Get your volunteers to draw a picture of what they "see" in their mind when you say "bouba" and what they "see" in their mind when you say "kiki." 

Or show them drawings like the ones in this illustration and ask them which one is a "bouba" and which one is a "kiki."

Go ahead, try it! 

Thursday, April 28, 2016


Okay, enough posting songs. Here's a whole movie. Warning: I haven't seen it yet myself, just have heard about it. Don't know how it's rated or if there's anything in it that may offend anyone. I'm posting it here so I can keep my link to it and watch it in bits and pieces whenever I have time.

And don't know if this will even stay available. Here's the trailer, just in case:

What I Did for Love (Glee version)

(from "Chorus Line")

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Monday, April 25, 2016

Weird Word of the Week: Boustrophedon

Weird, and completely new to me: "Boustrophedon" is "an ancient method of writing in which the lines run alternately from right to left and from left to right" (

The word comes from ancient Greek, where it literally means the way you would turn when you're plowing with your oxen, going down the field one way, then turning around and going back the other way. (This is also the way I mow my lawn!)


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Hands-Only CPR

(No kissing! You only kiss your missus on the lips, right?)

Cannon Beach

Even the windiest and coldest day at the beach is better than a balmy day stuck at home. Am I right?

And today the temp was in the 80s at home and the 60s at the beach. Wow!

We saw more than this ladybug and shell at the beach. But this is the one thing we saw that made my day.

Friday, April 22, 2016

And Now For Something Completely Different

Trombones playing "Stars & Stripes Forever," complete with a descant solo you would have sworn, before seeing/hearing this, could only be played by a piccolo:

(I love the way the soloist looks up, surprised, when the audience applauds!)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Prince Live Version of "Creep"

Best-ever cover of this song, better (IMHO) than the original Radiohead version:

Not everyone in my family agrees with me about Prince, but I still think he was a great artist and a great person.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Woman, Why Weepest Thou

Happy Easter!

In our sacrament meeting today, one of our sisters sang this song, accompanied by piano and cello. It was even more beautiful than this version:

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Plural of Bigfoot

Guy Edwards "Bigfeet." I heard it on the radio, so I know it's true. Because if you read it on the Internet and it's true, then it's got to be even TRUER on the radio, right?

The photo at right shows Guy Edwards, a self-described “Bigfoot hopeful” and the blogger who founded the Bigfoot Lunch Club blog.

If you want to find out more about Bigfoot, you COULD check out the bazillions of Bigfoot blogs online: just Google "bigfoot blog" and revel in all the hits. But I think most of these are unreliable, as most of these nut-cases seem to think the plural of Bigfoot is Bigfoots.

(Yes, I'm posting this on St. Patrick's Day, because if you believe in leprechauns, then of course you're a Bigfoot Believer. Am I right?)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

It Breathes

Some 30 very small earthquakes shook the earth under Mount St. Helens earlier this week.

Some of these couldn't even be called earthquakes; they were called "events" by the USGS people who were monitoring the mountain.

Even the large ones were less than 1 magnitude, all of them were at a depth of 3 to 4 kilometers (just over 1-1/2 miles) under the surface and all of them were too small to be specifically located.

These "events" are common as Mount St. Helens goes through its "recharge process." Similar events took place in "swarms" between 1987 and 2004.

Yep, it's alive, it's breathing, and it's recharging.

For more information, check out this interactive map with accompanying explanation.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Happy Pi Day!

Image result for pi dayFrom Time magazine, here's an explanation of why people care about Pi Day:

March 14 (3/14) is celebrated annually as Pi Day because the date resembles the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter — 3.14159265359 or 3.14 for short.

Archimedes of Syracuse (about 287–212 B.C.) is credited with doing the first calculation of Pi, while British mathematician William Jones came up with the Greek letter and symbol for the figure in 1706 — which was later popularized by Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler, beginning in 1737.

Last year’s date — 3.14.2015 — was especially significant because it matched the first four digits after the decimal point. This year, some math lovers have already started calling 3.14.16 “Rounded Pi Day,” rounding up those four digits.
More about Pi Day, from the New Yorker magazine:

[Last year] we asked the mathematician Steven Strogatz to write an essay for our Web site explaining why pi is worth celebrating. Pi, he wrote, “puts infinity within reach.” It’s also crucial to the math not just of circles but of cycles (which are, when you think about it, circles in time). Pi, Strogatz pointed out, “appears in the math that describes the gentle breathing of a baby.” Structural engineers use it to think about earthquakes. Oceanographers use it to think about waves. It’s everywhere.

Here's another article about "The Pursuit of Beauty" in mathematics. 

And here's one for most of us, those who don't find mathematics beautiful and in fact may have math anxiety. A sample from this one:
1. When your first grader asks for help solving a Common Core math problem involving subitizing and stable order, how do you respond?

(a) I strangle my child while shrieking, “This . . . is . . . why . . . we . . . bought . . . you . . . that . . . fancy . . . computer, Liam! 

(b) I tell my child, “Go ask your mother. Your birth mother. I think she lives in Canada.”
(c) I ask to see the equation, then discuss it with my child using nonsense terms.

Example: “Simply tri-dram the hexabop until the tetramint indoles.” If my child appears confused, I say, “I wish you were smarter.”