Thursday, June 26, 2014

Summer Scavenger Hunt

Dear Ones,

I am away today; but I have a little game you can play while I am gone:  An Internet Scavenger Hunt.
For the most fun, you might ask a friend to play alongside of you.  See who can find the most items in the least time.  Or, you could play it differently, and search only for the few items that sound intriguing.  A third way you might play, is to turn off your computer, and go out-of-doors and look for a small stone, a feather, and a nice green leaf.

Item 1:  A stack of pianos being played.

Item 2:  Rosalie Sorrels singing Way Out in Idaho.

Item 3:  Shampooing in space.

Item 4:  A plan for building a hovercraft out of leaf blowers.

Item 5:  A map showing the location of all the Gutenberg Bibles in the world.

Item 6:  The history of Hopscotch.

Item 7:  Annie Oakley shooting in Edison's Black Maria.

Item 8:  An Esther Williams swimsuit.

Item 9:  A Flea Circus.

Item 10:  A 1920's Raccoon Coat for sale.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily


Dear Rowing and Dreaming,
I have brought you a beautiful poem, and a boat; use them wisely in your dream life on this first day of summer.



Me han traído una caracola.

Dentro le centa

un mar de mapa.

Mi corazón

se llena de agua,

con pececillos

de sombra y plata.

Me han traído una caracola. 

They have brought me a snail.

Inside it sings
a map-green ocean.

My heart

swells with water,

with small fish,

silvery, shadowy.

They have brought me a snail.
Federico Garcia Lorca, from Canciones, 1921-1924. 

English translation:  William Jay Smith. 


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Peanuts and Cracker Jack

Dear Fun-loving Friends,

Today, we will share a package of crunchy treats- ethereally, of course.  Ah, here is the the Peanut Vendor now;  how about some Salt Peanuts?

Next, the Cracker Jacks:

Finally, a bit of advice- Do like Michael Pollan suggests and make your own treats.  Here is a safe and sane recipe, without the danger of boiling sugar:  popcorn recipe.  Yes, Johnny Danger,  I am with you, I love to live on the edge of knife wounds, burns and spills in the kitchen:  popcorn recipe two.

Ah, but you'll need a toy surprise- get a good one at Tin Toy Arcade.  

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Romp Through European Painting of the Nineteenth Century

Dear Students,

An animated painting tour today, from your armchair, of course. No need to pack a bag-  everything you need is included, plus cats! 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Two Ralphs and a Beverly.

    Marcia C. Harvey.  
Dear Ones,
You are on my mind, this morning, above all else.  So I wanted to send you a message of pleasure and beauty.  Here is Ralph Vaughn Williams' The Lark Ascending, sides one and two, and sides three and four.
I am thinking how wonderful it is to introduce you to such a lovely piece of music, if you have not already met.  When you go to purchase a copy in your record shop, remember to say Rafe, as in rake, and not Ralph as in in the motorcycle riding mouse.
A bit more on Ralph Vaughn Williams,  a bit more on Ralph S. Mouse, and, finally, the incomparable Beverly Cleary.
for the nonce.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Liquid Verbs

On Discovering a Butterfly

I found it and I named it, being versed
in taxonomic Latin; thus became
godfather to an insect and its first
describer – and I want no other fame.

Wide open on its pin (though fast asleep),
and safe from creeping relatives and rust,
in the secluded stronghold where we keep
type specimens it will transcend its dust.

Dark pictures, thrones, the stones that pilgrims kiss,
poems that take a thousand years to die
but ape the immortality of this
red label on a little butterfly.

- Vladimir Nabokov
“A Discovery” (December 1941); published as “On Discovering a Butterfly” in The New Yorker (15 May 1943)

Dear Blue-Winged,

A little while ago, I re-read Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.  I found it unspeakably beautiful, where my previous reading had left me only despondent dregs.  Why would this be so?   I had not noticed the words on my first reading, decades ago.  I thought, in this second reading, that no one who was brought up speaking English could write like this- no one could use words with such joy and innovation if they were introduced to the language by being told, over and over, as a toddler:
"no-no."  Native speakers are stuck with familiarity breeding contempt, and they are burdened by the conventions of their community.*

Which reminds me of another writer, whose native tongue was not English:  Vladimir Nabokov.  Can I induce you to read Lolita?  May I implore you to?  The words, the words!  A fabulous carnival of phrases and words and sounds.  It is wild and untamed language, its goal is not mere communication.  It sings and flies, and it runs stops lights.  Don't you want to be there with it? 

You will find this more convincing:  The author in an interview, part one, and two.  Please also enjoy this link to an audio recording of Nabokov reading his own poem:  An Evening of Russian Poetry.

Oh yes, and you will want to learn more about some of our smaller compadres, the invertebrates- by joining The Xerces Society.

Here is a little musical finale, and an encore of sorts.

*Is this a mandate?  Gentle advice?  Perhaps...  Stay away from people who talk regular.