Obit Poems

Feb. 4th, 2019 03:54 pm
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I have a lot of other stuff to write about, but I have a last minute document review I need to get through at work. So here is a quick entry with the obit poems I submitted to the Style Invitational, none which received ink, alas.

Abra Cadaver
Richard Jay Potash
Known to the world
As dear Ricky Jay
Sleight of hand master
But now he’s laid cards down
As he’s passed away.

Dorcas Reilly cooked some green beans
With French-fried onions, mushroom soup
Thanksgiving tables ever since then
Have been graced with Reilly’s goop.

John Bindernagel sought an apeman
known as Sasquatch, Bigfoot, too
Found some tracks but never caught one
Died with empty cryptozoo.
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Celebrity Death Watch 2018: Peter Masterson wrote The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Norman Gimbel was a lyricist, best known for "The Girl From Ipanema" and "Killing Me Softly With His Song." Raven Wilkinson was the first African-American woman to dance for a major classical ballet company (the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo). Donald Moffat was a character actor who won a couple of Tony awards. Paddy Ashdown headed the British Liberal Democrats. Liza Redfield was the first woman to be the full-time conductor of a Broadway pit orchestra (for The Music Man). Wendy Beckett, better known as Sister Wendy, was a nun who became famous as an art historian and critic. Herb Ellis was an actor who co-created Dragnet. Roy Glauber was a Nobel-prize winning physicist. Sono Osato was the first American and the first person of Japanese ancestry to perform with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Lawrence Roberts led the team that created the ARPANET, which made him the founding father of the internet. Nancy Roman was an astronomer who planned the development of the Hubble Space Telescope. Seydou Dadian Kouyate wrote the lyrics to the national anthem of Mali. Amos Oz was an Israeli novelist. Dame June Whitfield was an English actress, best known for appearing in Absolutely Fabulous and for playing Miss Marple on a radio series. Brian Garfield wrote Westerns and mysteries. Dean Ford wrote that one-hit-wonder "Reflections of My Life" for his group, Marmalade.

Jane Langton wrote children’s books and mystery novels. Her Homer Kelly mysteries were literate and witty, with a strong sense of place (largely New England) and charming line drawings. I particularly recommend Natural Enemy (as long as you aren’t an arachnophobe) and The Escher Twist

Larry Eisenberg was a biomedical engineer and science fiction writer. But his bigger claim to fame was in the form of letters to the New York Times, in which his news commentary was in the form of limericks.

Celebrity Death Watch – 2019: Pegi Morton Young was a singer-songwriter and the first wife of Neil Young. Larry Weinberg was a real estate developer and owner of the Portland Trail Blazers. Gene Okerlund was a wrestling announcer. Bob Einstein was an actor known for Curb Your Enthusiasm and for portraying Super Dave Osborne. Daryl Dragon was the Captain in the Captain & Tenille. Jerry Buchek played baseball for the Cardinals and the Mets. Herb Kelleher co-founded Southwest Airlines. Sylvia Chase was a news anchor and journalist. Harold Brown was the Secretary of Defense from 1977-1981 (under Jimmy Carter). Eric Haydock was the bassist for The Hollies. Moshe Arens was the Israeli Minister of Defense for a few terms, as well as being an aeronautical engineer.

Celebrity Death Watch: The lists for this year are officially published so I can reveal my selections for who I think will die in 2019. (The numbers are how many points I’ll get if that person dies.)

20. Kathleen Blanco
19. Leah Bracknell
18. Tim Conway
17. Kirk Douglas
16. Herman Wouk
15. Olivia de Haviland
14. Stirling Moss
13. Jean Erdman
12. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings
11. Al Jaffee
10. Beverly Cleary
9. Jean Kennedy Smith
8. Johnny Clegg
7. Lawrence Ferlinghetti
6. Ken Nordine
5. Jerry Herman
4. Jimmy Carter
3. Russell Baker
2. Robert Mugabe
1. John Paul Stevens

Don’t Analyze This Dream – Part 1: A man was wearing a bright blue sequined suit and standing in the doorway of a metro train. The person sitting next to me commented on the conservatism of my clothing (maroon sweater, grey skirt) and pointed to a woman wearing a red sequined dress and white fur wrap.

Don’t Analyze This Dream – Part 2: A stack of my books were on the night stand at a friend’s house. I reached for what I thought was a poetry book at the bottom of the stack,intending to read a poem or two before going to bed, but it turned out to be a copy of Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror.

Tone Rangers / Impitched: I was pretty exhausted on Friday night, but I still forced myself out of the house and went to Jammin’ Java (conveniently near my house) to see one of my favorite local a capella groups, The Tone Rangers. They had a guest group with them called Impitched, who I thought were fine musically, but whose choreography was weak. The Tone Rangers were as good as ever, with some of my favorite songs, e.g. their arrangements of "Southern Cross" (which is one of my favorite songs of all time), "Helen," and, of course, their most famous piece, "Wild Thing" (which starts out as Gregorian chant). They also continue to be very funny, in general. My favorite joke of the night was about how, with the success of The Crown on Netflix and Victoria on PBS, Amazon Prime is coming out with a confusing series about cops in New Jersey. It’ll be called The Crown Victoria. Overall, it was a great show and I felt energized within the first 10 minutes of it.

TCC Luncheon: Saturday was a Travelers’ Century Club luncheon. There was a huge turnout, which has the downside of making it harder to mingle. There was lots of great conversation. What other group of people is there where having been to 108 countries and territories puts you on the low side? And it is fun to both give and receive travel advice.

Housework: It is remarkable how long housework takes and how much energy it saps.

Last Week

Jul. 18th, 2016 01:18 pm
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I still have entries to write about my trivia game and my genealogy updates. But I don't want to fall too far behind on things I am doing, so let's do that one first.

Celebrity Death Watch: John McMartin was a musical theatre actor, notable for performances in Little Mary Sunshine, Sweet Charity, and, especially, Follies, where he was the originator of the role of Benjamin Stone. Larry Bock founded the USA Science and Engineering Festival (which I have volunteered at a couple of times). Interestingly, even though I met him several times, I never realized he was legally blind until reading his obituary. Carolyn See was a writer, whose works included several novels, though her daughter, Lisa See, is arguably more famous. Alan Vega was part of a band named Suicide, though he died of natural causes.

Tapas: An old friend was in town for a NASA-related program she is involved in for the next year. We were able to get together early Monday evening for drinks and tapas at Jaleo, where happy hour is always a good deal. Afterwards, we strolled through TechSHop, the local Crystal City makerspace. I discovered that they have bookbinding classes. That could be handy, since it is certainly closer to my usual haunts than most other places that teach, say, Coptic stitch. Overall, a pleasant evening.

Going-Away Shindig: Wednesday night, I had a going-away happy hour to go to for an old friend who is changing jobs after 20+ years. It was a good opportunity to see a lot of people I hadn’t seen in ages. Unfortunately, I had only a couple of days’ notice, so was unable to acquire a suitable present. I also had to rush off since book club was that evening. That was slightly difficult, as I still had another 80 or so pages of the book to read (out of nearly 600) but there was still plenty of controversy and the spoilers didn’t really matter much. (I did finish the book the next day.)

Sunday Madness: I spent much of rest of the week trying to catch up on household odds and ends (not super successfully) and napping. Well, and working. Saturday was mostly filled with suspended animation, i.e. frequent naps in between bouts of reading and housework. But then came Sunday.

First event was the Style Invitational Loser Brunch. The service at Grevey’s was inefficient, as they were understaffed, but the food was okay. The conversation was wide-ranging, including topics ranging politics (of course) to bell-ringing. I wish I could have stayed longer, but I had my next commitment.

That second event was rehearsal for an upcoming storytelling show. (Saturday, July 30th at The Auld Shebeen. More shameless self-promotion to follow.) My story went well, but it is a bit on the short side. That is better than it being too long, of course, but I do wonder if there is anything worth adding.

Finally, my chavurah had an evening outing to see The Capital Steps do a free performance at Mason District Park. They are, of course, well known for their political humor, and the show was very funny. My favorite piece was probably the one in which a woman complained about transgender bathroom use on the grounds of making lines for women’s rooms even longer. I did wish there had been more Brexit humor, but it does take time to write appropriate songs. There was also one piece about Metro, but nothing about how bloody long it would take to get out of the park after the show.

A General Comment on Life: Oy.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
I have, as usual, been too busy doing things to write much about them. I'll have things to say about storytelling and about theatre (well, after tonight, when I am seeing a play at Signature) and dinner / propaganda at the Saudi Embassy. I also have some long genealogy updates to write, including a very exciting find on my father's side of the family. (The short version is that I've verified a very speculative connection from some years ago. And identified a few more people from a list of names that my father had written for some unknown purpose.)

But, first, a few things that have amused me recently.

  1. I got an email asking for volunteers for the USA STEM Festival. Among the volunteer jobs, they requested "sign language interrupters."

  2. We are now back to the time of year when the Crystal City Business Improvement District tries to convince those of us who work here that it isn't an entirely soulless office environment, surrounded by soulless condos. (I have a few friends who live in those condos, but they do so largely because they like plane spotting from their beds. Don't ask.)

    Anyway, that includes Food Truck Thursdays. It's not like there is a shortage of places to eat around here, but it is a nice change of pace and, as long as it isn't pouring rain out, I'll go walk over and see what's on hand. There's a very popular Vietnamese one - rice plates, noodles, and banh mi, all of which come with a choice of chicken or pork. The catch is that the truck has a sign painted on it claiming it is halal.

    My father always said the person who invented kosher shrimp would make a fortune. He did not live long enough to see the invention of Mendel's It's Not Shrimp. I do not, alas, think Mendel made a fortune.

  3. Another production of the Crystal City BID is a Farmer's Market, held on Tuesday afternoons. Just now I was out running a lunchtime errand and I overheard two women who had just noticed the sign for it. One of them turned to the other and said, "Oh, I should go and get grapes there on Tuesday." Uh, the only fruit selection at a farmer's market in Northern Virginia in April is limited to apples (admittedly, several varieties of them) and maybe a few Asian pears. Grapes are not in season until maybe late July.

By the way, the farmer's market had a lot of ramps this past week. I would have bought some, but I realized I have absolutely no idea what one does with them. Maybe I will research that by this coming Tuesday.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
I have lots to catch up on (so what else is new?). The most significant is the National Storytelling Conference, which will get its own entry. Or, more likely, two, because something I want to say will take some analysis and I don’t want to lose that in the clutter. I promise those will be more interesting than this entry is likely to be.

But, first, some other stuff.

Celebrity Death Watch: "Rowdy" Roddy Piper was one of the few pro wrestlers I’ve ever heard of. Alan Cheuse reviewed books for NPR (and wrote several of his own). Ainger Lynn Anderson never promised me a rose garden. Ann Rule wrote true crime books, the best known of which was The Stranger Beside Me about Ted Bundy. I’ve read many of her books, which fall into the guilty pleasure category.

Politics: Wit making its way around my circles is that the Washington Nationals are offering a season discount to the first 4000 presidential candidates.

Quick Genealogy Notes: I finally found where I’d put my library card, so was able to use the library edition of Ancestry. I found Max Lubowsky’s naturalization certificate, and it seems he can’t be Icek Chlebiocky, since the immigration dates don’t match.

The new social security application database, though, turned up a few things. Apparently my great-uncle by marriage, Ely Fuchs, was legally Elias. And his parents were Abraham Fuchs and Rebecca Heller. His birthplace is given as Kragow, Poland. That would seem to be Krakow, but there are some other possibilities.

More fun was the discovery that Athalia Lehrman (Mary Lubowsky Lehrman’s daughter) was using the name "Timmy Lee" at some point. A bit of googling turned up an entry in the copyright index of a book she wrote called Poems by Timmy Lee. It doesn’t look like the Library of Congress has that, but they do have a symphony she co-wrote. I see some fun research ahead.

Decluttering: I took advantage of the library excursion to drop Mom’s eyeglasses into the Lion’s Club donation bin there. I also dug out a few old pairs of mine and threw them in. I did keep one pair with frames I could see reusing.

Story Swap: The monthly Voices in the Glen swap was at Penelope’s, which was nicely convenient for me. I thought about walking over, but was concerned about the lighting (or lack thereof) on one street coming home. There was an excellent turn-out, including a few newcomers. And, of course, lots of great stories.

Sometimes You Only Need to Read the Headline: "Texas man injured as bullet ricochets off armadillo."

And Sometimes You Really Should Read On: I was disappointed that the story headlined "Bat Boy Dies from Swing" had to do with baseball, not that mythical West Virginia tabloid creature.
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Two quick notes before getting into the main subject: 1) Disco singer Donna Summer has died. 2) We get various alerts on our computer system at work. Most of them have to do with things like a fire alarm in some corridor or a ceremonial flyover at Arlington National Cemetery. Yesterday, however, there was one that was new to me. We got an alert about a swarm of bees at one of the entrances. There was a follow-up an hour or so later reporting the arrival of a bee remediation team.

Anyway, I spent the last Saturday in April emceeing the main stage at the USA Science and Engineering Festival. Overall, it was mostly fun, but there were a few annoyances. One was a guy who showed up claiming to be one of the emcees who was really supposed to be at a different stage. That just meant some quick reshuffling. Another was that the sound system was set up in a way that limited the emcees to using the podium microphone, rather than handhelds which would have let us go out into the audience. One big problem was crowd control. There were huge crowds for the big name performers on the stage (e.g. The Mythbusters and Bill Nye, the Science Guy) and people filled the aisles and every inch of available space. Frankly, I believe this was a real safety problem. Another problem was keeping people on time. The Mythbusters arrived late, but finished close to on-time, since they were mostly doing a Q&A. Bill Nye, however, had a complicated set-up and tear down and ran about a half hour over his time. The person who followed him (Science Comedian Brian Malow) very graciously cut his presentation down to about 10 minutes, but it really wasn’t fair to him. I understand that the big names draw people in, but there needs to be a better way to manage both them and the crowds that come to see them.

I should explain why the inability to use a handheld microphone was an issue. We had various things to give away – periodic table posters, candy, and a few t-shirts. The other emcee opted to use trivia questions for these. My brilliant inspiration (which worked very well) was to print out slips of paper with various child-suitable science jokes and have volunteers draw a slip from a bag to determine which joke I would tell. I then gave posters to all the volunteers. This would obviously have been easier if I could have gone out into the audience to do it, instead of having kids come up to the edge of the stage (which also meant I had to go back to the podium to read the joke they’d chosen).

Overall, I’d say the event was a success. The glitches didn’t seem to have a serious impact on anyone’s enjoyment of the event.

click here for selection of science jokes I had on hand )
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I really didn't intend to go so long without posting here, but life has been hectic.

Celebrity Death Watch: My notes on who to mention go back to Harry Morgan, who had a truly distinctive, immediately recognizable voice. I watched M*A*S*H regularly as a teenager and remember being sad when Col Potter's plane disappeared on his way home.

The literary world offered up the losses of essayist Christopher Hitchens and of Russell Hoban, who wrote some children's books but who I associate primarily with Riddley Walker. The political world has one sad death (Vaclav Havel, bridging the literary world) and one less sad one (Kim Il Jung). The more obscure deaths are those of Jerry Robinson, who created The Joker, and of Erica Wilson, who wrote needlework patterns.

The death I most want to highlight, however, is Cesaria Evora. The "barefoot diva" of Cape Verde had a phenomenal voice and brought a lot of attention to the traditional music of that nation. She was certainly one of the reasons I want to go there. (There are others - Cape Verdeans played a major role in the whaling industry and, hence, New England.) I'm sorry I never got to see her perform live.

Three Sighs for Transportation: I came home from an errand to discover that the right front tire of my car was flat. I'd gotten new tires in April and, thanks to the warranty, that meant getting it fixed at Sears would be nearly free. They told me it would be "an hour and a half to two hours." I came back after two hours (having had breakfast and picked up a couple of things at the adjacent mall) and they hadn't even started on it. In the end, I was there four and a half hours. Sigh.

I've also had a few occasions recently to take the red line of the metro. Single tracking before 9 p.m. on a weekday is annoying. I thought the argument for the weekend shutdowns they've been doing is that they would then not have to single track to do repairs. Sigh.

I also had a frustrating Amtrak trip to New York, with power problems that made the train about an hour late. The delay was not as annoying as the fact that there were no lights while they were doing repairs (at Baltimore). Sigh.

Work: The project that will never end hasn't.

New York: My trip to New York at the beginning of the month was for my 35th high school reunion. The gathering was small but it was good to see the people who were there. I also used the time to do two Volksmarch events in New York City. The midtown walk was, in general, predictable but pleasant enough. The Chelsea / Greenwich Village walk was more interesting, particularly as I had never actually been on the High Line before. It's a good thing I was time constrained as the route passed the Strand Bookstore, which is always potentially dangerous to my budget.

Theatre: I can't go to New York and not go to the theatre. So I saw The Book of Mormon on Broadway. It was lively and funny, albeit a bit crude. It did push some of my buttons about how Africa is portrayed in pop culture, but that is to be expected. I'll also suggest that it is a very bad idea to take a child under about age 15 to see this. But I highly recommend it for thick-skinned adults. (If you liked, say, "Avenue Q," you will enjoy this.)

On a related note, I saw Cannibal: The Musical at Landless Theatre. (It is related via Trey Parker, who also co-created South Park.) There is some lively music and some funny moments (particularly involving the encounter with the Indians) but it was a bit overdone. It turns out, by the way, that Parker got his history mostly correct, but I was still disappointed not to hear a reference to Alferd Packer having eaten the Democratic majority of Summit County.

On a very unrelated note, I saw Billy Elliot at the Kennedy Center on Friday night. As I said on Facebook, it was a good 2 hour musical but is, unfortunately, 3 hours. There is somewhat too much talk for the amount of music. And most of the music is unremarkable. I do think "Solidarity" is powerful and effective and both "Deep Into the Ground" and "He Could Go and He Could Shine" are well done. The piece I hated was "Angry Dance," largely because the volume was so high that my ears were actually ringing through the intermission. The dancing (by Kylend Hetherington the night I saw it) was notable, particularly in the dream sequence when Billy dances to Swan Lake with his older self. But the real show-stopper was Cynthia Darrow as Grandma, an earthy woman indeed.

Finally, I saw Hairspray at Signature Theatre yesterday. I had seen this on Broadway some years ago and wondered how it would be in this much smaller space. The answer is that Signature did their usual excellent job. The songs are catchy, the book is reasonably funny, and the performers looked like they were having fun. So was I.

MAD: There was a talk by Al Jaffee and Mary-Lou Weisman (who wrote a recent biography of him) at the DCJCC on Thursday night. His life was definitely not what one might have expected, having been brought from the U.S. back to her Lithuanian shtetl by his mother when he was 6 and living there until he was rescued by his father six years later. The High School of Music and Arts changed his life - and MAD Magazine made him famous. At age 90, he still writes "Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions" and does the fold-ins. I feel privileged to have been able to enjoy s much of his work.
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It is quite common to see tour groups at the Pentagon. They're led by a military member in honor guard uniform, who walks backwards while giving his spiel. (There's another officer at the back, herding the stragglers.)

Yesterday, I was on my way to a meeting and I saw a Marine in honor guard uniform, doing that precise backwards walk and talking in a low voice. He didn't have a tour group with him, however, just a thick binder. It makes perfect sense, but I'd never realized before that they have to rehearse.
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Somehow I managed to miss these two clippings in my news wrap-up.

1) The crime section of a local free newspaper reported a story on a dog bite. The Animal Control Officer who responded is named Barker.

2) The Jewish Study Center is offering a cleverly named class. "Shir Havoc: Meshugah melodies for familiar prayers" is all about "fitting prayers to everything from Vivaldi to movie music to sea shanties and Irish drinking songs."
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This afternoon in a meeting, I was trying to explain why it is difficult to determine which of several organizations should have the responsibility for our work. I wanted to convey the idea that the relationships between different programs are complex and confusing and somewhat disordered. So I described the interactions as being "like the web of a spider on LSD." After people laughed, I said that there really had been such experiments on the effect of drugs on spider's web building.

After the meeting, one of the other participants asked me exactly how the researchers got the spiders to take LSD. I turned to google and didn't quite find that information. Instead, I found out that spiders on LSD build perfectly good webs. The picture in this article has some lighting deficiencies which don't show it well, but their webs were actually more regular than those of the undrugged orb spiders.

By the way, the researcher who first looked at drugging spiders was trying to find a way to get them to build their webs at more convenient hours. It's hard to make movies of spiders building webs if they build them from 2 to 5 a.m.

This parody video is more like what I was expecting.

I'll also note that in the real experiment it was caffeine that made the spiders incapable of building coherent webs. This is quite surprising to me as I am a major caffeine user and ordered thoughts my are perfectly
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I found out this morning that I've been appointed to a new Presidential Commission ...

... on knitting addiction! President Obama formed this commission in response to a report that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi had triggered a security investigation due to the clicking of knitting needles in the House chamber being misinterpreted as a possible explosive device. There have also been reports that Secretary of State Clinton's first stop on a recent European tour was La Droguerie, a Paris yarn shop.

He stated, "As the father of daughters, I am concerned about the damage being done to America's women by the plague of knitting addiction. I have heard from several families who claim to have no money for food because the household budget has been spent on accruing exotic yarns, many of which are never even used. I have only recently learned that there are at least half a dozen completely legal businesses spreading this addiction within just a few miles of the White House. This new commission will investigate regulatory actions to prevent the spread of addiction."

Possible actions being considered include prohibition on teaching anyone under the age of 18 to knit, maintenance programs using acrylic yarns as a substitute for runiously expensive natural fibers, and bans on the sale of such knitting paraphenalia as bamboo circular needles.
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The Onion doesn't seem to let you embed their videos elsewhere, so you'll just have to follow the link. There is a very good (but unrelated) joke at the end.

Watch "news" story.
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The past couple of days have been incredibly hectic. I went into work yesterday thinking that my calendar was reasonably empty. Just after I got in, I got a phone call asking me to attend a 9 o'clock meeting, largely on the grounds that I would be capable of being dispassionate on the subject. As it happens, thanks to my corporate network, I had some information that was useful for due diligence. I also seem to be the only person around on our floor who knows how to use a particular useful database, so could pull out some budget numbers we needed.

Then we had staff meeting and I got asked to see what I could find out about another subject. Telephone tag is the official Olympic sport of the circle-A ranch and that (with some follow-up emails) filled up the rest of the day. I still made it to game night, where I enjoyed playing Just Desserts followed by Plague and Pestilence with Emily and Michael (and another person whose name I don't remember). Alas, the Busboys and Poets at 5th & K is not really a good venue for game night, since the layout meant we were scattered among several tables. The food was good, though.

I knew today was going to be busy. I spent the morning following up on various odds and ends, as well as digging up information for a quick turn tasker. Then I went downtown to a particularly wonkish meeting, which turned out to be useful as I learned something that may help us mitigate the damages if we lose a battle we're currently waging. (And I also learned what tactic one of the other players is going to use, which may be even more useful.) After that, I had to go over to my corporate office and brief my grandboss on a study we've completed recently.

After work, I went over to the Kennedy Center to see the National Symphony Orchestra Pops with the Smothers Brothers. The first part was just the NSO Pops, with Emil de Cou conducting a salute to Valentine's Day. I haven't quite decided how I feel about de Cou as a conductor. His flamboyant style is interesting to watch, but I think he overdoes it a bit at times. I was amused when he used Lincoln's birthday as an introduction to "The Girl From Impanema," claiming that Lincoln used to dance around the Oval Office. But I thought that his bit of asking people to request Gershwin songs went on too long and was rather silly. (They played "The Man I Love" and "Embraceable You," by the way. The latter is my second favorite Gershwin love song, behind "Nice Work If You Can Get It.") Other pieces they played included "The Carousel Waltz" (which they had opened with), a medley of songs from Lerner and Loewe's Gigi and two pieces from Carmen Jones.

After the intermission, it was time for the Smothers Brothers. They started with a cute version of "Those Were the Days" - "Once upon a time we were on TV ..." Most of the show consisted of their usual routine of bickering as they would start out a song straight and Tom would do something silly that Dick would react to. For example, Tom switches from Spanish to German in singing "Quando Caliente El Sol" and Dick just stares at him for ages. They've been doing this sort of shtick for 50 years and it hasn't changed. There were a few cute jokes along the way, but nothing especially topical. They also did the "yo-yo man" bit, which I remember having started something of a fad when I was a kid. There was a sequence of clips from their TV show, also.

It was entertaining and there were some memorable jokes. For example, Tom went into a whole bit about flying and Dick said "no matter how many frequent flyer miles you have, they never upgrade you to pilot." And they certainly look quite for men in their 70's. I do still wish, however, that they had done something new, instead of relying so completely on nostalgia.


Feb. 8th, 2009 08:01 pm
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1) I wanted to note that Milton Parker, founder of the Carnegie Deli, passed away last week. While there are other delis I prefer, his was certainly famous and influential. This is also an excuse for me to link to the excellent blog, Save the Deli, which is devoted to Jewish delicatessens.

Save the Deli is also where I found a link to Old Jews Telling Jokes. The jokes are all worthy of my family - that is, corny and off-color. Needless to say, I'm still chuckling.

2) The NOAA N-prime satellite launched successfully on Friday. This is significant since that's the satellite that had a famous, um, mishap back in 2003.

Apparently, the new setup in the integration facility will make a satellite fall on the person who forgets the bolts.

3) I was over in Bed Bath & Beyond the other day and saw a set of Passover finger puppets. Ah, Moses and Aaron, you think? No, these are 10 plagues finger puppets. While I suppose that it does solve the problem of trying to explain to children just what murrain is, I really have a hard time figuring out who would buy these. Okay, I admit I was tempted out of the sheer oddity of the concept. But, really, is there an actual market for this?

4) While I'm on the subject of strange products, why would anybody buy gingerbread pop tarts with an image of a gingerbread man traced onto the frosting? Come to think of it, why would one buy gingerbread pop tarts at all?

5) My mysterious notes to myself all too often include a telephone number without any indication of whose number it is. I may have topped that, however. Any idea why I wrote down "March 3rd" without anything else next to it?
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On Friday I was talking to one of the meteorologists at work and complained that it seems that the crappy weather is always on the weekend, when it is less convenient for me to deal with. She said that there really are some weather patterns that are 7 days in length. That led us to speculating about weeks.

Years are easy - there's the sun. And the moon determines months. Yes, both are approximations but they are close enough. The question is whether there is any actual physical basis for a week being 7 days. If it had to do with weather patterns, one would expect a different length of weeks in cultures in different climate zones. If you have a monsoonal pattern, for example, you might have a week that is shorter or longer than people have in temperate climates.

None of us knew the answer to this, but I wonder if there are (or have been) cultures in which a week is 6 days or 9 days or anything other than 7. Wikipedia is marginally helpful (and suggests the answer is "yes") but not entirely satisfying. This is more a subject for cocktail party chatter than actual serious inquiry, by the way.

By the way, I had sent an email to someone to cancel a meeting and titled it "need to cancel 21 Jan" without putting in the word "meeting". He replied that I shouldn't cancel January 21st because that would create the calendrical equivalent of a black hole. He did, however, give me permission to cancel April 15th.
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Apparently, an ancient (4th century C.E.) Greek joke book has been found and was recently translated into English under the title Philogelas: The Laugh Addict.

One of the 265 jokes in the book has to do with a man complaining that the slave he bought had just died. The seller says, "When he was with me, he never did any such thing!"

As the BBC pointed out, this is eerily similar to Monty Python's "Dead Parrot" sketch.

Here's more of a sample, performed by Jim Bowen
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My poetic efforts are limited to haiku, but the Washington Post has a blog called Post Partisan that ran a limerick contest about the election.

It is remarkable how many people can't grasp the concepts of rhyme and scansion. But there were some good (and clever) efforts. Like this one, which I think would be improved slightly in sound by replacing the "so" in the last line with "such."

They hinted and winked at "Obama"
And how well it rhymes with "Osama"
But speaking of names
Do we want "Son of Cain"?
That's not so good Biblical karma!

Posted by: Hypatia3 | November 4, 2008 3:07 PM

My favorite, however, was this:

This limerick is written by Palin,
And I'm just gonna ignore your liberal media "gotcha" rules and requirements
About rhyming, which is also
A socialist agenda
So too and also in my experience
As a mayor of the buckets of job creation
I can see Russia from my house

Posted by: bgraham1 | November 4, 2008 3:08 PM

The latter did win an honorable mention, by the way.
fauxklore: (Default)
This was the quote of the day in our Congressional report today. I have absolutely no idea what the context of it was, but it is nice to have a literate candidate for president.

"Righty right, me malenky droogs. Come with uncle and hear all proper! Hear angel trumpets and devil trombones. You are all invited. I want you to talk to them whether they are independent or whether they are Republican. I want you to argue with them and get in their faces, with bootsie-woots if thou it suits. One thing I could never stand was to hear a filthy, dirty old partisan bushie, howling away his filthy songs and going blurpy blurp. Naughty, naughty, naughty! You filthy old soomkas!” --Sen Obama (D-IL) telling supporters to “get in the faces” of wavering voters.

(If you don't get it, I suggest you google a phrase like "nadsat glossary.")
fauxklore: (Default)
Maybe it's just me, but I got a smile out of seeing an event listing for the Baltimore Pagan Festival. It's going to be held at Druid Hill Park.
fauxklore: (Default)
I am a big fan of the Washington Post's Style Invitational contest. The results this week were more honorable mentions from last week and had to do with taking a passage of classic literature and rewriting it to be understandable to a resident of Los Angeles under the age of 40. I thought this take on a passage from Moby-Dick, about Ahab's hatred of the white whale was brilliant:

Stephen Dudzik, Olney: "One fish, screw fish, hate fish, rue fish. From prayer to glare, from tear to swear, evil whales are everywhere."


fauxklore: (Default)

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