Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Ear Worm for you

Having made the mistake of listening to old folk songs, I now find that my brain can’t stop singing Four Rode By. Please click on this link so that you too can become infected with this grand song!
Four rode by,
Rode through here,
Three Mclean boys and that wild Alex Hare.

Alex HARE– heavens, perhaps a long lost great great great uncle!
Who did no credit to the family, however. Hanged.

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Silver Lining!

To deal the calamitous loss of so many files I eventually downloaded all unrestored deleted files to a folder on my computer and started the plodding work of going through them and stowing them where they should go. See, in the disaster, many files were stripped of their tags and paths, so that they were completely lost and afraid in a world they never made.
May I add that I have not yet forgiven Sugarsync, and never will.
In the business of going through old files I came across a couple winners.
For example, here is a droll Gilbert and Sullivan pastiche, which I had totally forgotten about. Amusing, especially for the classical scholars among us. Of whom I’m sure there are many.

Related image
Xena the Barbarian Princess

We join our operetta already in progress. The infamous Pirates of Pergamum have just seized a bevy of beautiful Mytilenean maidens, and are attempting to carry them off for matrimonial purposes. Gabrielle intervenes, with a recitative:

Gabrielle: Hold, scoundrels! Ere ye practice acts of villainy
Upon the peaceful and agrarian,
Just bear in mind, these maidens of My-TIL-ene[1]
Are guarded by a buff barbarian!

Pirates: We’d better all rethink our cunning plan;
They’re guarded by a buff barbarian.

Maidens: Yes, yes, she is a buff barbarian.

[Xena leaps in from the wings, with a tremendous war cry, does a mid-air somersault, and lands on her feet on the Pirate King’s chest.]

Xena: Yes, yes, I am a buff barbarian! [The orchestra starts up.]

I am the very model of a heroine barbarian;
Through Herculean efforts, I’ve become humanitarian.
I ride throughout the hinterland — at least that’s what they call it
Those sissy towns like Athens (I, myself, am Amphipolitan).
I travel with a poet who is perky and parthenian[2]

And scribbles her hexameters in Linear Mycenian[3]
(And many have attempted, by a host of methods mystical,
To tell if our relationship’s sororal or sapphistical).

Chorus: To tell if their relationship’s sororal or sapphistical!
To tell if their relationship’s sororal or sapphistical!
To tell if their relationship’s sororal or sapphisti-phistical!

Xena: My armory is brazen, but my weapons are ironical;
My sword is rather phallic, but my chakram’s rather yonical[4]

(To find out what that means, you’ll have to study Indo-Aryan[5]).
I am the very model of a heroine barbarian!

Chorus: To find out what that means, we’ll have to study Indo-Aryan —
She is the very model of a heroine barbarian!

Xena: I wake up every morning, ere the dawn is rhododactylous[6]
(Who needs to wait for daylight? I just work by _sensus tactilis_[7].)
And ride into the sunrise to protect some local villagers
From mythologic monsters or from all-too-human pillagers.
I hurtle towards each villain with a recklessness ebullient
And cow him with my swordwork and my alalaes ululient[8];
He’s frightened for his head, because he knows I’m gonna whack it —
Aware that his opponent is the _Basileia Makhetes_!

[The music crashes to a halt, as the Chorus stares at Xena in utter
confusion. She sighs.] It’s *Greek*. It means “Warrior Princess”!

[Light dawns on the Chorus, and the music resumes.]  . . .

Chorus: He knows that his opponent is the _Basileia Makhetes_!
He knows that his opponent is the _Basileia Makhetes_!
He knows that his opponent is the _Basileia Makhe-makhetes_,

Xena: Because I’ve got my armor, which is really rather silly, on
(It’s cut so low I feel like I’m the topless tow’rs of Ilion,
And isn’t any use against attackers sagittarian[9]).
I am the very model of a heroine barbarian!

Chorus: It isn’t any use against attackers sagittarian —
She is the very model of a heroine barbarian!

Xena: In short, when I can tell you how I break the laws of gravity,
And why my togs expose my intermammary concavity,
And why my comrade changed her dress from one that fit more comfily
To one that shows her omphalos[10] (as cute as that of Omphale[11]),
And why the tale of Spartacus appears in Homer’s versicon[12],
[She holds up a tomato:]
And where we found examples of the genus _Lycopersicon_[13],
And why this Grecian scenery looks more like the Antipodes,
You’ll say I’m twice the heroine of any in Euripides!

Chorus: We’ll say she’s twice the heroine of any in Euripides!
We’ll say she’s twice the heroine of any in Euripides!
We’ll say she’s twice the heroine of any in Euripi-ripides!

Xena: But though the kinked chronology, confusing and chimerical
(It’s often unhistorical, but rarely unhysterical),
Would give a massive heart attack to any antiquarian,
I am the very model of a heroine barbarian!

Chorus: ‘Twould give a massive heart attack to any antiquarian —
She is the very model of a heroine barbarian!

[As the orchestra plays the final chords, a wild Xenaesque melee ensues, and the curtain has to be brought down.]


[1] Actually, “Mytilene” would properly be accented on the third syllable; Gabrielle always did have trouble with rhymes. (Mytilene, incidentally, is a city on the isle of Lesbos — the hometown of the poet Sappho, as a matter of fact. It is not clear what, if anything, Gilbert is trying to imply here.)

[2] parthenian: virginal.

[3] Linear Mycenian: Mycenian is the ancient dialect of Greek which was written in Linear B (a form of Greek writing that predates the adoption of the alphabet). The implication is that Gabrielle does her writing in Linear B; if _Xena_ takes place around the time of the Trojan war, this is chronologically reasonable.

[4] yonical: “Yonic” is the female counterpart to “phallic”.

[5] Indo-Aryan: The language group consisting of Sanskrit and its close relatives. Both “chakram” and “yonic” are of Sanskrit derivation.

[6] rhododactylous: rosy-fingered. (Homer makes frequent reference to _rhododaktulos eos_ — “rosy-fingered dawn”.)

[7] _sensus tactilis_: Latin for “the sense of touch”.

[8] “Alalaes” are war-cries (the Greeks spelled a Xena-like war cry as _alala_ or _alale_) and “ululient” is a coined term, apparently meaning “characterized by ululation”.

[9] sagittarian: archer-like.

[10] omphalos: belly-button.

[11] Omphale: Legendary queen of Lydia. From context, we must assume that she had a cute belly-button; however, no known classical source seems to address this vital issue.

[12] versicon: a coined term, apparently meaning “collection of verse”.

[13] _Lycopersicon_: the biological genus to which tomatoes are assigned. (The tomato is a New World plant, and was entirely unknown in the Old World in pre-Columbian times. Thus, having tomatoes in a _Xena_ish context is an even greater anachronism than having Homer tell the tale of Spartacus.)

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I have been struck low and deadly blow, comrades! Sugarsync, a back up and file syncing program which I have been using for years–YEARS–suddenly turned on me like a vicious snake. And, DELETED HUNDREDS OF MY FILES. Whoops, said Mr. Program Support when I cried out in my agony. Hey, our bad! Oh, they are “working on it”.
Which is such a comfort of course.
But, ha ha, I have another back up program in place! Code 42, which backs up everything on the computer every day! So all is well!
Except, what do you know, my subscription ran out in March, just around the time that Verizon stopped providing webmail, switching subscribers over to AOL. So all their warning messages (7 of them, I was told later) were never delivered, or went into the efficient AOL spam folder. And consequently, Code42–without any malice, more in sorrow than in anger, I like to think– dutifully had deleted all my files from their servers.
Image result for nightmare painting
And yes, I DO in fact have an external hard drive for saving backups. The fatal error was in NOT DOING THE BACK UPS.

All those backups seemed a waste of pay.
Now my database has gone away.
Oh I believe in yesterday.

There’s not half the files there used to be,
And there’s a deadline hanging over me
The system crashed so suddenly.

I pushed something wrong
What it was I could not say.
Now all my data’s gone
and I long for yesterday-ay-ay-ay.

The need for back-ups seemed so far away.
I thought that it was here to stay,
Now I believe in yesterday.

Lagniappe: when I came home this evening the INTERNET WAS BROKEN. Which is to say, the router was blinking red, unable to provide access.
I shall just go out in the garden and eat wooly worms.

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Father’s Day

I recently watched a documentary about a brilliant young Ukrainian dancer who found himself on the world stage, major ballet companies all agog to have him. This movie has the usual tedious interviews–his contemporaries ponderously saying this and that–while the audience is thinking, SHUT UP and show me the lad dancing. The reason for the documentary is that this young man went slightly loony, couldn’t take the life. Drugs! Tattoos! He is quite beautiful, and in his anguish and rage, had his exquisite body covered with tattoos (which all of course have to be covered up for any traditional ballet role).

But the big news was, he quit the Royal Ballet! NO ONE quits the Royal Ballet. The story was a sad one, the gifted child, the poor family that tried so hard to give him the training he needed–and which then split apart, leaving him, a child lost and alone in an alien land. Young Sergei Polunin was suddenly motherless AND fatherless and almost fell into the abyss. Which reminds me of another tattooed lost child, remember Leonard Smalls? Who came to a very bad end indeed, hoist by his own petard.

But, this story ends happily, with his parents, reconciled if not back together, sitting together with granny, to proudly watch their splendid son dance like an angel in some spectacular show.

Coincidentally, I was rereading some Terry Pratchett stories–and was so moved by good old Sam Vimes, and his determination to be a good father to Young Sam. He is going to read to his son every night at 6, and no excuses!

“Would a minute have mattered? No, probably not, although his young son appeared to have a very accurate internal clock. Possibly even 2 minutes would be okay. Three minutes, even. You could go to five minutes, perhaps. But that was just it. If you could go for five minutes, then you’d go to ten, then half an hour, a couple of hours…and not see your son all evening. So that was that. Six o’clock, prompt. Every day. Read to young Sam. No excuses. He’d promised himself that. No excuses. No excuses at all. Once you had a good excuse, you opened the door to bad excuses.”

And he keeps his word, despite demons and dragons and trolls and dwarves and the machinations of very bad people. He is such a good man, and such a good dad.
Which reminds me, happy father’s day to all you dads out there! AND to the moms!
And to all the people who help protect the young from the abyss.

Here is Polunin doing trad ballet
Here he is doing more moderny stuff

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American Gods

Having successfully persuaded Roku to sign me up for a free week of Starz (well, free in a manner of speaking–apparently free = $1.00 in Roku land) I settled down to watch the new show American Gods, based on the excellent book by Neil Gaiman. A book I enjoyed tremendously–Mr. Gaiman is a deft and entertaining writer, deservedly popular worldwide, first coming to my notice as a co-author with the beloved late Terry Pratchett–their book, Good Omens is also on its way to the Silver Screen. Quite a few fine movies have been made of Gaiman’s books and stories, and having gobbled up American Gods, I was eager to see what Hollywood could make of it.
Well, well, well.
I will own I was transfixed, comrades! The show is filmed in an odd flat style, giving it a dreamlike tone, dark and surreal–magical, and a touch violent, but there, so is the book.
The musical choices are simply brilliant. Really, I was dazzled.
And my oh my, laydies, gather round and admire the dreamboat they found to play Shadow:

  • Tall, Dark, Handsome: CHECK
  • Air of Heartbreak: CHECK
  • Incredibly RIPPED (as if that mattered, right?): CHECK.

ANYWAY. He does very well in the main role, though I’m afraid he will have to hang on the tree Yggdrasil for 7 day and 7 nights. Or maybe 21 days and 21 nights? Anyway, a long and painful episode–but <spoiler> he will survive </spoiler>. So THAT’S OK, you see.
And while I was thinking that an ancient Scandinavian–like dear old Max Von Sydow–should be the one to play Wednesday (=Wodin), in fact Ian McShane does very well.
This is an interesting treatment of an interesting book.
The story is about the old gods, brought to this country by settlers over thousands of years, whose powers wane as time passes and their worshipers forget them. And there they are, making ends meet by running scams in a pool hall, or telling fortunes in dingy apartments in north Chicago, or running funeral parlors in New Orleans. And the book is also a love song to America, its little towns and sweeping landscapes–you know, purple mountains’ majesty–fruited plains–gas stations–Holiday Inns.
Gaiman is such a card! So much history crammed into this book. Story after story after story.
Wikipedia is very helpful in keeping track of the gods—a lot of them obscure, known only through glancing references in fairy stories. One of them, Czernobóg, is apparently the model for the huge black demon in the Walt Disney version of Night on Bald Mountain—and also in some subsequent video games.
Stories, how we feed on them.
Trailer here.

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Today I finished the third book in the series I am listening to–complicated, difficult books, filled with betrayal and devastation, but transformed by the stories of good and loving men and women, who are undaunted in the face of ghastly danger, impossible odds. In this series, even the best and most loved characters are not spared–but their deaths are heroic, are notable. One of them is so magnificently brave, so deeply honorable, that the god of death himself appears in all his grim darkness to take valiant warrior at the end–an unforgettable scene. VERY bloody and violent I admit, quite horrible.
But, moving.
HOWEVER. I finished the book, as I said, and and upon eagerly rushing to download #4 discover that the brilliant narrator has been supplanted by a pale ineffectual rival. The reviews were grim–one and all despaired–they too had been mesmerized by this reader and now felt betrayed, lost. The new reader competent perhaps–but nothing like the fabulous artist we had come to love.
Of course, I had already made a purchase by the time I came to the reviews. So, I hastened to cancel my purchase, and got the message that an email had been sent to my Verizon account.
So I scurry off to Verizon.
ANOTHER BETRAYAL! I find that Verizon has decided that it will no longer provide email. If I want to keep that email address, I can move to AOL–too TOO shaming!–or I can move contacts and emails manually to another provider. Note: all my business is done through that email account. Amazon, Amtrak, Ancestry, BestBuy, Dropbox, Facebook….and on through Zappo and Zoho.
Here is a picture of “Hope in a Prison of Despair,” 1887, an allegory by the Pre-Raphealite Evelyn De Morgan. Just saying.
Image result for paintings of despair

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This morning I opened the dishwasher to discover–it had been invaded by ants! Horrors! I quickly turned it on, selecting STUN WASH, and left for work feeling that the invasion had been stymied. These are tiny marauding ants that infiltrate my defenses every spring, coming through god knows what breach in the walls to attempt the storming of the kitchen.
Well, comrades, when I came home this evening I did indeed find the dishwasher strewn with tiny corpses, but also–arrogant fools–they had foolishly established a bunker on the top lid of the dishwasher and had actually laid eggs! So that I saw that the wickedness of the Ants was great in the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of their hearts were only evil continually. And I said, I will DESTROY the ants from the face of the earth. First I rained poisonous bleach on that arrogant nest, and then I cleaned it out with paper towels. AND I caused another flood to carry away their generations, not heeding their cries of anguish and loss.
Image result for noah's flood
Afterwards, I had dinner.

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