Top 10 Plurals for Goldman Sachs

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Rachel Maddow issued a challenge for viewers to come up with an appropriate plural designation when speaking of Trump’s Goldman Sachs (GS) hires.  You know, like a group of Sachs or a bag of Goldman Sachs or a school of Sachs and so on.  You will recall that Trump has named, hired, or appointed something like 6 from the Wall Street firm.  Interestingly, and some would say hypocritically so, he brutally criticized Hillary Clinton for being “totally controlled by Goldman Sachs.” Well, it looks like he was secretly winking at her when saying this because it appears that it is he, not she who will be controlled by Goldman Sachs.  So how do we refer to a group of GS Trump advisers? Here is my list of top ten possibilities with brief explanations:

  1. A coalition of GS, as in a coalition of cheetah, or perhaps even more appropriate, a coalition of GS Cheetos.
  2. A tribe of GS, as in a tribe of goats.  Maybe they will say things Trump doesn’t like and in doing so get his goat.
  3. A bloat of GS, as in a bloat of hippos. Hippos, as one knows, are potentially dangerous to people and so too might a bloat of GS be if financial regulations are relaxed.
  4. A romp of GS, as in a romp of otters who are slick to the touch and like to playfully romp around in rough waters. Let’s just hope the romp of GS advisers doesn’t romp around with our investments.
  5. A wake of GS, as in a wake of buzzards. Now, this sounds bleak and terrifying, to be honest.
  6. A wreck of GS, as in a wreck of seabirds is not much better. An unregulated Wall Street could wreck the economy again and your retirement account along with it.
  7. A murmuration of GS, as in a murmuration of starlings. Can’t you see them all flying in formation? What a spectacle it would be.
  8. A descent of GS, like a descent of woodpeckers pecking away at your life savings until there is nothing left.
  9. A plague of GS, like a plague of insects I think speaks for itself.
  10. A scourge of GS like a scourge of blood sucking mosquitoes – not a pretty image.

In all fairness, I am not against Goldman Sachs or any other investment firm or big bank as long as they play by the rules and behave responsibly.  It just seems so hypocritical for Trump to have derided Clinton for her connections to Wall Street when it is clear that his administration is going to BE Wall Street.  Well, he did say he was going to buld a wall, I just didn’t expect it to be made of Goldman Sachs.

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What’s this I hear about Last in Space?

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I was trying to read the lineup of shows on TV from the menu of our cable service without my glasses.  I felt like I was taking one of those vision tests.  I proudly boasted that I could read a blurry row near the bottom of the chart and when called upon to do so, mumbled out random letters and numbers with the word possibly thrown in only to have the doctor request that I try to read again but this time three rows up.

As I squinted at the TV program menu, I thought the networks and stations had just gone live with their new lineup of shows, some that sounded intriguing.  I don’t watch much TV generally, but these new shows had me dreaming of early retirement:

Crimea Minds

This must be a Russian version of CSI.

Family Fraud

They are all unrelated, as it turns out.

The Big Bong

With the legalization of marijuana, this new series comes as no surprise.

Mushroomers

I guess Moonshiners has run its course.

Fiends

This sarcastic comedy is about a group of hateful friends.

Monsters in my Barn

Garage Squid

This might be a spinoff of Monsters in my Barn or one of those shows like Gator Boys.

New Grill

I toggled down quickly as I figured this was an addictive infomercial about a revolutionary grill.

American Mustard

America can do mustard too just as good as the French.

Imperial Lockers

I thought this might be something like an SNL spoof on Impractical Jokers but then again it could be about what the rich and famous store in lockers in train stations throughout Europe.

Morning Joke

I imagine this one to be morning political comedy, not unlike Morning Joe.

Miami, Nice!

…until it gets too hot.

The Last Squid

Based on The Twilight Zone pilot, “Where is Everybody?”

Last In Space

Trump might do better to start a space race, rather than a nuclear arms race.

Radiator

Make sure the kids are in bed as this steamy series is sure to carry an MA rating.

Anderson Copper 300

If I had to guess, I would say this is a 5-hour infomercial for a new compression product.

Chicago Tire

This reality shoe about a tire shop in the windy city is sure to be a big hit.

Last Squid Standing

If I had to hazard a guess, I would go with a deep sea, outwit, outlast, survival show with host Squidward from SpongeBob SquarePants.

Little Horse on the Prairie

A homesteader with a pony tries to live the American dream but finds life on the range depressingly difficult.

As Roseanne Roseannadanna might have said, “What’s this I hear about Deep Fried Monsters? Oh, Deep Fried Masters? Nevermind.”

The Animal Survey Says:

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This afternoon, I was listening to NPR, or maybe it was PRI, with John Hockenberry, I think it was, who introduced a segment featuring an article some guy wrote for Outside magazine about zoos. It’s no surprise that the author believes zoos no longer serve a useful purpose and may be harmful to the animals. In the piece, they talked about the fact that many of the animals don’t fare too well in cages and some are even treated with anti-depressants.  The animals would probably rather be in the wild, though one wonders how well they’d fare there after years of captivity.  The host said we’d never know what the animals think about their lodgings because they can’t really be polled.  But if they could be polled, or if we could speak to the animals so to speak and do a focus group or something, here’s what they might say:

Zookeeper:  How do you find your room?

Polar Bear:  A little on the cold side.  Keep having to sleep with my thermals on.  And the coffee, come on, enough with the K-cups already.  Doesn’t anyone care about the enviroment anymore? I miss the sound of the percolator from back in the day.

Zookeeper:  Apart from the coffee and the cold, anything else?

Polar Bear:  I have a beef with the Polar soda they sell around here. I mean, when is that outfit from MA sending me some royalties?  Now that they’ve acquired Deep South beverages, from my neck of the woods, I am entitled.  Send me a lawyer – you know I never authorized my mug for the Polar logo.  I’ll buy this place and turn it into a ski lodge.  Water skiing lodge, more like it since the dang polar ice cap melted away, which is why I’m in this joint in the first place.

Zookeeper:  You sound a little disgruntled.

Polar Bear:  I’m being exploited.  I’ll have you know I’m an union organizer and you can’t stop us, unless you throw me some Alaskan salmon every now and then, say on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Zookeeper:  Mr. Snake.  How could we make your stay more pleasing?

Snake:  For starters, you can remove the plexiglass.  I’m tired of people taking selfies with me as I try to catch some zzzzz’s.  I’m not a violent sort, but some days I’d like nothing better than to envenomate a zoo patron or two.

Zookeeper:  How is your food?

Snake:  Never mind the food, just put me out on a sun warmed rock.  This flourescent lighting you got in here gives me migraines.  And I’d like to work on my tan.  One more thing – can you get me a new roommate?  The spitting viper has got no class, no class at all.  At the very least, get the guy a spittoon.

Zookeeper:  Sir Tiger, do you have any suggestions for improving the zoo?

Tiger:  Look, can you get me some wilderbeasts?  This pink slime you keep throwing me is not even fit for a taco.  And these cougars you got in here, they burn incense all day.  I mean, can you get me an air purifier or some Claritin.  My allergies are acting up.

Zookeeper:  Anything else?

Tiger:  Just one more thing.  A few of us would like to be zoo guides, just to liven things up.  It’d just be me, Zippy the hippo, Dusty the black bear, Leo the laughing hyena and Clowny the rattlesnake.  We’d like to lead the zoo patrons to a hands on tour of the inside of the lion enclosure.  The lions have been feeling rather lonely lately.

Out of the Frio and into Rio

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We’ve been in Rio de Janeiro now for three days and it’s beginning to feel like home and literally will be our home for the next 3 weeks, thanks to our dear and gracious friend who is letting us stay at her spacious apartment in Copacabana. After experiencing the fall like months of June and July in Chile and Uruguay, my body finally gets to experience the summer it expects in July, and ironically, July is one of the coolest months of the year in Rio de Janeiro, with average temperatures of around 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

If there is a heaven on earth, Rio might be the location – tropical breezes, world class beaches including Copacabana, close to where we are staying, and Ipanema, made famous in a song, that face the fierce Atlantic Ocean surrounded by majestic hills or morros as they are called in Portuguese. The view of the city and the beaches from atop the morros is simply breathtaking, with its main boulevard lined with white and pastel colored hotels and apartments and brown sandy beaches for as far as the eye can see.  The contrast between the white foam and brown beach at certain angles looks like a giant cup of coffee con leche or as the Brazilians say, cafezinho.

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In our first three days, we walked a considerable distance on the famous and clean beaches of Rio and through several neighborhoods in and around Copacabana with its unique and diverse architectural styles, and beautifully landscaped city parks, and walkways. We have encountered pavilions overflowing with music, soccer fans, and general merriment and felt the special spirit and pride of the place that defies description.

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6 Songs of My Life

My friend Pampi over at Third Eye Fell shared an NPR article entitled Tell Us The 6 Songs of Your Life. I thought it would be a great topic for a blog post but I realize now that it’s not such an easy assignment.  The thing is, I like and have liked all kinds of music depending on my moods at various stages in my life jazz, classical, electronica, blues, trip hop, lounge, alternative, ambient, dark industrial, punk, indie, new wave, rock, Latin, southern rock, soul, folk, show tunes (actually, not so much anymore – but I heard a lot of Broadway musicals on LPs growing up).  I’m pretty moody, I guess.  I could make a list of literally thousands of songs that mean something to me.  I once posted a list of the 21 records of my life, but I’ll not do a top 6 favorites, rather I’ll identify 6 songs that sort of defined me or described a state of mind at a particular stage in my life from childhood to midlife; I almost said from childhood to the Middle Ages.  I’m old, but still alive.  Yes, it’s all very self-indulgent, I know, but I can’t help myself. Enough with the introduction.  Here’s the list:

As a Kid:  Day by Day – from Godspell.  It came out when I was about 10 or so.  My neighbor whose father was a minister played the album for me one day when we were shooting pool.  I think at the time, their church youth group was performing the musical.  The version I link to above is not the original Broadway cast, but a modern one that I think is far superior.  Although a religious song that appealed to youth in ways that hymns could not, I connected to it more as a pop tune with a catchy melody and easy sing along lyrics.  As a kid, I pretty much lived day by day, not thinking too much about the past or future, especially during the summer.

Preteen:  That’s the Way of the World – Earth Wind and Fire.  The song came out when I was in 7th grade before I had developed much of a world view.  Things were the way they were because that’s the way of the world.  I didn’t have the tools to think critically about the world and my place in it.  I wouldn’t develop those tools until after I finished my formal schooling many years later.  As a 12 year old, I had very little agency but did have a vague notion of freedom that had to do with driving a tractor trailer for a living one day.

The Teen Years:  River Man – Nick Drake.  My dad turned me on to this obscure artist, obscure then, much better known posthumously. Drake’s music was dark, and full of raw emotion poetically crafted and delivered with total vulnerability.  The tune really speaks more to my dad’s life than mine and in some ways feels like a portal to his soul, may god rest it.  I’m linking also to a brilliant Brad Mehldau cover of the song.

College:  Phase Dance – The Pat Metheny Group.  I discovered Pat Metheny’s music looking through my sister’s boyfriend’s record collection.   He’s been my favorite artist ever since, Pat Metheny, not my sister’s x boyfriend.  I’ve had the good fortune of seeing Pat play live with his band and in other configurations many times.  The first time I saw the group play was in 1984 at the Student Union at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. I was one of about 100 people sitting near the stage in a metal folding chair.  I had a Minolta SLR and took flashless photos with a high speed Ilford black and white film.  See shot below from the concert.  The song was sort of a signature warm up tune they liked to play very early in a concert.   Phase Dance doesn’t have any lyrics, but the song is full of idea exploration.  Like the song, as a college student, I had  begun exploring various ideas and perspectives and quite a few mysterious isms as I pondered the meaning of life.

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Post CollegeNovo Amor (New Love) – Gal Costa.  In 1990, I began dating a Chilean woman I would later marry.  She spoke very little English, and I, very little Spanish.  We somehow managed to communicate together through hand gestures, Spanglish and by exchanging notes on napkins.  One of the things we had in common was a love for Brazilian music.  We both had cassette tapes and albums by Gal Costa, Chico Buarque, Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso and others.  At our wedding reception, we featured a Brazilian mix tape.

Mid Life.  The Way Up – Pat Metheny Group.  Pat Metheny is the only artist that I have seen live with each member of my immediate family separately.   My wife and I saw The Way Up tour in 2004 as an anniversary present.  It is a jazz record, but organized into four parts like a symphony.  The work is a masterpiece drawing from many musical influences including the composer Steve Reich.  As  composers, the writing duo of Pat Metheny (guitar) and Lyle Mays (keyboards) are in the same league as Rogers and Hammerstein and Lennon and McCartney.   And Metheny is a national treasure.  The music from The Way Up suite awakens my creative impulses and helps keep my midlife out of crisis.

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100 Foods To Die For (or not) Before You Die (41-60)

Honeycomb Building

Honeycomb Building

I took The Food List Challenge and scored 61% having tried 61 of the 100 foods (or drinks) listed.  So I’m going through each one, 20 at a time.  Here’s the third of 5 planned installments.

Fugu. I don’t know if you can get this outside of Japan, but there are two things to know about this fish  1) it’s delicious (they say) and 2) highly poisonous, that is, if prepared improperly, it can kill you.  I don’t like fish enough to take the risk.  No fugu sushi for me.

Funnel Cake.  I’ve eaten fried dough and churros, but never had funnel cake.  I think it might be a regional thing from a region of the country where I’ve never lived.  While I haven’t tasted the goodness of funnel cake, and it must be good (not good for you) because it’s deep fried, I have experienced the badness of funnel clouds having lived in tornado country for many years.

Gazpacho.  Love it.  My dad used to prepare it, I think or my grandmomma, maybe they didn’t.  The first time I had it outside the house, if I in fact I ever did have it at home, memory is a funny thing isn’t it, was at Au Bon Pan in Harvard Square one hot summer in the mid 80’s.

Goat.  I don’t think so.  Where I grew up, a good way to insult someone was to call them “an old goat”.  Goat as food first came to my consciousness after the Rolling Stones released Goats Head Soup in 1973.

Goat’s Milk.  I’ve had goat cheese, which I presume is made from goat’s milk, and I could be wrong, but if I’m not, then technically, I’ve had goat’s milk.

Goulash.  That word has been in my vocabulary from as early as I can remember, but I honestly don’t remember ever having the dish growing up.  I associate it with Hungary, a country I know very little about.  In fact, I have only met one or two Hungarians in my life. I do know that linguistically, according to the Ethnologue, the Hungarian language is a bit of an odd bird in that it is not classified as Indo-European.  All the major languages spoken in the countries it borders: Austria, Slovakia, Ukraine, Serbia, Romania and Croatia are genetically classified as Indo-European.  Classified as Uralic, Hungarian is part of the same language family as Finnish and Estonian.  But I digress.  Goulash.  The answer is no I have not.  The closest thing I’ve had to Goulash would be American Chop Suey, which I first had in a cafeteria-style eatery in Braintree or Quincy, MA.

Gumbo.  Yes, having grown up in a state bordering Louisiana, I was exposed to a considerable amount of Cajun cuisine and Gumbo was one of those dishes.  But I have a confession:  I never liked it.  The spices were ok, but I didn’t care much for shrimp, or crawfish then and still don’t now.  There’s something about a crustacean that gives me the creeps.

Haggis.  I have never acquired a taste for heart, liver and lungs.  And I don’t care how much it’s all spiced and everything niced, probably the only way to get me to eat some would be to gift me a fine bottle of single malt scotch whiskey, or tell me the haggis was something it’s not, like mincemeat pie.

Head Cheese.  Another no thank you.  The closest thing I’ve eaten to head cheese is pickle loaf which was honestly pretty awful.

Heirloom Tomatoes.  I love tomatoes of all kinds, the heirloom included.  I also love ketchup, tomato juice, tomato based sauces, and tomato relish:  finely chopped sweet onions, chopped tomatoes, salt and vinegar.  Goes great on black-eyed peas and fried okra.  Try some sometime, won’t you?

Honeycomb.  As a kid, I loved the cereal.  I like honey.  Nothing better than melted butter and honey on a hot roll.  Don’t think I’ve ever eaten the actual honeycomb; didn’t even know you could.  Can you?  The cereal notwithstanding, the closest thing to honeycomb I’ve eaten is a waffle.  Waffles with honey – now that’s an idea.  And I just remembered the honeycomb building in Chicago.  I didn’t eat it, but I did photograph it.

Hostess Fruit Pie.  How this made the list, I’ll never know, but I must confess to liking them and eating them with some regularity in the days of my youth and young adulthood.  I liked cherry the best.  I wonder if they still make these?  Haven’t seen them in a while.  My grandpa used to make fried blueberry pies for snacks when he took me fishing.  Were they ever good! I remember asking him if the fish might like some.  He just laughed…but I was serious.

Heuvos Rancheros.  I’ve had variants that I prepared myself, but never the real thing.  When I’m out for breakfast, I usually stick to eggs over easy, bacon or sausage and toast.  Plus, in my neighborhood, there aren’t many, perhaps not any, authentic Mexican eateries that serve breakfast.

Jerk Chicken.  I think I have had some jerk chicken, long ago, at either a picnic, or a Jamaican restaurant, but it doesn’t stand out in my memory.  I’m probably missing out on something extraordinary.  I do like Jamaican patties with coco bread, something that should be on the food challenge list in my judgement.  And another confession:  I like beef jerky.

Kangaroo.  Never.  As a kid, I loved Winnie-the-Pooh.  How could anyone eat the kin of Kanga and Roo without feeling some level of guilt.

Key Lime Pie.  Love the stuff.  Hard to find it on the Northeast coast, though.  My mom used to make lemon meringue pie to die for which I will assert is a variant or relative of key lime pie.  I made a key lime pie from a North Carolina recipe once with a saltine cracker pie crust.  It was pretty good and my family loved it, but it wasn’t the real deal.

Kobe Beef.  I don’t think I’ve had it.  I’ve seen the Iron Chefs cook with it though.

Lassi.  I don’t think I’ve ever ordered this sweet yogurt based drink for myself, but have sampled a few.  If I drink anything other than water at an Indian restaurant, it’s usually a beer.

Lobster.  I’ve eaten lobster in various forms, and I like it ok, although eating a whole lobster is a mess and I’ve never mastered  proper meat extraction techniques.  The thing is, I have a generalized fear of crustaceans.  Once, a friend gave us a styrofoam cooler full of lobsters.  When my then 3 year old saw them she said, “Papi, SPIDERS”.   That about sums it up.

Mimosa.  Oh yes, not the tree, the drink.  I don’t usually buy champagne, so a mimosa is a rare treat for me.  Just yesterday, I made a Mimosa with prosecco and orange juice.  I wanted to make a Bellini but we didn’t have any peaches.  So it was really kind of a bellmosa.

Stayed tuned for the fourth of a five part installment on the 100 Food List challenge where I’ll be writing about, among other things, okra, moon pies and Spam.

R’s Interview with Big Brother

Big Bro:  On Facebook, you posted a note entitled 17 Books in 17 Minutes.  I find it curious that you only managed to list 6 American titles.

  1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Twain
  2. Kim – Kipling
  3. Heart of Darkness – Conrad
  4. Bird of Life, Bird of Death: A Political Ornithology of Guatemala – Maslow
  5. The Magic Mountain – Mann
  6. Native Son – Wright
  7. Pather Panchali – Bandopadhyay
  8. Pedagogy of the Oppressed – Freire
  9. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Garcia Marquez
  10. The House of the Spirits – Allende
  11. Hopscotch – Cortazar
  12. Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter – Vargas Llosa
  13. To Kill a Mockingbird – Lee
  14. A Confederacy of Dunces – Kennedy Toole
  15. Germinal – Zola
  16. An American Tragedy – Dreiser
  17. Crime and Punishment – Dostoevsky

R:  Well, I was an English major.

Big Bro: How is that relevant?  There are no Englishmen on the list.

R:  English majors don’t just read books by the English…but you are wrong: Kipling was an Englishman and Conrad, a British citizen.

Big Bro:  Your choice of books makes me question your loyalty to this country?

R:  Can’t I have a world view?

Big Bro:  (Pause)….I’ll have to check the regulations, but your books are radical.

R:  I don’t know about radical, but they are books of substance to be sure and touch on topics of universal interest – the death penalty, civil rights, capitalism, racism, workers rights, class struggle, imperialism, political repression, magical realism and the like.

Big Bro:  You posted this on your twitter account : 8 Feb “reports of a flying garbage barrel had commuters terrified this morning in Boston.”
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Can You Learn To Like Music You Don’t?

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Can you learn to like music you hate?  Research suggests you can.  But I’m a skeptic.  Country music?  NEVER.  And I’m a country boy (of sorts), having grown up in Arkansas and having spent summers and my college days in rural NW Arkansas.  The truth is, I probably could learn to like music I hate if I tried.   According to a research study, people react negatively to certain kinds of unfamiliar music.  They may not recognize a particular chord structure in the music and simply can’t hear and process it.  Researchers argue that it’s like encountering a foreign language for the first time. In the study, subjects with no musical background took a crash course on music theory and then listened again to music they had previously rejected.  On the balance, the “trained” subjects were better able to process dissonant chords.  Now this doesn’t mean they loved the music, but they apparently understood it better which is the first step toward acceptance.

This brings me to an interesting question:  how does one acquire musical taste?  Need one be a musician to enjoy a diverse palate of music? I submit that it helps, but is not a requirement.  Think of the language acquisition analogy.  Children consistently exposed to rich inputs of multiple languages in the home or school stand a much better chance of acquiring the languages (and without an accent) than children from monolingual backgrounds.

I can trace my own musical tastes to early exposure.  Jazz.  My dad used to come home from work and play jazz records – Miles Davis and Dave Brubeck were two artists I remember.  I didn’t really like the music much as a 6 year old, but I liked my dad.  I wouldn’t begin to listen to jazz in earnest until my late teens, but my dad paved the way.  Same is true of classical music.  I didn’t like it much growing up, but it was around me all the time.  My mother was a musician and music educator – still is.  She sang in church choirs and chamber orchestras. And she played the piano, as did my sister.  They played a lot of classical music.  As a kid, I took piano lessons from a  world class bell choir instructor and arranger and church organist.  This lasted about a year because my older sister, who also took lessons, was a much better keyboardist than I – plus I didn’t like being compared to her, or to practice.  The only thing I can play on the piano today is “Strangers in the Night” (with my right hand) and I learned that by myself before I began taking piano lessons.  I daydreamed and doodled a lot during church services as a kid, but when the church organist played, often Bach, the music dramatically soared out of hundreds of pipes and caught my attention.  I didn’t begin to seriously listen to and buy classical music until my 30’s, which was right around the time the CD was starting to compete with and overtake vinyl.

Commercial radio, the Midnight Special and American Bandstand probably influenced my tastes the most as a kid.  I worked throwing a paper route and mowing lawns to feed my thirst for records – 45’s, and LP’s.  One of my first 45’s was Stevie Wonder’s “You are the Sunshine of My Life” and one of my first albums was his landmark Innervisions, which ranks up there as one of my favorite LPs.   My dad turned me onto Joni Mitchell and Nick Drake in my mid-teens.  I felt some liberation from commercial radio when my sister brought home a Jeff Beck album, Blow by Blow.  And that led to my interest in jazz rock fusion, back to Miles and on to Weather Report and Herbie Hancock.  I discovered a lot of music on my own, often quite randomly; sometimes I bought an album of an unknown (to me) artist for the cover art or photography.  This is how I stumbled across the music of the Pat Metheny Group below:

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I often joke that I have musical genes but no gift.  I may have an ear for music, but apart from some piano lessons at age 7, no formal training.  I owe my ability to appreciate and understand jazz and classical music to early and constant exposure.  I am proof that an average person can learn to like music that he previously rejected. But this process takes time, in my case, it took years.  Will I ever learn to love country and folk, rap and heavy metal?  Probably not due to the lack of early and consistent exposure; respect yes, love…love is such a strong word.

Here’s another self-indulgent look at the influences on my musical tastes:

  • Rock, Pop and R&B – Commercial radio, the Midnight Special, American Bandstand, Soul Train, friends, record stores and album covers
  • Jazz – my dad, my sister, Guitar Player magazine (the John McGlaughlin edition), KUAF, and a Miles record
  • Alternative and Punk – MTV, KUAF and KRFA DJ M.A.
  • Classical – my mom, ML Thompson, church organists, music appreciation class in college (an easy A),  Menotti’s Amhal and the Night Visitors and Star Trek
  • Blues – Muddy Waters with Eric Clapton one night in Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  • Industrial, Ambient, Minimalist and Odd Sounds – the drone of the industrial strength fan on a hot day in elementary school, church organists, WZBC and the laundry room at home where I used to chill and listen to the washer and dryer.

Dreaming in Old Norse

The Old English epic poem Beowulf is written i...

The Old English epic poem Beowulf is written in alliterative verse and paragraphs, not in lines or stanzas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not of Viking heritage, as far as I know.  I once rooted for the Minnesota Vikings back when their defense was known as the “Purple People Eaters”.  I remember the likes of Fran Tarkenton and Alan Page, but I’m no Viking – truth be known, I’m a Patriot, but this post is not about football, but rather language.

Did you know that English may not be of Anglo Saxon origin at all and may be a direct descendent of Old Norse, the language of the Vikings?  According to two professors, one from the Czech Republic, the other from Norway, English is of Northern Germanic origin from which Norwegian developed and is not a Western Germanic Language from Anglo Saxon also known as Old English.  This makes sense because I had a really hard time understanding Beowulf in high school.

The professor from Norway may be a little biased, but he may speak the truth.  They do point out that Scandinavians have no trouble learning English.  Sadly, the same cannot be said of English speakers, particularly those from the U.S. who don’t routinely master Norwegian, Finnish or any second language for that matter.

I may be an exception.  I do dream in a foreign language, and not Spanish, the only one I know.  It has always been a mystery to me as to the language, as if I were speaking in tongues, but now I know that this strangely familiar language  must be Old Norse.   This also explains why I was a Minnesota Viking fan as a kid and why I had this odd fascination with the state; some sort of atavistic pull related to the history of English.

Alt. Debate Questions for the Undecided Voter

With the presidential debates coming up, I’m curious to know what the questions will be and suspect that most will be themed – economy, foreign policy and so on.  I would like for one debate to be moderated by me, a debate that would cover a broad spectrum of things that come to my mind, that are interesting to me, snippets from the news, random thoughts after my first cup of coffee, fleeting stuff that enters my brain that I can capture only if I blog it down immediately.  I dedicate this post to all the dull, undecided people out there who were never planning to vote in the first place and on whom billions of dollars have been spent by the campaigns to reach.  Here are some of my questions for the candidates:

  1. What are you going to do about pink slime?
  2. Do you believe that all Americans have the right to fluoridated water and decay free teeth?
  3. Thanks to NASA, we know that Mars had water and probably a waterfront.  What do you think about my jobs proposal to build a giant Ferris wheel on Mars from American Space junk?
  4. As you are well aware, acid rain is a problem.  How do you feel about dropping acid?
  5. Would your administration take action to save the recording industry by bringing back the superior sounding vinyl record?
  6. America is drowning in mercury.  It’s everywhere – watch batteries, light bulbs, thermometers, fish.  What is your proposal to make Americans safe from this dangerous, sinister heavy metal?
  7. Who is your favorite character in American literature and why?
  8. If you won a million billion trillion dollars what would you do with it?  Please be specific.  If you say give some to charity, tell me which.  And don’t say you’d put it toward the deficit, because you know you wouldn’t and if you did say, no one would believe you.
  9. When you hear the word disambiguation, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?

Ok, now each of you ask me a question and then comment on my answers.