Friday, December 19, 2008

Another Halfpenny in the Jar

So an absence of any November posts from me at Halfpenny Orchestra pretty much scrapped my nascent efforts to contribute to the site at least once a month. But December is not yet out, and I successfully (though perhaps foolishly ... it's 1 a.m.) wrote a rant about recent Pulitzer winners and their cavalier-yet-cliche disregard for grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure.
Going to bed now. Not looking forward to working tomorrow. Am regretting my efforts already.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

They Didn't Have Light Bulbs Back Then

As soon as Dec. 1 rolls around, I begin listening to Christmas music. It's a vice that I refrain from 11 months out of the year, so I feel that a little over-indulgence is warranted, no matter what my co-workers think.

A couple years ago, I discovered Pandora, an Internet radio station that (in theory) selects tunes based on a sort of "music genome" experiment that finds commonalities between tunes or artists and plays songs that fit those parameters. I've heard some stuff I probably wouldn't have listened to otherwise, and I've liked it. I also like that there's a holiday feature, which keeps the Christmas tunes rolling.

The downside is that it's just some sort of equation picking each song, meaning I can hear three different versions of "Frosty the Snowman" back to back. The upshot is discovering lyrics like this:

Ella Fitzgerald, singing about Rudolph's nose: "They say if you ever saw it, you would even say it glows."

Bing Crosby, speaking: "Like a hot radish."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

If wishes were tarpans ...

Last night, while reading a Wired article about "rewilding" areas that have been depleted of megafauna, I realized that "megafauna" is one of my favorite words. Generally, it refers to animals that weigh more than 100 pounds, but it's most commonly used to describe extinct massive mammals, like mastodons and the like.

Today, I came across the phrase "charismatic megafauna," which, contrary to how it may sound, doesn't refer to smilodons who speak in tongues. The term is applied to giant pandas and other fuzzy beasts that give a cuddly face to environmental movements. For instance, polar bears have become the poster creatures for global warming issues.

And since I'm on the subject of charismatic megafauna, please take a moment to check out this book. It's on my Amazon wish list.