WOW #40

Music Staff

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the most useless Word (Of the Week) in the English language.  It is

SOLMIZATION

Music. The act, process, or system of using certain syllables, especially the sol-fa syllables, to represent the tones of the scale.

Solmization comes from French solmization, a derivative of solmiser “to (sing) sol-fa.” The system of solmization is attributed to Guido of Arezzo (c995-1049), a Benedictine monk from Arezzo, Tuscany, who also invented the staff notation used in Western music. Solmization entered English in the 18th century.

While the system is used thousands of times a day, I have never heard of it being identified or given credit for by this name.  The act, or process, which Good Old Guido developed/invented/applied, occurred exactly once – never previously, and never since.  This is a definition which Jim Wheeler will probably dislike, because it’s a one-off.

Somebody had to go to the trouble to come up with a label for a thing which occurred with the same frequency as those infinite monkeys, banging out Shakespeare on infinite typewriters.  (You’d think that somebody’d give them word-processors and keyboards these days.)  I’m not surprised that it came to English through the surrender-monkey French.  They’ve got lots of time to sit around, eating snails and mouldy cheese, and being pretentious.

I may have to give my Word-program Spellcheck a slap upside the head.  Whenever I type in this word, it insists that it should be ‘solmisation’, even though my dictionary site spells it with a Z for both British and American English.  As noted above, even French spells it my way.

I’m going to spell it ‘lazy weekend‘, but I’ll see you back here Monday, with the next A To Z Challenge letter.  😀

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Hit Me With Your Best Shot

Birthday Cake

As threatened promised last week, this is my birthday-blog roast-post. What have you got to say about it?

71 years ago today, I burst upon the scene in a small Ontario town, and I haven’t stopped talking since. Today, I promise to keep it down to just my Elvis impression – Thenk yoo! Thenk yoo vurry much! This is your day to make any and all comments, suggestions, and (humorous) insults.

Do I feel lucky, punk?? Well, do I? Go ahead – make my day!

I hope I enjoy this as much as you.

Lay on MacDuff,
and cursed be he
who first cries,
Enough!

Welcome, and thank you to all my visitors!

 

ARCHON

Hysterical History – Part 2

A continuation of Part 1 – bringing us a little more up-to-date on the English Language, and History, through the eyes of teen students.

The greatest writer of the Renaissance was William Shakespeare.  Shakespeare was born in the year 1564, supposedly on his birthday.  He never made much money, and is only famous because of his plays.  He lived at Windsor, with his Merry Wives, writing tragedies, comedies and errors.

In one of Shakespeare’s famous plays, Hamlet rations out his situation by relieving himself in a long soliloquy.  His mind is filled with the filth of incestuous sheets which he pours over every time he sees his mother.  In another play, Lady Macbeth tries to convince Macbeth to kill the King by attacking his manhood.  The proof that the witches in Macbeth are supernatural, is that no-one could eat what they cooked.

The clown in As You Like It is named Touchdown, and Romeo and Juliet are an example of a heroic couplet. Writing at the same time as William Shakespeare was Miguel Cervantes.  He wrote Donkey Hotey.  The next great author was John Milton.  Milton wrote Paradise Lost.  Then his wife died, and he wrote Paradise Regained.

During the Renaissance, America began.  Christopher Columbus was a great navigator who discovered America, while cursing about the Atlantic.  His ships were called the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Fe.

Later, the Pilgrims crossed the ocean, and this was called Pilgrims’ Progress.  The winter of 1620 was a hard one for the settlers.  Many people died, and many babies were born.  Captain John Smith was responsible for all this.

One of the causes of the Revolutionary War was that the English put tacks in their tea.  Also, the colonists would send their parcels through the Post without stamps.  During the War, the Red Coats and Paul Revere were throwing balls over stone walls.  The dogs were barking and the peacocks crowing.  Finally, the colonists won the war, and no longer had to pay for taxis.

Delegates from the original 13 states formed the Contented Congress.  Thomas Jefferson, a Virgin, and Benjamin Franklin were two singers of the Declaration of Independence.  Franklin had gone to Boston, carrying all his clothes in his pocket and a loaf of bread under each arm.  He invented electricity by rubbing two cats backwards, and declared, “A horse divided against itself cannot stand.”  Franklin died in 1790, and is still dead.

George Washington married Martha Curtis, and in due time became the Father of Our Country.  His farewell address was Mount Vernon.

Soon, the Constitution of the United States was adopted to secure domestic hostility.  Under the Constitution, the people enjoyed the right to keep bare arms.

Abraham Lincoln became America’s greatest Precedent.  Lincoln’s mother died in infancy, and he was born in a log cabin he built with his own hands.  When Lincoln was precedent he wore only a tall silk hat.  He said in onion there is strength.

Abraham Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg address while traveling from Washington to Gettysburg on the back of an envelope.  He also freed the slaves by signing the Emasculation Proclamation.

On the night of April 14, 1865, Lincoln went to the theater and got shot in his seat by one of the actors in the moving picture show.  The believed assinator was John Wilkes Booth, a supposedly insane actor.  This ruined Booth’s career.

Meanwhile in Europe, the Enlightenment was a reasonable time.  Voltaire invented electricity and also wrote a book called Candy.  Gravity was invented by Isaac Walton.  It is chiefly noticeable in the autumn, when apples are falling off the trees.

Johann Bach wrote a great many musical compositions and had a large number of children.  In between, he practiced on an old spinster which he kept up in his attic.  Bach died from 1750 to the present.  Bach was the most famous composer in the world, and so was Handel.  Handel was half German, half Italian, and half English.  He was very big.

Beethoven wrote music even though he was deaf.  He was so deaf that he wrote very loud music.  He took long walks in the forest, even though everyone was calling for him.  Beethoven expired in 1827 and later died for this.

France was in a very serious state.  The French Revolution was accomplished before it happened and catapulted into Napoleon.  During the Napoleonic Wars, the crowned heads of Europe were trembling in their shoes.  Then Spanish gorillas came down from the mountains and nipped at Napoleon’s flanks.  Napoleon became ill with bladder problems and became very tense and unrestrained.  He wanted an heir to inherit his power, but since Josephine was a baroness, she couldn’t have any children.

The sun never set on the British Empire because the British Empire is in the East, and the sun sets in the West.  Queen Victoria was the longest queen.  She sat on a thorn for 63 years.  She was a moral woman who practiced virtue.  Her reclining years and finally the end of her life were exemplatory of a great personality.  Her death was the final event that ended her reign.

The nineteenth century was a time of a great many thoughts and inventions.  People stopped reproducing by hand and started reproducing by machine.  The invention of the steamboat caused a network of rivers to spring up.

Cyrus McCormick invented the McCormick raper, which did the work of a hundred men.  Samuel Morse invented a code of telepathy.  Louis Pasteur discovered a cure for rabbis.  Charles Darwin was a naturalist who wrote the Organ of the Species.  Madman Curie discovered radio.  And Karl Marx became one of the Marx Brothers.

The First World War, caused by the assignation of the Arch-Duck by an anahist, ushered in a new error in the anals of human history.

 

Ready, Aim, Fire!

Canning season is upon us.  Our supply of dill pickles has been slowly but surely dwindling, and replacements must be made.  Cucumbers have been available for a month or more, but the dill plants are only now coming into their own.

We had massage/osteopathy appointments on Thursday, so we were unable to go to the Farmers’ Market.  We had to go Saturday.  Neither the wife nor daughter is an early riser, and usually we get there 10:00/10:30 AM.  This was Labor Day Saturday!!!  D-Day would have been easier.  With both of them handicapped, I insisted that we get there 8:00/8:30 AM, to be able to park in the same Postal Code, and we still nearly needed to bring our own parking space.

More and more, we are joining the ranks of the Lazy And Incompetent cooks I wrote about 15 months ago.  A couple of weeks ago, the wife found that the Wholesale Warehouse has gallon cans of diced tomatoes, which we could use for making salsa or chili sauce whenever they are needed.  The cost is less than the equivalent amount of fresh tomatoes, bought at the market, and they have already been skinned and chopped.

Dill pickles though, still require the personal touch.  We bought a half a bushel of small cucumbers from a favorite vendor, and some fragrant dill stalks from a Mennonite, and hauled them home.  The car still smells of dill – Mmmh!  Saturday evening, we scrubbed the cucumbers and put them to soak overnight.  Sunday afternoon, we started cutting and slicing.

Then we made up the first batch of canning syrup.  We had obtained a couple of pounds of de-skinned garlic, which needed to be blanched.  We used the water from that, to add garlic flavor to the pickling mixture.  We, (as in, the wife) cut the heads off the dill plants, to add to each jar, and cut up the stems to be boiled with the syrup, to add more dill flavor.

The first batch complete by about 9:30, we sent the son out to pick up a couple of pizzas for supper, and then mixed up another pot of witches’ brew, for a second batch.  By 2 AM we had canned (bottled) 15 quarts, 15 pints, and three half-pints, of slices, chunks, and quarters.  Actually, both the son and the grandson like to eat the garlic chunks which add flavor at the bottom of the jars, so, two of the half-pints were the last of the garlic which didn’t go in with the pickles.

Just as we were bottling the last of the pickles we’d obtained at the market the day before, the main building at the Farmers’ Market was busy burning down.  A passerby reported flames at about 1:30 AM, and by the time firemen arrived, all they could do was prevent damage to other, nearby buildings.  Designed to resemble a Mennonite barn, only the fittings and contents were metal and glass.  All the rest was solid, dry wood.

It will take a few days to establish the cause.  In the meantime, 60 vendors and countless customers are impacted.  Many of the locations on the main floor sold meat, as well as eggs, or Guernsey milk.  There were also a candy vendor, produce, fish, cheese, baked goods, a specialty tea/coffee place tucked under the stairs, and an eating area at one end with picnic-table seating, and several stalls selling donairs, pizza, perogies, cinnamon buns, hot apple fritters, Oktoberfest sausages and fries and burgers.  Outlets on mezzanines on both sides provided Mennonite quilts, footwear, leather clothing, dream-catchers, jewelry, semi-precious gemstones, and other various kitsch.  There may be a small puddle of melted gold in the ashes.

The market is a huge tourist trap attraction, with busloads of blue-haired walker-pushers being bussed in from New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.  We met a nice couple from London, Ontario, over coffee, Saturday morning.  Management is not sure whether cleanup will proceed quickly enough to allow the rest of the market to open as soon as this coming Thursday.

The Market is Waterloo Region’s answer to Santa’s Village, Niagara Falls, or the Shakespeare Festival.  I am sure that the structure will be rebuilt, perhaps even larger, grander, more Mennonite-ish, but winter is almost upon us.  It could be up to a year to get it replaced.  Built just before legislation made it mandatory, it had no sprinkler system.  Any replacement must provide an elevator, if a second storey is included.

In the meantime, we can attend to get our vegetables, and apple fritters and hot chocolate.  We may have to follow that with longer, scenic drives to other Southern-Ontario tiny hamlets, with names like Heidelberg, Dorking and Elora, to get the quality meats we have grown used to. (Do you like Dorking??  I don’t know, I’ve never Dorked.  Yeah, right!)

Like fine wine, it takes a while for pickles to age.  By early next summer these could be ready to open, and let breathe.  Anybody up for a barbecue?  I could show up with the hamburger slices.  All you’d have to provide would be the burgers and beer – and potato salad – and corn….could we do corn??

On The Road Again

The wife, daughter and I very much enjoyed the food and the treatment we got at the luncheon in my recent post, Sugar Beets Boredom.  The presentation was to begin at 11:30 AM, with lunch at noon, and done by 1:00, but….the guests couldn’t all be wrangled into the dining room, the speeches ran long, there were more questions than anticipated.

Unfortunately, this was also the day I had to take my daughter an hour up the highway for medical treatment.  We were to be there by 2:20 PM.  Skipping a delicious dessert and coffee, we bailed at 1:15, dropped the wife at home on the way out of town, and headed for the highway.  With a mile left to go, we were stopped at a crossroad by police.

Not only is the International Plowing Match being held right beside the interchange, but today’s the day the Prime Minister is visiting.  We can’t get through!  All we have to do is go a mile and a quarter in the wrong direction, drive up a county road and then back to the on-ramp from the other side.  We made the hospital appointment, barely.  In the city, or out in the country, you still can’t get there from here.

A plowing match!  Yeehaw!  How bucolic.  In Southern Ontario, in late September, what could possibly go wrong??!  Other than eight successive days of rain?  Aside from our handsome Prime Minister, (Nope! I just couldn’t write that, and live with myself.) we had the Queen of the Furrow in a short little skirt and knee-length rubber boots because of mud up to your John Deere’s hubs.  There was a pole climbing contest like a lumberjack meet.  There were dancing tractors, like the Mounties on horseback, only in diesel.  The soft glow on the horizon was from all the red necks.

A week later, the three of us went to the beautiful town of St. Marys, Ontario.  I’m still old-school.  I don’t shower much.  I prefer a nice hot soaking bath.  I’m a macho he-man kind of guy, so I don’t use bubble bath.  I put in fragranced bath gel.  There’s an important difference….to my ego!

We used to be able to buy it by the gallon from the distributor in Mississauga, when we went to the wife’s rheumatologist in Brampton, but they moved the warehouse to Barrie.  There is a candle supply shop in St. Marys which carries the gel, and the wife and daughter wanted to stock up on wicks, tabs, holders and beeswax for candle-making, so off we went.

We drove out to Stratford, and turned left, and that was the first problem.  Stratford is just on the edge of Mennonite country.  Its streets aren’t quite as convoluted as K/W’s, but some still manage to run together at strange angles.  Making left turns at two successive traffic lights just didn’t seem to make sense, so we enjoyed two and a half miles of pastoral scenery in the wrong direction, before I turned around.

We got to the store and home safely.  When I checked Map Quest, for the distance from home to the store (it’s 63 Kilometers!  If you don’t get lost.  Thanks for asking.), it suggested a totally different route which would eliminate driving through Stratford entirely.

Stratford is the hometown of Justin Bieber, and I apologise profusely.  As I said, it’s the edge of the Mennonite Tract, and with the name of Bieber, he didn’t know he had German ancestry.  He claims he has enough native Indian blood to get free gasoline.  He must be huffing it, because even full-blood Indians don’t get it free.

Instead of YouTube and Bieber, I offer you Canada’s first, and still best, Shakespearean Theater and Festival, and the handsome Canadian actor, Paul Gross.  I attended Stratford’s Theater as a youngster in a school group. The main theater opened in 1953.  I saw As You Like It, in the early summer of 1959.  I’ve been to a few plays over the years.  There are now four theaters.  While they concentrate on Shakespeare, they also present plays by other playwrights such as George Bernard Shaw.

Paul Gross played a Dudley Do-Right type Mountie, bureaucratically stranded in Chicago, and assisting the Chicago police department, for three years, in the television series Due North.  He was Canada’s highest-paid TV actor, making two million dollars a year.

After the program was cancelled, he went on to produce and star in a movie called Men With Brooms, about BrainRants’ favorite sport, curling.  About ten years ago, just before my employer fell out from under me, I got a chance for the wife and me to see him on the Shakespeare stage as Hamlet.  Unlike his previous light comedy, he rendered the brooding Dane quite well.

The next time we have to go to get candle supplies or bubble bath bath-gel, I think I’ll take the route Map Quest suggests.  It will take us through the small town of Tavistock, well-known for the Tavistock Cheese makers.  A half a mile above the highway is the tiny crossroads village of Sebastopol.  I’d never heard of it, but apparently it has a huge, famous, Lutheran church.  It’s just down the road from another Mennonite cross-road village called Punky-Doodles Corners, named by a drunken farmer newly arrived two hundred years ago, from Pennsylvania, trying and failing, to sing about Yankee Doodle.