What I’ve been listening to while working

I’m in the office working late; I need music in the background to keep me focused.  Here are some YouTube vids I’ve been using for that purpose. 

Heartography, by Zoe Deschanel.

Al Wood on a RISA Solid Tenor Uke.

I Can See Clearly Now, played by Colin R Tribe.

Tico Tico, performed by Bernard Massuir.




Acilius being long-winded


Printouts of my recent comments

I (Acilius) am a frequent commenter on Alison Bechdel’s Dykes to Watch Out For blog.  As regular readers of Los Thunderlads are all too well aware, I can get pretty long-winded, so I try to restrain myself.  I was doing pretty well on the current thread, until I broke down completely and left a multi-screen essay about The Nature of Democracy.  After the jump, an explanation of how I came to display such poor manners.


Kids’ Stuff

elmo-hpThe 40th anniversary of US children’s TV series Sesame Street has been getting a great deal of publicity; for example, the Google homepage has been decorated with Muppets all week.  So I keep wanting to hear Nancie de Ross’ version of  the Sesame Street theme.  Go to her myspace page to hear it. 

 I also want to mention a user-generated website, “I Used to Believe.”  Readers tell of how they understood things when they were little.  For example, “Dawn” admits:

When I was about 7 I stayed with my grandparents for the summer. They kept talking about how they were going to “win a bagel”. I just didn’t understand why they were going to win a bagel. I later learned they were going to buy a camper, a Winnebago!

From “j.m.”:

Before I could read, but with some letter recognition, I mistakenly believed the crosswalk in front of the church said “Presbyterian Crossing”. One morning I asked my Dad where the Baptists and Catholics crossed the street.

From “reset button”:

up until the age of eleven i used to think that all pregnant women had to do was push their belly buttons back in to make the stork bring the baby. when i asked my mother this she laughed at me and said through happy tears “if only”!


New Video from Anna Van Riel

Here’s the first new YouTube uke video from New Zealand’s Anna Van Riel in quite a while. 

Einey Meiny Miney Mo

Save even more!

If you have a time machine, you can travel back to when they were selling pomegranates for $2.00/lb and save even more!  

WalMart Savings
Photo by Acilius

When I saw this in the store this morning, it reminded me of this picture that I found online a while back.

Al Wood covers the Penguin Cafe Orchestra’s “Music for a Found Harmonium”

Al Wood, proprietor of the indispensible Ukulele Hunt, is also an excellent uker himself, as this cover of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra‘s “Music for a Found Harmonium” shows. 

I’ve been a fan of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra (their stuff is for sale here) since running across the ballet Still Life at the Penguin Cafe, which PCO founder Simon Jeffes wrote based on pieces he’d done with the original incarnation of the group.

UPDATED, 6 November: Armelle Europe has put an interview with Al on Ukulele and Languages in which this video is featured.  The interview is terrific, as we would expect of Ukulele and Languages.

Subway map

Not the sort of art you usually find on a bathroom wall.  Click the picture to read more.

bathroom walls

Project Implicit



“Project Implicit blends basic research and educational outreach in a virtual laboratory at which visitors can examine their own hidden biases.”

Take a test.

The American Conservative, December 2009


Florence King

Fifteen writers list “The Best Books You Haven’t Read“; I don’t know about you, but the only one on any of the lists that I had read was Sam Tanenhaus’ pick, The Managerial Revolution by James Burnham.  And that one did not make a very good impression; it struck me as one part dumbed-down Max Weber and three parts shameless plagiarism from Lawrence Dennis.  The other books all sound good, though.  In particular, David Bromwich’s recommendations of two stories by Elizabeth Bowen (“Mysterious Kor” and “Sunday Afternoon”) sent me to the library.  And I always take notice when Florence King speaks; she recommends Kathleen Winsor’s Star Money, which upon its publication in 1950 was received as quasi-pornography.  That first edition sold extremely well, but garnered just one respectful review.  Granted, that review was by André Maurois, which may have taken some of the sting out of the rejection by the other critics.   

Florence King also comes to my mind whenever the name of Ayn Rand is mentioned, and in this issue a piece discusses Ayn Rand’s  Atlas Shrugged.  King’s review of a biography of Rand, reprinted in her With Charity Toward None, quotes a line of Rand’s about how it feels to be a truly creative individual confronted with the unreasoning hatred of lesser beings.  Read the line again, King says, and you’ll realize that it is a very apt description what it’s like to be on the receiving end of any kind of senseless prejudice.  King surmises that Rand, who spent her girlhood as a Jew in late-Tsarist St Petersburg, had found “a way to write about anti-semitism without ever mentioning the Jews.”  That’s a neat trick. 

Nor is it the whole of Rand’s appeal.  Her extreme individualism may not stand up to philosophical analysis, and it may not survive exposure to any well-developed social science.  But what she tries to offer is something that is urgently needed in today’s world.  Look at the USA.  Ever more of the young are in schools, ever more of the old are in nursing homes, ever more of those in-between are in prisons.  At this rate every American will eventually be an inmate in one or another such institution, always an object of service, of scrutiny, of control.  One will create nothing, own nothing, decide nothing.  The major political parties don’t seem to object to this trend; on the contrary, both are committed to accelerating it.  The Democrats promise better accommodations to inmates; the Republicans remind them that the institutions in which they are confined have to turn a profit.  Rand may not have known how to stop this trend, but at least she demanded that it should be stopped.   


Praise Pasta

Last night I dreamed my allergist told me I was allergic to- and I quote- “Flying Ravioli Monster.” I questioned her (in my dream) and she explained that particular allergen comes from the inside out. I woke up feeling itchy and snotty. I had somehow forgotten to wheel my air purifier into the bedroom last night.

Of course we all know there’s no Flying Ravioli Monster.

There is, however, a Flying Spaghetti Monster!

Sauce be upon It!