Friday, May 28, 2010


Juliet: What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
~ Wm. Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet


If I were a sentient robot (or maybe a chicken with inter-species inclinations), I would definitely have a thing for Doug Savage's Poet-Bot.

Poet-Bot for Haiku-lovers
Poet-Bot offers a warning!
Poet-Bot gets back to basics

This week's Poetry Friday round-up is at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


No day is so bad it can't be fixed with a nap.
~Carrie Snow

Sleeping Guards
By Giotto di Bondone

Schlafende M├Ądchen auf der Ofenbank
By Albert Anker

Schlafendes Bauernpaar
By Ernst Barlach

Ivan the Terrible admiring Vasilisa Melentieva
By Grigori Sedov

Sandstone sculptures, St. Vitus (patron of late sleepers)

The Siesta (Afternoon in Dreams)
By Frederick Arthur Bridgman (1847–1928)

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters
from The Caprichos
By Francisco Goya

How to Make A Dream Catcher for adults and for kids
An Interpretation of Dreams lesson plan

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

Seen From Just So

These beautiful five-line poems are so evocative. It's easy to imagine pictures and backgrounds that would go well with them. The first ones are by Izumi Shikibu, who was born around the year 974. (The second poem was translated by Jane Hirshfield...I don't know who translated the first one.)

By Izumi Shikibu

I watch over
the spring night­
but no amount of guarding
is enough to make it stay.


Although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also leaks
between the roof planks
of this ruined house.


Here's a modern five-line poem...

By Harry Yeatts, Jr.

haloed gray-ball moon,
glowing almost-yellow streetlight,
dew-sparkled spider web --
three points in a triangle
seen from just so


The Poetry Friday roundup is being hosted by Laura Purdie Salas this week.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Barrel of Monkeys

To do like the monkey, get the chestnuts out of the fire with the cat's paw.
~ French proverb

Fable, circa 1570-1575.
By El Greco

Sock Monkey Chair
By Hazel and Melvin’s Room owner, Rebecca Yaker.
Photo by Ben Millett

Monkeys as Judges of Art, 1889
By Gabriel Cornelius von Max, 1840-1915.

A Flying Monkey of Burlington, Vermont
Sculpture by Steve Larrabee
Photo by Fred G. Hill

The Monkey Painter, 1833
By Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps

Monkeys in the Jungle
By Henri Rousseau (Henri Rousseau lesson plans)

Have you heard the saying that if you gave a hundred monkeys typewriters, that eventually they would type a line of Shakespeare?
Here's some info and quotes for your amusement:

From Wikipedia: "The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare.

In this context, "almost surely" is a mathematical term with a precise meaning, and the "monkey" is not an actual monkey, but a metaphor for an abstract device that produces a random sequence of letters ad infinitum. The theorem illustrates the perils of reasoning about infinity by imagining a vast but finite number, and vice versa. The probability of a monkey exactly typing a complete work such as Shakespeare's Hamlet is so tiny that the chance of it occurring during a period of time of the order of the age of the universe is minuscule, but not zero."

Of course, people have spin-offs of this theory:

“I heard someone tried the monkeys-on-typewriters bit trying for the plays of W. Shakespeare, but all they got was the collected works of Francis Bacon.”
Bill Hirst

“We've heard that a million monkeys at a keyboard could produce the Complete Works of Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true.”
Robert Wilensky

"Ford? There's an infinite number of monkeys outside who want to talk to us about this script for 'Hamlet' they've worked out.”
Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

"Dilbert writes a poem and presents it to Dogbert:
DOGBERT: I once read that given infinite time, a thousand monkeys with typewriters would eventually write the complete works of Shakespeare.
DILBERT: But what about my poem?
DOGBERT: Three monkeys, ten minutes."
Scott Adams, cartoonist

“I heard that if you locked William Shakespeare in a room with a typewriter for long enough, he'd eventually write all the songs by the Monkeys.”

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Albert Einstein

by Tabatha Yeatts

"I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious."
~ Albert Einstein

The National Science Teacher Association recommends Albert Einstein: The Miracle Mind, saying that it "provides a glimpse into the mind of a genius and insight into an era."

"Based on this attractively designed title’s not hard to see why Time magazine named Einstein the 'Person of the Century.' Even if the specific details of quantum physics sometimes elude them, teens will easily grasp the larger impact of Einstein’s many insights and contributions."
~ Booklist

You can order Tabatha's biography of Einstein on Books a Million, Barnes and Noble, and Powell's, among other places.

Have fun changing what Einstein writes on the blackboard on this site.

Ever tried a logic puzzle? Tabatha wrote an Einstein-themed logic puzzle called Al's Pals.

Also, you can read Tabatha's books about Holocaust survivors, Joan of Arc, and Forensic pioneers.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Diane Mayr

This week, we're visiting with author Diane Mayr. Diane regularly posts "Haiku Stickies" (haiku on post-it notes) and haiga (illustrated haiku) on her blog, Random Noodling. In addition to giving permission to post some of her previously published work, she gave us an unpublished haiga to share with you today. Thanks, Diane!

Diane is an occasional contributor to Haiku News. All the news that will fit into three short lines! (Actually, they do accept other poetic forms, like tanka, so I guess you could have five lines...) If you'd like to write for them, learn more here.

The Poetry Friday round-up is at Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ancient Egypt

What you are doing does not matter so much as what you are learning from doing it.
~ written on an ancient Egyptian temple

My son recently got the new book by his favorite author, Rick Riordan. Riordan's Percy Jackson series was about ancient Greek deities; this one features ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses.

This week, we're in ancient Egypt:

Baboon with a wedjet eye, circa 688–525 b.c.e.
The baboon "was known as a deity called the 'Great White One' (that is, the moon), but soon this god was conflated with Thoth, the better known ibis-headed god of writing and recording." Thoth was in charge of making the calendar, which was based on the cycles of the moon, so the two gods went together well.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Bast of the Rising Sun
by Lynnette Shelley

Statuette of the god Anubis as embalmer, circa 332–30 b.c.e.
"This wooden figure represents the god Anubis with a canid head on a human body, wearing the feathered costume of Egyptian deities. In this pose­hands raised, palms downward­, the god performed purification and transfiguration rites over a mummy. During the actual mummification process, a priest wearing a canid mask played the role of Anubis."
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC

Isis and Osiris
by Susan Seddon Boulet

King Sahure and a nome god, circa 2458–2446 b.c.e.
"Seated on a throne, the king is accompanied by a smaller male figure personifying the local god of the Coptite nome, the fifth nome (province) of Upper Egypt. This deity offers the king an ankh (hieroglyph meaning "life") with his left hand."
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Pharaoh Sleeves #3
by Fontaine Anderson

I don't know what deity/king/character is represented here (it looks like maybe Horus is on his headgear), but I liked this harp from The British Museum -- it reminds me of a ship with a carving on the bow.

~ Egyptomania from the Seattle Art Museum
~ The University of Chicago's Oriental Institute has an ancient Egyptian coffin for a lizard.
~ Make Your Own Canopic Jars
~ Make a Cartouche
~ A bunch of interesting ideas from the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
~ I liked this work from a collection of art devoted to the TV show, Lost.
~ A list of Egyptian gods and goddesses from the British Museum
~ NOVA's Explore the Pyramids
~ Ancient Egypt Bingo

Friday, May 7, 2010

Dead Poets

The communication of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living
~Epitaph on the memorial to T.S. Eliot.

This week, we're visiting poets' graves. OK, so today's topic might seem a little...dark. But it's not really. It's about history, remembrance, honoring our forepoets, and even having fun.

How can poets' graves have anything to do with fun? Listen to Tennessee poet laureate Maggi Vaughn talk, among other things, about visiting Thoreau's grave.

You can tell from the logo of The Dead Poets Society that they have a sense of humor. Their motto says, "We Dig Dead Poets....You Dig?" They are in the middle of their "Dead Poets Grand Tour 2010: 6,ooo miles...22 States...34 Daze."

You can follow along on the blog here and, if you're in the U.S., you can see if the Dead Poets Bash in your state has happened yet. (They note on their blog that Abraham Lincoln has the largest tomb of any American poet, and they'd like to be told if you can think of any that are larger.) They also have videos of poems being read at poets' graves.
Westminster Abbey has a famous Poets' Corner, where some poets are buried, and others have monuments or plaques (but are buried elsewhere).

Bottom photo by WolfieWolf
More links:
~ The American Poet's Corner, inspired by Westminster Abbey's: Cathedral of Saint John the Divine Poet's Corner. says, "In 1976, poet Muriel Rukeyser founded The Poetry Wall in the ambulatory of the Cathedral as a place where poems will always be accepted. Rukeyser explained "the whole idea is openness, a free giving and accepting of poetry. Poets meet so many rejections in their work. This is the place where poems will always be accepted. They can be signed or unsigned and in all languages." Poems can be sent to: The Muriel Rukeyser Poetry Wall, The Cathedral Church of St John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, New York 10025."
~ Poets' Graves, a UK-based site.
~ Want to see the grave for someone in particular? Find a Grave might help.
~ The Dead Poets perform poetry as music. (They claim that every poem by Emily Dickinson can be sung to the tune of The Yellow Rose of Texas. Hmmm...)

And finally, a poem...

At A Poet's Grave
Francis Ledwidge

When I leave down this pipe my friend
And sleep with flowers I loved, apart,
My songs shall rise in wilding things
Whose roots are in my heart.

And here where that sweet poet sleeps
I hear the songs he left unsung,
When winds are fluttering the flowers
And summer-bells are rung.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Inspired Follies

What is life but a series of inspired follies? The difficulty is to find them to do. Never lose a chance: it doesn't come every day.
~George Bernard Shaw

We've got a mix of goodies today. First, let me show you something cool from Jim Gurney. I love Jim's blog, Gurney Journey, and here's a good example of why...he's got a great attitude:

How to approach a gorilla you want to draw
Glasses to wear when you're watching a gorilla

Now, let's look at works by Spanish artist Riki Blanco:

Steampunk is a genre of fiction that I don't know anything about, but I like its visuals/aesthetic style. Here are steampunk frogs by Michihiro Matsuoka:

Lastly, check out This Is Where We Live. It's a video about a city made of paper (books, to be specific).