Saturday, December 31, 2011

Stand By Me

When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we see
No I won't be afraid
No I won't be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

How many songs have both a washboard AND a cello in them? Also, isn't Roberto Luti's guitar cool? And doesn't Grandpa Elliott have a very smooth voice?

A song sung by artists from around the world...

Stand By Me | Playing For Change | Song Around The World from Concord Music Group on Vimeo.

Playing for Change has put together two Songs Around the World albums.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Poets' Corner

What shoulder, and what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
~ William Blake

On our Christmas travels, we brought two CDs for the car rides. The first, alas, was broken, but the second came through for us. It was John Lithgow's The Poets' Corner. In it, Lithgow talks about his favorite poets and their lives, and his friends (who include Helen Mirren and Billy Connolly) read a poem by each. Lithgow's descriptions of the poets' lives and explanations of what the poems mean to him were very interesting.

The bios are in alphabetical order and we only made it from A-C! (It's 6 cds!) Some of my favorites were Robert Burns, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Lewis Carroll. Having a copy in the car should help with a lot of traffic jams and long car rides.

Language and ideas from poets are part of our culture in ways we don't realize. It was fun during Burns' To A Mouse to see my 16yo recognize the line about "the best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men."

Here's a striking video inspired by William Blake's The Tyger (another poem featured on The Poets' Corner):

The Drift Record is our Poetry Friday host this week.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hansel and Gretel

"Nibble, nibble, gnaw,
Who is nibbling at my little house?"

The post about Beauty and the Beast sparked a lot of interest, so I thought maybe another classic tale was in order. The mix of candy and danger in Hansel and Gretel has great appeal for artists, and so does leaving a trail of breadcrumbs:

Roundabout the Witch
by Ana Juan

Hansel and Gretel from My Book of Favourite Fairy Tales, 1921
illustrated by Jennie Harbour

Hansel and Gretel
by Rachel Isadora

Witch House
by Eleanor Davis


Little Fawn Hansel
by Tracey Long

Hansel and Gretel
by Derek Stratton

from The Big Book of Fairy Tales, 1911
illustrated by Charles Robinson

Lorenzo Mattotti painted fantastic Hansel and Gretel illustrations:


* The text of Hansel and Gretel
* Becca Thorne's Hansel and Gretel
* Germany's Hansel and Gretel Foundation to prevent child abuse and their striking posters
* The Magic Circle by Donna Jo Napoli (a retelling from the witch's point-of-view)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Ding dong! verily the sky
Is riv'n with angel singing.

Having Music Sunday instead of Monday, in honor of the holiday. We're mixing up the beautiful with the playful.

Wishing you joy and peace!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bach/From the Top

Thought I would like to post J.S. Bach's "The Sheep May Safely Graze" sometime, and when I was looking around for a good version of it, I had a hard time finding one that suited me. Finally, I realized that the problem was that there was a particular flautist's rendition in my head, and nothing was living up to it.

My head is cluttered with stuff, so it took a little tracing back before I remembered that version -- it was the one that my older daughter's orchestra played! The principal flautist was phenomenal. Really -- he (and the rest of the teen orchestra) left me with a beautiful aural memory that I was having a hard time matching on YouTube.

Which made me want to point you guys to From the Top, a show about extraordinary young musicians. I believe my daughter mentioned that the flautist's sister had been on From the Top. (They have a musical family.)

Here's the cantata:

Friday, December 23, 2011

Good Father

Prentice Powell is featured on Verses and Flow, a television poetry project sponsored by Lexus.

This week's Poetry Friday host is Dori Reads.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gently Smiling Jaws

Take the crocodile, for example. My favorite animal. There are twenty-three species. Seventeen of those species are rare or endangered. They're on the way out, no matter what anyone does or says, you know.
~ Steve Irwin

Having a reptilian day this Art Thursday:

The Crocodile from the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the four rivers)
by Gianlorenzo Bernini (1598–1680), Rome, Italy

Barmaley Fountain (Children's Khorovod)

Tiger striking down a crocodile
Auguste Caïn (1873), Jardin des Tuileries, Paris.

Statue of Buddha

by Jean-Baptiste Debret (1768–1848)

Armsieraad (onderdeel)
Tropenmuseum of the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT)

Taishitamonja, the straw serpent

*What can you do to save reptiles? from Endangered Species International
*International Reptile Conservation Foundation
* Animal Conservation at the National Geographic site
* Other animal posts on The Opposite of Indifference
* The title of this post is from a poem by Lewis Carroll (How doth the little crocodile)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Music Monday Miscellany

A selection of interesting music bits today:

* The Scrapheap Orchestra was a BBC experiment to see whether instruments made out of junk could be successfully played in concert. (Unfortunately, the video on the BBC site is only available to visitors from the U.K.)
A Guardian article about the Scrapheap Orchestra
A preview video that made me really wish I could see it
Another preview video
A great shot of the French horns
* Eric Whitacre speaks about why British choirs are great

* An article about the "tweeting section" of concerts by the Cincinnati Symphony

* A Virtual Musical Instrument that people who are quadriplegic can play

* Musical Instrument Museums Online, a database containing the records of over 50,000 museum instruments.

* Links about some historical women composers/musicians

* A very interesting NPR piece on music therapy (I touched on music therapy last Monday.)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Bright Testimonials

Hollyhock Anchor

The Geniuses Among Us
by Marilyn L. Taylor

They take us by surprise, these tall perennials
that jut like hollyhocks above the canopy
of all the rest of us— ­bright testimonials
to the scale of human possibility.
They come to bloom for every generation,
blazing with extraordinary notions
from the taproots of imagination—­
dazzling us with incandescent visions.
And soon, the things we never thought would happen
start to happen: the solid fences
of reality begin to soften,
crumbling into fables and romances­—
and we turn away from where we've been
to a new place, where light is pouring in.


Aunt Eudora On Having Outlived All of Her Friends
by Marilyn L. Taylor

What were you thinking, my shortsighted dears—­
how harebrained of you, checking out so soon,
leaving this gorgeous world and all its junk
for me to squander in my waning years?
You were so nuts! Take that see-through cloud,
for instance, silvering the evening sky:
you’d have gone to pieces over that,
I’ll bet; or how about a midnight shred
of Brubeck, seeping through a doorway strung
with lights— ­the city air electrified
and cool— ­while your surviving sister rolls
a sip of Veuve Clicquot along her tongue?
I could have warned you— ­taken you to task
for lousy planning. But you didn’t ask.


Posted with permission of the poet.

* Marilyn Taylor on poetry collaborations
* Marilyn Taylor info on Writing Without Paper
* An informative, interesting MLT review at Verse Wisconsin 101

Book Aunt has the Poetry Friday round-up today.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


The nutcracker sits under the holiday tree, a guardian of childhood stories. Feed him walnuts and he will crack open a tale...
~ Vera Nazarian

For this Art Thursday, we're looking at some classic nutcrackers, as well as ones that are a bit unexpected:

Cincinnati Pops

by Maurice Sendak

Wild About Chocolate Nutcracker
by Glenn A. Crider

Jazz Nutcracker

Philadelphia Orchestra

Nutcracker in Seattle
photo by Jacob Metcalf

Nutcracker Poster

Swiss, late 19th century
Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum

Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum

* Holiday Nutcracker Art Show
* Nutcracker Ballet Art Projects on Ehow
* Free Nutcracker scores from the International Music Score Library Project

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Chaucer by Debbie Ritter

Debbie Ritter makes wooden dolls of all kinds of people. Even Chaucer. Even Ethel Mertz. ALL KINDS!

Some of my favorites are ones with cool hair, like Bob Marley and Beethoven.

There's Marie Antoinette with a ship hat. Diego and Frida together are nice too.

I'll end with poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, whom I noted a while back knew her way around a sonnet.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

CDs for Creating Communities

Often people could use something a little soothing at this time of year (or any time of year, really). Guitarist Rob Levit's CDs could be just the ticket.
Rob Levit will donate 100% of the proceeds of these CD's to the charity he started five year ago called Creating Communities to deliver music, dance, and art programs to economically-disadvantaged youth, adults in addiction recovery, adults with severe mental-illness and the homeless. The cds are:

Joy of My Life
Songs of Healing
Spiritual Creativity (Motivate to Create)
You can't listen to them on that site, but I found another site that has sound clips of two of the albums:

Songs of Healing/Hospice of the Chesapeake

Very nice!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Music Therapy

I've posted about art therapy. I've also talked about the importance of music education, which is, in its own way, therapeutic. Now, it's music therapy's turn.

What is music therapy?

How did music therapy begin as a profession?

Some info from the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA): "The idea of music as a healing influence which could affect health and behavior is as least as old as the writings of Aristotle and Plato. The 20th century discipline began after World War I and World War II when community musicians of all types, both amateur and professional, went to Veterans hospitals around the country to play for the thousands of veterans suffering both physical and emotional trauma from the wars. The patients' notable physical and emotional responses to music led the doctors and nurses to request the hiring of musicians by the hospitals. It was soon evident that the hospital musicians needed some prior training before entering the facility and so the demand grew for a college curriculum. The first music therapy degree program in the world was founded at Michigan State University in 1944."

Who can it help?

The AMTA offers fact sheets on the uses of music therapy for various populations, such as persons in correctional & forensic settings, with Alzheimer's disease, young children, and in response to crisis & trauma. (Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has been using music therapy.)

The World Federation for Music Therapy offers info cards in over a dozen different languages (they are designed for students who want to respond to questions they are frequently asked).

A few books:
* Music as Medicine: The History of Music Therapy Since Antiquity (expensive)
* The Healing Forces of Music: History, Theory, and Practice (not expensive)
* A Comprehensive Guide to Music Therapy: Theory, Clinical Practice, Research and Training

A bonus:
Life. Support. Music.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Poem Ornaments

As I mentioned before, I've had my heart set on trying to make presents this year. A while back, I wrote a poem for my mom. I took that poem and printed it on "vintage style" paper with Jane Austen font, sliced it into strips, and slid it inside an ornament I'd found at Michael's arts and crafts store. Voilà -- a poem ornament for my mother! also has holiday poetry gift/decoration ideas. Anybody else got any poetry present ideas?

Read, Write, Howl has the Poetry Friday round-up today.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

La Belle et La Bête

Disney's version may be the first one that comes to mind these days, but artists have envisioned the Beast in a wide variety of ways:

At last he turned to her and said, "Am I so very ugly?"
by Walter Crane, 1845-1915
New York Public Library

Beauty and the Beast
by Eleanor Vere Boyle

Beauty and the Beast by Marie LePrince de Beaumont (originally published in 1757), translated by Richard Howard
illustrations by Hilary Knight

from Beauty and the Beast by Marianna Mayer
illustrations by Mercer Mayer

Beauty and the Beast
by Arthur Rackham

Beauty being brought to the castle by her father
by Edmund Dulac

And some music:

La Belle et la Bête by Philip Glass

Ravel's Les entretiens de la belle et de la bête (from Ma mère l'oye)


* Beauty and the Beast: A Fractured Fairy Tale by A.J. Jacobs (as seen on The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle Show), and Cutie and the Beast, also a Fractured Fairy Tale.

* A gender-reversed story: The Mouse-Hole And The Underground Kingdom

* A Beauty and the Beast history by Terri Windling

* Tales of Faerie analyzes the meaning of Beauty and the Beast.

* An annotated version of the fairy tale at Sur La Lune. Sur La Lune also offers a list of tales similar to Beauty and the Beast.

* Beauty escorted by apes and monkeys as pages by Walter Crane

* Beauty in her Prosperous State from Beauty and the Beast or A Rough Outside with a Gentle Heart, 1813

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Little Mystery

photo by Robert Burdock

I heard about an artist who left mysterious, clever book sculptures in centers of art and learning in Edinburgh, Scotland from Kristin Cashore. I love these wondrous, heartfelt little gifts! Read about it on NPR's site.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Rainy Night in Georgia

I was looking at the Music Maker site for presents for my dad (don't tell him!) and guitarist Cool John Ferguson caught my ear. Here he is with Captain Luke:

With a $25 membership to the Music Maker Relief Foundation, you get a free Cool John Cool Yule CD. Nice deal!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Neuroscience for Kids Poetry Contest

From Neuroscience For Kids:

The 2012 NEUROSCIENCE FOR KIDS POETRY WRITING CONTEST is now open to students in kindergarten through high school, college students, teachers and parents. Use your imagination to create a poem, limerick or haiku about the brain and you might win a prize. The complete set of rules and the official entry form for the contest are available.

Here is a summary of the contest rules:

All poems, limericks and haiku must have at least THREE lines and CANNOT be longer than TEN lines. Material that is shorter than three lines or longer than ten lines will not be read. All material must have a neuroscience theme such as brain anatomy (a part of the brain), brain function (memory, language, emotions, movement, the senses, etc.), drug abuse or brain health (helmets, brain disorders, etc.).

- If you are a STUDENT IN KINDERGARTEN TO GRADE 2: write a poem in any style; it doesn't have to rhyme.
- If you are a STUDENT IN GRADE 3 TO GRADE 5: write a poem that rhymes. The rhymes can occur in any pattern. For example, lines one and two can rhyme, lines three and four can rhyme, and lines five and six can rhyme. Or use your imagination and create your own rhyming pattern.
- If you are a STUDENT IN GRADE 6 TO GRADE 8: write a brainy haiku (3 lines only). A haiku MUST use the following pattern: 5 syllables in the first line; 7 syllables in the second line; 5 syllables in the third line.
- If you are a STUDENT IN GRADE 9 TO GRADE 12: write a brainy limerick. A limerick has 5 lines: lines one, two and five rhyme with each other and have the same number of syllables; lines three and four rhyme with each other and have the same number of syllables.
- If you are a COLLEGE STUDENT, TEACHER, PARENT OR ANYONE ELSE: write a rhyming poem that explains why it is important to learn about the brain.

Books or other prizes will be awarded to multiple winners in each category.

Entries must be received by February 1, 2012.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Putting on a Display

Let there be many windows to your soul, that all the glory of the world may beautify it.
~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox

A little something different this Art Thursday: Store window displays.

Louis Vuitton - Paris, June 2011

Repetto - Paris, May 2011

Unsinkable Walker Bean, Quimby's
photo by Nate Beaty

Mad Hatter's Tea Party, Fortnum & Mason
photo by Draconiansleet

Moschino - Paris, October 2010

Saks 5th Avenue- NYC, Nov 2010
photo by Katie Killary

New Museum - NYC
photo by Maker Bot

Bergdorf Goodman- NYC, 2010
photo by Asterio Tecson

Lord & Taylor- New York City, 2007
photo by Wally Gobetz


* NYC Christmas displays
* 15 Creative Window Displays
* More Window Displays
* Squidoo's How To Create Window Displays

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Citizen Scientists

Interested in participating in scientific endeavors as a private citizen? There are a wide variety of ways to get involved. For instance, I've heard about amateur astronomers making important contributions to their field. Amateur paleontologists, too. On a more personal level, last year our family did the Great Backyard Bird Count.

On their Citizen Science pages, Scientific American collects information about projects that non-specialists can join. (The projects are not U.S.-specific, so international citizen scientists are encouraged to check them out.)

For instance:

GO Fight against Malaria

There is no reliable cure or vaccine for the prevention and treatment of all forms of malaria—particularly the drug-resistant strains caused by Plasmodium falciparum, which kills more people than any other parasite and is of particular interest to the researchers.

Scripps Research and IBM are encouraging anyone in the world with a personal computer to join World Community Grid, which will crunch numbers and perform simulations for GO Fight against Malaria. World Community Grid, an initiative of the IBM International Foundation, is fed by spare computing power from the nearly two million PCs that have been volunteered so far by 575,000 people in more than 80 countries. It gives each PC small computing assignments to perform when the devices aren't otherwise being used by its owners, then sends the results to scientists seeking a faster way to cure disease, find renewable energy materials, create clean water techniques, or develop healthier food staples.

By tapping into World Community Grid Scripps Research scientists hope to compress 100 years of computations normally necessary for the effort into just one year.


Also, visit SciStarter ("Science We Can Do Together") for more ideas.

A page about great amateurs in science

Monday, November 28, 2011

Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben

I worked hard. Anyone who works as hard as I did can achieve the same results.
~ Johannes Sebastian Bach

"Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben" means "Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life," which seems like a lovely way to describe this song, the 10th movement of Bach's Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben cantata. It's also known as Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring.

For more info on J.S. Bach
For more info on Sissel, who sings in the video

Friday, November 25, 2011


common book of prayer
by Chris Clardy

all the ways which women pray
have yet to be forgotten—
the way you fold the shirt (between your hands)
        is a folding of your hands,
the way you bow your head over the head of the person
lying fever-small in your bed
        is a bowing of the head,
the way when that is done you listen with your eyes closed, wait for dawn,
        lift the latch, raise the shade, pour the tea,
        and, turning toward the mirror,
        see all things coming
because you
are willing to say all things can come and are coming
        is a willing of all things—
and all these ways
are pages in your book (your body is the book)
with no words or words inside it
is praying is your body is a book
every time you move—
all the ways which women pray with their bodies
have yet to be recalled—
        forget words—
this will happen (any way)
and your book of prayer will be praying,
praying in the way
women always
have prayed


Posted with permission of the poet.

My Juicy Little Universe has the Poetry Friday round-up today.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Bells, Bells, Bells

The temple bell stops but I still hear the sound coming out of the flowers.
~ Matsuo Basho

The Bells
by Rima Staines

Chinese bells from the ancient Warring States
Hubei Provincial Museum, Wuhan, China
photo by Calton

Hanging of the Sigismund bell at the cathedral tower in 1521 in Kraków
by Jan Matejko (1838–1893)

"The Temple Bells" near Kanchanaburi Thailand
by Christopher Beikmann

journal Die Gartenlaube for 1873, pg.101

Illmensee, Landkreis Sigmaringen

Das Abendläuten, Öl auf Leinwand
by Bernhard Stange (1807–1880)

A bonus:

The Craft of Bellringing DVD