January 10 – 22, 2011

It’s funny how people were posting here like crazy all through December…and now they have suddenly stopped.  Ah well.  Happy New Thingy, everyone.


36 thoughts on “January 10 – 22, 2011

  1. I can post. I just wasn’t sure if it would be interesting to anyone, but here goes: I’ve been reading random stories out of the folktale anthology I mentioned earlier, and last night I read “The Woman with Five Cows” from Siberia, and boy am I confused. If the horse could talk, why didn’t he warn the Khan *before* the Khan’s son married the devil’s daughter, not after? For that matter, why didn’t the horse warn the real bride before she went down the wrong path? Can the horse only talk during the full moon? And can someone please explain the recurring significance of putting the bride behind a curtain, and stoking the fire with laurel branches, and why the numbers 7, 8, and 9 kept recurring?

    I’m not this confused with the European folktales. Maybe it’s just because I’m used to the tropes.

  2. Earthgirl: there’s an aspect of folk tales I sometimes call “fairy-tale logic.” Fairy-tale logic applies when something in a story would make no logical sense in the real world but is needed to make the story go the way it has to go. We just accept that the horse could only talk at certain times. The idea of a talking horse is itself illogical; the idea of a talking horse only capable of relaying certain information is only slightly more illogical. There may also be some hidden taboos in the story. In other words, it could be that Siberian culture includes (or used to include) some superstitions that would explain why the horse can talk only at certain times.

    The other puzzling details in the story could be explained by fairy-tale logic, but it is possible that they are details that originally had some cultural significance. That significance could have been lost now, or it may still be recognisable to, well, people from Siberia. An example from European folk tales would be the recurring motif of the spinning implements. Now, we read folk tales and go, “What a lot of spindles and carding combs and spinning wheels there are in these stories!” Originally, many of the tales were told by women in spinning circles; there was a reason for the spinning imagery to be there.

    End of Lecture. Next!

  3. Kari,
    If I’m not mistaken, your birthday is tomorrow (the 12th).
    Happy Birthday!! in advance 😀 😀

  4. Many moons ago – (either in the chat or on the phorum) someone wished you. I seemed to have noted that into my calendar of various birthdays. This morning, when looking at that calendar, I saw the entry and hence.

    Happy birthday! 🙂

  5. Oooh, happy birthday!

    Also, you may well have identified the cause of the decline in posts in the most recent comics.

    Did Rahim just catch Marie talking to Evil Marie?!

  6. Happy Birthday!

    I have no trouble procrastinating, I just agreed to help make 500 pierogi (polish dumplings) tomorrow. My to-do list is staring at me accusingly, I think I need to remember how to work.

  7. Happy Birthday, Kari!

    How is it even possible to forget how to procrastinate? The possibilities of procrastinating are so numerous that you cannot help stumbling on one even if you don’t want to. Marie must be under a very intricate influence by Casey-Nico.

    The far more common issue is to forget how not to procrastinate … I should have started studying hours ago … help me!

  8. Happy Birthday Yesterday!

    It’s a three hour class at 8 in the morning? Jeez, that’s just… that’s not even fair. I mean:

    1: Three hours is a long time to be doing something like sitting and trying to learn, or standing and trying to teach, and
    2: 8 in the morning is not a good time for persons engaged in higher education. I mean, it’s a good time to be asleep, but not good for much else. I used to be a morning person before college hit. The schedule is different, the requirements are different, the whole shebang is much different from the “real world”.

    And on that note, what sort of sleep do other people need for different levels of functionality? I’m a major sleep glutton; I go for ten hours a night. I can be reasonably productive with as little as 6, although as I get less sleep I start yelling at inanimate objects a lot more, and I generally get less pleasant to be around. Less than that, and I’m functionally sleepwalking.

  9. I think Mr. Manjoo is being a real jerkwad. I’m afraid I’m guilty of leaving two spaces after every period, mainly because I can’t help it; it’s the way I was taught. I’m very sorry if it proves my terrible ignorance or makes my writing harder to read, but I’m pretty sure that curing myself of the habit would take years.

    What I don’t like about that article is its contemptuous tone. Instead of heaping scorn on people who leave two spaces after periods–people who were, after all, taught to do so–why not take a less judgemental look at some solutions to the Circle of Incorrect Teaching?

    Personally, I would say that one space is becoming the norm, but two spaces should not be regarded as symptomatic of idiocy or boorishness. There hasn’t been a general “TWO SPACES = EVIL!” announcement beamed into the brains of everybody in the world.

  10. In a choir, I’d rather put a female newbie in the soprano – much easier to catch the tune and sing along, regardless of whether you have some knowledge of music notation or not.

    I read a few paragraphs of the article about spaces. I won’t read more. It’s enough. If this guy wants to complain, why not about people who don’t put in any spaces after periods and commas, or don’t use commas and paragraphs at all? That is difficult to read. Leaving two spaces after a period isn’t.
    Typography norms differ between languages – perhaps also between countries?

  11. Soprano … I think I would only put a newbie there by default if I really didn’t care for my ears.
    Half of them turn out to sound like little kittens being slowly tortured to death.

    I usually listen to the speaking voice, have them try sing a bit alone, and assign them accordingly – if all else fails, shove them into mezzo and hope for the best.

  12. Yes…with choirs, you always have to balance the “this part is technically easier because it’s mostly melody” thing with the “this part is actually harder because it goes up to an A” thing.

    The type of choir we’re dealing with here is the type anyone is allowed to join, even people who couldn’t hit a particular note if their lives depended on it. The ability to read music is not a prerequisite. A new woman who didn’t know her range would probably be assigned to the alto section (or, if there were sub-parts, the second-soprano section) but encouraged to switch later if she found the notes too low. Sopranos sometimes have to sing ridiculously high notes.

  13. Sorry…that last message was from me. I started a blog for my TV students; it’s basically just a way for me to access YouTube clips conveniently in class. Unfortunately, I forgot to log out before I posted that comment.

  14. I had an entertaining time with high school choir. For several reasons. One, because there were only two guys in there, myself included, and the other one was singing as an alto, until his voice started changing. Two, I couldn’t actually sing very much, my range was (and is) very small. I once, with great difficulty, managed to sing a scale. And three, my voice is ridiculously low. Maybe a fifth of the notes for a bass part fell into my range. The rest were just flat out too high.

    And let me just say that I have an actual internet connection again. YAY!

  15. mivadar and Kari: Or course it depends on what you are singing. If the soprano goes up to an A (or keeps moving in a high range), it’s no good for a newbie. If you have many people without choir experience, it might be a good idea to choose pieces that don’t go up that high. (Honestly, even sopranos with many years of choir experience can sound terrible at an A – what you need there is proper singing technique.)

    And here I thought it was only German choirs who managed to sing in every language but their own…

  16. Here at the Ottawa Folklore Festival, there’s an impromptu choir made every year of whoever wants to join in – three hour-long practices (you have to make at least two) then you’re thrust on the Big Stage Sunday and you sing three songs. It’s a mix of regulars and complete newbies, and yet, after three hours, we sound pretty darn nice. It can be done. But the way the people in the strip are going… it’s not encouraging.

    Newbie song in Swahili… is it Siyahamba by any chance? 🙂

  17. Weirdly enough, the Bewildering Immersion Method works too. Basically, you sing way too many songs for several weeks, then find that you have, somehow, learned quite a few of them. Marie has simply never done it before and is neglecting to mention that there are songs in English as well.

    Re. “Siyahamba”: pretty song. I was actually thinking of another one whose title I can’t spell, but I like that one too.

  18. I’ve been with a choir that didn’t have issues with high or low notes (they were all I guess in the Mezzo-soprano range) but we did have issues with tempo.

    /begin random anecdote from past life
    In my past life, I was part of my high school choir (of sorts) for about a year. I was the keyboard player that accompanied them every morning for the morning assembly. They (the singers) had this rather strange problem of singing at varying tempos across during a song. They’d start out fine, suddenly speed up, suddenly slow down at apparently random intervals.
    It was eventually figured out that the only way to keep everyone in sync was to add a drum-based accompaniment from the keyboard. With the drum part, the choir would deviate less from the given tempo.
    /end random anecdote from past life

  19. I want in on that choir. It has my enjoyment level of bizarreness. Atonal russian drinking song? Are there any other type of drinking song, no matter the nationality? (I’ve been in pubs on St Patrick’s Day. Tone had long fled the building.)

    nuttycat: I’ve myself found out, by recording myself and watching the results, that I can easily follow a beat but can scarcely give one in return; I dance well to anything, but if I sing by myself, I get that tempo variation pretty quickly unless the song is ingrained in me from years of constant listening.

  20. Phorummers – the original phorum is back.

    Niall: I just found it odd that an entire group could go off tempo like the way they did. Solo, I can understand, but an entire group doing it together was, well, new to me.

  21. Kari, you’re a medievalist, right? Can I complain about how very frustrated the Merlin show is making me? If no one cares, I’ll withhold.

  22. Heh…go ahead, Earthgirl, though you may want to note that the Merlin people are deliberately setting the show in a sort of mythic time/place-that-never was. Frankly, the Arthur story has little to no basis in reality anyway, so why not completely rewrite it? Everyone else already has, from Geoffrey of Monmouth on down. I actually find the treatment refreshing (if very, very silly). No, neither the history nor the mythology is accurate in any way, and yes, it’s basically a weird magical version of Smallville, and okay, if someone doesn’t notice soon that Merlin has powers, I am going to scream, but it’s also kind of fun. Plus, I mean, Anthony Head and the voice of John Hurt? In the same show? The screen may explode from all the concentrated awesome.

  23. Actually, the rewriting of the mythology doesn’t bother me at all. It’s more the narrative that frustrates me. I’ve watched a couple from the first season, and then the two from the third season that were just shown here in the States. What used to frustrate me was the standard “Merlin, you dumbass, use your magic“, but I think the current plotline has that beat by a mile.

    So, here’s what has me annoyed: Morgana has magic. Merlin and Gaius have magic. Morgana knows that they know she’s evil, and they know that she knows that they know. Does Morgana do the logical thing and poison them in their sleep? No. Does Merlin try to cast some kind of binding enchantment on her to keep her from starting shit? No. Apparently, everyone’s just going to sneak around Camelot furtively and not use their magic. (Except for Morgana, who does use her magic to start shit, but doesn’t think to eliminate the two people that could actually blow her cover. I mean, she does try that one time with giant magical scorpions, but come on. Real badasses don’t resort to Bond villain tropes to eliminate their enemies.) Apparently no one on this show has one scrap of logic, and that makes for crappy villains and crappy heroes. (Also, Morgause spent most of the time sitting around on a horse. Unimpressive.)

    (Yes, I know, they have to hide the magic, but come on. That’s what closed doors are for.)

    (Also, that siege lasted for like 20 minutes and then ended because Morgause’s stooge didn’t want to lose men. See previous comment about crappy villains.)

    I hope this doesn’t offend you, because I see you like the show; I’ve just been stewing since last night, when I watched the siege episode.

  24. Oh, no worries. As I said, it’s very, very silly, and yes, a lot of that stuff bothers me too. I’m generally able to look past it because…well, Arthur and Merlin and knights and stuff! However, I am aware that if Hollywood pulled this garbage, I would be railing in the streets. I find British family programming easier to forgive.

    I do agree that the Merlin/Gaius/Morgana thing is frustrating. Also, Gwen knows that Morgana is evil, and she doesn’t do anything either. Arthur loves and trusts her, and she doesn’t even try to warn him. There is one episode where Morgana sort of explains her strategy (in a way). I think the basic idea is that while she knows Merlin knows she’s a traitor with magical powers, she doesn’t know he has magical powers, and so she thinks he’s just a servant to whom no one will listen. She tells Merlin at one point that Arthur and Uther will never believe anything bad of her, and if Merlin tells on her, she’ll reveal that Merlin tried to poison her (which is, by the way, true). Essentially, she’s blackmailing him. Gaius is trusted by the king, and there would be a huge fuss if he were killed, so she leaves Gaius and Merlin be, more or less. Yet one of the really weak strands is that Gaius never reveals to Uther that Morgana is the traitor. Uther does trust him, after all, and he’s more than a servant. It eventually gets pretty ludicrous, though luckily, that plot line has finally been resolved.

  25. Wait… Gwen knows? Goddammit, show.

    That does make a bit more sense. I do remember the blackmailing bit, and I actually find that a rather clever way of prolonging the conflict. Still annoyed that Merlin doesn’t try anything to contain her, but maybe that happens in an episode I haven’t seen yet. (Or was that the poisoning bit?)

    However, I’m willing to forgive Doctor Who almost anything, although I found the bit with Amy and the angels in the forest to be a bit silly. They’re able to mess with her mind, but they can’t tell her eyes aren’t open? And I thought they froze when you looked at them because of some sort of temporal whatever, not because it’s a defensive instinct. But mostly I’m willing to let it slide, because it’s Moffat and Amy and Matt Smith called himself a girl because of his hair, and I love you, show. (Haven’t seen past the last angel episode, though.)

    (Does your doll have a tiny fez?)

  26. Yeah…you may want to watch more episodes before you continue to complain. Merlin doesn’t let Morgana get off scot free; he is always running around after her, trying to contain her.

    Yes, Doctor Who can be forgiven a lot, and you absolutely need to watch past that episode. And yes, Marie’s little Doctor is wearing a tiny fez, a fact that will only make sense to you once you’ve watched last year’s season finale.

  27. So BBC America is running last season’s Doctor Who episodes, and will be on schedule to air the new season’s episodes when they come out in Britain. Excite!

  28. I just love today’s comic. Would it be ok if I posted the link on my Facebook page? I know you don’t like Facebook much, so I thought I should ask.

  29. Heh…go ahead. I don’t use Facebook myself, but I’m fine with comics being linked on Facebook (it happens relatively frequently, actually). This probably makes me a hypocrite, but ah well.

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