Friday, February 5, 2016

Fractured Fairy Tales: 13 Helmets, or Count the Puns!

To review the wonderful array of set phrases and cliches in this video from Rocky and Bullwinkle, and to help you count the puns, here are some of the video's best lines:

There was no such thing as monotony in Merry Olde England

Whenever things got dull ...

Eventually, one solitary knight emerged victorious to receive the plaudits of his king.

On this particular occasion, it was a gallant but rotund fellow named Sir Cumference.

It was discovered to everyone's horror that that last chap was not a chap at all ...

I've a good mind to de-knight you. Instead I shall send you to Chickenshire.

Chickenshire, the most cowardly town in the nation, was well-named.

Run for your lives! There's a lion in the streets.

Sir Cumference and his wife set up housekeeping in a large but run-down castle on the edge of town.

Each day, one or more Chickenshireans would run up to the drawbridge, grab the trumpet that hung from the tree, and let go with a deafening blast.

It was occurences like that that turned a once-proud knight into a lazy loafer.

The years went by, and the only fighting Sir Cumference did was with his wife.

Dragon U. [University] ... where dragons of all shapes and sizes studied in the art of combat.

We're just in time for graduation exercises.

It is with the utmost pride that I hand out these diplomas.

Dragon after dragon took his scroll, received a heartfelt pawshake, and left the stand. All but one, named Milo.

I'm afraid you've flunked again, Milo.

I've been a senior for forty years and I still haven't granulated. [graduated]

Calculus, Milo. You're weak in calculus.

There must be some way I can become a full-fledged dragon.

A dragon could slay 13 knights and thus attain dragonhood.

It was either that or another semester....

I wouldn't know a knight if I saw one.

His meanderings eventually took him to a tiny hamlet where he spotted something of great interest.

There, nestled snugly beneath the tree stood a helmet shop.

And the helmet I should like you to get belongs to a knight named Sir Cumference.

It's not one of the villagers, lovey, it's a dragon.

All my days are draggin' ... but I'll take a look.

I said, bring down your battle-axe!

Under cover of darkness he stole into the castle and made off with Sir Cumference's wife.

Jumping into his armor, he rushed out of the castle and engaged the dragon in mortal combat.

Look, Milo, why are you after my scalp?

And Sir Cumference was filled in on his opponent's plight.

I'm proud of you, my boy.

It was nothing, Dean.

There is one small formality.

And after eating them, he wasn't much good for anything. You might say, he had one too many ... knightcaps. (nightcap = стаканчик спиртного на ночь)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Sinéad O'Connor, "Reason With Me"

Here's a recent video of Sinéad O'Connor performing this song:

The audio track:

Amazon purchase link

And the words:

Reason With Me, Sinéad O’Connor and Geoff Smith (performed by Sinéad O’Connor)

Hello, you don't know me,
but I stole your laptop
and I took your TV.
I sold your granny's rosary
for 50 p.
And I even pulled a hijack, said I had a hypodermic in me backpack,
but I was only bluffing.

Oh so long I've been a junkie,
I ought to wrap it up and mind my monkeys.
I really want to mend my ways,
I'm gonna call that number one of these days.
It's not too late.

I'm the one who sits in the backroom,
I'm the one who doesn't know how to have fun.
I'm the one to smoke amiss all around me,
'Cause I don't like no one around me.
'Cause if I love someone, I might lose someone
If I love someone, I might lose someone.

Oh so long I've been a junkie,
I ought to wrap it up and mind my monkeys.
I really want to mend my ways,
I'm gonna call that number one of these days.

I'm gonna reach a hand out to you, saying would you pull me up, now could you?
I don't want to waste the life God gave me, and I don't think that it's too late to save me.
It's not too late.

Reason with me, let's reason together
Reason with me, let's reason together...

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Sir Richard Branson -- school, business, family, philanthropy

Today we had a video visit with Richard Branson, interviewed by Chris Anderson. In case you can't wait until February to see the second half, here's the full video:

We'll talk about these questions and themes:
  1. Richard Branson is known for starting several companies. Name two of them.
  2. Why did people think buying a secondhand plane and starting a new airline was crazy?
  3. To help his fledgling airline financially survive combat with British Airways, what was Branson forced to do?
  4. Total employees in Branson's group of companies: choose... (a) 10-25,000; (b) 25,001 to 50,000; (c) 50,001 to 75,000; (d) 75,001 to 100,000.
  5. Philippe Starcke designed several aspects of Branson's space program, but why would he not have been the ideal person to design the engine? What was the basis of his design of the launching and landing facility?
  6. When Anderson asks, «What was the closest you got to--when did you think this is it, I might be on my way out?»--what kind of situation is he referring to?
  7. According to the interviewer, Branson's companies benefited from his balloon adventures in what way?
  8. What were some of Branson's characteristics as a pupil in school?
  9. What image or metaphor finally helped Branson understand the difference between gross and net?
  10. Anderson raises the question of whether the current generation of children is being coddled (spoiled). Does Branson agree that children are in danger of being spoiled? What is his recommendation? Do you agree?
  11. Anderson says that Branson has been accused of being a ruthless businessman. How does Branson respond?
  12. What is the problem with capitalism that «capitalist philanthropy» is intended to address?
  13. What are two major problems that Branson's capitalist philanthropy is trying to help solve?
  14. What Russian-born software engineer did Branson mention as a personal friend?

Monday, December 7, 2015

Group 401: Linguistics and "The Mind's Big Bang"

For this week's class, we hope to use two segments from the U.S. Public Broadcasting documentary program Nova and its series Evolution. From episode 6, "The Mind's Big Bang," we'll look at the birth of a new language among deaf children in Nicaragua. Then we'll look at how memes operate in intellectual evolution in ways that are similar to (and competing with??) genes operating in biological evolution.

If we don't finish everything this week, we'll return to this program after our midyear exam next week.

The whole program:

Our first segment, "Birth of a Language," begins at 35 minutes 43 seconds. The second part, "The Evolutionary Role of Memes," begins at 44 minutes.

Our discussion questions:
  1. Who are Maria Noname and Judy Kegel?
  2. What information about herself was Maria unable to give?
  3. The “window” for acquiring language stays open until about what age?
  4. Why did the Nicaraguan deaf children in this documentary never encounter the window for language?
  5. Instead of learning the standard sign language, what did the Nicaraguan children do?
  6. What does every language depend upon? A set of strict ... what?
  7. Richard Dawkins believes that language provided an advantage in what grand process?
  8. What does Robin Dunbar do when he is out in the field--for example in a restaurant or on a train?
  9. Dunbar and his colleagues thought that the exchange of technical information made up the major part of communication. To their surprise, 2/3 of normal human communication is actually made up of what?
  10. What will monkeys and apes never know?
  11. What does Stephen Pinker suggest might be the advantage of being the first to get a nice bit of gossip?
  12. The narrator says, "Language: the force that created modern human culture, and that today tells us...." What three things does language tell us? “Who …, how …, and where ....”
  13. Memes include, among other things, such intellectual and behavioral patterns as: (name as many as possible)
  14. As an example of “memes fighting against genes,” Blackmore mentions that, in general, the more education you have, the fewer children you have.” What might the implications be?
The Public Broadcasting Service Web site maintains a subsite dedicated to the Evolution series.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

"Take an Indian to Lunch"

Stan Freberg -- animation voice actor, satirist, and advertising creative director -- died earlier this year.

Here's a transcript of the track we heard in class (written by Stan Freberg):

Narrator: November, 1621 -- By now the white man has arrived in great numbers, not only at Miami, but at Jamestown, at Plymouth, and at Salem, Massachusetts. The Puritans have established a thriving colony, enjoying all the social and cultural refinements of a modern society.

Salem man: Hiya, Harve, who’re you taking to the witch-burning Saturday night?
Harve: Prudence Adams. Who are you taking to the Rotary Club luncheon?
Salem man: I haven’t got a date yet, but I hear it’s gonna be quite a spread.
Political Advisor: Well, Mayor Pennypacker, how’s it look for re-election?
Mayor: Great, great, great; never looked better.
Political Advisor: Yeah, what about the Indian vote?
Mayor: Waddya mean by that?
Political Advisor: Well, you’re not too popular with the Indians. They could lose you the election.
Mayor: That’s possible?
Political Advisor: Well, they outnumber us.
Mayor: That’s the trouble-you give ’em an inch, and they take over.
Political Advisor: But Mayor, they were here before we were -- we moved in on them.
Mayor: So we did. Well, there’s just something about ’em. They wear funny shoes, don’t even have buckles on ’em.
Political Advisor: Be that as it may, election is Friday. You better make some gesture this week.
Mayor: Like what?
Political Advisor: Well, what if you make a concession and pick an Indian as a running mate? You’d be sure to carry the Indian bloc.
Mayor: What? If anything happened to me, you’d have a mayor that wasn’t a Puritan. Probably take orders directly from Chief Powhatan.
Political Advisor: Yeah.
Mayor: Say, I got it. The luncheon tomorrow, the one under the trees?
Political Advisor: What about it?
Mayor: We’ll ask an Indian! That’ll impress the rest of ’em.
Political Advisor: We could even announce you’re gonna put one in your cabinet.
Mayor: No need to go that far, just have one to lunch.
Political Advisor: It’ll be great press!
Mayor: “Mayor Pennypacker Comes Out for Equality... Justice... Votes!” What a slogan:

[Song “Take an Indian to Lunch”]

Take an Indian to lunch (this week)
Show him we’re a regular bunch (this week)
Show him we’re as liberal as can be!
Let him know he’s almost as good as we
Make a feathered friend feel fed (this week)
Overlook the fact he’s red (this week)
Let him share our Quaker Oats
’Cause he’s useful when he votes
Take an Indian to lunch!
Two Four Six Eight
Who do we tolerate?
Indians, Indians, rah, rah, rah!

Take an Indian to lunch (this week)
Let him sit right down and munch (this week)
Let’s give in and all do the brotherhood bit--
Just make sure we don't make a habit of it!

Take an Indian to dine (this week)
Show him we don’t draw the line (this week)
We know everyone can’t be
As “American” as we--
(After all, we came over on the Mayflower!)
Take an Indian,
Not a wooden Indian*,
But a real, live Indian
To lunch!

* Wooden Indian

"Cigarindian1" by Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Commons.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Beatles, "Drive My Car"

Here's a wonderful video of co-author Paul McCartney performing "Drive My Car." (Audio and lyrics follow.)

Is this song fast enough for you? download link (not available)

"Drive My Car," Paul McCartney and John Lennon
(performed by the Beatles)

Asked a girl what she wanted to be
She said baby, can’t you see
I wanna be famous, a star on the screen
But you can do something in between

Baby you can drive my car
Yes I’m gonna be a star
Baby you can drive my car
And maybe I’ll love you

I told that girl that my prospects were good
she said baby, it’s understood
Working for peanuts is all very fine
But I can show you a better time

Baby you can drive my car
Yes I’m gonna be a star
Baby you can drive my car
And maybe I’ll love you

Beep beep’m beep beep yeah

Baby you can drive my car
Yes I’m gonna be a star
Baby you can drive my car
And maybe I’ll love you

I told that girl I can start right away
When she said listen babe I got something to say
I got no car and it’s breaking my heart
But I’ve found a driver and that’s a start

Baby you can drive my car
Yes I’m gonna be a star
Baby you can drive my car
And maybe I’ll love you
Beep beep’m beep beep yeah
Beep beep’m beep beep yeah
(to fade)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

"Long distance information, give me Memphis, Tennessee"

Aside from the geographical references, this song has lots of American English words and phrases relating to using the telephone.

"Long distance" = BRIT. "trunk call" (междугородной)
"party" (сторона, участник)
"to get in touch with" (связаться с)
"to leave a number" (оставить номер телефона, как сообщение)
"to place a call" (позвонить)
"to take a (the) message" (принять/записать сообщение)
"to put smb through to" (соединить с)

Here's a video of the Mississippi River flooding Memphis at the foot of Beale Street.

Now, to the song. First, author Chuck Berry's version, then Johnny River's version. (Audio and text follows the videos.)

Прослушать или бесплатно скачать Chuck Berry Memphis, Tennessee на Простоплеере

Прослушать или бесплатно скачать Johnny Rivers Memphis на Простоплеере

Long distance information, give me Memphis Tennessee
Help me find the party trying to get in touch with me
She could not leave her number, but I know who placed the call
'Cause my uncle took the message and he wrote it on the wall

Help me, information, get in touch with my Marie
She's the only one who'd phone me here from Memphis Tennessee
Her home is on the south side, high up on a ridge
Just a half a mile from the Mississippi Bridge

Help me, information, more than that I cannot add
Only that I miss her and all the fun we had
But we were pulled apart because her mom did not agree
And tore apart our happy home in Memphis Tennessee

Last time I saw Marie she's waving me good-bye
With hurry home drops on her cheek that trickled from her eye
Marie is only six years old, information please
Try to put me through to her in Memphis Tennessee