15 January 2009

Hmmm. How do I feel about this....Hmmm.....

Well, I don't know whether I'm saddened or amused by the news that Morris dancing is facing extinction.

Brought into England to the royal court in the late 15th century, it became a national fad, inspiring such hilarious artistic endeavors as William Kempe's "Nine Days Wonder," wherein he danced the Morris from London to Norwich in 1600. Many people danced part of the way with him. He wrote a pamphlet about it. Then he went back to being a famous actor in Shakespeare's troupe.

Even though it was originally a court dance, its faddishness in rural areas caused it to become a target of satire and jest (I like that phrase, "satire and jest"; nice to have a chance to use it), such as in Beaumont's Knight of the Burning Pestle (first performed 1607), with its apprentice-playing-a-knight, who gives a stirring speech to his fellow Londoners whilst wearing both armor and morris dancewear.

And then it was rediscovered, and declared to be one of the ancient pagan dances of our ancient pagan peoples, in honor of the wheel of the year, or the fecundity of the crops, or whatever, and so it had a new heyday. And this lasted for a while, so you couldn't go visit any tourist sites in England without running into morris dances.

But now, alas, it's going the way of all flesh again.

Not to worry, though -- I expect it'll be resurrected in a few decades, under yet a new guise, so all those ribbons and bells won't go to waste. Keep them in the attic for your grandchildren.

14 January 2009

Bitter Cold. Let us have Gratitude for the New Furnace.

It's cold today, so cold that the dogs didn't want to stay outside. And it'll get colder over the next couple of days. Very nice to be able to come in from the dog walk and stay inside.

Luckily for us, over the past few weeks Nutwood has been visited by the heating and air conditioning guy, who has already put in a new furnace downstairs, and added duct work to two of the bedrooms on the second floor.

Because of the decades of changing uses of the house, the duct work (and the plumbing, and the electricity) is insane -- ducts going all over the place, often nowhere, heat sent to nowhere, where it stays. So this major renovation, though it doesn't make the house LOOK any better, is crucial to the health of it and its inhabitants.

Later this week, the heating guy and the contractor guy are going to start fixing up the third floor attic, with insulation and heat and even a bathroom, so that guests have a place to stay. And be warm.

On the 27th of January -- in completely unrelated news -- bloggers are exhorted to celebrate the birthday of Lewis Carroll by blogging about a reality that isn't there, on Rabbit Hole Day.

So we must all get ready to be someplace else in cyberspace.

03 January 2009

Not going to S-C-H-O-O-L

An elementary school in Sheffield has named itself "Watercliffe Meadow" -- a "place for learning," and insists that it not be called a school because the word "school" has negative connotations.


Naturally, The Campaign For Plain English is annoyed, since, except for the facts that everybody will be wearing soft shoes and there will be no school bells, the place will be in actuality what the rest of us might call a "school."

My issue with "a place for learning" is that it's not specific enough, since pretty much all that exists is a place for learning, but The Campaign For Plain is on the alert A Lot:

Among examples of confusing terminology the campaign has fought against in recent years was the widespread rebranding of lollipop ladies as "school crossing patrol officers", teachers being known as "knowledge navigators" and the emergence of the "education centre nourishment production assistant" - otherwise known as dinner ladies.
It follows efforts to rebrand libraries as "idea stores", dustmen's trucks being referred to as "provider vehicles" and a recent high-level attempt to ban the use of the word "inmates" for prisoners in case it offends them.

This week, over at the place for learning I'm working at, I'll be your knowledge navigator, if you signed up for the Pearl Poet Seminar or the Political Drama class.

(Link from Arbroath)

02 January 2009

Best News of the Year So Far

Well, you wouldn't want to burgle a house whilst Thor was occupying it, for sure.

But I'm especially happy to learn, from the picture, that Thor dresses up in tin foil.

Who knew.

01 January 2009

In which we say happy new year and contemplate a scary new resolution:

Surfing through the blogs, I find that Cynthia, who'd gotten tired of making lots of little resolutions that she can't keep (cause if she did, since they involve daily activities, she'd never get anything done but the resolutions, which in themselves would take up more than the waking hours she's got), has decided to do one big ol' honking resolution, and Blog 365 Days Straight.