Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Irregular Round-Up


A recent trip upstate proved to be hellish on the outbound leg (3 hours late, baking in a plane without a/c), but heavenly on the return (caught a plane 3 hours early), thus restoring balance to the universe.

Evening Twilight

Moon over Prospect Park



"Minerva Plaza" in Potsdam reminded me of Rick Riordan...


The Water Beneath My Wings?


Reporting to the Bridge?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Occupation? No, Just Visiting

Just saw Geoffrey Pullum's discussion of this joke on Language Log:



He goes on to debunk the possibility that the pun might work in Finnish, and then states:

Maybe the spread of English has proceeded so far that all jokes in Finland are now told in English? Maybe. But I'm suspicious: I think the joke must have been current only among Anglophone specialists in Baltic-area geopolitics.

Since he does not permit comments on his posts, I will point out here that he may be attacking a straw man.  Why is it necessary that "all jokes in Finland are now told in English" for The Economist's account to be correct?  Why can't English-speaking Finns who are familiar with this particular English-language joke share it with others?  All it would take is one person familiar with the joke (perhaps even a native English speaker) to adapt it to the Russian  context for anglophone Finnish friends; if they thought it was funny or incisive, they might well remember and repeat it to others (showing off their own linguistic sophistication in the process).  Surely this is how jokes go viral.

And it is indeed a pre-existing joke, rather than one invented by or for Finns.  A google search for "Occupation?" "just visiting" between Jan. 1990 and Jan. 2007 led me to a blog post where one Mat Morrison looked into the origins of the joke in September 2006, when it was associated with Israel:



Obviously, his focus was on origins of the then-current version, but he also noted an earlier permutation of the joke, associated with the German invasion of Poland:
[T]he joke about the Israeli at Heathrow is (I believe) adapted from an older one I heard about a German travelling in Poland (“Occupation? No, just a short visit.”)  ... Jokes are infinitely adaptable. They are memorable. They reinforce attitudes. They are formulaic enough that they rarely change. And they spread rapidly at an unconscious viral level.

I didn't find any instances  of the joke in the 1980-2000 timeframe with a few brief google searches.  I did find one as early as Feb. 1, 2001 - though from the context (https://iloveenglish.ru/jokes/o_anglijskom) I am sure it was not new at the time:

Some screenshots of google search results, after the jump.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Bennington

Phase 3 of the four-state tour was Bennington, VT.

Bennington Center for the Arts had a very nice collection of paintings and sculptures.  The covered bridge museum was nice too, but I was more tempted by the gallery...

Loved the Tiffany-style moose!


Heron: "Tango" by Sandy Graves

Leopard for Lee

Tiger for Clara 

My choice for the Wildscapes gallery award: Deep Snow, by Kim Zarney

Bluejay in black and white



Here's the work I was seriously considering purchasing (and still might):








The Bennington Museum had a big exhibit on Grandma Moses, which is not my thing, but it also had an interesting display of Revolutionary-era items, especially guns.  I was most intrigued by the "Frauds" corner, where they showed several fakes and explained what clued them in to their falseness.  A rifle with some pieces of older weapons installed...  Of particular note was a purported battlefield plate warmer, which had once been the pride and joy of the museum and part of its logo!!!  (For that one, they noted ruefully that it was unlikely even the highest ranking officers could have enjoyed the luxury of plate warmers in their campaign...)


Saturday, July 09, 2016

Train, Bus, and Automobile

As the title suggests, I used multiple methods of transportation for the girls' big-stage debut, visiting four states in the process!!  First up were New York and Massachusetts.

WE started in Albany with the U.S.S. Slater, a Destroyer Escort, a cheap "expendable" vessel which was churned out rapidly in WWII.  Just how "expendable" were they?  They were manned with young, relatively inexperienced men, and relatively junior officers.  This one was brought back as a rusted hulk after 50 years in the Greek navy (an end-of-life loan) and lovingly restored by volunteers with privately raised funds.

At the NYS Museum, I was struck by how many really cool rock types we have in the Adirondacks.  The NYC rocks were not as impressive.  Unless you really like schist, I suppose.



View of the Egg from the State Museum in Albany



We soon headed over to Lenox and environs.  Some of our party stayed at Kripalu, which had a wonderful setting, including a gorgeous field of wildflowers along the drive.  Of course, the accommodations were rather basic,  even the "luxury" rooms!








We visited my sister-in-law's relative's art studio.
Life imitating art

My favorite piece of the collection

"The Other Side of Eden" - probably DeVries's most famous work

A musician and her new tuba!!  (No, I don't think that will fit in the trunk!)

At the chocolate shop

Chocoholics (addicted to chocohol)

Orff's Carmina Burana


We got the best seats we could, but things were still a bit blurry!  It turns out we'd have done well to stand in the back and watch the Jumbotrons; apparently the videographer couldn't resist the cuteness of the children's chorus and kept zooming in on them!!!



Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day Weekend

It was a productive and fun weekend.  The productivity was primarily getting  my parents started with their tech-oriented Christmas gifts (yay!).  That was fun for me, but we also went for a hike at Vaughn Woods: 



We also went to see "Noises Off!" which I'd heard a lot about, but hadn't seen before.  The setting was quite spectacular: 

Moon over the woods


Bison in a field behind the playhouse
We headed over to see the sand castle competition.  It wasn't entirely to my taste, but the artists  were certainly very accomplished:


Cthulhu and the Crustacean?

No longer a slave to the clock?


My favorite: "Selfie"!



Finally, something that would have caught the girls' attention!!!

The Gardener

Monday, June 06, 2016

C.S. Lewis, Plagiarist?

Twice in the last two weeks I've heard Lewis accused of plagiarism.

Once from a devotee of another Inkling, who (in passing) characterized Lewis's references to Numinor in That Hideous Strength as "plagiarism" of Tolkien's Númenor.  This is apparently the claim Tolkien himself made in Letter #169, although Tolkien hastened to add: "well, not that, since he used the word, taken from my legends of the First and Second Ages, in the belief that they would soon appear."

[Historical note: Tolkien's letter was written in 1955, 10 years after the publication of That Hideous Strength, and perhaps 5 or 6 years after the Inklings had ceased meeting.  Coincidentally, during that post-Inklings period (1950-55), Lewis had published his first 6 Narnia books.]

To the extent that plagiarism is, as I understand it, unattributed copying, the charge is false. In the Preface to That Hideous Strength, dated "Christmas Eve, 1943," Lewis states:
Those who would like to learn further about Numinor and the True West must (alas!) await the publication of much that still exists only in the MSS. of my friend, Professor J. R. R. Tolkien.
(I have the "First Paperback Edition" - New York: Collier Books, 1965.)

Moreover, the concept of plagiarism is perhaps a little difficult to apply to a bona fide work of creative fiction.  Lewis was, as far as I can see, telling his own independent story, even though he took time to forge a connection with his friend's secondary world, through six references.  He wanted his tale, set in a dystopian near future, to share the same glorious past as Tolkien's world of Middle-earth (which itself is suggested as a distant past for our own world).

It is worth noting that Númenor is only one of two glorious legendary pasts Lewis invokes -- the other is the Arthurian mythos.  In other words, he was elevating the then-unknown Númenor, written by a friend of his, to the status of the Arthurian legends.   That is a pretty powerful tribute.

In a later post, I'll try to analyze the six references to Numinor and see what I can make of them.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Riotous Roses

My camera phone was easily overwhelmed by the depth and wild profusion of color and shapes, especially in the rose garden.



Cranford Rose Garden




Ombre effect...













I deliberately took several shots with this brightly-clad family in the background; so beautiful!















I took so many pictures of lavender in the garden; only this one really showed the depth of hue.

Purple flowers on the bank; reflection of Shinto gate

Milkweed Thistle


Bumblebee

Fungi

Water Lilies