Thursday, March 26, 2015

Second star to the right, and straight on till morning

Wonderfully evocative scenes, iconic even, from the best play I never saw are available at the end of this paragraph, but only if you are signed in to Facebook before you click on the link (I think) . If you are not signed in to Facebook before you click on the link, you probably will not be able to view any wonderfully evocative scenes, iconic or otherwise, from the best play I never saw. However, you will still be able to see the three principal characters (one of whom just happened to have been played by my grandson) by looking at the post just before this one.

Wonderfully evocative scenes, iconic even, from the best play I never saw

To commemorate this auspicious occasion, I wish to announce a poetry contest. In the comments section, please submit your entry, which must have something to do with Peter Pan. It can be a sonnet, a villanelle, a limerick (clean only, please) , a haiku, a parody of another poem. The only requirement is that it must make the reader think of Peter Pan.

For example, you might begin:

Tiger Lily, sinking fast,


How doth the hungry crocodile


O Captain! My Captain! Your shiny hook is sharp


Tinker Bell, Tinker Bell, Tinkling all the way

or even

There once was a playwright, James Barrie,

Well, I’m sure you get the idea.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The best play I never saw

For some time Mrs. RWP and I had been looking forward to attending this past week the spring musical production at our grandson’s and granddaughter’s school. When the date arrived, however, illness forced us to stay home. We were very disappointed.

What a pleasant surprise it was, then, to discover that one of the grandchildren’s maternal uncles had posted the playbill:

and an after-show photograph of three principal characters:

on his Facebook page!

Our grandson portrayed Captain Hook. The other characters are Wendy (L) and Peter Pan (R) .

If the acting and staging were half as impressive as the costuming, we missed a wonderful show!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Viewers of my blog

In the last two hours:

In the last day:

In the last week:

In the last month:

In the last five years:

As Gladys Hardy of Austin, Texas, once said to Ellen DeGeneres, “Well, I’m sure that means something.”

I thought it would be a nice touch to end this post with a link to a video of someone singing “Am I Blue?” but the only videos I could find were by Billie Holliday, Ethel Waters, Hoagy Carmichael, and Cher. Not singing together, mind you. Individually. In the end I decided against doing it. However, you are welcome to look up the song for yourself if you like.

Today is the birthday of my maternal grandfather, Nathan Silberman. He was born in 1875 and died in 1970.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Solipsisms R Us

The statistics for my birthday for this year have now been tallied, certified by the Secretary of State’s office, and archived for posterity.

With 100% of the precincts reporting, the final figures are:

Number of cards received via snail mail using actual postage stamp: 5
Number of musical cards received via email: 1
Number of greetings received on Facebook: 19
Number of comments received on my birthday Blogpost: 9
Number of telephone calls received from my children: 2
Number of text messages received from my children: 1
Number of text messages received from my children’s children: 2
Number of times hearing “Happy Birthday” sung: 2
Number of free desserts received at swanky restaurants: 1
Number of free milkshakes received at fast-food restaurants: 1
Number of pairs of new socks received from spouse: 4
Number of pairs of new underpants received from spouse: 4
Number of sets of new pajamas received from spouse: 1.5

But enough about me. What did you think about my birthday?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

J’ai soixante-quatorze ans aujourd’hui

It’s true.

I’m 74 years old today. Note that the French do not say seventy-four, they say sixty-fourteen. The French also say four twenties instead of eighty, but I don’t have to come to terms with that for several years yet. Six, I think. I was never that good at math.

I received text messages and phone calls from my children, and my wife took me out to lunch at an Italian restaurant. Nine people wished me a happy birthday on Facebook, and I received three real cards and one online card.

I think I will pretend that people all over the world are celebrating my birthday and wish myself a happy birthday in many different languages:

Joyeux anniversaire! (French)

¡Feliz cumpleaños! (Spanish)

Gute zum Geburtstag! (German)

Buon compleanno! (Italian)

Gëzuar ditëlindjen! (Albanian)

Gelukkige verjaardag! (Dutch)

Feliç aniversari! (Catalan)

Všechno nejlepší k narozeninám! (Czech)

Všetko najlepšie k narodeninám! (Slovak)

Tillykke med fødselsdagen! (Danish)

Hyvää syntymäpäivää! (Finnish)

Zoo siab hnub yug! (Hmong)

Boldog születésnapot! (Hungarian)

Furaha ya kuzaliwa! (Swahili)

Usuku olumnandi lokuzalwa! (Zulu)

Wszystkiego najlepszego! (Polish)

Grattis på födelsedagen! (Swedish)

And those are just some of the languages that use the same alphabet English does. I did not yet tell myself happy birthday in any languages that use a different alphabet (if that is the correct term) . Let me correct that oversight:

С Днем Рождения (Russian)

Χρόνια πολλά (Greek)

สุขสันต์วันเกิด (Thai)

生日快樂 (Chinese)

عيد ميلاد سعيد (Arabic)

जन्मदिन मुबारक (Hindi)

생일 축하 해요 (Korean)

お誕生日おめでとうございます (Japanese)

יום הולדת שמח (Hebrew)

ბედნიერი დაბადების დღე (Georgian)

Boy, that Tower of Babel incident really did a number on the human race, didn’t it?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Did Pulitzer-Prize-winning columnist Maureen Dowd really write that about Hillary Clinton in The New York Times on Sunday?

The short answer is:


She really did.

For those of you who never click on links, let’s just say Ms. Dowd was less than kind.

Some of my readers across-the-pond (you know who you are) may have conniption fits at the perceived meanness of Ms. Dowd. They may even be stricken with the collywobbles.

It simply cannot be helped.

As the young folk say nowadays, it is what it is.

There was one statement near the end of Ms. Dowd’s column with which I emphatically disagree, and it didn’t have anything to do with Hillary Clinton:

Ms. Dowd said, “Whatever else you say about [President Obama], he has no shadows.”

Au contraire, Maureen, au contraire. He has been keeping millions of people in the dark for several years.

In spite of that being the case, a happy St. Patrick’s day to one and all!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Since Y2K happened, Pi Day 2015 is no longer special

This is a continuation of yesterday’s post.

The whole Y2K brouhaha that took place fifteen years ago has taken all the fun out of Pi Day for me.

I’ll tell you why.

Nobody -- at least, no computer -- uses two digits to indicate the year any more.

Without going through all the gory details, computer programmers in the 20th century could get away with using a two-digit year in a date field (such as 3/14/15) , but as the 21st century loomed on the horizon computer programmers already had long-range plans and made adequate preparation suddenly panicked at the thought that extensive changes to many, many programs had to be made to be able henceforth to determine whether a date -- a date of birth or marriage or death, for example, or the difference between two dates -- involved a 20th-century date or a 21st-century date.

In the early days of computer programming (mid- to late-20th century) , computer programs routinely subtracted one year from another to determine which date was earlier and which was more recent. But crossing the millenium boundary* made it necessary to solve in another way the problem of, say, June 3, 2004, being a later date than November 9, 1997. Subtraction simply wasn’t going to work any more using a two-digit year. I mean, 04 is less than 97, but humans know that 2004 is not earlier than 1997. Computers do not. In this respect, human beings are very smart and computers are very stupid.

Where previously month, day, and year could be expressed in mmddyy format, beginning on January 1, 2000, the format had to be changed to mmddyyyy (alternately known as mmddccyy where cc meant century) . This caused no end of consternation among the computer programming portion of the populace for months on end.

But, as we all know, the conversion eventually took place and the world did not end at 11:59 p.m. on December 31, 1999. However, one result of all the hand-wringing and head-scratching fifteen years ago is that the most recent Pi Day was not 3/14/15, it was 3/14/2015, and 9:26.53 a.m. on Pi Day could not possibly be expressed as 3.141592653 since, using the new yyyy format, it must be expressed as 3.14201592653. That is not what Pi meant at all. That is not it, at all.

The following passage of poetry suddenly leaps to mind:

I grow old . . . I grow old . . .
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.

Can you tell why?

*The millenium boundary was actually 12:01 a.m. on January 1, 2001, not 12:01 a.m. on January 1, 2000. But that is probably a topic for another post.