Attn: Rockgor

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by kholmes, Dec 17, 2006.

  1. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    I wasn't sure you'd see this response in the book thread.

    Didn't James Burke do a cool PBS show called Connections? I had a chance to meet your intellectual hero at Carleton around 1986. He did a speech in the chapel during convocation, and spent a few days on campus. Somehow I got a chance to speak with him at a dinner. I was impressed with his warmth and enthusiasm, as much as his knowledge. He spoke quickly and looked rather gnomish. Problem is, I don't remember what his speech was on or what I asked him about.

    Richard Feynman remains my intellectual hero at the moment (though postumously), but I'll have to check out a Burke book. What would you recommend I start with?
  2. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    You old Norskie, you.

    Couple decades ago, while visiting my doctor, he asked if I had seen some tv documentary. I said no, but I was watching Connections. He said, "Isn't that the greatest documentary you've ever seen?"

    I had to agree it was.

    I've read 3 or 4 Burke books. I guess Connections or Day the Universe Changed is a good place to start. A good thing about his books is the chapters are all separate unities, complete in themselves.

    I remember going to Carleton (or was it MacAlester?) to hear Hubert Humphrey speak. He might have been President if he'd been willing to announce an immediate pull out from Viet Nam, but he had that old political loyalty thing. Can't say anything critical of LBJ.

    I just read that one book about Feynman. You must be joking, is that the title? (But I read it twice.) People like that have minds very different from most of us.

    George Carlin has an interesting mind. Can see things in a fresh light. But you have to wade thru so much unpleasantness.

    Another example is that book Freakanomics. How many people would see the connection between a lower crime rate and a Supreme Court ruling?

    Yes, I'm sure it was MacCalister (only people who go there can spell it) because it was on the same street as Hamline, just a few miles apart.

    I had some happy years at college. But one can't go home again and even when I go there in my dreams it's no fun cause I'm an old man.

    A few days ago someone was quoted on the net news as saying, Well, you don't have to leave home. If you're famous, you can say anything and at least some people will think it's wisdom.

    Some guy said that about winning an Oscar. You get more respect at meetings if you have an Oscar on your mantle.

    Well, Old Man, that's enuff for now. Ha det bra.
  3. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman? What I like about Feynman are his enthusiasm and sense of adventure. He got as excited about art, the bongo drums, and Tuvan culture, as he did about nuclear physics.

    Wouldn't Humphrey have made a fine president?

    Couldn't agree with you more on George Carlin. As soon as I'm laughing at something terribly unique that Carlin observes, I'm turned off by his cynicism and scatological humor.

    Life has strange connections, indeed.

    I had a friend in high school (St. Paul Academy, just about a mile south of Macalester) who was a year younger than me. He was a shy, nerdy Jewish kid with glasses. We'd play golf in the summer at public courses all over St Paul and Minneapolis. He had a closed stance and a tendency to hook the ball. As a consequence, he had trouble beating me. We went on to play competitive high school golf together for SPA.

    He went on to the University of Chicago, fame, and a brilliant career as the nation's top young economist, writing a book called Freakonomics. I went on to...well, be a person with CFIDS.

    Still, I'm not sure I'm any less happy than he is.

    And I can always brag about beating him on the golf course!

    Enough name-dropping for a while.

    [This Message was Edited on 12/18/2006]
  4. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    golf w/ Steven Levitt? Cool. Did he reveal a brilliant mind when you knew him?

    Just got a CD of recordings made ca. 1950 by Eugene Conley, a tenor from Massachusetts who sang at the Met, etc. There was a lot of competition in the tenor ranks then.

    Conley was a star (recorded w/ Toscanini) but not a super star. He certainly would be today. Today there is only one American tenor making recordings and in my opinon, he is lou-zay!

    So again we come down to luck. Personally I would rather have been a pretty good tenor than a super star attorney, but we don't get many choices in life, do we?

    Just got an email from MN. My brother, the cop, and his wire, the teacher, are happy because both their boys are home for the holidays. One from college (Storm Lake, IA) and one all the way from Japan. My brother is the most normal member of the family. Everybody else is loony.

    So they'll be enjoying lefse and krumkaka etc. Don't spose they have too much of that stuff in the SW.

    Gott Jul og Got Ny Aar!

  5. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Who is the only American tenor making recordings today? Opera is not one of my fortes. My grandmother always loved the Santa Fe opera; it's an outdoor amphitheater, under a huge awning.

    Did you know that after seeing Don Giovanni, the Emperor Franz Joseph told Mozart it had "too many notes," to which the composer replied, "just as many as needed, Your Majesty." In the film, Amadeus, Mozart says, "Which ones would you suggest I remove?"

    Haven't seen much lefse and krumkaka--what is that anyway?--around Albuquerque lately. If I could find the leader of the Uff Da band I saw at the hospital a while back, maybe he'd know.

    Was your nephew teaching English in Japan?

    I had little inkling of Stephen Levitt's genius in high school. We talked of girls and great golf courses most of the time. I remember him having a little bit of a lisp. I knew he was gifted in Math and science. I think my dad, who taught Math at SPA, had him in class. And I knew that he got into Harvard during his senior year. But other than that, he was just a very nice guy. Still is, I think; I saw him on one of those CNN book talks a while back, and he doesn't appear to have changed much (except for positing brillaint theories and writing books). Like Feynman, he's good at explaining difficult subjects to the layperson and making them interesting.

    Edward Abbey (Desert Solitaire, Monkey Wrench Gang) remains one of my other intellectual heroes, but I've got quite a few.

    Reading a neat book called The Intellectual Devotional: Revive Your Mind, Complete Your Education, and Roam Confidently with the Cultured Class. Pretty neat, but there's probably not much in it you don't already know, my erudite friend. I'm reading a week's worth of entries each morning: history, literature, visual arts, science, music, philosophy, religion.
    [This Message was Edited on 12/20/2006]
  6. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Did you know that Ben Franklin invented a musical instrument made of glass called the armonica? And that before its popularity faded in the nineteenth century, Mozart wrote two compositions for it?
  7. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    Sometimes called the glass harmonica. You can do an approximation of the thing by rubbin a wet finger on the rim of a goblet.

    Saw a record many years ago of music written for this beast. I think the Beverly Sills recording of Lucia di Lamermoore uses the thing in the mad scene instead of the usual flute.

    I wish I could play a regular harmonica. It has such a plangant sound. Sorta like an organ, a violin, or a bagpipe. And so much cheaper.

    Perfect for Home on the Range or Scotland the Brave. A bit overparted for Pomp and Circumstance.

    I wonder if we looked on the web. Maybe could hear a sample. You ever hear of the theremin? There's a really weird instrument for you.

    Invented by a Russian in the 20s. Electronic; you played it by waving your hand around. Used to have a record of that. Last time I moved I gave away hundreds of records including that one.

    I am bored, but don't have enuff energy to go out. Am reading another book by Donna Leon.

    That's all the news from Lake Woebegone.
  8. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    I have heard "Lucia de Lammermoore," come to think of it.
    I've been learning to play the recorder in the last few months.

    The harmonica is actually much harder to play than it looks. I've got one, in the key of C, and a couple of books out at the moment on how to teach yourself. Finding individual notes is difficult, and the inhaling part is tiring.

    I found a recording of "Yankee Doodle Dandy," played on the theremin.

    Scroll down and click on MarbleField-Yankee Doodle

    Btw, did you see my question about opera and response on Steve Levitt, above?
  9. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    I used to play the recorder. I played the flute too, and the paino and the organ. Lousy at all of them.

    Yes, I saw your message, but I forgot to respond to it. Y-day I sent 4 or 5 Christmas e mails. In two of them I forgot the main point. Duh! Gets a bit annoying after the third decade.

    The American tenor who is the only one recording and that I ever read about is Jerry Hadley. Not much voice, but luck is more important than talent.

    Yes, my nephew was teaching English. This is his second year. He's home for the holidays.

    Girls and golf courses, huh. Well, I guess they have something in common. I see Tiger Wood is going to start a company that designs golf courses. Good grief! How many golf courses get built in a year?

    All for now.