Flash Mob Dancing In Mumbai

It’s another internet sensation, and I got such a kick out of it. I hope you do too. Just watch:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iyt16efRrBo?rel=0&w=640&h=360]

A bit of explanation: I “know” a guy named Arvind Says who lives in Mumbai, India, with his wife Minal. He’s a friend of other friends — trace the connection far enough back and you would find some people I’ve actually met in the Real World — or at least one! Arvind posted the link to this video on Facebook.

I marveled and wondered as I watched this exuberant video. How did such an event happen? Who was responsible? The train station administrators evidently co-operated. Not a trace of arrogant cops with pepper-spray!

Arvind later posted a link to a Wall Street Journal piece which answers these questions:

Meet The Woman…

I enjoyed the reactions of the passers-by almost as much as I did the choreographed dancing. Just citizens on their way to catch a train or to meet someone at the station, and then this unexpected extravaganza happens!


Scalzi, Smeagol, Etc.

I’m pretty fond of John Scalzi. He’s a deft and witty writer, and every now and then I go to his site and see what he’s been up to. This is a sequence of tweets he posted while watching a Lord Of The Rings cable-TV marathon; I thought it was quite amusing, but wouldn’t make much sense if you haven’t seen the movies:

Lord Of The Tweets

Only a few minutes later a dubstep treatment of a Gollum scene which Scalzi had mentioned appeared on Youtube:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRYhLYY_pn4?rel=0&w=640&h=360]


Creek-side Encounter

I was running late this morning. I won’t go into the details, which would only be of interest to those who know me, but they included oversleeping and a flat tire.

I was in a hurry, as certain rural folks really do like to get their Sunday papers before noon. I can picture a scene in a farm kitchen:

“That guy in the Ford pickup finally showed up! Here’s the paper, Maude. Look at the obituaries; it seems that Elmer finally kicked the bucket – I’ll bet that Norma is breathing a sigh of relief! Never did like that man.”

At one point I just had to pull over and pee. I stopped at a concrete bridge spanning a creek which had been eating its way through limestone outcroppings ever since the glaciers retreated ten thousand years ago.

During my forced time-out, as golden urine arced over the bridge railing, I saw what looked to be falling leaves fluttering down from the trees which arched over the creek. No, they weren’t leaves, they were birds! A flock of black-capped chickadees was feeding upon red berries of understory trees which still retained their leaves, though the leaves were colored a motley mix of green and yellow, and a winter storm will soon bring them down to join the soft maple and sycamore leaves in the annual compost heap which keeps the creek-side forest nourished. A few of the chickadees in an early-winter tableau:

And here’s a shot of the trees the birds were feeding upon. Best I could do!

I appreciated the way that the young soft maple trunks curve and intertwine!


More Music From Playing For Change

I really don’t know much about this organization of far-flung musicians, but I like the music they play. Here’s another example:


“Stand By Me” is a classic soul song, first recorded by Ben E. King many years ago. The song uses a classic pop chord sequence, sometimes called “the fifties progression”: I vi IV V — in the key of C that would be C Am F G. I’m going to go try it out on my guitar!

Here’s another great one, the Playing For Change people playing a classic Rolling Stones song; Taj Mahal, one of my favorite musicians, contributes!:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJtq6OmD-_Y?rel=0&w=640&h=360]


Crime Scenes

A couple of scenes of violence I have encountered recently while out on my newspaper route, way back in the hinterlands of Adams County in West-Central Illinois.

It was just after dawn when I pulled up to a mail and paper box near Payson. The boxes and supporting post had been demolished! Evidently somebody, probably a drunken adolescent in a too-fast pickup truck, had run right over the post not long before, leaving a scene of destruction in his (most likely) wake. The residents of the house seemed not to be awake, as I got no response when I knocked on their door. I didn’t want them to suspect that I had done the deed! A shot, a bit blurry, that I got before I left:

The rectangle towards the upper left is the metal mailbox, while the blue plastic newspaper box can be seen still attached to the uprooted post.

The day before I had stopped at a favorite spot to pee and wander around a bit. In my mind I think of the spot, which is about at the halfway point of my route, as either “Mushroom Dell” or “Break-rib Hollow”, the latter cognomen a reference to an unfortunate incident a few weeks ago. I had been looking at a sycamore tree growing on the bank of a dry creek-bed. One of my feet became entangled in a cunningly-created trap, a network of exposed oak roots, and I fell down into the creek-bed, cracking two ribs when my torso encountered a tree trunk. It took a month to recover from that incident! Oh, well, I’m willing to endure such travails in the interest of getting some good photos!

Here’s a scene of slo-mo violence. Willow trees don’t get very old around here. After about forty or fifty years they succumb to wind or fungus attacks. This willow got blown over and a young clump of basswood received the upper part of the willow’s trunk between two healthy young shoots. The two trees are now engaged in a perhaps unwilling relationship:

I liked how the sun was partially blocked by one of the basswood trunks.


East St. Louis Toodle-Oo

East St. Louis… not a place to get lost, especially for a white boy like me. Duke Ellington must have had some good experiences there, though. Listen to this classic piece of music:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXh4I7HY5h4?rel=0&w=480&h=360]

The plunger-mute wah-wah trumpet is played by Bubber Miley, a pioneer of trumpet tones. Thirty years later the innovative rock band Steely Dan did a cover of the tune, with wah-wah guitar replacing the trumpet:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-al-Emb9TY?rel=0&w=480&h=360]

Here in America, with all its egregious and overly-consumptive faults, we do have rich and varied musical traditions. It’s a shame that oppressive behaviors had to serve as seeds of much of this music!


A Dramatic Launch

I just loved this animation by UK-based artist Desrumaux Celine. Thanks go to Jennifer Ouellette, one of my favorite science writers, for bringing this to my attention. Jennifer tends to write wittily and well at her blog:

Cocktail Party Physics

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/28760604 w=400&h=225]

Countdown – HD from Desrumaux Celine on Vimeo.

I liked the music as well.

I became curious, a malady to which I am all too prone — what else has this artist done? This one just fascinated me, a WWII phantasmagoria, just take a look:

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/14794489 w=400&h=210]

Yankee Gal from Desrumaux Celine on Vimeo.

It is so interesting that the advent of fast and powerful computers along with supercharged and cheap video software has enabled artists to produce such works!


Eos Gets The Blues

It was dark, very early on this past Wednesday morning. I was in the process of delivering massive hunks of advertising, each one weighing about four pounds, to rural newspaper customers. Somehow the American holiday Thanksgiving has been co-opted by commercial interests. So what else is new?

The sky was overcast as dawn approached, and it looked like I might not have any photographic opportunities. I’d just have to wait for another early morning with favorable clouds.

It wasn’t very cold out and I had my window down as I buzzed along the gravel roads, listening to a CD which documented the wonderful interplay between tenor sax player Lester Young and singer Billie Holiday.

Once again I was startled by a fluttering figure flying into my truck; of course it was my friend Eos, Greek goddess of the dawn.

“Damn, Eos! You always give me a start when you abruptly fly in like that!”

“Well, Larry, what am I supposed to do — send you a formal announcement?”

“You aren’t looking very happy this morning. What’s wrong?”

“I’m just kinda bummed out. These overcast conditions don’t give me much of an opportunity to strut my stuff. I gave the apprentice sprites some pre-mix Dull Red Glow to spread around, but that’s about all I can do on such a dismal morning.”

“So what — you’re gonna just hang around with me and try to bring me down too?”

“Oh, no, Larry! I was hoping that you could cheer me up!”

“There’s something I’ve been wondering about, Eos. Why do you single me out? Surely you know that I’ll write about our encounters on my blog. I thought that deities such as yourself try to avoid publicity; after all, this is an oppressively Christian nation, and in general people don’t want to read about old deities still doing their thing.”

“I single you out, Larry, because you have blown any credibility you might once have had. You write about events in your life, but you always seem to veer off into fantasy! Nobody will believe this post, for example.”

“Well, I can’t help that. So you think that this post is more-or-less under the radar?”

“Oh, yes, Larry. People will think, ‘Larry’s having another one of his spells!'”

I drove on in silence for a while. I narrowly avoided a collision with a deer. Eos broke the silence by saying:

“You think I always have rosy fingers? Take a look at this!”

I glanced over at the winged goddess; she seemed to have swollen and become threateningly large. Her fingers had become coal black. Oh, what now? All I wanted was to finish my route, but here I had a scary goddess in my truck!

“Behold, Larry, the Sooty Fingers of the Doom! One touch and you are toast!”

“Oh, cut that out, Eos! Gosh, you’ll have to try harder than that to bring me down!”

We bickered back and forth and eventually as it became light out the quirky deity flew off to take a nap somewhere. I was relieved, truth to tell. Hanging out with deities can be stressful!


Early Botanical Paintings

I’m very fond of botanical art, perhaps because I have no skill in the visual arts. I appreciate the works of those who do have that gift, though!

Here are two paintings by a seventeenth-century woman, Maria Sibylla Merian:

These paintings brings back memories. Back in my Knox County, Missouri days I grew both species of fritillaries. The Crown Fritillary shown in the second painting lasted for just one year, as the species requires well-drained soil. The Guinea-Hen Flower, Fritillaria meleagris, naturalized well in some open hickory woodland and might still be blooming there. The checkerboard blooms are a sight to see!