Required Reading – We are nearly through “Presenting Buffalo Bill – The Man Who Invented the Wild West” (Candace Fleming). Wow. This should be adjunct reading for any history course that covers the late 19th century.
Quirky take-aways from this outstandingly researched book:
– William Cody did not like Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer…and after “Custer’s Last Stand” at Little Big Horn, Cody hired Sitting Bull (inspirational leader of the victorious Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho) to be part of his Wild West show.
– While the US Government sought to “Americanize” American Indians (passing laws forbidding traditional clothes, housing, religious practices, etc.), the Wild West show was partially responsible for keeping these customs alive – Buffalo Bill’s insistence upon authenticity meant his Pawnee, Cheyenne, and Lakota performers could wear their traditional clothing, speak their language, live in traditional dwellings, etc.
– When the Wild West performed in London, Queen Victoria broke a 26 year seclusion (lamenting the death of her husband, Prince Albert) to attend the show (and LOVED it).
– We are still marveling at William Cody’s energy and leadership skills: managing 200+ performers (among which he was the central star OF COURSE), scores of horses, buffalo, elk, Texas steers, donkeys, deer, bears, full size wagons, a log cabin, a stagecoach, gigantic sets (vocab) and a brass band…not to mention food, accommodations, and travel arrangements. We’re exhausted.
– William Cody was not a perfect person; he certainly had a handful of glaring deficits. But DARN IT, my son and I are fans!
Map Happy – Our “find each USA state and color it in” map is complete. My son looked forward to this activity every night; we would find the state in question, talk about its shape (Louisiana looks like a capital “L”, the Michigan “mitten”, etc.), and then ink in the state together. We’ve now started on the Canadian map. Vivien Bowers’ most enjoyable book, “Wow Canada!” is providing background info as we color in each province and territory.
Funny, thought provoking, excellent read for us – we are in the midst of a fifth reading of our favorite Gordon Korman book, “Schooled”. Such an original theme – a very centered, capable kid who has been raised in a defunct hippie commune is forced to matriculate into a public school. A+.
Fancy, Fancy, Fancy! Story Problem from Le Fictitious Local Diner – diner management has decided that a paper doily (vocab) under the condiments (vocab) on each table is a must. There are 10 tables and 5 booths at the diner. Each table will get a fresh doily before both lunch and dinner services. Will a case of 1,000 doilies be enough for one month? If each case costs $7.00, how much should the diner budget for doilies for a year? (answers at bottom of post)
Rootin’ Tootin’ Music – we found rambunctious, fast paced, toe tappin’, hootin’ and hollerin’ music to help us imagine Buffalo Bill’s mightily successful Wild West extravaganza:
– “Hoedown” from Aaron Copland’s “Rodeo” ballet, which premiered in 1942. I think we feel intellectually elevated every time we listen to anything by Aaron Copland:
– The theme from the long-running TV show (1959-1973) “Bonanza”, orchestrated and arranged by David Rose and Billy May. Voted by the Western Writers of America as one of the Top 100 Western Songs of All Time. Is it THAT difficult to be in the top 100??? Why not TOP 10? No matter – we love it:
– The theme from the 1960 American Western movie, “The Magnificent Seven”, composed by Elmer Bernstein. We learned that Elmer Bernstein was NOT related to Leonard Bernstein (but they were friends), that he composed for loads and loads of movies, his scores were nominated for 14 Oscars (winning in 1967 for “Thoroughly Modern Millie”)…Back to “The Magnificent Seven” – this classic was nominated for an academy award in 1961, but lost to “Exodus” (score composed by Ernest Gold). Tough break. BTW, this is a simply outstanding recording of the theme (but why the pineapple photo at the very beginning?):
Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH
(story problem answers: yes, and $84)