We played “Quiz Show” last night – last week’s studies were so jam packed with quirky facts, they seemed to beg for a quiz.
Did my son know about Euskara?
Did he know about blackout curtains during WWII?
Did he know about altitude sickness?
Did he know about Robin Goodfellow?
Did he know about monsoons?
Did he know which were the fastest muscles in the human body?
Yes, yes, yes! And the prize for getting a correct answer??? Wait for it – wait for it – wait for it: for every correct answer my son got to ding a triangle: 1) the fun never stops at our house, and 2) who wouldn’t focus more diligently, knowing that the merry ding of a triangle was only one correct answer away?
Current studies and books –
The Basque Country – first of all, the few books available on the Basque Country seem to be oriented toward the angry plight of Basque citizens and grievances against their host countries (France and Spain) (mostly Spain) (Hey! I get it, but that is not the direction I want to head – I try to keep the “man’s inhumanity to man” themes away from our study table – my son has enough to deal with). So, that left us with hardly any books from which to choose (and most of them were cookbooks). Nonetheless, we are happily reading, “A Basque Diary” by Alex Hallatt (my son really likes the casual reflections in this small book) and the cookbook, “The Basque Book” by Alexandra Raij. Both are giving us a feel for this 8,000 square mile area of the western Pyrenees. By default, we are learning a LOT about Basque food and we are so not eating periwinkles (cute tiny snails) no matter how well seasoned.
Another Professor Astro Cat book – We LOVE the Professor Astro Cat books. Every page teams non-boring information with turbo-charged graphics. This book, “Professor Astro Cat’s Human Body Odyssey”, is the fourth book we’ve read on human anatomy and our attention has finally been captured. We read two pages a night and end up with more than enough to mull over for the next day. Last night we had to be grossed out about DEAD SKIN CELLS floating through the air. Tonight, nose mucus. Life is good.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream – we are re-reading an adaptation, “The Young Reader’s Shakespeare – A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Adam McKeown, for one reason only: to enhance our enjoyment of Felix Mendelssohn’s ridiculously clever “Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. We can hear the beating of the fairy wings and Bottom with his donkey head braying, what else can we hear? This piece was composed in 1826 when Mendelssohn was SEVENTEEN – music scholar George Grove wrote of the overture: “the greatest marvel of early maturity that the world has ever seen in music”. So there.
An outstanding performance of the overture by Leipzig’s Gewandhausorchester – where Felix Mendelssohn served as director from 1835 through 1847:
Dinner time at Farmer Brown’s (story problem) – to summon the farm hands to supper, Farmer Brown needs to purchase a new “Cowboy style” triangle dinner bell.
He can purchase a cheapy at a well known discount warehouse for $20 or he can commission the local blacksmith to create a heavy duty hand-forged iron triangle for $60. The $60 triangle is what percentage more costly than the $20 model? A) 30% B) 150% C) 200% D) 300% (answer at bottom of post)
Ethics Corner – OK, right after I yammered on about staying away from themes of man’s inhumanity to man, I am ambushed with a variation (man’s inhumanity to animals): in the excellent Lonely Planet “The Cities Book” (the 7.5 pound tome we are almost through) we came across COCKFIGHTING while reading about Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Well. First I had to explain what cockfighting was to my son. Did I try to hide my heartsickness from the explanation? No. So, question to my son: what do we think about cockfighting? Is this an OK thing? NO! Are there any circumstances where this would be an OK thing? NO! Thank you.
Our music last night – we were so enthused by the the magic of the triangle during our quiz show that we decided to listen to compositions showcasing this simplest of instruments:
- Beethoven’s “Turkish March”, composed in 1809. This short piece is played at a very fast clip (we LOVE this pace) by the Spanish Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra. The sound of the triangle is woven throughout the piece to evoke the sound of exotic Ottoman Janissary Bands (oh my gosh we learned what Janissary Bands were!):
- Brahms’ “Symphony No. 4 in E minor”, movement 3. This symphony premiered in 1885. We have listened to this movement several times, enjoying how it alternates between sounding like a wild west theme and a royal fanfare. The triangle sparkles throughout the piece:
- “Theme from The Pink Panther” written in 1963 by Henry Mancini. Nothing but the sound of the triangle was good enough to introduce this piece:
Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH
story problem answer: D) 300%