Peter Pan

Club Gustav

eiffel-tower

And so it begins:  a few nights ago, my son and I started reading, “The Eiffel Tower – Gustave Eiffel’s Spectacular Idea” by Cooper/Bock.  Hmmm; the book’s facts differ slightly (actually markedly) from what the Wikipedia entry has to say about the tower and who’s idea it was.   Regardless, I knew we would be interested in the construction of the Eiffel Tower – all of those triangles – and the fact is, Gustave Eiffel was a brilliant, innovative, experienced architect and engineer.  We also looked at some of his bridges, and his structural plan for supporting the inside of the Statue of Liberty.

Meanwhile, it occurred to me that we had never listened to anything by Gustav Mahler, so I started listening to a LOT of Mahler (a LOT because each and every piece is SO long), selecting compositions to share with my son.  And all of a sudden, I thought: we have two “Gustavs” already, why not have this week be all about spotlighting noteworthy “Gustavs”?  So we added:

gustave-the-croc kiss-klimt planets

  • the art work of Gustav Klimt – we admired 12 of his landscapes (via a large calendar).  We couldn’t stop looking at “Forest of Birch Trees” and “Island in the Attersee” (both 1902).  We also spent time looking at every detail of his most well known painting, the shimmering richly patterned, gold-leafed “The Kiss” (1907).
  • a review of the music of Gustav Holst, a composer we are familiar with.  We listened to a few movements from “The Planets”, his Morris Dance Tunes, and the march from his “First Suite in E flat for Military Band” (we like listening for the monarch reviewing the troops).
  • then, HOLY CATS, a short study of Gustave the Crocodile of Burundi (we located teeny Burundi on the globe).  Oh, this is so sad: according to Wikipedia, “The World Happiness Report 2016 Update ranked Burundi as the world’s least happy nation”.  Well, I am sure Gustave is not helping.  So far, this 60 year old, 25 foot-long, bullet-proof baddest croc of them all, has killed 300 people.  He is THE WORST.  He is INFAMOUS (vocab word of the night).

Our music theme last night: what else? Gustav, Gustav, Gustave and Gustavo –

mahler dudamel holst

Mahler, Dudamel, and Holst

  • we listened to Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 in C minor, movement III, composed about 1890.  There are a lot of moods and themes in this 10 minute movement – lush harmonies, frenetic rhythms, the lure of the exotic melody, and do we hear birdsong?  Conducted by the sizzling Gustavo Dudamel:

  • we can hear Gustav Holst’s messenger god flitting willy-nilly all over the universe.  We have probably listened to the “Mercury” movement  from The Planets (composed in 1916) about 45 times.  It just doesn’t get old.

  • and for Gustave the Crocodile we listened to, “Never Smile at a Crocodile” from Disney’s 1953 movie “Peter Pan”.  Music by Frank Churchill, words by Jack Lawrence.  What’s not to like?

Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH

The Rattlesnake Sermon

Our Sunday Services – My son and I celebrate Sundays by concluding STORIES AND STUDIES time with music of an ecclesiastical bent.  But last night, we were so moved after reading from “John Muir – My Life with Nature” by Joseph Cornell, that we decided “Fellow Mortals” (a chapter from the book) also belongs in our Sunday evening line-up.  In this chapter, John Muir champions God’s plants and creatures, and gets specific about encounters with, of all things, rattlesnakes.  He writes that he had killed two rattlesnakes, for what he felt were responsible reasons, but upon reflecting, “… I felt degraded by the killing business, and farther from heaven.”  The entire chapter is powerful and deeply touching.  Welcome to our Sunday night, John Muir.

john muir book

On other fronts

Pastels (secretly, hand-eye coordination work) – we focused upon warm and cool colors.

pastels warm cool

Exponents – we are memorizing numbers 2 – 9 to the power of 0, 1, 2, and 3.

Book plots – last night, we talked about two well-used storyline strategies: the “situation” and the “villain”.  I do NOT like stories with persistent villains.  At the moment we are reading “Othello”, and I cannot get through it fast enough. I HATE HATE HATE that villainous Iago so much that I dread picking up the book every night.  You don’t suppose my revulsion shows?  Well, I hope so.  I want my son to understand that any example of “man’s inhumanity to man” SHOULD be painful to read about.

bell peppers

Our Farmer Brown story problem:  ratios and bell peppers – Farmer Brown grows acres and acres of bell peppers.  On an average, for every 10 green peppers he sells, he sells 8 red peppers and 5 yellow peppers.  What is the ratio of green peppers to red peppers?  What is the ratio of green peppers to yellow peppers?  If Farmer Brown puts together a box of mixed peppers, using the ratios as his guide, and the box contains 40 green peppers, how many red and yellow peppers are in the box?  If a single pepper sells for 40 cents, how much money will be earned if every pepper in the box is sold?

Our Sunday Night Music – our theme was “The Good Shepherd”:

  • Bach’s “Sheep May Safely Graze”, a cantata (No. 208) composed in 1713 for a duke’s birthday.  Written as a choral work,  how could my son and I not be fascinated by this skillful instrumental rendition, played on the Hinsz pipe organ (a baroque era masterpiece, and possibly the most important antique organ in the Netherlands).

  • Handel’s “He Shall Feed His Flock Like a Shepherd”, from his oratorio “Messiah”.  Composed in 1741, using texts from the King James Bible and The Book of Common Prayer.  I am a UCLA alum, so I was delighted to find this video clip.  Bruins rule.

  • “Tender Shepherd”, from the 1954 Broadway musical, “Peter Pan”.  Music composed by (WE HAVE A WINNER HERE!!!!!) Moose Charlap (we so want to know a person named “Moose”), with lyrics by Carolyn Leigh.

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH