The Merchant of Venice

Perfect Pairings

Perfect Pairings from our current studies.  May we suggest:

Pairing No. 1: The Wednesday Wars” and “The Complete Shakespeare

This is our second time reading Gary D. Schmidt’s “The Wednesday Wars”…I had forgotten what a clever, multi-layered work this is.  So far, the teacher in the book has forced “The Merchant of Venice”, “The Tempest”, “MacBeth”, “Romeo and Juliet”, and “Julius Caesar” onto the protagonist.  And he LOVES them.  Well, how can we not want to see what the excitement is about?  We really lucked out with “The Complete Shakespeare” (an Usborne book, Melbourne/Surducan).  This reference provides a two-page spread at the beginning of each play, identifying characters with a brief description and winsome illustration.  We refer to these pages every night before we continue reading each very thorough play synopsis.  First-rate resource for those of us who would be overwhelmed by the prospect of explaining every line of the original Shakespeare. 

Pairing No. 2: “125 Animals that Changed the World” and “Cat Stories”

Graphically, “Animals that Changed the World” is loud, cluttered, and jarring (nonetheless, we DO like opening this book and cheering for the animal-of-the-night).  The perfect foil for this chaos?  The calm, reflective, soothing chapters of James Herriot’s “Cat Stories”.  Purrrrrr.

Pairing No. 3: My son’s toothbrush and Jason Chin’s “Gravity”

I have been responsible for brushing my son’s teeth FOREVER (no cavities folks, no cavities), then OUT OF NOWHERE, last month, my son grabbed the toothbrush I was holding, took the tube of toothpaste, unscrewed it, spread it on the toothbrush, pressed the button to make it vibrate and dipped it under the faucet! And he has been doing this night and day ever since. ONE TINY THING: when he holds the toothbrush under the faucet, he has the bristles facing downward and guess what happens? So we read through Jason Chin’s beautifully illustrated book on gravity to see if that would rectify the situation. It didn’t. Still, the book is lovely.

Perfect Pairings at the Local Diner – Story Problem

To beef up orders during the pandemic, the local diner is having a “Perfect Pairings TO GO” special: Miss Carolyn’s Chicken Pot Pie teamed with the diner’s famous Super Cinnamon Apple Pie. If each pie has a top and bottom crust, how many crusts need to be rolled out every morning if the diner sells 50 “Perfect Pairing” orders daily?

A. 50 pie crusts B. 100 pie crusts C. 200 pie crusts D. 400 pie crusts (answer at bottom of post)

Classical Music Time – Perfect Pairings: The Expected and The Unexpected

Pairing No. 1 – 

The Expected:  Gustav Holst’s “Country Gardens”, from “Morris Dance Tunes, Set 1”, of 1910.  It is such an expected “let’s make nice” melody.  Don’t be taken in by Percy Grainer’s “Country Gardens” (basically the same melody as Holst’s) composed a full 8 years after Holst’s!  The scoundrel!  This tuneful, sweet, repetitive piece gets a shot in the arm in this particular recording,  speeding along at a faster tempo than usually performed – 

The Unexpected:  Gustav Holst’s “Mercury, the Winged Messenger” from “The Planets”, composed in 1916.  Oh boy, do we love this short, unexpected, erratic piece, and apparently the conductor (Susanna Malkki) in this video footage has caught the fever, too –

Pairing No. 2 –

The Expected:  Luigi Boccherini’s “Minuet”, AKA String Quintet in E Major, movement III, composed in 1771.  Syrupy sweet, but a lively play in this performance – 

The Unexpected:  Luigi Boccherini’s “Fandango” from Guitar Quintet No. 4 in D major, composed in 1798, a far cry from the conservative minuet.  This intricate, warm, romantic (I am not going to say “sexy” in front of my son) piece was inspired by Boccherini’s days as a court musician for the Spanish royal family.  This is the recording we have listened to about 200 times.  We like everything from the LA Guitar Quartet – 

Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH
(story problem answer:  C).  200 pie crusts)

 

Second Time Around

blue moon       blue moon

July 2, 2015                       July 31, 2015

Blue Moon!  My son and I observed the blue moon on the final evening of July.  We learned that the term “blue moon” (the second full moon, if there are 2 full moons in one month) (very rare) does not refer to the moon’s color, but rather to the centuries-old phrase, “once in a blue moon” (something that occurs with preposterous infrequency).  For the vocab list: lunar.  And preposterous.

dictionary best

Our first research project!  The question was, “which letter of the alphabet begins the greatest number of words and which letter of the alphabet begins the fewest number of words?”.  My son guessed that the most words started with “E” and the fewest number of words started with “Z”. We used a real (non-electronic) dictionary and simple subtraction to find the number of pages (2 letters per night). We saved “E” and “Z” for the final night (he was pretty darn close with the “Z” choice). This was such a simple assignment, but surprisingly, it started a number of conversations. We want to do another research project!

The tally, in order of most words to fewest:  S with 167 pages, C, P, T, A, M, B, D, R, F, E with 52 pages, H, I, G, W, O, N, V, U, L with only 15 pages (this was a surprise, we thought there would be loads of “L” words), J, K, Q, Y, Z with 3 pages, X with 2 pages.

applewhites books

What we were reading this past week –

  • “Albert Einstein”: two thumbs up for this DK Biography by Frieda Wishinsky (regretfully, we have been disappointed with several DK books, but this one is excellent).
  • “The Merchant of Venice” (Shakespeare, obviously): we are reading a retelling of the play by Charles and Mary Lamb (this is a complicated plot line, and this version is OK, not great, but OK).
  • “Surviving the Applewhites”: our fourth time through this novel by Stephanie S. Tolan. This book is a treasure! It is funny, it is quirky, it is a hot mess – and the message! Wow. It is all about the single-minded pursuit of one’s passion. LOVE THIS BOOK.
English-Breakfast-Tea-Tin-276x300   English-Breakfast-Tea-Tin-276x300

Breaking news (and story problem) from Le Fictitious Local Diner! No more baskets of mish-mashed teabag options at the diner!  The hot tea service is being classed up and now only English Breakfast Tea (regular or decaf) will be served.  The diner’s supplier sells a tin of 200 regular teabags for $35 and a tin of 200 decaf teabags for $40.  On an average, 150 customers drink hot tea every week, half of them drinking decaf. How many tins of each should the diner purchase every month? How much should be budgeted annually for the purchase of teabags?  If one fourth of the tea drinkers want a thin slice of lemon with their tea, and there are 8 slices per lemon, how many lemons should the diner have at the ready every week?

blue moon

Tunes for Blue Moons 

  • “Moonlight Serenade”, by Glenn Miller. HUGE hit in 1939.  HUGE.  This melody was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1991.  We talked about Glenn and listened for his trombone.

  • “Rhapsody in Blue”, by George Gershwin.  This piece was written for piano solo and jazz band, and was composed in one big hurry (5 weeks!), premiering in 1924.  We love this video, showcasing not only Leonard Bernstein at the piano, but also clarinet master Stanley Drucker.

  • “Clair de Lune” (the 3rd movement of his “Suite Bergamasque”) (we did not know that!), by Claude Debussy, published in 1905.  Soothing to the extreme.  This video clip features piano virtuoso, Claudio Arrau, and was recorded in 1991, when Arrau was 88!  This should give us all hope!

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH