Elephants Are Made of Elements – They Might Be Giants Sings About Science

First, they took on counting and the alphabet, and now, in a move surely planned to give all those ex-Bush administration people something to listen and learn from now that they’re not so busy, They Might Be Giants has a new album, entitled Here Comes Science.

Check out some of the videos…

Science is Real


The Elements


You Got Your Neuroscience in My Music

I’m fascinated by neuroscience, by how the software that is our brain really works. I’m also fascinated by music, and how it can show how the brain works in a common way across cultures. Here’s a great example of that. Bobby McFerrin at the 2009 World Science Festival showing how a pentatonic scale is something kind of hard-wired into people. (I’m not quite sure how true the term “hard-wired” is, since different cultures have different musical scales — I’d be interested to see how this experiment worked in Japan, frinstance.)

World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale from World Science Festival on Vimeo.

A Song About A Painting That Sounds Like Something From Lit Class

One of the things I really like about The Weakerthans is that their music sort of sounds like the kind of poetry we all had to read in high school literature classes. I know, you think it sucked. But I loved it. There’s something powerful about a terse arrangement of words that you have to actually think about to figure out the meaning, and my meaning might not be your meaning, might not be the author’s meaning.

I could go on about why I think many of the literature classes I took sucked. Really, that’s what sucked. Not the poetry. Whenever we were in a class where we were carefully deconstructing something to figure out what the meaning was, it just felt kind of like dissecting something in biology class to me. Not to say you can’t examine the written word closely, but I’d consider it more akin to fMRI than surgery. (fMRI is when they use an MRI machine to look at an actual, operating human brain to see what’s going on while it’s running and reacting to things. They don’t get as clear a picture of the brain, but they get a better idea of what it actually does.)

All of this is my long-winded way of introducing the video of Night Windows, based on the Edward Hopper painting of the same name. You might remember Hopper as the artist who painted Nighthawks, which gets parodied a lot. Great light in his paintings.

Anyway, I’ll shut up now so you can listen.


And now back to…Ships and Dip V, with The Weakerthans

I’ve been meaning to get back to posting videos from Ships and Dip V since something like…ahhh…FOREVER. And now I’m finally jumping back in with videos of my favorite new band, The Weakerthans. They totally, friggin’ rawk. And not only because they’ve written some rocking songs about cats!

So here’s the first of several videos of their on-ship performances.


Kiss Me, I’m (Honorarily) Irish

On this, the Irish-est day of the year, I share what might be my first Irish memory, and the thing that probably earns me an honorary Irish-ness.

Back in grammar school, we used to do plays every so often. I remember one we did, my class had to learn to sing a song in Gaelic. They wrote out the words phonetically, so we’d be able to learn them. I was used to that kind of thing from learning Polish songs phonetically off my dad’s Polka albums; to this day, I can actually still sing the Gaelic song we learned, Fellamy’s Boat or Báidín Fheilimí.

Picture the spectacle to rival Titanic as the curtains opened on the stage at the St. Alphonsus combo gym and auditorium. The ladies of the poor Irish fishing village (played with great empathy by the girls from my grammar sch0ol class) sit knitting at the back of the stage, waiting in the cold, wintry air for the return of their loyal husband fishermen. And there we are, as the song begins, rowing our giant cardboard boat out onto the stage, joining in the song. Poor Bridget — the first girl I ever had a crush on (and it was a HUGE crush, I think in present day I might have qualified for a restraining order). She sat there, knitting away, never knowing of the fate of my boat, wrecked offshore. What a sad, sad day. No longer could she kick my shins under the desk. Schoolwork would be her only contentment now.

I did, many years later, have this all pop into my head, and I found the song on YouTube. Crack open a Guinness and enjoy. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, all.


(Who’d a thunk, many years later, I’d be a fan of Gaelic Storm — a band that sings many of their songs in Gaelic?)

Ships and Dip V – Gaelic Storm “Beggerman” and Into the Pool

No one knows how to end a show like Gaelic Storm. First show, on the pool deck, and how do they top their crowd surfing from last year? They crowd surf INTO the pool. Awesome!

We actually saw Gaelic Storm the week before the cruise and asked Jessie Burns, the fiddler, if she was going to crowd surf this year, since she demurred last year. She said “Oh, no. I’ve heard from some other female artists that it’s just not a good idea.” In the interim, seems she changed her mind. If she needs to sue anybody…I got the video. =)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!