Courtesy of The Week, a look at the pecuniary consequences in the U.S. of “Happy Mother’s Day”…
The amount Americans will spend this Mother’s Day, according to the National Retail Federation’s Mother’s Day spending survey
Moms in the U.S., according to the latest stats from the United States Census Bureau
The average amount American consumers will spend on mom for Mother’s Day 2013
The average spending last year. This year’s figure is an 11 percent increase.
Mother’s Day’s ranking, after Christmas and Valentine’s Day, in terms of the amount of money spent by U.S. consumers…
* Mark Twain
As we reassure ourselves that it’s the thought that counts, we might send nonsensical birthday greetings to Edward Lear; he was born on this date in 1812. An accomplished ”ornithological draughtsman,” Lear published his first work– Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots– at age 19, a collection that was favorably compared to the work of Audubon. But Lear is better remembered for his verse (and the illustrations he supplied to accompany it). In 1846 he published A Book of Nonsense, a volume of limericks helped popularise the form. In 1865 The History of the Seven Families of the Lake Pipple-Popple was published; and in 1867 his most famous piece of nonsense, The Owl and the Pussycat (which he wrote for the children of his patron Edward Stanley, 13th Earl of Derby). They were quite successful, and any other works followed.
Lear’s facility– his verbal inventiveness, his knowing liberties with poetic form– led many to suspect (a la Shakespeare) that his poems were actually the work of another, better-educated author: his patron. (Conspiracy theorists noted that “Lear” is an anagram of “Earl”– so that “Edward Lear” might be code for “Edward, Earl”). But Lear was real enough, and earned his place– alongside Lewis Carroll and W.S. Gilbert– as one of the great purveyors of nonsense of the Victorian Age.
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.
- St.3, The Owl and the Pussycat
Readers will likely have heard of the recent research that has identified a list of two dozen “ultraconserved words” that have survived 150 centuries. It includes some predictable entries: “mother,” “not,” “what,” “to hear” and “man.” It also contains some surprises: “to flow,” “ashes” and “worm.” As the Washington Post observes,
You, hear me! Give this fire to that old man. Pull the black worm off the bark and give it to the mother. And no spitting in the ashes!
It’s an odd little speech. But if you went back 15,000 years and spoke these words to hunter-gatherers in Asia in any one of hundreds of modern languages, there is a chance they would understand at least some of what you were saying.
But then there’s the other end of the spectrum…
The Guardian recounts the tale of the last two remaining speakers of Ayapaneco:
The language of Ayapaneco has been spoken in the land now known as Mexico for centuries. It has survived the Spanish conquest, seen off wars, revolutions, famines and floods. But now, like so many other indigenous languages, it’s at risk of extinction.
There are just two people left who can speak it fluently – but they refuse to talk to each other. Manuel Segovia, 75, and Isidro Velazquez, 69, live 500 metres apart in the village of Ayapa in the tropical lowlands of the southern state of Tabasco. It is not clear whether there is a long-buried argument behind their mutual avoidance, but people who know them say they have never really enjoyed each other’s company…
Read the whole sad story here… and remember: use it, or lose it.
* Peter Drucker
As we lament languages that have languished, we might send joint birthday greetings to Chang and Eng; they were born on this date in 1811. The original “Siamese Twins,” they were joined at the waist by a band of cartilage, about 8 in. circumference and 4 in. long. In 1828 British merchant Robert Hunter ”discovered” them and paid their family to let them be exhibited as a curiosity during a world tour; at the end of that engagement, the brothers went into business for themselves. In 1839, they visited Wilkesboro, N.C. with P. T. Barnum; they found the town appealing, settled there, took the surname “Bunker,” became United States citizens, and in 1843 married two sisters with whom they raised 10 children. Only after their death was it discovered that the cartilage that connected them could have been easily and safely removed.
Click here for Mark Twain’s short story, “The Siamese Twins,” based on Chang and Eng.
Images by the masters; words by Beyonce… Beyonce Art History.
[TotH to AH]
* Thomas Merton
As we muse on the timelessness of great art, we might recall that it was on this date in 1969 that The Turtles played a formal White House ball at the request of their fan, President Nixon’s elder daughter. The New York Times reported:
Tricia Nixon covered her face with a white lace mask, shimmering with crystals and held like a lorgnette, to greet some 450 of Washington’s prettiest, handsomest, slimmest 20-to-30-year-olds at a masked ball tonight, her first White House party.
It was likely one of the stranger social gatherings in the recent history of that august home. The Turtles’ web site recounts:
Kids with obvious SDS connections were passing out literature, while Tricia was dashing around with all the genuine charm of a Cinderella. Despite the fact that the tipsy [Mark] Volman kept falling off the stage and was challenged by Pat Nugent because Mark was trying to pick up on Lucy Baines Johnson,
Still, the Turtles were a big enough hit to be asked by one of the guests, the daughter of the president of U.S. Steel, to play at her coming out party.
As (R)D readers know, Randall Munroe’s xkcd webcomic has done some weird and wonderful things before (e.g., here and here), but #1190, ‘Time,“ is something special. A time-lapse movie of two people building a sandcastle, it’s been updating just once an hour (twice an hour in the beginning) for well over a month (since March 25th)– and after over a thousand frames shows no sign of ending. Any day now, the number of frames will surpass the total number of xkcd comics. Some of its readers have called it the One True Comic; others, a MMONS (Massively Multiplayer Online Nerd Sniping). It’s sparked its own wiki, its own jargon (Timewaiters, newpix, Blitzgirling), and a thread on the xkcd user forum that runs to over 20,000 posts from 1100 distinct posters. So, is ‘Time” a mesmerizing work of art, a penetrating sociological experiment — or the longest-running shaggy-dog joke in history? Randall Munroe’s not saying.
See it here– and leave it open in your browser… for a long time…
[TotH to Slashdot]
As we remember that at least some things come to those who wait, we might also recall that it was on this date in 1914 that President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Mother’s Day– the second Sunday in May– as a day for Americans to show the flag in honor of those mothers whose sons had died in war.
The drive to found the holiday came from Anna Jarvis (in honor of her mother, Ann, who had tried to start a “Mother’s Remembrance Day” in the mid-19th century). In 1905, Jarvis enlisted the support of merchant extraordinaire John Wanamaker, who knew a merchandising opportunity when he saw one, and who hosted the first Mother’s Day ceremonies in his Philadelphia emporium’s auditorium. In 1912, Jarvis trademarked the phrases “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day”*, and created the Mother’s Day International Association. By 1914, Jarvis and Wanamaker had built sufficient support in Congress to a get Congressional Resolution requesting the President’s action. Wilson, who was by current accounts uninterested in the move (distracted as he was by the beginnings of his ultimately unsuccessful effort to keep the U.S. out of the troubles in Europe that became World War I), nonetheless knew better than to take a stand against moms.
So readers should remember that there are only three shopping days (counting today) before this year’s Mother’s Day.
* Jarvis specified that that “Mother’s” should “be a singular possessive, for each family to honour their mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world.”
… time to crack Inherent Vice in a coffee shop, time to trot out V on a train, time to wield Against the Day at work… It’s Pynchon in Public Day!
As we give ourselves over to the glories of glittering prose, we might send crafty birthday greetings to the man himself; Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, Jr. was born on this date in 1937. A MacArthur “Genius” Fellow and National Book Award winner (for Gravity’s Rainbow), Pynchon studied with Nabokov* at Cornell. He is frequently mentioned as a contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature.
* The famously- misdirecting Nabokov later said that he had no memory of Pynchon; but Nabokov’s wife Véra, who graded her husband’s class papers, has reported that she remembered Pynchon’s distinctive handwriting, a mixture of printed and cursive letters.
Photographer Henry Hargreaves explains:
A rider is a contractual proviso that outlines a series of stipulations or requests between at least two parties. While they can be attached to leases and other legal documents, they’re most famously used by musicians or bands to outline how they need their equipment to be set up and arranged, how they like their dressing room organized, and what types of food and beverages they require. Anyone who’s seen Spinal Tap knows these requests can be extremely outrageous and unreasonable. (And, in the case of Iggy Pop’s, unexpectedly hilarious.)
I was inspired to create this series after reviewing a few riders from some of the biggest acts in the world, all of which were ridiculous. But what I found most interesting about them is that they offered a glimpse into their larger-than-life personalities.
I initially thought I would try and shoot all of the items listed on the catering riders but quickly realized that this would become an exercise in wasting money. So I decided to focus on the quirkiest requests and shoot them in a Flemish Baroque still-life style because I felt that there was a direct connection between the themes in these types of paintings and the riders: the idea of time passing and the ultimate mortality of a musician’s career as the limelight inevitably fades—they only have a short time in which they are able to make these demands and have them fulfilled.
As we order every meal as though it’s our last, we might recall that it was on this date in 1965, in the wee hours, in a motel room in Clearwater, Florida, that Keith Richards awoke, grabbed his guitar, turned on a small portable tape recorded, laid down the signature riff of ”(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”… then dropped back into the arms of Morpheus.
“When I woke up in the morning, the tape had run out,” Richards recalled many years later. “I put it back on, and there’s this, maybe, 30 seconds of ‘Satisfaction,’ in a very drowsy sort of rendition. And then suddenly—the guitar goes ‘CLANG,” and then there’s like 45 minutes of snoring.”
Earlier this spring, director Alex Cox (Repo Man, Sid and Nancy) made a pilgrimage to the Ft. Morgan, Colorado grave of Philip K. Dick and his twin sister Jane to leave an offering in hope of good fortune in Cox’s Kickstarter quest to fund Bill, the Galactic Hero, a feature comedy based on Harry Harrison’s classic anti-war science fiction novel…
Cox’s prayers were answered: Kickstarter members (your correspondent included) oversubscribed his goal. But it’s not too late for readers to get in on the action; Cox and his terrific team of fellow-travelers can use more support, so the campaign remains open.
As we get in touch with our inner mogul, we might recall that on this date in 1984, music history was made. As History reports,
Almost 20 years and who knows how many drummers into their unique career in rock, the surviving members of one of England’s loudest bands had reached yet another low point in the spring of 1984. Only two years removed from a disastrous 1982 world tour that not only failed to turn the album Smell The Glove into a comeback hit, but also led to the group’s breakup, Spinal Tap now had to suffer the indignity of seeing the Marty DiBergi-helmed behind-the-scenes film of that tour gain widespread theatrical release. Would the numerous embarrassments catalogued in the hard-hitting rockumentary This Is Spinal Tap provoke public sympathy for and renewed interest in the band that Nigel Tufnel, David St. Hubbins and Derek Smalls began back in 1964 as The Originals? Or would the group behind such familiar classic-rock hits as “Give Me Some Money” and “Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight” be consigned once and for all to obscurity? In this atmosphere of uncertainty, Spinal Tap elected to go back to their roots, kicking off a tour of small American rock clubs with an appearance at New York City’s legendary CBGB’s on May 6, 1984.
Of course, almost none of the above is true, strictly speaking. A group calling itself Spinal Tap did play CBGB’s on this day in 1984, but that group was the fictitious invention of director Rob Reiner and the comic actors Michael McKean, Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer—St. Hubbins, Tufnel and Smalls, respectively. Reiner’s directorial debut was the aforementioned This Is Spinal Tap, a film that launched the mockumentary mini-genre as well as a thousand catchphrases, from “These go to 11″ to “None more black.”
This, the band’s first public appearance, happened during the film’s first week of release; as one attendee recalled, it drew “every professional musician in the city of New York.”