We the People

For reasons that I shall leave ambiguous, I was perusing the (current) Boston Municipal Code yesterday. There’s some great stuff in there. For example, it’s illegal to manufacture or sell a mercury thermometer in the city of Boston, except by prescription.

Then there’s this restriction:

Whoever sells, or distributes, or imports, or loans, or possesses with the intent to sell … a book, pamphlet, ballad, printed paper, phonographic record, print, picture, figure, image, or description which depicts or describes … patently offensive representations or descriptions of ultimate sexual acts, normal or perverted, actual or simulated … shall be subject to a fine of fifty ($50.00) dollars….

Then there’s this regulation for street-railway cars (emphasis mine):

No person having control of the speed of a street-railway car passing in a street shall fail to keep a vigilant watch for all teams, carriages, and persons, especially children, nor shall such person fail to strike a bell several times in quick succession on approaching any team, carriage, or person, and no person shall, after such striking of a bell, delay or hinder the passage of the car.

That’s a point to me: my city built its subway and streetcars before anybody dreamed of having automobiles… and it’s still there today.

The Magic of Imagination

JK Rowling (which she herself has said is to be pronounced “rolling, like ‘rolling pin'”) gave the Commencement address at Harvard this year. Now you can watch online.

Delivering a commencement address is a great responsibility; or so I thought until I cast my mind back to my own graduation. The commencement speaker that day was the distinguished British philosopher Baroness Mary Warnock. Reflecting on her speech has helped me enormously in writing this one, because it turns out that I can’t remember a single word she said. This liberating discovery enables me to proceed without any fear that I might inadvertently influence you to abandon promising careers in business, law or politics for the giddy delights of becoming a gay wizard.

You see? If all you remember in years to come is the ‘gay wizard’ joke, I’ve still come out ahead of Baroness Mary Warnock. Achievable goals: the first step towards personal improvement.

That part’s funny, but watch the whole thing.  This is the construction and utilization of language that makes English worth listening to.

(And yes, this is a point to Boston.)

Drum Solo

I have a confession: I hate drum solos.  Sure, they start out exciting and cool, with lots of exciting rhythms building on each other.  Invariably, though, the drummer gets either tired or just confused and starts banging things at random, so I tune out and start wishing someone would start playing other instruments again.

So when Eddie from Ohio (Eddie Hartness) launched into a drum solo last night, I was skeptical.  I’m pleased to say I not only enjoyed this solo, but indeed liked it so much I’ve now set out to start listening to more of Mr. From Ohio’s solos on purpose.

Drummers everywhere, take a note: this is how it should be done!

Sleigh Ride

At tonight’s Holiday Pops concert, the Pops played the immortal Sleigh Ride. Keith Lockhart announced, ‘The most played Christmas song on the radio this year is Sleigh Ride – and it’s our song!’

So I looked it up. Sure enough, Wikipedia tells us, “‘Sleigh Ride’ is a light orchestral piece written by Leroy Anderson during a heat wave in August, 1946; lyrics were written later by Mitchell Parish. It was first recorded in 1949 by Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops Orchestra.” (emphasis mine)