Thursday, May 26, 2005

Get off Your Ath Let's Do Some Math

Yesterday I was on my way to K-Mart to buy some containers to put Maggie's toys in to then put on the old shelves which Christian's parents gave us which I painted and carried on my back upstairs and into her room. I mention this not to call into question my husband and my father-in-law's collective masculinity, who had unloaded the shelves together the night before but just to make the point that though I am lazy I am very, very strong. I think a labor camp would seriously do me some good. I know, be careful what you wish for.

So on the way I found myself with the windows down and singing along to U2's "Red Hill Mining Town" which was playing on the radio. Before I realized what I was doing I passed someone else doing the same thing (but singing along to a different song). "What an idiot," I thought.

I haven't heard "Red Hill Mining Town" for a long time because I don't have it on cd but I knew every single word: "We'll scorch the earth. Shet fire to the sky. We shtoop so low to reach show high." It was a little more Sean Connery than Bono but I had all the words right without even thinking. And I never even had to try to memorize this song. So why don't I know anything useful?

I think I could learn anything if it were a good song. Schoolhouse Rock was such a lifesaver for me. I have the cds now but when I was little I just watched it on TV in between cartoons and it seriously taught me everything I needed to know to pass the AP History test and, while I wish it would have gone into slightly more detail on the post-Victorian period, it gave me a basic timeline which I called to mind during my thesis defense.

I'm pretty sure I became an English teacher because "Grammar Rock" was so thorough and engaging. I'd be lying to you if I told you I didn't quote it in class and pretend I was just explaining grammar off the top of my head: Suppose your house needs painting. How are you going to paint it? That's where the adverb comes in. We can also give you a special intensifier so you can paint it very neatly or rather sloppily.

But the Science and the Math Rock--they really could have done more for me. As it turns out, knowing that your heart pumps blood isn't that helpful, and, apparently, there's a lot more going on in math than multiplication tables. I have totally pondered (as an adult) the (what I consider) philosophical implications of "Little Twelve Toes" and wondered, is that true? Would 12s be easier if we had 6 fingers on each hand? It blows my mind. And, to be honest with you, I don't get it.

I don't get a lot of stuff. And that is why my life would be better if there were good songs that I could learn which would teach me helpful things. Stuff like, I don't know, whatever pi is, the A squared plus B something something deal, how to figure out the area of a room (if that is indeed even possible), and (now that I know how a bill becomes a law) just what exactly a filibuster is.

To lend a little continuity to this post, I will end as I began with some anecdotal U2. Last night--the night of the day that began with me singing along to a U2 song--I was at the combined young women/young men activity wearing my (and by "my" I mean "my sister's") Joshua Tree t-shirt. The activity was For the Strength of Youth Jeopardy and when a question came up about listening to music with uplifting lyrics another leader said something to me about "U2" and "Lemon" and "not uplifting." I had a moment of confused panic. (This happens often.)

For a second I thought he was talking about "The Lemon Song" by Led Zeppelin which I think is embarrassing and naughty, but maybe only because of my relationship with Robert Plant. Nevertheless, I didn't know what was going on or what he was accusing me of because my copy of Led Zeppelin II doesn't even contain The Lemon Song. And it's a tape for crying out loud and it has They Might be Giants' Flood on the other side and not even a boy scout could argue with that. . . then I realized s-l-o-w-l-y that I was wearing a U2 shirt. . . and that they have a Lemon song too. . . and that maybe he was talking about that. . . but U2's Lemon is downright spiritual compared to Led Zeppelin's. Don't worry. I didn't respond at all (thanks again, face muscles) until I knew for sure what he was saying. And then--as an extra precaution--I just mumbled. And fifty-four is forty-five more than what? Nine. No it's eight. No it's nine. You're right I was testing you. It's nine.

And that's a magic number.


  1. So you have a Joshua Tree shirt but not a CD, and your Led Zeppelin II is on a tape? Maybe BMG would be a good investment for you for a little while.

    I'm sad I missed out on Schoolhouse Rock. Somehow I never even heard of it 'til college when my friends talked about watching it growing up. I think it could have done me a lot of good.

  2. "Interjection! Ow! Hey! That's not fair! Givin' a guy a shot down there!"
    This runs through my head at least once a month to this day. . .

  3. How funny. When I read this I had a flashback to babysitting Sam when you lived in Monrovia and noticing that you had an awful lot of Schoolhouse Rock tapes. Maybe they were CDs. At any rate, I noticed. I also remember seeing lots of U2 CDs.

    I watched the SR cartoons occasionally, but not enough to memorize anything. In fact I don’t remember much of it besides that dumb ice-skating song about “figure 8” and “figure 4”—and of course “Conjunction Junction, what’s your function?” but I think that’s the one everybody knows.

    Singing is the best way to learn stuff. My junior and senior year of seminary we memorized scripture mastery scriptures to music (courtesy of Sister Cornwall), and I can probably still recite any scripture mastery verses from D&C and the Old Testament. The ones I "memorized" freshman and sophomore year, though--no idea. Those are back there somewhere with how to graph sine and cosine.

    You should check out Singin’ Smart. Hannah and I listened to those as kids and to this day I can tell you the Presidents of the United States in chronological order, the capitals of the states in alphabetical order, and the states in order from the east to the west.

    They’re great for singing on road trips, although Matt’s not a fan of that habit. They’re also great for history tests, Jeopardy!, and Trivial Pursuit.

    There’s also a song about European countries, a song about human bones, and a song about the 3 branches of government. (I memorized those too, but apparently I didn't sing them enough, because I don't remember much of them now.) Apparently there’s a Singin’ Smart 2 as well, including such advanced topics as the Preamble to the Constitution, the countries of Africa, and commonly misspelled homonyms. I never made it to Singin’ Smart 2, but I may have to buy it for myself and learn something.

    This was a really, really long comment.

  4. Whoops, those links didn't work. Sorry.

    Singin' Smart 1

    Singin' Smart 2

  5. How could "Lemon" be considered "not uplifting"? Bono's Macphisto costume? Yes, that is NOT uplifting. But Lemon? It's just about a man looking for a woman wearing a yellow dress. In my opinion, it is about Bono remembering a picture of his mother (who died when he was young) wearing a yellow dress. Then again, I think one of the songs on "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" is about stem cell research. So I could be WAY off. I wish I could put all my lyric-interpretation skills to good use...

  6. What happened to the good old days when you learned from fast flipping flash cards? Or pronouncing words outloud by sounding out the phonetics? Or by long division?
    Even my eigth grade, soon to be nineth grade, chib brings home algebra that boggles my mind. And I used to be really good at it. This new fangled stuff leaves me in the dust. When I try to explain things the way I learned them, there are always tears involved and a hefty supply of "that's not the way the teacher does it". I just can't get these associative forms of learning principles and concepts.
    But hey, I made it through Calculus and Physics using a slide rule. Come to think of it, singing may have been allot easier. Go figure.

  7. phlprofessor10:29 PM

    Obviously that someone in Young Women's hasn't read Mark Wrathall's book on U2's Christian existentialism. He says it is very uplifting stuff, and I'll take his word on it.

  8. "I'm just a bill...and I'm sittin' here on capitol hill..." ...isn't there something about filibusters in that one? If Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Everything you need to know in life can be learned from the movies...or reality tv. Or if you want to be doctor: ER. President of the United States: The West Wing.

    I passed US Government (a class required to graduate from Texas high schools) because I had memorized every word from 1776. "What is 1776?" you ask. Just about the best movie ever made, that's what.

  9. I get most of my knowledge from simpsons episodes. Really, I do. I think Sis. Perkins summed it up best when she said that the simpsons teach you things, just in a twisted sort of way.

  10. No, Simpsons twist you in a teaching sort of way.

  11. Anonymous9:39 PM

    Have you noticed that if you hold your picture over the picture of the Magleby brood and over whatever that is above it, the same caption pops up? "Mothers day toothbrush."

    Is the caption correct for both? If not, which is incorrect and what's the correct caption for the other?

  12. Yes, I noticed and it is the web master's fault(and by "web master" I mean "Christian"). No harm done, I suppose. You are a very detail-oriented anonymous commenter.

  13. So I watched all the SchoolHouse Rock and listen to U2 like a religion and had all the lyrics to Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" album memorized but really drives me CRAZY is trying to find the lyrics to a song a couple of mothers taught some school kids I was teaching over 7 years ago and continues to haunt me. All I remember is that the chorus goes: Ha, ha, ha, hee, hee, hee, What a sight to see. Under my lollipop, lollipop, under my lollipop tree. What can I say? Losing your short term memory while retaining fragments of your long term memory can be very frustrating.

  14. How can I add to this illustrius cadre of comments? Only by saying "Lolly, Lolly, Lolly get your adverbs here...quickly, quickly, quickly get your adverbs here..."

    Big fan of School House Rock.

    I remember our stake youth committee (of which I was co-chair, but this was not my idea) forming a music review committee for stake dances, and having to drive an hour and a half to the meeting at some girls house and spending 45 miniutes on the first two lines of "With ot Without You", one of the most popular slow songs of the time. We gave up and decided that if a song was played that we didn't feel good about, we would just tell the DJ not to play it.

    "Verb, you're so demanding!"

  15. Hey, the only way I can remember the Articles of faith is if I sing them.(My mom was the primary chorister for a REALLY long time.) But being able to recite them all makes me a HOOT at Mormon parties!

  16. Okay I don't know who you are, but you are my kind of woman. I don't get a lot of stuff either. The song idea is a good one. Kind of like the songs I made up to teach my kids their phone numbers when they were little. Maybe I should ask my pharmacology professor to just turn her lectures into jazzy little songs instead of power points presentations. And I think THE Lemon Song is embarrassing, too. But I'm also old enough to remember when it first came out. Thanks for the laughs.

  17. I know this might make me look a little bit OCD, but to defend myself, I am a library science student, and I'm in a reference class right now where I have to volunteer at The Internet Public Library (endorsement) and answer people's random online reference questions. (Like how big is the biggest cottonwood tree in Michigan.) That, and I understand what it's like to feel crazy and haunted by something like song lyrics.

    Anyway, so Amy Lynn, I copied and pasted your lollipop tree lyrics into a Google search and here are some sites. Maybe they will help ease the haunting. I will retreat into my library cave now.

    Lollipop song

  18. Freak. I cannot get links right these days.

    Internet Public Library

  19. I’d comment but I am soooooo confused that I don’t even know what to say!

  20. Non-angry anonymous2:54 PM

    It's a dangerous game talking about comparitive spirituality. If spirituality is relative, then I'm a golden god by someone's standards. (There I go being overly didactic again, sorry).

  21. Ya, that's right--it's a dangerous game I play and do you know why? Because I AM A GOLDEN GOD! (emphasis mine.)

  22. You are welcome to my music site. And enjoy free music


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