Archive for the 'Humour' Category

Please turn that off

May 1, 2018

Over at Slipped Disc Norman Lebrecht opened a can of worms by posting a few lists of “10 Works or Composers You Never Want to Hear Again”. I thought it would be fun to draw up my own list. These are not pieces (or composers) toward which I’m indifferent or just think are overplayed, but ones that will cause me to cover my ears, grimace, and flee if they come within hearing.

The comments on the original post at Slipped Disc are entertaining.

(Hat-tip: The Music Salon)

Blessing of bacon

September 1, 2016

Apparently this is a real thing:

Bless, O Lord, this bacon, that it may be an effective remedy for the human race, and grant that through the invocation of Thy holy name all those who eat of it may obtain health of body and protection of their souls. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

They’ve thought of everything, I tell you…

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 10.23.13 PM

Academic frustrations

January 26, 2016

From time to time I am asked why, following my doctoral work, I decided not to pursue an academic career in elementary particle physics. Part of the reason is that I didn’t want to end up like this fellow:

(Caveat spectator: some vulgar language in the subtitles. And it won’t be as funny if you speak German.)

The clip comes from Downfall, a rather good film.

All about Septuagesima

February 20, 2014

Earlier this week was a special day in the Church calendar: Septuagesima. This is one of those days (together with Sexagesima, Quinquagesima, and Elevensesagesima) that has fallen into obscurity since the Second Vatican Council. To be honest, I’m not even sure they are still officially on the Church calendar, nor what their observance would involve.

I was delighted, therefore, to find this helpful little primer at The Low Churchman’s Guide to the Solemn High Mass:

A popular custom associated with this season is the “burying of the Alleluia.” Because “Alleluia” will not be said or sung from Septuagesima until Easter Eve, the preceding Sunday’s worship includes a special “Alleluia Office” – a variant of Solemn Evensong, differing from the normal Sunday office in that an Alleluia is sung between each verse of the Magnificat, a Te Deum with seventeenfold Alleluia is sung instead of the Nunc dimittis, and each word of the Apostle’s Creed is pronounced “Alleluia.”

I’m not entirely confident that our loyal churchman has all the details exactly right, but no doubt he’s doing his best, and I appreciate the help.

Read the whole thing.

Worlds collide: Google Scholar and pop culture

December 3, 2013

This is frivolous, admittedly. Here are the top (non-book) search results in Google Scholar for a set of decidedly non-scholarly search terms:

George Clooney: Arctic ice, George Clooney, lipstick on a pig, and insomniac fruit flies: Combining KD and M&S for predictive analysis

Brad Pitt: Cherry pit primes Brad Pitt: Homophone priming effects on young and older adults’ production of proper names

The Hobbit: The HOBBIT gene is required for formation of the root meristem in the Arabidopsis embryo

It’s not surprising that papers with the search term in the title top the search results — though perhaps it is surprising to find papers with those terms in the titles. Here are a few others where the connection between search term and result is more tenuous:

Taylor Swift: Effects of combination lipid therapy in type 2 diabetes mellitus

U2: Tissue-specific in vitro transcription from the mouse albumin promoter

Leonard Cohen: Histones of Drosophila embryos Electrophoretic isolation and structural studies

Bob Dylan: The RDF-3X engine for scalable management of RDF data

Van Morrison: Formation of dense partonic matter in relativistic nucleus–nucleus collisions at RHIC: Experimental evaluation by the PHENIX Collaboration

This is quite fun, though there is no doubt that I should be making better use of my time.

The papal telephone game

October 3, 2013

From JasonBachCartoons (Via The Chant Cafe)

Although I’m not sure this sort of thing can entirely account for the odd things Pope Francis is lately said to have said…

Palestrina: the untold story

August 19, 2013

Some interesting background on several of Palestrina’s most famous compositions:

A favourite composition is the Missa Papae Marcelli, whose text (written by Palestrina himself) congratulates the newly-elected Pope Marcellus IV on the purchase of a new diamond-encrusted chasuble. Other works often heard are the battle hymn Sicut cervus, which prays to St Januarius to send a plague of rickets upon all loyal churchmen, and the interminable Stabat mater, which expresses the deep sorrow of the Virgin Mary at the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588.

So it appears, at least, to a vigilant low-church Anglican. There’s more gold where that came from.

Let’s hear that tuneless, meandering battle hymn:

(Hat-tip: The Chant Cafe)

Elemental boating

June 18, 2013

The topic this week at the What If? blog is a novel one:

What would it be like to navigate a rowboat through a lake of mercury? What about bromine? Liquid gallium? Liquid tungsten? Liquid nitrogen? Liquid helium?

I spent a few days last week on a boat in a lake of water, and after reading the entertaining and instructive responses to the questions above — not neglecting to watch the illustrative videos — I will say this: thank goodness for water!


May 9, 2013

Some people have an impish sense of humour. Here is a Twitter feed which combines, in a volatile mixture, excerpts from Kierkegaard’s writings with gleanings from Kim Kardashian’s Twitter account. It is easy to tell who contributed what:

Can’t sleep & I’m googling double chin exercises! I’m petrified to get one! Here at last I have a definition of the tragic in modern times.


Weary of people, weary of myself, so weary that I need an eternity to rest. That’s why I always carry a pillow when I’m traveling.

Some of the entries can be quite pointed:

Transformed into a Tahitian princess by Bruce Weber! Made fantastic in this way, one fails to notice that in a deeper sense one lacks a self.


From lashes to blushes, makeup plays a huge role in all of our lives! By changing us outwardly, it helps us forget who we really are.

Perhaps Twitter isn’t all bad.

Should I now make an effort to learn who Kim Kardashian is? No, I don’t think so.

Springtime in Alberta

May 1, 2013

I am back from a few weeks vacation:


If pressed, I will admit that conditions were not quite this bad, but to say that they were entirely unlike this would also be false. It was a great vacation nonetheless.