Although I usually pay attention to these things, I somehow managed to miss Richard Wagner’s 200th birthday on Wednesday. (On the other hand, when someone is 200 years old, what’s another day or two one way or the other?) If you’ve never had the experience of watching or listening to Wagner’s magnum opus, Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung), which requires approximately sixteen hours to perform, here is Anna Russell’s executive summary of it, which will save you about fifteen and a half hours:
(Thanks to my pal Bob Belvedere at The Camp of the Saints for this.)
The Grunt of Monte Cristo, who is not generally prone to understatement, describes this one as “terminally cute” — which is actually rather apt.
A Mothers’ Day classic.
1st baby: You start wearing maternity clothes as soon as you have a positive pregnancy test.
2nd baby: You wear your regular clothes for as long as you can squeeze into them.
3rd baby: Your maternity clothes ARE your regular clothes.
PREPARING FOR THE BIRTH
1st baby: You practice your breathing exercises religiously.
2nd baby: You don’t bother, because you learned the hard way that the breathing exercises don’t help.
3rd baby: You ask for an epidural in your eighth month.
1st baby: You pre-wash all the baby clothes, color-coordinate them, and fold and store them neatly.
2nd baby: You check to make sure that the clothes are clean and throw out only the ones with the worst stains.
3rd baby: A few boxes of disposable diapers and a small stack of hand-me-down t-shirts will do the trick.
1st baby: You spend a good bit of every day just gazing at the baby in rapt wonder.
2nd baby: You spend a good bit of every day checking to see that your firstborn isn’t poking, hitting, strangling, or suffocating the baby.
3rd baby: You spend a little bit of every day hiding from the children.
HANDLING A FUSSY BABY
1st baby: You pick the baby up the second he whimpers.
2nd baby: You pick the baby up when his wails threaten to wake his older sibling.
3rd baby: You teach your three-year-old how to wind up the mechanical swing.
1st baby: When the pacifier falls on the floor, you don’t give it back until you’ve sterilized it in boiling water.
2nd baby: When the pacifier falls on the floor, you don’t give it back until you’ve run it under the faucet.
3rd baby: When the pacifier falls on the floor, you pick it up, wipe it on your sleeve, and pop it back in.
1st baby: You change the baby’s diaper every hour whether he needs it or not.
2nd baby: You change the baby’s diaper every three or four hours… maybe.
3rd baby: You change the baby’s diaper when it starts sagging down to his knees.
1st baby: Thousands, carefully organized in lovely photo albums.
2nd baby: Hundreds, haphazardly arranged in discount store photo albums.
3rd baby: Dozens, stored in shoeboxes on a shelf until someone has time to do something with them.
1st baby: You take the baby to Baby Gymnastics, Baby Swimming Classes, and Baby Story Hour.
2nd baby: You take the baby to Baby Story Hour.
3rd baby: You take the baby to the grocery store, the drug store, and your older children’s Pee Wee Soccer games.
1st baby: The first time you leave the baby with a sitter, you call home every half hour to make sure everything is all right.
2nd baby: When you have a sitter, you leave a number where you can be reached in an emergency.
3rd baby: You leave a number, but tell the sitter to call only if she sees blood.
1st child: When your child swallows a coin, you rush him to the emergency room for x-rays.
2nd child: When your child swallows a coin, you wait and watch for the coin to pass.
3rd child: When your child swallows a coin, you say, “That’s coming out of your allowance.”
This happened this past weekend in my town, to a young man I’ve known nearly all his life, and it’s just too good not to share.
This is a truly bizarre optical illusion. The first time through, watch the faces. The second time, keep your eyes focused on the mark in the center. The faces are the same, but what you see will be freakishly different.
Optical illusion as performance art:
The parents who set up a camera to find out how their two-year-old son was pinching toys from his sister’s locked bedroom at night can be heard laughing at the end of this clip. But you know what’s really going through their minds is,”If this is the sort of thing he thinks of when he’s two, what will he think of when he’s a teenager?”
In celebration of J. S. Bach’s 328th birthday, here is an innovative performance of one of his greatest hits, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”:
Here is Bach’s D minor Toccata and Fugue, played on a collection of crystal wine glasses (and I thought it was hard to play on the piano):
You’ll have to click through to YouTube to watch this one, but it’s well worth watching. We all need a feel-good story once in a while, if only to keep us from doing what the baby ducks in this video do — i.e., take a leap from a tall building: