Category: Songs


SFR logoIt’s the Science Fiction Romance Brigade Showcase. Click for the rules and this month’s participants.

The vet would have gotten word to him if “Kevi” had died or escaped, but aside from that he had no idea of how the R’il’noid was doing. Besides, Coralie was still there. Let Doc make the decision on whether to destroy Star. Normally, horses no longer able to earn their keep and of no sale value went to feed the dogs, but for Jadel, with his wife dead and his children scattered, Star was family.

Mik had to hold Coin to a slow walk with the injured Jadel riding double behind him, and Star, lame as he was, managed to keep up. Loco whined and dug at the bottom of her pannier, and Mik reached down to scratch the dog’s ears, wondering absently why she was so restless today. Frustration at the fact that he’d used her so little? But she’d tired so fast when he did try to send her after a stray that he’d mostly kept her in her pannier.

Doc’s old bay leopard was not in the paddock, and Mik looked at the door, worried. “Doc?” he shouted.

A stranger came to the door, walking carefully, with a half-finished hackamore draped over one arm. “He’s stitching up a silkie bull named Sam,” he called cheerfully. “Should be back in an hour or so. I gather Sam’s rather prone to this sort of thing. Can I help? I’m Kevi—been helping Doc out.” His eyes shifted to Jad, and his lazy demeanor vanished. “Be right back,” he called over his shoulder. When he reappeared, the hackamore was gone and he was carrying a tube of something, flipping off the cap as he came.

Kevi? The R’il’noid Mik had held in front of him on Coin had been little more than skin stretched over bone. This man was gaunt, but nothing like Mik remembered. He wasn’t actually lame either, Mik thought, just careful of both slippered feet. Amazing, considering what those feet had been like a month earlier, and now that he looked, neither hand seemed quite right either. But what did he mean, that he was helping Doc? Where was Coralie? “What’s in the tube?” he asked.

“Pain killer and anti-shock medication,” Kevi said as he held the tube up to Jadel. “Squeeze the whole tube between gums and lips. Don’t try to swallow it; you’re too shocky for that. Mikal, can you help him down? That dislocation needs to be reduced before the swelling gets any worse, and I can do that, with a little help.”

If Doc was at Aldeman’s, which was the logical place if he were treating Sam, it’d take Mik three hours to get Jad there. Letting the injured man rest here made sense, though he wished he’d reacted fast enough to stop Kevi’s medication. He had no idea what might really be in that tube. “Where’s Coralie?” he asked as he helped Jad down.

“Over in the storage caves,” Kevi replied. “Doc won’t let me walk that far yet. Uh—you do realize this dog’s in labor, don’t you?”

Poems and Songs

Here’s an index of the poems, songs and song parodies I’ve posted.

Poems
The Bargain 5/17
Cat and Man 6/22/10
Love Song 7/26/11
Old Gods 4/28/11
Haiku 5/26/11
Things my Dogs have Taught Me 6/16/11
Thunderstorm 6/30/11
Sheep 7/7/11
Calypso 7/14/11
On an Exhibition of Photographs by Barry McWayne: 1932-2010  7/23/11
Readiness 8/4/11
The Place Where You Go to Listen 8/18/11
Sunrise 8/25/11
Skyscape 10/13/11
Rain Clouds 10/27/11
To the Poet, from His Cat 11/3/11
Dreams 3/6/12

Songs (not parodies)
Apart 8/1/10

Songs (parodies)
White Christmas 11/23/10
O Christmas Tree 11/25/10
Here Comes Ice Fog 12/1/10
Plate Tectonics Carol 12/3/10
Where have All the Glaciers Gone 12/7/10
Arctic Haze 12/10/10
Climate Change 12/14/10
Snow Carol 12/16/10
O Permafrost 12/21/10
There Were Three Quarks 12/23/10
The Greenhouse Carol 1/1/10
The Twelve Days of Christmas 1/5/11
The Glacier March 12/1/11
Let it Snow 12/15/11
Merry Christmas and a Snow Carol (audio) 12/25/12

With 550 posts as of today, I’ve started to have problems remembering what I’ve already put on here. This is particularly a problem with posting existing content such as poems, short pieces from the Summer Arts Festival, or science explanations originally written for the Alaska Science Forum. I can’t remember which books or DVDs I’ve posted reviews on. It also is starting to be a problem when I want to link to a previous post and can’t remember when it was put up or what the title was. And there are posts on this blog that have permanent information, like the series on planet building and the one on horse color genetics, or the book and DVD reviews. I want to make it easier for my readers as well as myself to find things.

I made a start some time ago by adding an index page, which can be accessed from the menu at the top of any page. Right now, the only links are to index pages on my author site. This takes you out of the site and sometimes back in, which is rather clumsy. The index list is also incomplete.

I’m going to start posting an occasional entry which is strictly an index of past posts on a particular topic. These posts will be linked from the index page, and will link forward to the individual blog posts. As it takes a while to find all the posts that belong together, this will be a slow process—probably extending over the next few months. The first in this series, on DVD reviews, is already queued for January 3. Others will follow, most on Thursdays.

I probably won’t be indexing every post. Some, like those early posts which were simply glossary entries for my books, are on the author site and really belong there. Others, like the regular Monday updates on North Pole weather starting in November 2010, can be found easily enough just by using the calendar on the site. But I hope that by the time I have finished this, older posts of interest will be easier to find.

The El Nino Carol

Another parody carol, to be sung to the tune of “Greensleeves.”

What child is this, who stops the wind
And changes weather globally,
Who paints the boats of fishermen
And drives their prey to the Arctic.

This, this is El Nino who
Brings thunder to the desert shore.
Whose arms hold a child so wild?
Ah, who but my lady ENSO.

He brings wild storms to the western coasts
And batters California,
Sends drought and floods to Africa
And halts the monsoon in India.

This, this is El Nino who
Brings drought to islands across the sea.
Whose arms hold a child so wild?
Ah, who but my lady ENSO.

So tuna sport in Alaskan seas,
And clouds boil high over desert sands,
And crops are battered or blown to dust
As the child feeds on global warming.

This, this is El Nino who
Brings warmth and rain to Alaska.
Whose arms hold a child so wild?
Ah, who but my lady ENSO.

If you’re not familiar with this aspect of meteorology, El Nino refers to the periodic reversal of winds in the equatorial Pacific, associated with changes in the sea surface temperature field. It got its name from the fact that it was first recognized along the west coast of South America where it hits around Christmas time, hence the name, El Nino (the Christ-child.) It was also called “The Painter,” because the mass die-offs of fish when the water warmed produced quantities of hydrogen sulfide, which in turn affected the color of fishermen’s boats. It is now recognized as a part of the ENSO (El-Nino Southern Oscillation) cycle, which has worldwide effects on climate.

Let it Snow

This carol is wishful thinking this year, without enough snow to keep the buried water lines from freezing. But we’ve had winters like this, and there are parts of the country where this (aside from the Aleutians) may be appropriate this year.

Let it Snow (1994, to the tune of “Let It Snow”)

Oh, we’re setting new records nightly
As the snow keeps falling whitely.
The skiers are eager to go,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Oh, the traffic is crawling slowly
As the birches bend more lowly,
For the plowers it’s go! Go! GO!
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Long before Christmas wreaths the door
We’ll have all of our snow for the year.
So it won’t need to snow yet more,
But it won’t work that way, so I fear.

The Aleutians new storms keep spitting,
And Alaska they keep hitting,
But it’s better than forty below,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

(You should realize that in my part of Alaska, it has to warm up to snow. There just isn’t enough water in the air for significant snow at 40 below.)

The Greenhouse Carol

(To the tune of “Auld Lang Syne”)

Should present climate be forgot,
And ne’er again be seen?
Should glaciers melt and oceans rise
Just because our house is green?
Because our house is green my friends,
Because our house is green,
We’ll sit and swelter in the sun
Because our house is green.

Should deserts spread across the land
While hurricanes grow cruel
From cows and swamps and growing rice,
And from burning fossil fuel?
From burning fossil fuel, my friends,
From burning fossil fuel,
We’ll all dehydrate in the sun
From burning fossil fuel.

Should the I T C Z go away,
And the savannahs return?
Should glaciers melt and cities drown
Because the jungles burn?
Because the jungles burn, my friends,
Because the jungles burn,
We’ll parboil in the tropic sun
Because the jungles burn.

(This was actually written 22 years ago, but it’s as true as ever.)

The Glacier March

“Ice is nice and good for you, Snow makes Glaciers grow.”

Those are the words my dissertation advisor, Carl Benson, used to have us all sing, at the Geophysical Institute Christmas party. We’d sing it in a Salvation Army Band sort of way, to “Onward Christian Soldiers” He generally had a wonderful comic talk to go with it, and to this day if you get a group of old GI folks together and start the song, they will join in. I used to play the trombone with the group — the only playing I’d done for at least 25 years, which may give you an idea of our musical quality (or lack thereof.).

But I wasn’t satisfied. The words were too simple, I kept saying, and I finally wrote a set of my own. Pretty soon I found myself expected to write a new verse every year. The tune stayed the same, and the theme – the glaciers’ point of view on climate change – but I generally tried to incorporate something tied to the year in question.

I missed some years, and lost what I wrote for others. But imagine yourself a glacier, and sing.

1984
Onward grind the glaciers, surging o’er the land.
Ice sheets dream of ice falls where the cities stand.
Though we’re now divided, we’ll together flow
Bringing snow and permafrost and raising albedo,
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

1985
Oranges freeze in Florida, Phoenix reels in snow.
All the world is wond’ring where we next will go.
Shall we sink a tanker (Columbia Glacier, solo)
Surge, and raise the sea? (West Antarctic Ice Sheet, solo)
Wrap the world from pole to pole in icy purity? (all)
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

1986
See the mighty Hubbard thrust into the sea,
Trapping seals and dolphins, what Fools these mortals be!
Though the rise of Russell Lake swept away their pen,
Wait til next year and the Hubbard will be back again!
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

1987
Arctic haze and CO2, Men dispute our sway.
We have plans against them.  See how, far away.
High above Antarctica crystals fill the air,
Helping chlorine take away the Ozone layer there,
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

1990
Can the clouds replace us in our feedback role?
Silly bits of vapor climate can’t control.
They don’t even know their sign!  Now that’s just not nice.
We are large and positive.  Let’s hear a cheer for ice!
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

1991
Glaciers love a cloudy day, with sulfate drifting high
Pinatubo thrilled us, blasting at the sky.
Aerosols are scatt’ring light. Greenhouse, go away!
We’ll spread out, increase albedo, dig in here to stay.
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

1992
Once men thought that winter cold helped to make us grow.
We’ll take any winter, give us summer snow!
Snow in lowlands into May, white Septembers too,
Help us glaciers grow until we surge all over you!
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

1994
See the Bering Glacier surging on its way,
Scribing loops and swirlings, geo-art we’d say.
Glaciers all are artists, modeling the land,
Mountains would be boring things, without our helping hand.
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

1995
Did you think you understood glaciers’ surging play?
Variegated caught you by surprise, I’d say
Surges’ periodicity varies as we please.
Dam the rivers! Cut the pipeline!  Topple stately trees!
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

1996
Blizzards rage across the plains, Floods strike the Northwest
When it comes to weather, glaciers do it best.
Now that ENSO’s gone away we can do our thing.
Chill Alaska AND the East Coast: see what NEXT year brings!
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

1997
Once again El Nino blocks our destiny.
Land that once was our land ours again will be.
You can slow us with the breath of you fossil fuels.
If you think you’ve truly stopped us, you are then the fools.
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

1998
We are paranoid you think, shrinking back in fear?
Look at what the weather’s handed us this year!
Hardly any snow this spring, little more in fall,
Rain to melt us in the summer.   Strike back, glaciers all!
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

1999
See the Himalayas rise far into the sky,
We will help erode them where the winds blow by,
Sucking carbon from the air, sending it to sea,
Kill the greenhouse, bring the ice house, let the glaciers be!
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

2000
Once the world was covered up pole to pole with snow
Naught you’d see but whiteness, anywhere you’d go.
Glaciers fattened on the land, sea ice ruled the sea.
What an error when the Cambrian let complex life be!
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

2001
Have a little pity for glaciers we pray
Slowly we are melting, trickling away
You are slowly killing us with your carbon breath.
We will raise the seas in vengeance, even in our death!
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

2002
Once again El Nino comes to dispute our sway,
Rain clouds in Alaska, Storm clouds in L.A.
Evil forces stand against those of ice and snow.
If you let the warming triumph where will glaciers go?
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

2003
Sea ice pulls back toward the poles, ice shelves break away.
Heat and drought and wildfires blossom day by day
Men are in denial.  Glaciers still advise:
If we melt we’ll take you with us as the oceans rise!
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

2004
Summers ever warmer grow, smoke clouds fill the sky,
Shielding us, but not enough, from the sun’s white eye.
“Join with those you can’t defeat.”  Shall we take that way?
Melt into the global ocean, wash mankind away?
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

2005
Would you really rather have hurricanes than ice?
Just keep right on playing with those carbon dice.
Warmer waters give the storms greater energy,
You may bind us, but you’ve set the swirling storm clouds free.
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

Maybe I’ll try to write a new verse this year.

Very short entry today, I’m not much of a music reviewer. I do know what I like, and Mahler’s 2nd Symphony, “The Resurrection Symphony,” is definitely in the “like” category.

When I watch TV, it’s generally PBS, and Performance Today is one of my must-watches.

Sunday night they had A Concert for New York, actually performed and taped at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center on Saturday, but shown on 9/11. I don’t think I can actually put it up on the blog, but it is available online.

This is one of those symphonies that has not only the orchestra, but solo voices and a chorus. They sang in German, but with a translation on the screen. All that is created dies. All that dies is resurrected. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Tolkien Trivia

I’ve been tweeting a line or two from one of Tolkien’s poems each day this week, asking people to identify the context. Here are the original sources:

Thursday: “I will not say the Day is done, nor bid the Stars farewell.” Tolkien. Speaker and context?

In the The Return of the King Sam is initially unable to find Frodo in the tower of Cirith Ungol, and in despair sinks down, bows his head, and to his surprise starts singing:
“Though here at journey’s end I lie
in darkness buried deep,
beyond all towers strong and high,
beyond all mountains steep,
above all shadows rides the Sun
and Stars forever dwell,
I will not say the Day is done,
nor bid the Stars farewell.”

Frodo hears him, and his attempt to answer, together with the coming of an orc, leads Sam to the trapdoor to Frodo.

At one time (it was lost in the fire) I had this and a number of Tolkien’s other songs set to music both in a book and on vinyl. I just found the book on Amazon and ordered it! Donald Swann’s music is still in my head whenever I read these poems.

Friday: “Ah, the sight and the smell of the Spring in Nan-Tasarion!” Tolkien. Singer and context?

In The Two Towers Treebeard is chanting to the hobbits as he carries them to his home in Fanghorn. In the film this is replaced by Entish that puts the hobbits to sleep. In the deeper context of Tolkien’s universe, Treebeard is singing a song of mourning for the lands drowned at the end of the First Age—the lands “under the wave.” (See The Atlas of Middle-Earth, by Fonstad.) The final verse:
“And now all those lands lie under the wave
And I walk in Ambarona, in Tauremorna, in Aldalome,
In my own land, in the country of Fanghorn,
Where the roots are long,
And the years lie thicker than the leaves
In Tauremornalome.”

Saturday: “Mist and twilight, cloud and shade
Away shall fade!” Tolkien. Singer and context?

In the book, this is part of a walking song (words by Bilbo) sung by Frodo, Pippin and Sam in the Shire, shortly after their first encounter with a Black Rider in The Fellowship of the Ring. The original song is not sad; in fact the next lines are:
“Fire and lamp, and meat and bread,
And then to bed! And then to bed!”
For the film it was repurposed as the song Pippin sings at Denethor’s request, as a background to the doomed charge of Faramir and his men against the orcs. The tune is in a minor key and quite different from Swann’s lively march.

Sunday: “what ship would come to me,
What ship would bear me ever back across so wide a Sea?” Tolkien. Singer and context?

In The Fellowship of the Ring, this is the ending of the song Galadriel sings as she comes in her swan-boat to say goodbye to the Fellowship. The beginning is:
“I sang of leaves, of leaves of gold, and leaves of gold there grew;
Of wind I sang, a wind there came and in the branches blew.
Beyond the Sun, beyond the Moon, the foam was on the sea,
And by the strand of Ilmarin there grew a golden tree.”
The scene was retained in the film, but not the song.

Monday: “The Road goes ever on and on, Down from the door where it began.” –Tolkien. When, where and who?

This is a song supposedly written by Bilbo, which is repeated in several places in The Lord of the Rings. The first time it appears, Bilbo is the singer as he leaves Bag End for Rivendell, running away from his birthday party. The same song is sung by Frodo shortly before the first meeting with a Black Rider, and a variant is sung by Bilbo in Rivendell when Frodo is on his way back to the Shire, and yet another by Frodo as he prepares to go to the Grey Havens with Bilbo. I don’t think it is in the film.

Tuesday: “and a far green country opened before him under a swift sunrise.” –Tolkien. Not a poem, but where does it occur?

This was Frodo’s dream the last night the hobbits spent in the house of Tom Bombadil in The Fellowship of the Ring. The whole quote is: “Frodo heard a sweet singing running in his mind: a song that seemed to come like a pale light behind a grey rain-curtain, and growing stronger to turn the veil all to glass and silver, until at last it was rolled back, and a far green country opened before him under a swift sunrise.” The last page of The Return of the King repeats this image as Frodo sails to the Undying Lands. In the film, Tom Bombadil does not appear, but the words of Gandalf to Pippin in Minas Tirith repeat Tolkien’s description.

Wednesday: “So we’re going to die, just as I should have died with everyone else, two centuries ago. “ –Bowling. Where?
This is Marna in Homecoming, speaking to one of her tinerals as she realizes that the life-support system of the satellite has failed. Tinerals resemble feathered monkeys with wings, can fly as juveniles but are ground-bound as adults, and after millennia of selective breeding sing in harmony with each other or with other singers.

Next week I’ll focus on Terry Pratchett. If you want to catch the daily questions, follow @sueannbowling on Twitter.

Twelfth Day

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true-love gave to me:
Twelve plates colliding,
Eleven vents erupting,
Ten glaciers surging,
Nine houses sinking,
Eight cars polluting,
Seven blizzards raging,
Six aurorae swirling,
Five solar flares.
Four chickadees,
Three mammoths,
Two ptarmigan
And a spruce hen in a spruce tree.

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