Thursday, December 17, 2015

Rock, Paper, Scissors sing Belleville Rendez-vous



Miranda, Gemma and Darla  performing at Cafe Paradisio
                                                                                     
  Above  is  a live video of the  group  Rock Paper Scissors performing "Belleville Rendez-vous" back in 2007 or 2008.  RPS were an  excellent vocal harmony trio from Fairfield, Iowa. This French song originates from the animated  film-Triplets of Belleville.  In the video the lead singer  is Darla Murphy.  Gemma Cohen is on the right. Miranda Mallard on the left.  RPS emerged in 2007, and performed on and off .  Darla went to France or somewhere else and is no longer singing with the other two. The other two, Miranda and Gemma  now perform  as part of the group Dagmar....Below is their new video of the song "Tumbleweed" which features, a  now slightly blonde, Miranda Mallard.



Here finally is Darla and Gemma doing an excellent version of "Songs to  Aging Children".


 Recently, Darla Murphy has started her own website that features her some of her short film work.

http://darlamurphy.com/


 Rock Paper Scissors album at CDBaby

Dagmar's web site

(published August 2015)

Monday, December 7, 2015

Twisted - Stevie Nicks & Lindsey Buckingham





" Twisted" is a  relatively obscure song from 1996.  The song was
written by Stevie Nicks for the Helen Hunt tornado disaster movie called
Twister. As often is this case, in the 1990's  era of "music
inspired by" but not actually in the movie  soundtracks  you can barely
find the song in the movie.  Stevie Nicks has often recorded stand alone
songs for movies and movie soundtracks, and this one of the best of
those songs.  Even  now, the song is  only available on the soundtrack
album for the movie, although a solo acoustic version of the song was
released on the  Stevie Nicks, box set, Enchanted.  What I  love
about this  record  is the  rare chance to hear Stevie and Lindsey
singing together on a excellent song. Stevie excels at backing vocals/
harmonies almost more so than at Lead Vocals and on this record I love
the drama she imparts to "the sun goes down, crazy men, crazy women"
parts at the end.  This song also features Mick Fleetwood on Drums
making it almost a Fleetwood Mac Reunion, and this was  one of the
sessions that led the group to decide to get back together in their
classic lineup for 1996's "The Dance" Concert/TV special.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Bernhardt's axiom-"A moderately famous person who shares a relatively unique surname with a more famous person is more likely than not to be related to that famous person"

Bernhardt's axiom states that "A moderately famous person who shares a relatively unique surname with a more famous person is more likely than not to be related to that famous person". It usually works, I have found.

 When you hear about somebody new in the news with the surname of famous person they are usually related to them, so much so that is standard journalistic practice to often state it when they are not related to a famous person. The only people this axiom  doesn't work with are  people with relatively common names.

Examples include Alan and Robin Thicke, Mika and Zbignew Brzezinski ,  David and Rush Limbaugh, Chris and Mike  Wallace, Steve R. McQueen and Steve McQueen, Julian  and Andrew  Lloyd Webber, Charlie and Martin Sheen,   The Udall family,  Jerry  and Ben Stiller,  Nick and George  Clooney, Lucian and Anna Freud and numerous others.

An example where it isn't true is Brandi Chastain and Jessica Chastain.  Another example if Mark Hamill and Pete Hamill. The Hamill's and the Chastain's are not releated.

(Originally published July 6, 2012.)

Friday, October 30, 2015

How big of a model would you have to build to recreate the entire Island of Sodor using Thomas toy trains?







It doesn't appear anybody out there in the blogosphere has asked or answered this  fascinating   question.How big of a model would you have to  build  to recreate the entire Island of Sodor using Thomas toy trains?

I'm not a  mathematician and I know very little about model trains. I am  not sure I have all the proper  variables, but here goes.  A napkin calculation, if you will.

Thomas the Tank Engine's home, the Island of Sodor is  62 miles from east to west, and 51 miles north to south. That converts to a grid of of 3162  square miles including the surrounding sea. The actual land territory of the island would be less than that. Nobody seems to have taken a guess at the actual land area.  The land area would between 1 and 2 million acres. We know the Island of Sodor is about this size because the island is supposed to be able to fit cozily in between England  and the Isle of Man.  3162 square miles is something like 2 to 3 times the size of Rhode Island or half the size of Rhode Island and Connecticut together. There are numerous maps of  Sodor -based on the author's Rev. W. Aldrey's original map. Mapping the island for a  model wouldn't be a problem.

So this model we are  building has to  show every inch of the island, has to to be the scale of Thomas the Tank engine toy trains.  Those trains are said to be of a scale of 1:32 of real tank engine.  So that's 3/8 of inch to a foot. So your model  setup has to be something like 1/32 of the real thing.  

How far in   feet is 62 miles?  327, 360 feet.  A real Thomas train engine would be at least six feet wide and run on 4 feet wide tracks.  The original British WWI era  train (called the E2) that   Thomas based on was 33 feet long.  So lengthwise with no clearance, 62 miles is   something like 10,000 trains lengths.   The main line on Sodor that goes East to West is actually 80 miles long because of curves.  So even allowing for proper  clearances, that's a lot of trains. So imagine this with model trains. Your model has to be big enough to accommodate a rail line that could  line up  10,000 model  trains back to back.

So anyway 1/32nd of 327, 360 feet is 10,230 feet. That's about the distance between the US Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial.   So  the model would have to be nearly 2 miles long.   1/32nd of 51 miles is around 8500 feet.  10230x 85000 =About 86,000,000 million square feet. A 86  million square feet foot warehouse  to house a model of the  island of Sodor would be four times the size  of the world's largest building by footprint.  That does Seems awfully big. About 3 square miles.  When  I calculated it  the first time I got a smaller area, so my number could be wrong  but however   big  the model is it   couldn't  be in a building. So you would have to landscape a park just to create a  outdoor model of the island and spend millions on fake trees, building  models, non-moving people, and  train tracks. To make it look realistic you would have to cover up all the grass, and not have any  real trees. You might have to build a moat to create the effect of Sodor being an island. 

Now model trains, suitable  for  being outside  (so-called Garden railways) are often bigger than Thomas toy trains. So  the layout might have to be even bigger to reflect that.  Can you imagine a little toy train traveling for miles on end simply on batteries? I imagine they can't unless they have some kind of souped- up engine.

A full scale model of Sodor would probably just be too big to build.   Maybe just a portion of Sodor could be built.  Or Maybe you could just CGI the whole thing....


Hey's It's Thomas!

P.S.  The creator of  the Thomas the Tank Engine   TV show, Britt Allcroft is actually a women.
I didn't know that. She hasn't worked on  the TV show for years. I didn't know that  She is very rich-I knew that.



Wednesday, October 21, 2015

History of the Rockshire development, Rockville, MD



The farmhouse, the pool and surrounding townhouses.
Rockshire is a housing development in the west part of Rockville, Maryland.
The development was built on farmland that was originally owned by Thomas Sprigg Wootton and other Wootton family members. T.S. Wootton  was  the founder of Montgomery County in 1766.  His son,  Richard Wootton owned the grist  mill (no longer extant)  referenced in the Wootton's Mill Park name.  In the 1800’s the farm was owned by the Benson family. By the 1900’s the farmland  was known as the Two Brothers farm, and it was under that name when C.C. Veirs became the last owner to run it as a farm.

The farm was one of many dairy farms in the area.  The adjacent property to the Northeast was the Winding Lane  farm owned by the Hurley family-the Hurley-Carter farmhouse is still extant and is located 411 Feather Rock Lane.  Further north on the North side of Route 28 was the  giant King Farm, which was only fully developed recently. 

Two Brothers Farm house
The Two Brothers Farm house is still extant. It can be  found right  next to the Rockshire community pool. The farmhouse was at the center of the original property, and was built around 1880. The  unpaved  road that leads from the farmhouse originally terminated at West Montgomery Avenue.  In the 1900’s the farm was a dairy farm, till the last owner, C.C. Veirs sold all but  1.5 of 500 acres  to a developer  in 1959.  The Two Brothers farmhouse  sat on those 1.5 acres. C.C. Veirs died in 1973, and the farmhouse was sold to somebody outside the Veirs family during the 1970’s.  The Veirs family had  also had other  houses nearby including  the original location of the  A.B. Veirs Paving firm which included the original log cabin built near Wootton's Mill   and a  house built in 1951  that eventually became the Karma Academy(that house burned down recently ). Thomas Veirs owned a house on Route 28 near Glenora Hills (that house was replaced by a commercial property.




The development of most of the Two Brothers farm land  did not start till 1969.  The Yeonas company built most of the houses of Rockshire in the early 1970’s.  The first development, the building of Hurley Avenue and the houses near the west end of Hurley avenue were  called Tract One.  Tract one  was built in about 1970-1971. Some of these houses are not part of the  Rockshire Association.  '


Surveyor's documents for Eton Overlook, 1969

Tract Two was built in 1971-1972, these were  the  townhouses near Wootton High School.   Tract three were the houses on the East side of Watts Branch which  were built next in 1973 and beyond. Two  further large tract of houses adjacent to Lakewood Elementary were built   in 1974.  At least two other small tracts were built later, these were the luxury townhouses near the village pool, and a  few houses built in 1990  on  part of the old A.B. Veirs property.  
 
The nearby housing developments of Glen Hills, Glenora Hills, and parts of  Fallmead were mostly  built before Rockshire.  Carter Hill and Saddlebrook  was built around the same time as Rockshire. Watts Meadows, Horizon Hills, Fallsbend, Cambridge Heights, and Fallswood,  were built afterwards. The Lakewood country club was founded in 1960.  The gas station and the hotel at Hurley avenue and Route 28 bottom of existed   from the early 1970’s on. Nearby Route 28 existed  was straightened in the 1970’s or 1980’s as was nearby Seven Locks Road.
 
Rochshire area partially developed in 1975.

The adjacent interstate highway 70S predated the development and was fully in place by 1960. The Highway number was changed from 70s to I-270 in 1975. 

Houses in a exit ramp

 Originally the highway  exit ramp to Route 28 had actual houses inside the exit loop, but these were eliminated when the bridge over the    exit was rebuilt, in the 1980’s.  In 1989, I-270 was widened to twelve lanes (2-4-4-2 configuration) from the wye split in Bethesda all the way to I-370 (9 miles). The exit on Fall Road was reconfigured around this time.  The long pedestrian bridge at the  Route 28 exit to 270 was built more recently.  The state police barracks (since closed)  and the small  Water gaging  station  in Watts Branch  Park predated Rockshire.

 
The fields that became Frost and Wootton

 
The neighborhood schools were all built originally between 1969 and 1974. Lakewood opened in 1969, Wootton in 1970, Frost in 1971 and Fallsmead in 1974.  These schools have been renovated or rebuilt (Lakewood) since then.  Wootton High School is highly ranked in lists of the nation's best public high schools-and the property values in Rockshire reflect that!

Wootton Parkway (originally called West Ritchie Parkway) was built in sections; the  first section was originally the preexisting Scott Drive that starts at Fall Road.  The next  section built  was the section  near the Rockshire shopping center, the bridge over Watts Branch was added in about 1972. The section of  parkway that goes by Lakewood Elementary School was built next, and the part of the road that goes East from Falls Road into Rockville was built much later.   Originally it was thought that the Wootton Parkway would be a divided road, thus the wide road bed (and never used support pylons on the bridge over Watts Branch)  but that never occurred and instead a path was built, now called the Millennium trail.    The two traffic circles on Hurley avenue are recent additions.
The Rockshire pool was built in the early 1970's at the same time as the development,  the nearby nursing home was built in the 1970’s. The two church buildings on Hurley Avenue , were added  a few years after the development was built.  The paths and pedestrian bridges in the Watts Branch park were added in the mid to late 1970’s.  
The Rockshire Village shopping center was opened in 1978 , and the Giant grocery store anchored it till  2012.  The shopping center was originally going to bigger but was downsized in the planning process, plans for a possible post office or library was also shelved around that time  (instead the luxury townhouses near the pool were built). The shopping center  was shut down in 2015 and is being replaced by houses.   Rockshire is now over 40 years old and has  753 homes, it is one of the largest  and best developments in Rockville.


Related links:
A History of Winding Lane Farm (site of Carter Hill)

411 Feather Rock lane (Hurley Farm House)  

History of the Two Brothers farmhouse  

Why is Veirs sometimes spelled Viers?
 




The sections labeled 41 are Rockshire..

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A short history of the American guitarist, Jen Turner (updated)




Jen Turner playing  bass at the Coachella Festival.
We don't really know when or where she was born.   She   appears to have been at least partly  raised  in New Jersey . Her first instrument was the piano, but at some point she was also a ardent drummer playing in drum circles.  As a teenager, she hitched around the country for four months to learn to play guitar. 

   
Jen Turner performing at the Meadowlands in 1995 with Natalie Merchant.

Somehow at a tender  age she  ended up being picked to play lead guitar on Natalie Merchant’s debut solo album, Tigerlily. That is where her  biggest  commercial success occurs with her playing some just  amazing guitar on the album's  songs, most notably on "Carnival" and "Wonder".   Turner  was so good that she was almost upstaging  Merchant. After two years she ended up leaving the Merchant backing band and formed her own group, Furslide  in 1997.


Furslide, which she fronted as lead singer and guitarist  also  included  Jason Lader and Adam MacDougall. They  released their debut album titled Adventure in fall 1998 and played a few shows subsequently in the US, the UK and all across Europe (for example opening for Lenny Kravitz on October 8, 1998 in Detroit, they also where the support act for Kula Shaker, Alanis Morissette and Ben Folds). In 1999 they dissolved, not having been commercially successful. 

In 2001 and 2002 she made two excellent albums as lead singer with a new group, called Inner, the  group also included Erica Quitzow, Samuel Omeechevaria and Fabien Waltmann. These two records  were released on her own independent record label, Caboose Music.

Inner's first release was  an EP called Dog Demos in 2001.The demos  were supposedly all recorded in one take.  They released a full length album,  Lovetheonlyway in 2002. This may be her best work up to now-vocally she sounds like Jane Siberry here. The songs here   are  very introspective, raw, confessional and original sounding. What struck me is how the  lyrics kept going in unexpected places. 


Jen Turner  appears to have kept  a lower profile for a few years in the middle 2000’s. Since 2007 she has mostly worked in bands where she is not the front person. Perhaps, an understandable approach since she is a better instrumentalist than vocalist, but a little more frustrating for those trying to pick her "musical voice" out of the competing voices of the band she is working in. She  worked on two albums playing guitar  with Joseph Arthur and the Lonely Astronauts.  Those albums are called Let’s Just Be (2007) and Temporary People (2008).


 

In 2009 she was  documented doing  some live work in the style of Inner at a gig at the Living Room in New York City.

Around 2009 or 2010  she joined Here We Go Magic and was with them for their second and third albums. This was her blond period.  With this group she played bass and keyboards. She   produced their 2010 album, Pigeons (released June 2010) and was also with for them for  their album,   Different Ship in 2012.   She left that band abruptly in a airport in a misunderstanding over sausages.

In 2012  she engineered (and played drums on!) the album,  In Limbo, by the group Teen. I can't think of too many people who went from guitar to bass/keyboards to engineer/drums over the space of a few albums. Yes, multi-instumentalists have done all these at once on albums, but to go from specific role to another role-that's unusual.

       For a time  in  the 2010's  she  worked in a side project  called Thrillionaire which features another female singer, Henrietta Tiefenthaler, they sing lush psychedelic melodies over German Krautrock beats. She also did  some concerts recently as part of a group called Alamar. 

 
Thrillionaire 
In 2013/she was  in a duo  called  Exclamation Pony with  Brit Ryan Jarman (who’s regular band is the Cribs) in  late 2013,they released a single   called "Pseudo Individual".

In 2015,she joined up with the group High Desert Fires. Bun-headed Chris Traynor fronts the band, sings and plays guitar. Jen  plays  guitar and sings. Gabriella Da Silva  sings, Taylor McLam plays drums and  sings, Drew Broadrick plays piano and sings,   Sibyl Buck plays the bass and sings and  Naren Rauch is a multi instrumentalist.  Jen worked with Sibyl Buck before in the Lonely Astronauts. Chris Traynor is similar to Jen in that he has a long experience in various bands (most notably Bush), and plays more than one instrument.


 Jen makes a short appearance in a new documentary about the Tigerlily album that was released as part of a new Natalie Merchant release called, Paradise Is There. See link below


http://www.nonesuch.com/journal/nonesuch-natalie-merchant-paradise-is-there-new-tigerlily-recordings-dvd-2015-08-13




Recently, she  produced a new album by NYC trio, American Anyman.

What little I have read about  Jen Turner as a person suggests that she is a humble and kind person with a free spirit.  Her  music career has been a unique mix of  continuing reinvention and great mystery.

 There are rumors that Jen maybe working on solo material-here's hoping!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Furslide - Over My Head

-

The official video to "Over My Head"  by Jen Turner's band Furslide. Somebody must have gotten paid real money to make this video.  Stick around to the end-it really rocks at the end.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Book review-Giggle More, Worry Less by Dr.Gregory Parkinson.




 This is a new book about parenting. It is written  by one of  my pediatricians (it takes a whole team of pediatricians to take care of my children.) IF you judge a book by it's cover-it's got to be good. For who doesn't like green grass and a sunny day.  I like milkshakes too, but I guess they couldn't find a picture of a milkshake.     I haven't read the book. I can't read, but if I could read I would tell you that  It's a  wonderful book that focuses on new parents and new babies &toddlers.  But anyway, this book must be good, for Dr. Parkinson has got more witty sayings and aphorisms than any doctor I ever met. Here's one -"There are million ways to feed a child but only five really matter."  Here's another: "Children keep you young-but first they make you old."  Must be true for Dr. Parkinson has three children and he still doesn't look a day over thirty even though he has been a doctor for over twenty years.    And if you judge a book by it's cover-it's got to be good. For who doesn't like green grass and a sunny day.  I like milkshakes too, but I guess they couldn't find a picture of a milkshake.

http://www.amazon.com/Giggle-More-Worry-Less-Pediatricians/dp/1508947295

Dr. Parkinson.


Friday, July 3, 2015

Rant #1-You sent Me Flying



You Sent Me Flying...Well I ranted in response to somebody else's rant on Facebook. I must not be a very good ranter. I got a total of one "like".  Anyway-here's my rant.



I'm tired of unlimited funding for candidates campaigns, I am tired of paying twice as much for health care, and higher education as the rest of the world, I am tired of people being unwilling to pay for the pointless wars we fight, or pay for the roads and bridges we drive on,I am tired of federal intrusion into local schools, I am tired of mid-level public college administrators making 400 grand, I am tired of mass killings in our schools,I am tired of people being expected to be at work 24 hours a day while the French have six weeks of vacation. I am tired of the lack of mutual respect in civil discourse, I am tired of people replacing science with ideology, I am tired of the government spying on me  (but not tired of them spying on you) I am tired of CEO's making hundreds of millions a year , when working class people can't even get paid benefits. I am tired of Republicans and Democrats who are unwilling to move beyond their  myopia on immigration, I am tired of mean spirited radio hosts who spew hate, I am tired of Kim Kardashian, and I am tired of overpriced baseball players and billion dollar stadiums. I'm not sure who to blame all this on-but I think there is plenty of blame to go around for Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.