A voice was chanting, As the fog was lifting

The New York Times — and every other media outlet, including Fox News — reports that Pete Seeger died tonight at the age of 94:

Pete Seeger, the singer, folk-song collector and songwriter who spearheaded an American folk revival and spent a long career championing folk music as both a vital heritage and a catalyst for social change, died Monday. He was 94 and lived in Beacon, N.Y.

His death was confirmed by his grandson, Kitama Cahill Jackson, who said he died of natural causes at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

… In 1955 he was subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee, where he testified, “I feel that in my whole life I have never done anything of any conspiratorial nature.” He also stated: “I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this.”

Mr. Seeger offered to sing the songs mentioned by the congressmen who questioned him. The committee declined.

… Through the years, Mr. Seeger remained determinedly optimistic. “The key to the future of the world,” he said in 1994, “is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.”

I have vivid memories of my mother singing “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” to me to calm me down when I was little and having some kind of crying jag. (Which backfired, because I was apparently just old enough to comprehend that the song is about people dying; I have an equally vivid memory of starting to cry even harder.) I remember arguing with my sister about the harmonies in “Turn! Turn! Turn!” I belted “If I Had A Hammer” and “Little Boxes Made of Ticky Tacky” and I’m sure I sang “This Land Is Your Land” in grade school — and then again in college when I learned the verses about the signs that read Private Property.

I can’t possibly say how much influence Pete Seeger had on me and my taste in music, because not only did I grow up with many of his songs, he also influenced so many of the artists I have grown up with or grown to love: Bob Dylan, the Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul and Mary, Bruce Springsteen, Ani DiFranco. And so on and so forth — through his music and through the musicians inspired by him, his influence goes on down to folk singers and rockers and musicians of all kinds that I love now.

Goodnight, Pete. We’ll hear you in our dreams.


“This Year”

I did a thing with my face! And a piano! And my terrible, terrible computer mic!

I would be lying if I told you that I didn’t harbor dreams of being ~discovered~ via YouTube. Hopefully only for singing and not for playing piano, though, as I have never managed to record myself playing a song perfectly.

But y’know, the perfect is the enemy of the good, and all I care about at this point is that this song turned out good. It’s a good song, in basically every sense of the word. It got me through a very low patch in my life about two years ago.

And it also turns out to be super fun to play on the piano, although trying to pound out eighth notes with my left hand stretched over a whole octave is kind of awkward. (I have tiny T. Rex hands.) You can find chords here, although I futzed with them a little for this.


but the Eagle has landed; tell your children when

This is a video taken by the camera attached to the space shuttle’s booster rockets.

NPR’s Robert Krulwich writes:

It’s about two minutes up, then four minutes down, starting in lazy loops through the empty (except for the metal groaning) upper atmosphere; then the Earth’s surface swings with the arc of our fall, the atmosphere thickens, you hear wind, see inky, smoky moments, bursts of flame, winds start whistling by, groaning gets louder, clouds appear below like distant pillows, which we swoosh through and, after ejecting something, there’s a snap, parachutes suddenly appear and we drop, then splash into, under and out of the sea, only to watch something else toppling out of the sky nearby.

It’s amazing. It’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to going to space. It makes my heart hurt the way La Sagrada Familia made my heart hurt, with sheer beauty. I nearly threw my laptop off my lap at a couple of points because I got so excited.

It’s about eight minutes that you won’t regret.

(Title text from Leslie Fish’s “Hope Eyrie“; hat tip to Batya, who I think told me about this one, or at least about a similar song.)


10 Minutes (Approximately) of Obscure Books 2

More obscure books from my library! I managed to cut it down to about 11:30, but only by losing a long rant on Jerry Spinelli’s “Stargirl.”

Books under discussion:
-Jerry Spinelli’s “Maniac Magee” and “Wringer”
-Peg Kheret’s “Sisters, Long Ago”
-Zilpha Keatly Snyder’s “The Egypt Game”
-Jean Craighead George’s “Who Really Killed Cock Robin?”
-Monica Hughes’ “Invitation to the Game”
-William Sleator’s “Interstellar Pig” and “The Boy Who Reversed Himself”

Edit: Amusing addendum! While going through my acting books I discovered that Peg Kheret wrote one of my favorite books of audition monologues for young actors, so while I kind of dis-recommend “Sisters, Long Ago,” Ms. Kheret herself is a fine author.


I Am the Very Model of a Modern Glaciologist

I’ve been updating my portfolio website ( and trying to collect and showcase some more of the things I’ve done. And I’m not sure I can really put this on my portfolio, given that it’s mostly not my work, but I am a) proud of what I did do, and b) EXTRA PROUD of my sister for being so awesome. (Check out her blog at

So! I present: That one time my sister and I created a song about Climate Influences on Crystal Orientation & Growth in Snow and Firn. (She wrote and performed it, I accompanied and edited the video.) We won a prize at her conference!