The Cricket Chorus: Reality trumps the Internet Once Again

I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen this story pop up on various social media and fora:

“Someone Recorded Crickets then Slowed Down the Track, And It Sounds Like Humans Singing”

For myself, I had doubts about this the first time I heard it – I found several tracks of crickets singing, slowed them down to various speeds, and they sounded like… drunken crickets singing. The shared articles usually include the sentence,

“Though it sounds like human voices, everything you hear in the recording is the crickets themselves.”


Well, as lovely as it sounds, it just ain’t so. It’s actually a multi-track recording, consisting of crickets and the beautiful operatic voice of Bonnie Jo Hunt.


You can read the full story at ScienceBlogs. Edit: This matter is not at all clear. I suggest that you read all the comments at the ScienceBlogs article and come to your own conclusion. A commenter named Thibaut refutes the claims made there and provides some of his own experimental results, but other comments back up the claims of the ScienceBlogs author and provide additional information as to the origin of the viral track. For myself, until I see further confirmation that crickets can be made to sound like a human chorus through audio manipulation, I remain unconvinced.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Snows of Yester[insert noun here].

Today’s 9 Chickweed Lane, one of my must-read daily comic strips, got me thinking a bit about the prefix “yester.” It would have been hard for a linguist not to, having had it shoved into my face like this.


I mean, who really thinks about the real meaning of the bits and pieces that our words are made up of? I know I’m not the only one, but we’re in a vanishing minority, that much I can say. One of my favorite courses during my undergraduate studies was an entire class which dealt with Latin and Greek roots, prefixes, and suffixes. No other class expanded my vocabulary more.

Did you know “cordial” comes from the root cord-, card- meaning “heart?” You can certainly see it in “cardiologist” and “misericordia.”

How about “translate” and “transfer?” They’re the same word, with the prefix “trans-” (across) and the word “to carry” (ferro, ferre, tuli, latus). Just different parts of speech were used in the root.

Or “attic“? Did you know that the lumber room upstairs was directly related to Athens, Greece?

Some folks might find this BORing, but not I – it fascinates me. So what about “yester-“? Where did it come from?

The Online Etymology Dictionary says it’s from Proto-Indo-European *ghes, which can mean “the other day,” either backward or forward. Compare modern German’s gestern (“yesterday”), but Gothic gistradagis (“tomorrow”). Interestingly enough, “yesteryear” is a back-formation coined in 1870 by Dante Gabriel Rossetti from yester(day) + year to translate French antan (from Vulgar Latin *anteannum “the year before”) in a refrain by François Villon: Mais ou sont les neiges d’antan? which Rossetti rendered “But where are the snows of yesteryear?”

Although yesteryear was not created until 1870, a predominantly Scottish “yestreen” (last evening or last night) was in use from 1773. According to one Scrabble dictionary, the following words use the prefix:

  • Yesternight
  • Yesteryear
  • Yesterday
  • Yestereve
  • Yestern (an adjective pertaining to the previous day or night)

And, as Mr. McEldowney has pointed out, the prefix could legally be attached to just about any time period. Unless you don’t want to be lumped together with the beefwits and boneheads.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

 PS: Even if you don’t happen to be a comment reader, drop down and read the derivative poem by Sharon Neeman, below. It’s moving and beautiful.

The Boxcar Library



The Boxcar Library: A Bookmobile for a Logging Camp.

It was 1917. Miss Ruth Worden, a librarian at the Missoula Public Library in Missoula, Montana, wanted to bring a world of knowledge and literature to lumberjacks at logging camps in her area. So she carted a few books into a camp operated by the Anaconda Copper Mining Company…

What a beautiful idea – read a full description over at Neatorama.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

A Random Selection of Well-Loved Movies

On my Facebook wall appeared a question thrown out serendipitously:

“What movie could you watch over and over again?”


Had this been reddit, the post probably would have hit the front page. People chimed in from everywhere, and I decided to compile a list. What I discovered was that many of the ones mentioned were also on my best-beloved list (marked with a star) and that now I have an entire raft of ones I need to see, so I can judge for myself.

  • 16 Candles
  • A Christmas Story
  • A Walk to Remember
  • Anne of Green Gables Star
  • Back to the Future Star
  • Breakfast Club
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (I prefer the original with Gene Wilder) Star
  • Christine
  • Christmas Vacation
  • Clueless
  • Connie and Carla
  • Dances with Wolves StarStar
  • Dirty Dancing Star
  • Dr. Zhivago
  • Driving Miss Daisy Star
  • Elf
  • Emma
  • Exotic Marigold Hotel
  • Facing the Giants
  • Finding Nemo
  • Flash Gordon
  • Footloose
  • Freaky Friday (remake)
  • GardenState
  • Godfather I and II Star
  • Grease Star
  • Groundhog Day StarStar
  • Harry Potter (any) StarStar
  • It’s a Wonderful Life Star
  • Ladyhawke
  • Last Holiday Star (You and I, we know the secret to life. It’s butter.)
  • Little Women Star
  • Lonesome Dove
  • Love Actually
  • Madagascar 2
  • Miracle on 34th Street (remake)
  • Moonstruck
  • Mrs. Doubtfire Star
  • Poison Ivy
  • Practical Magic Star
  • Pretty Woman
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Princess Bride StarStarStar (One does not tamper with perfection.)
  • Return To Me Star
  • Sabrina Star (both versions)
  • Secretariat Star
  • Sense and Sensibility StarStar
  • Shawshank Redemption
  • Sound of Music Star
  • Star Wars Star (Yes, I even like the prequels. Sosumi.)
  • Stardust Star (That’s alright, Cap’n, we always knew you was a whoopsie.)
  • Steel Magnolias
  • Sweet HomeAlabama
  • Terror from the year 5000 (SciFi B-flick with a good message. Cheesy but a favorite.)
  • The Help Star
  • The Man from SnowyRiver
  • The Notebook Star
  • The Royal Tenenbaums
  • The Wedding Planner
  • To Sir with Love Star
  • Tombstone
  • Trains, Planes and Automobiles
  • What Happens in Vegas
  • When Harry Met Sally
  • While You Were Sleeping Star
  • White Christmas Star
  • Wizard of Oz Star

And a collection of others from my own favorites (certainly not complete, but for no good reason):

  • A Beautiful Mind
  • Avatar
  • Bicentennial Man
  • Brave
  • Braveheart
  • Brewster’s Millions
  • Capricorn One
  • Children of Men
  • Dark Knight series
  • Enemy Mine
  • Equilibrium
  • Face Off
  • Fahrenheit 451
  • Fantasia
  • Fantasia 2000
  • First Wives Club
  • For Richer or Poorer (Now, let’s go scrub the kitchen floor! Ooh, can we??)
  • Frequency (Wife reminded me about this one!)
  • Galaxy Quest (Oh, that’s not right!)
  • Gattaca
  • Ghost Dad (It’s Edith, and it’s a boy’s name!)
  • Good Will Hunting
  • Guarding Tess (Nic Cage’s greatest film, if you ask me)
  • Heart and Souls (Make a difference before the bus comes for you.)
  • Heaven can Wait (either version)
  • Hidalgo (Omar Sharif was awesome)
  • High Road to China (I love Tom Selleck)
  • Indiana Jones (even “nuking the fridge”)
  • Kramer vs. Kramer
  • La Dame Folle de Chaillot / The Madwoman of Chaillot
  • La Strada (a Fellini masterpiece) StarStarStar
  • Lawrence of Arabia (breathtaking!)
  • Les 400 Coups (Truffaut: Dark and poignant) StarStarStar
  • Letters from Iwo Jima
  • Lilies of the Field
  • Lord of the Rings StarStarStar
  • Michael Collins
  • Miss Congeniality 1
  • Mr. Baseball
  • Murder by Death (Alec Guinness vs. Nancy Walker – priceless!)
  • Newsies
  • Out of Africa
  • Patch Adams
  • Pay it Forward
  • Pete’s Dragon (because Maine)
  • Pinocchio (Disney’s 2D masterpiece)
  • Quigley Down Under
  • Ratatouille
  • Robin Hood (Costner)
  • Saving Grace (Tom Conti, 1986) StarStarStar
  • Schindler’s List
  • Secret of Roan Inish
  • Silver Streak
  • Sneakers
  • Soylent Green
  • Star Trek (Any and all, even No. 5.)
  • Stargate
  • Tangled
  • The 5th Element
  • The 6th Sense (even if I know the ending)
  • The Associate
  • The Count of Monte Cristo
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still (Original version, of course)
  • The Frisco Kid
  • The Good Earth (Paul Muni)
  • The Green Mile Star
  • The Irishman (Scorsese’s latest triumph. On a par with “The Godfather”
  • The Kid
  • The Last Samurai
  • The Legend of Bagger Vance
  • The Man in the Iron Mask
  • The Mask of Zorro
  • The Patriot
  • The Peaceful Warrior
  • The Pianist
  • The Ultimate Gift
  • Tootsie
  • Toy Story (all)
  • War Games
  • Young Frankenstein
  • You’ve Got Mail

Stupidity has consequences


The beautiful, 160-year-old Lebeau plantation in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana.


The same plantation after a group of brain-dead “ghost hunters” invaded the place to investigate reports of the place’s being haunted. Finding no ghosts, they decided to get wasted on cheap weed and cheaper beer, and ended up setting the place on fire.


No punishment meted out to these ragskulls will bring back the historic building which pre-dated the Civil War, but felony charges may deter the next group of morons. You can get a few more details at Fox8.

The Old Wolf is sad.

To dream the impossible dream

Growing up – or even being grown up – and dealing with body image issues is difficult enough in the absence of an impossible standard. Unfortunately for everyone, the advertising industry is responsible for holding up a zenith of beauty which is impossible for anyone to attain – even the beautiful models themselves.

The two shots below were captured from a video that shows model Sally Gifford Piper being photographed and then photoshopped.


This is the photo of Sally before the photoshop work was done. Yes, she’s had hair work and makeup and lighting for this shot, but she’s a beautiful woman just the same.


This is the “after” version – she’s been given body work and cosmetic surgery to give her Barbie proportions, something no human could ever hope to approximate.

Watch the process in the video below:

And as a followup, an interview with Piper herself, courtesy of CNN.

This reminds me of the Dove makeover video, that is worth watching at any time.

The advertisers should be ashamed of themselves for promoting such unattainable standards, but of course they won’t be, because the result is far too lucrative, at the expense of the self esteem of people everywhere – largely women and girls. The more exposure this kind of douchebaggery can get, the better off humanity will be.

The Old Wolf has spoken.