Got a Booking

David tagged me with the latest meme, and like him I’ve taken a while to get around to posting on it (maybe this virus has a latency period).

Here’s the formula:

  • Go to page 123 of the nearest book.
  • Find the 5th sentence.
  • Write down the next 3 sentences.

And like David, I didn’t think a textbook would be very interesting (zoology is closest at hand) so I’m grabbing another nearby book, Executive Function in Education: From Theory to Practice, edited by Lynn Meltzer (2007, The Guilford Press, New York). This chunk of text quite nicely stands by itself, which I find somewhat amusing, as many people’s quotes don’t make sense out of context.

Schema theory states that all knowledge is organized into units, or schemata, and that information is stored within these units. Thus, a schema is a generalized description or a conceptual system for understanding information — it is how knowledge is represented, stored, retrieved, and used. Though the system is called by different names (frames, schemata, and scripts), the common assumption is that new, incoming information activates, or stimulates, these higher-order structures of relevant prior knowledge.

The book just arrived in the post the other day, so I’ve not yet read it, but it looks promising.

Let’s see, I’m curious what sorts of things other people are reading, so I’m going to query a range of intelligent and opinionated bloggers out there. I’ll tag (in no particular order): Shark-Fu, Elizabeth, lilwaterchergirl, PalMD, and Ms Cornelius.

You mean he’s not bi?

File this one (like SO many things) under, “Things the rest of the world already knows about, that I just discovered” …

But first, a wee back-story is necessary. On the other side of a wall in the college tutoring room is the prep room for the cafeteria. The cafeteria workers like to listen to the radio, especially an “oldies” station. Every now and then we get treated to noise bleed between the rooms, especially on the weekend when they assume that no one’s in the tutoring room.

Today I had to stand and present (lecture) for five hours. There’s an hour’s break between the two classes for me to eat lunch, change rooms, and get set up all over again for the second class. Sometimes I take lunch in the second classroom, but when I heard one of the morning students say that she was also taking the afternoon class, I knew I had to seek refuge elsewhere. Lunch time is when I get some very-necessary “down” time to rest my voice, be alone, and de-stress by sitting and rocking and cruising the ‘net. I like answering questions, but I really don’t want to spend my precious down time trying to engage in idle chit-chat.

So I sought refuge in the empty tutoring room where I could eat alone and use the computer. Meanwhile, the cafeteria people were clattering and chattering on the other side of the wall, with the radio playing. Halfway through sliced peaches I froze, catching fragments of a song I hadn’t heard in years. I jotted a note to myself to look up the song later on. Because Yes, I have discovered that there are several sites on the Web where people post song lyrics. Amazing! Though, not surprising — you can find dang near anything on “Teh Interwebs”.

One of the problems with my [Central] Auditory Processing Disorder is that I cannot understand most song lyrics. There are only a few performers whose vocal range, diction and instrumental styles mesh to create songs that have intelligible lyrics, rather than what I usually hear, which is music with words mingled (or mangled) into the sounds of the instruments.

So for the past year I have been hearing old songs, jotting down a few key words, and then later on typing those keywords into Google in hopes of getting something close enough to yield an accurate result. (Sometimes the results are painful. It’s not that I don’t get results, but I have found that there are a lot of songs with “covers” by various performers. For all I cannot understand the lyrics, I do have a sharp sense of pitch and hearing someone else’s voice and all the minor differences in instrumentation makes those recordings just sound all wrong. Like an “imprinted” goose, there’s only one True Version for me.)

But usually I find what the song title is. And the performer! And the band! You see, all through school I did not know most of the music I was hearing. It never seemed to be announced when I listened on the radio, and I lacked the social circles that would have introduced me to the pop music culture.

While sitting there eating the rest of my peaches I strained in vain to catch the lyrics. Sure, there’s that wall between us, and the cooking noises. But this was also a song I had heard numbers of times back in the early ’70’s. Damn, no good. Already feeling glazed over from the morning’s first 2 1/2 hours of present, I caught nothing more than in all the previous years. And then, the song was over and it was time for me to pack up my lunch. Time get ready for the next two and a half hours of educating and informing, of being entertaining, and constantly engaging with a group of strangers all focused upon me.

Finally back at home hours later, I made hot food to sooth my throat. Finally free to noodle through both lyrics sites and my soup … Ah-ha! It’s “Solitary Man” by Neil Diamond (yet another added to the burgeoning mental folder “Only like a few of their works”).
The song came out in 1966, and as a young child the only words I understood was from the chorus, “I’ll be what I am, A solitary man”. I clung to it amazed: Here was someone singing about being alone!

Loneliness-as-pain is a pervasive theme in arts. Pop music cheerfully burbling from the tinny car radio, broadcasters focused upon catchy, feel-good tunes  light-hearted longing and falling in love; even breakup songs were positively upbeat with sugared-over attitude.

, and this song as a declaration (even accepting affirmation) of being alone-by-choice,
seeded a small idea, the seemingly negligible and un-named weed that persisted out of sight whilst
I wasn’t freakishly lost among millions of humans for feeling so alone. (, but it would be well over a decade before I learned about extroversion / introversion — and even then, the introverts were still perceived as immature or broken extroverts.)

Finishing up my soup, I looked up the lyrics. Boy, I was off worse than usual. You know, there are some songs that are notorious for being misunderstood by lots of people; apparently entire audiences mis-heard Jimi Hendrix sing, ‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy in “Purple Haze”. The difference is that I misunderstand almost every song I’ve heard. The others where I don’t misunderstand a number of words are the ones where I can’t even catch enough words to guess at phrases.

Like this one. A decade after it was released, I was a more sophisticated young adult and getting better at catching words among background noise. I figured out more about the story behind the lyrics that bracketed the chorus. Well, I thought the protagonist was bisexual, because this is what I had (by then) puzzled out the rest of the words to be:

Bewilderment was mine
‘Til the time that I floundered
Holding Jim, loving him.
Then Sue came along
Loved me strong, that’s what I thought.
Me and Sue, liked that, too.
Don’t know that I will, but until I can finally
Agree to stay and won’t play gay.
Remind me,
I’ll be what I am:
a solitary man, a solitary man, a solitary man.
I’ve had it to here, bein’ where love’s a small word,
Part-time thing, hate or rain.
I know it’s been done, having one girl who loves you,
Right or wrong, we’d go strong.
Don’t know that I will, but until I can finally
Agree to stay and won’t play gay.
Remind me,
I’ll be what I am:
a solitary man, a solitary man, a solitary man.
(et cetera — repeats)

I was just a little off. Well, conceptually, a lot off. Here’s the real lyrics:

Melinda was mine ’til the time that I found her
Holdin’ Jim
And lovin’ him
Then Sue came along, loved me strong, that’s what I thought
But me and Sue,
That died, too.
Don’t know that I will but until I can find me
A girl who’ll stay and won’t play games behind me
I’ll be what I am
A solitary man
A solitary man
A solitary man
I’ve had it to here – being where love’s a small world
A part time thing
A paper ring
I know it’s been done havin’ one girl who loves you
Right or wrong
Weak or strong
Don’t know that I will but until I can find me
A girl who’ll stay and won’t play games behind me
I’ll be what I am
A solitary man
A solitary man
A solitary man
(et cetera)

Funny thing is, sometimes I like my versions better. They’re often a lot more interesting …