I’m pretty sure I’ve blogged about this before, but the bizarrely synchronous events in my life seem to me to be considerably above the proper average that statistics have laid down for our guidance.
For example, it’s a rare day when the New York Times crossword puzzle does not have an answer that reflects directly on something going on in my life, often a phrase, name, or word that pops up on the television show my lovely first wife is watching while I am working on that very clue.
Today in rehearsal during a break in the action, I was not involved in whatever was being discussed and idly opened one of the prop books on the table in front of me. It was one of those bound volumes from Great Literature, and since I didn’t have my glasses on I could not read the text, but I could make out the headers on the left and right pages: CHARLES LYELL | GEOLOGIC EVOLUTION.
Flashback to teaching information skills to 3rd graders: one of my favorite activities to teach them how to use the dead-tree editions of the encyclopedia—because it was on the test that’s why shut up—was to have them look up their last name and see how close they could get. I had an introductory presentation which demonstrated guide words blah blah and finally I would light on LYELL, CHARLES. We’d scan the article and I’d show them how to extract the information they would need when they did their own name. (I would also point out multiple times that I hadn’t found my exact last name so stop whining you little twerps.)
(We would also then turn around and use the online World Book and lo! almost every kid would find someone with their exact last name—and those that didn’t ventured over to Wikipedia.)
That was certainly worth a nostalgic chuckle, but then just now I was reading a Wonkette article on our next never-going-to-be-President, Rafael E. Cruz, and there in the comments was the following:
It turns out it wasn’t until the Alverez team published their findings about the KT Impact in 1981 that Mass Extinction was even talked about in the science community, all thanks to Charles Lyell, a lawyer who argued that catostrophism was absurd and advocated a more natural cyclical theory to life on earth.
With a link to the Wikipedia article even. Mercy. It’s harmless, but it’s certainly also unnerving. I’ve learned to live with it.
update: Let’s add another one: using Slate’s Reincarnation Machine, I amused myself by following the chain of famous folk who died/were born on the same day, starting back from my birthday. Eventually we arrived at Otto I, who was in the crossword puzzle yesterday. (I also got Julius II in there somewhere. Fun web activity!)
another update: So yesterday I mentioned info skills at Newnan Crossing. One of the last lessons I invented was to teach a fourth grade class the difference between figurative and literal language. They had to create a Keynote presentation on the new iPads that illustrated the metaphors in a Shakespeare sonnet. I demonstrated with Sonnet 18 (“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”); they had to go back to class and work on Sonnet 73 (“That time of year tho mayst in me behold”). This morning’s Writer’s Almanac? Sonnet 73.
That time of year thou mayst in me behold,
When yellow leaves, or none, or few do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou seest the twilight of such day,
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self that seals up all in rest.
In me thou seest the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed, whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well, which thou must leave ere long.