Grammar School: It’s Elementary


imageMy friend Mark – or should I say my former friend Mark? – and I had the following conversation this morning.

Mark: “I read your post yesterday. A grammar school joke you called it! Aren’t you ashamed of yourself? Let me tell you, it wasn’t funny. What’s the point of making all kinds of cheap and senseless puns and innuendoes about various punctuation points?

Me: “Is that a question, Mark?”

“Yikes, another dumb punctuation joke,” Mark exclaimed pointedly. And then Mark passed out.

I asked politely: “Are you commatose, Mark?”

Mark looked up. I saw his ellipsis move …….I mean I saw his lips move. He rose to his feet. I guess he suffered no vergule.

He said “Dash it all, Bumba! Am I crazy, or are you going to make a stupid pun out of every punctuation mark there is?”

“Tell me, Mark. which question do you want me to answer first?”

“Bumba, you need to have your grammar examined in depth!”

“You mean a colonoscopy?”(Maybe just a semi-colonoscopy)” I added parenthetically as poor Mark dashed off ———–.


My personal quest for inspiration, the temptations of idolatry, and eating all your vegetables

Earlier this year, in a sort of New Year’s Resolution, on I formally swore off all contact – social, spiritual, or IMG_1169otherwise – with anyone who was a cement animal structure. After nearly a year of dependence, indeed an addiction to cement elephants (see Cement Animal Sculpture Compendium), I finally realized that I would never obtain any sort of wisdom or spiritual guidance from beings or entities that were made of cement. 

It was embarrassing. After all, here I was a fully-grown (OK, I was old) and well-educated (OK, I watch public television sometimes) man, and there I was cavorting and consulting with cement elephants for spiritual guidance. It was a pitiful waste of time to seek inspiration from these lifeless, inert, brainless, and soul-less pachyderms. “Enough!” I said at last. I needed to find my inspiration elsewhere, to obtain my wisdom from more reliable sources. It was time for me to turn to one of the great religious doctrines: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism….. However, what I did was to consult a paper-mache giraffe on La Brea Blvd.. “Oh, great and long-necked, and so dandily painted giraffe, what can you tell me about the meaning of life?”


The what? The meaning of life.? Gee whiz, I mean that’s kinda,…..I mean I never, you know….Gee, I never thought about that. Er.. what was your question again?

OK. Perhaps I expected  too much from a paper mache giraffe. But my thirst for spiritual knowledge spurred me on. I pursued my quest to the highest court, as it were. I consulted the king of the beasts, the noble and sagagious lion. “Oh, great lion. Oh great one! Can you tell me the meaning of life.? Can you provide me with inspiration to go on living and blogging too?


Yes, but it’ll cost you 5 dollars.

Sounded fishy, but I paid the 5 dollars. The wise and great lion responded:

 A fool and his money are soon parted. Thanks for the 5 bucks!

A fool and his money are soon parted. Thanks for the 5 bucks!

That’s it? That’s the great piece of wisdom?

What did you expect for 5 bucks?

What did you expect for 5 bucks?

Devastated and woefully disappointed by this impudent oracle, I marched on. My quest for knowledge took me over three continents and several incontinents. Finally after years of travail, I realized that I had come full circle. Yes! I returned to the cement elephants. “Oh, great, wise cement elephant! Oh Franklin! Oh great one, I have returned to you to obtain spiritual wisdom. Tell me, oh magnificent pachydermal pillar, what great piece of knowledge can you bestow upon me to help me on my way?”


No problemo. The main thing is to be sure to eat a lot of fresh greens and vegetables.

“That’s it? That’s all? I can’t believe that the highest piece of wisdom that you can impart is…..

Well, what did you expect from a lifeless, brainless, cement animal sculpture after all? Besides, green vegetables are an excellent source of magnesium and other valuable vitamins and minerals.

Well, what did you expect from a lifeless, brainless, cement animal sculpture after all? Besides, green vegetables are an excellent source of magnesium and many other important vitamins and minerals.


Goin Down the Road Feeling Bad

imagesThis song talks about having bad times, but also talks of better times.  Somehow, Woody Guthrie was always encouraging. Woody Guthrie said something to the effect that he hated songs that make you feel like you’re not worth anything, and that he was there to fight those kinds of songs. It was true. Woody Guthrie was clearly something special in American music, someone who swam against the tide and who took on all comers. We’re still singing his songs. All of Woody’s songs told you that every person, no matter what kind of work he did, or where he came from, rich or poor, that every one had rights. Woody was not one to roll over and watch reality TV. So this song, so kindly sung by Bumba and Maybank, says “I’m going down the road feeling bad, but I ain’t gonna be treated thissa way”. Woody changed the lyrics a bit on this old folk song, something he did very often. That’s how he wrote ‘em. Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and others continued this tradition, this process of “writing” songs. So every body can do it. Write, sing, play.

“Keep playin’ that country music”

More phantom stuff

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Originally posted on Every Day Another Story:

The Phantom SpeaksThe “thoroughly entertaining” sequel to Stephen Baum’s One Life or The Lives of Chester Knowles novel, The Phantom Speaks is out!

It’s available on Amazon Buy "One Life" on Amazon and on a bunch of other online outlets, and it is also available through this site. See Bumba Books.

I’m trying to get it out as an ebook, but I’m experiencing difficulties with the formatting due to all the illustrations, which are a shame to mess up. So, bottom line, it’s only available hardcopy. However, One Life or The Lives of Chester Knowles is available as an ebook via Amazon Kindle and the price is currently just 99 cents.


To get The Phantom Speaks at Bumbastories Just click on the icon Buy "Phantom Speaks" on PayPaland order through Pay Pal.


One Life The Phantom SpeaksIMG_1102We recoIMG_1103mmend that you order The Phantom Speaks together with the One Life or the Lives of Chester Knowles novel – together with the author’s…

View original 36 more words

John Hardy

Many of the great folksongs are sad. Why is that? Maybe it’s the pleasure of hearing somebody else’s troubles so you can wipe your brow and say “Whew. I sure am glad that wasn’t me!” Or perhaps there’s an inescapable identification with the hero, or with the story, or the feeling of the song. Anyhow, here’s a classic American folk song that provides remarkably little in the way of inspiration or redeeming social importance. However, it does tell a story, albeit a none-too-pretty one. It’s about John Hardy, who, as we hear right away, “was a desperate little man”. Maybank sings and plays this one and Bumba backs him up a bit. It’s a great song to play, although, as I say, I can’t figure out exactly why.


Fee, phi, fo, fum, I Smell the Blood of an Archeologist

My thanks to Tish Farrell who (innocently enough, please don’t blame Tish) reminded me of the golden proportion, phi. Last week Tish was discussing and illustrating (with a number of amazing photos) the photographer’s “one-third” rule. I thought about the Renaissance artists’ use of phi, the golden proportion. And before you could say Leonardo Da Vinci, I was again reading about phi and the construction of the Great Pyramid.

In my mind I wandered the halls of the pharoah king’s Grand Gallery, pondering …..

“Oh no, Bumba! Are you going to serve us one of those sticky, long-winded posts about the golden proportion again?”

“You bet your sweet you-know-what I am!”

“Please Bumba, have mercy! We already heard about George Packard and the Golden Proportion, and then there was one called Take Five , and one called Mathematical Discoveries, which at least was short, and then there was one about……Well it was about a couple of hundred words too long…”

“Never mind. It’s good for you to think about things transcendent. Contemplation of the phi proportion acts to clear up acne as well as to soothe painful arthritis, not to mention alleviating symptoms of upper-tract gastritis, eliminating (oops) lower-tract irregularities, and de-railing off-the-track run away thoughts. And did I mention that phi helps with feelings of social alienation and lack of global perspective?”



The Great Pyramid of Cheops was clearly built with the phi proportion. Or was it? It’s an interesting question.

When you measure the greatest (and still standing 44 stories tall) of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the phi proportion quickly reveals itself as the blueprint for the arranging of all those 5 and 10 ton building stones – all of which, of course, were perfectly cut, fitted, and exquisitely aligned to the cardinal points and to the constellation Orion. As a tomb, the Great Pyramid can’t be beat. If you’re a pharoah and want to get on in the afterlife, (and what pharoah/god on earth doesn’t want to get on in the afterlife?) then proper alignment – indeed a pathway via the pyramid’s “ventilation ducts” – to the celestial god Orion can come in quite handy. Spiritually speaking, a good pyramid can give a pharoah quite a boost.

The angle of inclination of the Great Pyramid (and of most all the Egyptian pyramids) is 51 degrees and 52 minutes: this is the phi angle, described by the tangent of the square root of phi and 1, where the vertical height is the square root of phi and where 1 is half the base. As a consequence, the height times 2 pi equals the perimeter of the base. Perfectly! (error less than a hundredth of a percent). So the early Egyptians already knew the values of pi and phi.

Apparently they knew their maths.images-3

“Not necessarily so,” says Kurt Mendelssohn in his Riddle of the Pyramids. Mendelssohn states that the Egyptians were not necessarily great mathematicians; however they were great stonemasons. The appearance of the phi and pi proportions, he proposes, was perhaps a fortuitous result of how they measured. Mendelssohn, citing a suggestion by an engineer named T.E. Connolly, proposes that the Egyptians used a stone drum to mark off distances – a drum on which a royal cubit – or a multiple thereof – had been notched. Twine and rope will stretch. A drum is more accurate. Since the drum had a circumference of exactly one cubit or 25.01 inches, and since the circumference of any circle is 2r π, then the base as measuring out by the drum is a multiple of pi. The pyramid’s pi proportions, as well as its phi proportions, are simply a fortuitous and elegant consequence of the measuring system. says Mendelssohn. Thus the height of the pyramid is in nearly perfect pi proportion to the perimeter of the base.

However, when the height in cubits is multiplied by 10,000,00, the diameter of the earth is revealed. Now that’s geometry! Geo=earth, metrics = to measure. The interior chambers, of course, are also characterized by the same amazing accuracy of measurement, correspondences with actual earth measurements, and concordance with the “golden” phi proportions.

Egyptology and Pyramidology are fascinating subjects for sure. The hows and whys of the pyramids have long eluded researchers. After 4,500 years and all the earthquakes, tomb raiding, quarrying, and weathering, it’s difficult to get good info. Archeologists and scientists and the entire world have long been fascinated by the Great Pyramid of Cheops, this last remaining of the Seven Wonders and repository of ancient knowledge. Much of the literature on the pyramids, though, is less than scientific. However, there are many fine and noble books: The Great Pyramid by John Romer, Secrets of the Great Pyramid by Peter Tomkins, The Great Pyramid Decoded by E. Raymond Capt. There are some fine websites too. Check ‘em out.

Tell ‘em Groucho sent ‘cha.