Bobbie Gentry: Ode to Billie Joe

A novel of a song (1967) by Mississippi songwriter Bobbie Gentry, contrasting the tragedy of suicide with banal everyday talk round the kitchen table.

It was the third of June, another sleepy, dusty Delta day
I was out choppin’ cotton and my brother was balin’ hay
And at dinner time we stopped and walked back to the house to eat
And Mama hollered out the back door “y’all remember to wipe your feet”
And then she said “I got some news this mornin’ from Choctaw Ridge”
“Today Billy Joe MacAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge”

And Papa said to Mama as he passed around the blackeyed peas
“Well, Billy Joe never had a lick of sense, pass the biscuits, please”
“There’s five more acres in the lower forty I’ve got to plow”
And Mama said it was shame about Billy Joe, anyhow
Seems like nothin’ ever comes to no good up on Choctaw Ridge
And now Billy Joe MacAllister’s jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge

And Brother said he recollected when he and Tom and Billie Joe
Put a frog down my back at the Carroll County picture show
And wasn’t I talkin’ to him after church last Sunday night?
“I’ll have another piece of apple pie, you know it don’t seem right”
“I saw him at the sawmill yesterday on Choctaw Ridge”
“And now you tell me Billie Joe’s jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge”

And Mama said to me “Child, what’s happened to your appetite?”
“I’ve been cookin’ all morning and you haven’t touched a single bite”
“That nice young preacher, Brother Taylor, dropped by today”
“Said he’d be pleased to have dinner on Sunday, oh, by the way”
“He said he saw a girl that looked a lot like you up on Choctaw Ridge”
“And she and Billy Joe was throwing somethin’ off the Tallahatchie Bridge”

A year has come ‘n’ gone since we heard the news ’bout Billy Joe
And Brother married Becky Thompson, they bought a store in Tupelo
There was a virus going ’round, Papa caught it and he died last Spring
And now Mama doesn’t seem to wanna do much of anything
And me, I spend a lot of time pickin’ flowers up on Choctaw Ridge
And drop them into the muddy water off the Tallahatchie Bridge

song of the week :-) englisch lernen mit liedern

Grammar Guru: until or by?

You’re going camping and want to borrow a friend’s tent over the weekend. So you say: “Could I have it ______ Friday afternoon? We’re leaving on Friday after work.”

Until or by?

by

  • Until means from now until then.
  • By, used for deadlines, means not later than then.
  • By… at the latest!
  • Imagine: If you said “until Friday”, your friend might say “Sure, until Friday is fine. But I need it on Saturday, so can you come round on Saturday morning to drop it off?”
  • Here’s an exercise on using “until” and “by”, with a pdf.

Hello Kitty arrested

  • Hello Kitty ArrestedWhat’s going on here?
  • Where is this scene taking place?
  • What time of day is it?
  • Who’s being arrested?
  • How much do you know about ‘her’?
  • What else do you imagine about ‘her’?
  • What do you think ‘she’s’ being arrested for?
  • What exactly do you think happened? How? Why?
  • What could the officers be thinking?
  • What could ‘she’ be thinking?
  • What do you think is going to happen next?
  • What would you like to ask the three people in the picture?
  • Could this happen in your town? Why or why not? If so, would anything be different?

“Hello, Kitty.” “Hello, officer.” (…)

© seymour templar 2009

  • Thank you for this great picture, Barbara, and for the Japanese sweets below, including the Hello Kitty sticks. My husband wants the green tea chocolates!
  • Hello Kitty home
  • Also see Hello Kitty Hell

Barbara's package of Japanese sweets 2Barbara's package of Japanese sweets

Laurie Anderson: Only an Expert

Laurie Anderson has just released a new album called ‘Homeland’. Political and classic and up-to-date as always. Dolcevita of Lesekreis calls it “Rotwein für die Seele” (red wine for the soul). You can listen to the record on NPR through today, 22 June. It’s being released on Nonesuch today and will be on iTunes on 2 July. Here’s one of the songs, from Live from Lincoln Center (Episode 188, recorded on May 3, 2007).

only an expert can see there’s a problem
and only an expert can deal with the problem
and only an expert can solve the problem

(lyrics on LyricWiki)

song of the week :-) englisch lernen mit liedern

Remember Reagan? Seriosity plus humor

He was called “The great communicator”. At the time I wasn’t willing to listen to any of his speeches, because he was at the opposite end of the political spectrum, and I was out in the streets demonstrating against cruise missiles, Star Wars and all that. But I was just reading Vicki Hollett’s very interesting analysis of the current BP crisis yesterday and have been thinking about her idea that Americans are expected to demonstrate “seriosity“, a lack of which is seen as cynical and subversive. Vicki thinks that seriosity doesn’t play the same role in the UK. I don’t know much about the British take on this, but I do have insight into the American side, and I think the magical formula to demonstrating that you are 100% engaged and really care about an issue in the US must be seriosity plus humor. For me, Reagan telling Russian jokes in 1988, the year before the wall came down, epitomizes what Americans cherish in their public figures. Reagan’s timing was brilliant, he knew the exact moment and situation when humor would seal his commitment.

Grammar Guru: Nice meeting you/ Nice to meet you

Which of these two is correct? We say

  • “Nice to meet you” when we meet someone for the first time, and “Nice meeting you” when we then say goodbye.
  • “Nice meeting you” when we meet someone for the first time, and “Nice to meet you” when we then say goodbye.

˙noʎ ʇǝǝɯ oʇ ǝɔıu (s,ʇı) :ǝuoǝɯos ʇǝǝɯ
˙noʎ ƃuıʇǝǝɯ ǝɔıu (sɐʍ ʇı) :ǝʎqpooƃ ʎɐs

The difference is very subtle, and perhaps not everyone will agree with me, but it really sounds wrong to me when someone mixes up the two. I think it’s because we also say “(I’m) pleased to meet you” (which doesn’t work grammatically with the -ing) and “It was nice meeting you” (which seems to refer more to the whole event rather than just the act of meeting).

Socializing is my own main topic this week! I’m very honored to be a guest blogger on Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto’s blog, Teaching Village. She’s the co-author of a children’s English textbook series called Let’s Go, teaches children and adults in Japan, and you can “meet” her here in Darren Elliott’s video interview:

Barbara Hoskins-Sakamoto Interview from darren elliott on Vimeo.

Her blog subtitle says it all: “We’re better when we work together”. The blog has been gaining momentum as more and more people from our PLN (professional learning network) join as guest authors. Her latest venture is a series of quizzes on blogposts written by different members of the network, a great way to zone in on what these people are “all about”.

My contribution is on a socializing game I did recently and will repeat this coming week. It’s a variation on one I learned from Jo Westcombe, who is just full of great teaching ideas.