Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Numerators of the Lost Ark

Dear Friends,

Your name is Carmencita Calderón. It is 1930, and you are the dance partner of Cachafáz, the most notorious tango dancer in Buenos Aires. His pock-marked face and slick choreography are legendary, but you do not love him. No, your heart belongs to a man they call El Vasco, another professional tango dancer who left Argentina ten years ago to seek his fortunes in the smoky nightclubs of Paris.

After sending you not so much as a letter for years, your lover returns unexpectedly and sweeps you up in a particularly fiery tango. But Cachafáz is a jealous man. He challenges El Vasco to a high stakes dance-off, to the death. You know this is a battle your love cannot win. You must beg him to flee, flee the country this very night and never return!

This, dear friends, is the story of “El Vasco,” the Hard Taco song for March that will break your heart into mil piezas de dolor, a thousand aching splinters.

Numerators of the Lost Ark
The so-called Golden Ratio, (a+b)/a = a/b, has been used as far back as Euclid to make the world’s most beautifully proportioned rectangles. In his seminal textbook Elements (~300 B.C.), Euclid describes an incident in which King Ptolemy spends a whole Saturday working on a new rectangle and neglects to use the Golden Ratio to choose its proportions. Ptolemy invites Euclid to brunch at the palace to show off the rectangle, and all Euclid can do is smile politely and comment about what a nice personality it has. And you know what’s also nice, Your Highness? (a+b)/a = a/b.