Monday, May 31, 2010

What a beautiful day off this has been.


I got up a little after 5am and got my morning Internet jolt. I found a new band to like. (The) Dimes. On their last album, they had the The, but it seems to be dropped on their latest effort. Anyway, I was looking at NPR's music pages and found that they had the song of the day today, "Save Me, Clara," a song to the founder of the Red Cross. I was intrigued, and I went looking on emusic and saw that their album has a Boston theme. It's called The King Can Drink the Harbour Dry. So I wondered if they were a Boston band, but no, they are from Portland. I listened a little and decided to download it. A little later, I was back reading and found that their previous album, the one in which they are The Dimes, also has an interesting concept - one of the band members found a box of old 1930s newspapers in the attic, and they read them and wrote songs about what they found. There is even a song about the riots after the Sacco and Vanzetti trials.

But here's the deal. This band is perfect background music. When you listen to it, you can think, "Hey! That's clever! They're singing about Thoreau and Alexander Graham Bell!" and then it fades back into the background, and you can keep on with whatever else you are doing. Sometimes it reminds me very much of Michael Penn's album in the 80's, which I loved dearly. Just a very basic acoustic guitar, unobtrusive yet pleasant voice, very level intensity throughout. Background music.

Which left me free to do much today. I made some marinade and got some chicken ready that I will cook in a little while. I cooked some breakfast and cleaned things up in the kitchen. And I read.

I ran into some very interesting things today. New York Times has a new op-ed column called The Stone that is about philosophy. Today's article was about stoicism, where it comes from, and how it is basically the attitude that soldiers are expected to carry into their work. The problem, though, is that when they come home, remaining stoic isn't a good option, nor is dropping the stoicism and seeing their wartime acts in an at-home moral/ethical lens. Even if they played perfectly by the rules.

I have also been reading some literary theory. Amilynne convinced me to buy a new anthology. I was flipping through it yesterday and started reading some gender theory by Judith Halberstam, from Female Masculinity. She presents a lot of really interesting ideas about the effect of a third (or a fourth, or a hundredth) option in a binary system. I also went online and found an interview with her where one of the things they talk about is how the relationship of power to intellect or stupidity isn't necessarily intuitive - about the power of stupidity.

And then I have been reading Nineteen Eighty-Four. And all of these ideas crashed together and started to synthesize and I am having so much fun! Stories of dystopia are so fantastic for chasing the ends of ideas. And I am loving Nineteen Eighty-Four anyway. When I was about ten pages in, I could tell that if it continued as it was going, it would become one of my very favorite books. I am almost 2/3 of the way through and I still love it.

The best part of the day, topping even the brain-popping joy of new ideas, was talking with Amilynne on the phone. While we were talking, she was looking at an assignment she had given her students for The Old Man and the Sea. She was so funny - confessing that before she handed the books out, she went ahead and highlighted her favorite quote in ALL of the copies of the book. So her students wouldn't miss it. And somehow that idea showed up in all of the projects! Incredible! But really, from what she was describing, her students really connected with the book. I wish I could take English from Amilynne. I definitely had some excellent English teachers growing up, but a class with Amilynne would be a treat. Maybe when she is a fancy ivory tower college professor I'll go take a summer class from her. That would be a superb treat.

Anyway. I would love a week like today has been. But it is time to cook the chicken and then make sure I am ready for school in the morning.

Song of the day (put it on in the background, then go do something else):

The Dimes - Susan Be

Ok. And would you like a treat? Blitzen Trapper's new album, Destroyer of the Void, which will come out June 8 can be streamed in its entirety on NPR until its release. Yippee!!!


Izzybella said...

I think I would have liked The Old Man and the Sea had Amilynn been my teacher. As it was, I absolutely hated that section in high school English. I'm not a fan of poetry in general, which I think I may have told you at some point, but had it been presented to me as a "play" (the lyricism is beautiful) I probably would have paid more attention in high school. I have a feeling Amilynn is as amazing a teacher as you. :)

Melissa said...

Cutest! It's not a poem, it is a gripping, gripping novel that tears you up inside. It is Hemmingway. You absolutely need to read it NOW. Seriously. It will take you like 2 hours.