Friday, December 20, 2013
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
I was looking over the NPR's 50 Best Albums of 2013 list and came across Kacey Musgraves' album, "Same Trailer, Different Park." I remembered hearing the interview a while back and liking her music, so I listened to the interview and her songs again, to refresh my memory. Now I remembered, I LOVED her songs, her lyrics in particular. They make me want to write. I love it when something stirs that in me. Take a listen to a couple of her songs. There's nothing unusual about the music, but the lyrics are not what you would normally hear in country music songs.
Here's a story on her that aired on CBS Sunday Morning News
Here are a couple of her videos:
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
I won't be teaching over winter session this year, so in theory I should have about 5 weeks off before the Spring semester starts in January. During my "time off" I will be reading ten massive books and prepping for a new course I will be teaching in the Spring, "Genocides of the 20th Century." Since this will be an entirely new class, I have to create all new lecture notes, PowerPoints, a syllabus, assignments, and schedule films and speakers. This means I will be in the office 5 days a week to get this done. It's a lot of work, and had I known last May that I would be asked to do this, I would have worked on this while recovering from surgery. Oh well, I'm happy to be given the opportunity to teach a new course, and one that I find endlessly fascinating.
I would be freaked out right now if I hadn't been studying genocides since 1997 as a hobby, also, I've assigned all of the genocides I will be covering as paper assignments since I began teaching in 2007. Each semester I would assign a different genocide for my students to research. I would require them to use a specific number of scholarly articles from JSTOR. I would have them search for obscure information on the genocides. This forced me to read all the scholarly articles that they would find, so I could make sure they were understanding the articles and using them properly. This kept me reading scholarly articles on genocides, because if left to my own devices, I would have likely squandered my time.
Also, of the ten books I am using for source material to build the class, six I have already read in their entirety at some point since 1997, and the other four I have read a great deal of, so I will be doing a lot of re-reading, reminding myself of the details, and scanning for parts to use as excerpts for the class. Since this is an undergrad class, I can't assign more than four books. The kids would run like hell in the other direction. Even though my course flyer warned students would have to begin reading the books prior to class beginning in January, and that only serious students need to apply, my class filled up fast when registration opened, so that's a good sign. Based on the outline I had already created for the class, and my previous experience teaching history and genocides, I was told my class would count toward the Social Justice minor the university offers. I really hope I'm able to pull it all together and I deliver a great class. It's important to me to teach more than core courses, teach something I'm passionate about, and have an impact on my students. No pressure, huh? :-)
Sunday, November 24, 2013
American Music Awards
Thursday, November 14, 2013
After my initial shock at the jumbled mess of their words, I found myself astounded at their complete understanding of musical composition, how instruments and sounds moved, how holding notes, or teasing sounds out of violin strings could change the emotion of a piece of music. Reading their descriptions so enthralled me that I went to YouTube and began playing the pieces they were describing, not only of Beethoven, but other composers they were comparing him to as well.
Their understanding of how Beethoven composed his music as opposed to how other masters composed their music, and how the sounds and emotions differed was breathtaking. Throughout my life I've heard many pieces of classical music, and I can count the pieces on one hand that have moved me.
I never understood or liked classical music. Much as I couldn't understand musical composition, these students couldn't understand the mechanics of grammar construction. Tonight, however, by re-reading their descriptions of different pieces of music, and playing that music, those particular sections of the music, side-by-side, I think I finally get it.
I'm having one of those moments of awakening. I'm listening to music that although I've been exposed to it before, I've never really understood how to listen to it before. I am amazed, I am moved, it's like a few words in a foreign language have finally clicked for me.
Whereas my brain naturally understands words and how when they are put together in different variations can mean different things, these kids' brains hear and feel music in ways that I have to be taught to understand. I'm getting chills just listening to what they've been describing. I must thank them when I see them again next week.
Here is a link to Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" that I have been listening to over and over. It starts out very moody, painful, then veers toward lonely. The kids have told me about Beethoven's penchant for unavailable women, and his longing for closeness. In this piece they described his desolation, and how some notes hit bitterness or anger. How he's slowly working his way through his emotions. Then a light, as he starts to regain strength, understanding, pushing through his depression and working his way to a position of lightness. You can hear the lightness as the notes go higher, and then he slips back to sadness and the notes lower again. And their descriptions go on. Anyway, listen for yourself and see if you can hear and feel what they did. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Tr0otuiQuU
Monday, November 11, 2013
Thursday, October 31, 2013
M has been insisting, for oh, about 3 years, that I fix the gargoyle and get it back up on the roof.
I've had best intentions year after year, but never got around to it.
This year I did it, with the help of a friend. The poor gargoyle had been chewed really badly by mice. Add to that, the chicken wire he was formed with was starting to fall apart.
His neck, both wings and a leg were broken. I would need to strip him down to the wires and re-build him. That is not a quick or easy task, thus me putting it off for years.
So this year I re-wired his broken appendages and put a piece of PVC pipe in his neck to reinforce the chicken wire. The problem is that chicken wire isn't that sturdy and once you add on layers of newspaper, plaster and paint, the form starts to sag.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
I am finding myself in a quiet place in my head right now. I am contemplating the death of a friend, not terribly close, but he was a gem of a man, so sweet, funny, a great husband and father. There was so much life in him, that his sudden departure is leaving a lot of us around him, breathless with the shock. I don't have to make sense of this, death doesn't have to make sense, it just is. I know why he died, medically it makes perfect sense as well. What doesn't make sense is why him, why now. Why didn't death stop for the drug dealer, the child molester, the murderer? Why take such a wonderful person and leave behind those causing so much damage? That's an age old question, without an answer, because as I said, death doesn't have to make sense, it just is, and it is inevitable. Before our friend died, I'd been thinking about death for a few days. My thoughts and his death were totally unrelated. I remember thinking at the time, "why am I dwelling on death?" Is something about to happen, am I sick? Then I decided it was just me slowly becoming acquainted with my own mortality. I am realizing that I am in the last half of the book of life and death is now not just some distant thing that will happen, it's now gaining on me. Oh I realize I am probably decades away from it, it's just now becoming a real presence in my life. I am no longer young, immortal, carefree and too busy to contemplate the big picture. So I am sitting in my head, thinking, wondering, watching the horizon, looking out for death.
Saturday, October 5, 2013
Friday, October 4, 2013
Thursday, October 3, 2013
Sunday, September 29, 2013
Thursday, September 12, 2013
Sunday, September 8, 2013
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
I had never heard of Avicci before my friend posted this video on Facebook, but since she has, I have been listening to this over and over. I love it when a piece of music speaks to me. That's magic.
Okay, I don't know what Blogger is doing. It's placing and showing the video link when I'm in edit mode, but then it's not there when I publish. *sigh*
Here's the link if you want to go see it:
Monday, August 26, 2013
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Jamboree in the Hills.
Well, the years went on. I stopped going to the festival and grew up. I sometimes wondered what happened to that Cartwright kid, when in 1989, he had a song on the country charts and happened to be on tour in Texas, and came to the town where I was living at the time. I went to see him in concert. This was a big deal for me because I had a new baby at home, I didn't have much money, and to pay for a sitter and go to a concert was not something I ever did. The night of the concert was planned down to the minute. I had to be home by eleven, when the sitter had to leave. The concert should have been over in plenty of time. Well, the night dragged on, and Lionel Cartwright was way overdue to come to the stage to perform. I was starting to panic that I would have to go home before he ever got to the stage. All that money for the evening wasted. The friend that I was with sent a note backstage to let Mr. Cartwright know my predicament. He got on stage before I had to leave, and met me after the performance and took a picture with me. He was very kind. Somewhere in my attic is that picture. Anyway, this is how my mind works. Traveling to Ohio to see my mom, see the sign for the festival, remember seeing Cartwright as a teenager and then years later as an adult. Here's the song he had on the charts in 1989. It meant something to me because I used to listen to the radio when I was a kid, staying up late at night with the radio against my ear, listening to stations up and down the east coast.
Lionel Cartwright - I Watched It All On My Radio
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
In addition to my writings, I'm coming across pictures. I'd been wondering what ever happened to that picture of my mother that I took of her on her 50th birthday. I found it in a folder in my filing cabinet. No idea what it was doing there. Anyway, here it is. I bought her 50 white roses for her 50th birthday. I also came across one of the few pictures in existence of me with my original Brooke Shields eyebrows before I discovered tweezing and got rid of them . . . one of my regrets.
|Me aged 12, Owego, NY|
|My mom aged 50, Austin, TX|
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
My grading stress is currently somewhere between these two places.
Our beautiful old home is an architectural style known as American Foursquare. These houses were popular from the 1890s to about...
There's just no hope for this, with school bearing down on me and no end in sight to the legal work, I'm just going to have to throw...