Friday, February 26, 2010

Grab Bag Friday: Sigh (revised)

And now it's more like this. All the snow is gone. It's 40 degrees outside. And work is canceled because of a power outage. A free writing day! What a weird, weird February...

Grab Bag Friday: Sigh

This photograph by Grieg is what it feels like in Maine this morning.
I have nothing further to say.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros: Redemption Song

Kevin and I just watched The Future Is Unwritten, a 2007 documentary about Joe Strummer, lead singer for The Clash. What I love about Joe Strummer's story is that it's a true redemption story. Here's someone who strove to do good in the world. He sang about important issues. Poverty, police brutality, racism. He got caught up in the same ego, pettiness, and trappings of fame that he despised, but after some time in the "wilderness" managed to come out the other side whole, with new perspective and humanity and perhaps even new truth.

At the end of the documentary, there's such a great quote from Joe Strummer that I had to search for it and post it here. I found the full quote and then I found a piece of it appropriately tacked on to a recording of Joe Strummer and his last band, The Mescalaros, performing a great Bob Marley song. Enjoy!

The Future is Unwritten: Last Words




Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros: Redemption Song

Monday, February 22, 2010

Fuse #8 Top 100 Children's Novel Poll

RAMONA QUIMBY AGE 8Remember when the effervescent Betsy Bird toiled day and night to compile the results of that fabulous Top 100 Picture Books Poll?

Well, she's done it again. This time, she polled her readers about their favorite children's novels. The results are being posted in incredibly detailed increments of 5, and we're now about halfway to the coveted Top 10 spots. It's worth stopping by to find out fascinating tidbits, look at old cover art, and see if your favorites have made the list.

Top 100 Children's Novel Poll results pages (so far):

#51-55
#56-60
#61-65
#66-70
#71-75
#76-80
#81-85
#86-90
#91-100

Friday, February 19, 2010

Grab Bag Friday: The Double McTwist 1260

Holy cow, did you see this? It was so worth staying up past 11pm for (shocker: I'm no night owl).

Right now, I can't find the Olympic version anywhere but NBC (guess they have a lock on that whole thing). The whole routine is super impressive with the night lights and all the Olympic hoopla, but if your browser has trouble with NBC's fancy Silverlight, you can watch it on this YouTube clip from January.

Unreal.

Shaun White: The Double McTwist 1260

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I Wrote a Hit Song! Winner

The Winter 2010 I Wrote a Hit Song! contest winner has been announced. Our winner, Jourdyn, is another creative kid from Ohio (I think we've had three winners from Ohio now!)

Please stop by the I Wrote a Hit Song! site to listen to Jourdyn's cool song "Heroes." There's some exciting conflict in this song...and who do you think wins out?

Once you've read the lyrics, please leave a comment to let the world (and Jourdyn) know what you like about the song.

Monday, February 15, 2010

William Carlos Williams: The Rewaking

In the spirit of belated Valentine's Day and spring around the corner (please?), here's a William Carlos Williams poem Kevin and I included on our wedding invitation just about ten years ago.

The Rewaking
William Carlos Williams 

Sooner or later
we must come to the end
of striving

to re-establish
the image the image of
the rose

but not yet
you say extending the
time indefinitely

by
your love until a whole
spring

rekindle
the violet to the very
lady's-slipper

and so by
your love the very sun
itself is revived

(Photo by americanvirus)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Grab Bag Friday: Are You Sleeping?

I know this blog is already a bit overloaded on references to The Point, but last night, Kevin and I went to see a fantastic (really, fantastic) grade school version of the movie. One of my music students played Oblio and sang a great solo in Me and My Arrow and another was a hilarious third of the Pointed Man (or in this play, as my female student very adamantly pointed out, the "Pointed Person").

It was so much fun to see the kids enjoying all the great Harry Nilsson songs, and truly jamming out to This Is the Town and These Are the People. Plus, we got to eat delicious chocolate cupcakes (with points!) at the bake sale intermission. Hooray Woodside School!

I'll leave you with my second favorite song from the movie (I already posted about my first favorite). I know, I know, it's weird. The animation is weird. The lyrics are weird. The whole movie is weird. But it's brilliant. You just have to go with it. As the Rock Man would say, "You see what you want to see, you hear what you want to hear." I can dig it. I can dig it.

Harry Nilsson: Are You Sleeping?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Marcus Roberts Trio: Black & Tan Fantasy

Kevin and I just came back from a fantastic concert by the Marcus Roberts Trio, so I thought I'd share this video from the Leonard Lopate Show so you can experience a little of it, too (you can listen to the whole radio program here). I was blown away by Roberts' versatility and range. It's impossible to get a real feel for it on a YouTube video, but his touch is so precise, he could go from playing soft as a whisper to shaking the piano with a wild fervor in a split second. What a show!

Marcus Roberts Trio: Black & Tan Fantasy

Monday, February 8, 2010

Ambassador Paterson

Bridge to Terabithia: Trophy Newbery (046594005953-40184)I was so pleased to hear that Katherine Paterson has been named the new Ambassador for Young People's Literature. It was hard to imagine who could follow comic genius Jon Scieszka in this role, but Ms. Paterson's own brand of genius is certainly up to the task.

I didn't read Bridge to Terabithia until I was in college. A friend of mine gave it to me to read over break (I don't think it was in our library because of that whole banned books thing). I sat in my childhood room and cried my eyes out, partially because of Leslie, and partially because I had missed out on this book as a kid. It's a beautiful story about friendship, imagination, joy, belonging, and grief.

We need stories like this in the world. Of course I think kids need to laugh. A lot. But they also need books that deal with and help them process all the other things that go on in life. Thank goodness for the Jon Scieszkas of the world and for the Katherine Patersons. We need them both desperately.

There's a great interview with Ms. Paterson at the School Library Journal. Here's a taste:

As children’s book ambassador, what’s your most important role?
In some ways, I feel like what they’re asking me to do is what I’ve been doing for 30 years. It just has another name. Because what I’m trying to do is to encourage people to take books seriously and to take children seriously—their spiritual and intellectual needs, as well as their bodily needs. It’s more of a platform for the things I’ve been saying for a long time.
What was your reaction when you found out that you’d been selected?
It was a big thrill. I felt like a kid, really. And then I thought, Gee, I’m 77 years old, and I’ll be 79 before I finish, since it’s a two-year term. But I still have a good bit of zip for an old lady, and I hope that they know what they were doing.
Has Jon Scieszka given you any advice about your new job?
Well, you know Jon. [Laughing.] He’s told me about the cape and the helicopter and the jet-pack that doesn’t work. But his chief advice was just to enjoy myself—and I will. I love people, and I love to talk about what I care about. So I can’t imagine the job as a chore.

For the rest of the interview, please visit SLJ.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Grab Bag Friday: Paula Poundstone

I spent much of my exciting Friday evening in Frequent-Flyer-Miles Limbo, doing my best to get out to Idaho for my younger sister's thesis defense (woohoo Anna!) To treat myself after hours of sitting on hold and searching flights, I've been watching some videos from my favorite Wait Wait Don't Tell Me panelist...the hilarious Paula Poundstone.

Here's a good old bit about shoulder pads and airplane views that made me chuckle:

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sister Rosetta Tharpe: Up Above My Head (Music in the Air)

My new friend Helmut Sporgersi posted this video on Facebook and it's one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe has always blown my mind. She melded secular jazz and blues with gospel in a way that just wasn't being done at the time. There's a new biography out by Gayle Wald called Shout, Sister, Shout!: The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer SisterRosetta Tharpe, which I have to check out. In the meantime, I'll enjoy watching her shred that Les Paul!

Sister Rosetta Tharpe: Up Above My Head

Monday, February 1, 2010

J.D. Salinger: With Love and Squalor

"An artist's only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else's."
- J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey
  
I went to high school at the kind of tiny, rural, public school that had two English classes available to seniors: "Business English" and "College-bound English." In "College Bound English," we read westerns by Louis L'Amour, mysteries by Agatha Christie, and what my teacher called "page-turners" by Robert Ludlum. We read a cartoon version of Hamlet where mouse incarnations of Hamlet and Ophelia went about in Shakespearean garb and talked in modern American slang.

So my extracurricular reading tended to be a little bit different than you might expect from your typical teenager. Starting in about eighth grade, I began to take breaks from my school work to read classics like The Canterbury Tales and Beowulf. Strange, but true.

I still remember the summer I picked up The Catcher in the Rye. I devoured it. I'd never seen anything like it. The snarky, first-person narration. The stylistic wit. The dialogue! As with so many teenagers, Holden Caufield's open disdain for the inanities of society hit a nerve deep in my 16-year-old soul. I headed back to the library and checked out Franny and Zooey, Raise High the Roofbeams, Carpenters, and Nine Stories. When I'd finished them all, I read The Catcher in the Rye again.

I enjoyed Dave Eggers memorial piece on Salinger because it echoes so many of the thoughts that went through my head last week. What has he left behind? Scraps of dialogue? Lines scribbled willy-nilly on paper napkins? Fully developed novels just waiting to be read (gasp)? Even if the answer is absolutely nothing, I can't complain. I will always feel grateful for the Glass family and that liar, Holden. They opened up new worlds to me...literary and otherwise.

I do hope, in the end, J. D. Salinger came to feel he had achieved some kind of perfection, on his own terms, not anyone else's. He certainly achieved it on mine.