Josephine Cameron shares books, music, & other delights for the whole family www.josephinecameron.com
Friday, July 31, 2009
Grab Bag Friday: Shooting Stars & Merce Cunningham
And speaking of shooting stars...the legendary choreographer, Merce Cunningham, died this week at the age of ninety. I first learned about Merce Cunningham in college, when I was studying the experimental music of John Cage. I loved the way he brought elements of nature and moments of stillness into his movement, like in this clip from "Beach Birds for Camera" (I love toward the end of this clip where the feet are fluttering...):
Merce Cunningham was (and will continue to be) such a huge influence in the modern dance world. Even in this (my favorite from this week), there are moments of stillness, angles, and lines that seem to have his imprint:
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
I don't know if it's all the rain we've been having here in Maine, but *both* my Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 songwriting classes (grades K-3) collaborated on lovely, slow songs. Usually, the classes want to do something peppy and goofy (see last year's song with the "polkadot, polkadot, polkadot underwear"). But my kids this year were profound.
Just listen to Volcano, the song collaboration from SFK Vol. 1. It's a plaintive, melancholy dream, complete with hot lava and suffering. And I have to say, I think they wrote one of the prettiest melodies in the history of Songwriting for Kids.
I haven't posted the lovely Vol. 2 class song, "Shooting Stars" yet, but I should have it up by the end of the week.
Congratulations to all my summer students. You guys worked hard, created some fabulous work, and I am SO proud of you! Seal pup arfs all around!
Monday, July 27, 2009
A Little Help, Please: What to Read, What to Read?
We have a rule in my classes: Good Collaborators Help Each Other. When you're stuck on your poem or song, you raise your hand and say, "A little help, please!" Then the rest of the class will chime in (often very loudly and excitedly) and try to help you find that rhyme for "Jupiter" or figure out what the secret portal to Mermaid World could be (a bathtub drain, it turns out...in case you were wondering). You then have the option to use their ideas, or not. Often, just talking about it will spark a brand new idea you never would have come up with on your own.
It's a fun exercise, and it certainly reflects the way I work. When I'm stuck on a plot line in a story or a verse of a song, I'm not the kind to sit and wait it out. I take a walk with Kevin, call up my sister, email a writer friend, and talk it out.
So it's my turn, now: A Little Help, Please!
I'm taking a blog vacation in August to finish up a book I'm working on, go to my brother's wedding, and do some summery things like kayaking, gardening, and blackberry picking (if the sun will ever come out!) And of course, some pleasure reading!
What have you read this summer that I shouldn't miss? I'm taking all suggestions: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, young adult, middle grade, picture books. What's out there that I should pick up to make this summer complete?
(Flickr photo by gaspi *your guide)
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Oscar Brown Jr: But I Was Cool
Oscar Brown Jr. was such a creative force of nature. He had that expressive voice and goofy sense of humor, mixed with a deadly serious belief that music and words should be used to enact social change. You can listen to a great interview with him on American Routes from 2002 (I love his musings on "soul" and "cool"...doesn't he remind you of the Rock Man?)
Since I can't find a full, free version of Dat Dere, here's a clip:
And here's another great Oscar Brown Jr. tune that makes me smile every time I hear it:
I always live by the golden rule
Whatever happens, don't blow your cool!
You gotta have nerves of steel
And never show folks how you honestly feel
I lived all my life this way, ha
For example, take yesterday:
I breeze home happy bringin' her my pay
Her note read ...so long savvy, I have run away!
An' I threw myself down across our empty bed
An' this is what I said:
Ooo shhhhiiiii ooow ooow ooow
But I was cool!
So I "one for the roaded" at a all night bar
I wound up so loaded, I tore up my car
The judge threw the book at me,
An' when I read, the sentence there, I said:
Oow! Please oooow ooow
But I was cool!
So I said she's the only one, that I have to pay
And I found her an' pulled my gun, an' fired point blank
The shot whistled right past that woman's head
An' I killed my hound dog, dead!
Oooooow, ruff ruff, rrr, rrr, rrr, rur, rur, rur
As they carried me away
I was overheard to say,
"Be cool, be cool, stay cool, be cool!"
Monday, July 20, 2009
Dorothy Parker: One Perfect Rose
I'm anticipating a fun week full of surprises and fresh creativity (and I checked...there are no televisions in my classroom!) Here's a fabulous Dorothy Parker poem we'll be using today to learn about quatrains:
One Perfect Rose by Dorothy Parker
A single flow'r he sent me, since we met.
All tenderly his messenger he chose;
Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet--
One perfect rose.
I knew the language of the floweret;
"My fragile leaves," it said, "his heart enclose."
Love long has taken for his amulet
One perfect rose.
Why is it no one ever sent me yet
One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
Ah no, it's always just my luck to get
One perfect rose.
Photo by capsicina.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Grab Bag Friday Movie Vault: The Aristocats
Let me elucidate...this is a story about a fancy-schmancy family of cats who get saved from kidnappers by a low-life alley cat and his jazzy cohorts. They all sing together and become friends. What's not to like?
Especially with great music like this (I can *still* sing every line by heart). Break a leg, Rowan!
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Cab Calloway: Minnie the Moocher
But we *all* have fond memories of Ali leading us in rousing renditions of Minnie the Moocher. Ali was always full of theatrics, purposely tripping herself to make me laugh, getting us all to dance and sing while doing chores around the house. I remember getting to read lines with her while she was practicing for her school plays (I felt *so* cool!), and watching her put makeup on before a performance (singing "I feel pretty, oh so pretty..." or "I feel sh**ty, oh so sh**ty" depending on how shocking she felt like being!)
Ali's version of Minnie the Moocher, with her gravelly Cab Calloway impression used to make us all laugh until we were out of breath and could hardly keep up with our "Hi di hi di hi di hi" parts. It still does. :)
Happy Birthday, Ali!
Monday, July 13, 2009
Doreen Cronin: Dooby Dooby Moo
If you have not yet enjoyed the hilarious tales of barnyard hijinks by Ms. Cronin (Giggle, Giggle, Quack; Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type; Duck for President; etc.) please do yourself a favor and high-tail it down to your local library or bookstore. Post haste!
Friday, July 10, 2009
Grab Bag Friday: Get a Job (for 30 days)
Working in a Coal Mine is an up-close look at the day-to-day life of a coal miner. I don't think it's possible to watch this episode and not think a little harder about energy consumption.
Outsourcing follows an American data programmer whose job has been outsourced to India. He hops on a plane and for 30 days, works at a call center in India. Absolutely fascinating.
I know I've said it before, but this show is brilliant. Could someone please tell me why there isn't going to be a season four?
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Feist on Sesame Street
Maybe it's because I'm gearing up for Songwriting for Kids workshops next week, but this really tickled my fancy:
Monday, July 6, 2009
Summer Reading: Chapter Books
So I'm putting together a small box of summer reading for two of my nieces. I hope they run around and get some sunshine and fresh air in their bones this summer, but I also hope they find some time to get swept up in a good story, just for fun. Here are some of the chapter books I'm sending over.
If they were *your* nieces, what would you include?
Bad Kitty Gets a Bath by Nick Bruel: because my niece love-love-LOVES cats. And because it's hilarious. I love the note left in the bathroom: "Dear Family, I am going to give Kitty a bath. Do not cry for me. I have lived a long, happy life. Instead, remember me for my bravery and courage..."
Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat by Lynne Jonell: Magical rodents, a nanny mystery, and a potion that makes you fart when you lie? What's not to like?
Savvy by Ingrid Law: There's a reason this book got a Newbery Honor. It's stunning. My husband walked into the room when I was only about ten pages in and I shushed him. Seriously. It's that good.
Rules by Cynthia Lord: A funny, poignant, honest story from the point of view of a girl with an autistic younger brother. A must read. (My 2007 review)
A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban: Still one of my favorite middle grade novels of the past few years. 10-year old Zoe would give anything to play piano in an elegant, glamorous recital hall. Instead, she gets lessons on a "wood-grained, vinyl-seated, wheeze-bag organ." Hilarious and sweet.
Friday, July 3, 2009
Grab Bag Friday: Northern Writes New Play Festival
If you're in the Bangor, Maine area, you go see them TONIGHT! Tickets are only $5.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Wilco & Feist: You & I
You can listen to the entire thing on NPR's Exclusive First Listen.
There's an interesting interview with Jeff Tweedy on Chicago Public Radio about making the album.
And here's an intermittently bouncy video of Wilco and special guest, Feist singing You and I, fresh off the new album: