5.12.18

Culture Vulturing in a void

As with previous schools, MPOW has various endowed funds to bring speakers and artists to campus.  There's one fund for French cultural experiences and this year we were lucky to have Coeur de Pirate perform.

You've never heard of them?  Well, they're huge in la monde francophone:
Nominated for Francophone Album of the Year at the 2009 Juno Awards, Cœur de Pirate was released in France in 2009 in association with Universal Music. It became a big hit there, reaching the Top Ten of the French albums chart for several weeks in summer 2009 and spawning the Top Five hit single "Comme des Enfants." The French version of Cœur de Pirate features a duet with Nouvelle Star season five winner Julien Doré on the song "Pour un Infidèle," whereas the Canadian version features a duet with Jimmy Hunt. The French version of the song topped the singles chart in France... [in 2011] Cœur de Pirate's second album, Blonde, saw release and reached the Top Five in France, Canada, and Belgium. (via)
They've also released two albums with English songs, Trauma (2014) and Roses (2015).

The song Oublie-moi was also released as Carry On in English:




Anyway... I've seen them twice before.  So yes, I was excited.  

But the students?  Not quite so much.  They didn't know the music.  They didn't know the group.  And when Coeur de Pirate played, there was polite applause (granted, it got warmer and more excited as the evening went on) but no one got up to dance or any of the other things that usually happen at concerts.  For the band, it must have been so strange to have such a lack of response when the big hits were played.  Imagine if the Beatles, four years into Beatlemania, didn't get a response when they launched into Love Me Do or Help! (or if Taylor Swift didn't get a response to any of her hits).  



26.11.18

Imponderables revisited

Back in 2004, I mentioned that among Merriam-Webster's Words of the year was defenestration.  At the time, I wondered if there'd been an epidemic that led to it beating out many other words.

What a difference 14 years makes.

Last week, The Guardian had a review of a book about language change, Betrumped: The Surprising History of 3,000 Long-Lost, Exotic and Endangered Words (Edward Allhusen).  Apparently Allhusen lists several words that are "endangered" and, well, defenestration is on that list.

17.9.18

Notable Quotes

If I could outlaw one word, the obvious others aside, it would be fucking 'patriotism.' It's nationalism in better clothing.  You know who were patriots?  The Nazis, and those Japanese fucks who bombed Pearl Harbor, and the Serbs who rounded up all those men and boys and put them in holes in the ground outside Srebrenica before going back to rape their women, at least until someone tried bombing sense into them.  Patriots built Auschwitz.  You start believing that 'my-country-wrong-or-right' shit, and it always ends up at the same place: a pit filled with bones.

Moxie, Jennifer Matthieu

12.9.18

Really? I have to pay?

Eight years ago, when I was leaving a school, my closest friends there bought me a Kindle.  Now, I'm not a huge fan of the company behind that device, nor am I a huge fan of ebooks.  However, I find it incredibly useful in two ways: I use Instapaper a lot, saving many longer articles for later reading, and I use Netgalley and Edelweiss to read eARCs.  It is easier to carry it around than a book, allowing me to always have reading material when waiting at the doctors, or at the post office, or where ever a long line or wait might occur.

Over the summer, my old one died and I had to purchase a new.  The new one has features I don't particularly like, including removal of the side panels that made it easy to "flip" pages (it could be held in either hand, allowing for either thumb to do the work; the new one makes you touch the screen, sometimes missing and going back instead of forward, or making it difficult to go more than one or two pages back), or having the controls for font size be so sensitive that a slight brush of the finger in the wrong place can make have you go from this to

this.

Ugh.

While setting mine up, since I don't share my notes or highlights with others nor do I shop for books online, I turned off ads.  Then I found this in my email:


How venial is Bezos?  I have to pay to remove ads and offers from my device?  Because I don't want to continually get junk mail from his company, I have to pay?? 

I know this isn't enough to convince people not to shop there.  But it is proof that this is an evil company not above extorting money so that you can be left alone.

10.9.18

Notable Quotes

We are all anthologies. We are each thousands of pages long, filled with fairy tales and poetry, mysteries and tragedy, forgotten stories in the back no one will ever read.
The most we can do is hold out our hands and help each other across the unknown.

Neverworld Wake, Marisha Pessl

3.9.18

Notes from Mt. Bookpiles

Not bad for four months of reading... except I'm still way behind my annual goal (maybe I should rethink that?  maybe not?)  And with the school year starting, who knows how much I'll be able to read.  Sigh.  I need to get a job that pays me to do nothing more than read all day.  Anyone?

Autobiography/Memoir
Children's/Young Adult Fiction
Children's/Young Adult Non-Fiction
Children's/Young Adult Speculative Fiction
Fiction/Literature
Horror
Mystery/Thriller
Non-Fiction
Professional
  • For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood... and the Rest of Y'all Too; Christopher Emdin
  • Meeting Wise; Kathryn Parker Boudett
Speculative Fiction

25.5.18

The Flesh Failures

Last night a friend posted on Twitter that NBC's next live musical would be.... Hair.

Ummmmm.....

I'm guessing this is some PG version that takes out all the "problematic" scenes and songs?

Another friend on Twitter suggested the cast would be wearing nude bodysuits.  Great?  I suppose.  But the lyrics?  Sigh.  I know no one's going to change the Shakespeare (What a Piece of Work is Man).  Even those who don't really know the musical know a few of the songs: Aquarius, Good Morning Starshine and Let the Sun Shine In,  But there are others that, well, I don't think will be allowed on air.  If Kendrick Lamar can stop a white woman singing certain lyrics, what about a song that is a string of slurs strung together? Will NBC air songs glorifying men because of their color?  Or a song about sexual acts? What about the one about drugs? You can read the titles here (lyrics you can find on your own).

While I applaud the idea of bringing musicals to tv (although couldn't they be done sans commercials? like they do in an actual theatre?) the idea that what's being shown is a dumbed down, more PC version than what you'd see on Broadway or in a touring show horrifies me.  Let HBO show Hair.  NBC could show The Pajama Game.  Or something like that.


2.5.18

Notes from Mt. Bookpile

I know - it's been a long time since I did one of these.  Given the amount of adult books I was reading last year for the award committee, it just didn't make sense.  But this year?  Any book that isn't an adult book published in 2016 or 2017 can be reviewed and talked about.  So yay!  My year end totals will be slightly different because of The Books That Cannot Be Named, but for the most part here's what I've read thus far this year:
 

Children's/Young Adult Fiction


Children's/Young Adult Speculative Fiction
Adult Fiction/Literature
 Adult Speculative Fiction

 Humor



 Mystery



 Non-Fiction

 


23.4.18

Notable Quotes

Before Mr. Bennett could answer, the door opened, and there appeared a male nurse in aqua-colored scrubs, carrying the plastic saw with it's round blade at one end; the entire contraption wasn't much larger than an electric toothbrush. "Fred!" the nurse said, though they had never met. "How are we today?"


Reading the nurse's name tag, Mr. Bennett replied with fake enthusiasm, "Bernard!  We're mourning the death of manners and the rise of overly familiar discourse.  How are you?"


 - Curtis Sittenfeld, Eligible

21.3.18

Just had to laugh

The other day, a friend and I went to the Houghton Library (at Harvard) to see the Landmarks: Maps as Literary Illustration exhibit - I could name a few maps they should have included, but since everything came from their shelves, perhaps they didn't have copies of Nick Bantock's work, or the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant or any of the Discworld Mapps?

After, we went to MEM Tea (because tea).  And then, on our way to lunch, we saw this sign.



16.3.18

My favorite shark

When I was a freshman in college I started to make friends with the theatre crowd, first the unofficial group and then the "mainstage" group.  My first show with the latter was The Threepenny Opera (or 3PO as we called it, given that Star Wars was just being released).

This production decided to use the Manheim/Willett translation, which was done for the New York Shakespeare Festival's production with Raul Julia as Macheath.  And it's got my favorite English version of Mack the Knife:


It captures the ugliness that Brecht and Weill wanted from their creation.

Here's the original German, sung by Camille O'Sullivan:


Don't speak German? (I don't) The menace still comes through.

However, most people know the song better in the Blitzstein translation's jazz version:


(not as big a fan of this version or translation, but just look at the original cast at the Theatre du Lys!)


So tonight I'm heading to see the BLO's production, which is using the Michael Feinstein translation.  Reviews of the original production (with Sting?!) say that it's serviceable.  We'll see.


8.1.18

Notable Quotes

Children have always tumbled down rabbit holes, fallen through mirrors, been swept away by unseasonable floods or carried off by tornadoes... Adulthood brings limitations like gravity and linear space and the idea that bedtime is a real thing, and not an artificially imposed curfew.
Seanan McGuire, Beneath the Sugar Sky