Wednesday, May 31, 2017

More on Cover Stories

31 May 2017: "The Pearl Jam performance of 'Again Today,' it's just got such an urgency to it. It says that complacency will catch up with us. There's a new urgency to it because they did it in the style of The Ramones. It was like a power ballad before, when I did it, and now it's so fast and such a call to arms. That's a potent performance that reminds me of why we made the record in this way." --Brandi Carlile talking about one of my favorite tracks on this terrific album.

Listen to the whole interview with Brandi here.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

"The Human Voice"

30 May 2017: "So I say 'Sir or Madam' to the baby, 'What is your opinion of the human species?' Well what does a baby do? Baby starts giggling! I say, 'Thank God for the sound of a human voice!'" --Studs Terkel in a StoryCorps interview.

Monday, May 29, 2017

It's back!

29 May 2017: "So yeah: the world is in turmoil. I think we can all safely say that's true. But one shining light is Belinda." --Jamie, one of the wonderful hosts of My Dad Wrote a Porno, opening up the new season.

One of my absolute favorite podcasts is back, as hilarious and filthy as ever. And as silly as it sounds, Jamie is right: this brilliant little show always raises my spirits.

Good Cop, Bad Cop

28 May 2017: "Girl, get you a gun!" --my friend Hannah, giving me advice as we played a new game, Good Cop, Bad Cop.

Another day, another fun get-together, this time at Tim's house. We were there basically all day long and could have stayed even longer, if not for a long-ish drive home.

Saturday night cook-out...

27 May 2017: "My ants tasted like chocolate..." --my friend Adam, participating in a strange and hilarious conversation about eating bugs (both accidentally and on purpose).

On Saturday night, I hosted a get-together for some former students/current friends, some of whom I haven't seen in quite a while. Though the weather didn't cooperate completely, it a nice night and a lovely reminder of how lucky I've been to have so many wonderful people in my life.

Friday, May 26, 2017

"Just Breathe"

26 May 2017:
"Yes I understand that every life must end, uh-huh
As we sit alone, I know someday we must go, uh-huh
Oh I'm a lucky man to count on both hands the ones I love
Some folks just have one, yeah others they've got none
Stay with me...
Let's just breathe..." --Pearl Jam, "Just Breathe"

A quiet day so far, more or less: running errands, doing laundry, doing some writing (that part going a bit more slowly than I might like...), and just doing a lot of thinking. This song works.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Souls of Black Folks and Modernism

25 May 2017: "I know it's a bit early, but I kept thinking you can see Modernism at work here." --a student in my class this morning, making a pretty cool connection between DuBois's The Souls of Black Folk and Modernism. I hadn't thought about this before--I'm used to thinking of the text as Realist--but so appreciated this way of seeing it. After all, consider the ways DuBois blends genres and incorporates both the personal and the academic.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Manchester aftermath..

24 May 2017: "They want to divide us, don't they? They want us to turn on our neighbors. Won't ever happen." --Ian, a man from Manchester, outside a blood donation center.

Watch the whole thing. I love that he is angry, but it's a good kind of anger--fierce, determined, and fueled by love, not fear.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Summer school's in session...

23 May 2017: "I just keep thinking about Thomas Jefferson and how much worse his actions look in this light..." --a student in my ENGL 355: American Ethnic Literature class this morning.

We were discussing Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, specifically Dr. Flint, in my opinion one of the greatest and most interesting (and I don't mean that with admiration) villains in American literature. But I hadn't had a student make this connection to Jefferson before. I could see where he was coming from: Jacobs's text shows us just how trapped a female slave was by her master--how little control she had over her own life, her own body, her future. You feel that pain and horror when you read her book. And then you think about Jefferson, one of the most important and fascinating and complicated figures in our history and realize that he put slaves in similar positions (even if he wasn't as evil, whatever that means)...and it shakes you.

So yeah...two days into the summer session, I'd say it's going well.

Monday, May 22, 2017

"spring song"

22 May 2017:
"the green of Jesus
is breaking the ground
and the sweet
smell of delicious Jesus
is opening the house and
the dance of Jesus music
has hold of the air and
the world is turning
in the body of Jesus and
the future is possible" --Lucille Clifton, "Spring Song"

Love Lucille Clifton. This poem, though, was new to me until I heard it today on the Poem of the Day podcast. What a treat!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

"The Mighty Atom"

21 May 2017: "And when it was over, there were 18 American Nazis on their way to the hospital and there was one Jewish-American walking home with only a black eye and holding a baseball bat, a Hank Greenberg signature model Louisville Slugger." --Nate DiMeo on the latest episode of the Memory Palace, delivering a heck of a story about "The Mighty Atom," who punched lots of Nazis (in self-defense, it must be noted). The Memory Palace is always great, but I love it when Nate is basically subtweeting on our current historical moment.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Handmaid's Tale

20 May 2017: "Nolite te bastardes carborundorum, bitches." --Offred, in episode four of The Handmaid's Tale.

Got all caught up on this amazing show today (having previously watched the first three episodes). It's so good and keeps surprising me in fantastic ways.

Wedding day...

19 May 2017:
"Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up." --Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10

My sister read the above passage at my cousin's wedding. Lovely words, lovely bride, lovely service!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

"This is Chance"

18 May 2017: "What is safety anyway? Genie seemed to be conceding that there is only randomness—only chance. And if everything beyond us is chance, maybe the only force we have to survive a world like that is connection. By then, it must have seemed so obvious to her: it’s a good idea to hold on to each other." --Jon Mooallem, part of the recent amazing episode of 99% Invisible. You must listen to it.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

"Becoming Anne Bradstreet"

17 May 2017:

"We say home truths
Because her words can be at home anywhere—

At the source, at the end and whenever
The book lies open and I am again

An Irish poet watching an English woman
Become an American poet." --Eavan Boland, "Becoming Anne Bradstreet"

This poem, which I heard for the first time today on the Poem of the Day Podcast, does a fine job capturing what makes Bradstreet's poems so powerful. Four hundred years later, her poems speak across time.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Keeping track

16 May 2017: "I think they have to be cataloged. Look, every touchdown seems like every other and we catalog those. This is important and it's far more important." --S.L. Price on this week's episode of Hang Up and Listen, talking about his articles on two players from the 1972 Miami Dolphins team who are experiencing cognitive decline.

This was a fascinating interview to listen to. Price's point above struck me as especially poignant. So many football enthusiasts spend so much time studying every little thing during the game, but seem reluctant to spend time on what happens to the players after the game.

Monday, May 15, 2017

An Unofficial Ambassador For Gen Z

15 May 2017: "Feeling as though we don't even choose to intake all of this information, but it just happens. I remember seeing the Philando Castile live stream and not knowing what I was looking at. Somebody had tweeted it and I clicked on it. And just being like, 'Oh, that person is bleeding. Oh wow.' And I just remember that moment of freaking out and not knowing what to do and not knowing how to process what's happening...If you are just now coming of age in which you are an active citizen, how are you just going to be thrown into that world?" --Yara Shahidi, who plays one of the kids on Black-ish, talking on a recent episode of Code Switch about her generation and their response to being inundated with the world's news.

This entire episode is worth listening to--the first part features a conversation with Kenya Barriss--but Shahidi impressed the heck out of me. She's only 17 but so smart and interesting and engaged.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Just in time...

14 May 2017:

"If I were a flower growing wild and free
All I'd want is you to be my sweet honey bee.
And if I were a tree growing tall and green
All I'd want is you to shade me and be my leaves" --Tristan Prettyman, "All I Want is You"

I was just about to slide into some serious Sunday melancholy and this sweet little song came on, jolting me back into some spring-time optimism.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

"Days and Days"

13 May 2017:

"Don't you come back here
I didn't raise you
To give away your days like me." --"Days and Days" from Fun Home

Today Jane and I saw Fun Home at the National Theater and it was terrific. The song quoted above is one that stood out to me in a new way this time--the idea that this mother wanted her daughter to have a different life, so she pushed her's very powerful.

And, not that it needs repeating, but Jane is the best. I am so lucky to have her in my life.

Friday, May 12, 2017

"Tough Mother"

12 May 2017: "We never say we love you. We expect you to see it through our actions. But I'm learning. When I go away from this life, I want you to remember my love for you. That's all." --a mother on StoryCorps. This one (like so many episodes) got to me--tears in the kitchen as I listened.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

"Let It Be Me"

11 May 2017:
"That's when you need someone,
Someone that you, you can call,
When all your faith is gone,
It feels like you cant go on.
Let it be me." --Ray LaMontagne, "Let It Be Me"

This lovely and dreamy song came on in Panera on this rainy day and just made me sigh.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Dramatic Yelp Reviews

10 May 2017: "Looks like there are holes in your story AND your teeth." --Aziz Ansari, doing dramatic readings of Yelp Reviews.

Loved this. Aziz never disappoints.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Sweet days of May...

9 May 2017:
"If I could make a wish,
I think I'd pass.
Can't think of anything I need.
No cigarettes, no sleep, no light, no sound,
Nothing to eat, no books to read..." --The Hollies, "The Air That I Breathe"

These days of May--between graduation and the start of summer school--are often some of the sweetest: good weather, a relaxed pace, and just a general sense of all being well, at least for a moment. These past couple days have been especially lovely and this song, which came on today, seemed tone-appropriate.


8 May 2017: "The next one...." --Frank Lloyd Wright, when asked which of his buildings was his favorite.

Yesterday (posting a day late here) I got to do something I've wanted to do for a long time: visit Fallingwater. Amy and I drove up and toured the house, along with some other Wright and Wright-inspired home in the area. Every bit of the trip was wonderful.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Good bye to some friends...

7 May 2017:
"A bottle of white, a bottle of red
Perhaps a bottle of rose instead
We'll get a table near the street
In our old familiar place
You and I, face to face..." --Billy Joel, "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant"

Today I attended a sort of going away party for a couple of my friend, Mark and Erin.They are heading to Plattsburgh, where Mark has a new job. I've only known them for about two years, but I'll miss them (and their fantastic dinner parties) terribly. Anyway, this old Billy Joel song came on while we all were talking which lead to a fun discussion of favorite Billy Joel songs...then Elton John...then Bruce Springsteen. You get the point.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Graduation 2017

6 May 2017: "My first piece of advice: choose love." --Jessica Salfia, the speaker at today's Department of Education pinning ceremony, the first ceremony I attended today as part of commencement celebrations. Jessica is a Shepherd grad, English adjunct, and from everything I've heard, a simply amazing teacher. Her words of advice to our graduates who are about to enter the world as teachers were just terrific.

Commencement is such a special day, which I know sounds cheesy, but I guess what I mean is that it's just a day of so many emotions: pride (in our students, our university, and our own hard work), joy (celebrating their achievements, seeing their families), and sadness (I will miss some of these folks so much it hurts). But it also reminds me of something I am lucky to be reminded of so often: I am blessed to have this job. It lets me choose love every day.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2

5 May 2017: "I don't use my head to fly the arrow boy..." --Yondu, from Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2.

What a fun movie! And the line above, without giving anything away...I'll just say that it got to me, but I am, of course, a big old mush inside.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

"Ask a Very Grown Woman"

4 May 2017: "Because even the worst advice from a friend comes with a second message and that's just 'I got your back.'....She had my back. I had hers. Which in the end, of course, is more important than anything." --Ira Glass, remembering his friend, Mary.

I am behind on my This American Life episodes, but found myself quite moved by this one, including the great segment with comedian Chris Gethard and his dad and the fun part in the beginning on the "Ask a Grown" videos. This show gets some flack for being kind of predictable in its tones and structures, but boy, do they do what they do really well.

[I did skip the segment about Trump supporters getting angry with the Dallas journalist because I just couldn't bear to hear from them on a day when this administration is about to celebrate both taking away health care from people and signing a horrifying "religious freedom" order. I know that's not the most healthy response in a democracy, but I need a break.]

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

"A Change of World, Episode 2: Books that Broke Down Barriers"

3 May 2017:

"We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear." --Adrienne Rich, "Diving into the Wreck"

As I took a long walk this morning, I really enjoyed listening to this episode of Poetry Off the Shelf, which features great discussions of Plath, Sexton, Rukeyser, Lorde, and Rich. Something about my mind this morning latched especially onto Rich and this amazing poem. I feel like I get it more and more every time I read it, though "getting it" is ultimately sort of not the point. I guess what I mean is that you are never really going to understand the wreck itself, but that process of diving in and really looking around--that I get more and more.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

"What I Wouldn't Do"

2 May 2017:

"If we were children I would bake you a mud pie
Warm and brown beneath the sun
Never learned to climb a tree but I would try
Just to show you what I'd done

Oh what I wouldn't do
If I had you, babe, I had you
Oh what I wouldn't do
If I had you, babe

If I were old, my dearest, you would be older
But I would crawl upon your lap
Wrap a blanket 'round our frail little shoulders
And I'd die happily like that

Oh what I wouldn't do
If I had you, babe, I had you
Oh what I wouldn't do
If I had you, babe, if I had you

So lace your hands 'round the small of my back and I will kiss you like a king
I will be your bride, I'll keep you warm at night
I will sing, I will sing

It was now and we were both in the same place
Didn't know how to say the words
With my heart ticking like a bomb in a birdcage
I left before someone got hurt

'Cause it was what I wouldn't do
If I had you, babe, I had you
It was what I wouldn't do
When I had you, babe, when I had you" --A Fine Frenzy, "What I Wouldn't Do"

Quoting the whole thing here because it seems wrong to excerpt it and disrupt the complete little story it tells. Such a sweet sounding song, but with a sad kicker at the end. And for someone like yours truly, who is never very good at making big moves...well, it hits close to home.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Yup...another podcast reference...

1 May 2017: "It allowed me to imagine an adult version of myself, which was huge..." --Sarah, a guest on this episode of the Nancy podcast. I won't give too much away here, but you want to listen to this conversation she has with someone important from her childhood.