Archive for April 2010
First ten songs on iTunes shuffle, plus a video:
1. Fear–“Public Hangings”
2. Deerhunter–“Tape Hiss Orchid”
3. Cofer Brothers–“The Great Ship Went Down”
4. Lou Reed–“Andy’s Chest”
5. The Fugees–“Fu-Gee-La (Refugee Camp Remix)”
6. Ladytron–“Jet Age”
7. Blonde Redhead–“Ballad of Lemons”
8. Fanfarlo–“Devil Town”
9. Condo Fucks–“Dog Meat”
10. The Distillers–“Oh Serena”
The Distillers performing “Oh Serena”
I realize the videos have been pretty punk-heavy lately. You can thank me or admonish me for that in comments The truth is that there are surprisingly few music videos out there that correlate with the songs that come up in these lists so far, so I haven’t had much choice yet! There’s enough other stuff hidin’ in my iTunes catalog though, so it won’t last forever. Probably.
If you’ve got an extra 20 minutes, consider watching this talk that author Chimamanda Adichie gives about the power to shape and frame stories, and what it means to have that power, and the impact that stories have on us and how they influence our perceptions of other people and of ourselves, and stereotypes, and the power of multiple stories, and…
I have yet to read anything by Chimamanda Adichie, but I aim to change that.
Apparently, an old ledger from the New York Society Library shows that George Washington checked out two books in October, 1789–one on international law and another that included transcripts of debates that took place in the British House of Commons. Neither book was returned.
If the allegations are true, this would mean that that, setting aside the value of the items themselves, and adjusting for inflation, Washington currently owes about $100,000 in late fees.
An excellent piece of book/U.S. presidential trivia, just for fun.
Via Boing Boing.
First ten songs on iTunes shuffle, plus a video:
1. Washed Out–“Get Up”
2. No Doubt–“Different People”
3. Citay–“On the Wings (Live at WFMU)”
4. John Coltrane–“Seraphic Light”
5. First Aid Kit–“Tiger Mountain Peasant Song”
6. Joe Cocker–“Letter”
7. My Bloody Valentine–“Sometimes”
8. Rudimentary Peni–“Zero Again”
9. Jordaan Mason–“Drunk Garden Boy”
10. Djano Reinhardt–“Minor Swing”
My Bloody Valentine performing “Sometimes”
I just finished my second Jane Austen novel, Pride and Prejudice (I read Sense and Sensibility a few months ago), and can now safely declare myself a serious Austen fan. Contrary to what you may have heard about Jane Austen, she is surprisingly funny! And witty! And not at all boring! Really, it’s true. And her stories are not just about romance and balls and courtship, though those are important plot elements; they maintain serious and intelligent social commentary with a sharp tone.
I loved Pride and Prejudice particularly for it’s protagonist, Elizabeth Bennet, who grew on me steadily throughout the novel. Constrained by a society and time in which women’s prospects are considered only in terms of their relationships to men, Elizabeth Bennet is uncommonly confident, assertive, and unwilling to settle for comfort and polite society. In turn, she is loved for her impertinence, her (by the end) well-deserved pride, and her mind. Which is more satisfying by the end of the book than it may sound right now. But yeah, Go Lizzy!
On a different note, my parents were here for a few days this week which was great, and as always we went to the Strand Bookstore together where I pressured them into buying me lots of new shiny books (even hardcovers!) and then my dad made his usual joke, something along the lines of “Busy social life you must have, eh em?”
Yeah, thanks dad! Anyway, here’s what I got:
I’m agonizing over what order to read these in. So excited for each of them! Bah.
Also, I’ve decided it’s time to stop using miscellaneous receipts and ticket stubs and candy wrappers as bookmarks and to use actual, you know…bookmarks. My boyfriend gave me an old Star Trek one of his recently, and after visiting the gift shop in The American Folk Art Museum post-Strand, I found the second addition to my new collection. It has nothing to do with the exhibits I saw, but I still really like it:
Yes, that is a working magnifying lens.
I bookmarked this post from The Guardian about a week and half ago, and you should check it out. It’s about “The private life of books”, a concept I love, and a series of letters found inside an old copy of Isaac Asimov tales.
It also leads nicely into an idea I’ve had a while for a feature in which I post pictures of things found in used books, of which I have a steadily growing and admired collection.
So here’s the first: a Reggie Jackson baseball card found in a copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence.
Wow. I really loved this book, but it was So. Freakin’. Depressing.
Ethan Frome is an unhappy man who hopelessly bears the burden of working his family’s failing farm in early 20th century Starkfield (a fictional New England town). After his father is killed in an accident and his mother withers away toward death from illness, Ethan marries the woman who nursed his mother, and who then succumbs to “sickliness” herself. Like his mother, his wife Zeena becomes as quiet and cold as the dilapidated, wind and snow pummeled house in which they live. The sole spark of joy and inspiration in Ethan’s life is Mattie Silver, Zeena’s younger cousin, who is brought to help around the house. As Mattie and Ethans’ feelings for one another grow, their dread of Zeena’s suspicions grow also, and the tension builds in a painful crescendo.
Each of the three, unable to shake their poverty and/or dependence, is unable to do what might finally secure their happiness. But by the end, just as you’re convinced that you understand what must happen to make this drama complete, that there’s only one possible way to end this story, and you see it unfolding…Wharton surprises you. With something SO MUCH WORSE THAN YOU IMAGINED.
Seriously. It hurts.
Which is not to say Don’t Read It. It’s concise, brisk, engaging, well-constructed, and elegant, in a bleak sort of way. As I said, I really loved it. But have a box of tissues ready, and make sure you leave yourself a nice block of time for a hot bath and decompression upon completing this one.
Time again for another Friday Random Ten!
1. Django Reinhardt–“Honeysuckle Rose”
2. Le Tigre–“Don’t Drink Poison”
3. Charlie Feathers–“Frankie and Johnny”
4. X–”The World’s a Mess It’s In My Kiss”
5. Charles Mingus–“Ysabel’s Table Dance”
6. MGMT–“Pieces of What”
7. Mississippi John Hurt–“Big Leg Blues”
8. The Sha-Weez–“Feeling Sad”
9. Blonde Redhead–“Speed X Distance = Time”
10. Blonde Redhead–“Justin Joyous”
X performing “The World’s A Mess It’s In My Kiss”
The sound in the video is a little off or something, but I preferred to post an older video than one from their recent(ish) tour.
Frederick Douglass was born a slave in 1818 and sold many times throughout the U.S. South. While surviving the daily terror and brutality of the slave system, he taught himself, in secret, to read and write, and with these new abilities came new perspective concerning his unbearable situation. His masters were right; this knowledge was a danger to the status quo, and with it he helped to educate his fellow slaves and inspire some of them to attempt a small insurrection. Though the insurrection failed, Douglass did himself succeed in escaping to the north where he became a prominent abolitionist, suffragist, orator, and one of U.S. history’s most revered reformers.
His story is told vividly and with detail. One part that I’m still thinking about, a few days after finishing, is this passage, which highlights the incredible ingenuity in cruelty inspired by the ownership of people (pages 84-85):
The holidays are part and parcel of the gross fraud, wrong, and inhumanity of slavery. They are professedly a custom established by the benevolence of the slaveholders; but i undertake to say, it is the result of selfishness, and one of the grossest frauds committed upon the down-trodden slave. They do not give the slaves this time because they would not like to have their work during its continuance, but because they know it would be unsafe to deprive them of it. This will be seen by the fact, that the slaveholders like to have their slaves spend those days just in such a manner as to make them as glad of their ending as of their beginning. Their object seems to be, to disgust their slaves with freedom, by plunging them into the lowest depths of dissipation. For instance, the slaveholders not only like to see the slave drink of his own accord, but will adopt various plans to make him drunk. One plan is, to make bets on their slaves, as to who can drink the most whiskey without getting drunk; and in this way they succeed in getting whole multitudes to drink to excess. Thus, when the slave asks for virtuous freedom, the cunning slaveholder, knowing his ignorance, cheats him with a dose of vicious dissipation, artfully labeled with the name of liberty. The most of us used to drink it down, and the result was just what might be supposed: many of us were led to think that there was little to choose between liberty and slavery. We felt, and very properly too, that we had almost as well be slaves to man as to rum.
This method of oppressing the slaves’ desire for freedom by using a backwards presentation of freedom as punishment is as haunting to me as the frequent descriptions of beatings and other more directly physical inflictions and, according to Douglass, was a common tactic in maintaining the oppression of slaves, and was used in other circumstances as well (Ex: a slave who’s stolen a jar of molasses may be made to eat it all at once, leading to illness).
Though much is now known and discussed about the evils of slavery in the U.S., it remains an insightful and revelatory experience to read Frederick Douglass’s narrative. I will say, though, that I wish he’d spent more time on the escape itself!