Sorry for the radio silence (er… blog equivalent) for the last month. I’ve been busy grading your Romeo & Juliet Act Packets! Keep checking back in March for playlists, resources, and giveaway opportunities…
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Ah, February. For many, the month brings to mind snowdrifts, Valentines, and the peculiarity of a short month made a little longer every four years. But for others, February is about a different kind of romance – the marriage of classic literature and “ultraviolent zombie mayhem”. To wit, 2013 offered Warm Bodies, a film – based on a book – based on Romeo and Juliet (plus zombies). This Friday marks the release of an undead, overdue film – based on a book – that may have started it all: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. While the film itself should be a delight (for those who like proper English ladies unsheathing decapitations upon dreadful Satan-spawn), the source material is not to be missed either.
Written by Seth Grahame-Smith (who also penned Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter), this novel comes from one of my favorite publishers Quirk Books, purveyor of all things interesting, literary, and, well, quirky (see: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and Horrorstör, to name a few). Although eminently readable for its funniness and formally choreographed carnage, the genius behind PPZ is its authenticity in tone to Jane Austen’s 1813 original. The manners and style that so occupy the Bennet sisters are retained, only now the ladies must sharpen swords and their martial arts skills in addition to proper dance form and social etiquette. Also, the addition of “the dreadfuls” may clarify, for modern readers, some of the context and inferred elements of the novel, adding an undead focus.
The zombie trend, in my opinion, may have largely run its course. Walking undead, such as vampires and zombies, aren’t really my thing, at least. However, there is an undeniable appeal in the zeitgeist in imagining an endless horde of mindless consumers slowly, but surely, eroding the fabric of society. Perhaps it was the same in Regency England! If you can’t beat ’em, eat ’em…er, join ’em. For Brit. Lit. students, please consider PPZ as an option for the Unit 4 novels (or seek out sequels and spinoffs such as Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters or Android Karenina). There may also be an extra credit opportunity for using the movie as an excuse to get literary – as if you needed one!
It’s a Leap Year, so take a deep breath and then make some big leaps this month! Here’s a list to get you started.
- Dire Straits – Romeo and Juliet
- Del Amitri – Roll To Me
- April Smith and the Great Picture Show – Movie Loves a Screen
- Lynden David Hall – All You Need Is love
- Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – No Surrender
- Eric Bibb – Shine On
- The Avett Brothers – February Seven
- Preservation Hall Jazz Band – Go To The Mardi Gras
- David Mead – Girl on the Roof
- Gin Wigmore – Black Sheep
- Matt Costa – Mr. Pitiful
- Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Breakdown
- Fine Young Cannibals – She Drives Me Crazy
- The Figgs – Je T’Adore
- Lyle Lovett – Private Conversation
- The Cure – The Love Cats
- Lenka – Trouble Is a Friend
- Elton John – Your Song
- The White Stripes – Fell In Love With A Girl
- Mirah – The Garden
- The Musicians of Swanne Alley – Green Sleeves (Traditional)
- Dawes – A Little Bit of Everything
- Queen – Somebody to Love
- Dido – White Flag
- Fool’s Garden – Lemon Tree
- The Rolling Stones – Gimme Shelter
- Firefall – You Are The Woman
- Annette Louisan – Das Spiel (Ich Will Doch Nur Spielen)
- Elvis Presley – Suspicious Minds
- Tornado Brass Band (Various NOLA Street Guys) – Bye Bye Blackbird
- Across the Universe Soundtrack – All You Need Is Love
Sometimes one forgets that you don’t always have to look to Colorado for illuminating excursions. There are, for example, a bunch of exciting events held at the Wyoming State Museum downtown on Central Ave. In addition to supremely exciting events (like this one — Folger Library’s First Folios on Tour!) and great geocache opportunities (with a gift shop reward for a clever find), the Museum hosts special presentations each month. With the end of the quarter/semester looming, you might be looking for Extra Credit opportunities, and here’s an interesting one for you.
It’s “Wyoming Dinosaur Discoveries: Where Did the Dinosaurs Go?”, this Thursday the 14th at 7pm. Per the Museum’s site:
Wyoming is home to some of the world’s most famous dinosaur fossils. Since the first discovery in 1872, dinosaurs have been excavated, placed on railcars or loaded into trucks, and shipped throughout the world. It was not until 1961 that a dinosaur from Wyoming was mounted and placed on display within the state. Join Jessica Lippincott, Director of the Big Horn Basin Foundation, to learn about the past 150 years of dinosaur discoveries in Wyoming and where those dinosaurs are now.
You could pair this lecture with Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards, a 2005 graphic novel by Jim Ottaviani and Big Time Attic (available in our school library) that details the Bone Wars that brought paleontologists to Wyoming. Or, while there, you can marvel at the now-legendary license plate boot out front, a painted boot featuring the fine brush strokes of a once-local student from way back when who likes to humblebrag in extra credit offers. See me for more info, and get digging! That saddle-bearing triceratops isn’t going to clone itself.
This incredible novel is available in the school library again, but I expect it will be checked out soon! How I managed to grab it for a quick reread is an unfathomable mystery, but a happy opportunity for me to revisit Jandy Nelson’s second book. Nelson is an incredible talent, and well-deserving of the praise she, and this imaginative, artistic novel, have received. This is a young adult book in terms of characters and setting, but the language and conviction are definitely skewed for older, retrospective readers.
Jude and Noah are twins, and each tells half of the story in this novel. Noah’s story describes age 13, when each sibling begins branching out and staking a claim – for art, for romance, for themselves. Jude’s story is set three years later, and by age 16 both twins have seen their worlds dramatically change. They’re barely speaking, but somewhere in the space between them are the answers and truths to bridge their fractured universes. A good novel convinces you to like the protagonists. In reading this novel – no exaggeration! – I fell in love with the characters. Nelson captures the voices and personalities of these people so well that it feels like the high school story you never had, but would have jumped for without another thought.
In addition to the characterization and powerful themes, this novel has electric language. The figurative voice – invisible museums and kaleidoscopic connections – is in the upper echelon of great writers. It’s John Green on hyperdrive, soaked in Neruda and Whitman. That said, Nelson is of her own, and you will undoubtedly fall hard for her, Noah, and Jude (especially Jude). Get ahead of the cultural momentum and read this book before it explodes onto the scene!
A new year and a new playlist, with old songs and auld Scots swing!
- The Proclaimers – I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)
- Mick Harvey – Out Of Time Man
- Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
- KT Tunstall – Suddenly I See
- Of Monsters And Men – Little Talks
- Lord Huron – Ends Of The Earth
- The Avett Brothers – January Wedding
- Taylor Swift – Shake It Off
- Rock Mafia – The Big Bang
- Lenka – Trouble Is A Friend
- Mumford & Sons – Winter Winds
- U2 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
- The War On Drugs – Come To The City
- Trio – Da Da Da
- Michael Jackson – Beat It
- The Contours – Do You Love Me (Now That I Can Dance)
- Cascada feat. Carlprit – Evacuate The Dance Floor
- The Raspberries – Go All The Way
- Dance of the Dumfrieshire Dwarves (Traditional)
- Peter Bjorn And John feat. Victoria Bergsman – Young Folks
- Amy Macdonald – This Is The Life
- First Aid Kit – Winter Is All Over You
- Paul Simon – Graceland
- 10,000 Maniacs – Trouble Me
- Scotland the Brave (Traditional)
- The White Stripes – St. Andrew (This Battle Is In The Air)
- Joe Purdy – Can’t Get It Right Today
- Laura Marling – The Captain And The Hourglass
- Barenaked Ladies – Sound of Your Voice
- Boy & Bear – Southern Sun
- Big Country – In A Big Country
- Dead Man Fall – Bang Your Drum
It certainly has been a busy month, and I think we are all looking forward to the well-deserved break. Before we go, however, I’ve got an opportunity to be not-so-secret Santa to one or two good boys or girls who check out the class website! It is the holidays after all, and one of the best presents was Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
In my possession are two different t-shirts (sized large) that I’m gonna give to the first two students who find the Golden Ticket. “The Golden Ticket?!” – you may well ask. It looks like this:
It is hidden in one of the previous posts (from Halloween on, let’s say). Using your mouse and some keen detective skills, you can find the magic stub! Follow the directions that show up with it, and you’re on your way to the best-styled Christmas this side of the galaxy.
December – melodies, medleys, and more than a little wassail.
- John Williams – Star Wars Main Title/Rebel Blockade Runner
- Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
- Mannheim Steamroller – God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen
- Lord Huron – Fool for Love
- Trans-Siberian Orchestra – The Silent Nutcracker
- Trans-Siberian Orchestra – A Mad Russian’s Christmas
- Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – Born to Run
- Wolfmother – Vagabond (500) Days of Summer Soundtrack)
- Mannheim Steamroller – Los Peces En El Rio
- Ryn Weaver – OctaHate
- Ellie Goulding – Anything Could Happen
- Frank Sinatra – Come Fly With Me
- Ed Sheerhan – I See Fire (The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug Soundtrack)
- Danny Elfman – What’s This? (The Nightmare Before Christmas Soundtrack)
- Kansas – Play The Game Tonight
- Among Savages – New York City
- Coldplay – Christmas Lights
- The Devil Makes Three – Dynamite
- Mick Jagger and Joss Stone – Lonely Without You (This Christmas) (Alfie Soundtrack)
- Elton John – Levon
- Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Wizards In Winter
- Eagles – Please Come Home For Christmas
- Dar Williams – Are You Out There
- Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Christmas Eve / Sarajevo 12/24
- Mannheim Steamroller – God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
- Capital Cities – Safe and Sound
- Van Morrison – Bright Side Of The Road
- John Lee Hooker – Bluebird
- Tom Waits – Cold Cold Ground
- She & Him – Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want (500) Days of Summer Soundtrack)
- Shivaree – Goodnight Moon (Kill Bill Vol. 2 Soundtrack)
- The Four Seasons – December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)
- Barenaked Ladies – Auld Lang Syne
I’m trying to keep this site focused on cool class content and notices, and I certainly don’t want to come across as a braggart here. Enough people, however, have asked me about my Golden Apple Award that I figured I would put it up for those interested. You should definitely check out all of the amazing educators who make a difference in our community at http://www.kgwn.tv/station/misc/Golden-Apple-Winners-248244001.html, but here is the video of one schmuck who snuck in. Special thanks and credit to all of 7th Hour seniors who provided such nice
bribes thoughts, as well as the wonderful wife who helps me get tech-y with videos and nonesuch.
PS – Special thanks to Jace’s hat, too. That hat.
“The Game is Afoot!” – as you will be reminded every ten minutes or so in your exploration of the latest traveling exhibit to hit the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. I had the privilege to visit on Halloween this year, and will do my best to sell this experience briefly and with only the facts. It’s the sequel to Power of Poison, with an added, overt literary connection. What’s more, this exhibit also is quite hands-on, with enough diversity for any visitor. So read on, dear traveler, for the evidence of a great adventure and fabulous rewards with Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary detective!
This is a ticketed exhibit, meaning there is an extra fee besides admission as well as a certain time-slot you are to attend within. Taking up a sprawling space within this incredible building, the Sherlock Holmes exhibit is cross-curricular, diabolical delight. Literary history and influence, forensics and the influential experiments of Victorian science, pop culture studies, and hands-on experimentation are all wrapped up in good, old-fashioned mystery. Each guest gets a notebook to record their observations, learning more about the culture and social strata of Victorian London along the way. The notebook itself is packed with clues and winking allusions to the great detective.
The first section is literary, filled with interesting artifacts and media covering inspiration and influence – including Poe, serial publication, high profile murder, and the emblematic energies of the British Empire at its height. Following this area, searchers find themselves in a reproduction of 221 B Baker Street. Here, details and easter eggs from the many cases of Holmes and Watson are hidden throughout. The next room holds the highlight for many visitors – the case study. Investigators are asked, by Holmes, to help solve a mystery involving five deductive/inductive exercises – hands-on stations pertaining to the bullet, the seed, the footprints, the newspaper, and the suspicion of murder. You may occasionally be
harassed helped by overzealous museum guides – some dressed in Victorian personas – trying to move the investigation along. To avoid some of the crowds, arriving early is a must, and you might have more space to your own sleuthing without considerate peeping by that most troublesome occurrence – other people.
Following your (hopefully) accurate conclusions, the mystery is solved and visitors get one last peek at their favorite incarnations of Holmes, from Basil Rathbone and The Great Mouse Detective to Downey Jr., Cumberbatch, and Lucy Liu’s Watson. The gift shop is also quite inviting, but you might check with me to see what I already purchased so you won’t have to (basically the whole store). There are, of course, great sales-pitches here for any of your teachers’ field trip needs, but if unable to go as a class you have until the end of January to make your own visit. There is also a teens-only event on November 21st: Sherlockian Clue: Museum Edition. Extra credit will rain down upon you after any visit (and maybe a project grade for the BritLit seniors), but especially for anyone who can attend this special event. In summary, this is definitely one of the coolest exhibits to ever reach our area, and you can revisit Power of Poison while you’re there! Investigate Sherlock before it vanishes into the fog of the gaslamps. Elementary, indeed.