Spring may be around the corner, or maybe there’s another big winter storm on the way. At least we know we’ll always have the wind! Wind up with these tunes – some oldies, some goodies, and a crew of Celtic crush.
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Learning to Fly
Traditional – Tim Finnegan’s Wake
Adele – Rumour Has It
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – Death to My Hometown
Jack White – I’m Shakin’
The Head and the Heart – Shake
Máire Brennan – Against the Wind
Mumford & Sons – Hopeless Wanderer
Brigham Phillips – Will Ye Go Lassie Go
Talking Heads – Wild Wild Life
Jessie Ware – Wildest Moments
Hal Ketchum – Past the Point of Rescue
Evan Dando – Hard Drive
U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday
Green Day feat. U2 – The Saints Are Coming
Van Morrison – Brown Eyed Girl
Traditional – The Jolly Beggar
Will Millar – The Wild Galway Races
The Fratellis – Flathead
Dropkick Murphys – Fields of Athenry
Natalie Merchant – Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience
Gheorghe Zamfir – The Lonely Shepherd
Men at Work – I Come From a Land Down Under
Tegan and Sara – Where Does the Good Go
Frank Turner – Recovery
The Hooters – And We Danced
The Killers – All These Things That I’ve Done
The Black Keys – Little Black Submarines
The Rolling Stones – Wild Horses
War Horse Soundtrack – Learning to Plough
Dropkick Murphys feat. Bruce Springsteen – Peg O’ My Heart
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!
“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.
It’s the season of suspenseful storytelling, with an emphasis on imaginative yarns and wanderings through folklore. Here are some of the videos from class, by your request, that captured through digital wizardry (a most mysterious magic) the senses, tales, and spine-tingling thrills of the school year in October.
Intro to Literature: “The Bottom of the River” by Delta Rae
The song you can’t escape from, no matter how far the river takes you. Perhaps one of the greatest music videos out there, not least of which in the terrible joy of ambiguity.
Brit. Lit – The Middle Ages: “The Canterbury Tales: Part I”, from Christmas Films, Pizzazz Pictures, and Right Angle.
These episodes aired on the BBC in 1998-2000, excerpting highlights from Chaucer with inventive animation swings. Not for the faint-hearted or tidy-minded, but then, a lot of the fun stuff from different historical eras isn’t.
Every year, the last week in September becomes the focal point for a concerted effort to celebrate the freedom to read. In this country, the First Amendment’s right to free speech must contend with a long history of censorship – promoted by individuals, organizations, and government. Banned Books Week is organized by the American Library Association (ALA), the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and a host of non-profits, publishers, and legal defense funds. It is supported by myself, among much of the reading world, and, through this week’s Extra Credit opportunity, by you!
To receive Extra Credit for Banned Books Week, you must choose one of the following options, and use professional images, symbols, designs, or media:
A) Create a Poster to celebrate the week, using the three requirements below:
Include the title Banned Books Week, in flashy color/font to catch the attention of passerby
Reasons why books are often challenged (Resources from the Huffington Post, in 2012 and 2014)
A checklist of frequently challenged books – check off as many as you’ve read!
C) Compose a 1 page essay (typed – 12pt font, TNR, double-spaced) on To Kill a Mockingbird as a challenged book. Why (and where/when) has it frequently been challenged? What might be ironic about wanting this book censored? What is your reflection on reading the book – how might you oppose or defend a challenge to this book at our school?
Whichever option you choose, it must be submitted by the end of the day Thursday, October 1. To be eligible, you must follow the requirements for each option, as well as aim for professional quality (Mom would put it on the fridge, and so would I!). Successful efforts will be awarded 20pts, and above-average efforts 30pts (each option is worth more than a homework assignment!). If nothing else, you can celebrate this week by finishing TKAM, and moving on to a new book which, having been published, probably has found someone to challenge it by now!