Tag Archives: Mermaids

May Playlist (2016)

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She shall be Rose the Destroyer!

May this be your month!  To keep the classroom humming productively for the next four long weeks, this month’s playlist is a nice mix of thumpin’ seasonal picks, an Odyssey-themed setlist, and a summer concert series that I’m personally looking forward to.  What will you do this month to make summer worth the wait?

  1. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – The Waiting
  2. Rihanna feat. Jay-Z – Umbrella
  3. OMC – How Bizarre
  4. Tori Kelly – Nobody Love
  5. Summer Camp – Down
  6. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – Darlington County
  7. The Kingsmen – Louie Louie
  8. Nashville Cast – The Book
  9. Dawes – From a Window Seat
  10. Shiny Toy Guns – Earth Below Us
  11. Christodoulos Halaris – Hymn to the Muse (Trad.)
  12. David Bowie – Heroes
  13. The Lively Ones – Surf Rider
  14. AWOLNATION – Sail
  15. Mumford & Sons – The Cave
  16. The Alarm – The Stand
  17. The Pretty Reckless – Heaven Knows
  18. The Strumbellas – Spirits
  19. Leon Bridges – Smooth Sailin’
  20. Chet Faker – Gold
  21. Adele – Water Under the Bridge
  22. Alison Krauss & Gillian Welch (O Brother, Where Art Thou? Soundtrack) – I’ll Fly Away
  23. Tom Waits – Long Way Home
  24. M83 – Midnight City
  25. The Avett Brothers – Live and Die
  26. Nahko and the Medicine for the People – San Quentin
  27. Gary Clark Jr. – When My Train Pulls In
  28. Trampled By Turtles – Come Back Home
  29. Lord Huron – The Man Who Lives Forever
  30. Shakira feat. Wyclef Jean – Hips Don’t Lie
  31. The Wallflowers – One Headlight

Bard’s Day, 23rd April 2016 – 452/400

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The Wonder of Will: 400 Years of Shakespeare. Image courtesy of The Folger Shakespeare Library. 2016.

The Wonder of Will: 400 Years of Shakespeare. Image courtesy of The Folger Shakespeare Library. 2016.

If you’ve looked at this page but once, you know that the Bard is a pretty big deal around here.  Today, then, would be remiss without an annual commemoration of his birth/death-day with some extra, added momentum.  The whole world is turning out for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s (bodily) death, with touring productions, social media campaigns, reams of newsprint, and random English teachers’ blog posts.  However, there is one special event that will be making its way to our humble corner of the world later this year.

The Folger Shakespeare Library, located in Washington DC, has 82 copies of Shakespeare’s First Folio.  These items are extraordinarily rare, and unbelievable fragile.  (You can read about the extreme safety precautions the Library takes by checking this link from NPR.)  Published long after his death, the folio contains at least 18 of his plays that would not be known today without these labors of love.  And this year, to honor his everlasting legacy, copies of the Folio will be traveling from the Folger Library out to all 50 states and Puerto Rico, and Wyoming’s temporary host is none other than our own State Museum in downtown Cheyenne!

From Sept 7 – 30, you can see one of these Folios, a repository of some of the greatest words ever penned by the human race, for the price of admission, which is typically FREE!  While a trip to DC may be a prerequisite for American-ness, let’s be honest and say that this opportunity is likely your best bet to join in one of the most important celebrations available to young scholars and citizens of the world.  Rather than leave you with yet another quote or pun on the topic, I think it suffices to let the plays speak loudest.  Do yourself a favor and bask in the (probably musty) glory of all that is wonderful, inventive, and essential by checking it out next Fall!

Reading Picks: Sailor Twain, or, The Mermaid in the Hudson by Mark Siegel

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Sailor Twain. Mark Siegel. FirstSecond. 2012

Sailor Twain. Mark Siegel. FirstSecond. 2012

As you can expect, reading is a big part of my summer break. I mean, it’s a big part of my day at any point in the year, but in the summer I can read a lot more of what I consider to be fun. (I still enjoy reading in the school year, when I’m absorbing the same works you students do, as well as my grad school and professional readings – but here I get a little more choice!) What I don’t do often is reread a book shortly after I’ve finished it. Who has the time? One of the best exceptions to this rule, and one of the best reads I had this summer, was in Mark Siegel’s graphic novel Sailor Twain (from First Second, 2012).

Sailor Twain is centered on Elijah Twain, the writer-captain of a Hudson River steamship in the 1880s. (Twain, by the by, is of no relation to the author, who our captain must frustratingly point out is actually a Mr. Clemens.) Joining the bedeviled sailor is the ship’s gruff and motley crew, including the womanizing owner of the ship, Lafayette, as well as a foul-mouthed helmsman, two stowaways, a mysterious engineer, and a various assortment of New York passengers (keep an eye out for cameos from the likes of Walt Whitman, Edgar Allan Poe, and even Stephen King!). And, of course, there is the mermaid of the full title, who Twain must decide is either savior or siren.

Available at the Laramie County Library, this text holds many epic qualities: an expansive and realized cast of characters, elements of fantasy interwoven in spirituality, and a portrait of near-mythic America on the Hudson River. As a work of historical fiction, the world of the narrative is well centered in established movements and attitudes of America’s Gilded Age. What’s more, the artwork – almost entirely in charcoal – is evocative and symbolic. The rainy atmosphere and river setting were easily imagined despite our dusty August heat. Most importantly, Siegel’s use of motif, ambiguity, and doubling are absorbing. You are almost obligated to reread the novel to add your newfound evidence to the intricate clues.

This novel is definitely for mature readers (sexuality, complexity, language), but is my August pick for seniors to read, for two key reasons. First, it makes a great review of the themes of American Literature for those of you who survived last year. Second, Sailor Twain leads nicely into both senior classes’ content, addressing similar themes and also introducing you to the graphic novel format, which you can expect to see in the upcoming school year. In conclusion, it is important to read books and genres outside of your usual experiences. Anyone who still thinks, in 2015, that comics or graphic novels aren’t necessarily “real” literature needs to see what they are missing out on in Mark Siegel’s new American classic, Sailor Twain.

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