In progress

I have lots of things in progress…house, June CD club playlist (all about space and time in honor of the last shuttle launches this summer), writing projects, summer I course design, search committees, fall course design, putting up Jane Austen essay, knitting for me, babies, and others, house, etc. I both love and detest works in progress. As an academic, you quickly realize that the end of the semester doesn’t actually end anything. It merely puts an end to some of the things you’re doing.

All of these projects are punctuated by comings and goings. I just came back from Dallas, and my friend Glinda will be in town next week, followed by my mom and the aunts, and then mom, Jordan, and Bailey for July 4th. And then in July and August, I’ll be all over the place. I sometimes think travel is a work in progress too.

Song of the Day: Red House Painters, “Have You Forgotten”

Not my preferred form of YouTube video, but it was the only way to get the song as it was originally recorded on Songs for a Blue Guitar. This song has long been one of my favorites. I love the way that Mark Kozelek tells perfect, impressionistic stories with his lyrics. He has a sense of time and place so often lost in music today.

Woody Allen Films

I’m not the biggest Woody Allen fan in the world. I tend to like his aesthetic approach more than the actual plot or characters in his films. Annie Hall’s style is what I like from that film. The 1930s gleam in most of his films appeals more than his slightly askew mystery plots.  It’s perhaps the reason why my favorite Woody Allen film is still Everyone Says I Love You. It’s a film all about family aesthetics, and oh, people periodically break out in song, including a finale set in Paris with Groucho Marx costumes and dancing by the Seine. It doesn’t hurt that Edward Norton is in the film too. Despite my reservations about Woody Allen’s films, I’m actually interested in seeing the new one, Midnight in Paris. I will admit A.O. Scott’s review in the New York Times sold me on the film more than anything, although I do tend to like Owen Wilson in this type of darkly comic, lost soul sort of roles. Scott, like me and I assume many others, seems to have the same issues with Allen’s oeuvre while also still appreciating what Allen, at his best, is capable of doing as a screenwriter and film director. I find the premise alluring: Gil, imbued with ennui, longs for the Paris of the Lost Generation. He’s magically transported into that Paris at night, returning to the here and now in the morning. The time travel aside, it sounds like a film about nostalgia and curiosities, two themes I find recurrent in my life at the moment.

Of Poetry, Space, and Baseball

Sorry for the radio silence. I’ve been unpacking, rectifying a kitchen, and generally trying to figure out where I want my stuff to go in the new house. Pictures coming soon, I promise. I just want to get things painted first so you’ll all see what I’m sort of envisioning in my head. Here’s hoping that the vision and reality mesh well.

The other reason for the lack of posting is the fact that I was in Jonesboro over the weekend, watching nine year old baseball. It was a fun, relaxing time hanging out with friends who wholeheartedly love and support their kids. And their kids are absolutely delightful. But it also means I’ve been out of the loop for awhile, catching snippets here and there of information about the world outside houses and baseball. I’ve just now caught up on the debt ceiling stuff. I knew that the last of the shuttle launches were occurring soon, but I didn’t know it would be today. Perhaps because I saw the movie Space Camp about ten times one summer when I was a kid, I associate shuttle launches with summer. It seems fitting that this summer begins with a shuttle launch.

Tangentially related, Patrick Kurp at Ancedotal Evidence posted a poem by Robert Herrick that seems widely appropriate for contemplating summer. (Of course, I have at least three new pie recipes to try out and a decadent looking way of turning a tub of Neopolitan ice cream into an ice cream cake. ) Like Kurp, it’s the line about “Time’s trans-shifting” that seems to resonate the most, although I do like Herrick’s gentle preview into the “cleanly wantonness” he’ll sing about in his book of poetry.

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“The Argument of his Book”

I sing of brooks, of blossoms, birds, and bowers,
Of April, May, of June, and July flowers.
I sing of May-poles, hock-carts, wassails, wakes,
Of bridegrooms, brides, and of their bridal-cakes.
I write of youth, of love, and have access
By these to sing of cleanly wantonness.
I sing of dews, of rains, and piece by piece
Of balm, of oil, of spice, and ambergris.
I sing of Time’s trans-shifting; and I write
How roses first came red, and lilies white.
I write of groves, of twilights, and I sing
The court of Mab, and of the fairy king.
I write of Hell; I sing (and ever shall)
Of Heaven, and hope to have it after all.

Poetry on Things

I read the poem “Linens” by Kay Ryan in a posting by Patrick Kurp for Anecdotal Evidence this morning. He’s discussing domestic poetry, but really the essence of things through the simple. It somehow seems appropriate for the act of unpacking and remaking a life in a space. “Linens” was published in the May issue of Poetry.

Linens

By Kay Ryan

There are charms
that forestall harm.
The house bristles
with opportunities
for stasis: refolding
the linens along
their creases, keeping
the spoons and chairs
in their right places.
Nobody needs to
witness one’s exquisite
care with the napkins
for the napkins
to have been the act
that made the fact
unhappen.

Graduation Music

I detest “Pomp and Circumstance.” It has to be the worst processional music ever conceived. It has no grandeur, no life or playfulness, and almost no rhythm. It shuffles people down an aisle in solemnity on an occasion when no one feels solemn–graduation. I’m not sure why this ceremony of all the rituals we go through in life seems to be the one that puts on this patina of dour grandeur. It is indeed a grand occasion and an important ritual, but between the music and the typical exhortation to go out into the world and change it, it seems like the people who plan graduation ceremonies assume that actual joy is some how not part of the equation. It’s like some left over medieval vestige, like the sleeve length of the robes or the kind of hat you can wear based on what degree you’ve earned. Of course, everyone else wants to cheer and celebrate. Clearly, this tension is not easily resolvable. I think we need dance music not “Pomp and Circumstance.”

Today is my university’s graduation day. Normally I don’t get too upset about this particular song, but some students I’ve worked closely with since I’ve begun here are graduating today. Plus, my friend April just received her PhD hood and diploma a few hours ago. “Pomp and Circumstance” seems all wrong for such happy, momentous occasions. So, I’ve put together a few of the songs I was listening to when I graduated with my doctorate in May 2008. Not a single one of these is a graduation songs. Yet, they got me through my dissertation defense and were part of my personal soundtrack when I walked across that stage. One or two are “Song of the Day” repeats, but I think they’re important.

Outkast, “Morris Brown”

Kate Nash, “Mouthwash”

Vampire Weekend, “Walcott”

The Shins, “Australia”