Song of the Day: The Sundays, “Love”

The sound quality is awful, but I couldn’t resist posting this video of the Sundays performing “Love” at the Town and Country Club. I think it was the goofy stage diver that did it for me. And yes, Dan, I’ve stopped resisting writing about the Sundays for the Between the Bars series. I been mentally cursing myself for loaning out and never getting back that book on Brit Pop.

Song of the Day: “Halfway Down the Stairs”

I’ve been having an off week. Allergic to the world and just feeling like the best idea would be to curl up with a book and tea. Alas, it’s not been the kind of week where that is possible. The next best thing is the Muppet Green album. I’ve been entranced with the Amy Lee version of “Halfway Down the Stairs” almost since my first listen. It’s a slow, sweet ballad that speaks to awkward shyness and half listened to conversations in other rooms. It reminds me of how I used to listen in on the adult conversation when I was a child, as I think all children do. We didn’t have a house with stairs, but the feeling of wanting to know what’s next fills the song with a palpable longing.

The song lyrics are in fact A.A. Milne’s “Halfway Down” from When We Were Very Young (1926). Milne is the poet who created Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin. The poem’s layout in the collection even resembles a staircase a little bit, and the illustration accompanying the poem (color in the link to Google Books, black and white here) suggests that our speaker is Christopher Robin. Winnie the Pooh hangs over the top stair, discarded in favor of whatever is happening just out of view.

Set to music by Harold Fraser-Simson, the song was popular enough for Gene Kelly to record it.

The song appeared on the Muppet Show sung by Robin, Kermit’s tiny cousin. Robin was one of my favorite characters as a kid, perhaps because I was the second generation of kids to grow up with the Muppets I identified with the smaller, more child like Robin than the more adult Kermit and Miss Piggy.

I can only assume that the reason this scene reminds me of James Joyce’s “The Dead” is because I’m planning a Maymester trip to Dublin. I can see a child on the stairs, listening into the dancing and Gabriel’s speech at dinner.

Song of the Day: Kate Rusby, “Planets”

I’ve been reading Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own for class tomorrow. It most decidedly fit a rainy afternoon. I always feel like I’ve traveled to a different plane of existence when I read Woolf, so much so that coming back from the world of luncheons, the amenities that fire the soul, and the humming of Tennyson and Rossetti lyrics before the war seems like a far trip indeed. Kate Rusby is the soundtrack for such trips of fancy.

Cute Halloween Kitsch of the Day

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I don’t even like costumes all that much, but after I was done with the trick-or-treating phase myself, I found that I adore sitting on the front porch, drinking a beer, and handing out candy to trick-or-treaters. Oh, and pumpkin carving. I love pumpkin carving. I saw this today, and couldn’t resist posting it.

Commonplace

We do not want cheap grace, a casual people, or a forgotten victim. What do we want? I am on a search for grace in the world. While my colleagues write on the phenomenology of evil or of the will, I want to see what grace feels like. As a Christian I am told that God is a gracious Other, but I also need to be a gracious brother. Gracelessness helps produce totalitarianisms as much as cheap grace might. If there is to be grace, it must be mediated between people. We have to see potentials in the lives of even the worst people, have to see that it is we who can dam the flow of grace. I do not for a moment claim that this insight is mine because I am a Christian; phenomenologically speaking, such a concept of grace is shared by people of many faiths and of no clear faith. Reportorially, it often has not been visible on Christian soil. But that does not mean that a turn cannot now be taken.

~ Martin E. Marty, “Symposium,” The Sunflower

Song of the Day: The Joy Formidable, “Whirring”

I’ve been listening to Amanda’s August cd club mix pretty much nonstop in the car for the last week.  It’s been at volumes that make my rearview mirror vibrate. Not safe in many ways, but the mix is just too happy to play at a human level. This song by the Joy Formidable leads off the mix. I adore this band’s name, if for no other reason than I like the word formidable and the interplay of meaning between the two words.

Commonplace

She recalled her earlier certainties. Take what you want, said God: take it and pay for it. She remembered Mrs. Beddows’ caveat: Yes, but who pays? And suddenly she felt that she had found the answer. We all pay, she thought; we all take; we are members one of another. We cannot escape this partnership. This is what it means–to belong to a community; this is what it means, to be a people.

And now she was reconciled to failure, glad of sorrow. She was one with the people round her, who had suffered shame, illness, bereavement, grief and fear. She belonged to them. Those thing which were done for them–that battle against poverty, madness, sickness and old age, the battle which Mrs. Beddows had called local government–was fought for her as well. She was not outside it. What she had taken from life, they all had paid for. What she had still to give, was not her gift alone. She was in debt, to life and to these people; and she knew that she could repay no loan unaided.

[…]

They were no more beautiful, noble or intelligent than they had been before, but in the official group of local authorities she saw the red wrinkled face of Alderman Mrs. Beddows, and Mrs. Beddows caught her glance, looked at her, shook her head, and smiled. In Mrs. Beddows’ smile was encouragement, gentle reproof, and a half-teasing affectionate admiration. Sarah, smiling back, felt all her new-found understanding of and love for the South Riding gathered up in her feeling for that small sturdy figure. She knew at last that she had found what she had been seeking. She saw that gaiety, that kindliness, that valour of the spirit, beckoning her on from a serene old age.

~ Winifred Holtby, South Riding