April 2012 Archives

Sobriquet 82.6: Playlist for "The Cellar," 4/24/12

| 0 Comments | 0 TrackBacks
Playlist Theme: Early 1990s Chicago Punk (1990-1995) 

The Playlist:

1. Not Rebecca, "Rosenwinkel" (2:45). Mark's a Dick and Gar's a Drunk: The Johann's Face Story 
2. Winepress, "Disappointed" (3:24). Worth a Thousand Words 
3. Tricky Dick, "When I Was Twelve" (2:56). Discography 
4. Naked Raygun, "Home" (2:53). Raygun...Naked Raygun 
5. The Bollweevils, "Bottomless Pit" (2:36). Stick Your Neck Out! 
6. The Vindictives, "Assembly Line" (3:20). The Many Moods of the Vindictives 
7. Pegboy, "Through My Fingers (4:03). Three Chord Monte EP 
8. Screeching Weasel, "Radio Blast" (3:59). Kill the Musicians
9. My Foolish Halo, "Coming Down" (2:02). Piaphrabakrist 
11. Lunkhead, "Nugget" (2:45). Clever, But Not Funny 
12. Riverdales, "Judy Go Home" (1:55). Riverdales 
13. Didjits, "Killboy Powderhead" (2:01). Hornet Pinata 
14. 88 Fingers Louie, "Too Many" (3:02). Punk Sucks 
15. Smoking Popes, "Need You Around" (3:43). Born to Quit 
16. Tar, "Teetering" (3:34). Clincher 
18. Smoothies, "Dovey" (3:28). Pickle 
19. Apocalypse Hoboken, "Quick Joey Small" (1:57). Mark's a Dick and Gar's a Drunk: The Johann's Face Story

Sobriquet 82.5: Playlist for "The Cellar," 4/17/12

| 0 Comments | 0 TrackBacks
Playlist Theme: The Ramones and Nothing But the Ramones

The Playlist:

1. "Listen to My Heart" (1:58). Ramones 
2. "I Remember You" (2:20). Leave Home 
3. "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker" (2:48). Rocket to Russia 
4. "Questioningly" (3:22). Road to Ruin 
5. "Danny Says" (3:06). End of the Century 
6. "We Want the Airwaves" (3:22). Pleasant Dreams 
7. "7-11" (3:39). Pleasant Dreams 
8. "Outsider" (2:11). Subterranean Jungle 
9. "Howling at the Moon (Sha-La-La)" (4:01). Too Tough to Die 
10. "Crummy Stuff" (2:06). Animal Boy 
11. "Somebody Put Something in My Drink" (3:26). Animal Boy 
12. "I Wanna Live" (2:37). Halfway to Sanity 
13. "Pet Semetary" (3:30). Brain Drain 
14. "Poison Heart" (4:04). Mondo Bizarro 
15. "Surf City" (2:27). Acid Eaters 
16. "I Don't Want to Grow Up" (2:45). ¡Adios Amigos! 
17. "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow" (2:55). It's Alive 
18. "R.A.M.O.N.E.S." (1:24). Greatest Hits Live 
19. "Carbona Not Glue" (1:54). Leathers From New York EP 
20. "Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio? (2:59). Loco Live


Enhanced by Zemanta

Sobriquet 82.4: Playlist for "The Cellar," 4/10/12

| 0 Comments | 0 TrackBacks
Playlist Theme: "Defying the Stereotype: Long Punk Rock Songs"

The Playlist:

1. The Exploited, "Horror Epics" (5:04). Horror Epics
2. Screeching Weasel, "The Edge of the World" (5:07). Teen Punks in Heat
3. The Damned, "Plan 9 Channel 7" (5:09). Machine Gun Etiquette
5. The Blood, "Gestapo Khazi" (5:11). False Gestures For a Devious Public
6. The Clash, "Last Gang in Town" (5:14). Give 'Em Enough Rope
7. Ebba Grön, "Staten & Kapitalet" (5:17). Kärlek Och Uppror
8. Dead Kennedys, "This Could Be Anywhere (This Could Be Everywhere)" (5:23). Frankenchrist
9. Social Distortion, "Prison Bound" (5:23). Prison Bound
10. Adolescents, "Kids of the Black Hole" (5:27). The Adolescents
11. The Misfits, "Come Back" (5:00). Static Age


Enhanced by Zemanta
As the airplane I'm taking from Amsterdam to Minnesota clips the southernmost tip of Greenland, I can think of no better place to begin writing about the Moby-Dick marathon reading I organized at Luther College last month. I've long intended to write something about the event, but have been sidetracked by work obligations and a trip to the United Kingdom. The lack of interesting in-flight entertainment this afternoon combined with word processing technology one can carry on board an aircraft, though, makes this the perfect time to stop putting it off.

Before I begin, I want to emphasize that, while the marathon was my idea, the idea of literary marathons or even marathon readings of Melville's novel hardly originate with me. In fact, one of my colleagues at Luther organized a reading of the book twenty years before I even set foot on campus. I emphasize this because some of the media accounts of the event have undeservedly, though well-meaningly, given me a bit too much credit for trailblazing new literary territory.

So, here's the story. I imagine it might be of interest to a few casual readers, many of the participants of the event, and perhaps a few people considering arranging literary marathons of their own.

I can recall encountering the idea of literary marathons while still an undergraduate in the late 1990s. One of my professors had organized a non-stop reading of Milton's Paradise Lost, which, at the time, did not interest me at all. Still, the notion that a group of dedicated, if slightly eccentric, bibliophiles could read an entire work of epic literature in one session stuck with me. Years later, after I had rediscovered Moby-Dick (I'd read it in high school, but remembered relatively little) and fell headlong in love with the book I still consider to be the greatest novel in American literature, I encountered a brief anecdote about the annual Moby-Dick marathon readings held every January at the New Haven Whaling Museum in Connecticut. I decided I wanted to go, but, for various reasons, could never make the event.

Thus, when I relocated to Iowa, having effectively moved out of driving distance of the museum, I realized that it would be unlikely that I could justify skipping classes to attend the reading. The only way I could attend a reading, then, would be to find one closer to home, which, in rural Middle America is not that easy.

I can't pinpoint the precise moment the idea came to me, but it was sometime during my first semester at Luther College, as I was beginning to think about the books I would be putting on my American Novel syllabus for the Spring semester. I knew, both from personal experience, as well as from overhearing discussions among my students that Moby-Dick is an intimidating book and one that is often loathed in the high school classrooms in which it is often assigned more out of a sense of duty than out of an enthusiastic desire to share a uniquely beautiful work of transcendent American art. For these reasons, I could not imagine leaving the book off my syllabus, even though the novel would take a full month of class time to work through. Once I found myself resolved to teach the book, I found myself becoming increasingly excited about it. Loving the novel as much as I do, though, also brought a sense of anxiety to the situation. I really wanted to make the class enjoyable and I certainly did not want students to view the month of Melville as a lull in their semester, so I began thinking of ways to bring my enthusiasm for the novel to my students and nothing seemed as perfect as a marathon reading.

When I mentioned my then-inchoate idea to a colleague of mine, he told me that he had once arranged a marathon reading of the novel at Luther himself. With his marathon as proof that such an event could be successful at the college and his invaluable insight into the behind-the-scenes work as a starting point, I set about arranging the marathon.

I am positively blessed with enthusiastic, community-oriented students in my class at Luther, so when I brought up my plan for a marathon reading on the first day of class, quite a few of my students responded with interest. Without them, the reading would not have been possible. With them, it was one of the greatest experiences in my academic career. Here's what we did:

The Idea:
In order for the marathon to work, you need participants. This is the most difficult part because, depending on reading speeds (more on this in a little bit), a marathon reading of Melville's novel can take anywhere from twenty to twenty-five hours. Reasoning that one person can comfortably read for ten or fifteen minutes at a stretch, I decided to follow my colleague's model and divide the event into time slots rather than ask readers to sign up for a given chapter. Thus, I created one hundred fifteen-minute reading slots. Beginning at four on a Friday afternoon, I intended the event to continue through the night and end at five the following afternoon. In other words, I'd be asking people to read Moby-Dick at two, three, four, and five in the morning. On a weekend.

The Preparation:
I wanted to make the event fun, but before I could even reach that stage, we needed to find a venue. After some deliberation and a good deal of consultation, I settled on the Science building concourse, which was spacious, centrally-located, and full of comfortable chairs.

The next order of business, of course, was to settle on a time and find volunteers to read. Colleges frequently have several events occurring at the same time and Luther is no exception. I wanted to be sensitive to the needs of the campus community and tried to find a relatively calm weekend. Once I did, I made the list of time slots and passed the time sheet around my class, encouraging my students to sign up for one or more slots. Nearly every student volunteered for at least one and several signed up for an hour or more of reading time. Once I had set the ball in motion with my class, I sent campus emails to English faculty and majors. Combined with word-of-mouth publicity, this approach brought several additional volunteers. 

I also contacted the local newspaper and the public relations office. Once a story appeared in the paper and a news release circulated, I began receiving emails from community members interested in participating.

Then things took off. I was interviewed for several newspaper stories, featured on an hour-long community radio program, and the event was mentioned in newspapers around Iowa (including the Des Moines Register) and in a few surrounding states.

The Problem With The Night Watch:
As word spread, I grew anxious because, not surprisingly, most of the early morning reading slots remained unclaimed. When I mentioned this problem to my class, a few students decided to step up and sign up for those least alluring of slots, between two and ten on Saturday morning. We were getting there, but the schedule remained incomplete.

I responded by gently, if persistently, mentioning the marathon to colleagues and inviting them to participate. Quite a few agreed to participate.

Still, open slots remained and I vowed to fill them myself, if need be.

Then I made posters and hung them around campus and sent out a few more emails, and a few more interested students trickled in.

Eventually, the roster filled, but it took until the day before the reading.

Making the Event an Event
So, we had the time and place set up and we had a few heroic volunteers prepared to forego sleep for the success of the reading, but that was it. Now, the idea of reading Moby-Dick is enough of a draw for some people like myself and the novelty of a marathon might attract another group of people, but I wanted to interest as broad a range of people as possible.

Together with my class, we decided to encourage the wearing of costumes and the incorporation of props. The theater and art majors in my class volunteered to find and create nautically-themed items and costumes. One the day of the reading, we had a chest, rope, a ship's wheel, a harpoon, a pasteboard mask (in honor of my favorite passage in the book), and several students dressed as seafarers.

I also provided coffee for the overnighters and asked the English Department for funds for food, which turned out to be fish chowder, oyster crackers, and cheddar Goldfish crackers.

Between the food and costumes, I reasoned, we'd be a draw.

The Event, In Bullet Points:
*The reading turned out to be a wonderful time. It wound up being 22 hours and 28 minutes long, so we ended at 2:28 on Saturday afternoon. I was amazed by the turnout, which peaked at more than thirty audience members at 2:30 Saturday morning.

*In addition to several newspaper reporters, the marathon was filmed for the NBC affiliate covering eastern Iowa. I live-tweeted the reading, which several students followed and even shared with their parents.

*The fish chowder arrived at the exact moment the reader began Melville's "Chowder" chapter. People cheered.

*Several readers did not show up. Various members of the audience, including myself, filled in. We never missed a beat.

*Some students brought sleeping bags and pillows and made the reading a camp-out.

*It was wonderful seeing community members come to the campus to listen to the novel.

Why I'd Do It Again:
One of the nicest things about a marathon reading of a book like Moby-Dick is that you can experience the full-course of an epic, with its lulls and crescendos, communally. Indeed, several students mentioned that they enjoyed the book more by sharing it with others than they had when they read it alone. Humor that might escape one reader draws laughs from others, for instance, and the reader may see the text in a new light.

I was touched by the concern several of my students showed me over the course of the reading. They often asked if I felt too tired and offered to bring me food. One student brought me a full breakfast of pastries and fruit and others volunteered to help clean up the programs I'd made for the event and clear the props from the room so that only the P.A. system (which wasn't our responsibility) remained and I could get home and to bed sooner.

I have always wanted to be the sort of professor willing to spend time outside of class celebrating the literature I love with my students. This experience only makes that desire stronger. My students responded to my quirky idea with enthusiasm, creativity, and generosity and we all had fun with a book so many people often dismiss as being anything but fun. What better reason to do another marathon than that?

Sobriquet 82.2

| 0 Comments | 0 TrackBacks
Given that A) I am sitting on an airplane heading from the Netherlands to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, B) the in-flight movie does not interest me, C) I have pretty much read all the interesting bits in the magazine I bought in Manchester, D) I am not sleepy enough to doze, and E) I have an electronic device that is approved for use at this particular stage of what will be a nearly nine-hour flight, I have decided to write a blog post to eat up some time and give me the opportunity to get some non-academic writing done.

As I write this, I am returning to the U.S. after a nine day trip to the United Kingdom, where I attended the Paranoia and Pain: Embodied in Psychology, Literature, and Bioscience conference at the University of Liverpool. Paranoia and Pain is the second conference at which I have presented a paper this year and is, in my estimation, the best conference I have attended. Ever.

This is not to say that I have never enjoyed a conference before, but there was something special about this one. Given the conference's focus on topics as generally off-putting and depressing as pain and paranoia, one might be surprised to learn how cheerful an event the gathering actually was, but it was wonderful. My suspicion is that the type of person--if there is, in fact, a "type"--drawn to such themes is often more sensitive and kind than the average person. I have no empirical evidence to support this surmise, of course, but it certainly felt that way.

I arrived in Liverpool by way of Amsterdam and Manchester on Sunday, April 1 to uncharacteristically clear skies over England. The short train ride I took from the Manchester airport to Liverpool's Lime Street Station provided me with a wonderful opportunity to observe some of the English countryside. Upon arrival at the University of Liverpool's satellite campus and conference center, I met another international delegate with whom I quickly decided to explore the city center. Being foreigners, the appeal of sitting in the top deck of a double-decker bus was just too appealing to pass up, so we boarded a bus and headed down to the docks, passing Beatles-related tourist traps and fish-and-chips joints as we took in the sights and sounds of a Liverpudlian Sunday afternoon. It was fun and, after a nice dinner at a place called The Hub, we returned to the dormitory for bed. Since I'd had little more than twenty minutes of sleep in the previous thirty, I conked out pretty quickly, slept all night, and awoke on Monday morning fresh and ready for the conference.

Many of the conferences I have attended in the past have been large, sprawling affairs in which one quickly becomes lost among the throngs of academics milling around, rushing from session to session. The Paranoia and Pain conference, while not tiny, managed to cultivate a distinctly communal atmosphere by scheduling group meals, social events, common lectures, and through a minimal overlap of panels. The result was a warm, inviting milieu in which many participants spent time getting to know one another rather than simply focusing on presenting their own respective papers and existing in the sort of self-imposed solipsism one occasionally encounters at larger, less intimate conferences.

For me, though, the highlight was spending time with a group of like-minded scholars, discussing the things that engage our hearts and minds, at conference panels as well as in pubs and coffee shops.

Initially, I intended to fly home in time for my Friday classes, since I did not want to miss a full week of classes right in the middle of the semester, but when I looked at the calendar, I was delighted to learn that my college would not be holding classes on either Good Friday or Easter Monday, essentially giving me an additional four days to spend in the U.K. before heading home. As a result of this fortuitous timing, I got to stay for the last day of the conference and spend a few days with an old friend living in the Scottish borderlands. Although I hadn't seen her in more than twelve years, we had little difficulty picking up where we left off and I had the pleasure of exploring the southeastern part of Scotland (including Edinburgh) with a local. It was wonderful.

One thing of which I became increasingly conscious of during the week I spent in the U.K. is how liberating it has been, socially and philosophically, for me to be in England. I realize, naturally, that I am enjoying the novelty of things, that a longer period of time would likely bring me to a less starry-eyed optimism and rose-tinged worldview, but some long dormant parts of my personality have reemerged. Now, of course, I must be careful to remember that certain things are almost certainly the result of my being in a particularly unique situation. It is not lost on me, for example, that a good deal of the friendliness I perceive among the English has been the result of my novelty. They hear an American accent and respond with the same curiosity as an American might to a British accent in Cleveland. Such special treatment may well mask realities that I could find less pleasant over a longer period of time. Likewise, I realize that a conference of the sort I outlined earlier is unique and not necessarily representative of England, Europe, or Academia and that, in other situations, the people in whose company I have enjoyed so much time might not have even spoken with me in the first place. Not out of malice, of course, but circumstances often determine social interaction and, realistically, people in their own element, who know a newcomer will not be around for long might not go out of their way to meet someone new.

Still, be this as it may, I do feel there are certain things that this brief trip has brought to the forefront of my consciousness. Many of my values, for instance, are at odds with those espoused by a fairly large number of other Americans, particularly in the political and religious realms. Attitudes that have been met with consternation and, in some cases, outright hostility (I'm thinking specifically of the nasty response my refusal to vote for Barack Obama in the last election drew from some self-described liberal friends who could not respect my distaste for a hopelessly broken two-party system) in New York or Iowa appear to be far more common in England. I'm not claiming people here are somehow more enlightened, but rather, that in some ways I remain more in sync with European value systems that those most prominent in my native country. I'm sure I sound like a hipster in saying so, but it's true. I just feel "better" in some very key, even ineffable ways when in Northern Europe (I restrict myself to this region only because i have limited experience in Eastern Europe and have never visited the southernmost parts of the continent). Having twice lived in Norway, though, I can't say I am especially surprised to find myself feeling this way. It is not lost on me, either, that, with time, I would likely find myself missing the United States or being tired of always being a foreigner or token American, that I would find some cultural trends stifling and prefer those left behind, that the cloudy skies of the U.K. or my beloved Western Norway might very well have much the same emotional impact as those I disparage in upstate New York. All the same, having once lived in Europe and having imbibed certain cultural qualities at a relatively young age, I cannot help but feel a certain refreshment at re-encountering them and an accompanying dread of returning to the States today.

It will be interesting to see how things develop for me as I move forward.

There is still a pretty large part of me that would like to live abroad again, though it is mitigated both by a concern for finding a permanent place to settle and call "home" as well as a very strong desire to remain close to my family and friends. I suppose this is one of the downsides to having had the blessings I have had in life, having both travelled extensively and having a number of cherished relationships with loved ones.

At any rate, I've nearly exhausted whatever lode of material I've been tapping into for this post and will sign off now, before I end up rambling unnecessarily.

Sobriquet 82.1: Playlist for "The Cellar," 4/3/12

| 0 Comments | 0 TrackBacks
Playlist Theme: Oi!

The Playlist:

1. The Business, "Suburban Rebels" (Live) (3:04). Lords of Oi!
2. The Blood, "Calling the Shots (2:26). False Gestures of a Devious Public
3. The 4-Skins, "Plastic Gangster" (3:24). Singles & Rarities
4. Angelic Upstarts, "Last Night Another Soldier" (2:48). Last Night Another Soldier
5. Blitz, "Someone's Gonna Die Tonight" (2:29). All Out Attack
6. Cock Sparrer, "Take 'Em All" (2:33). Shock Troops
7. Cockney Rejects, "The Greatest Cockney Rip Off" (1:55). Greatest Hits Vol. 2
8. Combat 84, "Rapist" (2:50). Rapist
9. Sham 69, "Borstal Breakout" (2:09). Tell Us The Truth
10. The Strike, "Mania" (2:23). Skins 'N' Punks - Volume Two
11. The Partisans, "Blind Ambition" (3:47). The Time Was Right
12. Infa Riot, "Emergency" (2:19). Still Out of Order
13. Slaughter & The Dogs, "White Light White Heat" (3:01). The Slaughterhouse Tapes
14. The Gondas, "I Lost My Love to a UK Sub" (3:21). Punk Rock Will Never Die - The Best of the Gonads
15. Criminal Class, "Soldier" (2:23). 25 to Life
16. One Way System, "Stab the Judge" (1:55). All Systems Go
17. Section 5, "Every Saturday" (3:14). Street Rock N Roll
18. Menace, "GLC" (2:24). The Menace Final Vinyl
19. The Lurkers, "Lucky John" (2:02). Go Ahead Punk
20. The Last Resort, "Held Hostage" (3:02). Resurrection
21. Splodgenessabounds, "Delirious" (2:31). Lords of Oi!


Enhanced by Zemanta

OpenID accepted here Learn more about OpenID

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from April 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2012 is the previous archive.

May 2012 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.