Blueberry dark chocolate banana bread? Yes, it is as good as it sounds! I am a complete novice to baking–as in, I can even mess up cake mixes–but this recipe is foolproof, as well as vegan and low-fat. Adapted from Treehugger.
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/4 cup agave nectar or other sweetener
1/4 cup applesauce
1 large ripe banana
1/3 cup blueberries
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
Mash the banana in a bowl, then add in the applesauce and agave. Combine with a fork or mixer until smooth. Add in the dry ingredients a little at a time, stirring until your batter is sticky and well mixed. Fold in the blueberries and chocolate chips, then pour into a greased or non-stick baking tin. Sprinkle a bit of sugar on top for extra crusty deliciousness, and cook at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the bread comes out smooth.
Yields 4 slices. I used a 9″ pie tin because that’s the only baking dish I own (read: novice), but you can double the recipe to fill a proper loaf tin. You may want to–this will disappear fast!
It’s the start of a new year, and with it a new Self-Image video. This trend was started by my friend Eric, and it’s rather startling to click back through past years and see how much has changed about your friends and yourself.
This year ended up being a fairly trying one for me. I moved, took on two new jobs (currently have three! Can we top that?), began taking senior-level classes, and dealt with several deaths in my family. I’m constantly changing as a person, too, and while I am happy for most of them, it is weird and destabilizing to change so much and so frequently. I discussed that very weirdness in a video last week.
However, commenters have noticed an optimistic tone in this Self Image video, and they’re right. I am excited about my direction and eager to see what the new year brings.
Want to get in on the conversation? Join us and post a Self-Image video as a response to Eric’s!
Good morning, Wonkistan!
I’ve started a very exciting new project with my friend and collaborator Ivan. We call it Wonkistan, an Independent Nomadic Republic existing outside of this pesky dimension’s distance and geography. Our friendship is largely about enthusiastic celebration, nuanced discussion, and flailing about awesome stuff on the Internet–and we know some of you enjoy those things, too! Why not give that excitement a name and space to thrive?
So we hope to bring you commentary on news and culture through videos, blog posts, and Twitter conversations. But we’re doing this the Wonkistani way: with nuance, detail, care, enthusiasm, and precise language. We’ll be roping as many friends as we can into the project, and uploading videos across the channels of all of our collaborators.
Though Ivan and I have a lot of video ideas queued up already, we’d really love to hear from you if you have ideas or propositions–seriously, even if you’re “just a viewer,” we want to hear from you! The best way to do that is via Twitter (@shessomickey/@slavicpolymath) or on Wonkistan’s tumblr. While you’re at it, track the #wonkistan hashtag on Twitter–we are!
I hope you enjoy the video, and I encourage you to use the hashtag on Twitter and Tumblr, and to reblog our tumblr posts with your own commentary. If you have feedback, questions, ideas, or suggestions, let us know!
Get to it, Wonkistanis =)
PPS: You may notice that it’s been 13 months since my last blog post. About that. Er. Well. It’s been a busy year. But I’ve given my website its annual brush-up, and I plan on writing weekly blog posts beginning in September. You’ll find various ways of subscribing to this blog in its sidebar! Let’s do this!
Sorry if the name triggers bad playground memories. But it’s purple and delicious, and I thought I’d share the recipe!
I hate the texture of blueberries, but I had to use them before they spoiled, so I used my favorite fridge-clearing trick: the smoothie. This tastes amazing! I inhaled it before I could snap a photo, but you can see the remnants above.
As with any blended treat, add or subtract ingredients according to your tastes! I think a handful of baby spinach or another green would do well to balance out the sweetness of this smoothie.
- 1 dry pint blueberries (pop them in the freezer first, if you can remember!)
- 1/4 of a pineapple (about half a cup)
- 1/2 cup strawberries
- 2 scoops mango sorbet
- 2 scoops vanilla soy ice cream
- 4 squares dark chocolate (72% or higher for vegans!)
- 5-10 ice cubes
- Splash of soy milk
Blend and enjoy! Yields about 3 servings.
Bonus: For easiest blending, add the chunky ingredients first (pineapple, strawberries, chocolate), then the blueberries, then the sorbet and ice cream. Blend all of that on high, then add the milk and ice, and pulse. I like to leave some small chunks of ice for texture, but you can go ahead and blend it for another few seconds on low, until you don’t hear the ice breaking up any more.
YA author Maureen Johnson discussed young adult literature with, er, interesting columnist Meghan Cox Gurdon. I felt very strongly about her article, so I called in to give my opinion. This is basically what I said, for those of you who missed it:
Good morning, my name is Amanda, I’ve been a reader my whole life, and I’m calling from New York.
I was surprised that Ms. Gurdon did not consult any teenagers in researching this topic, so I hope to provide one teenager’s perspective on this topic. Ms. Gurdon wrote in her article:
“If books show us the world, teen fiction can be like a hall of fun-house mirrors… reflecting back hideously distorted portrayals of what life is.”
I think that’s a great description of what being a teenager is like. Events and losses that adults can put in perspective and take in stride devastate teenagers, and make us think nobody has ever felt as alone as we do. To see our pain, as well as our joy, talked about honestly in literature is life-saving.
When parents or social services or friendship are not enough, a library card comes through. A friend of mine took her own life when I was sixteen, all anyone wanted to do was talk around the issue; it was YA literature that let me grieve, let me come close to understanding how she could have felt that desolate. Yes, reading about suicide is difficult and dark, but so is teenage life, sometimes. And in response to the first caller, we can read quote-unqoute dark books like 13 Reasons Why alongside historical books like The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing.
So if YA is more openly discussing dark themes, I think that is a great step for teens who desperately need to read it. Keeping literature out of teens’ hands is doing us a disservice.
And I’d like to argue that those who want to limit what teens can access — I call them book banners, but Ms Gurdon calls them bearers of judgement and of taste — are preventing us from getting what we need. It is the matter of a teen and his or her parents to decide what he or she can read, not other people’s parents or adults in offices.
I wrote this short essay as a possible vlog script yesterday in response to this article in the New York Times: Badminton’s New Dress Code is Being Criticized as Sexist. I didn’t get a chance to film the video, but I think this argument translates well to a blog post. As always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments.
I spent an hour this morning reading the newspaper, as I usually do. I admit that I sometimes skim the sports section, but today. Oh ho. Today I was most engrossed, because apparently, the Badminton World Federation has a lot to say about skirts.
Realizing that interest in women’s badminton has flagged in recent years, the Federation decided it was time to revive the ratings in time for the 2012 Olympics. But instead of investing in an ad campaign, or promoting their stars on sports networks, or thinking about the public perception of their sport, they decided to cultivate a more “attractive presentation” by forcing all female athletes to wear skirts or dresses.
Let’s just think about that for a second. To boost ratings, this board of sports professionals — 92% of whom are male — voted to make their female athletes “feminize” and sexualize their bodies. Instead of viewing all athletes in an equal light, the board singled out the women and are exploiting their bodies for publicity and advertising. If this sounds like some kind of Mad Men subplot, it’s probably because the Federation consulted a marketing firm — yes, an organization that specializes in selling things — when making their decision.
The outrage against this rule is, as you may expect, very strong. Many female players wear shorts and athletic pants because they can move better in them, and object to how a skirt would interfere with their game. Some women object for religious or cultural reasons, and would have to wear long pants underneath a skirt or dress to comply with the rule — and you can imagine how cumbersome that would be, how much it would affect their playing.
It almost goes without saying that there are no rules governing what male athletes wear.
I’m not even most outraged at the obvious thoughtlessness, the disregard for women’s athletic prowess. I’m pissed that it apparently didn’t cross anyone’s mind that this is sexist. Sexism, see, is not just discriminating against a person based on her sex. It’s also “behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex.” Stuff that enforces sex-based stereotypes. And touting women’s bodies as sexualized selling points — that, folks, is sexism at its finest.
What really gets me is not that this group wants to better publicize their female athletes, which is fine, or even that they want to further feminize them. It’s the assumption that anyone holds the right to tell a woman how she should present herself. In athletics, clothing is generally functional, but many female tennis players, for example, like to wear clothes that inform their personality or persona. To assume that all biological females wish to identify as feminine and to dress that way belies a basic understanding of gender identity.
Moreover, assuming that anyone, especially a board comprised of 23 men and two women, has the right to tell a woman how to dress is simply dangerous. That is the kind of thinking which leads to statements like “She was asking for it” in reference to victims of rape. It assumes that how a woman dresses or styles her hair or makeup is some kind of code for men to interpret and act upon, instead of just personal style.
The way a woman dresses is not consent. It’s not an invitation for staring, groping, or verbal harassment. It’s not probable cause for assault. And it’s not a marketing campaign.
Badminton, invest in some cool commercials on ESPN and leave your athletes’ bodies out of it.
Dun-dun-da-dunnnn! It’s the Home Library Post of Geektastic Glee. I recently reorganized my home library after coming home from college with way more books than I left with, so a comprehensive re-organization was way overdue. I have documented my beautiful new shelves for my fellow library geeks’ viewing pleasure.
My home library is fully cataloged on LibraryThing.com. I highly recommend the site! It’s saved my family members from buying me books I already own countless times. Also nifty to see what sorts of books you favor, to make pretty cover collages, and more!
So this is a tour of my home library. I have about 900 books in these cabinets, and several hundred more boxed up in my attic and under the bed. Until I get a place of my own with enough shelving to display the full library, these are the books that will stay out. Think of this as my circulating collection!
I will also recommend one book per shelf, which works out to 30 books total. Since the shelves are organized by genre, you will see a nice selection of recommendations. Click on the pictures to see bigger versions.
We begin in my room. The first view is the main stretch of cabinets, adjacent to the door. The second photo is the view you see in my videos, opposite my bed, only at a better angle.
Let’s start with that one lonely cabinet. This is fiction, though if an author has written primarily fiction with one outlier (like Jonathan Safran Foer, whose newest book is nonfiction), I prefer to keep the author’s books all together instead of dividing up by genre. This is a wide view:
…and a shelf-by-shelf view. Recommendations below each photo.
Shelf 1: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon. It’s like an action movie, only smarter, better, and set in 1940s New York City.
Shelf 2: Specimen Days by Michael Cunningham. The novel is a love letter to Whitman that involves ghosts and spaceships. Win.
Shelf 3: The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. Even though it shows its cards on the first page, the story grabs you and doesn’t let you go. Very beautiful.
Shelf 4: No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July. I’m totally in awe of short story writers, and July crafts many perfect little tales. The title, too, is so wonderfully inviting.
Shelf 5: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. This book struck me in the chest when I first read it, over one long afternoon on the beach several years ago. It gives and gives with each re-read, which in my opinion is one of the most important features in great books.
Shelf 6: The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss. I wish I knew German so I could read this book in the vernacular. It was one of my favorites as a kid, and this edition has beautiful illustrations. A captivating story that inspired many of my young novels!
On to the next cabinet! This one’s beside my door, as you can see; you will recognize it as the one over my right shoulder in videos. This may be my favorite cabinet, and displays the greatest diversity in genres. Let’s go, starting with a full view to orient you:
Moving on to what must be my favorite shelf close-up! Drama and poetry:
Shelf 1 (Drama): The History Boys by Alan Bennett. Have I discussed my head-over-heels love for this play before? It’s incredible. So relevant to young people studying literature, history, art — and includes some fabulous poetry.
Shelf 2 (Poetry): A Coney Island of the Mind by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. I love how he plays with space and line alignment, something I haven’t done much with myself!
Here we have Biography and Memoir (shelf 3), and the first half of Nonfiction (shelf 4).
Shelf 3 (Biography and Memoir): Finishing the Hat by Stephen Sondheim. I know I have some fellow musical theatre geeks among my friends and subscribers, and you all will love this book. I especially like Sondheim’s comments on his lyrics, song by song.
Shelf 4 (Nonfiction, A-H): The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. As a young freethinking person, this book was instrumental to the development of my own beliefs. It’s a great read for anyone thinking critically about religion, atheist, agnostic, and theist alike.
Finishing off Nonfiction (shelf 5), and Reference (shelf 6).
Shelf 5 (Nonfiction, H-Z): Packing for Mars by Mary Roach. Anything by Mary Roach is bound to be hilarious, smart, and absolutely worth your while. This is her newest book, looking at the gritty details of human life in space. Fascinating! I also love Stiff, which is about the lives of cadavers, so to speak.
Shelf 6 (Reference): The Federalist Papers. What, you don’t own a copy of the Federalist Papers? Why not? Go to, go to!
Moving on to a genre I imagine you will be well-acquainted with: Young Adult!
Shelf 1: Going Bovine by Libba Bray. Only Libba could pull off this concept, and do it with such panache and humor! It’s often the first book YA I recommend to ‘reluctant readers,’ who want something engaging and fast-paced. It’s wonderful.
Shelf 2: This is All by Aidan Chambers. I really loved it at 14 or 15, and while in retrospect there may have been some troubling “manic pixie dreamgirl” issues at play, I still loved it. Long and often quite poetic, but if you dig it, worth the read!
Shelf 3: Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden. Not only is this probably the best YA book ever about two girls falling in like, it was published in the eighties. Nancy Garden is my hero. The protagonists meet in the Met, also — talk about a dream! Really, really read this one.
Shelf 4: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. One of my favorite YA books ever. Frankie is such a believable and unique protagonist, and her pranks are seriously Weasley-worthy. I want a whole series about Frankie’s shenanigans, but this one book will have to do!
Shelf 5: Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. This is one of those “boy books” thrust upon every boy between 10 and 14 to entice him to read. And it’s great, don’t get me wrong, but it is definitely not just a boy book. It’s about survival, about finding yourself, about being capable and mature and self-reliant.
Shelf 6: Peeps by Scott Westerfeld. I love this book. I’m head-over-heels for it! Scott makes paranormal even cooler than it is; this book has creatures, it has New York City, and it has some feisty characters. What more do you need?
The final case in my bedroom is a bit hodgepodge: a few children’s books plus fantasy, then Playbills and magazines, then oversize books. Because this cabinet is wedged between the wall and my bed, some of the angles on these photos are a bit compromised. Let’s go ahead and look!
The close-ups, beginning with fantasy plus some leftover children’s books in shelves one to four.
Shelf 1: The Witches by Roald Dahl. He was my favorite author as a child, or close to it, and The Witches is my favorite of his books. I love to re-read them, even as an adult.
Shelf 2: The Giver by Lois Lowry. I don’t know who thought it would be fun to teach this book to sixth graders in my elementary school, but that person should be fired. This book is much more than a children’s read, and in my opinion ought to be appreciated by at least middle-or high-schoolers. Anyway, it is brilliant and philosophical and has several companion books set in the same universe. Even if you read it as a kid and didn’t get it — I don’t blame you — try it again!
Shelf 3: Sabriel by Garth Nix. This series (Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen) competes with the His Dark Materials series (also on this shelf), The Chronicles of Narnia (shelf two), and Harry Potter (shelf four) as my favorite series ever. It is completely original, with incredible world-building and a grand scale unlike many other books besides Lord of the Rings. Everyone I’ve convinced to read it has loved it!
Shelf 4: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling. Because who doesn’t need a little more Sirius Black in their lives?
We’ve got playbills and magazines on shelf five, and oversize books on shelf six.
Shelf 5 (Playbills and Magazines): New York Magazine! Not the most intellectual, sure, but I enjoy reading it each week.
Shelf 6 (Oversize): I loved those Guinness World Records books as a kid. I’d buy old copies at garage sales and read them cover to cover, not caring that they were out of date!
Whew, finished my bedroom! Now for my sister’s cabinet, where we recently packed away all of her old picture books and elementary school reads, and moved in what I call “pre-YA.” The books are smart and challenging, but nobody really kisses each other. She has just turned 13, so she’ll be on to YA soon enough, but I’m excited for her to read through my favorite younger books!
Shelf 1: Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. This series is wonderful. It really is. I wanted to be Artemis when I was a kid — independent, brilliant, with nothing stopping him! It’s really smart, and definitely a book that can engage you and your ten-year-old sibling alike.
Shelf 2: Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. When we were organizing this shelf, my sister said to me, “Yeah, Charles Dickens is one of my favorite authors. You should read him.” And my heart grew fifteen times. So, if you have an eleven-year-old hankering after some classics, this one is the way to go!
Shelf 3: The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke. This, too, inspired many of my childhood stories. Every kid wants to be free of parents, living outside the law, running across rooftops and the like!
Shelf 4: The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg. I guess I really like novels set in famous New York museums! This one involves two kids in the Museum of Natural History at night, which is my absolute dream.
Shelf 5: London Holiday by Richard Peck. This book is standard fiction, not really children’s lit, but I like to keep authors together. It’s about age, and friendship, and London, and I love it very much. His children’s lit is also fantastic, of course!
Shelf 6: So B. It by Sarah Weeks. This is one of those brilliant books apparently for kids that manages to be poignant and sad and serious and also wonderfully engaging for children. A great transitionary book between children’s and YA.
Well, it looks like that’s that! Thank you for coming along on my Home Library Tour. You can browse my library online at LibraryThing, including some of the titles that are currently in storage and not pictured!
Please do leave your opinions, thoughts, and squeeing in the comments!
Homophobia and You
Hello! You may have heard that today is the International Day Against Homophobia. Now, as a savvy Internet person, you probably know lots of queer* people, or you may be queer yourself, but you probably have no feelings against queer people. You probably consider yourself pretty kind and tolerant! You certainly aren’t homophobic, so that’s enough, right?
Not quite! The LGBTQ community is vocal and strong, sure, but small. That’s where Allies come in. An Ally is simply anyone who supports the LGBTQ community and its quest for acceptance and rights. Any person, of any sexuality or gender or age, can be an Ally simply by choosing to be (more here). That’s why there’s sometimes an “A” at the end of “LGBTA” or “LGBTQA” — to extend the community to its supporters, too. And you can be one of them.
Here is my short guide to “Homophobia and You,” for queer theory experts, Allies, and the newly interested alike.
1. Accept, don’t just tolerate
This may seem like a question of semantics, but it is important to note that tolerance and acceptance are not the same thing. Tolerance, to me, is just the alternative to hostility. “I tolerate my neighbor’s dogs, because I’m not gonna go over there and yell at them.” “I tolerate my baby sister’s crying because she can’t help it.” “I tolerate this weather because there’s no use getting angry.” See? “I tolerate immigrants” is not “I value multiculturalism.” I hear “tolerance” and I think “thinly masked contempt.”
Acceptance, on the other hand, means living with and amongst and alongside people who are different to you. It means caring for and about others. It means loving your gay brother or bisexual son or genderqueer daughter instead of just not hating them.
Tolerance is the very basic level. I think, if raised in a world where gender and sexuality are as insignificant to a person’s integrity as eye color, most people are accepting and loving and generous by nature. But maybe, in the here and now, just becoming tolerant is a leap for some folks. That is step one, though.
Would I rather people be tolerant than hateful? Yes. But I think we can do better.
2. Love what queer people can’t choose…
In case you hadn’t heard, sexual orientation and gender identity are not choices. If you are queer, you didn’t do anything bad to deserve it. You aren’t sinning or disappointing your parents or trying to be unqiue by liking who you like or being who you are. All of us have to learn to love ourselves; for some of us, society makes it even harder than it has to be.
3. …and respect what they do
Choices that queer people can and do make include appearance (haircut, clothing, makeup/lack thereof), pronouns (he/him, she/her, ze/hir, they), and name. Queer people often don’t have the luxury of being born with a sexuality, gender, and body that all align perfectly; choices like I mentioned can can help put these factors back in order.
These choices are very important and very personal, so it is your job to respect them without being nosy. If someone you know as “Mary” has become “Mike,” it is not your place to ask why he changed his name or why he chose that one or why you should listen — it is your place to use his new name. If you know someone who is transitioning, ask what pronouns they prefer. It might seem like a weird question, but trust me, they would much rather answer once than hear people use the wrong ones all the time. Maybe you’ve never heard of gender-neutral pronouns like “zhe” and “hir” before, but you will use them if someone asks you to. Maybe the singular “they” irks your English major ears. Too bad!
4. Speak conscientiously
As you learn more about the queer community, you will notice ways to change your everyday speech to be more aware and accepting. One of the most obvious ways is to avoid dehumanizing queer people — words like “queers” and “fags” are examples of othering, which set queer people apart from the rest of society in a derogatory way. So does staring at someone whose gender is not obvious to you, or referring to transgender people or intersex people as “it.”
Moreover, just like it is not P.C. to refer to someone by their ethnicity, try not to characterize people by their gender. There’s no need to say “This woman I saw at the bookstore” when you can say “Someone I saw” or “This person I saw.” It might seem harmless, but to someone who is genderqueer, or to someone who feels limited by their gender, it is endlessly irritating to be shoved in the little boxes of “man” and “woman” or “guy” and “chick.” So don’t contribute to it!
5. Educate yourself
The Internet saves you the particular pain of searching for queer theory books in the public library at ten years old, paranoid that your overbearing neighbor will see you and tell your mom. *coughs* Even reading Wikipedia’s collection of pages on LGBT people is really illuminating. Do you know what intersex means? Pansexual? Genderqueer? Now you can!
You can read up on PFLAG, the GSA, and the ACLU’s work for LGBT rights. Research terms you run across and don’t understand. Search for scholarly articles on queer theory, feminism, and LGBT rights. There is always something more to learn, no matter how well you think you know your queerdom.
Please, just try to be accepting. It might feel uncomfortable for you, and it might put you in a vulnerable place at school or work especially if you’re straight, but it needs doing. Ask questions, research, and be willing to be corrected! Because — and you knew this was coming — we were born this way.
* I use the word “queer” to refer to any person who sees themselves outside heteronormative culture or the gender binary. You can use this word, too, but be ready to explain yourself to less knowledgeable peers. And remember, “queer people” is okay. “Queers” is not.
Hello there! You may have noticed that I only did a few days of BEDA. This is because I didn’t have much to say besides gushing about my favorite poems — so I decided to cut what I didn’t like, and focus my energy on my favorite subject, poetry. And here’s what I’ve been doing all month!
Important: The annotations will not show up on an embedded video, so you should click through to watch it on my YouTube page!
This video took three weeks of planning, two days of filming, three days of editing, 10 GB of footage, and 7 hours of annotating in order to create 80 videos and hundreds of annotations. I can say that this is the most difficult and largest video project I have ever undertaken. I really hope you like it!
Below you will find the full bibliography of the nearly 40 poems I included. That’s one for every day of National Poetry Month, plus a few bonuses! I hope you play along, or just read / listen to your favorites.
Bibliography for The Poetry Game
This was not the Sunday I’d planned. I was going to do chores, run errands, get started on projects and homework, and generally relax after a busy day yesterday. Instead, I was awoken by a fire alarm, then spent the day in the emergency room taking care of a friend. My building did not burn down and my friend is just fine, but it feels like my weekend went by in a flash. I did, however, daydream about the beautiful half-sleeves I will be getting at some point in the next few years! One based on “Howl” and one on “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” two poems you can look forward to later on in the month.
Now, some links for you all:
-Information on new episodes of Sherlock (due later this year) and an episode from the new Dr Who. So excited for both!
-A calendar of nerdy events happening in New York City
-This is where I’ll be in a week and a half. WIN.
I actually just read this poem today, but I imagine it will grow to be one of my favorites. This is “Bones” by Carl Sandburg. It’s very different to most of the poetry I like to read — quite unlike, say, Whitman, where you can feel the air between each line and just float through the poem like water. “Bones” feels like the sea itself is crushing you. Every word is perfect, just building one after another after another like a brick wall. Moreover, my mother is a lifeguard, so I was raised on the beach and loving the beach and going on drives along Ocean Parkway to clear my head. Being entombed in the ocean sounds like heaven to me.
Sling me under the sea.
Pack me down in the salt and wet.
No farmer’s plow shall touch my bones.
No Hamlet hold my jaws and speak
How jokes are gone and empty is my mouth.
Long, green-eyed scavengers shall pick my eyes,
Purple fish play hide-and-seek,
And I shall be song of thunder, crash of sea,
Down on the floors of salt and wet.
Sling me . . . under the sea.
This is the sleepiest BEDA post yet. I’ll make up for it tomorrow, promise, but I’ve been out all day long! I woke up around 10:30, got ready and went to see Company at the Philharmonic (which I’ll review tomorrow). It was just wonderful. Then I walked down to Times Square and met Ev, Peter, Lisa, and Emily, and we spent a lovely evening together. I hadn’t met Lisa, and hadn’t seen Ev in person, so it was quite special. I called it a night a little early, not wanting to overdo my new, tenuous good health, and now I’m going to get to bed! I know, I know, such an exciting life ;)
So look forward to an extra special post — and an extra special poem — tomorrow. Night!
Hello there! I think I’m finally on the upswing of this cold, which is, ah, awesome. I had a trying and busy morning, but I was back in my room by 2:00, and spent the remainder of the day not moving very much xD My stellar friend C. came by with a care package (apples, oatmeal, tea, applesauce) and talked and hung out. We also watched The Town, which I rather liked! C. is from Boston, so she had a lot of cool commentaries and insights. I love it when movies are firmly rooted in a place, especially one I have some knowledge about. I recognized quite a few places!
I have one very important link for you today: a live feed of a bald eagle’s nest in Iowa.
Two gorgeous eagles and three babies, being majestic and cute 24/7! I emailed my mom late last night to alert to her to this amazing thing, and we’ve since been texting one another all day with comments. “Oh no, that one tiny baby looks cold!” “She isn’t feeding the one on the left as much!” “Your brother thinks the big one looks sick!” Like, as if we know anything about eagles — as if this pair of eagles hasn’t hatched a dozen eggs before these three — but still! You care so much about them! Go forth and enjoy.
Today’s poem is my second favorite piece featured in The History Boys, the play I mentioned yesterday. Phillip Larkin is another of the great British war poets, though perhaps the youngest of the bunch, a teenager during WWII. His “MCMXIV” is a masterpiece.
In trying to quote my favorite lines, I end up highlighting more than half the poem. The imagery is just so specific, so perfect that I, an American teenager for whom the world wars are not even a memory, understand something like “Shadowing Domesday lines / Under wheat’s restless silence.” The beginning of the last stanza is probably my favorite part. So well put! Innocence is there and then it’s gone, in the blink of the proverbial eye. Larkin could not have conceived of an event like 9/11, which I discussed at length in class today. He died in 1985, so he saw most all of the wars fought in the twentieth century. A sad thing to remark upon. Anyway, my point is that the poem is incredible, and the tight, detailed, sad-but-not-sappy lines are models for my own writing.
Still sick! What a surprise! I have almost no voice at all today, and I have to give a presentation in class tomorrow. I hope I can drink some honey beforehand and make it through.
I went to dinner with one of my good friends and her mom tonight. The friend knows I make videos, and she apparently showed her parents, too. It was a weird thing for my friend to make references to and jokes involving things I’d said in videos, and for all of us to laugh about it. I think at one point I said (uh, croaked? Whispered?), “This is so meta.” It was good-strange.
I am hopefully going to room with that girl and a third friend next year when I return from study abroad. The two of them are living together all year, and hopefully they can convince their third roommate (randomly assigned) to switch rooms with me when I return home. Even if that doesn’t work, we’ll all be living in the same gorgeous old building in SoHo. I can dig it!
I’m going to have a very busy weekend, which is always a mixed bag for me. I really like having time to myself, to do chores and homework and to relax, but sometimes stuff has to be done. Tomorrow I have class, extra hours at work, and errands; Saturday I’m seeing Company (!) and meeting fabulous YouTube friends (!); and Sunday I have essays to write and an event at work. Hopefully I can sleep in there, somewhere.
Links of the day:
-Ivan’s video on Arabic poetry and problems of translation. I can really identify with this one because one of my favorite poets is Rumi, who was Persian. Though he’s widely and well-translated, I imagine I’m missing something when I read his work.
- Super Mario dramatic movie trailer. Hilarious, especially the stars as E.
And today’s poem of the day, “Drummer Hodge” by Thomas Hardy. I first heard this poem read aloud in the movie The History Boys based on the play by Alan Bennett. I then read the play, then saw the play, and I’ve read/watched it many other times since. It’s an outstanding piece, but the poem is the point for today.
“Drummer Hodge” tells the story of a drummer, a young soldier, named Hodge who is killed during the Boer (or Second South African) War, and buried there. The imagery is fantastic, and it’s really subtly lonely in a way that only Hardy can achieve. If you’re ever asked to talk about great wartime British poets, or great Naturalist poets, Hardy’s a good guy to know (and he shares a name with the boss actor). I love the little things about this poem: for example, the word “uncoffined,” at once a specific reference for what he deserves but doesn’t get, and a euphemism for just thrown into the earth. Yet for all that Hodge’s life and burial lack, he still gets to see these strange, beautiful constellations for eternity. Unlike his many millions of fellow Britons, or the hundreds of thousands of boys his age, or even the dozens of friends he’d had back home, he gets to rest in this beautiful foreign veldt.
I’ve memorized this poem, and can deliver it in a very convincing British accent if asked. Here you are:
They throw in Drummer Hodge, to rest
Uncoffined – just as found:
His landmark is a kopje-crest
That breaks the veldt around;
And foreign constellations west
Each night above his mound.
Young Hodge the Drummer never knew -
Fresh from his Wessex home -
The meaning of the broad Karoo,
The Bush, the dusty loam,
And why uprose to nightly view
Strange stars amid the gloam.
Yet portion of that unknown plain
Will Hodge forever be;
His homely Northern breast and brain
Grow to some Southern tree,
And strange-eyed constellations reign
His stars eternally.
Hello, there! I had a lovely post drafted all about “Howl” and how much to means to me, but then I remembered I wanted to build up to my very favorite poems, so that will come later in the month.
Today was markedly better than the last! I had an inspiring and excellent lecture on “Howl” in the morning, a productive time at work, a blessedly short afternoon lecture, and a relaxing evening. Still sick, unfortunately, and my voice is going, too — but after my favorite ladies at the cafeteria fed me lentil soup, the throat situation is (for now) under control.
(Side note: Jon Stewart looks somewhat orange on today’s Daily Show. Different lighting? Weird makeup with his tan from their spring break? Who knows.)
Not much else of note to report, so here are some fun links for the day!
- Time-lapse video of New York City. I’ve seen so many, but I can’t get enough.
- Photos of ‘Company’ rehearsals. I’m seeing this on Saturday (!), and it is such a treat/tease to see photos of these talented, pretty people rehearsing my favorite numbers. Also a cool article on rehearsing without a full cast until dress rehearsal — a stage manager’s worst nightmare, let me tell you.
- Ginsberg’s degrees of sexperation from Whitman. Essentially, Walt Whitman slept with a guy who slept with a guy who slept with Neal Cassady who slept with Allen Ginsberg. Cool!
- I found out that this food co-op is right in my neighborhood! I’m psyched to check it out later in the week.
-Poem of the day: Lawrence Ferlinghetti, publisher of “Howl” and one of Ginsberg’s good friends, was a glorious poet himself. “The Changing Light” is a love song to San Francisco, and it’s simple and elegant and gorgeous.