Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I am going to see Spamalot tonight or, Even Sweet Transvestites Win Once in a While.

Indiana University - blessed IU - can sometimes be extremely supportive of my nerd love, and there are very few things that I love more than Medieval mythology and funny British men.  The speak to me, deep in my soul, and I cannot help but love everything about them.  So, when I heard that IU was putting on Spamalot, the musical based on Monty Python's The Holy Grail, I could do little but stare agape, drooling in utter disbelief and excitement, waiting for tickets to go on sale.

And then I waited a little too long.  My friend and I (the friend that usually accompanies me on my less-than-typically-teenage escapades) went to purchase tickets about a month ago.  A month, we reasoned, gave us enough time to get good seats yet not seem too eager.  We wanted to seduce this play like a love long lusted after, not like a first date fumble. Or maybe it was just me.

I like to daydream a lot.

And so we went to get tickets, and found that the only seats left were all the way to one side of the auditorium or in the balcony.  Apparently, treating popular musical adaptations of movies like dates you want to impress is not the way you are supposed to go about these things.  We ended up getting the seats that were closer to the stage instead of the balcony seats in the middle of everything.  Problem is, I am short and very nearsighted, so either of these choices were probably going to be difficult.

So, tonight we see Spamalot. Me for the first time and my friend for the third.  It will be totally awesome.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Complimentary Gershwin or, Sublime Totally Appreciates Porgy and Bess

First, Summertime by Gershwin, from Porgy and Bess:
And then, Summertime with lyrics, with Renee Fleming singing:
And third, Summertime by Sublime (which is an excellent band, shut up):
See? See what they did there? Yeah, impressive, right? Or at least it was to me, I dunno...


I Got Rhythm Variations (I like it, okay?):

An American In Paris (which pretty accurately reflects my mood right now):
Swanee (also, player pianos scare me a little):
 Okay, that's it for now. Have fun with that.

81 pageviews in a day and a new follower like yeah or, My Heart Cannot Take It

So, like every day, I get on here to check to see if anything new has been going on, expecting maybe one or two random pageviews, but today I look and I see something shocking.
I've gone from 815 pageviews to nearly 900.
I freak out a little.
I flail a lot.
I say, "Thank you, oh thank you!" to an empty room like a madman (madwoman?)
And then I look and see that I have a new follower. Riet Groenleer, you make me feel like a legitimate blogger. Thank you for that.
It's a good day.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A view on social and gender differences during the plague or, I Just Really Like the Plague, Okay?

I want you to know, before I begin, that I am not fact-checking this as I type it. I am recalling things I have been reading about and learning about since the fifth grade.  A lot of the information I am about to speculate about I learned last semester, in a Black Plague course at school. It's a very interesting thing to me, and I am basically writing this as a research paper for fun because I am a nerd.  And I Do Not Care.
*Forewarning - this might not be interesting for you, but it will be immensely interesting to me.*
Part One: Social Change (but not really)

The Plague (capital-P Plague, the first big plague) killed many thousands of people.  First-hand accounts of Plague times say it was hundreds of thousands, millions, perhaps, of people that died.  The thing about first-hand accounts, though, is that they like to exaggerate. Hundreds of thousands is probably a closer-to-accurate answer.  Thing is, a lot of those people were peasants and the like. The people that the Lords depended on to take care of their fields and lands.

As more and more workers died, the living peasants could demand higher wages, something that no one of their station in the world had been able to do before.  The workers could also leave their life of indentured servitude to find new, higher-paying jobs.  This led to a slight power shift in favor of the workers and peasants, much to the dismay of the higher castes, but there was little they could do about it.  The only options of the land-owners was to pay what their servants wanted or let them abandon the property, letting it go to waste and becoming poorer themselves.

At this point, a lot (perhaps the majority) of peacekeepers were struck down by the plague, meaning there was nothing the Lords could do legally anyway, even if the rest of the 'law enforcement' wasn't trying to cope with the humongous amount of deaths occurring all across the continent.

Moral of the story: it was better to be a healthy peasant during the Plague...but no, not really. The Plague was horrible.
Part Two: The Rights of Women During the Plague

I'm just going to jump right into this one - there weren't many before the plague, and there were less afterward.

Women, historically (and, to some point, still today) were meant to be seen and not heard.  Because of Eve, in the Garden of Eden, women were viewed as basic sinners and unworthy of any power.  They held no jobs, got very little education, and were meant to have no opinions.

After the plague, however, these things became worse.  No one at the time (no one until around 1900) knew what caused the plague.  Religious officials and other authority figures, desperate to place blame on someone, pretty much simultaneously blamed foreigners and women.  The original sins that the women were harboring with them was seen as the wellspring of the Plague.  Women were regulated even more harshly than before, the officials going so far as to enforce a kind of dress code for females, making them wear longer and less revealing clothing.  They were seen as progenitors of the plague by the rest of the Medieval community, making The Moral of the Story this: It was never really a good thing to be female and from the middle ages.
If any of this is wrong, tell me please, and I'll try my best to fix it!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

My Walking Around Campus Playlist or, I Swear I Am A Normal Teenager.

Start with Edvard Grieg's In the Hall of the Mountain King:

Begins quietly, then rushes, rushes to its conclusion.

Then follow with Richard Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries:

It's exciting from the outset, a good follow-up to the Grieg.

Then some Brahms, with Hungarian Dance No. 5:

A little more stately, a little calmer, but still so awesome.

And then straight to Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2:

Slower, more dangerous, very emotional, and then almost campy.

Followed by Chopin's Grand Valse Brillante!:

Just to calm it down a little (and he's, like, my favorite person ever.)

AND THEN MORE CHOPIN! Prelude in D Flat Major:

Totally NOT because Chopin is awesome and I'm playing this song right now on the piano but because it's a lovely song. There is NO ulterior motive here.

And finally, we have Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture (finale):

In which cannons are used as musical instruments, officially making classical music cooler than anything else on the radio.

And that is my Walking Around Campus Playlist. I hope you all enjoy.

Things I like that no one else understands or, My favorite religious song is for the Shakers

I have a band concert tomorrow, in which I will play the flute and generally be really awesome.  I'm excited for this concert, too.  I really like the pieces we're playing, my favorite of which is called "Chorale and Shaker Dance," which is a variation of Simple Gifts, the Shaker Theme Song.

I like Simple Gifts.

I like Simple Gifts like normal nineteen-year-olds like Rihanna or whatever they listen to, I don't know. I'm busy making classical piano playlists so when I walk to class I can feel like I'm in a music video.

(Seriously, though, have you ever walked to class and listened to an orchestral recording of anything? It's spectacular.)

That's the Chorale and Shaker Dance. If you actually listen to it, four or five minutes in (it is kind of long, forewarning) everything starts to taste like Batman and the lights dim like Gotham City and then you get back to hyperactive Shaker Dance Aerobics and it's just lovely. If any of that made sense.

Our other songs are good too, and I think I already posted the Gershwin one, which is also one of my favorites.  I might post the rest of them later, since it gives me an actual excuse to look up concert band songs on YouTube without feeling like a nerd.

Oh wait.

I don't care.


Speaking of, bonus Grieg:


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ties Are Made

"No, seriously, what's going on?" my guest asks again.  "How do you two know one another?"

"Stop being annoying!" I yell, louder than I mean to.  The hazy man across from me leans back in his chair. 

"Ma'am, let 'im aks 'is questions."  The billowing smoke shifts slightly toward my unwanted associate, leaning forward almost enough to expose the face behind the cloud. "This liddle gal n' I met one day when I wus called to the scene of a crime.  A toy dog, a liddle pup, had gone berserk an' attacked a boy. He wus only two, ye know.  One 'o the worst tings I had ever seen.  An this gal, the woman ye have beside ye, was standin' right outside o' the police tape, like nuttin was botherin' her inna world."

I blush, surprised that he remembered so well.  "I am your biggest fan, sir."

"I know, gal, I know."  He tossed the toy car casually onto the desk.  "Now, waddaya need from me?"

"Well, sir," my associate began, "I seem to have lost something very important..."

I roll my eyes.  "He lost a flock of robotic pigeons that are of national importance."

"Ah, I heard about 'em, from a friend o' mine."

"But," my associate spluttered, "this is top secret! Most of the people who invented the things don't know they're lost!"

"Mebbe, but the people I know're higher'n that..."  The voice behind the cloud petered off into nothing, waiting for a response.  I cover my face as much as I can, trying to hide my embarrassment for the man who unfortunately hired me.

My employer explained everything to the ball of smoke, and I let my eyes wander the room, bored.  On every wall there seemed to be a book case dedicated to the technological trophies he had won or dismantled. 

When the men were done talking, our host gathered a few odd looking things from around the room, giving them to me in a small bag.  He told me that they were going to be instrumental in returning the secrets and the pigeons to Washington.

For a few minutes he marked on a map that he had grabbed from one drawer or another.  The smoke once again obscured everything, and when he handed it to me it was folded into eighths.  

"Now, don't you open that up 'till ye get outta this office.  And keep the stuff in the bag hidden.  I never wanna see any of it again.  Not, both of you go an' don't come back here. Ever, whether you're successful or not.  Do ye unnerstand?"

"Never?" I as kin disbelief.  "But what if I want to talk to you? If I want to discuss methods of mechanical extermination?"

"Never!" the cloud said harshly.

I rose so abruptly that my chair screeched against the stone in the office.  My associate followed after me, back into the dark city.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Anna Karenina or, Hipster Classics But I Don't Care.

I have am issue with buying books. As in I have to buy them constantly and then I keep them until I read them, even if that takes years and years.  Bloomington has a fabulous bookstore called Boxcar Books, and my friends and I go there of a boring afternoon, when there is nothing else to do and classes are over.  Since I'm in Bloomington, and therefore nowhere near my own personal library, I have to restrain myself from buying everything I see.  One particular day, though, I hadn't bought anything for a few months, and, delightfully, Boxcar is a good place to find cheap books.

I decided to be intellectual that day, and so I bought just two books, Anna Karenina and Cat's Cradle by Vonnegut.  I commented that it probably meant I was turning into a hipster, but I was strangely not concerned by this.  MY friends proceeded to call me a loser. It's probably true.

I decided to read Cat's Cradle first.  It was shorter (Cat's Cradle, 200 pages; Karenina, 700+), and I had heard phenomenal things about Vonnegut.  It's basically an end-of-the-world novel, satirical and serious at the same time. An amusing side note: a lot of the characters are Hoosiers (random side note: most of the characters in The Great Gatsby are from Louisville).  Vonnegut was immediately thrust into the spotlight that is My Favorite Authors, and I had to remind myself that I am poor in order to not go back to Boxcar and buy all of his books.

And then I tried Anna Karenina.  My copy has been graced by graffiti, someone having changed 'Anna' to 'Banana,' which is stupid and hilarious all at once.  I read it for about an hour, and I liked it.  It's smart and Russian and interesting to me.  The only problem was, I was having issues connecting to it.  I like to feel a connection to the books I read, and it was just not happening with this book. I chalk it up to too much literary accomplishment in one setting, but you can call it what you will.

So, instead of  reading Anna Karenina, a fabulously classic tale, I am reading Jim Butcher's White Night, about an angsty wizard trying to save Chicago and Brian Jacques' Martin the Warrior, about talking animals.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

References you may not understand or, Why Math Is So Interesting.

Thomas Jefferson is now in charge of my math homework.

Badly drawn Doctor Who

We talk about concavity in math, I sing Cats show tunes.

And finally...The Big Lebowski.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Why is IU so lacking in things to do?

I haven't posted in a while, and I apologize for that.  And now I'm going to be all hateful, and I'm sorry for that as well.

The only thing I've heard about 'round the IU campus is sorority related.  I am not in a sorority.  I never want to be in a sorority.  I don't see their point, except to make it a little easier to get wasted.  Which is pretty easy anyway, especially around here. 

My room mate is in a sorority, as is everyone else in my dorm it seems.  And I sit here, on the internet, forever alone like a 4chan meme.  I hear about the formal that my room mate's house is having,  I hear our neighbors gossiping about their awesome parties and their legion of sun-tanned sorority sisters.

I know I've made this point before, but I want to outline it again, in case it wasn't clear enough the first time: my room mate has conversations about drinking and parties; my friend and I walked around one of the Halls on campus looking at exhibits of taxidermied amphibians and birds. My idea of a cool night out involves going to the art museum or watching reruns of Doctor Who on Netflix.  Sororities do not concern me so much.

The other thing going around is religion.  My parents did not make us go to church.  The first time I remember attending one was around fourth grade, with a friend of mine.  So, when rumors fly around about Religious Anything I tend to ignore them.  However, when I heard that there was going to be a talk called "Jesus and the end of Religion" I decided to see what it was about, hoping for a legitimate talk about how religion could change.  I had hoped for a talk about what religious people thought was wrong with religion and how they thought it could be improved.  I will not deny it, I think there are some things wrong with religion, but I also believe that with some help things could get better.  They did none of these things, however.  Without going into detail, I will tell you that I was uncomfortable and angry the entire way through the seminar, and I now owe my friend my soul for making her attend the horrible thing in the first place.

So I say again, there is nothing going on around campus that is worth my time.  So instead I did this.