So, it’s been a while since I have put anything up here, I am going to try to do better about that. I am going to have to put an end to this Sights and Sounds business though, because, as silly as it sounds, I found myself getting stressed out about not putting anything up last week, and, alternately, feeling a lot of stress about getting to work on this week’s post. That’s just ridiculous. This is supposed be fun. I am going to put things up at my leisure from now on, and I suspect that this practice will actually yield more posts because there isn’t this absurd, self-inflicted pressure to get things up here. This ain’t no classroom, so why am I giving myself due dates? On top of this I have a bit of trouble working at home, I have a terrible time staying on task when I am here (some might call it advanced ADHD with a little OCD thrown in for good measure… what this means is that one minute I am working on something at the computer and the next I am standing on the couch dusting the top of the bookcase with little memory of leaving my chair). Anyway, I typically worked at the library when I was in school to avoid distraction and I can’t do that anymore… not until grad school anyway. I heard recently that when someone if focused on doing something and they are interrupted or distracted that it takes 20 minutes to get back to where they were. I think that this is easily doubled in my case and it doesn’t help that I am constantly distracted by, well, me. So, yeah, the deadline thing doesn’t work.

Anyway, with that said there are a few things that I have come across in the past few weeks that are worth mention. The first of which was the documentary Shakespeare Behind Bars, which is kind of just what it sounds like: it is about a group of inmates that have created a theater company and they do one production a year. There is something really amazing about watching these guys, guys that are murderers, rapists and generally the ultimate pariahs of our society, really nail Shakespeare. 1202178011950-1184680363What I found most interesting though, partly because it really ties into the work I was doing for an independent study earlier this year, was the relationships that the prisoners formed with their characters. The most obvious argument for why Shakespeare still holds up, and will continue to, is that he wrote (albeit elegantly) about the basest human emotions. There are universal truths that survive in his work that people will always be able to relate to, whether it is an idea or a character. Granted this is true of most literature that survives for any amount of time. If we accept the notion that literature can be defined as a writer’s holistic impression of the human condition, then surely we can see why the books/plays/whatever that do this on larger scales are the ones that will continue to find an audience through the years… because people see themselves in the work. The point is that it was really interesting to see these inmates finding themselves in the characters. They were doing The Tempest, and more than a few of the inmates seemed to have this moment of revelation where they said, “I know why this role picked me… because I am this character. Here is a guy that is looking for forgiveness for what he has done wrong…” This is essentially what my entire study was about: Shakespeare is relevant to this day, and though this is hardly profound, it is for this very reason. So there. I haven’t really seen any other movies in the past week or two, though we did have a mini 30 Rock marathon last night. That was fun.

Speaking of TV shows…

Lost is over. That sucks, but we are going to try to watch all five seasons again in the interim so that we are fully prepared and caught up when the glorious sixth season starts. I really liked the finale but I am not going to get into it too much here. Yes the ending was a little frustrating, what do you expect? Yes, it was amazing getting to solve a pretty significant mystery about the questionable reality of Jacob, though there is a lot about that that we can’t begin to understand yet. Yes, the love stories are still a little obnoxious, though they weren’t wholly overbearing this time around. lost-season-32All in all it was really pretty great. One thing that I have to mention though is the book that Jacob was reading when he went to see Locke. OK, Lost is really into literary references, with everything as obvious as the character’s names being lifted directly from philosophy and literature to entire story arcs resembling the story lines of other literary works. They are often subtle little nods to some author or another (while at the same time lending clues to the viewers that catch the references), but when Lost does something as obvious as put a book right in front of your face (i.e. Ben reading Joyce’s Ulysses on the plane in season four) you had better pay attention and assume that it is worth looking up the book if you are unfamiliar with it, just to get more insight into the character that was reading it. So when I saw Jacob reading Flannery O’Connor, who I am, admittedly, not all that familiar with, I had to look into it. The plot of The Violent Bear it Away made complete sense for Jacob, it is about a young man who is trying to escape his destiny as a prophet. My mind was racing, “the book is referencing John? Maybe Jacob or Jack?” Also there is a part of the story where one of the characters kidnaps his young great-nephew so that he can baptize him… hi Charlie! So, I was making progress and feeling really good, like I was in line to make the comparative literature special task force or something, when my friend Lori nailed me on one minor hang-up with my research: Jacob was reading Everything That Rises Must Converge… not The Violent Bear it Away. Oops. Maybe I will make the team next time. Though I still think that there is something to what I was finding… I think that a reference to one book by an author likely warrants a look at all of the work by that author for relationships. Obviously I don’t mean just in terms of Lost, I mean in any form of comparative literary research.

I was at work the other day and opened my backpack and something struck me as kind of funny: the three books that I had with me where a collection of interviews with Edward Gorey, a collection of Poe’s stories and Exile in the Kingdom by Camus. That kind of makes for a bleak summer, don’t you think? I told a coworker about this and he joyfully added to it the next day by bringing me a copy of Paulo Coelho’s Veronika Decides to Die (which so far is really good, more on that later). I though that I should lighten things up a little bit, so I read A Wrinkle in Time last week (before starting Veronika, that is). It was pretty good, a fun read if nothing else. Funny, too, that within the first five pages Shakespeare butted in again: The Murry’s dog was named Fortinbras. It really is amazing how many references there are to his work everywhere, he seemingly exists in everything.

I have been making a few mix CD’s for people lately, I felt like I had fallen out of practice so I offered to put some together for some friends. It was fun. I was thinking of what to include here about the music that I have been listening to lately and I though that the track listing from one of these mixes would do the job of detailing what’s been playing in the apartment lately, probably better than any more of my rambling. So, this is the CD that I made for my friend Ryan:

1. Don’t Haunt This Place / The Rural Alberta Advantage
2. D.I.A.L.O. / John Vanderslice
3. Hanging Marionette / The Appleseed Cast
4. Not On Top / Herman Dune
5. In Our Talons / Bowerbirds
6. Tailor / Julie Doiron
7. Red Right Hands / The Harlem Shakes
8. Circles ‘Round The Moon / Nana Grizol
9. Boys, You Won’t / The Wrens
10. Everyone Needs A Home / Chris Walla
11. False Alarm / The Wooden Birds
12. Voice In Headphones / Mount Eerie With Julie Doiron And Fred Squire
13. Night Windows / The Weakerthans
14. The Dark Don’t Hide It / Magnolia Electric Co.
15. Love In the Time of Hopscotch / Woodpigeon
16. Red and Purple / The Dodos
17. Gillian Was a Horse / Damien Jurado
18. Ox Baker Triumphant / The Mountain Goats

(It occurs to me as I am about to post this that Ryan is probably getting his CD today… hope he doesn’t see this before the mail comes. It’s a risk that I am just going to have to take)

One other very notable addition to my musical enjoyment lately is Cats on Fire. They are really fantastic. My friend Tom mentioned them online today; I hadn’t heard of them so I checked them out. I have been listening to the five songs they have on Myspace for about an hour and a half straight. I think I will go ahead and order their new record after I post this. Check them out.

I have to mention this really quickly before I go. I graduated this semester and among the wonderful presents that I got was a trophy from Chandi with a figural graduate on it… the trophy base says “Congraduations Taylor!” Get it?! Oh my god, I love her.

If you read all of this then I applaud you mightily.

Until next time…

*crickets* *crickets* *crickets* *crickets* *crickets*

Twice as much next week!