Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Poetry

Sundays are fantastic days to lounge around and read poetry. Poems often come in beautiful portable booklets - their so small and short, but the thoughts they provoke provide hours of deep contemplation. During my journeys in England I started to collect petite booklets of poetry. In Wales I bought the poems of a random welsh poet and read them sitting on a bench in the countryside. In the Lake District I bought a small booklet of Wordsworth's poems at Dove Cottage. And a Portabello Road I bought a late 1800's edition of Shakespeare's sonnets and soliloquies. I read poetry on days like today, because I'm feeling thoughtful and crave something aesthetically and phonetically beautiful. Other days I'm nostalgic and I crave a certain poet's voice or poem that brings comfort. I still remember when a friend unexpectedly died, and in my shock I went upstairs and selected the work of Emily Dickinson as a companion to sort out my mixed feelings. I would like to share this poem I read today and found inspiring.
"I Am Vertical"
But I would rather be horizontal.
I am not a tree with my root in the soil
Sucking up minerals and motherly love
So that each March I may gleam into leaf,
Nor am I the beauty of a garden bed
Attracting my share of Ahs and spectacularly painted,
Unknowing I must soon unpetal.
Compared with me, a tree is immortal
And a flower-head not tall, but more startling,
And I want the one's longevity and the other's daring.
Tonight, in the infinitesimal light of the stars,
The trees and flowers have been strewing their cool odors.
I walk among them, but none of them are noticing.
Sometimes I think that when I am sleeping
I must most perfectly resemble them--
Thoughts gone dim.
It is more natural to me, lying down.
Then the sky and I are in open conversation,
And I shall be useful when I lie down finally:
he the trees may touch me for once, and the flowers have time for me.
- Sylvia Plath

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Book of Mormon Macbeth

Please bear in mind the title of this blog. What can I say? I’m a Shakespeare snob.
I understood that nothing would live up to the Royal Shakespeare Company productions I saw in England; they’re the best in the world. The last Shakespeare play I saw was the RSC production of Hamlet with Patrick Stewart and, my love, David Tennant. It was the highlight of the program and a night I would never forget. When I read Hamlet’s soliloquies I’ll see David Tennant in an empty black stage, not reciting, but being Hamlet. How can BYU compete with this? They cannot. So When I heard of BYU‘s winter production of Macbeth, I resigned to the fact that it would never live up to the RSC.
Mesoamerica aka Book of Mormon
Do not be fooled as I was - the word Mesoamerica is a euphemism at BYU for Book of Mormon. Perhaps they thought they could give credibility to this productions setting by using this archeological term. But what if the audience does not understand it’s a Book of Mormon Macbeth? I know, let’s change the names of Shakespeare’s characters to match those in the Book of Mormon… a subtle hint that this is no ordinary Mesoamerica interpretation.

Never Ending Battle
My cousin Erin and I stole our brother’s lightsavers and constructed the ultimate showdown; while I lunged forward she swiftly leapt back. I would swing my lightsaver low to the ground while she would agilely leap over. It was a phenomenal display of jedi knight prowess. The fight scene in this Macbeth reminds me of my days as a jedi master…the rhythmic clash of sword against sword and agile swoops of the actor. In essence it’s a choreographed dance– too pretty and synchronized to be real. However the actors did outshine Erin and me in one area: stamina. Yes, they managed to continue this labor intensive dance for fifteen minutes.

Decapitation or Scalping?
After this painful battle, Macduff emerges from backstage with a Macbeth’s bloody severed head. I could not contain the laughter at this moment – the only thing that could have produced hardier laughter was perhaps to mount the head on a charger. Apparently in all the research into Book a Mormon culture, they preferred decapitation to scalping.

In All Seriousness
I love the performance of Lady Macbeth and the productions emphasis on the loving and sexual relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. As Steven Greenblatt points out in his novel Will in the World, the Macbeths share one of the few affectionate and balanced marriages in a Shakespeare play. The playwright deconstructs the Macbeths’ companionate marriage as the couple uses their ideal relationship to commit murder; this deconstruction ultimately allows Shakespeare to explore and intensify the disquietude of the play.
However, I did not appreciate turning a minor character, Seyton into a makeshift devil figure. They portrayed him as the leader of the witches – the devil himself. Macbeth’s soldiers do not kill Macduff’s family but the witches lead by Seyton. This interpretation unraveled the brilliancy of Shakespeare who keeps the witches aloof to emphasize the questions of fate.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Too Extreme in Saving Trees

Imagine sitting on the toilet….

Let's get the embarrassing preliminaries out of the way...most people - including myself - are pee-shy in public bathrooms. There’s nothing worse than knowing you’re not alone in a bathroom, complete silence, and the knowledge that water closets posses fantastic cathedral like acoustics. Not only have public bathrooms denied me the right to relieve myself in peace, but now I’m denied the right of using as much toilet paper as I desire, because of the pointless and expensive technology installed in public bathrooms.
I love hi-tech things - especially in bathrooms. Those automatic soap dispensers: brilliant! However, there is danger in being too automated in restrooms. A prime example is the automated toilet paper dispensers on BYU campus. In the women’s restrooms in the Wilk, to get your toilet paper you must gently pull down and the machine. Sounds harmless enough, but this machine symbolize the nonsensical level of laziness in America. More importantly, this machine makes a ruckus to let down a measly rationed six inches of toilet paper. Now, I know what your thinking: you could simply pull for more if needed. However, the ear-shattering noise of the toilet paper dispenser loudly announces to your stall neighbors just how much toilet paper you need on this particular trip to the bathroom.
Now if BYU installed these devilish contraptions in order to conserve trees – they did an ingenious job. Because, I think many of us would rather use every cm of that toilet paper rather than pull down for three or four more helpings. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for recycling paper. But in all honesty, for me, trees take the back seat when it comes to my toilet paper.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Rancid Farts & B Money

An unpleasant odor permeated my apartment for several days, and with each new day it progressively got worse. We rummaged through our refrigerator looking for out of date food and we even checked for dead animals in our cupboards. And walking in one evening with the rest of my roommates, I brilliantly discovered what the smell reminded me of: rancid farts - bitter, sour, potent farts. And this smell continued to saturate everything in our apartment.
That same night of labeling the smell, we heard a knock at our door. I don’t know what any of us expected, but it was not a shaggy homeless man with sacks full of clothes. Like an unwelcome Santa Clause, he opened the door he proceeded to let his overflowing bag fall into our apartment. Matriarch Lauren, despite her fear for her life and her virginity, spoke to the man and Cari and I tried to keep our laughter down. It was not a homeless man - it is the B Money!
Who is B Money? He’s an institution in Provo - he’s the snoop dog of Provo. Everyone knows B Money.
Notorious or not, Lauren spoke to him like she was speaking to a child. She tried to explain that we were not interested in buying B Money shirts, nor did we want to hold his t-shirts for him in our apartment. Leaving our apartment B Money turns around and states bluntly "by the way your apartment reeks!" There it brush with greatness and celebrity in Provo, Utah.
This may be one of those instances where you had to be there, but our stomach muscles hurt from laughing so hard.

Here's B Money's video on Youtube. It's entertaining, in a pathetic sort of way.

By the way, my apartment no longer smells of rancid farts. That same night we solved the problem: it was the trash.

I would also like to draw to your attention that with this post, I no longer have any posts from London on my page. Single tear.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Le Fête de la Musique

Some of my favorite artists released new albums within the past few weeks.

Neko Case’s “Middle Cyclone”

I just purchased this album the other day and after listening to over half this album, I can safely say I love it.

Beirut’s “March of the Zapotec/Holland”
Other EP’s have expored the sounds of Eastern Europe, “The Flying Club Cup” probes into Parisian music, and this new release explores Mexican music. Beruit even intergrates a local Mexican band with their own sound. (My mom thought that The Flying Club Cup sounded Mexican…I wonder what she will make of this new EP). The “Holland” portion pays homage to Zach Condon’s beginnings of experimenting with techno music in his room. Zac Condon's a musical genuis and I love the fact that he has musical ADD - he never stays on task and keeps innovating new sounds.
Andrew Bird’s “The Noble Beast” I already dedicated a whole page to Andrew Bird, and two consecuitive posts would seem stalkerish…so just listen to it people!

A brilliant month for music.

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left

A nuance develops from the line “a nervous tic motion of the head to the left” when you watch the Andrew Bird’s emotionally charged head swinging during a performance. I watched Andrew Bird in concert this summer, but a less than ideal venue lessened the impact of the show. But this week I witnessed the full fledged musical prowess of Andrew Bird. Can I just say, I love this man? I love when he finishes playing the guitar and swings it behind his back and picks up his violin and begins to play. I also love it when he whistles…there is something – dare I say sexy – about his charisma.

My Reasons for Worshiping Andrew Bird:

1. He plucks his violin like a guitar to create complicated and brilliant melodies
2. He improvises and experiments with songs during live performances
3. World class whistler - he harmonizes with his whistling
4. He’s plays the violin beautifully
5. Overwhelming charisma on the stage

He the quintessential image of a slightly mad, but ingenious violinist: broken bow strings flailing madly, his fingers moving at incredible speeds, eyes closed and his head tossing to the rhythm. But, what’s amazing is that this classical image contrasts with his innovative and modern application of the violin. He takes an instrument associated with classical music and shreds it like a guitar on stage – he forcibly changes our conformist ideas of the violin.

Favorite Songs of the Evening:

1. Effigy
From his new album, the Noble Beast, this song is hauntingly beautiful.
2. Imitosis
The crowd’s energy rose to a whole new level for this song
3. Fake Palindromes
4. Fitz and Dizzyspells
5. Why?
Encore performance: just Andrew Bird and his instruments. His articulation of his lyrics and physical gestures enhanced the meaning of this songs…it was hilarious at certain points.

Also, my friend Holli will back me up on this…he reminds us of David Tennant. I must have a thing for skinny, quirky, brilliant individuals with somewhat spastic endearing gestures