Welcome, Members of Parliament

Welcome, Members of Parliament. This blog is designed to act as a student forum for anyone enrolled in my classes at a Dallas-area proprietary college, former students, and/or others who find our conversations interesting. The Parliament will be moderated to ensure civility and relevance. The directions we take, the paths we follow, and the concerns we address are all up to you.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Snow Days

By now you lot are probably either sick of the weather or rejoicing that you've got extra time to get assignments completed before midterms. This week's adventures in education have included three full days of canceled classes (including today) and a pretty flimsy attempt to get things on track yesterday. When I got to school for my afternoon class (having spent over an hour to drive 30 miles), I met Dr. Frisbee in the hall, who'd had one student make his morning class--out of about 23. Other instructors reported similar statistics.

For my 1 pm History of Art & Design II class, eight (count 'em) intrepid souls showed up. But because exams are scheduled for next week, I decided to construct them around the first three weeks, and try to catch up a bit afterward. So, Be Here Warned: exams for HAD I and II will cover material from weeks 1-3, and will take about 2 hours. After that, don't expect to be able to head out to the bars, because any lectures and/or workshops will be held in the second half of class. That includes the Friday night people, too. Updated schedules are available on the course pages linked to Owldroppings.

If anyone's interested, I showed the film, Mr. Bing, L'Art Nouveau to those devoted folk who attended Thursday afternoon. They will be rewarded accordingly. The video is available in the Library for anyone interested in seeing it, and is well worth the effort. Please watch it in a viewing room, however, since I'd rather it not leave the building.

One of the highlights of the day was the wonderful coincidence of winter knit hats that led to the following photo, for which Katie and Donna obligingly posed.

In case folks don't get it, my hauling them into the library for the shot was inspired by this poem, composed by Edward Lear, the first verse of which goes like this:

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!'

and the second:

Pussy said to the Owl, 'You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?'
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

Since we didn't have a piggy hat, I'll leave out the last verse--but you can go to the link for the rest. And since Katie and Donna don't even know each other, concentrate on the hats!

I suppose I made the connection not only because of all the owl silliness that surrounds my name, but because I've been listening to Natalie Merchant's terrific new album, Leave Your Sleep, which contains a song based on a poem by Edward Lear, Calico Pie.

Now, I can't possibly leave this teaching moment at this stage, because this album is a prime example of the connection between art, creativity, and scholarship. Merchant has gathered together a large selection of poems, mostly written for children, but which lack the usual syrupy sentiment associated with kids. The poems themselves are clever, witty, disturbing, sad, inspiring, funny, and thought-provoking--sometimes all at once. And I can't even begin to say enough about the music. The arrangements run stylistically from Jewish klezmer to Gypsy to Cajun to New Orleans jazz and beyond, with wonderful instrumental accompaniment by outstanding artists. It took her five years to arrange the whole thing, and it's totally worth the effort.

You can get samples from her website (linked above), or try this TED lecture, which features one of my favorite cuts, The Sleepy Giant:

This is just the thing to snuggle up to with your iPad or computer on a cold snowy day. Enjoy your weekend, and the Super Bowl if you're into that sort of thing (Go Steelers!). Get some rest, and show up next week ready and eager for your exams.


Anonymous said...

Hey there! Just stopped by the blog to say hi... I've been super busy of late but I guess in these economic times that's a good thing, lots of interesting reading as usual, keep up the good work. :) Hope all is well, take care.


Nancy said...

I love Natalie Merchant and her wonderful recent albums. Leave Your Sleep is so wonderful and introduced me to people I have heard about or read. Thanks for the clip.