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Friday, October 16

October 16, 2015

CNF Workshop: I gave out the next two essays: Lepcyzk and Kreitzburg. Those are both due (comments and annotations) on Monday.

Songwriting: We began by talking about “Hotel California,” and how it’s more of a mood piece than a story. The vagueness of the lyric is frustrating from a literary standpoint; it’s also probably one reason the song was successful — “you supply your own meaning” is often synonymous with “you don’t have to think about this very hard.”

Here’s what songwriter Don Henley himself had to say about it, some time ago:

“It’s basically a song about the dark underbelly of the American dream and about excess in America, which is something we knew a lot about.” In an interview with ZigZag magazine before the album’s release, Henley added, “This is a concept album, there’s no way to hide it, but it’s not set in the old West, the cowboy thing, you know. It’s more urban this time…it’s our bicentennial year, you know, the country is 200 years old, so we figured since we are the Eagles and the Eagle is our national symbol, that we were obliged to make some kind of little bicentennial statement using California as a microcosm of the whole United States or the whole world, if you will, and try to wake people up and say, “we’ve been okay so far, for 200 years, but we’re gonna have to change if we’re gonna continue to be around.”

It should be pointed out that many listeners interpret the song more darkly, as being about Satanism. Snopes did a piece debunking those ideas, but let’s face it: the rumors persist because 1) the song is so ominously vague, and 2) they’re fun.

We spent most of the class watching Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued, a great documentary about five singer-songwriters tasked with setting some “lost” Bob Dylan lyrics to music. While I know the purely musical parts of this — guitarists talking about chord sequences, for example — might not resonate completely, I still think it’s valuable to see what musicians (and these are some very fine ones) do with a set of lyrics, the way they stretch or compress syllables to fit a pattern, and the way they either incorporate a song’s natural meter or give it a different one. Hopefully you might have gotten an idea or two from watching.

Critical Reading: Today we started off by coming up with a long list of ways in which your might be under surveillance on a day to day basis. Here’s a picture:


In small groups, you started to discuss the Foucault reading. We will have an official discussion next week. Also, your filters/Flannery O’Connor assignments are due next week. You can also do some research on Jeremy Bentham if you want to earn a little extra credit.

Less Miserables: Heard our final pitches. Broke into groups to begin work. You told me who’d working on book vs. lyrics. I asked you, “Why should I care about this show?” Hopefully, you started trying to answer that question.

Monday will be a day to refine your pitches. I want each group to turn in a revised version of its pitch Wednesday, and I want all four shows re-pitched then. (Same format as before: Q&A afterward; the works.) HAVE A HARD COPY READY TO GO AT THE START OF CLASS WEDNESDAY. Obviously, it would be easiest if you just worked off the original copy, but this is NOT just the creator’s responsibility. Any member of the group should be ready to pitch. Absences will not be counted as excuses for not being ready.

BatCat: Good work today. Tomorrow is the Midland event. Next weekend is Frostburg.

Middle School: Our final day together. We saw the final play for Mr. Cageao and watched the Twilight Zone classic “Living Doll,” in honor of the season. Good luck with the next rotation, and during the rest of the year!

Survey: Combined: Dr. Seuss redux. Haiku Rodeo winners and highlights. Click here for the list. Survey Poetry Haiku Rodeo 2015 edited highlights

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