Thursday, July 03, 2008

I've been thoroughly enjoying the new Sigur Ros and Iron and Wine albums. Lot of hand-clapping in both of 'em. Love that hand-clapping. It's going on the list of my favorite instruments, right up there with banjo and those huge drums they use at the symphony. Part of the huge drum entertainment comes from the prim and proper wormy guy in a tux doing the striking. He looks like he should be calling the police to report sounds like this. I love it.

Aside from music, I've been listening to short stories and poems on the mp3 player. I was hesitant at first. Well, not with the poems; many poems demand to be read aloud and are more fun that way. Short stories seem surlier than poetry, like little dogs that believe they are rottweilers, or small-framed men that have poor balance because they are always drawing themselves up a bit too high.

I began with stories I had already read. When I reluctantly admitted to my dog sleeping nearby that literature is indeed still literature if it is heard and not read, I moved on to some Tolstoy.

I loved it. I do love it. When I was listening to the stories I'd already read, I was more following along and noticing a few new things, the more sonorous phrases.

Tolstoy was a good choice, I think. His short stories often read like fables; the intentions of men are simple and tied to their nature and wisdom comes from unlikely sources. In fact, usually some character is standing smack dab in the middle of the wisdom they seek and just need someone to point it out.

I love it. It's like story time again. I want to clap and go "Yaaaay!" and maybe strike some huge drum until someone calls the police on me.

Also, the short stories from Librivox are read by volunteers. If I listen good and practice hard, maybe I can volunteer to read a story. I was thinking of doing that anyway, for the nephews.

Not that I'm terribly lazy, see, but when I was wee my brothers and sister and I had a little Fisher-Price record player and we had many, many little records that came in the back of story books. We would play the records and follow along with the book. I struggle to remember exactly how much we played with that thing, but I know it was a great deal.

So I imagine I can make the same sort of thing for my nephews. It would be fun to even find a record player for them. In this touch-screen world, I yearn for analog. I love switches and dials and huge buttons with lights inside. Part of the appeal of the record player was that I was unable to skip all around hundreds of albums and thousands of songs. I put it on and I listened through everything. Which was wise then when I didn't know what I liked. But then, what do I like now that I haven't heard yet?

Heh, I also remember a record of Romeo and Juliet, the old film, and I would turn it on the highest RPM's so they sounded like star-struck chipmunks. That was my introduction to Shakespeare. Seems to have worked out pretty well. Maybe I'll try to convince a few people to read a play or two with me and record it, for the nephews. Oh, and it must be incredibly over-acted, to the point of lugubriousness. Children have no time for subtle emotions. They consider it a sign of weakness. Or perhaps a lack of conviction. "If you really want it," they'd say, "Why aren't you hurling yourself to the ground, kicking, screaming, and demanding you get it?"

"Because that doesn't work anymore," I'd say.

"Have you tried it lately? Even if it doesn't work, it's an excellent place to start. Then you just work your way down."

Dang. Smart kids.

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