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Soooo…. I think this is the first prose-y post I’ve ever done. I was going to wait until I finished ‘To The Lighthouse’ (Woolf), but turns out I never finished it. I got distracted by a certain Penguin Popular Classics edition of David Copperfield, which, as it turns out, was probably better for me.

I really should wait until I finish it, but I think I’ve read it before anyway, so technically this isn’t cheating. Besides, I can’t do a proper review, because I have neither the mental capacity nor the stamina. All I really wanted to say was that I’ve gone from disliking Charles Dickens – I can’t for the life of me remember why; maybe I found Pickwick Papers a little too dry, or was just too young to enjoy it back then, or maybe out of sheer teenage rebelliousness I refused to say I liked it, though I remember loving Great Expectations and all the others – to loving him again.

David Copperfield is actually fun to read. It took me a very long time to struggle through Crime and Punishment, which I enjoyed, but only as one enjoys writing a compulsory essay (very little), which suggests that I probably shouldn’t have forced myself and should have waited until I’d properly enjoy it (I wasn’t particularly impressed with the ending, either, though I can see why he is given a new beginning)… Anyway, I love the characterisation, and the words “Barkis is willing” ring so familiarly in my brain that I’m sure I must have read the book before, or seen the film, or something, although every recollection is too hazy for me to be sure of it.

It’s really a very, very good book, and despite the ominous length, is an enjoyable read as well. Honestly, I’d recommend it to anyone, because everyone will find parts that appeal to them – the infatuations of David, the evil Murdstones, the honest goodness of the Peggotty household, the trials of young David…

I may come back to this post once I’ve reached the end and tell you what I thought about it, but that’s really all I have to say for now. I’m back on the Dickens boat.

I don’t know how much longer I can go on writing those four little words. Seriously tedious now. I love the songs and the whole ramble I do before it, but the title needs to change.

Anyway, today’s song… I’ve missed a few days actually (BAD) but oh well. It’s not like anyone actually cares amiright? Today’s song is going to have to be a Belle & Sebastian, because honestly, they’re awesome and I love them. I have… pretty much every album they’ve recorded thanks to my dad. The only problem I have with the music is that for some reason, it plays ridiculously loud on my iPod, so I’ve broken my eardrums and headphones several times already. Other than that, though, it’s pretty damn good stuff.

I first started listening to Belle & Sebastian when the film ‘Juno’ came out, I think. I loved that film so much that I went to find the soundtrack for it so I’d never ever ever have to part with some small piece of it. That’s probably an exaggeration. Whatever the reason for it, I searched for the soundtrack on iTunes. Obviously, iTunes is ridiculously expensive, so I couldn’t afford to buy it all – I had to pick a maximum of three songs (at 99p each, which is robbery, basically) and I ended up with my very first Belle & Sebastian song, ‘Piazza, New York Catcher’. (I just figured out how to rename links. Be very proud)

Another reason to love this band, if you need another after having listened to their music, is that they’re from Glasgow, which means awesome scottish accents all round. Love, love, love. Also, their official website is also worth a look, being super-friendly and all that.

There were so many of their songs I wanted to use for today, but be patient and they’ll show up several days from now when I run out of new bands to praise shamelessly.

Song Of The Day

Wow. Seriously, not sure how long I’m going to be able to continue typing those four words into that title box there. It’s tedious. Thank god my songs are awesome enough to make it worthwhile, right? *cough*

Today’s song, following yesterday’s (was it yesterday I posted Jack Johnson? Whatever, following Jack Johnson’s) post, is by another man whose voice is amazing enough that you let it rock you gently to sleep. It’s Iron & Wine, people. The man himself looks uncannily like Jesus, so it comes as little surprise that his songs are sometimes fairly religious. If that’s a problem for you, which it really shouldn’t be because it’s not like he’s grooming an army of devout Christians, then go away and block your ears becase I WILL PLAY THESE SONGS AND ENJOY THEM.

And the winner of the Jesus look-alike competition goes to...

Anyway, generally his songs consist of his voice and guitars. As I’ve already mentioned, he has a beautiful voice, and he harmonises with himself. That’s like layers of beautiful voice making beautiful sounds. It’s like a wedding cake. 

Nothing but guitar, rhythm and a man’s voice. Bring on the music.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve bothered, but as it’s my birthday, I’m allowed on the computer for aaages today. And I’ve just been on a massive walk, so have plenty of adrenaline. Speed typing, here we come.

Since I’m full of energy, I’ve found a poem that I’m actually studying for GCSE. It’s one of the best of the poems we’ve been given, but then again, that’s not exactly saying much. Or maybe they’re all good poems and I’ve just stared at them too often so I now hate them.

Couple of things I’ve had drilled into my brain:

1) The form of the poem – written in iambic pentameter, with a regular rhyme scheme. This intense control over his language contrasts greatly with the Duke’s violence towards his wife (he kills her, if not with his own hands, because of his own paranoia and jealousy). The general eloquence of the persona is also worth noting, because, again it contrasts with his violence.

2) The tone of the persona, the Duke. Firstly, his use of euphamistic language – “I gave commands”. Secondly, the way in which he mimics the painter (again showing his skill with language) – the fact that he’s mimicking a scene at which he was not present, suggests that his wife’s crimes were in his mind…

3) The objectification of women by the Duke – he compares himself to Neptune, and likens women to a “sea-horse” and therefore to animals. Also, the very use of the word “object” in relation to his new wife.

Enough spouting recycled GCSE knowledge. Enjoy the poem, or don’t. I really like Robert Browning, actually. He’s pretty good at portraying a jealous husband/wife – he does the same sort of thing in ‘The Laboratory’. It’s also fairly long (we may have an attention span problem here…). Control is a recurring theme here. The use of dramatic monologue, and lack of end-stops, means that there’s no room for interruptions and is a way to control the audience. The manipulative language, and the display of false modesty is another method. The Duke seeks constantly to control his wives, which is why he killed the previous wife, because she was a human being and therefore had an element of free will he could not control. Now, however, he’s the only one in charge of the curtain that hides or displays the picture. There’s something essentially disturbing in the power he holds over the readers themselves – he almost succeeds in persuading us that he was right to act the way he did. He is remorseless, and more than ready to do it again.

My Last Duchess
 Robert Browning

That’s my last duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now: Frà Pandolf’s hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will’t please you sit and look at her? I said
“Frà Pandolf” by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, ’twas not
Her husband’s presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek: perhaps
Frà Pandolf chanced to say “Her mantle laps
“Over my lady’s wrist too much,” or “Paint
“Must never hope to reproduce the faint
“Half-flush that dies along her throat”: such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart how shall I say? too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, ’twas all one! My favor at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
Or blush, at least. She thanked men good! but thanked
Somehow I know not how as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody’s gift. Who’d stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
In speech which I have not to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, “Just this
“Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
“Or there exceed the mark” and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and make excuse,
E’en then would be some stooping; and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene’er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will’t please you rise? We’ll meet
The company below, then. I repeat,
The Count your master’s known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretense
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter’s self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay we’ll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!

Song Of The Day

It’s been a little while, and I’ve been a little busy. I’m in France right now, so the internet is bound to disappear soonish. I’ll make it short, because I’m supposed to be banned from the computer again.

So, song of the day. It’s becoming a little monotonous, don’t you find? Maybe my little break spiced it up a bit, I don’t know. Anyway, I haven’t actually got a song yet. I suppose I could always fall back on the trusty iPod playlist, but… it’s out of battery. Hmm.

Bit of a toss up today, between a Jack Johnson (yeah, guilty pleasure) and a Nick Drake. I think, though, just to lighten the mood, and because I have less to ramble on about with Jack, we’ll go with him. He’s fairly ‘pop’, and I’m sure iTunes would no doubt try to classify him as such, but I’m in love with his voice, and since he’s a singer, that’s all that matters, really. Sure, his lyrics aren’t as great as Bob Dylan’s (though I’m starting to find Dylan’s rhyme scheme a little…obvious. Blasphemy, I know), but he hits the notes better – who doesn’t? He doesn’t have Iron & Wine’s ability to lull me to sleep, but then he doesn’t mix music with religion. All in all, fairly mainstream kinda music. But I like it, so you’re going to have to listen to it, if only for today.

Well, that title sums this up pretty effectively. I was going to post another Poem Of The Day, but I suddenly remembered this short story. Short is probably a bit of an understatement. It’s six words long… And anyone who knows anything about writing will have suddenly realised which story I’m talking about (probably).

Hemingway was good. Very good. His short stories were especially good, because he managed to put such depth into so few words. This six word story, which has inspired many to try their hand at writing their own story in 6, says so much by saying so little. No six word story I’ve read has measured up to this one, yet. People have gone with: “Mistook grenade for cigarette lighter. Smoked”, or “Wax wings, high hopes, long fall” (which is actually a lot better than most of the others), but still, they’ve got nothing on The Hemingway. (Oh, and thanks to www.sixwordstories.net for unknowingly lending me these examples.)

Hemingway, apparently, wrote this as a bet. His collegues told him he’d never be able to write a short story in just six words. He did. He’s said to have considered this his best piece of work. I think I agree.

So, without further ado, here is the famous short short story:

For Sale: baby shoes, never used.

This is, unfortunately, the second time I’ve typed up this post, which means my fingers hurt and my patience has worn thin.

Anyway, I love this song, but in particular because I can, as of today, play it on the guitar. All of it, no skipping chords or anything. The blisters were totally worth it, babyy.

So, it’s a great song by the Beatles (most of their songs are amazing anyway, except maybe Revolution 9). It’s sweet, sad and simple. Everything you need in a song, right?

And on a side note, I’m starting to really hate YouTube. You have to trawl through hundreds of awful covers, posing as the real thing, before you can begin to look at likely songs. This means you actually have to listen to every song, when they aren’t clearly marked. Waste of time #1. Even more annoying is the fact that once you’ve found a song that looks perfect (and 90% of the time, looks are completely deceptive), you often have to sit through adverts. Sure, they’re probably only 10 or so seconds, but considering that I only want to check that the song’s good enough to post (and therefore only need to listen to 5 seconds of it), that seems like a long, long time. That there’s Waste of time #2. The third and final waste of time, and general annoyance is the little comment bubbles that pop up screaming at you to “SUBSKRIB 2 MAH CHANEL !!!!1111oneoneone!!1” (and yes, there are inevitably spelling mistakes). Perhaps worse are the pathetic attempts at puerile humour from some bored man somewhere who cleverly positions a speech bubble so that it looks like Bob Dylan is saying “soz man, I have a cold, can’t sing”, or David Bowie’s exclaming “I have a giant cock”. Oh, the heights of humour.

Alright. Rant over (it’s an even longer rant than my first one…). My fingers hurt too much to type much more, and I know that there’s food downstairs waiting for me, along with the guitar on which I shall proceed to PLAY THIS SONG. Yeah.

Here, then, is the song:

I’ll make it brief, because I need a shower and my fingers are sore from teaching myself the guitar (it’s so cool, but so painful).

Anyway, Album Cover of The Day goes to… The Beatles. They had to come up sooner or later, and I just made it sooner. They have some pretty awesome Album art, but this is probably one of the most memorable. The amount of stuff they managed to cram into one cover…

Starring the Beatles, with appearances from Bob Dylan, Marilyn Monroe and many more.

I’ve missed quite a few days (blame the parents – they decided to spend a few days travelling around Oxford, which is amazing, and I’m moving there sometime in the future).

Anyway, today’s song of the day… I haven’t actually got one just yet, but I’ll scan my iPod quickly to find inspiration.

Got it. Okay, today’s song is actually one that I had to use as a source in my GCSE History coursework. God knows what the exam board was thinking (ooh, let’s give them a song, that’ll spice things up a bit) but I’ve now written something like 3000 words on this song, as well as some other sources about the Women’s Liberation Movement and all that protest jazz. I’ve spent 1 hr 30 mins in class writing two essays analysing the motive behind this song, and can now assure you that Bob Dylan did not intend to lead the protests and the growing generation gap, but was aiming rather to reflect the mood in the US during 1964. It’s a shame that the work I’ve done on the song has slightly marred my opinion of it, but still, I reckon it’s one of his best.

’nuff rambling. Here’s the song. Enjoy, and hope you never have to write an essay on it.

— You have no idea how hard it is to find an original version of that song on YouTube, so this is pretty bad. Anyway. Ignore the fact that it’s from Watchmen, or whatever.

Sums up today's government more than effectively.