Friday, October 24, 2014

A Year of Villain Songs

 I've been engaged in a project, of sorts, for the past year. I was looking at a list of top "villain songs"--broadly defined as songs sung by or about a story's villain--and thought to myself, I could do better than that. And so I did. Every day, for 365 days, I've been posting one villain song, and a link to a video of it on Facebook. (I'm sure any subsequent drops in my friends is purely coincidental.) And, for the last half or so, I tweeted the links as well. For posterity's sake, I thought I'd post the list here. A few provisos:

1) This is a numbered list--to make sure I've got all 365 songs--but not an ordered list, because, frankly, finding 365 villain songs was enough work without creating some master rubric to evaluate them all. I burned through a lot of my favorite at the beginning when I wasn't sure how many I'd be doing. Beyond that, I tried to pick "special" ones for momentous numbers, generally at multiples of 25.  And the last ten or so are the best from my remaining pile.

2) Some of them have links, and some of them do not. This is largely because--see 1), making the list was enough work. They're mostly findable through a google search, if you're curious.

3) This list is not quite the order they were originally presented. I didn't keep great records of the whole list until I was fifty or so songs in, so that order's messed up a bit, and I'd do things like count 124 twice, and not notice till much later, then skip ahead accordingly. But it's close to the original order. Pardon the errors; I've marked the ones I've noticed. 

4) Favorite songs are marked with favorite.

5) There was a rather large number of songs that didn't make the 365 cut. For the most part, it's because I'm less familiar with them. If you've got something that you think should be added to the overall list, by all means, let me know and I'll put it in the extras.

Here we go, then.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Nature Talk

Every day, around mid-afternoon, the gulls in Waterloo nest on top of the mall northeast of my house.

Every day, around dusk, they leave there, and head due south to a small factory, and swoop around it for a few hours before settling down for the night.

Add to that the crows, who travel to a forested area just south of campus at dawn and dusk and caw so loudly and in such numbers that it sounds like you're standing outside a half dozen racquetball courts. (Seriously, the caws sound like the echoes the balls make when they bounce off the walls.)

Add to that the geese, who have lost their fear of people a long time ago, and belligerently walk all over campus, staring down the cars that get in their way.

Add to that the ducks, who are much more timid than their avian counterparts, and try to fit into the hole the geese have made, only to be run off by the geese at every turn.

Add to that the single swan in Victoria Park, the only bird that the geese give wide berth.

Add to that the sparrows, chickadees, and other small birds that try their best to eke out a living where they can.

And all the other animals: the groundhogs on campus, the ubiquitous squirrels, the cats constantly patrolling their territories against trespassing from--well, other cats, mostly.

And the plants too--the trees, the bushes, the ivy creeping along the walls. Even--ick--nature's mooch, the grass.

It struck me today how all these living creatures are around us all the time, whose lives we can endanger pretty easily but can't do a lot to retaliate in return. And rather than reveling in the power that gives us, I think we need to appreciate the responsibility that puts on us. I'm teaching Tolkien's The Hobbit this term--more on that some other time--and one of the theories around Tolkien's work is that he promoted the idea of stewardship with regards to the environment, that people have the moral responsibility to act like we're looking after the land and need to keep it safe to pass on to the next steward, rather than look at it as if we're the absolute monarchs. The idea is still a little too "dominion over the earth" for my tastes. It suggests that we're at the top of the structure rather than a part of it, as if the environment isn't something we need to worry about. I much rather like the idea some sci-fi pundits have suggested, that we're the planet's janitors. We should do our best to keep things running, and doing that well is worth more respect than we usually afford it.

Anyway, the point at hand is less environmental responsibility and more--be humble. There's worlds going on around us that don't see us as the center of existence. They're not hostile to us--rather, they don't care one way or the other about us at all. We're a tangential part of their system, and they're just cawing to the world, or nestling in on a convenient roof or just trying to get by.

Later Days.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Because if I'm talking about writing on my blog, it's like I'm actually writing

All right--we're going for a two stone initiative here. Blog needs more content. Dissertation needs to get written. So we'll try a positive affirmation method, whereby I state how long I worked on the diss, and how much I wrote. I will say a disclaimer right now that I will not be posting EVERY time I work on the dissertation, and these blog posts are in no way a reflection of the total labor involved.

So--today, I spent 36 minutes on the dissertation. I wrote approximately 200 words. ...Every little bit counts, ok? It's a Saturday, cut me some slack.

I *might* be a little defensive where the dissertation is concerned.

Later Days.