Springtime? Nope. Winter is Coming: Game of Thrones is Back, A Song List

TyrionLast year around this time I confessed (ok, reiterated) my own geekiness when I was hyperbolically excited about the fact that Night Riots has a song named “Berelain” after a character from Robert Jordan’s recently (and posthumously) completed Wheel of Time series. I must add, however, that my geek credentials are the real-thing: I get paid to teach about mythology and to write about ancient poetry.

(Well, the credentials are spotty. I mentioned earlier that I actually played a bard to the 21st or 22nd level in a role-playing game. At one point, I actually tried to write music for the fictional character to perform. I am so ever grateful that I don’t remember it and that the internet did really exist to record my follies back then.)

This week? I have been eagerly awaiting the return of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Now, as readers of this blog know, my brother and I occasionally get excited about television, but not too often. We both used to like The Walking Dead. We both really loved Breaking Bad. He gets into things like Doomsday Preppers while I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which he will not watch). But Game of Thrones is something that we share. And there is an important reason.

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School’s Out

Summer vacation is nearly upon us so this is an obvious choice from an obviously awesome movie. Alice Cooper must have gotten as much a second wind with the young folks from this as he did with Wayne’s World.  I can only imagine the brawls that would ensure if any high schools tried to do this to my students. This is easily one of my favorite movies ever. If you haven’t seen this gem, it’d be a lot cooler if you did.

Since my brother and I are both educators, his time of teaching is done and mine is right at the doorstep. It has been an incredibly stressful few months with the new job keeping me on point all of the time and gigs for the band racking up for the summer. My hard work will hopefully pay off with a full time time job for next year as I wait for call backs on interviews and budgets to be passed. I look forward to finally being able to slow down and enjoy the beauty of my home state in the late spring.  I will have a long three day weekend before I hop back into landscaping which will probably be a welcome change after spending so much time in a small classroom with a bunch of overstimulated 14 year olds. I’ll be outside cruising the old beat and crossing my fingers for quality radio. Do you remember the last days of school?

This perfectly describes the level of  activity my brother and I have been experiencing the last weeks. It does in fact feel like I’m going faster than a roller coaster but I am becoming strangely calm about it. I need to write more for this blog and I’m still waiting for that love to come my way, however,  everything else is becoming easier to handle. This is a cool track and it sounds like someone is clapping to keep time. Buddy couldn’t read music and didn’t know chords  yet still came up with some of the cooler pop songs of the century. What a cool dude.

I really wish I could feel some of the euphoria of a looming summer vacation that you felt as a teenager and maybe even in the early years of college when you didn’t have to get a serious job for the summer. I can almost grasp it in my nearly 28 year-old self-conscious, from seeing and talking to different middle school kids on a daily basis, that feeling that you have a seemingly endless amount of time to do whatever you want until the cruel fall when you are herded back to the dreaded temples of public education.

A very small minority of the students plan to get jobs while most intend to ride their bikes, go swimming, dub around wherever they are tolerated and even not leave their air conditioned rooms at all summer to overdose on video games or Netflix. The complete absence of responsibility and an enforced schedule with periodic sunshine. A whole summer to be lazy.

Im still listening to a lot of progressive rock, especially this band who I never really got into until the last two years. They seriously rock. Jon Lord’s non-traditional Hammond B-3 work coupled with Ritchie Blackmore’s ridiculous guitar picking just straight up melt my face. Teamed with one of the top rhythm sections in the rock world in the form of Roger Glover on bass and Ian Paice in the second incantation of this band, they dominated the live shows of the early 7o’s when giants like Led Zeppelin were also roaming the earth. I have the Made in Japan vinyl and I often play it so loud that it spooks my golden retriever Remy into running upstairs to retreat the aural onslaught.

But I cannot fully imagine the feeling of planning to do nothing at all for three months. I know I have a predilection for procrastination and I definitely wasted a lot of time in my adolescence playing Nintendo 64 and watching hours of stupid horror movies, but as an older man with numerous hobbies and responsibilities, I truly can’t fathom the notion. As much as I enjoy being productive at this point, I’m kind of jealous. I had one student tell me that he was just going to ride his scooter around the trailer park he lived in and “be a gangsta”.  He’s a student from another classroom that has some special  needs and is generally a very nice young man. I’m not sure what this exactly means in reference to what he will actually be doing but I instantly thought of this song.

The best use of this jam was clearly in Office Space and I wish it wasn’t such a profanity laden song with such angry lyrics because the kid would love the beats. He and I have occasionally had little dance offs to school when my students play rap and he always gets a big kick out of seeing me dance like a fool. 

I do remember one summer, probably after junior year when I was a houseman at a hotel 30 minutes from my house, when I had just gotten the Zep record In Through the Outdoor. This album was the one where the bassist John Paul Johns really took the reins because Jimmy Page was pretty bad into heroin and not contributing much. Thus, it sounds far different from any other Zeppelin album and after listening to the first six albums an infinite amount of times, I went through a brief period where I thought this album rocked. It’s not my favorite now but I always associate it with this girl I thought I was in love with who drove Subaru Justy with a cd player and the end of the school year. Specifically, this song.

They don’t make Justys anymore and for good reason. It was like an oversized clown car with go-kart tires and a completely floppy frame that would surely crunch into a square if it ever got into an accident. I do love Subarus though and drive a multi-colored 1999 Impreza currently. Oh yeah, “In the Evening” is still a great jam.

Things never worked out with the Justy chick and I think this was the last summer I really got the feeling I described above of just having this huge block of time where nothing was expected of you. I do really like playing bass with the band, growing my own vegetables, and writing this blog. I need to be constantly busy to keep my  mind occupied. Maybe it’s the fact that I am now within two years of being thirty that makes wistful for the irrevocable feeling of c0mplete freedom to do whatever for two and half months. I don’t want to go back to those days but I’d like to experience that emotion even just for a moment.

This was the end of the sophomore year of college exit song, one we listened to endlessly. This was the semester I hooked up with the girl I’d end up living with for two years and dating for the rest of college and all of grad school. Again, I don’t want to go back to these days and the song brings a positive memory of a wide future open before me. I still have that now, it’s just a different view than it was then. I just found this version and it has my favorite guitar player Derek Trucks tearing it up along the legit Warren Haynes. This song almost gives me the freedom feeling….for six minutes and five seconds.

Songs for Teachers

My brother recently wrote about his struggles in working with middle school students. He and I talk a lot about education (even though we come at the topic from very different perspectives) and I have tried to commiserate with him, but I know that he has one of the hardest jobs in the world. Now, this post isn’t just an excuse to ramble on and list some of my favorite songs about teachers, but it is a recognition of the important connection between music and education as well as the critical work that teachers do.

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Game of Thrones is Back: A Song List

TyrionA few weeks back I admitted (ok, reiterated) my own geekiness when I was hyperbolically excited about the fact that Night Riots has a song named “Berelain” after a character from Robert Jordan’s recently (and posthumously) completed Wheel of Time series. I must add, however, that my geek credentials are the real-thing: I get paid to teach about mythology and to write about ancient poetry.

(Well, the credentials are spotty. I mentioned earlier that I actually played a bard to the 21st or 22nd level in a role-playing game. At one point, I actually tried to write music for the fictional character to perform. I am so ever grateful that I don’t remember it and that the internet did really exist to record my follies back then.)

This week? I have been eagerly awaiting the return of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Now, as readers of this blog know, my brother and I occasionally get excited about television, but not too often. We both like The Walking Dead. He gets into things like Doomsday Preppers while I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which he will not watch). But Game of Thrones is something that we share. And there is an important reason.

Continue reading