Princess Cornflakes

Too trashy to print on a cereal box

Archive for November 2005

favorite songs

leave a comment »

Here are some of my favorite songs. I’ll explain why later:

Scott Walker – “Sleepwalkers Woman” from “Climate of Hunter” LP. This song is like the wind. That is how I would characterize it. Strong and elusive and it makes you feel as if you’re transcending the world. Prog rock? I don’t know. But I like it a lot better than “Larks Tongues in Aspic” by King Crimson, which to me just sounded like them experimenting with different instruments. Scott Walker was an American who got lost in Europe and subsequently lost all of his American-ness. I think that makes him more European than most Europeans, but probably more American too in an ironic way.

Japan – Nightporter – geez I love this song. It just suits my whole Euro-melancholy, Marxist pseudo-intellectual zeitgeist (notice I use the work zeitgeist instead of “vibe” here). This song just evokes sad cafes along rivers in Paris, candles, angst, cabarets and walks down broad boulevards on rainy days in long coats. And David Sylvian’s voice is just so rich and sad….but not gothic, definitely not skulls and vampires and Tim Burton. The song has an adult sound too. It’s poetic and rich with imagery, but not harsh or relentless or gimmicky. Ugh. Descriptions of songs never sound as good as the music itself.

Bowie – Station to Station – this song, along with “Wild is the Wind” from his wonderful Station to Station LP, is for being whisked around in the ultra modern, progressive subways of East Berlin or Moscow during the 70’s when these places thought they would technologically progress beyond America because they believed in the idealogies under which they were created. Maybe they didn’t progress technologically, but their technological and cultural achievements are certainly more evocative than those of the Western world.

Roxy Music – Song for Europe, Mother of Pearl – “Here as I sit in this lonely cafe”….a nother melancholy cabaret song. This one just pulls chords in my heart, as does everything by Roxy Music.

Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights – Leave it to Kate, the eternal romantic, to write a song based on Heathcliff and Katherine in Bronte’s great gothic romance, Wuthering Heights. And while many female pop singers sing only about their own loves, Kate tells the story of a great literary love affair. That’s what sets her apart.

Written by nattie

November 16, 2005 at 3:26 am

Posted in Heather

kindergarten cramming

leave a comment »

There are sure a lot of reasons to dislike Mr. Bush. There are the big ones that we hear more and more about every day – the meaningless war, the cynical treatment of impoverished disaster victims, the phony Texan accent. And there are other reasons we hear less frequently about – like the “No Child Left Behind” policy.

At first, I thought “No Child Left Behind” was mildly irritating to teachers who wouldn’t get paid if they didn’t take special training. But recently I have learned 1st hand how it hurts everyone – teachers, parents, and schoolkids alike.

Torben has just enrolled in Kindergarten here in America, after attending preschool in Denmark. Had he started kindergarten in Denmark, he would have been playing and learning a bit how to go to school. Maybe he would be learning his letters up through “ΓΈ”. He would mostly be having fun and making friends and playing outdoors and learning to like school in a gentle, kid-friendly way. Perhaps I would wish that he had a few more lessons, but the Danish idea is that “kids should be kids” as long as possible.

When we moved to Highland Park, NJ, we were hopeful after all we had heard about how “good” the Highland Park schools are. It turns out that “good” mainly means that kids learn all the time. Torben now has a day full of the exact opposite of what he would have had in Denmark. At age 5, he is whisked from reading to phonics to social studies to math to music and art – every day. His teacher makes time for whatever play she can, but she is mandated by the state and the federal government to teach the kids to pass tests, so that her school will get its funds and will not be “left behind”.

The result of all this? Kindergarten has become a sort of mini-Kaplan test prep. The students spend all their time prepping for the 2nd grade tests which the school needs to pass so that it can continue to pay teachers. Who’s the loser? Torben. He still hasn’t made any good friends because he doesn’t have time to talk to the other kids. Some days he returns saying that they didn’t play at all that day. He gets one 20-minute recess after lunch these days (how many recesses did you get in kindergarten? I personally remember almost an entire day of outdoor play, back then, even in the USA. And that is what I had expected for Torben). Oh, did someone say something about overweight American kids?

Torben’s childhood and social development is the only thing being left behind. He hates mondays. At this rate, he will enter college expecting to learn test-taking strategies instead of new ideas, and hating mondays. Since when did school become a work camp for kids?

Written by nattie

November 7, 2005 at 12:21 am

Posted in editorial