wonders never cease
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 16th, 2010happy bloomsday!
[caption id="attachment_4557 align="alignleft" width="250" caption="click to listen"]
[/caption]On June 16, 1904, Irish author James Joyce went on his first outing with bride-to-be Nora Barnacle. They took a walk to Ringsend. Romance ensued. Etc. Eighteen years later, Joyce's tome, Ulysses, was published in Paris. The masterpiece details the happenings in Dublin on one day...June 16. Over 1000 pages of impenetrable text---what a lovely anniversary gift.
So here it is June 16, 2010, the 56th year that the literary world celebrates Bloomsday. Typical activities include pub crawls (not recommended for working professionals); dramatic readings (no one around here can attempt a brogue, and typical readings last 36 HOURS); and costumed recreations of the day's events in Ulysses (tickets to Dublin are terribly expensive). So we are left to celebrate with a Play List inspired by Leopold Bloom's and Stephen Dedalus's wanderings: it's meandering, it's episodic, it's...long. So sit back with a Guinness, don your favorite Edwardian costume, crack open one of the most incredible works of modernist literature, and have a listen.
Episode One: "Telemachus"
1. "The Black Panther Song" - This Bike is a Pipe Bomb
Stephen Dedalus is annoyed with his friend Buck for allowing Haines to stay in the Martello tower because Haines awakened Dedalus in the middle of the night with his moaning about a nightmare involving a (wait for it) BLACK PANTHER (very different sentiments between book and song, though).
Episode Two: "Nestor"
2. "A Mother's Love is a Blessing" - Bridie Gallagher
While tutoring a particularly unpleasant and "ugly" student in arithmetic, Stephen reflects on the scope of a mother's love---particularly his own, recently deceased mother. BONUS: Bridie is also the name of a prostitute introduced later in the novel, with whom the soon-to-be-introduced Leopold Bloom once had a dalliance. So this is a two-fer, really.
Episode Three: "Proteus"
3. "The Pretender" - Dr. Dog
After teaching, Stephen takes a walk on the beach, where he wonders if he's a "pretender." He further explores his fears as a barking dog runs towards him. The dog in Ulysses is no doctor, but you have to appreciate the perfection of this song-alluding-to-the-book combo.
Episode Four: "Calypso"
4. "Breakfast in Bed" - Dusty Springfield
Leopold Bloom (the namesake of Bloomsday, for crying out loud) appears on the scene. He spends his morning buying kidney for his breakfast, and then serving his capricious wife Molly breakfast in bed. (Fitting that Molly's a singer, though of a far more classical ilk than Ms. Springfield.)
Episode Five: "The Lotus Eaters"
5. "Martha" - Tom Waits
"Martha" is the name of Leopold Bloom's erotic penpal, from whom he receives a letter in this episode. Bloom's correspondence is not nearly as heart-breaking as the letter in "Martha", but very little can beat out Tom Waits on that front.
Episode Six: "Hades"
6. "Rudy Can't Fail" - The Clash
Bloom embarks on a trip to the cemetery for a townsman's funeral, prompting him to reflect on the death of his infant son, Rudy. (Hm. On second thought, not a very appropriate song choice, but we're certain that someone, on this day in Joyce's Dublin, has been "drinking brew for breakfast.")
Episode Seven: "Aeolus"
7. "Invincible" - Pat Benatar
Later, Bloom goes to the newspaper office, where the men are discussing the 1882 Phoenix Park murders, allegedly perpetrated by the radical splinter group, the Invincibles...all of which sounds a lot more intense than Pat Benetar's spiky hair and earnest vocal-stylings.
Episode Eight: "Lestrygonians"
8. "Blister in the Sun" - Violent Femmes
After leaving the newspaper, Bloom walks through the town, observing the clouds passing over the sun. When the clouds move away, he holds up his little finger to blot out the rays as he looks at the sky. While Joyce doesn't mention it, Bloom is surely trying to avoid a blister. In the sun.
Episode Nine: "Scylla and Charybdis"
9. "That's Entertainment" - Judy Garland
In this episode, Dedalus is at the library, describing his theory of Hamlet, wherein Shakespeare identifies with Hamlet's father, not Hamlet, himself. And in one of the furthest stretches and strangest transitions in this list, "That's Entertainment" mentions "some Shakespearian scene/Where a ghost and a prince meet." ALSO HAMLET.
Episode Ten: "The Wandering Rocks"
10. "Nineteen" - Tegan and Sara
In the tenth episode, Joyce briefly describes nineteen different characters, from nineteen different points of view. Tegan and Sara are singing about being nineteen and something having to do with love, but at least the number's the same.
Episode Eleven: "Sirens"
11. "Croppy Boy" - Liam Clancy
Tom Kernan requests this folk song from Cowley at the piano in the Ormond Hotel while Bloom dines there. Easy enough.
Episode Twelve: "Cyclops"
12. "Yesterday" - En Vogue
During this episode, told from the point of view of an anonymous narrator, a pint of Guinness is lovingly described. Now for the song (keep up with us, here): the Guinness Book of World Records claims that Paul McCartney's "Yesterday" is the most covered song OF ALL TIME, re-worked by approximately 2200 artists. Boyz II Men, Ray Charles, the Mamas and the Papas, and Placido Domingo are all in that illustrious group, but we chose the tight harmonies and soulful riffs of En Vogue. (See what we did there?)
Episode Thirteen: "Nausicaa"
13. "Roman Candle" - Vandaveer
Bloom soon makes his way to the beach where Stephen saw the barking dog. Here, he catches the Mirus Bazaar fireworks with a group of women and children from town. Bloom particularly, ahem, enjoys the "big Roman Candle." This brief scene might have gone a long way in getting Ulysses banned in the States, but don't worry! Vandaveer's music has never come under scathing national review.
Episode Fourteen: "Oxen of the Sun"
14. "Here Comes a Regular" - The Replacements
As evening approaches, Bloom and Stephen end up in the same pub. The night soon devolves into one of heavy drinking, which sounds like a ton more fun than this sad, sad, sad Paul Westerberg song.
Episode Fifteen: "Circe"
15. "Hallucinations" - The Raveonettes
The two men head to Nighttown, Dublin's oh-so-wittily-named red-light district district. Once there, they experience respective hallucinations. So take a listen to a band that draws inspiration from The Velvet Underground, itself a band that's surely imbibed its share of hallucinogenics.
Episode Sixteen: "Eumaeus"
16. "Knife" - Grizzly Bear
After the wild time in Nighttown, Bloom takes Stephen to a cabmen's shelter for something to sop up the liquor. It is here that the two are drawn into a story of an Italian knifing a man in the back, as told by a bawdy sailor. Grizzly Bear's knife is symbolic of the agony of love. You can decide which of the two is more painful.
Episode Seventeen: "Ithaca"
17. "The Big Fight" - Stars
Bloom sees a shooting star as he escorts Stephen out of his house, but more importantly, this duet expresses the resignation of ex-lovers as they revisit their affair, a sentiment shared by the married Blooms.
Episode Eighteen: "Penelope"
18. "Good Golly, Miss Molly" - Little Richard
The final episode, and our final song, is all about Molly.