Posts Tagged ‘ meme ’

Quirky, but unspectacular

The writer of Book Calendar, a blog about books (among other things) from an American librarian and keen reader, tagged me with one of those memes which encourages bloggers to reveal random facts about themselves to the world.  So, first the rules of the meme, and then the results chez Singing Librarian.

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Mention the rules.
3. Tell six unspectacular quirks of yours.
4. Tag six bloggers by linking.
5. Leave a comment for each blogger.
6. There is no sixth rule, but I feel there really should be.

So.  Unspectacular quirks.  That’s an interesting one, as I tend to think of quirks as being fairly remarkable things, but remarkable does not necessarily equal spectacular.  I also need to make sure that I haven’t mentioned them before, as that would break the spirit, though not the letter, of the meme.

1 – Although I really don’t like tomatoes (or tomato sauce, or tomato soup or even Heinz baked beans), I am very fond of pizza.  Chicken, or pepperoni, or mixed meat, or ham and pineapple, or even vegetarian, pizza is great as long as it doesn’t have actual slices of tomato on it.  I’m told that the vile fruit contains some important nutritional thingummies, so I even feel vaguely virtuous when I eat it.

2 – I can survive quite happily in a messy office or bedroom, but there are certain things that just have to be tidy.  CDs for instance.  My cast recordings are arranged alphabetically by composer, then by show, then (if necessarily) chronologically by recording date for multiple recordings of the same show.  Releases by individual artists are filed alphabetically and classical recordings are arranged by composer.  Sometimes Sir Arthur Sullivan causes a minor problem as I try to define a line between classical and musical theatre, but otherwise my mind feels much happier with everything in the correct order.  I even rearrange CDs in shops if somebody has carelessly put something back in the wrong place.  It is important, though I have no idea why, when my general environment is approaching a state of entropy.

3 – I hate being late for anything, and have been known to make my watch run a few minutes fast in order to avoid this possibility.  Work, church, rehearsals, parties, it really doesn’t matter.  I will arrive early, and if necessary take a walk or three around the block until the appointed hour has truly arrived.  I am gradually managing to acclimatise to lateness, though, and will no doubt become spectacularly unreliable in a decade or two.

4 – My general male inability to remember what clothes people may have worn recently is quite pronounced.  A few days ago, I was wandering through the supermarket and realised that I had no idea what colour shirt I might have been wearing, as it was hiding underneath a jacket.  I don’t think this was a typical senior moment, just a demonstration of just how little impact clothes make on me.

5 – On stage, my most notable quirk is that I’m not a fan of either curtain calls or follow spots, which are often beloved by most performers, whether amateur or professional.  I find both of them rather embarrassing, perhaps because they are impossible to explain within the world of the show.  Singing and dancing can, if you accept the conventions, flow from heightened emotions, but follows spots really can’t.  I was very pleased that my ‘Soliloquy’ performance lacked a follow-spot – the lighting man and the director decided that it would ruin the song, which it certainly would have done.  Curtain calls are also odd things, particularly if a solo bow is called for – I always feel awkward, as it feels as though I am rudely demanding applause from the audience.  And yet, as an audience member, I generally appreciate the chance to clap my favourite performers loudly, and even give a cheer if I am particularly excited.  Double standards…

6 – I am far too indecisive.  It has taken me a very long time to post this because I could not decide what to put as my sixth unspectacular quirk, so in the end I decided that indecision itself had to go here.  Some people could argue that my inability to make a decision is actually a rather spectacular quirk, and I will indeed sometimes go out of my way to avoid making a choice.  I’m not talking about the really big decisions in life, though they don’t come easily.  I’m talking about the little ones.  Which book to read next, or what to have to drink.  Even whether to have anything to drink at all.  These things can bring me to a dead halt as my brain refuses to work with me, so a meal out can be a strange form of torture to my soul, albeit one that has a delicious aftertaste.

So there you have it, six quirks which may or may not be unspectacular.  Now for the tagging.

1 – Aphra, because even if the quirks are already known to readers of her blog, her explanations will be highly readable.  ‘Danger of eclectic shock’ is her tagline, and readers can certainly expect eclecticism.

2 – Helen.  I always enjoy reading her blog, but don’t comment as much as I should.  Musings here are generally concerned either with the act of writing or the actions of young Kiko, who I feel I know better than I know any toddlers that I actually encounter in everyday life.  Kiko certainly has quirks (in a good way!), so I can’t help wondering what Helen’s may be.

3 – mrspao.  I suspect that some, if not all, quirks could well be connected with either cats or knitting, but I’m interested regardless of whether this prediction is true. I should confess that I know mrspao in real life and knew her in a non-internet context before an internet one.

4 – Reed, who is one of the most articulate, amusing, readable writers I’ve encountered. Her writings are often on the subject of writing, and although I know she hasn’t blogged recently due to the perils of work/study/life balance, I’d love to see her do so again. With no obligation, of course. Feel free, Reed (and anyone else) to ignore my tagging. I’ve ignored a meme or to in my time.

5 – Music Man. Another currently silent blog, belonging to a fellow amateur thespian, though one further North than I.

6 – You, if you feel that you wish to share six unspectacular quirks with your readership.  I’m certainly interested (or is that nosy?) enough to read what you might like to write…

The Privilege Meme

Memes don’t often tickle my fancy, but this particular one, though unconnected with any of the usual subjects of the blog, struck me as rather interesting.  I came across it as it floated through the blogosphere, invading such blogs as Charlotte’s Web and floatykatja’s Pina Colada Blog.  It was devised by PhD students at Indiana State University – Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, and Stacy Ploskonka. If you participate, they ask that you please acknowledge their copyright.

Bold the true statements. You can explain further if you wish.

1. Father went to college.
2. Father finished college.
3. Mother went to college.
4. Mother finished college.

I’m assuming that college is in the American sense of higher education, rather than the British sense of further education (and some higher education institutions). Mum has sundry academic qualifications. Dad doesn’t, but has gained membership of various chemistry-related professional bodies through experience.

5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor.
6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers.
I suppose so – I’d classify my family as middle class. The professions of parents, uncles, aunts and grandparents that I know of are teacher, quality control officer, telephone engineer, secretary, mechanic, chef and book keeper.

7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home.
8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home.

9. Were read children’s books by a parent.
I’m not entirely sure how many books we had at home, but enough to fill several bookcases downstairs, plus quite a number of books for us young ones in our room. I don’t actually remember being read to, but I know I was and am grateful for it – how can a child who is not read to develop a love of reading?

10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18.
11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18.
Well, this is interesting, and it rather depends how you define lessons. I did all sorts of things as a member of the Boys’ Brigade, and received proper instruction in canoeing and sailing as part of this – I even have the certificates to prove it. Private lessons, though? No. Not for music, sport or anything else.

12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively.
I’m not sure. I’m sort of an average, nondescript person, and don’t tend to identify myself with any of the ‘types’ that we tend to see on TV and the like.  I’m neither too high nor too low a class to be portrayed negatively, I would say, except possibly as “well meaning bumbler” in a sitcom.

13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18.
No, I didn’t get a credit card until after I left university.

14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs.
15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs.
Well, I went to university from 1997 and was part of the last year of students before we had to pay for our own tuition fees. My accommodation costs were covered by the good old student loan, my parents helped me out with money for food, and I made up the rest by working part time. So my parents paid some of my costs, but not the majority.

16. Went to a private high school.
No, no, no. And again no. Many people tend to assume my educational background is more privileged than it is. I attended a comprehensive school. A very good comprehensive school, but still.

17. Went to summer camp.
If you count Boys’ Brigade camp, which I attended once.

18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18.

19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels.
Certainly not. Canvas all the way for us, apart from at ‘Spring Harvest’ (a Christian conference/holiday thingummy over the Easter period) which involved staying at Butlins or Pontins sites. I have stayed in a hotel twice in my life. Once when our car broke down and we couldn’t reach the next campsite, so the AA kindly paid for overnight stay in a rather grotty establishment, and once on the night after a friend’s wedding.

20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18.
21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them.
I’ve never had driving lessons, let alone a car, so that one’s out. I am the oldest child in my family, but I got hand-me-downs from various older boys in the church.

22. There was original art in your house when you were a child.
I suppose some of my mother’s embroidery, or the wooden parrot which an Italian p.o.w. made for her when she was a young girl might count as original art, but not in the privilege sense. The parrot, by the way, is very cool, and balances perfectly on a little strip of metal – you can even set it rocking.

23. You and your family lived in a single-family house.
24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home.
25. You had your own room as a child.

Yes, our house was owned by my parents, or at least they owed the mortgage company for it. I believe they own it outright now, and the household consisted of myself, mum, dad, sister and the occasional pet. Little sister and I shared a room until we moved house when I was nine or ten years old, then we got our own bedrooms, which was very exciting for both of us.

26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18.
27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course
28. Had your own TV in your room in high school.
29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college.
A mixed bag there, all of which were untrue. Televisions and telephones in bedrooms only became reality once I started living in shared accommodation, and I’d never even thought of the idea before then. The other two items are terribly American, but the British equivalents do not apply.

30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16.
31. Went on a cruise with your family.
32. Went on more than one cruise with your family.
33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up.
I flew to Spain with school when I was doing my GCSEs, so was probably less than 16 at the time. I remember my parents saving up for that trip, which was very beneficial and terribly daunting at the same time. I have never been on a cruise, but I had many trips to the big London museums with my parents as a child – the free ones, of course! I still love the Natural History Museum deeply.

34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family.
I was aware that heating cost money, but not how much money.

Hmm, that’s just under half of the statements that I can say ‘yes’ to. I’m not entirely sure how to interpret that, but I do know that I am very privileged. Perhaps not compared to members of the Shadow Cabinet or our various Princes, but even by being born in the UK, I had so many advantages that many people elsewhere do not. And a middle-class upbringing, with a loving, stable family who encouraged my education, is something that should not be taken for granted anywhere in the world. I was exposed to learning and culture by my parents, even if not on a grand scale, and we had more than enough money to get by. If that isn’t privilege, I don’t know what is.

Questions are asked and answered

There is a meme going around, as I’m sure you’ll have noticed, where bloggers interview one another, and end up giving really quite interesting (or in my case, really quite long) answers.  I think the beauty of this meme is in the nature of who is doing the interviewing.  It’s not people that the bloggers know in their day to day life, who would most likely be fishing for particular bits of information that they already know.  It’s also not people completely disconnected from them, who would end up asking entirely generic questions.  These are people who know their interviewees through the blogosphere, a curious form of social interaction which is simultaneously very open and very reserved, as each word can be chosen, pondered and held back.  All of us leave a whole number of gaps in the narrative of our lives as we blog away, and many of the questions and answers I’ve seen have been filling in some of these gaps, which the blog authors may have been entirely unaware of.

So the meme has been floating around, and I’ve seen it whiz through the periphery of  both the comics blogosphere and the theatre blogosphere, and now it has entered the realm of the blogs that I read more regularly.  I finally decided to be brave and ask for some questions following the questions that Aphra posed to Reed.  Reed, or possibly her ever-present Editor, posed five questions, and warned me that they “are all prompted by the fact I am a NOSY woman”.   As a result, this is probably one of my longest posts ever.  If you really don’t want to know about the real Singing Librarian, look away now and come back in a few days when I start wittering about something less personal.

Continue reading

Random tagging

Well, it seems I have been tagged by Doctor Z, and am instructed to tell you eight random things about myself.  So, what is there to know about the Singing Librarian which I haven’t already splurged all over this blog?  Let’s see…

1. I may have hobbits somewhere in my family tree.  That’s right, I have hairy toes.  However, I’m not quite short enough to fit the bill, though I do like their eating regime – lots and often.

2. My least favourite part of any show I perform in is the curtain call.  I feel like a complete idiot wanderng forwards and taking a bow, and make it as short as I can possibly get away with.  If I can get away without a bow, I’m quite happy.

3. I measure things on a continuum that ranges from crocodiles to raspberries, the nadir and zenith of creation.  Crocodiles and their relatives are hateful, hateful things which simply shouldn’t be allowed, with their disturbing teeth and their habit of pretending to be innocent logs.  If they appear in a wildlife documentary, I actually have to hide behind a cushion.  Raspberries are surely the opposite – a flavour that sets the taste buds racing and thrills me almost as much as discovering a fantastic new song.  With cream, in a cheesecake, or just on their own, raspberries are just heavenly. Continue reading

Random books

I don’t normally do the meme thing, largely because the definition of meme bothers me and partly because I simply can’t be bothered. However, when Reed indulged in a particularly booky meme, I thought I might as well hop on the bandwagon and show the strangeness of what I have and have not read:

Look at the list of books below. Bold the ones you’ve read, italicize the ones you want to read, cross out the ones you won’t touch with a 10 foot pole, put a cross infront of the ones on your book shelf, and asterisk* the ones you’ve never heard of.

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown) [Twice!  Once for myself, and once for book group.  Why did I allow myself to be put through that a second time?]
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. + To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. + The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. + The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. + The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance* (Rohinton Mistry)
11. + Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown) [Yes, sorry, but I haven’t read the other Dan Brown ones]
13. + Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. + Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. + Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. + The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. + The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. + The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams) [All of it, even the terribly dull ones at the end]
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. + The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook* (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent* (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner* (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. + Bible [Fairly sure I’ve read all of it now]
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens) [Why haven’t I read this yet?]
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. + Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. + Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. + The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage* (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind) [I wouldn’t bother if I were you]
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer) [During my teenage years of reading anything]
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees* (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce) [I just can’t be bothered]

Make of that what you will.  There are quite shocking gaps in my reading, particularly shocking when you consider that I have an MA in English Literature.  However, I was mostly concerned with eighteenth-century novels, and have read an awful lot of those.  There is, I promise, more on my bookshelves than hobbits and wizards.  It seems I’ll read most things once, really, or twice if I have to for study or book group purposes.  And I’m quite ashamed to see how many I’ve never heard of.  Surely I should have heard of every book ever written?  That’s the attitude that the users of the library tend to have, anyway.

Interestingly, few of my favourites are represented.  How do my readers feel about my personal selection of Tom Jones, The Woman in White, Riddley Walker and Remains of the Day?

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