Wednesday, January 30, 2008


It's kind of disconcerting to look out the window at the vividly lit empire state building, to see the glow from Times Square, and the sprinkling of sparkling lights all over this city, after reading in the Mail and Guardian and the New York Times about the power shortages, and very regular (in some places, two hours twice daily) power failures in South Africa. I just don't know what to say....

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

new semester

The new semester has started, and we hit the ground running. My teaching this semester is very different, as I'm TAing for a course on Bach, Gilbert and Sullivan, and Wagner's Ring Des Niebelungen. It's been ages since I've done any reading in any of these areas, but one of the set books is Edward Said's Orientalism, which I have read several times, and I know all of the set music really well. I wrote a huge project at the end of Matric on the Ring, and while I didn't really expect to use it again, I guess you never can tell what's going to happen.
I'm also taking superstar Suzanne Cusick's music and gender course this semester. It's a course this department is most famous for, and I'm really excited about it. The workload is pretty intense, but I have a reduced course load this semester to assist me with exam prep, so I think this is probably the best time of all to be doing this.
I'm also in the middle of submitting a whole series of applications for summer funding and summer work. It is a bit of a challenge, as there aren't many options open to international students, but I'm stretching my options a bit, and putting a lot of emphasis on my choral experience. One of the possibilities I'm most excited about will involve training childrens' choir all summer. I would so love to do that! The summer is a challenge for all students, and a lot of people warned me about the particular challenges of international grad student summers. But I'm sure I'll be able to make something work. Worst case scenario, I spend the summer waiting tables in Johannesburg, and saving money for the new year. Let's hope it doesn't come to that!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Comps lists

My comprehensive exams are on the weekend of the 11th of April. Of course I'm feeling a little nervous, but I'm also relishing the opportunity to do some of the reading I usually do for myself, as part of my work. Over the next little while, I plan to post my reading lists and some of my notes to this blog (it was intended for work, originally, after all).
So here is list 1:
The topic is "Afrikaans Music", and I am adding items as I access them (NYU interlibrary loan is working overtime, but wonderfully efficiently). But here, for now, is the start. Any other suggestions are much appreciated.

Bezuidenhout, Andries. 2007. “From Voëlvry to De La Rey: Popular music, Afrikaner Nationalism and lost irony” on LitNet 28 February 2007. Accessed 14 January 2008.

Bosman, Martjie. 2004. “Die FAK Fenomeen: Populêre Afrikaanse Musiek en Volksliedjies” in Tydskrif vir Letterkunde Vol. 41, No. 2. (2004), pp. 21-46.

Byerly, Ingrid Bianca. 1996. The Music Indaba: Music as Mirror, Mediator and Prophet in the South African Transition From Apartheid to Democracy. PhD Dissertation, Department of Cultural Anthropology, Duke University.

Currin, Brian and Stephen Segerman (eds). 1996-2007. South African Rock Encyclopedia. Accessed 14 January 2008.

Grobbelaar, Pieter W. 1999. Kommandeer! Kommandeer!: Volksang uit die Anglo-Boereoorlog. Pretoria: J. P. van der Walt.

Grundlingh, Albert. 2004. “"Rocking the Boat" in South Africa? Voëlvry Music and Afrikaans Anti-Apartheid Social Protest in the 1980s” in The International Journal of African Historical Studies, Vol. 37, No. 3. (2004), pp. 483-514.

Hamm, Charles. 1985. “Rock 'n' Roll in a Very Strange Society” in Popular Music, Vol. 5, Continuity and Change, pp. 159-174.

Hopkins, Pat. 2006. Voelvry: The Movement That Rocked South Africa.

Jury, Brendan. 1996. “Boys to Men: Afrikaans Alternative Popular Music 1986-1990” in African Languages and Cultures, Vol. 9, No. 2, Gender and Popular Culture, pp. 99-109.

Ludemann, Winfried. 2003. “Uit Die Diepte Van Ons See: An Archetypal Interpretation of Selected Examples of Afrikaans Popular Music” in South African Journal of Musicology/Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Musiekwetenskap, Vol. 23, pp. 13-41

Monday, January 07, 2008

Another great weekend

I'm sounding a bit like a stuck record, but it's because my weekends really are delightful. This past Saturday, NYChoirgirl and I went to the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players' production of the Pirates of Penzance at the NY City Center, courtesy of Theater Extras, and NYU's Ticket Central. The production was very funny, hammed up to the hilt, but definately great entertainment. And I was delighted to see this production now, as I'm due to teach some Gilbert and Sullivan (probably the Mikado) this coming semester. NYChoirgirl also acted in a production of this work when she was in school, and more recently sang one of the numbers in a Stonewall Chorale choir concert, and so she knew most of the music. I knew less of it, but still left the venue with several ear worms firmly in place. Particular highlights included the major general appearing in his pajamas, including puppy slippers, and an ammusing reference to Pinafore inserted into the dialogue ("'Never!' 'what, never' 'well, hardly ever'"). I also witnessed a most amusing phenomenon right at the start of the performance, when the audience rearranged itself as if on cue when the house lights dimmed, moving to empty seats nearer the stage.
Prior to the performance, we had dinner at Xai Xai, a recently opened South African Wine Bar in the hell's kitchen neighbourhood. In the interests of an authentic South African experience, we ordered Cathedral Cellars (KWV) Shiraz, pap, wors and tomato and onion chow, curried fish, Malva pudding and pumpkin fritters with cinnamon sugar. It was a fabulous meal, not cheap, but more "authentic" (yes, I know that's a very unacademic word, but it works, here) than what I had at that other South African restaurant that shall not be named. I definitely plan to visit again.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Happy New Year!

The holiday season is over, but school doesn't start for a few weeks yet. I'm going to be making maximum use of this time to do preparatory reading for my comprehensive exams, now that I'm feeling so much more relaxed after a wonderful break.
The weekend before Christmas, NYChoirgirl's parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary (Congratulations, Mr and Mrs NYChoirgirl!) with a wonderful party that has taken NYChoirgirl and her sister nearly a year to plan and organize, and went off without a hitch.
And Christmas the next week was super. NYChoirgirl and I had a quiet Christmas dinner together, followed by midnight mass on Christmas eve. On Christmas day we overdosed on sugar, with home baked Greek shortbread, home-made marzipan, Christmas pies and Quality Street chocolates (purchased at Myer's of Keswick), and wonderful, and very boozy, fruit cake, made by a friend of NYChoirgirl's in Vermont. It arrived by post, wrapped in bourbon-soaked cheese cloth, moist and crumbly, and wonderful.
And then the next day, we left for a four day holiday in Philadelphia. We had a wonderful time, visiting Independence hall, and the liberty bell, the national constitution center, Penn's landing, society hill, the Jewish American museum, the Reading Terminal Market, the Italian market, and the museum of Art. We had wonderful dinners at several fabulous restaurants, incredible ice cream, and super tea, on one evening, over a game of scrabble. We played pool in the basement of a cute women's bar, tasted shoo fly pie bought at an amish stall, and admired a series of tapestries based on sketches by South African artist William Kentridge. We had such a wonderful time, I was sad to see it end.
But with New Year's eve the day after we returned, there wasn't much time to feel sorry for myself. We skipped between two parties on New Year's eve, watched the ball drop, and then tried to sleep while the partying continued next door into the early hours of the morning. And then we started the year by watching the Rose Parade on television, followed by a nice long walk to a New Year's day brunch, and bowling at a Jackson Height's bowling alley.
And now I'm home, huddled against the cold weather, doing bibliography searches, and getting excited, once again, about the reading I will be doing this semester. I really needed this break.
So, happy New Year, everyone. I hope 2008 is wonderful.