Bob Dylan Receives Nobel Prize for Literature

bob_dylan

Bob Dylan is an American songwriter and singer who has sold over a hundred million records with influences from civil rights to philosophy. Now, he has once again been recognized for his five decades of work. In December 2016, the Nobel Committee awarded him with a Nobel Prize for Literature, making him one of the most controversial Nobel Laureates. The public was divided over whether a songwriter was eligible for a literary award.

The committee explained that Bob Dylan was selected for “creat[ing] new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” but many critics and novelists denounced the supposed cheapening of the Nobel Prize. Dylan further agitated the public by maintaining silence for two weeks after the announcement while the committee grew increasingly agitated. Finally, he accepted the prize but stated that he was unable to attend the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden. Instead, he sent a speech that was read aloud by Azita Raji, an American ambassador.

In it, Dylan expressed his humble thanks and the honor to be among the literary greats. He addresses the debate of lyrics and literature by comparing his situation to that of William Shakespeare. What was going through Shakespeare’s mind while writing Hamlet? Perhaps: “ ‘Are there enough good seats for my patrons?’ ‘Where am I going to get a human skull?’” Bob Dylan states, “The farthest thing from Shakespeare’s mind was the question ‘Is this literature?’… Not once have I ever had the time to ask myself, ‘Are my songs literature?’”

Professor and Nobel Committee member Horace Engdahl asked in his speech, “What matter the rank of a work when its beauty is of the highest rank?” …That is the straight answer to the question of how Bob Dylan belongs in literature: as the beauty of his songs is of the highest rank.” Engdahl continued on, proclaiming Bob Dylan “a singer worthy of a place beside the Greeks’ ἀοιδόι, beside Ovid, beside the Romantic visionaries, beside the kings and queens of the Blues, beside the forgotten masters of brilliant standards.”

Bob Dylan is truly a step forward for the Nobel Prize for Literature, and his works will have a lasting influence on music culture.

The works of Bob Dylan are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They are also available for download through our new Hoopla service

Film Review: Lights Out

lightsoutIn the spirit of Halloween, I chose to write about horror; one of my favorite subjects that will always intrigue me. Most times when I see a scary movie, it’s not as scary as I expect to be or the storyline just doesn’t make sense. Maybe it was the pitch black theater or the speakers amplifying every scratch and scream, but seeing Lights Out on the big screen made the story come to life.

Before watching it, I had heard that the film wasn’t good and that its scariest scenes were already revealed in the trailer. However, this didn’t seem to be the case as I was always jumping at the least expected times. While watching the horror story, I had to keep myself from closing my eyes or looking away.

On the subject of horror, I think it’s such an interesting topic to write about because not all horror stories have to be about murders or monsters. This leaves it to the authors to interpret and brainstorm their own horror stories that leave readers on a chilling cliffhanger.

-Sabrina C., 11th Grade

Modern Music and Classic Literature

“Classics in literature are irrelevant now and don’t relate to life today.”

At least, that’s what I used to think before given an assignment where I had to relate a classic to a text “in my own world”. I didn’t like classics before, and some I’m still not interested in, but after analyzing one for the assignment I realized there is much I can relate to. I started to see the relation and it was pretty surprising. And there really wasn’t that big of a generation gap.

As a very big fan of music, I have a lot of connections to songs and my life. One of the main reasons I love it so much is because it’s so similar to my situations and how I feel, so I always love to tie it to anything I can. In this particular assignment, I found a song that I think is a shorter, more modern version of the idea behind J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye.

“Somewhere in Neverland” by All Time Low closely resembles the story of The Catcher in the Rye. The song talks about a boy in between adolescence and adulthood who doesn’t want to grow up. He doesn’t want to get a job and a life on his own. He feels lost “with no compass to guide”, much like Holden during his stay in New York. He wishes he could start over and be “forever young” and innocent, which is why Holden admires children.

In the song, the boy wants to run away with a girl to Neverland, a place where time stops and everything just keeps going around and around like the carousel. Holden just wants to go to a place where everything can stay the same, something he also likes about his memories of the Museum of Natural History museum. Holden proposes the idea of running away with Sally so they can escape the inevitability of growing up and having responsibilities. He wants to “start a life of the plain and the simple” when he has the idea of staying in a cabin in the woods away from the real world. This song is a close interpretation of the book and ties in with the ideas and themes very well.

-Sabrina C., 10th Grade

My Playlist for Mandatory Readings

A mix of all sort of songs to make those mandatory readings a little less terrible.

Top 100 : 

  • Good For You Selena Gomez feat. A$AP Rocky
  • Photograph Ed Sheeran
  • Honey I’m Good Andy Grammer 
  • Stitches Shawn Mendes 
  • Renegades X Ambassadors
  • Burning House Cam
  • Like I’m Gonna Lose You Meghan Trainor Feat. John Legend
  • Bad Blood Taylor Swift 
  • Like I Can Sam Smith
  • Love Me Like You Do Ellie Goulding 

My Random Picks: 

  • Hold Me Down Halsey
  • Girl Almighty One Direction 
  • Reflection Fifth Harmony 
  • Black Magic Little Mix 
  • Single Ladies Beyonce 
  • Hold Back the River James Bay
  • Style Taylor Swift 
  • House Party Sam Hunt
  • Just Saying 5 Seconds Of Summer 
  • 18 5 Seconds Of Summer 

Country: 

  • Fly Maddie & Tae 
  • Take Your Time Sam Hunt 
  • Girl Crush Little Big Town 
  • Crash My Party Luke Bryan 
  • Tonight Looks Good On You Jason Aldean 
  • Sangria Blake Sheldon
  • I Got the Boy Jana Kramer 
  • My Mistake Cam
  • Kick the Dust Up Luke Bryan 
  • Biscuits Kacey Musgraves

Alternative:

  • Uma Thurman Fall Out Boy 
  • Ex’s & Oh’s Ellie King
  • Bright Ecosmith
  • Let It Go James Bay 
  • This Is Gospel Panic! At the Disco
  • Work Song Hozier 
  • Sugar, We’re Going Down Fall Out Boy 
  • Mr. Brightside The Killers 
  • Teenagers My Chemical Romance 
  • Ghost Halsey 

Broadway:

  • Revolting Children Matilda 
  • Naughty Matilda 
  • Omigod You Guys  Legally Blonde 
  • Seasons of Love Rent 
  • You Can’t Stop The Beat Hairspray
  • Falling Slowly Once
  • Everybody Say Yeah Kinky Boots 
  • Live In Living Color Catch Me If You Can 
  • Good Riddance American Idiot 
  • Don’t Rain On My Parade Funny Girl 

Disney Songs: 

  • Belle Beauty and the Beast 
  • Under The Sea The Little Mermaid 
  • When Will My Life Begin Tangled 
  • For the First Time in Forever Frozen
  • I Just Can’t Wait To Be King The Lion King 
  • The Morning Report The Lion King 
  • Work Song Cinderella 
  • Bare Necessities The Jungle Book 
  • We Rock Camp Rock 
  • Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Marry Poppins 

If you have anything you would like me to create a playlist for or additional genres you would like my picks for leave a comment down below!

– Shelby B., Grade 11

Book Review and Playlist: Never Eighteen by Megan Bostic

never_eighteenWarning: the following contains spoilers.

For me finding a book is never an easy task, because I dislike going out of my comfort zone and taking a chance. So this book was a lucky find after hours of searching around the internet.  It  had the vibe and similarities from two of my favorite books and maybe even a third that are all pretty popular: If I Stay, Thirteen Reasons Why,  and The Fault in Our Stars.

The book Never Eighteen by Megan Bostic is the story of Austin Parkers, who is on a journey through life to close loose fences, and bring a final piece of meaning. Austin tries to live out the final duration of his life by helping some of the people that have either made an impact or touched him in some way in his life. These people are those he thinks need help and guidance, but don’t know or realize it for whatever reason. Austin makes the journey with Kaylee, the girl he loves, making stops along the way to famous places in their home of Tacoma, Washington and facing their fears.

Ultimately, the inevitable happens: due to his refusal of continuing treatment, Austin passes away from leukemia. One thing I really enjoyed about the book, that it was not centered on him having a terminal illness, but rather about him mending fences with the other characters and their relationships. It underplays the cancer; it is only really mentioned by Austin that he is indeed dying, while the other characters appear to be in a sort of denial or a strong hope everything will be all right.

My favorite part was how the author put songs at the very end, which inspired her writing and the spirit of the book. Which inspired me to name the following songs that I believe that fit the story line.

  1. I Lived – One Republic: A personal favorite for me and is one that I constantly thought of. It is exactly what I pictured Austin wanted himself and his family to picture, and be able to say. I think it also matches the tone of the book, perfectly.
  2. If I Die Young – The Band Perry: Another that describes Austin in my perspective acutely, the way they know exactly what they want. This song deals with the realization of not only dying at a young age but also, coming to turns with that just because life can be short does not make it any less valuable
  3. Not in that way – Sam Smith:  Originally I presumed this song should have been dedicated to Kaylee and her views on Austin all the way until the end. But close to the  fifteenth time I heard the song it clicked to me that behind the lyrics was a story that was a better fit for how Austin knew she would never love him in the same way he loved her
  4. Best Shot – James Young: A perfect description of the relationship or friendship shared between Austin and Kaylee. This song is about always being there for each other even when things are hard and that is one of the main themes of the story.
  5. All of the Stars – Shawn Mendes: Originally by Ed Sheeran for, “The Fault in Our Stars” this song is given a younger tone when sung by Mendes. This song really went hand in hand with the tone of the book, near the end. This song has a lot of links to death and so it holds a connection to Kaylee’s thought and feeling, especially the link to star gazing.
  6. Undone – Haley Reinhart: The song describes, how much love can tear you apart once it ends and how you feel that you will never quite recover. The lyrics are actually quite beautiful, a perfect description of how Haylee felt shortly after the loss of Austin and receiving the box and letter. She wants answers to why this happened to her and how she is supposed to move on from this tragedy.
  7. Afire love – Ed Sheeran: Another beautiful song by an artist that I admire, this song also deals with the tragedy of death. At the beginning of the song he talks about how they are slowly dying and through all this pain suffering, they are forgetting everything and everyone. Then in the middle of the song the person is no longer suffering, and the family is tied together once again through tragedy. This song is a beautiful depiction of the way death works and though there are no specific ties it really fit the book well
  8. I Will be There – Odessa: If I had to pick one song to be the theme, this would be it. This depicts how they are best friends and always there for each other. No matter what, they will be there to help you. The lyrics are simple, but the song itself is very unique from most of current day music.
  9. If Today Were Your Last Day – Nickelback: I was really impartial to putting this song in because it could easily be described as cheesy, but the lyrics just fit the text really well. It was almost as If the song was written for the book, because they are just that close. This was on key for what I believe Austin was felling in the book, when he went to everyone house.
  10. Battlefield – Lea Michele: Austin and Kaylee where never meant to be more than friends, but somewhere along the way they fell in love. Now Kaylee knows that she has to let Austin go, she needs to be strong for both of them just like he was. Peace or in this case, acceptance will only come when she lets go. What seemed like a good idea is now a battlefield, because she needs to figure out to let him go
  11. These Four Walls – Little Mix: The raw emotion that is described in this song, mixed with the beautifully written words in this book pair together exceptionally well. I believe that this is yet another perfect description of Kaylee and her emotions after losing Austin.
  12. What You Wanted- One Republic: The feel of this song is so powerful and the lyrics make it a song that never quite leaves your mind. The unconditional love that is described in only four lines gives us a glimpse at how amazing a first love can be. Something that Kaylee and Austin both got just a glimpse.
  13. All You Had To Do Was Stay – Taylor Swift: In the end Kaylee wanted nothing more than to have Austin, all he needed to do was stay. But this was realized too late, therefore it could not happen; instead she had to deal with the grief of losing him.
  14. Please Don’t Go – Barcelona: This song is so simple but in a very beautiful way, the few lyrics there are speak for themselves; painting a picture of two friends who have ultimately fallen in love but one does not notice their feelings or keeps them hidden out of fear.
  15. Come Home – One Republic: Finally, a song originally written for someone whom has been deployed to fight for their country shortly after getting engaged. When I hear this song I instantly think of someone sitting in either the rain or in the dark of night, writing the lyrics but at the same time saying them. And that is exactly what I felt like at the end of this book, and when I put the two together it just fit and gave that bit of closure.

-Shelby B., 10th grade

Book Review and Music Pairing: Breathing Room, by Marsha Hayes

breathing_roomThis story is set during WWII, and a horrible illness is causing many fatalities.  One 13-year-old girl has caught tuberculosis.  She is coughing up blood and is moving into a sanatorium called Loon Lake.  Evvy has to  leave her family and her twin brother, Abe, behind.  Evvy is frightened in this new home, because she is placed in a ward with three other girls who ignore her.  To make matters worse, it seems as though she is not recovering from the tuberculosis.

Not a lot is going right for her, but as I was reading, I was thinking our main character was not dying, but, in a sense, getting stronger.  Therefore, the song “What Doesn’t Kill You” by Kelly Clarkson would fit well at this point in the story if the novel was developed into a film.

Days, weeks, and months go by with little improvement.  My anxiety increased, and my heart was quivering with the start of each new chapter.  It was very sad, but some aspects of Evvy’s life were getting better.  A new girl, named Sarah, was admitted in the ward.  Sarah was the only person who Evvy was able to talk to.  Evvy thought everything was going as good as it could, until one of the girls was discharged.  One of the nicer girls…  Then, the events that followed spelled near disaster for Evvy.  One day as Evvy sat next to one of her dying roommates, I thought of the song “Say Something” by One Big World, in the hopes that the roommate would recover.

This book takes its reader on a quite an emotional journey.  The reader feels such a connection with the main character’s hopes for a better day.  Evvy reaches out to help others but doesn’t always succeed.  Yet, I learned that it is the thought that counts.  I loved this book and would rate it an 11 of out of 10 for its thought-provoking message .

-Maya S., 7th grade

Music Pairings: The Fairyland series, by Catherynne M. Valente

This wonderfully-written small series starts out with a 12-year-old girl, September, living her own life with only her mother and her father away at war until one night she falls into another dimension where she meets the best of friends and starts the adventure that has been waiting for her since the day she was born.

girl_who1The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making

She woke up to world full of vibrant colors and rich foods with birds and all sorts of animals welcoming her to Fairyland.  She learns many things including an expedition of her own and also finds out things she might not have wanted to know.  September discovers the ‘enemy’ is just a mirror of herself.   She battles her own brains and wits.  Her time has run out in Fairyland.  She must return to civilization.

The perfect soundtrack for this scene would be Get Back by the Beatles because the song shows that life is not perfect, and sometimes you have to ‘Get Back to where you once belonged’. She returns to a place where there is smog everywhere, the food on her plate is not good quality, and where the birds sing a sad tired song instead of a skipping happy one in Fairyland.  Will September accomplish what she set out to do?  Would the final song be We are the Champions by Queen while the credits roll?

girl_who2The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

September has been waiting for almost a year to go back to Fairyland.  If this were a movie, I think as they start the movie when the producer and executive producer–and the other almost ‘annoying’ information is displayed that just delays the start of the movie–the song should be You Can’t Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones because she was expecting that she was going to be able to go to Fairyland again in the spring.   But like it says in the song ‘If you try sometimes, you just might find… you get what you need!’  September got what was needed.  On the night of September’s 13th birthday, she was called into the delight of Fairyland.  Instead of Fairyland-Above, she fell beneath Fairyland where she went on another adventure, but this time without her normal friends.  She strived to get the one part of the puzzle that will satisfy her forever.  I picture the song We are Family by Sister Pledge connected with this scene for the emotion.  When she walked back home that night, she saw two figures talking under the porch light.  She ran toward them…

I would recommend these 10-out-of-10 novels to any middle grader who thinks they have a spark of adventure in them.

-Maya S., 6th grade