Not Cool–and more Books

I am not a big Joni Mitchell fan.

I’m sure some people have already stopped reading and deleted me from their Google reader list, but if you haven’t yet, hear me out.

I never listened much to Joni Mitchell as a young person — wrong age, and all that. I knew who she was, knew she was supposed to be brilliant, etc. etc. I knew some of her big radio hits, which helped make up the sonic wallpaper of my young life — there, but rarely reaching the level of conscious listening.

Eggmaster is a much more attentive listener than I. He gets interested in a musician, then begins to listen carefully to their wider body of work. He’s more than willing to let things grow on him, to listen for what’s unique or distinguishing, basically to meet someone halfway. So when he starts listening to someone, he listens a lot.

He’s been listening to Joni Mitchell, and it was with some shame that I realized I was not into this icon of coolness. Eggmaster suggested, and I think he was right, that the pervasive Joni Mitchell influence on so many female singer-songwriters has made some of the hallmarks of her sound and style into dreadful cliches. I won’t even get into the contemporary women musicians that I know I should dig and just don’t (OK, just as an example, Tori Amos and Fiona Apple).

So, the groundwork is laid. I am not very cool.

Which I needed to say to proceed with my brief notes on my ongoing attempt to cover my 2008 reading list. Today: Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel. Briefly: good book, fine book. Was fine. I think I was so ready to be blown away that I kept waiting for the “wow” sensation to kick in, and that prevented me from actually just reading the book. I was often taken by the cool mixed-media thing she had going on — taken, as in almost envious. I plan to read the book again. I read it quickly — it’s a good story — so I’m sure I missed a lot. I am also not really a comics person. I liked my Lynda Barry, I read my daughter’s manga (including her new issue of “manga-style” Sabrina, which I kind of enjoy *blush* ), but it’s just not something I’ve gotten into. I have not met them halfway.

Coming soon, I plan to blog my thoughts on a couple of gifted ed/parenting books that I just borrowed from a friend: Guiding the Gifted Child (James Web, Elizabeth Meckstroth, and Stephanie Tolan of “Is it a Cheetah?” fame) and Losing Our Minds: Gifted Children Left Behind (Ruf). The first was recommended to me as a source for dealing with sibling relationships; the second I decided to read after a discussion on an e-mail list about the usefulness of Ruf’s levels. Basically, I wondered aloud about the distinctions between 4s and 5s and whether the distinctions were useful outside of a school setting. I also had some questions about how environment, temperament, and opportunity play into the differences in levels. A few people with profoundly gifted kids responded that Ruf’s book had been a great resource for them as parents.

The first thing I need to do, though, is abandon trying to place my children on the scale. Violet is either a 4 or a 5, and I really don’t know which. The 5 category has as an example a child who started college full-time at age 9 — I know that’s not the standard for level 5, but geez. We’re not there. But I’ll save my remaining thoughts until after I’ve read the book.

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3 Comments

Filed under Family Fun, Gifted Ed, Gifted Heart and Soul, Music and Art, Oh Mother

3 responses to “Not Cool–and more Books

  1. knittingthewind

    I’m cool enough not to care one way or another about Joni Mitchell.

    I’m looking forward to reading your reviews of those two books, especially Ruf’s, which I read a couple of times last year. I found it … almost helpful. Mostly it helped in showing me what I don’t get to see in daily life, which is the actual living experiences of different level 4 and 5 children for the purposes of comparison. But my problem was that the levels really do blur so very much into each other – and not only at the edges. For example, I know a child who is a level 4 with several streaks of level 5 going right through them, but I wouldn’t put them completely at level 5. I know we must have a basic framework to help us understand and place our children, especially in terms of education, but when dealing with human beings ultimately any category is going to be meaningless.

    Another difficulty I had with the Ruf book was that I knew something about her and one or two of the people in the book, so I could see where individual perspectives of the parents (including Ruf) influenced their presentation of their child’s giftedness & their perception of the level they were at. So this was both distracting and informative to my reading.

    I can’t wait to read your thoughts.

  2. One thing I heard about Ruf is that her sample size is VERY small. They are all from the same town even… so there is that.

    I read it at the bookstore and chose not to buy it because I felt like it was too much about kids in regular schools and the horrible issues they face. As homeschoolers we just don’t have those same problems.

    I’ve had Guiding the Gifted for awhile and it is heavily highlighted.

    btw, I am not a big fan of Joni, Tori or Fiona.

  3. I didn’t know that non-Canadians might worry about whether they liked JM or not ;->

    I have been so out of the Bechdel loop that I only found out about that new book recently. I plan to find it and read it.

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