The view of my life right now.... That stack of books is the research for just one of the four questions I'm being posed for my oral exams. In just seven days, I will have to sit in a (probably overheated) room with three professors and talk in a (hopefully) concise, contained, and highly educated manner about (among other things) Olivier Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time. I wasn't all that excited about this question to being with, because I know that it's been posed to at least two other of my colleagues in the last two years, but now that I've found recordings of the actual birdsong that has been transcribed in the music, I'm jazzed. The Quartet is worth knowing about - it was premiered in January 1941 in Stalag 8a, a prisoner of war camp during WWII. The upright piano's keys were sticking because of the cold and misuse, and the cello had only three strings. It's about 45 minutes long, and not particularly novice-friendly, but if you ever get the chance to hear it live, please do. It is insidiously powerful.
I'll be back in a few weeks with some quality knitwear to show off. Wish me luck!