At Home He's a Tourist

He fills his head with culture/ He gives himself an ulcer.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Movie Roundup

Triumph of the Will--Yawn...Interminable parades and bombastic speechifyin', though materfully filmed. Skip unless you're a student of history or cinematography. Ghost in the Shell--Downbeat anime from the mid-90s has more than a touch of Bladerunner; in a futuristic Asian city a cyborg cop muses philosophically about memory and personal identity while blowing people's brains out. I still haven't figured out all the plot, but the action is gripping. Small Change--Low-key vignettes portray French kids varying in age from infancy to puberty. Gentle humor makes this pleasant viewing, but definitely lightweight compared to Truffaut's more well-known films. Peter Pan--A beautiful but overlong adaptation. Rachel Hurd-Wood is charming as Wendy; also check out French film babe Ludivine Sagnier showing off her gams and horsing around as Tinker Bell. The main problem: the idea of a boy who refuses to grow up is simply incomprehensible to me. Well, time to get back to the PlayStation...

Blogger now offers a site feed option, so I've set it up for this blog.

Friday, January 23, 2004


Interview in the New York Times Magazine with Bernardo Bertolucci.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

"God will not suffer man to have the knowledge of things to come; for if he had prescience
of his prosperity he would be careless; and understanding of his adversity he would be senseless."

You are Augustine!

You love to study tough issues and don't mind it if you lose sleep over them.
Everyone loves you and wants to talk to you and hear your views, you even get things like "nice debating
with you." Yep, you are super smart, even if you are still trying to figure it all out. You're also
very honest, something people admire, even when you do stupid things.

What theologian are you?

A creation of Henderson


Indie filmmaker Gallo is an outspoken Republican.


I reckon I'll buy this one, since, besides the uniformly good reviews, the topic should be one of interest to a Baptist university with a large Church Music program...

Goff, James R. Close Harmony: A History of Southern Gospel. Chapel Hill, $45.

Notes: “the first serious historical work on its topic…One of the strengths of this historical chronicle is that it highlights the tensions in the gospel music industry and the difficulties faced by southern quartet singers since the 1960s…[but] amateur activity needs to be given sustained attention…Bluegrass gospel is also largely missing from this book…I hoped for fuller treatment of the paradox of gospel music as entertainment…Among the book’s weaknesses is an excessive amount of poor writing…the author misconstrues the significance of shape notes…[Goff] has done all students of American popular music a service by writing a book which, while it will not be all things to all readers, tells the story of the professional southern white gospel groups in a way that has not been done before.” American Historical Review: “Goff tells the story of Southern gospel, and he tells it well. The scholarship in this book is rock solid. The notes are extensive and document key sources, both primary and secondary…The combination of academic research and good journalistic footwork rounds out the book and makes it relevant to a wide readership…Goff has managed to make the worlds of academe and gospel music a little more comfortable with each other in this history of southern gospel. Goff’s book does an excellent job.” Journal of Southern History: “Goff’s affinity for the genre gives the reader a sense of its powerful appeal. Goff also gives important insights into one of the most intriguing aspects of southern gospel music, its existence as both a spiritual and an entrepreneurial phenomenon….One of the strengths of the book is its superb endnotes, many of which provide what amounts to a primer on the musicology of southern gospel. Goff, thus, deals effectively on both the most minute and the most wide-ranging levels of this important subject.” Church History: “an important contribution to the scant scholarly literature on the subject of gospel music…Goff’s riveting account of the internecine struggle within the Gospel Music Association during the 1970s and 1980s is especially compelling…Close Harmony is meticulously detailed, richly illustrated, and thoroughly documented…Goff’s prose is crisp and vivid…an important reference guide for ethnomusicologists, music historians, and others.” North Carolina Historical Review: “the first scholarly history…deftly blends cultural, social and religious history with a solid understanding of the business aspects that often drove this genre’s development…” Arkansas Review: “the first comprehensive study…comprehensive and inclusive…After reading Close Harmony the reader will not only better understand Southern gospel’s musical predecessors and descendants but also the theological beliefs and cultural attitudes that shaped the music.” Georgia Historical Quarterly: “Goff’s ability to combine scholarly detachment and a fan’s commitment to the music and its heritage is impressive. His approach, and the book that results, is both balanced and comprehensive…an excellent account. Carefully prepared, it is a treasure trove for both primary and secondary sources. Goff has also assembled a comprehensive list of relevant literature that will prove extremely helpful to future important addition to American social and cultural history.” Library Journal: “well-researched…a well-written account that engages despite its somewhat specialized focus. Recommended for gospel fans, social historians, and music libraries in the South.” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography: “a comprehensively researched, richly detailed cultural saga, one that both neophytes and those raised in the tradition will benefit from reading…a thorough and much-needed analysis of the genre’s roots…a detailed discography is conspicuously absent. Similarly, an accompanying CD ‘soundtrack’ would have been most welcome. These caveats aside, Goff has made an extremely important contribution to vernacular music history.” H-Net: “unparalleled…could have benefited from a more detailed analysis of these tensions. Some important questions remain unanswered…encyclopedic but suffers somewhat from a lack of interpretation..Overall, though, this does not detract from Goff’s path-breaking work. His copious endnotes and thoughtful narrative shed light on a topic that until now has remained unknown. Future works on southern gospel will surely use Close Harmony as a starting point.”

Wednesday, January 21, 2004


Blech. This is the sort of major label band we get to perform in the Panhandle-Plains.


Sounds interesting, but the reviews are too mixed...I'll pass.

Ackroyd, Peter. Albion : Origins of the English Imagination. Nan A. Talese.

Library Journal: “impressive…Entertaining as well as informative, this work is highly recommended for academic and larger public libraries.” Publishers Weekly: “Even a writer as popular, prolific, and inventive as Ackroyd can concoct a bore…Where London was animated by a brilliant exploitation of anecdotes, Albion lacks its verve…often bogs down in bland thesis and empty persuasion. Yet vastly learned and frequently engaging, it may prove good bedtime reading.” Kirkus: “occasionally falters…ultimately, though, he’s saved by his erudition and panache….” Contemporary Review: “This is a very good book, in which Mr Ackroyd deploys his enormously wide reading to great effect…Perhaps the book would have benefited if the author has cited rather fewer examples, made more of them and left us to assume the width of his reading…He integrates all this threads into a whole, with no unnatural forcing and no suppression of elements which do not fit his general thesis. There is an air of intellectual honesty and openness which appeals. The division into fifty-three chapters also makes for easy reading…One does not think his history is always quite sound...Mr Ackroyd’s definition of the imagination is heavily weighted towards words and what can be said in them. The imagination transcends language.” Economist: “His magisterial study of the theme is at once absorbing and frustrating. It is slow reading, not only because the text is stuffed and encrusted with references and quotations, but because any self-respecting reader has to argue with him the whole way…His book, as befits a writer, is mostly about literature, with short and unsatisfactory excursions into paintings, music, and architecture…he traces both well and enjoyably the survival, despite the assault of Latinisms and baroqueries from the 16th century onwards, of the plangent alliterative line of the Anglo-Saxons…Mr Ackroyd, with his ear for English melancholy, surely makes less of the sea than he might have…His London: The Biography proved him one of the best writers on the city for a long time…but London’s predominance here is more questionable…Some of Mr Ackroyd’s theories of Englishness are intriguing…If he is right, Albion itself is a thoroughly un-English enterprise: a quasi-encyclopedia of facts linked with lofty theorizing of just the sort that bluff Englishmen have always spoofed or dismissed with a phrase and a fart.” Atlantic Monthly: “the most astonishing lacuna in his narrative [is that] there is no chapter on warfare, and precious little allusion to it…alarmingly slight chapter on Shakespeare… Ackroyd's unresolved difficulty, then, is his frequent inability to identify as "English" anything that could not be attributed as well to other nations… it is astonishing that Ackroyd can have left out P. G. Wodehouse, another individual who meets the test of being unimaginable as a product of any other culture…” Booklist: “marvelous synthesis…A master extrapolator and wonderfully epigrammatic stylist fluent in many disciplines, Ackroyd has created a key to English creativity past, present and future.”

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Anyone else going to the TxLA conference in San Antonio? I'll be there.

Religion and booze
I didn't know that Jack Daniels learned about distilling from a Lutheran minister.

Grocery Store Tunes

I turned into the canned beans aisle and a teenage girl was swaying and lip synching to the Supremes' "Reflections" playing over the speakers. It warmed my old heart to see that the kiddies recognize musical excellence across the chasm of four decades.

It was also quite surprising to hear "Dr. Wu," one of Steely Dan's drug dealer songs (cf. "Kid Charlemagne," "Glamor Profession.")

GWTBS Round Two: Lit
The English faculty requested 90 books which have received 17 circs and 3 in house uses=0.22 uses per book. I requested 19 books which have received 5 circs and 1 in house use=0.32 uses per book. A solid if not spectacular victory. The most utilized item: A Historical Guide to Nathaniel Hawthorne, requested by a professor. Upon further investigation I noticed that all the installments that we own of the "Historical Guide to American Authors" series circulate well, so I think I'll buy some more.

Monday, January 19, 2004

On the Job

I hope you dern guvmint employees are enjoying your day off--private religious schools don't tend to celebrate MLK day, so I'm working at the library. A long time ago I mentioned having a "Great West Texas Bibliographic Shootout," comparing the circ stats of books requested by faculty with those of books I ordered on my own initiative. Now that I've been here a year I figured I'd start compiling those statistics by subject area.

Round 1: Art

This is a one-on-one competition because our art department has only a single professor, Dr. C. K. In FY 2002-2003 she requested 27 books and I ordered an additional 12. Her books received a total of 8 circs, mine a total of 7. Thus my per-book circulation was 0.58, hers 0.30. Ha! In your face, Dr. K.! What's more, the item with the most individual circulations, Hartt's History of Italian Renaissance Art,, was one of my selections. Yay for the librarian!

Gloating aside, those seem like pretty low circ stats on both sides of the contest. We spent $2,000 on those books and they were used (as far as we can tell) about 20 times (including in-house use). $100 per use. Of course these are permanent additions to our collection so they will receive the occasional use in years to come; still, these figures make me a little pessimistic about the value for money of academic libraries.

Sunday, January 18, 2004


David Lynch launches $1 billion campaign to build 100 "meditation palaces" for world peace.