At Home He's a Tourist

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

Friday, January 30, 2004


Surprisingly, after all the talk about the problems Gibson was having finding a distributor for The Passion, showings are scheduled, not only for Lubbock and Amarillo, but here in dinky Plainview as well. Perhaps I should have expected that the area's overt religiosity would make it a reliable market for the film. I wonder if people will be lined up outside the box office on opening night dressed up as Judas, Pontius Pilate, Mary Magdalene, etc.? Since our theater is small and decrepit, I'll probably just drive to Lubbock anyway for the big screens, the powerful sound system, the cushy stadium seating, and the clean floors--but it's nice to have the option. Gee, ya think that if The Passion does well here, Plainview will get other foreign-language flicks like, say, Les Triplettes de Belleville?

Thursday, January 29, 2004


This inane piece of liberal snobbery from on Mel Gibson's The Passion is getting thoroughly fisked in the right wing of the blogosphere.


I was thrilled to hear an unfamiliar song by Malian pop queen Oumou Sangare on Radio France the other night. But I was annoyed to find out that the song is tacked on to a double-CD best of anthology! Of course this is an old money-making ploy, but usually anthologies have only one or two new tracks, a temptation which I've been able to resist so far. (This is why I still don't have a copy of Steely Dan's "FM".) The Sangare best of, however, has 8 new songs. Decisions, decisions...

Wednesday, January 28, 2004


House of Sand and Fog--Pretty good. I've forgotten most of my Aristotle, but didn't he think that in a tragedy the suffering should arise inexorably from character flaws? Anyway, that's what happens in this movie, involving a fatal clash between diametrically opposed vices: American indiscipline (in the character of recovering drug addict Kathy) and old world inflexibility (in the character of Iranian immigrant Behrani). A nice touch is that towards the end of the movie Behrani repents and attempts to rectify the situation, but succeeds thereby only in bringing the tragedy to its horrible conclusion--thus emphasizing that our acts can have such weight that their results are irrevocable. However, something about the plot device at the end involving Behrani's son struck me as forced, though I wouldn't be able to explain why. And I would agree with other viewers that the character of the cop, and the actor who plays him, are bland. Still, it's worth seeing at least once.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Theology (for Pablo)

Hey Pablo, in Romans 7:9 is your namesake implying the much-despised-by-Lutherans concept of an "age of accountability"?


Here's a curiosity: an online African Music Encyclopedia, very much a work in progress, copyrighted to "Janet Planet," presumably the same woman to whom Van Morrison was married in the late 60s.

Academy award nominations are out. Thank goodness Cold Mountain didn't receive a best picture nomination. Here are some of my preferences (which are highly uninformed since I've seen less than half the movies listed):

Picture--Lord of the Rings
Director--Peter Jackson
Actor--Ben Kingsley
Actress--Keisha Castle-Hughes (uh, Whale Rider was the only movie I saw in this category, but the kid really did do a good job)
Cinematography--City of God
Foreign--Barbarian Invasions (although I probably would have chosen City of God were it nominated)
Visual Effects--need one ask?
Original Screenplay--Barbarian Invasions

I'm worried that the Academy will be snookered by the art-house veneer of Lost in Translation.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Problems in Collection Development

1. Vanity Press books--Tricky because generally there won't be any reviews of the work, and the author might be completely unqualified, if not an utter crank. Last week we received from a journalism professor a donated copy of a concordance to the KJV Proverbs that he had published through one of those vanity print-on-demand outfits. The book was as well-produced as the typical trade paperback, so it took me a few minutes to discover its nature. I decided to add it to the collection because biblical studies is popular here and issues of, authority...aren't as significant with a concordance as with more argumentative forms of nonfiction: it doesn't take a Th.D. to collate all the occurences of a word in the text. (I bet L.L. won't enjoy cataloging it, since I doubt OCLC has MARC records for vanity press books. Do they?)

I'm not opposed on principle, then, to vanity press books. Another example: a philosophy professor who served as a referee for my manuscript had himself written a manuscript defending universalism (the doctrine that all people eventually go to heaven). I got a hold of a copy and thought it was quite good, but the religious presses he sent it to found it to be too controversial. So he eventually printed it through I would certain accept the book as a gift, and might even consider purchasing it.

2. Republished Titles--When going through some more donations I ran a title search on one item and received no results. I decided to do an author search to see if we had any other books by the same person, thinking that I could run circ stats and see if his work was in demand here. I found a number of his books, one of which had a title very similar to that of the donated book. As it turned out, one book was simply a retitled edition from another publisher. I've run into this problem a number of times, and for the ones I've caught there are probably others that snuck through. This possibility is something to keep in mind in reference work, too, when a patron isn't having any luck with a title search.

Today's my birthday, so I guess I'll go into town and buy myself some stuff. Maybe a new CD, even.