At Home He's a Tourist

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

Friday, May 28, 2004

Watched The Brothers Quay Collection, a set of stop-motion shorts so bizarre that they make Tim Burton's stuff look like Wallace and Gromit. A little too morbidly surreal for my tastes--deformed puppets fondling or stabbing unnamable pieces of meat, set to avant-garde Eastern European chamber music--so I can't wholeheartedly recommend it, but it was still perversely fascinating.

I'm leaving for the Land of Enchantment tomorrow, so I will talk to you again on Tuesday. Have a good holiday.


Fleming, Thomas. The Illusion of Victory: America in World War I. Basic Books, $35.

Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies: “Some readers will be content to value the book merely as an excellent chronicle of the war years and of Wilson in the context of the politics and personalities of the time. Its greater worth, however, lies in its analysis. It has much to teach." Library Journal: “Noted historian and novelist Fleming…here presents a revisionist view of President Woodrow Wilson…While this book will not turn the tide of pro-Wilson sentiment, it will lead readers to reconsider how history should view the man. Academic and most medium and large public libraries will want to purchase a copy.” Foreign Affairs: “one of the most bitter attacks on Woodrow Wilson since William Bullitt and Sigmund Freud dissected his mental makeup…The attack is so indiscriminate that the book often misfires. Even so, Fleming illuminates many aspects of Wilson’s character and career that conventional hagiographies skim over…this book is more prosecutor’s brief than historian’s verdict.” Booklist: “Fleming presents what some may regard as a hatchet job. He portrays Wilson, sometimes unfairly, as vain, bigoted, intolerant, and quite willing to use governmental power to repress even mild dissension. Yet, if Fleming’s personal attacks are over the top, his analyses of the consequences of Wilson’s decisions are on the mark…a generally credible indictment of a man whose good intentions failed to deal with reality.” Washington Monthly: “hyperbolic and so hostile to Wilson that it borders on the cartoonish…The book misses the chance to reconsider the war’s causes and consequences and address the prevailing view that World War I was a debacle from start to finish…includes odd chapter titles and bald counterfactual assertions that the majority of readers will find unconvincing."

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Although it may sound sexy and glamorous, collection development has its stretches of tedium. This week I've been going through our standing order list and checking with publisher web sites to see how many installments will be produced in the forthcoming year, so I can know how much to cut off the top of the FY2004-2005 budget. When that's done, I'll have to go through our periodicals subscription list and account for rate adjustments. Then I'll need to gather various institutional data (students per major, circulation per LC subject, etc.) and plug it into our formula for divvying up the money among our disciplines. Boring.

I ordered my Pre-Raphaelite girlie posters. Should get here next week.

I broke down and started working on transcribing "The Fez." Actually it's not too difficult so far, but I'm still on the verse and chorus; I'm dreading the bridge, which is where Fagan usually trots out the fancy-shmancy modulations.


Beye, Charles Rowan. Odysseus: A Life. Hyperion.

Booklist: “[Provides] a deeper understanding of an old acquaintance and, for those who fear reading a long poem, a dazzling introduction to one grandfather of us all.” Library Journal: “a coherent, highly readable narrative that situates Odysseus’ world within the geography and history of our own. The only drawback is a lack of scholarly apparatus, aside from a brief chapter on sources, which limits its usefulness in academia. But the general reader will appreciate its accessibility and its entertaining value. A true labor of love, reflecting a lifetime of study, this is recommended for all public libraries.” Kirkus: “Synthesizing material from the Iliad, the Odyssey, and other ancient sources, a ‘biography’ of the legendary Greek hero that doubles as a vivid history of Bronze Age customs and beliefs…The author’s lucid chronological narrative of Odysseus’ career is written in witty, deliberately colloquial prose. Only when describing his subject’s sex life does Beye lapse into jarring anachronisms…Early chapters covering less well-known events in Odysseus’ youth are particularly fascinating, but Beye’s accounts of the Trojan War, the hero’s ten years of wandering, and his return to Ithaca also benefit from the author’s formidable, yet lightly worn, erudition.” Publishers Weekly: “sometimes compelling, sometimes pedantic…While Beye offers insights into the cultural context in which Odysseus might have grown up, his fictional biography cannot compare to Homer’s suspenseful and engrossing tale.”

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Millions of bloggers are going to be posting links to this, but here goes anyway: NY Times on blogging addiction. "For many bloggers, the novelty soon wears off and their persistence fades. Sometimes, too, the realization that no one is reading sets in. A few blogs have thousands of readers, but never have so many people written so much to be read by so few." Er...

I'll be paying this place a visit when in Albuquerque, certainly.


Wells, Stanley. Shakespeare: for all time. Oxford, 2003. 442p index ISBN 0-19-516093-2, $40.00.

Choice: "This important, richly illustrated book by eminent Shakespeare scholar Wells lucidly circumscribes the legacy of the Bard. Deftly phrased and uniquely encyclopedic in scope, the book draws from and reflects on a lifetime dedicated to editing and caring for the remains of Shakespeare as poet, dramatist, and man. Essential. Most useful for undergraduates and general readers, with a wealth of detail that will benefit graduate students and researchers." Contemporary Review: “Prof. Wells is widely recognized as this country’s leading expert on Shakespeare…He writes with humour, detachment and a breadth of learning that makes this a thoroughly enjoyable book for anyone interested in English literature, the theatre and the genius that was Shakespeare.” Publishers Weekly: “this work hits its stride when it gets onstage, from the first performances on the recently unearthed Rose Theater to the modern productions on the newly reconstructed Globe…this copiously illustrated album admirably compressed more than four centuries of the bard and more than 50 years of Wells’s devotion to him.” New Statesman: “clear and witty…Wells’s flair for the management of an intricate story proves compelling…Scholarly, urbane, rich in anecdotes and marvelously readable, it is a meticulously constructed and authoritative survey with a vast and satisfying scope.” Renaissance Quarterly: "Stanley Wells is one of the towering figures of current Shakespeare studies...While the scope of the project necessitates superficiality, Wells and the Oxford Press offer the general reader an appealing, lavishly illustrated volume. Since none of this material can be developed at any length and since it is presented chronologically rather than topically, readers seeking information on the wide array of subejcts broached in this book may be inclined to turn to other refernce works. There is no bibliogrpahy and the notes are not extensive."

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

I found out today that happens to be having a 20% off sale until Memorial Day. I guess my decorating whim was well-timed.

The genius of Prince eludes me.

I brought back my record player from my folks' house but it turns out that the stylus was missing for some reason. I purchased a replacement from the Sony web site, but it didn't seem to fit so I returned it. TInkering around with the phonograph later, I noticed that my cartridge had been dislocated during the move, and I could push it further up the tone arm, making room for the stylus. So now I've ordered the stylus a second time. It's a rip-off ($70), but still cheaper than replacing my 200 or so vinyl albums with CDs. I can't wait to hear Blonde on Blonde.

I've only seen 5 minutes of the show, but this story makes me interested in giving Buffy the Vampire Slayer a fair shake.


Tea sales soar, reflecting interest in antioxidants.

White tea more effective than green at fighting germs. I don't even know what white tea is, let alone where to get it around here.


Kukla, Jon. A wilderness so immense: the Louisiana Purchase and the destiny of America. Knopf, 2003. 430p bibl index ISBN 0-375-40812-6, $30.00.

Choice: “a very readable and well-illustrated story…Recommended. All collections.” Magill Book Reviews: “In Kukla’s adept hands, the story of the Louisiana Purchase reads like a Dickens novel.” Kirkus: “thoroughly detailed…a worthy additional contribution to the burgeoning literature, timed for the bicentennial of Mr. Jefferson’s vast acquisition.” Publishers Weekly: “Until a better one comes along, which is unlikely, this is now the book to read of the growing crop of works on the Louisiana Purchase in this bicentennial year…a splendid, beautifully written narrative…Unlike many other historians, Kukla favors none of the story’s characters but evenhandedly gives all their due. The book lacks only a grand theme to match its subject…Nevertheless, this judicious, aptly illustrated work will gratify all its readers. Rarely does a work of history combine grace of writing with such broad authority.” Library Journal: “richly detailed…a balanced account…heavily mines the documentary sources…Kukla’s book, with its colorful personalities and more accessible narrative, may work better in public libraries, though academic libraries should consider as well.” New Republic: “not an original account, but as exciting and readable a narrative of the Louisiana Purchase as we are likely to get in the foreseeable future…good old-fashioned history-storytelling in the Henry Adams tradition…fascinating…one wishes that he had spent some times describing in detail this diverse and compolicated society of New Orleans, and the myriad and convoluted way sit dealt with racial and ethinc mixture in the decade leading up to Louisiana’s statehood in 1812.” Booklist: “Readers looking for an analytical edge or historical revisionism won’t find it here, and Kukla’s casual language may annoy academics, but history buffs will enjoy the level of detail, and the uninitiated will enjoy the thorough explanations of background events like the French Revolution. Overall, this selection is an engaging look at a key historical event, in time for its bicentennial.” American Historical Review: “engaging and authoritative…Kukla is at his best in reconstructing the politics and diplomacy of the purchase. His emphasis on the centrality of the Haitian revolution does not break new ground, although his mastery of developments (and sources) in European capitals as well as in New Orleans is unparalleled…Kukla’s mastery of this complex narrative only falters when the ‘destiny’ of his book’s subtitle comes into view.

Monday, May 24, 2004

The thought of moping around the house for three days is just too grim, so I need to think of some way to get out of town this weekend. Albuquerque/Santa Fe is the most reasonable option, although it ain't too convenient--about a six-hour drive from here. Still, I'd rather be on the road than stick around this town.

Update: Booked a room for the weekend in Albuquerque. Now I need to figure out what to do there. Hopefully I'll come back with a sizable addition to my CD collection.

Collection Development

I had student workers go through a couple of years of old ILL requests and enter the call numbers of the requested items on an Excel spreadsheet. Now I'm going through the high-demand subjects (which turn out to be religion, literature, and psychology) to see if there's anything we need. I was surprised to learn we don't have the Malleus Maleficarum, the classic witchhunter's manual from 15th-century Europe. I'll order it as soon as the new fiscal year rolls around.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Anyone out there bought anything from I was wondering if their art prints were any good. I'm finally getting around to spiffying up the apartment, as I was contemplating last year, and wanted some color on the walls. I think six posters should be sufficient. I don't know anything about art or interior design, but it seemed to me a good idea to keep them all in the same style; I considered Japanese woodcuts but now I think I'm gonna go with the Pre-Raphaelites. Their romanticized visions of lush landscapes and lovely women will make my place a little oasis of beauty in the arid blight of the Llano Estacado.

Also on the home improvement front, I bought a nice computer desk to replace the sagging card table I'd been using. And I spent this afternoon cleaning up. I'll break these monastic tendencies yet! (At least insofar as that is possible on a librarian's salary.)


Alcohol prevents more deaths than it causes, according to a London medical journal.