At Home He's a Tourist

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

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Beer Hall, Oktoberfest, 2003 Posted by Hello


Telegraph: Björk's new album to be a capella.


NYT: In Hibbing, MN, a prophet hath no honour in his own country, except among those unsung heroes of cultural preservation, librarians: "At present, the only collection of Dylan memorabilia outside of Zimmy's [a local restaurant] is in the basement of the Hibbing Public Library, where Roberta Maki, the exhibition director, has displayed items like Mr. Dylan's album covers and copies of his birth certificate and high school graduation picture." Likewise, when I happened to be in Greenville, Mississippi a few years ago, the only exhibition devoted to hometown literary hero Walker Percy was in a small glass case on the second floor of the public library, containing some photos, letters, and a handwritten manuscript of Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book.

Friday, August 13, 2004


As I said, I didn't really care for L'auberge Espagnole, but those who did can rejoice in the fact that director Klapisch is shooting a sequel, "Russian Dolls,", in St. Petersburg, with most of the original cast. (Minus Judith Godrèche, whose character was the only tolerable one from the first film, I thought.)


The Japan Times Online has an interesting article about sulfites in wine. The thesis: "It is received wisdom that the sulfite additives in American red wines cause many drinkers to have headaches, and that the health concerns over these 21st-century chemicals are so great that wines tainted by them are required to carry an explicit "Contains Sulfites" warning. In reality, however, nothing could be further from the truth." The author says the labelling requirement was pushed by temperance activists to make wine seem unhealthy.

Drink up!

Thursday, August 12, 2004


The Boss and D.W. went up to Amarillo for an emergency meeting of our regional consortium. The main points: (1) Someone got canned as a result of the computer failure and negligence to back up the data. (2) Luckily we'll be able to retrieve our catalogue records from the past four months through OCLC, but all other data (circulation, new users, etc.) is gone for good. This puts a little crimp in my circulation statistics evaluation, but I checked the figures a short while before the crash so I should be reasonably up-to-date.


Oberg, Michael Leroy. Uncas: first of the Mohegans. Cornell.

Choice: "Thoroughly researched in archival and ethnological sources, this book gives Uncas his due and clarifies trends in competing cultures. Summing Up: Highly recommended." Library Journal: “A fascinating picture of a complex Native American leader who shrewdly and effectively utilized his alliance with the English to advance the cause of the Mohegan people, often at the expense of other native groups. This well-written work is recommended for all libraries in New England.” Journal of American History: “For his nicely nuanced and minutely detailed narrative, historians of native southern New England owe much to Michael Oberg.” William and Mary Quarterly: “Oberg avoids caricaturing Uncas and humanizes him. A rich biography.” History: Review of New Books: “detailed and lively narrative…But the deliberations of Mohegan councils and the complexity of Mohegan tribal politics are missing from Oberg’s analysis. Scant sources may be to blame…The only available biography of this significant figure. It is ideally suited for an undergraduate audience and is a good read for scholars despite suffering from the thin analysis typical of biographies.”


Library Journal has a news brief about the arrest of Michel Garel, an archivist at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, for stealing and selling Hebrew language documents. A longer story (in French) from L'Express describes the most valuable of the stolen items, "Manuscript 52," a 13th century manuscript containing the Pentateuch and other scriptures. Garel snuck it to London, where he sold it to a collector, who sold it to another collector in New York, who took it to Jerusalem and showed it to a professor of Hebrew, who recognized it and alerted the authorities.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Google search: lubbock
Some of the results from various blogs:

We traveled across west Texas at eighty miles an hour and that was not fast enough (people were passing us like we were standing still). I use to believe that Garry Indiana was the ugliest town in the USA. But then I drove through Lubbock. Lubbock, say that out loud, what does it call to mind? Well amplify the negative in that vision three-fold, and you get the idea. Now I know I was on a major thoroughfare, and that is not always the best view, but the landscape is without contour, so I could pretty much see the whole town. Not that pleasant. We spent Monday night in Plainview Texas (as compared to what?)...

After we got out of Dallas we drove all the rest of the way to Lubbock. Texas was flat and dry. It's the home to many an abandoned gas station...

So first of all Lubbock texas... is definately in the middle of nowhere... But it has the largest one floor mall in Texas... woohoo....

When we got off the small airplane we were overwhelmed with the smell of cow… manure is a good word, I’ll use that. Lubbock is a small town with a very different culture from LA. Flat. I mean somebody ironed it flat. Anti-smoking ads informed us that 70% of Texas Tech students use tobacco products. 70%?!? The law school lounge proudly displayed posters advocating for both political parties – Republicans and the Federalist Society. On the TV in the airport Sen. Kerry was talking, and a man said loudly “Scary Kerry.” The crowd nodded approvingly at the brilliant political commentary. That pretty much summed it up – it was George W. country all the way. But, even though we were heathens from liberal Los Angeles everybody was very nice. I hope that anybody from Lubbock who visits LA gets half as nice a welcome as they gave to us...

Lubbock is not a place of beauty. It is a heap of people living in little houses with families that go through the motion of waking, working, eating and sleeping. It is such an average place...

But seriously, folks, have you ever been to West Texas? It’s a strange and alien place. Really flat. Really, really…flat. Big sky country (sorry Montana, but I saw more sky from the ground in Texas than I did on the plane ride there). Actually, I prefer a little more vertical landscape. Actually, I prefer a landscape. Come on, Texas, what gives? If it weren’t for the clouds, we’d have nothing to look at. Trees maybe? Something. If I had to sum up West Texas in one sentence (and I’m going to because I need to move on) I would say it was, “nature…unpolluted with vegetation.” So we were in Lubbock. The reason we went was not just to take in the lack of scenery, but to attend Tanya’s sister’s wedding. It was a nice wedding, as weddings go. They had it at the Holiday Inn, which, by the way, has the dubious honor of possessing the largest indoor atrium of any hotel in all of Lubbock. At least that’s what the sign at the airport said. Why would the sign lie? It seems to me that if any hotel in Lubbock had an atrium larger, there would be holy hell raised...

I travel to Lubbock in mid-July for New Student Orientation. I look forward to my first cow-tipping....


Troeger, Richard. Playing Bach on the Keyboard: A Practical Guide. Amadeus Press.

Choice: “A remarkably comprehensive volume that poses all of the initial questions on this topic, supplies the correct answers, and then gives readers the resources to expand those answers with additional reading. Essential.” American Record Guide: “Thought-provoking, fairly comprehensive. Troeger’s instincts are very good; still, I think he could have pointed to works by other composers (for instance, Albinoni) that Bach knew in order to bolster his observations. The book contains a wealth of information and many practical suggestions for keyboardists, and it would be useful in the classroom. Best of all, it is informed on nearly every page by its author’s fine musicianship.”Musical Times: “Although the book asks few sharp questions, the friendly, seldom critical references to recent literature and the many practical suggestions are helpful to the learner. Full of common sense and musicianship, the book can be happily recommended to undergraduates, should they ever read 300 pages on anything.”

Tuesday, August 10, 2004


The Bourne Supremacy was okay, but its plot was a little too similar to that of its predecessor The Bourne Identity. I also didn't care for the jittery camera motions and choppy editing--annoying in themselves, and too reminiscent of early 1990s MTV. The climactic car chase, a high speed demolition derby through the streets of Moscow, was fun though. Overall, I'd recommended just watching the first installment on DVD, unless you really need to get out of the house.

Unfortunately the cinema, my most faithful companion, has let me down this summer. I was excited to hear about Bourne Supremacy, Troy, Arthur, and I, Robot, but they all turned out to be mediocre. Still, hope springs eternal and I've let myself look forward to the following:

  • Vanity Fair--Easier than reading Thackeray, I hope.
  • Bright Young Things--An adaptation of the Evelyn Waugh novel Vile Bodies, which I read just a few weeks ago. Will any theater in the South Plains pick it up, though?
  • Ghost in the Shell 2--A sequel to the violent but philosophical anime; another one I'll probably have to wait to appear on DVD.
  • Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow--Retro 1930s sci-fi. I like Jude and Gwyneth.
  • Ray--The soundtrack should be good, at least.


Foster, R.F. W.B. Yeats: a life: v.2: The arch-poet, 1915-1939. Oxford, 2003.

Choice: “Outstanding, richly textured; a biography that lives up to its subject. Essential.” Contemporary Review: “Excellent and exhaustive.” New Criterion: “Foster has researched tirelessly and written cogently, elegantly, and wittily about all of the life and much of the work.” Publisher’s Weekly: “Masterful. Shrewdly and scrupulously applies the historical facts to Yeats’s self-made image and his poetry.” Kirkus: “Entirely readable and deeply nuanced. Foster’s knowing, richly detailed investigation is a remarkable achievement, essential to serious students of Yeats’s life and work.” Journal of Modern Literature: “A major achievement in literary biography every bit as masterful and illuminating as Richard Ellman’s life of James Joyce. Foster has demonstrated that he can marshal all the facts and place the work in context and still do justice to its large formal structures and major themes. Although close textual analysis of a specialized kind is apparently not Foster’s forte, for purposes of literary biography it is not really necessary. But what disturbs me is Foster’s habit of reading Yeats’s erotic preoccupations and their connections to poetic genius and occult spirituality as if they were primarily symbolic in nature, at best as merely imaginary spurs to his poetic creativity.” Hudson Review: “Splendid, exhaustive and detailed, a miracle of interwoven sources. If there is something dissatisfying in the book, it is that everything that is not action, history, fact, or detail, everything that is not hand-recorded in a sum or a vote or a posted paragraph, is quietly lifted away; which means nearly everything that has to do with genius, feeling, experience, and thought.” Commentary: “Foster is an authorized biographer, and has thus had access to more information than anyone before him. Throughout, he emphasizes actions rather than the poet’s inner life or work, which is a shame. Affectation is one fault that Foster regrettably shares with his subject. Both volumes of this biography are marred by his habit of sprinkling his prose with Latin and especially French ornaments. As for Foster’s English, it is serviceable enough, though it can turn to the turgid and the academic. The lamentable thing is how little Foster does to evaluate or interpret the facts.” Nation: “A formidable scholarly achievement. The research that informs it is staggering; its critical dissections are delicate and acute; and its supple, lucid prose is splendidly stylish. Grippingly readable and intellectually rich, the book is without doubt one of the mightiest biographies of our age. If Foster’s project is vastly ambitious, it is in another sense too modest for its own good. Like a well-groomed BBC reporter, Foster confines himself for the most part of documenting his author’s daily life with a minimum of critical commentary. Like many a biographer, he fails, or deliberately refuses, to step back form the trees to survey the woods.” Harper’s: “Positivist by temperament, Foster does not intuit, as Yeats did, events for which there is no producible evidence. Foster’s procedure is linear, disinterested, distant. There are no operatic climaxes. Foster, however, is master of his own rhetoric of the measured style.”

Monday, August 09, 2004


Evensen, Bruce J. God's Man for the Gilded Age: D. L. Moody and the Rise of Modern Mass Evangelism. Oxford.

Christian Century: “Evensen’s approach is ideal...” Booklist: “An absorbing cross-disciplinary work of cultural history.” Publishers Weekly: “Although Moody is a fascinating character and subject, Evenson’s academic tone and his extensive use of footnotes sometimes make for dry reading.” Books and Culture: “Bruce J. Evensen, a communications professor at DePaul University, masterfully recounts both how the newspapers elevated Moody to celebrity status and how they came to occupy a central role in modern mass evangelism. Less satisfactory is the author's portrayal of the religious, economic, and social forces which swirled around the Moody revival campaigns. The author's adulation of both Moody and his 20th-century spiritual heir, Billy Graham, makes this a bright shining portrait of urban revivalism unclouded by even a shadow of irony... Evensen has done landmark research on Moody and the urban press. Missing is a sense of Moody's Gilded Age context and of what it might mean to be God's man in a time so named. The result is a book full of facts, but insufficiently grounded in the kind of critical theological or historical reflection that could tease out those facts' larger significance.” Journalism History: “Evensen writes with lush detail, which is evidence of his meticulous research of press accounts of the day. After several chapters, however, these details become tedious, interrupting the flow of the narrative. The book’s value is its ability to speak to a wide audience. For religion and history scholars, it serves as a strong history of a well-known and ‘beloved’ religious figure. For journalism and media scholars, the book illustrates the power that the press has in creating and molding icons of American culture.”

Sunday, August 08, 2004


Pros and cons of green tea.