At Home He's a Tourist

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

Saturday, August 21, 2004


Bad news from Finland: "Research at the University of Kuopio indicates that alcohol use in middle age may boost the risk of later onset of dementia in people with a heredity predisposition to the disorder." Elsewhere, though, I've heard of studies showing that alcohol consumption reduces the cognitive decline that comes with aging, possibly by lowering blood pressure in the brain. Guess it's a toss up at this point.


One for the children's librarians out there: NYT article on Barbara Feinberg's Welcome to Lizard Motel: Children, Stories, and the Mystery of Making Things Up. "Her curiosity plunges Feinberg into the contemporary genre of young adult (Y.A.) 'problem novels,' the bane of her son's existence. These books describe, with spare realism, child and teenage protagonists weathering abuse, addiction, parental abandonment or fecklessness, mental illness, pregnancy, suicide, violence, prostitution or self-mutilation -- and often a combination of the above. 'Teachers love them,' the local librarian explains as Feinberg scans a shelf of such titles. 'They win all the awards.'...Problem novels represent just a fraction of the Y.A. market, but one particularly esteemed by educators and prize committees. (Newbery Medal winners are notoriously glum.)" Our custom has been to buy the Newbery and Caldecott winners each year for our Education students; this article may make me want to branch out.

Oktoberfest Barbie.

Friday, August 20, 2004


I'm almost done reading Bram Stoker's Dracula. I was a bit hesitant at first, thinking that it might be stuffily Victorian, but it's actually quite suspenseful. The only thing that sounds antiquated to modern ears is the frequent praise of various male characters for conforming to the gentlemanly ideal--duty first, courage, the stiff upper lip--although as far as I'm concerned that's our problem, not Stoker's. I might try to get hold of Lair of the White Worm next. (I don't recommend, however, Francis Ford Coppola's adaptation of the former, or Ken Russell's adaptation of the latter.)

I saw Bon Voyage, which came out on DVD a week or two ago. It's about a budding writer in occcupied France torn between two damsels in distress: a manipulative film actress (Isabell Adjani) who accidentally killed an aggressive ex-lover, and a bespectacled young scientist (Virginie Ledoyen) who is trying to escape to England with her brilliant physicist mentor and the makings of an atomic bomb. The pacing was a little too hectic, with almost every scene involving some character franctically trying to chase another one down. Still, it's good old-fashioned film making, a blend of action, romance, humor, and Nazis.

Recent disc purchases:

  • James Brown, 20 All Time Greatest Hits--Yeah, the songs all pretty much sound the same (9th chords all the way) but it doesn't seem to matter.
  • Ornette Coleman, Free Jazz--The record store clerk made sure to let me know (twice, no less) that I could return this within ten days of purchase for a full refund. Yes, it's weird, even for my tastes: as polyphonous as Dixieland and as dissonant as Schoenberg. But at least it's got Eric Dolphy playing bass clarinet.
  • Devo, Hits--Maybe not such a good value since I've already got Freedom of Choice and Oh No It's Devo, from which many of these tracks are drawn, but I had to have "Satisfaction" and "Beautiful World."


This is the sort of thing that happens in the Bible Belt: a personified image of the wind erected on the side of Lubbock's new freeway as an homage to our local climate is provoking accusations of pagan idolatry.

Update: Windy Man has been literally defaced. Was it religiously motivated iconoclasm or mere juvenile vandalism? My money is on the former.

Update 2: The neo-Calvinists win round 1: Defaced "Windy Man" will be replaced with blank panel.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Public Library, Quitaque, TX Posted by Hello

NPR: At thirty years old, Dungeons and Dragons is still popular, even among those who grew up with it and are approaching middle age. "There are definitely moments when I sit around and look and I'm like, 'I'm 38 years old; what am I doing with my life?' But it only lasts a short time."

I had a lot of fun with D&D in elementary and junior high, but with the proliferation of rules it got too complicated for my tastes. In the last session I remember playing, in 9th grade, we spend a couple of hours arguing about some inconsistency in the Player's Handbook regarding what languages a character of a certain race and class could learn!

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

What's that say, Pablo? Posted by Hello

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


Chappell, David L. A Stone of Hope: Prophetic Religion and the Death of Jim Crow. North Carolina.

New York Times: “Intricate, dazzling in its reach. In its mix of rigor, daring, and perceptiveness, a spectacular work.” Atlantic Monthly: “One of the three or four most important books on the civil-rights movement…unusually sophisticated and subtle…Chappell’s greatest insight, however, is to discern that the struggle against segregation triumphed owing not only to the religious views of souther blacks but also to the religious views of southern whites.” Choice: “This study opens a rich new pathway to the way we understand the Civil Rights Movement. Essential.” Library Journal: “Chappell’s meticulously researched yet engaging narrative gives the religious aspects of the movement their well-deserved due. This nuanced, compellingly argued book makes sense of the contingent factors that conspired to bring the movement success and explains why it is so difficult to marshal those dynamics for further social change. It belongs in every library.” North Carolina Historical Review: “An important addition to the fields of southern, intellectual, and civil rights history.” Publishers Weekly: “Chappell writes engagingly, drawing an important revisionist portrait of the crucial role of religion in defeating Jim Crow.” Commentary: “Briskly written, feisty in tone but impressive in its scholarly documentation. If Chappell is far from unique in emphasizing the depth and specific character of the movement’s religious commitments, he may also be too sweeping in his condemnation of cold-war liberalism and too hard on the particular liberals he has chosen to pin to the wall. But what makes A Stone of Hope a truly exciting and important intellectual breakthrough is Chappell’s careful and imaginative approach to white Southern religious convictions and the white Christian response to the movement.”

Monday, August 16, 2004

In case you thought I was exaggerating about the flat emptiness of West Texas... Posted by Hello

Sunday, August 15, 2004

I weeded the blogroll, although I actually ended up adding more links than I removed. I also discovered Hello, a program that enables one to post images on Blogger. It works, as you can see below.

Yesterday was boring but productive. I went down to Lubbock and bought new tires for my car (costing me $280 and 90 minutes of waiting), got the car washed and waxed, returned some long overdue items to the P.L., and stocked up on booze (Sierra Nevada stout, New Belgium 1554 and Fat Tire, and some Chilean red wine).

I'm sad that I didn't get either of those jobs in the Bay Area. It's particularly disappointing since I thought I was unusually well-qualified for both positions. On the other hand, I'm ambivalent about moving; I love my job here, it's just that my social and romantic prospects in this town are nil. (Not that they were plentiful elsewhere, but I've managed to get by heretofore.)