At Home He's a Tourist

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

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Finally saw One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest last night. (For some reason I always thought the word "Flew" in the title was a noun. Why?) I was underwhelmed; although the movie was entertaining enough, I was expecting it to be both funnier and more savage. Nor was Nicolson's performance as outrageous as I had hoped. Besides, the movie's simplistic anti-authoritarian message seems a bit dated thirty years after the close of the hippie era. But it wasn't a total waste, I guess, since at least I now understand the allusions to it in the "Homer Goes Crazy" episode of The Simpsons.

Today: guitar practice, laundry, oil change/safety inspection sticker renewal, exercise, a few more chapters of Mistress of Mistresses (a good story so far, and Eddison's ability to mimic medieval and renaissance English prose is mighty impressive (btw, I noticed in the Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis that the two carried on a correspondance in Middle English--I wish I knew languages and literature a fraction as well as those old Oxonians did)), a glass of cheap French country wine.

Friday, February 04, 2005

The meeting with the Social Sciences Division chair bore fruit quickly, at least, though not of the desired quality: today I received a request for about $2000 worth of history and geography videos. Unfortunately the degree of academic vigor here barely surpasses that of high school, and so many instructors like to pad out their classes with audiovisuals, for which we foot the bill.

Started E. R. Eddison, Mistress of Mistresses, last night. Does anyone else like to read out loud?

I leave you with this quote from a review of The Future of the Southern Plains in the American Historical Review:

Perhaps the clearest indication of the state of the Southern Plains today lies in its image among Americans. Earlier writers, artists, and travelers—John James Audubon, Georgia O'Keeffe, Willa Cather, and others—left remarkable descriptions of its scenery, wildlife, and open spaces. Today, though, the region evokes no such admiration. As Deborah Popper observed: "There is nothing here. It is un-country." Flores explains that modern attitudes reflect the transformation of the Great Plains in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when "we dismantled a ten-thousand-year-old ecology, very likely one of the most exciting natural spectacles in the world" (p. 223). The combination of a "war on Plains wildlife" and the plowing up of the grasslands helped produce the landscape we see today.


Thursday, February 03, 2005

Dreadfully slow day at work, although I did get an honest-to-goodness reference question, which is something of an event around here. A student in the Religion Department's "Sects and Cults" class is doing a project on Zen Buddhism and needed to interview a practioner thereof. No, he wasn't willing to drive to Santa Fe, where I am sure there are plenty to be found. After googling for a couple of minutes (I reckon this is what reference librarians are reduced to nowadays: particularly adept googlers) I found, to my surprise, a listing for "Empty Sky," a Zen center in Amarillo. ("Empty Sky" is the perfect name for such a place, combining doctrinal and geographical appropriateness.) I gave him the contact info and also recommended he look at Kapleau's Three Pillars of Zen.

If I weren't Christian I'd probably adhere to Zen; I always liked its mystical bent and predilection for paradox. The curious thing about "Empty Sky" is that, according to the listing I found, the Roshi is a Catholic priest.

Drinking: Sierra Nevada Stout; Watching: Monty Python's Flying Circus; Listening: Talking Heads, Remain in Light.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Slow morning at work, so I went through my collection of book review blurbs and ordered a few titles which were either particularly well-received or particularly appropriate for us; e.g. The Organ Music of J. S. Bach and New Mormon Challenge. Had a productive guitar lesson this afternoon. After all these years of casual, unsupervised playing, it's a bit humbling to realize how many fine points of guitar performance I was ignorant of. And this piece in particular is going to take me months to master.

Saw Conte de Printemps, a bit disappointing: definitely not top-shelf Rohmer. Another Guy Maddin flick, Tales from the Gimli Hospital, is in the mail from GreenCine.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Odds and ends at work. I met with the chair of the Social Science Division, mostly to let her know that they have lots more money to be spent. One fellow in the History department has requested thousands of dollars worth of European history, and one Psychology prof has requested a dozen or so books, but other than that, nothing: haven't heard from Sociology, Political Science, Criminal Justice, or Geography.

Watched another Guy Maddin, Dracula: Pages From a Virgin's Diary. Pretty odd: a ballet version of the Bram Stoker tale, filmed in a deliberately vintage style (black and white, peephole filter, silent with title cards). Maddin, a good Canadian leftie, subverts the text; Dracula is the hero, liberating young women from repressive Victorian mores, while Van Helsing is a xenophobe (Dracula is a "menace from the East") and hypocrite (outwardly prudish, inwardly prurient--the medical exam he gives to Lucy is not-so-subtly erotic). Mildly interesting, but really the only Maddin I've genuinely enjoyed is The Saddest Music in the World.

Monday, January 31, 2005

We get to take a vacation day within one week (in either direction) of our birthday. My birthday was last Wed., so I took off today for the sake of a long weekend. I really gave the credit card a good wearing today in Lubbock: liquor store (bought some cheap wine ($7 a bottle) and one moderately expensive bottle picked out at random, 1997 Château La Cardonne Médoc ($22), just to see what, if anything, I've been missing), clothes shopping (shoes and belt=$120), lasagna at a chain Italian restaurant that wasn't the Olive Garden, Best Buy for 24 hours of absurdist genius ($160), and then to the movie house for Sideways.

The film is a funny and fresh riff on some classic themes: The Road Trip, The Buddy Flick, The Odd Couple, The Lovable Nebbish. It's painfully sad in some spots, though, particularly if you see yourself destined for the protagonist's fate. Who, by the way, is this Sandra Oh? Wow.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

I'm coming back to blogging but only in minimal effort mode...can't get fewer comments than I have been, anyway. Today: church, guitar practice ("Ruby My Dear" coming along very slowly, the stretches are tough esp. the C7b9 voiced as [x3x325]), had a good long run (about 4 mi.) on the treadmill until I started feeling dizzy and nauseous (which seems strange because I didn't feel winded in the least), ate an entire rotisserie chicken for dinner while watching a weird Guy Maddin film (Careful; does anyone understand him?). Last night I finished Little, Big, which is a very good magical-realist tale about a New England family who has congress with fairies. Crowley is especially good at describing love in a very appealing manner.