December 2007 Archives
Between overdue work and impending travel, this will probably be my last entry here until the new year. I would like to use it to invite any readers who will be at MLA in Chicago to get in touch. I'm expecting to meet a couple of people in person for the first time there, and to say hello again to a few others. My schedule is still pretty open, though I need to make definite plans over the next few days.
But first, I am going to blog about my hair.
I really like Oliver Sheppard's taste in noise. A while back, I came across an episode of Radio Schizo, his regular music podcast, that paid tribute to Killing Joke and bands influenced by KJ. Right this minute, I'm listening to another episode that opened with a Spanish band covering "Now I Wanna Be Your Dog."
Later, there's a cut by a band from the sixties called Stereo Shoestring that -- as the host points out -- sounds a bit Joy Divisionish.
Now, I've never heard of Stereo Shoestring, and chances are you haven't either; but there's no big display here of Sheppard making sure you know he's known about the band for years, and too bad for you that this is the first you've heard of it. He just plays the song and asks if listeners think there's a resemblance.
But then I lost track of Radio Schizo, partly because the show was webcast through MySpace, and my eyeballs just won't tolerate that kind of abuse. Now it's also available via Cultpunk, which goes into the blogroll here shortly. Check out the latest podcast here.
I like Zotero a lot. It makes collecting and organizing material from research online much easier than it would be otherwise. Plus they sent me a t-shirt after my column about it appeared, which pretty much amounts for all the non-book-related swag to have arrived in 2007.
Still, I have been somewhat irregular about working with Zotero. Required to give a more or less sensible reason for this, I could say that it is a matter of waiting for the 2.0 version, none too patiently. But the really deciding factor is that I still use Netscape, which is proving less rational or defensible all the time. Shifting over entirely to Firefox (of which Zotero is a plug-in) seems like a good resolution for the new year.
I love Brian Morton's novel Starting Out in the Evening and am ambivalent about the film. On the one hand, I really don't like it all that much; the adaptation never even hints at many of the nuances there on the page, and it takes a couple of liberties that seem in poor taste.
On the other, if it doesn't get an Oscar nomination for Frank Langella, then I am going to lose all faith in the judgement of Hollywood phonies, and that is going to be a sad day.
But it was a happy one when Brian Morton agreed to the interview that runs in my column today.
(Photo of Frank Langella
playing Leonard Schiller
impersonating me in a few years)
I like the studio version more, but seem not to have the album (one of my favorites in the early 1980s). Hint, hint.
The most striking thing about the video is the audience's response when the song is done: A few seconds of stunned silence before anyone claps.
I could do without hearing anything more about Mitt Romney for a while. That would be totally okay. And it seems reasonable to guess that in a few weeks my wish might just come true.
Come what may, though, I remain quite interested in the history of Mormonism. It's been a few years since I wrote a feature story called Latter-day Studies.
I have got to see this documentary:
The Pervert's Guide works best when Zizek treads lightly and moves nimbly, engaging in capsule analyses that offer opportunities for quasi-desultory philosophical speculation. Of David Fincher's Fight Club (1999), he wonders in regard to Edward Norton's self-flagellation if "in order to attack the enemy you first have to beat the shit out of yourself." And with respect to Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation (1974), which Zizek discusses at some length while sitting, fully clothed, on a toilet, contemplating the flushing mechanism, he ponders the notion that "the eye is the window to the soul," asking: "But what if there is no soul? What if the eye is simply a window to the abyss of the netherworld?" At any given screening, half of those in attendance are likely to lean forward, trying to figure out where they stand on such conjectures, while the rest are likely to lean back, trying to figure out what Zizek is doing on the can.
Some of my friends who read this blog are gay. And some of my friends who read this blog like comic books. But so far as I know, the two demographics do not overlap. This is a cosmopolitan establishment; and to each, his or her own.
However, it seems as if this extensive rant-and-dialogue regarding gay comic book characters might close the gap.
It seems more pathetic than anything else. On the other hand, I've always thought Dr. Frederick Wertham was probably right about Batman and Robin.
My column today at Inside Higher Ed is based on an informal survey of some academic bloggers who are part of my regular round of webcrawling.
I asked them to recommend the ones they liked, but that might not have very large audiences, even by the normal standards of the academic microblogosphere.
The results turned out well. Have a look.
Also: Glad to see that Critical Mass is spreading the word about the new feature at the Austin-American Statesman.
To serve as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Book Critics Circle sounds like whatever the exact opposite of a sinecure would be. Lots of work, no tangible reward.
The intangible rewards are enormous, however. Or so it has been said a number of times over the past few months by people trying to get me to consider running.
My feeling for the early 1970s comes from four distinct but somehow blended memories: Watergate, the energy crisis, the Symbionese Liberation Army, and Evel Knevel. The first three were in the papers and on the evening news -- while the latter was a presence looming in the daily conversation of any white boy in elementary school in Texas, even a bookish one. Evel, who died on Friday, was the bravest man in the world, or at least the most famous, which was almost the same thing, given the circumstances.
Naturally Phil Nugent says everything I could, and does it one better: