September 30, 2008

I guess it could be worse

I'm going to get serious for a minute. I'm disappointed with the Steelers.

Look, I'm not a fair weather fan. Heck, I didn't even start watching them seriously until after the 1970s. Nobody who weathered the Malone, Brister, O'Donnell, and Stewart years can be considered a fair weather fan, it seems to me. Nobody who's shouted at their television "Put Tomczak in!" is a fair weather fan.

I know I should be happy that the Steelers won last night, that they beat the Baltimore Felons. But I'm not happy. I'm not satisfied. So I'm not watching. I would rather have seen them play well and lose than play poorly and win (exception here, and for really poor playing, check this out).

An athletic team has to deserve my time, and right, now, the Steelers don't. And they won't, until they play two decent halves of a game of football, in a row, in the same game. Until then, I will not sit and watch them. I will listen to them on the radio while doing something worthwhile, be it woodworking, yard work, house work, sewing buttons onto clothes from which buttons have been lost, what have you. If a great play is made, I might even run to the television and catch it on the replay, but until they turn things around, they may not have my undivided attention.

Call it tough love if you want. But those are the rules.

September 27, 2008

Asynchronous Debate Commentary

I didn't watched it, but I listened to part of it. So did some of my esteemed correspondents. I hope they don't mind if I share their wisdom:

First, a comment on this entry:

Jim, hope you're watching the first Obama/McCain debate--McCain just used the word "festooned"! He must be one of your loyal readers!

That gives me some hope. Ah, the bodaciousness--bodacity, if you will--of hope.

Then, from another correspondent:

Should McCain really be using phrases like “I didn’t win Miss Congeniality” when his running mate is a former beauty pageant contestant?


Now I think he just said, “explectations.”

To which I replied:

I'm not watching the debate. I listened to a little of it, but ugh. McCain's "heh heh" is as ludicrous as Bush's ... if I were him, I'd try to find a different laugh, if it's not too late in life. Maybe HO HO, or Ha HAAAAA!

The response:

Imagine being in a room with Bush, Cheney and McCain all laughing.


Crap -- he just said "Talipan."

I imagine that room a lot, but I can't imagine being in it.

"'Festoon!' Heh heh. Heh heh. I dare you to say 'festoon' in the debate."

Or maybe Festoon McCain was the real McCain, the 2000 McCain, held prisoner by Sellout McCain, sticking to their script but trying to send a signal out to tell us he's really okay.

Or maybe what he was trying to say was "Why don't you pass the time by playing a little game of solitaire?"

That last one came from a guy I was talking to at the football game last night. Incidentally, the good guys lost, but they fought hard doing it. I guess we need to keep our explectations realistic.

September 25, 2008

Rescue Me

Once upon a time and a very good time it was I was able to taunt the young souls in my charge with boasts like "I know more about your culture than you do!" By this I meant that I knew more about popular music, television, pointless internet idiocies like the dancing baby, All Your Base, Tourist Guy, AND etc.


I never said I hoped I'd die before I got old or anything, but it never occurred to me that I'd quit liking ANY new music ... or to put it more solipsistically (solipsism? in a BLOG?), it never occurred to me that new music would suddenly and totally start to suck quite to the extent that it does.

Is that really what happened? If my radio is any indication, yes. The thing is, I hate thinking that I'll never hear anything new that I'll like. And I don't really believe that there's nothing good under the sun. So I put it to you: what should I be listening to?

I really don't consider myself to be closed-minded when it comes to music, though you'll probably think so if I don't like what you like. What post-2000 albums have I heard and liked, from artists I didn't already know I liked? Hmm. Tool's Lateralus. Adrienne Young's Plow to the End of the Row. Old Crow Medicine Show's O.C.M.S. Can't think of much else. Oh, the Once soundtrack.

So ... rescue me. I'll set up a Pandora station with your recommendations, and I'll listen to it for a week or so before I start nixing songs. Maybe I'll even live blog it a while, as you know I do if you've ever sent me a mix CD (even though I'll bet you don't really read my comments, do you? Kind of like my longer blog posts, eh?)

Oh, and I already know about these guys. Didn't like them that much the last time around.


Lately I've been kind of fascinated by futility. It's why I keep trying to play the guitar. But that's another story entirely.

I hereby propose this brief clip as an apt metaphor for ... hmm ... I don't know what. Something besides itself, certainly.

If I apply the method I used in my dissertation to an interpretation of this video, it's all about the cat.

September 22, 2008

Buddy Holly: Unlocking the Mystery

If you're like me, you've had the occasional epiphany ... and then wondered whether you were only then coming to realize something that everyone else already knows. In grad school somebody called these "cliched epiphanies," which is, in a word, apt. I propose "duhpiphany" as the word for this. But somebody has beaten me to it.

I just googled it and found some references, but they don't get at quite what I mean by the term. My definition is better. By definition. If you will. As it were. Etc.

(One person I work with says "et cetera, et cetera" all the time. I think you only need one of them, or preferably none. Drives me nuts. Another says "and et cetera." Wow. If you ever hear that I've died as a result of spontaneous combustion and or (don't click this link ... it's not for the faint of heart) Scanners-style brain explosion, assume that the last words I heard were those.)

But I digress ... you came to hear about my realization about Buddy Holly. First of all, I like Buddy Holly, but I've never been quite comfortable with what I took to be his earnestness. But then it hit me ... that high voice of his sounds pretty darned sarcastic, doesn't it? Sneering, even? I sat and listened to some of his biggest hits with my ears tuned to Sarcasm, and wow! Check this one out, right about :22, and see if I'm wrong.

And once you start down that road, the whole Holly oeuvre takes on another layer of meaning. I've always found this song to be kind of threatening in a "my love is bigger than a Cadillac" kind of way ... except when the Dead do it. Et cetera, et cetera, and et cetera.


September 20, 2008

Same old song

I've decided to do nothing worthwhile today, so instead I did this. If I were creative I'd probably create something.

September 19, 2008

Toad or small dwarf

Every week I receive The Scout Report, a list of websites of potential interest to academics, and occasionally I find something in it of potential interest to me, because, after all, my interests are startlingly eclectic and yet superficial.

Today, it's the Index of Medieval Medical Images. I'm not a fan at all of contemporary medical images, and I've been subjected to more than my share of them ... but what can be more compelling than "Seated teacher. Semi-nude grotesque man. Bird with snake"?

Actually, it's not as cool as it sounds ... and the Steve Martin Medieval Barber sketch I was going to link to for my big finish is alas no longer available on Youtube.

September 16, 2008

Public Radio is Dandy

Why, oh why do the "on-air personalities" on local public radio have to be so ... so ... so like they are? (As a side note, is being a person better or worse than being a personality?)

Next time I phone in my pledge, I'm going to take my issues up with them. The morning disc-spinner also does the news, and I swear she can't get through a sentence without messing something up. It's like she's working from somebody else's scribbled notes, which might be true. Or maybe she's reading off the internet? Maybe she's reading this right now!

I know some people have trouble reading aloud, but I think if it's your job to read aloud in public, you need to identify the strategies that will increase your chance of doing it successfully. Type the stuff out verbatim. Boldface the words, or even the syllables, that need to be emphasized.

Look, we're in a small market, and I'm sure these people aren't making a fortune ... so please notice that I'm not mentioning names or even naming the market. I'm just venting.

Imagine a world where somebody has nothing more important to complain about!

And there's this other guy. He's got one of these pretentious, classical music type voices, but I can live with that. I'm pretty damned pretentious myself. But just once I'd like to hear somebody spinning the classical wax with a drawl. This guy can make me pound my head on the dashboard with a single word.

The word is sonata.

Look, I don't want him to say "snotta" or anything. That would be vulgar. But this guy, this dandy, swallows the "t" so sanottily that it comes out "sonaha." I drive around praying, literally praying, that he won't play a sonaha. Play a fuguing fugue. Play a sweet suite. But please don't play a muhhafuhhing sonaha!

Come on, man ... Did they send you to some special school to teach you to sound like you're better than everybody else?

Hmm, well, yeah, I guess they probably did. Okay, never mind.

September 15, 2008

Are you ready for some racism?

Anybody else watching Monday Night Football?

They're promoting Hispanic Heritage month tonight.

Anybody else notice that after they presented a replay called by a Spanish language announcer, one of the 'merican speaking announcers said something like,

"I took high school Spanish, either he said he's not going to be caught, or please pick up my dry cleaning tomorrow."

Awful Announcing attributes the line to Tony Kornheiser. (What do they teach their English students up there in Binghamton?) I don't even know that it was him ... I don't know their voices that well.

So, mmm, well, whoever it was, I wonder what exactly he meant with that dry cleaning crack? Probably nothing, but he did apologize in the 2nd half for something he absolutely shouldn't have said earlier, and I guess that must have been it. Wonder if he flashed on Howard Cosell at all while his mouth was talking?

Angry Candy

Angry Candy. That's how I feel today. I woke up pissed off about something, but happy that I'd have something to gripe about in this venue. But somehow this morning I got so absorbed in being pissed off about the very situational, mundane shite that occupies my waking hours that I just forgot what I wanted to write about.

(Nice footnote in the above-linked poem, by the way ... next time, instead of noting the one thing I could look up online with a simple click, howzabout telling us what Cambridge ladies are (for instance)?)

Instead, I'll pose a political (for which I apologise (pull out his eyes) question or two:

Is it only since the millennium that the Gulf coast has been menaced by hurricanes?

If not, what does it seem like that's the case?

If not, why didn't gas cost a buck a gallon more every time it happened back then?

I mean, what's different now?

September 13, 2008

September 12, 2008

So, so meta

So last night I'm bowling--yes, bowling, on a bowling team, in a league. One of my teammates is a burly guy with a flattop and a forthright way of speaking. He's making a career out of harassing Donnie, a shy, skinny, scraggly-bearded guy on the opposing team.

It's all I can do not to ask him to say, "Shut the f--- up, Donnie." But I don't, because it would hurt Donnie's feelings. Instead I ask him if he's ever seen The Big Lebowski.

He looks at me like I'm an alien for a minute and then asks, "Would I like it?"

"No," I reply. "No, I don't think so."

We're getting shirts. I want "The Dude" embroidered on mine, but I don't have the guts to ask. Oh well.

September 11, 2008

Upon further review

Maybe twenty years ago I was assigned, and read, Notes from Underground. Astonishingly, it did nothing for me. Now, as I grab it off my shelf this morning as a distraction from the fifty or more administrative flies I ought to be swatting this morning, I read this:

I was a spiteful official. I was rude and took pleasure in being so. I did not take bribes, you see, so I was bound to find a recompense in that, at least. (A poor jest, but I will not scratch it out. I wrote it thinking it would sound very witty; but now that I have seen myself that I only wanted to show off in a despicable way, I will not scratch it out on purpose!)

When petitioners used to come for information to the table at which I sat, I used to grind my teeth at them, and felt intense enjoyment when I succeeded in making anybody unhappy. I almost did succeed. For the most part they were all timid people -- of course, they were petitioners.


But do you know, gentlemen, what was the chief point about my spite? Why, the whole point, the real sting of it lay in the fact that continually, even in the moment of the acutest spleen, I was inwardly conscious with shame that I was not only not a spiteful but not even an embittered man, that I was simply scaring sparrows at random and amusing myself by it. I might foam at the mouth, but bring me a doll to play with, give me a cup of tea with sugar in it, and maybe I should be appeased. I might even be genuinely touched, though probably I should grind my teeth at myself after-wards and lie awake at night with shame for months after. That was my way.

And I feel a little less alone in the world. I wonder if I should go back and reread every book I read before turning forty?

September 09, 2008

Critical Theory

I've been trying to think of something funny and self-deprecating to say to introduce these venerable recordings, but everything comes out like "the most fun I've ever had with two other guys in a bedroom." I mean, it's true, but it's not exactly what I ... oh, the hell with it.

Anyhow, the name of the band was Ivory Tower, and the name of the game was work (and for me, home) avoidance. The name of the beer was Natural Light, and after all these years, that's the only thing I'm ashamed of.

If you listen carefully, you might hear a smug literary allusion ... maybe two!

Critical Theory by Ivory Tower (later the Elmers) circa 1989.

September 06, 2008

Not exactly political

I direct your attention to this link knowing--knowing, mind you--that no reader of this blog is likely to find it interesting or compelling. But I do. Because, really, that's how I am.

There are many paths to enlightenment

If by "enlightenment" you mean "this blog" ... people get here through some pretty interesting means. Most people who weren't specifically prodded to visit get here by searching "superior drinkability" (why? why? why?) or "marion ravenwood" ...

Last night somebody stopped by from Rush Presbyterian-St. Lukes Medical Center in Chicago after googling "i go first indy"

Seems like there's a story there, doesn't there? Maybe a sad one.

September 05, 2008

High school football

I like high school football--it's one of those institutions that make me like being a Pennsylvanian, and I guess an American. Of course, it's more fun when you win, as the hometown team did tonight, even though they were playing away. And it's even more more fun when they beat the rivals in the next town over. They suck because they're not us. It all makes sense in the heat of the moment.

For years after I wasn't in band anymore, the sound of a marching band made me nostalgic. Now the sound of a good marching band playing good marching band music gives me pleasure, but bad bands grate upon me like nothing else ... except, I guess, an actual grater. Like if somebody came at my scalp with a slaw grater or something. That would suck.

Tonight, sitting amongst the parents, I actually felt like part of a demographic, if only briefly ... this never happens to me. Usually I feel kind of alien. But today, sitting with other kids' parents, around hundreds of people more or less like me, I felt like one of a crowd of people who were generally decent people who often try to do their best, whatever they're trying to do.

And out of the thousand or more people there, I didn't see one of them--not one--whom I'd want to have as vice president. Huh.

September 03, 2008

This is nothing like the rabbit movie

Laugh if you want, but this is pretty remarkable.

I think this is pretty damned inspirational if not metaphorical. The most interesting thing to me, though, is that this guy shares a first and last name with my mother's cousin.* We could be related.

My favorite line: "Like I said, it's not done, it's got a bunch of other stuff to be done." Even before the end of the video, I was wondering, what do you do when you've finished something like this (besides stand there and crank it)?

*And as a former small town mayor, my mother could easily be a step away from the vice-presidency, so the significance of this is transparently self-evident.