Snow Blood and Coal
Wednesday, April 30, 2003
Picture of the day:
The guy in the Dodger's uniform is catcher Paul Lo Duca, and the girl is Olympic hopeful softball player Jennie Finch. Poor Paul seems a little bit shy, doesn't he? Well he has every reason to be, because right before this shot was taken, he was catching for her as she struck out a couple of major league batters. Apparently, she is a very intimidating pitcher...
Tuesday, April 29, 2003
The professor for whom I work is driving me crazy. He called me last night at 11:00 asking me to find a quote from an opinion piece that Bill O'Reilly gave on his program on Fox News last week. Where does he expect me to find this? Fox News doesn't archive television on their web site, and there is no possible way that I'm going to go and search out a place that does, just to find him a quote. Then this morning, he called me twice during my German class, asking me to get his mail, then get him some 80 cent stamps and priority mail stickers. I forgot to turn my ringer off, but fortunately, it was on vibrate, so I could just ignore it and let him leave a message. This is not the job that I signed up for, though. I signed up to come into his office on campus, take dictation, and maybe go to the library for him. I did not sign up to go to his house, take out his garbage, and run errands. Fortunately, next week will be my last week (I think), so that will be the end of it.
In other news, I am a cunthair's breadth away from finishing my Chaucer paper. I need to write two more paragraphs, go over it one more time and do some minor editing, and then I'm done. I can turn it in and get my terrible grade and everything will be okay. It's a good paper, but I know that I won't do well, because it uses the text as a jumping-off point from which to talk about ideological discontinuity rather than simply addressing the text. I don't care though. I probably won't get lower than a B, and even if I do, the class is pass / not pass, so I don't really care. HaHA!
Well, I need to go eat lunch because I need to stop at the post office on the way to work [*grumble*]. It's okay though. Things, I'm sure, will turn out well.
Monday, April 28, 2003
Apple came out with iTunes 4 and their music service today. Pretty cool looking stuff, or so I thought. Downloading albums gives you good quality and cheaper prices than CDs, plus it provides you with the artwork. All nice. The problem is that when you download files, they are in AAC format, and the AACs are protected in such a way that you cannot convert them to MP3s. This leaves me out in the cold because my Archos Jukebox won't play AACs. I'm sure that there's a way to get around that protection, but this seems like a cheap shot on Apple's part to try and get you to buy an iPod, the only portable music player that supports AAC. Oh well, we can't all be perfect I guess. Although it does mean none of my business will go to Apple music right now.
In other news, my day was pretty good. I had class in the morning and then I went and had lunch with Sarah, which is always fun. It's good to see Sarah for a little while in the middle of the day, even if we are both rushing to get places (although, really, I'm just rushing home to goof around and not to work). Oh well...
Now I'm going to go and write my paper, I think. I have a page and a half left to write, then I have a massive amount of editing left to do. But I really don't want to work on it much after today, so whatever I have when I go to sleep tonight, I think that will be it. The class is pass / not pass anyway, so I may as well just turn it in however.
Sarah and I just wrote a letter to our building manager notifying them that we will be moving out as of the end of May. Wow. That's kind of weird. I've been living in this apartment for three years, and now, finally, I get to move. How I loathe this apartment. How this tiny, cramped space has made me dread coming home in the afternoons. Hopefully, we will get to Bloomington and find a nice, spacious two bedroom place near campus with a big office, a real sized bathroom, and perhaps a shower in which you don't hit your head on the head going in and out. Wow. That would be so nice. But first, I suppose that I need to finish all my school stuff and graduate... yes, graduate... that will be so nice... Boy, so many things to do. I don't even have one of those get-ups with the hat yet. Get-up... dinner reservations... so much to do and so little time...
Sunday, April 27, 2003
Alright. So last night I managed to do some work on my Chaucer paper. I decided that I'm going to answer the morality question, and to do it, I am going to talk about the fallacy of the continuity of culture over time. Just because the superficial features of the world represented in Chaucer's text look a lot like our world does not mean that they are the same features. In fact, they are very different, informed by a different set of discourses and ideologies. Because of this difference, I am arguing, it is entirely anachronistic and inappropriate to apply our moral sensibilities to the text. To do so only results in a dehistoricization of the text, and what's worse, the propagation of the fallacious notion that just because something foreign looks similar to me, it's just like me (i.e. "Buddhism has similar features to Christianity, so the Buddhists and the Christians must really be alike").
Anyway, now that I've ranted sufficiently, I am going to go to Thai brunch for good vegetable springrolls and mango sticky-rice. I feel in need of fruits and vegetables (SO in need), since I haven't had any in quite a while (no time for the grocery)... mmm... springrolls...
Saturday, April 26, 2003
So I have some ideas about what I'm going to write for my Chaucer paper now. Thursday, I went and talked to the course reader, who, as it turns out, is a really cool guy. He's a student of a professor whom I really like, and he basically told me that I could write anything I wanted as long as it's good. So I was thinking that I might write an observational paper about one tale, or possibly answer the morality question by talking about how reading our morals onto the text is a little bit like blaming the past for being the past. Not sure yet, but at least there are ideas flowing, and that's nice.
A Mighty Wind spoilers ahead. Don't read if you don't want bits of the movie given away.
In other news, I went and saw A Mighty Wind last night. It was excellent. I enjoyed it thoroughly, thought it was smart and funny, and addressed a lot of the issues that I've been concerned with recently (what makes authenticity, how we sell an image, etc.). I thought that it definitely had moments that were funnier than Best in show, but overall, it wasn't as good as Best in Show. Overall, I have to say that my favorite moment was Harry Shearer's diatribe about the Spanish Civil War.
On the other hand, the most telling moment for what I am interested in is when the Folksmen are badmouthing the Main Street Singers for being less authenticly folk, the implication being that authenticity is derived from associating yourself with rural culture, small-town culture, and the quaint (the fact that the folksmen were known for wearing overalls and singing about agriculture and hole-in-the-wall restaraunts in the middle of nowhere). There is, of course, always the looming spectre hanging over the whole thing that none of it is authentic, both because it's very self-consciously a parody, and also because never once does anybody in the movie play a folk (read traditional) song. There is also the destruction of any sense of authenticity that the Folksmen may have had at the end when they get a job in Vegas and Harry Shearer has his sex-change... Very interesting stuff indeed...
Friday, April 25, 2003
So I spent the morning loading music onto my replacement MP3 player. I'm half way there, which I figure isn't bad considering that it's a USB connection and I've only been on it one morning. Damn I hate USB. Why can't makers of these things think about Firewire, which, despite popular belief, is in fact pretty widespread. Oh well. Once I get everything on there it won't matter anyway.
This morning I was browsing on the internet, and I also found a pretty cool project online called Rockbox, which makes a replacement (open source) firmware for my MP3 player. I'm using it right now, and it's pretty good. The only thing that it lacks is support for FM radio, but I don't really care about that so much. I figure that eventually, they will either support it or I will go back to the standard firmware. No matter. Both seem like pretty good options.
Well, sorry for not having a real update (tech stuff is boring). Off to class.
Why is it that sometimes there are key resources under your nose--resources that have been there for months and months--but you can't see them? I found out today that I had been doing that. I've been toiling over this paper for a long time now, and it was only today that I realized that last semester, when I was making Xeroxes of interesting articles, one of the ones I copied was an article from a semiotics journal about what else but "Orality and Literacy in the Folktale". Funny how these things happen. It's a really good article too. I managed to work in a couple of citations in my paper. I take heart upon reading it though, because having gone through it, I realize that this one is on the same topic as mine, but mine is going to be better. How cools is that.
In other news, I took my MP3 player back today and bought an Archos Jukebox FM Recorder instead. The one that I bought last week was really nice, but it would randomly shut itself off, which is, as you can imagine, very annoying when you're trying to listen to music, and even more annoying when you are trying to listen to music and drive at the same time. So hopefully, this one will work better, or back it goes!
Finally, I am happy to report that I actually did some typing today for the professor for whom I am supposed to be typing. We met at his house again, but he seemed to be feeling a little bit better, so he had me type on his laptop while he worked on expanding on a project he had been working on a long time ago. This was good and bad, I think. On the bright side, the typing is infinitely more interesting than shopping, but on the bad side, he has to see the laptop's monitor while I type, so the keyboard, and consequently my wrists, were at a really bad angle. Perhaps next time we attempt this, we'll find a better solution (I hope I hope I hope).
Thursday, April 24, 2003
I don't remember what I dreamt last night, but it was definitely stressful, and I definitely spent the entire night tossing and turning. I think that this is a sign. I think that this really does mean that I should get my thumb out of my ass and finish my paper. I'd have so much less stress if all I had left were finals, but I just can't bring myself to do it. Oh well. Today I'm going to go and see the reader for my Chaucer class in office hours and talk to him about that paper. I have no idea what I'm going to write, but hopefully, he'll be able to help. The problem is that the topic is:
"Chaucer and Morality". Identify and discuss moments or entire tales in Chaucer which you find morally repugnant. Your discussion, which must involve comparisons with at least two other tales, should entail a wider discussion of the relationship between (literary) art and standards of public or private morality.
The only things that I can think to write about this are primarily theoretical, and would just use Chaucer as examples. I figured that I would write about the amorality of text, or morality in text as a function of reception, but I really don't feel like doing a whole lot of research for this paper, and both of those would take some library time. Besides, we are apparently encouraged not to bring in outside sources, so why should I go and tromp all over what is encouraged. Maybe I'll just do a comparison of the Miller's Tale and the Reeve's Tale, or the Miller's Tale and the Pardoner's Tale... I find the latter sort of interesting in that the difference between the two characters (the Miller and the Pardoner) is that the Pardoner knows that he is morally bankrupt, while the Miller seems clueless. The problem there is that I'll have no grand argument about morality and aesthetics, and that, I think, is the key to getting an A... I don't know... I'll talk to him and figure it out.
In other news, now less than one month until graduation. YAY!
Wednesday, April 23, 2003
I want one of these:
Pretty... Unfortunately, it would void my AppleCare.
Why must Apple be so picky about such things?
Tuesday, April 22, 2003
Today was so long, and tomorrow won't be any better. Come to think of it, I don't think that there will be a better day until at least May 12, or perhaps the 23, or perhaps whenever I get to Indiana and find an apartment and settle down. Anyway, there won't be a better day for a long long time.
Today was weird, to compound its longness. After German, I came home, then went to work. I took my professor shopping, then took him to the doctor, where I waited around for over an hour to get finished so that I could take him home. I've said it before and I'll say it again. This isn't the job I signed up for... and not only that, but this isn't even a good alternative to the job I signed up for. I don't want to be a driver, or a food retreiver, or anything else like that. All I wanted to do was type and go to the library. But oh well. It's only for a couple more weeks, then I'm off.
Well, I should go study German. So much to do and so so little time. No time! Gah! (I'm sorry, I'm panicing a little bit here...)
The strangest thing happened today. I was walking into Barrows Hall and who should be walking out but my friend Deenah. Not a friend from Berkeley, mind you, but a friend who is a senior in high school in Los Angeles. I knew that she was coming up, but she didn't tell me when, nor did she call when she got here. It was fortunate that I found her at all.
It turns out that she's up here visiting the school because she's narrowed her choice of Universities down to here and Santa Cruz. So we walked around campus and talked a lot about what college is like here. I tried subtly to encourage her to come here, but you never know. I think that she'd eventually get bored at Santa Cruz, though. Sure, there are cool people there and it's really beautiful, but classes are woefully... well, woeful (at least from what I've heard). I think that she'd eventually get over the nice surroundings, turn to studying, and find very little there in the way of things to study. But oh well, what can you do?
Anyway, we ended up hanging out all afternoon, and we made tentative plans to get together tomorrow evening to see A Mighty Wind. I really want to see it, but I think that I'm going to end up backing out because I'm working until after 5 tomorrow, and I really need to do some homework and study for my German quiz on wednesday. But we'll see. She'll probably convince me that my time would be better spent at the movies. It wouldn't take much convincing. I think it would be, somewhere deep down. After all, it is a very good movie, and my German studying won't be very good at all. Not at all.
Well... It's late for me, so off to bed.
Monday, April 21, 2003
I only have a minute to post, but I feel like I should do so before I go to class...
Anyway, I went to my Chaucer professor's office hourse this morning and read for him. One of the requirements for the class is that we read to him to prove that we are able to pronounce Middle English. He was impressed by my pronunciation, but thought that I lacked gusto and feeling. I explained to him that I have a problem reading out loud in general, and that he shouldn't take my lack of enthusiasm personally. Fortunately for me, he said, I'm not being graded on the feeling I put into it, just on my pronunciation, so I did fine. He recommended that I participate in a play if I ever have a chance though. He said that it would fix my problem reading out loud.
It's funny, he's so much more personable in office hourse, and especially first thing in the morning. It doesn't really change my opinion of the class, but I guess that I need to remember that there's a difference between personal friendliness and the ability to teach students. Good thing to remember, I think.
Anyway, off to class.
Sunday, April 20, 2003
I woke up in such a good mood today. I encoded 9 or 10 CDs, then I played some video games, had some breakfast, and talked to a friend on mine from Montreal (with whom I rarely speak) for a while. Now, it's nearly two, and it's time to start doing work. The first thing I'm going to do is ignore my paper. I need some perspective on it, so I'm not even going to look at it today, and maybe not tomorrow either. I'll pick it up later. Instead, I'm going to read through a bit more Chaucer, plan my paper for that class, and then spend the rest of the day studying German. I feel like I don't spend enough time with german recently, I've been so busy and all...
Anyway, last night the Seder was really good. The people who held it live way out in Union City, which is a long way out, and contrary to the stated advertisement, is not, in fact, a city. But it was a fun Seder, I met some interesting people, ate a lot of Horoset, Salmon, hard boiled egg, etc., and drank the most God-awful wine in the world. There were three brands of kosher for Passover wine there last night and they were all terrible--all too sweet and not dry enough. I'm convinced that it is simply impossible to make a kosher wine that is actually good. But it was a good time, so I can't complain. Sarah thought it was interesting, too. She had a lot to say about it, mostly favorably in comparison to protestant fellowship activities. We got home very late and we were both feeling a little bit ill, so we slept late this morning, which was nice for a change.
Saturday, April 19, 2003
Today has been astoundingly slow so far. I spent the morning ripping a bunch of my CDs for MP3 player use, then I did some German homework, worked unfruitfully on my Folklore and Literature paper for a while, and then just loitered for about 45 minutes. I feel like I need to get out of the house, and I was planning to go to the library to check out a copy of Invisible Cities, which I've decided I need for my paper, but all the copies are checked out. Maybe I'll go to the Berkeley Public Library. I have a library card there that I never use, so it'd be a good chance. On the other hand, mixing books from different libraries is never good, as they do have a tendancy to get returned to the wrong places. I think I'll take my chances though.
Anyway, tonight I'm going to a Seder. It comes a day too late, but it's a Seder none the less, and it should be fun and interesting. A folklore friend of mine is putting it together. It's her first time. I talked to her earlier, and preparations seem to be going well, so I'm encouraged. Sarah is also coming with me tonight, which will be interesting too, considering that it's her first real seder. Apparently, her church put on a recreation of a Seder once, but from the way she described it, it seemed sort of silly. So it will be fun to hear her reaction to the real thing.
Other than that, not much else going on. Maybe I'll spend the rest of the afternoon reading Chaucer. I need to do it sometime, I guess...
Friday, April 18, 2003
I was going back through the Brunching Shuttlecocks' archives, and I came upon this and this. I always forget how brilliant Lore Sjöberg is...
Wow. There hasn't been a whole lot of time to post, and even this one will be brief, I fear. Yesterday wasn't a bad day at all, as it turned out. It was nice and sunny, work was...if not pleasant, then acceptable, and then I went and ate Sushi for dinner, which is sort of a funny story. We sat down in this new restaurant on University Ave. and Sarah ordered us tea and water. Well, I was feeling celebratory and decided that I would order us Sake when the guy came back. Well, he came back with our drinks, and was entirely mystified when I turned and ordered Sake as well. It was very funny. For the rest of the meal, the entire staff was giving us funny looks (especially while we each had water, tea, sake, and miso soup in front of us). Anyway, for dinner, I decided I'd be experimental. I've traditionally liked octopus in things like salad, so I decided to get a half order of Tako sashimi with my usual half order of Tuna. Boy. I don't know if it was the way they cut it or what, but it was certainly neither my best sashimi experience nor my best octopus experience. It was too thick, I think, because it was really tough.
Anyway, when I got home last night, I found that my parents had sent me a little bit of money for my birthday, so I decided that I'd waited long enough to buy an MP3 player (which I kind of feel like I need if I'm driving across country, especially since my car CD player doesn't work). I took what they sent me, plus some of my own, and went online and ordered an Archos Jukebox Recorder from Circuit City to pick up. I was pleased. I went to Circuit City to get it, and boy, I was even more pleased. They had misread my order or gotten confused or something because what they gave me was an Archos Jukebox Multimedia, which is worth something like $100 more. So I spent all last night playing with it, and I decided to make an experiment of listening to it on my way to school this morning. I'm not sure how I feel about wearing headphones while I walk, but we'll see.
Anyway, the librarians are looking at me funny and I have to go to German anyway, so no more for now.
Thursday, April 17, 2003
Well, another year shot to hell.
I awoke this morning to find that I had gotten birthday greetings from a couple of different people. It was very nice. Unfortunately, my birthday is not going to be such a glorious day. First of all, it's cold, and it looks like it's going to rain. It's not raining now, but yesterday morning it was sunny and by three in the afternoon, it was pouring, so you know. Also, I have to go to work. Not only do I have to go to work, but I have to go to my professor's house. And not only do I have to go to his house, but I have to bring him a Times Literary Supplement, a the latest New York Review of Books, and a book of stamps. I have said it before and I will say it again, I signed up to be a typist. This is kind of rediculous.
But not everything is gloom and doom this morning, I figure that I will go out to dinner tonight. I need to figure out where Sarah and I can go that will be nice, but that I can get into on short notice. I'm thinking of Tratoria La Siciliana, but I'm not sure. I deserve a nice birthday dinner, damnit!
Oh, also, I almost forgot! I got an invitation to a Seder yesterday afternoon, which was very nice. A friend of mine from my folklore classes is having a third day Seder (technically, not an official one), and when I mentioned that I didn't have a Seder to go to this year, she invited Sarah and I. Very nice of her, I think. It should be fun. I need to bring kosher for passover wine, though, which means that I need to go hunting for a vintage that isn't disgusting and sacarine... I'm sure that I'll manage to find something. I consider myself a very resourceful wine enthusiast.
But oh well. I think that this is all the news I have. Off to do morning things, do German, then hopefully make it quickly through school and work. Maybe I'll just stay home tonight and listen to the Dodgers then work on my paper. That sounds like a good birthday too...
Wednesday, April 16, 2003
When I used to live in the dorms, I used to get up at 7:00 in the morning, go down to the dining commons and eat breakfast, then come back to my room and go back to sleep until 9:30 in the morning. The best sleep I ever got was between the time I finished breakfast and 9:30. This morning I did much the same thing. I got up at 7:00, took my shower, ate my breakfast, did all my morning stuff, then went back to bed from about 8:15-9:00. I must say that I sure do feel more rested than usual. I don't know why that little bit of extra time is so good for me, but it really is.
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
Well, work didn't happen today. I awoke this morning feeling sick to my stomach. I decided that I would go to German, but after German I felt so bad that I decided to call in sick. I ended up bringing my professor his mail from the University, and then I came home and I've been loafing / napping on and off ever since. I think that as much as anything, I needed a couple of hours off. In a minute, I'm going to go and try to work on my paper, but I'm not too worried. I feel like I have a good start on all that sort of thing, so not too much stress there for me today.
(Wow, I must be sicker than I thought if I'm not stressing over the same things I was stressing over yesterday).
So today is not going to be all that exciting. I have class, then I have to pick up mail for the professor for whom I work, go to his house, and run errands for him. He says that he may also want me to take him to the doctor. This sucks. I signed up to be a typist, but now I'm cleaning and shopping and running errands. This was not what I signed up for. I do get paid well, though, and really, I'm only working until May 13th, so that's not so far away. It's just annoying to have to drive out to Albany two days a week not to get work done...
In other news, it's two days until my birthday, and I had totally forgotten about it. I think that I'm just going to let it pass without any fanfare. Sarah and Jeana (whose birthday is on the 17th) and I were talking about going out to dinner or something next week with some people in celebration. We were going to do a party, but there's just too much going on for that I think. So yeah. No fanfare this year.
Today has been a very long day. Good, but long. The highlight of the day, I think, was Roger Abrahams. He talked about Shanties of the West Indies in Anthro 163, and in order to demonstrate a point, he and another professor (from CSUN) who is visiting got up and sang Shanandoah. That was spectacular. Then, he came back to the archive with us and we all hung around and talked for about two hours. Finally, we went into the stairwell in Kroeber hall and he and the professor from CSUN sang together for a little while. Perhaps I should explain all the singing. Professor Abrahams started off his career as a folk singer, and just sort of switched over to folklore scholar in the course of things. The professor from CSUN had apparently always wanted to get him to sing with her, and so it was something special to watch them do it. All very cool.
I also got some work done on my paper today. Every inch of it was miserable, but certainly getting something on paper is better than nothing. I think I'm getting an inkling of how I am going to approach the ideology section of my paper, and that's really helpful. I also got to read a lot of the stuff that I have on ideology, which is very helpful too. Overall, I think that this paper is coming along nicely, and hopefully, by next week, I'll have a complete rough draft.
In one more note, I turned in my AFS paper proposal today, and as I was doing it, I was put at a number of quandries. First, obviously, that of which address to put down. I didn't want to put down my address in Berkeley because I'm moving before they'll reply, but I also didn't want to put down my parents' address. I ended up giving the AFS people the latter address, and making a note that sometime in June, my address would change. I'm not sure how to notify them of the new one though.
My other quandry was what institutional affiliation I should put down. I thought about it and ended up listing my affiliation as Indiana University, then making a note that that affiliation would be affective September 2003.
I'm in such a state of flux right now... really, I may as well not have any addresses or affiliations at all.
Monday, April 14, 2003
So morning is pretty dead today. There isn't too much in the news, I don't have any fascinating stories to tell, and I'm really neither too excited nor too upset about having to go to class. Really, the only thing that happened this morning is that Apple released a new version of their web browser Safari, which is the first release that even nearly competes with Camino/Chimera. Safari has tabs now, and auto completion. It also seems to be compatable with more web sites now, and goes a lot faster. I'm still not too comfortable using a khtml based browser, being that I like gecko a whole bunch, but what the hell. I figured I'd give it a try, so I'm typing from it right now.
Later today, I'm going to go to Anthro 163 to watch Roger Abrahams speak, which I am very excited about, and after that, he is going to come to the archive because he wants to meet all the folklore students here. That should all be fun. I baked a soda bread for the archive, but I don't know if it's all the way cooked on the inside. So I guess I'm just going to bring it in and hope for the best. There's nothing worse that gooey soda bread. It makes a horrible impression.
Oh well. I guess that I should get my stuff together and get ready to go to class. Hopefully I'll be feeling more energetic by the time I get home, because I would very much like to write this afternoon, and writing when one is less than enthusiastic is not a fun experience. I do need to finish a draft of this paper so that I can write my english paper and be done with everything I need to finish to graduate except finals. Boy, won't that be excellent...
So today was good. Not productive, but definitely good. I loafed in the morning, did a little bit of German and a little bit of reading about Gramsci's take on folklore and ideology, then I made good miso soup for lunch, and Sarah and I went out to see the Cowboy Bebop movie. I've never seen the show, but the movie was excellent. It was fun, funnie, creepy, and disturbing, all at the same time. The animation was beautiful. It seemed to me to fit into the same kind of tradition as Robotech and the like. The action sequences were also excellent, although they didn't overpower character development. Now that I've seen the movie, I'm really interested in it. I want to go out and rent episodes of the series.
Anyway, though, after the movie, I came home and thought that I would make grilled trout, but when I got to preparing the fish, I discovered that they weren't deboned. So I decided that I should bake the trout instead, and then eat the fish from the outside by peeling back the skin. I really hate having to debone fish, and usually I'll do whatever it takes to avoid doing it. It turned out to be a good, if improvised, dinner, though. I did a little bit more reading after dinner, but not much, then when I decided I couldn't concentrate, I went and made a soda bread instead. It's still baking, but it smells really good. I'm going to bring it into the archive tomorrow for Roger Abrahams and whoever else is there.
Saturday, April 12, 2003
Alright. So CFS was really cool. I enjoyed the whole experience a lot, although there were some really terrible lectures mixed in there too. My favorite lecture from the standpoint of being entertained was Jan Brunvand's lecture on fractured proverbs in Patrick O'Brien's novels. He was entertaining, a good lecturer, a funny guy, but from a theoretical standpoint, his paper was exactly what I'm arguing against. His paper basically read like a list of the fractured proverbs in the novels. The point of the list was to illuminate the novels, and the nature of the nature of the main characters. What it did was to completely subordinate the folklore to the literature.
From a theoretical standpoint, I think that my favorite lecture was from a graduate student at Indiana University on unspoken performances of proverbs. She provided a bunch of examples of gestures that illustrate proverbs, from shooting fish in a barrel, to beating a dead horse. She went on to discuss the way that context and common knowledge plays a part in making these gestures sensible. It was very thought provoking.
The social scene at the conference was interesting and fun too. Friday night, I went to the reception after Roger Abrahams' keynote lecture, had crappy and sparse food, slightly better wine, and Prof. Abrahams in person. And what's more, he knew who I was. That was very exciting. I didn't think that he would connect me with my Penn application and with his discussions with Prof. Dundes, but apparently he did. We had a good conversation about folklore theory and grad schools and stuff like that.
After the reception, 14 of us all went out to eat dinner at a Mexican restaraunt that was the worst Mexican food I've ever eaten. Worse that Chevy's, which is pretty damned bad. I did meet some interesting people there. I met one woman who lives in Marin and is a storyteller and a folklorist at Dominican University. I don't usually like professional storytellers--in my experience, they're a bit new-agey--but she was very nice and personable. We had a nice conversation about folklore and literature and cooking and such. It was good.
As a whole, I think that this was a good conference for me. I got to hang out with Berkeley friends, meet lots of new people who do folklore-related shit, find out how little I have to worry about giving my paper at AFS next fall. It was good.
Friday, April 11, 2003
On wednesday in seminar, somebody brought in an article from the Onion about a student deconstructing a takeout menu out of sheer force of habit. I feel a little bit like that this morning. I spent breakfast sitting around and thinking about the kinds of political ideologies might have informed ecological, and especially ecosystem, theory. It has been pointed out (and I think very rightly) that Darwinian evolution is a naturalizing process for capitalism -- that the point of it, in some sense, is to make the assertion that capitalism is not a political ideology, but is just the way things are. It seems to me that ecosystem theory has a similar kind of underlying message, although perhaps from a different political point of view. The point of the theory is that there really are no individuals -- that every organism is dependant on every other organism and the Earth to live. In this system, organisms produce necessary goods for the others, in turn receiving all that they need to survive. I'm not sure what to make of this from a political point of view, but it certainly seems to have something very telling behind it. Perhaps it would be a good idea to do some research into the origins of the theory...
Anyway, speculating on the politics of science is not all I'm doing today. I'm leaving this morning for CFS (yay!). One of the people who was driving up with me emailed this morning and said that she isn't going to come, so we will actually have a bunch of room to spread out in the car (again, yay!). Although I am sad that she isn't coming. She would have been interesting to have along...
Well, I suppose that this is going to be my last post until tomorrow night, when I'll have a full CFS report. Until then, goodnight, and a very pleasant good evening to you wherever you may be (sorry for the uncited quotation there).
Thursday, April 10, 2003
So work today was even stranger than it was on tuesday. I went to my boss' house and took out his trash, went to the post office and the supermarket for him, and then he had me sit with him and talk to him about what I thought about Iraq. Very strange, I must say. But that's okay. If he wants to sit and talk to me, I'm never opposed to that. The problem is that after I came home, he called me and told me that he remembered that he had a grant application to turn in and asked me to go do it. I was home, I didn't want to go out. But I cajoled Sarah into going with me and it ended up being a fun outing. When I was done, we went to drink bally-tea.
So now I'm sitting at home, listening to the Dodgers lose 2-0, and trying to avoid doing work. I do want to finish my AFS paper proposal tonight, and I will, because I have to before I go to CFS. It'll be good and I'll be done with it, then I won't worry about it again until Summer when I have time.
I have to run to work in a moment, but first, a quick update:
My German quiz went very well today, I think. I didn't think that I knew the chapter going in, but the test was pretty easy, and I think that I only got one or two things completely wrong. So I passed, and that pleases me, because after all, this is pass not pass.
Last night, I wrote a draft of my paper proposal for the AFS meeting. I think that this is going to be a good paper, and it's going to anger some people, which, of course, is the entire point of public speaking. This paper is also a good chance to break some new ground, because the research that has previously been done on my legend is sadly slim (especially considering how interesting it is). But the better for me. I have some good things to say about it, and it should be a whole lot of fun to write and present, so I guess that I have a good project now for the Summer.
Other than that, not much else new. CFS tomorrow. I'm very excited. I'm leaving in the morning and coming back Saturday afternoon, so expect my posting here to be kind of slim.
My 250 seminar today was pretty cool. We covered postmodernism and cultural studies. We mostly did postmodernism as it relates to folklore, and then did cultural studies in a more general way. Between the two presentations, some interesting discussion arose, especially concerning the place of traditional products which have been self-consciously been reworked for a given market, like traditional Native American art, made specifically for an Anglo tourist audience. We also talked about folklorismus like Renaissance Fairs and neo-Pagan religions which are consciously constructed with an awareness of what cultural traditions are supposed to look like. Dundes insisted that they are not folklore, but I really do think that a body of folklore can grow up around these things--that they can develop their own traditional lives, even if they are artificially created. Look at roleplaying, for instance: the games are created by individuals for profit, but a culture has developed around them with its own traditions, superstitions, legends, folkspeech, etc. Some of these traditions are reflected in the game world, some in real life, and some in both. It's very interesting, and becomes very postmodern in its reflexivity that way.
Then the cultural studies presentation was alternately very interesting and very funny. The cultural studies people have a lot to say about a lot of the same topics, except that they have a more overtly political agenda. They take from Marxist theory, as well as concepts from Anthropology, literary criticism, and other disciplines, synthesizing all of these influences into an apparatus (to use a term from Althusser, someone they really like) aimed at analyzing Western Urban culture. I admire the goal and admire the breadth of theory from which they draw, but they seem silly to me for the same reason that ethnic studies people seem silly. Really, they are Anthropologists and Sociologists (or literary theorists pretending to be those things) establishing a separate department in a futile effort to be an anti-department. They ought to just get over it and accept that by virtue of the fact that they are working within university culture, they are the establishment, and get over the silliness.
Wednesday, April 09, 2003
Ha ha! The Daily Cal is reporting that voting system problems brought ASUC elections to a grinding halt. I decided that since I'm graduating and it's no longer my problem, I won't vote, so I didn't know about this, but aparently, UC Berkeley student body elections are just getting worse and worse. The computers didn't do what they were supposed to do, so polls all over campus were forced to shut down and go home yesterday.
I really hate ASUC elections. For a week before the voting starts, people are walking around campus shouting and trying to give you fliers and being generally disturbing. I used to respond to such people that if they gave me something or I remembered their number, they could be sure that I wouldn't vote for them, but that took stopping and talking to these people. This election, I have switched to the much more concise version: Eat shit and die. That seems to stop these people in their tracks. It's an expression that not too many people use in this day in age for some reason, but I guess that makes it all the more effective, because nobody has managed to give me any fliers this semester.
In other news, last night was and tonight will be consumed with doing German. I have a German quiz on thursday and I feel less prepared for it than for any quiz thus far in the class. It's not because the material is hard or because I don't know the grammar, either. It's just because this week and last week were both so hectic that I haven't really had time to sit down and do German. So I'm off to the language lab now to catch up on my homework, and hopefully, I'll be ready for tomorrow.
I still don't know when I'll get around to writing my AFS proposal...
Tuesday, April 08, 2003
I think that the funk that I have been in recently has been one of nostalgia. Sarah is working tonight, so I've been wandering around the apartment, looking at everything that I've collected over the last four years, and it occurs to me: I'm going to miss Berkeley a lot. Today, I was driving around North Berkeley and Albany. It was warm and breezy and the sun was shining and it just struck me how incredibly beautiful this place is. Where else do they play the Dead and Keller Williams on the Radio back to back? Where else can you be driving down the street and be looking at the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge on the horizon. I'm pretty sure that I'm going to miss this place.
What's more, tonight, I got to feeling nostalgic about Los Angeles too. I was looking at my bottles of sand from Santa Monica beach and my Harry Blitztein original prints, and it occured to me that there are so many amazing things about Los Angeles that I can't think of a good reason why I wouldn't want to go back and live there. Great beaches, interesting, quirky people (even in Berkeley, it doesn't get any quirkier than Harry Blitztein), what's not to like. I think that what I have really collected here in this apartment is memorabelia from two homes. I love both places, and now that I'm leaving California and won't have access to either of them, I'm beginning to realize it.
Wow. In just over a month I'll be living in a place with no ocean, no familiar landscape features, no family, and only a handful of friends. Everything will be so foreign, and that is beginning to terrify me.
Wow. I was so productive last night. Right after I posted my rant about how stressed I was, I sat down and wrote for two hours, took a break to eat dinner, and then wrote for three more hours. I have more than 13 pages now, and I only have one section and a conclusion left to write. I'm really proud of myself, but at the same time, I really don't want to have to plan out this last section. I think that it's full of the heaviest theory of the paper.
In other news, my boss called me last night and told me that he still has a sinus infection. He says that he doesn't know if he can do work today, but if he can, he wants me to come to his house to do it. I don't know if I really want to do that, but I will if he tells me to. I know that it means not getting paid, but I really want him to tell me that he can't do work so that I can do mine. I still have an AFS paper proposal to write, and I have an assload of German homework to catch up on.
Monday, April 07, 2003
I didn't get a chance to do a whole lot of posting this morning, so I shall do a little bit more now, but only a little bit, because I should really work on my paper. Last night, I spent most of the evening sewing my pants. I have three pair of pants that have been awaiting mending since before winter break. Last night, I broke down and finally did it. I sewed up the wholes on two pair, and on the third, I had to cannabalize a pair of jeans-turned-dishrag to make a patch. The end result, though, is that I have pants again, which is a very good thing indeed.
In other news, class today was supremely uninteresting. I had a mildly good German class in which we went over the colloquial form of the perfective (I don't know what it's called, but the equivalent to the Passato Prossimo in Italian). That was good, and then I had another boring Chaucer class, and finally went to American folklore to hear Dundes give his lecture on the cock fight. I've heard it before, so I didn't pay attention as closely as I have in the past, but what struck me this time, and strikes me every time I hear it, is that he gets more and more mean to poor Clifford Geertz. Oh well.
And that's it. Now here I am, not writing, but not really doing anything relaxing either. Just sitting in this limbo of unproductivity and stressing myself out. I think that I am going to go and write, because if I don't get something done this day will seem like a total waste, and we can't have that, can we? No no no no no.
Wow, I'm stressed.
So it's official now. I am going to be a student in the University of Indiana Folklore and Ethnomusicology program next fall. I got an email from them confirming it this morning, and them proceeded to email the people at Memorial University of Newfoundland to tell them that I had to withdraw my application. This is all so exciting. I can't wait to graduate so that I can get on the road!
Sunday, April 06, 2003
Alright! I'm awake I'm awake I'm awake. Yesterday was another good day, although I wasn't nearly as productive as I have been other times this week. In the morning, I went to see a panel on Celtic saints' lives, then went to the library and got some books for my AFS paper proposal. I had planned to sit there and write, but looking over my 250 paper, I got a little discouraged and decided to go get lunch instead. Bad idea. By the time I finished lunch I didn't feel like doing homework, or anything else for that matter, so I went home. I made a concerted effort to study throughout the day, but all my attempts were abortive, and then when it came time for the Dodger game, I decided to forget studying and just listen.
But major league baseball has some piss poor web designers. The service that I paid for, that has worked in the past to bring me radio broadcasts, would not work yesterday. It kept telling me that I had to sign in at real.com, which I kept doing, but still nothing would work. So after 45 minutes of trying, I got pissed, decided to forget about it, and made dinner. The Dodgers lost anyway, so I really didn't miss much, but I'm pissed that I paid for a broken service.
So today, I am going to have energy and do homework all day. I have a whole bunch of German to do, and then I have to read some stuff by Walter Ong, go back through The Archeology of Knowledge and Mythologies, and start to make an outline for the next part of my paper. I figure that I'll get through the german and the Ong before I give up. I may even get to editing what I already have of this paper, but I don't forsee any real writing today. Ah well.
Oh! One last note. Yesterday morning, I emailed Indiana University and told them that I will accept their offer to go there. I still haven't emailed MUN to tell them that I withdraw my application, but I really would like to wait until I get some sort of email back from IU. Maybe I'm just paranoid, but I want to be sure before I turn the other school down.
Saturday, April 05, 2003
I am really proud of myself. Last night I managed both to have a good time and be productive. Around 4:30, I sat down and worked for a little bit over an hour revising my paper. I went through everything that I had written so far, deleting a lot of stuff, and adding a couple of paragraphs. I think that I'm going to need to add a couple more, as I think that I need more long, drawn out examples than I have.
At 5:45, however, I decided that I had done all I could do for the moment, so I packed my computer and books in my backpack and went to the celtic conference. I ate dinner over there with a bunch of folklore people and an even bigger bunch of celtic studies people. I met some professors who I was really interested in meeting, and then stayed to hear an Irish harpist play for a little bit over a half hour. I don't usually like Irish harp. I usually find it sappy, but this woman was really good. I think that the difference is hearing it live.
After that, I left and went to the library for an hour and a half. I did a little bit of reading and organizing, then I wrote two more pages of my paper, pretty much finishing up the section on structural, formal, and performative differences between folklore and literature.
Today I need to edit what I wrote last night, plan out what I am going to write about the ideological underpinnings of folklore and literature, then write my proposal for presenting a paper at AFS (the American Folklore Society meeting), since that is due on the fifteenth of this month. Then before I do all that, there's a panel that I want to go see at the conference. So I think that it's going to be a busy day, but overall, a good one.
Friday, April 04, 2003
So the first day of the celtic conference went off very well. The reception after the folklore roundtable lectures (which is what I had the most to do with) was beautiful. All the folklore people brought in different foods, and the assisstant archivist went out and bought bread and cheese and a whole bunch of Charles Shaw wine for the occasion. So we had the bread and the cheese and the wine, plus my soda bread, a whole bunch of different kinds of cookies, a red velvet cake (so good!), a fruit trifle, and a whole lot more. We thought that there would be too much food, but by the time the thing was over, there was none left. Not to mention that they went through four cases of wine. It was a very good party, I think.
Today at nine, I'm going to go see one of the folklorists who came for the conference lecture, which means that I need to get off my ass, shower, breakfast, and do my german homework now, because I can't do it then. Darned German homework. I don't even know what yesterday's homework was, since I wasn't in class, but I didn't do the homework due yesterday either, so I should at least do that.
Thursday, April 03, 2003
I've spent the entire day running around, trying to help out with the setup for this Celtic Conference thing. I skipped German this morning because I think that I knew that if I went, by the end of the day, I'd be ready to drop dead of exhaustion. As it is, I'm pretty darned tired. So I went and brought the Soda Bread I made to the conference room this morning, then preceeded to help set up the sound, then run to the folklore archive and come back with a cart full of four cases of wine for the reception afterward. After that, I went to work, only to find that the professor for whom I work was feeling ill and wouldn't be coming in that day, so I went back to the conference for a while, then came home for a rest before I go to hear the folklorists talk tonight. Well, I'm off to hear the folklorists talk, since it's verging on that tonight-like time.
Today, my Chaucer professor asserted that all folktales originate in India. What is this, the freaking 1880s? Is he Max Muller? I mean, come on. Nobody buys Indianist origin theories anymore. It's like asserting that all modern languages can be traced back to Hebrew or that all human beings go through the same evolutionary stages from savage to civilized. It's outmoded and clearly wrong. But he said it, so I'm sure that now half of that class believes it.
He also assigned topics for the second paper today. The topics are as follows: Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, or How can something be morally repugnant yet still be good art. He explained that for the first one, we should address the Wife of Bath's Prologue and the Knight's Tale, discussing how men are martian, both literally and metaphorically, and how women are venusian. Both of these are pretty lame topics in my opinion, and I think that I might go and ask if I can write on something else, like the symbolism of the cuckoo in Venus' shrine in the Knight's tale, or the connections between the Wife of Bath's Prologue and the Miller's tale. Or maybe I'll go and ask him if I can write on a tried and true favorite: the advantages of understanding Chaucer's tales as literary adaptations of folklore... I don't know.
In other news, my presentation on Marxism in Folklore 250 went really well. I talked for about a half hour on the general concepts of Western Marxism, and then spent the other half hour talking about how folklorists (and popular culturists) use Marxist theories. Overall, I tried to play down the specific socio-economic aspects of Western Marxist theory, and played up the emphasis on the pervasiveness of ideology. I talked about Althusser and Gramsci in this regard, and then I tied it to Adorno's concept of the culture industry. Like I said, not a bad presentation.
Finally, Sarah is practicing for a five minute lesson that she has to give tomorrow for her Teach For America interview. I'm really proud of her for doing this, but on the other hand, I can't get any work done because she keeps giving the lesson over and over again, trying to make it more and more fluid. It sounds good right now, but it's the sixth time I've heard it.
Wednesday, April 02, 2003
So news: I emailed the people over at Penn last night asking about the status of my application. They wrote me back telling me that all three people that they admitted accepted the positions, and so they couldn't take me this year, but that I should apply again when I finish my M.A. I replied very kindly that I just might. So this means that I've heard something at least from all three universities to which I applied. The score, as it stands, is as follows:
University of Pennsylvania, Folklore and Folklife: Outright Rejection.
Indiana University, Folklore and Ethnomusicology: Acceptance, but without funding.
Memorial University of Newfoundland: Acceptance, but no decision on funding yet.
So we're getting close to decision time here and all the ballots are coming in. I really hope that Memorial sends me something soon, because I have to tell Indiana whether I'm coming by April 15th, and it would be nice to make that decision with all the pertinent information at hand. So we'll see what happens. I'll keep everybody updated as things unfold.
Tuesday, April 01, 2003
Sorry for the long time between posts, but Blogspot was having some problems with some of there servers, and so posting was temporarily offline.
It's a shame too, because a couple of interesting things have happened in the last 24 hours. First, last night I went to see Jonathan Culler--the renowned literary theorist--lecture to the Rhetoric Department here. The lecture was sort of a bust. I expected that he would talk about his work, which would have been really interesting, but instead, it was a brief history of narratological theory, and then a review of a book that I have skimmed through and did not really like. So I left that, then came home and ended up doing next to no work because I just couldn't focus. So I did some German, played some video games, and called it a night. Sometimes that's just what you need to do.
Then this morning, after my German class, I was sitting in the folklore archive checking my mail and I got a response from Indiana University. I had asked them about financial assistance, and they emailed me back telling me that they were giving me nothing. That really annoys me, especially since they don't usually give TA-ships to first year grad students and out of state tuition is quite expensive.
I also got an email from the American Folklore Society, however, saying that paper proposals for the next AFS meeting are due on April 15th. I am really excited about this. A paper given should be about 20 minutes long, and I have the perfect thing. I think that I am going to propose to give the LSD Sticker Legend paper that I've been planning for the next couple of months. It should be just the right length for the time alotted, and it gives me a reason to get working on it. I figure that I'll write it over the Summer, which is still before the conference (which is in October) but also before school starts in the fall and I won't have time to work on my own stuff. Seems like a good idea to me.
Finally, work today was pretty good. I spent some time trying to sort out some issues with my professor's home dial-up internet account. He lost the password, and so I had to call the Berkeley HomeIP office and get it straightened out. He also had me help him with a grant application and had me do some library stuff. Overall, it was a very laid back afternoon, which I very much appreciate.
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