Snow Blood and Coal
Tuesday, September 30, 2003
Sometimes I get the strangest hits on this web site. I was going through the records of URLs and IPs that hit this site, and I found out that apparently, if you type 'soar throats' into MSN search, my blog comes up as the number eight sight on the first page of results. Goes to show how good MSN search is. In the past 6 months, I think that I've mentioned soar throats once. Ha! Google forever!
But anyway, in other news, school yesterday wasn't bad. I had Teaching Folklore in the morning, and then went ot the library and read a couple of essays, one by Jung and one by a Jungian mythologist, then part of an essay which I've read before by Malinowski. Then I started working on my Iron biblio, which is going to be very cool. I was getting references out of the dictionary of superstitions, and man, some of the things that came up are going to be really interesting. There were a lot of books of british folklore from the 18th and early 19th century, along with some other cool stuff. So I'm categorizing my bibliography using two keywords for each entry. One will be the genre, and the other will be theory, data, or other. It should be pretty effective. I'm thinking maybe that I should add a nation/ethnicity keyword too. That would make things significantly easier in the long run. I guess that I'll have to figure that out later. Right now, I only have about 20 entries, and I still need to track them all down and such. I'll bet that a lot of them I'll have to order over inter library loan. But I think that I'll just forget about most of those and only order the ones which look key. This isn't supposed to be a comprehensive annotated bibliography, after all. It's supposed to give us a good idea of what's out there on a given topic, and then allow us to write a paper proposal based on that info. I don't even think that we need to turn the biblio itself in... how nice.
Anyway, in other news, I saw the schedule of classes for next semester, and I think that I know what I'm going to take. I'm definitely taking Readings in Ethnography with Glassie and Folklore Fieldwork with Shukla (both are required). Then I'm pretty sure that I'm going to take Sandra Dolby's seminar on American folklore. It fulfills the geographical area requirement, it looks pretty good, and it meets on tuesday, so that all my classes will be on tuesdays and wednesdays (it'll be nice to have mondays, thursdays, and fridays off). That should give me 9 units, and put me well on my way to getting all my M.A. coursework done. I'll have 19 units, plus 9 units my first semester next year will be 28 (or even 6 will be 25 if I don't get an A.I. position), and then I'll make it to thirty with my 1-6 thesis-writing units. Yay! This doesn't look like it'll be so hard after all.
Monday, September 29, 2003
So I forgot to mention it when I posted yesterday, so I'll mention it now. I made another batch of fish stew for dinner last night, and wow. It definitely turned out well. They didn't have any squid, so I used Tapilia (excuse my spelling), catfish, and salmon. The fish wasn't as fresh as I would have liked, but I suppose that that is the point of stew. I cooked it all with some chicken broth and plenty of wine, and my. Even better than the last time I made it, and that was good. The only problem is that today, the entire apartment smells like fish. It's so thick in the kitchen that it's hard to breath. Ick.
Well, off to class!
Sunday, September 28, 2003
More Paper Updates and Stuff.
Alright. So after struggling all day, I think that I finally have a complete draft of this paper. GO ME! The first three quarters of it are ready to go and presentation quality, but the last few pages need some serious work. Specifically, I think that I'll end up needing to rewrite my conclusion. It has all the right ideas in it, but it feels stunted, like I'm rushing too much to wrap up all the ends that I untie in the paper. But that will all have to wait until tomorrow, because right now, I'm having a hard time thinking about it.
In other news, I ate a considerable amount of ice-cream today for the first time in recent memory (I think the last significant quantity I had was over a year ago). We had this coupon for a place called Brewster's on the edge of town, and I needed to get out of the house, so we went, and my God! What good ice-cream! I got a cone of pumpkin and Sarah got turtle (the chocolate, caramel, pecan thing, not the animal), and both were brilliant. Their pumpkin satasfied my need both for fruit flavored ice-cream, and my need for pumpkin pie. Wow! So good! I wholely recommend it. It's an odd sort of place though. They're an ice-cream shop that is open all year around, but they're also an out-door type stand. I wonder who goes there in the dead of winter, in the snow, to stand outside and eat ice-cream? On the other hand, I'll bet I can answer that question. We'll see how much sweet Sarah craves this winter, and I'll get back to you all.
But bla. Class at 8:30 tomorrow and I'm really tired, so bed for me. Maybe if I'm lucky it won't rain tomorrow and I'll be able to bring my computer with me. It'd be good to do some bibliography work when I'm done with my myth reading. I can only hope...
Saturday, September 27, 2003
The following passage is from an article called Teaching in a Diverse Environment: Knowledge and Skills Needed by TAs by Nancy Van Note Chism, Jamie Cano, and Anne S. Pruitt:
Within and across ethnic groups, there are great differences in how students respond to the college environment. An upper-middle-class Hispanic student may experience no unusual difficulties, but a stident coming directly from a lower-class family may have major cultural disorientation. An Asian American student from a family that emphasizes extreme diligence and quiet, reserved behavior will respond differently from an Asian American student whose family encourages assertiveness and is more relaxed about academic achievement. Some black American students will struggle with differences in way of speaking, sense of time, or learning styles, while others will have characteristics that already resemble those of the dominant culture. Native Americans may be more contemplative and nature-oriented that [sic] other students, or they may be no different with respect to these traits, since much depends on the extent to which the given student has experienced and incorporated the characteristics of the majority culture
Dude. Re-enforcing those stereotypes, are we?
Yay! I just booked a room in Albuquerque for the first night I'm there. For those who don't know, when I made my airplane reservations, I got a much better deal for going a day too early, so I'm getting there in the evening on the seventh, and the conference doesn't start until the eighth, which means that I needed a place to stay for one night, and now I have it. And what's more, I was smart and booked a place that is only about a mile from the hyatt where the conference is, so I can walk there the next day. Hopefully, I'll have my paper done in time so that I'll have a chance to enjoy myself that first day before people get there. Also, hopefully, I won't have too much reading to do so that I can enjoy myself during the conference. I have to figure out about homework for that week. My feeling is this: Almost all my classes are cancelled for that week, so next thursday when my classes for that week end, I'll start doing the reading for two weeks down the line and all will be well. I really wish that all my classes were canceled during that week, but my 516 class is still meeting that monday I think, and I know that I'll be missing my 501 class. The 516 class is low reading and Glassie will understand, but for the wednesday class, oh well... I guess that's the only class where I'll have significantly more to do than usual because I'll be doing it for two class periods. I can handle that.
Friday, September 26, 2003
Hail to the king, baby.
CNN is running this story:UC Berkeley chancellor to step down. About time.
But anyway, it turns out that my paper-writing problem is not simply a paper-writing problem. I feel less than able to concentrate on pretty much anything. I started reading a six page article this morning, and I didn't have the attention span to finish it. This is very disturbing. Very disturbing indeed... Oh well, off to fight with my brain some more.
Thursday, September 25, 2003
More Paper Stuff...
All of a sudden I'm feeling a pang of writer's block when it comes to this AFS paper. I'm working on the section where I discuss the associations between LSD and the illustrations on the stickers, and I really don't want to advise what I've already written, nor do I want to write anything new. I'm just looking at it, and suddenly feeling like it isn't quite relevent to the narrative of the paper. What I'm arguing is that peddlers of LSD are made outsiders to the community, villainized by being associated with child endangerers, and then made even more malevolent through the implication that they not only corrupt children, but make the children complicit in their own corruption. This is where the illustrations come in. They use illustrations that appeal to kids to make them want the stickers. The problem is that when I talk about the actual illustrations, what I want to talk about is a separate issue of how those illustrations, when associated with LSD, represent the exact sort of corruption of which the legend accuses these outsiders. Mickey Mouse is a model of good behavior for a child, and moreover a model of good capitalist, neo-puritanical behavior, and the association with LSD undermines all of this (exactly as the peddlers would do to children if they had the chance). It's good, but not quite relevant. Maybe I can make it fit, or maybe I'll just cut it, which would make my paper the right length, anyway... Don't know. Bla.
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
By the way...
It seems that after a short absence, my comment system is back up and running again. It's good to know that their server change went well.
So for my folklore F501 class, we have to turn in weekly writing assignments, which are basically 2 page critical summaries of 3 of the articles that we read for the week. My God! These take forever. I thought that I would save time over last week by taking actual notes as I read the articles I would summarize, but no. It's taking just as long as it did before. I've been at it about an hour and a half and I'm done with two of the three. Hopefully, I'll be able to go through the last one more quickly, because I'm getting sick of this. Even more hopefully, maybe I'll come into class tomorrow and they'll tell us that from now on we'll only have to do it for two of the readings. Wouldn't that be grand? The last article I'm summarizing is about the influences of musicology and anthropology on ethnomusicology, and it ends by calling for ethnomusicology to become the overarching critical study of music, with the old eurocentric musicology as a subcategory. Poop. It's boring, and really, I have nothing much to say about it except that it seems a little bit egotistical of our friends over on the ethnomusicology side of things. But that's not going in the critical part of the summary. An ethnomusicologist might well grade this thing, and I don't want her getting the wrong idea about me. I'm all about love for my ethno friends. Ah, ye'ah.
Monday, September 22, 2003
Paper and Such
So I went to the library yesterday and got there about 1 p.m., then spent about three hours writing my paper and my sample fieldwork project for today. The paper writing actually didn't go so poorly. I checked out a copy of Ariel Dorfman's How to Read Donald Duck and Zipes' Happily Ever After to bring in some examples of what exactly the ideological underpinnings of Disney are, and then talked about how Mickey Mouse associated with LSD subverts those ideologies. I also talked about how the illustrations on LSD stickers are particularly interesting because in enticing children for whatever reason, they make children complicit in their own "corruption". Overall, I'm very proud of myself. I have about eight pages now, and I figure that I have two more and then I'm done. I'll read it a couple of times and time myself, and I figure that if I'm going over, I can cut some stuff. Somebody else in my section is writing about The Simpsons, so maybe I'll cut my section on images of Bart... Don't know. Maybe I can cut my explanation of myth down to two paragraphs... I figure that if worst comes to worst, there are a thousand places for me to cut.
Wow. A few days ago, I was worried about not finishing, and now I'm worried about having too much... what a brave new world we live in.
But anyway, today I have class, then a bunch of free time (from 11-4), then class again until 8:30 at night. I had thought about bringing my computer to the library and working on my iron bibliography, but it's raining, so the International Folklore Bibliography and it's anthropological and literary cousins will have to wait for another day. Maybe the weather will be better during the day on thursday... For now, I figure that I'll finish the reading for my Myth class and get some more of the reading for F501 out of the way.
Sunday, September 21, 2003
Aight. I've made a decision. I simply cannot finish this paper at home. So at noon, I'm going to eat lunch, then take all my books and papers to the library to continue writing. And besides, I need a copy of Ariel Dorfman's book on ideology in Donald Duck comics, and copies of a couple of Zipes books. If I'm going to write about the significance of these stickers carrying the visage of Mickey Mouse, I'd better do it right.
Fried Chicken and Water Melon
Man. This is unbelievable. Debby Deck, a administrator in Longview Texas, referred to "a Little Sambo sitting in the back of the room" as an example in a discussion on gaining respect from students. That is over the line, but that's not the worst. In her letter of appology to the other people at the meeting, she she didn't know the term Sambo was negative. And these are the people in charge of teaching the children of America. Wow...
Saturday, September 20, 2003
Imagine a world in which guinea pigs the size of buffalo roam the Earth. Well funny thing. It looks like that was once the case. Damn. I couldn't have even made that shit up. It's scary. I don't even like the small pet-like variety. Freaky little creatures...
Oh well... In other news, I went to see Underworld last night. I expected terrible, but it was much better than that. I wouldn't call it good exactly, but it was very entertaining, and were it not a total action movie, it might have made for an interesting kind of psychological drama. But it was an action movie, and most of the actors weren't up to psychology, so oh well. What it did do really well, though, was to take all of the visual ideas in The Matrix and do them 1000% better. The color filtering was better, the visual effects were better, the action looked cleaner and less obviously computer generated, and the characters were very very stylish. Overall, they get an A for effort on the visual side of things, but for the sequal, I'd suggest actors who can act.
On the other hand, the movie brought up a lot of issues that I thought were somewhere between interesting and really funny. I don't know if its that I just finished reading a shitload of Freud or what, but the main dynamic among the vampires in the movie was really obviously oedipal. Celine (the main character) was in this odd inverse-projective relationship with her sire where she comes to belive that he killed her mother to be with her (displacement of a fantasy in which she kills her mother to be with him?) Further, Kraven, who if he was not sired by the same vampire at least treats him like a father figure, wants him out of the way to marry Celine, and as we all know from Freud, incestuous desire for the sister is usually displaced feelings for the mother. Anyway, it's a tangled freudian web out there...
But maybe it's just that I'm back in school and thinking like an academic again... who knows?
Thursday, September 18, 2003
Another Quick Update...
Wow. Two in one day. Well, I just wrote another page of my Mickey Mouse LSD paper, and things seem to be going along swimmingly. It seems like it will be a very likable paper (as opposed to blotter, the very lickable paper). At once, I think that it's pretty good, but also really under researched. I think that I will only have a nine or ten item bibliography, not including archival sources. That seems a little bit meager, but on the other hand, it also seems like I've covered the bulk of the scholarship on the topic... I don't know.
Ink and Iron
So I'm now 99% sure that my topic is going to be iron. I was reading Totem and Taboo yesterday and I decided that what I really want to be able to write at the end of this is one of those big mosaic-like comparative studies, and end up getting something interesting out of it in the end. I'm thinking something like a cross between 19th century English scholarship and Francisco Vaz de Silva... It'll be fun, and it'll be exactly the kind of thing that I like to read. That's the thing. I don't write the kinds of papers that I like to read, and I really really want to...
Anyway, in other news, I went to the grocery yesterday and bought ingredients to make fish stew... A bunch of catfish, some cod, and a whole lot of squid. So I'm going to learn to clean squid. The problem is that Sarah decided that she wants to work tonight (she wasn't originally scheduled), so the stew is going to have to wait until tomorrow. I hope that the fish is still good tomorrow... On the other hand, I guess that the point of stew is to get rid of the stuff that's just starting to go bad... Maybe I'll make it for myself tonight and let Sarah have the left-overs. She's not really a tentacle lover anyway...
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
Updates and new things...
Lets see... I haven't posted in a little while, so lets start with some news on the music front. I was watching TV the other day when that commercial for the VW Beetle / iPod came on, and it impelled me to finally look up who does that song. It turns out that the group is Polyphonic Spree. So I went out and bought an album, and they're really good. Apparently, there are 24 performers in the band, but at least in the recordings, they don't overwhelm you like a choir might. They're just kind of mellow and kind of happy, but with a definite experimental edge. The album I bought is "The Beginning Stages Of...", and the last song on the album is a 35 minute long experimental electronic piece. Very good to read to, since it's neither too melodic nor too intrusive. I must say, I approve very much.
I also finally got to listen to a CD that Mabel sent me by a band called VÃ¤rttinÃ¤. They are sort of a folk-rock group froFinlandnd. They play a lot of Finnish traditional music, but they definitely have a very rock kind of sensibility. Very good overall. I recommend them.
In other news, school is rolling along. I just finished Cultural Complexity by Ulf Hannerz, and I need to write summaries for the last three chapters for class tomorrow. It's not a bad book, overall. I enjoyed it. I'm also trying to decide on a subject for my F516 bibliography. I was thinking that I would either do it on brewing in Europe, on bread, specifically in southern Italy, or perhaps on superstitions concerning iron. I really like the third topic. I was reading Totem and Taboo yesterday and there was a lot about it in there. The problem is that the topic is really vast, and there has been a lot written on it. I think that I would have a much more interesting project if I went with brewing or bread, and considering my inclinations these days, I'm pretty sure that it will be brewing. Please people, please please please give me some suggestions, help me make up my mind...
Friday, September 12, 2003
So a couple of things. First, I'm really excited. I'm going to a pot luck saturday evening, and I think that I'm going to bring an apple pie with me. I've never made one before, so I thought that this would give me a good chance. Also, it's a chance to play with my new toy, a pastry cutter.
In other news, a couple of weeks ago, I got an email from Milken High School saying that there is going to be a reunion and that I should send them a paragraph for the program on what I've been doing since I graduated in '99. So I thought that I'd post a copy of it here. I think it's pretty funny.
Since his days at Milken, Adam has gone on to graduate from UC Berkeley with a history degree, having written his senior thesis, entitled "The Back Door Approach: Homosexuality and Clerics in the Middle Ages," on the construction of gender identity in the later Middle Ages. With no clear notion of how a B.A. in history might help him in the so-called "real world," he applied and was accepted to the M.A./Ph.D. program in Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University, Bloomington. This, he thought, might provide some practical education and aide in his quest to find a job on Wall Street. He expects to write his masters thesis on the brewing practices of the Sami people of Norway and Finland, and his Ph.D. on a related topic: the drinking practices of folklorists doing fieldwork in the frozen North. Adam currently resides with his girlfriend, a professional vigilante, in the wastelands of northern Bloomington.
I crack myself up sometimes...
Thursday, September 11, 2003
Alright people. Comments are back, but maybe not the way I really wanted. Enetation stopped working for me, so I've switched to BlogSpeak for comments. This hopefully means that the comment system will be more reliable, but it also, unfortunately, means that the old comments are no more. I guess that you'll all just have to post lots of new comments to make up for the loss.
Wednesday, September 10, 2003
Alright! I've now written about 4 pages of my AFS paper and it's looking pretty good. I've been procrastinating mostly because I felt like I didn't know what the hell I was talking about, but now that I'm writing, things are coming together. I have a good solid introductory section that addresses previous scholarship and popular literature on this subject, I provide a good explanation of Barthes' concept of Myth (thank you Roland for illustrative examples), and now I've even started to move onto a discussion of how exactly my particular legend is a myth. This is all going on swimmingly. My only worry is that somebody out there will call me on it when I say that this legend is a political statement about the radical left. On the other hand, the essence of the legend is that there are people out there using images with which children associate to alter their minds. These people are often teenagers or college professors, two notoriously liberal groups, and they are using LSD, the hippy drug to do it. I think that I can make a pretty good case. Yay! Go me! There is an end in sight to this paper.
Oh yeah. One other thing. You may have noticed that comments aren't working. I didn't disable them. They just stopped working one day and I haven't figured out how to get them back. I figure that one of these days they'll either come back on their own or I'll get a new comment system. Hopefully it'll be the former, but probably the latter. D'oh!
I woke up this morning to the Grateful Dead. That was a nice change. I usually wake up to talk or commercials on the radio. The worst is waking up to those commercials where two people are talking, though. I hate those. But I was in the middle of this dream where I was in Albuquerque for AFS and I was just walking around, then suddenly, I was awake and listening to Touch of Gray. Sarah turned it off, which is a little bit sad, and what's worse, because I didn't get to listen to the whole thing, it's now stuck in my head. But it was a happy up-waking, so overall, I must say that I'm pleased.
So last weekend, Sarah's grandfather came to stay with us, and that was interesting. He got here while she was still at work, and so we sat down and talked for a long time. He is working on a geneology project, and so he was telling me about how he encountered a "grave witch" somewhere where he was doing research. I didn't know what a grave witch was, but apparently, it's like a water witch, but instead of using a plumb switch to find water, a grave witch uses two l-shaped bronze bars to determine the sex of the person in a grave. The witch holds the bars, and if, when he or she steps over the grave, the two bars spread their legs, so to speak, it's a woman in the grave. If they don't, it's a man. There is some very interesting symbolism in there... He also grew up on a farm, so I talked to him for a while about slaughtering and harvesting. Apparently, in his family neither the moon nor menstruation had any bearing on when animals were slaughtered in the winter. He did say, though, that there was some consideration for those things in Argentina, where he was a missionary. Overall, I must say, an interesting visit.
Finally, school. In other words, I must go to school. But before I do, let me tell you that I just finished the first half of Ulf Hannerz's Cultural Complexity. I have to turn in summaries and it took me forever to summarize. I really do think that it was an unfair assignment. The book is just too dense for that. They say that the summaries will be useful when we go to study for orals, but because of the density of the book, I think that's a load of crap. By the time I study for orals, I'll have forgotten all the details that hold the book together, and so the summaries of the chapters will no longer make sense. But oh well. They ask, I do. And now I'm off to school.
Thursday, September 04, 2003
Bah. I really don't like thursdays, I've decided. This business of not having class until 4 in the afternoon really bothers me. I'd much rather have class in the morning and then go be productive all day. This way, I just feel like I'm waiting for shit to get going and not really doing anything. Not that I'm not doing anything. I read a chapter of Cultural Complexity by Ulf Hannerz this morning (no small feet, it's very dense), and then this afternoon, I've worked some on my AFS paper and started my assignment for Folklore F501. Oh, yeah, I've also lopped off my beard. All the same, I feel like it's just killing time. I think that next thursday, I'll get up, get some stuff together, and head to the library and work there. I think that I'd feel more purposeful in the library, like I'm really working. Here, I just feel like I'm piddling around. I don't know. Maybe I'm just having first-week-of-class-still-getting-used-to-it blues...
Tuesday, September 02, 2003
CNN is running this story about a husband and wife team who have successfully carbonated milk and are going to be selling it in schools. I've been saying that this was a great idea forever, and now these bastards have gone and stolen it from me. Cursed theives!
In other news, yesterday was my first day of classes, and it was a lot of fun. I had class from 8:30-11 a.m., and then 4-8:30 p.m., so I had a lot of time in the middle to read various things. My first class was "Teaching Folklore," which I think will be of limited use, but it looks very good on a C.V. and might help me to get a teaching assistantship in the near future, so what more could I want out of it. I have to go sit in on 6 classes and make notes on the teaching this semester, and for next week, I need to plan the first day of a class. The latter assignment should be fun, but the former seems a little bit boring. I also have to read a load of stuff, and most of it can only be found at the Teaching Resource Center, which means that I need to trudge over there and get it. Blah.
My other class is an introductory course taught by Henry Glassie. That should be a fun course, although Professor Glassie seems a little bit touchy-feely, which is sort of strange and not what I expected. One of the most important aspects of the class, he says, is community building. But he does have a good reason. He says that the members of the class will be colleagues for life, and thus we should get to know each other. The other thing that we are going to do in the class, which is a bit more academic, I guess, is learn to write a book. To that end, we're going to have to do (what else) a bibliography on a reasonably broad topic, and then write a dissertation proposal based on what we find. On the bright side, he doesn't expect us to find everything on the topic, but on the bleaker side, I know that I won't be really happy with the project unless I find most of it. He wants our topic to be something grounded in the real world (a topic in a place and a time) rather than something theoretical, so I'm a little bit worried. Most of what interests me is theoretical. I'm going to go today to talk to him and see what he has to say about that...
But anyway, classes are fun.
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