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Friday, October 31, 2003


This has been, despite what I expected, a very good halloween. First of all, the folkpub meeting was good (and short). So when it ended, I went to the tale end of the Folklore Students' Association meeting, then we all hung out and talked for a while, then went to Nicks (the English Hut). Much beer and much talk later, I dropped Sarah off at home and joined Gabe at Chantal and Dustin's house to watch Fright Night, which turned out to be a funny and interesting movie, and one that I'd like to write about one day. It's entirely about fear of homosexuality and how faith in Christianity will beat the sinners (actually, it's about vampires, but it's REALLY about homosexuals)...

In other news, I read about half of Deep Down in the Jungle this morning. It was good to be reading something that I wanted to read for once. Roger Abrahams is a really good writer and it's a fun read. I'll probably read a little more tomorrow before I start on my paper, and then leave the rest until I need to read it for my other paper for that class. I think that I want to talk about that book and Abrahams' book on Carribian sea chanties (which is close enough to ethnomusicology) in relation to transcription issues for my second F501 paper. That should be much better than what I'm doing now...

Oh yeah! Also, the web application is coming along really well now. You can add, delete, edit, and set the publication chit on forum issues now, but you can't do anything with the articles. That's the next part of the project. I don't think that this'll be as hard as I thought it would be.

posted by Adam on 10:48 PM.

Thursday, October 30, 2003


Didn't post yesterday, not because I was busy, but because I was sleeping. After my marathon writing session Tuesday night, I went to class yesterday morning, went out to lunch, then came home and slept from about 1:30 until 4:00. I guess I was tired. So as you might imagine, I didn't get a whole lot done yesterday.

What I did do, however, is start to learn mySQL, which is a really cool program. I decided that if I really want to set up the forum online website, I have to do it right, which means PHP/mySQL. I know some PHP (although admittedly, not quite enough) and now I'm starting to get mySQL. So last night, I made a sample database and some sample tables and practiced adding some information to them just through the command line. When I next have time, I think that I'll try doing it for real, and then see if I can figure out how to add to it using PHP. My plan is this--to make the most complex part of the web site (the part that allows the editors to add and edit issues and articles (and edit comments on the articles)), and then move to the more simple (the part that displays issues and articles). The second part I know how to do. It should actually be pretty easy. The first part, however, is going to be a challenge. It's going to be a real, interactive, serious web application, and that's something I've never done before. I think that a portion of my winter break will be taken up by this :-D.

Anyway, I should go and eat breakfast and start making up for my lack of productiveness yesterday. I figure if I can finish all my morning stuff before 10:00 and then read until 3:00 when I have to head out for class, I should be in a pretty good position with things I have to do for next week. I figure that I've already done the reading for Myth next week, and it doesn't really matter if I do it for F501 (although there's not that much and I probably will), so I will probably have enough time to work on my paper due next wednesday and my proposal for the next paper, due the wednesday after that, which would leave me time to go evaluate some classes for F801 (ick) and work on my first paper for F545...

Well, I'm off.

posted by Adam on 8:35 AM.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003


...entirely too much work for an assignment that will be graded with a check...

I'm just about done writing. I'm too tired to write a commentary on chapter 5 tonight, so I'll get up and do it in the morning. In the mean time, if I never hear Ruth Finnegan's name again, it will be too soon. Some of you out there might admonish me for leaving these W.W.A.s to the last minute, but it's not really the last minute. I have my reading done (including some notes) by Sunday, and just never have time to write it up until Tuesday. Boy will I be glad when this semester is over and I'll never have to do this again...

posted by Adam on 11:31 PM.


Eleven pages, and one more chapter to go. As the evening draws on and I get more tired, the critical sections of these summaries get more and more bizzare. I just finished commenting on the appropriateness of the chapter title of chapter 4. On the other hand, I think that they are also getting proportionally more astute. I wonder how I'll feel about it in the morning...

posted by Adam on 9:59 PM.

The problem of summary.

So I've now summarized three of the five chapters of Ruth Finnegans book that I have to do for my W.W.A. for tomorrow, and I'm proud of myself because I'm only at 8 pages so far. That means that I might keep the thing under 13 pages in total. It also means that this monster is going to be 13 pages, though. Entirely too long for an assignment that is graded with a check. But I'm having some serious problems summarizing this book. The first two chapters were easy because she was making an argument, or at least talking about arguments that have been made about the nature of communication. I could just summarize the arguments and be done with it. The third (and fourth and fifth) chapters are a different story. These chapters are pretty much just descriptive. She is making some points and giving a lot of examples about the nature of communication through different conduits. So I basically have to go linearly through the chapter to summarize it rather than just doing a summary of the arguments and pointing out a couple of key examples. This is really tedious, and not something that the professors like to read. I just don't know how to do a summary for some of this any other way. I think that part of it may be that I finished the reading on friday and I'm only now writing the summaries, and so the book isn't really fresh in my mind. But whatever. I guess I've just got to buckle down and do it...

I'm tired. Does anybody think that 8:30 p.m. is too late for coffee?

posted by Adam on 8:25 PM.


So last night I went and ordered 4 books online for under 30 dollars. From various Amazon used merchants, I got Freud's Totem and Taboo, Myth: A Symposium which is a collection of really interesting essays including Levi-Strauss' "The Structural Study of Myth," and Malinowski's Magic, Science, and Religion which is the only Malinowski I've read, but a book that I like a lot. Then, from ABEBooks, I ordered a copy of Afanasyev's Bawdy Peasant : Tales from the Secret Folk Lore of Russia (or whatever it's called), which is a book I've been wanting for a while. So my building manager is going to be pissed at me by the time all these books come because they're all going to be in separate packages, but it'll be worth it, I think. Nothing like new books.

posted by Adam on 8:26 AM.

Monday, October 27, 2003


I haven't updated in a couple of days because my parents have been here (and are still here technically, although I probably won't see them today because I'm in school for 13 hours). Their visit has been very pleasant so far. The first night they came to Bloomington, we ate dinner at the Uptown Cafe, which was so good for breakfast that I just had to try it again. Dinner was very good, but like I said about the Story Inn, the devil is in the details. My mother had Gumbo, which was very good, but which they ladled out before they put the salads together for the rest of us, so that by the time it got to the table, it was no longer hot. Also, the waitress, although very good, was slow in retreiving things that made the meal edible. It was almost ten minutes after she brought my salad that she brought the oil and vinegar I had asked for. The same goes with bringing sugar for my father's coffee. By the time he got the sugar that allowed him to drink it, the coffee was cold. Moreover, the details of the food itself were just slightly off. I had a beautiful mixed green salad with gorgonzola and walnuts, but there was no balance of flavors. There was the relatively mild creaminess of the cheese with the mild walnuts, and nothing salty to counterbalance it. Had it been me, I would have added just the slightest amount of bacon (or even better, Sorano ham) to add an extra depth of flavor. The tuna that I had was very good, but had a similar problem. It was a beautiful, rare piece of yellowfin tuna covered in salsa verde (the Italian variety, not the Mexican). It was good, but lacked the extra dimension of complexity to make it great. The chef, for instance, could have encrusted one side of the fish with pepper, or even better, simply seared the outside of the fish, leaving the inside rare, so that a hint of charcoaliness would come through. But no matter. Overall, it was excellent.

Then last night, to change the pace, we went to Chili's. My mother wanted to go there, but even she wasn't happy about the choice. We were all cranky and hungry, and by the end, we were satasfied neither in the sense that we were happier, or very much fuller. In fact, none of us could finish our meals, because it was just yuck. Hopefully, it teaches my mother not to request Chili's in the future...

And so today, I've had a day off from the parents, going to class and teaching a five-minute micro-lesson on superstitions, then reading Paul Veyne's Did The Greeks Believe Their Myths for the rest of the afternoon (until now). The lesson went pretty well, although I was criticized for not allowing time enough for questions, and having too many pauses as I was talking. Part of it, I think, was that I went first, and so I didn't realize that I could actually take more than five minutes (I felt rushed), and part of it was that I was being video-taped, and I was nervous. Overall, the responses to it were positive, and the general comments were that I should speak more fluidly and make the theoretical bits easier to understand. The latter part I think I can do by including more examples. The former part is just the way I talk.

Then, finally, there's Paul Veyne's book, which is really good, although significantly more challenging to read than what we've been reading in my Myth class. It is more abstract and more dense than a lot of the other writing, and because it argues less by example, it's more difficult to skim. And so I've spent an inordinate amount of time reading only 130 pages (it's a short book), but I'm almost done, and I think I might finish before I go to class this afternoon. One can only hope, I think is the only answer to that...

posted by Adam on 2:06 PM.

Saturday, October 25, 2003


I live in a circus. Today, IU is playing Ohio state at football, and the town has gone totally insane. There is traffic like you wouldn't believe, and the city, while they think they are helping, are only making things worse by blocking off streets and the like. I pulled out of my driveway to take Sarah to work and found that my two-way street has become a one way street, and then, a little ways down, has been blocked off entirely, forcing me to take a detour. It took 25 minutes to drive less than three miles to get Sarah to work. Argh. But the traffic isn't the worst of it. The worst of it is the noise. The two houses across the street from my building are both having big, loud, outdoor parties, people are honking, and about a dozen people are standing over there yelling at passing cars to try and scalp tickets. And then there is the football stadium itself, which is across the street on the other corner. Over there, everybody and their brother are having tailgate parties, and hooting and hollering. And these are mostly adults. What is it about sporting events that brings out the asshole in ordinarily nice-enough people? Argh!

But anyway, now to get back to Ruth Finnegan's book. I'd really like to finish this long-ass chapter I'm on before my parents come today. Oh, and I also have to figure out how to get them temporary parking permits for today... too much to do...

posted by Adam on 11:38 AM.

Friday, October 24, 2003


Alright. Panther is up and installed and really very cool. I've been playing with it for a couple of hours, and as promised, it is significantly snappier than 10.2. It shuts down faster and starts up faster, and the new finder, despite its brushed-metal-ness, is really cool. My only complaint so far is that the menu-bar item that gives me the weather forecast crashes, so I can't use it. Oh well. Hopefully I'll find a suitable replacement sometime soon...

posted by Adam on 9:56 PM.

Cruel Irony or Divine Vengance?

Check out this CNN article. The actor who plays Christ in Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic masterpiece The Passion was struck by lightning on the set. I won't even begin to comment, but the comic potential here seems endless.

In other news, I'm waiting patiently for my copy of Panther to come and reading more of Ruth Finnegan's Communications. Both of these, I think, are worthy pursuits. I just hope that Panther comes before 2:30ish, because around that time, I'm going to have to head off to see John Burrison, the famed folklorist from Georgia, speak. That should be fun, but it would be a lot more fun if I knew where my copy of Panther was...

NOTE: For those of you who don't know, by the way, Panther is the newest version of Mac OS X...

posted by Adam on 11:51 AM.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Animal Books.

It's odd. Last night I noted that there was a lot of talk in Guthrie's Faces in the Clouds about studies of how animals perceive. Today, I'm reading Communications by Ruth Finnegan, and there's a lot of talk about how animals communicate. I guess that there's just a whole strand of books out there in the social sciences that lean heavily on studies of animal behavior. Personally, I don't see the appeal, but it does make an entertaining change from performance performance performance.

Oh yeah. And also, I thought that I had read this book by Finnegan before, but apparently I was wrong because I didn't remember anything about animal behavior going in. Maybe it was a different book by her, or maybe I'm thinking of some other woman who theorizes communications. What do I know...

posted by Adam on 2:51 PM.

Good News!

Hey. So good things do sometimes happen. I happened to be on Netgear's website this morning and found that there was a firmware upgrade for my router. For those of you who don't know, when I first got to Bloomington, I upgraded it and it went all haywire and ended up being unusable. So I got it out of the box at the top of the closet, set it up, upgraded the firmware, and now it works better than ever. Wow. And I thought I would just eventually have to break down and buy a new router. Silly me. Netgear may be incompotent, but they're not INCOMPOTENT.

Anyway, off to read Ruth Finnegan (yes, I have Finnegan's Wake cought in my head), so hopefully, more updates later.

posted by Adam on 9:41 AM.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Darn it!

I was going to change the name of my blog to "Fearful Symmetry," and then I found this. I guess I could still call my blog Fearful Symmetry. It's not like the URL is going to change--I'll still be, but I'd feel like I'm taking seconds. Oh well.

But speaking of all this, question: Do you have to be older than high school aged to really appreciate William Blake, or is it just that they give you his worst work when you're in high school?

posted by Adam on 7:59 AM.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Two Hours

So this morning, I spent two hours on the phone with AT&T trying to get a $6.19 cancelled. Apparently, my local carrier signed me up for long distance service with them back in July, and they've been billing me ever since. Every month they send the bill, and every month I call them and they say they'll take care of it. This month, I talked to an upper-level supervisor after struggling with two stubborn subordinates, and she cancelled the bill for me right there while I was on the phone. Gave me a confirmation number and everything. Hopefully, that's done with.

In other news, I've now written two of the three summaries I need to do for tomorrow. One is really short and the other is really long. Hopefully, the third one will be just right.

Finally, on a personal note, I think that I've decided that my general malaise this semester is not connected to being disappointed with my classes, or at least not directly. I think that it's more the general way that the program works here. When I left Berkeley, I felt like I had had enough of coursework for a while and I was excited at the prospect of having time to do my own research in a graduate program. Well, that isn't exactly the way it worked out. But next semester I'm doing the independent study, which will aleviate some coursework, and after that, I think that I'm going to make it a policy to take as few classes as possible. Next fall, I think I'll take two. Next spring, one. Then, in the Ph.D., I can take half of my units as independent study or thesis units (I think), which will ACTUALLY finally give me real time to do research. Yay! There's a lot of stuff going on this semester (like moving to a new place, and missing Berkeley and all the people there), but I think that having a new plan will help.

posted by Adam on 8:29 PM.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Quick Updates.

I'm not really in the mood to write a whole lot, but I thought I would provide you all with some quick updates. So here goes:

I went and talked to the professor with whom I will be doing my independent study next semester, and it goes like this: I will come up with a reading list and end up writing a paper on the history of folklore and literature leading up to Dorson's article in 1957. As far as I am concerned, this will become the introduction (first chapter?) of my M.A. thesis.

I went and advised for classes for next semester. The professor advising me (who also advised me last time) was sympathetic to my complaint of being required to do too much course-work, and too much that was not relavent to my research. His half-hearted justifications were that it was exposing me to material to which I would otherwise not be exposed, and that most people in the program do not have as much folklore coming in as I do. He is right on both accounts.

He was concerned that I was not getting a distribution requirement out of the way next semester, but said that it was really my choice, and just meant that I'd end up having to take three classes the semester after (or two and then one my last M.A. semester). That's fine with me. He also expressed concern about my language requirement, to which I assured him that I would do either German or some other appropriate language (Italian?) over the Summer. He was appeased.

Finally, I had my F516 class, in which the professor told a very interesting story. Apparently, when he first came to Indiana, Stith Thompson invited my professor to his house and told him that every year, he liked to learn a new language (good for comparative work and all that). That once you learned one Slavic language, the others came pretty easily. Once you learned a Turkic language, the others came easy. And so on and so forth. I would not find the annecdote terribly interesting except that not eight months ago, I heard Roger Abrahams tell the same story about Archer Taylor. It makes me wonder, is it just that Kittridges students were enthusiastic about languages, or is this a migratory legend about folklore scholars?

Anyway, off to bed.

posted by Adam on 11:33 PM.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Kill Bill!

So I saw Kill Bill tonight. I had heard good things, and it was very good indeed. It was definitely the best kung-fu movie that I've seen in a while, and I loved the comical gore. If each half is only an hour and a half, though, I really wish that they had just released the whole thing together. Now I'm going to be on the edge of my seat for a few months... What I really liked about it, though, now that I think about it, was the music. I commented to Sarah as we were leaving that it was like watching live-action anime, and I think that the music is the reason. Good music (a lot of it anime style), but more importantly, good use of music.

It also made me think that maybe Jeana is right about Japanese, and it is, in fact, a really good language to learn for scholarly stuff. I've always been peripherally interested in Japanese myth, legend and superstition. The cast of supernatural characters that they have is second to none on the entertainment end. But most of Kill Bill was in japanese, and thinking about it, I really like the way the language sounds. Oh well. There's a project for another year. First lets do the German and get the masters, then we can think about starting a new language... On the other hand, whenever I get around to it, I think it'll be nice to get out of the U.S. and Europe as far as my scholarly scope goes. I'm starting to feel a little bit tired of euro-centric folklore studies...

posted by Adam on 11:14 PM.


Well, haven't written a whole lot yet, but read two articles for my 501 class. I figure that I'm going to print and read another one, then hopefully summarize, then start going through the books that I have on notions of traditions. With any luck, I can figure out a good structure for this essay, and that will make my life easier. So far I've only written an introductory paragraph, and I think that I'm going to scrap that. It just doesn't say what I want it to. Oh well... no more whining. Must work...

posted by Adam on 1:33 PM.

Fine, Thank You Very Much...

Last night, Sarah and I attended a party given at a fellow folklore grad student's house. She gave the class directions to get there which were terrible, and when we finally made it, it looked a little bit sparse, with three other people standing outside, and three people (including the hostess) inside talking. I didn't think that this one would be a big hit, but then people started arriving and things got going. Three of my professors showed up, one of whom I knew was coming, and the other two, I had no idea. I didn't think that they would be likely to come, since neither seem very friendly. Or maybe it's that I don't really like their class, so I'm doing one of those projection numbers. But anyway, the people started piling in, we started eating and drinking, and things really got going. The hostess' roommate mixed up this batch of margerita that we were all drinking, not quite realizing just how alcoholic it was. Well, I had one pretty big glass and I was pretty tipsy. Sarah had one very big glass (and some wine) and was fall-down drunk all night. And one of our friends had three or four glasses, and she (who is not usually very talkative) was chatty all night long. So it progressed well, there was a big fire with marshmellow roasting, and finally, around 11:15, we all called it quits, helped clean up and went home. It was definitely one of the better parties I've been to since I've been here. It was small enough that you could talk to everyone, and it was the only one I've been to since I got to know the majority of the other first-years, so I felt like I could talk to everyone. So yeah. I must say, overall, good.

Now today is going to be a different story. I did some reading for my paper yesterday, but didn't get to write anything. Today, my goal is to write a couple of pages of my paper, to read one article for next week, and to summarize it as the first part of my weekly writing assignment. Now if I were really motivated, I think I could do all this, but as it stands... well... wish me good luck.

posted by Adam on 10:16 AM.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Green eggs...

So this morning, I got up and decided that I would do something different, so I made myself eggs over easy with a slice of prosciuto and a little bit of fresh mint. It was very good. I ate the eggs, and then ate the prosciuto together with the mint, which turned out to be a good combination. I really like mint. Tomorrow night, I'm going to make tuna steak for dinner, and I think that I'll make it with mint. That's how much I've decided I like it.

Anyway, sorry for the short post, but I have to back to reading... miles to go before I sleep, you know...

posted by Adam on 11:01 AM.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Light and Day.

Wow. It's friday. And I don't really know where the week went. I think that I was too tired to have it feel like it was dragging, and so it went pretty fast, overall. Also, a lot happened this week, which always makes things feel like they're going a little bit quicker.

I think that the formost thing to be talking about was the conversation I had with Max last night about the process of re-editing, and the kind of perspective that it provides. I've been starting the process of going through this with what I've written about folklore and literature, and I'm finding it really interesting what seems relevant to the subject and what does not after not having looked at it for half a year. Instead of doing my immediate work, I've been keeping a running outline of what I would like an M.A. thesis on this topic to look like, and in doing so, I've run across some ideas that I realize were my original intentions in writing about folklore and literature, but which I didn't quite know how to address in my paper last year. This is good. This means that I finally think that I can address them in this new chance I'm getting. Nothing bad to say about that.

In related news, I've been thinking a lot about the process of writing academic papers, and the kinds of academic papers I like, and what I want to sound like when I write, and it occurs to me that I need to be writing with pretty much the same kinds of goals and processes that I use to write fiction. Writing academic papers, I think, is very much a process of story telling. The keys to doing it well are to figure out where your story begins and ends, and how to most effectively make people understand how it unfolds. So writing my LSD paper, I was telling the story of a naturalized ideology in America and Europe, and writing about folklore and literature, I want to tell the story of a series of failed narratives and how they contribute to a successful one. I've been emphasizing that my M.A. thesis will need to start as intellectual history before I launch into my own theory of folklore and literature, and I think that's why. I think that the place to start is in the 1840s with William Thoms, because the story of folklore and literature is one that not a whole lot of people know, and it's one that I think is valuable to understanding what has happened with the topic since Dorson's article in 1957.

But I ramble, and this is not something that I can seriously start working on, at least until next semester, when hopefully I'll be doing an independent study. Right now, I have to write a paper on tradition and disciplinarity and folklore, and I need to figure out where to begin that and what I want to say. I think that I want to talk about how folklore has been dependent on a certain, "romantic," view of what tradition is, and that a change in that view toward tradition as constructed in the present has led to a shift in the practice of folklore. If we hold to the "romantic" view, for instance, collections of texts without context make sense, because we want to study those things that are enduring, not ephemeral. If we view tradition as constructed in the moment, however, issues of "enduring" and "ephemeral" melt away and it makes a lot more sense to study individual performances. I just have to figure out how to write that in a reasonable amount of space, and I should be great.

Anyway, off to write...

posted by Adam on 9:04 AM.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Folklore and Literature [Revisited]

Alright. So I just emailed one of the professors here and asked her if she would let me do an independent study next semester on the intellectual history of folklore and literature. I explained to her my history with the subject and that I want to write an M.A. thesis on it, and asked her if she would help me out. What I want to do is concentrate on non-theoretical material (material that actually addresses specific pieces of folklore and literature), and on scholarship from the second half of the nineteenth / first half of the twentieth centuries. I know the theoretical scholarship, and I know most of the non-theoretical scholarship done in the past 40 years. It's the earlier stuff that I'm weakest on, and I figured out a few days ago that when I actually write this thing, I want to start it by covering the history of ideas about the subject. It would be nice to put a human spin on what will end up turning into a very theoretical enterprise. And besides, if I do this thing, I can hopefully turn any paper that I write for her next semester in to this fabled first part of my thesis. And that'd be very nice.

Well anyway, I'm off to go back to reading. I just started a book called Faces in the Clouds which theorizes that anthropomorphism is the central force of religion, and that it is, in fact, a survival mechanism. The author builds on Paschal's Gamble and makes the assertion that for man, it is a better bet to assume that the world is anthropomorphic (or at least animistic) than to assume that it is inanimate. It is better to mistake a boulder for a bear, in other words, than to mistake a bear for a boulder. Very interesting stuff. I'll write about how it turns out eventually.

posted by Adam on 10:13 PM.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003


Alright, if any of you out there know where I can put my hands on a copy of The Interpretation of Fairytales by Bengt Holbek, I would be so very very grateful. Apparently, it's out of print, and massively so. There are no copies available through any of the online bookstores, and the folklore section of the only used bookstore in town (a big folklore section) didn't have it. Argh! I really want my own copy of that, especially since it's on four hour reserve in the library... I guess there's high demand.

In other news, I went out and bought two new books tonight. I got Deep Down in the Jungle by Roger Abrahams and The Savage Mind by Levi-Strauss. The first one should be a fun read, and the second one should be miserable, but it's really important and I'm ashamed that I've never read it. Oh well.

Anyway, off to study, but if anybody can get me a copy of that book, I'd be your friend forever!

posted by Adam on 9:26 PM.

Monday, October 13, 2003


Dude, we talked about Dundes' International Folkloristics in F516 today. Chantal and I were sitting and smirking and not contributing as other people in the class gave their opinions on what Dundes' definition of folklore is, why he chose the people he chose, and whether the book constitutes an autobiographical construction (an intellectual geneology). It was so strange because I know what he thinks about the book. I've talked to him at length about it. Moreover, the only other people with whom I've talked about the book are people who have also talked to him at length about it. So to hear people who don't know him make these outrageous (and not so outrageous) claims about what he thinks based on the book is really interesting.

Moreover, as we were talking, it occured to me that really, it is not his intellectual geneology, or rather, it is, but only in part. He didn't include a bunch of people I know have been important to him, and who I would have included if I were writing his intellectual biography (as opposed to autobiography). He didn't include Francis James Child, or Franz Boaz, or E. Tang Christiansen, or Stith Thompson, or Archer Taylor. Most of these, I think, he left out because they were American, although in my mind, Thompson or Child or Taylor seem much better representitives of America on the international scene than Kenny Goldstein. Especially Taylor, I think, because he wouldn't be the obvious choice, and yet he has been so influential.

posted by Adam on 9:13 PM.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

I return!

Alright, I'm back, and so much has happened, that I don't know quite where to start. AFS was great, and seeing the people there (especially the Berkeley people) really renewed my excitement about folklore. I've been feeling a little bit ambivolent about the subject recently (because of F501 problems, among other things), but I came to a bunch of decisions at AFS that make me feel a lot better.

First, on the more profound end, I've decided that I won't let myself be pushed around academically. It's my education and ultimately, the only person I have to answer to is me. This means that I can still draw on the group of scholars in whom I have been inrerested in the past. I can still write about Holbeck and Zipes, Susan Stewart, Greimas, Althusser, Lacan, etc. Just because my professors are interested in performance and what I consider to be a primarily descriptive and functionalist approach to folklore doesn't mean that I have to be. I can be interested in narratology, semiotics, and psychoanalytic approaches to folklore if I want. I can be interested in European folklore scholarship...

Which leads me to a pair of practical decisions. I've figured out what my first paper for F501 is going to be about, and I've figured out part of the second as well. The topic of the first has me taking key points from two of the topics we have covered so far in the class and writing about their relationship. I think that I am going to write about the nature of tradition and the construction of discipline (or maybe the concept of 'the people') as they relate to folklore. I am going to talk about the in-class reading, but I am also going to talk about Susan Stewart's Crimes of Writing, Zipes, Foucault, Henry Glassie's All Silver No Brass, Elizabeth Harries and Bill Ellis (among others) as they relate to the topic. I am also interested not only in discussing contemporary theories on how these concepts are constructed, but also the past theories to which they respond. One of the problems that I have had in that class is that we treat folklore as though all there is theoretically is what is currently popular, and I intend to remedy that. I figure that in the next couple of days, I'll run some ideas by the professors and see what they think...

As for the second paper, the topic is to choose one topic covered in class and discuss two books, one folklore and one ethnomusicology, in relation to it. I don't know what topic I will choose for this one, but I would really like the folklore book I choose to be either Metamorphosis by Francisco Vaz de Silva, or something that I like equally. I don't know about the ethnomusicology book, but I'm sure I'll come up with something...

But enough about my epiphanies, I should talk about the conference itself. I had a blast. It was great to hang out with all the Berkeley people again, and good to see some Indiana people there too. My paper went as well as I expected, but then I knew that my audience would most likely not get it, being that I was in a popular culture panel. And my paper definitely did stick out like a sore thumb, being where it was. Two people talked about the cultural context of D.I.Y., one did an ethnography of school lock-ins, one discussed her public work on Las Vegas, and then there was me with this really theoretical paper about legends and very little popular culture to be seen. I got a couple of good suggestions, though, and one of the people who saw it turned out to be the husband of the editor of Contemporary Legend, and later told me that she would like to publish my paper in that journal. That would be really neat, I think.

And then there was the rest of the conference (which was not my paper, but was a lot of fun). Like I said, I did a lot of hanging out with Berkeley people, but I also met a lot of other interesting people, including Jack Zipes, whom I asked to sign a copy of one of his books for me (I felt really goofy). There was a lot of drinking and a lot of staying up late and talking about folklore, and overall, I must say that I'm a little bit sad it's over. I am, however, glad to be back. I missed Sarah, and I think that with a new, refreshed attitude, school will go better.

But now, I must go. Sleep beckons. It's been a long week. (Sorry if this post has been incoherent. I've had 20 hours of sleep in the last 120...)

posted by Adam on 6:23 PM.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

I must have made a wrong turn at...

Alright. The time has come for me to leave for Albuquerque. I'm going to go and have a quick breakfast at the Uptown Cafe, which I have not yet tried, but which I'm told is excellent, then I'm off to the airport in Indi, where I will fly to Denver, and from Denver to lovely sunny New Mexico. I'm a little bit nervous. It'll be fun though. Albuquerque is supposed to be lovely this time of year and all will be good. My friend Peggy who used to live there gave me a list of places to eat, all of which she says are excellent. So I'm off, and I'll write again when I get back, if not sooner... but probably not sooner. Bye all!

posted by Adam on 9:25 AM.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Vroom vroom!

Alright, so I went and got my car fixed today. It turns out that I had a bent wheel and an alignment problem, and that was why my car screeched when I turned too sharply. I also needed 4 new tires, which I had already guessed, and I needed to get my transmission fluid and coolent changed. So I did all that, and it came out to be a giant sum of money, but now my car drives like new. It feels like it's suspended more firmly than it has been in as long as I can remember. So I'm satasfied. I think that I could have had it done more cheeply if I went to Firestone rather than the Toyota dealership, but I trust the Toyota people more, so I think it was worth it. Now, as far as I know, I'm good to go for the winter. Now all I need is a squeegee and some way to get the ice off my windshield.

In other news, I'm so hungry. This fast is not turning out well at all. I guess that hunger inspires repentance, though, so maybe it's doing its job...

posted by Adam on 2:11 PM.


Ach. It's seven in the morning, and already, I'm hungry... This is going to be a long fast. I'm counting on the fact that I have a million things to do today to get me through this thing. I need to go get my car serviced, then while I'm there, finish my W.W.A. that I'm going to turn in today, then come home and print it, then go drop it off, then go to the library (if there's time), then go to class from 4 until 8:30. I'm trying to decide whether I want to break my fast before I go to class. If I don't, I'll be pretty incoherent for those last four and a half hours...

On other food issues, I made a pretty good dinner last night. I started by steaming artichokes and corn together, which turned out really good. In fact, it turned out great. I added a whole lemon (juiced), three crushed cloves of garlic, a bunch of wine, salt, pepper, and two whole dried hot chiles to the water, which made the final taste of the artichoke, and especially the corn, interesting and complex. Then I made breaded chicken, but not the way that I usually make it. This time I just covered it in seasoned flour and cooked it in some of the butter in which we had been dipping the artichokes until it was golden brown. That too came out really well. About half way through, I added a little bit of rosemary, which made it really good. The next time I do it, that will be my first step toward making an oven brazed chicken, which I saw on the food network, only with rabbit, and which looked out of this world.

Anyway, enough about food. I'm miserable enough without having to think about it. I'm going to go and comb my hair and such and get ready to take my car in. Hopefully the servicing doesn't take too long and I have plenty of time to print my paper and turn it in. I figure that if I get there at eight, there's no way that they can keep it past noon, and that I won't leave here to go turn stuff in until 3 (my class is at four), so I have time...

posted by Adam on 7:00 AM.

Sunday, October 05, 2003


Is it 6:36 or 5:36 on the West Coast? I can never tell. Since we don't have daylight savings, I don't know whether we're still in central time or whether we've moved into eastern time. Will somebody tell me when the time changes in the rest of the world? Well, whatever... all I know is that it's early for a Sunday.

Anyway, so last night Sarah and I went to see Matchstick Men which was so good. I don't usually like Ridley Scott's epic nonsense, so I think that this was a really good change. Nick Cage was excellent as a neurotic, Sam Rockwell, as always, was great, and Alison Lohman passed very well as a 14 year old, which is very odd, because I had thought she would be entirely too hot for the part. But no. She was perfect. The movie was really clever and the twist was pretty clever, although I had most of it figured out about halfway through the movie. Sarah said she thought that the con was too complicated to be realistic, but then I reminded her of how complicated The Spanish Prisoner was, and it sort of changed her opinion. This movie inevitably draws comparisons to The Spanish Prisoner for me, which is why it will always be second best, I guess... Oh! But I almost forgot about Fran Kranz (of Swordswallowers and Thinmen fame). During the movie, I wondered when he would show up. I thought I had missed him, but then there he was in the last scene of the movie. It wasn't much of a part, but he was good.

Well, I think that's it. Today I need to wash clothes and write W.W.A.s, because I didn't write any yesterday. I also need to read my paper out loud again, and if I have time, go to the library. Tomorrow morning, I'm going to go and get my car serviced, and then, hopefully, I'll make it back for class at four (if it takes from 8:00am until 4:00pm to service my car, I'll be pissed). And then tuesday, I'm leaving for Albuquerque! Yay! Go me! So now I'm off.

posted by Adam on 8:36 AM.


Is it 6:36 or 5:36 on the West Coast? I can never tell. Since we don't have daylight savings, I don't know whether we're still in central time or whether we've moved into eastern time. Will somebody tell me when the time changes in the rest of the world? Well, whatever... all I know is that it's early for a Sunday.

Anyway, so last night Sarah and I went to see Matchstick Men which was so good. I don't usually like Ridley Scott's epic nonsense, so I think that this was a really good change. Nick Cage was excellent as a neurotic, Sam Rockwell, as always, was great, and Alison Lohman passed very well as a 14 year old, which is very odd, because I had thought she would be entirely too hot for the part. But no. She was perfect. The movie was really clever and the twist was pretty clever, although I had most of it figured out about halfway through the movie. Sarah said she thought that the con was too complicated to be realistic, but then I reminded her of how complicated The Spanish Prisoner was, and it sort of changed her opinion. This movie inevitably draws comparisons to The Spanish Prisoner for me, which is why it will always be second best, I guess... Oh! But I almost forgot about Fran Kranz (of Swordswallowers and Thinmen fame). During the movie, I wondered when he would show up. I thought I had missed him, but then there he was in the last scene of the movie. It wasn't much of a part, but he was good.

Well, I think that's it. Today I need to wash clothes and write W.W.A.s, because I didn't write any yesterday. I also need to read my paper out loud again, and if I have time, go to the library. Tomorrow morning, I'm going to go and get my car serviced, and then, hopefully, I'll make it back for class at four (if it takes from 8:00am until 4:00pm to service my car, I'll be pissed). And then tuesday, I'm leaving for Albuquerque! Yay! Go me! So now I'm off.

posted by Adam on 8:36 AM.

Saturday, October 04, 2003


So I read through my AFS paper, out loud and with a clock this morning. And start to finish, it reads at exactly 19 minutes. Perfect. The problem is that I was reading pretty fast, and I had a couple of places where I really stumbled. The quickness part, I think, will be inevitable when I read it next week, since I do need to cover the whole thing. The stumbling part, on the other hand, is something that I'll need to fix. I guess that practice is the only way to accomplish that. I'll have to read it a couple of times a day until the conference starts. I figure that I'll read it one more time today, at least once tomorrow and monday, and then tuesday night in my hotel room before anybody else gets to Albuquerque. And if that doesn't prepare me, then I'll just have to accept that I suck at reading out loud (which I do) and go on with my life...

But anyway, now on to the rest of my day. I need to read two articles and write W.W.A.s today (I'll do one other one tomorrow), and if I have time, I need to go to the library and make copies of my readings for Myth. I figure that I can do that tomorrow, though, or if worst comes to worst, I can do it the first monday I'm back from AFS. The problem is that for that week, I'll have my myth readings, my teaching folklore assignment, and my 501 readings (plus W.W.A.) due, and I won't really have a whole lot of time to do it at the conference (or at least I hope I won't). So that leaves airplane flights to read shit. Go me. Because I get ever so much out of reading academic stuff on flights... but what can you do...

posted by Adam on 10:44 AM.

Friday, October 03, 2003

The morning's happenings.

Aight folks. I went to see the professor of my F501 class about the weekly writing assignments on which I've been getting killed, and here is what he said:

  • We don't think that you've been reading very carefully

  • Your assignments seem more like a list of "what is interesting to Adam in the articles" than they do a critical summary

  • Be more careful with your proof-reading

  • Talk about the articles in relation to other readings from the class, not outside readings

Some of it seems like good advice, some of it I don't agree with, I certainly don't think that I haven't been reading carefully... So here's what I'm going to do next week. I'm going to start my assignment by writing a brief summary of the overall main ideas of the article. Then I'm going to outline the article like I've been doing. Then my critical paragraph is going to emphasize connections to the rest of the week's readings. Oh yeah, and I'm not going to talk about aspects of the article that I find interesting, just because they interest me. In other words, I'm going to try to make these as boring as possible. That seems like it should help.

The other thing that he told me was that I could turn in my assignment for next wednesday early, as I won't be there on wednesday. So I'd better get reading...

Anyway, in other news, I went to the Laughing Planet--a burrito place that everyone raves about--for lunch today. It was good. Not great, but good. Definitely not Mexican burritos, but that's to be expected. It's more of a hippy burrito joint. They have a lot of peacenik and environmentalist stuff on the walls. It's kind of cute. This place tries so hard to be a bastion of liberalism...

But yeah. That's really it. I have a draft of a conclusion that I like for my paper, so I'm going to go finish that up, then I'm going to do my reading for F501 so I can write and get that in by monday afternoon. It'll be goood for me in the long run to have one fewer W.W.A. to do. I know it will...

posted by Adam on 1:16 PM.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Oh Yeah!

Oh yeah! If anybody out there knows how to cite archival sources in the Chicago Manual of Style format, please tell me. Thanks!

posted by Adam on 2:19 PM.


Alright. So I times myself reading my paper out loud, and I came in at 16.5 minutes. Of course, I still don't have a conclusion and I was reading pretty fast, but I don't think that's bad. I think that if I slowed down and read without stumbling, it'd probably have left me at about 17.5 minutes, giving me a good 2.5 minutes for a conclusion. So I'll write a couple of paragraphs worth of conclusion and leave it at that. If I get cut off at the end, that'll be okay too. I figure that I've said most of what I want to say by the time I finish talking about Bart Simpson anyway. But the point is that if things go well, I'll be done with this damned thing tonight and have some time to practice before I read, which will definitely be good. Don't want to go up there never having read through the final version out loud, you know...

posted by Adam on 2:15 PM.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

As mornings go...

As mornings go, this hasn't been a very good one. I feel like I've spent the morning being kicked around by the folklore department and its members. First, in 501, I decided that I would not turn in a W.W.A. this week (it was optional) because I got the one from last week back, and I got a check minus on it (for the second time in a row). The first time this happened, I thought "Maybe I deserve it. It was a little bit rushed and lax," but this time, I'm really pissed. I spent a lot of time on this thing and thought that I did a pretty good job--thought that I did it the way that they wanted it. But apparently not. So I'm going to go see one of the professors for the class and find out exactly what they want and what I did wrong before I turn in another one. From the comments on this one, I didn't really feel like they thought I deserved a check minus, so we'll see why that happened. (For those who don't know, by the way, a W.W.A. is a weekly writing assignment in which we have to summarize three of the articles that we've read and provide critical comments. Doesn't sound hard, right?)

And then I got out of class, got to the library, checked my email, and got this message:

Dear Adam,

Upon their review, the Graduate Affairs Committee ranked the applications submitted for the COAS Graduate Student Travel Grants.  Although the Committee viewed your application as having considerable merit, it was not possible to endorse it to the College due to the fact there were applications that were ranked higher.

That too pisses me off. I can understand it if it's about seniority in the department, but whether it is or not isn't clear from the message. If they chose not to endorse my application (pass it on to the university administration) because they thought that my paper topic was inappropriate or didn't deserve funding, I would be positively livid. I guess that I won't find out one way or another, though, so to preserve my sanity, I'll have to assume the former. But either way, it kind of makes me feel unwelcome here, and a little bit like the department doesn't think that I have what it takes. Overall, like I'm not getting a whole lot of support and encouragement. At the very least, it would have been nice had they endorsed the application, passed it along, and let the university-level administrators decide whether or not to give me money. But oh well. No use crying over spilt milk, I suppose.

But then, as if to rub salt in my wounds, I got yet another email this morning, too, saying: If you are attending this year’s AFS conference, the department needs volunteers to operate a small table during the Indiana Alumni Reception. Well, if they won't even provide the possibility of receiving a grant for my travel expenses, then sure, I'm likely to volunteer to work for them while I'm in Albuquerque. Two words: Bull Shit.

Boy, I sound bitchy this morning. I guess that serieses of events in which you are mistreated does that to you. But now to forget about all that and get to work. And there is definitely work to be done, so now on with it!

posted by Adam on 12:28 PM.

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