Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"In Praise of Bones"

I am cleaning up some bookmarks and files on my home computer (as this mini-flurry of posts might indicate) and found this last one: "In Praise of Bones." It's a pretty good explanation of why Bones is worth watching--and a lot of fun.

My favorite part: "If Bones is the kind of show that is largely ignored by the critical establishment because it is neither particularly original nor creative, it still performs an under-appreciated but essential service: to be entertaining without being stupid, to be soothing without being boring, predictable without being unsatisfying. In short, to be a comfort, both comfortable and comforting. Bones is a show about quirky people who do a strange job while talking about how weird their feelings are, and it all adds up to something supremely, lovably regular."

I've been a Bones fan from the start, but felt my affections wane a bit this season. However, the last few episodes won me back--even (especially?) the two big developments in last week's finale:

1) Angela and Hodgin's baby being born--and healthy! Lord, I even got a bit choked up!

2) The Booth/Bones baby revelation. I literally said, "No way!" out loud, then was about to call "BS!" but darn it if Booth's smile at the news didn't sell me on it. Although I find David Boreanaz a lot less appealing after his sordid personal scandals, Booth is still such a great character and that smile and his chemistry with the fabulous Emily Deschanel is quite winning. The baby storyline is a pretty bold move for the writers to make, but I say good for them.

I was also reassured by an interview the executive producer gave right after the episode aired. Here's the especially relevant part for me (although the whole thing is worth reading):

TVLINE | What impact did Emily’s pregnancy have on this story? Would you have gone this route regardless?
Emily being pregnant certainly figured into it to a certain extent. But [series creator] Hart [Hanson] and I were leaning toward this independently of that. The biggest problem we faced going into Season 7 was how to get these two people together while keeping the integrity of Brennan and Booth’s characters in tact. By going this route, we didn’t have to have them go through the traditional love-dovey stage where everything was wonderful and they understood each other and they got past their differences. That’s never going to be the case. They now are together but are essentially the same exact characters. They’re going to disagree on everything they disagreed about before, including how to approach their lives together, religion, family and now how to approach having a child. So we lose nothing but gain a huge amount with the reality that they are now together sharing the biggest thing in their lives.

This makes a lot of sense to me. Can't wait for next season!

"Angela Chase...and 5 Other Deep TV Teens"

This is a pretty awesome list. Although I only watched one episode of Parenthood and didn't really care for it, I can totally get behind the other characters.

Campus construction and Walden

Every time I teach Walden and we get to the conclusion, we spend some time talking about this passage:

"I had not lived there a week before my feet wore a path from my door to the pond-side; and though it is five or six years since I trod it, it is still quite distinct. It is true, I fear that others may have fallen into it, and so helped to keep it open. The surface of the earth is soft and impressible by the feet of men; and so with the paths which the mind travels. How worn and dusty, then, must be the highways of the world, how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity!" 

I explain to students that when I read this section, I always think of a certain path on Roanoke's campus, back when I was an undergrad. Roanoke has all of these really lovely brick paths, but this particular path wasn't paved--it was a shortcut students made to sort of bisect an angle made by pre-existing paths. Over the years I was there, the landscapers would reseed that section, but soon enough, the grass would get trampled and that brown, worn-down (and sometimes muddy) path would reemerge. By my senior year, they gave up and put down bricks over that path. It certainly looked nicer than dead grass and mud, but it did feel like a defeat of sorts.

You can be pretty sure that if not for the "ruts of conformity," so to speak, the landscapers would have won that battle. But once a path is already there--once the grass is pretty much dead--it's much easier for students in a hurry to take that shortcut. (Yeah, I get that one could also say that getting off the paved path is defying conformity, but in this case, it's really not true. Only the non-conformists (and sometimes people in really nice shoes) stayed on that paved path.)

Well, now I have an even better example for my students (just in time, as my summer class will get to Walden next week): another group of landscapers have surrendered, this time on a path at near Shepherd's library. From my first week on campus, I wondered how long it would take...

The Afterlife of Edgar Allan Poe

Revising my essay on “The Black Cat” has led me to Scott Peeples’ The Afterlife of Edgar Allan Poe, a book that I read from cover to cover yesterday. (It’s that good and that well-written.) Basically, it’s a survey of Poe’s “afterlives,” or, as Peeples puts it, “a description of the most influential and widely debated ways of seeing Poe, a general survey of Poe studies from Griswold’s obituary to the year 2002.” Embracing the most academic of treatments to the campiest of horror films, Peeples’ study is a terrific trip through how Poe has been read and interpreted.

Here’s a good sampler, a fantastic quotation from a 1930 Aldous Huxley piece: “‘The substance of Poe is refined; it is his form that is vulgar. He is, as it were, one of Nature’s Gentlemen, unhappily cursed with incorrigible bad taste. To the most sensitive and high-souled man in the world we should find it hard to forgive, shall we say, the wearing of a diamond ring on every finger. Poe does the equivalent of this in his poetry; we notice the solicism and shudder….It is when Poe tries to make it too poetical that his poetry takes on its peculiar tinge of badness’” (qtd. in Peeples 64). (There’s a wicked little parody of Huxley doing Poe doing Paradise Lost, too.)

Anyway, a couple of pages later, Peeples adds, “Poe does wear his rings on every finger, which may be why Homer and Bart Simpson are among the most successful interpreter of his most famous poem” (66). That’s just good stuff.

Work Cited

Peeples, Scott. The Afterlife of Edgar Allan Poe. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2004.  

Monday, May 23, 2011

Adventures in research...

I'm spending this morning/afternoon doing some research in 19th-century periodicals, including Godey's Ladies Book. I must be getting punchy, because this article title made me laugh out loud: "Pleasing the Parish; Or the Minister's Wife." Yikes. (The article itself isn't that exciting...)

Update: Here's another good one: "Children--What Are They?"

Okay, maybe one more: "How I Came to Detest Babies!" (Yes, that exclamation point is part of the title.)

Signs of summmer...

Cats sunning themselves in the window...

It's much too early in the summer...

...to feel this stressed. Seriously. Yesterday it was almost overwhelming. The problem is that I am trying to tackle a half dozen projects, all with several phases/steps. The solution, I realized last night, is to go back to my "Goals for the Week" lists. Most of my friends know I  make daily (and very detailed) to-do lists, but I tend to only break out the weekly lists over breaks and summers. So here we go!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Another reason not to take students on field trips...

"High School Class Finds Body on Field Trip." Can you imagine the paperwork? (Yes, I have a bit of irrational fear about taking large groups of students on trips...)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

"Carolina In My Mind"

First song on my ipod this morning. Seems appropriate. I always get a longing to go back to Greensboro this time of year.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Wipeout Watching Rules

For Bing and Wes, featuring two photos taken last night between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m.:

Rule #1: Do not block the TV set. You are awesome, but transparency isn't one of your attributes. Don't get in the way of me and my Wipeout.

Rule #2: Don't judge me. I know what that look means, and I don't like it. I don't judge you when you play with balled up paper or run around the house at night screaming at nothing. Seriously, back off.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

"For a Girl I Know about to Be a Woman"

With graduation and good-byes on my mind, I found this poem last week and read it at the last Sigma Tau Delta poetry reading/open mic night of the semester, the one where we sort of bid farewell to our graduating seniors. It's not completely appropriate (most of the Sigma Tau Delta graduates are incredibly mature with good heads on their shoulders), but I figure most women (myself included!) can use the reminder that this poem gives us about the company we choose.

"For a Girl I Know about to Be a Woman"
Miller Williams

Because you’ll find how hard it can be
to tell which part of your body sings,
you never should dally with any young man
who does any one of the following things:

tries to beat all the yellow lights;
says, “Big deal!” or “So what?”
more than seven times a day;
ignores yellow lines in a parking lot;

carries a radar detector;
asks what you did with another date;
has more than seven bumper stickers;
drinks beer early and whiskey late;

talks on a cellular phone at lunch;
tunes to radio talk shows;
doesn’t fasten his seat belt;
knows more than God knows;

wants you to change how you do your hair;
spits in a polystyrene cup;
doesn’t use his turn signal;
wants you to change your makeup;

calls your parents their given names;
doesn’t know why you don’t smoke;
has dirt under his fingernails;
makes a threat and calls it a joke;

pushes to get you to have one more;
seems to have trouble staying awake;
says “dago” and “wop” and words like that;
swerves a car to hit a snake;
sits at a table wearing a hat;
has a boneless handshake.

You’re going to know soon enough
the ones who fail this little test.
Mark them off your list at once
and be very careful of all the rest.

That photo...

All politics aside (as if that's ever possible), this photo has fascinated me, as it has lots of folks. CNN has a pretty good article about it. My favorite part: "But look deeper and that photo becomes historic in a more subtle way. It's a snapshot of how much this nation's attitudes about race, women and presidential swagger are changing, several scholars and historians say."

Again, politics aside (and yeah, again, good luck with that), that's a pretty awesome development in American history.

Done! (For real!)

Just submitted my last set of grades. I am in a state of semi-disbelief, as they aren't actually due until Monday morning. Go me! Time for a bit of celebratin'. For some reason, this has been my anthem for the week. Not sure why, but I do like the sentiment.

No rest for the weary, though (well, not too much anyway). This weekend, instead of grading, I'll be concentrating on a couple of abstracts for SAMLA.

It won't be all work, though. Saturday is May Day in Shepherdstown and the Opera House is playing Jane Eyre, so I'll do my very best to squeeze in some fun.

And so it goes...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

"Kitchen Fable"

"Kitchen Fable" 
Eleanor Ross Taylor

The fork lived with the knife
     and found it hard — for years
took nicks and scratches,
     not to mention cuts.
She who took tedium by the ears:
     nonforthcoming pickles,
defiant stretched-out lettuce,
     sauce-gooed particles.
He who came down whack.
His conversation, even, edged.
Lying beside him in the drawer
     she formed a crazy patina.
The seasons stacked — 
     melons, succeeded by cured pork.
He dulled; he was a dull knife,
while she was, after all, a fork.

Almost done...sort of...

Just finished my last stack of papers. Now all that's left are the final exams, which start coming in tomorrow.