Friday, January 25, 2008

All Week I've Been Writing this Blog

At least I've been writing it in my head. Been meaning to post something, especially now that I have the subscription button to the right. Have to give the people something of value for their time. (however, I am amused by the "subscribe to the Idea of Order" -- I subscribe to lots of ideas; not all of them are real).

So, I had planned a big bit about politics, but I'm not in the mood right now. Then I thought about talking about movies (what a surprise). I was also going to add to my many reasons "why I'm glad I'm not in the military" because I had to be a character witness Wednesday night for an Honor Board. But, that too, shall wait.

However, I will exclaim my reunion with Miss Moira who has popped up from Ohio to say hello. I knew this blog was good for something. I was very happy to hear from her and we have exchanged some e-mails.

What I will talk about (instead of talking about talking) was that I had a great day of teaching. Both classes were lively. My class blogs are hopping. One of their tasks was to come up with a name for their group. One decided on "dirty paper" because it came from a Carl Sandburg quote something to the effect of "I don't write poetry. I dirty paper."

I also taught them the word "scatological." I expect this to circulate in their vocabulary very soon now. It's so pleasing to have a captive audience. Teachers are, indeed, stifled comedians after all.

In one class we talked about "what is art" and then "what is good art?" and "what is great art?"
This reminded me of a statement I heard from poet and writer, James Dickey, many years ago (he gave a commencement speech at my college -- his sister-in-law worked in one of the offices). The difference between a good poet and a great poet is this:

A good poet will put something down and your reaction will be "now, I have often thought this same thing many times, but this person has a particularly nice way of saying it."

On the other hand, the reaction to a great poet is "never, in a million years, would I have ever thought about that."

I think that's a pretty insightful distinction.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Best Laid Plans, etc. etc

After a full day and then half-falling asleep in front of the Lehrer New Hour (what is it about their soothing PBS voices?), I hit my second wind. I decide to pop back on the computer to do some work. You know that trick you do with yourself when the last thing you want to do is work. Oh, I'll just write a little paragraph. Just a smidgen of a thought to get this project rolling again. Then, I find myself with seven pages open and I'm writing people all over the place. The QOE gave me a link about setting up a subscription process for my blog. Viola! 'tis to the right of this post.

However, you know you are getting old when you sit there and say "hmmm, what do they mean by 'feed' anyway. What is this funky moon language??"

Hours have flown by. And now Project Runway is coming on. I would have put in one of my Netflix movies to multi-task (MUST get all the movies I can for a month) but everything I have is subtitled. That really puts a damper on multi-tasking.

And if I can't find someone to go with me to see No Country for Old Men, I am going to scream. Anyone want to catch the 930 show?? It's only playing at that time and that's a sign that it probably won't be back next week.

I miss all my movie buddies. It used to be that I had friends who would go see any kind of crap with me. Moira would see anything -- the blockbusters and the arthouse (though she had a secret penchant for disaster movies). Jill would see arthouse but it couldn't be gory and I would tolerate romantic comedies at times (so, arthouse romance). I could always count on Kate and Gene to see the science fiction stuff. And my friend, Abel, whom I have not talked to in years (I do blame 911 and the fact that I was a jerk the last time I saw him) would see almost any crappy show (we went to see a matinee of Barb Wire and it was like going into a porno theater. It was just the two of us and men, sitting by themselves scattered throughout). Sometimes I can drag Ken to see something but only if he really wants to see it (and if it's really, really popular, he doesn't want to see it. GAR!).

I also used to go to the movies by myself. When I lived in London, I think I hit all the theatres in that town, watching all sort of obscure stuff (and once, while watching Grosse Point Blank, a guy two seats down thought that by touching my leg with his sock clad feet that I would fall in love with him.). But the idea of going to a movie theater by myself that late is just not as appealing to me as it once was.

Aren't I a sad sack??

Monday, January 14, 2008


A heavy wet snow has blanketed my town. The trees look lovely. I'm dreading the shoveling, however. Thankfully this did not interfere with teaching. The roads should be clear by tomorrow's class.

So, class went well on Friday. The afternoon session was a little draggy, but we will make do. The morning class was surprisingly lively. They had a good time with the exercise I planned for them. We did mad libs with two Dickinson and one Stevens poem. We also listened to a Billy Collins poem on Youtube. I think they, like the Queen, surprised themselves that they were enjoying poetry. As I told them, "you don't like every kind of music, do you? Well, there's a poem out there that you will like." Students seemed to loosen up a bit. I think it will be a good semester. Now, if I can only get my work done.

Been listening to the Breeders, a blast from the past. Just watched volume three of Mushishi and the second volume of a Korean trilogy, Oldboy (manga by Dark Horse). I first heard about this Korean hit when they mentioned it in context of the Virginia Tech shootings. Apparently, the nutcase liked the film, posed with a hammer (which the protagonist uses). This prompted a brief slew of "media causes violence!!" outcries. Of course, I had to see what the fuss was. The movie was okay. I really liked Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance better which was I found more gruesome and funnier. Reminded me a little of Kurosawa's film, High and Low.

Hopefully snow won't interfere with my birthday plans. If you are in New London on the last weekend of January, let me know. We can meet up and listen to some music, have a drink. There's always a lot going on -- art, music, and food at the Salon des Independants.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


It must be because I have a lot to think about and not much time to do so, because these past holidays absolutely exhausted me. And yet, the moment my head hits the pillow, the race is on. There's music playing in the background. I have several conversations with myself, at the same time. And then I begin to review every time I ever humiliated myself in front of another person -- the midnight march of shame! Happily, though, I'm too busy to fully enter the abyss.

My first day of teaching is tomorrow and I am woefully unprepared. I had to go to meetings all week, including one very blood pressure raising one, and a lot of other work to do. For the first day, I want to do something fun. One benefit (or drawback) of teaching where I do, noone drops so it's not like I need to scare anybody off. Perhaps I'll do mad libs with poetry. We'll see and I'll report back.

On the plus side, I'm getting very excited by my manga article that I've talked about here before. I've learned a lot. Also, I've been invited to join the board of the journal, Mechademia. This is really great news and I'm deeply honored. However, since I'll be working on submissions, it's kinda weird having one of my own pieces in the system, knowing that all the other people I work with have the chance to read, comment, and accept/reject. Thankfully, I won't see it (now can you see why I'm anxious?).

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Fun with Japanese Toys

Why do I feel the need to purchase this for Elena?

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Splurge

It's been a long time since I've felt I could walk into a bookstore and just buy everything I wanted. Ah, I miss the days when I had no bills and no debts. However, Borders was having a buy four, get the fifth free graphic novel deal. Probably better deals elsewhere (I'm sure Gene will point me the way), but if you figure I saved twenty bucks and got five books, not too shabby, eh?

So, here is what I got (and no, not much manga, oddly enough -- too cheap per volume to make it a truly sweet deal. And they were out of the Tezuka titles that I wanted).

I got Moore and O'Neill's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Black Dossier which just came out. I did read it last night, obsessively. Even all the fine print (perhaps, don't read if you don't want to be spoiled). What I liked: I always dig Moore's multi-media format. I like the text stories and the parodies of the ephemera of a past that may have never existed (especially funny was the short porn piece about sex in a 1984 scenario). I even liked the 3-D effect which could have come off as gimmicky (as is 3-D's claim to fame but the "third eye" on the viewing glasses was cheeky).

What I didn't like: I know that some of my gentle readers will really like this volume so at the risk of being contrary, gosh darnit, tell a story. It became too much like a game of "do I recognize this literary or famous personage" which is fun, I'll admit. At least my million dollar education can do something for me. But, it gets tiresome when that seems to take the place of narrative. It's an endless borrowing of other people's narratives. Just a bit too meta for even a meta-lover like myself (whoops, almost wrote meat-lover -- keep it clean kids). Elements come together in this volume that I have detected in other Moore's works. What I liked in From Hell were the grand visions which seemed to be the conspiratorial, yet maybe true, ravings of a madman. I like that dance of maybe, maybe not. Or the phenomenal apocalypse at the end of Promethea which was definitely in service to a story (or stories -- maybe even THE story). Also the references to big brother and politics, as in V for Vendetta and even Watchmen are really cool, but such an afterthought in this current volume. All in all, I'm disappointed.

Okay, what else have I bought but not really read yet. One I know that Gene has the Saturday works of "Dream of the Rarebit Fiend" by Winsor McKay. I figured I needed that on my bookshelf. Maybe I'll even hurt some students' brains with it later this semester.

I bought Ware's Best American Comics 2007 because I'm tired of teaching Maus and wanted to see if this is something I can use. (why, oh why can't Persepolis be better than it is? Don't get me started although I will probably see the movie).

Also, Adrian Tomine's Shortcomings. I never really got into Optic Nerve but after flipping through this book, seemed mildly interesting. I suppose I'm tired of the quiet, pseudo-autobiographies that dominated a lot of comics work for a while, with the exception of Fun Home. (In general, this has been my attitude: "quit your bitchin' and drink your coffee").

And finally, for the comics 5 for 4 price, I bought Exit Wounds by Rutu Modan which is set in Israel. Also, a possibility for teaching and something different.

I re-applied for that summer teaching course about pop culture, but I'm hoping I'll be considered for the graphic novel course. It's good to dig into what's out there for now.

I also bought two volumes of poetry (another New Year's resolution is to buy more poetry). One is of Iraq war veteran Brian Turner, who visited my campus last year. Really good, moving, crying stuff. I gave that to my neighbor in thanks for being a surrogate parent to my animals ("here is my gift to you, something that will make you cry") The second was Mary Oliver's latest volume. If you haven't read any of her work, you are missing out, buddy.

Last, but not least, in service to my manga article, I purchased the magazines, Shonen Jump, and Shojo Beat. Jump was good and am considering to subscribe. Beat, less interesting (did you know that my astrological fruit is the grape? Don't you feel better that you know that?).

Well, it felt good to drop a chunk of change at the bookstore. All this working must be good for something at least. I'm beat.

Props to my friends

I just want to tell everybody reading this to check out A. Hunt's epic webcomic, Goodbye Chains, in the link to the right. She just got a new artist and I've really enjoyed the non-verbal pages recently put up. Do yourselves a favor and click.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The New Year

Still feels like the old year. I suppose this will last until I stop crossing out the wrong dates on my checks. Hmm...maybe a resolution will be to set up online payments.

Speaking of resolutions, I do like to make them. However, I try to make them reasonable. For instance, I resolve that when I see a person I know but can't remember his or her name, I am going to confess this fact. It's better to be a little socially awkward in the beginning than flee from them in a public place. I mean, what's the worst that could happen? "You don't remember me? I gave you the heimlich maneuver last week when you were choking!" Then again, if I met someone who saved my life, I'd be tempted to run away. The obligations would just be too great.

Now, to catch up -- the eve was quiet which was good because I've been socializing way too much lately. Very fun but I get tired easily. This is nothing against my lovely visitors, Kate and Gene, who came up last weekend and made me Sunday breakfast, nor is this a comment on my lovely hosts, Steph and Bernie, who threw a swell shindig Saturday night. I'm just an introvert by nature, and I like solitude to punctuate periods of socializing. That being said, however, I welcome any invitations this new year!