Monday, June 23, 2008


Because I have nothing new to report, I offer you these selections from Vladimir Nabokov's Pnin, which will most likely only be funny to grad students. Sorry, everyone else. Drunken escapades coming this weekend.

On the start of a new semester:

"Again in the margins of library books earnest freshmen inscribed such helpful glosses as 'Description of nature,' or 'Irony'; and in a pretty edition of Mallarme's poems an especially able scholiast had already underlined in violet ink the difficult word oiseaux and scrawled above it 'birds.'"

"And still the College creaked on. Hard-working graduates, with pregnant wives, still wrote dissertations on Dostoevski and Simone de Beauvoir. Literary departments still labored under the impression that Stendhal, Galsworthy, Dreiser, and Mann were great writers. Word plastics like 'conflict' and 'pattern' were still in vogue. As usual, sterile instructors successfully endeavored to 'produce' by reviewing the books of more fertile colleagues, and, as usual, a crop of lucky faculty members were enjoying or about to enjoy various awards received earlier in the year."

On teaching:

"You may laugh, but I affirm that the only way to escape from the to lock up the student in a soundproof cell and eliminate the lecture room."

"Tom thinks that the best method of teaching anything is to rely on discussion in class, which means letting twenty young blockheads and two cocky neurotics discuss for fifty minutes something that neither their teacher nor they know."

Seriously. I think I may try that soundproof cell idea. Regardless, Pnin is wonderful, a real joy to read. I strongly suggest everyone do so.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

No TV and No Beer Make Dubs Something Something

The other day on the phone, Quantum asked me what I've been doing with myself recently. Now, anything that I come up with is comparatively going to already be inferior to what they're doing out in New York, because those boys are crazy drunks, while I... am a slightly older, no-longer-quite-so-crazy drunk. Sadly, it occurred to me then that my days of having "hijinks" are diminishing. I'm not necessarily distraught about this, given that my last night of debauchery led to a bruised tailbone (that still hasn't completely healed), several unexplained cuts and bruises, and a cold that incapacitated me for several days. I wouldn't do anything differently, mind you; but I'll be the first to admit that my days are no longer filled with martinis, dizzying action, and seductive women of mystery secretly spying for foreign agencies (man, were those a crazy couple of months).

Of course, most of the blame for the more-sedentary lifestyle I've recently been enjoying stems from two factors. The first is that I somehow hurt my foot last week; I have no idea how, or when, but it pains me to walk. Given that my beloved Madison is a very pedestrian town, I've been ranging out less than usual (and given that I got snookered last Tuesday and walked home on said hurt foot in my drunkenness probably didn't help). Hopefully, this problem will have remedied itself by next weekend, when I venture to the great desolate wastes of upper Michigan for The Puncher's wedding and open bar extravaganza.

The second, and far larger problem, is my frighteningly growing addiction to serialized television on dvd. For this, I wholeheartedly and totally blame t., whose constant recommendations of truly excellent shows has crippled my work ethic these past few weeks. When I was on Deadwood, things would progress nicely; I'd work during the day, and watch one or two episodes at night. Then came the Dexter incident, wherein I watched all of Dexter season one in about three days. That's not the end of the world, given that the season was only 12 episodes long. But it whetted my appetite for the serial mystery in a way I haven't seen since Veronica Mars-gate 2006. Which set the conditions for the knockout punch:

Twin Peaks

Have you ever watched this show? Part soap opera, part mystery, part character study, part weird supernatural drama, part crack, part crystal meth. "Who killed Laura Palmer?" seems like a fairly straightforward question, right? Wrong, skippy. Dead wrong. This cursed show is a maelstrom of cracked out midgets and giants, ghosts, spooks, doughnuts, and unending mysteries, a vacuum that sucks you in and destroys your ability to function in the real world. On Sunday, I watched over eight hours of Twin Peaks, and I still didn't know who killed that damn girl. All I did know is that I really really really wanted a piece of cherry pie. That night, I couldn't sleep, because I was thinking about the show. I dreamed about it. I pondered it all the next morning, and I'm fairly certain I advised several students in the writing center that the owls were not what they seemed.

Anyway, my point is that I'm a sucker for serialized shows that constantly end in cliffhangers, and I'm a sucker for mysteries. So this show is like my holy grail. I've watched at least five episodes today, with another six or seven yesterday. Thanks be to Krishna, it ends after the second season, which I'm told gets increasingly poor right around the point I'm now at. I figure it'll be like getting to the poorly cut and most likely toxic cocaine after you've been flying high on the good stuff for a while; eventually I'll crash, run out, realize I've been poisoning myself, and have to go into withdrawl. I'll try to resume my life, my work, and reintegrate myself into polite society. I might get the shakes every once or twice, and sure, I may feel the temptation to rent Fire Walk With Me, but deep down I know there are no answers that way.

Which is for the best, really. Cause Deadwood season two is currently at the top of my netflix queue. And then The Wire is shortly after that, and I hear there are at least five seasons of that beast.

In other words, good luck finding me anytime this summer.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

St. Louis Blues

So a lot has happened since my last post. Here are some highlights:

-Went out and got snookered on my birthday. I am now 28 years old, with a slightly more damaged liver and a bruised tailbone. Still not sure how that happened.

-27 was a good year. I meant to write a reflective post on what happened during 27, but then I watched a lot of NewsRadio instead. I stand by my choice.

-I read the Dark Materials trilogy, which, despite its woefully uninformed critique of the Catholic Church, was somewhat entertaining. Though I'm somewhat skeptical that God could be defeated by what amounts to bow and arrow technology and zepplins. God forbid the Almighty be assailed by a squadron of F-15 Strike Eagles. They'd be able to conquer heaven before the echo faded.

-St. Louis is seriously the armpit of Lucifer himself. I've been home for a week, and there hasn't been a day when it's been less than 90 degrees with at least 60% humidity (often much more). I'm a fairly active person, so being cooped up inside the air-conditioned house all day every day has been quite maddening.

-I got to spend a lot of time with my parents. I love them. They are awesome. They go all out when I come home. And if I have to stay here one more day, I will most likely murder them in their sleep.

-On the plus side, I got a new suit for Cryptojew's wedding, so I won't feel like such a shlub (sp?).

-I also met a very nice 80 year old European tailor, who seems to be able to cut down my old new suit (old that I've had it for a year, new because I've never worn it because it was huge on me) to an appropriate size.

-Seriously. St. Louis sucks ass. I cannot emphasize that enough.

-I went to Chicago for the F15 10 year anniversary. Completely blew my voice out and got sick. But did an awesome rendition of "Any Way You Want It" at the karaoke bar.

-Discovered that tailbone injuries hurt like hell for a long time afterward. Especially when you're sitting for six hours in a car.

-Rewatched all of Heroes season one. Lamented the fact that season two ever happened. Eager still for season three.

-Lost finale. Awesome. Words cannot express the awesome.

-Started watching Deadwood. More swearing than I like to hear from a cadet in peacetime.

-I desperately want to play poker and/or euchre and/or whist when I get back to Madison. Someone needs to make this happen.

-Will require much drinking to forget the time spent in St. Louis. I get the impression this won't be a problem.

-Managed to piss away the first three weeks of summertime without doing really any work. I blame my cold, which completely nerfed my second week in which I had slated a lot of time to do work. Damn germs.

-That's all I got for now. Will be back tomorrow in Mad-city, so fun must recommence.