January
1st 2010
New Year’s round-up: lit & critters edition, yee-haw!

Posted under: conferences, fluff, unhappy endings, weirdness

elvgrenlibraryHappy New Year, friends, cowgirls, and countrymen.  In a few hours, Historiann et famille are off on another jaunt to a nearby ski town–as you may remember, I don’t ski, so it’s a reading weekend for me.  I’m going to nix the digital communication and go all codex for the remainder of the weekend.  I’m deep into some good books (thanks, Homostorian Americanist and Monocle Man!) and want to enjoy some fiction before going back to my usual diet of extremely serious and self-important non-fiction.  So, I’ll direct you to some interesting bons mots and bibelots I found on the world-wide non peer-reviewed internets:

  • 2009 ended with some sad news in Roxie’s World:  Roxie, the world’s longest-lived terminal veternary patient, died on Wednesday, December 30.  Fortunately, Mark Twain showed up for the wake to give her a proper sendoff–go read, if your computer keyboard is tearproof.  We are glad her final days were so prolonged and that her final exit was mercifully quick.  Much love as always to Moose and Goose, Roxie’s human companions and typists.  We’ll have a cup of kindness tonight in honor of Roxie’s happy life and good death thanks to their loving care (and that of their good friend, Geoffrey.)
  • Tom at Romantoes was at the Modern Language Association’s annual meeting in Philadelphia this week, and he tells a story about his encounter with the real Philadelphia, one that brings me back to my grad school days there–not the Convention Center/Tourist Bureau/Chamber of Commerce-buffed version of Philly.  (By the way, Tom–are you sure that was a “mouse?”)  When Dr. Mister and I were on a trip to Florence way back in the previous decade, we saw extremely large rodents swimming in the Arno River every time we crossed the bridges (about 6 times a day, at least).  We finally asked of a passerby–in rather improvised Italian, what was that animal we saw in the river?  The answer we got was “topi.”  Ahhh, yes, of course:  topi, we said to each other.  (Until I remembered that my parents used to talk about “Topo Gigio” on the Ed Sullivan Show, who as I recalled, was a mouse.)  A guide for a bike tour set us straight:  the rodents were nutria, large South American rats that made their way over to Italy in bilgewater holds on ships.  (Topi, “mice,” is much more picturesque.)
  • Want more on the MLA?  See Dr. Crazy’s blow-by-blow account.  Frenemies!  Drunk dialing!  A regrettable book review!  She met up with Sisyphus and drank whiskey!  Best line (about that regrettable book review):  “I kind of feel like somebody else needs to write the book that the reviewer wishes I would have written. Maybe, in fact, the reviewer should do it, as the reviewer has not published a book.”  Oh, snnnnap!  Oh, no she di’int!  Oh yes she did!
  • Blake at Down & Out in Denver writes about how HGTV cultivates “sameness” in both its renovation and house hunting shows.  How is it, he asks, that everyone wants a house with “character,” but they all also want the same damn things (open floor plans, granite counters, stainless steel appliances, huge “sanctuary” master bedrooms with double-sinked bathrooms en suite), all of which make a house rather character-free precisely because of their ubiquity?  In the comments, there ensues a discussion of the virtues of dining rooms with actual walls.  (I had one, once upon a time:  it had a swinging door to the kitchen, a fireplace, and giant paneled pocket doors to the living room.  Best dining room ever– because we could keep the servants out when we wanted to gossip, and use it as a pretty grand home office when necessary.)

Let’s all hope we’re lurching into a decade of positive changes as we ring-a-ding-ding in a new year and a new decade.  The time is swift, and will be gone, friends–let’s try to be excellent to each other with the time we have left.

12 Comments »

12 Responses to “New Year’s round-up: lit & critters edition, yee-haw!”

  1. Dr. Crazy on 01 Jan 2010 at 9:08 am #

    You know, it occurs to me that I’m totally a throwback to the 20th century in that I still drunk dial – as opposed to drunk texting. I feel like one benefit of not drunk texting, though, is that there isn’t written proof of the idiotic things I had to say :)

    Happy new year to you and yours!

  2. Historiann on 01 Jan 2010 at 9:38 am #

    Back at you, Dr. Crazy. You’re right: it’s very retro of you to drunk dial. (How the heck can people drunk text? Don’t their words come out all misspelled because they’re just mashing their fingers on the keypad?)

  3. Indyanna on 01 Jan 2010 at 10:55 am #

    It’s called “drexting.” I just got one of those dancing visual messages on my phone saying that I was the 165 millionth person in America to have sent my “first-ever text message.” If it’s preserved in the archives, it will certainly look like I was “drexting.”

    Topo Gigio had the second highest Ed Sullivan “Gardner” audience rating numbers, right below the Beatles, of course, and just ahead of the Dave Clark Five. Don’t ask about the Rolling Stones.

    Have a good non-ski trip, Historiann. Don’t let anybody in your party try that “double cork” snowboarding thing that guy crashed on in Utah yesterday.

  4. Notorious Ph.D. on 01 Jan 2010 at 12:43 pm #

    Happy New Year, Historiann! I envy your reading weekend in the mountains. Sounds lovely. Catch you when you get back!

  5. Indyanna on 01 Jan 2010 at 1:15 pm #

    Yeah, ditto, and Happy Birthday also to this blog. It’s now entering the, what, terrible twos? Keep it terrible for the bad guyz, Historiann!!

  6. KoshemBos on 01 Jan 2010 at 1:43 pm #

    To complete the HGTV story one has to add that the house has to have a Big Room and size does matter the more squares the better, the kitchen has to be the size of a football field “because you need the counter space.” All complete crap. The marvelous grandmother cooking was done in small kitchen with minimal counter space. Eating was done on a terribly crowded tables with a large family having a great time. (And if you black, Jewish or Italian in very loud voices).

    When you have a phone call with a close friend who lives far away, email and text are a non funny joke.

  7. GayProf on 01 Jan 2010 at 2:09 pm #

    I like the idea of a ski vacation that doesn’t involve actually getting out to ski. Just sit me next to the fire with a tumbler of bourbon and all will be just fine.

    Happy New Year, HistoriAnn!

  8. Roxie on 01 Jan 2010 at 8:30 pm #

    Aw, thanks, Historiann, and happy new year to you and yours. My slipping of the mortal coil was a bit of a holiday buzz kill (get it?) in my neck of the woods, but we’re feeling awfully grateful for all the love that’s been pouring in. Keep an eye on the moms, will you? They’re still feeling pretty sad. But stay tuned to Roxie’s World — Who knows what America’s favorite DEAD dog blogger will come up with from beyond the grave?

  9. perpetua on 02 Jan 2010 at 12:04 pm #

    @Koshem – I feel the same way about those ludicrously large “master suites” that *every* house has to have these days. And ditto bedrooms generally. All a person does in one’s bedroom is sleep and dress. Why need it be palatial? I grew up in a house with tiny bedrooms – we all had some privacy, but none involved walk in closets and spa-bathtubs. It’s so depressing to watch House Hunters or any other HGTV show and watch prospective homeowners saying again and again, “There’s just not enough space,” about an adequately-sized older house. And the kitchens with granite and stainless steel depress me with their cheery sameness.

    Historiann, it’s never too late to learn how to ski! I grew up in the snow and mountain free mid-Atlantic, and took to (cross-country) skiing while living in the west. Now I love it. But oops, now I’m back in the land of no-snow. But happy reading, fire-sitting, and hot-toddy-sipping!

    Your recap of Dr. Crazy’s experience at the MLA made me wish I were going to be sipping mojitos in San Diego this weekend with my frenemies, making snarky remarks about the new books.

  10. Indyanna on 02 Jan 2010 at 12:36 pm #

    c.f. the piece about “Capsule Hotel Shinjuku 510″ on the front page of today’s NY Times; with rows of tiny cubicles “just five feet wide” which would get raided as dog kennels even here in Pennsylvania, but which are housing thousands of homeless people in Japan. They might have Viking refrigerators and granite counters in the back there, though, it’s hard to tell from the accompanying picture. As the Duke of Chandos said, to a poor kinsman back in 1728 or so, “it’s all relative, baby.”

  11. cgeye on 02 Jan 2010 at 7:20 pm #

    Read it and weep, colleagues:

    http://chronicle.com/article/Missing-in-Action-at-the-MLA-/63276/

    Dr. Croxall has a good excuse for not attending the MLA, and at last people are listening… until they forget all about it when push comes to shove at a faculty meeting.

  12. Comrade PhysioProf on 03 Jan 2010 at 1:27 pm #

    (How the heck can people drunk text? Don’t their words come out all misspelled because they’re just mashing their fingers on the keypad?)

    Closing one eye seems to help.