Spectacles H. Decolonizing
27 August 2014 @ 12:01 pm
What do you know, it's been more than two years since I've posted here, and I'm only back to link you to this, because you, beloved if neglected friends, are precisely the people who need to see it.

Spectacles H. Decolonizing
One of my previous posts about what kinds of historical change might have surprised Captain America after he was woken up from a 70-year-long period of hibernation has gotten linked around enough that I'm a bit overwhelmed by comments from nice and enthusiastic people I've never met before. This is flattering, and I'm grateful, but ... OK, a couple of things.

So, first: hello! I'm glad you're here. I'm overwhelmed enough that I am not even going to try to respond to the types of queries about stuff that can easily be figured out with a little googling - you are going to have to take your hat-related questions elsewhere, I'm sorry to say.

Second, to sum up, because I seem to be repeating this a lot in responding to comments: It actually makes no difference to me at all whether you get the small details right (either marvel-canonical or historical.) I know it matters to you whether Captain America would have listened to 78s or 45s, or whatever, and that's great. But that wasn't my point here.

My point was that I keep reading fics which make two very very very wrong assumptions. First, they assume that Steve Rogers grew up in a sexually repressive place and time (particularly, a homophobic one.) Here, the fic writers are assuming that 1945 was just like 1955 - or else just assuming that the past was always all the same. No no no! 1945 was a lot more like, say, 1970 in terms of social mobility and relatively relaxed sexual mortality than it was like 1955. If you write fics in which Steve doesn't know where babies come from, or would punch any man who made a pass at him ... well, you are going to have to explain how it was that he came to be so out of step with just about everyone else in the military in 1945.

And the other wrong assumption made in some of these fics was that the most interesting things about the fic writer's lives in the present day (mostly sex, movies, music, computers and related devices - also, clothing) would also be the biggest surprises to thawed-out Steve Rogers. They might or might not be interesting and/or surprising to him, but they would be much, much less surprising to him than changes in racial hierarchy, gender hierarchy, social class, and economic structure. Those would truly shock a white American man who suddenly went from 1945 to 2010. (As they might shock a non-white American woman, for that matter.) How Steve reacts to all these changes is up to the fic writer, but to have him not even remark on having an African-American commanding officer while being gobsmacked by an iPad is, to me, silly enough that I'll back-button right out of a fic that does it.

So that's what I was trying to say. It's interesting to see so many people coming to have related conversations, and I encourage that! But I'd appreciate it if people would at least skim through the comments others have made first, so they're not repeating each other, and I would also appreciate it if people would link to this post rather than to any of the others. Here are the links for all of them:

First post, LJ version

First post, DW version

Second post, DW version

Second post, LJ version

All of them have some really great discussions going on, so please read through those comments!

Current Location: Mexico City
Current Mood: waaay too busy for this.
Current Music: now the Andrews Sisters have earwormed me
Spectacles H. Decolonizing
So there were a lot of excellent comments on the first edition of this post (both the LJ version and the DW version) but then they made me think about what I left out, so here's some more stuff that would surprise Captain America when he got woken up after 70 years frozen in ice:Collapse )

Current Mood: explanatory, prosaic
Current Music: ch-ch-ch-changes
Spectacles H. Decolonizing
13 June 2012 @ 01:41 pm
I've been reading a lot of Avengers fics - there's been a lot to read - and I've been liking many of these fics quite a lot. Except that there's this one thing that's driving me crazy, so crazy that I keep having to back-button out of perfectly good fics before Nick Fury and the Hulk can even begin to get their freak on, which is kind of tragic. So in case you were thinking of writing anything in the Marvel-verse ever, and you were hoping to avoid me making sad puppy-eyes face, please, please, please consider this question carefully:

What would surprise Captain America in 2012?Collapse )

... yeah, anyway, there's a lot for him to catch up on.

But not sex. Really there's not too much new there at all.

ETA: Wow, that's ... a lot ... of comments. I'm glad you're here and will try to respond eventually, but no promises. In the meantime, if you are thinking about commenting here, please read this first. Thank you!

Current Mood: educational
Current Music: now I've earwormed myself with the Glen Miller Band
Spectacles H. Decolonizing
Oh you know the one:

Pick up the nearest book to you.
Turn to page 45.
The first sentence describes your sex life in 2012.

Psychoanalytic theory would appear to be dependent upon the activation of scenarios with visual, auditory, and narrative dimensions.

Well, that sounds promising. I'll have to try it out as soon as I get over this horrible cold that I caught at the AHA.

(In case you were wondering, that sentence is from Mary Anne Doane, Femmes Fatales: Feminism, Film Theory, Psychoanalysis which I had pulled out of the bookshelf because of a train of thought that began with the introduction to Joan Scott's newish book, Fantasies of Feminist History, though the train didn't get very far, as it turned out. But I remain intrigued by the Scott book and especially feel curious about what [personal profile] cordelia_v, [personal profile] tournevis, and [personal profile] ancarett would make of it.)

Current Location: not in bed
Current Mood: Freudian
Current Music: Big Star, Femme Fatale
Spectacles H. Decolonizing
So among the several glories of Toronto is the Merrill library, which is a branch of the public library system devoted entirely to science fiction, including an archive of convention programs and zines and other paper ephemera related to fandom, which is an amazing resource. And the Merrill is holding a fundraiser in the form of a SFF short-story contest with a nominal entrance fee.

So, um - I appear to be writing a story to enter into this contest. It's short - probably no more than 2000 words, maybe less - and it's basically just serial-numbers-filed-off Iron Man/Thor/Avengers movieverse fanfic, except set in Toronto. But I would seriously appreciate a beta reader or two. Or three. Or really as many of you as I could talk into reading it, that would be helpful. There's no hurry at all, as the deadline for the contest is next February and I have the first draft nearly complete already. But let me know, and thanks in advance.


p.s. anyone who can think of a better substitute name for Spider Man than Racoon Boy, please speak up right now.

Current Music: AC Newman, Nine or Ten Things
Spectacles H. Decolonizing
08 November 2011 @ 04:15 pm

Garter snakes and Flemish Beauties. Also, some health stuff, so: warning for mention of bodily fluids.Collapse )

Current Mood: healthy! finally!
Current Music: Soul Coughing: Cool dreams of Wichita
Spectacles H. Decolonizing
30 October 2011 @ 09:17 pm
You have to read this:

Beyonce the Vampire Slayer (38621 words) by faviconimpertinence

I don't care if you're not a Buffy fan. I don't care if you can't tell the difference between Beyonce and Joni Mitchell (and oh god stop me before I write a Joni Mitchell, Vampire Slayer 30-chapter epic, destined to be forever a WIP stopped around chapter 18 just as she's struggling out of the clutches of evil vampire David Geffen ...anyway) and I don't care if you never ever ever read het, or RPF. If you read fanfic at all, you have to look at this. Because come on. If Beyonce isn't a slayer, I don't know who is.

God I love fanfic sometimes.

Current Mood: giddy, gleeful, giggly
Current Music: put your hands UP
Spectacles H. Decolonizing
29 October 2011 @ 07:55 pm
Wow you guys thank you for the delightful blue spiders now decorating my user page! I am heartened and cheered up feel much better! So kind of you!

I've been out of the hospital for three days now and was actually relatively energetic and comfortable - walking a lot, having a lot of visitors, etc - until I started tapering off the pain meds last night, whereupon I became much less comfortable and energetic. So I spent most of today in bed and will go back to bed soon, but the overall trajectory is still upward and I expect to be back to taking walks and bossing people around by tomorrow.
Current Location: back to bed any minute now
Spectacles H. Decolonizing
22 September 2011 @ 09:49 pm
A friend of a friend wrote this in ninth grade and I've treasured it up in my head ever since:

Keats and Yeats
on roller skates
went rolling through a wood

Said Yeats to Keats:
"Amazing feats!
Your poetry is good."


So, speaking of amazing feats of genius, there is this astonishing (and only sort of credible) news. Those wacky jokers at CERN, what will they think of next? No but really, this is (as one of the scientists interviewed in the Times says) world-changing news, if true.


And I've been meaning to whine publicly about my health, but it boils down to this: I have an annoying, occasionally very painful, and time-consuming constellation of ailments which are preventing me from doing much of anything. But I have medical leave from my job as long as I need it, I have insurance like you wouldn't believe, I have lots of good friends around (including Fishwhistle) keeping my spirits up, it's not remotely life-endangering, and probably almost all of it will go away as soon as I have a minor operation, in about a month. So if I'm not around much that is why, but you know, it's always something, right?

Current Mood: scientific
Current Music: The Band: Across the Great Divide
Spectacles H. Decolonizing
13 September 2011 @ 03:04 pm
This will be of special interest to Justin Timberlake fans, but it's kind of brilliant even if you've never heard of him. Click here. NSFW by the way, but only a little bit.

Otherwise, as some of you know, I have been at home a lot lately recuperating from an annoying but absolutely not-life-threatening illness, and waiting around for the next medical thing to happen. This has led to a certain amount of messing around on YouTube. I recommend looking up vids of HBCU marching bands if you ever feel glum at all or in any way not optimistic about the human condition. There's no one perfect one to show you all, but try googling around for Jacksonville's marching band, and also Howard U.'s homecoming parades.

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Spectacles H. Decolonizing
So I was talking with a friend who teaches in another department at The University with the Name That Rhymes with Spork. She said, "I'm worried about this new Associate Dean."

I said, "Yeah, I had some dealings with her when I was running our grad program and she was on the grad faculty, and not all of them went all that smoothly."

And my friend said, "Well actually what worries me is that I was kind of mean to her when we were both in high school. I mean, if I known I was going to end up working for her ..."

Meanwhile we also have a new(ish) dean who is making himself unpopular with the faculty - even less popular than mid-level administrators usually are. His big new innovation is enforcing rules related to paperwork, to ensure financial probity and cut down on waste. So now when we are making budget requisitions (for example to reimburse ourselves for minor expenses by charging them against the budgets of grants, if we have grants) we have to fill out a spiffy new two-page form, as opposed to the previous one-page form, and then sign it in blue ink. If we accidentally sign it in another color of ink, or if either of the requisite two counter-signatures by other people are in another color, the form gets rejected and we have to submit it again. But since the dean's office neglected to send out a memo or anything to let anyone know about this new rule, a whole bunch of people (me included) got our expense forms bounced back to us because they were signed in black ink. And no note was attached explaining why. If our department secretary didn't have a sister working in the dean's office we would never have known.

There's this whole complicated mess involving getting copyright clearance for every single item on our course websites which will take too long to explain and is too complicated to go into so I will just say that even though I am not even teaching this term and don't have to worry about it until December, and by then the rules will have changed at least once since they seem to be completely revised every six weeks, the whole nightmareish disaster is making me sad.
Current Mood: still ill
Spectacles H. Decolonizing
27 August 2011 @ 05:46 pm
I just got back from the funeral procession, and then the funeral, for Jack Layton. It was kind of amazing.Collapse )

Living here in this orderly and sometimes red-tape-ridden city, I often wish for more of what Mexico City has – that sense of desmadre, the feeling that everything is going to tilt over into chaos at any second (but not always in a bad way.) It was so good to be reminded that Toronto can rise to the occasion once in a while, that we too can improvise celebrations of death and life, and make meaning out of disaster.

Current Mood: only slightly ill
Current Music: Rufus Wainwright, Hallelujah, palate-cleansingly
Spectacles H. Decolonizing
15 August 2011 @ 05:51 pm
Following up on the NPR meme, a couple of you asked what my top 100 SF books would be, and since I can't ever answer a simple question straightforwardly, here's a list of SF-ish stories, books and series of books which I love, alphabetically by author because ranking seemed ridiculous.

I can't promise that I would come up with same list on any other day, mind you. Also my view of what counts as SF(f) is pretty expansive, though I left off fanfic because otherwise this list would be in the thousands. But there are a couple of books on here that are meta-SFF, more than SFF: The Short Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Among Others are about being a fan of SF, while The Blind Assassin and Funny Papers are about being a pulp fiction writer, as is The Escapists, which is also specifically a commentary on The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. If I could have figured out how to list them by author I might have included two text-intensive games, Fallen London and Myst. And so on.

Anyway, here you go: Less than 100 works of SFF that I like a lot right nowCollapse )


So what do we learn from this? I have a soft spot for novels by leftist Brits and I'm far more tolerant of series than I might have guessed. Compared to the NPR list, I'm slightly less biased in favor of male authors and significantly less biased in favor of white authors, but it's not like that was a high bar to clear.

And now, your turn: what SFF do you love, and why?

Current Location: desk
Current Mood: enlisted
Spectacles H. Decolonizing
14 August 2011 @ 10:57 pm
So, here's my version of that meme that's going around based on the NPR listeners' list of favorite SF/F books. It's a dumb list for several reasons, such as failure to include many books I like, inclusion of many books I don't like one bit, overemphasis on dead white male authors of questionable politics and prose style, and inconsistency in defining book series as single entries or multiple one. All lists are dumb anyway, but I like them. So anyway, the meme:Collapse )

I don't avoid *all* long series full of hard-to-pronounce place names and complicated family trees. I just avoid the ones which aren't written by George R.R. Martin. Also, my own 100-best-SF-ever list would only include about a dozen of these books. Maybe twenty. Maybe.

Current Location: home
Spectacles H. Decolonizing
29 July 2011 @ 11:05 pm
So here's how Fishwhistle and I watch TV: on DVDs, one show at a time, and a whole season at a gulp. We are nothing if not committed. We watched all of Dollhouse, even, which I believe makes us the only people in the whole wide world who did, including the show runners. We were complaining all the while, but we watched it. We are picky about what we watch, but once we start, we finish. The only exception was The Wire, because we got to the season where the whole season was going to be about the sociopathic children in peril, and ... yeah, no, couldn't do it. Even though we thought the first three seasons of The Wire were the best tv ever. Anyway, my point: we are tv completists.

So, because so many of you all had expressed enthusiasm about Fringe - and also because there was no more Mad Men left to watch - we sat through all of the first season of Fringe, waiting for it to get good. (And the very last episode was a little better.) We were encouraged because a few people told us that it gets good in season two, like really good, and also because Lance Reddick, and also I swear somebody told me that the star, Anna Torv, is queer and out, although my friend Mr. Google tells me otherwise. And Leonard Nimoy. And I guess Marcus Giamatti? Who I went to grade school with, so that's nice, that he is working and all.

Anyway we are now five episodes into season two, and - is it supposed to be better already? Are we missing the betterness? It might be better, but I just can't tell. We're going to keep watching it, because that is how we roll (I've been waiting for years for a chance to use that phrase. So satisfying.) But can we hope for better from, say, episodes six through fifteen, or whatever?


In happier news, the tomatoes are starting to get ripe and it looks like this will be a good year for them.
Tags: ,
Current Location: not watching tv
Spectacles H. Decolonizing
27 July 2011 @ 08:09 pm
Nothing I could say about Amy Winehouse hasn't been said already, and better than I could say it. But her death put me in mind of Marilyn Hacker's elegy for Janis Joplin, which on re-reading is not any good at all, but does have one stanza that still has something good going on in it, so here is that one stanza:

From "Elegy"Collapse )
Current Music: no, no, no
Spectacles H. Decolonizing
19 July 2011 @ 01:02 pm
Here's an email I just sent, with some explanatory emendations:

Dear [Hapless editor at mid-level academic press who asked me for a blurb of a new edited collection in my exact field],

the ms arrived just now and I am very sorry to say this, but I can't blurb it. One of the articles included is about [very specific topic in my exact field], about which I published a fairly well-known article myself a decade ago [the only other scholarly work ever about this event, although subsequently there was a documentary film on the topic.] Its author is both inaccurate and - in my biased view - unduly harsh in his characterization of my article, and it's just a footnote, but I can't quite bring myself to help out the otherwise quite lovely book. Do convey my regrets and apologies to [the editors, one of whom was on my dissertation committee and also, ten years later, was the supervisor of the ill-mannered scholar who wrote the mean and inaccurate footnote]


[Lola the Pissed-off Raincoat]

For the record, I am usually delighted to have my work discussed, updated, improved upon; criticism is somewhat less delightful to me, but only a little. But in this case the author of the article clearly felt that he couldn't write about the topic without trashing the work of previous scholars who had written about it. Shouldn't somebody have taught him better than that?

Current Location: somewhere airconditioned
Current Music: sweet, sweet airconditioners. And some fans.
Spectacles H. Decolonizing
08 July 2011 @ 02:01 pm
So, I am trying out Google+, half-heartedly. I hate change! On the other hand, I kind of hate Facebook! and spend so much time there anyway! and so if Google+ allows me to consolidate what I like about LJ/DW with what I like about Facebook, that would be nice.

If you are there, come find me. I am just using my real-life name but just leave me a message here if you want to know about that.

What I have found myself doing so far on Google+ is complaining about the first season of Fringe, which sucks in my opinion (I know some of you like it! Sorry! Maybe we should have started with season 2! It is nice to see all those shots of the University of Toronto standing in for "Harvard"! & etc.!) And so someone who hadn"t seen the show asked for an explanation, and this is what I wroteCollapse )

So that is why I don't like Fringe. I hope you are glad that you asked!
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Current Location: desk, not couch. DESK.
Current Mood: televisual
Current Music: Elvis Costello: Night Rally
Spectacles H. Decolonizing
06 July 2011 @ 10:29 pm
I seem to have been (iconographically!) kissed just now. By TWO hotties! TWO!

Thank you! That was swell!
Spectacles H. Decolonizing
21 June 2011 @ 05:42 pm
So you all know the term "orientalism," right? Invented by Edward Said to indicate the western European set of ideas and images and metaphors and stories about the Middle East which supported formal and informal colonialism between the mid-nineteenth and the mid-twentieth century, right? A very handy term - once you know what it is, you start to see it everywhere, which was kind of Said's point I guess.

Anyway. My question: is there an equivalent word to sum up the set of ideas and images and metaphors and stories from the US (and France, and Britain) about Latin America from the mid-nineteenth century to the present? You know what I mean - the idea that all those people "down there" are "hotblooded little brown people" and so on and so on and so on on on. I need a word. Unless I should just use "orientalism." But probably not.

Current Mood: puzzled and curious
Current Music: tv on the radio - let the devil in
Spectacles H. Decolonizing
18 June 2011 @ 05:13 pm
Hello, hellllloooooo ...

well I see that there will be more Potter ... something ... from JK Rowling, and that seems as good a reason as any to dust this journal off.

Besides I meant to tell you all about this amazing book project which I got to write a chapter for, Harry Potter and History. I've never had more fun doing academic work than writing my chapter for this book, and I can't say anything about my own work here, but the other chapters are delightful: funny, erudite, full of peculiar details. You all are pretty much the proper audience for the book, so please go buy multiple copies. We want to encourage the publisher to do more. Wouldn't a Mad Men and History book be a wonderful thing? It's highly unlikely, but it would be wonderful, is my point. Meanwhile, though, this book is fabulous.

Meanwhile, in case you were looking for me, I am hanging out a bit at Twitter and a lot at Ta-Nehesi Coates's blog, under this name, and then on Facebook under my real name. But now, since it is a lovely day and the tomatoes are weedy, I am going out to do a little gardening.
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Spectacles H. Decolonizing
So much going on, so little of it anything I got around to talking about here. And right now I am in Mexico City, where I haven't spent significant time in years, and there's so much to talk about with that, and I have all these new projects and all these students whose work is so interesting and and and.

But that's not what finally got me to post. What I wanted to say was that, you know, finally and at last today the Obama administration announced that it will stop defending the constitutionality of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.

When I put my absentee ballot in the mail, back in September 2008, I said a prayer. I'm not usually a praying person, but I asked for three things from an Obama government, in case he got elected:

- an end to torture and the indefinite detainment of non-combatants and complete respect for the Geneva Convention on the part of the US and all our allies,

- universal access to complete, excellent health care, and

- full human and civil rights for everyone in the US, regardless of ability, race, class, sexuality, gender, or citizenship status. Starting with repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.

What can I say, I don't pray much but when I do there are a lot of details to cover. Anyway, as you all know so well, we're not getting anywhere on the first, we're making slow progress (but progress! but slow progress!) on the second, but on the third - well, we just took a big step forward. I just wanted to stop for a second and mark that moment.

You know, historians mostly suck at predicting the future. Predicting the past is hard enough. So when I say that I thought this day would never come, that is the literal truth. Anyway whether or not it was predictable that this would happen, it is a surprise to me, and I am full of gratitude.
Current Location: chilangotlan!
Current Mood: awed
Current Music: somebody playing a trumpet badly far away
Spectacles H. Decolonizing
28 August 2010 @ 01:17 pm
Me: Hey, [profile] fishwhistle! Look at this! The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis is back in fashion again!

Fishwhistle, skeptically: ...

Me: No, look! It's right here in the Times! Man, you wait long enough, any old idea comes around again.

Fishwhistle, speedily: The flat earth theory?

Me, after an awkward pause: Just wait. I bet sooner or later some bit of string theory or fancy programing language will require a flat-earth frame of reference.

Fishwhistle, grumpily: ...


In other news, today is Getting Ready for Grape-Juice-Making-Day Day, and sheep poop was involved. Tomorrow is the Great Day of Grape Juice itself, and if you can get here in the next week or so - because the juice only lasts about three weeks - we would be delighted to give you some. It's usually pretty good and we always have way more than we can drink. And this year, because we have hired ourselves a Hired Hand, we will have more than usual - in previous years we've gotten too tired to go on before we've juiced even half the ridiculously large amount of otherwise-inedible grapes from the back yard.

It's been a good year for the grapes, too. Also beets (last week I made myself quite ill by eating a couple of pounds of beet tzatziki and pretty much nothing else over the course of 36 hours or so, but it was so good! Not quite as good as the beet tzatziki that [personal profile] idlerat makes, but pretty close) and onions, most herbs except cilantro, garlic, cape gooseberries, chard, raspberries, arugala, rhubarb and chiles. Not so good for tomatoes, lettuce, and apricots, but no summer is perfect, right? And since I was too crippled to do much besides stick everything in the ground and hope for the best, it's amazing we got anything at all.


In other other news, my ex-girlfriend (some people referred to her at the time as the Spawn of Satan, which was possibly a slander on some of Satan's other children, but never mind that now) has been for some time the chief drama critic for a high-circulation tabloid newspaper in a Major Metropolitan Area, which is kind of hilarious as long as you have no connection to whatever it is she's reviewing. But now, sources tell me, she is also contributing criticism to NPR. I've been listening and listening - even going so far as to Google - but so far nothing. I will keep you posted.


And finally, a little further away, a way-too-brief visit to the New York Area reminded me that the best thing about New York is not the art or the walking around or the shopping or the brilliant acupuncture (check out People's Acupuncture of Brooklyn, the beauty and helpfulness of which I cannot even describe in words) or the fabulous music of many descriptions, much of it made by friends, or even the astonishing food (and there was some truly astonishing food, the best of which came from the gardens and/or kitchens of friends) but the chance to just hang out with the people I love. I miss you all already! Thank you so much for the wonderful acupuncture treatment and music and food and letting me stay in your apartments and most of all your company!


And now to rinse off the sheep poop and boil some more jars. Hey look! I posted!

Current Location: about to be in the bathtub
Current Music: the Hold Steady: Rock Problems
Spectacles H. Decolonizing
29 July 2010 @ 09:56 am
So last month I posted something about how I would be away for a while, don't break the internet while I'm gone, the usual. My old friend [personal profile] laughingrat responded as follows:

This is just to say
I burned down the intertubes during your vacation
I know you were planning on reading
your Network page
But the intertubes were so annoying
and so flammable.

Flammable! Well, yeah! [personal profile] laughingrat is right again! I just thought you should know.

Current Mood: laughing
Spectacles H. Decolonizing
28 July 2010 @ 09:54 pm
I am supposed to be getting a replacement computer from Spork very soon. I have been in the state of supposed to be getting a replacement computer for some months now. There has already been the ritual grovel at the IT office, and a lengthy discussion of voice recognition software. There has been no communication from the IT office at all, though, for about six weeks. Time for more grovelling, probably.

Meanwhile, this computer on which I am now typing, which is my own and not Spork's, and is elderly but has a newish hard drive, is not getting any younger. It has taken to crashing, but only the screen crashes; sounds continue to come out. Today this happened in the middle of a YouTube video of Chumbawumba playing Tubthumping at Glastonbury, which I had clicked on by mistake. Tubthumping continued to play from the speakers for some minutes even after I had closed the computer, and when I turned the computer back on, it had deleted four Word files I had been working on. I blame the anarchists. Seriously, I had better go grovel some more at the IT office.

Also on YouTube today I learned that at some point in the last presidential administration, Billy Bragg had rewritten most of "Waiting for the Great Leap Forward" in ways that I found unfortunate. Not much rhymes with Rumsfeld, it turns out. So.

Yesterday in the parking lot of the Staples where I park when I am going to the acupuncturist, I found a couple of cds - a compilation of music from New Orleans, and some random Christian rock. I was going to play them, but now I'm wondering if they were put there by anarchists, to crash my computer. What? It could happen!

I am very gradually getting better from my shoulder injury (a combination of bursitis, tendonitis, torn muscle, frayed muscle, and arthritis in both shoulder joints and the elbow, aren't you sorry you asked? martial artists, don't spend too much time with the punching bag, the end) but still taking a lot of drugs, which make me loopy and unable to work well some of the time, so I am on sick leave, which leaves me lots of time for random poking around on YouTube for Billy Bragg videos. But also! I have been reading. And so I say:

Everybody should go read The City & the City right away. And then tell me what you think! I loved it immoderately, much more even than I loved the Perdido Street trilogy, which I loved, but maybe that's just the drugs talking?

Also, [profile] twotoedsloth sent me a link to an article from this journal, which looks pretty interesting for you fan studies people out there - http://www.participations.org/index.htm -
in that it seems to position its contents as empirically based in opposition to the overly abstract cinema studies and fan studies schools. Which is to say that there's a whole scholarly wank out there of which I have been unaware up to now. But they seem to agree with me that there are no spectators, as in flesh and blood people watching a movie, in the spectatorship literature and that this is a bad thing, so ... well, anyway, potentially interesting journal, is all.

I've been too crippled to do much gardening this year, but the tomatoes are doing all right anyway. I put them in pots instead of in the ground, so far fewer problems with blight, but we are getting fewer of them so far and they're smaller. Tigerella tomatoes are my new favorite, though.

Hey! I updated my LJ/DW! Whoo!
Current Mood: complaining! heavily drugged!
Current Music: old Billy Bragg
Spectacles H. Decolonizing
23 June 2010 @ 11:21 am
Futbol and/or human rights fans, check this out!:


We're about to leave town for a wedding (well, sort of wedding - they can't legally wed in the state where they live, but they're celebrating there anyway) and road trip, so I may be even less visible around here for a week or so than I've been in recent months, but maybe not. But please forgive failure to respond to comments for a bit, if such failure ensues, as seems likely. And take good care of the internet while I'm gone.
Current Mood: achy, breaky, medicated
Current Music: the art museums
Spectacles H. Decolonizing
19 June 2010 @ 05:06 pm
I haven't been posting much - a torn rotator cuff is keeping me away from the keyboard for a while longer, as it has for months. But I had to note the passing of Carlos Monsivais, the greatest Mexican intellectual of his generation, the scholar in whose footsteps I have been bumbling along since I began working as a historian, a writer of such wit and deep erudition as to be untranslatable, a political thinker of such humanity and compassion that he made the messiest realities of Mexican governance not only comprehensible but funny, a great force for democratic change, justice, tolerance and hilarity, and the biggest fanboy imaginable.

I was in such awe of him that I had to be dragged - literally, pulled by the wrist - to go meet him for tea, by a mutual friend, the one time I did meet him. He had read my first book, in English, and he was willing to help get it published in Mexico. He pronounced it "divertido" and that was that. After that we chatted about Marx Brothers movies for a bit. I should have told him ... I wish I had been brave enough to tell him how much his work mattered to me - how every time I thought of a good topic, I could tell that it would be good because he had already gotten to it; how his newspaper column (front page of La Jornada every Thursday morning for years and years) had been my education in the way that gossip, rumor, and political history intertwine in Mexico; how his writing had taught me how to love Mexico City, Mexican literature and Mexican cinema in a completely new way.

We were lucky to have him with us for as long as we did, and losing him now - he was only 72! - is a sadness I can't put properly into words.
Current Mood: sad, sad, sad
Spectacles H. Decolonizing
So, it's all over but the grading for this semester at my weird but beloved university, and I'm sad about it, because although my graduate class (Modern Cultural History, theory and method) was wretched and the second-year undergraduate class (Latin American History, 1450 to the present) was just so-so, the fourth-year undergraduate class - a seminar on Gender, Sex, and Family in Latin American History - was amazing. Definitely, by far, the best class of my entire teaching career. I was considering flunking them all just so I could see them again next year, but that turns out to be impractical - there would be a lot of paperwork involved. Instead I'm going to write down some of what made the class work so well this time, in case some of it is reproducible:

What made this seminar turn out so well?Collapse )

Mostly it was luck. It was just the right combination of students at the right time. I won't have that kind of luck again. All the rest of this is just what helped that luck along. Here's hoping that the next time I teach the class it turns out half as well.
Current Location: not on campus, hurrah!
Current Music: The National: Looking for Astronauts
Spectacles H. Decolonizing
New York Times columnist Gail Collins, who lately has replaced Paul Krugman in my heart as The Pundit Who Secretly Is My Hot Girlfriend/Boyfriend, has revealed something very important about herself, something that makes me love her even more: she's a Buffy fan. Look, here's the link, see for yourself!

Current Location: hiding from the grading
Current Mood: so much love
Current Music: Ian Buruma on the CBC going blah blah blah