Saturday, March 25, 2006

genius boy

Day 209
25 March 2006

Glen has gone to Chicago with Da Boyz for the weekend, thus guaranteeing that a) the baby will get sick; b) the heater will stop working; and c) I will get very little of my homework done. Bad timing! The first of my term papers is coming due in ten days, and I will make no progress on it this weekend.

OK, the baby is not actually “sick,” she's just teething, but it makes her just as high-maintenance as if she were sick. And yes, the heater did stop working, almost as soon as Glen left the state. This is the second time this has happened recently, so I knew Glen knew how to fix it, but I didn't realize it had died until about 1:00 in the morning. I was tempted to call Glen in Chicago and get him out of bed so he could explain it to me (read: feel my pain), but I didn't ... probably because I thought it wasn't his fault.

So this morning I called Glen, and took my cell phone, a screwdriver, a pair of pliers, a flashlight, and a box of matches down into the crawl space under the house, and re-lit the pilot light. At some point during the procedure it came out that in fact, it is Glen's fault that the pilot went out. He was down there a while ago for some reason that escapes me now, and noticed that the gas for the pilot light was turned up really high, so he turned it down. A lot. So last time when it went out, he turned it back up, just not enough. Thanks, genius boy.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Eliot Spitzer

Day 206
22 March 2006

I think I might be in love with Eliot Spitzer. He's the AG of New York, and he's always suing people/companies for doing things that also happen to bug me personally. Example: over the past couple of years, it has come to my attention that numerous people, completely unknown to me, apparently "own" my personal information, including my address, phone number, DOB, social security number, and credit history. Not only do these unknown people "own" my information, but they sell it to other people. This makes me very angry. They have obtained this information without my express consent, they are transmitting it to other people without my consent (and in most cases without my knowledge), and they are making money from it without my consent, and certainly without my receiving any money for it. Spitzer is currently suing a company called "free," who collected personal information from somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 million people, assured them they would not buy, sell, rent, or lend that information, and then turned around and sold it. Quoth Mr. Spitzer: "Unless checked now, companies that collect and sell information on consumers will continue to find ways to erode the basic standards that protect privacy in the internet age.” Amen, hallelujah! Preach it, Brother Spitzer!

Read the article about the lawsuit here:

Monday, March 20, 2006

Edmund freaking Spenser

Day 204
20 March 2006

Around six months ago, the phrase "go little book" came into my head in connection with something that I've completely forgotten now. And I said to myself, "Where did that phrase come from?" So I did what any person of education and sense would do: I Googled it. And came up with nothing conclusive. I suspected that there might be a spelling variation involved, but wasn't ambitious enough to try possible variations until I found one that clicked. Fast forward to this evening, when I'm reading Frank McGuinness's play Mutabilitie. Since Edmund Spenser is one of the main characters, I bust out my old Norton Anthology to read Spenser's bio. (OK, I actually went to wikipedia first, but their entry was a little thin. In fact, I ended up adding something to it.) I also suspect that some of McGuinness's script might be taken from Spenser's writing, and have made a mental note to look up The Shepheardes Calender. As I finish reading the Norton bio, I notice that The Shepheardes Calender is on the facing page, so I start reading. The opening line? "Goe little booke: thy selfe present." Not only that, it's got a footnote indicating that this is an homage to Chaucer's line from Troilus and Criseyde, "Go, litel bok, go litel myn tragedye." I was in the right ballpark, timewise, as I had connected it vaguely in my mind with Sidney. But Edmund Spenser, of all things. I would never have remembered that on my own.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

again, half as long

Day 199
15 March 2006

Have you ever seen A River Runs Through It? I haven't. But when I took Intensive Writing as an undergrad, my writing teacher showed the class a clip from the movie. In the clip, Tom Skerrit is teaching his son about writing. The kid comes to Skerrit to show him an essay he wrote, which is something like a page long, and Skerrit hands it back to him, saying, "Again, half as long." Kid goes, edits the essay, and hands it back to Dad. Dad looks it over and says, "Again, half as long." Lather, rinse, repeat. After a couple more iterations, Dad finally decides it's short enough, then throws it away. (Not sure what that's about.)

Last night, I finished reading Walter Scott's The Heart of Midlothian. Walter* would have benefitted greatly from having a Dad like Tom Skerrit's character. The last 100 pages of that novel were pure agony. At some point I began to suspect that Walt's publisher was paying him by the word. Why else would he drag it out like that? If he felt it absolutely necessary to tie up all the loose ends (Effie's baby, David Deans' death, Robertson/Staunton's just deserts, etc.) he could have done so far more expeditiously.

There's a lot of material for my thesis in the novel, but the thing I found most interesting about it ("interesting" being a very relative term) was Scott's political agenda. His whole approach to Scottish politics strikes me as odd. The Jacobite uprising of 1745, which is one of the focal points of Scottish history, occurs during the course of the novel, yet Scott barely mentions it. He also seems to be a big fan of the Campbells, and especially the Duke of Argyll, who is portrayed as a master statesman, friend of the poor, and all-around swell guy, in spite of the part he played in (or rather against) the Jacobite uprising of 1715. Contrast this with Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped and Catriona: the '45 is the central fact of everyone's existence, Bonnie Prince Charlie's name is on everyone's lips, and the Campbells are a hiss and a by-word. Why is Scott so ardently pro-Union? It seems an unusual position for a Scotsman to take.

*After 532 pages of Midlothian plus extensive notes, I feel like we should be on a first-name basis.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

annoying boy

Day 198
14 March 2006

When I walked into my Translation class today, Annoying Boy was talking to Angela about the relative merits of modern rap artists, and was expounding on some quantifiable reason why Eminem is a really good rapper. It had something to do with meter. I brought up Gerard Manley Hopkins' idea of "sprung rhythm," because it seemed relevant to the concept he was discussing. He replied irritably, "That's not what I'm talking about." Well, excuse me. Is he trying to annoy me, or does he simply have no social skills? I've tried not to let him know that he annoys me, because really, what's the point? But he's making it increasingly difficult. Yes, I'm aware that he probably doesn't make all those smug, supercilious comments in class just for the purpose of irritating me. Yes, I'm aware that for most people, I am the most annoying person in the room. Yes, I'm aware that I'm making a big deal out of a very small instance of rudeness. Shut up.