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Fellow from Hell

You’ll notice that I haven’t done any blogging about my new surroundings in Durham - Chapel Hill - Research Triangle Park.  That’s partly because of my vastly underrated capacity for discretion: I don’t blog about my department back home, either.  It’s also because my one-month National Humanities Center gig arouses quite enough envy as it is. You have a what? And you do what? And that’s just Janet talking!  My friends and colleagues are even more incredulous.  “I so envy you,” said one dear old friend through clenched teeth.  “Hey,” I replied, paraphrasing the legendary Derek Smalls, “I envy me.”

When I returned to North Carolina last Friday from my 48-hour sojourn in State College, I thought I was all set for two furious weeks of good healthy productivity.  Daily workouts, reading for eight or ten hours, lots of peace and quiet, and—as a new feature for Phase II of the Fellowship—doing things at night.  You know, going out.  Now that I was a little more familiar with the area, I figured I could stretch out a bit and see what’s what around here.  I also figured, as I left the blowing snow of central Pennsylvania, that the second half of March would be beautiful and blossoming in these gentle climes, and that I’d be reading in my Center office, hanging out in coffeeshops, and checking out clubs in my short-sleeved shirts.  I left the overcoat and other winterwear at home, and traveled light for Phase II.

I have managed to “go” “out” and “see” “things.” On Friday I saw Jonathan Demme’s concert film, Neil Young: Heart of Gold, about which I will be happy to blog this Friday, because it raises fundamental questions about the nature of the universe.  On Saturday I checked out this, because it (a) seemed like fun and (b) turned out to be at the Durham Armory, a five minute walk from my apartment.  But I thought it would be a bad idea to go hear this bunch, because they’d be playing swing, and I, as a lonely Traveling Humanities Fellow, would be hanging out and listening to the band while happy couples were lindy-hopping and jitter-bopping all about me.  So I got a ticket for these guys instead, thinking that the son-soukous fusion would make for a somewhat more rhizomatic kinda atmosphere.  Alas, I was a lonely Humanities Fellow after all, checking out the band while happy couples danced to the salsa tunes and made up any old thing for the Central African riffs.  So I hung out in the balcony and learned a few things about rhythms that I badly needed to learn about.  The Armory isn’t a club; it’s an armory.  And that meant that there was a good hardwood dance floor, weird lighting, and Snickers and water bottles at the concession stand.  But I had a good time, and walked myself home promptly at 1.

On Sunday night I caught up on The Sopranos, thanks to the hospitality of a gracious woman who took pity on my Sopranosless plight, and I was duly amazed at how goddamn funny the first two episodes are.  “Marvin Gaye” as a verb?  Bobby in the conductor’s hat?  And then, from the ridiculous to the sublime, Edie Falco at Tony’s bedside.  Oh.  My.  God.  There should be acting classes that specialize only in Edie Falco.  “Today, class, we will devote ourselves to Edie Falco’s facial expressions.  Next week, her arm gestures from the elbows to the wrists only.” Also, Ray Curto dying out of nowhere.  But then Gene Pontecorvo dying out of nowhere.  I can’t wait for episode three, which I’m going to have to watch next Friday, the 31st.

On Monday night I took myself to Caché, which turned out to be a three-minute walk from my apartment.  I saw it with five other people.  I’d presented my project to the NHC fellows that afternoon, which was profoundly nervous-making, so I thought I’d take myself to a controversial recent French film that’s so controversial and so French that it will come to State College only quand les porcs volent.  I could blog about that too, if only because the local alternative weekly’s review of the film was so thoroughly misleading and hamhanded as almost to ruin my experience of a reasonably thought-provoking (but not entirely satisfying) film, but first I’d have to know how many of you have seen it or have any interest in seeing it.  I wouldn’t want to get all self-indulgent on this here blog, after all.

Then last night I drove to Chapel Hill to talk to the new UNC chapter of the AAUP about academic freedom—that is, the real kind, not the stuff U.No. thinks he’s talking about.  That went well, I think or hope, but when I got back to the apartment I realized I’d left the Center at 4 and had tossed my belongings on the couch at 10.  How in the world did a 40-minute talk take six hours?  Oh, yes, they took me to dinner, and a fine dinner it was.  But I was completely drained.  Not so drained, however, as to forget to get a ticket for Stereolab’s show tonight at Cat’s Cradle.

It didn’t help that on Monday and Tuesday, the area was treated to forty-degree temperatures and a bitter, driving rain that sometimes arrived in the form of pellets bouncing—literally bouncing—off the car windshield like a new form of precipitation that wanted to be hail but succeeded only in being brittle-gelatinous.  And last night, as I drove back from Chapel Hill in the drizzle and the gelizzle, I was tailed for a few miles by Psycho Cabbie, who kept flashing his lights at me and climbing into my trunk for no reason I could discern.  I checked my lights, my speed, my radio, my armpits—nothing.  It was annoying, and just a tad ominous.

Still, today I woke up nice and early, before 7, refreshed . . . but vaguely apprehensive.  Maybe I’d been here too long.  Maybe I missed Janet and Jamie too much.  Maybe I was really Kevin Finnerty, a solar heating systems salesman from Arizona.  But something was wrong, something was awry.

I got to the Center at 9 sharp (for once!  you all know I’m a night person), read about two-thirds of The Book I Am Currently Reading, noodled around email a bit, and then decided to go the gym and clear my head at about 3:30.  I’d assigned myself eight books for the month, a long-overdue book review (done!) and a smattering of piddling professional tasks.  I was nearly done with book six, and everything else was gradually getting done, too.  I was checking off one thing after another: to do?  done.  To do?  also done.  And yet I felt weird, tenuous, almost spectral.  Surely an hour in the gym would straighten me out.

And as I backed slowly out of my parking spot, looking cursorily over my shoulder around the truck to my right, I felt a deep, muted crunch.  My heart stopped.  I’d hit something!

No, I hadn’t just hit something—I’d hit another car, the car of someone who was leaving the parking lot at that very moment.  What in the world?  In three weeks here, I’ve never seen another moving vehicle in the NHC parking lot; I’ve never arrived (and I’ve never left) at the same time as somebody else.  And today, I’d gotten in so early, and parked so close to the Center, that almost no one could have been driving off from my right: there were only about a dozen cars to my right, which is why I’d looked over my shoulder so quickly. . . .

Yes, well.  The driver of the other car just happened to be the Director of the National Humanities Center, Geoffrey Harpham.  That’s right.  I hit the Director’s car.

This is, I believe, the twenty-eighth year of operations for the National Humanities Center.  Each year, the Center hosts about forty scholars.  We’re talking about more than a thousand fellows over the course of a generation, scholars nationally and internationally renowned—and yet, from the fall of 1978 to the spring of 2006, not one of them has managed to hit the Director’s car in the parking lot. Until now.

Geoffrey invented new forms of sociability and magnanimity on the spot, pointing out that the panel I’d crushed was the smallest panel on the car, and that my view was surely blocked by the pickup truck, and that he himself might have been driving too close to other parked cars.  “Oh no,” I said.  “This is all mine.  I’m . . . so . . . sorry.” But I was beyond sorry.  I was mortified.  And I still am.

Geoffrey’s front right panel was crumpled, and he found he couldn’t open the passenger door.  “Oh, god, that’s a serious repair,” I said when I saw the damage.  Geoffrey demurred, but I pointed out that all of us with $500 deductibles know full well that all body-shop work starts at $500.  And even though my car was moving more slowly than I walk, there was no getting around the fact that force equals mass times acceleration, and the “mass” part had made a real mess of things.  As had the driver of the mass.

In other words, folks, in my brief tenure as a short-term National Humanities Fellow, I have truly distinguished myself.  And let this serve as a warning to all you Humanities Center Directors out there who might be so foolhardy as to invite me to join you someday: I am a Dangerous Professor.  I will hit your car with my car, and then I will cover my head in my hands with shame, crying that if only I’d managed to live in North Carolina for nine more days without hitting any other moving vehicles, I would have been fine.

My timing is impeccable, by the way.  The NHC Trustees arrive tomorrow for their annual dinner.  Eminent scholars, university presidents, heads of foundations.  And the Director of the National Humanities Center can’t open his car’s passenger door.

Just shoot me now.

Posted by on 03/22 at 08:30 PM
  1. You hit the car of Geoffrey Harpham? Geoffrey “Whiplash” Harpham? Oh, man. I mean...Oh, man.

    Posted by  on  03/22  at  10:12 PM
  2. I’m glad you got to catch up on “The Sopranos” as I’m thoroughly enjoying the new season, myself. Edie Falco has been utterly amazing.

    You have my utmost sympathies on the car situation. Let’s hope that they can arrange a rental for all the bigwigs!

    Posted by Ancarett  on  03/22  at  10:16 PM
  3. Assure us, Michael, we implore you, solicitous as we so very are of you very best being, that at no time was the phrase “heap o’ trouble” used to describe your predicament vis à vis Mr. Harpham’s ride.

    Posted by  on  03/22  at  10:26 PM
  4. Good thing it was just the Director of the NHC and not someone who’d just driven a coupla hours down the Turnpike with Garden State plates.

    Posted by Kristina Chew  on  03/22  at  11:01 PM
  5. Ouchy.  I just doled out $700 for a leeetle scrape on a rental car.  Supposedly the insurance from my credit card will pay for it, but only after being charged first.

    At any rate, I hope you’re enjoying Stereolab at the Cradle.  As it happens, my brother is there, too. <sigh>

    Posted by  on  03/22  at  11:33 PM
  6. Listen: I have been in the car on the receiving end of that hit more times than I can count, with results ranging from negligible to hilarious to “in hospital,” but I still have to side with the hitter most times because of a single incident.
    When I was 19, just after having been granted my driver’s license and (thanks to my father) a reasonably nice used car, *I hit someone’s car.* In a huge parking-lot at the film production office where I worked, in January, in Maine (for crying out loud), I slid on a patch of ice (going too fast to begin with) and hit the only other car in the lot.
    Which was my father’s car. He was also my boss. And it was a Mercedes. And I was driving an ‘89 Saab which, as you might know, is a very heavy car to begin with and is even heavier once it has picked up speed, at which point it is more like a wrecking ball than a vehicle. So the Saab had gained enough velocity on its way across the parking-lot to bend the front axle of the Mercedes upon making contact.
    The worst part? Both cars were insured to the same person. And I bet you can guess who that was.
    So, like, just by virtue of the fact that I am alive and writing this, I totally sympathize.

    Posted by sarah  on  03/22  at  11:52 PM
  7. In my opinion, your AAUP talk went well.  And think about your accident as one more qualification for your Horowitz ranking!  I mean, can Angela Davis compare with a liberal professor who is running down innocent NHC directors on the side?  Maybe you can use yourself as a test subject in your “dangeral studies.”

    Posted by S  on  03/23  at  12:04 AM
  8. Sorry to hear about the car.

    Have the azaleas in the Durham-Chapel Hill-Research Triangle Park area bloomed?

    Posted by Jeremías  on  03/23  at  12:42 AM
  9. "a bitter, driving rain that sometimes arrived in the form of pellets bouncing—literally bouncing—off the car windshield like a new form of precipitation that wanted to be hail but succeeded only in being brittle-gelatinous.”

    There is one good part in Forest Gump.  It is when he is Vietnam and the rainy season starts.  He is describing all the different kinds of rain, and the last one is as they are wading through a river and the rain is bouncing off the water, and he explains that “sometimes it even rained up.”

    So what I say is, at least you weren’t in Vietnam this week.

    Posted by  on  03/23  at  01:56 AM
  10. Two great bands, what a tough choice!

    Posted by  on  03/23  at  02:23 AM
  11. We sent you down to Carolina to take Harpham out, not to dent his freakin’ car.  Can’t anybody follow instructions?

    Posted by Tony Soprano  on  03/23  at  02:49 AM
  12. ’I have managed to “go” “out” and “see” “things.”’

    Truth in Advertising, Michael: You’re sure making Durham sound a heck of a lot more interesting than I remember it being.

    Posted by Jon  on  03/23  at  03:37 AM
  13. Has anyone notified the authorities?  By that, I mean, of course, David Horowitz.

    Posted by  on  03/23  at  08:42 AM
  14. Secret agent man,
    Secret agent man,
    They’ve given you a number,
    And taken ‘way your name.

    Or they will, sometime soon.

    Posted by  on  03/23  at  09:01 AM
  15. What is going on here, Michael? Have you lived outside New York State for too long? Have you learned nothing from “The Sopranos”?  I love watching about three episodes in a row, and then waiting for a poor, unsuspecting telemarketer to give me a call. Let me just remind you of what a New Yorker does when they are in an accident—even one that is their fault. First, you get out of the car with an equalizer of some sort, wood or metal. Second, you check the damage to your car. Third, you start yelling at the other driver (mind you, they follow the same steps)until the police arrive.  Clearly you’ve lost your edge. Prescription? Continue watching “The Sopranos” and get back to good ole NYC for a visit, pronto.

    Posted by  on  03/23  at  09:48 AM
  16. I just kind of glazed over until I saw the trigger word “Stereolab.” Tomorrow night at La Zona Rosa, baby! The new album is a little more experimental than the last couple, but they’re soldiering on (about one album’s worth of material per year for the last 15 years, with side projects!)

    Posted by norbizness  on  03/23  at  10:24 AM
  17. I guess I’m with norbizness, becuase I was containing my envy about your fellowship, the NHC, the Triangle, Etc., until you said “Cat’s Cradle.” My, the hearing I have lost there over the years. Well, all driving aside, I hope you enjoy yourself.

    Posted by furious  on  03/23  at  10:32 AM
  18. Ah, Michael, Michael, how naïve you are. Geoffrey Harpham is contractually required to pull this routine on all the Fellows at the National Humanities Center:

    Indeed, one enters this community only after implicitly agreeing to submit to a task of reading that is in some ways depersonalizing in that it involves a provisional suspension of identity, and even, in certain cases, puts that identity at risk by subjecting it to new information, new stimuli, new questions, new stresses. (5-6)

    He meets with the NHC trustees annually to report how many creatively destabilized readers the Center has produced that year.

    Posted by  on  03/23  at  10:40 AM
  19. Michael,

    if you’re also the sort of person who “does things in Durham during the day,"(*) may I suggest the Liberty Diner, which is weird? If you’re living in the smoky old complex that I suspect you’re living in, then it’s right nearby.
    It’s on Rigsbee Ave, just north of Hunt (east and uphill from Durham Central Park). There’s a yellow sign that says Liberty. Two or so unmarked doors down is the diner. Ask for “Big Jerry.” This will confuse them. Then order some of the excellent beef stew.

    (*)there used to be a lot of these people in downtown Durham. But then Thomas Friedman pointed out that they shouldn’t have jobs.

    Posted by  on  03/23  at  10:47 AM
  20. Edie Falco is one of the few who is as good on stage as she is on TV.  I saw her in Side Man some years ago, on Broadway, and she was awesome.

    Posted by  on  03/23  at  01:04 PM
  21. Michael,

    in the interests of being allusive, I shoulda told you to ask for “Dr. Bledsoe” at the diner. It would’ve fit perfectly into your story and been clever. Now I’ve lost the chance. So I won’t tell you to do that.

    Posted by  on  03/23  at  01:06 PM
  22. Bang!

    Posted by  on  03/23  at  01:23 PM
  23. What is it with films about families terrorized by unseen omnipresent watchers driven by an incompletely buried past that fails to attract a wide audience? Just yesterday my teenage daughter and I had the theater to ourselves for a matinee screening of The Hills Have Eyes (2006).

    The French version offers better table manners, fewer gutted domestic animals. On the other hand, there’s something about a heavy mining tool cleaving a skull that triggers memories deeper than Algerian independence or nuclear test ban treaties.

    Posted by black dog barking  on  03/23  at  02:25 PM
  24. I liked Cache quite a bit, especially the opening sequence in front of the couple’s apartment.  Of course, I’ll watch virtually anything starring Juliette Binoche. 

    It wasn’t a perfect film, but Haneke does European middle-class panic about as well as anyone.

    Posted by Chuck  on  03/23  at  02:27 PM
  25. "My timing is impeccable, by the way.  The NHC Trustees arrive tomorrow for their annual dinner.  Eminent scholars, university presidents, heads of foundations.  And the Director of the National Humanities Center can’t open his car’s passenger door. “

    NHC Director Halpham:  I’d love to give you a ride to the airport Dr. Whatsis, but -

    Berube:  Oh, I can give you a lift. ... Have I told you how much you’ve influenced my own writing on literary criticism ... blah blah blah

    Later, on the flight back to Ivory Tower U.

    DHC Fellow 1: That Berube chap is a real go getter.  Quite the young buck on literary criticism too.
    DHC Fellow 2: You know, it’s high time we had a new director.  That Harpham can’t even give one a lift to the airport. 

    Carpe door handle!

    Posted by  on  03/23  at  02:41 PM
  26. I have never, ever understood why most people pull into parking places, forcing themselves to later BACK out of the spot.  So if the car is covered with rain, it is dark, or there is traffic in the lot, they must make themselves more vulnerable to a mishap.

    Not intending to heap any more misery on the situation, but it is a good reminder that backing into a parking spot is an excellent habit.  When time comes to exit, the driver has visibility working in her or his favor, not against it.

    Posted by  on  03/23  at  02:59 PM
  27. I’m pretty sure ALL auto repair starts at $500.

    Posted by Bulworth  on  03/23  at  03:15 PM
  28. If we’re talking places to it in Durham, let me put in a plug for Dillard’s Bar-B-Q.  For some reason, Dillard’s often doesn’t come up when locals discuss BBQ options in the Triangle (the IMO overrated Allen and Son in Chapel Hill tends to get mentioned a lot). Dillard’s is actually South Carolina style BBQ (chopped pork, like NC BBQ, but with a mustard-based sauce).  But it’s da bomb.

    And do make it out to Lexington, capital of western-NC-style BBQ (i.e. with tomato-and-vinegar based sauce, and red cole slaw, as opposed to the tomato-free vinegar sauce and white cole slaw of eastern NC). 

    (Incidentally, for all things Carolina BBQ, it’s hard to beat Kent Craig’s website.)

    Posted by  on  03/23  at  04:14 PM
  29. Don’t feel too bad, Michael.  At least you didn’t shoo--

    Nah.  You deserve better jokes than that.

    Posted by  on  03/23  at  04:20 PM
  30. Ah, the wonders of proofreading....

    The first line of #28 was supposed to say “places to eat,” but came out “places to it”...I wonder what accent I was channeling?

    Posted by  on  03/23  at  05:08 PM
  31. "Just shoot me now.”
    I think we can leave that to the Psycho Cabbie. When I read about the ‘deep muted crunch’ I instantly created a scenario in my head where you were blocked in by Psycho Cabbie, a 700 Club listener who had bought U. No’s book and had come to seek vengence on one of the 101. It’s just as well you only hit the Director who probably doesn’t carry his Magnum around with him.

    Posted by  on  03/23  at  05:14 PM
  32. Seconding Ben’s endorsement of Dillard’s. Go there. Now.

    Really. I mean it.

    And about the accident: Oy. But anybody with a kindly beard like Director Harpham’s must be a forgiving soul.

    Posted by Ancrene Wiseass  on  03/23  at  05:52 PM
  33. Back at UVA in the early 90s, I found there are not that many good books that mix theory and art history--but your Director wrote 2 of them.

    Geoffrey Harpham is a good scholar and writer, who se first two books--*On the Grotesque*, and *The Ascetic Imperative in Culture and Criticism* I read for my dissertation.

    I’m pleased to see both are in print (Princeton published the first, U of Chicago the second).

    P.S. Did you get a traffic ticket for “FELLOWING too closely”?

    Posted by david ross mcirvine  on  03/23  at  06:36 PM
  34. Just a reminder. Some of us live in different ‘territories’, where we won’t see the final Sopranos for a while yet (why this still happens in the so-called global media market, I don’t know, but it does). So it would be nice that, if people discuss it that the remember to point up any spoilers that may diminish our eventual delight and enjoyment of the final seasons.

    I thank you.

    Posted by s'dog  on  03/23  at  08:03 PM
  35. And the ironic thing is that Jeff hates to drive. Throughout his tenure at Tulane he never seemed to have a car, always preferring to have other people do the driving…

    His scholarship indeed rocks, david. We miss him here in the Big Easy.

    Posted by Idelber  on  03/23  at  11:54 PM
  36. Aw, Michael, fuck it.  You’re almost done with your fellowship, it’s not like they can take it away now.  And I bet the trustees will be relieved not to have to ride in the Director’s car, what with the way he runs into people in parking lots all the time.

    Posted by bitchphd  on  03/24  at  12:29 AM
  37. Should’ve gone with the swing. Lindy/East Coast is the most social of all social dancing (def more so than salsa, where accepting a dance with a stranger is all to often accepting more attention than a follow wants). Swing, however, people travel across the world and can be welcomed into the group right quick.

    Posted by  on  03/24  at  05:02 AM
  38. OK, now I can get back to the Scene of Shame.

    Assure us, Michael, we implore you, solicitous as we so very are of you very best being, that at no time was the phrase “heap o’ trouble” used to describe your predicament vis à vis Mr. Harpham’s ride.

    I swear, at no time was the phrase “heap o’ trouble” used at any point in my tenure as a fellow.  In fact, right now I am merely mentioning the phrase and not using it.

    The worst part? Both cars were insured to the same person. And I bet you can guess who that was.

    Sarah, you have my deepest sympathies.  Our driveway at home barely holds two cars, and I’m quite sure that before too long, Janet will hit me or (more likely, I suppose) I will hit Janet.  Just as long as we don’t run over the dog at the same time.

    Ah, Michael, Michael, how naïve you are. Geoffrey Harpham is contractually required to pull this routine on all the Fellows at the National Humanities Center.

    Interesting point.  But for me the key line comes two sentences earlier, where Geoff writes, “most groups or individuals look to the archive of the past for keys to their car and thus to their identity.”

    Edie Falco is one of the few who is as good on stage as she is on TV.  I saw her in Side Man some years ago, on Broadway, and she was awesome.

    I was actually going to propose a half-hour show in which Edie Falco and Felicity Huffman finally square off, face to similar face.  Huffman in “Housewives” is a seriously talented actress working alongside three genial, capable TV actresses, and the contrast—in tone, depth, range—is palpable.  You can really feel the relative flatness of television.  Whereas, of course, The Sopranos is something other than television.

    On the other hand, there’s something about a heavy mining tool cleaving a skull that triggers memories deeper than Algerian independence or nuclear test ban treaties.

    I dunno about this.  Losing both your parents as they die in the Seine alongside 198 of their fellow Algerians is pretty intense.  And Georges’ utter refusal to acknowledge any debt to Majid is somewhere between unconscionable and unbelievable.  But—and here’s the problem—the extent to which it verges on the latter is the extent to which the film threatens to undo its own moral framework:  if Georges is indeed so foul, so devoid of self-reflection as almost to be devoid of subjectivity, then to hell with his European middle-class panic.  Of course, much depends on whether that final scene is dreamed or not.  I say not, and I say Majid’s son was testing Georges, rather than terrorizing him, all along—conducting his own Truth and Reconciliation enterprise.

    DHC Fellow 1: That Berube chap is a real go getter.  Quite the young buck on literary criticism too.

    DHC Fellow 2: You know, it’s high time we had a new director.  That Harpham can’t even give one a lift to the airport.

    Funny thing, but I heard exactly this exchange last night.  Along with a remark about the extraordinary sagacity of my blog’s commenters. 

    I have never, ever understood why most people pull into parking places, forcing themselves to later BACK out of the spot.

    Two words, nursel:  never again.

    Back at UVA in the early 90s, I found there are not that many good books that mix theory and art history--but your Director wrote 2 of them.

    He’s written a great deal of great stuff, as it happens.  Including one of the best essays in Theory’s Empire and (setting the bar a good bit higher) one of the two best essays (with Peter Brooks’wink in George Levine’s Aesthetics and IdeologyGetting it Right rocks, too.  Which is where I came in, back in ‘92.

    You’re almost done with your fellowship, it’s not like they can take it away now.

    That’s where you’re wrong, Dr. B.  They can make me perform a month’s worth of penance and take back all the lunches, too.  But I’ll still have Deborah Wong’s taiko performance!

    Should’ve gone with the swing.

    But I wasn’t going to ask anyone to dance either way, so I went with the fusion, see.  Less familiar.  See “putting identity at risk by subjecting it to new information, new stimuli, new questions, new stresses,” above.

    We sent you down to Carolina to take Harpham out, not to dent his freakin’ car.  Can’t anybody follow instructions?

    Yo, T, get well soon, you hear?

    Posted by Michael  on  03/24  at  04:09 PM
  39. Hey, by NC standards, it’s pretty much obligatory that you damage a vehicle while you’re here. Widening I-40 to three lanes pretty much doubled one’s chances (what with undertaking & lane-to-lane merge excitement) of writing off a vehicle within 5 minutes of leaving the airport. If you’d ever taken or read the NC driver’s license test you’d understand why. Wait, who am I kidding? There’s no ‘reading’ involved in that test.

    Posted by  on  03/24  at  04:49 PM
  40. If you’re going to still be in NC April 6-8, I’d be thrilled to buy you lunch or coffee and a Foster’s scone.  I’ll be in town for Full Frame Fest in Durham. My e-mail is at the Brilliant place.

    Posted by Jill  on  03/24  at  06:05 PM
  41. how sweet. you made an impression.

    Posted by ebw  on  03/24  at  06:26 PM
  42. Really it was sweet!!!!

    Impressive!! I must say!!! :smile:

    Posted by emma  on  03/25  at  09:29 AM
  43. I don’t know what it is about your blog that compels me to play “Top that Academic Humiliation,” but here goes.  At the very same job where my first question of the day in the first class I ever taught was about a masturbation scene I didn’t even know existed in Native Son, I had a similar car accident.  I arrived on campus for said first job, a half-time visiting instructorship at my alma mater, all fresh and chirpy.  My former mentor took me out for drinks and informed me that he’d been against my hire; he wanted me to know so he could get it off his chest.  Something about the principle of hiring a spouse instead, I forget, because I finished my drink practically in tears.  A week or so later at the first department party I managed to break a dish and fled early.  I jumped into my car, backed out of my parking space, and dinged a car.  I had to go back in to ask whose it was and, lo and behold, it was my former mentor’s brand-new something or other.  Damage was, yes, $500 exactly, plus $250 or so to realign the pinstripe.  I paid him for the damage with a credit-card check I was still paying off a year later.  He was not magnanimous about it; I was later told that he never even took the car out when it rained. I still cringe when I think about it a decade later.

    Posted by  on  03/26  at  10:42 AM
  44. I found Cache(Hidden) a very interesting character study, with one of the most shocking and gasp inducing scenes of violence that I may have ever viewed in my 30+ years of movie watching.  I also found the story to be very adeptly revealed, building a palpable sense of fear and confusion for the characters who were not in a position to understand the reasons behind the actions which were occurring.  I was, however, fairly disappointed in the ending, but it did not spoil my overall appreciation of the film.  What did you think?

    Posted by  on  03/26  at  03:49 PM
  45. Regarding the local weekly’s bad film review, I concur but I also find them very useful.

    Godfrey Cheshire is extremely consistent about having the exact opposite opinion about films than my partner and I do.  Therefore we assume he is wrong all the time, and get helpful information about what films to see.  This system hasn’t led us wrong yet.

    Posted by Ruby Sinreich  on  03/27  at  12:53 AM
  46. Haven’t seen Caché yet, but the plot reminds me a bit of the unjustly little-known 1999 American film, The Corndog Man, which you can read about here at IMDB or here at MRQE , the very useful Movie Review Query Engine.

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  47. Don’t worry about Berube being in a heap o trouble.  I’m taking him out for dinner tomorrow night to thank him for his contributions.  I never did like that new fender on my new car, not that I had much of a chance to warm up to it.  And now I’ll get an even newer fender, courtesy of Michael.

    Posted by  on  03/28  at  10:55 PM
  48. Oh hon. You should have gone contra dancing instead!  Nightingale was playing all Sat afternoon and we coulda taken you to the house concert afterwards.  Speaking of communities, the contra dance community down here is awesome.  We’d have taken you in and made sure you had a GOOD time!  At least you got to enjoy the view from the balcony.  Sorry about the sleet.  It was the most pitiful attempt at winter weather we had all season.

    Loving your writing, btw.

    Posted by  on  04/03  at  11:02 PM
  49. Man, I bet you’re having fun causing all these mess. WTH. WTH. When there’s no fun in life, you hit anything that moves, like a dog humps.

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  51. Great write up of this special read.  It is on my vacation reading list and I’ll probably situation the ordination on Virago when I return from Lake Tahoe this weekend

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  57. I badly needed to learn about,the Armory isn’t a club; it’s an armory.  And that meant that there was a good hardwood dance floor, weird lighting, and Snickers and water bottles at the concession stand.  But I had a good time, and walked myself home promptly at 1.

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