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After the MLA

OK, I suppose I have time for one more gasp before 2006 breathes its last.  Last year and the year before, I wrote some of the most tedious post-MLA essays ever composed, like this two-part, 3000-word recap of one of my sessions along with a discussion of whether the MLA can call for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, and then this two-part, 9000-word extravaganza on the MLA and the NYU strike resolution.  So I imagine that at least some of you are bracing yourselves for a 27,000-word minimonograph on the procedures by which the MLA elects its Executive Officer for the Week, and how the MLA Constitution can be amended, by a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs, but by a two-thirds majority in the case of more major. . . .

Be quiet!  I order you to be quiet!

Right.

The great thing about this year’s MLA was that I no longer serve on the Delegate Assembly Organizing Committee, and thus did not have to attend the four-hour DA meeting or the 90-minute Open Hearing on Resolutions or the 90-minute Open Hearing on Motions or the 90-minute Closed Meeting of the DAOC to Discuss the Open Hearings.  (Yes, these are all real events.) So: I got in a couple of relaxing and very badly needed hour-long workouts at the Loews fitness center, and (with one caveat that I’ll get to in a moment) I’ve gotta say that the Loews Philly is my favorite MLA hotel ever.  It’s a converted office building—in fact, it’s this converted office building, and the appointments are très modern, très cool, very well done.  (Janet and I had a great room two years ago when we arrived with kids in tow; this year, for the first time since my interview year in 1988, I was traveling solo while Janet, Nick and Jamie hung out and had fun in Connecticut.) And I actually went to some sessions and talked to some people, almost like a real human.  And I had one dinner with some old friends and another dinner with a whole passel of fellow bloggers (though I believe the proper term is “an enlightenment of bloggers”).  All of these human interactions turned out to be quite pleasant—and for an extra special added treat, I also got to meet the dynamic physics-and-blogging duo of Sean Carroll and Jennifer Ouellette, the former of whom I’ve corresponded with since ‘way back in ‘04 when blogs were still cool, and the latter of whom turns out to be a French-Canadian expat whose folks moved down to Lewiston, Maine (my father’s hometown) and who lived for a number of years in New York, so as you can imagine, we had almost nothing to talk about.  Except books, of course.  We suggested some titles for Jennifer’s new book, and then Sean and Jennifer asked me to sign copies of What’s Liberal? and Rhet Ox, and then Sean said he forgave me for not having a copy of Spacetime and Geometry: An Introduction to General Relativity for him to sign, because he knew “it’s too bulky” for me to carry around for a week or so.  Which sounds gracious at first, but is actually one of those nasty relativistic-kinda taunts about how light bends around his book but not around my book.  Still, now that I’m home I’ve ordered it to be delivered through the appropriate Internets tubes to the appropriate spacetime coordinates, because its Amazon reviews are way, way better than mine.

About my hotel room.  On Wednesday, the first day of the conference, I went to hear Robert Boynton, Carlo Rotella, and Laura Kipnis, on a panel moderated by Jeff Williams.  It was a great session, and since there were about a half-dozen of my friends in the room, we all invited ourselves out for a post-session drink.  But since I hadn’t had anything to eat since 9 that morning, and I do try to remain vertical at MLA conferences for as long as I can, I excused myself, saying I’d be back in a half hour or so, and I grabbed a sandwich and took it back to my hotel room, where I planned to dine modestly, divest myself of the briefcase, etc.  Well, when I entered my room the television was on, the lights were low, there was a bathrobe laid out on the near bed, and there were two wine glasses and an ice bucket on the bedside table.  For a full ten seconds (count ‘em off, it’s longer than you think) I was convinced I was in someone else’s room.  For one thing, I almost never watch TV in hotels, so I knew I hadn’t left mine on.  And the bathrobe, the ice bucket . . . I was quite sure I had stumbled somehow into this guy’s room.  Anyway, I usually like the personal turn-down service and all, but I have to say this was a little too personal.

On Thursday night I briefly attended the post-Presidential Address nightcaps party on the 33rd floor of the Loews—the top floor, from which the views of the city are really extraordinary.  And as I made my way from cashew dish to onion dip, I remembered my very first experience of an MLA nightcaps party.  It was 1990, in Chicago, and the reason I’d received an invitation was that I’d published an essay in PMLA that year.  Jamie wasn’t born yet, and Nick was just four, and Janet and I didn’t have any babysitters in town, so even though the nightcaps parties run from 10 to 11:30, we actually took Nick with us.  We were only going to stay a few minutes, anyway—we didn’t really know anyone there.  We just wanted to see what the top of the Hyatt looked like, and gaze out over Chicago’s nighttime sky.  Well, when then-Executive Director Phyllis Franklin saw that there was a small child at the party, she came over to greet Nick, smiled, and said, “You know, I think I might have something for you.” She led him over to what looked like an ordinary panel in the wall—but it was no ordinary panel!  It was a secret door into her suite, where she showed him a basket of fine chocolates she’d received earlier in the day!  “I can’t eat any of these myself,” she said, “but perhaps you might like a few.” What could be better than that?  We remember Phyllis fondly in our house.  “That was cool, huh?” Janet said to Nick on the way out, and between bites of fine chocolate Nick agreed.  “And way better than the National Association of Scholars conference,” I added, “when we brought Nick to the nightcaps party and Gertrude Himmelfarb gave him a bag of broken glass.”

OK, that last bit isn’t exactly true.

I gave two talks this year.  One on a panel with Rita Felski and Amardeep Singh, and one on a panel with Scott Eric Kaufman, John Holbo, and Tedra Osell.  Both my talks were about bloggy matters, and on both panels I went last, immediately preceded by smart and provocative papers from Rita and Tedra.  I began each talk with the (quite accurate) sense that I was delivering the weakest and thinnest paper in the session, but I didn’t obsess about this, because I was on good panels and there’s no I in team and I left it all out there on the field and now I just have to regroup and play my game.  You know how it feels when you think you’re just repeating yourself over and over again?  I tried to have some fun with this in my first paper, by opening like so:

I have the unpleasant feeling that a lot of the people in this room know pretty much what I’m going to say before I say it.  Fourteen years ago, at one of these little gatherings, I gave a paper in which I argued that people should do more writing for nonrefereed journals and other public venues, and that paper wound up as the basis for a chapter in a book called Public Access, which argued the same thing.  So you might expect that I’d say something similar about writing for online journals and blogs, since I have a blog of my own and all.  But I thought I’d try something different this year, just to shake things up.  I’m going to argue that scholars in English and the modern languages should write only for scholarly journals, and leave the magazines and newspapers to the publicity hounds and assorted used-car salespersons of our discipline.  Furthermore, I’m going to argue that these “computers” are a passing fad, and that there is neither dignity nor virtue in scribbling for the easily entertained screen-readers of the so-called blogoglobe.  Last but not least, and this is the cool part, I’m going to argue that my new position is not in fact a new position at all, but rather a simple extrapolation of everything I’ve said and written to this point in my career, and I invite you all to go back and check for yourselves.

But even that wasn’t very much fun, as fun goes. 

Maybe it’s just me.  December was so physically and emotionally draining, what with the papers and exams and recommendations and overdue dead-tree essays to write and then the trip to my mother’s.  (And those Weblog Awards and Show Trials!) In fact, the whole semester was physically and emotionally draining.  I come to the end of 2006 feeling flabby and weary and exhausted and also weary.  And also feeling like I’ve been trying to write way too much for way too long, so that my prose has been getting flabby and weary too.  You know how it feels when you think you’re just repeating yourself over and over again?  Well, I made my mouth utter the words I’d written for my MLA talks, but I had no idea how to end either paper, and I think that was kinda obvious.  There was even a rumor going around the MLA that this here blog is in its last throes, and since I started the rumor myself it may actually be true.  Right now, though, I’m going to get off this here blog and spend some time with my family.  Seriously!  We’re having a ridiculously early New Year’s Eve dinner at one of State College’s two good restaurants, and then we’re going to welcome 2007 as best we can.  And we wish all of you a happy and healthy and very heathen New Year!

Posted by on 12/31 at 12:46 PM
  1. It’s not how much light you bend, it’s whether you minimize your action.

    Great meeting you, Michael!  Have a felicitous 2007, with no more or less blogging than is exactly appropriate.

    Posted by Sean Carroll  on  12/31  at  02:11 PM
  2. Hey Professor Berube,

    For what it’s worth, your writing on this blog and elsewhere in the blogosphere has often had the unnerving effect of forcing me to change my mind. I’ve gone away from your remarks on a situation and thought, “Well, there is something here that I can’t dismiss. It really ticks me off, but it is also really well thought out and explains a lot that I didn’t understand before.”

    However, I think you are wrong about this part of your recent MLA argument:

    “Furthermore, I’m going to argue that these “computers” are a passing fad, and that there is neither dignity nor virtue in scribbling for the easily entertained screen-readers of the so-called blogoglobe.”

    Okay, okay… so there may not be much dignity in squaring off against Ted Haggard in a virtual cage match. smile And there may not be great virtue in condemning Chris Clarke for his heinous love of the wilderness.

    But you’ve done something important by bringing together such an unlikely collective of readers, and fostering a forum in which we can learn from each other. In my daily life, I doubt I would have the inclination or opportunity to converse with the citizens of your humble blog: christian h, Oaktown Girl, Bill Benzon, Chris Clarke, and the like. I will be sorry when and if you do blog off, over and out, for good; but I’ll look for your scholarship and cheeky smarts in other forums.

    captcha: thinking, as in what you’ve helped me do.

    Posted by  on  12/31  at  02:35 PM
  3. Two MB-related observations:

    1) You really hit the right tone with your pronunciation of the ironic “computers.” I imagine the way you pronounced that word is the way George Will sounds all the time;

    2) You look a lot more powerful in real life. Weird, but true. I suggest you fix the blog photo as necessary. You could photoshop muscles onto your face--say, around your ears--but probably the easier fix is just to crop the photo much more tightly: eyes, mouth, a bit of forehead, and that’s it. Trust me: it’d be more authentic, represent the phenomenological encounter in all its terror and complexity, revivify the author function, &c., if that’s what we want to shoot for here.

    Posted by  on  12/31  at  02:42 PM
  4. I come to the end of 2006 feeling flabby and weary and exhausted and also weary.

    Oh man, do I sympathize. Empathize even. There seems to be a lot of that going around—in cyber space and in three-dimensional realms.

    How’s your mother doing, by the way?  Hope she’s healing as quickly as possible and that her physical therapists aren’t meanies.  Sending good wishes for the new year to her, to you, and to the whole extended clan.

    Posted by Dr. Virago  on  12/31  at  03:18 PM
  5. "Last throes?” Riiiiight-- we’ve been hearing that phrase a lot of late, so I’ll believe it when the other hors de combat boot drops.

    Posted by Romy B.  on  12/31  at  03:26 PM
  6. Maybe it’s just me.  December was so physically and emotionally draining,…

    It’s pretty much everyone I know. Natural cues of cold and lightless-ness, artificial ends of semester, fiscal and calendar year; an effective drain opens from the lowest point.

    There’s nothing flabby about being Google’s first response to dolphin torn gong tormented.

    Safe happy nearly hangover-free Monday morning to all.

    Posted by black dog barking  on  12/31  at  03:45 PM
  7. OK, Romy, then would you believe me if I said that my future posts consist of a bunch of dead-enders?

    Dr. V., thanks for asking.  (And empathizing!) Let’s put it this way:  me mum will require a return visit ASAP.  Probably the week after next.  That’s ASA I can manage.

    Thanks, Foucault and Karl!  Foucault, I’m not quite done here yet, but yeah, this unlikely collective of readers is really something.  You all are basically what’s kept me doing this long past the time when I realized I no longer really had the time to do it right.  And Karl, I look more powerful in real life because I am more powerful in real life.  Three dimensions and everything!

    And bdb, if this is the lowest point, does that mean it’s all uphill from here?

    Sean, it was great to meet you at last.  And thanks for the passel of urls!  They’re most entertaining.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/31  at  03:49 PM
  8. Well, I was going to add that I hope you hang around long enough to win the Koufax Award for best series on Jamie. I suspect/hope that will happen this year.

    And I think there is some value to repeating oneself; after a while, you pare away the things that you’ve said again and again, only to find the “original” or under-explored idea that was buried in all the stuffing. Your response to the guy at the TANK who said the Internets lack memory (whereas print culture has memory) turned a lightbulb on in my head, so there is at least one “novel” turn that you performed this year.

    Anyhow, all the best to everyone in 2007. May your real and virtual explorations shed light on what is important to you, and may you find the means to keep doing what you love and want to do.

    Posted by  on  12/31  at  04:12 PM
  9. Didn’t you end 2006 with some kind of amazing hockey performance? (My eyes tend to glaze over at the hockey blogging but I remember something about thin socks and lots of goals.)

    Posted by luolin  on  12/31  at  04:44 PM
  10. Didn’t you end 2006 with some kind of amazing hockey performance?

    Well, there was this, but I have no idea how it could have happened.  In my next two games, my performances were far more modest and in keeping with my actual state of readiness.  Though I have to say I played some serious defense in one of those games and even hit the ice to block a slapshot in the final minute of a 4-3 game.

    Posted by  on  12/31  at  04:54 PM
  11. Just wondering, which do you consider to be State College’s 2 good restaurants?  I’m guessing not the Tavern and the Corner Room.

    Posted by  on  12/31  at  06:08 PM
  12. Happy New Year Michael et al.

    After three feet of snow here in the last week and a half I am feeling a bit *over* rested myself.  Here, I’ll send you stress monsters some:

    ~ ` º º ` º• ~

    Posted by  on  12/31  at  06:36 PM
  13. This is a terrifically entertaining post. You said exactly what we were thinking but phrased it much more cleverly and succinctly than we ever could. Thank you so much for writing it! Please keep up the good work; you know how demanding we are!

    Posted by  on  12/31  at  06:56 PM
  14. I’m guessing not the Tavern and the Corner Room.

    Those were probably the best two from 1885-1975, sadly enough.  Today, Zola and Alto.  Let’s hope they don’t merge in 2007 to form Zolto.

    Posted by  on  12/31  at  08:08 PM
  15. Happy 2007 Michael and the Gang.

    Man… I was really not supposed to live this long. Now, I just don’t know what to do with myself. Maybe, I’ll just sit back and watch the fireworks. That doesn’t sound so bad. Not bad at all.

    Posted by Centrally Certified Content Publisher  on  12/31  at  08:42 PM
  16. Auguste wants me to ask you if you mentioned us by name during your talk.  Because it will all be worth it if we get to be famous and shit.*

    *Assuming that being mentioned by name at a MLA panel=fame and possibly fortune.

    Posted by Amanda Marcotte  on  12/31  at  09:29 PM
  17. Well, if you must know, I mentioned you (plural you) repeatedly.  So you and Auguste will be repeatedly famous and fortunous and shit in the new year!  Just send your relevant account numbers to the MLA at michaelberube.com and you will receive untold riches in 2007!

    Posted by Michael  on  12/31  at  10:26 PM
  18. Happy New Year…

    ...and thanks for making the year a lot more interesting than it might have been.

    Thanks, also, for allowing me to feel that I’m not a complete idiot.  As you know, I’ve only recently found my way back to academia but, since arriving, I’ve been grumbling about how people inside only seem to write to each other--and I have proclaimed most foolishly that I want to write for people outside, too.  When I say that “they all move away from me on the bench.”

    Since discovering this here blog, now, as they look at their watches and claim late appointments, I say, “Well, Michael Berube feels somewhat the same way.”

    “Who?” they respond, coats on, door open.  “Never heard of him.”

    “He… “ but I’m too late.  Door slams.

    (I guess it’s the thought that counts.)

    Captcha: “young” As in, “The year is still young!”

    But it’s not.

    Posted by Aaron Barlow  on  12/31  at  11:09 PM
  19. You look a lot more powerful in real life....it’d be more authentic, represent the phenomenological encounter in all its terror and complexity, revivify the author function. . .

    Talk about power, wait’ll you see him swing a mongrelmashie. Now that’s power.

    And in a red shirt, too!

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  12/31  at  11:33 PM
  20. You could photoshop muscles onto your face--say, around your ears

    R: Look at that dude, he’s got muscles in his ear.

    John Q. Smith (from Anytown, USA): That’s Michael Bérubé!

    R: No, that’s Agnes Moorhead.

    Posted by  on  01/01  at  12:20 AM
  21. December blues--it’s gotta be the golf.  PGA in silly season, no chance to play till May (if you’re sane, that is), the dome’s worn out its welcome (and vice versa).  Truly the cruelest month.

    Posted by The Constructivist  on  01/01  at  04:40 AM
  22. I think I found a course that can serve as a rough draft toward the official syllabus of the WAAGNFNP, btw.  scribblingwoman taught it.  Perhaps the next WAAGNFNP GP (group project) could be to create a syllabus for a year-long interdisciplinary course.  We can call it WAAGNFNP 101:  Introduction to the End of the World.  If that’s not enough motivation for FHP to keep on keepin’ on, I don’t know what is.

    Posted by The Constructivist  on  01/01  at  04:56 AM
  23. ...and MB also quoted Fafblog, in his first talk. Everyone laughed.

    BB and Ralph: you’ve out-alluded me. Google came to my help in the first case to let me know that it wasn’t just the second bottle of champagne that kept me from knowing what a mongrelmashie was; but, Ralph, you’ve stumped me. Amusing bit, though: googling “he’s got muscles in his ear” gets me this for the third hit:

    Celebrity Arrests | Star Muscle
    He then licked his private area and scratched his ears. ... He’s got a legendary voice and was the best character on the Larry Sanders Show, ...
    http://www.starmuscle.com/category/celebrity-arrests/ - 28k - 30 Dec 2006 -

    Why click? Forget Christ: what could be greater than the story that entry tells?

    Constructivist: oh, that is a nice class. Only 6 weeks long because it’s the summer session? I keenly feel the lack of this play.

    Posted by  on  01/01  at  12:28 PM
  24. If we are going to embrace this class as part of our official WAAGNFNP indoctrination program (complete with an online degree for successful candidates), then shouldn’t we at least devote a chapter to the “Contender Ministries?” I feel that a cross-cultural comparison of the signs associated with the end of time is very useful. 

    http://contenderministries.org/prophecy/eschatology.php

    Posted by  on  01/01  at  12:35 PM
  25. (though I believe the proper term is “an enlightenment of bloggers”)

    Correct, per the Tenured Radicals’ Lexicon. However, most in the media properly use The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage which suggests “an obscenity of bloggers”. ("a commune” or even “a collective” may also be used for progressive bloggers depending on the self-serving meta-narrative in play.)

    Of course, any gathering of bloggers that includes Ann Althouse is properly called “an abomination of bloggers”.

    and I have proclaimed most foolishly that I want to write for people outside, too.  When I say that “they all move away from me on the bench.”

    If you simply add “in order to better indoctrinate them” they’ll all came back. And you can have a great time on the bench, talkin’ about brainwashing, free speech limiting, conservative student harrassing, all kinds of groovy things…

    Oh, and Michael - not too put too much pressure on - but keep blogging or National Lampoon will always already have shot this dog - thirty(captcha) years ago.

    NL034-Jan1973.jpg

    Posted by  on  01/01  at  01:01 PM
  26. Just send your relevant account numbers to the MLA at michaelberube.com and you will receive untold riches in 2007!

    I wasn’t aware you lived in Nigeria. Do they have good hockey there

    Posted by Amanda Marcotte  on  01/01  at  02:33 PM
  27. Happy New Beers!

    P.S. You can play (captcha) SOME golf in between December and May.  What’s sanity got to do with it?  I outgrew Sanity Clause long ago.

    Posted by  on  01/01  at  03:00 PM
  28. On occasion my father would paint some old golf balls with red nail polish and go out in the snow.

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  01/01  at  03:27 PM
  29. I suppose that that fumble recovery and return for a touchdown marks some sort of propitious talisman for this western calendar year change.  Although, the choice of the WSU cougar as the Mascot of the Year pretty much sums up the entire spectacle of these “celebratory games” (that mascot doesn’t even get a nod up here in its own home region).

    Maybe the hideousness of the new Dr Pepper commercial says more about our future (You in those computers) than either of the above: “I want it Now, I want it All!”

    I look forward to the lunar new year in February, as it will mark the end of a full 60 year cycle for me.  Anyway, see you all in the computers through the internets tubes.

    Posted by  on  01/01  at  04:11 PM
  30. keep blogging or National Lampoon will always already have shot this dog - thirty(captcha) years ago

    Damn, a threat in an ambiguous verb tense and mood.  What should I will have done?  Or not?

    Posted by Michael  on  01/01  at  04:24 PM
  31. Happy New Year to you and the family, MB.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  01/01  at  07:42 PM
  32. Karl @ 23:

    That’s from “How Can You Be in Two Places at Once, When You’re Not Anywhere at All,” by the Firesign Theatre. The original reference was to the far less muscular and dangeral Steve Reeves. I highly recommend all of their ‘60s output, which remains startlingly relevant in these trying times of crisis and universal brouhaha, as well as just plain damn funny.

    Posted by  on  01/02  at  12:42 AM
  33. My local Barnes and Noble shelves Dr. Bérubé’s book, What’s Liberal, in the Teacher’s Reference section, which is unhelpfully located in the Children’s Books part of the store. Oy vey.

    (Please don’t be offended—Barnes and Noble is a big corporation; I live in the same town as Powell’s Books; etc.—but B&N gave me a 30% discount.)

    JP, please don’t let them have shot that dog!

    Posted by  on  01/02  at  03:55 AM
  34. Paisley: thanks. ‘Don’t Crush That Dwarf’ was essential listening for me in high school, since memorizing the Holy Grail wasn’t quite nerdy enough. I’ve never tracked down their other work. Perhaps I will?

    Posted by  on  01/02  at  10:30 AM
  35. No!  We might have been liking this blog!  Also, to uncloset myself, I was in The Program with you (I think we only overlapped one year, though, and no, I Didn’t Finish--ABD forever!); I sort of like following what you’re up to (Local Boy Made Good and all), without having to read those danged academic articles.

    Posted by emily  on  01/02  at  11:08 AM
  36. Best wishes for 2007 to you and your family.  Thanks for another educational, enterttaining, and pluperfectly dangeral year.

    Posted by  on  01/02  at  11:49 AM
  37. One step closer to being an answer on Jeopardy.

    From Roger Ailes’ (the one not affliated with Fox) 2006 political quiz.
    http://rogerailes.blogspot.com/2006_12_31_archive.html#791137611090158413#791137611090158413

    7. The following author/s and book were featured on Meet the Press with Tim Russert:

    a. Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, co-author, Crashing the Gates
    b. Glenn Reynolds, author, An Army of Davids
    c. Sheri Zollinger and Scott Clevenger, authors, Better Living Through Bad Movies
    d. John Podhoretz, author Can She Be Stopped?
    e. Michael Berube, author The BeRube Code

    I know, of course, you are just too much on the left to be invited on Meet the Press, but doesn’t The BeRube Code begin with this well-known sentence:
    http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/001628.html

    Renowned hunter of dangerous professors Davie Halfwitz peered at the computer screen; he had discovered the network.

    Posted by  on  01/02  at  11:49 AM
  38. Which sounds gracious at first, but is actually one of those nasty relativistic-kinda taunts about how light bends around his book but not around my book.

    Now, now, that’s not entirely true.  Light is definitely deflected by What’s Liberal[...]? For that matter, I also found it opaque.  On the other hand, I suppose Rhetorical Occasions could leave light unbent, if it, like your head, were ghostly and massless.

    It’s not how much light you bend, it’s whether you minimize your action.

    I thought that the most one could be rigorously certain about was an extremum.  And when I think “extreme action,” I think Bérubé.

    But since I hadn’t had anything to eat since 9 that morning

    Oh, for Milcom’s sake, Professor, yet again you mess up your eating schedule?  Was the breakfast at least a good one this time?

    I’ve only recently found my way back to academia but, since arriving, I’ve been grumbling about how people inside only seem to write to each other

    You think that’s bad, Professor Barlow, try being an irregular commenter at Pandagon.  (Sniffle) And to think, I wrestled usage of “Amanda Panda” from a troll when Ms. Marcotte was just knee-high to a horned toad.

    Posted by  on  01/02  at  12:36 PM
  39. I hear tell the weather in upstate New York has been quite golf-conducive lately.  If where-the-hell-is-it-in-PA-again? has been having similar good fortune, I prescribe one round of golf before the first(?) blizzard of the year hits to cure post-MLA ennui.  And since “sane golfer” is one a’ them oxy-morons, I heartily endorse the December-May golfers who show that the May-December types are just fair weather obsessives.

    BTW, if a certain villanelle lady is reading this, I came across a most excellent reading of Sherman Alexie’s use of the form (in a poetry collection from the 1990s whose name escapes me) to write through loss and mourning.  Of course the citation is on the laptop, but I do remember it was from 2005 and maybe from a journal like American Literature.

    Any regulars here going to be at the Hawaii conference in a couple of weeks?  I’ll be giving a terrible paper on the 12th if anyone’s in Honolulu and is interested in Marshall, Devi, trauma, and mourning.

    Posted by The Constructivist  on  01/02  at  01:21 PM
  40. Your Eminence Sir,

    I regret that our paths didn’t cross--or, more accurately, that I wasn’t able to spot you across the lobby of the Marriott only to chase you down and proclaim, “Hello, Your Eminence,” which greeting would probably have baffled everyone in earshot, including, perhaps, you(r eminence) yourself.

    I also missed your panel because as a first-time job-beggar, I spent the entire time scurrying from hotel to hotel.

    It’s amazing how much of my time outside of interviews was spent gawking at people and looking none-too-surreptitiously at their name tages trying to figure out if they were sombodies or fellow nobodies. I saw Gordon Teskey @ the Marriott lobby but my interview-fried brain couldn’t match the face to the name, so I spent a few seconds circling around him like a weirdo. It was only later that I realized who he was and asked myself, “That hair--how could I have failed to recognize that hair!”

    Posted by e. fiction  on  01/02  at  01:44 PM
  41. Verrry verrry funny, Michael. Thank you. And here I was afraid that, like Billmon, you were going to pack it in. Or perhaps I miscloseread your previous posting…

    Posted by  on  01/02  at  02:18 PM
  42. oops. sorry. wrong post…

    Posted by  on  01/02  at  02:20 PM
  43. here I was afraid that, like Billmon, you were going to pack it in

    Not just yet!  I got a couple of days left in me.

    And this post was pretty funny, now that I think about it.

    Posted by Michael  on  01/02  at  03:31 PM
  44. Happy New Year Michael!

    I wanted to make it up to MLA to attend the Bloggers’ panel since I’m a big fan of this blog and my wife was presenting a paper at the MLA convention this year and we’d planned to hang out in Philly some while she was there. We’re also friends of Tedra Ossel’s and fans of her blog, esp. since I found out about your blog by reading hers.

    So, it would have been fun to attend the panel and get to meet you in person and talk about how impossible it is to play drums like Al Jackson Jr, much less Clyde Stubblefield, and argue over which of us played in the more obscure college rock band back in the day: Baby Opaque vs. the Husbians. (I win. No one’s heard of the Husbians outside of the 17 people who bought our one and only CD. How FEW copies did Baby Opaque sell, huh?)

    Alas, I was too exhausted by our holiday travels to make it into Philly. So, I’ll just have to keep haranguing my wife until she secures a speaking engagement for you at York College of PA.

    Hope you’re able to keep up the blogging--you’ve inspired me to rethink, among other things, my “Chomsky is always right” way of critiquing U.S. foreign policy. Chomsky and the ZMag/ZNet folks were the only voices from the left that I could find in the aftermath of 9/11 but I just couldn’t reconcile myself with some of their positions. It was nice to find your blog and its community of smart people who were actually THINKING and DISCUSSING their positions on the 9/11 attacks, the Afghan War, Iraq, etc. as well as deconstructing the ridiculous “positions” of Centrists, the Right and Far Right, etc.

    So, I’d hate to see you shut down Le Blog Berube but, frankly, I don’t see how you manage it all and wouldn’t blame you if you closed the shutters for awhile.

    Cheers.
    TR

    Posted by  on  01/02  at  04:50 PM
  45. Karl, I was once told by Terry Pratchett that the requirements for obtaining English citizenship included reciting the “Dead Parrot” sketch and singing the “Lumberjack Song.”

    I would certainly suggest you delve further into the Firesign catalog, and definitely include the Procter/Bergman one-off “TV or Not TV,” which took a prescient look at a life in the day of cable channel 85 way back in 1973.

    “Good morning or evening or good afternoon, how difficult it is to tell the time when you’re trapped in a tiny room with artificial lights. Let me scare you with a story.”

    Posted by  on  01/02  at  09:02 PM
  46. Constructivist, thanks for the reference . . . I’ll find it and check it out.

    Posted by  on  01/02  at  11:50 PM
  47. It requires mention that Todd R’s wife is, in fact, the actual real-life model for Bitch’s fashion sense, and if only she had been in the panel audience, I hear tell that Professor Osell would have liked very much to have pointed that out.

    Also, Professor Bérubé, albeit tired, is nonetheless amusing and generous and talks a mile a minute.

    Posted by bitchphd  on  01/03  at  02:26 PM
  48. Constructivist, thank for the situation . . . On the time my father would paint some old golf balls with red nail polish and exit not at home in the snow. Thanks buddy! smile

    Posted by Randy petarson  on  05/02  at  10:18 AM

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