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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Goin’ south

February was another record-breaking month for this record-breaking blog.  We had 220,000 visitors in January, and 225,000 in February—a remarkable thing, for three reasons: we’d never broken 200,000 before, and February is three days shorter than January in the Northern hemisphere, and the January stats were fueled by an Eschalanche on January 12.  As all of us ordinary bloggers know, there are visitor stats, and then there are Atrios-inflected visitor stats.  Anyway, thank you all, once again, for stopping by.

So, then.  Now seems a good time to announce that I’ll be gone for the month of March.

No, I’m not going to be completely gone—I’ll keep posting twice a week, and I’ll fill in the blog here and there with a pungent combination of short essays (previously published) and Greatest Hits from back in the prehistoric era when this blog was giddy with delight at the idea of having one thousand readers in a single day.  But I’m cutting back drastically for the entire month of March, because . . .

I have me a short-term fellowship from the National Humanities Center!  And I’ll be living in an apartment in balmy North Carolina for the next thirty days!

It’s very weird, and a little scary.  I’ve never done anything like this before, for the obvious reasons: child number one, and child number two.  Now you know why I’ve been thinking so much about Jamie lately: I’ve never been apart from him for so long.  When he was still a baby, in early 1993, I was in Brazil for two weeks on a secret mission for the U.S. Information Agency (I’ll post my account of that trip at some point), but since then I haven’t been apart from him for more than a couple of days at a time.  We’ve been talking about it every night, and he seems perfectly OK with it.  But we’ll have to see how it goes.

And what about Janet?  Well, of course being apart from Janet will be rough as well.  But we have some precedent: she taught in Ireland for a month in 2003 and will do so again this summer, and back in the Boys’ Summer of 1996, I got her a sublet in Chicago for three months so that she could finish her book without endless interruptions from well-meaning colleagues asking her to serve on this committee and that Summer Internship thing and so forth.  So this is simply the first time I’ve gone away.

As for what I’ll be doing at the NHC: I’m tempted to say—really, really tempted—that I’ve been appointed to the Institute for Advanced Snark and Horowitz Mockery, because that would be mildly funny.  But really, I’ll be reading many many books and making notes for the Next Big Project.  About which, of course, I cannot speak, because talking about such things always jinxes them.

In the meantime, you’re welcome to contribute to the latest Comment Party on this humble and bag-packing blog.  It was started by “g” in comment 40 to yesterday’s post

I’m working on a project to feed Horowitz and his disciples (the Bruin professors kid and “Dean” Chris Flickinger) the names of some truly reprehensible professors—all of whom are characters in fiction. I baited Horowitz with the character knowns as “Orshee” in Richard Russo’s “Straight Man,” and got an email back from him with a request for more info.

The suggestions that follow are creative and hilarious.  They also bump up next to a project that Chris Clarke has reportedly been working on for a while: compiling a list of Fictional Characters Who Are Hurting America.  Chris, you see, noted with some impatience that these lists—Horowitz’s and Bernie Goldberg’s—confine themselves to “actual” people, or at least to wingnuts’ fantasies about actual people, and completely ignore the fictional characters who are trying to destroy our country.  Chris asked for names a few weeks ago, and I mentioned, among others, Stagger Lee and The Vodka-Drinking Welfare Queen.  Stop by Chris’s place today and say hi—and tell him Professor Pnin sent you!

Posted by Michael on 03/01 at 11:26 AM
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