Dear Former Students,


Mr. Peabody, Sherman, and the Wayback Machine

Thanks for writing–I always enjoy getting e-mails from my students.  However, when you write to me after your final grades have been posted asking “if there’s something [you] can do” to improve your grade, I have to wonder.  Are you offering me a bribe?  (What do you have that you think I would possibly want?  Actually, I’m kind of curious about that–but believe me, you don’t have anything that I want.)  Or, are you simply unclear on the concept of final grades?

The only thing you could possibly do at this point is to invent a time machine to take yourself back to August or September, and then come to class every day and do all of the assigned reading and writing assignments.  Continue reading

Saturday round-up: happy holidays & happy trails! edition

elvgrenxmasHistoriann et famille are off to celebrate the holidays in our special, special way:  with too much sugar, fat, a Jell-o salad or two, and “the airing of the grievances,” Festivus-style.  And lots and lots of bourbon–you know, for the children.  I hope all of you are somewhere you want to be this year, with people you want to be with.  (And if you’re not, then I hope your travels will be short!)

What’s in this box?  Salted caramels?  An I-Pod?  A NEW CAR??

While our wagon makes it way East, here are a few tidbits out there on the world-wide non peer-reviewed internets that just might keep you clicking back for more:

Friday doll blogging: Wes Anderson and nostalgia as a limitlessly renewable resource


I’ve been slacking off on my doll blogging over the past several months–so it occurred to me that a certain stop-action animated movie I saw recently might qualify as a doll post!

I saw The Fantastic Mr. Fox last weekend.  Wes Anderson has become a successful director because he shares and manipulates baby boomers’ and Gen Xers’ nostalgia for our childhood:  the mid-century office technologies, the clothing that always looks like it’s right out of a Goodwill grab bag ca. 1963-1979, the self-conscious references to things that appealed to children in the 1960s and 1970s (Jacques Cousteau and Davy Crockett, for example.  Pass the Space Food Sticks and Tang!)  If you’re in your mid-30s to your mid-50s, Anderson is like a very clever kid brother who missed out on all of the fun you had during your late midcentury childhood, and who’s getting rich selling it back to you in idealized dreamscape slices.

As to the movie itself:  Continue reading

Howard Dean: harshing that Village of Oz buzz

wizardcurtainI always liked Howard Dean.  I thought he was the best choice in 2004, and although I don’t know if he would have beat Bush, he would have gone down swinging (unlike John Kerry.)  Although he’s been on TV over the last several months speaking up for “health care reform,” like the good Dem that he is, he has decided that he can’t support (today’s) iteration of the Senate bill

So, guess what?  The good doctor, who is not in office now, has no role in the Dem party, and doesn’t have a role in government anywhere, MUST BE DESTROYED.  Again!  He’s being accused of having “lost his mind!”  The White House has whispered that it’s all “irrational,” just his personal beef with Joe Lieberman.  Sen. Jay Rockefeller–a totally useless Dem if there ever was one–accuses Dean of being childish, “sob”ing and “complain”ing: Continue reading

Intellectual dishonesty: Ur doin' it rite on the "left!"

healthcarenowRemember back during the George W. Bush administration, when lefties laughed and laughed at the intellectual (as if!) contortions the right engaged in as they tried to reconcile their isolationism and defict hawkishness with Bush’s spending sprees and the invasion and occupation of Iraq?  And, remember back during the Dem primaries last year when we were told over and over again that Barack Obama was a magical healing presence who could bind up the nation’s wounds and banish partisanship to the ends of the Earth?

Well, some of us–or should I say more accurately, some of you–better sit up, grab your forks, and get ready to chow down on some Humble (or Umble) PieCheck out this embarrassment from Michael Tomasky:  apparently, because Obama hasn’t accomplished much in his first 11 months in office and because partisanship has only gotten worse, it means that the U.S. political system is “broken.”  That’s right–Dear Leader is in fact powerless before a few determined loudmouths in the Senate.  (I’m speaking of President Joe Lieberman, President Blanche Lincoln, President Olympia Snowe, President Max Baucus, President Ben Nelson, President Chuck Grassley, and President Mary Landrieu–who all have more power than President Barack Obama because they’re not afraid to use the levers they have to get what they want.  Too bad Obama didn’t learn at their feet when he was their junior colleague!) Continue reading

Tiger Woods: Who cares?

golfI mean, seriously:  what is this, 1998?  Are we all children?  Who is ever surprised that professional athletes are tough dogs to keep on the porch?  They’re celebrities who are (usually) in shape, they travel a lot, and they have lots and lots and lots of money.  Like the kids used to say back in the 1990s:  do the math.

I get it that a lot of middle-aged sports writers got to know Tiger Woods when he hit the scene 15 years ago as a teen-aged phenom, but he grew up, and they seem to be unable to deal with that fact.  Continue reading