I had some friends visit last week, which should explain my total absence from blogging (and the internet in general). Anyway, I feel the need to put something up here so that it doesn't seem like I've entirely abandoned the blog. To that end, a brief list:
- While my friends were here, they convinced me to read Neil Gaimon's American Gods. I'd read the first two Sandman graphic novels and enjoyed them, so it wasn't exactly a hard sell. I'm happy to note that American Gods was wonderful. It reminded me a lot of Douglas Adams' The Long, Dark Tea Time of the Soul, though slightly more serious. What impressed me most about American Gods was its originality and ability to surprise me: I never felt that I knew what would happen next in the novel and the characters (even those with theologically/mythologically pre-determined natures) were unique and memorable.
- Also, my friends convinced me to rent and watch Thank You For Smoking while they were here. Again, an excellent call on their part: the movie was fantastic. I don't think I've laughed so much while watching a movie in quite some time. I'm already scheming up ways to show parts of the movie to my class in the Fall.
- Inspired by a ridiculous comment by the teacher of the German class I just finished taking ("When you think of the Industrial Revolution, you think of Pittsburgh"*), my friends and I spent the past week making increasingly ridiculous statements as we wandered around the city ("Pittsburgh invented Christopher Columbus;" "Pittsburgh invented America;" "Pittsburgh invented Elephants;" etc., etc.).
- I've been unable to get to work on any of the stuff I "need" to be working on--like those papers I said I wanted to get ready to send out--because another idea has popped into my head and won't let me go. Taking the advice I've received from the Object-Oriented Philosophy blog, I've decided to strike while the iron is hot and get to work on this idea. There will be plenty of time to get a rough version of this paper together and to work on those other things. Given that this is the first paper I've ever written without any outside prompting or context (like a class or a conference), I'm really anxious to get some feedback.
- Two short books I'm enjoying working my way through right now: Roland Barthes' Writing Degree Zero (although the chapters on "Writing and the Novel" and "Is There Any Poetic Writing?" are something of a slog) and Dick Hebdige's Subculture: The Meaning of Style. The former is helping me re-think some sections of one of the paper's I should be working on and the latter is helping me think through some problems I'm facing in the paper I am working on.
- I'm heading home for a month or so this coming week. I'm looking forward to being back in Canada and seeing some friends. I don't know if I'll have the chance or not, but it would also be nice to see my sister and my brother, his wife, and my niece.
*For the record, when I think of the Industrial Revolution, I think of English cities like Manchester, Birmingham, and Liverpool.