Without really trying to, I just submitted a book review for publication without printing a single sheet of paper during the composition of it. I did all my revisions on the laptop screen.
This is a new experience. The most surprising part is that I didn’t intend to do this; it just happened. I do my writing on a laptop that is only occasionally connected to a printer (and haven’t yet gotten to the point of wirelessly connecting to a printer).
I have yet to decide whether the revisions might have been better if I’d marked up a hard copy instead of revising on screen.
In struggling with the Big Writing Project lately, I’ve been getting unexpected sustenance from writers who are not particularly scholarly. It’s not easy to explain how this has worked. Continue reading →
In the Old World, she’s been written up and talked about for a long, long time. Her stock was probably lowest around the sixteenth century, but since then she has come roaring back. Now pagans, poets, and environmentalists sing her praises, and everyone else has heard of her. (She has her own holiday, although people aren’t clear about which day it should be observed on.)
As best I can tell, though, she never visited the New World until after the Old World colonized it. She’s an immigrant. Continue reading →
A few more vignettes from Alabama and the northern Gulf coast:
Tar balls from the Deepwater Horizon spill appeared on the Dauphin Island shore on Saturday. According to the Mobile Press-Register, “about 100 workers in white hazmat suits, yellow boots and black gloves were picking up samples of black-stained sand near the pier, as beachgoers nearby waded in the water, played football and made sandcastles.” Continue reading →
We’re going to see a local production of Romeo and Juliet, staged in the fabricating shed at Sloss Furnaces. The former iron mill, active from 1882 to 1971, has become a Birmingham arts venue.
Elizabeth Hunter’s Shakespearean company, Muse of Fire, has been staging annual Shakespeare plays that draw on the city’s dancers, musicians, comedians, and other artists to swell the scene. The results can be quirky — the witches in Macbeth summoned belly-dancing familiars, for instance — but to me it’s part of the American tradition of appropriating and naturalizing Shakespeare as one of us. And I guess the belly dancers are an extension of the dancing and singing that Elizabethan performers did between the acts of a play, more to keep the audience friendly than to advance the plot. Continue reading →
I’ve avoided mention of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico because there are no words for the enormity of it. The pessimist in me supposes that we can look forward to more of this kind of death-dealing merchant-adventurism in our future. The optimist in me is silent.
The only consequences BP appears likely to suffer are unanticipated expenditures, some nagging civil lawsuits, and a short-term drop in retail sales at the pump.
Compare that to the trashing of the two most vital ecosystems in the northern Gulf (the Mississippi and Alabama river deltas), not to mention the fisheries that thousands of people depend on for a living. Throw in the poisoning of uncounted sea and shore animals, at a time of year when birds converge on the Gulf coast to mate and raise chicks. To top it all, BP’s recklessness will pepper the Gulf’s beaches with nasty tarballs — that’s if we’re very lucky. If we’re unlucky, we’ll get a noisome coat of glistening crude that will sicken and kill for years to come.
We also get to be a laboratory for what happens when you squirt poisonous dispersants into a living sea. Anyone want to guess? Continue reading →
I’m very pleased with the Snow Leopard release of Mac OS X. I bought it at the beginning of the month, but put off installing it until I had reached a milestone with my dissertation. Continue reading →
The fire alarm sounded in the library. People heaved the usual sighs of disgust.
It’s always some half-wit student pulling an alarm as a prank. But we know the drill: Pack up your things and exit the library in an orderly fashion. Firefighters will come and search the entire building. Once they are satisfied, we can go inside again.
You never know. One day it could be a real fire.
Well, this evening a group of us, strangers, but all grad students, stayed at our tables and kept working. Not just until we got to a stopping place, as we usually do when this weary stunt occurs. No, we stayed until a police officer entered the room.
“Y’all have to leave.”
So we descend the stairwell, klaxons echoing from all sides.
I’m the oldest of the group of laggards. A librarian greets us at the exit with a cheery, “You’re burned up.” Next person. “Burned up. Burned up.”
He sees me and falls silent. I have gray hair. Too old to be kidded. But what a disgrace, for someone of my age to hang back when the alarm goes off.
This is a music video for a song from the first, self-titled album by Vieux Farka Touré. He’s the acclaimed musician son of the great Ali Farka Touré. Both hail from the town of Niakunké, Mali, west Africa. (Not far from Timbuktu, actually.)
The video seems to have been shot in Niafunké, and maybe in the capital, Bamako. To me, much of it has a home-movie feel. Enjoy the music.