August 04, 2005
truly, is there anything more soul-destroyingly tedious than packing up and moving? i have spent all morning sneezing at unmitigated pieces of dust as the emerge from the backs of pieces of furniture i haven't cleaned behind since, well, ever. somehow i have managed to generate three refuse sacks full of crap from one rather small room. crap, as they ought to say, begets crap – it would certainly explain why i seem to have been hording back issues of the new york times under my bed in the manner of one of those strange old people who went a bit mental in the blitz and could never bear to part with anythng and then ended their lives on a bbc2 documentary called 'freaky dirty old person' or similar.
and i'm only clearing out one room – how do people manage to move house without laying waste to those about them with a pick-axe? curiously, my family have never moved house – my parents just build new bits on to it every five years or so. sheer bloody bone-idleness, i call it. it is, i think, the domestic equivalent of those rich people who only wear their underpants once and then buy new ones. but also not.
so i am nearly packed and ready to a) go home to the UK and b) move to a new house in the USA. this, of course, is what is known the profession as the 'double-move' (brilliant, no?) and will all end in tears. it is not that i am having trouble deciding what needs to be in which town (or, indeed, on whch continental landmass) but i seem to have failed to provision myself with the requisite number of suitcases. it is another one of those grown-up things. proper grown-ups always have luggage – and spare cases in the attic. thus luggage goes on my list of things to get when i'm a proper grown-up. also on:
more than one saucepan.
drink glasses which are not for wine or beer
July 26, 2005
in the course of putting together my syllabus for the 'human experimentation: history, politics and contemporary issues' module i'm running next year at the uw-madison, i have come across any number of bizarre pieces of research that have been done on people without their knowing.
for example, the 'tearoom' studies of 1972, in which a psychologist hung out in gay cruising areas, specifically public lavatories, found out where the guys lived by noting down their car number plates, then, a year or so later, went to their houses posing as a market researcher and asked them about their lives.
or the 'urinal periscope' experiments. under the premise that standing next to another guy makes you pee less quickly because you are aroused (no, really) a group of american psychologists rigged up a camera in a public bathroom's urinals in such a manner that it could register how mich pee was being peed. i shit you not. they then put up 'out of use' signs on some of the urinals, thereby forcing men to pee next to one another. then they measured the volume of their 'stream' (ahem) via the secret periscope camera.
beyond wondering just what it is with psychologists and public bathrooms, and putting aside the obvious violations of respect for personhood, i have to say i'm kind of pleased i get to teach a course with so much intrinsic comedy.
of course, there's also a lot about the nazi doctors, which is less with the funny.
sarah jane smith is going to be in the next season of doctor who.
this makes me blissfully happy.
sarah – as played by elisabeth sladen – was always my favourite companion. and now she's coming back. is perfect. instant cannonisation for russell t davies, i think.
July 25, 2005
for reasons known only to myself, i am watching the 'musical episode' of 'that 70s show'. other than making me want to slap ashton kutcher (ok, making me want to slap him even more than usual) it puts me in mind of what joss whedon said of the 'buffy' equivalent: 'once more with feeling':
"we didn't want to do it where we just changed the words to a bunch of motown songs…" ( i could be paraphrasing – as many important historians have said.)
this, of course, is precisely what 'that 70s show' has done. except more with the 70s rock and less with the motown. hell, roger bloody daltrey (or the other one) from the who is in it. good lord, he gets about. the last thing i saw him in was the cartoon channel's ace 'teen titans' playing a psychotic villain. hmmm. is it a career up from 'boris the spider'? anyhoos. this musical episode of 'that 70s show' sucks like a dyson. and i say this not merely because it pales next to 'once more with feeling' but because it is shit. musical episodes are not inherently bad (see, for example, the unlikely triumph of the 'suddenly susan' episode which takes place in 1900s san fransisco and involves the best rendition of 'proud mary' this side of tina turner and cher at the vh1 divasII concert) but this is poo on a stick.
i'm also starting to think that the above are the only musical episodes i have ever seen. which is tragic.
as the first person ever to comment on my blogling, mr matt milner of new brunswick, canada, wins a prize.
it's a pony.
July 24, 2005
temps (thankfully) perdu
god, it just occurred to me how awful it would be if proust had had a blog. can you imagine? jesus. he'd never have shut up.
other literary figures we can be thankful died avant la internet:
ayn rand – no need to give her any more opportunity to put thought to form, eh?
anthony powell – 'a dance to the music of time' would have gone on forever and been even more boring than it already is. actually, that might not be such a bad idea, as then we could all have been spared the 1997 c4 adaptation which i am nominating as the worst product of the adaptation-mania of late 20th century british television.
virginia woolf – 'i know,' said leonard, i'll just log on to ginny's blog and see what she's been up to… oh, christ, oh, how awful… wow… oh, god… this is so depressing… oh.. maybe we should move to richmond.'
ted hughes – as he would only update it when he came across some particularly picturesque roadkill, thus driving his wife to write poetry about her dreary petit-bourgeois yank family and their awful awful ways.
catherine cookson – new entry every three minutes, all of which mysteriously seem to be about a young scullery maid in an unspecified mill town who up ends up marrying well, opening a woolshop, burning it down to claim the insurance and then, possibly, dying in either the crimea or abject poverty.