Case of the Mondays

- drunk with the power of my new position, I use it (my power) to unilaterally declare that beethoven will be taught in the “Romantic” section of this class, rather than the “Classical,” where he has resided for over 20 years at this institution. I am roundly applauded for my boldness

- I am sent an automatically-generated email informing me that I as a new employee I am required to go to a “workplace bullying” workshop today that was two hours long and where we learned that nobody under the age of 40 has ever heard of the term “indian-giver.” Luckily, they have now

- seething with selfishness, I tell my husband “I am taking all of the coffee; you can make coffee for yourself in the small pot.” He says “ok” (workplace bullying)

- I am become Committee Member, powerful scheduler and rescheduler of innumerable meetings

- Over a period of two weeks, I try to relax each night right before bed by methodically reading online recaps of every single episode of Walking Dead seasons 2-5

- I keep not finishing my work in time to go to the gym each day, so I do 40 pushups while drinking vodka and call it good

- We are ten deep into our project of watching 19 Hitchcock films in a row because of my husband’s job. You might think they are all good movies but you would be wrong….DEAD wrong

- I come to the conclusion that David O. Selznick was a complete psychopath (see above)

- I am asked by a student in class if Carlos Santana is as talented as Jimmy Page. I say it depends

- I am awoken literally every single morning between 5 and 6 by a powerful surge of adrenaline and nausea; my unconscious reminding me that it is once again time to face another day of thinking incessantly about how I have to write a book and publish it in five years or I will lose my job and never get another one. It is pitch black outside and I stand looking into my own eyes in the bathroom mirror. My face looks like a human skeleton face; I can not read the expression in my own eyes

- Great weather; gray and cold and wet, just how I like it

- I think constantly about how my husband is making lasagna tonight

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New England Traditions

As our ancestors stored nuts and berries in tunnels underneath the ground to prepare for winter, so do we modern humans order many “upcycled” wool products off etsy as we feel the weather changing. I think I am almost ready for winter, although I still need to put a new lining in my pea coat, which will cost $100 and be a huge pain and I have now put it off almost too late I think. The good news is I still have the enormous knee-length all-wool hooded J.Crew coat I somehow found at Goodwill for $10 and lived in all winter in Iowa and which, while less fashionable than my pea coat, is much more warm. Yesterday I won an ebay auction for a pair of classic Sorel boots; I bought some truly zany mittens made of recycled sweaters from an old lady on etsy, and today I will get out and wash all my hats, scarves, and long underwear. In the immortal words of every character from Game of Thrones including a couple of ravens as I recall, winter is coming.

One of my students informed me that a goose had gotten on his bus that morning. In New England, this is the surest sign that winter is on its way.

Other New England traditions I am excited to take part in as the season changes:
- annual pumpkin-hurling contest
- the bi-monthly traditional pie pageant, where every unmarried woman over the age of 21 dresses as her best pie and is judged by a council of elders
- warding off the evil eye by burning a page from the Torah every fortnight
- hiring a chimney sweep
- paying the chimney sweep with a cup of hot spiced wine
- end-of-summer dance in town hall at the end of which a small goat is sacrificed to Thor
- “Who Can Make The Best Pumpkin Lasagna”
- witch hunt to insure a good harvest
- tradition where before you bake the first loaf of winter you cleanse the oven with a eucharist wafer and a bay leaf dipped in holy water while chanting “BABY JESUS DIED”
- “leading a horse into a pit”
- annual thrashing back of the thornbushes
- solstice rattlesnake hunt with rattlesnake hot dog judging contest in the town square afterward
- ceremonial scarecrow ritual where one boy-child under the age of four is volunteered by his parents to be placed in a rattan cage and dangled over smoky coals until the God of Death is appeased for one more winter
- puppy costume contest
- “Who Can Eat The Most Raw Pumpkins In One Sitting”
- Annual Autumn Carnival with Real Abbatoir: the lone survivor is declared Mayor
- Blessing ritual wherein the new Mayor is covered in vaseline and rolled in straw
- Breaking up the winter doldrums by loading a bunch of witches into a sack and throwing them into the old mill pond
- cleaning the old mill pond and disposing of witch-bones
- Weekly market where townspeople trade the fruits of their winter in-home labors, such as small beads made of animal dung, and bags full of unraveled sweaters
- smoking fish over a woodfire and then throwing the fish in the face of an unmarried female neighbor
- Annual tradition where local men of marrying age chase all the unmarried women over a cliff
- Tradition where a jar of pennies is placed on the mantel, and the first person to say “it’s too fucking cold” has to eat the pennies
- If your winter-child is born sideways you have to give it as a slave to the Mayor’s wife
- First person to find and capture a wild hog is given the hog, a bag of potatoes, and the oldest unmarried woman in town
- Solstice Carrot Hunt: find all the carrots and throw them into the sea
- Shave a Miami Dolphins logo into the right flank of your best milker; this will keep away vampires
- Each night father reads to the family from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance; first child to fall asleep is whipped
- Town fair with whale judging contest
- BYOB roller skating night at the quonset hut with local DJs
- All you can eat duck quesadillas to benefit the volunteer fire department
- “Casino Night” where townspeople dress as grifters and commit violence in the streets
- If you get an abortion from a witch you have to run ten times around the old mill pond in just your underwear and then the Mayor raises you as his daughter
- trying to rob the bank; whoever succeeds is hung by the neck until he is dead
- dress a duck up as your favorite superhero, then kill it, rip out all its feathers, and eat it
- “Debate Night” in town hall where local folk debate the issues of the day, such as building a wall around the town to keep out spirits
- hot toddies

One of the things on that list is real! (besides hot toddies). Can you guess which one we are legitimately going to do?

Other real things I will do as autumn turns to deathly winter:
re-read House of Leaves
on Halloween night we will eat Doritos and watch Mario Bava films
That’s Pretty Much It

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Hitchcock, Dostoevsky, and such-and-such

I keep wanting to write blog entries even though I barely do more than 1-2 things each day and those things are too boring to blog about, but they take up so much mental room in my brain that I feel I am not even having interesting thoughts to muse upon either. Like all I think about is my job, global warming, and police brutality. All we talk about is police brutality. We teach all day then we get in the car and the old man is like “they shot another kid in St. Louis” and then we are off. It is surreal to be privileged white professors talking passionately about racist police murders. Luckily it does come up in class, as one of my students said something about Ferguson and another one didn’t know what that was, so I got one of my prized chances to subtly indoctrinate. And by “subtle” I mean saying “the police system is a racist racket that protects private property, not citizens”

We watched “Rope” last night, which is not in chronological order. I hadn’t seen it since college. The funny thing about Rope is that everyone makes this big deal out of how it’s done in one shot! When first of all, there are quite famously these several moments throughout where the camera zooms all the way in to the back of someone’s black jacket, clearly to provide a place for an edit–a technique that has been much parodied and that is really obvious and funny each time it occurs in the film. But furthermore, there are just straight-up cuts! Like regular cuts, shot-reverse-shot stuff. I don’t get it. “Was that a cut?” the old man kept yelling. There are at least three cuts. It’s truly amazing how film lore gets passed down. Like the one about how Birth of a Nation is the first narrative film. It’s just simply not true! There are tons of storytelling films from before 1917. And like, even DW GRIFFITH HIMSELF had ALREADY MADE NARRATIVE FILMS before he made Birth of a Nation. Long ones, too! Or people also say Birth of a Nation was the first film to have its own specially-constructed score that traveled with it. Also untrue. But still you see these “facts” repeated everywhere, even in legitimate film criticism, and EVEN in legitimate film SCHOLARSHIP. It’s incredible. So Rope being filmed in one shot is just a thing everyone knows about Rope, even though a simple viewing the film proves almost immediately that it’s just not the case. I also don’t understand why he did the zoom-ins on black jackets to provide places to cut when he also just had regular cuts. Did he just hope no one would notice? Well, he was right, so I guess it all worked out.

Anyway, Rope. The performances are wonderful, as is all the contemporary fancypantsing (“it belongs in a museum except that it’s such nice crystal and I hate to break up the set”) and talking about drinking (like they are all surprised when he serves champagne even though literally every other conceivable type of booze is also being offered and swilled in enormous amounts). Jimmy Stewart is weird and creepy in it, a very different character from the one he usually plays (aside from his role as Ultimate Creepster Of All Time in Vertigo of course), and they talk about pop culture! “I went to the movies once. I saw Mary Pickford.” “Oh, I ADORE her!” Plus a heated debate about the foxiness of Errol Flynn.

I really wish the movie WERE shot in one shot though because it would mean the actor who plays the guy they murder in the opening scene–who has no lines–would have had to stay folded up in that trunk for the duration of the shot.

It’s a really great movie until Jimmy Stewart’s dumb enraged speech at the end. “How could you have taken what I said and twisted it so that it could justify murder?” “You mean all that stuff you said about how murder is justified?”

When it was over we discussed it.

“It’s a Crime and Punishment story. It’s a dumb story.”
“I thought you just said it was a good movie except for Jimmy Stewart’s speech at the end.”
“It is a good movie, but the Crime and Punishment story is a dumb story, I just realized.”
“Well it’s an allegory.”
“Everyone says that, but what’s it an allegory FOR?”
“It’s dumb”


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