May 23, 2005

Understanding Keats

I bent slightly at the waist and peered apathetically through the tiny window of CPO #1134. After two weeks of eagerly checking the mail three and four times a day, I couldn't handle the disappointment anymore. And, true to form, as soon as I stopped expecting my package slip to be waiting, there it was. I calmly carried it up to the front desk and immediately used my CPO key to tear into the box they handed me in return.

Packing peanuts went everywhere in a spray of white foam, floating listlessly to the floor of MSC-1, but I barely noticed . . . There it was: The long-awaited purchase. The coveted UPS package. My own personal cloth-bound, dust-jacketed, shrink-wrapped Holy Grail, Flannery O'Connor herself smiling up at me from the shiny black cover, her last name sprawling under her picture in large, flowing white script . . .

Collected Works

Wise Blood
A Good Man Is Hard to Find
The Violent Bear It Away
Everything That Rises Must Converge
Essays and Letters

I read carefully over the titles listed under the name before gathering up the scattered peanuts, tossing the box, and removing the shrink-wrap. A quick glance over the table of contents told me that I held over 1200 pages of pulchritudinous prose in my hands, while a quick glance at my watch told me I had just ten minutes to get to Philosophy class. I do believe I floated all the way over to Longview Hall . . .

I was extremely distracted during the first hour of class, barely able to wait to show off my new treasure. I briefly discussed it with Ashley (who was gratifyingly appreciative) at the beginning of our ten-minute break . . . then made a beeline for the office of Dr. Coppinger. I breezed by the secretary (distracted by a phone call) and ducked inside his door.

He was looking quite casual today as he moved about his office tidying up, decked out in a blue Hawaiian shirt punctuated by tropical yellow flowers. I greeted him and we talked for a second or two before he spotted O'Connor under my arm. He took it reverently in both hands and admired it for a few moments. Opening to the table of contents and leafing through a few sections for closer inspection, he declared himself to be officially jealous. He owns numerous O'Connor works, but no handy single-volume version of them all. My Collected Works also contains about nine short stories and an essay or two not published in most collections . . . and, of course, The Letters.

He wanted to know where I got it and we talked a bit more about that and other related matters, then I noted that my break would soon be over and moved towards the door. He saw me to the outer office door, as usual, and with the usual pleasant farewells, but I thought I detected a slight anomaly of tone. Just before I exited, he made the oddest repressed-strangling noise . . . sort of as if he were physically forcing his hands to his own throat in order to resist the urge to hit me over the back of the head with the nearest blunt object and abscond with the book. The image amused me so much I laughed to myself all the way back to class.

During the second half of Philosophy, even Dr. Batts noticed my O'Connor sitting out on the desk as he handed out a quiz. "Oooo!" he exclaimed, pausing for a moment to stare. "Lucky you!" I could only nod in agreement. I think I'll sleep with it under my pillow tonight.

Suddenly, I think I understand John Keats a lot better . . . My somewhat bemused English Lit journal of last February comes to mind. Does increased identification with a Romantic poet make me a healthy English major or a lost cause? (Please don't say "Yes.")

Posted by Jared at 11:48 PM | TrackBack


There simply is no way that I can reasonably be expected to tolerate mornings unless I haven't had to get up . . . and the only way that's possible is if I haven't been to bed the night before. Tonight I was up late preparing a brief presentation on Immanuel Kant for Intro to Philosophy and getting distracted by a few computer maintenance issues.

Of course, as is standard practice for me, I was distracted considerably by the usual researching rabbit trails . . . tonight found me snaking my way through information on The Enlightenment, the Romantic movement, Pietism, and the like, as well as trying to wrap my head around a number of Kantian terms like "categorical imperative" and "transcendental idealism." Knowing that I had work at 8:00 and not really wanting to go to bed for less than four hours, I decided to put on a load of laundry and install World of Warcraft. My laundry is now in the final stages of drying, and WoW is 42% through downloading the necessary updates. Huzzah.

I also wanted to mention the coolest thing . . . I was driving up to the computer labs shortly after 8 pm, and I flipped on my favorite local radio station (101.9) which plays jazz, big band, and, in general, the kinds of songs you might expect to hear if you flipped on your radio during the '30s and '40s. But tonight I heard something different . . . The Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy Show guest starring Roy Rogers and Frank Sinatra! Apparently the station has an hour of "Golden Age of Radio" every Sunday night. I parked and stayed in the car to listen . . . Such great stuff.

Anyway, it won't be long before the summer gets really crazy for a bit. My Government class starts on Wednesday and my online Cold War course begins next Monday, but Philosophy doesn't end until June 8th. I just looked over the syllabus for Cold War and it's going to be a lot of work. Plus Kubricht is using the eight-point grading scale . . . a pus-filled skin disease of a thing which I thought was confined to certain areas of the English department. Apparently it's spreading. I checked Kubricht's Russia syllabus, and he had a ten-point scale for that class. Apparently this is a special treat just for summer sucke-- errr . . . students.

Meanwhile, Anna and Scholl should be back sometime this evening, and Rachel is leaving on Friday (I'm driving her to Dallas from whence she will fly further west). A few summer activities I'm already looking forward to include Opera Longview's production of The Pirates of Penzance in a few weeks and the Texas Shakespeare Festival's performances of A Midsummer Night's Dream and MacBeth . . . and possibly Cyrano de Bergerac as well.

And now it's time for me to start moving around again. The update download is at 67%, so I should check on my laundry and find some caffeine or sugar quick. I'd better make sure I give my presentation today . . . presenting while high is a blast. Anyway . . . Ta!

Posted by Jared at 07:24 AM | TrackBack

May 19, 2005

Hitchhiking the Galaxy, One Last Time

It was around Monday afternoon when I decided it might be a good idea to go get tickets to see Episode III if I wanted to get in on opening day . . . and I did want to. I know what you're thinking (possibly) . . . I had to hear it from a few different people already when I mentioned my plan.

Well, I enjoy Star Wars, and until fairly recently I was something of a fanatic. But I've never been on an opening day. Return of the Jedi came out almost exactly three months before I was born. I didn't even see Star Wars for the first time until some months after the Special Editions were released in theaters. The Phantom Menace was released here while I was in Guatemala (I guess that would have been the summer after 9th grade), and it was released in Guatemala shortly after I came to the US for the duration of the summer. I was faced with the same problem when Attack of the Clones came out the year I graduated from high school. Revenge of the Sith was my first and last chance to watch a brand-new Star Wars movie along with the rest of the world, and I took it.

I was pretty big into Star Wars for about a five year period, as detailed here, and I am still on the fringes of that, in many ways. Sure, I'm way too much of a film and literature geek now to have much in the way of interest or resources left over for Star Wars anymore. However, at the very least, you don't just watch five movies out of a series of six and ignore the middle chapter that ties them all together.

Anyway, I drove by Hollywood 9 on Monday to grab the tickets for self, Rachel, Ashley, Audra, and Randy, and spotted Longview's lone fanatic (a heavyset, twenty-something female complete with Jedi padawan costume, tent, various and sundry creature comforts, and a few proud relatives snapping pictures before leaving her there until the Thursday morning release). That's one depth I've never really sunk to, although I have vague memories of once wearing a bathrobe that had a toy lightsaber attached to the belt when I had an all-day Star Wars marathon at home.

But I digress . . . Let's skip to the movie before I get further off-track. 'Ware the evil spoilers ahead. I saw it Thursday evening, and I think it was the first Star Wars movie which I've been able to watch with some sort of objectivity since I saw the very first one eight years ago. Speaking of which, the following is my attempt to rate all six movies, having finally seen the sixth.

Episode I: The Phantom Menace - 71% C-
Episode II: Attack of the Clones - 77% C+
Episode III: Revenge of the Sith - 89% B+
Episode IV: A New Hope - 95% A
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back - 97% A+
Episode VI: Return of the Jedi - 91% A-

RotS was a giant step in the direction of the feel and quality of the original trilogy, but the chasm between the two trilogies was, ultimately, just a teensy bit too wide. Overall, I really liked the movie, but a number of details just stuck in my craw. Lucas had literally painted himself into a corner by the end of AotC, and it really showed here. The inconsistencies and leaps of logic flew thick and fast, almost (but not quite) smothering the plot. The reason they do not is because Episode III, pretty much by default, is granted the happy circumstance of transcending plot entirely.

In ANH we find Artoo and Threepio aboard the Tantive IV in the employ of Captain Antilles. Obi-Wan is a hermit on Tatooine. Leia Organa is a princess of Alderaan and Luke lives with his aunt and uncle on Tatooine. Emperor Palpatine has been the leader of the Galactic Empire for some time and has just dissolved the Senate. Darth Vader is his widely-feared enforcer. We discover Yoda in exile on Dagobah in TESB, and there do not seem to be anymore Jedi anywhere. Padme is apparently dead. When Obi-Wan and Vader square off on board the Death Star (a fight which makes them both seem geriatric compared to the lava-leaping madness in RotS) we know this is not their first showdown. And, although it is not described anywhere in the original trilogy, Star Wars fans have somehow known for decades that Obi-Wan fought with Anakin over some sort of lava pit and burned his body horribly when he won. The list goes on and on . . .

But AotC ends a looooong way from the beginning ANH, how on earth did the characters get from point A to point B? Why didn't Threepio remember having been on Tatooine? How and why did the Skywalker family split in all directions? How could Palpatine have stepped into absolute power and eliminated practically all of the Jedi? RotS is a movie which exists primarily to bridge a gap and tie up all of the loose ends. And although it doesn't entirely succeed, as we watch it we don't notice as much that the plot is unlikely and inconsistent because almost every scene manages to explain something that fans have been wondering about since 1977 (or whenever they first saw ANH).

Palpatine is deformed by his own force lightning in a showdown with Mace Windu. Threepio has his memory wiped so he'll keep quiet (something he would never do otherwise). The twins are split up in order to be less noticeable (presumably in the Force). Hundreds of thousands of clone troopers who are genetically hardwired to obey receive the order to eliminate their Jedi officers. And when that crucial lava fight appears on the screen after so many years of speculation, we are completely lost in the spectacle.

And so, I think the movie works beautifully in a way that pleases fans. The biggest weakness of the prequels thus far has been in their atmosphere. The original Star Wars movies suffered from cheesy dialogue, bad effects, and even wooden acting from time to time, but they had heart, and somehow they managed a seamless, timeless escapism. Made during two of the decades most notorious for churning out tacky pop culture, the original movies emerged almost unscathed. Not so, the prequels . . . from fast-talking sports announcers to fifties diners, somewhere along the way I lost the feeling that I was watching something "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away." If that sports announcer had one less head, or that diner owner had two fewer arms, they would be stereotypes that we know all too well.

RotS minimalized this and other problems to enough of a degree that I felt like I was watching a true Star Wars movie again. It isn't perfect, but if TPM had been at this level and the trilogy had worked up from here, imagine what a trilogy we'd have! My only complaints about the movie as a fan are fairly minor ones . . . like R2-D2. Why does he suddenly become Inspector Gadget for one movie only? I mean, I love Artoo, and that stuff was really awesome, but . . . internal consistency, George? And what's with him taking out two super battle droids single-handed? It's one thing to wonder about the quality of battle droids when the Jedi slice through approximately 37.2 a second, but when Artoo (as cool as the little bugger is) can take out two of the big ones with very little effort, we begin to wonder how the Separatists can even still be in the war. Little inconsistencies like that mar an otherwise enjoyable movie.

The time element borders on ridiculous. Without any way to really tell for sure, the movie seems to be taking place over the course of (at most) two weeks . . . But somehow Padme flies through several months of pregnancy during the interim. Maybe I just need to watch more closely a second time. Additionally, the planet of Mustafar is said to exist in the Outer Rim, while Coruscant is very near the center of the galaxy. In the books, a journey from one to the other would take days, possibly even weeks. Even from within the movies we know that a journey of that magnitude would take a bit of time . . . but Palpatine seems to make it there in about five minutes once he figures out that Anakin is in trouble. Suspension of disbelief for the purposes of stream-lining the plot is one thing, but all too often Lucas plays fast and loose with the rules so he can make something "work."

On the other hand, it's obvious that Lucas saw the big sign as he approached the screenplay for this movie: "Last Chance for Merchandising Here." In the original trilogy there are a fixed number of planets, aliens, droids, vehicles, and so forth which every Star Wars fan is quite familiar with. They have been picked apart, hashed, rehashed, and analyzed for every possible piece of information they might reveal about the SW galaxy. The first two prequels did their fair share in expanding that galaxy, but I would say that RotS alone just about doubled it. Lucas and his concept artists really went wild on this one, unleashing a barrage of new concepts which serve to make the galaxy that much larger. Star Wars fans will have plenty to talk about for years to come. From the odd Quetzalcoatl-type creature that Obi-Wan chases General Grievous on, to the strange planet covered in giant tropical flowers where Aayla Secura (the blue, Twi'lek Jedi) dies, to those crazy dragonfly helicopters that Wookiees fly around in, I loved what I was seeing. Those, among other things, were really cool ideas, and I was quite pleased on that level.

From the beginning, the movie was moving too fast. It lacked focus, and the plausibility suffered because there was just so much to get done. The scenes between Padme and Anakin are still, as a rule, the worst written in the movie by far. I continue to assert that no actor could save those lines. However, the closer the movie gets to the end, as things become clear and the pool of characters narrows, things begin to come together. I couldn't help noticing during some of my favorite scenes (Yoda squaring off against the Emperor, the birth of the twins juxtaposed with the construction of Vader's suit) that there is still some genuine movie-making talent behind these productions. George Lucas is a competent director (although he makes a better producer) . . . It's just too bad he doesn't realize he's such an absolutely abysmal screenwriter.

There's a lot more I could address, but this review is already directionless enough. I thought the movie ended on just the right note, and I had a good time watching it. Everyone should know better than to expect more than that out of a Star Wars movie.

I think I'll go see it again.

Posted by Jared at 11:59 PM | TrackBack

May 15, 2005

My O'Connor Still Isn't Here

The first week of summer is over now, and what a week it has been . . . Funny how much it has been defined by the status of a spontaneous purchase. Anyway, I haven't really got the energy to chronicle it fully right now, but I'll hit a few of the high points.

My O'Connor still isn't here, as noted above, but the other two are . . . and fortunately it didn't arrive on Saturday or I would have been frustrated indeed. I checked my mail after hours on Friday, noting a small sign which said something to the effect of "We have changed the locks on some of the CPOs. You may pick up your new key on Monday." I noted the strange shininess of my own CPOs lock, and my suspicions were confirmed when my key didn't work. That's two Netflix and a book of Flannery O'Connor goodness I won't be receiving this weekend . . .

My Korean roommates have been difficult to get a lock on. They have moved in slowly, moved back out, had different people moved in, tried to move me out, and relegated me to a small corner of the apartment. Despite the apparent complaining in those last few sentences, I've had no real trouble with them. There are between one and five of them sleeping here each night, but it's rather difficult to track since they stay up late (like, 4:30 am late) every night watching movies on the TV which sits right next to the place I used to sleep.

This TV is hooked up to a desktop computer and is never turned off, even when they aren't here (which happens regularly from about 5-11 pm every evening thus far). There was some minor trouble a few days ago when they randomly decided to move one of the couches out onto the porch between 4:30 and 8 am. I asked them to move it back in and they did, apologizing and saying they didn't know it was mine. I'd like to know who the hell else it could belong to . . . But nevermind. I have been allowed to keep to the office and am virtually never bothered back here, so here is where I spend my time quite happily during the few hours of the day when I am actually at home and not asleep.

Wednesday was my first day in Intro to Philosophy with a certain professor who will remain unnamed for the duration. His name in a Google search already ranks my site uncomfortably high, and I have never had anything but the most uncomplimentary things to say about his teaching . . . For those of you who have followed my blog long enough, he taught my Shakespeare class in Spring '04. For those of you who haven't, I direct you to the archives at the right.

The first hour of Philosophy brought all of my horrible memories of his "teaching" rushing back to me and by our first break I was already fuming. The situation was exacerbated by the fact that during break every day I walk right by Dr. Watson's film class, which I took last summer and which ranks as one of the finest courses offered at this university. It's almost unendurable.

Ashley, who is in the class with me, did her usual bit in defense of the teacher when I went off during the break, but by the time we were halfway through the first worksheet for homework, she was far less than pleased. This simply is not a real course . . . let alone a college-level one. I've had poor examples of teaching and much busywork in classes before, but I think what makes this grate so badly is the fact that our teacher is so consistently and vociferously convinced that he is offering excellent material which will fire our creativity and sharpen our critical thinking skills.

He couldn't be more wrong about this if he suggested that copying and pasting the table of contents of our textbook from the book's website onto a worksheet is comparable in learning value to discussing controversial metaphysical questions which are actually related to philosophy. Wait. That's exactly what he's doing. No lie. I wish I were joking.

Anyway, I'm sure you'll hear more from me on the subject as the month-long course progresses. I keep telling myself that one month is significantly less than one semester, so it's all worth it in the end . . . *sigh*

Meanwhile, in the last five days alone I have seen three movies which have a shot at the summer top ten: White Oleander with 97%, Rebecca with 98%, and Judgment at Nuremberg with 99%. The strength of the first lies in the superb acting talent it employs as well as some excellent storytelling through character development. The second is some of Hitchcock's best work, with an excellent balance between romance and suspense (sort of a Jane Eyre meets . . . well, okay, it's a lot like Jane Eyre, but there's more to it than just that) and his only film to win a Best Picture Oscar.

As for the final film, I cannot recommend it highly enough, especially to History majors. The film is a masterpiece on a number of levels, and I kept thinking throughout that I wished I had seen it last summer. At that time I saw and wrote about two movies in particular which kept coming to mind as I watched this one. One was Schindler's List, the other was a very short (32 min.) French documentary called Night and Fog. The movie finally provided the closure I needed after watching the two Holocaust films and should serve to bring any truly honest train of thought on the subject to its logical conclusion. This film echoed some of the thoughts I had about the documentary in particular last year (post linked above), but of course it was both more thorough and more eloquent, and provided a number of additional things for me to ponder carefully.

Judgment at Nuremberg came out in 1961 and is set in 1948, recounting the story of a trial of "lesser" Nazi war criminals: high-ranking judges from the court system. It paints an interesting picture, both of Germans and Americans at the time. In particular, I was captivated by the vision of an uncertain America on the brink of serious trouble with Soviet Russia. The Berlin airlift is in progress and the American people are focused almost all of their energy on Stalin's alarming power plays. Yet there still remains the question of what to do with these horrible, horrible Germans who murdered millions of people in cold blood. Some want to prosecute the entire race, others simply want to quietly forget, and still others are deeply concerned with putting the past behind them so that the German people can be enlisted in the intense ideological conflict which is building between democracy and communism.

Into the middle of this arrives a quiet, district court judge played by Spencer Tracy who must try to clear the muddied waters of a world that is trying to move on in order to arrive at a just verdict. Other compelling roles are filled by Burt Lancaster as one of the defendants, Richard Widmark as the prosecuting (or is it persecuting?) attorney, and Marlene Dietrich as a upper-class German woman who befriends Tracy's character . . . all members of a formidable ensemble cast which also includes William Shatner, Judy Garland, Montgomery Clift and Werner Klemperer (Col. Klink from Hogan's Heroes . . . !!! . . . also playing a minor role was the actor who played Major Hochstetter in the same series).

I had to save special mention for Maximilian Schell, who won the Best Actor Oscar for his incredible portrayal of the German lawyer who has been assigned to defend the Nazis. He is not exactly pleased with the job, but he is committed to giving them the best defense that he can, and before the end we begin to wonder whether he can keep form becoming sympathetic to their positions in the midst of his impassioned defense.

There is some excellent technical work in the movie. I was awed by the scene where Tracy walks through a massive arena where enormous Nazi rallies took place (one such rally appearing in the famous propoganda film Triumph of the Will). The entire place is deserted save for this one, lone figure trodding past the massive, empty construction of stone steps, pillars and platforms before which row upon row of identically-uniformed Nazis stood before der Furher. As Tracy walks along, we hear the Nazi anthem playing loud and clear, and as he glances over the spot, high above, where Hitler once stood and addressed hundreds of thousands, we hear his voice, piercing and insistent, haunting the place forever.

The movie brings powerful arguments to bear and asks many uncomfortable questions. It shows us, over and over, that the German people are just that . . . people. It blurs the lines between right and wrong, duty to country and duty to humanity, personal accountibility and responsibilty and loyalty and obedience, introducing large gray areas. And then, it brings them all back into sharp, hard focus at the end, with a searing indictment of the entire human race, including the viewer.

The movie (made, as I said, in 1961) is a brilliant and eloquent warning to an America emerging from the volatile atmosphere of the McCarthy years, but still very much in the midst of a stand-off with the Soviet Union. And as Spencer Tracy trudges out of a prison, formerly controlled by the Nazis, now lined with dozens of American MPs, to the tune of the Nazi national anthem, we know that the movie is saying that a single moment's inattention could take our own nation to the very brink of an incredible evil in the name of national security and the protection of our people and our ideals, if it hasn't already. Without getting too overtly political here (it's getting late and I need sleep) let me just say that the movie seems just as relevant now (or more) as it must have over forty years ago.

America, beware.

Posted by Jared at 11:59 PM | TrackBack

May 09, 2005

Wholly Matrimony

A wedding where 2/3 of the bridal party are members of the Shadow Council? Completely unheard of . . . until today. So sit back and relax as I recount to you the tale of the entire sordid affair: Jam sessions. Wardrobe malfunctions. Fleeing grooms. Noisy brides. Tall bridesmaids. Short bridesmaids. Sermons from THHGTTG. Food fights. Undertakers. Knives. Tankards. Ambushed groomsmen. True love. This story has it all . . .

I had to be at the church and into my tuxedo by 1:30, with lunch and a drive-by library drop off along the way. The latter two accomplished, I disappeared into the guys' dressing room (which doubles as a puppet theater) and climbed into the monkey suit amid much talking and laughing from all parties. Moore sat in the midst of it all, playing Baldur's Gate II on his little ol' laptop.

Scholl himself eventually appeared to change into his all-white tux . . . he looked like the sultan of Baghdad in that thing (as one of his brothers noted). Gallagher, meanwhile, had received the wrong tie from Al's Formal Wear, and he traded with the best man (so he would stand apart). Unfortunately, the best man's bow tie didn't work with Gallagher's shirt at all. Not to worry . . . after fifteen minutes of being pinned to the wall with a number of sharp objects uncomfortably near his throat, he pulled through looking quite presentable.

Upon reflection, the wedding almost feels like an extremely long period of standing still sandwiched between two long periods of photography. And, actually, I think that's right. But it wasn't as dull as it sounds. Well, okay, maybe picture-taking was (or would have been without Ziggy).

We took a whole round of pictures with the bride, then with the groom, and all the while Ziggy entertained us with a wide variety of selections (from the Imperial March to jazz). Throughout it all, when we weren't in front of the camera (and sometimes when we were), we groomsmen staved off the monotony by jiving to the groove (or whatever you wish to call it). It was fantastic.

Oh, yes, and let's not forget the part where Gallagher favored Scholl with a brief rendition of "My Heart Will Go On" (knowing that Scholl can turn violent when he hears it, but also knowing that Scholl was completely stuck having his picture taken).

Then, finally, it was 3:15 and almost time for the wedding to begin. Scholl got stuffed into a small room off to the side of the foyer while Anna was sequestered out of sight around the corner ("The marshmallow is in the bag," Gallagher muttered into his sleeve, playing Secret Service for a moment). Scholl kept popping his head out of the room, assessing the possibility of making a run for it, but it just wasn't going to happen.

The room he was in had a vent which opened into the hallway where Anna was standing with her bridesmaids . . . Now, obviously, keeping Anna quiet in her nervous state was going to be a labor of Herculean proportions (and we didn't have any demi-gods handy). Unfortunately, her nervous chatter was making Scholl nervous, so Gallagher disappeared into the little room to gab with him . . . and make sure he didn't try to slide out the room's other door. ("He's having his bachelor party in there," Wilson joked.)

When Gallagher wasn't able to drown out Anna alone, I joined them and we kept up a steady stream of talk between us until the processional began. The bride came in, safe and sound, preceded by her bridesmaids in all their vertical diversity (seriously . . . Ashley was what? Three feet taller than Ardith?).

The wedding from this point proceeded without a hitch. Dr. Woodring complained at the reception that the groomsmen looked like undertakers . . . I noted that he couldn't see Scholl's face, and at least we didn't look like we were being held at gunpoint. Dr. Watson, delivering the sermon, did his best to lighten the mood . . . and I guess he figured the best way to do that was to turn to Douglas Adams. The basis of his sermon was drawn in part from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Tee hee.

Anyway, it came to an end in due time and Anna and Scholl emerged, (as Scholl has referred to similar cases in the past) "a married problem, resultant of the merger of two formerly individual problems." Then there was a further spate of picture taking, which we escaped from in shifts (it was all very efficient thanks to Morgan . . . despite her disturbing enjoyment of power over us).

Anna and Scholl finally arrived at their reception, cut the cake, and (as expected) totally creamed each other with their pieces. Scholl had it up his nose, in his ear, and in his eyes and had to be helped to the bathroom to clean up. There were still bits of icing visible in his goatee when they left.

And speaking of departure, Scholl had taken the precaution of hiding his car "somewhere" before the wedding began, knowing the long and glorious tradition in Anna's family of chaining drive shafts to metal poles and the like. Shortly before they were to leave, Gallagher and Martinez were sent to retrieve said sequestered vehicle . . . and took an inordinately long amount of time in returning. They got jumped, y'see, and the car (eventually) arrived covered in streamers and red window paint.

The happy couple hopped in and drove away amid a veritable storm of bubbles (as opposed to rice), which were all the more plentiful as Wilson and I had made sure that each of the multitudinous Hoyt children was in possession of a bubble-blower.

For our pains, the bridesmaids and groomsmen were rewarded with knives and tankards (respectively) bearing our names (or, in the case of the groomsmen, our "names"). Mine says "Guatemala" on it . . . Gallagher's, much to his dismay, says "String."

No. I won't explain it. I will merely say that it was the most unique Mother's Day I've ever experienced and bring this entry rapidly to a close (I have to leave for Dallas at 7:45 in the morning to take Doug to the airport) with the following entry from The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce:

"Marriage, n. The state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress and two slaves, making in all, two."

Posted by Jared at 02:17 AM | TrackBack

May 07, 2005


Oy vey . . . What a day. The beginning of summer does not bring with it rest and relaxation, despite the fact that I do not have to move or even pack any of my stuff since I'll be in the same apartment all summer and into the fall. I will have to move out at some point, but that comes much later.

Anyway, in the midst of jumping for joy at the prospect of not having to worry about any of those things it just plain slipped my mind that: Saturday morning would involve attendance at graduation in the hot, hot sun . . . Saturday afternoon would see Rachel have to move herself out (but quick!) . . . Saturday evening would find me at the wedding rehearsal . . . and Saturday night I would participate in a Weird Al sing-along.

Okay, fine. That last one wasn't really all that taxing. Excuse me for taking a break.

Anyway, I would like to thank Saint Gallagher (patron saint of inexperienced CS students, mathematical arcana, and Neverball), Saint Wilson (patron saint of textbooks, historiographers, and impulsive film purchases from Wal-mart), and Saint Martinez (patron saint of word origins, flux capacity, and Hawaiian shirts) for selflessly expending effort in all directions to help me haul Rachel and her three pickup loads of stuff off of the third floor of Thomas. Couldn't have done it without you guys . . .

Oh, yeah . . . and we should do that sing-along thing again some time. Beginning and ending with "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish" from the new Hitchhiker movie. Great fun. I'll miss you all this summer and I look forward to the beginning of fall (but not too much just yet).

Posted by Jared at 11:59 PM | TrackBack

May 05, 2005

The Academic Year in Movies

Well, we have hit the end of the spring semester, my junior year of college, and we're a week away from the end of one full year of my record-keeping on movies watched. You can see the count (not counting quite a number of movies re-watched in that period) on the right. Ahhh . . . movies are so great.

I realized about month ago that I should have done this around the beginning of the year, but I didn't so I decided to just do a double list at the end of the spring. Hence you will find below my "Top Ten" lists for Fall semester/Christmas break and Spring semester. In no particular order:



-12 Angry Men

-Garden State

-Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind


-Waking Ned Devine

-The Shawshank Redemption

-The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

-The Godfather

-Fiddler on the Roof

Four of these were movies I had never seen before last summer.



-Wonder Boys

-A Beautiful Mind

-The Joy Luck Club

-The Phantom of the Opera

-Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

-Babette's Feast

-Finding Neverland

-The Great Train Robbery


Eight of these were movies I had never seen before last summer.

The Spring list seems very odd in comparison to the fall and summer lists in that it seems to have a lot more movies on it that few people might have seen. I can't really account for this in any way that leaps immediately to mind . . . but they were all really good movies that I enjoyed a great deal. I recommend some of them to everyone, and a few of them to almost no one. Don't miss my "token" foreign language films (one in each list), but be sure to check the ratings before you go rent any of them (if you care about such things). Well over half are rated PG-13 or R for good reason.

Anyway, I look forward to a great summer of movie-watching and book-reading (but also plenty of coursework and cashflow). I have a rather interesting and eclectic mix of summer movies lined up on Netflix, and a whole crate of summer reading parked next to my desk. On with the summer!

Posted by Jared at 01:21 AM | TrackBack

May 02, 2005

Reading Update on Command

As agonizing as these little lists of questions are to answer, their lure is utterly irresistible to me. Thanks, Wilson. It's funny to think how different this would have looked three years ago, just before I started college . . . Anyway:

* What book, other than Fahrenheit 451, would you want to be?

Something long, fun, and not likely to run out of readers anytime soon. I'm essentially an escapist at heart, so my first choice would probably be a fantasy like The Chronicles of Narnia. Something like The Complete Sherlock Holmes (or any of my "desert island" books below) would be a lot of fun, as well.

* Have you ever been really struck by a fictional character?

Geez . . . only all the time. A double handful of books have made me cry, and thrice as many more have left me quiet and introspective for days, but as for a specific character that I must point to forthwith . . . Well, most recently I would have to note both Asbury Fox ("The Enduring Chill" by Flannery O'Connor) and Ambrose ("Lost in the Funhouse" by John Barth).

* What was the last book that you bought?

Flannery O'Connor: Collected Works, Great Novels and Short Stories of E. M. Forster, and William Faulkner: Novels 1930-1935 . . . I decided to snag a little summer reading and beef up my personal library at the same time.

* What was the last book you read?

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt and Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O'Connor

* Which books are you reading?

I am officially in the midst of summer, so I've taken a large bite . . . *clears throat* . . . The Complete Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton, Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence, Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray, Lost in the Funhouse by John Barth, Cobra by Timothy Zahn, and The King of Torts by John Grisham.

* Which five books would you take to a desert island?

I'm pretty sure I'd self-destruct if I actually had to choose only five books to take along . . . but discounting anything that would actually be useful to me, here are a few possibilities:

The Bible (beefiest version I can find, Apocrypha a must, in English and Spanish if possible, plenty of supplementary material in the form of concordances and so forth)

The Gormenghast Novels by Mervyn Peake

The Once and Future King by T. H. White

The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Collected Works by Flannery O'Connor

Alternately, I would be just as content for a time with all four volumes of the Norton Anthologies of American and British Literature . . . although if I didn't get off the island I would go crazy wanting to read more than just the included excerpts of larger works or wishing I could delve into other writings by the favorite authors I picked out.

* To whom are you going to send this erm... let's say confession...and why? (three people) Hrm . . . How about a few fellow readers who haven't done it already . . . Say, Ardith, Andy, and Scholl.

Posted by Jared at 11:59 PM | TrackBack