Monthly Archives: September 2007

TV Campaign Ad History

Check out this site, Living Room Candidate, which has presidential campaign commercials since 1952. It’s pretty interesting to watch the progression, lack of progression, and even regression. When you watch several years in a row, you get a clearer sense of advertising machinations.


I Wish I Didn’t Find This So Amusing…

…but I do. When it’s late, and I’m too tired to read anymore, sometimes I go to the website I Can Has Cheezburger?. It’s a site that uses LOLcats, which are pictures of cats with goofy captions. The I Can Has Cheezburger? use of less-than-standard English comes from an old cartoon that ran from 1913-1944 called Krazy Kat.

Goofy as the LOLcats are — they are a simple stress reliever after a long day. Enjoy their silliness!

Losing Time

While that title may sound like a “bad” thing, losing time can be sublime. Yesterday, I continued my great quest for articles by and about Bharati Mukherjee (For those who don’t know: I’m teaching a class on Mukherjee this year to a group of savvy seniors, and Mukherjee will visit the school in January. I am very excited about this — as it has been a rewarding experience thus far; it’s like being a student again — reading texts with fresh perspective and little outside influence. And the students have such voracious responses. This is a teacher’s dream!) by going up to Northampton to the Smith College library. After my work was done and I visited several friends, I drove back to West Hartford (sniff, sniff) and listened to This American Life. This specific episode dealt with amateurs. In the final segment of the show, David Rakoff told of his experiences making crafts in his spare time. I may forget the wording, but he said something along the lines of that he forgets his life while he is working on crafts — he loses all sense of time. This was precisely the feeling I had at Smith yesterday, and many times previously.

Going the the Neilson Library, Smith’s main library, has always felt very at home for me. I spent many hours in that library during my years as a grad student and then as a teacher. During school breaks when I was in grad school — I seemed to get absorbed in one subject or another. The summer I got into Dorothy parker, I spent hours and hours in that library with old New Yorkers in my hands. I was so impressed that the college had every issue of The New Yorker since its inception. I read all of these old, original articles and tidbits by Parker. I also got into Shirley Jackson, and I looked up some of the letters to the editor after her story “The Lottery” was published in The New Yorker. Sometimes I get lost like this on Wikipedia — but actually being in a library, holding books and magazines, using the microfiche — it just does not get any better. I think the Smith library also has (for the size of the library) a decent size collection of literary texts — lots of literary criticism. I love that feeling of losing myself in the library.

When I was an undergrad at Bennington, I spent so many hours looking up random info and references in our library. I recall Friday nights hanging out with some post-baccalaureate students in the library: geek fun!

One of Rakoff’s points in his TAL piece was that when you do something for money, when it becomes a job (with deadlines, I presume), it takes that magic away. I can see how this is true most of the time. But for someone like Sujal, he still gets lost in coding. I get lost in reading and lesson planning, though I can’t say I necessarily get lost in grading. I guess we all fall somewhere on that scale.

Hey, Ian!

I just wanted to give a “shout-out” (do kids say that anymore?) to my co-pilot, Ian. I saw you stopped by the other day. Hope college is treating you well.


I realize this makes me a complete dork, but I am okay with that. I spent most of my day driving around to area colleges and universities tracking down articles by and about Mukherjee. Some are quite difficult to find. Because our school library was closed during the summer due to the construction on our cafeteria, the librarian had limited access to our resources (and I didn’t want to bother her over the summer), we met yesterday to search for the remaining articles I was unable to find. Some are in some insanely obscure journals. Today was the day to track those elusive rascals down.

I began at the University of Hartford, where I drove all over their campus looking for the library. Even though it’s a university, I was lucky it isn’t a huge university. When I finally parked in some visitor lot, I asked a long-haired, smoking student to kick me in the direction of the library, and he was happy to.

UHA looks a lot like a state school, in the way that UMass, Amherst looks like somebody barfed up all these cement buildings everywhere — well, UHA is slightly more elegant in that somebody barfed up brink buildings everywhere — though with similar architecture to UMass.

When I got to the library, I was amused to see the reference librarian office had a sign on it saying “Please Disturb,” which made me chuckle until I walked in, and they obviously did NOT want to be disturbed. The librarian finally looked up from her computer and said, “I can’t help you now. I’m preparing for a class.” Then an officious assistant helped me. When I was kicked once again in the right direction, and I went up to the stacks, I got that rush of excitement I get when I’m in library stacks. Getting lost in stacks is like temporarily losing touch with the problems of the world.

When I went to St. Joseph’s College, which had a great reference librarian, it was a smaller library, but the little rooms with the stacks were equally inviting. I commented on this to the librarian, and she said, “Yes, stacks do tend to have a romantic appeal.” This reminded me of Mark Strand’s poem “Eating Poetry”, which she had not read.

Being on campuses today made me miss college and that whole academic world. I loved being a student. I love huge libraries.

Yipes! Microchip Implants

I’ve been called a luddite before (thank you, Josh), so this is a bit freaky to me. It also makes me concerned for little Cliche, because Sujal got a little chip implanted in her when she was a kitten. Tillie is 100% natural cat. Phew.  Thank goodness we did not put implants in our mice!

Thursday Evening Cat Blogging

School has begun, and the pace has quickened. The cats are hungry, because I don’t get home till late. Poor kitties. It does not stop Tillie from whapping me in the face in the morning, claws ever so slightly extended. “Feed me, damnit!” she says with those claws. “Feed me.”

This is the Tillie I miss from the summer, as we would both curl up on the couch to read some Mukherjee — well, Tillie didn’t read much.


And here is a picture of Cliche that you have to love. I believe she is about to take a drink — she loves that fountain, most spoiled cat in the world — because she has that little pink tongue extended. Truth be told, it’s not uncommon to see her sitting with her tongue sticking out a little, which frankly makes her look dopey. But we love our dopey kitty.


The Cottage

Here is “The Cottage,” where the accommodations may leave something to be desired, but the view and the company more than make up for it.


This is a long overdue post.  I finally brought Sujal to “The Cottage.”  My family has been going up to this cottage on Lake Erie in Canada in a small town called Wainfleet for the last sixty years or so.  It’s at a place called Long Beach (I cannot believe there is a wikipedia entry for Long Beach!). It’s a place I grew up with — for two weeks every August. It has been a very special place to me, a different place for me at different times in my life. Many of you may know I lost a friend when I was 21, someone I met at Long Beach. Sometimes it has meant being reminded of my own mortality. When I was 15 or 16, I wrote a bad poem about watching the sunset and realizing my own mortality, the finality of each individual sunset, never to be repeated again. I was pretty into Emily Dickinson at the time.

One aspect has remained fairly consistent through the years. The cottage has meant unrestrained indulgence of one form or another. As a child, the cottage meant unrestrained playing in the sand and lake all day, unrestrained access to candy, pop tarts, and sugar cereals. As a teen, it mean unrestrained indulgence in emotions, drama, romance, mischief. The cottage was a great place to be a teen, as it boasted a pretty typical beach seen of teens galore combing the beach for other teens to hang out with. It meant falling in love, getting my heart broken, trying on new personalities, pushing limits. As an adult it means unrestrained access to good food, good drink, good company. I wanted Sujal to come, because my extended family has two weeks together to simply lie around the beach and gab. We get to reconnect, which is a real joy. Below are some pictures from this past trip.

We celebrated several birthdays. One was my mom’s:


Notice my extended family marvel and my uncle’s fashion choice for my mother. Truly stunning! Sujal also got his favorite gift from my mom


When Sujal and I went to DC, we got a kite at the Air and Space museum, so we took it a-flying. Here is Sujal and my first cousin once removed 🙂 , Hannah


Then Sujal and I flying the kite:


Finally, the obligatory sunset photos:


I call these photos obligatory because we have albums full of sunsets at Long Beach. But frankly, this sunset never gets old to me. It is one of the most beautiful places on this earth.