Monthly Archive for April, 2010

that i can’t enjoy treme as much as i’d like

As you can probably guess, I’ve been watching Treme, as is every other blogger in New Orleans. There’s plenty of reactions out there, mostly positive but occasionally negative. So far I’m impressed. The attention to detail is phenomenal, the show feels right, and it’s gaining momentum as we start to delve deeper and deeper into understanding the main characters. I like this show a lot, and I want to throw myself into it. But I can’t. The hungry termite had a post in which she said that it’s “too soon” to see a show like this.

I’d say I have the opposite problem. For me, it’s too late. Continue reading ‘that i can’t enjoy treme as much as i’d like’

people who only associate with like-minded people

Earlier today as I was browsing facebook instead of working (which is what I should be doing right now), I saw a link to an article about Kelsey Grammer, who is currently starring as the less-flamboyant half of a gay couple in the Broadway revival of La Cage aux Folles. The story* is that Grammer is investing in and appearing in a promotional campaign for a new right-wing website called RightNetwork despite starring in a musical known for its sympathetic depiction of its leading gay couple—a show most famous for the defiantly proud song “I Am What I Am”:

(Skip to 3:01 to see the song; the first half is the similar “We Are What We Are.” That part is included for the many of my readers who enjoy drag queens and fancy costumes.)

So certainly, there’s a bit of irony that a noted conservative is starring in one of theatre’s most first and most prominent cries for gay rights. (Note: I have no idea whatsoever what Grammer’s specific views are on gay rights, gay marriage, or any other particular issue, but he’s made his support for the Republican Party quite well known.) But he’s an actor, isn’t he? That’s his job. Continue reading ‘people who only associate with like-minded people’

the textbook racket

Those of y’all who know me know that I’m about as much a fan of capitalism as anyone. Big businesses, greed, profits, screwing the little guy—I’m all for it. But there’s one instance in which greedy corporations have managed to screw over poor consumers in ways that should be simply untenable. What am I talking about? College textbooks.

I’m actually even more bothered by the problem now that I’m a college instructor than I was as a student. I had TOPS stipends or grad school assistantships to pay for my textbooks; I got to keep the remainder, so I had an incentive to buy books for as little as possible, but the sting of spending $250 or more for a semester’s worth of books is greatly lessened when you’re getting help to pay for them. But as an instructor, I don’t want to force overpriced textbooks upon students who may or may not be able to easily afford the books.

Right now I’m teaching a mythology class. I had been a TA for a class a few years back and we used Morford and Lenardon’s Classical Mythology (8th edition). It was a good book, I was familiar with it, and it was my first time teaching a mythology class, so I went with it. Sure, I gritted my teeth a little bit at the fact that my students would have to pay $70 or so for it, but c’est la vie. I used it, it worked well, and I’d certainly recommend it if the cost isn’t a problem. Unfortunately, the cost is a problem. I’m teaching the same mythology class during the summer, and I was debating whether or not to use the textbook. I go to look it up on amazon and see that there’s now a ninth edition, which came out in February 2010. The eighth edition came out in 2007. There is not a snowball’s chance in hell that enough changed in the study of a field that goes back two thousand years to necessitate a new edition just three years after the preceding one. The sole reason is money. Continue reading ‘the textbook racket’

glee’s excessive auto-tune usage

Glee is back finally. And for that I’m tremendously glad. It feels like forever since the first half of the season ended with that kiss between Emma and Will. (For the record, I didn’t care for that kiss at all; it was too soon. But that’s beside the point here.) And though some reactions have been mixed to the newest episode, I thought it was a strong start to the second part of the season. Unfortunately, however, the Auto-Tune usage that was rampant in the first 13 episodes looks like it will continue for the rest of the season.

Now, I guess it makes sense that the show uses Auto-Tune at least occasionally. The show does (and to a large extent, should) reflect the sensibilities of modern pop music, however misguided those sensibilities may be. And some of the show’s singers are clearly stronger than others; I realize that there are tremendous difficulties in casting a show like this. But the extra layer of artificiality caused by the usage of Auto-Tune often distracts from the music and the story. Continue reading ‘glee’s excessive auto-tune usage’

whilst

I love words. They’re wonderful creatures. But some words repulse me. One of them is “whilst.” Just typing it makes me cringe. I don’t like it when British people use it; but it’s even worse when Americans use it in some attempt to be fancy or different or pretentious. Every time I see Americans use that word, I want to punch them in the face and then beat them repeatedly with a 6-iron. With the Brits, it’s not too big a deal; surely they’re brainwashed by their teachers into believing such a word is acceptable when it surely defies all rules of taste and decency. So they have an excuse, at least. Some online sources seem to suggest minor differences in meaning between “whilst” and “while” in some regions, but we have plenty of other words that have similar meanings without sounding like nails on a chalkboard.

So if you’re American, you have no excuse to use this word. Ever. I will hunt you down if you do. And if you’re British, I won’t hunt you down—trans-Atlantic airfare is on the pricey side—but you still shouldn’t use it.

the confusion of “disinterested” and “uninterested”

Let’s suppose you’re somewhere you don’t want to be. You’re bored out of your mind. Are you disinterested? No! You’re uninterested. Those are two completely different words, but people have been horribly misusing “disinterested” to mean “uninterested.” This online dictionary entry includes a note from the American Heritage Dictionary, whose Usage Panel* highly disapproves of using “disinterested” to mean “uninterested.” However, that same note also notes that “disinterested” once meant “uninterested,” back in the 17th century; then it fell out of fashion, but came back in the 20th century. So we can’t just use history as a guide here, since history has done different things with this word at different times. Continue reading ‘the confusion of “disinterested” and “uninterested”’

motorcyclists

I can’t stand motorcyclists. Their vehicles are obnoxiously loud. They drive like maniacs with little concern for their safety or the safety of anyone around them. They die at a much higher rate than automobile passengers and drivers, and the number of deaths has been steadily increasing over the past decade while automobile deaths in the US have plummeted. (See here and here.)

Now, I’m sure there are plenty of responsible motorcyclists who are only going to get into an accident if a nearby automobile is driving irresponsibly. But even the responsible motorcyclists are still assholes for driving such obnoxiously loud vehicles. The only ones I don’t have a problem with are the people driving those little tiny Vespas that hardly make anyone noise. I mean, I may make fun of those people, but at least they’re not douchebags. Continue reading ‘motorcyclists’