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I am posting this as a benchmark, not because I think I'm playing very well yet.  The idea would be post a video every month for a ye...

Friday, June 30, 2023


 On a wine tour of Tuscany I was on, there was a guy who worked for the Audubon Society. He told us of a conflict: they had considered a name change, and rejected it (because Audubon was a slave-holder). The younger employees were in favor of the change, and the leadership not so much. The guy I met was younger and part of the movement to change to be more inclusive.  Our local Jayhawk Audubon society will change its name (to what it hasn't been determined). I'm not super opinionated on this issue, though I am skeptical of symbolic gestures like this. I don't think most people even know much about Audubon as a person in the first place.    


Our chancellor and provost put out a message about the AA case. Since my university has qualified admissions (you get in if you meet a standard metric), we don't have Affirmative Action, but of course we still needed a Message of Deep Concern for the Decision. Once again, our leaders are deeply concerned, etc... I disagree with the Supreme Court, but as the father of an Asian American I think it was quite damning that Harvard ranked Asian American applicants lowly for the personalities--without having met them, of course. It was by a considerable rate, too.   


We have 2.5% raise. Inflation is at 4% so far for 2023. Last year we got 5 (inflation was 6.5). No merit increase, so work on the merit committee where we parse our colleagues contributions is pointless. We are voting for the union this fall, if all goes according to plan. 

So suppose we had a salary of 100,000 

Five percent is 5000, so that is 105,000.  

2.5 of 105,000 is 2625, so that is 107,625. 

To keep up with inflation we would have to have 106,500 the first year, then 110,760. We have lost 4,000 to inflation. (Me, less, because I don't make 100 grand).  Not to mention we got almost nothing in 2021, when inflation was 7%.  

How and why

 Often I find myself sifting through existing scholarship and trying to figure out an implicit consensus, and presenting that as my thesis. In other words, I am not demonstrating that other people are wrong, but trying to arrive at a strong statement about what all of us supposedly think. This only works if nobody else has come up with an explicit statement of this implicit consensus. 

People could be wrong, of course, but my idea is that Lorca is well-understood, but that he requires me to explain how and why. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Law of lengthening limbs

 I once devoted substantial time to research the “law of lengthening limbs,” that states that “Friends, Romans, countrymen” or “Pride and Prejudice” sound better than *“Sensibility and Sense” or *“Lucinda and John.” I found it in legal doublets ("aid and abet") and in soap opera titles (“The Bold and the Beautiful,” The Young and the Restless"). This seemed both well-known and under-analyzed. My own subtitle (“Translation, Parody, Kitsch”) violated the rule, as did Mailer’s “The Naked and the Dead,” but I could find more evidence for it than against it. The real object of study here is my own weird fascination with things like this! One of many research “dead ends.”  

Saturday, June 17, 2023

111 words

 I'd like to replicate something of what friend-of-the-blog Andrew Shields has done with 111 words. The idea is to write 111 words a day and have your students do the same. I've seen Andrew's posts on Facebook and on his own blog and have been wanting to do the same for a while. The last post, on a line by Wallace Stevens, is an example, the first I've tried. We will see if this works. This post does not have 111 words.   

The honky-tonk out of the somnolent grasses

The honky-tonk out of the somnolent grasses.” This line, from the first section of Wallace Stevens's "Things of August," has a distinctive ring to it. One notable effect is the clash in registers between the informal (honky-tonk) and the literary. Honky-tonk has a reduplicative construction characteristic of slang words, like "rinky-dink," "somnolent," the polysyllabic flavor we associate with Latinate vocabulary. The line stretches out in the final anapest and feminine ending:  "...the SOMnulent GRASSes." Part of the sound of the line derives from the meaning of the words and the sounds of the lines surrounding it. It has a contextual prosody, then. Later, he speaks of “the high poetry and low.”  

Here would be an intro to an article...

 As numerous scholars have noted, music is omnipresent in the life and work of Federico García Lorca. The amount of music inspired by him, in both classical and vernacular genres, is also substantial. This has been fertile area of scholarship, but it has too often suffered from piecemeal, anecdotal, or impressionistic approaches—the natural consequence, perhaps, of the overwhelming abundance of material available for study.[i] An alternative way of approaching this topic is to focus on a few central questions in a more integrative way, beginning with an accounting of Lorca’s varied musical interests and activities in the context of Spanish culture of the 1920s and 1930s. The logical starting point, in my view, is to consider the various facets of Lorca’s involvement with music in order to define him as one of the most significant musical intellectuals in Spain during the so-called “Edad de plata.” By exploring this dimension of his intellectual biography in a cohesive way, we can see how his musical interests are integrated into his central project as a modernist playwright and poet.[ii] This should not be not a particularly controversial position: for the most part, it is simply a more cohesive and explicit fleshing out of what is already implicit in existing scholarship on “Lorca and music.” 

[i] There has been much written about Lorca and music, and a good deal of it is useful, but it is usually more practical to address a small segment of this material.  There are books and articles on Lorca and flamenco; on settings of his poetry by classical composers; on Lorca and Afro-Cuban music. What is missing, in my view, is work that puts it all together in a cohesive, integrative way. For general introductions to the topic of Lorca and music see Walters and De la Ossa.   

[ii] The intellectual biography of Lorca remains to be written. Fernández Cifuentes’s criticism of Gibson monumental biography makes this point: “Por otra parte, para una empresa que se propone recuperar a ‘Lorca de cuerpo entero’, las restricciones que impone ese principio tendrán una consecuencia notable: la experiencia intelectual de García Lorca, su conocimiento, asimilación y rechazo de formulas y herencias literarias, las corrientes de pensamiento que su discurso aprovecha o desdeña, están cuando menos relegadas y, más a menudo, ausentes de esta biografía; la obra literaria de García Lorca parece haber surgido únicamente de su experiencia vital”  (Fernández Cifuentes 231). It should be noted, however, that the intellectual biography of Lorca must also rely on the kind of scholarly documentation provided by Gibson.

Dream of Magic Cube

 There was an invention in this dream: a container of cubes constituting a to-do list. Each cube had a task printed on it, and the cubes were in a container with a series of slots for each cube. I was accomplishing the tasks, and then found one that said "magic cube" on it. I asked what it was, and discovered that the magic cube was the name of this invention. It seemed pleasurable to do these tasks, on behalf of a kindly aunt. I wondered what the mechanism was for printing the tasks on the side of the cubes. On awakening, I realized that the cubes would be too small to fit the words. Otherwise, a genius invention. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2023


"According to a recent poll by the National Sleep Foundation, women were significantly more likely than men to report challenges falling and staying asleep."

The only problem is that clicking on the link, the poll does not say that. I was apparently the only commenter who read the poll.  It may or may not be true that women sleep less well, but this poll does not support this assertion.  


 I think of the indigo bunting as difficult to see, but yesterday I heard at least five through the merlin app and saw at least two, in different locations. They are loud and distinctive-looking, and almost want to be seen, but they can be elusive too. 


In Utah over the weekend I took a hike with my aunt Dorothy and her husband Robert. They didn't know if there would be any birds, but they aren't birders so they simply hadn't been attentive to what was there. There were quite a few think to see, including a warbler that was new to me.  

Tuesday, June 13, 2023


 I was doing wordle with some little kids, age 9 and 6, kids of my cousin, at my aunt's house in Utah. The 9-year old girl had excellent strategic thinking, with a good choice of an opening word [usually "write"] and a good idea of proceeding to subsequent guesses. Good, but not perfect, spelling. The 6-year old boy suggested some six-letter words, and wanted to use guesses that used letters already ruled out, with a somewhat less cautious or "strategic" mentality. His attitude was that you can use words that are not a possible solution just to gather more information about other possible letters. This is true enough, but I explained that guessing a word with two or more overt "mistakes" was not efficient. 

The next morning, the little girl was telling us about words that spell the same backwards, like "racecar." I told he the term for that was palindrome, and mentioned some complete phrase palindromes like A man a plan a canal Panama, Able was I ere I saw Elba, and Madam I'm Adam.  

The boy was was literate (for someone of that age), with strong phonetic skills. He never suggested words of four or seven or more letters, and to be fair someone who is not a crossword junkie would not automatically know how many letters are in a word automatically, as I often do.