Sunday, September 26, 2004

Wyoming Won. Holy Shit. Wyoming Won.

The Wyoming Cowboys, in accordance with Lee Corso's upset special prediction, beat the Mississippi Rebels yesterday in Laramie. This Cowboy team, while certainly not the best team in the Mountain West Conference, will hopefully bring some glory back to Wyoming football. Time was, we were respected and feared.

I went to the game with some other RA's. We've established a spot a few rows behind the band, so that now that's where we meet if we split up before the game. Other than having tubas blocking the view occasionally, it's a great spot. Further, I submit that Wyoming's student section is rowdier and meaner than perhaps any in college football.

Exhibit A: When an Ole Miss player was knocked unconscious, a few people started chanting "He's down, he's hurt, he's all fucked up!"

Exhibit B: When an Ole Miss player got flagged for a hit out of bounds, the entire student body chanted "38's a bitch! 38's a bitch!" In unison. Loud. For a long time.

Exhibit C: When the Ole Miss crowd - a good sized section of the stands - cheered for some random success on the field, the Wyoming student body chanted "Fuck you, Rebels, fuck you!"

Exhibit D: The cops kicked a few students out for being drunk. Everyone else just knew how to hold their liquor.

Now, I'm usually not quite as bloodthirsty as the behavior I witnessed and participated in. Coming from Illinois, I'm used to guarding my language and upholding the tenets of good sportsmanship. Illinois may not be a great football team, but by God, at least our fans have some class.

There's something really fun about the Wyoming crowd, though. I think it stems directly from the cowboy ethos of just not giving a shit about what others think, as well as the cowboy ethos of getting liquored up for social activities. And apparently the behavior gets progressively worse as the weather turns. Yesterday was 75 degrees and sunny; when it starts snowing people get really drunk and throw snowballs at the refs. Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Special Thanks to Mary.

Mary Ann has done me a few favors lately, and I'm compelled to point them out:

1. Writing a funny step by step approach to giving her cat medicine. That post inspired "Making an Alcohol Bust in 5 Easy Steps."

2. Sending me written instructions on how to add stuff to my sidebar. Sure, it's roughly as long as Three Mile Island's operations manual, but I'll decipher it at some point and make my blog prettier. Probably.

3. For that matter, reminding me to link my posts to our portal.

4. Pointing out several potential problems with posting my email like I had in the previous post's comments section. I've since deleted it.

5. So, to repeat what was in that comment: Why don't I respond to my comments? Good question! Mostly I have been, if I know someone's email (a good percentage of the posters are family or friends). Or, if their name links to their blog, I keep track of 'em that way. So usually I wind up discussing my posts via email with whoever commented on it... with the exception of Leta, whose crack about Flashdance being the worst movie ever prompted - nay, deserved! - an entire post to itself. But hey! I'm always open to email and even MS Messenger if you have that; my username is wykykr. Or you can just email me.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

"It Puts the Lotion in the Bucket"

I'm attracted to at least two young women in my hall who are approximately half my age, give or take two years. Is that wrong? Because it feels... I dunno... really weird.

I'm guessing that most folks in the dorm don't know what to make of me. I wouldn't either. I imagine their impression of the old dude up on 7th is that of a medieval wizard holed up in a tower doing whatever it is that their kind does. Except that every now and then, the wizard wanders the castle in his staff vest cracking obscure jokes. Nigel? Who's Nigel? And why would he want to dust for vomit?

So, obviously, the crushes will remain crushes because I am not – repeat not – going to date someone with whom I couldn't legally share a carafe of wine. I mean, that's just goddam creepy, man.

That said, there is hope on other fronts: the woman I met Friday night, for starters. One of the grad students in one of my classes, for another. Then there's the girl from two of my other classes who's not 21 yet.

*sigh*

Sweeeeeeeeet!

Laramie is waking up this morning to snowflakes, the size of which is usually reserved for kids' dreams (or my dreams, for that matter). This is the kind of snow that makes "splat" sounds on the window. Grass, cars, and trees are covered in white. It's not sticking to the pavement, though, so I'm guessing the hellish forecast of 60 degree weather by Thursday will come true. But today I got to walk to breakfast in bonafide Rocky Mountain snow.

Snow is the whole reason I moved here. Well, not the whole reason, but it certainly played a part in my decision to come back to Wyoming. Snow adds adventure to what is otherwise a normal walk. Snow is the great equalizer on the roads. Snow tests your mettle.

Did I mention I want cross country skis for Christmas?

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P.S. I currently don't possess the technological capability - aka, "digital camera" - to send or post pictures. Sorry.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Weird Memories of Huntington, West Virginia

I spent the spring and summer of 2000 working in Huntington, West Virginia. There's nothing inherently wrong with the town itself, but something occurred this morning during my desk shift that reminded me just how eerie the place was: an employee here at the university, who comes from West Virginia, walked by.

Huntington is situated near the tri-state border of West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky; it's a few miles east of the confluence of the westward-flowing Ohio and the northward-flowing Big Sandy rivers. It's a former coal and train town, and Marshall University is there. But even with a university and its inevitable import of culture, when Amazon.com opened a "customer call center" there in the spring of 2000, we were literally welcomed as saviors.

Two things struck me about Huntington. First, it was a town in which hard livin' was and always had been the norm; evidence of its poverty and hard-scrabble past is everywhere. Floorboards were lumpy and creaked, and paint peeled in quite literally every house I visited.

Second, a lot of the people looked alike.

I was there for maybe a week before I realized that some of the population had the exact same facial structure: a round face with wide-set eyes that seemed to bug out a little. I'm not kidding when I write that they looked like the banjo virtuoso kid in "Deliverance." Now, at this point, Appalachian stereotypes have pretty much saturated our culture. But I'm here to tell you: something screwy (HA! "Screwy"... get it?) happened in West Virginia.

(And from what I could tell, it didn't happen in Kentucky. The only curious thing I noticed there was that everyone over the age of 6 smoked.)

And to be completely honest, every person I met who looked like that, with one exception, was a completely normal person otherwise. Normal intelligence, normal personality, normal. They just looked like they had Down's Syndrome.

So this morning, when the entirely normal employee walked by, it brought back clear memories of Huntington and how glad I was to get the righteous fuck out of there for reasons completely unrelated to anything I've written about here. Weird. Sometimes these memories - Illinois, Phoenix, Seattle, Amazon.com - don't really feel like mine. Hard to explain.

Eh. Back to Crawford's "Developing English Literature" and how his critical theory might apply to Robert Burns. Wish me luck.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Screw Barry Bonds Right in the Ear.

Seriously. I hate that guy. Fucking cheater.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Making an Alcohol Bust in 5 Easy Steps*

1. During routine hall patrol, read the whiteboards on residents' doors.

2. Notice that several whiteboards have "party in 763 2nite!" written on them.

3. During routine hall patrol, walk by room 763.

4. Listen for tell-tale sounds of partying. These may include the sound of glass bottles, loud rock 'n roll music, or someone yelling "Dude, gimme another beer, goddammit!"

5. Call the police.

*Special thanks to Mary Ann for the idea. www.maryann.blogspot.com

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Your Boyfriend May Drive a Porsche, but I Can Make Fire with Sticks

For at least 8 years now, I've read "To Kill a Mockingbird" every spring, and I've listened to Lou Reed's "New York" album several times every fall. There's no intrinsic relationship that I can see between the two, and God knows they each have their weaknesses. Still, when crabapple trees explode into pink, it reminds me that I need to hear why Jem's arm was badly broken at the elbow when he was nearly thirteen. When the sun starts losing its grip, I know I need to hear Lou's stories about humanity in all its filth and beauty.

I started thinking about this today. Why do I feel compelled to read the same book every spring, and listen to a particular CD every fall? I eventually started thinking about the differences between routine, ritual, and sacrament... but first, the novel and album.

Each carries with them some serious stigmas. Modern literary critics, may God damn them all to hell forever, tend to slam "To Kill a Mockingbird" for its condescension towards blacks and Scout's uncannily accurate memory. They take the Dill-is-actually-Truman-Capote argument to the extreme, some claiming he actually wrote the novel and let Harper Lee, his childhood friend, take the credit.

Then there's Lou Reed. "New York" came out in '88 or '89 and is absolutely peppered with pop culture references which, to some, serve only to date the album. Many don't like his singing style, and while I admit it sounds like Lou might come right out of the speaker and lick your face with breath stinking of cigarettes and booze, there's a certain grittiness to it which I think is entirely appropriate given the context. And Jesus, who else could write about homeless vets without sounding preachy?

Sam was lying in the jungle/
Agent orange spread against the sky like marmalade.
Hendrix played on some foreign jukebox/
They were praying to be saved.
Those gooks were fierce and fearless/
But that's the price you pay when you invade.
Christmas in February.


I don't care if Scout's memory is a bit too observant, or if mid-20th century condescension toward race relations intentionally plays on our emotions. I like the book, okay, smarties? And don't go blaming Lou Reed for singing about hookers, drugs, and failure, either. He's only reporting the facts.

Hmm. Where was I?

I meant to write about the difference between routine, ritual, and sacrament. For some reason I'm interested in how and the degrees to which they differ. They each mark time, but it seems like only ritual and sacrament help us cope with time. So: routine is what we do to pace ourselves, but not to address any misgivings we have about the passage of time. Ritual is somewhere in between; it's a repeated action, but there's something more meaningful in it too. That meaning isn't necessarily about our relationship to the divine, but one of a ritual's specific purposes is to confirm order in a seemingly chaotic world.

And here's where sacrament comes in. I'm using the term "sacrament" fairly loosely here. For my purposes, all I mean is a ritualized behavior that happens in worship. I think sacrament is our spirit's way of confirming a particular order in this world, while ensuring passage into the next.

Man. That sentence is perhaps the most hippy-dippy piece of crap I've ever committed to print. Oh well.

Anyhoo, in terms we can all understand:

My morning coffee is a routine. Without it, I'm off my game for a few hours but I don't wind up pondering my existence because of it.

Harper Lee and Lou Reed are rituals. I associate each of them with a change in seasons, which only naturally prompts us to think about the passage of time.

I once made fire with sticks. How far back does this one go in our collective consciousness? At the time, I felt good about doing it, but I didn't let out a barbaric yawp or anything. Only after thinking about it and really wondering why I'd felt compelled to do it did I start bragging about it. "Hey baby. He may drive a Porsche, but I can make fire with sticks."

Heh, heh. God, if only I had the chance to use that line.

Monday, September 13, 2004

An Important Milestone in Any Relationship

Hey, I forgot to write about this one.

A while back, during the Republican National Convention, I was having a rough week. I sat there at my desk with like 40 pages of obscure Anglo-Saxon poetry to read, I had programming to think about for the floor, there was a band playing on frat mall loud enough to vibrate my window, and to top it off, my fellow RA was blasting the RNC in his room. RA rooms are connected by a bathroom, but our desk walls face each other (in fact, you can see right through to the other guy's room in places).

So essentially I was listening to a soundtrack of self-righteous cheapshots set to shitty reggae.

Clearly, Beowulf would have to wait. I turned on the RNC if nothing else to drown out the reggae. I even watched the Fox News Channel (which usually makes me want to barf) just to coordinate with C, my other RA whose TV was turned up really, really loud. Joy! Cheney in stereo!

It ended, finally. Our lobby was about to be used for a floor program so C and I went out there to help set it up. Someone asked me what I thought of the RNC.

"It made me want to barf," I said.

"You're actually voting for Kerry?" C asked. He pronounced "Kerry" like the word itself was a communicable disease.

"Better than the alternative," I said.

This quickly escalated into a rather heated debate about taxes, the deficit, and Iraq. The highlight, I think, came when I said we shouldn't use our military unless it was in defense of the Constitution, and Iraq was turning out to be anything but a threat to our national security.

"But as Cheney just said, Saddam's out," C said.

"So we should go into countries when we don't like their leader," I said.

"Yeah, we should."

"So that means we have to go into Africa, we have to go into North Korea, and to top it off, we have to go into China."

By this point a small crowd was already gathered in the lobby.

"Yeah," C said, "I'd be willing to do that myself." C is a farmboy from Nebraska and a really sharp guy. I have no doubt that he meant it.

"I think we're going to have to just disagree on this," I said.

"Yeah, this is the last time we can talk politics," he said. So far, it has been.

I headed for the elevator. One of the guys from my floor who looks perpetually stoned was there, along with his girlfriend.

"Right on, man," he said.

"Yeah, that was awesome," his girlfriend chimed in. "Make love, not war," she added.

Jesus, I thought. Tell that to the religious extremists who want to kill you for showing too much forearm in public.

"Because he puts an addictive chemical in his chicken that makes you crave it fortnightly, smartass!"

A relative of mine insists that Dubya's intelligence lies in his ability to surround himself with smart people. He may not be all that bright, they argue, but he's got to have some brains to hire the smart people around him. Just for right now, let's not debate whether or not anyone in the Bush administration really is all that smart. And also just for right now, let's ignore the implicit catch-22 in this theory. Concentrate on the notion of intentionally surrounding yourself with smart people, and you'll get through this post just fine.

The memo scandal earlier this week caught my attention, and I fired off an email to a few of my friends. I said something to the effect of, "if you're going to forge something, make sure you do it with technology from that era." Ha ha ha, look at the moronic Kerry supporters getting desperate. Too bad we're looking at another 4 years of Bush, etc.

But I hadn't even considered the notion that the papers might be an intentional obvious forgery until my really smart friends pointed it out. I rely on my really smart friends to fix my computer over the phone, ponder the Cubs' chances, and to ensure my worldview isn't completely fucked up. Also, to bash Dubya.

Not being too big on conspiracy theories (other than believing JFK was assasinated by defense industry interests), I had to give this one some thought:

Q: How easy would it be for a Bush backer to create really bad forgeries and pass them along to CBS?
A: Well, pretty easy.

Q: But who would do such a horrible, underhanded thing?
A: Karl Rove.

This is absolutely, positively the work of that man. Lunchbox has pulled off a doosy with this one.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Yet Another Blogger Posts About 9/11

I used to theorize that the defining moment of my generation (those born in the 70's, anyway) was the first time they heard Nirvana. At least five of my friends know exactly where they were the first time they heard "Smells Like Teen Spirit." For the record, I was watching Mtv in my parents' study in Casper, Wyoming.

September 11th, of course, changed that. Anyone born before 1995 can probably tell you where they were that day.

I'd taken a week's vacation from Amazon.com in Lexington and was in Seattle, visiting C and H, who lived in an awesome building at the corner of Broadway and Harrison. If you've never been to Seattle, Broadway is one of its preeminent hangouts. People have sidewalk poetry readings right outside some of the best restaurants in town. Fleece-clad yuppies sip coffee next to gay couples in bondage outfits next to smacked out homeless teenagers who ask for change, politely. Every night on Broadway would pass for Halloween everywhere else.

That morning I was awake early because I was used to getting up at 5am EST. So I was lying there on C and H's futon in their living room, flipping through channels. For some reason CNN was showing two smokestacks, one of which looked broken. It took a minute to register, and then, not 5 minutes after I'd turned on the TV, the second plane flew into the tower.

Each time I see that footage I feel the same thing I did that morning in Seattle. It seems like an incredibly long time between the plane entering the tower and the fireball blowing out the other side. There's a strange pause there, in which the tower seems to have absorbed the plane completely with no terrible consequences. It lasts less than a second.

Of course, it's basic science, a matter of scale. The towers were huge and those milliseconds were filled with the physics of destruction. By the time we saw the fireball, the building was already doomed and the clock was running. C and H and I watched the towers fall, and we watched the news reports about the other flights, and we listened to analysts hypothesize that it was Osama bin Laden. We saw replays of the explosions and implosions from different angles. We watched TV all morning long and into the afternoon. We called our parents. At some point we decided to take a walk.

By that time it was starting to grow dark. Groups of people sat with candles and flags. A teenager decked out in goth caressed a flag next to her cheek, crying. In front of the Broadway Bar and Grill, a filthy guy in his twenties stuck out his hand and said, "Spare some change to help kill the terrorists?"

------------------------

I can vaguely imagine what the passengers experienced, the death ride on crazy ships I've only taken in nightmares. In my mind's eye I can imagine rushing down so many stairs, and footage helps with the apocalyptic aftermath of the collapses on the ground.

But I have a hard time with that moment between impact and explosion, between plan and result. My words here have failed it. I think all of them will.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

"Um, someone puked in the elevator."

Fall arrived in Wyoming on Friday afternoon: it got windy, and the clouds draping the Snowy Mountains looked like something straight out of an old western. By Friday night the weather worsened and the mood in the dorms was tense: after the first week of school, what dorm rats really want to do is party. That, and not get caught partying.

I have a desk shift in the lobby from 8-10pm every Friday night. It gets a little hectic, but nothing I can't handle: off-campus visitors griping about not being able to simply go visit their friends (residents have to come down and escort them up); groups using the lobby as a staging area; conversations coming to an abrupt end when they realize the serious-looking guy behind the desk is trying to overhear their plans in order to rat them out to the RA's on call.

Around 9:00 a young woman stepped off one of the two elevators making a bad-smell face. Two guys waiting for the elevator walked toward the open doors and then stopped. They made an about-face and chuckled. The young woman, meanwhile, approached the lobby desk.

"Um, someone puked in the elevator," she said.

"Was it you?" I asked, because I'm a very funny guy.

"Ewww! No!" And with that she left, coatlessly facing the chilly night.

And it really was cold: in the 40's with the windchill. Although Autumn may be approaching, creeping, or just now sending out RSVP's everywhere else, it's nowhere to be seen in Wyoming. "Autumn" has connotations of gentle color changes and that weird fading sunshine. What happens in Wyoming in September is not gentle.

As the desk attendant I wasn't allowed to so much as hop the counter and go investigate. Instead I called one of the RA's on call, who after a quick glance made a professional evaluation (he's Pre-Med): "Yep, someone puked." He grabbed some absorbent stuff made for precisely this kind of situation from behind the counter.

Later that night, right before I was off, someone else stepped off the elevator and said, "That elevator smells like the stuff they put on puke back in gradeschool."

"Really?" I said. "I'll be damned."

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Saturday was our first football game; we hosted 1-AA athletic and academic powerhouse Appalachian Sate. It dawned gray and drizzling and the tailgate party hosted by the cafeteria was moved into Washakie Center - which is where we normally eat.

The sun did break through by kickoff, and the game itself was a pretty good time for the first 10 minutes. Then it started raining, and blowing, and after a half-hour lightning postponement, it stayed wet and windy. We were up big at halftime and all the 3rd down stops, interceptions, and points in the world couldn't have kept us there. Most of the group I went with headed back to the dorms as the band took the field.

Speaking of football, my beloved Fighting Illini gave the what-for to some backwater Florida school. We really need to win some Big Ten games this year, or I am personally going to clean out Ron Turner's desk for him.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Lies Writ in Lightning: "Birth of a Nation"

Okay, Dearest Readership, I agree that "Flashdance" is pretty bad, though if pressed I'd rank the 1996 godforsaken pile of shit version of "Romeo and Juliet" starring Clare Danes and Leonardo Di-Crap-io right up there. Only movie I've ever walked out of.

Anyway, I've been asked to explain why "Birth of a Nation" is so bad. We preface with background ripped straight from (though paraphrased extensively) the History Channel's special on Teddy Roosevelt last night :

In 1912, Teddy Roosevelt made his final run for the presidency on an independent, progressive platform after his hand-picked successor from 1908, Taft, bungled the job. Teddy campaigned on the crazy notions that the elderly should be supported and cared for; that children should probably be in school and not, say, working in coal mines; and that women, of all things, should be allowed to vote.

He was defeated (and obviously Taft, too) by Woodrow Wilson, the Democratic challenger who also laid claim to the progressive throne. As the leader of the country, what Wilson said carried the weight and authority not just of the presidency, but of progressives as well. For now, all you need to remember is that Wilson was a progressive, and he was President. Onward.

In 1915, DW Griffith made "Birth of a Nation." If you haven't seen the film, it's a silent movie about the Civil War and carpetbagging, but mostly about the rise of the KKK in response to unbridled aggression by black men - especially towards white women. Tickets cost an amazing $2, but audiences were treated to an astonishingly long and technically complex film containing many milestones in filmmaking. It was voted one of the top 100 movies of all time, and we'll assume, just for the purpose of tonight's discussion, that it was voted in on technical merits and not its message. I mean, the film sucks.

The suckiness centers around how blacks are represented. The actors portraying the villians are whites made up in blackface, and they are all lazy or sexual predators unable to control their primal urges.

The NAACP, to their credit, picketed and protested as best they could. But those white audiences who saw the film, especially those who had never interacted with black people, were undoubtedly left with a strong impression that all blacks behaved like those in the film. Meanwhile, minstrel shows - again, whites in blackface - playing rural towns in the north also had the same effect.

So essentially, much of white America's introduction to and impression of black people came not from blacks, but from whites portraying blacks. We don't need to get into a great big discussion about the psychological importance of alienating the Other, or even how xenophobia is the key to understanding racial stereotyping in America.

All we really need to know is what Woodrow Wilson said about the movie after seeing a private screening in the White House.

"It is like history writ in lightning," he said.

Here we have a "progressive" president endorsing the most blatantly racist piece of mass communication ever produced to that point (and arguably ever - the KKK still uses "Birth of a Nation" as a recruiting tool to this day).

I'm no media scholar, but I'm willing to bet audiences weren't quite as savvy about questioning the sources or content of messages as we are today. Sure, some audience members saw the film for what it was... but most probably witnessed this incredible new technology delivering a message in such a dazzling and entertaining way that it was difficult NOT to believe what they saw. Even if their exposure to blacks had been limited to seemingly innocuous minstrel shows (we'll ignore the problem of blackface for tonight), where blacks were portrayed as slapstick buffoons at best, "Birth of a Nation" reinforced the message that blacks were uncivilized; they were uncontrollable. They were a threat.

I remember watching "Birth of a Nation" in the undergrad library at the University of Illinois and thinking that a whole lot of race problems (but obviously not all) could have been nipped in the bud if that film had never seen the light of day. Seriously, if you've never seen it, try to get a copy. I don't think I'm being melodramatic about this at all.

Alrighty. I hope you get the point, even though this little tirade only scratches the surface of the film's problematic elements. Kindly excuse the vagaries and reductivist language - it's been 8 years since I gave this a lot of thought.

Back to "Beowulf" and "The Battle of Maldon."

In a Word, Terrified.

Classes have started. My fifteen credit hours are spread between two 4000 level literature classes, one 2000 level literature class, and two education studies classes. What follows is a brief description of each class, in order of GPA-lowering potential.

ENG 4180 Medieval Literature
We started with Beowulf today; we'll be done with it by next class. That's the kind of pace we're talking about. My professor is a New Zealander with a doctorate from Stanford and clearly knows her shit. Today's class ended with a discussion of binaries in formalism (and subsequently structuralism): Good/Bad, Man/Woman, Strength/Weakness, Man/Monster.

My thoughts on Beowulf:
- Given the social upheaval in England in the Dark Ages (namely, the Danes kicking the shit out of everyone in sight), it's not surprising that Beowulf was written in Anglo-Saxon, the language of the conquered. I'm guessing it was a kind of Medieval ass-kissing.
- Though there are many, many references to gear and weaponry, Grendel is impervious to accoutrements of war... Grendel only dies once a bare-handed Beowulf yanks off his arm. I get the feeling this is more than some tribute to Beowulf's strength. What's the symbolism in Grendel's magic power?
- There's a significant lack of any kind of nurturing relationship anywhere in this poem. The closest we get is Grendel's mother, who expresses her grief and love for her son by going people-hunting. *Sniff.* Good ol' mom.

ENG 4640 Scottish Literature
I have to take this one because it's an "emerging field," a requirement at the University of Wyoming. Nevermind that I took a class dedicated to understanding race relations at the University of Illinois (someone ask me why "Birth of a Nation" was the most damaging film ever made, even ahead of Nazi propaganda. Go ahead, ask me). The saving grace here is that A) my professor is smarter than hell and does a kick-ass Scottish accent, and B) it appeals to my Scottish DNA.

The Scots, it seems, played a huge role in British literature and culture, especially in the 19th century, but it was mostly behind the scenes. Therefore, Scottish literature has been largely ignored until recently. Today we talked about the difference between written and oral traditions, how writing something down paradoxically preserves and kills a story - "preserves" in that it's now literally a permanent document, but "kills" in that whatever other versions exist (i.e., oral) no longer carry as much weight and are eventually lost.

Notes on poems so far:
Sir Patrick Spens - an interesting take on power (a knight tells the king Spens is his man, which Spens resents), but perhaps more importantly, duty. Spens knows sailing to Norway this time of year is a bad idea. He does it anyway out of duty and dies on the way back. The poem shifts focus pretty quickly from brave, noble Spens to tragedy at sea. I'm forced to wonder if this poem isn't actually celebrating duty, but rather questioning it.

The Battle of Otterburn - Douglas dies while fighting Percy, but Percy gets taken prisoner by Douglas's nephew Montgomery. The meaning here is... Jesus, I dunno. Do you?

The Twa Corbies - Two crows talk about a yummy meal rotting away on the other side of a dyke. The meal is a dead knight.

Thomas Rymer - Thomas is offered a gift by an elf princess. He doesn't want it. In saying so, he's trapped in Elf world.

ENG 2425 Intro to Literature
Another literature class I'm a little miffed at having to take. At least the professor seems like a cool guy - in his spare time he studies folk music, and his classroom discussions are appropriately student-driven. Fairly straightforward, in terms of a mid-level lit class. So far we've talked about two Creation Stories from the Iroquois and Pima Indians. Interesting, but not interesting enough for me to write about here.

EDST 2450 Human and Lifespan Development
Taught by a very giddy woman who frequently goes on tangents about her personal life. I'm not exactly sure what I'll be learning in this class. I do know that our first assignment was to buy colored pencils and draw our "life map."

You're kidding me, right?

EDST/ITEC 2360 Teaching with Microcomputers
Have you seen that Far Side cartoon with an instructor pointing to a picture of a cow, labeled "cow", and asking if there are any questions? Yeah, that's this class. The first chapter of the text discusses complicated technical jargon like "mouse," "desktop", and "startup menu."

I asked the professor as politely as possible if I could test out of the class. He said no, but that I could show up for lecture and leave before they got to the lab stuff. Small miracles.