Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Another food victory.


Five-course tasting menu, baby. High points: salt-roasted golden beets with smoked eggplant mousse; grilled tofu with truffled creamy leeks and spinach and wild mushroom crepe; the chocolate-stuffed beignet. Low points: the cauliflower soup was on the cold side (perhaps it had stepped outside into the ASS COLDNESS of Philadelphia!); the grilled seitan was SO EXACTLY LIKE a tender grilled steak in both taste and texture that I...was unnerved, and asked for confirmation that it wasn't made from animals. I'm glad I ate it, and it was a mindblowing food experience, but I wouldn't order it again. I'm not one of those vegetarians who misses meat. Still, I would definitely go back to that joint, and steer toward the vegetables and the tofu. I'm stuffed to popping.

And oh, yeah, MLA is on in the background.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Eye of the tiger.

Snowy day + Things with dad = 5 pages of MLA paper done. Grrrrr!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Good/bad news: 35K' edition

Good news: I'm on an airplane. Onboard wifi is cool.

Bad news: The commute across the country to Neruda is getting old. The hours are especially heinous. The red-eye sucks.

Good news: I'm halfway through grading!

Bad news: Halfway.

Good news: I have a couple of meetings with publisher-types at MLA, and plan to talk with others.

Bad news: Is this really going to be my SECOND conference paper this year written on the plane en route to the conference? Really? (Doesn't MLA ask for pre-printed large font paper handouts, anyway? Can't really do that if I'm presenting from my laptop screen....)

Good news: I'm heading toward snow.

Bad news: ---.
Nope, can't come up with any corresponding bad news for that one.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Kale smoothies.

At the end of a semester teaching a senior research seminar on Donne, I've been surprised to realize how hard Donne is. Of course I know that Donne's work presents certain interpretive challenges, and makes a complex set of sometimes contradictory claims. But I've been surprised by how hard he is at the level of the sentence--much more so than Milton. Milton has a reputation for being difficult, largely because of his Latinate syntax and the grandeur of his concerns. Still, students get into Milton's groove in a couple of weeks....they learn to "speak Milton," and then the reading is much less overt in its demands.

Donne, perhaps because we tend to read him in small, lyric-sized chunks, has the reputation for being perhaps more confrontational than challenging to readers. But I've taught courses on Milton, and now I've taught Donne, and I can report that Donne remains much more difficult than Milton--to parse syntactically, to pin down argumentatively--even at the term's end. My students are still struggling, and I frankly don't blame them because I have to work, and read the poems and prose out loud a time or two, in order to "get" them, insofar as I can be said to "get" them.

I made kale smoothies for our breakfast this morning. (Don't gag: kale, soaked almonds, soy milk, and frozen peaches--it's actually pretty fantastic, though it's better with frozen blueberries, whose taste and color more nearly resembles the kale, and so it camouflages that wince-inducingly healthy ingredient a little bit.) The Things drank them, and even enjoyed them. But there was never a point at which they forgot they were drinking something aggressively Good For Them, never a point where they stopped being aware of the daunting material particularity of each element of the smoothie. I think that's what it's been like for my students to read a semester of Donne. And, at times, for me too.