Sunday, July 15, 2007

For My Inner OCD Girl

Lots of readers in this community, right? How about book hoarders? I'd ask you to raise your hand, but then you might lose your place. :-)

Let me introduce you to one of my favorite websites: Library Thing!

I've looked at a lot of book-cataloguing software (and I do mean a lot, because I am Obsesso-Compulsive Girl), and this is by far my favorite. The real advantage is that it's stored on SOMEONE ELSE'S system, thus saving my gigabytes for important stuff like Titan Quest: Immortal Throne. And um, syllabi and stuff. Yeah. This makes sense to me, because in a (knock-on-wood, god forbid) fire situation, I want my book list off-site. And itemized, so the insurance will have to replace all of it, as opposed to handing me a measly lump sum.

That all sounds so sensible, doesn't it? But really, it's the thrill of listing!

This last year, since we moved into the new office space, my fabulous readers catalogued ALL my office books--no mean feat. I started the house collection about 1 1/2 years ago; since then, my Better Half has manually catalogued all our DVDs. And way behind on the books.

Officially, then, my next Five Things task is to get the rest of my personal library into Library Thing. Five Thing? Library Thing? See how that works?

Other confirmed bibliophiles wanting to poke through my library, or wanting a more detailed explanation of the virtues of Library Thing, may beg nicely.

Just Like a Root Canal

I got the #)$(*&_#)$(*ing, wretched R&T dossier completed. James Boswell once said, "There is nothing like the thrill of having written," and I couldn't agree more--especially when it comes to administrivia. The dossier was handed in on June 29 at 4:45 p.m., right before we left for vacation (sorry, 5-Thingers, I've been out of town and thus am behind on reading everyone's progress). So, for better or for worse, I can check this one off the list.

If I make full professor, will I have to admit I'm a grown-up?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Lavender Fields Forever

I am pleased to report that I can check my first Thing off the list. H.W.L. and I went to the Blue Mountain Lavender Fields on Sunday, and had a really wonderful time. The weather was perfect--clear and warm, but not overly so. The fields are a pleasant fifteen-min. drive outside of town, and it's quite possible to believe yourself in Provence.

We garnered four different types of lavender, and took our own sweet time doing it. I was amazed how much calmer I felt as soon as I stepped into the fields--sometimes I think big business's use of aromatherapy (ie in their marketing of same) is such a crock, but there was something clean and relaxing and astringent about the fresh lavender smell that put mass-marketed potions in the shade. An astounding number of bees were working the field. Generally I'm a bit apprehensive of the little critters, but I waded right in, figuring we were all workers together, and that seems to have done the trick. Listening to the wind dashing lightly through the trees surrounding the property, the overpowering hypnotic hum of the bees, the occasional cheerful calls from kildeer (I think), sparrows, and chickadees, and the bleating of the lambs down the hill, while kneeling in warm dirt up to my elbows in lavender: peacefulness.

Superlative company; divine lavender lemonade; shopping accomplished; two lavender bushes planted in my back yard; little bunches of fresh lavender throughout my house.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Write Two Movie Reviews

Just saw Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer yesterday (I have a 10-year-old, that is why, so step OFF), and have a long rant in mind. In the meantime: DON'T. Just...don't. *sigh*

I have a longer piece about Terry Gilliam's films that's been in my head for quite some time; I want to get at least a short version of it out of my head and on paper (virtual or otherwise) to see if it's worth it. I kind of think it might be a good pop-culture paper idea, or maybe even the basis for a film seminar class. A preview: Gilliam's Romantic (ie the cultural period, not the emotion or practice) use of the mad artist as pessimistic critique.

Complete Rank and Tenure Self-Eval

If you don't want a nuts-and-bolts explanation of academic administrivia, this is the post to skip.

On college campuses, "tenure" indicates the granting of permanent status, after some sort of probationary period, and "rank" indicates one's title or standing, and is broadly associated with length of employment. For instance, I started out as an assistant professor, and I am now up for consideration as full professor (the top rank! whoot!), while I got tenure almost two years ago. Practically speaking, rank indicates salary level.

So I've got the rest of my R&T packet together: I have crunched the numbers from my student evals and displayed them prettily; I have had the requisite number of peers visit my classroom and send in their evals; my chair has written her letter; I've updated my curriculum vitae (what the rest of the world calls a "resume"). Now I must write my self-eval, judging my own performance over the last two years, and making the case for a change in rank. It's due during the first week in July. I actually was up for rank last summer, but had such a bad year and was so unprepared that I just plain skipped it--salary increase and all. I just couldn't get my act together; partially because medical leave made me short some evals (which the R&T committee probably would have waived, given the reason), but mainly because I just couldn't face the self-eval.

So I've got to get this monster done. I'm a business writer: I can do this.


Visit the Lavendar Farm

Good friend H.L. (known to most of you Five-Thingers) has been talking to me about the Blue Mountain Lavender Farm for quite some time now. We missed "Lavendar Days" last year. I'm pretty sure we're going to make it this weekend. We both need a break pretty badly, and I think we'll pretend we're in France! Of course, she can speak French. I can read it--slowly--but do NOT ask me to pronounce anything, unless you're looking for a good laugh.

This is handy because I'm going to Texas to meet up with a bunch of long-time girlfriends in July, and I think I can get lots of "Walla Walla" prezzies for the girls here in one swell foop. A bit more girly than I usually am, I know, but it's nature! And art! And...gourmet lavendar sugar! So leave me alone.

Scan in a Centlivre Play

Susanna Centlivre's A Bold Stroke for a Wife is my favorite of all her plays. Two main issues have kept me from staging this one: first, it's a real tour de force for the lead actor, who gets to send up all the other lead (stock) characters--if the lead can't mimic all of them, then the show goes nowhere. Second, Centlivre was able to rely on a handful of stage tropes without minding too much about political correctness: her demographic was delighted by equal-opportunity offensiveness.

In discussing this piece in both the classroom and in theatre sessions, I've been kicking around the idea of modernizing it. "Modernizing" in the sense of how The Oregon Shakespeare Festival manages it, though: preserve most of the language, but feel free to edit/fix anachronisms/update settings/etc. For example, several of the stock characters aren't easily recognizable to the modern audience: while one can easily "translate" a changebroker to a day-trader, say, what to do with an "antiquarian"? So the trick is to figure out what abstract idea or issue the stock character is being used as shorthand for, and see if there's a substitute.

An easy one: on the 18th-century stage, the portrayal of Quakers was usually used to show a certain nervousness about religious over-enthusiasm in general. No point in taking a potshot at the fairly inoffensive Quakers in this day and age, right? But how about...corrupt televangelists? And voila, Obadiah Prim and his wife become Jim and Tammy-Faye Bakker style characters, and the lines still work, pretty much!

So that's an example of what I've been thinking about. I've gotten David sucked into it, and he's currently noodling around with one of the scenes. But in the meantime, I want to do the dramaturgy, and that requires getting a clean, digital copy into the computer, scanned from my facsimile copy of the first edition, so we can edit out the 18th-century typographical weirdness (such as the long "S" for the letter S, and the use of the dash to end almost every line), regularize the spelling, and format it like a modern script. After that, we can start playing in earnest (and I'm sure this process will keep showing up here).