Saturday, July 11, 2009

Away We Go!

The title, for those out of the loop, is a worthy summer comedy to take yourself and even a date too (not a first one though). It's funny how Sam Mendes, the dude who made some atrociously overwrought suburban dramas lets himself go into a breezy comedy with a real affecting lead couple. It's a treat.

As for me, I've taken off for the summer, Thursday flying to New York for a day before heading down here to Philly for a wedding (ironically, I had an unexpected layover in Philly). Getting on the plane, I picked up the first pleasure book in a long while, and had settled into my chair. The book is Devil in the White City, a well-recommended bit of pop nonfiction (a rarity for me) on the designing of the Chicago World's Exposition and the serial killer who stalked it. But as I started reading, I grew displeased. I mentally started criticizing the author's proclivity towards meandering sentences that dump factoids indiscriminantly, especially noting the ones that have nothing at all to do with the story. Worse still, he made all sorts of judgments about how he thought things went down with the serial killer. I was flipping to the back to check out the endnotes, and horrified to discover no citations for his revisions. And as I put the book down, switching to a podcast of This American Life, I paused, wondering whether all this dissertation research has ruined pleasure reading, or if these are valid criticisms. I honestly don't know, but was greatly relieved that This American Life still charms me more than just about anything.

Friday, I wandered over to Columbia to check out the George Antheil papers. Our university has a program with them, so getting a reader's card was super easy, and they have wireless you don't have to log into, and the staff is very friendly and the room quite attractive and spacious. My only complaint: handwriting. Roger Sessions needs to make his Ls bigger. Several other correspondents were even worse, and then we hit the ones in French. It's hard enough for me to read a language I half-know, but when you don't even know what half the words are, the context is completely shot. Perhaps I'll make photocopies and have a friend look at them, but considering this is a small part of only one chapter (although the dude is fascinating, especially when he talks about Hollywood), I probably will let it slide. I am resolved to insist upon handwriting samples before embarking upon future studies.

The above statement should not be in any way reflective of my own hand writing and note taking. If I leave unfinished manuscripts, good luck.


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