If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know my MO when I’m working on a big project is to shift into a weird dialectic whereby I do nothing but work and take breaks by watching (sometimes vapid) American television. Now that my orals are approaching in 6 weeks or so, I’m taking breaks from Foucault, Huyssen, Beauvoir and friends to watch Conrad, Montag, Pratt and co stir up drama on "The Hills."
This show features the dumbest people I’ve ever seen. Are there really that many college dropouts in LA? It’s, like, de rigueur for everyone to be completely brainless, drawling and slack-jawed. All the denizens of La La Land apparently only speak in vowels. The girls have overprocessed blond hair and too-white teeth; the guys churn out the cheesiest pick-up lines and have a penchant for wearing diamond-studded rosary beads as necklaces over their sloppy T-shirts. They’re so ridiculous! Like over-sized toddler-monks! I love it!
I just feel bad for my little namesake, LC. I think she actually is smart under there! She just suffers from really bad taste (in guys and friends), although I’m only midway through season 2, and I hear she does eventually drop Heidi. She looked so sad when Emily, she of the shiny brown hair, the intern from NY who visited LA, said the word "chinoiserie" and LC didn’t know what it was or how to pronounce it. Poor LC! She needs better influences. She should stick with Whitney. She seems to have two feet on the ground, although also a vowel-speaker.
Mostly though I’m in awe of this LA lifestyle. This East Coaster is simultaneously shocked and delighted to find that life out there looks as idiotic as I imagined. But fun! It looks very fun. If I had never read a book I think I would totally dig it. But oh, that pesky education, it gets in the way of everything groovy.
I could keep dishing but I’m a little embarrassed, so I’m going to stop here. I can’t wait to see the latest Paris episode!
I’m supposed to be in the same room as Pierre Assouline right now but I lost half the day to a headache… so I am in the same room as myself and no one else. Feh.
It’s kind of a slow book-week so far, since I already told you about the boycott of the Paris Book Fair, and I have nothing to say about the woman who lied about being a Holocaust survivor who was raised by wolves, and my book hasn’t sold yet which would be the literary event of the year, and all the other Paris bloggers have got Petite Anglaise covered (go here or here for some good takes on it; my own story will run later on in the Paris Voice). So, uh, here are a bunch of random things to chew on.
And Pierre, can I get a rain check?
The English language is in trouble and it’s all the feminists’ fault! Seriously this is the lamest thing I’ve ever heard. The author gives us "object lesson[s] in the ludicrous places you would reach if you took
Feminist English seriously" and claims that "the New English was deliberately
created and pounded into children’s heads by an intellectual elite
asserting its control over American culture." This from a professor at Yale. David Gelernter, I challenge you to a duel.
I have a deep-seated fear of interviewing people and moderating discussions (which is why I force myself to do it from time to time). This is not far from the worst-case scenario, short of the interviewee trying to leave halfway through.
While we’re getting our links from Gawker, how ’bout this one defining two obscure forms of poetry, the senryu and the pantoum? It makes my day when Gawker writers turn to scansion for material. And it ends with a little poke at McSweeney’s, which is also the way to my heart.
Today while willing my headache to go away I listlessly trawled the internets which inevitably led me to Facebook where I wound up taking the "Which ‘Lost’ character are you?" quiz and it told me I’m Ben Linus and I was kind of stoked because I think he’s actually really cool until the stupid Facebook App told me I’m really smart but sneaky and manipulative and that’s not a very nice thing to say, nor is it true, and then I found this thing about Lost and it’s much nicer because it doesn’t insult you while you read it.
N’s gone back to Tokyo while I remain here in Paris, and this is the status quo for the next couple of months. So it’s the perfect moment for a comedian I knew 10 years ago but am now Facebook friends with to have made this video. It’s called "Long Distance Relationship." Sing it Kimmy! "I’m independent, not lonely… (lies!)"
My sister the amateur sociologist is testing a pyramid scheme that promises a free MacBook Air at the end of it. If you feel like participating in the experiment, and maybe getting a Free MacBook Air yourself, go to this website. From what I can tell you just enter in your email and refer all your friends. She’s in it for a free laptop herself, and, if she wins this thing, she’s promising to give it away to a needy law school student who just might happen to be herself. And, as must be the case with all good pyramid schemes, she claims to know someone who actually received a free MacBook Air.
I bear no responsibility for any of this. I’m just the middleman.
I just did this over at Gridskipper: Occult Paris. (I wanted to call it Paris ésotérique but that would have been too esoteric.)
I love what’s going on at this blog– we share a similar fin-de-siècle sensibility. (I bet she’d have more decadence on her orals list. In fact her list would probably be on decadence, not modernism. Ah well.) In fact, now that I think about it, there is no indicator that this blog is even written by a woman. Illusory Confections, you are so mysterious!
There’s something new going on in the banner section of this blog, in case you haven’t noticed. I don’t know, what do you think? I wanted a tag line, other blogs have tag lines, but is this one too cheesy? I feel like if I had a professional web designer he could make it work and not look cheesy, but it’s just me and my Free Online Image Editor. Tant pis.
I’m also very interested in the proposed reforms to the French university system, but I don’t completely understand what the "Loi Pécresse" calls for. And I don’t have time to try to decipher the actual law, or to weed through the protestors’ propaganda clotting up the web on the topic. All I find when I do a search for it is descriptions of why it’s bad, and on why it won’t turn French universities into Harvard. But having been through both the American and the French systems as both a grad student and a professor, there are a lot of administrative problems with the French system. So if this Valérie Pécresse wants to change that, and make them less dependent on the state, I’m all for it– I just don’t understand what exactly she is proposing. And I don’t want to hear, in response, a lot of "Sarko-facho-éliminant des postes et des soutiens pour la recherche." There’s gotta be an upside. What is it?
Hello, I am still jetlagged and have a nasty cold, but it’s a sunny day here in Tokyo and I took some cold medicine N found at the drugstore which I think was cold medicine even though we couldn’t read the writing on the box. It did have a drawing of a person with an esophagus and a pair of lungs so I’m content to think it was cold medicine.
And Paris bloggers are getting knocked up left and right (Mazel tov, ladies, you know who you are!). I am really very happy for them but am taking extra care with my contraceptives. No Tokyo babies for us, please.
And yesterday I saw a melon that cost $60.
And I am going to miss my dear friend Tatiana de Rosnay reading from her wonderful book Sarah’s Key at the Village Voice on February 7th at 7 pm (6, rue Princesse, 75006) not only because I loved the book and adore its author but because for once I actually really know the person reading at the Voice and don’t just-kind-of-know-them-but-go-up-to-them-anyway-and-make-awkward-small-talk know them. But you should definitely go, and listen to her read, or if you can’t make it either, buy the book.
And is anyone interested in hearing about my orals lists? I’m about to start studying and wrote a whole post about my impending oral examination and then decided not to post it because it’s so incredibly dorky. But maybe you guys are into dorky. Thoughts?
And I have a new article up on Gridskipper on Secondhand Boutiques in Paris. Writing it reeeeally made me want to spend all of my paycheck on secondhand Hermès, but a girl’s got to pay the rent and all. Thanks to Carol of ParisBreakfasts for permission to use her photographs of Au petit bonheur la chance and Cuisinophilie, as I didn’t have time to shoot them myself. And hey, while we’re thanking people, thanks, Coquette, for the Chez Mamie quote and thanks Emilie for braving the place with me!
And "Weeds" is a really good show!
Last minute addendum: N would be very upset if I did not mention the MacBook Air!!
Look who I spied trying to peep his head out right before I left Paris: the Tour St Jacques!
That’s right– the 16th century structure who has been getting a facelift since, well, anyone can remember, is coming out from under the scaffolding to see what the 21st century looks like! (Wikipedia tells me it’s only been under construction since 2006, but I seem to recall it being under continuous cover since at least 1999, unless I am conflating it with St Sulpice, which has also been under construction for a curious period of time, having in fact never been finished to begin with).
The tower, which was built between 1508 and 1523, is the only remaining element of a church destroyed during the French Revolution, and features some really frisky looking gargoyles– nothing like the sage of Notre Dame (note the Tour St Jacques in the background):
In fact, I’m fairly certain there is a passage about the Tour St Jacques in Hugo’s Notre Dame de Paris (1831) but memory fails and so does an internet search– though this site, from whence I stole this lovely gargoyle, seems to agree. Anyone remember?
Fellow writers and academics, this question is directed at you.
Four years of undergraduate study plus one masters year plus four PhD years means I have now amassed nine years’ worth of research. Nine years’ worth of class notes, photocopies of articles, syllabi, projects, presentations, and final papers. I’ve saved everything from my English major and from my (undeclared) French minor and even some stuff from a sociology class on Gender, Race, and Class taken at Barnard with Lynn Chancer in the spring of 1998. I stand before you a paper woman, personally responsible for the death of a small forest somewhere, and likely as many copyright infringements. And now I have but one question to ask:
How on earth does everyone else stay on top of their paper mess? More particularly, I’m interested in controlling the photocopied articles which lurk in a variety of filing boxes shoved haphazardly onto shelves and into closets. I want to know, for instance, how to find an article on a given topic when I want it. I have articles I don’t even know I have, and I want to have a way of knowing that I have them. The folders aren’t working because there are so many papers crammed together that I can’t read the labels.
What do you suggest? Binders? My own personal card catalog, a little box full of index cards with directions as to where the article is filed, cross-referenced to subject, author, and title? Is there a way to do this on the computer? An excel spreadsheet perhaps?
We’re long-time proponents of what we feel is a vital, overlooked
sub-niche of books: Bathroom Reading. The qualities that make a
perfect bathroom book are, like any other definition of perfection,
elusive and subject to change. But generally speaking, these books
consist of easily digestible, standalone bits and don’t make too many
deep demands – as attention can be at a premium in such moments.
I responded in the comments, "Philip Roth’s Shoptalk and Louis Menand’s American Studies."
What’s in your bathroom?
(did you think we were going to stay all hoity-toity lit-critty from now on?)