In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.
Things have been a little doom-and-gloomy of late on the blog, so it's time to lighten up a bit. A few recent scenes from real life:
TB loves basketball, and we want to encourage him, so we finally broke down and bought him one of those driveway basketball nets-on-poles-with-hollow-bases. The idea is that you fill the base with water (including two gallons of antifreeze, according to the directions) or sand, and that provides the ballast to keep the thing from falling forward.
You wouldn't believe how difficult and complicated those *%^#(%& things are to assemble. You'd think – okay, I'd think – that it would just be a few steps: connect pole pieces, attach top of pole to backboards, attach net to backboard, secure to base, add water, and voila. Uh, no.
I'll admit that I'm not the handiest critter on the planet. In eighth grade when they gave those aptitude tests that were supposed to reveal your future career, I crashed and burned on the 'spatial relations' section. They'd draw an unfolded box with lots of dotted lines, and ask you what it would look like folded up in three dimensions. They might as well have asked me to solve cold fusion. High school geometry was a disaster, because the teacher kept focusing on shapes, and proving that triangles were triangles. To this day, I'm utterly hopeless at jigsaw puzzles. So this would have been a stretch on a good day.
But yumpin yiminy, this was beyond belief. The pieces that were supposed to fit, didn't; the instructions took abstraction to a new level; and my usual impatience with this kind of stuff sent my mistake rate even higher than usual, and that's saying something. TW finally had to bail me out, since she has the spatial gene. After several weeks – yes, weeks – the *()&%^) thing finally went up. TB's first shot was nothing but net. My first shot was an air ball. Insert metaphor here.
Saturday night in the wind and rain, it fell forward.
I'm thinking we'll encourage him to try baseball instead.
When I Grow Up, by Juliana Hatfield
For some reason, when I heard that the musician Juliana Hatfield had published an autobiography, I had to have it. I can't really explain why. I liked a few of her songs in the mid-90's, but lost track of her after that. I remembered her being unusually pretty, but she's hardly unique in that, and that was some time ago. It was probably just the novelty of realizing that my contemporaries have hit the age at which they can start writing autobiographies.
Whatever the reason, I enjoyed it immensely. About half of it is a tour diary from the mid-2000's, well after what she calls her "moment of cultural relevance." It reads like Spinal Tap as filtered through depression. The vignette that stuck with me was of a concert she gave in a multipurpose room at a community center. Five people showed up, each looking embarrassed at her own conspicuousness. JH plowed forward anyway – if she didn't, she wouldn't get paid – and sang to the clock on the opposite wall.
There's something poignant about the post-relevance pop star. Although the culture remembers her, if at all, as a creature of about 1994, she didn't go away. In the arc of her life and career, the fame part was relatively brief and aberrant. Other than the obligatory and off-key happy ending, the book is really about the compulsion to keep on plodding, long after most people have stopped caring. I admire the spirit, even if the point is sometimes hard to isolate.
This weekend TB asked his favorite girlfriend if he could kiss her, and she said no.
The tradition continues...
Our annual protest against the tyranny of the Disney princesses continues. This year TG will be an astronaut. She has the orange jumpsuit, and TW found her a soft astronaut's helmet online. It even has a little black microphone that comes around the front, so she can talk to mission control. Last year she was a "kittycat doctor," so we're keeping with a theme.
Lost Ipod at the Gym
Last week I lost my ipod in the gym. I've heard it said that you can find lost items by blogging about them, so here goes. Heeeeeere, ipod. Heeeeere, ipod. I have some nice podcasts for you...