I’m listening to the Green Pajamas this afternoon, wondering why I haven’t blogged of late. The answer is that I really haven’t had a great deal to say, but why should I let that stop me?
I’m back in the saddle academically, teaching a single Brit survey during our compressed online January term, a new development for the COVID era. Fortunately, I’ve been doing one-month courses (including online ones) in summer term for pretty much my entire career, so it’s not as grueling an adjustment for me as it is for many of my colleagues.
Or for some of the students. I had a kid drop the class earlier in the week. The student was making an A, but just didn’t think s/he could maintain the pace of reading and assignments. I gave my permission to drop, but it saddened me, and it always makes me wonder how to balance conveying the content I need to deliver with the fact that we all — students, faculty, and really, everyone — have lives and breaking points. I also wonder if doing the class in person might have made a difference.
I’ll be teaching all four of my Spring term classes online as well, but if the fates allow, I’ll be able to resume my customary perch at the front of the room by fall. That’ll be good — I miss it.
Mrs. M and I gave blood today; it had been a while for me, as I had donated a double unit of red cells last time and had to wait twice as long as usual to become eligible again. You know you do this on a regular basis when you recognize the phlebotomist and remember that he did a really good job last time. He did again.
Afterwards, the Mrs. and I went to witness the death throes of what used to be a standard part of my college days and after. Mondoville is losing its last video store. I started renting videos later than many of my peers — we couldn’t afford a VCR in the early days. Heck, we didn’t even have cable until I was in college. But in late undergrad and grad school, I spent more than my share of evenings looking at the racks of cassettes, and later, DVDs and Blu-Rays. Sic transit gloria Friday night, I guess.
Anyway, the store is liquidating its inventory, so I picked up a few flicks, as did Mrs. M. So I guess I’ll finally get round to seeing Peaky Blinders, and I now have a fresh edition of Texas Chainsaw Massacre for when I teach horror movies again. Three Amigos I got just because it never seems to be available when I want to see it.
Honestly, I don’t watch that much stuff anyway. I’ll watch a ball game if I have a rooting interest, and if I don’t have anything to do after dinner these days, I’ll watch episodes of The Lone Ranger on one of those niche networks that have become part of the streaming/satellite multiverse. But as my daughter has noted, I listen to the TV (particularly Sirius/XM) much more often than I watch it.
[Side note: Last night, I got to see the very first Lone Ranger episode from 1949, “Enter the Ranger.” The villain who led the ambush that slew all the other Rangers was Butch Cavendish, played by none other than Glenn Strange, best known for being the Frankenstein Monster when Karloff wasn’t (or when Karloff played the Doc, as in House of Frankenstein) and for tending bar on Gunsmoke. Pretty cool. End of side note.]
I understand the creative destruction that put paid to those video stores, and I recognize that ours stuck around chiefly because Mondoville is on the trailing edge of a lot of cultural change. Still, I learned a lot about movies — discovering entire categories such as “psychotronic” — by wandering around video stores (or video racks at record stores in college neighborhoods), and I’m not really sure the algorithms at the streaming service will serve me as well.
Speaking of movies, I did watch a couple of documentaries yesterday via Amazon Prime. One was a look at comedian Gilbert Gottfried, and the other, Can We Take A Joke?, included Gottfried as well. The latter was made in association with Reason magazine, and while I acknowledge that in my case it was preaching its message of free speech to the choir, I do think it’s a movie worth watching, and even one I’m thinking of showing students at some point. Check it out.
I think that’ll do for now, but here’s some music to tide us over until next time. The Green Pajamas were my top artist on Spotify last year, and Jeff Kelly (the PJs’ principal songwriter and vocalist) was at #2. The more I hear of their work, the more I connect with it, and I hope you will too. From their 2002 release Narcotic Kisses, this is “If He Should Go Away.”
See you soon!