Archive for January, 2009

Updike Fans Bid Master Adieu

“And another regrettable thing about deathupdike
is the ceasing of your own brand of magic…”
Perfection Wasted, John Updike.  
If I should write a book entitled “How Reading Shaped My Life,” I would devote an early chapter to John Updike, who died yesterday of lung cancer.

Just a day prior, I thought of Updike…something prompted my memory reels to rewind to a presentation I made on Updike ages ago in an undergrad post-modern lit class. I made a mental note that he must still be alive. Little did I know that somewhere the genius was dying. 

I can remember pulling the paperback Rabbit, Run, from my grandmother’s bedroom bookshelf and following the first line across the page: “Boys are playing basketball around a telephone pole with a backboard bolted to it.”

…What ?

 I couldn’t have been older than twelve, and I likely expected a March hare and a murder mystery. I kept reading, and what I found was the world through an adult’s eyes…and I specifically began then to see things as my father and millions of disappointed men like he and Rabbit Angstrom experienced them.

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Wrestling with Time

I am currently up-to-my-ears in writing work with what little time I have whirling at the opening of the drain.

I am not only writing courses, syllabi, and materials, AND updating my teaching portfolio for review this semester, but also starting a couple of other blogs, AND migrating two years of content from my old blog into this blogger interface.

I no more than get started on one thing and am called away for something else. My mind is, not unlike a computer, shifting and reprioritizing my daily tasks as they come in. Unlike a computer, I am the task-doer and have to actually get all these reordered tasks accomplished…soon!

I did manage to edit, upload, and order photographs snapped in the month of July. I really want to catch up on this…only five months worth to go!

An Observation

As I closed my last post, it occured to me that I had not yet shared an observation I had this summer.

I’ve noticed that there is at least one kid on just about every Disney and Nickelodeon TV series/film/show who is either a pop singer, or gets put in situations in which they are performing on stage, or sings their show’s theme song. (Suite Life of Zack and Cody, High School Musical, Camp Rock, Drake and Josh, ICarly, and need I mention, Hannah Montana?)

What are our kids soaking in from the notion that to be somebody, you need to be a performer/rock star?

More on this later…

Dismantling Christmas

After I spent much of the day dismantling Christmas throughout the house, I feel pretty good. The house is not so cluttered, and the living room is fresh and ready for a new year. I’ll celebrate the melancholy ritual with my favorite Auden poem:

“Well, so that is that”
Well, so that is that.
Now we must dismantle the tree,
Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes
Some have got broken carrying them up to the attic.
The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,
And the children got ready for school. There are enough
Leftovers to do, warmed up, for the rest of the week
Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,
Stayed up so late, attempted quite unsuccessfully
To love all of our relatives, and in general
Grossly overestimated our powers.
Once again
As in previous years we have seen the actual
Vision and failed
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable
Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,
Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,
The promising child who cannot keep His word for long.
Wystan Hugh Auden (1907-1973)

Welcome 2009

As is now a tradition of my blog, I mark the passing of another year with lines form Lord Alfred Tennyson’s In Memorium :

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;Ring out the false, ring in the true.

If ever there was a year that we’d all like to see die, it was 2008. “Let him go”…”ring in the new!”

Mark and I stayed home with our sons, ate a special meal, and played board games. We headed for the living room about 11-ish to prep for the ball drop, and I dropped off to sleep rocking the baby, shortly after midnight. Not a bad way to ring in the New Year; by getting a good night’s sleep!