Tuesday, October 31, 2006

To do list:


Monday, October 30, 2006

A near-death experience

Today I got to class, plugged in my laptop, attempted to turn it on, and... nothing. Tried with a different outlet later and again, nothing. I was not pleased. The end of both the little Dell that, on occasion, could, and perhaps even this very blog, seemed imminent. But then Pony came to the rescue and told me to remove the battery and plug the thing in battery-free. Which I just did, and let me say, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Furet, etc.

If you're a student at the IFS, or otherwise interested in all things French-political, check out this book review in The Nation. However, if you're a student at the IFS, there's a good chance that you're currently either a) busy reading about French sociology, or b) recovering from a fabulous and IFSer-filled Halloween party. So, when you're ready, take a look. I'll take a closer look at the article, as well as at the book that's reviewed, eventually, and, should there be time between the reading (assigned and not) and the socializing (in costume and not) I just might post a response to the book/article on WWPD.

Friday, October 27, 2006

New, for fans of Rushmore and Hedwig:

Shortbus: In a society in which it's assumed we're all familiar with the various sexual acts that are out there, with what permutations are possible, showing married couples in seperate beds, or even failing to show any sex onscreen, starts to seem a bit dated. That said, John Cameron Mitchell's decision to begin his movie with a one-person sex act that was on the nauseating side didn't so much feel real as feel, well, nauseating. That said, his movie's completely brilliant. What makes both this movie and Hedwig so great is the fact that outrageous sexual exploits are neither celebrated nor judged. Or, more precisely, they're celebrated as freeing in some instances and condemned as detrimental to an ideal of monogamous couplehood in others. While Mitchell is clearly not a partisan of the religious right, his perspective is not so different from the David Brooksian, it's fine to be gay, as long as you couple off all marriage-like. Experimentation is looked at as a means to an end, a way of finding fulfulling partnership, but the orgy is presented as a form of therapy or transition, not as an end in itself. To make this movie, nudity--and them some--only makes sense.

Marie Antoinette: It's a whole lot like bringing your iPod to Barneys. Looking at pretty shoes while listening to hipster music isn't a disaster, but it's not a worthy use of two-plus hours of your life. There's something subversive and interesting about a mainstream movie that's not just not liberal, but so reactionary that it's actually full-on royalist. However, there's something unfortunate about a movie in which a super obnoxious character you know is soon to be beheaded not actually losing her head onscreen. What makes this movie is that Max from Rushmore is Louis XVI. So what if Jason Schwartzman only got the part because he's Sofia Coppola's cousin, or if the Schwartzmen only got emancipated in 1791, thus adding to the movie's anachronism. He is a fantastic Louis, and he makes the movie bearable. His "Obviously!" in this movie rivals his "Oh, are they?" in the other.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


I'm still here, kinda. One exam and one paper later, midway through a 700-page novel, and there you have it. That's not including homework for other classes, or various random things that must be accomplished (bills to mail, forms to fax, and the eventual tracking down of a vacuum cleaner).

This is officially the most boring post ever on WWPD.

Friday, October 20, 2006

"Where the real people are"

My roommate and I just watched the season premier of "Trading Spouses." The premise was swapping a Protestant woman from Kentucky with an Orthodox Jewish woman from the Boston suburbs.

This episode could have been called, "The Vast Spectrum of the Republican Electorate." While politics was never mentioned specifically, I'm going to take a leap and guess that neither racoon-hunters nor those who shomer negiah voted for Kerry. It just as easily could have been called, "Further Investigation Into the Mindset of Those Who Sang Along Enthusiastically to 'Throw the Jew Down the Well.'"

Despite rhetoric of Judeo-Christian values, of the faithful of all faiths uniting against sin and fun, the message from this show was that much of the nation still thinks Jews are odd as all get-out. That class, profession, and region are not nearly as salient as Jewishness. The father in the Jewish family a physicist and the mother's an engineering professor. I'm not going to say that looked entirely foreign to me, but that's not quite the typical Jewish home. Or, more to the point, a science/academic family is something quite specific, regardless of religion or lack thereof. This was portrayed as further evidence of a particularly Jewish uptightness or nerdiness. In the Christian family, the mother is a nurse and the father is a prison warden. Which led to perhaps the most amazing identifying caption ever on any television program, ever: "Father/Prison Warden." But while the Massachusetts mother sees differences in terms of region or locality, or attitudes towards education, the Kentucky mother sees this as about Jews versus regular folk.

Keeping kosher--as in, keeping a kosher home, not just saying "hold the bacon"-is certainly a challenge if it's not something you're used to. So it was to be expected that food would be an issue. What was disturbing, though, was the Kentucky mother's insistence that kashrut--and Judaism in general--is not the "American way." That's bad news. While there was a fair dose of intolerance on both sides--the Massachusetts mother's objection to hunting was hard to take, given that she spent ages trying to track down kosher meat (I mean, for crying out loud, anyone who can't just be a vegetarian for a week has no right to claim PETA-level love of raccoons)--the Kentucky family was grounded in a confidence that they belong, that even their flaws are admirable, that a son's refusal to do homework makes him well-balanced, whereas the Jewish family is forever on the defensive. The family's are supposed to consider each other weird, that's the point of the show, but this went further. Both families feel themselves to be American, but one sees the other as anything but. Being of a nerdy/academic Jewish bent myself, I've taken a brief break from homework to read a book by Pierre Birnbaum about "State Jews" in France, about the fused Franco-Jewish identity during the Third Republic. Which is a fantastic book. But the point relevant here is that French Jewish goverment officials kept thinking themselves French (legally, they were full citizens, and the Republic was officially secular), anti-Semites kept repeating that they weren't as French as French Catholics. Long story short, there's now a country where Jews do not have to face that particular issue. And no, that country is not the United States.

But, back to the show, it gets worse.

When the Kentucky mom's stay with The Jews is over, she says the following: "I'm ready to go home. Where real people are."

I've got nothing.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Face facts

What, if anything, makes the full-face veil problematic? According to the BBC, Tony Blair says, "It is a mark of separation and that is why it makes other people from outside the community feel uncomfortable." Since the same could clearly be said of everything from blue hair to Hasidic garb to visible thongs--not to mention school uniforms, or this versus last season's jeans--why worry about veils? Isn't all clothing intended as a mark of separation?

Of course it is. The simple answer to why veiling presents a problem is that this particular mark of separation is one used by a community that is, in part, at war with Britain and the West in general. If Islam in general were not seen as a threat, women could presumably go around in opaque bubbles and no one would complain. But, then again, there's a bit more to it.

While both the headscarf and the full-face veil symbolize Islam, and thus set off whichever fear signals those disposed to thinking along such lines will experience, there's something different about a face being entirely covered. Facial expression is such a large part of communication that voluntarily giving it up isn't all that different from voluntarily choosing to gesture and write but not speak. There is modesty intended not to show how sexy you are (everything from a headscarf to a turtleneck to an unflattering pair of slacks), and there is modesty intended not to show who you are. I'm not saying this difference means one should be banned and not the other--I also see the arguments for banning neither or both, depending on the context--but just that the arguments against the full-face veil are not the same as those against the basic headscarf.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Dumb and dumber

Either the new kids' NYU sweatshirt or the new black "skinny" jeans just dyed the rest of my clothing a little bit purple. Not a lot, all still wearable, but a bit purple all the same.

What preceded my laundry-doing, however, was locking myself out of my apartment, for the first time ever. I left my room, stepped the few feet to the washing machines, and then the door slammed shut, neither propped open nor unlocked (I'd thought both). I did not have keys, a phone, money, a Metrocard, anything. What I do have, however, is a midterm I'd been studying for, with all the materials back in the apartment. After significant kicking and other useful, bobby-pin-related attempts at breaking into my own apartment, I finally broke down and rang a neighbor's bell. He let me borrow his phone to call the super, who does not, for future reference, have the keys. Eventually, two other neighbors showed up, one of whom suggested the credit card technique (didn't work) and the other who, after failed attempts with various screwdrivers, managed to climb in the outside window and open the door to my apartment. Turns out he's an actual rock-climber--this is not by any means a simple task. He is also my hero.

Quote of the day: "I am Costanza, king of the idiots."


Sometimes I look at my blogroll and think, why? As in, how'd that get there? I see that a blog called Towleroad, a well-written site for and about gay men, is on the list. It's not one I generally look at, so I had a look. And, funny thing is, it's coming back to me how that link might have gotten there.

In other link-related news, my classmate Clementine was linked from Gawker. Very cool.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Last night I did the unthinkable--went clubbing. This is sort of an every other year thing, and thus merits photographic evidence. Buddha Bar is as hard to navigate as O'Hare (and this was with a reservation), but not half bad once you get settled. I think the time has come to mention that, gosh darn it, NYU grad students are a fabulous bunch, and I do not include myself in that assessment. I am not fabulous. But everyone else who studies French--as well as plenty of folks in other departments--is pretty damn fabulous.

Also fabulous: the French middle class. About whom I've been reading, and will continue reading once I've published this post.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Pas echapper!

On brief breaks from official Frenchifying, I've encountered the following:

A man in the Village telling his adorable Lab puppy, "Pas sauter, pas sauter!"

A man on line at Prospect Heights hotspot Bergen Bagels asking his wife if she wants "cinnamon-raison-beurre."

A NYT Book Review section chock full of information about Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette.

Recent excitement

It's been a busy week/month/whatever. I'm in the midst of writing out everything that happened (not to mention the relevant historiography!) between 1700 and 1800 in France. A lot happened, so this is pretty much my day. That said, some interesting (though not nearly as interesting or earth-shattering) things from the past few days:

1) Unfortunately, I do not know what the matter is with Holland. Aaron Berlin let me know that Andrew Sullivan was going to be at the 82nd and Broadway Barnes and Noble. As I said to Aaron, considering my interest in learning what's wrong with the Netherlands came from reading Sullivan's blog, it only made sense to go see Sullivan. Although I wish, as always, that it were possible to be in two places at once. That said, Sullivan had a lot to say. I'm not sure what to make of his assertion that conservatism is the correct road for those who wish to avoid fundamentalism and nihilism--why not liberalism, libertarianism, or moderation? I raised my hand to ask this, but Sullivan was off to Larry King, so there wasn't time for all the questions. That also said, Andrew Sullivan was the first blogger I can remember reading, which made all of this very thrilling for me.

2) It's entirely probable that I will be going to England, Norway, and Israel this winter. I'm beyond excited. For WWPD readers, this will mean one of the more eclectic Flickr albums ever.

3) You know you're in grad school when your outline for a midterm is the length of a dissertation, and you've barely gotten started.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A plea for a return to horse-and-buggy

The purpose of the University of Chicago's Civilization study abroad programs is that you'll get a better grasp of a place's history if you study it in that place. Civilization in situ, I think was the catchphrase. Depending upon the program, this can mean getting a weaker grasp of a place's history due to a country's drinking age being, say, twelve, but in the case of the program I went on, they meant business, and it worked, got me awfully interested in French history.

So with that principle in mind, I took my sociology readings on the French bourgeoisie--specifically private girls' schools and the French equivalent of that socialite dancing-school some of my Spence classmates did--up to the Upper East Side, not to learn about a culture I know nothing about but to remember full well exactly how that lifestyle looks and feels. (Carnegie Hill and the 16th Arrondissment differ only in that the latter has better cheese, older buildings, and fewer Woody Allen sightings).

Can I just say that I'm dumbfounded by the fact that the subtle yet immensely important differences between how one girl at a girls' school wears her uniform and how another one does form the basis for a field of study, that this is considered worth looking into by sociologists. It's not that I think it's not worth looking into. Hardly. It's just that I spent ages eight through eleven poring over this stuff, overanalyzing what it meant that [insert name of daughter of business scion/well-known politician] wore Adidas Sambas whereas someone from a different clique wore Doc Martens, whereas that girl over there was wearing Airwalks, and came up with all sorts of chartable, quantifiable information on my classmates' choice of accessory and what that had to do with status... and had always looked at this as sort of a lost stage in my life. Yet, had I written it up exactly as I observed it and as I explained it to whomever would listen, it might well have been read by grad students just a few 4-5-6 train stops away. Could have, should have, might of, but didn't, eh?

So yes, I spent part of today back in the illustrious 'hood. But I was downtown before this happened. Still immensely weirded out all the same. During class, a girl mentioned something about a plane crashing into a building, but dismissed the event's importance, saying it was up on 70-something Street. I didn't know the exact coordinates, but this did sound like my neighborhood. Yes, this was scary as all get-out, but my family's fine, and as tragic as the event was, considering it was an airplane flying into a building in the middle of Manhattan, it could certainly have been worse. That said, why exactly can random people fly airplanes above densely populated residential neighborhoods in the first place? I would be happy to see Manhattan free of cars, so it goes without saying I don't see what the hell tiny private airplanes are doing in the air above York Avenue. While it's obviously a relief that this wasn't terrorism, I can't quite understand why, if you're not bent on the destruction of Western Civilization, you'd want to fly your dinky plane around tall buildings in Manhattan.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Equality in all the wrong places

Back in the day, it was all about John Derbyshire, Woody Allen, and little girls. I think we've finally reached a state of gender equality. With male congressmen and female schoolteachers alike chasing the peach-fuzz set, it appears that both boys and girls can now be not just victims of skeeviness, but victims of well-publicized skeeviness. Just as metrosexuality was set forth to permit men to be as vain as women, the new decision to consider underage males the victims of statutory rape, even when no priests are involved, makes boys that much more equal to girls.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The somewhat smaller night

Grad school means that although tonight is not a school night, I'm sitting here in my NYU kids' sweatshirt reading about Napoleon. This might not be everybody's cup of tea (or in my case at the moment, giant mug of coffee), but I happen to like grad school.

I especially like grad school right now, as there's an upcoming talk which, for once, does not conflict with anything else I want to attend. This Thursday at 6, NYUers and I suppose others in the area can go hear what the matter is with Holland. I, for one, would like to know.

The big night!

The thing about a five-year high school reunion, in the age of Facebook, is that it's not quite the surprise-filled event it might be if it were, say, a 20-year reunion in the pre-Internet age. Everyone who came out, got good-looking, or otherwise did something that could count as surprising since high school has already made that known to the rest of us. Plus, because five years really isn't that long, it basically felt as if there had been prom, then a week's vacation, then we returned to school and had another prom, but with fewer people and less voluminous hair.

As for the photos, I give the following disclaimers:

#1: My bangs are parted in the middle for reasons I do not understand, but proper blow-drying should fix that. Maybe.

#2: I do not yet "get" blush, and so look far more intoxicated in some of these photos than was in fact the case.

#3: Apparently people from high school read my blog, which I learned after enough people said they knew exactly what I've been up to, and so we could dispense with the usual pleasantries. This isn't exactly a disclaimer, I was just kind of surprised is all.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The big day!

The Dachshund Oktoberfest was fan-friggin-tastic. Washington Square Park was a sea of dachshunds, of all shapes, coats, and degrees of silliness. Well, all were quite silly. Photos coming soon, obvs. The Stuyvesant reunion is also coming up very, very soon. Two hours of open bar will probably lead to silliness of Dachshund Oktoberfest proportions, but if people are overall more sober than they were at senior prom, I won't be at all surprised. You have to figure college does something for alcohol tolerance.

Friday, October 06, 2006


Since tomorrow night is a chance to drunkenly pretend to care what's happened to everyone from high school since our cuddle-puddle glory days, tonight's all about Diderot. Such is grad school. I've been taking Diderot and his indiscreet euphemistic "jewels" all around town. On so many levels, it was only a matter of time until the following entered my life:

"Hubert Colson owns a pastry shop in Mons, Belgium. Yonatan Israel, a native of Paris, is a filmmaker in New York. Together they have opened Pâtisserie Colson, a trim little pastry shop and cafe at 374 Ninth Street (Sixth Avenue), Park Slope, Brooklyn."

This place may well be the only in New York if not America if not outside Belgium that sells "an almond-scented Belgian rice pudding tart." I wasn't really that up for one today, though, but the raspberry-lemon curd tart wasn't half bad. The bread was apparently stale, but I will nevertheless have to return to find out if the tart is up to the Belgian standard.

$170 on 170th!

Via Gawker, I just found Alex Kuczynski's fascinating article about what happens when a white person risks it all to verify that you can, in fact, overpay for jeans above 96th Street. A Gawker commentor correctly points out that the referring to Harlem's gentrification as "stretching the boundaries of humanity" implies something not so fantastic about what Kuczynski thinks the species is of those who arrived before gentrification. Also worth noting: Kuczynski runs into a group of white women, New Yorkers who are nevertheless in Harlem as tourists, and refers to herself as being, in their eyes, "also clearly from lower Manhattan." What does it mean to be "clearly from lower Manhattan"? Lower as in below 96th Street? Lower Manhattan makes me think of either Canal Street or the Financial District, maybe SoHo, but certainly not the Upper East Side, which is the only neighborhood that could possibly think to send tour buses from one part of the city to the next.

Which brings me to what's annoying about Kuczynski's article. It isn't that she is white, that she's discussing gentrification, or that she dares--as a white person whose primary qualification appears to be writing about luxury shopping--to mention race. It's that she's writing from the classic 57th-96th, 3rd-5th perspective. As in, if something falls outside the bounds of the Upper East Side proper, it's inherently suspect, dingy, or, at best, "funky."

The more gentrified the city overall becomes, the more outdated and frankly confusing such an interpretation of New York becomes. Rich, skinny, well-dressed white people--and the accompaying stores, restaurants, and so on-- are everywhere; of this group, the 57th-96th set is just one category. It's a category that's more America than New York, that embraces a country-club rather than hipster aesthetic, and that doesn't realize it's much cooler to pretend not to be intimidated by going all the way to Avenue C or Williamsburg (Brooklyn, oh no!) than to cringe at the mention of anything more than three blocks from where you went to prep school. Kuczynski's discussion of Harlem could just as easily be about the East Village-- it's not so much about race as about provincialism. Her article is from the perspective of somebody stunned to realize things aren't so different once you walk a couple blocks in the other direction.

Brace yourselves

Soon, on this very website (Weblog, if you will) there will be many, many photos. Tomorrow's the big day. That's right--Dachshund Oktoberfest plus Stuyvesant Reunion. I'm writing this post mainly as a means of reminding myself to charge my camera's battery. It's gonna need it!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Shame on me

A couple years ago, I posted about the grad-undergrad battle playing out on the streets of Hyde Park. Today, I myself am a grad student, at NYU, and will be up all night explicating texts. In other words, much the same as UChicago undergrad. But as I get comments emailed to me, I was able to see that someone named Anonymous has just left the following comment on my post about grads and undergrads:

I am a U of C grad student. The reason I don't like U of C undergrads is not because of the typical undergrad aspects you might share with undergrads at other institutions, but the fact that you are undergrads at the U of C. You are a bunch of masochists who take 4 classes while we take 3, often the same classes, so you have no opportunity to learn something about real life. And you are a masochist for irrelevant "great books" and a core curriculum that stifles your choice of courses. And you all are burying your noses in books either in your dorms or across the street in the Reg but you never get out and see real life north of 55th Street so you are stuck in your immature and often bigoted and racist ways that you have had since high school. Really, the incidents that occurred last year among undergrads were an embarrassment for the entire university. Shame on you. You never have to learn how to shop for yourself, feed yourself or judging from the smell of some of you, clean yourselves, because the university provides it all for you for four years and you think that Medici has good food because you have never eaten in a decent restaurant. Your development is stifled and your ability to socially interact with the greater society is never developed as an undergrad at the U of C. These are the reasons I chose not to even apply here as an undergrad and seeing what undergrad life is like now that I am a grad student here I am assured that I was quite wise in that decision. I did my undergrad at Berkeley and I encountered all sorts of people there and learned how to take care of myself because there was no room in the dorms after first year so we had to live on our own and unlike the U of C, we undergrads were interesting and tolerant enough of different people that surprise surprise, the graduate students actually enjoyed treating us as equals there. We had interactions with the non-university community of all races on a daily basis too. You U of C undergrads just mock those who are different from you.

And please, we don't care about seven jeans. I have no clue what seven jeans are and I don't really care. I stopped wearing jeans when I was 14 and got stuck walking 3 miles in a rainstorm in jeans and decided they were heavy shackles and never put another pair on again.

I love it. It's a joke, right? As for the "Shame on you" in reference to events which took place at the University of Chicago last year, I will take a moment to assure Anonymous that, as a member of the class of 2005, I played no part in whatever is being referred to, nor am I quite sure what exactly went down. I rather enjoy being chastized for being a dumb undergrad now that I am in fact a dumb grad student; it makes me feel young! I will also say that I knew quite well, even as an undergrad, how to shop for myself, and made semi-frequent trips to H&M to do just that. Feeding myself, that was a bit more difficult, as the food in Chicago is atrocious. As for hygiene, it's cold in Chicago, for chrissakes, do you expect us undergrads to walk all the way from Broadview to campus with wet hair?

But in all (well, somewhat more) seriousness, what I don't quite understand about the grad-undergrad divide is that there's not so much of a difference, really. I knew what Seven jeans were as an undergrad, and know enough to know that the new "skinny" jeans have replaced any and all back-pocket-specific designer brands in trendiness. This is a good development for us grad students, as it means that the age of the $200 pair of jeans is over, we can now be ultrachic for a mere $40.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Manic shopping spree of graduate student proportions*

Today I spent so much money it's incredible. By graduate student standards, of course, and without wasting much time at all, but still. The day began respectably enough--had cereal at home, thus saving $2.75 on a muffin and coffee. I have an unlimited metrocard, so again, doing quite well so far. I bought a peach at the Greenmarket, but that obviously wasn't the purchase of the century.

Things began to fall apart after class, once Emi, Chelsea and I made a trip to the NYU bookstore, where I bought a book for class, then headed over to look at the kids' sweatshirts, since they are cheaper and gosh darn it they fit better, too. Near the kids' clothes was a $4 copy of Michael Oren's Six Days of War. Iiinnnteresting! Then, my perfect vision combined with some kind of sixth sense-obsession with French Jews, and all of a sudden, among the remaindered books, I found a copy of the amazing Pierre Birnbaum's book on "state Jews" in France, from Gambetta to Vichy. Huzzah! Somehow this added up to over $50.

Then came the much-deliberated French-girls trip to Sephora. I'd decided that blush might be interesting, but that I didn't know where to begin, so Chelsea, Emi, and soon also Charlotte gave me a hand. Buying blush entailed buying a brush, which entailed spending a bit more than I'd been thinking I would. How much? Too much. But blush seems rather awesome.

At long last, it was time to go home and be productive. But productivity requires food, and the only "supermarket" on the way home was Whole Foods. So I just had to buy especially high-quality groceries, when in retrospect, in the name of both cost and time-efficiency, ordering in might have been the way to go.

* See "jumbo shrimp"

“Mark Foley wants you to know that he is a gay man.”

Mark Foley is fascinating. He is but one man, yet he encompasses the entirety of modern-day, scandal-making problems. Sketchy relations with the barely legal. With the barely legal who also happen to be working for him. Sketchy use of the Internet. Closeted homosexuality. Which is enough, you'd think, but there's more. He was also--how very last season!--molested by a clergyman when he was a kid. And--how very Mel Gibson!--he is, sniff sniff, an alcoholic. Add on Delta Burke as his wronged, bulimic wife, and this is officially the perfect Lifetime movie.

I've enjoyed following the Mark Foley story because it's a return to the America of my youth, the rollicking 1990s, when apologetic fuck-ups, not al-Qaeda, were what made the news. Remember Amy Fisher, the Long Island Lolita? OJ? Monica? Not to discount the sufferings of Mary Joe Buttafucco and the like, but those were better days.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Le Reg me Manque, encore

I came home and found a vaccuum cleaner just sitting in the hallway of my building. My new room has carpeting, but this whole grad-school thing has gotten in the way of my researching and purchasing vaccuum cleaners, and so the floor just keeps getting worse. So you can imagine my delight at this discovery. I bring the thing down to my room, and discover that it is broken in several ways, not to mention missing some key parts, to the extent that it could barely even be called a vaccuum cleaner anymore. It's now just sitting in my room, and perhaps will be for quite some time. Grr.

That's Grr #2. Grr #1 relates to my university's library, where I spent most of this afternoon dealing with utter nonsense that never, ever would have happened at the glorious Regenstein. First off, wireless. At Chicago, to log onto library wireless, you just, you know, log on. At NYU, you need to go down to the basement and have a student worker install a special program on your computer. This took about a hundred years, during which time I tried to think how best to manage the rest of my time before meeting Carlos and Katherine this evening.

Eventually my computer was equipped with wireless powers, so I headed down to the sub-basement to get a book that's on reserve. I waited online (in both the New York colloquial and Internet sense, what with my new wireless) for another hundred years, asked for the book I needed, only to learn that you cannot get a book off reserve without giving some kind of special form to the person behind the desk. So I filled out said form, got back on the line, and a millenium later, learned that my ID card is not yet activated for this function. To activate an ID card, you have to go up to the first floor. Did that, went back down, and eventually got the book. Which turned out to be super interesting, chock full of French-Jewish-historical wonderfulness. But at that point it was just kind of like, whatever.

The greatest place on earth...

...is surely Bern, Switzerland, home not only to the greatest of Mountain Dogs, but also the site for a major pro-Israel rally this week.


I'm now a full 100% sure I saw Gary Shteyngart and his girlfriend in Montreal.

Ivrit, maintenant!

Since I obviously have endless amounts of free time, I've decided to take a Hebrew class on Tuesday evenings, inspired by my classmate Clementine. I'm not sure whether my Hebrew skills have deteriorated as much as my running ability, so I'm going to sit in on beginning and intermediate. Tomorrow is also the IFS luncheon most directly about French Jews, so I'm of course most excited. Tomorrow is also the day I'm supposed to pick up a tailored pair of the new "skinny" jeans (one of two I bought last week, ugh), but that seems the thing I'm most likely to forget.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

"At a time when France was rife with discontent"

Now, on Channel 21/PBS, there is a show on about Marie Antoinette. I'd say if you're in the 19th Century class, this documentary just might count as useful. A voice-over Marie Antoinette is, at this very moment, discussing Louis's erections. We also learn that "[i]t had taken more than seven years, but 'the great work,' as Joseph called it, had been accomplished." Apparently this led to a national party involving "free sausages." I can't believe this is on television, but anything on PBS, with classical music playing in the background, half in a foreign language, with commentary from Simon Schama, is by definition respectable, so I'm not quite as embarrassed to be watching this as I might be otherwise. That, and this does directly relate to this week's reading, so again, perfectly respectable.

OK, now they're actually showing the pamphlets discussed in the readings. Seriously, turn on your TV right now.

Why I could not fast for Yom Kippur, even if I were so inclined

All of my reading these days is, as you might have picked up on by now, about France. The thing about France is that each of its towns brings to mind some kind of tasty food. I cannot read the history of Poitou without thinking of its chevre, Calvados without thinking how this liqueur is used to make an apple tart, and so on. Reading about Paris means hearing the names of streets or neighborhoods, and thus brings about an irrepressible urge to buy pastries as well as shoes. It's distracting under the best of circumstances, but if I were trying specifically to avoid eating, it would be a disaster.

Les blogues

Just went running for the first time since starting grad school. It's a fact, grad school leads to muscle deterioration. Running 3 1/2 miles should not be that difficult.

Tangentially related, I've learned that French grad school and blogging are not as mutually exclusive as one might imagine. (You'd picture a world of moleskin notebooks and fountain pens, right? Right.) Clementine's got one, and she in turn reveals that Pony and Andrew do as well. I'd read and give a synopsis of these blogs, but two factors-- iffy Internet and mountains of homework-- prevent it for the time being.