These aren't the droids you're looking for...

Wow, check out this CG clip circa 1980! The musicality of the video is surely helped by the Beatles' clip "Flying" used as the soundtrack...

Vol Libre from Loren Carpenter on Vimeo.

Found over at kottke.org

Officer Krupke

Holy cow, it's been a long time -- 12 days since my last post, and it seems like ages since I wrote anything substantial in any sort of forum. My Beatles class has really come along nicely: we're winding down, actually -- tomorrow's on Politics, with emphasis on the Revolution/Revolution 1 discrepancy; and I'm gonna throw in a smattering of the "Helter Skelter"/Tate Murders because I'm fairly certain that these kids don't know/haven't even heard of Charlie Manson.

I, on the other hand, read the prosecutor's book (Bugliosi?) back when I was in middle school -- sheesh, couple that grisly book with all the Stephen King books I read back then, it's no wonder that my 7th-grade class voted me the "Student You'd Least Like to Meet in a Dark Alley."

There's a lot bouncing around in my head right now, but the "Skip" Gates controversy really boils my blood. Christopher Hitchens' article in Slate is particularly to the point: if Gates was white, none of this would happen. Officer Crowly -- coming off more like Officer Krupke, if you ask me -- ascertains that this short, old, black man using a cane is indeed who he says he is. Gates does so by issuing his Harvard ID -- at this point, what officer wouldn't take the high road and walk away? Okay, what if Gates did start talking about Crowley's momma?

How do you not recognize this guy? Now, I've read a short segment from his seminal work "The Signifying Monkey" for a class I took a while back on Thomas A. Dorsey. Fine, let's assume this guy hasn't read a lot of Afro-American Lit/Crit Theory...does he not watch PBS? There's an 80% chance that Gates is one of two black men on a constant loop on PBS these days (the other being the fantastic astronomer/astrophysicist/constant Colbert-Report-guest Neil deGrasse Tyson). Gates has been doing these episodes where he researches bloodlines of prominent black Americans, including Oprah, Quincy Jones, et al. Come on, seriously; you've at least flipped through one of these shows, right?

{{there's a guy totalling primping in the window at the booth; he's directly in front of me (<12") and can't see me!!}}

How does Officer Crowley end up escorting this guy out of his house, off the front porch, in handcuffs?!?!?!?

I'm not even gonna touch the woman who called in the 'suspected breaking & entering.' Um, you live in Harvard Square -- how do you not know "Skip" Gates? Wow...

Enough for now...hopefully I'll be checking before I hit the road for August. That's right: Toronto, South Carolina & Long Island all are on the docket this August, so I'm working my tail off now, so I can enjoy the beach/golf course/High Line/Broadway.


"...a lacuna where trailer-park trailers are concerned..."

Infinite Jest, oh how I love thee; the playful word-i-ness; the offbeat, wacky characters; the names (Orin and Hal, two of the protagonists, which have fairly conservative names); the conversations...

Here's an extended conversation between Hal, the younger tennis phenom whom we've just found out received a hugely important shock to his system at the age of 13* (spoiler below, not like any of you are gonna read this book), and his older brother Orin, who's a placekicker for the Arizona Cardinals, and quite the ladies man apparently.

Orin: 'I said I think I'm being followed.'

Hal: 'Some men are born to lead, O.'

'I'm serious. And here's the weird part.'


'The weird park is I think I'm being followed by . . . by handicapped people.'

As they discuss the evidence cited by Orin, including that prior to and after a tryst in a trailer park, Orin sees the same man struggling to get his wheelchair out of the sand, Hal, the slightly out-of-touch tennis phenom, seeks to fill a hole in the O.E.D. where trailer parks are concerned:

'But this trailer. This lady you met's trailer. Confirm or deny the following. Its carpet was wall-to-wall and extremely thin, a kind of burnt yellow or orange.'


'The living-room or like den area contained some or all of the following: a black velvet painting featuring an animal; a videophonic diorama on some sort of knickknack shelf; a needlepoint sampler with some kind of frothy biblical saw on it; at least one piece of chintz furniture with protective doilies on the arms; a Smoke-B-Gone air-filtration ashtray; the last couple years' Reader's Digests neatly displayed in their own special inclined magazine rack.'

'Check on velvet painting of leopard, sample sofa with doilies, ashtray. No Reader's Digests. This isn't especially funny, Hallie. The Moms comes out in you in these odd little ways sometimes.'

'Last one. The trailer-person's name. Jean. May. Nora. Vera. Nora-Jean or Vera-May.'

'. . .'

'That was my question.'

'I guess I'll have to get back to you on that.'

'Boy, you really put the small r in romance, don't you.'

LOVE IT...seriously, I'm completely devoted to this book.

* Hal discovered his dad's own suicide, by way of a microwave; he analogizes the scene to the remnants of a microwaved potato that was not cut open.


LOVE: The Ultimate Mix Tape

No, I'm not referring to my recent 1-year anniversary, which was excellent by the way...thanks for asking...I'm blogging about George Martin's new soundtrack to the latest Cirque de Soleil production entitled LOVE.

In collaboration with Paul, Ringo, Yoko and Olivia Harrison, George Martin and his son Niles have revisited and recombined the original Beatles' masters at Abbey Road Studios. The result is a unique soundscape featuring all of our favorite hits in dramatically new settings. Bass lines from Revolver end up paired with melodies from the White Album; ambient sounds from "Revolution #9" end up as segues from song to song. It's as if someone left the cages open at the zoo, and you show up the next door with the zebras and penguins cooly co-habitating in the same pen.

Remember when I used to end my blogs with an update on my dissertation's status? Well, a number of factors -- including, but not limited to, my winning a fellowship for next year, and my Beatles class, and my papers for Boston & Toronto Haydn conferences -- has kept me from dedicating any solid work to the diss. Soon, after my (very fun) month of August vacation(s) my dissertation will be swept off the shelves and into a defendable form of writing...hopefully.


Right on track...

...with the book, that is. Infinite Jest just keeps on coming; every page a new idea, concept, structure. The book is post-modern in every sense of the word: it's a pastiche of different styles, points-of-view, locations, places and characters. It includes 100 pages of endnotes, most of which are completely necessary to the storyline; and DFW quotes urban legends and jokes, or at least embeds them within the narrative (google "bricklayer story + DFW" for more info).

But for me, the jokes, the descriptions, the overall usage of words is incredible. I'll include a few instances below, which are completely stripped of their significance but I hope they can convey just a little bit of meaning:

  • "And who could not love that special and leonine roar of a public toilet?" p. 15

  • "The sun, if your fluttering eye catches it even slightly, gives you the blue and red floaters a flashbulb gives you." p. 16

  • "She was the kind of fatally pretty and nubile wraithlike figure who glides through the sweaty junior-high corridors of every nocturnal emitter's dreamscape." p. 38-39

  • "Mario, what do you get when you cross an insomniac, an unwilling agnostic, and a dyslexic?" "I give." "You get somebody who stays up all night torturing himself mentally over the question of whether or not there's a dog." p. 41

  • "The defecatory posture is an accepting posture, it occurs to him. Head down, elbows on knees, the fingers laced together between the knees. Some hunched timeless millenial type of waiting, almost religious...The mute quiescent suffering of generations of salesmen in the stalls of train-station johns, heads down, fingers laced, shined shoes inert, awaiting the acid gush." p. 103

  • "...even [earplugs] do not solve the problem of a snoring roommate if the roommate in question is so huge and so adenoidal that the snores in question also produce subsonic vibrations that arpeggio up and down your body and make your bunk jiggle like a motel bed you've put a quarter in." p. 201


RBOC: Glass edition...

It's been waaaay too long since I've graced the interwebs with another RBOC edition. Over the past week or so, I've been intrigued by architectural articles in Slate and The Times; so, some of my Random Bits Of Crap will be related to buildings.

  • Chicago's Sears Tower now has an entire landing made out of glass. File it under D for "Don't Look Down."
  • Did someone say glass? Well, before the Sears Tower added a measly little outcropping of glass, Phillip Johnson designed an entire house out of it...located in Connecticut, this jewel of Modernist architecture is certainly on my travel wish list.
  • One final bit of architectural interest appeared in the Times today: apparently an entire building made of pods is scheduled to be torn down. One wall of the pod has all the electrical stuff: oven, frig, tape deck, etc; while the other end is anchored by a giant porthole window (made of glass!) that creates the effect of living in a fishbowl!
  • I almost forgot this little nugget: St. Louis and public art made the Times; has anyone seen these sculptures?
  • The Beatles class (rhymes w/glass) keeps on ticking. Yesterday's class was the first day that I actually taught anything (day 1 consisted of syllabus discussion + a viewing of "A Hard Day's Night"), and I think it went pretty well. I laid out some common language for discussing early Rock 'n' Roll (what's a backbeat? Electric guitars?)
  • Super fun, really trashy gossip about one of my students that I suppose I shouldn't really publish out in the world-wide web -- definitely fodder for a phone conversation!


"I like big...

...books, and I cannot lie." Seriously, I don't know why but I've always been attracted to books that can double as doorstops.

Let's take a look at the numbers:

Ayn Rand's Fountainhead = 694 pages
Stephen King's IT = 1090 pages
Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon = 1130 pages
Robert Caro's The Power Broker = 1166 pages

And in my current book, David Foster Wallace takes 981 pages, plus an additional 100+ pages of endnotes, to lay out his masterpiece (so I'm told) Infinite Jest. The story, as far as I can tell 147 pages into, concerns Hal Incandenza -- a young tennis phenom -- and is set at the fictional tennis academy in Entfield, MA. I really enjoy the actual references to local landmarks here in Boston: Allston slums, the Red and Green lines, Harvard Square, et al.

In addition to Hal's extended family, including two brothers and his parents, both of whom founded the tennis academy, there seems to be an underlying moral about the eroding nature of pop culture as it's delivered through the television. A certain videotape is making the rounds, and by making the rounds, I mean sucking people into watching it over and over until they actually succumb to it.

Peppered throughout the text are multiple points-of-view, including local dialects that take a couple different readings to actually process...the most poignant passages, however, concern depression and suicide. Once you read these passages, DFW's own suicide seems 10x more tragic.

I'm about 10 pages behind today's deadline, but I've still got tonight to catch up. 10 pages seems like nothing, but when you get a single sentence occupying a full page plus endnotes it takes a little longer than normal. Still, it's very worth the effort -- at least, thus far.

I'm off to the first class of The Beatles today, so I'll leave you with a little taste of what we'll be doing: