Saturday, September 27, 2008

Cooper Hall has No Fire Sprinklers

My Shakespeare class meets on the third floor of this building. It's a death-trap. It has narrow hallways, overcrowded classrooms, awkward and confusing egress points, and most notably, no fire sprinklers.

I didn't even know it was legal to construct a building without them. Every other building I've been in has them, so why not this one?

It looks nice from the outside, but whoever designed this building had no idea what he was doing. Maybe it was designed by students.

Anyway, here's a good video demonstrating the importance of fire spriklers. I'll try to post a few more in my links section.

Two Houses Test

Saturday, September 20, 2008

"How can it be racist if I like them?"

I got a "D/F" on my very first essay in my Modern Lit class. Bleah.

I suppose it shouldn't bother me. The professor did say she graded these "mercilessly," as this first essay doesn't count towards our grades. (She gives us the first paper to learn exactly what she wants.)

However, this paper did shake my confidence a bit. Not so much about myself, as I'm currently so close to earning a degree that it would be ridiculous to think that I can't get through the remaining few courses. Rather, it shook my confidence in the professor, and her ability to conduct this class.

In this essay, I was to discuss the unconscious racism of the narrator in "I Want To Know Why", by Sherwood Anderson. (FWIW, he's from my home town.)

I pointed out that as the story was written in the 1920's, and the narrator was only 15, his use of the word "nigger", was not necessarily racist. Rather, I figured it's just the word they used at the time.

In the margin, the professor wrote: "But it's racist, regardless."

Huh? What kind of facile point is that to make?

I also wrote that the narrator has a profound admiration for blacks; they are part of the horse-racing scene he's so interested in. Like the horses, they have their place and fill it well. It's the owners of the horses, who are white, that he sees getting drunk and cavorting with ugly prostitutes.

So, I pointed out that though the narrator is racist, in that he can't see blacks as being anything other than good cooks and dedicated horse-tenders, he has an admiration for that type of work, so much so that he wanted to do that type of work himself. So, his racism is of a rather nice variety.

The professor wrote: "Racism isn't 'nice'."

WTF? Am I going to have to toe some politically-correct line with this woman? And honestly, I'm reminded of the Seinfeld episode, the one where "Donna Chang" wasn't Chinese.

Jerry: "How can it be racist if I like them?".

Anyway, grades aside, this professor makes modern literature about as fun and interesting as jury duty. I would have never predicted that my Shakespeare class would be the funner and more-interesting of my two classes, but it is.

I have thirteen more of these essays to write over the course of the semester. They only need to be 200-250 words apiece, but right now I don't feel like even writing one more word for this woman.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Bleah...

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I was buying tires. I watched it happening on the tv in their waiting room. When I couldn't watch it anymore, I went outside to wait.

It wasn't too long before I saw Air Force One flying directly overhead, taking off from the Sarasota/Bradenton airport. I imagine I'll always remember that day.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Election and Age

This is the first election where some of the candidates are approximately my age. Obama is six years older than me; Palin is just three.

On one hand it's just a rite-of-passage; sooner or later, those running for national offices will be about your age. (Although I do find it jarring, as I never saw this coming. Unlike going bald, it isn't something that people joke about that much.)

On the other hand though, I really do think that people in their forties have no business seeking such high offices. Like me, they are just not mature enough. Looking at Palin and Obama, I have to ask myself where they got the idea that they're capable of holding the positions they're seeking. I imagine they must both have outsized egos.

But looking at some of the kids in my classes, I understand why it's not an issue with them. Many of them look to be about fourteen! To them, someone in his forties is an adult, and old as the hills.

But me? I can see, in my mind's eye, Palin cranking up Whitesnake on her car stereo. I can see Obama grooving to FYC, perhaps listening to it while doing the dishes. I can see them both sitting down to watch Miami Vice.

There's no way these people are adults. No way.


Though people often say that it's hard to appreciate Shakespeare unless it's on- stage, I have to say that I've never been able to understand his stuff that way. His language has always been too archaic for me to understand.

That's why I was pleasantly surprised to find that I actually understood Macbeth, just from reading it. Yes, nearly every paragraph had multiple footnotes that slowed me down, but it's the explanations that got me through it.

Finally, I understand a play by Shakespeare. I was worried, as this entire course is Shakespeare. I'm relieved.

And of course the play gives me a good tagline for my blog....

Friday, September 5, 2008


The weather on Thursday was a little more cooperative to getting this shot. I still can only scratch my head at what the flag is supposed to mean. Is it a way to send a racist threat, but with plausible deniability? Or is it just a way to honor and remember Confederate dead?

Regardless, the Civil War does deserve to be remembered. Back on Thursday, when I was having breakfast, the History Channel had a program on Antietam. It was the single bloodiest day in American history, with 23,000 casualties.

Antietam National Battlefield.

However, I'd rather see something like the below displayed. It's one of the type the Confederates actually flew from flagpoles. (The one by I-75 is a "battle flag".)

Thursday, September 4, 2008


I had to read Thyestes, by Seneca. The story concerns a brother (Atreus) wreaking revenge against his brother Thyestes. He does so by killing Thyestes' three young sons, then butchering and cooking them into a feast -- which he then feeds to an unknowing Thyestes.

It's probably the sickest, most twisted story I've read in a long time. I loved it.

Some of it reminded me of H.P. Lovecraft's work. Check out Seneca's description of the garden where Atreus kills the boys. It's dark even at midday, and (like everything Lovecraftian) unimaginably hideous. I particularly like the line: Whatever is dreadful but to hear of, there is seen.

(Though the online version has no italics, my printed one does. So, I added it to the above.)

665] A dismal spring starts forth beneath the shadow, and sluggish in a black pool creeps along; such are the ugly waters of dread Styx, on which the gods take oath. ‘Tis said that from this place in the dark night the gods of death make moan; with clanking chains the grove resounds, and the ghosts howl mournfully. Whatever is dreadful but to hear of, there is seen; throngs of the long-since dead come forth from their ancient tombs and walk abroad, and creatures more monstrous than men have known spring from the place; nay more, through all the wood flames go flickering, and the lofty beams glow without the help of fire. Oft-times the grove re-echoes with three-throated bayings; oft-times the house is affrighted with huge, ghostly shapes. Nor is terror allayed by day; the grove is a night unto itself, and the horror of the underworld reigns even at midday. From this spot sure responses are given to those who seek oracles; with thundering noise the fates are uttered from the shrine, and the cavern roars when the god sends forth his voice.

This story just friggin' rocks. Also, the grandfather (and one of the grandsons, also) is Tantalus. Finally, I know the source of "Tantalus V," both in the Star Trek episode "Dagger of the Mind," and the South Park episode that spoofs it. (It's the one with the mind-controlling planetarium.)

He's also the source of the word "tantalize," as his punishment in hell is to have food and water always in front of him -- which retreats just before he can grab it. (In a previous story, Tantalus killed one of his own sons and served him to unknowing gods.)

So, going to school sometimes pays off, in that you suddenly understand the references behind pop culture. (Same for when I wrote a paper on In Memoriam. Not long after, I saw Hellboy 2, in which Abe Sapien and the Elf Princess both read from that. It added something to my appreciation of the film, knowing what they were reading from.)

As for Thyestes, here is a link.


If you read it, remember that there are two Tantalus': the ghostly grandfather, and the grandson. And at the end, where it mentions various gods not working well together, it's because the Sun couldn't stand to look at the horrors beneath it and recoiled, sending the Earth into a dark night without stars. (Which is very Lovecraftian, indeed.)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

No Sleep 'til Hammersmith

I got absolutely no sleep last night. Zero. I think that's the first time that's ever happened. Still though, I managed the trip up to Tampa okay. .

I even had some fun in class. For some reason I can't recall, my Shakespeare prof. asked the class how long a pornographic movie lasts. She'd never seen one.

I said, "They last long enough."

The dude sitting next to me just lost it when I said that. And a girl behind me said, "Ewww!"

I rule.

As for sleep, I think I've been having trouble because on the days I don't have to go to school I get too much sleep, often staying in bed until eleven to catch up. That makes it impossible to be tired enough to go to bed at a decent hour that night.

To simplify, I go from getting four hours in one night, to ten the next night. Then four, then ten, and back again. And last night, for whatever reason, my body refused to just relax.

Anyway, I'm going to try to break the cycle tomorrow, by waking up at 8am, even though I don't have school. That'll give me about seven hours.

Unfortunately I was so tired today I forgot my camera. That confederate flag was flying nicely, too.

This shot is from last week; it shows the view from the top floor of the parking garage I often use. The green peaked roofs are the CIS building, where I have a class. It's about a fifteen-minute walk. The library is off to the right.

I think it's a pretty cool view.

*The title of this post is a Motorhead album.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Blair Bitch Project

I just watched the season premiere of Gossip Girl.

Yes, I could lie and say I watch it only for the the jailbait, but I don't. And yes, I could say "I only watch it because I wanna bang that chick who plays Serena,"
but that wouldn't be true, either. The truth is, the show has the most amazing clothes, settings and backgrounds of any show I've seen. This episode took place in the Hamptons, with dazzling lawns and houses galore.

I'll even admit to being a fan of Chuck. Good God, the man knows how to dress. He also wore a green suit earlier, but I missed taking a pic of it. Yes, a green suit sounds terrible, but he looked good.

Quit looking at me like I'm gay, dammit.

Anyway, the crux of the show was that Summer is over. Down here in FL it's not; it'll be in the 90's until the third week of October. Still though the spirit of Summer, with its carefree days spent by a pool or beach, is over.

Which reminds me: I have homework.


(I changed the title of this post, when I saw that Slate's article on GG had the same title. I felt like a hack, copying from them like that.)