A Glass of Chianti

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Of course

with all the talking I do about Coco, you would think that I'd dress better...

And another thing

You would think with all the singing that Southern Protestants do about mama and Jesus that they'd be warmer to the whole Jesus's mama thing.

So what's the downside? (or, why I'm still up at 1:30 a.m.)

I spend a lot of time here lauding my home city. There are many things I like about living here: the barbeque, the lack of a state income tax, the overall wholesome atmosphere, the fact that I don't have to make a billion dollars a year to live comfortably... all of these things are just great. Now, go read this article about the Anselm Kiefer exhibit now showing at the local modern art museum. (I promise I'll still be here when you come back!)

OK. So, ummmmm... there's no delicate way to ask this but, well, how far did you get? It was painful, right? Note a couple of things:
  1. The author is not some college kid doing her internship.
  2. The article is not in a niche/"outsider"/mimeographed/etc. publication - it's our real, honest-to-goodness professional newspaper.
  3. Amon Carter would surely have a heart attack if he were alive today.
  4. I'm fairly sure some money changed hands at some point for that.
I'm not complaining about bad writing (I have a high tolerance for that - I read my own blog, you know!) or lack of analysis (I just wish it were a little better camouflaged than "Kiefer is considered an excellent painter") or even nonsensical descriptions ("...two lumps of lead are attached to the foreground as if waiting for the secret password"). I'm just saying that is what passes for real thought around here. It's a big, important show and that is the best the newspaper has to offer. Before you get all snippy - no, the Dallas paper isn't much different (better mechanics, same "in-depth" analysis).

It's not just art, of course. There's not a culture of reading. People read, of course, they just tend not to read things that aren't written by the new pastor of whatever megachurch recently expanded. The books are great; they teach people how to be more involved with their families and churches and communities and how to make God the center of their life... all of the things that really matter. People go to church on Sunday here. Ask any teacher and he will tell you that there is a lot of pressure not to assign homework that's due on Thursday (as Wednesday is "church night" for most youth groups here).

Now, all of this isn't to say that there's nothing to see here. There's a ton, but there isn't anyone with whom to talk about it. On the one hand, an empty gallery makes viewing art much easier but on the other, you kind of start wondering what's wrong with you that you're all alone yet again. So, if it's not a cultural wasteland, but people aren't really engaged in the "high culture" why might this be? I think there are two main things working together to produce this result.

The first is the problem with the art itself; something that was fairly accurately addressed in the quite wonderful King of the Hill episode "Ceci N'est Pas Une King of the Hill." Hank Hill and Bobby (his son) are at the local art gallery (my favorite piece - a painting with the words "Close your eyes and think of Freud"). While there, the gallery owner shows them one of those cool holograms where viewed from one angle it is an image of George Washington and from a second, Hitler. Another piece (unveiled off-screen) is a several-feet high penis sculpture. This is good TV, you know. Anyway, some of the reasons that people find it difficult to even be bothered to see modern art are adressed here, in a Camille Paglia interview from earlier this summer ( it's long, so start about a third of the way through with "CP: I'm on a crusade— it'’s to say to the poets and the artists, 'Stop talking to each other'").

The second reason it's difficult to find people who are thinking about things like art and literature and philosophy is, I think, because the culture is a distinctly Evangelical Protestant one. The churches are real communities and there is great care in welcoming people into them. There is a focus on sharing the Good News through words, yes, but mainly through actions. The down side to all of this is, ultimately, that hard work is greatly valued over hard thinking (because what good is thinking about the Word when you could be working to share it?). There's a culture of education and scholarship that we have in the Catholic Church that just isn't present in the Evangelical Protestant tradition.

A very wise man (who probably doesn't even remember saying this to me, but is welcome to take credit for it if he wants) once said to me that he
ha[s] no doubt that Red America is fundamentally right about the things that matter most, but that doesn't help when you want to see a French movie...
He's exactly right and captures precisely why it's hard for a certain type of person, and perhaps especially a certain type of Catholic, to fit in comfortably. You look at the places where a wholesome, family-centered culture thrives, but you feel like an outsider because you think that watching Rashomon is a good way to spend a Thursday evening. Then you look at the places where "high culture" does flourish, and you see an environment actively hostile to your faith. It seems as if it's hard enough to just live in either place, and I'm trying to figure out how it's going to be to (eventually, God-willing) raise a family in either. Am I being irrational? Tell me that I'm just making this a ton more complicated than it really is and that I'm not dooming my children to live lives of lonely misfits no matter where I go. I dislike that (though, you do get to drink lots more wine than the non-misfits...)

*I've seen the show twice. (Well, one and a half times, as the first time I was a terrible viewer and had my head not involved in the art so much as how really great a certain Yankee is). It's a good show, not that you would know from the article.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

We all love Fort Worth

even... Matthew Yglesias?!
Can anyone seriously dispute that the vast majority of America's premiere institutions of education and high culture are located in the "blue" areas? That's not to say the South is some kind of total wasteland -- I visited the Fort Worth Modern Art Museum earlier this year and it's first-rate, albeit a bit small -- but on the whole this stuff is primarily in the Northeast and to a lesser extent on the Pacific coast.
This is part of a much bigger blogfest (see here for a good, but still long, summary of the debate thusfar) on the various points touched upon in this Jeffrey Hart article.

A couple of points:
1. Fort Worth, TX = pretty cool.

2. The city was founded a mere 156 years ago. Were the cultural institutions in the vast majority of cities 150 years after founding beter, worse or about the same as where Fort Worth is now? I think we're doing pretty well here.

3. The museum itself is fairly small, but (and there's no hyperbole here) if you take the museum's collection which focuses on postwar art and compare it to the MoMA's collection from the same period, no sane person could conclude that the New York institution has a better track record in acquisitions. (Caveat: I've not gone to MoMA. My only in-person contact with their collection is when they brought their traveling exhibition around the country while their building was being completed a few years ago. It made a stop in Houston. The contemporary galleries sucked. Unless they just left all the good stuff from the postwar period back home in New York, I stand on firm ground with that assessment.)

4. Admission price: $8 here; $20 there. (Does anyone else throw up when just thinking about a $20 admission fee?)*

5. Others can make the case whether or not the South and West has dumbed down the American conservative movement. (Honestly, I think that has probably happened. However, it's not because conservative Southerners and Westerners are dumber than their conservative Yankee counterparts, it's that they have a long populist history. That particular strain of modern Republicanism makes my teeth hurt, to be quite honest. Good heavens, though! Could you imagine what would have happened had the populist South not been integrated into the various conservative coalitions? I think all conservatives can agree we're better off that they did.) What I do feel equipped to addressed is why, even given the little art jewels like we have here in Fort Worth, high culture doesn't thrive here. (Hint to the high culture vanguard: it's not that Southerners are stupid.) Next post, though, next post.

*No, this doesn't relate to anything. Like the warm weather, it's just something that bothers me.

Sleeping is pretty overrated

... or so says my brain of late. On the bright side, I've had so much time to peruse the relevant and helpful webpages that I'm pretty much an expert in teaching certification requirements in most any state in this fine country.

Also, my nail polish and scarf collections are incredibly well-organized.


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Why There will always be a place for St. John at my table

St. John, in addition to a panoply of patronages including such diverse professions as bookbinders and art dealers and the town of Taos, New Mexico, is closely associated with protection against poison because of an old tale that he exorcized a poisoned chalice, from which the potion rose and departed in the form of a serpent.
Obviously, he's a pretty cool guy.
In any case, the Church in Her wisdom and Her delighful sense of fun, has traditionally encouraged the blessing of wine on St. John's feast day.
And this (among other reasons) is why I will always be Catholic. And why I don't get the whole "Catholics are no fun" thing. And why I need to go out and get some more wine this afternoon.

More at The Shrine (of course).

It's 11:00 PM

Do you know where Milton Friedman is?

On TV?! This is soooooo cool.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Just for the record

The penguin referred to in my AIM away messages as being subjected to cuddling with me was not the stolen penguin referred to here and here. My penguin* (courtesy of a too kind Yankee) is this one:

As you can see, he is both cuter than a real one and a whole lot more dead.

*Coco said that if she liked Mean Streets, she would have named him Marty. As it is, he's just "Penguin" for now.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

I'm off to Midnight Mass

I'm pretty excited! Merry Christmas, everyone!

So very LEGO-y

I never built a 30-foot tall anything out of LEGO blocks, but there are a few favorite construction projects I remember: a pretty neat pirate ship, a princess-infested castle (there were at least eight princesses in residence), a space ship (complete with space garden), several gas stations, a Federal Reserve Bank (Who did you think was keeping the interest rates low and encouraging new LEGO house construction?) and an awesome beauty parlor

From those people at The Corner

Friday, December 23, 2005

You know whose music I can't wait to hear once the Christmas season really gets going?

Leroy Anderson.

Paging one cell phone charger

I seem to have lost mine somewhere in the past week or so. It wouldn't be such a big deal but the Debaucherymobile doesn't have a radio antenna, so I can either have my phone charging away or have music accompanying me on my drives. I know I could take the cat for car companionship, but she doesn't talk much. Unless I give her ice cream. And that's kind of getting expensive.

Anyway, if you know where it is, I'd really appreciate the information.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Requiem Four a Meme

Oboists are always cool, but Patty is certainly the coolest of them all. Not only does she blog, but she worked at a donut shop! When I was a kid, I always wanted to do that. So, because I always do what the cool kids ask, here's the much-circulated List of Four*

Four jobs you've had in your life:
Waitress at Souper Salad, most awesome keyholder at the (sadly closed) Ye Olde Museum Co., clarinet teacher, judge of tuba auditions (my personal favorite job)

Four movies you could watch over and over:

Red, The Lion in Winter, Rushmore, North by Northwest

Four places you've lived:

Albuquerque, NM; Amarillo, TX; Abilene, TX; Fort Worth, TX (I've run out of cities starting with "A," I guess)

Four TV shows you love to watch:

Futurama, Arrested Development, The Amazing Race (but, please, no more "family editions"), Night Court

Four places you've been on vacation:

Ruidoso, NM; Italy (Milan, Lake Como, Venice, Florence); New York City; Hmmmmm.... when I was a kid we visited my mom's family in Minnesota twice... that's a sort-of vacation, right?

Four websites you visit daily:

Mansfield Fox, About Last Night, The Penguins at the Central Park Zoo, National Review Online

Four of your favorite foods:

Tater tots, strawberries, chicken fried steak, cucumbers

Four places you'd rather be:

Rome, Sonic, near a waterfall, drinking gin someplace where it's not going to be 70 degrees on Christmas


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Confessions of a Kieslowski fangirl

I'm about a third of the way through watching my newest movie find at the used bookstore. Unless I just lucked into seeing the only three good episodes of the series (and, somehow, I doubt that), I'm well on my way to one of the most satisfying media experiences I've ever had*. This is soooooo cool...

Also, seeing Karol Karol show up on screen literally caused me to do a little happy dance. Well, a little seated happy dance that involved a slight gasp of joy and a clasp of hands. It was involuntary - it was Karol Karol, people!

*However, watching these on tape reminds why I was so happy when I bought my DVD player.

Monday, December 19, 2005

I clearly don't know me at all

Rowhouse 'Hood
You scored 21 out of 40 on urban-rural and 24 out of 40 land intensity.
People know you as: The Bohemian Gentrifier

Quote: "That crack house just needed a little paint."

Your score indicates that you are a city-dweller of the old-school. You
like a dense, finely grained neighborhood with restaurants, churches
and brothels all on the same block. Although you've never spoken to him
personally, you know that guy Eddie down the street is a pimp and
you're sure to tell your lame suburban friends about him at every
opportunity, just to freak them out.

The bad news is that as more and more people like you move
into your neighborhood it gradually becomes less cool and more
expensive. Enjoy things while you can, because in 5 years you're going
to have to move to the next 'hood uptown.

Examples of places you should live: Baltimore, Philadelphia

All Categories

Secluded Hideaway / Farm or Ranch / Small Town / Little City / Suburb / Streetcar Suburb / Rowhouse 'Hood / Downtown Loft

My test tracked 2 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 32% on urban-rural
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 52% on land intensity
Link: The Where Should You Live Test written by TwelveFloorsUp on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Call me when they profile Forney, Texas, OK?

Frisco, a town which will always have a warm place in my heart, is profiled here in one article of a New York Times series that "examine[s] life in America's most far-flung suburbs." The article isn't as stupid as that description of their own series, thankfully.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

More awesome Nazi foe:

Julie Andrews's singing or Angela Lansbury's magic?

There is a correct answer for this one.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Yet another movie list

A list of 100 spiritually significant films. Interesting not only because it raises the obvious question of what makes a movie "spiritually significant" but also because the English titles are used for foreign-language films with the original underneath. Why isn't this standard practice? (Though, I admit, it will be an uphill battle for me to think of Ikiru as anything but "Ikiru".)

I knew that mistletoe was a loaded answer

You Are Vixen

Sexy and sultry, you're the one all the other reindeer dream about.

Why You're Naughty: That fur pulling spat you got into with Dancer over Santa.

Why You're Nice: Because even when you're nice, you're still delightfully naughty!

As seen on Mansfield Fox and Eye of Polyphemus

Thursday, December 15, 2005

But my favorite color is blue, not green!

You are Kermit the Frog.
You are reliable, responsible and caring. And you
have a habit of waving your arms about

"Hi ho!" "Yaaay!" and
"How Green Was My Mother"

"Surfin' the Webfoot: A Frog's Guide to the

Sitting in the swamp playing banjo.

"Hmm, my banjo is wet."

What Muppet are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

From the usual source: The Handsomest Man in the World

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Movie in the middle of the afternoon

You see that right there? No, not the $5.75 price (though, that is cool...). That is the ticket stub to the absolute last movie with big crawly things and damsels in distress that I am attending without a hand to grab onto during the icky parts. I've been very good for a while, but... well, I finally realized that I look really silly covering my eyes or sitting on my hands while all alone in a theater. So, yeah. That was the last time for that.

Does it kind of strike anyone else as strange that there were fewer creepy crawlys in a movie called Junebug than in a movie not named after an insect? No? Oh well.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Let me get this straight

So, there's this movie. Apparently in it, there is lots of snow but neither a Yankee nor a penguin in sight. I think this is not worth my $6.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

What do you get

When you cross an eagle and a harp?
A bald-faced lyre.

Where do ants go for vacations?

Saturday, December 10, 2005

You haven't lived

until you've seen Tom Jones sing "Do You Think I'm Sexy?". Thankfully, my local PBS affiliate deeply cares about my quality of life.

It's a toss-up as to which sensory image will be with me longer: Tom Jones's distractingly tight pants or the song's distractingly awful orchestration. Either way, there are two people in Hell responsible for those creations that completely deserve to be in each other's company.

Just because he asked so nicely

Sadly, no little fur-lined hoods around here now... but at one time I was quite the snow cutie.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Host your own dinner party

Even if you don't have friends to invite over! RSVP.

I will note, however, that when I'm invited to a party I'm not that picky about my tablemates. I'm an easy guest. Invite me places.

It's been a long week!

But there are several good things that have happened:

1) My students just cleaned house at their auditions and are working hard to do likewise at their next round.
2) All of the cookies I was supposed to send off have been entrusted to the lovely United States Postal Service.
3) My Christmas project: Done!
4) My desk is sort-of cleaned off

I haven't felt a sense of accomplishment this big since forever ago. Once I get my head back from spinning, I'll be working on my new cause - getting Mel into the Governor's Mansion. (From some Yankee guy's messages). You know, if he'd just shave his beard, I'd work on his Mel Gibson for Dallas Mayor campaign. That's about the only thing that would encourage me to gladly spend money in that city.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

An unplanned afternoon off

It's a little chilly today*. In fact, due to the fact that we can't drive when there's even a tiny bit of ice on the roads, my after school lessons this evening were cancelled. I tried to use my time wisely and finish up a project that I need to get done by tomorrow evening, but ended up doing a bit of Christmas shopping***. For all of the people unable to get to work and school because the conditions were sooooo terrible, there were certainly a lot of people out buying things.

In any case, I'm very, very happy it's cold outside. My incredibly cute coat and I got reacquainted and I was able to use one of my favorite umbrellas to protect me from the frozen elements. This is a huge relief.

*Was it 89° four days ago? Yes, yes it was.
**It's not looking good.
***This did not go well either.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

St. Nicholas would have loved Art Laffer's napkin

The people of Myra begged Bishop Nicholas to ask the emperor for relief from the high taxes which were causing much hardship. Nicholas went to plead their cause with Constantine. The emperor granted a large reduction, giving Nicholas a copy of the order. The bishop immediately put the document on a stick and threw it into the sea. Soon afterwards it was found and taken to the authorities in Myra. The order was immediately put into effect, substantially lowering the taxes. Meanwhile Constantine, whose finance ministers had convinced him that this lost revenue would seriously harm the royal treasury, summoned Nicholas to return the document for revision. Nicholas reported that the order was already in effect in Myra. Doubting this, Constantine sent a runner to determine the truth. When Nicholas' words were confirmed the emperor allowed the reduction to stand. A century later Myra still enjoyed low taxation which the people attributed to St. Nicholas.
He disliked high taxes almost as much as he disdained the Arians. That is the definition of a pretty cool guy.
(From Amy's open book)

No Horace yet? Shocking!

I'm gearing up for another Latin-soaked break, so how about you keep me company in the wading pool with the most obvious of Horace selections?

Integer vitae scelerisque purus
non eget Mauris iaculis neque arcu
nec venenatis gravida sagittis,
Fusce, pharetra,

sive per Syrtis iter aestuosas
sive facturus per inhospitalem
Caucasum vel quae loca fabulosus
lambit Hydaspes.

namque me silva lupus in Sabina,
dum meam canto Lalagem et ultra
terminum curis vagor expeditis,
fugit inermem

quale portentum neque militaris
Daunias latis alit aesculetis
nec Iubae tellus generat, leonum
arida nutrix.

pone me pigris ubi nulla campis
arbor aestiva recreatur aura,
quod latus mundi nebulae malusque
Iuppiter urget

pone sub curru nimium propinqui
solis in terra domibus negata
dulce ridentem Lalagen amabo,
dulce loquentem.

If I'm fast approaching a deadline for which it is probable I will need an extention, you may as well join me in the frantic distraction games.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Did you hear that?

That was the sound of someone in the Eastern time zone finally catching up to me in age.

Happy Birthday!

Friday, December 02, 2005

I know such cool people

The Yankee - Published Opinion Journalist

Just think... that's what the editors left in. Imagine how awesome he is without being filtered. (This is in contrast to me, who would be much, much more awesome with an editor's sifting.)

In fact, The Yankee is so amazing that the only thing wrong with him is that he's firmly ensconced in Yankeeland while I am, well, not. ;-)

Baby steps closer to Missouri barbecue

While looking into a possible (but, most probably, unlikely) trip to the "Gateway to the West,"* I noticed that Southwest Airlines is going to begin service to fly there from Love Field in few days.

This news forced me to think about my position on the Wright Amendment.** I like flying Southwest, and gladly travel to Dallas (ick) to do so. I very much in support of companies who can snooker the taxpayers of that fine city into subsidizing their costs of business. I'm also completely in awe of how they have been able to frame the debate on the possible revision of the Wright legislation such that they are the most seriously victimized party if it is not repealed.***

Anyway, I think that I'm going to hide my credit card when I have my exciting gimlet festival tomorrow evening. I'm quite certain that if I don't, I'll do something really silly.

I blame the PBS special introducing me to the Cathedral.

*Despite its being a gateway, it is not where the West begins
**This news is at least a partial repeal of the Amendment. Airlines flying out of Love Field in Dallas were previously limited to destinations in Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas and New Mexico.
***I agree with them that the legislation is terrible. (I don't think that the repeal is going to help them as much as they think it will and I wish they'd play the information straight.) The solution is to repeal the Amendment, and then have the City of Dallas sell Love field to DFW so that the airlines are competing, instead of the airports. So simple. So right. Soooooo not going to happen... *sigh*

Just so you know

If you were here in Fort Worth you could be sharing in some tasty and incredibly well-decorated homemade gingerbread clarinets.

But, sadly, you aren't. *sigh*

"Accordion"ly yours

Really lame* jokes concerning a very underappreciated instrument.

My favorite:
Q: What's an accordion good for?
A: Learning how to fold a map.

*even by my standards

So many little pieces

In St. Louis

I think that seeing these finally got me out of my snippy mood of late. Mosaics are pretty cool, you know.