Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Cracklin' Rose

It's finally time to let slip the news: I will have a new position this fall at The College of St. Rose in Albany, NY -- Go, Golden Knights! It's a small liberal arts college in an urban setting. The English department seems welcoming and flexible. I'll have many more opportunities to teach courses in medieval literature and culture than I do at present (and to smaller classes!) We're very excited about the opportunity to be back in the Northeast (and near family and friends), but it's hard not to be a little sad to leave the many friends we have made in Houston (not to mention the plethora of restaurants!). I will miss my UHD students, but not the weather or the 4/4 load. We'll probably be heading back across country in June or July at the latest, so be prepared for that knock on the door!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

"Go, You Blues!"

Congratulations to pal Susan Emfinger, development officer and erstwhile actor [yes, she was one of the stars of Un Amor Peligroso or The Wombat's World, my student film that gave its name to my old zine and this blog]. Susan, who currently serves as Major Gifts Officer for the College of Science and Liberal Arts at Wayne State University will be moving to the University of Huddersfield in Yorkshire!

Check out the welcome message from their Chancellor! What a lovely location -- yes, I am biased because she's already offered an invitation for us to visit. We haven't been to Yorkshire since that lovely trip to Whitby. And it's not like we need much of an excuse to visit Britain!

Best of luck with the move across the pond -- and congratulations again!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Well, like the man who was turned into a newt, it got better. There was, of course, ample opportunity to ogle the art of Charles Vess, including the slide show that offered many of the artists he admires as well as the drawing of the fountain (!) that will be in a local green space -- oh my! It is impossible to describe, although if you know his work you can imagine: Titania, Puck, a tortoise and hare...just beautiful!

There was a terrific panel on Theorizing of Alterity and Performativity which provided a lively discussion. Tom Inge's lunchtime talk on Mad and the roots of post-war satire in the US was also entertaining. The panel I was on proved to be much fun: Sarah E. Thompson from the Museum of Fine Arts showed us an amazing range of 19th century Japanese prints with fantastic images, while Irma Hirsjärvi from Jyväskylä University (the official gradnmother of Finnish SF fandom, we found out) talked about "SF and Fantasy in the Discourses of Canon and Fandom" in Finland. She even talked about Johanna Sinisalo, the author I was also speaking on. I felt nervous talking about a Finnish author with a Finn there to critique my analysis, but Irma was very positive and interested. Oh, and at the book launch for Polder, the tribute to John and Judith Clute, they took a picture for Locus, so look for me behind Ellen Datlow and in front of Peter Straub.

The comics panels were a bit disappointing on the whole (no knowledge of previous scholarship!) and there were a surprising number of no-shows at panels. We finally broke down and bought tickets to the Saturday night banquet and were glad we did in the end. Especially since everyone sang "Happy Birthday" to Tom and Charles gave him the original panels of Snow White that Tom had been trying to buy from him all week (they were in the art show). He was really surprised and touched. What a wonderful gesture!

So, I'm of two minds about the conference. We did end up having fun, but it's also an inconvenient loction and an expensive conference. Hmmm -- maybe if we fly to Miami and take a shuttle it wouldn't be as expensive. We'll see...

Oh! And coming soon (with an essay by me!) I found out by running into editor Joe Sanders:

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Wyndham Ft. Lauderdale: Bad Hotel or the WORST Hotel

Put together rudeness, incompetence and crumbling infrastructure and you've got a fine advertisement for the Sheraton across the highway. We arrived late Tuesday night and used the courtesy phone to call for the shuttle. The hotel is only about a mile from the airport, so how long could it take?


Well, after fifteen minutes we called again and were assured that the driver had just taken off and would be there soon. Another fifteen or twenty minutes later we called and asked whether it was really coming or shoudl we just call a cab. Well, the shuttle finally came --- and drove right past us. The hotel hadn't told us that the shuttle couldn't stop at the terminal. So the dozen or so of us who had been waiting for the past hour had to high-tail it down the steamy asphalt to the place where it could stop. We finally got to the hotel where we were checked in by the curt night staff. We got to our room -- and surprise! It wasn't the right room -- two small beds instead of one big one. Another call to the surly staff and they assured us someone would arrive with keys to take us to the right room.

They came surprsingly soon. They brought us to a kind of room I recognized -- the two peepholes, one about halfway down the door should have been the tip off. It's the room kept in reserve for handicapped visitors. More's the pity. It's set up to have an accessible shower -- the result is that the shower water streams into a drain in the middle of the bathroom making the whole floor very slippery. Then there's the towel rack in an inconvenient place that obviously has come down many times either from knocking people on the head or being desperately grabbed by someone falling. The wall is drilled with numerous holes from re-attachment efforts and the rack hangs precariously. I won't even bother to mention the strategic position behind the ice machine or the toilet that never stops running...

But the most obvious issue is the surly staff. They must really be badly paid. Our waiter actually sighed aloud when we weren't ready to give the orders he obviously wanted to take. Everything seems to be a trial. And there's nothing nearby (except for the equally expensive Sheraton's restaurant) so we have limited choices for eating. We ate in the bar tonight and despite being incredibly busy, the bartender was very cheerful, so we may go back there.

On the plus side: talking with Tom Inge, who is always a lot of fun, and catching up briefly with Faye Ringel (hopefully we can do dinner tomorrow, too). Best panel by far: outsider art (everyone from Dadd to Darger) with folks like Charles Vess, Elizabeth Hand and Peter Straub. Best story (from another panel with GOH Vess): Vess told about going to the Bodleian Library with the Rackham Society and seeing a wonderful nineteenth-century book of Cinderella which had sort of paper dolls and a pop-up coach. You put a dress on Cin when she goes to the ball, and pop off her head to put her in the window of the carriage. Now, I can see kids coming up with alternative narratives with that removable head! Apparently the books were colored by child labour to speed the process of mass production. Vess's art show is wonderful (of course!) -- amazing work.

Gene's paper was on the first panel and went well despite some technical glitches at the beginning. Lots of folks were eager to comment on it. I don't give my presentation until the last sessions on Saturday, so I'm still waiting. We're taking it easy tonight -- a rare treat!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Off to ICFA

We head out to Ft. Lauderdale tonight. Sure, it sounds like a spring break getaway, but we're really not going to the beach. Even our hotel is right at the airport, so we probably won't see much of the town at all. I'm giving a talk on Johanna Sinisalo's Troll: A Love Story and Gene is giving a presentation on Dr. Strange. We'll see Tom Inge there, who'll be celebrating a birthday, so that will be fun. See the whole guest list at the link below ("Where I Plan to Be"). At least I won't be grading any papers!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Hello from Sedona

Hey folks -- get me! I'm actually relaxing. We'll see how long it takes me to get used to the idea. Haven't been here in thirty years (what I chiefly remember from that childhood trip is Sliding Rock). The beautiful red rocks are visible just out my window:

[Yes, I know they're not in focus, but they were too bright at mid-day and better at twilight, if a little shaky.] Oh, and at night? A galaxy of stars -- beautiful!