Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Peeps at London [2]

[Yes, Gene is doing much better! And I have reduced our vinyl collection by more than half]

You can find an unsorted collection of pictures here. I'll make an effort to sort things out later (really), but they start with pictures from the cruise.

After the cruise, a group of us headed toward the British Library. We met at the pub across the street to have lunch. There the students experienced pub service -- which is to say they were not happy and the service was not snappy. I was sipping a cream ale and it was raining outside, so I didn't feel in a hurry. Eventually we made it over to the Library to show the students some of the treasure, including of course the one and only (and slightly singed) Beowulf manuscript (everyone waited while I brushed a tear away), the First Folio (without which we wouldn't have most of Shakespeare's works--everyone waited while Merrilee brushed a tear away) and various other beauties the room holds from illuminated books to Beatles lyrics. We dropped the students off back at the hotel, and I set off to play hookey and have dinner with Brad and Liz and Sophie (stopping of course at the Book and Comics Exchange in Notting Hill Gate, where I bought ONE book, only one!).

The next morning it was off to the half price booth to see what was available: I got tickets for Smaller with Dawn French and Alison Moyet (directed by Kathy Burke). Since most of the students were off to Greenwich, Sandi and I went to Regent's Park which was simply gorgeous -- especially the secret garden. Lots of little ducklings around! I went out for sushi and then went to the theatre -- I swear that was Jo Brand in front of me at the counter! People had described the play as "about big women." Interesting -- while it starred big women, it was not about the subject at all. A rather dismissive assessment: what it was about was caretaking of the elderly and the strains it produces on both sides -- or rather on all sides, including those who choose not to do it. It was funny and moving.

The next day we decided to run the students by the half price booth on our way to the Museum of London, so they could see how easy it was. A number of the students decided to go to plays too and got really excited. Sandi and I got tickets to see Jeremy Irons in Embers. Several students gave presentations at the Museum; then it was off to the British Museum, where we had waaaay too much to see and do in one afternoon.

More to come...

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Peeps at London [1]

We set out from the ever bleak confines of Intercontinental (after our ritual spit at Halliburton), the students rarin' to go (only a few apprehensive) and excited about the trip. I took the initiative to maintain order in the bar, just to be sure the students were getting adequate sustenance (thanks for the martini, Pat!). I managed to switch to an aisle seat and even better, managed to sleep most of the way to London. Didn't miss much as we were flying on Continental (feh). We arrived in Gatwick with a minimum of fuss and got our folks together for the two coaches. Then we began the interminable trip up to the city. No, it wasn't the traffic (although, yes, London rush hour is horrendous). No, the problem was our "guide" (we needed a guide?) who spent most of the trip speculating on real estate prices, complaining about her mortgage, berating the driver for not being able to afford a house (giving Sandi's students in Social Classes good fodder for discussion), and offering misinformation ("this is where Sherlock Holmes lived"). By the time we were driving south through Holland Park (an admittedly creative route to Bloomsbury) we were ready to club her.

We arrived at the spartan accomodations of the Royal National to discover that, with one exception, our rooms were ready, which was a nice surprise. We dropped off our luggage and went in search of lunch. Already suffering from a cold, I led a group to Thai Spice, figuring some green curry would help clear my sinuses (a few students frightened by the idea of the same, went to a pub). After that, it was time for the hop-on hop-off bus tour (our ploy to keep the students moving until late enough to get them over jet lag). Our job was to help students get a feel for the city and oriented to their surroundings, but after a nine hour flight, two and half hour bus ride, the last thing I wanted was to be sitting on another bus. I made it one circuit, then offered to lead a group through the National Gallery. A few others were eager to get off the bus (others continued half dozing in the back of the tour bus) and we ran through the rain into the NG. Curiously enough, a couple other faculty members independently decided to do the same thing. After some enjoyable wandering through the galleries, a few went back to the hotel, while a small group of us set forth to find dinner. We ended up at a nice pub in the Leicester Square area, where a number of us got our first taste of real fish and chips. We found that later another group had gone to the crypts in St. Martin's, another highly recommended experience.

Most students seemed over their jet lag by the next morning. We had a nother touristy event ahead for the morning, one which I admit, I had not looked forward to doing: the Thames River cruise. To my surprise, it was a terrific experience. Even given our grey day, it was just wonderful sailing down to Greenwich and back. Since the students were going to Greenwich later in the week, we all stayed on the boat and sailed back on our own private cruise. I actually took pictures! (to be uploaded soon).

Thursday, May 25, 2006


...and I find Gene very ill! This is wrong.

London journal to follow soon...

Saturday, May 20, 2006

London List

Sorry --- rental internet, so here's a list:

Long flight, slept a lot!, coach ride from hell, spartan hotel, tired students on the hop-on/hop-off, National Gallery, better day two, British Library, pub lunch, cool weather, a bit of rain, Museum of London, British Museum, dinner with Brad and Liz, phone call with Roger (no time for lunch!), Dawn French and Alison Moyet on stage Wednesday, Jeremy Irons last night, Merrilee's Southern Comfort and too much late night talking, students aclimating, the Changeling (Barbican) and Titus Andronicus (Globe) today -- off to Canterbury Monday...

More later, of COURSE.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Off to London

...with a cold in my chest. Ugh. Thanks a bunch to whoever passed it along. I think it's on its way out, but you never know. All the coughing is giving me a headache. At least sleeping upright on the plane will not be as likely to wake me at four in the morning as the coughing has done the last couple days.

Well, I never did get the Kalamazoo recap up. I don't know how much access I'll have to computers this trip, so I don't know whether I'll be posting regularly (keep that in mind before you decide to forward that 6M video file!). But I did actually remember to pack the camera (or rather, Gene did). The fun of being back in London will no doubt perk me back up. I'm looking forward to seeing folks and museums and the good ol' British Library.

In the meantime, puzzle over the story of the city in the sky.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Happy Birthday, Mr. Barrie!

It is J. M. Barrie's birthday, the father of Peter Pan. Just for today, at least, say you do believe in fairies.

(Yes, clearly I have not had enough time to write up Kalamazoo -- let's see if I get to it before taking off for Britain on Monday...)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Who knew?

Independent scholar Terry Jones (yes, THAT Terry Jones) was at the Congress signing his Chaucer book. Argh!!! I missed it!

Publication: Review of Stark's Meet the Beatles

In the latest issue of the Journal of Popular Culture you will find my (mostly favorable) review of Steven D. Stark's Meet the Beatles: A Cultural History of the Band that Shook Youth, Gender and the World. As always, the journal is full of fun and interesting scholarship on everything from food to films.

How many adults fit in a Hyundai Sonata?

Well, at least six! We piled all the folks from our Thursday night panel into my rental car after the wine hour, went off to the Roadhouse and then returned for our panel. Despite our worries, we were still able to fit in the car after dinner. The panel went well -- more later (on a short break at the moment and responding to panicked students' emails), as did the trip back to the home town on Friday.

Details to follow --

Thursday, May 04, 2006

New Publication: Sandman Papers

Gene alerted me that the new collection of essays on Sandman had come out (and more importantly, that my freebie copies had arrived). We saw editor Joe Sanders at ICFA in March, so we knew it would be out soon. I haven't seen it yet, but it looks terrific in the pictures. No doubt Fantagraphics will sell a bunch of copies. The essay I have in the collection started as a PCA paper several years back. It looks at the artwork in the story arc The Kindly Ones, now collected in a single trade paperback.

At the 'Zoo

I'm writing this from fabulous Kalamazoo MI, about an hour from my home town. The big medieval congress is underway -- in fact, I've already given my paper on the medieval films Anchoress and Sorceress. I drove over yesterday from Detroit with my friend Faye Ringel from the Coast Guard Academy. We had a lovely dinner and then I dropped her at the hotel, assuming I would go over to the conference, check in and just relax. Of course, I ran into some UConn folks before I even got to check in and was persuaded to join them at Waldo's for some beer. I had a chance to catch up with people (inculding Chris Fee, whom I haven't seen for years). Everybody, of course, demanded to know why Gene wasn't with me -- maybe next year?

Funny thing -- this morning as Faye and I walked over the bridge on the pond, we not only saw the usual swans, carp and ducks, but a little turtle swam up to the surface. Before it had a chance to impart any revelations however, one of the swans tried to take a bite out of it and it quickly disappeared. Ah well!

Panels this afternoon, meeting up with folks from the evening panel at the wine hour. We'll head off for dinner then come back to discuss using medieval literature in fiction writing, which should be fun. I even brought a couple of copies of Pelzmanteljust in case.

More to come!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


I'm off to the International Medieval Congress today -- more news as I have time.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Hauskaa Vappua!

In Finland they are swimming the harbor and throwing student caps. Here I am enjoying the last day of the semester and getting last minute things done before Kalamazoo.

I'm also practicing on my kantele because I will be playing with the medieval group Collegium Mysterium (directed by my friend and colleague Yvonne Kendall). Here's how Kipper helps me practice: