Wednesday, December 31, 2008

We have moved

to this snazzier site. Peace out.


What can I say that has not already been said about Colin McEnroe? I looked up to him long before I met him, and when I finally did have the honor of being his student, my admiration for his grew incredibly. He is a bright, charming and quick witted man who will constantly wow you with his incredible knowledge. Once you get past his superficial shyness, something I had never expected from him, he is also incredibly warm.

Colin made me a better writer by simply encouraging me to be more curious. In a way I think he makes everyone more curious with his ability to listen and present a cogent counterpoint to any discussion. Anyone who considers him a "liberal wonk" does not truly understand him. He has opinions, strong ones, but he listens to others before talking. He opens his forum to people who disagree with him, something that Rush would never dare. He is a gentleman and a scholar.

WTIC is making the worst mistake they could possibly make. Nobody listens to Colin for the news, which they plan to dump in his place. In fact, many of us groan when the ten minutes news cycle came on. Instead, we all listened to Colin because he is that rare unique artist in the world that we all seek out. I have no reason to turn on my car radio anymore. Colin's syrupy voice will no longer be on it.


...and this time, I am back for a regular routine of blogging. Why bother you ask? Well, there are a variety of reasons why I need to get back to blogging:

1. There have been so many times over the past year that I have wanted to write. The straw that broke the camel's back (which I will be writing about shortly) is the termination of my blogging mentor and personal idol Colin McEnroe. I am seething over this dumb, dumb, dumb idea.

2. My writing has become sluggish. As I sit, writing on my laptop, I feel like I am back at the gym for the first time in years. I guarantee that I will be wiped out after this writing. Truly.

3. I have failed at my thesis, and need to figure out a way to bounce back. Fail is a relative term, but in my case, my first draft was rejected outright by my adviser. Rather than give up, I am proposing a dramatic re haul of my writing and hoping he will allow me to file another extension. I will, of course, blame my ten month old baby girl, but I realize that my weakness lies in my ability to fake my writing skills for so many years. I have some severe deficiencies to make up for and I hope that writing will bequeath better writing.

Blogging is easy to start, but hard to really get truly involved in. I can't promise much, other than that I will try.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Dramatically Tired Beginnings

It happened eight weeks and three days ago, and it was both wonderful and terrifying. Of course rationally, it started long before that, from the moment of finding out that she was pregnant. Colleen had decided to show up four weeks and three days early, which completely threw us for a loop. Knowing her today, I realize that is just her personality. My wife called me frantically on a Wednesday morning. We work in the same building so she had a friend track me down. He looked confused, not sure why he had been enlisted, but told me she sounded serious. I knew what it was immediately.

I dropped her off at the entrance to Hartford Hospital. I spoke to my sister-in-law, telling her we wouldn't be able to babysit her kids. I dropped my car at the Valet and bolted the stairs, as if we had only moments. The other passenger in the elevator asked me if my wife was having a baby. We must all have a look.

Colleen waited, having seconds thoughts about her entrance. Maybe she had picked up on all those makeover shows her mom watched while she was in the womb and wanted to be more glamorous. So we sat in Hartford hospital, listening to the calming sound of Colleen's heartbeat. The doctors told us her heartbeat was a good, strong indication of her health. Still, a doctor from the NICU came in to have a scary conversation about the needs of our child post birth. Our doctors told us it was silly and at almost 36 weeks, she would be fine.

At some point I fell asleep on the man cot--a bed converted from the wing back chair. My mind registered midnight tests, gentle talks with nurses, a relieved doctor. I slept well with the loud heartbeat permeating the room. Around 4:30 my wife woke me up and said she was not officially in labor, but that her doctor told her she was staying until the baby came out. I was sent to work so I didn't dig into my two week leave.

The day was a mix of colleagues giving me curious glances, while some gave me blatant dirty looks. They wanted to know why I wasn't there, how was she, what kind of thoughts were going through my head? Despite this, I am now told I was smiling the entire day, happy for the pregnancy to finally be over. Not quite.

I returned to Hartford Hospital after work, feeling more comfortable with the place. There had been no movement in the labor front, so I planned orchestrated strikes on the cafeteria, reveling in the thought of carte blanche eating for the night. My weight loss plan, which had detailed losing 10-20 pounds before the baby arrived, was scuttled. I brought back a big cookie, some popcorn and a slice of pizza. My wife was served hospital food, the end being nowhere in sight for her.

Around 5:30 another doctor came in and my wife asked him about her fluid levels. It was a last minute question, spoken as he was nearly out of the door. Nevertheless, we both remember it as being the beginning of the rollercoaster ride through maternity neverland. He stopped in midstride, turned back and looked at my wife's chart. His amiable face, so pleasant a few moments earlier, turned dour. He was nervous and didn't want to wait anymore. If she was born that day, she would be an automatic NICU patient. Hartford's NICU was so fall, they were using other nursery rooms and offices. We would have to be transferred.

My wife's heart catapulted, and for a time they thought they would have no choice but to perform a C-section on the spot. We were taken into the OR, where her heart finally settled down. I managed to make her laugh by accidentally locking all my street clothes, as well as the locker key in the OR locker. We share our klutziness, a trait we are both positive Colleen will inherit. She was walked back into the room while they tried to find a space for the delivery. It took two security guards with fifteen keys and three maintenance men with a manual screwdriver, hacksaw, wrench, broken key and two power screwdrivers, to release my belongings. The entire time they kept asking me if I was sure I needed my things. I was positive.
At some point we were told we were being transferred to the UConn Medical Center, which was not the best news for us. UConn is even further away from our home than Hartford Hospital, and many of our friends were unfamiliar with us. Fortunately, both sets of parents were in Florida (mine live there 365 while my wife's were on vacation), so we didn't have an entourage. My wife was going to be sent by ambulance, while I went ahead in my car. It was around 11 oclock at night when I left Hartford, realizing I had become attached to the hospital. It was February 28th and the possibility of a leap day baby was clanging around in my head.

I arrived at UConn Medical Center at approximately 11:45 and felt more relaxed and secure. The nurses told me I had a short time to acquiring food, so I ran to the cafeteria. My first disappointment was the cafeteria, which had no hot food, and a smattering of bread and chips. I ended up with a bagel, chips and some sort of juice. My poor wife wouldn't be able to eat until she gave birth.

After about an hour of pacing, and uncomfortably watching a Law and Order episode, my wife arrived. Her long journey was over and she looked exhausted. The room was bigger, but lacked a key feature--there were no windows. In the dead of night, I didn't notice. But days of being in a dungeon, stuffed in the basement at UConn, turned out to be a tough experience. What kind of stupid bureaucrat number cruncher puts a maternity ward in a basement? That's like putting a psych ward on the roof.

Inducing pregnancy isn't as easy as it sounds. The gory details are unnecessary, but lets just say that Colleen wasn't a leap baby. The night of the 29th, my wife finally had the kind of contractions that were necessary for labor. We were to get some rest and maybe we would have a baby in 12 hours. We both slept, the man cot was bigger at UConn, and in the morning I found myself voracious. At 7:30, I walked up to the cafeteria and ravaged a waffle with strawberries. I was halfway through an omelet when I received the call. She was ready to go.

When I arrived back there was a doctor who said my wife would be ready in about an hour or so. We breathed a little relief. My wife looked tired but a relieved smile crossed her cheeks. Then another doctor came in, took a look, and we were being wheeled into the delivery room. It was 8:00 am.

At 8:14 am, Colleen showed up. She was purple, which surprised me. The doctor asked me if I wanted to cut the cord. I didn't.

There's a lot of half memories. I remember texting people, and have evidence I did. People asked me details, which I vaguely gave. Being a preemie, Colleen was taken into the NICU first, and I rushed off to see her. Her vitals were all fine, so I proudly carried her into the room and handed her to my wife. She managed to muster the strength to hold Colleen for a minute, and then I brought her back to the NICU.

For all the fussing Hartford made about not having a NICU bed, it turned out Colleen spent 48 minutes officially there. Unofficially, she was in there for about four hours, but that was due to the fact that there were no nursery beds available. She was perfect.

I'm writing this today because quite frankly it took that long to get my head above water. I have lots of stuff from our first eight weeks, but I wanted to start here.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Where I'm At

I'm lost and confused, but am also beginning to think that I'm getting a handle on this whole thesis thing. The whole idea is that cinema influenced modernist literature, but a lot of authors are claiming I have it backwards. Or some claim that the techniques of cinema evolved in a "parallel history" as modernist literature.

I think this notion is nonsense, and this is what comforts me. My adviser claims that I am entering a conversation and that I need to add my own view to this conversation. The conversation I am entering is about how modernist literature and techniques in cinema converged. In this manner, I have centered about two techniques that I am sure of, and one that I am a little shaky on.

Clearly slapstick plays heavily into literary modernism. Many authors, including Gertrude Stein, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, viewed Charlie Chaplin as a huge influence. Slapstick is an absurd way of highlighting social disorder and unrest in modern society. Chaplin new how to highlight the unease all too well. Modernist authors picked up on this.

The second is montage, which is argued about furiously. Many authors aren't sure where the montage appeared first--cinema of literature. Montage can be classified as the editing of two images together to define an artificial space or connection, which the viewer creates. To me, this almost certainly had to evolve out of cinema, though Ulysses and The Wasteland both employ montage, and do so before most films do.

Here's my thought on the montage issue--and it leads into my next technique. Montage is a natural evolution from the dynamic realism of cinema. Cinema created a new art that had no judgment in its image--the camera could only show what appeared. While pictures have the non-judgmental quality as well, the moving of a image created a hyper-realism that was uncomfortably close in its exterior genuineness . Artists had to create an artificial space interior emotion and montage, which creates a sense of interior emotion, was born. Whoever wins the horse race of who developed the montage, the roots are firmly grounded in cinema.

My last "technique" is not as much of a technique as it is a style, and it is demonstrated in Eliot, Joyce and Stein. It's called automatism, and it is a social anxiety of the trend of modernism in the society. Cinema had a perfect venue for showing automatism, demonstrating repetition, fashion, design and style in a moving, cinematic way. Literary artists had to replicate this style. McCabe says at this point the grammar was taken out of literature. Instead of a "and, then, but" cinema has a "then, then, then" quality of image showing. Literature replicated this quality in forms such as stream of consciousness. I'm also thinking of the Gerty McDowell Nausicaa section of Ulysses as a great example of this point. It's not a fully fleshed out idea though.

I think I have a good thesis though. The parallel history of the development of cinematic techniques is nonsense. Cinematic techniques clearly evolved from the moving image, which has a huge impact on the way people saw themselves. That's what I think I need to develop.

My distraction from my thesis over the weekend: Mets downturn, Yankees/Red Sox, Drinking too much at our Jack and Jill.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Thesis Exercise 1

As I indicated, pages of my thesis will not appear here. However, exercises for my thesis will. I'm currently doing the equivalent of Thesis crunches. My thesis abs are worse than Britney Spears actual ones. Let's begin:

I am studying classic cinema's influences on modernism.
Good start, very bold. Try again.

I am studying classic cinemas' influences on modernist literature because I am trying to find cinematic techniques that modernist writers incorporated into their narratives.
Better. They say the "because" part is a tough step. I like mine. Apparently the next part is the tough one though.

I am studying classic cinemas' influence on modernist texts because I interested in finding out the cinematic devices that modernist writers implement in their narratives in order to help my reader understand how early cinema impacted the unique aesthetic style of modernist novels.

Barely Back

The reboot of my blog is at hand. I have dressed it up a bit, making it a bit more (ahem) literary. My thesis stuff will not appear here. I know how upset you are. My reactions to my thesis will appear. The advantage-- far more expletives. Let's do this thing...

So what am I doing right now? Wasting my time sitting here and writing a blog so I don't have to do any work today? Actually, my advisor tells me it's good to keep a blog daily so that I can keep my brain sharp. I'm not sure if he's ever actually read a blog.

Anyways, he is terrified right now. My broad topic is freaking him out. I don't have an argument, just a topic with questions. The sky is falling.

It's cool...I promise I'll be good.

Today's distraction from my thesis: Nintendo DS

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Habeas Corpus Dead at 800

Congratulations President Bush, you have officially brought the United States back to pre-revolution times. So now, instead of living in a free society, we actually live in a society where a person can be held indefinitely without a trial. Smells like liberty to me. Here's a thought George. Remember what happened the last time someone decided people shouldn't have Habeas Corpus? Did you study the American revolution? Probably not. Is it possible you're actually creating the terrorism you so desperately are using as a political platform?

Thanks Asshat for taking away constitutional rights. I suppose, under the new definition, I could be considered an enemy combatant for thinking somebody should fight this bill. Maybe he can start up an organization devoted to capture and hold, or "police" anyone with negative thoughts about our government. That would show those terrorists we mean business.

I'm actually appalled at the total lack of news coverage on this bill being approved and sent to Congress. Personally, I blame Katie Couric for turning the news into another entertainment magazine.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Okay, so you've been bought out by Google for several billion dollars. You are probably now among the richest people in cyberspace. So what do you do next? According to the YouTube guys, you do this:

Couldn't they have thought of something more eloquent or fancy?

Here's a more appropriate response:

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Harry Wha?

Is this article about Harry Potter the dumbest thing ever? It's not even bad literary criticism, where the author is merely choosing the segments of the piece they read to prove their bogus theory. It's as if the writer has no ability to infer past what is explicitly said, kind of like my lower level 9th graders do. It never says Harry studies in the books, so he must not!

Oh, grow up!