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May 2010 Archives

May 1, 2010

Nadal Extended In Rome


Rafa Nadal kept his unblemished 2010 clay court streak intact with a gritty three-set semifinal win over Latvian Ernests Gulbis--the man who upended Roger Federer earlier this week in Rome. Even when playing less than his best, Nadal is incredibly hard to beat on the slow surface. He will be gunning for his fifth title in six years in the Italian Open tomorrow.

May 3, 2010

Back At SPS Again


Just finished a morning Chapel service at St. Paul's School. (We visiting athletic directors, here for our annual Eight Schools meeting--were introduced to the community by the Rector.) It was very nostalgic for me, as I spent four mornings a week in the Chapel of Saints Peter and Paul in my very first teaching job on this campus in the summer after my junior year in college. (Staggering to me how much time has elapsed since then!) After a long time without a visit to Concord, I've been back at SPS four times in the last eighteen months: once with the Choate debate team, once as part of an evaluation team, once with the girls' varsity squash team, and now for the ESAC meeting.

May 2, 2010

Getting Close To The Record


The Bryan brothers prevailed in the men's doubles final at Il Foro Italico today, and are now within one tournament win of tying the Open Era record for most championships claimed by a doubles pair. This record should fall soon. Who says American players can't play on clay?

King Of The Dirt


A Roman holiday for Rafael Nadal, as he defeated fellow Spaniard David Ferrer 7-5, 6-2 to win the Rome Masters crown. At the age of 23, Nadal already has equalled Andre Agassi's record of 17 titles in the Masters 1000 tournaments (the top level events below the four Grand Slam events).

If he decides to play in the Masters event in Madrid a week from now--and this is where his 2009 troubles started, as he lost the final to Federer after being stretched to the limit by Djokovic in the semifinal a day before--he could bag another. But Nadal was vocal a year ago complaining about this event's place in the schedule, so close to Roland Garros, and his difficulty adapting to the conditions there.

Drive Time Radio (Sort Of)


On the road today. I drove from Wallingford to South Windsor for some family time, then up Interstate 91 and across Route 9 through New Hampshire to get to Concord for two days of Eight Schools Athletic Council meetings. While behind the wheel, I digested a few songs on my iPod as well as a mix of "real" radio and recorded lectures, podcasts, and audiobooks, including:

  • two lectures on Richard III from The Teaching Company

  • some Tom Lehrer songs being performed on a rebroadcast of "A Prairie Home Companion" on Connecticut Public Radio

  • recent "The Political Scene" podcasts from The New Yorker

  • the last episode in "The Ricky Gervais Show" series

  • "The Thistle and Shamrock"--a weekly Celtic music program--on New Hampshire Public Radio

May 1, 2010

A Fully Booked Saturday

I've got a faculty meeting from 8:30am until about noon to determine major year-end prizes, then immediately after that I am taking the tennis team up to Deerfield, MA, for the balance of the day. Once back on campus in the evening, I am scheduled for duty in Memorial House--and check-in is at midnight tonight, as the younger kids have a big dance. That's a pretty full day.

May 4, 2010

Those Were The Days . . .


. . . when legends of rock music played in the Choate arts center.

May The Fourth Be With You


May 4th is International Star Wars Day, so go out and celebrate with your favorite Wookiee.

"Four Dead In Ohio"


Hard to believe it's been forty years since the Kent State shootings, when National Guardsmen opened fire on student demonstrators, killing four of them. When I taught a course on the Vietnam War, I used to show a film called The War At Home, which captured the domestic social and political tensions associated with what was going on in Southeast Asia in the 1960s and 1970s. Of course the truth of the anti-war movement on college campuses in that era is that protests dropped off significantly once the draft was abolished.

May 5, 2010

The Power Of The Dark Side

I don't have a TomTom GPS navigation system, but if I did, I might get have get these Star Wars voices just because this promo is so entertaining:

May 28, 2010

What's In My Bag?


Last May in Paris, I picked up an olive green bag--sort of a messenger bag, I guess--at the adidas shop on the Champs-Élysées. It's very useful to throw over my shoulder when cruising around town on the scooter. And I can fit my iPad or MacBook Air in it very comfortably, even though it's pretty small.

So what would one find in it this morning?

  • iPad
  • student briefs for McDonald v. Chicago, a current Second Amendment case before the U.S. Supreme Court, to be argued in the final session of my Constitutional Law class this morning
  • set of graded essays on King Lear submitted yesterday, to be returned in EN437 class later today
  • excerpt from West Side Story script with my lines for next weekend's performance
  • two pens
  • a magic marker for the dry erase board (I'm still a chalk guy, but not much use for that anymore)
  • copies of Time, The Economist, and Entertainment Weekly from this morning's mail

May 29, 2010

Lowered Expectations Always Helps


I went into the new Robin Hood flick, directed by Ridley Scott, aware of the pretty wretched reviews the movie had garnered since it arrived a couple weeks back. So it turned out to be rather enjoyable: the film was far better than I expected it to be. Cate Blanchett is always fun to watch and Russell Crowe held his own in the title role. The production values were first rate, too. Now it's true this wasn't really a traditional "Robin Hood film." Fair enough. But as a piece of disposable summer entertainment, it did the trick.

May 28, 2010

Prince Of Persia


I know next to nothing about the Prince Of Persia video game. Perhaps that was the best preparation for the movie version. This is the sort of film for which you can check your brain at the door beforehand. Lots of pretty scenery and special effects to digest, built around a pretty thin plot line (and a rather obvious "surprise" villain--which the posters in the lobby telegraph in case the movie itself didn't do the trick) and some decent action sequences. The verdict: unobjectionable, but nothing worth rushing to the cineplex to catch.

May 31, 2010

Field Day!

Started the morning at the Memorial Day parade in town before helping run the school's Field Day activities for a couple of hours. A beautiful day for both.

This afternoon I have a lunch date with two girls from the squash team, and then I will attend a capstone project presentation by one of my advisees: a documentary film about charter schools.

Then tonight is my final night of duty for the school year!

May 11, 2010



I was unfamiliar with the work of Strindberg before seeing the play Creditors at the Brooklyn Academy of Music tonight. This is a taut psychological roller coaster of a production: a three-person show directed by Alan Rickman. Very entertaining, if pretty bleak in its overall effect. Since the performance started at 7:30 and played with no intermission, I was even able to get back home from the city well before midnight.

May 18, 2010

Round Trip To London For $200

I cashed in some miles from my credit card and was able to arrange a trip to London and back for a weekend at the end of July. My out-of-pocket cost for airfare--in peak season--was only $200. I have tickets to see four plays in two days, including three Shakespeare histories at the Globe: Henry VIII and both parts of Henry IV.

May 19, 2010

Re-Engaging Netflix


Having just returned the disc--City Of God--I had out since December 2006 (!) I am now in a regular cycle of DVD rentals from Netflix once more. I upgraded my rental program to get out of the 2-DVDs-per-month limit and to enable unlimited streaming rentals. The latter is a huge advantage now that the iPad is equipped to play these films!

So no more keeping one film out for three-and-a-half years (at $5 membership fees per month, I could have bought the DVD of that flick many times over!).

May 12, 2010

Locking In Shakespeare In The Park Tickets


I am a fan of the Shakespeare In The Park series staged each summer in New York's Central Park by The Public Theater, so I became a supporter in order to guarantee ticket access. This year, I will see The Merchant Of Venice (with Al Pacino in the title role) and The Winter's Tale--one of my favorite Shakespeare plays.

May 25, 2010

New Use For The PlayStation 3


Today I received a disc from Netflix that will enable me to watch streaming movies via my PlayStation 3 machine. Pretty cool adaptation!

May 26, 2010

Climate Control

With the temperature climbing above 90° again today, I decided to install my bedroom air conditioner for the summer, so my sleep will be nicely removed from the heat and humidity.

May 23, 2010

Lost Souls


Quick review of the two-and-a-half-hour finale of Lost: I liked it. It worked. Others will probably be frustrated that some of the mysteries of the island--like the origin of the ancient man-made structures--were never fully explained. Not me. I thought the characters reached closure. And this last installment of the show had plenty of great moments for the castaways and no shortage of good drama. Revealing too much about the island's workings would be like George Lucas introducing midi-chlorians as an explanation of The Force in the Star Wars prequels: an unnecessary effort to connect dots that didn't need to be connected.

May 20, 2010

The Other Side

The conclusion of the two-part season finale of Fringe was pretty satisfying tonight. We got to spend time on the alternate Earth and meet the doppelgangers of the characters we've come to know during the show's first two seasons. One of the coolest visual gags was worked into the background, on the wall of the apartment where Peter was staying: twisted versions of iconic comics covers like this:


May 24, 2010

Thought Of The Day


May 14, 2010

Returning To Lear


Today is the first day of King Lear in my EN437 class. This is the play I have taught most often in the past decade, but it's been a few years since I have done it. I have, however, seen it performed a few times in the interim. I find new things in this work with every exposure.

May 17, 2010

Treading The Boards Once More

Went through the blocking for my cameo appearance in West Side Story, the spring musical in the Paul Mellon Arts Center. There's more lines and stage business than in my last such appearance on this stage two years ago--which means there's more I can screw up!

May 27, 2010


U2's North American summer tour has been postponed, probably until 2011. I have four tickets for the floor for the July 17 Montreal show, but looks like that won't be happening now. Too bad.

May 23, 2010

The Second Slam Of The Season


Time for tennis once more: the French Open begins today in Paris. ESPN 2, Tennis Channel, and NBC are offering wall-to-wall coverage of the event, thankfully (unlike the old days when we were lucky to see tape-delayed presentations of the final and maybe a few pearls from the middle weekend).

May 6, 2010

Lodging In Europe

Locked down plans tonight for hotels in London, Rome, Florence, and Budapest for my June travels. So nice to be able to work as my own travel agent via the Internet.

May 7, 2010

Back To Dillon, TX


One of the best shows on television, Friday Night Lights, is back on NBC. Season 4 aired on DirectTV in the fall (and I caught the first four episodes while vacationing in Portugal the week after Christmas) and hits the broadcast airwaves starting tonight. I bought an iTunes Season Pass to ensure I keep up to speed.

May 8, 2010

The State Of Red Sox Nation

Great piece on Red Sox fandom in today's New York Times. Might Boston baseball loyalists be turning into--heaven forfend!--the type of entitled fans we are used to seeing in the Big Apple? An excerpt:

To veteran Red Sox fans, winning has never been the order of things. No one would ever call Fenway Park the Home of Champions. There is no such thing as "RedSoxography." Even had someone improbably composed a song called "Boston, Boston," the team would not have a swaggering Sinatra belting it out five seconds after every last out. We all know Yankee fans feel entitled: how dare you lose? How dare you do this to me? Red Sox fans, by contrast, often expect the worst, and when it comes, we revel in saying, "I knew it!"

But as the current cyber-stonings on the Red Sox message boards attest, creeping Yankeeosis has spread to Red Sox Nation. There is the same petulance, the same arrogance, the same intolerance for imperfection, the same obnoxious impatience. This year's sorry team will not only miss the wild card, the posters warn, but finish in fourth place!

Read the whole piece here.

The Meaning Of The Parthenon

A very thoughtful article in the New York Times about the Elgin Marbles controversy:

The British Museum is Europe's Western front in the global war over cultural patrimony, on account of the marbles. The pamphlets give the museum's version for why they should stay in Britain, as they have for two centuries -- ever since Lord Elgin, the British ambassador to the Sublime Porte at Constantinople, and with the consent of the ruling Ottomans (not to mention a blithe disregard for whatever may have been the wishes of the Greek populace), spirited them from the Acropolis in Athens. The pamphlet stresses that the British Museum is free and attracts millions of visitors every year from around the world, making the sculptures available to, and putting them in the context of, a wide swath of human civilization.


Mostly, though, the issue comes down to the fact that culture, while it can have deeply rooted, special meanings to specific people, doesn't belong to anyone in the grand scheme of things. It doesn't stand still. When Walter Benjamin wrote in the last century about the original or authentic work of art losing its aura, he was in part suggesting that the past is not something we can just return to whenever we like -- it's not something fixed and always available. It's something forever beyond our grasp, which we must reinvent to make present.

Today's Acropolis is itself a kind of fiction. Over the centuries and through succeeding empires and regimes, it became Christian and Turkish, and briefly Venetian, after it had been Roman. The Parthenon was a pagan temple, a church, a mosque, an arms depot (disastrously, under the Turks) and even a place from which the Nazis hung a big swastika flag whose removal by Greek patriots helped spur a resistance movement. Modernity has mostly stripped the site of all those layers of history to recover a Periclean-era past that represents, because it has come to mean the most to us, its supposed true self -- a process of archeological excavation, based on another modern kind of fiction about historical and scientific objectivity that inevitably adds its own layer of history.


But the general question, looting and tourist dollars aside, is why should any objects necessarily reside in the modern nation-state controlling the plot of land where, at one time, perhaps thousands of years earlier, they came from? The question goes to the heart of how culture operates in a global age.

The Greek proposal that Britain fork over Elgin's treasures has never involved actually putting the sculptures back onto the Parthenon, which started crumbling long before he showed up. The marbles would go from one museum into another, albeit one much closer. The Greeks argue for proximity, not authenticity. Their case has always been more abstract, not strictly about restoration but about historical reparations, pride and justice. It is more nationalistic and symbolic.


But as the Princeton philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah has cautioned about the whole patrimony question: "We should remind ourselves of other connections. One connection -- the one neglected in talk of cultural patrimony -- is the connection not through identity but despite difference."

What he means is that people make connections across cultures through objects like the marbles. These objects can become handmaidens for ideologues, instruments for social division and tools of the economy, or cicerones through history and oracles to a more perfect union of nations. Art is something made in a particular place by particular people, and may serve a particular function at one time but obtain different meanings at other times. It summons distinct feelings to those for whom it's local, but ultimately belongs to everyone and to no one.

We're all custodians of global culture for posterity.

Neither today's Greeks nor Britons own the Parthenon marbles, really.

You can access the complete piece here.

May 15, 2010

Reunion Weekend

The return of alumni to the Choate campus is generally a good thing: a chance to reconnect with faces from the past and catch up on lives that have evolved over the years. Not every aspect of the weekend is positive, however, such as waking up at 1:30 a.m. last night to find two Class of 2005 grads making themselves at home in my living room, watching TV and drinking beer!

About May 2010

This page contains all entries posted to As Far As You Know in May 2010. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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