Card catalogs should still exist, damn you all, damn you all to hell

I fully recognize that computerized library browsing is a vast improvement over card catalog searches. I am old enough that I remember searching via the card catalog, and it was an unnecessarily time-consuming process, and you get many, many more literature hits with Google than you ever could any pre-computer searches. Life is better.


That said, card catalogs are good at storing cards, and for those of us who still write with 3 x 5 cards, I really would like to be able to just buy a wooden card catalog unit for less than a million dollars. Unfortunately, the only ones out there new are for cds. You can find older ones on Ebay, but one is not going to be shipping them. Looooooook at this beauty. Waaaaaaaaaants it, my precious.

As it is, what IS out there for us 3 x 5 card users are flimsy plastic carriers in the bag–eyuck, but what are you going to do?–and metal filing cabinet systems full of clanging metal hate.

BTW, I still haven’t procured another satisfactory pencil sharpener. No wonder my book went phuttttt. I’M WORKING AT A DISADVANTAGE HERE.


I’ve been reading When Nietzsche Slept by Irvin Yalom via a recommendation from one of my students. I encountered this sentence, and it made me drop the book:

“Despair is the price one pays for self awareness.”

Christ–life summarized in a sentence.

A short sentence, no less.

Then later in the book:

“How could he admit to having wagered his whole life only to find that the final prize was, after all, not to his liking? No, these things he must keep to himself. There are things you don’t tell the young ones.”

No, one doesn’t.

So Pitifully Afraid of the Light

Ibsen on Ghosts:

“I almost think we’re all of us Ghosts. … It’s not only what we have invited from our father and mother that walks in us. It’s all sorts of dead ideas, and lifeless old beliefs, and so forth. They have no vitality, but they cling to us all the same, and we can’t get rid of them. Whenever I take up a newspaper, I seem to see Ghosts gliding between the lines. There must be Ghosts all the country over, as thick as the sand of the sea. And then we are, one and all, so pitifully afraid of the light.”

Favorite Lesser-Known Jimmy Stewart films

We were talking about Jimmy Stewart at dinner the other night, as I have a colleague who believes that Tom Hanks is Stewart’s analog now. The usual movies were listed; there are some collaborations among actors and directors that become special, and for Stewart, his work with Frank Capra and Alfred Hitchcock always come to mind, but my favorite of his is actually a movie directed by the undeservedly obscure Otto Preminger: Anatomy of a Murder (Lee Remick is luminous in that movie). I also liked Stewart’s work with John Ford, but if I were stranded on a desert island, I would have to select Harvey.

Anyway here’s my list of lesser known (at least among contemporary audiences) favorites from Stewart

1. Anatomy of a Murder, Otto Preminger 1959

2. The Shootist, Don Siegel, 1976

3. The Big Sleep, Micheal Winner, 1978 (Surprisingly good adaptation in which Stewart brings great dignity to General Sherwood)

4. The Greatest Show on Earth, 1952Cecil B. DeMille

5. You Can’t Take It With You, 1938, Frank Capra, where I adopted much of my money management strategies

6. Rope by Alfred Hitchcock

7. The Shop Around the Corner by the wonderful Ernst Lubitsch, and the inspiration for Nora Ephron’s You’ve Got Mail

8. Harvey by Henry Koster, where Elwood P Dowd gives the very best advice for academic life I have ever heard:

Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say, “In this world, Elwood, you must be” – she always called me Elwood – “In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.

Innocent horsie or Gozer in prechosen form?

Ok, the school which currently employs me for however long has a mascot called “Tommy Trojan.” I have managed to get over all the condom references that spring into my puerile mind, but I’m struggling with the horse. This horse is called “Traveler.” See above. He’s cute, right?

Well, whenever I hear the name “Traveler” I think of “Gozer the Traveler,” you know. From Ghostbusters.

Here is Rick Moranis explaining how Gozer can, in fact, take many forms:

So. Is that an innocent, pleasant, barn baby of a horse? Or something MUCH MUCH MORE SINISTER?

Just saying.

Can I ask a question without the NBA fining me $25,000?

For those of you worried about minor things like your dissertation and/or the general state of society/the planet/your children, you may have missed the fact that the NBA fined Laker center Andrew Bynum $25,000 for criticizing the officiating during the 101-96 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

Now, ok. Suckitup, right? Bynum had a pretty bad game by any measure, and he can’t go pointing at the officials as the reason for his poor performance or the loss.


The NBA isn’t paying Bynum. The Lakers franchise is. He can go talk all the smack he wants about his team, his coach, his colleagues, etc. But he can’t point out that the officiating was poor? Um. Doesn’t this strike anybody as unnecessarily controlling? What about when the officiating actually IS poor? What makes these guys so dainty boo-boo that they can’t take some snark? What he said was clean. It wasn’t exactly Mr. Sportsmanship, but we are dealing with great big children here.

Maybe I’m just bitter. My life is snark central. Senior faculty snooter me around shamelessly and get on my case when I screw up. Reviewers trample all over MY feelings. Nobody looks out for MY ego.

Dear Editor:

Reviewer # 1 criticized me. Everything he says is specious and hurts my little feelers. I am therefore going to assess him a $25,000 fine. Reviewer #3 agrees with me so he’s off the hook.



Best Christmas Songs for the Depressed

In no particular order, these are among my favorite antidotes to the sticky-sweet traditional songs/movies that try to dupe us into believing that mankind is redeemable. In no particular order:

Father Christmas, the Kinks

Fairytale of New York by The Pogues and Kirsty McColl

Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis, Tom Waits

Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto, James Brown:

River by Joni Mitchell:

Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer Mambo by Billy May (I can’t embed this, but it is well worth visiting YouTube for.)