Best Spam Comment in AGES!

So I’m looking at the one or two junk comments MT 3.33 let through today and read this lovely text:

Your site is very cognitive. I think you will have good future.:)

I find the use of ‘cognitive’ to mean ‘meaninglessly good’ about par for the course. Cognitive is right up there with evolutionary and slightly less meaninful than nano in my book.

The nicest thing…!

Follow the link.
I think this is a very nice thing to say about your wife! If the choice of who to play her in film is Angelina Jolie . . . oh, click and see.
You know, the alternative always impressed me as someone from somewhere perfectly reasonable – and there you go – IMDB tells me she was born in Gaffney, SC. No wonder she sounds real!

sorry, folks

I’m having some mild technical difficulties – among other things I need to upgrade my MovableType installation. I’ve backed up my SQL database, downloaded MT3.3, and then found myself a tad busy. It’s really not the kind of thing to do after 9 p.m., so I’ve turned off comments (the script is disabled – my hosting service informed me that something was up in the cgi script – someone had left a gremlin there).
SO…commenting will resume soon.
In the meantime I just finished pulling together Pompeii for Art 101 today (with the digital presentation software and access to the Visual Resources Center we can do this from home – yay!). For reasons I don’t quite remember I decided to concentrate on the House of the Vettii this year, so I made sure that all of that was scanned and ready to project digitally. When you have more than 150,000 slides the scanning process is NOT instantaneous.

Sorry for the hiatus

I apologize to anyone who missed me, but I ran off to a conference and then had to play catch up.
The conference theme was drama in the Middle Ages, and I fell back on “those who don’t do, teach” – I gave a pedagogical paper. It went over well, though – I have a good module for handling the high Middle Ages in European Studies 101.
1. Read Rutebeuf’s Miracle of Theophilus
2. Study the north transept portal at Notre Dame de Paris, which tells a slightly different version of the Theophilus legend.*
3. Discuss ecclesiastical administration and organization, homage, written contract, Jews in the 13th century, magic, Hell, intercession and patronage, the role of the Virgin Mary, the Ptolemaic model of the cosmos — the list, as one says, goes on.
It was well-received in the conference sense and, I believe, in the “ooh – I’m going to try that!” sense.
And I’d like to acknowledge Another Damned Medievalist for her two read throughs.
*sorry for the link to someone’s flickr site, but I’m queasy about posting copyrighted pictures and am having trouble doing better.

Magic Wands and the Tridentine Indult

O.k. – let’s assume the new indult will suddenly open the floodgates to masses in the old rite. Who’s going to teach ‘em Latin? And who’s going to teach ‘em to chant?
The second is considerably more important than the first. I could teach a seminarian to pronounce (not read, just read aloud) ecclesiastical Latin quickly and correctly in a week if you let me use corporal punishment. We could do Greek in two weeks.
Chant is harder.

Fr. Foster and the Silliness of Modern Spoken Latin

Gosh am I tired of the cult of personality that surrounds Fr. Reginald Foster who has recently been let go from a job for failing to generate revenue – and have been since the first profile I read of him in the New Yorker or the Atlantic or wherever it was and I realized that he was a a classic example (pun entirely intended) of the dissenting Catholic bureaucrat.
This is a man who made his living (and let’s not forget that someone let this American live in Rome all these years!) off our tithe money and enjoyed saying shocking things about what he believed.
So he said ‘em in Latin. Cute. Let me ask any of his followers – how many of you actually find an opportunity to speak Latin regularly? Me, I read it. A lot. Some of you might do that, too. Me, I read and speak Italian as much as I can – once a week if I’m lucky. If I went to a bit more trouble I could watch the news all the time in Italian (RAI might help me retain linguistic competence, even if it made me dumber by doing so).
Repeat after me – spoken Latin in the 21st century is an indulgence. If Fr. Reggie really loved the poor as much as he loved Cicero he’d be feeding ‘em full-time. I don’t think there’s much wrong with indulgence, but I recognize that the possibility for a man with Fr. Foster’s university degrees to wear workman’s clothes and sit in the gutter with the poor reflects as carefully crafted a persona as my tweed and service on civic committees. This article suggests that Fr. Foster starts with about 100 students a year. One of the comments in this link suggests that he had an attrition rate of about 50%. This is not someone who is going to change the state of a langauge.
Spoken languages have to be spoken constantly to be real. Go read about the reinvention of Hebrew* to see how it can and did work. Compare that to summer Latin experiences separated by 11 months of monoglottery and get back to us about how much you luv Latin.
We all have our hobbies. Mine is listening to murder mysteries on iPod while I walk the dog. Some people like to talk about rubrics they’ll never live out without becoming bishops themselves. Some people spend their energy on an attempt to bring back spoken Latin. Let’s not pretend these enterprises are much more than hobbies or hobby horses.
By the way, I have nothing against Fr. Foster – he’s evidently an amazing teacher or he wouldn’t have generated the cult of personality. But if it were all about spoken Latin for itself, Americans would have responded the same way to that other Carmelite promulgator of spoken Latin, Fr. Suitbert Seidl
*My favorite version of this shocking story is Herman Wouk’s in This is my God.

Bible in Art

I hate this time of the semester – I’m choosing textbooks for next semester and suddenly getting more interested in that than this.
On the other hand, I’m teaching the first half of medieval for the first time in 2 years (it’s a long story involving a leave and team-teaching for why I haven’t lately). I haven’t decided yet, but I did decide to look at the handouts I use for Bible Knowledge.
You see, I gave up long ago. None of them know anything about scripture. None of them will have learned anything about scripture since they got to college which would be useful for understanding the cultural deposit. Therefore I have to teach them – or stop and explain every other slide.
So my Art 270, Art of the First Christian Millennium, begins with a Bible Knowledge workbook. I’ve been doing and redoing this for a few iterations (including the semester in Rome) and it’s getting pretty sophisticated. I sat down just now and flipped through my currently favored textbook and checked and am pleased with how closely the images they chose match my list of themes to cover.
Click on extended entry if you want my current list of what will get you through a pre-Renaissance art course.

Continue reading

Snow – but luckily to the west.

Don’t worry about me, dear readers – the snow is all to the west. For now.
You might be interested to know why we get less snow south of the Thruway – and these Colleges employ a lake effect snow expert! I’m not going to say that having heard a couple of friday faculty lunch talks from Neil Laird has made me fonder of snow, but at least I understand it a little better.
The basic answer turns out to be that the prevailing winds are very seldom from the due north – and since Geneva is about 15 miles south of Lake Ontario that keeps us less snowy. The Thruway is about 10 miles south of Ontario, and that’s about the southern boundary of the diagonally-carried lake effect snows.
He and his students are studying poor ol’ Ithaca, which gets lake effect off of Seneca Lake and noticeably more snow than Geneva. The message?
Come live in Geneva! Less snow than most places in Upstate NY!

Ambroise Vollard at the Met

The best (but most exhausting) show I hiet in New York City this past weekend was Cézanne to Picasso: Ambroise Vollard, Patron of the Avant-Garde (runs through January 7, 2007).
The show was (or should be) particularly humbling to artists and art historians. It’s really hard to spend time in an exhibition like that and think that we have as much to do with making taste as do the gallery owners. Vollard handled something like a third of the known Cezannes. He sold a lot of the van Gogh’s anyone’s ever heard of. He was Gauguin’s dealer. Picasso’s dealer. Bonnard’s dealer. Roualt’s dealer.
Here’s a summary view of the images in the exhibition.
The most exciting two walls for me were three paintings by Andre Dreain across from 3 by Maurice de Vlaminck. This image of Derain’s Charing Cross Bridge, London (1906) from the Met site is as good an example I can give you of why Dr. Barnes might have been right – color reproductions are more than poor. They’re evil.
The real painting is so fresh I wanted to lick it – the reds and oranges and greens are amazing. It’s in most surveys of 20th century art I’ve ever seen – and I never quite understood why. Now I know. It is a great painting, capital G capital P. And next to it View of St. Paul’s Cathedral from the Thames and Houses of Parliament by Night. Next the corner and then three de Vlamincks. I finally understand what the critic meant when he called them les fauves, the “wild beasts.” Matisse really was the staid one in that set.
One of the fun aspects of the show was the number of portraits of Vollard – from Renoir’s portrait of Vollard in a toreador suit of lights to Picasso’s desperately famous analytical cubist version with a number of other ones in between. Bonnard painted Vollard with a cat in his lap at least twice.
This little description only scratches the surfact of the exhibition. If you have a chance, go.

Nanolust sated

While I was in New York I visited the Kaaba and bought this:
indexnanofrontside20060912.png(the 2 gb silver one).
My 20 gb iPod seems to have lost its tiny mind, and I haven’t gotten any response as yet to my posting on the Macworld discussion board (yes, yes, I’ve reinstalled iTunes [and that was a disaster]).
So far I love the Nano – except for the USB interface. GOSH it’s slow. Why on EARTH did they do that? It’s taking minutes to update, and all I did was remove one play list in favor of a 25 song replacement! Argh!
(Glass cube on 5th Ave. as Affront-to-Islam link courtesy of Brian Tiemann)