What can you do (watch, read) over and over again?

I can watch the first 10 minutes of Wings of Desire (Der Himmel ├╝ber Berlin — great trailer here) over and over again without getting tired of it. The city from above – from an angel’s eye view, not a bird’s eye view – is entrancing. Is this the last great Berlin movie before the fall of the Wall? It came out in 1987.
Not that I have to stop – but it all changes when the 2nd angel (Cassiel, Otto Sander) comes in. The whole plot of the movie comes out then — Damiel’s (Bruno Ganz) desire to feel weight. His list of Biblical events where angels pretended is moving. “For once just to guess instead of known, to say Ach! and Oh! and Ow!….”
In many ways the scene in the big public library (university library?) moves me the most … to be able to wander through a high Modernist library (I’m sure a Berliner would know which one) and hear what everyone is reading and writing and thinking! I love the angels in their dark suits, long coats, and scarves sitting on the parapet walls looking down into the atrium. And I’m endlessly fascinated by who can and can’t PERCEIVE angels: blind people, children, and the occasional otherwise normal looking adult.

And Peter Falk — as himself, a detached angel. What more can you want? Over and over again!

AC/DC launches its own wine.

The only interesting thing about this story is that I didn’t know that any rock bands had their own wine lines, let alone Madonna. I went to a restaurant in Milan this spring that has a clientele of former paratroopers, line of wine named for Mussolini, and really good beef carpaccio.
But rock bands?

Two weeks from tomorrow!

Classes begin! Art 101 at 9:05 a.m. Essay question: what is art?
About 5 or 6 years ago some anonymous student wrote in a course evaluation something along the lines of: “I thought we would spend more time discussing definitions of art or what is art.” It’s a fair point!
So now what I do is start on the first day by asking for a one sentence definition of visual art (I explicitly exclude music and dance — those are different courses). Then we discuss. The homework assignment for the first Friday: write a 50 word definition, taking into account the discussion (lots of people fail to do that 2nd part, and begin an educational part of their college careers with a 50 on the first homework).
I pass them back their definitions at the final exam and ask, one last time, what is art?

Why has tuition gone up so much? Well, what else has gone up so much?

What’s gone up is staff. Not faculty, not student bodies. 84% growth in staff between 1989 and 2009.
And by “staff” I don’t mean “departmental secretaries.” I don’t have a single acquaintance in academe who doesn’t occasionally whine about the lack of secretarial support. My department, for example, has an excellent secretary. She works a part day (I think she’s at 6 hours per day now, and that came with some struggle) to support a department of 12 full time and a number of part-time or adjunct folks every year — AND do a lot of the work for the 6 shows in the gallery every year.
What we mean are student services. And the people who defend this growth, almost all of whom are self-interested members of the student services staff, explain that we HAVE to grow here because students now expect these services.
I suppose they’re right. Advertise a full service nanny-system and you will get parents and students interested in a 4 to 6 year extension of the nursery.
Perhaps it is the only way to run a college nowadays. I am skeptical. I’m not skeptical about the quality of our support staff – I’m sure they’re as excellent and hard-working as the faculty and secretarial staff. But the trend lines are undeniable — that’s where the growth in full-time, benefit eligible appointments is. Faculty have grown too, but as we know from all too many articles, that growth is not in the tenurable category.

Parodic Historic Preservation

Preserve that chain link fence!
No, really.
Here’s a fundamentalist speaking:

“I think those are interesting houses,” said Al Cox, historic preservation manager in Alexandria’s Department of Planning and Zoning. They are relatively unadorned, two-story brick houses built right after World War II. They represent a side of Alexandria that’s different from the Federal, Georgian and Greek Revival homes closer to the river.

In other words, if you don’t like your unadorned house with its chain link fence, you can sell it. Don’t change it!

Republicans are fair game

Isn’t this funny? Rick Perry’s college transcript has been leaked – and he’s not even an official candidate for president. Meanwhile, in the regime of greater transparency and openness, do we know what courses Obama took, let alone what grades he got?
Kinda like the “I was editor, but I didn’t bother to write anything for the Harvard Law Review” situation.
Obama’s second biographer (the first will be a hagiographer) will have a field day.