RochelLeah's RealLife

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A Blast to the Past

When I was about 10 years old, I was obsessed with Doctor Who. My sister and I would run in the door after Hebrew school on Sundays, hoping that the show hadn't started yet. We discussed the relative merits of various incarnations of the Doctor, read books, and waited impatiently for fund drives, when Doctor Who marathons would dominate our weekends. Well, the Doctor has been making a massive comeback in the UK. It makes me wish I had a television. BBC - Radio 2 - Doctor Who

Thursday, December 15, 2005

S. inspires me again...

After a very productive 1/2 day (8 am-2 pm), I am taking it easy at the school library. Needing a bit of a break (since I have another class tonight, from 5:45 to at least 8:45), I decided to catch up on my blog reading. S. referred to Time Magazine's top 100 book list, which I apparently missed due to academic absorption or simply not having Time at the register at my local grocery store. (In Berkeley, we are much more likely to have Natural Health, Yoga Journal, San Francisco--or another locally based mag--, and Cooking Light next to our glossy gossip mags, Martha Stewart, Details, and Cosmo. I don't even remember the last time I saw a National Enquirer.)

So, I am once again a copy cat. I will now nod to S. and announce to the world my cleverness or lack thereof.

I have read:
Animal Farm
Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret.
Catch 22
The Catcher in the Rye
A Clockwork Orange
The Great Gatsby
A Handful of Dust
The Invisible Man
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Lord of the Flies
Lord of the Rings
Naked Lunch
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
(I started Pale Fire, but didn't finish it)
A Passage to India
(I think I read The Sheltering Sky... but I might just be remembering the movie)
The Sun also Rises
Their Eyes Were Watching God
Things Fall Apart
To Kill a Mockingbird
Tropic of Cancer
(I was supposed to read Wide Sargasso Sea my freshman year in college. Oh, well.)

TOTAL 22/100 (Not including The Sheltering Sky)

I must admit disappointment, both with myself (I haven't read enough of these books, ignoring entirely many authors appearing multiple times on the list) and with the list. Many of my favorite books are not on the list--Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, anything by Barbara Kingsolver (my favorite, Prodigal Summer was published in 2000...), Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club (one of the few books I've read more than twice, and it makes me cry every time I read it), or Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres (which you can't really appreciate unless you've read King Lear). Several other favorite books of mine were not originally written in English, so they don't count. Other of my 20th century faves precede 1923 (the year from which Time reviewers started their list).

I am going to peruse some other Top Novel lists and will report back.

Here's some to start with:

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Why are toys so loud?

NPR : Wishing for a Silent Night in Toyland

NPR : Rite On: An Ode to the 'Bar Mitzvah Disco'

NPR : Rite On: An Ode to the 'Bar Mitzvah Disco'

Friday, December 09, 2005

Things to Look Forward to...

As I am entering into this last little bit of the semester, I had to take a breather today. This past week has been exceptionally busy, both with work (school and otherwise) and socially--two of my great friends were in town... one for her grandmother's multi-event funeral, one on a conference. Regardless, my grand plan to complete at least one of the two questions on my sociology take-home exam did not materialize. Instead, today was filled with crossword puzzles, yoga (I feel totally out of shape), and straightening up the apartment. I may not have been as productive as I would have liked to have been, but I feel pretty good.

I have decided that, once again, I will see as many movies as possible during my long winter break. Here is the overly ambitious, needing-to-be-pared-down list. You can learn about them at the New York Times (Current Movies) site.

  • Brokeback Mountain
  • Breakfast on Pluto
  • Good Night and Good Luck
  • A History of Violence
  • Paradise Now
  • Shopgirl
  • Syriana
  • Wallace and Grommit
I'm not sure how many of these are (still) playing in the area.

I am also seriously considering (1) seeing Harry Potter and Goblet of Fire again, and (2) seeing Pride and Prejudice. I had mocked the idea of Keira Knightly as Elizbeth Bennett, but I may have to eat my words.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Last-Two-Weeks-of-the-Semester Angst

Dear Friends,
I humbly apologize for my recent blog negligence. I have, for (mostly) good purposes, been extremely busy of late. This includes:
  • a trip to LA and Las Vegas during reading week, during which I did very little reading and much playing. Highlights were seeing all of my LA and LV loved ones and painting the town red with J. in Vegas. The latter included seeing the worth-every-penny-of-the-ticket-price show Avenue Q;
  • the usual dose of writing and reading for my classes;
  • teaching;
  • preparing for an adult-ed class that ended up not having enough students to be held;
  • more reading and writing;
  • grading midterms;
  • frequent headaches and really bad allergies;
  • another trip to LA, this time for Thanksgiving with friends and family;
  • taking care of J. following the removal this past Friday of his wisdom teeth;
  • more reading;
  • a long study session for a final exam;
  • teaching Methodists about the Jewish understanding of Isaiah's prophecies (that is, those that are frequently read Christologically);
  • and trying ro write papers that don't want to be written.
Now, I know, papers can't "not want to be written." But I am really trying to wrap my mind around the material and frame it with some semblance of order, but I'm just not getting There--"There" being that place where my mind does the brilliant tricks it usually does while writing for school. (The immediately previous sentence is an example of the not-so-brilliant writing that has emerged from this computer of late.)

I want to say something intelligent about how the Torah is a collective representation a la Emile Durkheim and that Mordechai Kaplan's framing of Torah is very similar to Durkheim's model. I also (not in the same paper) want to come up with some grand methodological model for combining Faith Development analytical methods with sociological methods in order to study conversion. Unfortunately, I am finding myself quite often staring at my computer screen, fingers to keys, and not producing anything more than one paragraph that has been re-written and rearranged probably ten times in the past week-and-a-half.

I'm in crisis mode. I have a week-and-a-half before most of the work is due. The Durkheim paper is due, however, on Thursday. I'm at the point with it where I am ready to totally trash the brilliant (but undeveloped) topic for something else entirely, just to get myself unstuck.

I feel like I all my newly acquired knowledge from the semester is all jumbled up in my head, and my brain hasn't quite processed it all. At the sociology study session last night, I felt like I knew a good deal about the material we've learned... but any in-depth, clear, well-constructed, and fully fleshed-out original thought seems illusive. And I don't know what to do about it. I just can't get to that critical moment when all the learning comes together.