1. My students watched Sullivan's Travels for class today, one of the few syllabus changes I made for this semester. It was a big success: they all liked it, but had interesting questions about it as well (for example, why doesn't Veronica Lake's character have a name?). Had I planned class better, I would have emphasized more strongly the very political question the film asks about whether and how Hollywood should depict poverty and injustice (we touched on it, but could have discussed it in more depth). We also didn't even touch the racial politics of the film, which depicts a poor-but-happy, welcoming, spiritual-singing, emotive black church in contrast to the white proselytizers of the Salvation Army. But these are complaints that only arise because we had a productive discussion about other aspects of the movie. And the students were able to keep that discussion going more or less on their own, luckily for me, because...
2. I had a bit of a hangover this morning. The success here is that my German ex-housemate was in town, leaving today, and last night I met him and a couple of friends of ours for drinks. I ended up drinking too much to drive home (on purpose), so I crashed at their place, woke up early enough to drive home, shower, look at the students' Blackboard postings, and teach while reviving myself with coffee. But really, I've been feeling a shortage of good friends here for the past few weeks, and a group of four was just the right size to have good conversations with everyone and drink to excess but not too excessively, on a Tuesday night.
Conversation topics included parents who skipped grades in school; teaching; shaving or not shaving legs; photographs of me violently wielding breadsticks; departmental gossip; spooning: when falling asleep and/or when waking up?
Drinks included homemade sloe gin, absinthe (the non-wormwood kind), wine, and this Indian Brown Ale.