Monday, December 19, 2005

squeaky clean music

I'm really frustrated, because I spent a good, long time updating my blog earlier, but before I could get it published, Firefox malfunctioned and had to close down.

This morning I finished the two-day task of cleaning out my music files. I had collected about 15 gigs of music, and since I only have about 25G on my hard drive, I figured it was time to get rid of some of it. It's now down to about 11G. The task is not complete yet, since I still plan burn some music onto CDs (stuff like Christmas music that I don't listen to a lot but still want), but it sure feels good to have that much of it done.

I've been feeling really awful the last few days, with a terrbile cold. At least I think it's a cold, but it's quite different from my usual cold. Yesterday I even had my home teachers come over to give me a blessing. I felt silly getting a blessing for a cold, but it has seemed to help -- I feel a lot better today.

Right now I'm watching Going My Way with Bing Crosby on TCM. Bing is the star of the month, but I've seen very little on TCM with him in it. Tonight, though, they're showing three of his classic films, including Going My Way and The Bells of St. Mary's. It's making me pine for some >Road movies.

The last quote was from The Scarlet Pimpernel.

Acting is acting like you're not acting! (28 points)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

graduating in England

Dad and I had a good time in England. Once we actually got there. We both were delayed getting to Chicago, where we were supposed to meet up for the same flight to Manchester. We had to stay over in Chicago for a night to take thse same flight one day later, but that turned out to be fine. We got really well acquainted with the international terminal of the O'Hare airport, that's all.

We got to Lancaster on Saturday. Riding the train from Manchester, I kept feeling like I was coming home again. Everything was just so familiar and comfortable.

On Sunday we went to church at the Lancaster ward, where I got to give the opening prayer in sacrament meeting and lead the closing hymn in Relief Society. I also got lots of hugs and got to introduce Dad to many of the ward. Vic and Sue Kureczko had invited Denise and Diana to dinner for that afternoon, and they asked us to come along as well. That made me very happy, because I really love spending time with Vic and Sue, and I also wanted Dad to get to know them a little, since they were such an important part of my life in Lancaster.

Monday was my graduation day. We spent about an hour in the morning doing a little shopping downtown, where I managed to find really good presents for Margo, Erin, and Kimberly. I was so excited about them! I could hardly wait for them to open their presents. :) But I still had about 48 hours before that, so ... Instead I showered and got pretty for graduation, and then Dad and I headed up to campus around noon. I got my robes and got dressed, and we went back to the Linguistics Department for our reception. (It was here that I fatally heard the song "Happy Christmas" by John Lennon. More about that later.) We got to speak to Jonathan and Elena, as well as Marj and a lot of the students who were there with me on the same course. I got pictures with them as well, some of which I've posted below.

me with Jonathan Culpeper (who supervised my dissertation)

me in Alexandra Park at Lancaster University

The graduation ceremony started at 3:00, so I had to be in my place by 2:00. Unfortunately, they didn't have the information that I would be attending, so I had to get them to squeeze me in to the line somewhere. I ended up with all the LLM graduands (as they're called in England), so I didn't have anyone near me that I knew. The girl next to me was really nice, though, so that made things better. (Oh, LLM is a Master's law degree, by the way.)

The ceremony itself was quite ... ceremonious. We had a knight and a princess present. Princess Alexandra, is a cousin to Queen Elizabeth, and she's nearly the same age as the Queen. She helped Lancaster University get its charter back in 1964 and served as Chancellor to the university from 1964 to 2004. At the end of the calendar year 2004 she retired from this (largely ceremonial) position, and Sir Christian Bonington took her place. Sir Christian is, I just learned, a famous mountaineer, and as Chancellor, he is the one all the graduands get to shake hands with when crossing the stage. I couldn't even tell, personally, which one was Princess Alexandra until after we had all walked, and she stood to receive an honorary doctorate in Music. There was a lot of standing up and sitting down, and there were trumpet fanfares when the academic procession entered and left the hall ... very ceremonious, as I said. Oh, and we also sang the first verse of the British national anthem right before the academic procession left the Great Hall. (I did sing along, in case anyone was wondering.)

That night, I went to sleep around 9:30, being very tired. I only slept a few hours, though, and woke up again just after midnight. I laid there for a while, found that I had John Lennon's "Happy Christmas" in my head, and eventually got up to sit in the bathroom and read a Georgette Heyer book I had bought on Saturday. After an hour or so of this, I got back in bed, closed my eyes and tried to think of nothing. Instead, I found I still had "Happy Christmas" running constantly through my mind. Try as I might to get it out, it just stuck like glue. After a few more hours, I got up and went back into the bathroom to read again. Eventually Dad got up -- apparently he was worried about me, sitting in the bathroom so long, and that woke him. He let me turn the light on again, so I got back in bed and read for a few more hours. Around 5:45, I finally fell asleep again. Unfortunately, we were planning to get up at 6:00 that morning to catch the train to the airport. Dad woke me around 6:40, and I happily still managed to get everything together all right.

We caught our train just fine, but it kept getting delayed on our way to Manchester. It seemed to barely crawl along most of the time, and I was getting pretty annoyed with them. Finally, they decided to terminate the service at Manchester Piccadilly, so we had to get out there and wait for the next train. That meant that we got to the airport around 9:15 instead of 8:45, and my plane was scheduled to leave at 10:00. Even after arriving there, we still had to go find the terminal, which took another 15 minutes. When I finally got to the American Airlines counter, the man asked me where I was going, and I said Boston. He looked at me and said, "You're joking?" Nope, I sure wasn't! He took me over to another lady, explained that I was going to Boston. She looked at him, looked at me, and asked, "You're joking?" When I managed to convince that I was not trying to play a very terrible prank on them, they got me a boarding pass and asked one of the security guys to take me down to the gate express. (Naturally, my bag was subjected to a random search on the way there.) We got to the gate before they had finished boarding, so it wasn't too awful. My flight was rather uneventful (except that the girl next to me got up to use the bathroom twice), and things were quite nice when I got to Boston. I hadn't checked any baggage, so I got through passport control and customs very quickly and had plenty of time left to get to my gate, have some lunch, and even finish grading my students' papers.

My roommates picked me up in Dallas, and we stopped off and had some dinner on the way home. It turns out that Erin and our friends Matt and Kimberly were going to see King Kong at the midnight show, and they had one ticket left. After a long struggle with myself, I decided to go with them. We enjoyed it immensely. It was very intense, and I found myself squirming in my seat a lot. I really love Jack Black, though, and he was wonderful in this role. The special effects were fantastic, too. All in all, we had a good time.

The last quote was from Dickens's "A Christmas Carol."

"I have a plan."
"Oh, you have a plan. You, who are practically incapable of any thought entering your head that is not - trivial."
(13 points)

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

nothing particular

Well, here I am. I really wanted to post today mostly so that I could inform my acquaintance that I have a new desktop/wallpaper picture. It has a picture of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby from one of the "Road to" films (I'm not sure which one). I found it on this great website called Great stuff.

Bing Crosby is this month's star on TCM, and we enjoyed that thoroughly last night. We watched the end of a film called Going Hollywood, then Pennies from Heaven was on. "Pennies from Heaven" is one of my favorite songs, and it was fun to see and hear it in its world premiere context. After that, they had two of the "Road to" shows (Singapore and Zanzibar, the first two), and then they played three Bob Hope movies to fill up the wee hours of the night. I really wanted to watch Bob, but I knew I was too tired to stay up for long, so I decided to sleep in the living room with the TV on all night. That way, I reasoned, if I woke up during the night, I would have some Bob Hope to watch. I didn't wake up at all, and I woke this morning with a terrible headache. (Now that I think about it, we probably could have recorded the movies, but I didn't think of that at the time. It was late.)

I'm getting excited to go to England in two days. :) I need to spend the rest of the day here trying to finish up some of my work so that I'll be ready to leave then. I have lots of writing to do for the Teaching Composition class I had at the beginning of the semester -- we have to turn in a Writer's Notebook, but it is due at the end of the semester instead of in the middle, when the class actually ended. So now I have to finish up all that work. I also have to work on a set of phonology problems, and continue reading about syntax for my online Linguistics class (which I really wish I hadn't taken).

Somehow, this all reminded me that I wanted to tell Elizabeth in particular about our cool friend Andrew. Andrew is in our singles ward down here, and he's a Thurber. His last name is Thurber. Right after I first met him, I asked if he might be related to James Thurber, and to my surprise he said he was. Just the other day I was talking to his dad about it too, and he says they're related to James on two different lines. In fact, Myron (Andrew's dad) has all kinds of genealogy and family history information about the Thurbers, which has never been published. Having read some Thurber and seen a few pictures, I can see the resemblance in both Myron and Andrew -- both their looks and their humor remind me of James.

Well, I suppose I'd better get along now. The last quote was from The Spanish Prisoner, a movie I really enjoy. It's by David Mamet, who also did The Winslow Boy (thanks, Emily!). The full quote is actually, "It just shows to go ya, you never know who anybody is."

This next quote is from one of my all-time favorite works. I just ran across it again the other day, and I have a new appreciation for it now, having been to St. Paul's Churchyard, which is undoubtedly one of the most "breezy" spots on the face of the planet.

If we were not perfectly convinced that Hamlet's Father died before the play began, there would be nothing more remarkable in his taking a stroll at night, in an easterly wind, upon his own ramparts, than there would be in any other middle-aged gentleman rashly turning out after dark in a breezy spot -- say Saint Paul's Churchyard for instance -- literally to astonish his son's weak mind. (32 points)