Monday, December 19, 2011

Totally Egregious and Unnecessary and Possibly Sacrilegious Sports Post

The meek shall inherit the Earth--literally, that is.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Alumni Love

A hearty thanks to GW English for publicizing The Politics of Post-9/11 Music: Sound, Trauma, and the Music Industry in the Time of Terror. Brian Flota and I very much appreciate the love.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Judging a Book by Its Cover

I know that I'm not supposed to do it. But if I were to do it, I'd say this book looks awesome.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Nevermind that Price Tag

The edited collection that I compiled with the assistance of Brian Flota of the PoMo Jukebox and The Fiddleback has a presence on Amazon. This development is all very exciting despite the fact that most people will probably prefer to drop $100 on one of the many super-deluxe reissues of Nevermind that are hitting store shelves. I just ask that all of you consider that purchase very carefully. Really, do you need those boombox mixes?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Open for Business and Taking Orders

The program for the symposium Composing Disability: Writing, Communication, Culture has been revealed. Click over to the website for GWU's Office of Disability Support Services to download a copy of it!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Open for Business

Registration for the symposium Composing Disability: Writing, Communication, Culture, which I have organized with Robert McRuer, Abby Wilkerson, and Christy Willis, is open and is ready to receive your payments. Click here to go to the homepage of The George Washington University's Office of Disability Support Services where you will find a link for the registration form. I'll see all of you in November.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It Ain't No California University

I always thought they should have spent more time studying on that show. Brenda should have at least one Ph.D. by now.

Monday, August 22, 2011

It's Déjà vu All Over Again

If I hadn't already used up my quota of "coincidence" titles, I'd employ one for this post. As you'll see, Explosions in the Sky have yet again caused a controversy over the thin connections between their band name and 9/11. Of course, my sentence construction is a bit off, since the band didn't actually do anything to incite this uproar.

The bigger story is that my edited collection, The Politics of Post-9/11 Music: Sound, Trauma, and the Music Industry in the Time of Terror, dismantles these connections via a conversation with Chris Hrasky, Explosions' drummer. The book will be out soon, I can assure you.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Born to Run, Not to Deconstruct

Just the other day, I was completing a nine-mile recovery run. Despite having completed a hard long distance run the previous day, and despite suffering yet another of Washington, DC's unspeakably hot summer afternoons, I felt great--strong, confident, assured that I'll break my PR in the upcoming Army Ten Miler. Heck, it even seemed like, finally, my chronic painful struggles with posterior tibial tendinitis had subsided (for now).

Then, mere meters from the front of my condo building, I was shoved off of the sidewalk into a lane of moving traffic. The pedestrian who shoved me did so accidentally. He was standing in the middle of the sidewalk with a group of his friends, facing the opposite direction. He was chatting with them about something--plans for dinner, plans for the weekend, whatever--when he suddenly turned around and quite forcefully stepped right into me. He didn't have time to see me coming, nor did he, for whatever reason, anticipate that by clogging up the middle of the sidewalk, he would force other pedestrians to walk around him and his friends. Even though I was dutifully passing on the left, he still wound up walking into me, and the result was that he propelled me out into the street.

(On a sidenote, this kind of thing is precisely why I loathe people who walk with their cell phones, iPhones, iPods, etc. pressed firmly and, it seems, permanently against their heads. This is also the reason that I particularly loathe shopping at this place. On any given day, a solid 85% of the store's patrons are walking about sealed off from the outside would via some form of auditory stimulation. In more simple terms, no one pays attention to where the eff they are or what the eff they are doing. And the store just isn't big enough for that kind of aloofness. The same goes, obviously, for most city sidewalks. Folks, it's dangerous to other pedestrians when you, as a pedestrian, are not paying attention. Get it? It's sort of like driving. But then, why do I suspect that you drive just like you walk?)

In any case, the gentleman who knocked me into the street was apologetic. At the time, I was a bit stunned, and a bit annoyed. I was also concerned because I was a sweaty mess, and I knew that I smeared myself all over what appeared to be his relatively nice outfit. So much for those dinner plans. In any case, I didn't respond to the man in any meaningful way. I merely got up, brushed myself off, and finished my jog. Sir, if you are reading this post, no worries. It was an accident.

It wasn't until later in the evening--perhaps not coincidentally, as I was walking home from a typically far-too-long shopping experience at my favorite supermarket--that I realized I could have been seriously, seriously hurt had there been a car or bus in that particular lane of traffic. As I thought back to my actions, I was pretty sure that I would not have attempted to pass that gentleman had there been cars in the street; in fact, I knew that the lane was empty when I made my move to the left side of the sidewalk. Nevertheless, the thought that, in an instant, I could have ended up in the hospital with at least several broken bones (at best) left me quite cold--and I haven't been able to shake the feeling that I was really lucky yesterday afternoon. Honestly, I don't like being lucky. I like being safe.

Perhaps what is more troubling to me is the thought that I would have been deeply upset had my running career been compromised. In all likelihood, given the speed at which cars and buses and trucks can travel on that particular street, my running career would have been permanently compromised, because a direct hit by any of those automobiles would have likely left me paralyzed to some degree. The man literally knocked me into the middle of the street, so any kind of hit would have been a direct one, right against my back.

Now, I suppose that it's completely natural for me to feel this way--for me to be simultaneously shaken by that experience while also feeling like I'd be really, really pissed if I couldn't run anymore. Not to mention, no one likes being hit by a car. Still, it's hard for me to reconcile my professional interest in, and passion for, disability studies with my longer, more ingrained (and frankly, more successful) stint as a competitive runner.

See, I've been running competitively since I was in the sixth grade. I was born to do it. It's the only activity for which I have any glimmer natural talent. Also, I love it. I love the aches in my legs the day after a brutal speed workout. I love blasting around a track, my lungs sucking in oxygen like some enormous carburetor. I love wandering around the city on elongated leisurely distance runs, finding my way home, stumbling on forgotten trails and tiny, hidden parks. Moreover, I love the competition--the pure unadulterated competition--of the sport.

Yes, I know I sound like an evil capitalist here. Honestly, that doesn't bother me too much. Heck, running, for most of us anyway, pits people against a clock of all things. The whole sport is about efficiency, productivity, and the like. It's also a sport that emphasizes rugged individualism. There aren't many people who want to run 13+ miles at a given time, which means that many of us--not all, mind you--end up running on our own. "What do you do when you're out there for all that time?", I am often asked. Typically, I respond snarkily, "I don't like people very much. Long distance running allows me to leave them all behind--literally." I'm not entirely joking when I say those kinds of things.

Despite how horrible all of that might sound to some, I'll defend it rigorously until arthritis sets in. And even then, I'll still probably defend it. That kind of thinking is hardwired into my consciousness, and I doubt that much of it will change as I continue aging. Granted, I know that not every long distance runner thinks this way. But I do, and that's fine with me. (Also, for those of you who loathe capitalism, you might ponder the significance of countries like Ethiopia and Kenya--places well outside of the "first world"--absolutely dominating this sport.)

The point is that had something disabling happened to me, I would have been angry--for a long, long time. I just started racing ten milers a few years ago--graduate school held up my racing career for a bit--and after just a handful of them, I've whittled my time down to 1:00:26. The goal is to get under that hour. I think I can do that in the fall. I've been working hard to do that since last fall, and if my training were permanently altered because of a car accident, I don't know what I would do with myself.

It's for this very reason that running is a perfect case study for disability theory. Runners of virtually any distance are terrorized by the thought of injury--let alone actual injuries. We spend a good portion of our athletic lives worrying about injuries, performing all manner of preventative exercises--from regular icing to stretching and core strengthening--to prevent injuries, and, usually, treating injuries. The great thing about running is that it is a sport in which people can engage well into their adult lives because it only requires a pair of shoes. One of the downsides to that longevity is that the further runners get away from formal institutionalized performance spaces--organized official teams, training facilities, etc.--the less access we have to the kinds of resources, like trainers and physical therapists, we need to maintain the kind of consistent running that is required of any training program. And believe me, paying for those services out of pocket, or even convincing your primary care physician to write a referral for physical therapy, is just about as painful as being injured.

The point is that running and injury are largely intermingled. They are not, as it would seem, mutually exclusive. Though, disability writers like Alex Lubet have started to look at the ways in which professional musicians are similarly terrorized by the threat of injury (and the difficulty of receiving dependable, affordable treatment for those injuries), from what I have seen--and, of course, I haven't seen it all--disability studies has not looked extensively at athletics in this way. The bulk of disability scholarship that I've read tends to pathologize athletes, contending that athletics prioritize able-bodiedness, while marginalizing the disabled to the denigrating realm of "special" competitions. These claims certainly have sizable teeth. However, I think a more nuanced approach, one that looks at how most (able-bodied) athletes already understand themselves as disabled, is necessary.

Moreover, I've always felt that disability studies moves too quickly to a what-are-you-going-to-do-about-it-? position. Since the field was born out of absolutely necessary social activism that needed to contend for access and civil liberties of virtually all kinds, I absolutely get that position. 1990 was far too late in America's history for these matters to come to the forefront. In that light, it's absolutely necessary to force the powers that be to answer the question: what are you going to do about it? Nevertheless, I've consistently maintained that disability studies needs to leave room for mourning--that it needs to leave room for disabled people, particularly those who become disabled at some point in their lives (which is, of course, one of the central claims of disability studies--we'll all be disabled if we live long enough), to mourn the loss of their bodies. It doesn't particularly matter how illusionary the wholeness of any "able body" might be. The point is that the loss of a particular kind of embodiment, and the daily activities that go along with that kind of embodiment, can be painful, perhaps even more so than the event that caused the disability. In my case, for instance, I know that the elongated trauma of having to let go of my ability to run would far outlast the physical pain of the potential car accident I almost suffered. There has to be some way for disability studies to validate that position.

As I was pondering all of these imagined scenarios, and certainly as I've been typing this post, I knew that one obvious response would be the following: "Well, you said you always wanted to race ten miles in under an hour. Even if you were paralyzed, you could still reach your goal." Believe me, I know that. Yet, I still can't seem to blend comfortably the thing that I was born to do (run) with the thing that I learned how to do (deconstruct). (Also, as I've already mentioned, I'm better at running than I am at deconstructing.) All of which is why there is a handy comments section below. That's the place where all of you can run your mouths on this matter.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Coincidence? I Think Not!

Really, the striking similarities between the following two album covers are rife for some kind of Hipster Runoff snark:

I really can't believe that no one has made any jokes about these indie dudes recoding "dreamy" "ethereal" lo-fi music "awash" in synth sounds alone in their bedrooms, only to adorn their record covers with photos of people getting it on. Wet dreams? Musical masturbation? Anyone? Can anyone fashion something funny out of that? Bueller?

Or has this whole trend just gotten creepy?

Or irritating?

I'm going with irritating.

And maybe with creepy, too.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Composing Disability

For the past 2+ years, I have been busy planning a university-wide symposium that will bring together composition studies and disability studies folks to discuss, well, composition studies and disability studies. The title of the symposium is Composing Disability: Writing, Communication, Culture, and the detailed overview is available on GWU's Disability Support Services' website. RSVP information forthcoming.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Slow Start

Well, it's been a somewhat slow start to my summer research duties. Teaching has been keeping me reasonably busy. However, I have been able to knock off about six books from my big summer reading list.

Also, the assorted logistical tasks that I've been completing per the request of Ashgate Publishing have paid some pretty substantial dividends, as the anthology that I have been co-editing, The Politics of Post 9/11 Music: Sound, Trauma, and the Music Industry in the Time of Terror, now has a publication date and an official web presence! Exciting times indeed.

I have also created a Twitter account to publicize my various publication work. A link to that account will be available shortly for anyone who is interested. In the meantime, savor the joy of the Heat's loss.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Summer Send Off

Once again, it is the time of year when all of my students leave me all alone. Sure, some of them are still hanging around in the contributors column, but they're starting to get a bit antsy and uncomfortable, I think, and I'm not sure how much longer they want to be pinned to this blog's wall.

What makes this year's summer send off a bit more somber is that it is, quite likely, the end of my time teaching for my esteemed university's English department. In just a few short months, I will be moving over to GWU's College of Professional Studies, which will be exciting! However, I will miss my office on the sixth floor of the towering Rome Hall. Such is life.

So in the spirit of summer, I'm posting what is essentially my entire summer reading list in hope that posting this list will force me to read all of the books on it. I'm also open to dialogue about this list in the comments section below.
If I get through all of those books, it will have been a good summer. If I do not get through all of those books, it probably will be because I was having a good summer. It's a win win.

And speaking of winning, please Celtics, for the love of all that is holy and good and pure in this world, do not lose tonight.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Talkin' 'Bout Your Generation?

The LA Times Review

Our Generation

Our discussion today made me think about this article I had read in the New York Times. It talks about today's college students and how they use Business as a default major. It also discusses that students who are not in Ivy League business schools do not work hard at all--they are very lazy and do just enough to skate by through college. I thought this was pretty interesting, especially because at least four of my friends from home are potential/ current business majors.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Does Literature Even Matter?

Last week, we talked briefly about the purpose of literature and its role as a "performance." It was towards the end of class, so we didn't have much time to discuss, and I was curious as to what everyone thought about this topic. What does literature accomplish? Now that we are finishing up the semester, I think this is a good, broad question to ask. I'm an English major, and I've always pondered this. I haven't taken Critical Methods yet, but I hear that this is one of the major questions that class aims to answer. Writers oftentimes write stories that respond to the social and political tensions of their time period, but they do not necessarily go out and act upon the message they send to their readers. Can literature inspire readers to act, or is literature simply a "performance" meant to entertain? Thoreau himself once said, "How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I Also Know Something that You Don't Know

Or at least something that you might not know--namely that The Princess Bride is fantastic representation/satire of the medieval romance. Check the clip below. Yes, you should be asking yourselves why they would not fight with their right hands from the start. It's inconceivable that they would not do that.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hollingsworth's Birthday Party

Would it be this much fun?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Analyzing Fiction

I've wondered throughout the semester what role an author's life play in analyzing fiction or nonfiction. We've seen how authors can almost be seen as "ghosts" through time in that they are able to step out and see things nobody else can see. However, for example, John Winthrop, author of the sermon City Upon a Hill, was a lawyer before delivering his sermon. He uses legal language throughout the sermon. Walt Whitman, an assumed homosexual, reveals hints of his homosexuality in his poetry specifically in Leaves of Grass. How much does an author's life or even life experiences shape the literature they write? How much of it is something we subconciously seek? Are author's truly "ghosts" through time or are they humans like the rest of us?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Would you grant Dickinson immunity . . .

if you were stranded on the island with her?

Poem 1263

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away,
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry –
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll –
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears a Human soul.

All together now:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Romanticism?! Where did you come from?

I know it is a bit early to be posting on "The Blithedale Romance", but I simply could not suppress my urge to post about the preface. I almost jumped out of my seat when I read the following lines: "In the old countries, with which Fiction has long been conversant, a certain conventional privilege seems to be awarded to the romancer...". Hawthorne goes on to further speak of the romantic "genre", hinting that his following text will belong to the "genre".

I'm not sure why (and I'm not sure if I am the only one) but this whole time I always thought of these waves of genres (romanticism, realism, modernism, etc.) to come naturally with the evolution of literature. At no point did I think that the authors could be as conscious of their era as we are now with hindsight.

I don't want to say that the preface completely shattered my appreciation of the romantic era, but it definitely made me question how authentic the authors' inspirations to write within the "genre" were. Did Thoreau really think that life was better in the forest or was he simply contributing to an artificially formed movement? Did Whitman believe in his image of America or was he simply writing what he thought Emerson wanted to hear?

Hawthorne was one of the later writers in the romantic era so I suppose he had to have some context of romanticism, after all Kurt Cobain knew that grunge was dying with his band, but where, how and why do these era's begin and end? Who were the true believers (if any) of romanticism and who was just trying to cash in on the cannon? Why does Literature (and music for that matter) travel in different waves, is it impossible to write completely without influence? And if so where do new eras spring up from?

These are lofty questions and I feel as if I have answered many in them in my mind while writing this post, but what do you guys think?

Monday, April 11, 2011

I Told You That Intro to American Lit Was Relevant to All of Your Lives

Believe me yet?

Below is a clip of a high school production of The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail. I'm not so sure that those chairs are authentically nineteenth-century handiwork, though.

Friday, April 8, 2011


In 19th century, Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson are pioneers of the development of American poetry. They have such a great influence that any current poet in American has somehow “raised up” by both of them, which is the same as the influence that Li Bai and Du Fu have on the Chinese poetry world.

Li Bai (ca 705 - 762), also called Li Po, is one of the China's most famous poets. A commentary that focuses on his connection to the Qing has been written. Ronald Egan writes in this literal work (Controversy, p.53), "In the first centuries of the Tang dynasty, the poets Meng Haoran and Li Po further promoted the cultivation of a special literati affiliation with this instrument." “BRINGING IN THE WINE”, one of his greatest artworks, belongs to the old genre of folk-song-styled-verseswith its content focus on the drinking party and amusement. We talked about Whitman’s “Song of myself” as his autobiography. This piece by Li Bai also on some extend reflected his personal journey over the years. The poem expresses his exclamation with the emotion of having genius but unrecognized, as well as the pessimistic idea that people should enjoy pleasure of their short life in good time. However, he also expresses his self-affirmation, the positive and unrestrained attitude to pursue freedom, which is derived and converted from the extreme pressure of the society and contradiction between reality and ideal. Below is the translation of this great artwork in Chinese history.

See how the Yellow River's waters move out of heaven.

Entering the ocean, never to return.

See how lovely locks in bright mirrors in high chambers,

Though silken-black at morning, have changed by night to snow.

...Oh, let a man of spirit venture where he pleases

And never tip his golden cup empty toward the moon!

Since heaven gave the talent, let it be employed!

Spin a thousand pieces of silver, all of them come back!

Cook a sheep, kill a cow, whet the appetite,

And make me, of three hundred bowls, one long drink!

...To the old master, Cen,

And the young scholar, Danqiu,

Bring in the wine!

Let your cups never rest!

Let me sing you a song!

Let your ears attend!

What are bell and drum, rare dishes and treasure?

Let me be forever drunk and never come to reason!

Sober men of olden days and sages are forgotten,

And only the great drinkers are famous for all time.

...Prince Chen paid at a banquet in the Palace of Perfection

Ten thousand coins for a cask of wine, with many a laugh and quip.

Why say, my host, that your money is gone?

Go and buy wine and we'll drink it together!

My flower-dappled horse,

My furs worth a thousand,

Hand them to the boy to exchange for good wine,

And we'll drown away the woes of ten thousand generations

Ancient Chinese Poetry

During this week we’ve been talking about Whitman’s “Song of Myself” and the musical elements in it. Well, creating poems in the form of songs is actually another characteristics of ancient Chinese poem. Before printing technology was invented, people often times pass those poems generation by generation through singing. Now there are collections of these poems recorded after characters were created. In Chinese history throughout different dynasties, poetry is often expressed with musical or incantatory effects by means such as assonance, rhythm, onomatopoeia, etc.

The lyric of the Song Dynasty is one of the representative examples, which could be considered as written songs. Most of the poems do not even have their own title, but they are named after an original tune pattern. Composers and writers used this melody to write a new poem, which is the reason why we often see the same title for two different poems, like "Butterflies love blossoms", Man ting fang "Scent fills the hall", or "Lady Yu". There are more than 800 tune patterns.

During Song Dynasty, two different styles of poetry were developed, the "heroic abandon" and the "delicate restraint". Song Ci lyric became very popular even during the Qing Dynasty. There are some famous Song poets, like Wang Yucheng (954-1101), Liu Yong (980-1053), Yan Shu (991-1055), Wang Anshi (1021-1086), Huang Tingjian (1045-1105), Qin Guan (1049-1100), Li Qingzhao (1084-1155), Jiang Kui (1155-1221), etc.

The video clip presents an early form of Lyric in ancient China around 500 BC that is sung by a court dancer. It tells a story of a Chinese Cinderella that falls in love with a prince. Her performance expresses her affection and passion, in an emotional and elegant way.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Go Forth!

Just thought I would post this since we didn't get to discuss the commercial at length in class today. What Whitman-esque themes do you see in the commercial? Why might Levis decide this is a good marketing tool over the less conservative (?) work of the beat generation? If Whitman's work is seemingly outdated as we discussed in class why might they use this poem? The commercial got a lot of attention when it came out and most likely resulted in a boom in sales. The mixture of nature, (homo)sexuality, youth and romanticism seem to be the themes pulled from Whitman in the commercial, I guess my overarching question to you is why?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tomb-Sweeping Day

There are differences and similarities between Western and Eastern culture. One thing I really enjoy of this class is it helps me explore American culture through literature. Literature as a form of art expresses culture. Since I am in charge of blogging this week, I decide to use this platform to introduce some Chinese culture that could be related to what we have been discussing. Few weeks ago, we talked about “Thanatopsis” by Bryant. In this poem, Bryant mentions returning to nature after death. Also, Easter is approaching along with the nice weather outside. In China, we also have a traditional holiday has a relation to that- the Tomb- Sweeping Day aka Qing Ming festival.

Tomb Sweeping Day, as one of the few traditional Chinese holidays that is celebrated two weeks after the vernal equinox, typically falling on April 4, 5, or 6. It is a festival for holding memorial ceremony for people’s lost relatives and ancestors. It is a time to express one's grief and sorrow for their loss, a time to celebrate the rebirth of nature, while marking the beginning of the planting season and other outdoor activities. At this time, spring returns and dominates the earth again. The feel of growing life is in the air, with sap ascending in trees and buds bursting. And the willow branches inserted on each gate add vigor and vitality to the surroundings.

In ancient times, people celebrated Tomb Sweeping Day with dancing, singing, picnics, and kite flying. Kites can come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and colors. People plant willows in front of their door to celebrate the renewing nature of spring. With the passing of time, this celebration of life became a day to the honor past ancestors. Following folk religion, Chinese people believe that the spirits of deceased ancestors bless their family.
Sacrificial offerings make them happy, and the family would prosper through good harvests and more children from such bless.

Today, Chinese visit their family graves at Qing Ming to weed out rank grass that has grown and swept away dust, and then place bland food by the tombs. One of the most traditional customs is that people kowtow in front of the graves to express respect and cherished memory of their ancestors. After that, people regularly provide sacrificial offerings, censers and burning incense at tables in their homes so as to expedite the transfer of nutritious elements to the ancestors and bring good luck.

Along with these traditions, there are also many poems about this special festival. One of them is called Qing Ming by Du Mu, a famous poet in China.

Qing Ming

Du Mu (Tang Dynasty: 803-852 AD)

It drizzles thick and fast on the Mourning Day,

The mourner travels with his heart lost in dismay.

When asked for a wineshop to kill his gloomy time,

A cowboy points at Almond Hamlet far away.

Translated by: Weixiong Wu

Monday, April 4, 2011

Please Kill Me...The Uncensored Oral History of Punk

Today in class when talking about Whitman and comparing it to that modern day punk band, I couldn't help but think of a book I read last year. It's called "Please Kill Me...The Uncensored Oral History of Punk" by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain. It's a history of punk from the people who lived it, so the entire book is basically years of interviews. People like Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Richard Hell and a lot of other musicians at the time are featured.

It's a really great read. Easily one of the best books about music that I've ever read. I think it's poignant for our class when talking about romanticism, because this book romanticizes this harsh punk world making it almost seem normal, then everything just falls apart and the ugliness of the world is apparent. Thinking about it, it kind of reminds me of the transition from Romanticism to Realism. But maybe I'm just thinking way too much about this!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

America: The Poem

In Nature and The Poet, Emerson fixates on the concepts of clear vision (his idea that the poet can clearly see, understand, and articulate nature into a "stroke of genius") and "perpetual youth." Through this, he claims that America is a poem itself. In class we discussed that America represents perpetual youth because at the time Emerson was alive, America was a very new nation with an unexplored frontier. Along with Bryant's idea of nature ("Man hath no part in all this glorious work"), both of these writers felt that America alone was a poem and needed no translation from man. But today, almost 200 years later, there is very little nature left to be explored and observed. There seems to be poetry about human plight and urbanization, and the phase of Romanticism and appreciating the beauty of nature in great detail has been filed away on the bookshelves in our anthologies. Also, there are so many people today who label themselves poets, and who think each line they post on the internet is the work of a genius. What do you think Emerson would say about poets today? Do poets still posses clear vision? And is America still a poem, or has its "perpetual youth" run out?

Looking at the cover of our handy dandy Norton Anthology Volume B, the painting of the Hudson River Valley is the perfect example of Emerson's nature:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Just some thoughts on the poet and the scientist

Left: the poet's interpretation of nature :)
Right: the scientist's interpretation of nature :o
Today we were discussing the differences between the poet and the scientist and as the day went on I thought more about it. I believe the relationship between poetry and science, though they seem fairly different, is complicated and can only be looked at as opposite ends of the same spectrum. Poets are more in tuned with the beauty of the natural world, while scientists are more comfortable with explaining what happens in the natural world. It is a complicated relationship to establish, but the connection that brings them together on the same tangent is the need to understand the natural world. It seems as if Emerson describes the poet as being able to understand the language of the world and therefore being able to understand the world but only the beauty of natural creation, while the scientist attempts to understand the behavior of the natural world instead of what it is communicating to him/her.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

"The Big Apple:" Good or Bad?

I want to expand upon a previous post to this blog titled "Cities in Literature." I was very captivated by Lydia Maria Child's Letters from New-York, as I live an hour outside of New York City and visit there regularly. She mentions places I like to go to, like Broome Street and The Battery. It was interesting for me to compare her observations of NYC in the 19th century with mine in the 21st century. While I view NYC as an inspirational, cultural hub where anybody can be whomever they want to be, she presents a more raw, harsh observation of New York and explores the contradictions within the city, from its poverty to its beauty. For those New Yorkers out there, or for those tourists of New York, what were your reactions to this reading? Or, how could you relate it to what you see in Washington, D.C.? I find myself arguing with friends here who have visited NYC a few times and dislike it compared to Washington. What do you think about "The Big Apple"?

I couldn't help but thinking about Bret Easton Ellis's postmodern novel American Pyscho, especially when she mentions Wall Street on the first page, page 1081, poverty in Letter XIV, and women's rights in Letter XXXIV. American Psycho is a reaction to the high crime rates in the 1980's in New York City, and the main character, unlike Child, has little sympathy for the poor or for women. This novel has stuck with me, not because I think it is so well-written, but because it is so disturbing. For those of you who have read the novel or have seen the film, what do you make of this more contemporary portrayal of New York City compared to Child's less gruesome, 19th century version? I suggest reading this article on the book, if you're interested in learning more about it and think you can stomach it.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Nation vs. Race

Apess's "An Indian's Looking-Glass for the White Man" is a religious essay about what Apess called color prejudice and what we call racism today. This may just be a matter of semantics, but I noticed that Apess never uses the word "race" in this essay. I don't know very much about the origins of the word "race," but according to this website, the word originated around 1500. Therefore, the word "race" was used in American writings in the 19th century, but it does not appear once in this essay.

Instead, Apess uses the word "nation" quite a bit, especially in the final paragraph on page 1054. He indirectly says that whites, not Indians, can be charged with "robbing a nation almost of their whole continent, and murder their women and children" and with robbing "another nation to till their grounds and welter out their days under the lash with hunger and fatigue under the scorching rays of a burning sun" (1055). The footnote makes clear that the second quote references "the 'nation' of Africa, many of whose people were brought to the United States as slaves."

Why does Apess refer to Indians and Africans as nations instead of as races? How does this relate back to Benedict Anderson's "Imagined Communities," and the idea that nations are socially constructed? Sociologists also argue that race is a social construct. Do you agree? Also, when I first read this essay, I thought that Apess's main argument is that people of color are equal to whites and should be regarded as such. However, in this paragraph, he says "Assemble all nations together in your imagination ... Now suppose these skins were put together, and each skin had its national crimes written upon it—which skin do you think would have the greatest?" (1054). Here, and in the quotations above, it seems to me that Apess is implying that other races are morally superior to whites. What do you make of this?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Yes We Can?

In the spirit of reform week or reform literature and since we go to GW, we can never escape politics. President Obama was elected due to many reasons some but not all include 1) economic downturn 2) President Bush being a Republican 3) young 4) charismatic 5) lest not we forget CHANGE.
Don't get me wrong, Obama has tried hard time and time again to reform Washington (good luck with that) and yet time and time again people aren't buying into it. This got me thinking about William Apess and his calls for change. Have we really changed since he wrote An Indian's Looking Glass for the White Man? Whether we like it or not we are still a racist as well as a sexist society. (Woman make 75% of what men make) Can we call ourselves a democracy? Native Americans are still a disenfranchised group. I guess the ultimate question in all this is:

Why is change hard? And more importantly:

Why do we call for change and yet we oppose it?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

John Winthrop and Apess

I must be in a Winthrop mood this semester because I see him everywhere. Winthrop and Apess pieces were written with the intention of being spoken aloud. Both men wrestle with the notion of love...Apess sees love as a way of creating a more perfect Union however Winthrop sees love as creating that Union. How are Apess and Winthrop's delivery styles different?

To start things off, Apess is far more different direct with the reader "let me ask you" or even better "let me ask you, white man". Apess is more in your face than Winthrop. His questions make you feel uneasy almost shameful feeling: (p. 1054 middle)

"I am not seeking for office, but merely placing before you the black inconsistency that you place before me--which is ten times blacker than any skin you will find in the universe."

- Apess wordplay involving is genius here when i think of inconsistency i think of gray yet he paints it as black...what is he getting at?

The American Religion

William Apess' uses religion as the backbone to his argument that Native Americans should have the same rights a white people in America. Beginning to read, I quickly thought back to Mary Rowlandson and how (frustratingly so) much she used religion in her tale of captivity. Religion served as the set of principles for the early American settlers which made me wonder what Americans use now as their guides. What set of morals, if any, could Apess use as the center of his argument if he were still fighting for Native American rights. Has the difference between the Republican and Democrat agenda's become our new set of morals and thus our new religion? Is there no set of morals to turn to in a country where religion is slowly beginning to deteriorate?

Friday, February 25, 2011

The World is Gunna Know Your Name, Man!

Sorry folks, but I'm going to direct our attention back to Benjamin Franklin for a few moments. As the architect of the American Dream, Franklin believed in self-help, personal responsibility, and perseverance. Recently I found a video that portrays Alexander Hamilton as a man who embodied the American Dream more than, if I may be so bold, than our dear Ben Franklin. I was surprised to learn the hardships Hamilton had to endure in order to make it in America. Also, I was impressed by the presentation of Hamilton's story through contemporary poetry (aka rap). While I'm on that subject, what do you think of rap as an art?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sleepy Hollow - The Musical!

Oh, yes, I'm serious.

After a brief Google search on "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", I discovered that Washington Irving's famous tale was actually turned into a full-fledged musical. Apparently the original show is no longer running (its website isn't up anymore) but here is a link to the most famous song from the project: (It's not half bad - unless you shy away from any kind of theatrical music - then you'll hate it)

I found another musical adaptation to the story here:
Looks like it plays in an outdoor theater around Halloween every year.

Once you get past the strange image of Ichabod and Brom singing their hearts out, it is interesting to think about how the musical fits into Sleepy Hollow's (and Irving's) legacy. Almost 200 years after the work was published, it is still being changed and interpreted by admirers around the world. Quite an impressive feat. Do you think this story deserves all of the attention it has gotten? Why are people drawn to it? And most importantly, would you pay money to see the Headless Horseman croon?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sleepy Hollow lacks "The Legend"

How would Washington Irving feel about Tim Burton’s film “adaptation” of his story called Sleepy Hollow?

I recently watched Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow and noticed the vast differences between the film and Washington Irving’s short story.

There are many differences between the short story and the recent film adaptation (which came out in 1999). Firstly, in the film Crane is a police officer, not a school teacher. Also, people are actually killed in the film, unlike the short story. Irving may not have liked so many plot changes.

But the biggest thing that probably would have upset Irving was the depiction of the Headless Horseman. In the short story, it implies that the Headless Horseman may have been Brom Bones in disguise. In the film, the Headless Horseman is real and terrorizes the town’s residents. In order to defeat the horseman, Crane reattaches its head and the Horseman is sent to hell. Irving is probably rolling in his grave.

The film completely misses the marks and the themes that Washington Irving conveyed. The book details about how the town believes in the Headless Horseman and carries on the legend by word of mouth, basically throwing out all natural and logical reasons for things in favor of the supernatural. The film shows the townspeople ought to be afraid for a reason. Also, the film shows that the Headless Horseman is real and in the short story it is not true. Irving is trying to show in his short story the power of legend and telling stories has, and proves this by showing in the end that the Headless Horseman is a myth all along.

Do you think that Washington Irving would like that his story has become a classic and has other artists try to convey his work? Or would Irving be upset that the popular film is nothing like his story?

The Network of American Writers

Was anyone else a bit dumbfounded when they read pages 944 and 945 of Volume B? These outlined an extensive, intricate network of American writers from 1820-1865. They all had contact with and influenced each other's most famous works! I found it incredible that the sphere of writing was this small. I started to compare it to today's world of literature and I feel that there are very few similarities.

Do famous writers today reach out to one another for advice and help? Who is our modern day Emerson? Thoreau? Dickinson? If they're not talking with one another, should they be? My inkling is that yes, communication and cooperation are crucial for the expansion and development of ideas. Society has changed though, and there is no doubt that most of us are self-centered when it comes to success. Perhaps the lack of fame and fortune made it easier for authors to be open and honest with each in the 19th century. With the millions of dollars and movie deals that are on the line today, we're a lot more reserved when it comes to sharing our thoughts. Unless, of course, the publishing deal is already on the table!

Any thoughts?

Founding Pirates

The piracy of music and movies came about with the advent of technology and has been hurtful to both industries. Some might even say that it has discouraged the output of new films and music due to the lack of money to be made. Based on the Norton introduction to Volume B, it would appear as if our founding fathers had the same problems, but in a different way:

"A national copyright law became effective in the United States in 1790, but not until 1891 did U.S. writers get international copyright protection and foreign writers receive similar protection in the United States. For most of the century, American publishers routinely pirated English writers, paying nothing to Scott, Dickens, and other popular writers for works sold widely in inexpensive editions throughout the United States. American readers benefited from the situation, but the availability to publishers of texts that they did not have to purchase or pay royalties on made it perpetually difficult for U.S. writers to be paid for their work in their home country." (935)

Perhaps this is why everyone finds Volume A of the Norton so boring, because the copy-write laws weren't signed until after the civil war...

Is there any way we could learn from past mistakes in history based on this similar conundrum? The above problem was obviously solved with copy-write laws, but now that such laws already exist and are still being broken how can we possibly fix the problem? While the internet has made it easier for smaller artists to get exposed, they are still not making any money off of their myspace plays and even the ones that do get signed to labels aren't making enough to sustain themselves. The only two real solutions I can think of would be for labels to make music downloadable for free and make money off advertising or for the internet to be monitored. Both solutions seem ridiculous but something must be done to save the arts.

Cities in Literature

The introduction to Volume B of the Norton Anthology discusses how literature was influenced by the social/political culture of certain eras. One of the ideas talked about was urbanization in the 1800s and how that led to writing about "mysteries of the city" (937). In general, literature is closely tied to the concept of setting - either the home/travels of the author or the way a real place comes to life in his/her imagination.

If I think about contemporary Washington DC, I see a relationship between literature and setting in many ways. Dan Brown comes to my mind (ignoring the quality of the writing) because his latest book "The Lost Symbol" dealt with DC's monuments, heroes, and potential dark side. We as residents of the city are given a sense of pride when we read about it while readers who don't live in the city they are reading about feel a sense of wonder. What other values do we see in urban literature?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It always comes back to Benedict Anderson

With all this scandalous talk of whether or not Olaudah Equiano actually was taken from Africa and traveled through the Middle Passage to America, and how it affects the authenticity of The Interesting Narrative, it brought me back to a passage in Chapter 2 of the narrative, of which I had circled and starred and wrote 'Benedict Anderson!' in the margin when I read it. The passage reads:
"The[ manners and customs of my country] have been implanted in me with great care, and made an impression on my mind, which time could not erase, and which all the adversity and variety of fortune I have since experienced, served only to rivet and record; for, whether the love of one's country be real or imaginary, or a lesson of reason, or an instinct of nature, I still look back with pleasure on the first scenes of my life, though that pleasure has been for the most part mingled with sorrow"

We had discussed in class that, even if the community of a nation is 'imagined' as Anderson says, it still effectively instills pride for one's country, and a bond between citizens of the country. How does this reconcile with this passage from Equiano's narrative, with the knowledge that Equiano may not have actually ever lived in Africa and danced the tribal dances? I personally felt that, whether this was Equiano's story or not, it is definitely someone's story, and still holds a lot of truth and authenticity. Perhaps, though Equiano claimed it has his own, it serves as the collective story of all the slaves brought to America from Africa, and although the author didn't personally experience it, many others did, and that's what makes the love of their country 'real'.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Olaudah Equiano bought his freedom for 40 pounds. This fact, stated in his biographical exerpt, made me think about the importance of money and the various aspects of freedom. Yes it is good he was able to buy his freedom, as it was his best shot at being his own man. On the other hand, the fact that liberty can be bought strikes me as questionable, and I wonder if this is a trend that my idealism helps me ignore. Does freedom always mean the same thing, no matter how it is gained?

Not to stretch too far, but I feel this connects somehow to the events in Egypt and other countries involved in political change because in class we discussed the construction of America and its values. Where do we find the balance between our ideals and the practicality of enforcing them?

Check out this article:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Who is actually 'civilized'?

Our discussion in class today got me thinking. Crevecoeur, or the narrator of Letters From an American Farmer, Farmer James, wrote out a whole plan for escaping 'civilization', and becoming adopted by and assimilated to a Native American tribe, to live simply with them, the 'savage' ones, away from everything. But who really are the savages here? Farmer James in his letters also tells us the horrifying account of a slave being punished by being left to die in a cage in a tree, being picked at by all sorts of insects and birds of prey. He tells of how hunting, without also growing ones' own crops, makes the spirit mean and greedy. With all these not-so-civil-sounding things happening in the world, it led me to question who exactly is civilized? How do we define 'civilization'? Could it perhaps be the other way around? Were the natives the civilized ones, and the Americans the savages? That question led me to the beginning lyrics of the well known song in Disney's Pocahontas, Colors of the Wind:
"You think I'm an ignorant savage
And you've been so many places
I guess it must be so
But still I cannot see
If the savage one is me
How can there be so much that you don't know?"

How would Crevecoeur respond to that song? Thoughts?

100 Years From Now

Looking a hundred years into the future what do we think that the future students would say about the Letters From An American Farmer? Will this "machine" that we discussed for the brief time in class slow down or at least leave certain areas alone. I think it is safe to say that it will never stop because I don't think its possible. I say this because I live in a community that is mostly farming and have notice over time how land has been lost due to expansion of cities and most recent the airport taking my neighbors land to extend the runway 1000 feet. What happens when the land is gone and the "machine" has no where to go? As long as I am asking this right What might the future students say that differs from what was said in class or what might they say in general due to the way things are going now? I hope I am making some sense here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Benjamin Franklin's Oscar Opinions

I know, I know, Benjamin Franklin lived and died long before the age of film, but Franklin always thought about the future. Besides being a thinker and inventor, he was also very much involved in designing an image for the United States when it first became a country. Now, long after Franklin’s death, a staple in American culture and how the rest of the world sees us is our film industry. The Academy Awards recognizes the best of the best in the film industry. Since it the Oscars are only a few weeks away and Ben Franklin had a lot of opinions about subjects, I thought it would be interesting to pick Franklin’s brain and figure out what his opinions are on the ten films nominated for “Best Picture”.

· 127 Hours- Great story of survival through every possible obstacle. Inspired Franklin and wishes the troops during the American Revolution could have seen it so it could have inspired them to survive. Oh well, we still won.

· Black Swan- Is a good look at a mental breakdown, seen through the eyes of the victim. Good psychological thriller, but not Franklin’s cup of tea.

· The Fighter- Good story, but wonders why Lowell (a city only forty-five minutes away from Boston) could be so trashy. Boston is Franklin’s first home and it gives Boston a bad rap.

· Inception- He thinks this movie is interesting and he loves that it makes you think. He loves the twist ending and that it leads the viewers up to their interpretation. Likes that it prompts discussions and analysis.

· The Kids are Alright- Families are a lot smaller than in Franklin’s time, where families had many children. This film confuses but enlightens Franklin on different types of families. He is pleasantly surprised.

· The King’s Speech- Well made, but he can not support it because of his Revolution mentality. He chooses not to support England or anybody named King George (no matter if it’s III or VI)

· The Social Network- Is impressed by the script and was surprised. He assumed that it would be a simple story over the founding of a website, but it is actually a story of friendship, power, and betrayal. If he didn’t know any better, it sounded like a plot of a Shakespearean drama.

· Toy Story 3- Likes the animation and the story of friendship. Can relate because it was hard for him to leave home at first too. Franklin also wishes he invented talking toys before he passed away.

· True Grit- Thought the acting was good but thought it was anti-climatic. Didn’t like the way that the US was betrayed. Franklin likes the city and has no desire to move to the country after seeing this western.

· Winter’s Bone- He, like the rest of the county, has never heard of this movie.

Benjamin Franklin’s choice winner: Inception, because he loves to think and pay attention for over two and a half hours at a time. It’s on his daily schedule.

Something New

I am one of those people that can stare at books for only so long. With all the reading I have to do then looking at the book background on this blog and I had to change it. I figured since Benjamin Franklin was also a man of science I would change the look of the blog to show something different. As far as I can recall at the moment Franklin didn't do anything with astronomy, (Feel free to correct me if I am wrong), but I put as a background on what I would call the ultimate science. Astronomy also happens to be my favorite. I will always understand science a thousand times better then I ever will literature. Just as we use these books of literature to understand the past, present, and possible future writers and their styles,, we also use telescopes (and writings of course) to understand the past, present, and future of the universe. Just some words of my wandering mind.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Jefferson against Universal Health Care?

In Notes on the State of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson (TJ) makes it really clear religion and government are two separate things and government should not enforce a religion. I came upon this quote on pg 662 that made me think...

"Was the government to prescribe to us our medicine and diet, our bodies would be in such keeping as our souls are now...Government is just as infallible too when it fixes systems in physics." (p. 662)

TJ' use of the word MEDICINE really stood out. Is he against Obamacare?

Don't get me wrong Jefferson is a true scholar, but that's his ultimate problem. As the father of American republicanism (agrian society and states rights), he (along with others) laid the seeds for the Civil War

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sororities: What Would Benedict Anderson Say?

When Benedict Anderson wrote about communities he was basing his ideas around nationalism and how it makes large groups of people imagine connections between themselves and those they will never meet. But that hasn't stopped me from trying to think of ways in which this idea of imagined communities could be brought down to a much smaller scale. I find the idea of communities being all in our heads oddly fascinating because it's one of those instances where I understand that it's a tad ridiculous to feel connected to people I will never truly know and yet I still have those sentiments. It's an odd phenomenon.

My most recent community of interest has been that of greek life organizations. I don't know if it's because rush and recruitment are in the air but it seems like I can't escape all of the brotherly and sisterly love! I wonder how the idea of a community is changed when you get to pick the people who are included in it. Are the connections more intense? It would seem as though a community such as a sorority should be more real (less imagined) than an entire nation . . . but is that really so? When I think of the "families" that are created it all just seems pretty inauthentic to me, pretty imagined. Especially the way that as soon as someone new is initiated the sisters claim to love that girl as if they've known her all their lives. It's all a bit over the top if you ask me. I'm not trying to offend people who are involved in greek life by any means! I just think it's interesting that small communities of people imagine bonds similar to those an entire nation creates, that on some level all communities (even close-knit ones) are imagined.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Women in the Hands of . . . ?

I don't know about the rest of you, but when I heard that Jonathan Edwards had writings that would be a lamb compared to the lion that was "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" I just had to see for myself. I looked through the Norton and found myself reading Edwards' tribute to Sarah Pierpont, the woman who would become his wife. I'll post an excerpt here for you all:

"They say there is a young lady in [New Haven] who is beloved of that almighty Being . . . [who] comes to her and fills her mind with exceedingly sweet delight, and that she hardly cares for anything, except to meditate on him - that she expects after awhile to be received up where he is, to be raised up out of the world and caught up into heaven; being assured that he loves her too well to let her remain at a distance."

~Jonathan Edwards "On Sarah Pierpont"

Well it looks like we found Edwards' soft side. I was pretty shocked to see that the same God who "holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider or some loathsome insect over the fire" could also be expected to sweep a woman off her feet and bring her right on up to heaven! Obviously the intent behind each writing is very different, but I found the way these two pieces contrast against each other to be intriguing. Can we reconcile a God who is so merciless but also so adoring?

Also, from my recent bouts of insomnia, I've been watching way too much reality TV and couldn't help but think of The Bachelor as I was reading this tribute. Bear with me for a minute here . . . "She is of a wonderful sweetness, calmness, and universal benevolence of mind. She will sometimes go about, singing sweetly, from place to [place]; and seems to be always full of joy and pleasure." Is it just me or does that sound an awful lot like how those in the fog of reality TV view the people they are falling in love with? As if they are perfect creatures with only pure sweetness to offer the world? Just food for thought.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Apprenticeship vs. Internship

This is completely random and not quite related to our reading. Well it kind of is. I was reading Ben Franklin's autobiography and on p. 480 it talks about how he served as an apprentice. According to Wikipedia, apprentices do "most of their training while working for an employer who helps the apprentices learn their trade, in exchange for their continuing labour for an agreed period after they become skilled". Ben Franklin's father was pushing for him to sign on as an apprentice to his brother to serve from the age of 12 to 21! He felt pressured and ended up eventually breaking from his brother after a few years. But it brought me to college we are all pressured to get internships. Maybe its more GW specifically or because we are in a city and we need to take advantage of those opportunities. Either way, its a great way to find out what you like...or don't like. I know people that do internships completely unrelated to their fields or what they want to do just simply to have it on their resume. These people aren't even paying you! I kind of wish I could just have an sounds much simpler. You get trained in what you are passionate about and then have guaranteed employment. Although I definitely did not know what I was interested in doing with my life when I was 12....I still thought I was going to be an olympic swimmer. Anyways, my friend just came back from studying abroad in Denmark and she said most people don't even go to graduate school because they basically get modern day apprenticeships. Saves money, time, ect. What are your thoughts? Do you like internships and the flexibility of choice (but the risk of unemployment) or the idea of an apprenticeship?

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Hey! I hope everyone had a great weekend. This is my first time blogging so I'm not quite sure what I'm doing and I apologize in advance for anything weird that I post this week. Anyways, as I was reading this morning I noticed a quote about a recurring theme we have discussed in class/from previous readings: "Under new economic and religious pressures, the idea of a "community" of mutually helpful souls was fast disappearing..." (p. 358). Earlier, the reading talks about the different ways that the 18th century brought about change. Given our discussions about communities, what do you think this quote is trying to imply? Did Winthrop's concept of community as a "city upon a hill" ever exist to begin with or was it "imagined"? Just some stuff to think about. Feel free to post any other thoughts/questions/observations!
See you bright and early,

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Our blog is awesome . . .

because it doesn't look like this. Click here to Geocitiesize the websites of your choice. And if I'm dating myself with this joke, because all of you--my students--are so youthful, just don't let me know, okay?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Totally Egregious and Unnecessary but Somewhat Timely Sports Post

Maybe I'm mistaken, but I'm not quite sure that ESPN's upcoming town hall meeting about race and athletes and MLK is historically accurate. Really, I don't remember the "I Have a Dream" speech reading thusly:

"I have a dream. A dream of contract extensions and no trade clauses. A dream of shoe deals and movie cameos. A dream in which black men can be perpetually portrayed as athletes and entertainers--and where they can be subject to extended analysis by snarky white commentators. Oh yes, I have a dream. A dream of a world where all black men have an equal opportunity to make the Top Ten Plays reel. A dream where black women will remain underrepresented in sports coverage of all kinds, and where the WNBA will receive less attention than hockey, which won't be covered at all."

Allow me to employ a sports metaphor to ask: Am I off base here?