Saturday, March 13, 2010

April 30th

This is coming to Phoenix's Dodge Theater April 30th:
Possibly the best tour title ever (his exit agreement with NBC even prohibited him from giving interviews until September, they really don't want him spreading any stories about what horrible people they are. Fortunately Andy Richter is doing it for him- did you see him guest hosting with Kelly on "Regis & Kelly" last week? It was awesome.) Also, Conan is not making any money off of this personally- he's doing all right with his $32.5 million from NBC, of course- but instead is employing his former staffers to work the tour.

So, I'm going to be 32 weeks along in this pregnancy tomorrow, and because of the horrible ending of the last one we're looking at inducing at the earliest at 36 weeks (April 12th) or at the latest April 26th. How bad would it be to take 5 day old, 1 week and 5 days old, or 2 weeks and 5 days old baby to a Conan show? It's never too early to teach them what's really funny in life, right?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Jane Austen is a Genius

Last night I was reading "Northanger Abbey," the fifth book of my journey through the writings of Jane Austen that I've undertaken this year. So far, its proving to be my least favorite; she uses a different writing style, the characters aren't nearly as likable, and the women are even less engaged in useful activities than her previous works.

But then last night, I read a passage that absolutely cracked me up and I had to get up in order to not wake up my sleeping husband. Silly young heroine Catherine Morland is talking to two of her older (and obviously wiser) friend:

Catherine begins with "I can read poetry and plays, and things of that sort, and do not dislike travels. But history, real solemn history, I cannot be interested in. Can you?"

"Yes, I am fond of history."

"I wish I were too. I read it a little as a duty; but it tells me nothing that does not either vex or weary me. The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars and pestilences in every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all, it is very tiresome; and yet I often think it odd that it should be so dull, for a great deal of it must be invention. The speeches that are put into the heroes' mouths, their thoughts and designs; the chief of all this must be invention, and invention is what delights me in other books."

"Historians, you think," said Miss Tilney, "are not happy in their flights of fancy. They display imagination without raising interest. I am fond of history, and am very well contented to take the false with the true. In the principal facts they have sources of intelligence in former histories and records, which may be as much depended on, I conclude, as anything that does not actually pass under one's own observation; and as for the little embellishments you speak of, they are embellishments, and I like them as such. If a speech be well drawn up, I read it with pleasure, by whomsoever it may be made; and probably with much greater, if the production of Mr. Hume or Mr. Robertson, than if the genuine words of Caractacus, Agricola, or Alfred the Great."

"You are fond of history! And so are Mr. Allen and my father; and I have two brothers who do not dislike it. So many instances within my small circle of friends is remarkable! At this rate, I shall not pity the writers of history any longer. If people like to read their books, it is all very well; but to be at so much trouble in filling great volumes, which, as I used to think, nobody would willingly ever look into, to be labouring only for the torment of little boys and girls, always struck me as a hard fate; and though I know it is all very right and necessary, I have often wondered at the person's courage that could sit down on purpose to do it."

"That little boys and girls should be tormented," said Henry," is what no one at all acquainted with human nature in a civilised state can deny; but in behalf of our most distinguished historians, I must observe, that they might well be offended at being supposed to have no higher aim; and that by their method and style they are perfectly well qualified to torment readers of the most advanced reason and mature time of life. I use the verb 'to torment,' as I observed to be your own method, instead of 'to instruct,' supposing them to be now admitted as synonymous."

"You think me foolish to call instruction a torment; but if you had been as much used as myself to hear poor little children first learning their letters, and then learning to spell, if you had ever seen how stupid they can be for a whole morning together, and how tired my poor mother is at the end of it, as I am in the habit of seeing almost every day of my life at home, you would allow, that to torment and to instruct might sometimes be used as synonymous words."

"Very probably. But historians are not accountable for the difficulty of learning to read; and even you yourself, who do not altogether seem particularly friendly to very severe, very intense application, may perhaps be brought to acknowledge that it is very well worth while to be tormented for two or three years of one's life, for the sake of being able to read all the rest of it."

If only I had read this before going to grad school and spending six years getting a Ph.D. in history! I think Catherine's perspective gives me a little insight into the minds of the Arizona Board of Regents, and the State Legislature. And its really too bad they aren't as smart as Mr. Henry Tilney. This would be a much better state to live in if they were.