Next month of course is the MLA – the monster that ate my holidays, & that'll ruin a perfectly good trip to San Francisco. I'll leave it to the newspapers to make fun of the more recondite paper & panel titles – hey, I want to hear about Jane Austen and masturbating girls! – but I'm always amused by leafing thru the monstrously large program, looking for things that I won't get to see because I'm in a hotel room interviewing nervous young people. I don't mind reconditeness, or bad puns, or even the ubiquitous colonified things ("The X of Y: Adjective Z in the early A of B"), but what really breaks my heart is my colleagues' lame-ass attempts at hipness, usually signaled by punning on some pop song in their paper titles: "What's Habermas Got To Do With It?" or "Watching the (Scottish) Detectives" (the latter about Scottish detective fiction, of course, the former about – oh, I can't be bothered to look it up). Friends, "Watching the Detectives" is now thirty-one years old, and "What's Love Got To Do With It" was a hit in nineteen-eighty-four, a few years before most of our undergrads were born. These are golden oldies, not markers of your with-it-ness. Like, get out the study and buy some records (sorry, I mean download some records).
Thinking about gardening these days, having finally picked the splinters out of my hand from ridding a planting of unwanted ferns. What's your favorite garden poems? Yes, Marvell – but other than Marvell?