Friday, December 29, 2006

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The day

Returned my videos to the only video store below Houston, apparently - took me four months to find it. It's in Battery Park City, which is a very upscale neighbourhood west of here, a world apart from the peddlers and steaming sewer grates of Fulton St. Instead, it has cute gelato places and caf├ęs, gyms facing the waterfront, upscale Italian groceries. Go on a weekend and watch the trim, L. L. Bean-wearing yuppie 42-year-olds take their toddlers to the park. Go on a weekday and watch the Filipina nannies take them.

I then went up to 34th to Macy's, and took a picture of the Empire State Building nearby. It really is spectacular, non? Despite its fancy holiday windows, Macy's only has half a floor of toys. The rest is dedicated to women's clothing, shoes, cosmetics, etc. Twas boring, but the escalators are perfect.

Comp Lists

For the philosophy students - other readers will want to skip this post (new posts below).

Remember me complaining about my comps reading lists? I have transcribed the Ancient and Medieval ones here. When the feeling returns to my fingers, I might do the other ones.


Kirk and Raven (eds.)
The Presocratic Philosophers, Chapters II-VII, IX-XI, XIV-XV, XVII

Apology of Socrates

On Interpretation
Posterior Analytics
, Books I-IV, VII
, Books I-IX, XII (i.e. Alpha through Theta, and Lambda)
de Anima
Nicomachean Ethics
On Poetics

Principal Doctrines

The Nature of the Universe

Sextus Empiricus
Outlines of Pyrrhonism



Concerning the Teacher
On the Immorality of the Soul
On the Free Choice of the Will
The Confessions,
Books VII-XI
On the Trinity,
Books VII-XV

D. Proclus
The Elements of Theology

The Consolation of Philosophy

John the Scot (Eriugena)
On the Division of Nature

Anselm of Canterbury
Basic Writings
(ed. S. S. Deane)

The Philosophy of Plato and Aristotle

On the Harmony of Religion and Philosophy
The Decisive Treatise in Medieval Political Philosophy

Thomas Aquinas
The Division and Methods of the Sciences
Concerning Being and Essence
Summa Theologiae,
Vols. I and II

Duns Scotus
Philosophical Writings
God and Creature

William of Ockham
Philosophical Writings
(Library of Liberal Arts)
Predestination, God's Foreknowledge and Future Contingents

Nicholas of Cusa
Of Learned Ignorance

Meister Eckhart
Sermons and Treatises

Francisco Suarez
Selections from Three Works
(Classics of International Law, No. 20, Oxford, 1944)

The Guide of the Perplexed

Leonardo da Vinci
The Notebooks

Marsilio Ficino
Commentary on Plato's Symposium

Pico della Mirandola
Oration on the Dignity of Man
Of Being and Unity

D. Erasmus
The Praise of Folly

Niccolo Machiavelli
The Prince
The Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livy

Thomas More

Tommaso Campanella
The City of the Sun

Giordano Bruno
The Ash Wednesday Supper
On the Infinite Universe and Worlds

Johannes Kepler
Mysterium Cosmographicum

Galileo Galilei
Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems

E. Cassirer, P.O. Kristeller, and J.H. Randall, eds.
The Renaissance Philosophy of Man

Monday, December 18, 2006

Gran Turisma

Tonight Grace and I went to the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular Starring the Rockettes. Jealous much? We drank $8 rum and cokes with glow stir-sticks the better to let the spectacular wash over us. Santa was played by a gay Jewish man, but I don't think the under-ten set knew that. The show catered to younger kids in parts, and to the post-9/11 fundamentalist demographic in others. I shit you not - after an hour and fifteen minutes of crazy Santa shopatMacy's Rockette broughttoyoubyCocaCola action, they dimmed the lights, locked the doors, and put on a dead serious nativity pageant. They actually read the gospel - including the 14 verses about registering all the taxpayers. They named each of the Magi. And the crowd, until now completely normal, went crazazazazy with the flash photography.

But I have to tell you, those Rockettes were something else. Grace and I loved them. There were like, 400 of them in a line, doing their high kicks perfectly in synch. Actually, one of the coolest things they did involved toy soldier costumes with floor-length pants and no high kicks at all. Can't describe it, but it was robot-like, it was amazing, and it was obviously completely coked out. Just kidding! We were north of 42nd street!

Afterwards we went and ate in Times Square, because when Grace's parents were in town, they went to a taping of a really bad show that has probably already been cancelled called "Dr. Bob" or something, and watched a parade of pregnant teenagers and slutty moms and were given $50 in gift certificates to Planet Hollywood for their trouble. Doesn't buy nearly enough $9 rum and cokes, but we had a great time anyway.

The Trial

Terrible book, but if you read it, you'll have some idea of the kind of circular, inconsistent, no-progress, crazy-making bureaucratic crap I've been dealing with over the past few weeks, over every single aspect of my life (bank, phone, housing, school, job etc. etc. etc.). Josef K. had to come to terms with the fact that he couldn't beat them at their own game, but at least, mercifully, they kill him in the end.

So yes, I have a new job - teaching for a community college affiliated with SUNY. The woman I applied to was extremely enthusiastic upon hearing from me. The interview consisted of her telling me all the reasons I wouldn't want the job, then pleading with me to still take it. And she made it sound all Dangerous Minds like - me and a bunch of Black and Latino kids "who in the past have had mixed academic success." In Yonkers. Logic.

The interview was way up in Westchester county, so I got to take the train out of Grand Central, where they have this incredible sound and light show over the holidays. The acoustics are amazing and the classical music piece starts with the brass section making a sound very much like a train's horn blaring - so a propos. And they kaleidoscope holiday images all over the ceiling and walls. As one NY blogger put it "Another reason for people not to look where they're going."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Une histoire d'hobo

Catching the A train the other day, I saw a hobo methodically emptying a pay phone of all of its quarters. He was taking them out of the coin return slot, and the phone looked relatively undamaged. I wanted to ask him how he does it, but I didn't figure he'd be interested in revealing the tricks of the hobo trade.

UPDATE: I have since seen several other hobos doing the same thing to several other payphones. Huh.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Bushwick, Bedstuy

A remedial post...

My first week back from the Thanksgiving Canada trip I was never, ever at home, such that my suitcase still lay on the floor, its contens strewn (ok, that's still the case - I'm holding out for Christmas), and some of that time was spent in Brooklyn, so I will tell you about it.

A couple we know has a loft in Bushwick, just off Knickerbocker. (Brooklyn is great for sui generis New York nomenclature: Canarsie. Rockaway. Flatbush.) Bushwick is a neighbourhood where you can't find Cheerios in the supermarket but there is an entire aisle dedicated to these (and not just Jesus, obviously - they have the saint candle for whatever ails you):

Another friend shares an apartment in Bedstuy (Bedford Stuyvesant). We bought 40s of Ballantine at the bodega for $2. Some guy who claimed to be a welterweight champion followed us back to our friend's stoop. Told Grace and me the next time we came around we should bring our cousins.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


Little packages left on the all of the door handles in the dorm:

1 discount coupon for Stomp
1 individually-wrapped Cinnamon Stick tea
1 condom

This one's for the ladies

Thought you might like to know how the whole lip wax thing pans out here in New York.

I don't know about you, but I develop a brilliant red handle bar for about two hours afterwards, so it's important to me to be able to go someplace with good, nearby parking, such that I can dash home without seeing any public. Of course, here that means someplace within reeeaaal close walking distance. Luckily, there are "Nails" places everywhere in Manhattan; being in fact more frequent than gyms, corner groceries, or cell phone dealers. So I went to one of the ones in my building.

A tiny Korean woman asks me, from across the room, what I want done. And the half dozen Financial Districters (an equal number of men and women) getting their lunchtime mani/pedi breezily look over to hear my mumbled request for, uh, a lip wax. Tiny Korean woman takes me into the closest room, motions me to the paper-lined moustachectomy bed, and does her thing, (in the mean time, another Korean woman has wandered in just to, you know, watch).

When I leave ($6 plus $1 tip), I briskly walk the half block to home, fumbling with my stupid scarf which is too chenille to stand up over my mouth and which is such an implausible disguise anyway since it is 20 degrees out. I end up sort of holding it over my face, as though I am being evacuated from a smoke-filled building. And when I arrive back at the dorm, since rule number three in New York is that everyone is allowed to comment on everyone else's shit, one of the security guards starts laughing and asks me WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR FACE, GIRL?

The end.

It's December 1st

68 = 20 in real degrees

Friday, December 01, 2006

Death to...

Okay, so I still don't have the cash on hand for the scholarship I was supposed to receive on September first. 6 weeks of that is due to some mix-up and SSHRC bureaucracy, about 3 weeks is due to my delay in depositing the cheque, as I contemplated opening an account elsewhere than the Bank of America, and the past 1 week is due to the stunning, stunning incompetence of the latter. I mean, I'll spare you the details, but
1) The woman who I was dealing with before no longer works there - in a "Ah yes, ummm, she no longer uh, works here [raise eyebrow]" kind of way.
2) The guy I deal with now doesn't know how the bank works. And tried to tell me my SSHRC cheque bounced.

Celebrity sighting!

The other day, I was walking through Washington Square Park on my way to borrowing some books from the well-endowed school down the street (NYBoo), when I passed a very scruffy homeless man sleeping on a park bench... in a full Santa get-up. Red hat, white hair, white beard, red suit, black belt, black boots, goggles... Ok, he didn't have goggles. Naturally, I didn't have my camera on me, though I probably wouldn't have taken/posted a picture of him anyway, since who am I to distribute an unauthorized reproduction of his image just because he is homeless and dressed like Santa. So I googled "homeless Santa" just now in the hopes of showing you an approximation, and got nothing. But if you picture Dan Ackroyd at his nadir in Trading Places, you get the idea.