Of football coaches

In my day of traveling on Thursday, I missed the news that the USMNT had sacked Bob Bradley as head coach, a welcome occurrence to be sure. I’m positive the decision was made right of the men’s team lost so spectacularly to Mexico in the Gold Cup, but the announcement was delayed so as not to steal thunder away from the women’s team and its fantastic performance in the Woman’s World Cup. The new coach is going to be Jurgen Klinsmann. Here’s hoping we actually get a cohesive defensive line. Oh, and an attacking strategy would be useful too.

Song of the Day: Amy Winehouse, “You’re No Good”

I’m back on this side of the pond, and it was definitely surreal being on the train to Edinburgh on Sunday and reading about Amy Winehouse’s death over someone’s shoulder. (I was sitting with an interesting couple from Taiwan.) I oddly had been expecting this kind of news ever since the Times’s cover story on Winehouse two years ago when she was in St. Lucia. To say it was a profile in self destruction would be to undersell the weight of the piece. Still, her addictions cannot outweigh her talents; she had a powerful voice, and it’s just sad her disease won out in the end.

London Bound

I leave for London tomorrow. Specifically, I’m leaving for Heathrow, traveling between Paddington and King’s Cross Stations and taking a train to Canterbury. I’m more moving through London than actually being in London, which is a little sad to me, but it’s the nature of planning a trip around a conference and a research trip to Edinburgh. I’m terribly nervous about the conference presentation. It’s a roundtable talk, and therefore more informal than a typical conference paper. Plus, my co-presenter and I have talked lots through Skype, but have only met once in person. We have chunks of stuff written and detailed talking points, but it’s different than a conference paper. A lot different. It’s making me nervous. It’s a hybrid between a conference paper, teaching, and a more business like presentation using power point. It needs to be all these things, of course, but it’s still not what I’m used to. In reality, this presentation will go well. I’m presenting with someone whose professionalism is high and who knows the field well. And the indexing project we’ve been working on is so utterly cool. (Okay, cool to Victorian periodical/poetry geeks, which is a small subset of the population I realize.) But I don’t think I’ll really be enjoying my trip until I’m on the train to Edinburgh on Sunday. The Scottish National Library and it’s holdings of Blackwood’s correspondence awaits me.

Harry Potter film overviews

No, I haven’t seen the last Harry Potter yet–that’s tomorrow night. So please, no one tell me how it is. I’ve read the book series several times and the last one recently, so it’s not plot you’d be spoiling. But I want to be able to judge for myself in some odd way. At any rate, my friend Walter has a fantastic run down on the films as films. I have to agree with him that the Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite film of the bunch. It was my favorite book in the series too, in part because Rowling had figured out her style by that point and in part because we see Harry’s story being tied to a larger narrative and universe. He inherited this fight, and the complexities of the adult characters’ decisions hints at the moral murkiness that motivates almost every character in the later books. No one is infallible even while trying to make the right choices. At any rate, Walter’s reviews remind us that these films are in fact films, a fact that often gets lost when discussing adaptations. It’s perfect pre-Potter watching reading.

Programming Notes

Sorry for the radio silence folks. I’ve been traveling hither and thither, and in the process, I learned the difference between Amish communities and Mennonite communities. And ate a lot of cheese. Seriously, a lot of cheese. Now I’m working/freaking slightly (and by slightly, I mean it hasn’t become a full scale panic just yet) on the conference talk I’m giving in a little over a week in Canterbury. In other words, I apologize if the radio silence continues beyond the occasional music posting. Really, you’re just missing out on yet another post about political craziness, so this may actually work to your benefit. In the meantime, go read my friend Dan’s essay on the Old 97s.  You didn’t know music reviews could be so erudite. Or you know, go watch Harry Potter. Or even better yet, go watch the US women kill at the beautiful game. Regular posting will resume sometime after I return from the UK.

Song of the Day: The Smiths, “Big Mouth Strikes Again”

I’m busily checking indexing entries for the RSVP conference roundtable session I’m doing at the end of the month, and I’m listening to the mixes Jordan put into my iTunes for me while he was here this weekend. Inevitably, I ended up listening to the mix he made for the CD club/Julien last year. On it is “Big Mouth Strikes Again” by the Smiths; it’s one of the songs Jordan decided that every boy growing up in the 21st century ought to hear. I happen to agree. As an added bonus, the video showcases Morissey’s interesting dance moves.

Anna Massey

As a veteran British television watcher, I’ve seen Anna Massey in a number of movies and T.V. shows, most recently the Hercule Poirot mystery The Clocks. She passed away yesterday. She was a consummate character actress, moving from serious to the absurd with ease. I loved her as Miss Prism in the 2002 Importance of Being Earnest; she gave the comic character a winsome charm that Wilde most certainly would not have approved of, but which, nevertheless, gave the character depth.