Tuesday, April 4, 2017


1. Much talk of Mike Pence's rule of never being alone with a woman not his wife. Assorted thoughts: 1) does that apply to his daughters? his mother? (I don't know if she's still alive, but according to Wikipedia she lived at least long enough to witness his conversion to evangelicalism, of which as a Catholic she did not approve.) 2) At least it's better than Trump's rule of grabbing them by the ... 3) I thought conservative Christians disapproved of Sharia law, but whatever. 4) Is the purpose to avoid the appearance of impropriety, or fear of Glenn Close's character in Fatal Attraction, or - most likely - the self-loathing of men who (like the protagonist of Melanie Jeschke's Christian romance novel Inklings) fear female sexuality because they're men and they can't help themselves?

2. I'm saving this link to a recipe for creamy lemon pasta.

3. Yevgeny Yevtushenko died. Aside from Shostakovich's fabulously creepy setting of his poem "Babi Yar", I think of him mostly from Kingsley Amis's account of meeting him in Cambridge in 1962, at which Yevtushenko confessed his admiration of Kipling ("Isn't he an imperialist?" He gave a brief shout of laughter. "Oh yes. But ... good.") and recited from a Russian translation of same which, according to Amis, sounded like this:
Boots, boots, boots, boots, koussevitsky borodin
Boots, boots, boots, boots, dostoievsky gospodin
4. I'm really going to have to go to the library so I can finish reading this article.

5. Popped down to Lyric Theatre to catch their production of Gilbert and Sullivan's Princess Ida. This was marketed as a feminist show and used to promote a fund-raiser for girls' education; did they not see the third act? Regardless of the deflating ending, this was a good production with an especially fine turn by Elana Cowen as the imperious Lady Blanche.

6. I like the anti-virus program that the shop installed in my new computer a year ago, but I strongly and emphatically dislike the protocol for renewing my subscription, which caught me in a hellhole of endless loops and disputable charges which not even a friendly human in customer service, when I finally found a phone number for one, could get me out of. It keeps warning me I need to renew, and when I click on the link, keeps telling me I already have (which I did, or I think I did). It expires in 3 more days, and if it turns out it hasn't renewed, I'm taking it back to the shop, having the program removed, and replaced with the different one they're selling this year.

7. An occasional visit to File 770 (down at the moment, so no links) showed a piece on a huge and expensive library-market reprint volume of Tolkien studies from Routledge, with comments by Tolkien scholars Douglas A. Anderson that they hadn't sought permission, either from him or his publishers, for his contributions, and from Robin Anne Reid that she hadn't even heard of this set.

Well, that may be their experiences, but mine is that I was contacted by editor Stuart Lee (whose existing reputation in Tolkien studies is very good) a couple years ago to offer my comments on a prospective list of contents, and then again by him for permission to include two of my own essays. This was followed not two months ago by an e-mail from an in-house editor at Routledge to confirm formal permission for my pieces, adding that they'd already contacted the publishers of same.

Maybe I received this favor because I was a contributor to Stuart's previous Tolkien collection (original rather than reprint material, different publisher, expensive but more widely distributed), while Doug and Robin were not. But I should also add that news about the Routledge volume has made it into the grapevine.

As Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull say therein, and Robin observes as well, this is a rather unnecessary set as any libraries that can afford or would want it probably already have everything in it in their original publications, and is mostly intended to cadge money out of unwary collection development librarians. No doubt true, but I see no reason to attempt to disfigure the project by refusing my passive participation.

8. Speaking of Tolkien publications, the very last piece for this year's edition of Tolkien Studies has just come in formatted from my co-editor for my final review before it goes off to the publisher, so I'd best get on that now.

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