1. I am in New York City. My home airport is Rochester. My mother, who is meeting me here, called about an hour ago to say that she had been diverted...to Rochester. We agreed that maybe she should just have visited me in Brockport.
2. The Strand now has some of my hard-earned cash. Also one of my remaining lives, thanks to the gigantic insectoid whatsit scuttling around their basement by the university press section. (At least I managed not to scream and/or jump on a chair, unlike the time a water bug invaded the Modern Philology office at the University of Chicago. [All sorts of unimaginable horrors lurk in the U of C basements--and sometimes, they come upstairs to visit. Stephen King could write a novel.] I offed it with a Chicago Manual of Style, in case you were wondering. The water bug, not the whatsit.)
In any event, I picked up several discounted novels (including a few Japanese historical novels--it looks like they had a big shipment of Japanese fiction in translation) and a couple of monographs. If I have time next week, I may go to the Argosy Book Store, or possibly to Labyrinth Books.
3. NYC budget hotel architecture never ceases to amaze. In this room, the entry door is angled in such a way that its doorknob crashes into the bathroom doorknob when you open it. On the other hand, there's actually space around the beds, which is not to be taken for granted in NYC hotels.
4. I'll be here for a few days, so the plans include both relatives (my mother, two cousins) and religious fiction at the NYPL (two books in the Jewish Miscellany series released by the JPS in the mid-19th c., including Caleb Asher, and some short Catholic texts).
This weekend, I'll be in Charlottesville, VA, enjoying several days of intellectual stimulation in the company of convivial Victorianists.
That is, if I can ever extricate myself from the clutches of a very damp state of New York.
The morning began with an apologetic robo-call from US Airways, informing me that my 9:31 AM flight out of Rochester had been canceled. First reaction: My flight is gone! NO! Second reaction: It was at 9:31 AM, not 11:00 AM? NOO! Third reaction: Wait, my flight really is at 11:00 AM, and yet they're calling me about a different flight. Does this mean that they've bolluxed my reservation? NOOO!
That sorted, I arrived at the airport, to discover that my plane was on time. Except that it wasn't on time. Feelings of sadness ensued, thanks to the prospect of a busted connection to Charlottesville, VA. (There aren't that many flights to Charlottesville, VA.) Nevertheless, the gate agent found a workaround. It would involve a very long layover in LaGuardia, but I would still make it to my destination.
Finally, the plane departed Rochester, bounced a bit on its way to LaGuardia, and landed...just in time for me to make my connection after all! Cheers! Felicitations all around!
This celebration lasted approximately the five minutes or so it took me to deplane, as I promptly discovered on my arrival that the connection in question...had been canceled.
Only five hours and six minutes to go on my layover, in case you're wondering.
THE PLAN: Depart Orange County at 8:05 AM; arrive in NYC around 4:30 PM; arrive in Rochester at 7:40 PM.
4:40 AM: I awake, twenty minutes earlier than necessary, from a rather bizarre nightmare involving a survival horror video game. I devoutly hope that this will not turn out to be a prophetic dream about today's flight.
6:50 AM: My parents drop me off at Long Beach Airport, where I see very long lines for Jet Blue.
7:10 AM: I survive long lines for Jet Blue, then arrive at the gate, where I stock up on a non-gourmet sandwich.
c. 7:20 AM: Our 8:05 AM flight has magically turned into a 9:05 AM flight, thanks to a window malfunction.
c. 8:00 AM: And now our 9:05 AM flight is at 9:30. Sounds resembling GRAR can be heard.
c. 8:30 AM: We have a new plane! We're still going to be late! I ask my mother to relay a message to the colleague (whose phone # I have forgotten) who was going to pick me up at the airport, suggesting that maybe that won't be such a great idea.
c. 9:00 AM: ...And now we're going to depart at 10:00 AM.
c. 9:10 AM: The oh-so-chipper gate agent is reassuring us that we're going to get in around 5:45 PM. 5:30, even! No need to worry about our connecting flights!
c. 10 AM: Well, we're on the plane. Too bad it's not in the air.
10:40 AM: Now that we're off the ground, the pilot tells us that we'll be in NYC around 6:15 PM or so. I hear an odd sound, as of a connection being busted.
(We now switch to Eastern time.)
4:00 PM: I finish reading Bengtsson's The Long Ships. I usually don't like adventure novels, but this one is engagingly wry: there's no overt commentary from the narrator on the bloodthirstiness of his characters, but the effect is one of extreme dark comedy. Nevertheless, all this head-cracking has tired me out, so I doze off.
6:00 PM: Finally, we're in New York State! Now, if only we were not entering a holding pattern!
And hold we do, for another hour. So much for a 6:15 PM arrival.
c. 7:30 PM: I'm off the plane. A gate agent tells me to run to gate 9, in the company of a lot of other people. At gate 9, there is...no plane. I sigh. Another agent books me onto the 10:45 flight, which will get me into Rochester after midnight. This assumes that nothing else goes wrong, of course...
I'm in Southern CA for Thanksgiving. It's a bit...ah...warmer than upstate NY. This will provide me with an excellent opportunity to engage in what my family dubs "weather sadism" ("Did I mention that it was ninety degrees on Thanksgiving Day?").
In other news, a cross-country plane flight provided a convenient opportunity for reading Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall, about which I'll have a post sometime tomorrow.
I will admit to being deeply prejudiced against spinach. However, spinach in a stuffed spinach pizza is a true gustatory delight. (I am aware that some find spinach on a pizza--or, given that this is Chicago-style stuffed pizza, in a pizza--to be either objectionable or unthinkable.)
Photocopy, photocopy, photocopy; list new books to read, list new books to read, list new books to read. Also, ILL, ILL, ILL.
No, the pamphlet did not surface.
ME: Mom, I went to the Seminary Co-Op this afternoon. I did not buy any books. MOM THE RETIRED SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR: [short pause]. What? Are you okay?
The promised thunderstorms did not materialize. Hooray!
Needless to say, the book I most wanted to read has vanished into the ether, or at least into the murky, unfathomable depths of the Regenstein stacks. (Insert various unprintable words here.)
Nevertheless, I did read two Irish novels, George Brittaine's Irishmen and Irishwomen (2nd ed., 1831) and Cecilia Mary Caddell's Nellie Netterville (1867). Caddell's novel has the least manifest theological content of any novel I've read so far, even though the subject--the Cromwellian Settlement and the transplantation of landowners--involves considerable sectarian violence. The novel proves conciliatory to Protestants: while it links Puritanism with the worst form of fanaticism, particularly in a long set-piece featuring Puritan soldiers torching a secret church with the congregation still inside, it also features virtuous and heroic Protestants who renounce extremism. Nor does Caddell give any sign that these Protestants need to convert in order to be redeemed. While the novel clearly links the settlement to contemporary Irish unrest, it also implies that Protestants and Catholics might be able to achieve some sort of harmony...at a future date. Brittaine's novel addresses the Rockite rebellion (negatively), "New Light" Presbyterianism (positively), the implosion of Protestant-Catholic relations (confusedly), Protestant Sunday Schools (positively again), and conversion to Protestantism (very positively). This was all a bit too much for one 200+ page novel, especially because Brittaine pushes a strong anti-Catholic line while almost grudgingly admitting that Protestants and Catholics had been co-existing perfectly well before the "New Light" movement got going. (Eyre Evans Crowe's novella Old Light and New Light harshly indicts the New Light movement for sparking sectarian conflict.) That being said, I can't think of any other novel in which the evangelical heroine escapes assassination because some teenage scamp dumps a bucket of mud over her.
I also came across this novel (first published in the 1850s) and its sequel. They both look delightfully awful.
There's anothertake on the Mystery of Edwin Drood just out?
My plane arrived early at O'Hare. I'm not sure how this could have happened, as the words "early arrival" and "O'Hare" generally occur in the same sentence only in the aftermath of some great intergalactic upheaval.
Some books are now winging their way from Powell's to an--ahem--undisclosed location in western NY. *whistles innocently*
The University of Chicago English department has certainly enjoyed an interior decorating upgrade since I last saw it (it's in an entirely different building, to begin with).
The temperature must have been at least seventy today. Alas, it will not be at least seventy tomorrow.
I was startled to see a Borders on 53rd Street; there had been a chain store in the same area when I first started at the U of C in 1992, but it died a slow and painful death, thanks to location and competition. (The chain video store that replaced it looks like it's still there, but it also appears to have de-chained.) Except for the theological bookstore on 55th (is that still there?), the other bookstores in the area are all on 57th & 58th streets.
Speaking of bookstores, Scott has convinced me that I should read Watchmen, although I've never been into graphic novels or even superhero comics--the alternate history angle sounds like it should be in my line, though.
Tomorrow, Real Work begins. In some ways, I'm most interested in the pamphlet I want to photocopy, because it's a Victorian critique of religious fiction. Victorians of all religious stripes were often antagonistic to such texts, even when they were on the "right" side, thanks to what they perceived as oversimplified or problematic theology...among other things. (For many writers, "religious fiction" was a contradiction in terms--fiction by its very nature was "worldly." Newman takes that line somewhere...)
Off to Chicago, where I'll be camping out in the Joseph Regenstein Library at the University of Chicago until the 20th. Goals: photocopy one book (it's more of a long pamphlet, really); read two more (one by this novelist); shelfwalk in search of yet other interesting (er, to me*) books; look through selected Victorian periodicals; and identify scholarly books/articles for future ILLing.
Also on the agenda: stuffed pizza, of course, not to mention trips here, here, and here. (But don't tell my parents. They're a little worried that my house might tip over onto one side.)
*--The last time I was in the Reg, I checked a reference in a book I had
used for my dissertation, back in '95 or so. Some of my bookmark slips were still in it...