Downton Abbey: The Best of Times, and the Worst of Times

As I was on my This Is A New Year Get Off The Couch run this morning, in the beautiful 63 degree sunshine of Houston after that ice storm, I was thinking that if the writers of Downton Abbey couldn’t address the Anna/Bates problem, I would just indulge my guilty pleasure of pop music and forget Downton Abbey and watch The Grammies.

But then Daft Punk accepted their award in space masks.  And Katy Perry showed up in a Vampirella costume for some sort of Halloween dance to a song that didn’t seem evil or anything, but it sure was boring.

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And then they started some kind of TRIBUTE to Chicago, the band, like they are old or something, and it took me a minute but then I realized Mr. Blurred Lines was singing a TRIBUTE, to, well, anyone, and so I decided maybe I wasn’t the target audience for the Grammy Awards anymore, and so forget them!  PBS is cool.  So.  There. Continue reading

Byronism: Or, Sure Ways to Be A Card Carrying Romantic

I am coping with the current deluge of politics by teaching the most political of literary movements: Romanticism.  I am in the thick of it, I cannot contain myself.  I show pictures by Delacroix (yes, I would really like Liberty to lead the people).  I go to Jones Hall in Houston and hear Berlioz’s fantastic Symphonie Fantastique, replete with trips to the scaffold and dreams of witches.  These all, of course, were imaginatively inspired by some Irish actress.  I force my students to claim they love Keats as much as I do.  I promote Byronism.  And why not?  We have card carrying Democrats and Republicans all around us…why not find common ground in our mutual angst?  Why not put our brooding toward some entertaining affectation?  Why not ask, from time to time, whenever we feel like it: What would Byron do? Continue reading