Star Wars: Death Star Sunday, Mar 27 2011 

I’ve been sick the past couple of days and, apart from a day trip over to Dayton to watch a women’s regional semi-final game between UT and OSU, I’ve pretty much just wanted to stay in bed. Fortunately, while PJ and I were in Columbus earlier this week I picked up a copy of Star Wars: Death Star, which I’ve been wanting to read since it first came out in 2007.

So far, I’ve refrained from writing much about my eternal love of all things Star Wars. I’ve mentioned it every now and then, but I really come out fully, so to speak, until now.

Besides reading Jane Austen rewrites, Star Wars novels are my favorite kind of books to curl up with. I’ll admit that there are some that I don’t enjoy–I’m not indiscriminate in my love of Star Wars. I haven’t been able to get into the bounty hunter ones or the “next generation” ones. I liked the Thrawn series and some of the ones that take place between the newer movies. But my favorites are the ones featuring Darth Vader or Darth Bane. Ever since I was a kid, I loved Darth Vader, and I enjoy the Star Wars novels the most when they let him be evil, which is also why I love the Darth Bane novels. Evil is interesting; Luke Skywalker is bland (except for when he dallies with the dark side, of course).

Star Wars: Death Star takes place just before and during the events of Star Wars: A New Hope. In essence, it tells the other side of the story: what Tarkin and Vader are doing in between their scenes in the movie. But it also introduces several new characters as well as gives us more insight into some of the movie’s supporting Imperial roles.

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HotM: Daniel Mendoza Monday, Mar 21 2011 

In an effort to get back to my book project, I’ve been reading about the eighteenth-century Jewish boxer Daniel Mendoza (1764-1836), pictured here.

I’m interested in representations of Jewish masculinity in English literature from around 1680 to about 1820. Mendoza seems like a natural fit for such a project.

Currently I’m reading his memoirs, which were published in 1816. I’m about halfway through them. What stands out so far is the interesting mix of his sense of honor combined with his willingness to thrash anyone who he deems worthy. On the one hand, he’s very gentlemanly in his description of his life and the reasons for his fighting. On the other hand, he clearly seems to relish “trashing” his foes.

Sometimes these early fights are the result of prejudice, people calling him names or demeaning him or someone he knows for being Jewish. But often they seem the result of a general lack of civility in English culture at this time, which stands in marked contrast to my general sense of the period’s politeness and sensibility. It makes me want to go back and reread Anna Bryson’s book, From Courtesy to Civility: Changing Codes of Conduct in Early Modern England, which was published by Oxford in 1998.

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Getting Back to My Roots Monday, Mar 21 2011 

Today I started a second blog, one dedicated to my job. Creating it made me think about I wanted to start it, which made me think about why I have this blog. I originally started this blog when I was on sabbatical. It was going to chronicle my progress towards finishing the second book project as well as record my responses to various scholarly and pedagogical works I was reading.

After teaching Tristram Shandy a couple of times, I decided to evolve this blog to include a larger picture of my thoughts and opinions. Now that I’m an administrator, it’s mostly become a record of my tastes in music and movies.

I don’t have a problem with that, but I would like to get back to my roots. I started off blogging about the eighteenth century, my scholarship, and my teaching. I want to do more of that again. I’m not going to stop writing about movies and music — I still have a lot to say on those subjects — but I also want to be more academic.

So, let’s get to it ….

SotW: S&M by Rihanna Monday, Mar 7 2011 

I’ve not been a big Rihanna fan apart from “Umbrella” — I tried to resist it, but it was too powerful for me — but I keep hearing her newest single, “S&M,” and again I find myself unable to resist.

It’s a fun song and video, sexy but in a funny way. And the lyrics are catchy. I love it!

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Bear City: A Review Sunday, Mar 6 2011 

Last night, PJ and I watched Bear City from Netflix. The movie follows Tyler, played by Joe Conti, as he searches for true love among the hairy, meaty, butch men of New York City’s bear scene. Along the way he makes new friends in the community and quickly learns that bears and men in relationships with bears have their own issues to deal with.

Here’s the trailer:

Perhaps I should start by admitting that I’ve never been into the bear scene. I don’t find big, hairy men particularly sexy — but then again I don’t tend to find any group, as a group, particularly sexy (except maybe male models!). Because of my lack of interest, I wasn’t entirely sure that I was going to enjoy this movie.

However, I quickly saw that my own preferences were not going to be a hindrance to thoroughly enjoying this movie. Bear City is a delightful romantic comedy that kept me laughing and entertained. The writing is funny, the actors are engaging, and the plot is a Sex and the City-ish look at this group of friends. I definitely recommend it.

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