March 2006 Archives

This is the best news I've read in a long, long time, relating to the web:

Adware Pioneer Claria Getting Out of Business

I'm addicted to You can find just about anything there!

Dell's Paul McKeon is an idiot. Read this article (paying careful attention to his statements, and tone), and then find, today, that Dell has acquired Alienware.

In a futile attempt to recapture my fleeting youth, I've been listening to bands which I enjoyed "way back when."

Fear Factory and Gravity Kills were two such bands: the former's Obsolete record is bar-none some of the best industrial (though on the lighter side of bands such as Frontline Assembly). Descent is a favorite track on that album.

I used to think all the hype about Skype and associated VoIP applications was just that: hype. What I've found, instead, at least with Skype, is a crystal-clear call quality, even to China!

Free, to boot! Rock on.

Burger King has a pretty amusing Whopperette site that has been out for quite a while now:

Make sure you select a customized burger to get the full effect.

Prison Break is back after is too-long hiatus!

I hope Mike finally breaks out, or at least he's able to save his brother in the process...

AOL's "In2TV" has "launched" (unofficially, of course).

Find it here.

Stephen Donner
Dr. R. Brittenham
English E303
Close Reading Six
March 14, 2006

For Tzvetan Todorov, in �Literature and the Fantastic,� (The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre, 1975,) within stories which concern perceived or �real� supernatural occurrences, the fantastic holds its place temporally speaking between the uncanny, which is an explanation of otherwise seemingly inexplicable phenomenon in a story based on �known facts to a previous experience,� and the marvelous, which must remain an �unknown phenomenon, never seen as yet, still to come� (42). As a wonderful example, in Lord Alfred Tennyson�s poem �Mariana,� his prose is positioned precisely in the fantastic of which Todorov speaks.

The form and content work together to create tension, because they force us to remain in Mariana�s �present.� The first eight lines of each stanza describe the physical setting in very dilapidated, Gothic terms, but are capped off by four lines of Mariana lamenting, in the present tense, the absence of presumably her lover: �I am aweary, aweary / I would that I were dead!� What�s important is that this pattern repeats itself even until the very end, creating a very dramatic, intended effect: the reader�like the character�is stuck in a sort of temporal vortex, never knowing beyond pure speculation what, indeed�if anything!�happened to Mariana.

Since the narrator never reveals what happened to her, we might wonder, too, if she is already herself supernatural (a ghost). Perhaps her wish to be dead, read in such a context, could suggest that although she�s dead in the terms of our natural, scientific laws, her spirit lives on, left again in my �temporal vortex� to experience, over and over, the pangs of expectant agony.

Greg and I went for our bike ride of the "season" today. Although it was windy, it was a "balmy" 67 degrees here, so we of course had to take advantage of it.

Great "reporting" here:

Flesh-Eating Virus Kills Woman in 3 Days:
North Carolina health officials are investigating the death of a woman who died last week of a flesh-eating bacteria.

Notice the discrepancy?

Stephen Donner
Dr. R. Brittenham
English E303
Close Reading Five
March 7, 2006

In �Literature and the Fantastic,� Tzvetan Todorov�s chapter within The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre, he examines how the supernatural functions within the framework of a novel to expedite a transition from a state he calls the �median disequilibrium� in order to �provoke the long quest for the second equilibrium� (164-5). That is, the supernatural events exist to bring about rapid change within an otherwise static narrative trajectory; so far, so good.

Where I find fault with Todorov�s reasoning specifically is in how he insists that these �certain events,� when they �explicitly account for themselves as imaginary [�] thereby contest the imaginary nature of the rest of the book� (168). Furthermore, he says, �if a certain apparition is only the fruit of an overexcited imagination, then everything around it is real� (168). To me, this appears myopic. While both of his statements are indeed logical assumptions, they nonetheless remain limiting.

Instead, one can employ an effective plot device by which at first supernatural apparitions or occurrences are debunked. Later, however, there would be a genuine supernatural apparition or occurrence. This new appearance is all the more effective because the character, in witnessing or in fact bringing about the debunking in the first place, now is faced with what he likely views as a false apparition, and is not prepared to deal with it on supernatural terms. His approach has changed, and the potential for danger is elevated.

Todorov ought to account for this; it seems too important a plot device to utilize when dealing with the supernatural. Sweeping generalizations, though indeed logical, cannot effectively compensate for complex plot structures, particularly when dealing with the supernatural.

ABC: Ad-Supported "Lost" Episodes Available For Free Download

Google Groups posting link

I think it's 7 years until a given patent on a prescription medicine (assuming there's only one) runs out.

I'd love to be able to try out Lunesta, but both its price point and its current status as a doctor-prescribed medicine only hinder me from trying it.

(And no: OTC sleep "aids" such as Sominex and Unisom, which contain diphenhydramine hydrochloride, largely don't work for me. In fact, the majority of the time they induce an infuriating restlessness marked by a stupor that only worsens my inability to sleep in the first place.)



Last night I finished writing my movie summary of "Hable con Ella". What a strange movie! I know, I know, it's replete with allegory, but still...(that movie-within-the-movie is quite astonishing, I must say!).


Right now, I'm reading an excerpt from Todorov's The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre.

I'll have to prepare a brief, 1-page response/close reading paper on it, so I'd better read it carefully. Of course, I'll need its theories to write intelligently about our forthecoming readings, too.

Visit to Northwestern University

Linda and I visited her cousin, Wenchun Feng, at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL this past Saturday. It was really, really cold, but we had a great time. We got there around 2pm (or was it closer to 3pm?) and took over an hour to take pictures and tour a good portion of the campus.

After our tour, we were quite hungry, so we visited Pizzeria Uno downtown. We had a huge wait (we were told 20 minutes to be seated, but it turned out to be over 1 hour), and I have to say it wasn't _that_ good (though that may have been largely due to the fact that the toppings on the pizza weren't much to my liking).

Back to Northwestern. The campus is beautiful--it's located on the shore of Lake Michigan. Surprinsingly, for all its acreage, the student body is not much larger than at my school, IUSB. The comparison stops there, though. Northwestern is a serious research institution, a top-notch private university with the most stringent of acceptance criteria, and it has a much better professor-student ratio. Its is 1/8, while IUSB's is around 1/25 (which still isn't bad, either).

For each discipline, too, they have a library. We have just one. Of course, with $33,000/year undergraduate tuition, and lots of federally funded research grants and just-as-numerous private donations, it's a school with plentiful financial resources.

Their Medill School of Journalism (at the Graduate level, specifically,) is one of the top schools in the nation.

Northwestern University

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