Happy March! We were granted another sunny weekend with temperatures in the 50s. February did not feel nearly as long as endless January, but it didn’t fly by, either. But I think we are out of the bitter cold days, finally.
It’s grading time! Papers in Privacy and an exam in Political Protest. I am blessed with excellent graduate assistants, though, so I am very fortunate. And I have a couple of guest lecturers in protest, so I am easing into spring break. I’m on a law school panel about the Hong Kong protests this week, and there are a couple of committees for which I have to do some work, but otherwise it’s pretty quiet. Now that I’m not part of the governance apparatus for my department I can actually catch my breath and do things I want to do.
On Sirius’s recommendation we also started watching the British TV series Vera, starring Brenda Blethyn, and were immediately hooked. The show is based on a series by Ann Cleeves and is set in northern England (the Angel of the North appears in the opening credit sequence). Vera is the stereotypical gruff loner detective but gender-switched. She doesn’t like children, has few friends, drinks, and is devoted to her job. But she cares deeply about the people around her, she just can’t/won’t show it. Blethyn is just as good as you’d expect. She plays the role with warmth and depth, and I love that she’s not playing her as the more common tough-as-nails type. There are several season so we have plenty of episodes to look forward to.
We also watched a very enjoyable independent film starring Keanu Reeves, called Henry’s Crime. Reeves is a highway tollbooth attendant who is tricked into driving a bunch of acquaintances to a bank robbery and is convicted of the ensuing crime. In prison he meets James Caan, who’s been in for years and is avoiding parole. When Reeves gets out he meets Vera Farmiga, an actress, and starts to have the first real adventure of his life. It’s entirely unbelievable and very low-key (to the point of being comatose, according to some reviewers), but the acting and Buffalo setting work well. If you’re a Keanu fan, check this out (we found it on Hoopla); you’ll get to see him performing scenes from The Cherry Orchard as a special bonus. He’s pretty good!
Book awards season is heating up. The Republic of Consciousness award, which is a small, newish award emphasizing form-breaking fiction, announced its longlist on the 26th and the International Booker Prize longlist came out on the 27th. I’ve only read one of the books from either longlist (I read Love when it was longlisted for the National Book Award), but I have several of them in my TBR. I won’t try to read them before the shortlist announcements, but I’ll be following discussions and reviews of them and will eventually read quite a few of them, I imagine.
Liverpool lost!!!! Their record-tying winning streak came to an end at Vicarage Road, where they were decisively thumped by Watford 3-0. Watford has been languishing at the bottom of the Premier League, in the relegation zone, since the beginning of the season. Even two managerial changes couldn’t keep them above it, despite the fact that they have a talented team and the newest manager seems to be a good fit. I watched the match and still can’t tell you what happened, except that Watford were excellent and Liverpool were not. They’re still 19 points ahead and the title is not much in doubt, but they’ve been barely winning games they should handle easily and they lost the first leg of their Champions League match away at Atletico Madrid. I’m hoping this is a brief blip. Kudos to Watford, though, and having become the giant-killers, they’d better stay up!
I’ve mostly been on top of things in terms of teaching and admin obligations, and I’ve even had the chance to read work-adjacent material that isn’t prepping for a class. I hope this is the start of a pattern.
We did another longer walk in Forest Park this weekend, 7+ miles on a warm and sunny afternoon. It went well and we’re getting used to the new packs. I think I’m pretty set on what I’m taking next week, and our loads should be lighter than last time. I’ve also been rowing diligently and it’s started to feel normal
My last dilemma is about my reading material. I can’t decide whether to take just the phone for ebooks and one mass-market paperback as a print alternative, or just take my ereader as usual. The electronic minimalism of having just a phone and a book I can leave when done is very appealing, but I’ve haven’t traveled without an ereader since I got one. We’ll see.
My Project 333 experiment is over. I’ll write up my thoughts on it in a separate post. I’m glad I followed it for two months, but I am equally glad to have the freedom of my closet back. Like other challenges, it’s helpful for discovering new ways to approach something that may have become stale, but I can’t see dressing this way all the time. That said, there are other fashion challenges out there that I may pick up, because I like the senses of discovery and creativity they bring about.
One week to spring break! And we’re taking the last two days of this week and starting early, so I have to get a bunch of tasks done before we leave, not to mention teaching my classes. But it is lovely to think we’re over halfway through the semester. And out of January/February at last.