Whatever happened to the Return of the Daily Entry? Like lots of good ideas, it was trampled beneath the realities of Fellowship life, which today required me to sit in a chair for TWO AND A HALF HOURS.
Having my hair highlighted.
Thanks, it looks fabulous. This is my first go with ‘lights. Yes, I waited this long. I can’t help it — I was scarred by the ’70s, when it was called “frosting” and you did it by putting on a perforated foil bathing cap and pulling strands of hair through with a crochet hook, which you then dyed a hideous dead-grass color.
The bad news: It still involves foil. The good news: The color is now “sort of a warm caramel,” according to my stylist, who really is quite the talent.
Enough about my damn hair. I’m putting off the night’s big chore, a few sentences about the workshop subjects in tomorrow’s creative-writing class. My teacher is an MFA student who turned down a spot in the Iowa Writer’s Workshop in part because one of the questions they asked was, “Do you cry easily?” Her philosophy is: All criticism must be productive, and must begin with, “What’s working in this piece?” I agree with this approach; what’s the point is reducing an undergrad to tears over a 1,200-word dialogue exercise? It’s the Roger Ebert approach to criticism: Ask only, “Does it succeed at what it attempts?” That said, I really wish more high-school level writing teachers would take a ruler to the hands of students who use the passive voice. A few well-placed whacks might drill it home: Don’t write “the subject outside was drawing no interest from Sarah.” I mean, not ever.
P.S. I’m the third workshop subject. I submitted something that I see now, in the cold light of 48 hours later, really doesn’t work. I’ll let you know how it goes.
I really should get this done, so I can enjoy one of the nicest fringes of U of M life — The Donald Hall Collection the Film & Video program’s script and video library. It’s the world’s greatest video store, with Fellows free to roam and borrow at will. The other day Alan said, “I think Kate would like “The Red Balloon,” don’t you?” Why yes I did, and I walked out with it, “Winged Migration” and “Intolerable Cruelty,” for after the kid goes to bed.
What’s going on in the news? I see Marge Schott died. Hmm, what a tragedy. You want to know everything wrong with Cincinnati? Read this:
Margaret Unnewehr Schott was the second of five daughters of Edward Unnewehr, a Cincinnati native of German-American extraction who made a fortune in the lumber business.
“My father was Achtung-German,” Mrs. Schott recalled. “He used to ring a bell when he wanted my mother. When I was 21 and went to vote, he told me who to vote for. I said, `Yes, Daddy.’ “
Cincinnati is lousy with folks like this. Everybody talks about the place like it’s this charming American Bavaria with a historic river running right by it, and it is a lovely place, but hardly anyone mentions the ruling class with the giant logs shoved up their butts. I watched “The People vs. Larry Flynt” with a feeling of simmering irritation; for the purposes of narrative smoothness, they moved the whole setting to Cincinnati, implying Flynt lived in Cincinnati and was prosecuted there. The truth: Flynt was prosecuted in Cincinnati but lived in Columbus, which never laid a glove on him, legally. Cincinnati was the spawning ground of famed S&L looter and anti-porn activist, Charles Keating, who pulled the prosecutor’s strings where Flynt was concerned.
In Columbus, he lived next door to an exclusive girls’ school and while I won’t say there wasn’t nervousness, well, we didn’t go all Cinci on him. Take that, you German tight-asses. Ring that bell for your wives, OK?
I really do like Cincinnati otherwise. Zeno’s pizza. Skyline chili. Mmm.