March 16th, 2022
Goblin Mode

Because it’s funny – including the cat video.

March 2nd, 2022
Vocal Warmup:

The Met.

February 22nd, 2022
A too, too, too, too, wonderful date.


November 28th, 2019
UD: Thankful on This Day For…

Saturday Night Live.

November 24th, 2019
Fred Armisen, on Saturday Night Live as Michael Bloomberg, Gets Off Some Great Lines

“I’d love to see those Trump supporters come up with a conspiracy theory about a Jewish billionaire with his own media company. Good luck making that stick.”

February 3rd, 2018
‘I am the very model of a Very Stable Genius, / I’m very good at spelling and I’ve got a giant penius…’

UD bows to the Gilbert and Sullivan superiority of the Brits. She got the link from Jon. Read it all. Sing along.

December 10th, 2017
Longtime readers know of UD’s passion for belted galloway cows.

Some people like pandas; some people like koalas. UD likes this hardy Scottish breed with a double-layer coat (you can leave them outside all year).

Although the UD clan does have twenty acres of farmland just sitting there in upstate New York, and although she and Mr UD did, not long ago, price a small Beltie herd while driving the long flat roads of Delaware on the way to the beach, I would not hold my breath waiting for Les UDs to become cattle farmers.

Still, UD follows the beltie news. There’s this Norfolk couple who just got Pasture for Life Certification; and in Sweden there’s this case of a missing herd. UD went to Google Translate for details:

There are signs that the group of spacecraft has been divided. Gunilla tells that one of the struts moves in the immediate area and is about to be captured.

July 27th, 2017
Sentences that Make UD Laugh Out Loud.

This one is about the world’s richest person.

At an early age, he displayed mechanical aptitude — as a toddler, he dismantled his crib with a screwdriver.

September 10th, 2014
A story that warms the cockles of my heart.

Learning to write again.

February 12th, 2014
Sid Caesar: 1922-2014


November 30th, 2011
David Brooks has been gathering life narratives from…

… a bunch of oldies so the rest of us can avoid their fuckups. From the hundreds of accounts he received, he concludes a bunch of things about how to live happily and well.

One theme that runs through his list is drift. You don’t want to sit around vaguely thinking about yourself all the time; you don’t want to think of time as an aimless flow; and you don’t want to be a “rebel and …outsider. The most miserable of my correspondents fit this mold. They were forever in revolt against the world and ended up sourly achieving little.”

UD thinks that Brooks must mean drifty outsiders, people sort of meaninglessly at odds with their culture. To be meaningfully at odds is to be D.H. Lawrence, George Orwell, Norman Mailer, Morrissey, Christopher Lasch, Christopher Hitchens, Doris Lessing, Lenny Bruce and tons of others who achieved much. Were/are these happy people? Recall what Adam Phillips says:

Sanity involves learning to enjoy conflict, and giving up on all myths of harmony, consistency and redemption… A culture that is obsessed with happiness must really be in despair, mustn’t it? Otherwise why would anybody be bothered about it at all? It’s become a preoccupation because there’s so much unhappiness. The idea that if you just reiterate the word enough … we’ll all cheer up is preposterous… The cultural demand now is be happy, or enjoy yourself, or succeed. You have to sacrifice your unhappiness and your critique of the values you’re supposed to be taking on. You’re supposed to go: ‘Happiness! Yes, that’s all I want!’ But what about justice or reality or ruthlessness – or whatever my preferred thing is?

The reason that there are so many depressed people is that life is so depressing for many people. It’s not a mystery. There is a presumption that there is a weakness in the people who are depressed or a weakness on the part of scientific research and one of these two groups has got to pull its socks up. Scientists have got to get better and find us a drug and the depressed have got to stop malingering. The ethos is: ‘Actually life is wonderful, great – get out there!’ That’s totally unrealistic and it’s bound to fail.

Darwinian psychoanalysis would involve helping you to adapt, find a niche and enable you to reproduce. Freudian psychoanalysis suggests that there is something over and above this. There are parts of ourselves – that don’t want to live, that hate our children, that want ourselves to fail. Freud is saying there is something strange about humans: they are recalcitrant to what is supposed to be their project. That seems to me to be persuasive.

One of the things I value about psychoanalysis is that it acknowledges that there are real difficulties in living, being who one’s going to be, and that no one’s going to be having a lobotomy. There isn’t going to be a radical personal change, which doesn’t mean that people can’t change usefully, but really that psychoanalysis is against magic. Ideally it enables you to realise why you’re prone to believe in magic and why you shouldn’t, because to believe in magic is to attack your own intelligence.

[S]uffering is not essential. It’s just unavoidable. All forms of suffering are bad but some are unavoidable. We need to come to terms with them or be able to bear them. …[Y]ou really did have those parents, you really did make of it what you made of it, you really did have those siblings, really did grow up in that economic climate. These are all hard difficult facts. Redescribed, they can be modified, things can evolve. But it isn’t magic.

Happiness is fine as a side effect. It’s something you may or may not acquire, in terms of luck. But I think it’s a cruel demand. It may even be a covert form of sadism. Everyone feels themselves prone to feelings and desires and thoughts that disturb them. And we’re being persuaded that by acts of choice, we can dispense with these thoughts. It’s a version of fundamentalism. [H]appiness is the most conformist of moral aims. For me, there’s a simple test here. Read a really good book on positive psychology, and read a great European novel. And the difference is evident in one thing — the complexity and subtlety of the moral and emotional life of the characters in the European novel are incomparable. Read a positive-psychology book, and what would a happy person look like? He’d look like a Moonie. He’d be empty of idiosyncrasy and the difficult passions.

February 17th, 2011
“The U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center forecasts a 30% chance of auroras as far south as the nation’s capital, though the full moon tonight will make the reddish light quite difficult to see…”

UD‘s excited. UD has a thing about the northern lights. (For years she’s been trying to put together a trip to Iceland or whatever to see them.)

Don’t worry. She’s prepared to be disappointed this evening. But she’ll be out there looking.

January 16th, 2011
Sentences That Make UD Laugh Out Loud…

… used to be a category on University Diaries. Didn’t it? I think it did. I must have erased it in one of my blog makeovers. Anyway, here are some sentences that made me laugh out loud. They appear in a long New Yorker article by David Brooks about brain experiments and shit like that.

Various research teams have conducted a simple study. They hire a woman to go up to college men and ask them to sleep with her. More than half the men say yes. Then they have a man approach college women with the same offer. Virtually zero per cent say yes.

November 24th, 2010
UD will be in the wilds of …

… West Virginia for Thanksgiving. Blogging continues through her mountain trek.


If you ask UD what she’s thankful for, she’ll tell you right out pretty much everything.

But let’s go with the most recent thing for which she’s grateful. Let’s cast a cold eye over the last twenty-four hours…

OK. She’s grateful for the Joyce Boys.

Her James Joyce seminar, this semester, is all-male. Twelve bristly intense sensitive amused males gather twice a week very late in the afternoon (by the end of our session, K Street’s gone dark) on the ground level of an office building GW uses for classes.

We meet in a windowless room. It’s never bright enough in there. I’m always playing with the lights, trying to make it brighter, even though by now, the end of the semester, I’m aware I’m not going to succeed.

The room is heavily trafficked by the PowerPoint brigade, so UD‘s first business before she begins teaching involves rolling up screens, pushing speakers to the side, wheeling computer stands out of the way… Black machines with randomly blinking red lights on their faces and tangles of cords streaming out of their asses surround UD as she speaks.


Do you realize how odd an all-male literature course is?

In this corner, a dozen Blazes Boylans, bursting with youthful virility.

In that corner, the Unsinkable Molly Bloom. Plus twenty years.


I’m thankful because my teaching life offers me odd scenarios like this one, in which I lecture to smiling young men not only about the humanity of Bloom, and how it wakens the soul of Dedalus, but also about how in the Ithaca chapter they have a pissing contest.

Ulysses is full of pissing and farting and shitting and playing with yourself, and Scathing Online Schoolmarm gets to describe it all to the guys, who guffaw.

UD/SOS, the one female in a room of males, gets to be the gross one.

May 14th, 2010
Team Dead Letters

Eric, a reader, links UD to Novel-T,
an online store that features
literary sportswear.

Here’s a player for the Bartlebies:

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