Thursday, January 25, 2007

Strange Days

Today has been an odd mix. On the one hand, the library materials I requested came properly (books, magazines, and microfilms!) and were not missing any of the necessary pages, and furthermore my camera worked properly. On the other hand, new mysteries have arisen relating to my bibliographic database (which seem to defy all logic), AND for the second day in a row I was suddenly approached in the library by a young man (although not necessarily the same one each time) who asked me something at a great rate of speed and departed when I looked dazed and asked him to repeat himself. Whether or not my Czech is passable, I don't see that it is reasonable to expect me to follow what people are saying when my mind is on something else and they speak quietly at breakneck speed. I've been known to ask native English speakers to repeat themselves four or five times under less difficult circumstances, so what's with these Czech students? Surely word has not gotten out that John's holiday card to me was from a Beatrice Wood exhibition entitled "Young Men & Chocolate," as the young men in question were not offering me any chocolate... and in any case one person can only deal with a limited number of young men, so stray ones popping up randomly in the library are unnecessary, especially when they are neither articulate, one's own students, or unusually decorative.
Indeed, I thought I was having some strange experiences, but upon due reflection I don't think they quite equal historian Felipe Fernandez-Armesto's jaywalking arrest in Atlanta, which he discusses in a three-part interview on YouTube. (And, though he describes himself as ageing and not as attractive in real life as in his publicity photo, he is more decorative than my library interlocutors.) Well, I didn't think either Atlanta or academic conferences were so hazardous. I am relieved that neither John nor I were arrested when we went to the College Art Association conference in Atlanta a couple of years ago. We might not have been as mild-mannered about it, especially as we were dissatisfied with the downtown vegetarian offerings.
On the topic of young men, however, I did run across a useful article in that ever-entertaining publication, Gentleman. Awhile back I had come up with a quote from the German writer Alfred Polgar, in which Polgar stated that kickline revues offered nothing for women. I was hoping, sooner or later, to run across the original. Gentleman had something even better, which was a Czech translation of the whole thing, in which Polgar not only said revues offered women nothing, but that this was because revues lacked titillating half-naked "boys."
Truly, whether one seeks the correct fabrics for plus-fours, caricatures of Nezval sitting under a table reciting his poems, or a few words about premature ejaculation, Gentleman comes through. After all, it's not every interwar Czech magazine that succeeds in combining ads for trenchcoats with photos of nude skiers.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh I know exactly how depressing it is to be dismissed out of hand when you ask someone to repeat themselves. I have to ask that all the time when I'm here! Hang in there...

January 27, 2007 6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't you give us more specifics on Gentleman? How about that caricature--didn't you photograph it? Or did I just miss it during my fall of non-blogging? -jj

January 28, 2007 12:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nude skiers? On your other issue, language, I invite you to my latest blog entry. We're still in southern Spain, BTW, and today -- contrary to custom --its VERY cold and windy. Cheers.

January 28, 2007 11:39 AM  
Blogger Karla said...

I do have a photo of the caricature (I am photographing the entire run of the magazine since it has so many fine offerings) but haven't posted it. Same for the nude skier. But I have posted other items from Gentleman. Evidently SOME people weren't paying attention!

I guess now I will go see what Geoff and Susana are up to in Spain...

January 28, 2007 3:22 PM  

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