Sunday, July 29, 2007

8 Days to Go

8 days to go ... until I go to press with the now confirmed 744-page MRU course catalog. Every year I work 21 of the last 22 days, and so here I am in the cockpit of my editorial cubicle, surrounded as I have been since my earliest memories by a blizzard of paper, a dog, a bunch of books ... and coffee and a computer, though, of course, I did not have those things as a child.

I have felt guilty about not blogging very much over the last period ... remember a blog is like a dog ... you walk the dog, you write the blog. These are daily, even twice daily exigencies. The annual cycle of my life is tent-poled around two giant events ... July doing the Bulletin, as MRU calls its course catalog, and mid-November through mid-December doing my Victorian Christmas party. Those two months are monomaniacal, obsessive (but goddammitt not compulsive, you better believe). Yes, two painful months, if not entirely unenjoyable, with a burst of Elysian if mildly soporiphic ecstasy when it is finally over.

So I am going to try to blog a little all day as I lock down the book ... on this Sunday a week before I go to press, I make all the major page and column end decisions, and spread the white space around for photo placement. I call it locking down. Not to be boastful, but this is what I am best at in life, page makeup. I have been making up pages for publication since I was 12. it used to involve exacto blades and hot wax and a ruler ... sounds kinky ... and now it involves bad posture in a comfy chair, and whipping around in Adobe InDesign, my new, now old, friend.

So I'll stop from time to time, say what's on my mind, and add it to this post. Let's see if it works ... if I get a proper blog post out of it, or if it just a feverish pointlessness ... perhaps, cynically, everything is feverishly pointless, but that wouldn't be any fun, would it.

Gotta go heat up my quiche ... quiche eating, liberal, computer using, wordy editor. Better not try that in Mississippi ... or Tehran. (My good friend RO gave me the quiches as a gift from Noe Valley Bakery, our favorite ... great way to start the day!)

11:43 Between the devil and the deep blue sea. If I were to squash this book like a bug, I could squeeze it into 736 pages, but we would have a lot of weird column ends, big departments starting 80% of the way down a column before a page flip. I hate that. I actually started to try to squish it in, and then changed my mind. So it is 744 pages after all. Now I have to air it out, and there will be a lot more photos to place. Extra work, but extra enjoyment once it is done ... I like looking at my little black and white, contrasty photos ... always enigmatically placed. No one has ever really commented about them. The only principle is that there are no people whatsoever ... just too difficult getting the balance and all that. Besides, it's a course catalog not a marketing brochure; I like the silence that people-free photos engender. A course catalog is a framework, for the students and faculty to fill in with their work and exchanges. Architecture is a framework too, so architectural photos are of a type with the book's purpose.

Old MRU salts, no doubt, would be wondering whence the provenance, or leastwise the location, of all these little detail photos.

Work, work, work. No point in blathering.

13:09 Sheesh! Thought I could blog a lot more, but this is very involved. I had a 90-minute walk with Loki this morning all over campus, taking photos for the book as always. We went to the intersection of JS and Campus Drive to photograph the famous stone, and then back via the dry lake that is a feature of this campus. Too many ground squirrels for Loki to remain calm.

I think I will go to the bookstore and back.

13:46 Back from the walk. Loki, my sainted dog, is like me. He hates the heat. (Unlike me, he doesn't like rain, so he gets no choice on that one.) When we walk midday at MRU which is blazing hot in the summer, Loki heads for the shadows, and then slows down. He charts a path within the shadows as long as possible, and then more or less refuses to get back out into the sun. Very cute. He pants heavily the whole time, and then heads straight for the water dish when we re-enter the hallowed hall. He gets bored watching me type. But better here than all alone at home, I guess.

Back to the salt mines ... half way through locking it down.

14:25 Gettin' a little punchy. Just finished French and Italian. I tend to want to take their courses, unless they get too theory-silly ... the theory-silly courses often end up being taught by grad students who just haven't managed to force their feet back down to the ground yet.

I keep wondering about a book called The Black Swan, by one Nassim Nicholas Taleb. He was on NPR this morning as I drove in. I gather that his point is that experts are full of it. I want the book. I am not quite that cynical, but a month of editing a course catalog, let me tell you, gives one a full filling of experts. Some submitted course descriptions plain defy any modesty whatsoever, and others are shrill, some defiant, yet others proclaiming the almost insurmountable difficulty of the course. The worst are the blathery empty ones, or the ones with absolutely no sense of diction, grammar, or a reasonable approach to our glorious language.

Oh well, I think I am faking some kind of outrage. I love editing this book, and I truly enjoy the fact that I massage everything from lists of electrical engineering terms I do not understand to comparative literature concepts that I wrote about in my own dissertation.

Back to the page makeup.

16:43 Finis. Still have to add two pages somewhere, but that should be easy. Getting real tired, so this will be it for blogging. Heading home for an evening of Jon Miller and Joe Morgan. And a drink!

Photo by Arod, of a fountain in front of a dorm at MRU.