Archive for December, 2008

Boston Theaters in the Late 19th Century

December 10, 2008


From the Boston Athenaeum website

From the Boston Athenaeum website

I’m investigating duets in minstrelsy, vaudeville, and the integrated musical in order to understand both the backdrop and the background for vocal duos in the rock era. I came across a wonderful site today. The Boston Athenaeum has a collection of playbills and programs from theaters in Boston during the latter portion of the nineteenth century. They have created an online database in which you can search by theater, actor, play title, and/or date. As I understand it, the database reflects their playbill holdings. In conjunction with the database and collection, they also have brief histories of each of the theaters for which they have playbills. They also have links to some local (Boston) collections, as well as others. 


Clearly a trip into town is on the horizon for me.



December 9, 2008

William Zinsser once wrote that “writing is thinking on paper.” His argument is that once you can organize your thoughts and knowledge well enough to write about them, you will truly understand your material. He advocates writing as part of the learning process rather than just a product of it.

Working on my proposal has certainly clarified my thoughts on my topic. Now that I am writing a chapter, I have identified areas for which I lack clarity and consequently can’t form a coherent sentence, much less a paragraph. I am being forced to step back and look at the big picture then zoom in and ferret out the small details. I need forests and trees, but the result must be as compelling as the Ansel Adams photograph shown here.

If writing is thinking on paper, then creating a website to complement your writing is…well, I’m not sure. Thinking in air? Thinking on screen? I am finding that organizing my information in a thoughtful and useful way makes me, again, look at the trees and then at the forest and then at the trees and so on. Ultimately it’s a different way to organize the information from the way I must approach it for my dissertation. It’s good exercise and I encourage everyone to do it. You can see my effort at It’s still a work in progress, but I’ll post updates here.

What I Want for Christmas

December 8, 2008

I want my qualifying exams all done and passed.

I want my proposal to be approved.

I want to make contact with people who were involved with the early days of the Everly Brothers.

I want to make contact with anyone who knew (knows) the brother duets in country music that preceded the Everly Brothers.

I want to talk to people who actually heard the Everly Brothers live or on the radio or bought their records back in the day.

I want to talk to other people who sing in duets about their experiences, how it feels, what makes it special, what makes it hard, and so on.

I want to make my family happy.

I want world peace.

I’m bound to get something from this list.

A new frontier

December 4, 2008

I have been using EndNote for a couple of years now to handle citations in my papers. I have finally hit the wall with the bug and the way that the with every release (which costs another $90-100), the performance degrades. Right now I have a 25-page proposal in Word 2004 for Mac OS X with less than 100 bibliographic references (cited in 24 footnotes and collected in a bibliography at the end) that has bizarre scrolling problems. If I remove the field codes, the document behaves correctly. I always have to remove the field codes at the end anyway in order to change the straight quotes to smart quotes, fix the references EndNote can’t handle, and improve the readability of the footnotes.

Now that I am at a crossroads of sort (proposal hopefully heading towards the approval process, only a portion of one chapter written yet), I am going to try a new citation program. I’m going to start with Sente, but I’m keeping my eye on Bookends, too. If anyone has experience with either of these, let me know.

I’m also going to ponder how to manage the chapters: one giant monolithic document? individual chapter documents? a master document? I tried the latter with my masters thesis and it was a bit of a nightmare. I can’t stand the thought of a 200 or 300 page document so option 1 is out, too. The individual chapter documents will become problematic towards the end when I have to create continuous page numbering. 

Maybe I should think about Pages? Nah. It’s too dangerous to try to many new things at once.