Procrastinating My bin Laden Essay(1)

Yesterday, I attended my first ever McGill University lecture, a History of Science talk by Peter Dear, which was that splendid sort of talk where the author does close, careful readings of somewhat esoteric texts to make an interesting argument. I won’t bother you with the details because it’s the experice that was worth mentioning. Afterward, we retired to Thompson house for drinks. Thompson House is that very strange animal — a graduate student union in a lovely old, well, house. Drinks are relatively cheap, and it’s just a nice environment to hang out with people and chat. Apparently, faculty can crash it, which was news to me. I even discovered that Cornelius(2) has become an “associate member,” which I guess is like the “professor’s auxiliary.” I was eventually persuaded to go out for dinner. The whole thing was an absolutely wonderful experience, exactly the kind of thing one imagines academics are supposed to do: listen to papers, discuss ideas, and then dine, drink, and let the conversation range a bit.

Anyway, as it turned out, the selected joint was called au Pie du Cachon, which means “the pig’s foot,” known for its fine meats. This poses a problem only insofar as I am a vegetarian. Usually when this happens, the place comes up with some solution for vegetarians, which ranges from awful to decent. I’m happy to report the waiter was kind and the solution was more than decent. Anyway, I only tell you this because the fact of my vegetariansim — combined with the fact of people sitting next to me eating duck, steak tartar and blood sausage — occasioned an interesting conversation(3) about food, which included two main topics: vegetarianism and weird (to me) meat-based food from the Europe. I raised the issue of Haggis, as I am wont to do in such conversations, only to learn an astonishing fact from Nick Dew(4).

Vegetarian haggis exists.

Now, I have relied on the haggis as a staple of food humor for many years. I believe it was Mike Myers who once said that “all Scottish cuisine was created on a dare.” This was done with the expectation that I would never have the occasion to actually eat haggis. And the whole concept of stuffing an animal’s stomach full of food and then eating it is kind of funny. But then Nick says “oh yes, it’s quite good. And most of the stuff inside is vegetarian. You’d just need a different pouch.” So I go online and discover the following items:

–a company that sells prefab vegetarian haggis
–a recipe to make your own vegetarian haggis

I would merely direct you to my google search on the topic.

I am seriously considering making a vegetarian haggis. It looks time-consuming, so it’s probably a winter break thing. But I’m always up for a challenge.

Other fun fact: I discovered yet another NFL fan in Montreal. I will not name the fan in order to protect the identities of the innocent. We have the critical mass for a super bowl party now.

OK. Back to work. I am seriously trying to finish this short essay on the circulation of Osama bin Laden’s voice in the Western media. I plan a longer version too, but we mustn’t be greedy.



(1) I am now numbering footnotes so I can include more. Doing it by hand sucks, but the word processor on which I wrote my undergrad summa thesis also did not have a footnote function, so I did those by hand as well. What a bloody hassle! There must be a way to do it right. I am advertising for an undergrad RA next week and I am going to list xhtml as a desired skill.
(2) Cornelius Borck, my colleague in Art History and Communication Studies.
(3) this very blog also came up later in conversation
(4) Nick Dew, a historian who is my colleague on this History and Philosophy of Science Committee. Actually, Cornelius is on that, too.