Monday, September 10, 2007

The Importance of Being Ernest...

Names are so important in life, but at the same time, they don't really matter because they ARE arbitrary. My wife and I are struggling to find names that might communicate the perceived possibility of our baby. Of course we have no real idea what this child will become, but being first-time parents, we want to positively influence our oldest child to be the coolest, smartest, etc that they can.

I've been told and heard that this radically changes with a second and subsequent children. Being a second/middle child, I understand why and how this occurs, yet I am not immune to my psychology's attempt to determine the need for us to choose THE perfect name for our son.

Furthermore, being a student of semiotics and cultural studies, so many different and competing drives enter the equation. I want to choose a name that will give my son some gender fluidity because I don't want to force hegemonic (yeah, I used that word, whatcha gonna say about it?) masculine ideals on him, say "Hank" or "Dick". At the same time, knowing the strength of power in culture, I do not want to be too out there and leave them open to painful and potentially scarring him by the years of jeers and beatings that my sons will probably be subject to just by the fact that they have me for a father, say "Claire" or "Rene".

In addition to gender distinctions, there are obvious ethnic, racial, and ideological influences. We want to communicate our faith and family backgrounds but do not want to force that on our child but would prefer that they express that interest as a choice.

This does not really represent a wholly intellectual pursuit either. We also want to have a pleasant aesthetic sense in a name that will will probably end up calling and saying and yelling for the rest of our lives.

All of this rigamoral of discussion is just to say: If you have suggestions of guides or names that would fulfill all of these criteria, then I am open to suggestions.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Making the Geezers laugh...

As a new lecturer/professor, whatever I am, I've been trying to figure out who I am and what in the wide world of sports I am supposed to be accomplishing in each class. These students pay a fair amount of money to be in a classroom with me, but it is not a commercial relationship. This has lead me to an observation.

Teaching is a hell of a lot like being a stand-up comedian in an old-folks home. While I have not ever held this position, but I can guess from my experiences in church and band when we played or sang for old folks. My imagination gives me an image that is remarkably similar to what I do every day.

Nearly every day, I stand in front of a group of people who are...
  • confused as to why they are there and
  • who would prefer to be in bed.
  • Many of them are on drugs or the influence of something.
  • Without fail at least one of the audience falls asleep during my spiel, and
  • they resent all attempts to make them get up, move around, or interact with each other.
  • None of the audience really trusts other members of the audience, and
  • they displace these feelings by revealing cynical/skeptical opinions about me, my topics, and my being there.
  • The fact that I dress up or down results in criticism from some quarter.
  • I have no real idea where they are coming from or what they might be interested.
  • Many of the members of the audience miss their home and familiar surroundings.
  • The male members of the audience wish to find the prettiest thing in the room and stare at it or touch it.
  • The females wish to be pleasant and not attract too much attention.
  • There is drooling.
  • I am expected to do my little song and dance, but actual attempts to be cute/charming/etc are frowned upon.
Of course, this implies some stereotypes, but it is close enough to keep me up at night.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Back to Normalcy...

Now that we are finally in our new place and I am in my new job, things will hopefully return to something like a routine. Routine is good for me because it allows me to begin writting and working again. Part of this will mean that I can again start posting my thoughts here, although I'm not sure how brilliant they might be. As soon as I get the photos that my brother took, I can post a few, non identifying, pics of our new house, which is fun.

Recently, other than moving and starting a job, not much has been happening. We got DVR, which is super exciting. I had resisted the temptation for the longest time because I liked having to search for shows and I believe in a sort of comraderie that surrounds being able to watch things at the sae time as other people, but with the fracture of audiences and the amount of programs that I follow, both professionally and personally, I found that we really needed a DVR/Tivo device.

Additionally, of the many friends that we have that have recently had babies, almost all of them very strongly recommended something like the DVR or Netflix. Since I really was unimpressed by Netflix's time for return and some of their selections, we settled on the DVR. I am told that there is nothing quite as helpful for being forced to be up with baby as being able to have something that you actually want to watch on TV.

My wife and I recently saw a few films, most notably the adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Stardust, which I cannot recommend for reasons that I will go into in another post, and Judd Apatow's Superbad, which I recommend to those who love the sort of teen/high-school night-in-a-life movies. Think "License to Drive" or "200 Cigarettes" only much much funnier.

Anyway, I need to continue my progress into becoming an honest faculty member. So, I'm off.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Yay! Things are Happening. Lot's of Things.

Well, my frustration and remorse for the past few posts about getting things done has exploded, calmed, exploded, and now seems to be calm for a couple of weeks, at which time it will explode again before hopefully settling into a nice, calm year of fun teaching.

That's right. I have a job, but that is not the most exciting thing. My fun, knitting-loving wife and I now have a special someone to knit for this coming January. Yup. We're expecting a baby! So, I will have the opportunity to use this blog as a desparate attempt to remain connected and expressive, like so many others. Oh, the hilarity that will ensue.

Ok, back to the exciting job front and impending move. I have been hired at Penn State - Erie for a lectureship. Yeah, I know. It's not tenure-track, and I only have a one-year contract at the moment. However, that leaves me free to pursue only the jobs that I really want this year, and if I really like it, like I think I might, then I have a very good chance to apply for a three-year contract beginning next year.

There was a momentary phase where my wife and I were considering buying a house too. We looked into it and found some great places at very affordable prices, but with so much going on, we figured that it would be better to rent for a little while.

The dust is settling and it looks like I will be teaching half composition classes and half something like the classes that I taught for the last two years. Expect some funny if vaguely described stories.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

It is, really...It is...

I think...that is, I'm pretty sure that all of my paperwork is in for me to be officially considered Dr. Me. After the past week of going crazy trying to figure out the innane instructions for electronically submitting my dissertation and getting all of the last-minute signatures on my final draft, I have officially turned in my dissertation entitled "The Stranger in the Dark: Levinasian-Derridean Ethics in Noir".

It should be available to download on Ohiolink and various dissertation databases soon for all those of you who are dying to get your hands on this brilliant treatise on the confluences of genre, philosophy, and narrative. When I began this, most people thought that I was crazy to try to link these different ideas in one work. However, the most recent PMLA journal has a very conceptually similar essay that examines the Lemony Snicket books in terms of their ethical statement that grows out of a Post-modern/Gen-X perspective.

I think that I have some quibbling about whether the interest in ambiguous and self-refertial storytelling belonging just to my generation, but the author seems to indicate that she is not bounding the practice, just exploring one of its expressions.

On another front, I had a very nice interview about 12 days ago, and I am waiting to hear back about that sometime between now and July (nice focused window they have). Additionally, I have an interview this Thursday and Friday for another position that would be equally nice.

So, hopefully, I will soon be able to inform all of my beginning on truly kicking off my academic career from the other side of the educational fence.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Things keepin' on...

I want to post briefly before class starts in a few minutes. Of course, none of my students are actually here 10 minutes before class, but what can you do. It is a paper turn-in day. So, they are probably all down in the computer lab printing them as I type.

Let's see. I had a great interview at RIT last week, or I thought it was great. I immediately meshed with the faculty and felt very comfortable. There was a small snag, when the DVD player that I had requested for my little presentation lacked a remote. I took it casually and just explained the clips that I had planned on using and how they related to my research and teaching. I haven't heard anything yet, but then the department chair had said that it could be decided last Thurday or in July. It just depended. Apparently, everyone take two or three weeks off in June. I get to hurry up and wait.

I have all but about 20 pages of my disseration revised into a form that is at least not embarrassing. I have to keep reminding my self that the best dissertation is the finished one. Besids, even with electronic databases, no one will read my work until I get it published.

We are excited because some of my bestest friends from college are coming to visit for a couple days in a couple of weeks, but we ar sad because some of our bestest friends in the area are moving. Some are going to North Carolina, and others are starting grad school in Bloomington, IN. So sad. I suppose that it would be easier if I didn't feel like I was always treading water and waiting for something to happen. The zen thing to do would be to become more comfortable with the water and accept where I am, but I'm not very zen.

Anyway, students are finally showing up, wih 5 minutes to spare!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

More news...

Well, while I still lack a "real" full time position for the fall, I did manage to pick up two 5 week composition courses at the local CC, which is very nice. I have two days to prepare syllabi for two different comp classes (one is the intro and the other is the second level writing class) that will meet for two hours Mon through Thurs for five straight weeks.

I actually prefer teaching this kind of class. It is condensed and students do not have as much time to let things slip out of their heads. The problem comes when the students do not expect this sort of vigorous course. Since I have to meet the standards of local 4-year college comp classes, there are a certain number of pages and papers that the students must complete. This means that the drafts must come right up against one another.

This can be really tough with a class of only a dozen or so students and a press for time. I try to warn everyone that this is hard and make myself available, but it never fails that I have a few students who do not realize until too late that they will not be able to make it.

On a separate note, I am saddened by the fact that "Veronica Mars" was cancelled after this season. I'm told that one of my more effective chapters in my dissertation was the one on this show. I had hoped that there would be at least another season or two, which would bring more opportunities to write about it.

I suspect that the audience just couldn't find an audience. It was not really aimed at the target young woman/girl audience that I guess the CW was gunning for, and it's not really the kind of show that the uber-male 18-34 crowd would get into. It was a show that fell between definitions in terms of audience and storytelling. This resulted in a sort of unevenness that probably led to its downfall.

Let's see...not much else going on here. So, I guess I'll get back to my revisions.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Well, folks. "Lots and none at all indeed" aptly describes current events.

On the positive side, I successfully defended my dissertation on May 3rd. I am now technically a Doctor of American Culture Studies. So, if there are any symptoms that your American Culture is experiencing, I might be able to help diagnose them.

More positive is that Jenna and I found out that our landlord was over charging us by about $200 per month compared to other properties. So, we talked her into lowering our rent for the forseeable future. Woohoo!

On the more negative side, my committee had lots of "suggestions" for revising my manuscript of my diss. That's what I get for taking on the history of narratives and one of the most beloved genres in the history of film. Oh, and I am also throwing in a redefinition of the idea of ethics in there for good measure. Blech. So, I have been redrafting large sections of my diss to answer some of their questions and concerns.

On the wholly negative side, I was not able to land a full-time teaching gig for the coming year. It looks like I will be working as an Adjunct Professor at our local Community College, which isn't so bad, but they can get away paying us very, very little. Thankfully the people there are very nice, and I like the students for the most part.

Also, after much fretting and the serious consideration of selling my nearly paid off car, it looks like I might have enough income this summer that this is not necessary. Yay!

The best part is that my wonderful wife has been super supportive and excellent about everything, at least as excellent as I was myself.

I wish that I had the energy to bash all of those short-sighted schools that did not hire me and the stupidity of the strict disciplinary boundaries that kept me out of a number of positions that I was perfectly qualified for, but I don't have the heart. I've been blessed, even if not in the ways I might prefer.

Now, I just have to finish the manuscript, send it to some publishing friends, turn some chapters into articles, and rock the next year of job searching. It is sad that I probably will not be able to see most of my friends at all of the conferences that I like/need to attend, but it is not in the cards.

I really hope to be posting more often now for the handful of you who read this. I had the hardest time when Blogger switched over to this google thing. I had to change my name and password multiple times. I think I have it now.

I have so many things that I want to write about, but I have to get the important things done for the moment.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Quote Quiz

A couple of commentors have requested that I post the quote quiz that I give to my students. I had meant for this to be VERY easy extra credit for the students, but they ended up only able to get about 12 right.

If you are taking this, please don't cheat by using IMDB or Google, etc.

Name the movie which each quotation comes from. Each is worth 1 pt, but partial credit can be received for creativity and relative accuracy.

1. “I’m the king of the world.”
2. “Luke, I am your father.”
3. “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
4. “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
5. “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
6. “Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.”
7. “I’ll be back.”
8. “You talkin’ to me.”
9. “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!”
10. “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”
11. “I feel the need – the need for speed.”
12. “Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a mirac…It’s in the hole! It’s in the hole! It’s in the hole!”
13. “They’re here!”
14. “I wish I knew how to quit you.”
15. “The rules of hair care are simple and finite.”
16. “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me. Aren’t you?”
17. “You’ve got a baby…in a bar!”
18. Person A: “…why does the floor move?”
Person B: “Give me your torch” drops torch “Snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes?”
Person A: “Asps. Very dangerous. You go first.”
19. “Say ‘hello’ to my little friend!”
20. “I've seen an agent punch through a concrete wall. Men have emptied entire clips at them and hit nothing but air, yet their strength and their speed are still based in a world that is built on rules. Because of that, they will never be as strong or as fast as you can be.”
21. “There’s no crying in baseball!”
22. “Look around! You couldn't find a whiter, safer or better lit part of this city. But this white woman sees two black guys, who look like UCLA students, strolling down the sidewalk and her reaction is blind fear. I mean, look at us! Are we dressed like gangbangers? Do we look threatening? No.”
23. “You had me at ‘hello’”
24. "Rule #76: No excuses. Play like a champion!”
25. “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”
26. “What’s your major malfunction, numbnuts? Didn’t Mommy and Daddy show you enough attention when you were a child?”
27. “In 1930, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, in an effort to alleviate the effects of the... Anyone? Anyone?... the Great Depression, passed the... Anyone? Anyone? Anyone know the effects? It did not work, and the United States sank deeper into the Great Depression.”
28. “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
29. “No, she gets a special cologne... It's called Sex Panther by Odeon. It's illegal in nine countries... Yep, it's made with bits of real panther, so you know it's good.”
30. “I realize that when I met you at the turkey curry buffet, I was unforgivably rude, and wearing a reindeer jumper.”
31. “I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend, and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.”
32. “The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.”
33. “It was one of those days when it's a minute away from snowing and there's this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it. And this bag was, like, dancing with me. Like a little kid begging me to play with it. For fifteen minutes. And that's the day I knew there was this entire life behind things, and... this incredibly benevolent force, that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever. Video's a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember... and I need to remember... Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it, like my heart's going to cave in.”
34. “Summer romances begin for all kinds of reasons, but when all is said and done, they have one thing in common. They're shooting stars, a spectacular moment of light in the heavens, fleeting glimpse of eternity, and in a flash they're gone.”
35. “Memory can change the shape of a room; it can change the color of a car. And memories can be distorted. They're just an interpretation, they're not a record, and they're irrelevant if you have the facts.”
36. “We have front row seats for this theater of mass destruction. The demolition committee of Project Mayhem wrapped the foundation columns of a dozen buildings with blasting gelatin. In two minutes, primary charges will blow base charges and a few square blocks will be reduced to smoldering rubble. I know this... because Tyler knows this.”

>12 right = more culturally aware than 18 and 19 year olds.
>24 right = more culturally aware than 24-25 year olds.
>30 right = geek

Quarterly Update...

Hey, all.

I have had a few complaints about the dearth of posting on my blog, but I have many, many excuses. I am finishing my dissertation, publishing a book I edited (Battleground States: Scholarship in Contemporary America), teaching, presenting at conferences, representing the grad students at BGSU, and looking for a job.

Things are going as well as can be expected. Jobs are tough to come by, which is to be expected. Dissertations are hard to write, especially when you end up taking on the history of narrative from classical Greek drama to contemporary noir films, television shows, and graphic novels. D'oh!

As soon as I get some of these things done, I promise that I will put more time into posting wacky, yet insightful things on my blog again.