Sunday, March 06, 2005

Job Listing

For some reason I started thinking about all the different jobs I've held and decided to list them - paperboy, fruitpicker, sales assistant, pizza delivery driver, cleaner (bathrooms and offices), gardener, tutor, tour guide, bartender, waiter, sales rep., webmaster and teacher. Thirteen different jobs decriptions in less than twenty years, and most of them menial and mindless, despite the fact that I am middle-class and highly educated. Isn't capitalism great?

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Conference Blues

I presented a conference paper yesterday to an audience of seven. My paper was well received, and it's another line for the CV, but sometimes conferences feel like a pyramid scheme. You pay anywhere from $40 to $100 to read your own paper, often receiving nothing in return - no free lunch, no cofee, no enlightened discussion from people in your field. Thankfully there are some good conferences, where there is a decent-sized audience who are familiar with the material being discussed and appreciate new angles and insights.

The moderator on my panel was a total idiot. He thought it was his duty to lecture each presenter for five minutes on all the things they "should" read or have read and tell them what to do with their paper next. In my opinion, the moderator should ask interesting questions about the paper to get a fruitful discussion going, then shut the fuck up. The session is not about the moderator; it is about the papers presented and what the audience wants to say about them.

One of the benefits of attending conferences is that you can measure yourself against your peers and gather a good idea of how good or bad one's peers are. Frankly, I am not surprised that many people don't get a job after completing their doctorate. Of course, there is a scarcity of jobs, but there are also many people with doctorates who lack the ability to speak in public, present a coherent argument, or interact competently with other people. I hate it when people think that earning their doctorate should guarantee them a job and that it is the only qualification they need. The doctorate is just one aspect of the complete package needed to be a successful academic.

That's my rant - there is reading to be done.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Everyday is Like Sunday

Actually, that's not true, but there's nothing wrong with having a catcy Morrisey tune playing in one's head.

I finished reading Willa Cather's The Professor's House yesterday afternoon and have been thinking about writing on that book for my term paper. However, I checked the MLA database and found that many, many articles, chapters etc have already been written on the book. I like to stay away from writing about books that have already had a lot of attention, as I want to only write papers that have a chance at publication or becoming a conference paper.

I have started reading Midnight's Children and am thoroughly enjoying it. Rushdie's narrative technique, language and imaginaation are all amazing. I consider Rushdie and Peter Carey to be the two greatest living authors in the world, of those that I have read. I was not at all surprised to learn that they are friends.

The better half fnished her first comprehensive exam yesterday, so we celebrated with some cheap champage and excellent tirimasu. She should be ABD by the end of the year. I expect to be ABD by next summer.

Last night we watched the All-Star dunk contest, three-point shoot-out etc. Although there were some amazing dunks, we were incredibly frustrated by the way TNT stretched 10 minutes of action over two hours and inserted about an hour's worth of commercials. Next time we will just record it to DVD and skip through all the shite. At least the All-Star game tonight will have about 48 minutes of action. Hopefully they will play some D and not simply allow each other to show off. I watched some of the Sophomores versus Rookies game on Friday night, and there were quite a few times when players where given open lanes to the basket merely to allow for some highlight footage. As a basketball fan, I want to be entertained, but not at the expense of a competitive game.

I read an interesting article in the NYT this morning re the secretly-recorded Bush tapes from 1998. No real surprises in the content, just proof that he is an arrogant bible-bashing wanker who is ruining the country and making the world more and more dangerous, all in the service of his own ego. Yes, imaginary reader, I am a liberal, and as much as I would like an audience, if you are conservative this is probably not the place for you. Texas would be more appropriate.

I plan to spend most of the day reading Midnight's Children. I also need to do the laundry, and She Who Must Be Obeyed wants the bathtub cleaned too. Domestic chores were certainly not something I considered during my youthful fantasies of married life. Admittedly, it is all the mundane things that I most dislike about being an adult - laundry, taking out the garbage, checking that the door's are locked, going to the supermarket, getting gas - it all gets in the way of more pleasurable and fulfilling pursuits.

Alias Addiction

You Know You're Addicted to Alias When...

At every fast food joint you go to, you order "the special, no pickles" regardless of the fact that you LIKE pickles.

You believe wearing a colorful wig and tight clothing can help you get away with anything.

You check the sides of old book pages for Russian characters.

Every time you see a black Mercedes, it reminds you of Sark.

You notice every Ford Focus on the road.

You use the phrase "There are just so many problems with this..." at every possible opportunity.

You have suspicions that your spouse may actually be a double.

Your non- Alias obsessed friends (like you have any of those left! Hah!) refuse to talk to you about Italians, prophecies, pickles, wigs, parent/daughter relationships, spies or anything else that might lead to a discussion about Alias.

You actually BUY a blue Ford Focus. (With gold rims, of course)

You wonder if Sark actually could be Irina's son.

You develop opinions and theories about this and other unanswered facets of the show, and spend a large amount of time formulating arguments for both sides of the debate...

The main question you ask yourself shopping is "Would Sydney wear something like this?"

You have seen every episode. Ever. More than 5 times a piece.

You went to see Daredevil just for Jennifer Garner.

You flip out when you see Michael Vartan in One Hour Photo married to someone else.

The mention of weddings, rings, or two years just gets you incredibly ticked off.

After getting a bad grade on a paper you tell your friend about your professor saying "legally he's right, ethically he's an ass."

If the topic of TV shows comes up, you automatically ask the person "Do you watch Alias?" and if they say they've never heard of it... you immediately end the conversation.

You hear the songs played in the show.. and you instinctively listen for the lines of the characters.. and know precisely when their lines occurred in the song.

Your history teacher mentions something about the KGB.. and you suddenly think "Irina?"

You have a codename that people actually call you by.

You think having no first name is a perfectly acceptable thing.

Old Asian men in wheelchairs creep you out.

You will never view epoxy in the same way again.

You find yourself trying to find good, compelling reasons to sway your significant other that your next child/pet should be named "Irina" or "Sydney."

You feel aggravated and insulted when you watch the episode of "Frasier" where Victor Garber plays Dr. Crane's British butler. ("Years of agent training and experience, wasted...")

You feel a strange urge to bite Mike Tyson's ear off every time you think of "Jimmy Kimmel Live."

Whenever you hear a truly interesting song, you immediately think of how that song would fit into a scene from Alias.

You find yourself criticizing the REAL CIA based solely on your knowledge of Alias.

You think Jerry Springer's guests have boring, uncomplicated family/friend relationships and easy, simple-to-fix personal problems.

You become incredibly irritated when people say, "That girl Sydney, doesn't she really report to someone else?" and can tell them exactly how many episodes behind the times they are.

You begin fantasizing about planting listening devices on your significant other's work clothes, just to see if you can find anything exciting/spy-worthy.

You know what J/I, S/V, S/W, Sarkney, Slark, slash, and shipper are, and have opinions on all of them.

Every time you hear the Nokia ringtone, you get excited even though there's no way it could be Vaughn.

You look for air vents you could crawl into incase of an emergency.

On Monday morning instead of saying "hello" to your friend you just say "Did you SEE VAUGHN'S BOXERS???"

The only people you have on your AIM buddy list are people you've met through Alias

When you begin to doze off in history class and only snap back to attention when the teacher uses the words "Alliance" or "Covenant."

You record every episode, then go out and buy the DVDs as well.

You dream about Irina Derevko at least once a week.

Sweiss does not sound like a candy bar to you

You assume that anyone who wears dark eyeliner is evil.

You meet a nice person and immediately become suspicious of their motives.

You constantly try to figure out ways to get Jack and Irina back together.

You actually get these jokes and pass them on to other friends who are addicted to Alias.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Morning musings

The better half and I got home late last night after attending an NBA game and seeing our team kick arse. Through one of her students we were able to secure tickets about ten rows from the court, which gave us a great view of all the action. Of course, now we are spoilt and will never want to sit any farther away than the tenth row. One day, when we are both affluent tenured professors, we will buy season tickets ...

I am teaching two classes today. In my literature class we are studying postcolonial poetry - Walcott, Soyinka, Oktenberg. In my writing class I have the task of returning their narrative essay and explaining some of the basics of sentence structure. I often wonder what on earth students learn in High School English classes in this country.

I must go and have an early lunch, as I have to be on campus by one o'clock for office hours.

Monday, February 14, 2005


I am new to the world of blogs, and thus am unsure as to whether or not there is a protocol for first postings, or whether there is even a remote chance of finding an audience.

Here is a little about myself, leaving out specific identifying details.

I am not American, but I live in the United States.

I am working on a doctorate in English.

I teach literature and writing.

I hope to interact online with other Grad. Students and Academics regarding the world of academe.