Thursday, August 30, 2007

poetry in the suds

The other day, when I was driving to work, I had You Am I just blasting. For those of you unfamiliar with this band, they're a great rock band. Someone on a mailing list described them as "ACDC fronted by Live at Leeds-era Pete Townsend," which I guess is as good as any description. A friend of mine just called them "the quintessential Mike band."

I hope that was a compliment.

Anyway, I realized that they were singing an awful lot about beer, bars, and drinking in general. I then thought about this (because that's the kind of person that I am), and I realized that a large chunk of the bands/artists I like also sing a lot about getting drunk. Ryan Adams, Slobberbone, Drive-By Truckers, ACDC, the list goes on.

I am, for the record, self-aware enough to know that there are good reasons why I like these bands. And I do have enough personal control that this realization does not scare me.

But I wonder why there's been little other art (of the high culture variety). Yeah, there's Bukowski, but is there anyone who's less of a jerk about it? There were too many writers who were drunks for me to blank out on drunk art like this.

And on a related note, who do I have to strangle to get Barfly released on dvd?

public television and academic discourse

Earlier this week, I did something I used to do a lot of when I was much poorer than I am now...I watched PBS.

Now, I enjoy PBS. They do great programming, and their shows are usually intelligent and insightful. However, it's hard for them to compete with stupid, campy fun...what would you rather watch at the end of a long day, Nature or an American Gladiators repeat?

But I did catch a very good episode of Nova on Typhoid Mary. It was cool, and not just because they gave Tony Bourdain a long interview (he's my hero, and I'm contemplating ways to teach his book on Mary). No, it was cool, because it was truly interdisciplinary.

History? Sure it was, but it was more. It also went into the history of science, on how people used to think about diseases...we sometimes forget that antibacterial handsoap has not always been ubiquitous. It also went into class...because the working poor at the time had much greater pressures than the rich. Of course, it went into race...Mary was Irish, and this was at a time when everyone (including government officials) treated them as one of the lowest groups of scum. Damn straight that gender was an issue. And there was plenty of more stuff as well, more approaches.

It does go to show, though, that most of the academic divisions we normally use are fairly arbitrary. We divide disciplines for many reasons, but it's infrequently a neat or surgical affair. There is always overlap. You cannot talk about one thing without having to talk about many others.

And it addressed these issues in a forum available across the country, for free. Man, I need to watch more of this channel.

higher education, tech style

I'm in the middle of doing my second batch of conferences for my online class, and I'm doing these conferences electronically. Yes, it's real 21st century stuff. I meet my students in the chat room, and we discuss just like we would in person.

There is a problem with the whole procedure, though. While I appreciate the ability to do this from anywhere in the world, we have the basic issue that very few people can type as fast as they would talk. Practically, it means that I fire off a question, I wait for a little while, then I get a response. While I'm responding, the student has to wait for me.

It's not horribly efficient. Conferences I would normally finish in 15 minutes take about thirty. I have to think fast, but I still can't type as fast as I think or would talk, so there's plenty of unused time.

It does have its upsides. I have found time to do these journal entries, for instance. But all in all, I'd rather not be staring at a computer screen right now. I do enough of that through the day.

Why can't the machine just tap into my cerebral cortex?


So I'm in the middle of doing conferences, and I have a slight break. My rss feeder shows me this article entitled "On the overuse of exclamation points," and I just have to look. This is really one that everyone who e-mails or text messages should read.

I have a love-hate relationship with the exclamation point....okay, mostly hate. 95% of the times a comma is used, it's to stress something that is completely unworthy of stress. It's a nice day! Okay, sure, but is this really the type of thing you should shout?

Much like the writer of this piece, I don't want to sound like a fogie or a grammar cop. And while the concept of medium difference is intriguing, I don't think that's entirely the case. People don't just have much faith in the power of words to convey information. Why else would people be forced to mark their "funny" lines with LOL?

Besides, isn't being misconstrued half the fun?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sigmund was never equipped to handle this

one of my dreams last night revolved around some genetically modified shrimp that, in addition to being tasty when boiled, each had the ability to store an mp3. Me and some other people were trying to figure out how to broadcast the shrimp tunes.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

teaching and the immediate future of this blog

The semester starts Monday for me (weee!!!! I was getting so tired my own boss? Having no schedule? Working on whatever the hell I wanted to?), and this time around, I'm requiring my students write a twice a week media journal...critical reflections on the the media they experience. To show them what an egalitarian guy I am (or to trick them into thinking I'm anything less than a ruthless dictatorial bastard), I'm gonna do the assignment alongside with them. I'll be cross-posting my media journals here. Watch for them...they'll give you a clue to the state of higher education in this country.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

I'm like jelly here...

On the writing front, I managed to convince a publisher to move an article of mine up in their 5+ year cue for articles. So, if anyone is a subscriber or has access to The Journal of Popular Culture, look for "Holding Out for a Hero: Reaganism, Comic Book Vigilantes, and Captain America" by yours truly. It will be in volume 40, issue 6. Only please, be was written years ago.

mr. stage diver, it's not about you.

The spousal unit and I went to see Modest Mouse last night in Columbus. Ultimate conclusions are two-fold. First, Columbus is just too damn far to drive for a weekday poor lovely spousal unit had about 4 hours sleep. Secondly, Modest Mouse might be the best band playing today.

I have before expressed my love for their new album. Well, I saw a live clip on Conan (I think), and I was nervous, because the sound on that one was awful. No worries live, though. The band was tight, the sound was amazing, and the bass player was particularly smoking. Lots of songs from their last two albums, of course, but there were dips into the back catalog (most of which I own, but I realized I really have to give it more attention).

The problem was the crowd. As it was in a major college town one week before classes start, it was overrun by "hip" teens and such. Most of them looked identical to each other. Many of them were stoned out of their gourd (often smoking pot directly in front of us). There was one girl behind us for a few songs who insisted on yelling every two seconds, and she sounded like a cat in heat...and not in a good way.

There was a ton of crowd surfing and stage diving. I've always found these to be slightly annoying. Maybe it's the old, curmudgeonly side coming out, but I'd rather pay attention to the band than to lift some jock geek over the crowd or, worse yet, have them jump on me. But it got worse, because some of the people insisted on getting up on stage and staying there...dancing, waving their arms, shouting "look at me." The band was not amused, and the singer eventually made several snide comments, such as "if you want to put on a dancing show, we do have other things we could be doing...we could check our e-mail."

Eventually, the security did finally wake up and start doing their job, and the second half of the show was mercifully light on such knuckleheads. Good thing too, because the band was smokin'.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

another themikedubose blog

I've had another blog for a while and had no idea what to do with it, so I decided to rename it interwub postcards. I'm going to use it to post links to neat websites and such that I run across in my daily interwub know, the standard blog thingie. This is still my main blog, and I will still keep all my writings and musings here.

But hey, if you wanna know how I waste my time, check out the new place!

Friday, August 10, 2007

so, when was your first time?

I've seen the commercials just like you have. However, I'm still not sure if "to internet" really is a verb.

But when did I first internet?

I took a typing class when I started going to college...well, to the community college down the street. I probably should've went to a better school, but I worked 35+ hours a week during high school, partied the rest of the time, and consequently didn't get that great of grades. Besides, the community college was much cheaper, and at that point in time, the only real reason to go to college I had was that I didn't know what else to do. I did, however, holdthe sneaking suspicion that Little Caesars Pizza really shouldn't be my career.

So I went to college, and someone told me that I would have to do papers for higher education. I further realized that even if the profs would've accepted handwritten work, chances are they wouldn't be able to decipher my Sanskrit-esque scrawl. So I took a typing class, and it has paid dividends. I know people who've written their dissertation using "hunt and peck," but frankly, I don't know how they do is, my hands don't keep up with my thoughts.

The fringe benefit of typing class, however, was that I got to use a computer for the first time in my life for something other than playing horrifically bad video games such as Leisure Suit Larry. The class had a bit of de facto word processor training build in, so I got to play with that state of the art program, WordPerfect 5.0.

(For those of you who've never had the pleasure, if you wanted to do anything at all other than just type, you had to use an arcane combination of weird keystrokes, such as doing a control-F7 combination (or something like that) to make text didn't just click on a button, because there were no buttons, nothing to click on them with anyway...and woe betide those who lost the template explaining the myriad of keystrokes needed to do anything whatsoever. This program also had the added advantage of the screen looking nothing at all like your printout...ah, the glory days).

After the typing class, I figured there might be something to this whole computer thing...yes, I was a visionary even back when I was an obnoxious I took another class which was 1/3 WordPerfect, 1/3 dBase, and 1/3 Lotus 1-2-3. I didn't use the other programs at all, however. I didn't own my own computer at the time, so I spent a lot of hours at the computer lab writing. Then I got my A.A., worked pizza and selling water, and forgot computers altogether.

Then I went back to school and became reacquainted with computer labs in general and WordPerfect specifically. Soon, however, I noticed the "new" computers at the lab...they had some weird attachment that I later found out was called a "mouse," which you used to click on "icons" in "windows." Wild. Then the library installed some computers and, while killing time between classes, I jumped on one and saw an icon labeled "Netscape."

That was my introduction to the must've been 1995 or so, so web sites went beyond text only, but the content out there was pretty strange. I remember looking at a lot of Netscape's Site of the Day candidates and seeing stuff such as "The Men's Guide to Urinal Etiquette," "Bert is Evil," and "Virtual Bubblewrap." I did also find some useful sites, but strangely enough, the stupid ones are the ones I remember with a certain fondness.

Soon, I saw a flyer which said that my university would give me a free e-mail account. I had no idea why I would need one, but it was free, so I signed up. The e-mail client? PINE, which was no graphic, two color, and ugly as hell...but at the time, it still reeked of "the future" to me.

Exposure to the web and to e-mail eventually made me realize the possibilities. I did research. I looked into graduate schools. Eventually, I started my own internet literary journal, which ran for three years and six issues and published some really nice work. It was eventually taken over by someone else when doctoral school robbed me of any extra time, and now, the web site address is being held by some weird site which has links to "Online Poker," "Debt Consolidator," "Airline Tickets," and "Bisexual Dating."

I've been online a long time, and I've experienced the medium as it has grown into something remarkable. I remember when my old 33.6 modem was state of the art. I remember when Internet Explorer didn't exist. I remember when there were no "Social Networking" sites.

I can't imagine being without internet access. Nowadays, I get tons of mail to multiple e-mail addresses. I do most of my research from my home and have access to material I could've never touched just ten years ago. I get news feeds, photography from the Hubble telescope, letters from family and friends, all delivered daily to my desktop.

Even though I rely on the internet to a staggering degree, I have to admit that, for the last few years, we've been doing it on the cheap here at casa DuBose/Lamb. I have been running dial-up, and whenever I mention this fact to anyone, they react in abject horror.

No more, however. Next week, we make the leap to high tech. I have cable internet being installed, so we'll finally be able to grab music, use youtube, download pdfs, work from home.

We will be getting rid of our land line entirely. We will still be available, but you're gonna have to call me or my lovely spousal unit on our cells (e-mail for the number if you don't have it).

Once we get cable internet added to our satellite television and cellular telephones, we will be 100% digital.

Don't hate us for our technology.

(post 300, by the way)

Monday, August 06, 2007

on being a gentleman loser

Alternative Country musician Robbie Fulks once said that once you hit a certain age, country music is sitting there waiting on you. While I don't know about that (I'm a bit more open to country than I ever was, but I still like very little), I have found myself drifting more towards Steely Dan than I ever had.

When I was younger, I had grandiose notions of eventually becoming a rock star...and that was mixed in with a lot of loner hero imagery, which I suppose is pretty typical for a lot of angst-ridden, painfully shy teens. That mostly died in me bit by bit as a result of failed band attempts, failure to even get jam sessions with friends, and seeing the bands my friends did have destruct for a number of weird reasons, including egotistical band members, a key musician either starting to drink heavily or quit drinking altogether, or the stereotypical "band getting screwed by one too many bar owners."

It was probably just as well...most professional musicians either end up as drunk/drug addicts, in severe debt, divorced from their porn starlet wife, and the subject of a very embarrassing and formulaic VH-1 special, and I'm not just that telegenic.

When I adopted the student lifestyle, I initially assumed it would require monastic/hermit living conditions. At first, such a lifestyle was necessitated by the fact I was working 3 jobs while going for my M.A. When I started going for my Ph.D., I had a fair problem finding people in my department to drink thought I was an alcoholic because I could have more than three beers in an evening.

Eventually, I found people to hang out with. Then, as we were all in grad school, they all moved out, and I found myself relatively friendless. I lucked into new friendships, and then those friends got jobs and moved away. So I got another batch of friends, only to have them either move or go into dissertation freakout mode. My last group of amazing best friends moved away last month, and I miss them terribly. And while by this time I realized that people would eventually scatter, it threw me a little more than did the previous times. By now, I don't work at BGSU and in fact have very little connection to the school, so I have no real idea who's gonna be my next hang-out friend...I just don't have many close contacts to my local hang-out scene. I am currently auditioning, and there are some really good candidates and wonderful people, but I'm not sure yet which ones of them will put up with me.

Aside from the transient nature of non-tenure academics, I have to put up with none of my departed friends being within close driving distance save two, and I'm really too busy to plan the full-day trips that hanging out with them would require. And I don't have time to do the Michigan-Wisconsin-Minnesota-Iowa road trip to go hit bars with departed friends/drinking buddies. Not only that, I have a number of friends who don't drink at all anymore. It's perfectly alright by me, and if someone doesn't feel it would be healthy mentally or physically for them to drink, I certainly have never wanted to push anyone towards it. But it does really change the normal evening out procedures in ways I still haven't 100% grasped.

The problem is that I still love the bars. I really enjoy drinking as a social activity... I'm long past doing it to alter my mood swings... and bars have a great ambiance that allows you to overcome social anxiety and limitations on suitable topics of conversation. As a result, I've had some of the best academic, theoretical, theological, and philosophical conversations of my life over minipitchers. Bars relax me. But going to bars by yourself is just a little creepy, let alone boring, and I don't really have many people right now who I can call up on a whim and ask if they wanna share some drafts.

It's left me feeling a bit like I'm pining after lost glories. That's where, I guess, my current Steely Dan infatuation comes in. When I listen to them, their music is largely "whatever happened to the world, and why isn't it as cool as it once was?"...and this is how I've been feeling.

As I was checking my mail, I had the mp3s on, and "Midnight Cruiser" came up. I got a bit fixated on the line "For one more time, let your madness run with mine."

Most of the people with whom my madness used to run now live elsewhere. Consider this an open call.

is there anything more boring than...

So I'm sitting at my home computer working on a paper. Well, working only in the barest possible sense, as there's nothing whatsoever creative in trying to fit a potential journal's style guide. Saturday, I got to go through the entire paper and eliminate any instance of two spaces after punctuation. I just finished changing all the citations from MLA to the journal's own twisted version of Chicago. My next exciting task is to, and I quote from their style sheet, make sure I'm using "single quote marks for integrated quotations within the text, double quote marks for quotes within quotes"...for some stupid reason.

What's even worse: "when quotation marks enclose less than a complete sentence, the closing quote should precede the final punctuation. When quotation marks enclose a complete sentence or more, the closing quote should follow the final punctuation. If the source/page numbers appear with the quotation, place them in parentheses after the closing quotation mark but before the final full point." I'm not sure I even understand this, and I teach writing, for Christ's sake!

What gets me is that Word is utterly no help. I've been a big critic of Word's strange compulsion to screw up my margins and indentations, but it can't automatically change citation styles? Is anyone who works on word processors listening? Us academics could use some assistance.

I need to figure out all this stupid crapola before I get to the real business...gutting a few thousand words out of this essay and doing a new intro. Wee!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

publication, baybeee!!!!!!!!

Another publication! Woohoo! I just got word that my article/narrative “Two Years in Hell: My Life in the Adjunct Class” has been accepted for the forthcoming collection Thinking Class: The Adjunct Experience. Another line on the ole c.v. is great, and it's inspiring to know that my crappy experiences have come to some good after all.

Now, how do I celebrate?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

a good academic journal?

I am putting the finishing touches on (what I think is) a pretty good paper on the tv show House. Any advice on where to send it? I unfortunately just don't know the good television/media journals like I should.

C'mon, this is your time to let your voice be heard! Tell me what to do!