Saturday, May 30, 2009

On Dress, and Men

I recently watched the lovely little film Beau Brummel: This Charming Man, which came out on BBC tv back in 2006. It was cute, very nicely done, especially if you loved the various Jane Austen adaptations and want to see Regency-style costumes. I found it a little bit slow and lacking in plot events, but I must admit that I am not a fan of biographies or biopics for just this reason, so don't take this as a reason not to see it.

It stars James Purefoy, the lead from Rome, so if you want to admire him as he smirks handsomely at the camera and ogle his frequent dressing scenes --- and dressing is almost as erotic an act as undressing, so who wouldn't? --- then this little film is perfect for you. There is some great humor with the narcissism of the dandy, as several scenes make comedy out of the fact that all the members of this love triangle are named "George," as well as a weirdly literal interpretation of Sedgewick's "between men" theory ---- I don't know if this was from the biography they adapted, or how the director wanted to set it up, or if they thought this was the only way they could represent queerness on mainstream tv, or what. If you have more info, let me know!

I love costume and questions of dress, and found their portrayal of the dandy figure to be fascinating --- entertaining, yet explanatory enough to use in the classroom. Plus, there is this bizarrely funny scene where fops meet dandies and battle on the streets as if they were mods vs. rockers, or perhaps Sharks vs. Jets:

Seriously, watch and laugh. I was so struck by it I decided to finally get off my ass and learn how to cut video clips and upload them to Youtube --- something I have said I wanted to do for years now for my classes, and now I know how. Feel free to play it for your classes, or perhaps this other fan video (not created by me) on the rules of dandy dress:

What I found fascinating, when I went to find the "rumble in the streets" scene (and was forced to cut and upload it myself), was that there were so many fan clips of the film, cut as music videos --- they're easy to find if you click through and see the recommended videos attached to these two. Set, of course, to The Kinks' "Dandy," Morrisey's "This Charming Man," even songs by the Dandy Warhols, the surprise for me was that they had all been re-cut to excise the homoeroticism and revert to the film grammar of heterosexual romance, to the extent that pretty random women (it's a man's world in this film, baby) who happen to be looking at the camera get spliced in to sub for the the Prince Regent or Lord Byron as the recipient of Brummell's steamy looks. I guess I shouldn't be too startled though, considering how much the Regency period has been colonized by the bodice-ripper romance genre.

Ok, I would say even more but I have to run off and meet some friends, so I leave you with a screenshot of one of the many dressing scenes of the movie:

"I would go out to night, but I haven't got a stitch to wear..."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A stupid question

If I make passing reference to a work in my article, do I include it in the Works Cited? For example,
But Gustavius Hornswoggler's grand opus Of Noseology was not the only work of his to connect illegitimate nosepicking with sodomy ---- besides his final book On the Corruption of Children, examples from his juvenalia abound, particularly his mock-epic Severus Swickenbaum, in which the eponymous hero's improper use of a handkerchief marks his first step on the road to ruin.
So if I'm really doing a reading of Noseology here and mainly want to prove that I know there are connections to his other works, do I cite these at the end of the article or no? I can't find a clear answer in the MLA guide. And what about those "for more information see..." footnotes? Do I cite the books I list in them? (I know, you're only supposed to do those in the dissertation, but really, there are some texts that aren't getting read across certain disciplinary circles and I really do want people to go off and read them.)

I guess my question is how widely or narrowly do we draw the definition of "citing"?

OK, back to the proofing and editing. PS how are you?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Where IS Sisyphus?

To quote someone who said it much better than me, "Aigh! Aigh, Ahhhh, Aigh! Aigh, Aigh, Aigh! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"

It's too bad I can't find the shot where Homer is running around with his pants on fire, cause that just seems a fitting indicator of my internal state --- that and when he grabs his head and cries out that "Aigh!" in startled terms. I could gawk in amazement, though:

In other news, graduation was fine, the drive was long, there was family drama at home, the drive back was also long, holy shit where did my weekend of highly necessary prep time go, and now all sorts of deadlines have hit and shit hit the fan and fires need to be put out --- thank god I don't have to teach my fill-in course this week like I thought --- and they never actually gave me a copy of the book I need to teach next, which is causing all sorts of logistical problems and necessitating me driving all over town trying to locate a copy ---- and I'll just close by saying: "Aigh, Ahhhh, Aigh! Ooogh!"

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sisyphus grows up. Or regresses. Your call.

I had an odd moment today, odd but pleasant.

I was sitting there this afternoon, pretending to read, and I was steadily growing hungry.

I swatted away the feeling like you might bat away a fly, but this niggling little feeling kept returning. And it was not a generalized feeling of hunger but a specific craving.

Waffles. I want waffles. With syrup.

Dude, I told myself, you can't have waffles, it's the middle of the afternoon! You need to have a snack, and then eat dinner.

But I don't want the leftovers right now. And I want waffles, insisted my gut.

Hmm. I have waffles. And I have syrup. I bought it on Saturday as a whim, since I never eat waffles usually.

But, dude! You can't just eat waffles! At 4 pm!

Why not? responded my gut. It's my fucking house. I am a grownup and get to do whatever I want. Who's going to stop me?

And here's the moment: suddenly, like a cloud breaking open and shining a heavenly sunbeam on me with choirs of angels singing, I was filled with the most incredible glee. Yes! Freedom! I can eat motherfucking waffles! At 4 pm! It was this sudden, extremely sharp emotional flashback to that moment when I had first moved out and had my own place and it hit me that nobody was going to care if I didn't come home! I could stay out all night and no one could stop me! I felt so exhilarated, so grown up, having this intense feeling that I had back when I was, what, 20? 21? And that sensation of being young and bright eyed and full of possibilities and the world is all your oyster and the angels are singing Gloria Deum Gloria Domine eat the waffles eat the waffles but I'm not actually listening because I'm turning to someone twelve years ago and saying, whoah, we don't have to go home just because the bar closed --- let's go watch the sun come up over the ocean and Proust may have had his madeleines but I have a little frozen disk of pastry embedded with blueberries and I am right there in that moment.

And I eat the motherfucking waffles.

(You know that if I didn't have teaching and driving around tomorrow (not to mention all my writing I need to get done) I'd be out at the bars tonight, even though I know I can't make it out on the town for an entire night. I have other stuff to blog, too. I'll be back. Maybe I'll post something before I go the the graduation thingy.)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dammit! I mean, uh, congratulations!

Arrgh! The best laid plans of mice and men slip betwixt cup and lip, and all that.

So, I have relatives. Yes, I know; I'm sorry too. And not only do I have relatives, but I have not one, but two of them graduating in the near future ---- unfortunately not in the same place and not on the same weekend/consecutive days. I'd have to cancel at least one class and make a big arc across California to deal with these on a single trip, so I'm going to make two separate weekend trips in the near future.

This is putting a kink in my fabulous multicolored publishing schedule (Joseph's Amazing Technicolor DreamSchedule? hmm.) since I didn't plan to spend 5 hours of driving here and 8 hours of driving there and doing a lot of sitting around being official and all that. Humph. Maybe I should bring my regalia and try to sneak into officiating at the ceremonies? It would at least keep me entertained. Hmm, I like the sound of that.

To make matters worse, I do not love all my nieces and nephews equally. I have been specifically requested to come to the juries/recital of one niece, who I want to make happy and show I am proud of her, so I will go up to those which will allow me to not go to her graduation and make it to those of my friends here who are walking. My other niece technically does not know whether she is eligible to graduate yet (who fails high school, I ask you?) but I really want to make a point of driving down and attending because I've been trying to give positive reinforcement to academic success and all that and quietly ignore (it's called extinguishing behavior) any of her silliness events or parties or socializing that she values so much more than studying. Not that this has had any effect on her so far, but I don't know what else I could do. It also means not being around when she is doing the various activites that she has been working on instead of school --- like the senior ball fundraisers and Promenade and her senior skit night or the play she is in --- and making it come across like I am doing something equal and fair and equivalent and all that. We'll see how it goes.

If I hadn't gotten in papers and assigned a novel for next week and still have to clean up the shit that hit the fan with my messups from that time I subbed for someone else, I would say I could tie the article up and have it all edited and proofed and ready to go before leaving this weekend, but in reality that seems unlikely. And I'm all excited to use my fancy bath thingy! And have decided on something even better for my next reward so I'm raring to go on that! Arg!

And furthermore, while I am complaining, I am very annoyed at my cats. On Saturday, when I went for groceries, I was tempted into getting a big thing of strawberries. Yum! I rinsed them off and left them in the colander to air dry.

The next thing I notice is that I hear this very strange, very quiet "plomp, plomp" sound and the cats are nowhere to be seen. When I go in the kitchen, I find that they are pulling out the strawberries with their teeth (and batting them out with their paws too) and scattering them all over the not-yet-cleaned floor. (I swear, I finally got to it Sunday --- but not before the cats dirtied the strawberries.)

My only guess is that they did this because the strawberries are about the size of mice --- for, despite not tasting, looking, smelling, or being furred like mice, not to mention being completely immobile and not making even the slightest of enticing crackling sounds --- my cats felt the need to be absolutely sure that these innocent strawberries were not in fact prey who were deviously hiding from them by being out in the open. Cats --- gah! And did they help clean the kitchen floor? No, they did not!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Nothing much to report

I'm still toiling away at my various projects and things. Today I made some good progress, unimpeded by illness or injury (and let me say that 2009 has been The Year of The Injured Sisyphus, for some reason. Lame! (heh heh)) and I hope to also get a lot of work done tomorrow. I should go check my listy lists, made with many different colored pens, and remind myself of my next deadline.

What do you think of my plan to celebrate with a little of this as soon as I send off my article?

Isn't it cute? It's got a vanilla pod sticking out like a little candle wick. Hee.

And also for some reason a whole bunch of people just befriended me as Sisyphus T. Cog on facebook. I basically never go on that one, honestly, and had planned to pretty much shelve it. But then some people who were bloggers and aren't now sent friend requests and it is a handy way of keeping track of people. (plus, I get to find out who people are! I love snooping.)

This whole multiple identities on facebook is difficult, though ---- I keep getting confused, and paranoid about whether I'm outing myself (maybe that's less important on fb?) My alter-ego being friends with all of your pseudonymous alter-egos and possibly with your real selves as well is all very bewildering and exhausting. But, a cog's gotta do what a cog's gotta do? Whatever that means. I think it means pulling out an old movie tonight and seeing if there's any ice cream.

This one is not a reward for any of my to-do list tasks. Rather, he is a source of constant torment and annoyingness. But, even so, he's still cute!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Don't make me break out the colored pens!

Ah, procrastination. My greatest skill and most dangerous vice all in one. Tonight I am avoiding class prep, and many other things, by planning out the rest of the entire year, with color coding and bullet points. Ahhhhh. Yes, I am quite the obsessive-compulsive. Now give me back my multicolored pens!

Here's hoping that planning out the major writing projects I have to tackle this summer and fall (including another stab at the job market) will help me stay organized and keep focused on productivity. I love organizing, not staying organized. It's like how cleaning a really filthy kitchen floor can provide more satisfaction, because it is more visually apparent, than merely keeping on top of the task with regular touch-ups. Not that I know anything about that, ahem. The problem is that before you have the makeover, whether fashion-wise, organizationally, or academically, you have to be in the crapper first. Otherwise it's not a makeover.

Anyway, I periodically have to rededicate myself to whatever project I'm working on, usually with shiny new pens or notebooks or other organizing utensils, but sometimes with the purchase of "writing music" specifically for that project. I find that I am very easily distracted and flighty as an academic, with little patience or perseverance for long projects. On the other hand, I did finish a dissertation, which various studies show only about 50% of all grad students do, so I must have some sort of adaptive mechanisms.

I think that a major strategy I have used is that I am very easily amused and can live in a delusional fantasy world quite easily, which means as long as I treat my projects as a game of some sort, and change up the games frequently, I can chug along, like the little engine that could, alternating between progress and boredom. (Hence the implementation of MMAP 2009.)

I'm currently toying with ways of amusing myself/competing with myself/fooling myself to keep me engaged and writing on my stuff throughout the last of spring and into summer. (If you have any suggestions, please add them here) and may test-drive them on the blog in the future. Or I may just give up on academia and get a job at an Officemax store. Here, have another look at those colored pens!

Mmm, colors! I don't waste the good shit on my student papers, either ---- they can suffer comments in the color of the lead pencils I stole from the library. I save the quality material for myself.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Ugh. Just ---- ugh. Things have not been good here and I'm afraid I cannot tell you about them. I'm sorry to say that the Magical Month of Academic Publishing Challenge had to go by the wayside at the end, as I had to deal with some major catastrophes that were entirely out of my hands. I still have the article to finish, of course, and the other article to revamp and send out, and my whole huge list of other publishing-type things to do, and classes to prep and papers which I was unable to pick up to get and grade and things to unpack and repack and move around and lots of cleaning to do before I can get to any of that and just ugh, you know? It can't be described any more completely than that, and yet, if you groan with exactly the right intonation, you won't need anything else to get across exactly what's going on right now.

At least the good part of being at the bottom is that it has to get better from here --- I'm on my way back up. Up, up, up. Not Ugh. Up.

Monday, May 4, 2009

MMAP Challenge Update May 4: Pause for Breath

Today, I've been working about an hour (and cleaned my kitchen this morning too -- whoo-hoo!). I've been working on a section up near the beginning: add a topic sentence, fix a problem here or there, check the accuracy of the quote by Scholar K (it was scholar D, actually, which took quite a bit more fixing). I am getting a little slack-brained, like it is tired of being clenched in all sorts of academic circus moves and I have lactic acid buildup in my mind. Then I turned over the page and reached a page with almost an entire paragraph in bold ---- a patch that is still in (WHAT DO I DO HERE/FIX THIS/MAKE THIS A SENTENCE) mode, and I am tired, so I am taking a rest.

This may or may not involve a nap (although I have meetings at 4 which are kinda messing up my whole day's flow, really), and will definitely involve a little snack. I will look through my project to see if there is an area that I could fix without too much thinking involved, as I'd hate to get a mental charley horse after all that heavy lifting this morning. I think I've done the new works cited, so that is not an option. That nap is sounding better and better regardless of my schedule.

This weekend I did not do any writing, or much of anything else, unfortunately. All my friends are leaving town, except the one who just got dumped by her boyfriend. I am sad. I had two nights of happy/sad send-off celebrations ---- "Goodbye, goodbye! We're sad and will miss you, but good luck on your cool new adventure you are embarking on!" ---- and then, on my "recovery" night (you can't see your friends off out of Cali without lots of good local food and many bottles of wine), I got a call from someone who had just been broken up with and felt really shitty and needed to have a good cry and drink a lot and then go out to hit on random males to prove that she was not worthless after being dumped.

This was more tiring than the other nights, really, but just as sad. And really, if your friends need you, you gotta be there for them ---- even if you're already tired and spent the whole day sitting around going "ugh!" and drinking fluids and not getting any of your work done. And going out for a night like that leaves you sad for your friend and sad about her patterns and a little sorry for yourself, as well. Even while I see the thinking of "I can't go home alone ever or I am a failure" as such a dangerous, fucked-up assumption to have, still, the oft-repeated statement that getting a PhD meant nothing if she was going to die alone and unloved, that stung. Especially when I've just said goodbye to my closest (almost sole remaining) local friends.

Now I can't help wondering: who's going to be here for me, when I need someone to lean on? And if there's nothing here for me, where on earth am I going to go?

Friday, May 1, 2009

MMAP Challenge Update May 1: Topic Sentences and More Research Agendas

Today is Topic Sentence Day. I hate topic sentences. I mean, I've pushed and poked at all these damn paragraphs and rearranged ideas and fleshed them out and I'm a leeeetle bit tired of them now. I know what I want to say. For the most part, I said it. And yet, when you do all that moving and revising and reorganizing, the topic sentence-lids usually don't fit on their paragraph containers any more.

(I told you I love bizarre metaphors!)

So I have been staring at the bolded topic sentences all day, trying to make them actually match their paragraphs in a clear and close and meaningful way. Dude. This part of the revision process is always a slog.

How long? Hmm. I've been here staring at the computer all day. I put off both grading and getting groceries. It feels like time stopped, but really I don't know how much time was spent staring vs. working vs. hunting down random internet sites for a LOLcat I haven't seen yet. heh.

And thanks to everyone who gave me advice on what a research agenda is, particularly people like Squadromagico and Susan who told me to:
1) publish a chapter from my dissertation
2) publish something from the dissertation topic that I have not used in it.
The thing is, I already did that.

I've been out of my program all year, remember? And my advisor gave me this exact same while I went on the market. So I did. Number 2 is my R&R, which I have declared I SHALL finish during this challenge, and Number 1 is on my desk, ready to be tweaked and sent out to another journal (it was rejected as not fitting the place I picked.) I hope to take no more than a month turning that one around too.

So, now what? That leaves the rest of the summer --- in fact, since we aren't done until mid-June, I should have a clean plate for the summer. I'll be sitting around waiting for word on the submitted articles. I could:
a) go on vacation
b) sit around on my ass
c) take some sort of completely nonacademic job just for a paycheck
d) write something else for publication?
e) revise the dissertation into a book?
A and B seem rather silly, or dangerous I should say ---- I doubt that I will somehow become the candidate everybody wants if I publish these two articles, so I don't think resting on my laurels before I've published 'em would be smart. C is actually going to be very difficult given the place I'm in, which has very high unemployment and not much in the way of "jobs just for a paycheck's sake," so no waiting tables for me.

I have to run off and meet some friends for a little bitching and moaning (now! with drinks!), but anybody have any advice for a Research Agenda 2.0? Tea-cher, I'm such a good student I've finished the homework you gave me already! heh.