It Makes Me Haaaaaaappy When Skies Are Gray

I'll return to my normal format of a picture and a short caption per post shortly. In fact, I'm thinking of doing a week-long "these are a few of my favorite clothes" thing, following the massive success of 2007's week of sweaters. In turn, I'm inspired by the amazing cardigan B got me for Xmas this year (as I said on Facebook: the perfect gift for the future unemployed academic on your list.)

Here's the latest on my end:
  1. My friend S hooked me up with a CD full of mp3s, which had been dumped off of a friend's computer such that there are no band / album labels. Based on my drive to the grocery stores and campus today, the tunes are great, and I wish more of this kind of thing went on among people I know. I was forced to figure out that my favorite stuff on the disc is by Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. (This is in keeping with my important traditions: I love indie variations on synthpop and I am at least five years behind on cool bands.)
  2. It rained pretty hard yesterday. This was awesome except for the fact I had to drive my brother in-law back to San Jose airport, which involves going over Highway 17, which is scary as all hell at night in heavy rain. We both survived and he got home, so it's all okay.
  3. B got me a bottle of Tanqueray for xmas, because she loves me and wants me to be happy.
  4. I used Beauvoir's last (of the, like, six hundred she wrote) autobiography, Ceremonies des Adieux, to flesh out some stuff about Gorz and Sartre's relationship in the 1970s for Chapter 4 of the diss.
  5. Lately, I've imagined myself roundhouse kicking all kinds of things as I walk past them. Not people, just cars and stacks of stuff at Trader Joe's and so on.
  6. After the cardigan, the coolest gifts I got were the new CPU heat sink and the power supply for my computer (both from my in-laws.) They're incredibly quiet, rendering my desktop PC infinitely less aggravating to use for long periods of time, and probably saving my marriage.
  7. I need to stop coveting clothes. But I'd still like some off-white slip-on Vans, because my blue ones have served me so well since I got 'em at the start of summer.
It's been a really nice Xmas break, but I miss all my friends. If any of my SC buddies are back in town, get in touch so we can drink beers and/or play Mario Kart and/or eat food and shoot the shit.

P.S. The title of this post only makes sense if you sing it like you were singing "you're my sunshine."


Have a Very Classy Christmas

(Yes, I know it's a cheeseball pose...I'm just excited I finally have a good pic of the new suit. Courtesy of my lovely wife, who has lots of cute pics up on her flickr site right now.)

Happy xmas everybodies!


Introducing...Baby X

(That's his or her foot.)

We had B's 20-week ultrasound yesterday. This is the one at which it's possible to identify the sex of the baby...usually. Ours, however, was not having it and had its legs crossed the whole time. We also learned that it is healthy and developing normally and that it has very long legs (given its German - English - Danish - Norwegian - Scottish heritage, this comes as no big surprise.)

In short: we have a stubborn, long-legged kid en route.


Wilford Brimley LIVES

Pop quiz! When did Wilford Brimley die?
  1. In 1965.
  2. In 1988.
  3. He is STILL ALIVE!
The answer, much to my shock, is #3! He is in a stupid-ass new romantic comedy with the shockingly butt-ugly Sarah Jessica Parker and the completely ridiculous Hugh Grant! See below:

Butt ugly.


Now THAT is about which I talk!

Last night, when B and I made this discovery before a rerun of Iron Chef, she started doing creepy seductive things to my leg pretending she was Wilford Brimley. Then she told me that Wilford Brimley was going to "Haul my Oats."


Incredibly Stupid Ideas

I have these days during which I don't have to leave my apartment at all if I don't want to. Maybe 50% of the time, on days like that, I'll make up an errand, just to remind myself of why I don't ever want to leave the apartment in the first place.

Here are some incredibly stupid things in the world, inspired by my trip to Rite Aid.*
  1. Jethro Tull: a rock band with a lead flute player.
  2. Lowered trucks.
  3. Music in stores.
  4. Uggs with miniskirts in winter.**
  5. Retail cards that don't give you a discount, but instead produce printed-out coupons with your receipt than expire within a week.
  6. Cities designed with the idea that their inhabitants will get around everyday via a highway system.
  7. File format incompatibility between different versions of the same program (see: .doc vs. .docx).
  8. Road construction done in the mid-afternoon.
  9. The fact that water has to be shut off for an entire apartment building instead of individual apartments in need of repairs.
  10. Bad coffee sold at coffee shops.
* Having decided to boycott CVS permanently. In part because of item #5, above.
** A number of us were expressing incredulity lately that this still happens on campuses. What should have been a flash-in-pan trend has become an ongoing sartorial phenomenon of Satan.


College Without Students

I'm in the bunker on a beautiful rainy winter afternoon. Earlier, I dropped off some books at the library and soaked up one of the best things about the yuletide season: a college campus without any students on it. Campuses are beautiful places when there aren't any undergraduates stinking them up.

Last night was the third meeting of the UC to the SC Attractive Historians 2009 - 2010. This one was held in honor of our friends and colleagues N + M, both of whom got one year older this year. Also, I stole a pic off my homie J's Facebook:

He shares my great love of plaid shirts (and of awesome sweaters, great hats, and jeans that fit properly.) This was us doing one of our J-Crew poses.

On tap for the week to come: doing a registry for the (our) baby showers of ought-ten, ongoing teeth-pulling good times working on the dissertation, and entreaties to the sky gods for the continuation of soggy weather.

P.S. One of my favorite annual online events if the Onion AV Club's "Year in Band Names." While I am fully cognizant of its terrible taste, I am nonetheless delighted by "Magic Johnson and his Aides."



The academic rejections have been coming in hot and heavy lately. I got a particularly stinging one this morning, because when you have something peer-reviewed and your "peers" don't like it, you get to read exactly why.

How do I feel about all of this? I'll leave it to Murray to explain:


It's Been a Long Five and a Half Years

With the Yuletide season all up on's, I have been cast into a reflective frame of mind of late. B's now 4.5 months along the pregnancy process and my degree is due to be finished inside of six months. Big life decisions are upon us.

Of all my immediate academic friends (I'm thinking of both those friends and colleagues I know from my cohort at the UO who continued on as well as my friends here at the UC to the SC), I am the first to be finishing the degree. This is turning out to be a very big mixed blessing; I'm jumping off the sinking ship just the financial situation completely falls apart (good), but I'm also completing a dissertation with significant gaps (bad). As I completed research and writing this term, and as I worked with some other dissertators in a reading group, I found out about whole areas I needed to read about, new documents I needed to look at, and most importantly, major themes I needed to introduce in the text itself. I still have a lot to get done.

I'm also the first person among my core group of friends who has witnessed just how grim the academic job market really is. I applied to ten tenure-track jobs, most of which were on the eastern seaboard. I am competing for those jobs with literally every other European history PhD who graduated this year, as well as those from past years who were still looking for work. I will be the first to say that I am a dapper dresser and a good drinking buddy, but those are some long odds to get a job.

The process isn't over yet, so I don't want to get ahead of myself, but for now, I'm feeling very relieved and sort of "peaceful."* I've always said that I just wanted to finish the degree, that I wasn't sure that I was really cut out for the kind of competition and desperation inherent to an academic career. Now, confronted with the realities of the job market, I'm being forced to put my money (side note: what money?) where my mouth is.

* Normally, I only feel this way with the aid of prescription painkillers.


The Irony of the Horns

Here is a picture of me singing "we're not gonna take it" at this karaoke night.

The videos are still in production, apparently, but soon I should be able to link to vids of my performance, that of my homie J, and (again, apparently) some kind of dancing situation going down.

Right now, it strikes me that the point is the lack of irony involved in doing something like singing 80s hits. I remember that, years ago when the world was young, my friends and I did things out of an ironic sense of what was funny (disco, metal, "world's sexiest grampa" t-shirts.) The iconic thing was throwing the horns - at the time we started doing it, the memory of bad late 80s / early 90s hair metal was still fresh, and it was funny for punk kids to do it.

In our thirties, I find we all have a more complicated relationship with irony now. I mean, yes, I still dress like this, but I'm kind of sincere about the dapper old man look. When I play Yoshi's Island, it's because it is an excellent video game. And when I throw the horns, I mean it.


Here's How it Works

It's the start of December, which is a special, magical time in the life of aspiring historians. Hiring committees have to send out their interview notices before the start of the winter break. Every day is a fresh check of the inbox, to the sound of giggling elves and dancing fruit of some kind (I am kind of free-associating here, so bear with me.) Here's how it works:
  1. You, the would-be academic, wrap up six years of work in an application package (CV, letter, letters of recommendation, sometimes a statement of teaching philosophy) and send it off to places that are hiring.
  2. Somewhere between 50 - 299 other aspiring academics do the same thing for the same jobs at the same places.
  3. If you make it past the first round of cuts, you get an e-mail that yes, you lucky dumpling, you get to have a preliminary interview at the annual American Historical Assocation meeting. You put on your new 260 dollar suit (or the equivalent) and head on down there.
  4. You have something like 20 minutes to explain your entire life's work. You may or may not be asked to submit a chapter or two of your dissertation
  5. If you make it past that round of cuts, you are definitely asked for samples of your dissertation. Then, off you go to Panhandle State University itself, for the fabled Job Talk. You give a 30-something minute presentation of your most polished and emotionally moving research and writing. You field hostile questions from the entire department. Two other candidates do the same thing, although most places have enough discretion to schedule their talks on different days.
  6. If you make it past that round of cuts, you get the job. Then you're an assistant professor of history. Then you have six years to do everything in the world to be eligible for tenure.
Sound like fun? It's never too late to go to grad school!

(If anyone's wondering, I'm way back between steps 2 and 3: waiting to see if I made it past the first round of cuts anywhere.)