Media Frenzy

A few notes on sights and sounds today.

First, read this interview with Gerry Casale from Devo. For me, it's a great reminder of why Devo is and ever has been my favorite band. I haven't listened to the new album yet, but notes on that when I do.

Also, as you may know, I watch too much television. That will have to stop as Plan C gets older (fact: TV makes kids dumb), but just as B and I can still swear all the time right now, so we can watch stupid shows. Here are some ideas for new shows for the networks I watch, based on their existing repertoires:

DISCOVERY CHANNEL: "Rednecks at Work and Play!"
DISCOVERY CHANNEL: "Survival People Eating Gross Things in Nature!"

TRAVEL CHANNEL: "Eating Bugs With This Fat Guy!"
TRAVEL CHANNEL: "You Will Have a Fucking Heart Attack Eating this Awful Food!"
TRAVEL CHANNEL: "Things You Can Never Afford - So Fuck You!"

FOOD NETWORK: "A Show with a Creepy Republican Cooking Badly!"
FOOD NETWORK: "Bobby Flay: Serial Murderer!"
FOOD NETWORK: "Tyler Florence Wants to Beat You and Hear You Scream "Daddy!""
FOOD NETWORK: "Smarmy Horseshit with Butter!"

KQED (The PBS channel from San Francisco): "Only Antiques Roadshow Doesn't Suck!"


Ninja Assassin: Best Movie...EVER?!

Silent, deadly, and homoerotic. Just the way I like 'em.

Once in a great while a film comes along that earns both critical acclaim and massive box office receipts. As far as I know, Ninja Assassin did neither. BUT IT TOTALLY SHOULD HAVE, you guys! In the interest of my lifelong love of ninjas, I'm going to note the things that my nine year-old self LOVES about this movie, as well as his critical remarks. Please see below.

Nine year-old KFR loves the following about Ninja Assassin:
  1. The ninjas are silent but deadly!
  2. They have a mountain fortress of training and discipline!
  3. They wield the kusari-gama, the wakazashi, and the shuriken with consummate skill!
  4. Through sheer force of will, they can melt into the shadows, teleport, and heal themselves!
  5. Training sequences!
  6. Classic ninja attire; none of this colors-other-than-black bull-honkey.
  7. Mere special forces guys find themselves hard-pressed to do anything but die!
Nine year-old KFR isn't crazy about the following about Ninja Assassin:
  1. The main character rarely wears his ninja gear, instead favoring no shirt, scars, and floppy hair.
  2. The ninjas are the bad guys, so most of the time the main character is busy betraying / killing his fellow ninjas.
  3. (Spoiler alert!) In the end, the special forces guys, along with the main character, pretty much gun down all the ninjas.
Despite those shortcomings, though, we at kungfuramone.blogspot.com heartily recommend Ninja Assassin, especially if you've been drinkin' all day.



I am back to teaching, repeating the same two classes I taught last summer. I have a batch of very sharp, likable kids in my first class. I've always found that lecturing is an out-of-body experience, and this time, compounded with the parental sleep deprivation, it's even more so; it really feels like I'm standing there listening to myself talk about the enlightenment and the romantic movement and Hegel and so on.

Speaking of Hegel, I completely lost track of what I was talking about in trying to explain the master / slave dialectic in class last night. I feel bad about that.

Plan C (new nickname: The Architect of Chaos) is two months old as of yesterday. She keeps getting bigger and, possibly, cuter. She also still sucks at falling asleep during the day. Most nights go okay, but last night she had B up from 2:00am - 5:00am, when my shift started and (of course), she finally fell asleep for an hour or so after I fed her. B's back at work, so I've got baby-minding four days a week; right now C is lightly snoozing on the bed next to her sleep sheep.*

I am still dithering around with applying to the lecturer pools of Portland-area community colleges, mostly because my transcript won't reflect the doctorate for another four weeks; I'm basically promising on my applications that I really really DID finish a PhD, I SWEAR.

Post-op recovery is fine, although I still don't get to exercise for another week. This is the longest I've gone without doing a push-up since I was 14.

That's it. That's all I got. I'm tapped out.

* It's a sheep that plays soothing noises. The waves noise actually works; we always joke about doing the whale songs one.


Meet the Neighbors!

Here are some of our neighbors:
  1. Hooker. Hooker lives across the hall. We think she is a drug dealer. She leaves her door open a lot and screams at her two kids, both of whom behave as if they were about seven while actually being closer to ten. She has a gigantic plasma TV bolted to her wall, which we have both seen because of before-mentioned door-leaving-opening. Hooker is trashy. Our long-suffering apartment manager regrets letting her live here.
  2. The Gypsy Vampire. The Gypsy Vampire lives in the apartment below us. For the first year or so she lived here, there was an incessant thumping sound coming from her apartment that drove me absolutely crazy. It would happen literally all night, almost every night. I confronted her about it on a couple of occasions but she pled ignorance. It eventually stopped, so now the only thing we deal with from her is the weird, moldly stench wafting up from below.
  3. Ugly Harry Potter. Ugly Harry Potter is the Gypsy Vampire's son. He's about 13 or 14 now. The two of them share the small one-bedroom place, which must be even more difficult and awkard now that he's gone through puberty. He grew a foot in the last two years or so. B saw him at the library downtown designing a mystic sword on one of the computers.
  4. Crazy Lady. Crazy Lady lives in the adjacent apartment building. She smokes a lot of weed and talks to her dog a lot. She used to be a lot noisier and more stoned, but seems to have settled down a bit. We actually really like Crazy Lady; she was especially excited to see us walking around once Plan C was born because her daughter was one month behind us, pregnant with a little boy.
  5. Fucky. Fucky is the latest addition to the gang. She also lives in the adjacent apartment building. She is a very, very loud lovemaking machine. Starting at 7:00am and going until as late as the 10:00pm hour, Fucky and whoever her boyfriend is might be heard going at it, with Fucky providing verbal evidence at about 95 decibels. What was briefly awkward to overhear is now just plain hilarious. I'm convinced Fucky is an auditory exhibitionist; she must know how easy it is to hear everything when you live in this kind of tight proximity. Occasionally, other neighbors can be overheard making fun of Fucky, which is also funny.
  6. D. D is one of our favorite neighbors. He is an African-American gentleman of imposing stature. A veteran of the Army Rangers, D lives downstairs and operates as something of the building's protector. We often bump into him in the parking lot, where he washes his vintage Benz at least once a week.
  7. A. A lives across the hall from D. She's just a nice middle-aged lady who's lived here for a long time. She's good friends with Crazy Lady; they can be heard laughing and getting baked on a pretty regular basis. As far as we can determine, A, D, and us may be the tenants who have lived in this building the longest.


Man Up

I was not sure if I was going to post anything about this, because it's a lot more personal than most things I put on this blog, but I feel like I'm performing something of a public service, so here I go:

Dudes: get a vasectomy.

B and I have always been 100% sure that we were going to have less than or equal to one kid, and with Plan C seven weeks old, happy and healthy, we have succeeded in that goal. B was on the pill for a long, long time and it contributed to unhappy feelings in a very unequivocal way. Then she had to have a cesarean. So having a vasectomy is, really, the least I could do in the context of my marriage and life in general.

I'll spare you the details, but the whole thing took less than 20 minutes. Recovery takes a few days. That's the whole deal.

It pisses me off that so many men are so defensive about this and similar issues. Women have to submit to uncomfortable and, let's face it, kind of humiliating examinations every single YEAR. They're often expected to be the ones worrying about birth control, they (obviously) have to deal with the lion's share of pregnancy issues, and comparable sterilization surgery (i.e. tubes tied) is far more intrusive than the male equivalent. From my perspective, this is a no-brainer; if you and your partner know that you don't want to have any kids or any more kids, the dude should go and get it done.

For me, this is an aspect of sadly-neglected masculinity: being responsible and being willing to make uncomfortable decisions when they're the logical ones to make. The whole idea of "manning up" seems to mean being able to, say, survive a season crab fishing in Alaska, rather than, say, being a responsible father and husband. That, my young friends, is horseshit.


Doctor of Philosophy

My adviser and me at the UCSC grad commencement on Friday.

Just to make it official, I have completed my PhD in history. This last term has been pretty bizarre. I was furiously editing and (more to the point) formatting my dissertation up until a few days before the little croc was born and I've been firing off e-mails and paperwork since then to insure that the degree actually showed up on time. Commencement was stressful, wrangling logistics for visiting family and worrying that Plan C was going to go ballistic (she didn't - she slept almost the whole time), but it ended up being very nice and we had delicious pizza afterward.

Now I'm in a funny position. I have three reasonably well-known scholars advocating on my behalf and a couple of publication pseudo-opportunities. That said, once I'm done teaching this summer, I have precisely nothing waiting for me - no teaching jobs, no postdocs, nothin'. Over the next 12 months, I will either land something and remain an academic, or I won't and I won't.

Either way, I am happy and relieved to finish the degree. I know a lot about modern European intellectual history now.


Great Personal Anticlimaxes

  1. Moving to Eugene, Oregon. I was a kid. I spent the preceding weeks sick as a dog with something my family called "Christopher Disease" (bear in my mind that my dad was a doctor.) I woke up one day and we lived in Eugene instead of the little logging town in which I had grown up.
  2. Playing a concert at the WOW Hall in Eugene. As a high school freshman, I had thought that if I could just be in a band that played the WOW (that would be "Woodworkers of the World," a former union hall converted into a concert venue) Hall, my 14 year-old punk rock fantasies would be fulfilled. Thirty minute sets go quickly, though, and it wasn't quite the underground rock n' roll fantasy I'd dreamed of.
  3. Freshman year in college. For some reason I thought there would be more cool people at the giant idiotic sports school I went to. In the end, all of my friends were through the music scene; some were also college students, but that was just a coincidence.
  4. My year in England. It turns the two-tone ska and street punk stuff I loved was a generation out of date by 1999.
  5. Quitting all of my jobs in Portland. I hated those fucking jobs, but every time it was just "have lunch, receive a pat on the back, leave."
  6. Finishing my PhD. Plan C overshadows the doctorate, to begin with, and getting a doctorate is such a cumulative process anyway that by the time you end, you've been almost done for a long time already. Also, having precisely no academic prospects puts a bit of a damper on earning a highly specialized degree that only lends itself to academic prospects.
Happily for me, getting married and having a kid were both wonderful, climactic things. It's weird to think that my major accomplishments fit so neatly into the standard script, but there you have it.


Ow. I Am a Redneck.

One of the advantages of having a lot of tattoos is that it keeps you out of the sun, thereby dramatically reducing the risk of skin cancer and keeping your complexion youthful and vigorous.

When you're as white as I am, however, all it takes is a few minutes. The above happened, and all of a sudden I started thinking of voting for republicans.


Babies and Jobs

This is a two'fer...
  1. Plan C sucks at sleeping. You hear this a lot from parents, because pretty much any time a baby isn't asleep, he or she is probably crying or about to start crying. In our case, she sleeps at night reasonably well (praise be to Allah), but she spends many long hours every day letting us know that she's very tired but failing to make the cause-and-effect connection between that and actually going to sleep. We get one, maybe two decent naps out of her per day, and by decent I mean "about an hour." She is a cutie and I love her, but damn.
  2. So, just to make it official: it is almost certain that we're moving back to PDX, almost certainly in early September. I've officially started applying for jobs at the various community colleges in the area; it's tricky right now since my PhD isn't official until the end of the month, but I'm doing it anyway (officially). I don't have much to say about this right now, except that I expect the job hunt to officially suck and that I don't really care because I'm so excited at the prospect of being back in the best city on the planet, in which officially 60% of my favorite people live (I've had six official years to meet the other 40%.)
(One side note on the job part: I have such a weird resume. I have the IT background, random teaching jobs [SAT prep courses, anyone?], and the full-on academic thing, all mixed up in a frothy brew of dubious employment prospects. If it works out, I'll either be teaching history as a temp adjunct or land some random corporate gig. I don't really give two shits right now; I just want a steady income at some point by the end of 2010.)