Saturday, May 12, 2007

May Madness

It's May, as you may have noticed (god what an awful pun). May always means fun things: the end of the semester (still no proposal, but a good idea what I need to do this summer), papers to grade without commenting upon, exams to grade in a laughably quick manner, a trip to Chicago next weekend for the F15 show (If anyone I know is still in Chicago, I need a place to crash Saturday the 19th since Bluesman is out of town. Any takers?), and my birthday, arriving just in time to place me within the triumphant realm of the May Geminis and not within the lesser, enfeebled ranks of the May Tauruses (Taursi?).

Today, to celebrate both the end of the semester and the onset of my 27th year, I went shopping. Rather than let my parents buy me things that I only marginally like, I just took their cash and bought things that I myself actually like. I have decided I'm a blue person. I enjoy the color blue, particularly in shirts. Now, shopping is something I traditionally abhor and shun as if it were a certain crystal-reading gorgon my New York friends will know all too well. Even when shopping for myself, I tend to be the "strike quickly and get out before the echo fades" kind of shopper. So what makes me go shopping, even when I have money to spend? Well, I found something I didn't want to do even more: grade papers. Yes, when it comes down to grading papers or shopping, I choose shopping. But it's still a close race.

For my birthday proper, I'm still planning what to do. And for that, I need your help, dear readers. Birthdays are traditionally a time of great, mind-erasing drunkening for me. I highly doubt I'll top last year's birthday, when the director of our graduate program bought me the glass of bourbon that sent me over the edge, but I still plan to give it my best. And for that, I've got three options in mind. Please offer your comments.

1. Dinner at Dotty's and drinking at a bar with larger seating afterwards. This plan has the beauty of being simple; I get to eat at Dotty's (some of the best burgers in Madison, for my outsider friends), and then lots of people will buy me drinks. Odds are I will get drunk and shout crazy things in the streets. Not much more to it, but what more do you need?

2. Drinking and then karaoke: This is a variant of plan 1, but with karaoke. I've never been karaoke-ing, but it sounds fun. And I hear some of the younger generation of grad students are hot hands on the mike.

3. 15 bars in one night. This is the challenge set forth by my New York friends, who tried and failed to do the exact same feat. I think they made it to 12, but then were sabotaged by both the need for food and the negative influence of their friends (correct me if I'm wrong, Quantum). Ours would be a slight variant, becoming 15 bars in one day, which isn't quite as cool, but we have a good deal of walking between. This plan has perks and detriments. The perks: my birthday becomes a day-long event, starting with brunch and drinks, and basically continuing drinking all day long. It will be an epic event, suitable for the last cubed birthday I'll have until I'm 64 (when I will be more worried about someone needing me and feeding me than I will about 15 bars in one night). And it'll be as much an intellectual exercise as it will be a drunkening. The detriments: it'll require a lot of scheduling, so people can join up if they want later in the day. It'll require a hefty time commitment. And we may die of alcohol poisoning. Plus, we may be so focused on getting to the next bar and staying on schedule that we might not be open to spontaneous fun (though I highly doubt that will be an issue the more we drink). Part of the joy of the birthday bar time is sitting in one place, gathering many many friends around, and watching them all drink with you (not to mention buy you drinks). I feel that if we're constantly hopping bars, we won't get that solid group effort that I really appreciate.

Ok, so those are my three options at this point. If you have other suggestions, feel free to add them. Or just offer advice, ideas, etc., on how to make sure my 3x3x3 birthday is quite spectacular.

Oh, and if you know you're going to be out of town for a time at the end of May, let me know. I'll try to schedule accordingly, but I can't accomodate everyone I already know.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


So this fall, I actually do have a job (praise to Buddha and Colonel Sanders, who sits at the left hand of God feeding him popcorn chicken). I'll be teaching English 169, Modern American Lit. (yay!) at 8:50 in the morning (still better than the 8:00 slot I have now). It's a pay cut, but not much of one. Sadly, though, I'll be teaching for the professor that many of us simply think of as "Spousal Hire."

You see boys and girls, in academia, we have this thing called "spousal hire." It means that if your husband, wife, life partner, etc. is really talented and the university wants him or her badly, they will offer you a job as well, if you are in fact an academic. This can lead to good things, as several of my friends are (facetiously or seriously) contemplating their role as the spousal hire, despite the fact that they are all excellent scholars in their own right. It's often a great boon for the university, gaining two top notch academics.

Sadly, this is not always the case. I'm teaching for one of the exceptions come the fall.

Oddly enough, though, I was supposed to teach for this person my very first semester as a PhD student, but the couple went on leave for a year, and I was reassigned. Perhaps this is just the Universe's way of righting itself, in a bizzare academia-based version of Final Destination. Which will be awesome, but only if it has Ali Larter in it.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Stopgap Post

Longer post coming soon, but for now this brief post to appease my ravenous fans and keep me from going the absentee route of Brownsox.

First, we threw a kegger in our department building a few weeks back, to celebrate our conference. Highlights include the beer pong, the flip cup, and our immediate hush when campus security showed up at the building. Then magically we made it all disappear the next morning, roughly 20 minutes before we used the same room to run panels all day. Though I think the faculty is under the impression we were kicked out of the building, which we decidedly were not. Not that they'll tell us this openly, as that would admit that they knew we had a kegger, which violates the "don't ask don't tell" policy we all seem to have mutually agreed on.

Second, saw Urinetown this past weekend, which the University Theatre was putting on (two of my students were in it). The show itself is great, and is now added to my list of awesomely good musicals. The production was good, but not stellar. The director was going for some overly stylized stuff, trying to echo stuff like Threepenny Opera and The Cradle Will Rock; some of it worked, some didn't, and some just looked plain dumb. Not really the fault of the actors, just a director who wouldn't pull things back when they needed it. The male lead, while suitable for the part, wasn't really selling the higher register stuff, which seems necessary for the role. Although maybe that critique comes just because of my own girlishly-high vocal range. But if you're hired for a tenor part, you shouldn't look like you need to stop acting just to hit the high notes. And overall the sound was kind of messed up; the orchestra sounded like a recording for some reason, even though I could see them playing, and the choral numbers just didn't have that much oomph to them. Not to blame the chorus, as they were clearly putting their all into it and doing some very nice dance work. I think it was mainly a sound issue. Oh, and that theatre is a deathtrap waiting to happen. There are no aisles, people! It's just one long row that wraps its way around the entire house! Madness!

But the play itself is great, and you should see it if you get a chance. Very dark and yet hilarious at the same time.

Third, saw Spider-Man 3 last night. Again, good but not great. It wasn't Spider-Man 2, but then again, it wasn't X-Men 3 either. Everyone seems to have a different critique, though most seem to agree there are too many villains. I personally just don't buy Sandman. I almost laughed whenever he was on, as Venom and Harry Osborn made much better villains for me. I can see why they kept all 3 in there, but it was just too much. They should have focused much more on the Peter/Harry infighting, as that was my favorite part of the movie. But Bruce Campbell again rocked out his cameo, which leads me to point four.

Fourth, am in the process of renting and watching The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. If you've never seen it, this is a Bruce Campbell t.v. comic western that was on Fox for all of 26 episodes back in the early 90's. Phenomenal stuff.

Fifth and last, watch Heroes. If you aren't, you're a chump. Cause it rules. Quantum will back me on this, unless the ants have already taken over his brain (see Bourbon Samurai's blog for elucidation). New episode tonight, and only 2 more after that. Embrace your inner geek!

For next time, a meditation on what to do for my birthday. Should I accept the challenge of 15 bars in one night? Or save that for a more random time this summer?