Irony of the Week

We’ve had a week of beautiful weather here in the Northeast. So beautiful, in fact, that my grumpiness about all of the ways that the Northeast is not the West tend to dissipate for awhile. [Because spring in the West? Not so much. It’s hard to fully appreciate the wonders of sunshine and warm weather when you get 358 days of sunshine a year. But here? After six months of gloom? Huzzah, sunshine!]

Just in case you’d think I was losing my edge, however, I experienced the irony of the week. I thought I’d get out in the sun and soak up all of that Vitamin D. A brisk walk around the neighborhood, complete with iPod would do the trick, so I thought. As I walked up the main road, two guys in a primered, beater of a pick-up hooted at me as they drove past. Classic. [In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of…catcalling?] So where’s the irony, you ask? As the dudes passed me, it took me a minute to figure out what was happening because I was listening to L7’s “Pretend That We’re Dead”, really loud. Special bonus: the psychedelic British television version, courtesy of YouTube:

Computer Paranoia

For some reason, I’m jinxing my computers lately. I think it began with Collins’ visit, where I had the most difficult time working the DVD player on his Mac. Since then, I can’t get wmv files to play on my office computer, despite the fact that I’ve downloaded every player I can find (and despite the fact that Flip 4 Mac works just fine and dandy on my laptop). This is particularly vexing as my film students are moving into editing land, and I’d like to be able to view their work!! Meanwhile, I’m reading piles of drafts and using the editing toolbar in Word, and the thing keeps seizing on me. Is there anything more demoralizing than making comments on five pages of a paper, only to have to quit the program and start all over again?

Given all of these nefarious computer troubles, you can imagine my delight when I found this Eddie Izzard take on computers on YouTube. “Control P, Print!” indeed. [For the brave and intrepid, Izzard is on tour through the summer. Road trip to D.C., anyone?]

Back in the Blog

The extended blogging hiatus below was sponsored by: an article deadline, a conference presentation, a visiting speaker, the letter W (for “what was I thinking?!!), and the number 4 (the average number of hours of sleep I got over the past two weeks).

For the past few weeks, with all of this activity, my constant refrain has been the one I borrowed from Jarhead: “Welcome to the suck.” And suck it did; too much to do, too little time to do it. Produce very polished writing and synthesize complicated arguments from research in film studies, composition pedagogy, and new media theory, and do it fast. Meanwhile, come up with a smart but conversational ditty on the translation of blogosphere protocols into the classroom, and then go and see what other people in comp/rhet are saying about the digital world. Finally, organize a set of activities to entertain your visitor, and strike the perfect note between professional and friendly. In short, the goals of the term boiled down to this: think smart; write well; talk pretty; socialize comfortably. Or, as I kept telling myself: don’t be an ass.

I’m not sure that I succeeded on that final front, but now that I’ve caught up on some sleep, I realize why it’s worth running the academic gauntlet. I’ve got so many new ideas running around in my head right now, I can’t wait to peruse them at my leisure. Here are my top three: how would we characterize the aesthetics of YouTube, and what are the pedagogical implications of this? If the retrieval of information is shifting radically (from hierarchical to folksonomy), what are the author’s new responsibilities for positioning his/her work? In what ways is convergence culture restructuring the boundaries of taste as a means of filtering information?

Not that I can address any of these right now, but they’re certainly the highlights of getting through some of my own research, seeing a great panel at the CCCC, and reading excerpts from Jim Collins’ new book. Hooray for new and exciting ideas!

And now, back to grading…