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April 29, 2007

It's been a long, long time...

...since I was able to watch the Bulls win a playoff series. And if you don't think they've got a decent shot at making the Finals, you're mistaken, my friend.

Chicago Bulls

April 28, 2007

Is there a draft in here?

Like Jeff, I don't have a great deal of patience for the hype machine that surrounds the NFL draft. I actually kind of like Mel Kiper, Jr., but too often, even he gets caught up in the nonsense, like the idea that one or two tenths of a second stretched over 40 yards makes all that much difference. I only watched the draft for a little while today, maybe an hour or so, and in that time, I think a whopping three teams made choices, one fifth of the number of those effing l1ght c00rs commercials that showed during that same span. It'd be a lot easier to take discussion of "number of reps" or "40 speed" if they weren't punctuated with that crap.

But I rantgress.

Two points, one ranty, one not. The first is that I was mightily impressed with the good sport that was Brady Quinn. I'm no ND fan, but I couldn't help but admire his composure and good nature as he endured what was an apocalyptically bad interview with him in the green room by Suzy Kolber, whose middle name may very well be Roget. Suzy managed to craft eight or nine questions, every single one of which asked the exact same thing:

  • So, Brady, how's it going?
  • Brady, what's next?
  • Brady, what's your game plan?
  • Brady, did you plan on waiting this long?
  • Brady, you still here?

Every single word out of her mouth could have been distilled down to "Sucks, huh?" There are a number of really good people at ESPN, both men and women, but Suzy Kolber is not one of them. The train wreck was such that the NFL eventually allowed Quinn to leave the groan room.

And they wonder why a top pick like Joe Thomas would choose to go fishing with his dad instead of sitting there?

Okay. Second point. And this goes back to Jeff's comparison of the NBA and NFL drafts. Given how much is invested in the NFL drafts, and the huge deal that is made about them, one thing I've never been able to figure out is why they haven't learned a really important lesson from the NBA about the draft. Every year, the salaries and signing bonuses get larger, and every year, every first-rounder holds out until and sometimes during camp. And every year, a bunch of serviceable players lose their jobs to salary cap math. Why in the world hasn't the NFL just followed the NBA and created a rookie scale for the draft? It's bad enough that players like Drew Brees and Thomas Jones are rewarded for their efforts by not letting the door hit them where the good lord split them, because they had the bad manners to outplay their overpaid backups. But you would think that the Players' Association would want to see the majority of the cap on each team reserved for those players who have, oh, actually played?

In the NBA, you're drafted, you sign, you get to camp, and that's a league where "team" is a lot less important than the system-heavy NFL. You play well, or optimize perceptions of your upside potential, and after three years, you get a big deal. I understand that contracts are different in the NBA, that they're, um, actual contracts, but surely the NFL could figure out some way to emulate their system? Surely having an entire round of holdouts every year doesn't do the league that much good.

Aw, that's all. At least the Bears got the tight end they desperately needed.

April 27, 2007

Back awf

I'm thinking of setting up a separate category for "Why I haven't blogged in 5 days." Unfortunately, that category would be getting the majority of entries lately. I'm not a big one for weather blogging, but in the last two weeks, it has gone from 30s and snow, to 80 degrees a week later, to the low 40s two days later, to almost 80 two more days later. The yo-yo of temperature and pressure is having its way with me a bit, I fear.

More to the point of this week, though, I woke up on Monday practically unable to move, my lower back having decided to warn me about the sub-par seating arrangements in my apartment. 4 days, heating pads, and a bottle of Aleve later, I'm mostly recovered but still very conscious of sitting in the same posture for too long. It's not been the best part of the semester for this, as you might imagine, what with classes ending this coming week.

And really, I don't have much more to say tonight. I need to try and get back here a little more regularly, but it's the wrong time of year for those sorts of resolutions. So we'll see.

April 22, 2007

Blog entries not typing themselves

If you've been paying attention in the last day to the RSS feed in my right-hand sidebar, then you are surely the single most obsessive reader of this blog in the world, bar none.

However, if you take this entry as an opportunity to look at it, you will notice that I have finally gotten off my tail and begun making up some ground over at Rhetworks. In addition to blogging about Duncan Watts's piece from last Sunday's NYT magazine, I've got a series of Kathleen Carley's work from the 90s that I've read, but not blogged.

At any rate, that's where my precious blogging time is going right now. I'll post an entry here every once in a while, but I'm trying to get myself back into the habit over there. I've noticed that it helps when I have digital copy to sample, rather than having to type in everything myself, but I'm trying to push past that.

April 15, 2007

Moviefest Royale

I probably should have waited until my Netflix copy of Battle Royale II arrived, because really, 2 movies do not a moviefest make. But I was so pleased by the purely unintentional coincidence that I couldn't help myself. After having misplaced my copy of Battle Royale for some months, I happened to find it on Friday, shortly after receiving a copy of Casino Royale. And thus was born;

Moviefest Royale!!
Battle RoyaleCasino Royale

Now, you might be saying to yourself that surely these two movies--the most recent Bond reboot on one hand and on the other, a somewhat obscure Japanese post-apocalyptic exploitation movie--cannot have enough in common beyond their names to be yoked together into a seamless movie experience. Ahh, there you would be wrong:

Although this may be the first time ever that Judi Dench and Beat Takeshi have appeared in the same sentence, both operate behind the scenes, and neither is completely in control over the events that take place. Only one dies, however.

Both movies involve scenes with unconventional bladed weapons--sickle (BR) and machete (CR)

Both movies have major characters with facial scars, although I would have to admit that the motivations driving Kawada and Le Chiffre appear to be a little different.

Much of the action in both movies takes place on islands--England and the Bahamas (CR), and the abandoned deathmatch island in BR. To be fair, there are no "danger zones" strictly speaking in CR.

In both movies, characters have an alarmingly easy time hacking the government's computer and information systems.

Perhaps most importantly, in each movie, damn near everyone dies.

And now, you may have revised your earlier opinion, and be wondering how it is that the people who brought us Battle Royale haven't sued the makers of Casino Royale for copyright infringement. (First they'd have to go after the WWE, whose latest Steve Austin vehicle probably could have been called Battle Royale 3.) There are a couple of crucial differences. The subtitles in BR are atrocious, making the movie a little more surreal than it might otherwise be. To my knowledge, there's no poker in BR. And there's no crazyperky introductory video in CR, nor dream sequences featuring basketball and/or walks on the beach with ice cream. And only one of the two, as far as I know, has been compared to Clockwork Orange.

But don't take my word for it. Watch them both yourselves.

April 14, 2007

Wikipedia Brown

The trouble with announcing the "good mood blogging" is that it's pretty easy to read my mood when I don't follow through on the promise. I've got an entry to follow this one, but a little bit of research to do (read: movie to finish) before I can post it. In the meantime, I thought I'd offer a link to a site that is (a) funny, (b) nostalgia provoking, and (c) the best argument "against" Wikipedia that I have ever read. (I got it from someone, but it was long enough ago that my source has slipped my mind. So if it's you, sorry about that, and a belated thanks.)

Feast your eyes, my friends, on Wikipedia Brown and the Case of the Captured Koala. Adam Cadre's riff on the old Encyclopedia Brown tales is pretty durn funny. And there was a time, some thirty-odd years ago, when I soaked up every EB tale I could get my hands on.

At no point, however, did I call myself Encyclopedia Brooke. That is all.

April 11, 2007

Thor receives your prayer!

I was going to try and squeeze a post tonight out of the fact that I don't really have anything to blog about, but fortunately for me, McSweeney's came to the rescue, in the form of Regarding Pete Seeger's Requests for a Hammer and His Descriptions of What He Would Do if He Had One. John Moe brings the funny, and it's worth tracing back into his various Pop-Song Correspondences.

Thank goodness, because this is the time of year when it seems everything is just that much more dramatic, coming as everything does at the end of the school year. Our patience is worn thin, and the cruel tease that is spring break only ends up making it that much more difficult to get to the end.

And I'm as bad about this as anyone. A long time ago, I started the policy of requiring my writing students to wait 24 hours before coming to me with questions or complaints about grades. And honestly, I think my keel would be a lot more even this month if I could deploy some analogous strategy on my behalf. Instead, I have a tendency to binge/purge emotionally, getting all worked up one moment and crashing the next. Part of it is the occasional sleep deficit, which works its own disorder on my ability to keep things in perspective.

And there you have it. An entry almost entirely devoid of content, but with plenty of discontent. Maybe what I should do is to devote the next few entries to blogging things that improve my mood. McSweeney's is a nice place to begin that series, and I already have something in mind for tomorrow...

See you then.

April 10, 2007



I first caught wind of this over at Planet Karen, one of the few blog/comics I follow regularly. Seems that an artist (Todd Goldman) basically lifted this piece of "art" directly from a webcomic produced some five years ago (Dave Kelly's Purple Pussy), going so far as to reproduce even the details like the curl of the tail, eyelashes, etc. It's pretty egregious. And the cartoonists, they are less than pleased, needless to say. Most of the webcomic artists that I follow "give their work away" and struggle to make ends meet with Cafe Press tchotchkes, compilation books, etc. It's not tough to imagine why having someone else display their work in a gallery and sell it for $$$ might rankle them.You can find some links and more detail over at Juxtapoz, which is where the above graphic comes from.

I keep my ear to the ground, and typically forward to Becky mentions of plagiarism, intellectual property, etc., that I come across, particularly when I deem it unlikely that she'll have seen them. And I did with this case as well. What struck me, and part of why I forwarded it, as I was tracing out links was Scott Kurtz's suggestion:

David, you should make that panel open source. You should encourage everyone in webcomics to do a praying pussy strip. Make this one image synonymous with the act of plagiarism that Todd Goldman committed on you. Then ride the wave of attention and publicity and use it to bring your work the exposure it deserves. Turn something bad into a huge opportunity for yourself.

The idea here is that, rather than policing and seeking damages for the plagiarism, Kelly could get even more mileage from it in the long run by diluting the aura that Goldman is attempting to capitalize on. And that's something that I haven't seen much of as I come across the occasional discussion of plagiarism. I'm relying here on a pretty dim memory of Benjamin's "Work of Art" when I mention aura, but there's a sense in which Kurtz's suggestion turns Benjamin's point (which can be read nostalgically) into a creative (commons) strategy. And that's kind of cool.

(Oh, I should mention too that I'm not sure that there's a phrase right now that's abused and misused more than "open source." As sympathetic as I am to almost every context where it's used, I've heard a number of otherwise savvy people use it like a magic spell when they simply mean "free" or "non-proprietary." It's starting to work its way under my skin.)

That is all.

April 9, 2007


A couple of days back, I saw an ad for an otherwise uninteresting movie that's opening this Friday, called Pathfinder (IMDB), and I've seen it a few times since. Maybe it was my mood at the time, but the end of the commercial made me chuckle:

Rated R for strong brutal violence throughout

I'm sure that it's happened before, but I had a hard time recalling any other movie that so obviously and blatantly used its MPAA rating as part of its appeal.

April 8, 2007


I need to get a-typing, if I'm going to meet my goal of reaching the 1000-entry plateau this summer. These entries won't write themselves. It's been a light first week, for various reasons. One of the biggies, though, is that I think I'm getting a little touch of arthritis in my right hand, which suggests to me that I need to rethink my current approach to mouse usage. It hurts when I type as well, but I think that my mice are curving my hand in a way that my knuckles aren't pleased with.

Anyhow, enough of the whine. One thing I wanted to note this week was Donna's entry about Jason Jones' interview with Steven Johnson. I'm a big fan of all of SBJ's books, but Ghost Map is one that I keep meaning to review (and in more detail than my discussion of it here). But the funny thing about Donna's entry was that I felt a little exposed. Not in any dramatic fashion or anything. But when she notes

Ah ha! I thought. So now I get the connection among many of the things Collin blogs about: Moretti, Johnson, and Latour, too.

I feel a little like I've had a secret made public. I'm not ashamed of my influences--far from it, in fact--nor of the fact that I have influences. We all do. But it's strange to have them named like that, the texts that recently have resonated with me and with each other. One of the things we do as academics is to assemble our own private bibliographic networks, and inevitably, the texts we value most highly drift towards the center of our network, and become the default frames that we bring with us both to subsequent reading and our own writing.

And interestingly enough, we don't always pay attention to each other's networks. Sure, every couple of years or so, there's a thread on a discussion list about the disciplinary desert island books, but even those threads ask us to represent the discipline. I would guess that most of those books/articles have very little to do with us personally. Moretti, Johnson, Latour, and others affect the way I see the world academically, but none of their works are rooted primarily in my discipline. I wonder from time to time about my colleagues' networks, and about what it would tell us about each other if we could generate and share an honest "cloud" of our influences.

It makes me curious to go back and assemble all of my bibliographies (the way that Derek did with coursework a ways back) and to see if there are patterns that I can detect. Are there thinkers I rely upon unconsciously? Probably. But for the moment, I'm going to pursue the various angles that writers like Moretti, Latour, and Johnson supply me, because I'm not close to done with them yet.

That is all.

April 1, 2007

5 cgbvb April Fools Day hoaxes I didn't have time to pull off

1. Sold domain to Abe Frohman, sausage king of Chicago

2. Live-blogging the Weather Channel

3. Dedicating site to reviews of movies featuring talking babies, talking animals, or both

4. The Official Web Presence for the Syracuse Chapter of the Pussycat Dolls Fan Club (OWPSCPDFC, pronounced opes-cup-dific)

5. Three words: other people's pets

Update: If you don't otherwise, be sure to check out the spread of new, seasonal products over at ThinkGeek. I'm particularly fond of SurgeStix...