Saturday, November 26, 2005


Okay, okay. I give. More admissions to come. But we're on break. What can I admit to?

Okay, this. Last night, 11:45-ish, Ima Hotty called. She is way drunk, she is singing "My Humps," and she is my student.

Re teacher-student relationships, my college has this policy: It can wait till the Spring. This of course means wait till she/he is no longer your student. In theory this policy is extraordinary. In the abstract it is a policy so good it ought to be in the Bible. It keeps one from having to begin a new semester with, "Good morning, students. My name is Professor Jones. But if the cops ask, I'm Sam Ferguson."

In the concrete, however, on, say, a Friday night at 11:45, parsing out university policy gets gauzy. And when student knocks on your kitchen door twenty-two minutes later wanting to "hang out," not since the Clinton administration has the finer points of policy been so scrutinized.

What's the saying? "One man's Sleepless in Seattle is another man's porn"? If "hanging out" can mean all kinds of things, then one of those kinds of things can mean just hanging out. Which it did. Mostly.

"Happy endings" can mean all kinds of things, too. Last night had one kind. Sorry if you were hoping for the other. It can wait till the Spring.

Jen Has a Blog! Jen Has a Blog!

Misty tells me the future Mrs. Professor Namewithheld has a blog. I couldn't be happier if I were twins!

"Yay! New Distractions Are In!"

Not since I quit being a stripper have people been so happy. Just look at that guy in the rear (an unfortunate way to phrase that sentence, I know).

Friday, November 25, 2005

Let the Listing Begin

Since the deluge of Year-End Lists is deluging, McSweeney's gots skills.

{Things Koala Bears Would Say.
- - - -
Love me!
Climbing trees is fun!
Let's volunteer at a soup kitchen this Christmas.
My tongue is funny!
Eating leaves is fun!
Will you help me think of something nice we can do for Grandma?
Look, a pouch!
Let's prevent a forest fire!
No, you're the cutest ever.
Camus is boring. I find Karl Jaspers's philosophy much more enlightening.
Let's make cider!}

10th? Come ON, Birmingham!

City Rankings '05

Most Dangerous Cities:
1. Camden, N.J.
2. Detroit
3. St. Louis
4. Flint, Mich.
5. Richmond, Va.
6. Baltimore
7. Atlanta
8. New Orleans
9. Gary, Ind.
10. Birmingham, Ala.

Safest Cities:
1. Newton, Mass.
2. Clarkstown, N.Y.
3. Amherst, N.Y.
4. Mission Viejo, Calif.
5. Brick Township, N.J.
6. Troy, Mich.
7. Thousand Oaks, Calif.
8. Round Rock, Texas
9. Lake Forest, Calif.
10. Cary, N.C.

Emailing In

Stuck in Atlanta airport. Again.

People who say they are people-watchers, people who say they could sit all day and just watch people, have never been forced to do it.

Someone mobiled me this.

"Born to Run" turns 30

If you polled 100 music critics about Springsteen, I'll bet "authentic" and "genuine" would be said 95 times. And this 1975 London concert video of "She's the One" would make your neck hurt from agreein' so much.

{And no matter where you sleep tonight or how far you run,
Oh-o she's the one, she's the one

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Hey, Santa!

Here's one gift I'll be opening early this Christmas: DFW's latest. Woo-hoo!

Here is his commencement speech at Kenyon College. Brilliant, as ever.

Since You Asked...

Inside Higher Ed's story on The Phantom Professor.

{[The Phantom Professor] says that many times students told her things in confidence and that she never violated those confidences. “It has never been my intention to embarrass or ‘out’ anyone,” she says. “I thought I was just writing funny, odd, touching little stories about my experiences on a campus and in a classroom. These are my stories, what happened to me. Any embellishments have been to add a touch of satire, some humor, a punch line. I write about stereotypes, recognizable sorts of characters that populate academia.”}

This Just In...

Teens Having Sex (Washington Post). Who knew?

Stolen, er, "borrowed," from The Phantom Professor.

While reading, go, "Tsk, tsk, tsk."

Outside of a Dog, Books are Man's Best Friend...

Inside of a dog, they're just too hard to read. Ba-dum-cha. I'll be here all week, folks. Tip your waitresses.

NYT's 100 Notable Books of the Year.

{THE HOT KID. By Elmore Leonard. (Morrow, $25.95.) Many seek fame in this rendering of America's criminal landscape in the 1930's; the title character, a killer lawman, achieves it.

HOW WE ARE HUNGRY: Stories. By Dave Eggers. (McSweeney's, $22.) A shining miscellany peopled by characters in close touch with childhood.

IN CASE WE'RE SEPARATED: Connected Stories. By Alice Mattison. (Morrow/HarperCollins, $23.95.) The stories concern a family whose members couldn't lose each other if they tried.

INDECISION. By Benjamin Kunkel. (Random House, $21.95.) This postmodern, posteverything, fresh and funny novel by a young writer seems to develop a nonironic social conscience.

KAFKA ON THE SHORE. By Haruki Murakami. (Knopf, $25.95.) Two characters alternate in this dreamish novel: a boy fleeing an Oedipal prophecy and a witless old man who can talk to cats.

LUNAR PARK. By Bret Easton Ellis. (Knopf, $25.) A novel starring a brat named Bret Easton Ellis, who knows everybody and has more fun than ever happens to real people.}

China Revisited

This is Mu Mu, a bloggette and party girl--Communist Party that is--from China.

{Chinese Web logs have existed since early in this decade, but the form has exploded in recent months, challenging China's ever vigilant online censors and giving flesh to the kind of free-spoken civil society whose emergence the government has long been determined to prevent or at least tightly control.}


Russia looks up to China (where totalitarian gov. + capitalistic business = fastest-growing economy in the world), not the U.S., as its model.


Another Times ed.

{Perhaps the future of TV is in brief video clips, the kind workers enjoy e-mailing around the office. These might seem ideal for the atrophied attention spans of young people.}


Richard Klein [Eat Fat; Cigarettes are Sublime] has a fun ed in today's NYT.

{Stuffing at Thanksgiving won't kill you, but it may shorten your life by increasing your risk of dying young, as the epidemiologists say. By how much is not at all clear. Recently the Centers for Disease Control revised its estimates of the deaths due to fat from 400,000 - are you ready for this? - down to 25,814. But if you choose to take the risk of wildly overeating, consider its possible benefits as well.

There must be a reason that all societies sanction public excess at certain moments of the year. Perhaps the occasional orgy is supposed to allow us to better gauge our limits the rest of the time - just as one learns to drink moderately by getting drunk at least once. Perhaps we should see the Thanksgiving table not as a hurdle to clear but as an opportunity to test our limits by surpassing them.}

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Gobble! Gobble!

Five things I'm thankful for:

1. Jen from Miss Seventeen, obviously.

2. That scene in Laguna Beach when Stephen surprises LC on Valentine's Day.

3. The "Ashley" who sits in the third row of the second class I teach on TR.

4. That my university knows nothing about this or me or this with me or this with me and #3.

5. Did I say Jen from Miss Seventeen yet?

Atoosa's a Loosa

Boo! to people who make Jen cry. What kinda name is Atoosa anyway.

When Jen and I have kids, there will be no Atoosa. A Cooper, a Shelby, a Harper, maybe a Darby. But no Atoosa.

What I Learned in Prison

Cinema Verite?

Since I am just to the right of Mussolini, and this film will undoubtedly be to the left of Pelosi, I think it will piss me off. Even so, I'll be first in line. Tim Blake Nelson & George Clooney (together again since God's favorite movie, O Brother, Where Art Thou), Jeffrey Wright (maybe the most underrated actor of our time), Matt Damon, Chris Cooper, Christopher Plummer, Amanda Peet, and Traffic's Stephen Gaghan directing, what's not to like?

This strikes me as being a way ambitious film. We'll see if they pull it off.

NYT has a great feature on it today.

Another Berkeley

Ain't one Berkeley enough? The University of Melbourne has a plan to clone it.

Notes from Academe

While I can't imagine a guy who writes a book with this title would teach a political science course that is at all balanced, wouldn't you agree to nearly get nut cancer just to sit in on a class in which the professor says stuff like, "All of this liberal goo-goo humanitarianism clap clap in this college class does not address the fact that the United States of America is what it is because we place the laaaaaaw above everything else."

Carville is teaching at Nova. Below are excerpts from an article in today's Chronicle about it.

{The Ragin' Cajun in the Classroom
Alexandria, Va.

Membership in the Gang of 500 — the upper crust of the Washington establishment — has its privileges. Along with the keys to a fancy car and a regular table at the Palm, you're also likely to get several offers for a cushy gig stumping for some big-time college or university.

And so James Carville — he of the Bill Clinton campaign, the Sunday talk shows, the Hollywood cameos — finds himself each Tuesday night this semester in a fluorescent-lit lecture room staring up at 80-odd students and delving into Issues in American Politics.

Think the insider's insight into the Fitzgerald investigation. Think a ragin' analysis of Hurricane Katrina. Think guest lectures by George Stephanopoulos, Mary Matalin, Sen. George Allen, and, Mr. Carville is hoping, Mr. Clinton and Newt Gingrich, among others.

Think what it means to the students at Northern Virginia Community College.

"Georgetown does not need another adjunct professor of current events," the champion of the underdog points out on the first day of class, the first half of which seems more like a pep rally in support of the two-year-college movement. He's here, he explains, partly because he would like to help bring some attention to the college.

But it also turns out that Nova, as it's called locally, snagged Mr. Carville the same way it lured many of its 64,000 students: It's minutes from his office. (Yes, Harvard called too, he says, but he didn't want to pack up the wife and kids.) It has a diversity not seen at Georgetown or any of the other top-tier universities nearby. And for a political consultant, it offers insight into "what people who are trying to make it in America are thinking."

Early on, he lays down the rules for class.

Read the papers. Every day. Or he will embarrass you. "If you don't do your reading and you wanna make a fool of yourself in front of the former president or the speaker of the house, that's your business," he tells the class.

Somebody please keep the professor apprised of the score on the Washington Nationals' baseball game when they play during class time.

If his Louisiana State University Tigers lose a football game over the weekend, don't even bother coming to class.

If you see the words "Pat Robertson" on the final exam, feel free to answer with "old fool," he says. "You'll get full credit."}

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Future Mrs. Professor Namewithheld

This is Jen from Miss Seventeen. She is the human equivalent of Ivory Snow. I light a candle to her picture every night. A's all around and no final exam for the person/people who will, please, hook a broth--, hook a professor up.

Cinema Verite

Worth Netflixing. And worth telling yourself, That could've been me.

Musica Verite

Now playing on an iPod near you... the American Radiohead kicks television. Good, but uninspired in spots (although maybe not were we in the room at the time). "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" runs to 11:17. "Heavy Metal Drummer" should run English Patient length, yes? Alas, it gets only 3:21. I take longer wiping my ass.

Tour d Afrique

Before I die or regain my sanity I will do this. Cairo to Cape Town race, 1 bike, 100 days.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Been here?

{The 20-year-old Peking University sophomore sat down at her computer one day in late April and posted a poem on a university Internet bulletin board. She then walked to the top of a university building and leapt to her death. Her family later found the poem on the university Web site:

I made a List
Put reasons to live on the left side
Reasons to die on the right
I wrote many on the right
But found little to write on the left
Not willing to imagine
Continuing to live like this for decades.}

Probably Illegal to Post but...

Crap. Too small to read? Click on the image. Work? Steal somebody's copy of the Nov. 14 New Yorker. Or rip out its pg. 40. Way funny.

Muhammad Would Be Proud

"They will pressure me enough," he said, "and then I will blow somebody's head off."


This from a Muslim in Russia. Russia is watching with scrutiny Muslims who practice Islam outside of the state's sanctioned mosques.


If we pull out of Iraq now, where will we go next to fight the enemy? For they will not abracadabra-poof, magically transform from enemies into friends. Have you read their goals? Our relationship will not be a benign one.

How do we lose? Quit.

The Dems are running the risk of painting themselves as people who don't want us to win. A dangerous position, no?

Take just three minutes and think about what it would mean for us to *win* this thing.


No, I don't have a man crush on The Chenster (even with those steely eyes of his), but I am standing behind him, holding his coat re:

"It is a dangerous illusion to suppose that another retreat by the civilized world would satisfy the appetite of the terrorists and get them to leave us alone."

& even

"The flaws in the intelligence are plain enough in hindsight, but any suggestion that prewar information was distorted, hyped or fabricated by the leader of the nation is utterly false."

Cinema Verite

Netflix this. Yes, even us straight people like it.

Monday, November 21, 2005

'Sup, Foo'

In today's 'Sup, Foo' dept., the NYT has an interesting piece on young Bangkok.

From Atheist to Hurraytheist

Whew! Thank God tenth graders aren't doing this anymore. I knew our public schools were way better now because of something.

California universities discriminating against Christian school applicants?

The Punctuation Lady Takes on Manners

{"I have a theory," he finally said. "It's very sophisticated. My theory is that it [Eats, Shoots & Leaves] sold well because lots of people bought it."

Isn't it confusing, she [Lynne Truss, left] asks in one passage, "that our biggest experience of formal politeness comes from the recorded voices on automated switchboards - who patently don't mean it?"

"Check your own elbow skin. If it snaps back into position after bending, you probably should not be reading this book."

He [Michael Cunningham, "The Hours"] ripped the page from its spine, crumpled it into a ball and popped it into his mouth. He stood there chewing it, as if it were a piece of tough meat, perhaps realizing for the first time that paper is not easily pulverized. "I don't know what came over me," he said a few moments later, after he had removed the page from his mouth. "The inscription was so bland and generic, all I could think of to do is rip it out."}


I am spooked: spooked that to many, war on terror = war in Iraq. Does a turning away on the latter equal a turning away on the former?

I am frustrated: frustrated that we have been training Iraqi troops for nearly two years and they still can't protect a police station.

I am tired: tired of hearing Bush misled the nation. If you have proof that Bush knew there were no W'sMD but invaded anyway, show it; if not, quit trying to manufacture news and stick to reporting it.

I am angry: angry that one of the Iraqi men who bombed the hotels in Jordan, killing those at a wedding ceremony, among others, was in U.S. custody until the Dreyfusards forced his release. J'accuse indeed!

Cinema Verite

Warning: This film (yes, film, not movie, PBR drinkers) may cause self-reflection.

Me, before Fat Camp

Can one look at this too long? No. No, one can't.

Teacher's Pet

When you run across profiles of professors and they are asked to name their favorite thing about teaching, what do they invariably answer? Students, right? Why? The reasons aren't always noble.

You should sue the public school you went to if you think sexual attractions and sexual games stop at the door of the university classroom. It's not just neck up stuff going on during lectures. It's neck down, too.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


"The President and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone – but we’re not going to sit by and let them rewrite history."

Indeed! Some seem to have found themselves in the fortunate and luxurious position of forgetting what tune they sang before a messy thing like war hit.

Oddly enough, he is also denoting in photo above the length of my penis. Width! Did I say length? Width!

Professor Namewithheld Gets Makeover

One of my favorite things about teaching college is that each semester you get to start all over again, brand new, clear past, mistakes forgiven, no regrets.

This Thanksgiving my blog will get that.