Wednesday, February 28th 2007

Minion Auditions!
posted @ 2:37 pm in [ ]

As mentioned in earlier posts, Doctor SPAWN! definitely needs an evil lair, and you know what that means. If you have an evil lair, you gotta have minions. Otherwise, you’ve got yourself an emptyass, echoing lair with nobody running the controls for the pseudo-volcano rocket launching pad, the multi-sharktank suite, or hell, even the intercom buzzer to see who’s at the gate. (That would of course be the gate protected by electricity, cameras, guys with bats, live jackals, and the threat of pineapple ice cream topping.) We currently have openings in all departments, including:

Evil R&D Somebody’s gotta make the other-rocket-munching rockets, the sea drills, the evil jet skis… Not to mention determining, by evil scientific study, whether the guys with bats should be replaced with giant killer fruit bats or what.

Evil Publicity While a full spread in Evil Lairs and Gardens would be lovely, I’m thinking more along the lines of spreading rumors through the local villages about scary things like dragons, exploding grain silos and pineapple pizza being “up there” so as to keep the innocent away and lure potentially worthy nemeses to the premises.

Evil Engineering and Maintenance Somebody’s gotta run the cool evil gadgets, and fix ‘em if they break.

Evil Hospitality and Reception Duties include greeting both welcome and unwelcome guests, answering phones, coordinating evil catering, and probably an evil appointment secretary to keep my evil calendar. This department also houses the coveted position of Evil Parking Attendant. Duties include, but are not limited to, moving car seats, changing all radio pre-sets to horrible static, and removing all change from cup holders. Hiring bonuses are offered to those creative enough to invent and implement disturbing sounds and smells in vehicles without an obvious point of origin.

Evil Litigation and Accounting Perhaps this is redundant, but contract noncompliance should be prosecuted, even if it is just a verbal contract with a victim; and we should be monitoring our cash flow and keeping up appearances of legitimate business. (Evil HR has been done.)

Evil Ballistics, Explosives and Security You can’t expect potential nemeses to just shoot, decapitate, defenestrate, and blow up themselves, now can you? (If you can, I’m afraid you’re just not right for this department. See the below opening.)

Evil Pastry Chef It’s my lair and I want pastries, dammitt. There should also be evil pastries for unwelcome guests: those dry cheese danishes you get at interminable meetings, things with lots of trans-fats, things topped with pineapple…

Evil Animal Husbandry We’ll need people to feed the sharks, make sure the jackals are healthy yet irritable, and work on the giant carniverous fruitbat program, among other needs.

Evil Transportation I think the evil denizen-about-town ought to have every convenience and make a memorable entrance wherever she goes. Sure, someone should drive me places so I don’t have to park, but there should be a full array of evil conveyances to choose from: cars, aircraft, boats, skis, rollerblades… Probably not Segways, though — they’re not evil enough, and they’re both too fast for the sidewalk and too slow for the street. Plus: just too silly.

Evil Real Estate and Development Are there volcanoes available for development, or will we have to build our own? How many antennae can we put up? What are the neighbors like? These are all things we need to know, and the right candidate will be able to tell us, as well as supervising larger (possibly underwater) projects.

Evil Personal Valet Do I have an evil pen on me that’s the kind I like? Is the evil purple vampire cape I’d like to wear tomorrow cleaned and pressed? What pathetic dogooder are we feeding to Sharkey Sharkmeister, Mister Grumpy Gills and Huck Fin later? I can’t be bothered to keep track of all these things. I’ll need an evil bodyman.

Evil Interior Design and Propaganda An evil lair should be stylish, tasteful, and just a little bit futuristic. It should also have a good logo, dramatically evil yet insanely comfortable seating, and motivational propaganda posters that urge minions to take pride in their evil tasks. The right person might even have some ideas for shiny guest apparel that doesn’t actually look good on anyone, and some fabulous evil designs for me. That would be perfect.

Evil IT Support I am NOT going to have my WiFi cut out during an unreasonable ransom demand, and it is just plain undignified to get spam on my evil email account.

Evil Housekeeping …and you shouldn’t be too squeamish. You never know who or what is going to have to be scraped off the walls and ceilings of an evil lair.

Evil Union Shop Steward The Evil Lair is an equal opportunity employer, and pays fair evil wages with good evil benefits. Evil union membership is encouraged but not required for evil employment (but if you don’t join, it might be difficult to get another evil job later — those down at the Evil Union Hall do take notice). The right candidate for this position has good contacts, a pleasant negotiating manner, strong speaking skills, patellas made of titanium, and possibly gills.

Sorry, Evil Cat has been filled. We promote from within.

Saturday, February 24th 2007

The boundaries of Megfest
posted @ 10:00 am in [ ]

Well, it’s that time of year again: the time of year I hope someday will become one of those medieval weeks-long parties with peasants passed out all over the place (or at least a parking holiday): Megfest! For those of you just joining us, Megfest is the annual celebration of my 29th birthday. This year marks the eighth annual (don’t forget to count the first one!), so the celebrations are really stacking up. Surely such tradition calls for a parking holiday.

This year, the celebrating having to do with crashing face-first across the finish line of my doctoral requirements is a nice lead-in, and it does blur the boundaries somewhat. Normally, I place the precise boundaries of Megfest as being the arrival of the first birthday card or present and the opening and enjoyment of the last, but the congratulatory messages from last week’s sweaty academic tape-busting are still coming in. But hey, just having that “problem” is a nice present!

Typical features of Megfest include: Cheap Fun Day, where I announce an itinerary of visits to cheap and fun attractions around town and people join in as their schedules allow, in effect creating a little surprise party at every stop; Movie Day, where celebrants get together in a herd and have a sort of themed film festival; Day-Of Festivities, which are often a little more quiet, but certainly open to the public; and Random Celebrations at the Convenience of the Celebrants. I’m afraid my birthday is not to be avoided, or even “just like any other day.”

Cheap Fun Days In the past, Cheap Fun Day has always been an all-day Saturday affair. This year, though, a lot of folks’ schedules have changed, so I think we’re going to spread some of the activities around. The famous Pints Pub luncheon followed by walking it off in the Denver Art Museum will be Saturday, March 3, because the art museum is free to Colorado residents on the first Saturday of the month. There will likely be a 5:00 activity (TBA) and a dinner/evening outing, and there may be cheap breakfast that day as well (Breakfast King?). I think there should be some miniature golf in there somewhere, too. I’m still working on this one.

Movie Day Movie Day will be Saturday, March 10 at Josh’s place. The theme this year is, oh yes: Bond. Knitting is encouraged but not mandatory.

Day Of Friday, March 9th includes a host of cheap and somewhat cheap activities that may be joined by those of you who work Saturdays these days. Scheduled activities include: breakfast at Taza, a trip to the Botanic Gardens, tea at the Brown Palace (definitely not as WEAK as the picture makes it look — the reservation is for 4, so the first 3 callers can hop on board), a trip to the zoo (1 free guest pass available), a trip to the Museum of Nature and Science to see the new Ben Franklin exhibit and possibly take in some IMAX (two free general admission passes are available, but the exhibit itself and any IMAXing might be extra), dinner at Le Central, and a performance of Where the Wild Things Are at the Colorado Ballet.

Random Celebrations By appointment.

Thursday, February 22nd 2007

Oh yeah…
posted @ 2:51 pm in [ ]

Top 10 things I forgot about while I was totally focused on finishing:

  1. It is possible to read just for fun. People do it. Hell, I used to do it.

  2. It’s fun to get together with random friends on the spur of the moment.

  3. I feel a lot better when I can ride my bike every day.

  4. Leaving Phillip in charge of housekeeping is like leaving Ghenghis Khan in charge of a networking breakfast.

  5. I can just sit there. I don’t have to do 14 things at once.

  6. I enjoy dance class so much more when I’m not totally preoccupied. I’m also a lot better at it.

  7. As usual, the cats are very wise about how to live. Lounging is key, napping is a fine use of one’s time, being petted really ought to be savored, and snacking is definitely the way to go.

  8. When I don’t get some kind of exercise in every day, I make stupider choices, feel logier, and am generally lamer.

  9. I like to cook — probably enough to make actual food on a daily basis rather than just heating something up.

  10. People missed me while I was embroiled in writing, and a lot more people than I thought cared that I had finished.

Monday, February 19th 2007

Now what?
posted @ 12:19 pm in [ ]

Is it sinking in yet? Eh, not really. It’s maybe just starting to. This has not stopped people, of course, from demanding to know what I’m going to do next, as if I have a Rand McNally road atlas of my own life folded up in my back pocket that I can just whip out and point to where I am, here. (Well, I’m right here now. By Tuesday, I’ll be in Reno, and then it’s on to wealth, fame, retirement and death, here.) In truth, though, the mental “map” I used to have about what was happening next ended right about here. On the list of 5,000 things to do, the last few items were:

  1. Defend dissertation
  2. Graduate
  3. Get career, eggs, milk, coffee

I’m about to slide right off the map. Here be monsters.

As you know, though, I reject all manner of societal pressure, so I’ve been making up glib and sarcastic things to say:

  • We’re beginning construction on the Evil Lab Wednesday, and minion auditions will be held next week. You should apply!
  • Why, what are you going to do now?
  • I’m going to Disneyland!
  • Uhh, nothing. What have you heard?
  • Well, I’ve always wanted an alpaca farm, and… [very detailed description ensues, and I make my escape when the person falls asleep]

I even had one guy ask me what he should do about his bunions. I started a description of a procedure he could do at home with a bottle of Everclear and some needle-nosed pliers before I came clean and told him I wasn’t an M.D. I think the possibilities there are endless, though. Just imagine all the weird and gross things I can get people to show me! Plus: “Go ahead and take that off. It’s okay, baby, I’m a doctor.”

Friday, February 16th 2007

That’s Dr. Painintheass to you
posted @ 11:55 am in [ ]

Here’s something I never thought I’d say: my dissertation defense was a very low-key, positive experience with cookies. Good cookies, too: I think they were Samoas. That part was especially nice because I hadn’t been able to eat much over the last day or two, and I had slept about 3 of the last 48 hours. Having had various aspects of this program forcibly imprinted on my colon, I was pretty nervous, and more than a little concerned that I might puke in the trashcan, or worse, on my committee chair’s shoes. Instead of colon punishment, though: cookies. Given the choice, I’d take cookies every time.

Also, when you show up in anticipation of having a horrible, lubeless experience (albeit a necessary one for attaining your larger goals), and somebody’s put nice cookies out on the table, and made a pot of coffee and stuff, it makes you feel like probably nothing bad is going to happen. (Cardinal Biggles! Bring out… the comfy chair!) I mean, when Paulie Walnuts is going to lay waste to your patella with a baseball bat, he doesn’t run out and get some Samoas first so he can put out a nice plate. On the other hand, that would be a pretty good strategy.

Basically, I got to talk about my work with interested scholars for a couple of hours and eat cookies. It was like being a featured guest on Book Notes: IR Theory Weenie Edition. I didn’t think their questions were easy, but most of them were things I had thought about, and none of them were things I couldn’t answer. They were interesting, curious questions that I actually wanted to answer. They weren’t trick questions, or mean pretend-questions that were actually just veiled digs at me or faculty members they were mad at or anything. They were actually kind of, well, flattering. Also, the folks involved were all really nice and encouraging and fun to talk to — it made me wish I had had them all along for the ride from the beginning. Then, they sent me out of the room with a cookie, deliberated about my awesomeness, and congratulated me when I came back in and actually hugged me and stuff. No going medieval on my ass or anything.

So that was all very happy and surreal, and then I had to run off really fast to go teach for three and a half hours. It’s a special topics class about my work, too, so I then got to go talk to more people who were interested in what I’d been working on all this time, and were in fact even paying to hear about it (not to mention expressing cool ideas about it), which was even MORE happy and surreal. Then, when I got home, the whole lack of food and sleep thing caught up with me, so we went out to a diner. I got an omelette that came with toast, and the waitress brought out: mixed fruit jelly. I really like those little square blister-packs of mixed fruit jelly when I go out to a diner and have toast. I couldn’t really tell you why — it might just be the novelty. Anyway, it was at this point where I wondered if I wasn’t really somewhere in an alley dying of multiple gunshot wounds and just having an “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” kind of experience. It was the mixed fruit jelly that tipped me off. It was just too much, you know? Even though I became aware of it, though, I didn’t snap back into the blood-soaked alley, so maybe I was just having a string of really pleasant experiences.

Then I went home and went to bed, and Petra gave me lots of pillow cuddles. Then I woke up this morning and a bunch of other people confirmed that all that happy stuff had actually happened. Yes, Phillip said, I really did get mixed fruit jelly. He took the day off today so we could drink and/or go to the zoo. I think we should just go nuts and maybe take in an Imax movie, too.

Basically, it isn’t sinking in just yet. My recently-graduated buddies tell me that takes a few days.

Thursday, February 15th 2007

I wonder what the king is doing tonight
posted @ 4:57 am in [ ]

Okay, so word has leaked out that I’m defending my dissertation in about 11 hours. I tried to keep it on the D.L. because my comps were a disaster worthy of an Irwin Allen movie. So FINE, it’s true, and that’s why I haven’t been posting much. I had a bunch of last-minute revisions to make, so I’m pretty tired, but fortunately, I’m quite certain I can talk about this project in my sleep. Of course I’ll let you know what happens.

Friday, February 9th 2007

Sorry for the delay
posted @ 10:46 am in [ - ]

Due to excessive spambot problems, I’m now moderating all comments instead of just the ones from new sources. I apologize to you fabulous frequent commenters and other actual mammals out there — I will of course approve yours, and I’ll look for a more permanent solution shortly. It was just too sucky to get emails from my blog announcing the spam that had been posted without my approval in the form of trackbacks and what-not. Feh! This is my billboard, spambot! Get your own!

Monday, February 5th 2007

Conveyance dreams and other anxieties
posted @ 9:36 pm in [ - ]

For the last few years, I’ve been having dreams about traveling. Not every night, but maybe a few times a month or less. The most common conveyances are airplanes, cars, and the occasional train or boat or bike. The airplane dreams usually involve trying to rush through an impossible airport and catch a plane for which I’m late (often with people waiting for me), while the driving dreams are often through middle America, nowhere near a destination of any kind or anything I recognize (”Well, ain’t this place a geographical oddity: two weeks from everywhere!”), often low on money and in need of a place to stay, and gas, or food, and sometimes driving a car with various mechanical problems or traveling with someone horrible.

Because I’m a happy traveler overall — and totally unafraid of being stranded in the middle of nowhere in sh*tbox vehicles because of my extensive acclimatization to that sort of thing — and these are anxiety dreams, I figured they were about the journey of my academic process. Over the last year, I started actually getting on the plane or making sense of the maps and determining where I had to go before the dreams ended.

I haven’t had one of the dreams in weeks, I imagine because I finally arrived at the conscious-world destination. I did, however, have an anxiety dream about defending. It wasn’t as colorful as my comps anxiety dreams were. One of my comps fields was political theory (a.k.a. political philosophy), and I had a dream about having to compete in some sort of athletic contest at the ancient Acropolis (in a toga, of course) that involved a chariot race, a foot race, some sort of ladder climbing thing, and other stuff. It quickly became too funny to be anxious. For some reason, a lot of the other comps anxiety dreams also involved the ladder. In the case of my comps, though, the reality was the nightmare. I think the hazing should be more standard: chug a beer, swim out to the buoy, like that.

I’m more optimistic about defending, which is supposed to be more of a formality. I’m dealing with the aforementioned roadblocks by ejecting the uncooperative from my committee. I feel like Boris Yeltsin firing his cabinet… and I like it!

Saturday, February 3rd 2007

John K. has the grooviest blog!
posted @ 7:26 pm in [ ]

Those of you who really loved Ren & Stimpy, and those of you who just like good stories and good writing, will be delighted to know that John K. has a blog! This is a terrific posting right here. You should visit his site and egg him on.