Archive for January, 2014

My Winter Break

Today in class we wrote about our winter breaks. Here’s mine:

My winter break was excellent. I had lots of time to goof off and play video games. I also did some writing, grade mountains of papers, recorded podcasts, and made a new breakbeat track on the computer. I didn’t travel, because I always feel like I’m being robbed of downtime when I travel during breaks (aside from summer).

My break was very productive, but I felt this weird tension the whole time: When I was working on school stuff, I felt like I deserved time to relax and unwind. When I was relaxing, I felt like I ought to be doing creative projects, like writing. When I was writing, I felt like I should be working on school stuff. And so on, around and around for two weeks.

Getting two Bonus Days Off was a nice surprise, and I definitely used some of that time to relax, but it also meant I had been given a gift and therefore owed it to the students (and myself) to get more papers graded. I didn’t get every single page graded, but I estimate I made it through 300 pages worth of papers over the break. That’s a lot. (In a way, I’m glad we’re back to school because it means I get to do the fun interactive teaching stuff again, rather than just the less-exciting paperwork stuff.)

In terms of leisure: I should have played The Last of Us, which I’ve had on rent from GameFly for months. But my PS3 is in the basement, and I usually don’t feel like going down there to play games. Instead, I played Gone Home (which is awesome) and Far Cry 3 (which is also excellent, but the story is atrocious). I also played Neverwinter, the free MMO, but there’s something odd about defeating a huge boss and feeling all victorious, and then watching someone else fight the exact same boss one minute later. It makes the experience less satisfying. And besides, it’s supposed to be this big social experience, but no one in the game ever talks about anything. So I began another playthrough of Kingdoms of Amalur.

I’ve been reading, too — Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, for one. I love his work, but Blood Meridian suffers from the same condition as The Road: It’s less a novel with evolving character arcs than it is an impressionistic series of scenes, conveying more emotional texture than actual plot. This doesn’t make it a bad book by any means, but it’s not as engaging as No Country for Old Men, probably his best novel.

I’m also reading Alison Bechdel’s memoir Are You My Mother? It’s an interesting book, but unlike her previous comics memoir Fun Home (which is simply amazing), this one brings in all kinds of psychoanalytic minutiae and long excerpts from other writers. I’m not so interested in whether Virginia Woolf ever met this other guy who lived at the same time as her — I want to know more about the lives of the author and her mom. Still, the artwork is great and it’s worth reading.

At the end of the vacation, I started to feel a little restless. I think it would be different if we had final exams before break, and a new year meant a new semester. But I was eager to get back into the swing of things, even if we only have a week and a half left in the term.

Dennis Rodman Thinks He’s Nixon

I have no words.

In case the link goes bad:

Growing angry with Cuomo and jabbing his finger toward the camera for emphasis, Rodman said, “Kenneth Bae did one thing … If you understand what Kenneth Bae did. Do you understand what he did in this country? No, no, no, you tell me, you tell me. Why is he held captive here in this country, why? … I would love to speak on this.

“You know, you’ve got 10 guys here, 10 guys here, they’ve left their families, they’ve left their damn families, to help this country, as in a sports venture. That’s 10 guys, all these guys here, do anyone understand that? Christmas, New Year’s …

“I don’t give a rat’s ass what the hell you think. I’m saying to you, look at these guys here, look at them … they dared to do one thing, they came here.”

Grading, Games, and Goofing

Okay, no sweat. So I missed two days of blogging so far. I’m still at 50%. There’s not been much to report, but the reason I haven’t blogged is because it’s felt like an intrusion into my free time.

“What intrusion?” I hear you angrily interject. “You’ve got two damn weeks off!” True, but I’ve been grading papers for hours every day. Therefore, after my dog-walking and dishwashing duties, I feel like I can’t spare any time at all to blogging. Otherwise I’ll lose the time I need for important activities like browsing Reddit and reblogging stuff from Reddit and arguing with morons on Reddit.

I have also, of course, been playing video games. The free-to-play MMO Neverwinter has been absorbing lots of my time, but I’m really disappointed at how non-social it is. I’m part of a guild — which advertises itself as being large and social — but no one ever says anything. There are missions where you have to team up with other players, but no one ever talks in those either. I’ve been approaching it like a free ActionRPG, but there’s something odd about being in a world full of other people, watching them get stuff from a treasure chest, and then getting stuff out of the same chest yourself. It just feels fake and weird.

Alas, I’ve not been working on the new book much. After doing so much schoolwork, I just feel blah about writing more stuff. I guess I need to force it.


Didactic SynCast #91: Jenkins Belovavich

Let’s kick the new year off right — with a new SynCast! This time we’ve got stuff about South Sudan, fracking, MOOCs, and carnivorous fish. Also: What it means to live a hip-hop life. Enjoy!

DS#91: Jenkins Belovavich

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Residence Solitary

Get it? Because it’s a pair of synonyms for “home” and “alone”. I am blinding in my cleverness.

Diane has gone to visit her family for a few days, and I’m here taking care of the dog and chickens. I’ve got a mountain of papers to grade, and I’m going to try to get a podcast out as well. There’s a stereotype about guys being home alone, being atrocious slobs and wilding out (cf. The Simpsons, fig. 1).

I’m not really part of this trope. The one degree to which I conform to that model is staying up too late playing video games. (“Too late” = 11:30 PM.) Hedonism alert!

I’m sending off a couple of pieces to a literary journal for teachers. I’ve got a good feeling, but of course I had a decent feeling about the horror story too. Hopefully I’m developing a thicker skin. Who knows.

We spent last night with some friends at a fancy restaurant. It was fun (and delicious), and dinner ended around 9:00 PM, so Diane and I just said “Happy New Year Greenland” and called it a night around 10:00. I don’t much care for the ritualistic niceties of staying up until midnight just to clink glasses and drink bubbly. Besides, I woke up yesterday at 4:45 AM and forgot to take a nap, so being conscious until midnight would have been quite a chore.

Time to walk the dog!