Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Tomorrow after work I drive home to see the folks and go suit shopping for the fall interview season. I'll be back in A2 on Sunday night, and then summer really gets into the home stretch.

Interviewing works like this. By Monday we have to have identified 30 firms we want to interview with, and rank them 1 through 30. Career Services takes those rankings and uses some magic formula to assign everyone 15 to 25 interviews, each of which is 20 minutes long, to take place over the course of the Monday to Thursday before classes start (August 29-September 1). In September and October, some of those firms will be flying me to L.A. and/or Miami for half-day interviews, hopefully leading by November 1 to one or more job offers for next summer.

So, yeah, I'm gonna need suits. Finding big and tall suits is apparently a trickier business than I'd realized, so Friday has serious ordeal potential. Otherwise, though, this is my one trip home between last Christmas and this Thanksgiving, so family time will be at the heart of the trip. You know, presuming I'm not wondering around department stores with a glazed look all weekend.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

As I've alluded to before, 45 minutes a day on the treadmill (especially when you still haven't picked up an iPod) will make your mind go a-wanderin' to some strange places. Adding a little sensory input doesn't necessarily help. Yesterday I was about 2/3rds of the way through when an undergrad comes along and sets up on the next treadmill, but first she goes up and opens the window. As I couldn't help but notice, she was wearing "Go Blue" shorts. Go Blue is a pro-Michigan sports thing; I don't quite get it, but whatever, that's not the point. The point is, "Go Blue" written across the ass.

So I get to thinking, just what is the deal with the ass-text shorts? As best as I could theorize, there are three possible states of mind that lead to investing in and wearing the ass-text shorts:

  1. Some kind of quasi-feminist resistance thing, operating along the lines of: "I caught you staring at my ass, and I hope you've learned a valuable lesson from all this."
  2. Some low self-esteem, needy feeling along the lines of: "On the off chance that any of you aren't looking at my ass, I'm going to draw some extra attention to it," or
  3. "I want you to know that I can't say no to anyone or anything, including the most low-brow rungs of the fashion industry."

Any opinions on which is right or on possibilities I've missed?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Just a quick note today, rooting for Kristan, Jefferson, Lisa, Lydia, Sam, and anyone else I'm forgetting to kick the Bar in the jimmies over the next 2 or 3 days depending on their state.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Many places have some sort of art fair that they wisely shovel off to some local county fairgrounds or similar-type place. Ann Arbor takes a different approach, basically shutting down all the streets in the downtown and campus area in favor of the booths. This was basically fine on Wednesday and Thursday when I worked all day and didn't go much of anywhere. I got to walk around some of the closer exhibits on my lunch hour, and got all the culture, edification, and enlightenment I needed.

Today was a different story. I actually had to walk around town, not for art fair-related reasons, but to, you know, live my life. All of a sudden the town's cultural event of the year is now my mortal enemy. I walked around pissed off because people insisted on moving at half a mile an hour at best, not paying attention to where they were going; I got increasingly angry there are parts of the workd where 50-year-old women find it acceptable to walk around in public in red-white-and-blue T-shirts that say "American Cutie" and have gigantic butterflies on them; I remembered why people with certain temperments should stay within 25 miles of one of the coasts at all time. An hour later, having gotten the hell away from downtown and gotten some coffee into myself, I was feeling less misanthropic, but I probably never would have gotten out of that mess with my sanity intact if it weren't for another helping of culture and edification.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Since DVDs have taught us to see TV shows more distinctly in terms of seasons, I've been telling people that my single favorite season of any one TV show was the first season of Scrubs. People tend to see this as a quirky choice, and I'm fine with that. I also enjoyed the second and third seasons quite a bit before drifting away from the show this year in my no-TV exile. Then this summer I borrowed a copy of the first season of Arrested Development, and I thought I might have a new champ. Just about that time the first season of Scrubs finally came out on DVD and instantly became my first DVD-season purchase. (Or, more accurately, the first one for me--having bought Soap and Sledge Hammer for my dad as gifts.) The problem was, as much as I enjoyed the AD season, I wasn't ready to sit down and watch another whole season right away.

Over the last week and a half I've finally gotten around to watching the Scrubs discs, and with all due respect to the Bluths, J.D. and company are the winners and still champions in my book. Very quickly I remembered all the reasons I loved the show from the start*--hilarious dialogue, 5 to 6 well-crafted, complex characters, and at least another half-dozen or more bit players who always bring something to the table. I can't get through an episode without laughing out loud, and usually I can't get through one without feeling deeply saddened, or solemn, or touched by something, and almost as often I come away with something to think about. Every episode has an A story and B story and usually a C story that come together thematically, and that teach us something new about the characters and about their job.

(*OK, this is a little white lie--the commercials before the show debutted made it look horrible, I ranked it high in that year's Laplaca Open, and then when I saw a screener of the pilot I knew I'd made a horrible miscalculation.)

And then, of course, there's Dr. Cox. John C. McGinley says on one of the DVD extras that what appealed to him about the character was that he could be the most damaged human being on prime-time TV, and it's so true. The reluctant mentor is a stock character with a long and cliched history. But Dr. Cox is something different--reluctant to be a mentor not because he considers his mentees(?) to be future competitors or impossible greenhorns, although in some episodes it might seem that way. The revealing moment comes late in the season, though, when J.D. stays late with a patient well past the end of his shift, giving up a date. When Cox realizes what's going on he has his most painfully honest moment of the season: "You want to be like me, newbie? Don't you realize that most of the time I barely want to be like me?" It's a brutal statement from a brutally honest show, that repeatedly comes back to the idea that you can know exactly what your owns faults and shortcomings are and still have no idea what to do about them--and in fact, that in they end, they will literally kill you. It's not the stuff of your typical three-camera, laugh-track sitcom.

I can't wait for season two on DVD and/or syndication.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

After three days of waiting, I finally found out that I did not make Law Review.

In plausibly related news, I also found out last night that you shouldn't try two drinks for the first time in the same night, both of which have "bomb" in their name.

Monday, July 18, 2005

I just finished watching the final episode of The Scholar, which I hadn't seen before. The main action with the admissions committee and whatnot was filmed at USC's Philosophy Library. When I was preparing for my quals I spent a lot of time in there, and it was the great unknown gem of the USC library system. It was empty all the time, even though it was really comfortable and a great place to work. In fact, my main memory of the place was at a meeting of the history grad students, when someone mentioned the place and James Bell (one of our colleagues) tried to shush them down to prevent any more people from finding out about the place.

The day after my last final this spring, I found out that James passed away from a longtime illness. He was 56. He'd been sick for a really long time and had had a rough life anyway (long history of drugs, alcohol, you name it--about which he was very forthcoming), but hearing it was still a shock. I've never known anyone who turned their life around quite as much as he did, and he was an inspiration in that regard. Like most grad students he could be a pain in the ass at times too, and I'd be lying if I said we were best friends or anything. But he was a good guy and he wasn't insane, which put him in the upper half of my grad school compatriots.

Reality TV often makes me upset, but tonight was a whole different thing.

If you've got a little bit of spare time and a little bit of spare cash, here's something you might want to consider.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

I picked up some filing supplies this weekend. Because my maturity knows no bounds I had meticulously saved bank statements, tax paperwork and the like for a number of years; because my tendency toward inertia smacks down my maturity, I had been carrying around these things and any number of other pieces of paperwork in manila folders, plastic bags, and similar containers. I had seven years of tax paperwork, for instance, in an opened Priority Mail envelope. Also, many of the credit card and bank statements were still in envelopes with offers for magazines, checks to write against the credit card for the financially moronic, etc. So after two hours of sorting out many years of this crap, I now have it all in file folders in a milk-crate-style container, plus a garbage can full of envelopes. It's a little weird to see all the paperwork in one place; on the other hand, it's nice to confirm that a pinch, I could now find my birth certificate without going through 4 years of W-2's.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Unlike Mike I don't have an answer key, but I think I could find more than 5 things wrong with this.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Corn, Cheese, and Other Misdemeanors

I was in Tom's car the other night and he had a CD called "Corn and Cheese" playing. It was a fun mix, with the added bonus where I had one of those moments where I linked up a song that I knew to hear with a title and artist that I knew, but didn't know what song they went with--in this case, Nilsson's "Without You." Thusly inspired, I put together for Tom a cheese collection of my own, and while I was at it, I also put together something called "Best of Joe's Computer" as a sampler of music that I have that I non-ironically enjoy. Here are the playlists for the curious:


  1. Heartaches, The Marcels*
  2. Long Arm of the Law, Kenny Rogers
  3. Rock Me Gently, Andy Kim
  4. Donna the Prima-donna, Dion
  5. Concrete and Clay, Unit 4+2*
  6. Sweet Pea, Tommy Roe
  7. Indian Lake, The Cowsills*
  8. Tell Laura I Love Her, Ritchie Valens
  9. Can't Fight That Feeling, REO Speedwagon
  10. I've Never Been To Me, Charlene
  11. Pop Goes The World, Men Without Hats*
  12. Johnny Get Angry, k.d. lang (live on SNL)
  13. Don't You Want Me Baby?, Human League
  14. Long Haired Lover From Liverpool, Little Jimmy Osmond
  15. Teenage Dirtbag, Wheatus
  16. Joey, Concrete Blonde*
  17. Wingman, Coors Light commercial
  18. Are You Ready For The Sex Girls?, Gleaming Spires
  19. Red Rubber Ball, The Cyrkle
  20. Goody Two Shoes, Adam Ant
  21. Into The Night, Benny Mardonis
  22. Indian Giver, 1910 Fruitgum Company
  23. Forever Young, Alphaville

Best of:
  1. What's Left of the Flag, Flogging Molly
  2. Murder (Or a Heart Attack), Old 97's
  3. Battle of Who Could Care Less, Ben Folds Five
  4. Atlantic City, Bruce Springsteen
  5. July July, The Decemberists
  6. 36-24-36, Violent Femmes*
  7. Veronica, Elvis Costello
  8. Leave The Biker, Fountains of Wayne
  9. Man In Black, Johnny Cash
  10. Telstar, Laika & the Cosmonauts
  11. Shitloads of Money, Liz Phair
  12. Santeria, Sublime
  13. Satellite of Love, Lou Reed
  14. Song Against Sex, Neutral Milk Hotel
  15. What Do All the People Know?, The Monroes*
  16. Run, Baby, Run, Sheryl Crow
  17. Gun, Uncle Tupelo
  18. Bottle of Wine, Jimmy Gilmer*
  19. We Threw Gasoline on the Fire and Now We Have Stumps for Arms and No Eyebrows, NOFX
  20. Stuff, MU330
  21. Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner, Warren Zevon
  22. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots pt. 1, Flaming Lips
  23. Ellen and Ben, Dismemberment Plan

(*) indicates a song that would fit equally well on either disc.

Monday, July 11, 2005

It's nice when a book lives up to its reputation. I just finished Battle Cry of Freedom, reading it in just under a week because I couldn't put it down. It's really hard, in one volume, to do both what I call a chronicle and a history. By "chronicle", I mean getting the facts down into an organized narrative. By "history", I mean provide coherent analysis of those facts. If you can make both compelling, you've written a hell of a history book; if you can do it on an enormous topic--the Civil War, including the 20-year run-up--that has been and continues to be written to death, then you've accomplished something incredible. James McPherson did both here, in his Pulitzer-winning magnum opus. It's entirely possible that the analysis is out-of-date since the book is 17 years old, and I'm sure historians have filled in some gaps and dug up some new sources. Also, real military buffs would probably be disappointed by the depth of treatment that actual battles get. But if you've ever thought you'd like to read one book that would tell you about the political, military, social, and cultural history of the Civil War period, this is the one.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

I went canoeing today for the first time in I can't even guess how long. Tom and I navigated 2.5 miles of the roaring Huron River (average depth: nine inches) in about 2.5 hours, including walking-it-across-the-rocks and dislodging-it-from-the-cement-thingy time. Helpful hint: If you need an excuse to clean out the old business cards in your wallet that you don't really need any more, having your wallet in your pocket when you fall in the river provides a really good one. Also, try not to get too demoralized by the van ride that takes approximately 7 minutes to do the return journey it just took you 150 minutes to paddle with the current. Also, massive kudos to Caitlin for remembering sunscreen, and to her boyfriend Eric for dislodging us from the cement thingy. Jeers to Tom and I for failing to make even one "That's a paddlin'" joke the entire trip.