The Madwoman in the Basement

Here’s a song that expresses how I feel about returning to this space after the longest hiatus I’ve ever taken in the course of my accidental 8-year career as a blogger. Give it a click, dearly beloved if sorely neglected Madpeople at Your Laptops. It’s very pretty in a shoo-boppy kind of way, and it is, of course, entirely about you:

So, yes, it has been a mighty long time. I wish I could say I followed up that last post with an extended honeymoon in Europe with the Woman Formerly Known as Goose and Never to Be Referred to as My Wife. (Don’t worry — I’ll stick with WFKG as the abbreviated nom de blog for the person to whom I am legally married. She likes sounding like a radio station.) Not surprisingly, our impulsive mid-semester nuptials were followed not by an exotic trip but by the long grind of wrapping up an academic year, a busy, fraught period made especially so for me this year because I was preparing to step down from an administrative position I had held for twelve years and, as it turned out, getting ready to move into a new and substantially bigger administrative position. I start the new job on July 1, but I’m already up to my eyeballs in transition work. The long, languorous summer of 2014 has suddenly turned into a frenetic season of enormous changes at the last minute.

I’m excited but still not sure how to blog about most of what is happening, so let’s just talk about the basement, okay? I’ll figure out the other stuff later and get back to you. In less than three months. I swear.

My study is in the basement. It is a ridiculously large study, because it is the space underneath the great room we added to our humble red brick cape cod during the We Must Be Crazy Renovation of 2003-04. If the first-floor room is a great room, I’ve always thought the basement space should be called the fabulous room. It’s everything you don’t expect a basement to be: light and open and vertically spacious enough that a tall girl can do sun salutes without worrying that she’ll scrape the ceiling with her finger nails. It can be chilly, but we have a cute little Norwegian stove that can produce an astonishing amount of heat when necessary. Sliding glass doors open out onto a patio, which leads out into what fancier people would call the garden and what the neighborhood deer refer to as the hosta bar.

I love my study, but the truth is I’ve neglected it a lot in the last few years. With two different offices on campus (one in my department and one in the program I directed), I didn’t get to spend much time there. The shelves were lined with books I hadn’t looked at since grad school, and every available surface was slowly covered up with stacks of files and papers and memos that I was too lazy to file and for one reason or another reluctant to throw away. Paperless office? Ha! Not mine, kids.

Anyhoo, among the enormous changes occurring this summer are moving out of both of my current campus offices and moving into a third. As I contemplated the logistical challenges of this professional relocation project, I realized the first step in the chain reaction had to be a come-to-Jesus moment with regard to the mess in the basement. My new position completely releases me from teaching in the English department, so the first step was to do some serious culling of those files and figure out where in the hell to put them. I also wanted to clear out shelf space, because I’ve got this nutty idea that the life I’m about to begin is somehow going to afford me time and mental space for working on a book. (I know, I know — but a girl is entitled to the delusions born of a fresh start, isn’t she? Besides, as you may recall, I want to be promoted.)

The home office is by definition a hybrid space, so personal documents and records were a major focus of my reorganizational efforts. After careful consultation with a U.S. government list of tips for managing household records, I convinced myself I could live without bank statements going all the way back to 1999, so I filled two grocery bags with financial stuff and old utility bills and carted them off for shredding. I was rewarded with a large, entirely empty drawer that won’t promptly be refilled with new bank statements because I have finally gone paperless on that front. My personal and professional lives are far less paper-centric than they used to be, so my hope is that the Epic Culling of 2014 will never have to be repeated. (Another delusion? Perhaps, especially if you know that a number of the culled files went into a secret cabinet in a remote, damp corner of the basement. Oh, dear.)

The home office also contains familial archives, which in my case are boxes of photos and other scraps that fell into my lap when we moved my mother into assisted living a couple of years ago. Once I had gotten a handle on the mess in the basement, I let myself dip into that archive, thinking I might find an image suitable for Father’s Day, which is when I intended to publish this post. (So, all this optimism, and I’m still the world’s slowest blogger!) What I unearthed was a lovely, new-to-me photo of my long dead father, looking to be about four years old, intently sipping a Coke with his older sister and my beloved grandmother Jane:

Probably southern Indiana, c. 1934.

Le père de la folle, drinking a Coke, probably in southern Indiana, c. 1935.

I adore this picture, mostly because one of my favorite things about visiting my grandparents when I was a kid was that the basement stairs were always lined with cartons of Coke in glass bottles. It’s nice to see that the penchant for sugary beverages was deeply rooted in family history.

Why do I bore you with the mundane details of my tossing out and burrowing down and looking back and moving forward? It’s a way, I suppose, of explaining the recent silence here without divulging the details of months that have been stressful, challenging, and in some ways momentous. Cliche as it sounds, facing the mess in the basement was an important part of ending one chapter in my professional life and preparing to begin another. Going through all that paper was an opportunity to reflect on what the last decade or so has been and meant — the students I’ve known, the books I’ve taught, the meetings (oh, lord, the meetings!) I’ve attended, the plans I’ve made and in some cases unmade. The taking stock felt good. It was a way of honoring the recent past, but it was also a way of letting it go. That felt good, too, liberating even. I step into my delightfully uncluttered study now and feel energized rather than overwhelmed.

Clean up, let go, move on: One office down, two more to go. How are your summers going, Madpeople? I hope you’ll stop by to say hello to me, though it’s been such a mighty long time. Shoo-bop, shoo-bop, my baby. Throw something out today. I promise you’ll feel better.

News for Ladies, Globetrotting Edition

We’re getting ready to go off on an international adventure of our very own in a couple of days, so amuse yourselves with some random snippets of gynocentric news and information, culled from the all-seeing, all-knowing digital panopticon the incredible Interwebz.

Image of the Week:

Screenshot of Hillary Clinton's Twitter profile page on the day it went live, 6/10/13.

Screenshot of Hillary Clinton’s Twitter profile page on the day it went live, 6/10/13.

Question: Are you bothered by the word “wife” in the bio? I am not. I dig the progression from the traditional, stand-by-your-man model of ladyhood that opens the series of nouns Clinton offers to describe herself. The series manages, in the cool, crisp style of the Twitterverse, to remind readers of her decades of public service while cheekily taking on the ridiculous attacks on her appearance, style, and personal life that have dogged her over the years. It ends with a brilliant tease, that coy TBD, inviting readers to stay tuned to see what’s coming next from one of the world’s most fascinating and accomplished women. Is it any wonder that Clinton’s debut caused an immediate sensation? Alyssa Rosenberg in Think Progress declared it a success, comparing the pop-cultural savvy evident in Clinton’s Twitter entree to the flat-footedness of a Republican Game of Thrones parody that made the National Republican Congressional Committee look dumb and out of touch instead of cool and hip. (That’s according to Rosenberg — I do not watch GoT, so don’t expect any jokes or spoilers here. I am out of touch but not dumb.) Clinton’s embrace of the 140-character mode of communication was front-page news in this morning’s Washington Post, which even this loyal pantsuit wearer found a little hard to believe. As I type this, Clinton has more than 375,000 followers on Twitter, which is mighty impressive for a political figure. I mean, an obscure singer like Justin Bieber can rack up 40 million followers before breakfast, but a hardworking pol like NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo can barely muster 84,000.

Yes, I am following Clinton. She hasn’t returned the favor yet, but so far she is only following Bill, Chelsea, and some Clinton Foundation thingies. She also hasn’t posted anything beyond her opening Tweet, a clever shout-out to the creators of the brilliant Texts from Hillary Tumblr that boosted Clinton’s coolness ratings into the stratosphere last spring. Good move, Hillz — We denizens of the Interwebz love nothing better than a hat tip as a way of demonstrating alliance and respect. Dear Hillary: You are clearly getting excellent social media advice, but if you want more, I’m available, 24/7, here at this humble little blog or over on the Twitters. Your devoted admirer, The Madwoman

Speaking of Sheroes Battling Sexism, biologist Anne Fausto-Sterling has been doing it for decades in academia. Read all about it here. And retired Washington Post restaurant critic Phyllis Richman finally answers an incredibly sexist letter she received from a dude at the Harvard graduate school when she applied for admission in 1961. Finally, Yoko Ono has just turned 80 and feels that she is starting a new life. Dog bless you, Yoko.

On the other hand, not all women are perfect. (I know: Sad, but true.) Case in point: This woman, a mom AND a professor of gender studies (!?!) published a tortured piece of hoo-ha in Wa Po the other day about how her daughter, a straight girl, took another girl to the prom because neither of them felt like waiting for boys to ask them to attend. (H/T Julie Enszer.) Mom was rattled, because, well, “If Angel were a lesbian, attending the prom with a girl would have seemed normal. But she’s not, so I kept thinking: ‘Why not attend with a boy instead of a girl?’” Dear Anxious Mom: Please add this book to your summer reading list and send me a new screen for my laptop. I smashed mine while reading your tortured, sentimental affirmation of traditional gender norms. For the record, yep, Angel is a much better feminist than her mother is, but you know what? It ain’t a fricking contest, and if you frame it that way everybody loses. Yours sincerely, The Madwoman

Because it’s summertime, you should read one silly piece of twaddle that will make you giggle about a certain form of Lady Power in the Media, so go read this profile of Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb’s wine- and estrogen-fueled partnership. I hadn’t watched morning television in years until I caught some of the high jinks going on during their daily hour of Today. They really are hilarious. The money quote in the piece is Gifford’s description of how enriching her work and friendship with Kotb have been for her: “It’s like an old man who’s taken a young lover,” she quips. “He’s got a jaunty little step.”

All right, kids, gotta run. If you need me over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be where this woman was in this pretty to look at but not especially good film:

Under_the_tuscan_sun_posterArrivederci, darlings! I hope your summers are off to a sunny, delicious start. I’ll post from the road if I can, but you know how spotty those international Interwebz connections can be, especially when a Madwoman has had a glass or three of nice chianti. Be good and brave, and I’ll catch up with you soon. Peace out!

Home-o-normativity: A New Year-ish Post

I was about to write that January is for burrowing in, hunkering down, and laying low, but then I checked and realized those were the exact words I used last January, which either suggests that I am right about January or that my powers of description are painfully limited. Or perhaps it means that university professors really do have the least stressful jobs on earth. No, wait, that idea has been thoroughly debunked. Torn to shreds. Subjected to the Onion comparison.

Still: January. I didn’t go to the MLA again. The Woman Formerly Known as Goose did, and she had a wonderful time, as she always does because she revels in the hobnobbing and the glad-handing and all the other compound words used to describe high levels of social interaction tied to the advancement of professional goals and interests. (See also back-slapping, party-hopping, and name-dropping.) I enjoy those activities, too. In smaller doses.

And so I stayed home to do my burrowing and my futzing and my rearranging of this and that. Last January I focused on denuding the front of the refrigerator, which had gotten covered by an impressive assortment of photos, magnets, bumper stickers, ticket stubs, and masterpieces of kid art. This year I tackled the pantry, which in our household serves to store a little bit of food and prodigious amounts of stuff that should probably be tossed or stored elsewhere. It took me a couple of days, but I successfully cleared the top of the little wine fridge (which is in the pantry), our favorite place for piling crap when company is coming and we don’t know what the hell else to do with it.

Another project I took on ended up consuming a lot more time than I had anticipated and in a couple of moments had this Madwoman on the brink of smashing her shiny new Laptop in a fit of frustration. As the household photographer and archivist, I had long wanted to go back to my very first Mac laptop, the comically large (17″) PowerBook G4, and retrieve hundreds of photos that had never been migrated to subsequent machines. I figured this would be a simple operation, especially when I cranked up the old aluminum mare alongside my sleek new MacBook Pro and noticed that the photos on the old machine showed up in the Source list under “Shared” in iPhoto on my new computer. I had more than a thousand images on the old computer, but about half of them had already been migrated. (When? How? Why? And why were the others left behind? Heck if I know!) I thought, well, I’ll just select the 500 or so I want to take, drag them into the new photo library, and run upstairs and tell WFKG what a fricking techno-wizard I am. Unfortunately, the maneuver was only half successful. The images migrated, but the order got messed up, as the date/time data on some of the images got scrambled in the transition. Suddenly, pictures from WFKG’s epic fiftieth birthday party were interspersed with photos of the Thanksgiving Festival of Terrapins, Texans, and Norwegians that we hosted in 2004, and that was just wrong, wrong, wrong. I undid the maneuver and tried it again, firmly believing that if at first you don’t succeed at something you should repeat the same flawed procedure until you are ready to slam your head up against the nearest brick wall.

apple supportNot surprisingly, my efforts failed. I might not have mentioned this, but WFKG and I do in fact live in a brick house, so the head-banging option was available. After a prolonged series of Interweb searches and several smug well-intentioned pronouncements from Facebook friends, most of which involved the word “Dropbox,” I finally did what I probably should have done in the first place: picked up the phone and called Apple support. I felt better about my tech-wizardry when I had to be passed up the line to a supervisor, who spent more than an hour working with me, including doing that creepy/amazing thing where you give some unseen dude access to your computer, before declaring that there was no way to unscramble the data, because the operating systems and the versions of iPhoto on the two computers were simply incompatible. All I could do was manually change the date/time information on the migrated images to get them back in the right order. Which I did. Because my German brain really does require that kind of thing.

Why am I telling you this? Because I worry that you, too, have a growing pile of old computers in your home and that they hold images, documents, and data that will be compromised or lost if you don’t tend to the tedious tasks of migrating, merging, and updating. I say this as a super-slacker when it comes to updates, but I am resolved, in a New Year-ish kind of way, to try to do better. Check back with me in a month to see if I’ve tackled the equally complex problem of how to consolidate iTunes libraries scattered across half a dozen computers and other devices. Hello, Eric? Me again. Could you help me figure out where I put the Brandenburg concertos and, um, that song I impulsively bought on iTunes after I heard it on Glee? What? No, I don’t remember the name of the group. Or the song. Or which episode it was. Eric? Are you there? Eric? Is this Apple support?

Don’t let your past get locked up in a machine that is no longer functional or accessible. That’s all I’m saying, darlings.

In other January news from the homefront, we had to have a tree brought down this week, an old maple in a remote corner of the ridiculously large back yard. Roxie loved that tree, which had a sort of saddle close enough to the ground that she could climb up into it and look out over the property as if to say, “I am lord and master of this joint. Back off, little squirrels.” And they did. The tree had been leaning precariously over a neighbor’s yard for quite some time and finally began to uproot itself after the devastations of the derecho and hurricane Sandy. It was sad to see it pulled down, piece by piece. I will miss its presence in our sky, but it left some lovely remnants, several of which the neighbor plans to keep in her yard. We made a table and chairs out of pieces of an oak we had to bring down not long after we moved into this house. We called it “Log-Henge” and enjoyed it for years, until eventually it crumbled into the soil, a perfect mulch for another corner of the garden. I told the neighbor that story on Tuesday. She smiled.

Cycle of life, dear readers, cycle of life. Indoors. Out of doors. This is our home. It deserves our loving attention. Peace out, and happy new year.

Photo Credit: The Madwoman, 1/8/13

Photo Credit: The Madwoman, 1/8/13

2012: The Year in Madness, Part Deux

This post brought to you by the Department of Arts and Entertainment, ™Madwoman Enterprises, LLC. For an idiosyncratic survey of the mostly political Madness of 2012, scroll down or click here.

This post will be even more idiosyncratic than the previous one was, shaped as it is by the peculiar tastes of a couple of cranky old broads who miss most of the good movies because they tend to get released during the college basketball season and keep forgetting to tune into the shows that all the cool kids are watching. Breaking Bad? Mad Men? Girls? Game of Thrones? Oh, for heaven’s sake, people, we’re already planning to catch up on The Wire when we’re settled into the nursing home. Add these to the list, and let’s move along to a few things we actually did see this year.

Mad TV: Dorothy helpfully reminded us in a comment on the previous post that one of the year’s best and Maddest moments in live TV was Karl Rove’s election-night meltdown on Fox News, as he spluttered that Fox and other networks should not be calling Ohio — and thus the election — for Obama. It was an epically entertaining moment and a comedown long overdue in our humble opinion. Karl Rove has been a boil on the backside of American politics for more than two decades. It was thrilling to watch the boil get publicly lanced. See it here. Oh, and for a deliciously conspiratorial take on the diabolical plot that might have fueled Rove’s meltdown, go here.

HomelandTVSeriesAs for non-live TV, we are at least cool enough to have been fanatically devoted to Homeland in its sophomore season, despite some of the improbable plot twists and allegations of overacting on the part of Claire Danes. (We reject those allegations, because, well, we look goofy when we cry, too. Don’t judge.) For us, what makes Homeland white-knuckle television is the radical ambiguity of both lead characters, the soldier/terrorist/double agent Nicholas Brody (played by Damian Lewis) and the bipolar CIA analyst Carrie Mathison. In scene after scene, the evidence is split 50/50 on fundamental questions about each of them: Was Brody in on the attack on CIA headquarters, or was he a patsy, a pawn in Abu Nazir’s last brilliant plot? Does Carrie really love Brody, or is she playing him in hopes of getting useful information? Mandy Patinkin‘s Saul Berenson was also riveting this season, especially in the last couple of episodes, as he grappled with the corrupt machinations of his supervisor David Estes (David Harewood) and the possible loss of Carrie. Homeland explores, with greater nuance and insight, what’s become of the American soul in the wake of the attacks of 9/11/01. If you aren’t watching it, you should be.

Everything else we watch is cotton candy compared to Homeland. Shonda Rhimes’s Scandal is entertaining, but there’s concern on our couch that it’s already gone the way of Grey’s Anatomy halfway through its second season. I mean, srsly, kids, you’ve got a show centered around a presidential administration and you shoot the big guy in S2 — Where do you go from there? Does the guy live and become a doddering Reagan, leaning on a conniving First Lady, or do you sacrifice your credibility by having him miraculously awaken from his long winter’s nap from wounds that seemed Kennedy-esque in their gravity? Or do you let him die and worry later about what to do with all of Liv’s libidinal energy, not to mention all those pesky co-conspirators who helped get Bush Fitz into the White House? We shudder to imagine how this plot might resolve, but we’ll tune in January 10 when new episodes resume to see. CBS’s The Good Wife with the incomparable Julianna Margulies in the title role is less melodramatic but sometimes so polished that we forget who or what we are supposed to care about. Do you know what we mean? The actors are extraordinary and the writing impeccable, but, well, are Alicia and Peter really married, and will that demented/creepy husband of Kalinda’s please just go away?

NBC-Revolution-Promo-Preview-1x01-086Also: Nashville, starring Connie Britton. Watch it. Jill Dolan explains whyParks and Recreation, when we remember to tune in. Revolution, because I need guidance on how to survive power outages. (Bear in mind, though, that I’m alone on the couch for this show. WFKG won’t watch it anymore — The plots are too thin and the body count’s too high for her taste. I can’t explain what it is I keep hoping will happen here, dramatically or politically.)

Mad Flicks: Lincoln, you had us at “The Gettysburg Address,” even if that moment was totally fabricated. Forgive us, history pals. We love narrative, and this was some fine cinematic storytelling. And Daniel Day-Lewis should get an Oscar just for getting out of bed every morning. He is incredible, here as everywhere. Les Misérables was pretty swell, too, for entirely different reasons, most of which involved the extreme hummability of songs I cannot get out of my HEAD! Stacy Wolf lets us off the hook for loving a show with such atrocious gender politics — Go read that piece, and then get thee to the multiplex, citoyen. We saw The Master and kind of scratched our heads over it, but it’s on a bunch of other Best of 2012 lists, so what the heck. The pas-de-deux between Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman is pretty fricking compelling.

Mad Moments in Sports: In March, our beloved Lady Terps won the ACC championship in basketball but then went on to suffer a stunning 31-point loss to Notre Dame in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA tournament. (The adorable and ridiculously talented Brittney Griner and Baylor would go on to win the tournament, so we weren’t hugely disappointed by the fact of the Terps loss, only its scale.) In the summer Olympics, we thrilled to the classy, emphatic swan song of swimmer Michael Phelps and the fearless grace of gymnast Gabby Douglas. Though of course what we really loved about this Olympics was Queen Elizabeth’s star turn in the opening ceremonies and the McKayla Maroney is not impressed meme launched by a photograph of the gymnast’s disappointed expression on the medal stand when she won silver in the vault competition. The sports lowlight of 2012? That award goes to lying sack of performance-enhancing drugs Lance ArmstrongSports Illustrated has a great piece on the year’s biggest moments in sports. It’s here.

Mad Musical/Theatrical Interludes: We saw Madonna this year. Nothing else matters, though Kathleen Turner was fun to watch as Molly Ivins in Red Hot Patriot. Still: Madonna.

gubar debulked womanMad Reads: On the New York Times list of 100 Notable Books of 2012 you will find a brave and beautiful book by one of the original Madwomen, Susan Gubar, whose chronicle of life with ovarian cancer, Memoir of a Debulked Woman, is making waves among those affected by the disease and those who treat it. Gubar was diagnosed more than four years ago with advanced ovarian cancer, which was treated with a surgery called “debulking,” which removed  her uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, appendix, and seven inches of her intestines. The surgery was followed by complications and many rounds of chemotherapy that Gubar undertook with mixed feelings, because she appreciated the gravity of her diagnosis and didn’t want to subject herself to treatments that had no real chance of succeeding. The book unflinchingly recounts the physical and emotional aspects of her ordeal. It is a harrowing story but one that ends up inspiring, even though its author consciously positions her story against the chirpy American fantasies of beating this thing that structure most cancer narratives and the pretty-in-pink movements of cancer survivors. Gubar is not a believer in miracles. She rejects false hope and refuses to traffic in euphemism, though she is careful not to deny hope to others. What’s inspiring about her story is precisely its emphasis on endurance and on the consolations of love, art, and literature. Memoir of a Debulked Woman is about navigating the final stages of life without illusion but with a quiet persistence that amounts to grace. I am not objective about Susan Gubar. She was my teacher and remains a friend. She has written a book that matters profoundly and is now blogging on living with cancer on the New York Times website. She is still, always, brilliantly teaching. (The New Yorker has a print interview with Gubar on the subject of the book, her illness, and the need for women to educate themselves about ovarian cancer. She talks through those issues — in her glorious, straight-out-of-Brooklyn voice — with NPR’s Neal Conan on Talk of the Nation.) Thank you, Susan, and happy new year to you and yours.

Most Madly Wonderful Photo of the Year: So, this is what marriage equality looks like:

Larry Duncan, 56, and Randy Shepherd, 48, from North Bend Washington, get their marriage license on the first day it was legal for same-sex couples to do so in Washington State, 12/6/12. Photo Credit: Meryl Schenker Photography. Via.

Larry Duncan, 56, and Randy Shepherd, 48, from North Bend, Washington, get their marriage license on the first day it was legal for same-sex couples to do so in Washington State, 12/6/12. Photo Credit: Meryl Schenker Photography. Via.

Oh, homonormativity, who knew you would be so . . . lumberjacky!

(For other notable photos of 2012, please see the Star-Ledger‘s haunting collection of photographs of Union Beach, NJ at night, after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, and the New York Times 2012: The Year in Pictures.)

Happy new year, darlings. May 2013 fulfill all of your wildest dreams or, you know, not suck entirely. Peace out, and thanks, as always, for reading.

Saving the Humanities, Gangnam Style

So, this was on Glee Thursday night:

Which made me think it’s high time we commissioned some time use studies to see just how much time has been spent across the dying globe watching or producing “Gangnam Style” covers and parodies in the past four months. Seriously, people, I’m pretty sure the Bureau of Labor Statistics is going to need to put a new slice in its pie chart to account for this astonishing phenomenon in its 2012 survey of lies people tell about how they spend their leisure time. (Eighteen minutes a day each for reading and exercise seems refreshingly honest, but 26 minutes for farting around at the computer? Gimme a break.)

The slice for “Watching or producing Gangnam Style covers and parodies” should of course be pink, in keeping with the insanely kitschy style of the original by South Korean rapper PSY. (Go on. Click on that link. We’ll wait. For the entire 4 minutes and 13 seconds if we have to. This is work time for you, darlings: cultural studies.)

Now that you’ve seen the original, go destroy a few brain cells do a careful study of a few parodies, including this excellent one produced in the QTU library (featuring a turtle, a marching band, and the dean of the libraries!) or this diabolically witty one called “Mitt Romney Style.” I’m reasonably certain it explains why Obama won the election.

You are probably wondering at this point how in the name of Judy Garland I managed not to convince GayProf, Historiann, and Tenured Radical to do a Gangnam Style parody on the beach in San Juan a couple of weeks ago. I apologize to each and every one of you for squandering this exceptional opportunity to bring Western civilization to a crashing, cheesy, glorious end. As you can tell from the photo at the bottom of this post, three out of four of us were scantily clad and sporting huge sunglasses in San Juan. GayProf no doubt had plenty of extra tiaras and knee-high red boots in his suitcase(s). The Woman Formerly Known as Goose was there with a camera, more than ready to point, shoot, and tell people where to go. (Oh, wait, she did that.) It would have been the parody to end all parodies. It would have made “Call Me Maybe” a minor footnote in the history of virality. It would have made “Academic Tim Gunn” look totally five minutes ago. It would have made “Texts From Hillary” — Wait, no, some things are sacred, aren’t they?

Just so we’re clear: I totally heart “Gangnam Style” and its thousands upon thousands of goofy imitations. I’m fascinated by the phenomenon — as is no less a thinker than Zizek, by the way, so don’t judge, biatches. (Again, click on that last link: You need to see a nose-pulling Zizek explain how Gangnam Style is destroying Justin Bieber.) I can’t wait to read the dozens of dissertations and special issues it is sure to spawn. I predict the academic job crisis will end when armies of PhDs are hired to staff the departments of Gangnam Studies that will spring up when entrepreneurial deans of colleges of arts and entertainment sciences throughout the land realize that this is a sure-fire way to prove they are cool culturally relevant. Yes, darlings, “Gangnam Style” is the cure for what ails us in the age of Excellence Without Money (™RW Enterprises, LLC). Who are we to argue with 861 million views? Who among us has not longed to ride an invisible horse? (Looking at you, cowgirl.) You want Massive, dudes? I’ll give you Massive.

Sometimes, kids, you have to destroy the discipline in order to save it. Let’s do it, Gangnam Style. Don’t forget your sunglasses.

Op op op op oppan Gangnam Style.

Mad Glances

Pedestrian tunnel in Terminal 1, O’Hare International Airport, 9/21/12.
Photo Credit: The Madwoman

Not to worry, darlings. I’m not dead and I haven’t been fired for nursing while teaching. (Of course, if I’d been nursing while teaching, you’d have heard about it — through the Vatican’s Miracle Investigation Unit.) Just busy. I was in the space-agey tunnel in O’Hare’s Terminal 1 on Friday returning from a whirlwind trip to Nebraska for a big-wiggish lecture I was invited to give on my old pal Willa Cather. Hey, it even made the newspaper, though I can’t say the earnest young reporter caught all the nuances of my analysis of Cather’s late life and early afterlife within the context of the post-WWII Lavender Scare. As I said when I posted the article to the Book of Faces, “If you tell a kid reporter that Willa Cather was ‘a tough broad,’ it’s going to show up in the paper the next morning. You were a kid reporter once. You know these things.” So true.

Anyhoo, I seem to be getting quoted in lots of newspapers lately. Because I have the good fortune to know a lot of tough and wonderful broads. Yes, I am a lucky woman. Some day I will get around to blogging the extraordinary news of a possible new photograph of Emily Dickinson and the searing yet brave story of my former teacher Susan Gubar’s experience of ovarian cancer. In the meantime, you follow those links like the dutiful little do-bees I know you are. You need to know these things.

Also: Mitt Romney will never be president, but he looks to have a solid future as a figure of speech. Historiann explains.

Speaking of tough broads, the Woman Formerly Known as Goose is taking me to see Madonna tonight. Because there’s more to life than rock and roll (but happy birthday, Boss). And apparently there’s more to life than course prep. Later, lovelies. I’ve got to go tone up my biceps to get ready for this evening. Wouldn’t want to disappoint the buffest middle-aged babe in show business. Peace out, material people.

Photo Credit: Chad Batka, New York Times

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