Friday, 29 October 2010

The Tea Party and Fascism

Jeff Fecke, over at Alas, a Blog, has written a cogent, clear, and uncomfortably accurate assessment of the Tea Party. You should go look.

But that was predicted. Sinclair Lewis once wrote, “When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” Well, my friends, fascism has come to America, flag and cross and all.


Tuesday, 26 October 2010


It's awful because even from here I know it's probably true. Excuse me while I use laughter to cover my existential terror about my choices in life.

Bardiac posts about the decision to go to grad school.

Oy vey.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

I'm not a fan of Glee but...

...if I thought this GQ photo-shoot for Glee were actually in any way indicative of the quality show (and not just indicative of the low class of a certain fashion photographer of ill repute) I don't think I'd want to be.

I know this isn't medieval, but Tom and Lorenzo (of Project Rungay fame*) hit this nail so squarely on the head that I think anyone who even knows what Glee is should read this:

Look, we're not prudes. And these aren't teenagers. There's nothing wrong with a sexy photoshoot for any rising young star. It's practically de rigueur. But putting 3 of the cast members in front of creepy Terry Richardson's lens and dressing them up like porn fantasies?

Of course he didn't dress all of them up like porn fantasies, just the girls. Guys don't do sexy. Guys have sexy done for them. Guys stand or sit fully clothed while girls are meant to writhe and gyrate and spread their legs in their underwear. That's the way of things. Great message there, morons. Knowing that this show has a huge teen and even pre-teen following, whatever person approved the idea of this shoot (TERRY RICHARDSON, people!) should be fired.

If you're new to debates over what is and isn't the patriarchy, let's start with a blatant, neon example: THAT.

*yes I like Project Runway... Yes I Know... Look. Look I know. Just SHUT UP IT'S GOOD DAMMIT.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Ikea, I am disappoint*

I'm afraid all the brownie points that Ikea earned in this post have been long since lost. As you may recall, my preferred desk was out of stock, so I ended up ordering it online and having it shipped.

Word to the wise: DO NOT DO THIS.

Things went well enough at first. I had it shipped to Former State (no sales tax, hurrah), with the idea that the Mother of Vaulting would bring it to me when she visited the following weekend.

Wrong. Shipping took nearly 2 weeks. Small matter - Vellum and I were headed to Former State to see this fellow in the depressing play about the demise of a man who sells goods, so we were happy to pick up the desk at that time.

Which was great, except that upon loading the package into the car, we realized there was a sizable hole in the box. Well, we decided, it didn't look THAT large. No problem.

Until we returned to NEM and discovered that it was, in fact, a problem. One of the drawer wheels was shattered. Small matter, we again decided, and called Ikea for a replacement. Upon hanging up, Vellum (ever observant) discovered that we were ALSO missing three sides of one of the drawers.


To be expected, we decided in hindsight, given the hole in the box. So we called again, and requested the pieces. Whereupon we noticed that while we had many pieces of desk, there was not, in fact, anything to hold them together with.

Say, screws. Hardware. Metal bits of any sort.

So, still being on the phone, we requested those, as well. No problem. Ikea offered many apologies, and promised that we would receive the missing pieces soon.

"Soon" being 6 business days. Thanks.

So the missing drawer pieces and hardware arrived. Vellum, having caught on by now, was quick to count pieces, and discovered, LO, WE ARE STILL MISSING PIECES. Apparently, when we pointed out that the desk was suspiciously lacking in hardware, Ikea interpreted that to mean that we were missing a few pieces, and perhaps this handful would make it better?

So back on the phone Vellum went,** requesting, perhaps, the rest of the hardware? Again, there were apologies. Again, we were promised the missing pieces "soon."

The missing pieces, by the way, were 21 long screws and 2 short screws. Remember this.

Some days later (today, in fact), an envelope from Ikea arrived, delivered with much fanfare by Chaucerian roommate.

Would you like to know what it contained?

It did not contain 21 long screws and 2 short screws, as we had been promised.

Two. It contained two of twenty-one long screws. Fair enough, there were also the required 2 short screws. But, as you may imagine, 2 short screws when you are missing 19 large industrial screws is not going to do you any bloody good when building a bloody desk.

So. Awed as I may have been by your warehouse full of furniture and furnishings and cafeterias, and much as I may admire your low prices and glorious, glorious selection - Ikea, I am no longer speaking to you. All I wanted was a desk. To date, after a great deal of waiting and holding-for-customer-service induced frustration, I have most of a desk, and no means for putting it together.

Ikea, I am disappoint.*


**Yes, it is my desk, and yes, it was Vellum doing all the calling. He's a prince among bloggers, I assure you.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

One space or two?

So runs the long standing debate: after the period at the end of a sentence, should you use one space or two before starting the next? I say one, and hate two. Vaulting used to use two, but I think I may have nagged her into submission on this front. What say you, blogizens? Post your opinions in the comment thread :)

Tuesday, 12 October 2010


I have to say, I'm starting to feel as though all the work I'm doing at Gothic Revival University is mostly (if not entirely) tangential to my interests. This isn't to say that it's not interesting in and of itself. Nor that I'm not learning things that will be of great use to me when the time comes for me to find a job.

I'm writing a review hopefully for publication for the course on Entirely Tangential National Literature I'm taking, and doing a close reading of a primary source for the course on Mostly Tangential but Slightly More Relevant Time Period Literature I'm taking. And I'm (slowly) putting together an exam in Subject I Should Really Know How To Teach (with some awesome supervisors, I might add, so I'm actually really excited about that one.. shame I don't have more time to work on it).

But despite all that interesting stuff I'm doing, I'm not really doing anything -anything, mind you- medieval right now. And that kinda bums me out.

So I'm starting an Anglo-Saxon Reading Group in January. And I'll be taking a course on medieval things then, too. And I'll be meeting up with more medievalists in a weekly workshop. So roll on, 2011.

If life gives you lemons, by all means go ahead and make yourself lemonade. I'll be over here fermenting the lemons and distilling them down into vodka.


Tuesday, 5 October 2010

I must be nuts.


So I'm now five weeks into my PhD program at Gothic Revival University. It's a rainy Tuesday morning, and instead of doing readings for courses only tangentially related to my field of study, putting together a reading list for my minor field of study, or scouring wikipedia for medieval absurdities, I'm blogging. There's a lot to blog about.

Since starting five weeks ago, I've read, read, and read. I'd forgotten what it was like to read a book a week for each class, and of course the supplemental readings. Also, having been in a heavily interdisciplinary Medieval Studies program for my master's two years ago (is it really two years? that can't be right... a little over two since it ended, three since it started. oof.), I've had to haul out and dust off my non-interdisciplinary toolbox. There's a lot of "isms" in there that haven't been used since undergrad, and which don't typically come up in studying medieval versions of things. Unless you're writing for Post://Medieval, of course.**

So between two classes (I know, only two. Heaven only knows how I'd fare with more) and my research work, I'm hovering around a thousand pages of reading per week. Add bureaucratic nonsense to the mix, and you've well and truly got a full-time job. I'd forgotten how much work it is to be a student. Oh and did I mention I'm working on language requirements, too?

Of course, I'm whining all the way to the bank. What it comes down to is this: I'm being paid to do what I love, full-time! With benefits!***

This is fantastic.

Sure I could be making more in the private sector. Actually, looking at the math, a full-time job at $13/hour pays better. But I love this.

Plus, everyone in my department is just so darn helpful and nice. It's... actually really odd. I'm not usually the glass-is-half-full guy, and maybe it's just the honeymoon period, but this is great. Of course, I still haven't unpacked fully par-ce que Ikea shipped Vaulting's desk sans screws and the sides of the drawers, et avec broken drawer rollers; I can't walk around without tripping over things; it's only the 5th of the month and I'm already 3/4 of the way through my personal monthly spending allowance; I'm grappling with (apparently common) feelings of imposture; when I get out I have an absurdly low chance of getting a TT job; oh and I've had to get a $9/hour job to make ends meet; but I still can't shake the fact that I'm actually doing this.

And that's enough to make up for a lot.

So if you ever stumble into me in New England Metropolis, and I'm looking a little frazzled, don't worry. For all I'll outwardly show the wuss, on the inside I'll be smiling.

But you're always welcome to buy me a pint ;)

* The gif was found online here.
** I jest, but it really does seem to me to be the crux of the intersection of medievalism and literary theory.
*** I mean sure, it's not Canadian health care, but it's better than no health care, and it's included.