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Archive for May, 2007

Full of Passionate Intensity.

“The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned.” (Well, except in the Sopranos’ pool, since AJ can’t even tie a cinder block properly.) With last week’s murder, a war with Phil Leotardo breaking out over slights to Meadow, AJ’s botched suicide attempt, and only two episodes to go, The Sopranos moves into progressively darker territory.

Griswold Goes Gotham.

“It’s really a great role. I’m in throughout the whole movie, and I’m really looking forward to working with Christian and Morgan and all these real Hollywood heavy hitters.” Um, who is Anthony Michael Hall playing in The Dark Knight? “‘I signed a confidentiality agreement, and I can’t say which part I’m playing because it affects the story,’ says Hall.‘” Some sites have suggested he’s [spoilers] playing a vigilante Batman, likely one who gets snared by the Joker, although that wouldn’t explain why his scenes seem to involve Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox).

99 Problems, but the Movies ain’t One.

By way of my sis-in-law Lotta, it’s the Filmal Countdown. (doo doo doo doo, doo doo doo-doo doo…)

TheLeft.com

“What was once seen as a liability for Democrats and progressives in the past — they couldn’t get 20 people to agree to the same thing, they could never finish anything, they couldn’t stay on message — is now an asset,’ Leyden said. ‘All this talking and discussing and fighting energizes everyone, involves everyone, and gets people totally into it.‘” The WP’s Jose Antonio Vargas examines why the Dems are winning the Web War. “‘For Republicans, the Internet is where bad things happen. Take [former U.S. senator] George Allen and his ‘macaca’ moment…You can kind of understand why Republicans have this almost instinctive fear of the Internet, where the mob rules.

Coming Up for Air.

Also not noted here this past week, another school year ended here at Columbia. Since I’ve been on a research fellowship the past few seasons, I haven’t been teaching, and I rarely have reason these days to leave my home and/or the campus libraries, other than the occasional trip to the movies, the pub, or the dog park, I’ve pretty much fallen out of the usual academic rhythms of campus…but, nonetheless, another year has passed, so it seems like a good time for an update.

Not to put too fine a point on it, I did less well than hoped — as in multiple rejections, some expected, some quite surprising — in the grant-and-fellowship-securing department for the coming year. But, those disappointments notwithstanding, I have secured enough funding to offset my usual freelance writing projects, and I expect to spend at least one more academic year here at my current New York City apartment, during which quite a bit more dissertation-writing will (and, indeed, will have to) happen. From there, with dissertation presumably in hand, it’s either moving on in academia, at some university or another (one likely not of my choosing) or moving back into the political-speechwriting world…these days, well, it’s still a toss-up, but I feel it’s becoming less so. My future will depend a lot on the well-documented vagaries of the job market, of course, and if, miracle upon miracles, an academic job is available at a university that feels like a good fit, and they actually offer it to me out of the hundreds of qualified candidates, of course I may very well take it. But I’ve found myself increasingly thinking that I’d probably be happier back in Washington regardless, either in speechwriting or at a progressive foundation/think-tank type place, where there’s some sense of being involved in both the unfolding of current events and the daily struggle to make this world a happier, more progressive-minded place.

This is not to say I’m closing any doors. I do enjoy working on my dissertation, and can still lose myself for extended periods of time delving into the past. But, for varied reasons, be they the usual late-term graduate student blues, the often maddeningly parochial nature of many academic conversations, the sheer social isolation of dissertation-writing, or something else (and I can’t discount last fall’s awful romantic implosion, which cast a pall over the whole year and — still, beyond any recourse — wearies and depresses me pretty much daily), I’ve spent most of the past year feeling profoundly dissatisfied with my current circumstances, so much so that I find it increasingly hard to imagine a life along these lines.

But, we’ll see — as I said, there’s still one more year to go. I only mention it here as [a] between the graduates in baby-blue robes everywhere and my impending ten-year college reunion, it’s felt like nigh time for a state-of-life update and [b] the disconnect between my everyday state of mind and my GitM-blog voice has been feeling increasingly untenable. I really have no desire to see this site degenerate into weekly whimpering and moaning about woe-is-me grad student angst. (There’s enough of that online already and, besides, think grad school is tough? Try Iraq, buddy. Or, for that matter, working minimum wage.) So, I’m getting it out of the way now, in the hopes that voicing my existential discontent once and for all will free me to go back to blogging as normal.

Still, I don’t yet know what it is, or what form it will take, but, doggone it, something has to change in my life. Several great trips and the always pleasant company of l’il Berk notwithstanding, another year unfolding like the last one did is really just too depressing to contemplate.

Zerged Once More.

One of the classic computer gaming timesucks prepares for its 2007 revamp: Starcraft 2. I fondly remember the original Starcraft consuming pretty much every single non-working hour of January 1999, soon after I’d moved into the second floor of a group house in Washington DC. Who knows how much trouble this one will cause? In any event, I expect there’ll be some zerging in my future.

Above the Law.

“The story isn’t who picked on a sick guy or even who did or didn’t break laws. The story is who gets to decide what’s legal. And the president’s now-familiar claim, a la Richard Nixon, is that it’s never illegal when he does it.Dahlia Lithwick drives home the disturbing message of last week’s Comey revelations. And, also in Slate, Frank Bowman offers another reason why Alberto Gonzales should be impeached: the firing of David Iglesias. Update: In related news, Specter thinks Gonzales will soon quit, particularly if the Senate passes a no-confidence vote on him. (The White House, thus far, disagrees.)

Carter Gets it.

“I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history.” Jimmy Carter calls out Dubya’s foreign policy as the worst ever. (As noted earlier, several prominent historians have already come to that conclusion.) “Asked how he would judge [Tony] Blair’s support of Bush, Carter said: ‘Abominable. Loyal. Blind. Apparently subservient.‘” Well, maybe he’ll do better at the Bank. Update: Or does he? Carter backs down.

Friends to the Immigrant?

The big news last Friday: Dubya and the Senate came to a deal on immigration reform, although the compromise — supported by Democratic Senators Kennedy, Feinstein, and Salazar as well as Republicans such as McCain, Graham, and Martinez — faces some major implementation issues and potential fire from both sides of the issue. Among the critics: Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama: “Without modifications, the proposed bill could devalue the importance of family reunification, replace the current group of undocumented immigrants with a new undocumented population consisting of guestworkers who will overstay their visas, and potentially drive down wages of American workers.

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