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Two Academic Reality Show Ideas

1. Top Poet: Like Top Chef, Project Runway, and similar shows, Top Poet would take a group of talented young poets and give them challenges (take a story from mythology and write a poem about it; write in a certain form or style; write a poem using the following "ingredients," which could be words, genres, etc.). The winner would be decided by a panel of expert judges.

2. So You Think You Can Teach: Talented teachers are assigned a lesson topic, sometimes in their content areas, sometimes not. They are given access to any technology they want to use. Teaching demonstrations are limited to about five minutes, and teachers can lecture or lead discussions with small groups of randomly selected members of the studio audience. America votes to decide the winner.


The next couple of weeks may be hectic and stressful due to the beginning of the semester, but there will be some great premieres:

January 11, 12: 24
January 16: Battlestar Galactica
January 18: Big Love
January 21: Lost

I've basically spent this entire winter break visiting family and doing home improvement projects. I wonder if this is how my years are going to go: teaching/administration during the fall, family/home in the winter, teaching/administration in the spring, research/writing in the summer. These are predominant themes, of course; it's not as though I don't do research and family/home year-round.

Good Ol' Random Bullets

  • There's a profile of person in reality TV I just love: the control freak. Specifically I mean Kate Gosselin, Matt Roloff, and Jeff Lewis. It's been a pretty good summer for reality TV in general, actually; I've been loving Shear Genius, Project Runway, and Top Chef in addition to the prior three shows. I've found that my tastes have changed, though; while I used to watch the worst of the garbage, like Flavor of Love, Rock of Love, The Pick-Up Artist, Charm School, The Girls Next Door, etc., I don't find myself getting into those anymore.
  • I'm very happy for Bradley, Erin, and Madelyn.
  • There's that one meme about embarrassing music going around. I haven't been tagged, but it's just as well. I have such awful musical taste, for the most part, that any "random five" from my iTunes list (by the way, Laura McKenna and Daniel Drezner are NOT the only people who still don't have iPods; Jonathan and I have never owned them either) could be an embarrassing songs list. But I guess the question is, what are YOU embarrassed by, not what most people would be embarrassed by. I have "Lucas With the Lid Off" in my library. I have Tanya Tucker's "Some Kind of Trouble" and a bunch of Air Supply and "If I Know Me" by George Strait. No one can touch me on this one.
  • I've found that echoes of my dad have made their way into my parenting. Things I've said that he used to say when I was little:

    "Goodness gracious alive-us pivus!" I say this one when I change Henry's diaper and he's really filled it up.

    "Shoot-a-doodle!" I said this one when getting in a HOT car the other day in the grocery store parking lot to put Henry in his car seat.

    And then I call Henry the same nicknames Dad called me: "You worrywart!" "You mud puppy! You boll weevil!" Said affectionately, of course.

  • Henry laughed for the first time Wednesday night. He was in the bathtub and thrilled to be splashing. It was adorable.
  • Speaking of bathing Henry, I did so last night and sang "Splish Splash" to him. He seemed indifferent, but still loved the splashing.

Two observations about nerdy things I watched on TV last night

1. There's been a lot of speculation about the identity of the final Cylon. Ron Moore has said it isn't one of the principal characters (Roslin, Lee Adama, Bill Adama, Baltar, Starbuck). Lots of internet nerds think it could still be one of those people anyway. I think Jonathan has said before that he'll stop watching it if it's one of those characters, as it would be too easy and, I imagine, soap-operatic to make one of those characters a cylon.

Here's what I'm hoping: that the payoff of the "who's the final cylon?" plotline will come from the circumstances in which the final cylon finds himself/herself when s/he is activated. I'm picturing some big battle, and then at some crucial moment, the cylon is activated. The most likely characters to end up being cylons in this scenario are Dualla or Gaeta. If it's Dualla, there would be some symmetry in the Starbuck/Anders and Lee/Dualla couplings, as Starbuck and Lee would find out that they'd each married cylons. The fallout from that, and the possibility that this revelation could bring them back together for good, could be somewhat interesting.

2. Spike TV is showing episodes IV, V, and VI of the Star Wars trilogy. Last night was A New Hope, and I watched the first couple of hours before having to switch to BSG. I'm sure this observation has been made by millions of people, literally, but it's striking how much better the performances are in the original films. The actors -- especially Alec Guinness, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher, but even Mark Hamill and the actors who played his aunt and uncle -- had so much more presence, charisma, and ownership of the dialogue than the actors in the later movies. Even the good actors in the later movies -- Samuel L. Jackson, Natalie Portman, and to a lesser extent Jimmy Smits -- delivered performances that weren't really representative of what they can do.

Holiday Break Wrap-Up

Work done:

Syllabus for next semester basically finished

Proposal for article submitted

Bunch of administrative work (planning notes for next semester mostly) done

Two reviews of manuscripts for journals completed

**not as much as I had hoped to accomplish, but there are a couple more weeks until classes start, I suppose.

TV watched:

Mystery Diagnosis marathon -- a former student of mine from East Carolina U, when she was in my class, raved about that show. I hadn't seen it before, but I got sucked in and spent the better part of a day watching it. I love how formulaic all the stories are, and my favorite part is when the family meets the one doctor who finally gets the diagnosis right.

Jon & Kate + 8 marathon -- why yes, I am a fan of the Gosselins. And the Duggars, if you must know.

The Wire (seasons 1 and 2 on DVD) -- Jonathan has been trying to get me to watch this. It's pretty good.

The Unit (season 1 on DVD) -- another Jonathan pick, which I also like even though the women on the show are pretty uninteresting so far.

Gifts received:


Target gift card

Garmin nüvi

Food eaten:

Mashed potatoes
Cornbread dressing
Yeast rolls
Chocolate cake
Chocolate pudding
Blackeyed peas with hog jowl
Chicken and dumplings
Cinnamon rolls
Macaroni & cheese
Pork chops
Buffalo chicken tenders from Zaxby's
Chicken tortilla soup
Minestrone (which has become quite the craving for me! I could go for a big bowl of it now.)
Deviled eggs
Stuffed celery (celery stalks with stuffing made of cream cheese and Spanish olives -- something I've eaten ever since I first grew teeth to chew.)

Grace Zabriskie: Quite Possibly the Most Underrated Actress Ever

Having seen Grace Zabriskie in at least three phenomenal performances -- Twin Peaks, Big Love, and Inland Empire -- I suspected she was probably underrated. Then I looked her up on IMDB and found under awards only this: one nomination for a Chlotrudis Award for Best Supporting Actress in Inland Empire. What?! She deserves at least an Emmy for Big Love, an Academy Award for Inland Empire (she's that good), and consideration for some kind of retroactive Emmy for Twin Peaks. That is all.

Trivial Sci-Fi TV Post

I love the Star Trek Fan Collective compilation DVD sets of episodes from the various series centered on given themes. I own the Borg one, and I've just bought the time travel one. I'd like the one on Klingons, but I'm less interested in the fan collective about Q and the "captain's log" one.

Also, I feel like I have a gaping hole in my life that only the fourth season of The 4400 can fill. WHEN is that coming out on DVD?

TV Shows I Watch

Charlie asks which shows we program into our TiVos. I don't have one, or any other DVR, but I'll list what I watch:

  • Heroes
  • Lost
  • Prison Break
  • 24
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • The Pick-Up Artist

Other shows I watch, but that I watch on DVD and don't catch each new episode as it airs (which was one of Charlie's criteria):

  • The 4400
  • Ugly Betty
  • Nip/Tuck
  • The Simpsons
  • Family Guy

And finally, shows I watch in passing, meaning that I watch it if I happen to catch it. BTW, Simpsons and Family Guy fall into this category too:

  • The Girls Next Door
  • Ace of Cakes
  • any of the Iron Chef franchise
  • Top Chef
  • Project Runway
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