Friday, October 22, 2010


OK. This is just weird now.

Anyone else out there experiencing something similar?

This is just a test ...

... of your emergency blogging system. Please do not be alarmed: if you are reading these words, I am still able to post to my blog. If you are not reading these words, then you should by all means panic.

Of course, I would have no means of telling you to panic, so if this post does not make it to my blog, I will be informing you all in 2-5 days of the need to panic by postcard.

For some reason, I cannot access my Google account, which means I can't get onto Blogger to edit my posts. Every time I try to log in, it sends me back to the login screen. Just by way of experimentation, I put in the wrong password, and it told me I had the wrong password. But the correct password blithely resets the login screen.

MS Word however has a blogging feature that allows you to post directly from your Word document without opening blogger. So that's what I'm going to try doing here.

Hopefully this works. But one way or another, as far as Blogger is concerned, I don't know what to do. This is Google. Do they have someone I can call?

Here goes ...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Housekeeping and stuff

OK, I've been away from the blog for a while now, principally because—as I mentioned briefly in my previous post—this is the year I go up for tenure, and so most of September was given over to preparing my file, which was submitted on the first of October. Then I had to play catch-up with all the stuff (marking, mostly) that had had to be put off while the P/T file consumed my soul; then I had to write the conference paper I was presenting this past weekend at the annual CAAS conference in Windsor (and true to form, the paper was only satisfactorily completed about an hour before my panel in my hotel room).

So the long and the short of it is that the past month or so has essentially disappeared in a sleepless haze of grading and writing, and only now do I feel like I'm emerging—though that feeling, I fear, is illusory, as there is more grading in my immediate future and a glut of committee work. To say nothing of the fact that I am writing this blog post in minutes stolen between the solid raft of meetings with my first-year students I have today and tomorrow.

But I will take what I can get. I figure that before I get back to posting with quasi-regularity, I should do a bit of housekeeping here, cover some business that got missed in the past month.

1. Promotion and Tenure. Yes, I mentioned I'm up for promotion and tenure this year. But really, it's worth noting again. The compilation and assembly of my application and file represents one of the most tedious and yet anxiety-inducing—and not to say byzantine—things I have yet done in my academic career. To paraphrase Josh Lyman, the number of hoops I have to jump through before I can do whatever the hell I want is truly appalling.

2. Vampires Redux. I have been gently (and not so gently) prodded by some people about the unfinished vampire cage matches, which I have let hanging at the semifinals. We will return to them—this I promise.

3. Zombies, Redux. Perhaps I have drifted from my speculative battles between the undead because of my increasing preoccupation with the walking dead—way back in April I posted on the interesting upsurge in zombie films made since 9/11, apropos of working up a paper proposal for this year's CAAS (Canadian Association of American Studies) conference. I was very happy with that post, especially in terms of the discussion it generated. Well, as mentioned, the conference just happened this past weekend and I was very pleased with the paper's reception. I took a slightly different tangent than outlined in that post—or rather, I added a tangent, speaking first about zombies as the epitome of abjection, but also developing an argument suggesting that they also represent a creeping horror of mass culture.

4. Zombies, Redux redux. The end of October will see two banner events for fans of the zombie apocalypse. IFC will recast on North American television the brilliant British series Dead Set, in which the sole survivors of the zombie apocalypse are the contestants on Big Brother, barricaded as they are in their hermetically sealed set (Davina McCall, the British Big Brother host, guest stars as herself, and gets zombified right at the start). Though the set-up sounds comical, the series is actually quite terrifying, and very smart. Next, premiering on Halloween is the television adaptation of Robert Kirkman's graphic novel series The Walking Dead. As I mentioned in my paper this weekend, this is actually a very interesting development in the saga of the zombie genre: the network producing the series is AMC, which has also given us such critically acclaimed Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and Rubicon, and which has been assiduously setting itself up to rival HBO as the premier purveyor of quality television. That the zombie apocalypse is now valid subject matter for such a network suggests that, having achieved market saturation, the walking dead now move toward artistic respectability. Expect to see my reactions to The Walking Dead as they air ...

5. FlowTV. Speaking of respectability ... at the start of September, I was invited to become a regular columnist for an online media studies journal published out of the University of Texas at Austin called FlowTV. As it happens, one of the things that got the editors' attention was this blog—and so my first column, which went up on October 15, is a retread of one of my reality-TV posts. The journal likes lively discussion of its articles, so please go check it out and leave a comment.