Shmuel's Soapbox: Now available in bite-sized Weblog McNuggets!
Friday, February 22, 2002

4:53 PM:

Before the above, the hot topic of the night was the question of whether I still stand a chance of being allowed to stay in my grad program after getting the M.A. next year (SIGNS POINT TO "NO"), and whether there's an element of self-sabotage at play here. I've been giving the latter question a lot of thought over the night, actually, and I'm still not 100% sure I know the answer.

What's certain is that if this year of schooling were what the next four would be like, I'd be so out of here. But it's not. Next year is when I start teaching, and that's what I'm really here for. (Well, except that I'm also here to find out if that's what I'm really meant to be doing.) This year turns out to be the stuff I need to get through in order to get to the important stuff.

The catch is that how well I do this year will determine whether I get to hang around and teach after next year.

I dunno.

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4:53 PM:

So my father is now aware of the fact that I'm not speaking to him. I'd been starting to think that would never happen. But he called last night. (Itself a rarity. My father hates phones.)

In my mental rehearsals for this, I hung up the phone as soon as I heard his voice. In practice, it was a bit tougher than that.

In practice, it took me about twenty seconds to hang up on him.

I then unplugged the answering machine and let the phone ring for the next minute or so before he gave up. After which I belatedly turned the ringer on the phone off, changed my outgoing answering machine message ("Hi, you've reached Shmuel. If this is my father, don't bother leaving a message. Anybody else, feel free!"), turned the volume all the way down, and settled back to watch the figure skating at the Olympics.

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4:50 PM:

So I was in a seriously ungood mood last night, flipping around the channels aimlessly and not finding much worth seeing, when I came to rest on the Canadian Broadcasting Company, just in time for Alanis Morissette's Olympic concert.

This, in itself, is an interesting, almost mind-blowing concept. When I think of "Olympics," and especially when I think of "Salt Lake City," the next thing to come to mind is not generally "You took me out to wine dine 69 me / But didn't hear a damn word I said."

I should probably explain at this point that I'm an unabashed fan of Alanis. I think her first two Canadian pop albums were pretty good, and Jagged Little Pill was brilliant. Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie wasn't nearly as good, but what would have been? It was an impossible standard to live up to.

It probably says something that when she came out on stage, clad in a really long black leather coat, black leather pants, and black shirt, my first reaction was, "ooh, I want that outfit!" (Actually, given the whole India thing, perhaps it was pleather, but I don't actually know where she stands on all that.)

But it was good, and the CBC, bless their hearts, ran the whole thing, commercial-free, from about 3 AM until a few minutes past 4. And they didn't bleep out the f-word in "You Oughta Know," which impressed me. It was even in the closed captions.

Actually, there were a couple of errors in the closed-captioning, although they did a decent job on the whole. (One could tell, I think, when they had the lyrics in front of them, and when they were scrambling to find them.) My two favorites slips were "Am I stellar" (for "I'm like Estella") and "You see me as a sweet baccalaureate puppet" (for "You see me as a sweet back-loaded puppet").

And, yes, I had the closed-captioning on solely for the sake of spotting errors. I did say I was in a bad mood...

Still, good performance. I wish I'd taped it. And for once, I suppose I'm glad I live near the border.

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Thursday, February 21, 2002

4:59 AM:

So, reactions to the photos referred to two entries back have been coming in. So far, nobody has wrote in saying, "Good God, what have you done?! That beard gave you so much character, man!" so either nobody thinks I look really bad this way, or those who do have been politely keeping their opinions to themselves. Either way, thanks.

The almost universal reaction -- and in the case of some people, the only reaction -- was: "holy shit." Or "oh my." Or "!!!" Or some other variation thereof, usually followed by "you look completely different."

About the only people who didn't express the above reaction were the one or two who weren't sure what I'd looked like beforehand. So, what the heck, a photo follows:

It probably looks as if I've deliberately selected this to illustrate my dissatisfaction with the old look, but the fact is that this is simply the most recent photo I have from the pre-shaving period. I originally took it with the possibility of using it to illustrate this entry in mind, but I ended up deciding against doing so at the time.

So much for the neutral reactions. I also got a few of the most flattering, ego-gratifying e-mail messages I've ever gotten in my life. (All, as it happens, from women. Hmm.) And such has my self-image been improved over the past few days that I'm almost willing to believe that they're onto something.

A few people wanted to know, however, why I'm not actually smiling in any of the photos. I tried, people, really, I did. I've never been good at smiling for photos, though. Part of this might be due to the fact that I've never much felt like smiling for photos in the past. "Camera shy" does not begin to do me justice. "Agressively hostile to anyone in a ten-block radius bearing a camera" would be more like it.

Perhaps more to the point, I've never quite figured out how one goes about smiling on command. It just doesn't work that way, in my experience, and I'm always afraid of ending up with an artificial-looking grimace, which seems the worst of all worlds.

But, anyway, I tried again a couple of times. This one seems the closest I've come; I'm not sure it technically counts as "smiling," but I think I at least look like I'm in a good mood.

Finally, a few people liked the Slytherin T-shirt and the Dr. Seuss poster in the background. I'm exceedingly fond of both of them, myself. So, thanks again to Mary Anne for the former, and to Sibley for the latter!

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Monday, February 18, 2002

3:58 PM:

This just in from Queens College (actually, this may not be very new news, but it's the first I've heard of it)...

Professor J got tenure!

[happy dance]

[link]



3:51 PM:

I spent Friday mostly giddy.

"Giddy" is not a word I can remember ever using with reference to myself, but it's the only word that seems to fit. I'd look in the mirror, and I could see my face! I had a chin! And then I made the discovery that I actually had facial expressions, and... well, it was kinda cool.

I think I actually more or less like the way I look now, and that's something I'd never felt before. (Okay, there's definite room for improvement, but let's not nitpick too much for now, okay? I don't look like a pirate or a rabbi anymore. Woo-hoo!)

Members of my notify and unnotify lists have already been given the address of a photo page; if you're not on either, and you wanna see them, feel free to drop me a line.

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3:33 PM:

Okay, I could use a bit of help. I'm about to start work on my final project in my editing course, which, I have now decided, will be about the various editions of Harry Potter and the [Sorcerer's/Philosopher's] Stone. I need to get my hands on as many editions of the book as I possibly can.

There are, to my knowledge, six that I need to be concerned with:

  • The British hardcover edition
  • The British paperback edition (kids' cover)
  • The British paperback edition (adult cover)
  • The American hardcover edition
  • The American trade paperback edition
  • The American mass-market paperback edition.
I'm not anticipating any trouble getting my hands on the American editions. The British ones are where matters get interesting. I've been meaning to buy one of them, but three seems a bit much, especially considering that, thanks to conditions imposed on Amazon.Co.Uk, I'd need to place three separate orders, each with its own shipping and handling charge from England.

This is where you guys come in, I hope. I know I have an inordinate number of readers with copies of one British edition or another. If you're one of them, could I possibly borrow your copy for a couple of months? (Of the first book in the series, that is; I should have enough to worry about without expanding my focus to the later books.) I can cover the cost of shipping, the project would be completed by the end of April, and I'd take really good care of your book...

For that matter, if you have some edition not listed above (Canadian edition, Australian edition [if one exists], Spanish edition, cassette edition, etc.), I don't need it with anything approaching the same degree of urgency, but it couldn't hurt, either.

If you can help, please send me an e-mail and we can work out the details. Thanks!

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