Monday, January 29, 2007

If it ain't Scottish? It ain't Crap! (If it aint crap? It can't be Haggis)

Anyone who says Scotts aren’t dour has never seen a Scottish Bagpipe Band (“Corps?” “Group?” “Gaggle of Inebriates?”) play. The drummers drum their simple (think of a metronome on speed) bits with ferocious intensity and equally ferocious scowls. The pipers look like blowfish, cheeks constantly expanding and contracting as veins pop on their necks. In this case though, they also look like blowfish with arms attempting acts of sexual congress with more than mildly disinterested tartan octopi. The resulting sound is just about right for this image and its harsh and jagged edges also fit with the Whiskey we were forced to toast with……

Which is jumping ahead of my narrative. This weekend was a break in the death march to a Terminal Degree from the “Just Barely Accredited Maser’s Program.” As I have over 50 pages of rough draft in hand I thought it might be sensible to get my proposal approved – it would be a sad day (and drunken night) if that weren’t to happen. So I sent my proposal off to my two advisors and was done, for the moment, with that. This is also the week before school begins (which includes a “professional development day” for which I had a variety of tasks to complete). All was done by about 1:00 on Friday and after 1.5 hours of bullshitting with the guys in IT, I was on the road out of Big City. It wasn’t very crowded on the road and after 30 minutes lost in Lodi – trying to find the secret road to the cool little towns below Highway 49, I was on the backroads and breathing calmly. And breathing in the smell of the multitude of skunks which have chosen this week to loiter in the middle of the streets and achieve conversion to Jesus’ Sunbeams. I must have gone over, around, and through 20 skunks.

Spent the first night in a hotel, just to soak in the lovely aloneness. Then up the hill to see Beloved Sister who had a surprise for me… which I have sort of introed above. She had a ticket to the 26th Anniversary Robert Burns Celebration in Reno. So we raced down to Circus-Circus and a ballroom with 400 Scotts and their surly sympathizers. All of whom were either in kilts or suits. My black jeans and leather jacket kind of stood out. If I had been Black I would have really stood out. I was trying to do the math on how likely it is in the US to have over 400 people together in one place and have no Blacks, but I wasn’t sure how to express the probability of something statistical not happening as the sample size increases. And I was starting to get drunk anyway. I suppose it isn’t surprising in a group of Scotts, but everyone, with two exceptions, was as White as God’s Chosen Children. One exception was my brother in law, who was the only Hispanic in the joint and the other was, unaccountably, and Asian guy in one of the Bagpipe outfits. He was appropriately dour, and so he fit in. Besides kilts and suits, the crowd was notable for a high percentage of shaven heads and aggressively bristly moustaches.

And the bands? Just didn’t smile. Well, there was one gaunt fellow who did smile now and then, but it was the kind of smile you would expect on the other side of contract you were just about to sign with your own blood. I have a picture of that fine lad, but I couldn’t catch one of his rare smiles.

Our table was interesting as well. On the other side of my sister there was a burly lawyer and his new wife (he really hadn’t done so well in the “trophy wife” category) and as I later discovered this seating was.. uh.. interesting. There was also another firefighter at the table and everyone but me was local, so the conversation quickly turned to what had been destroyed in fires, parking downtown, and vicious gossip about common friends who weren’t present. I concentrated on trying to drink my Whiskey without hucking up. Later, the conversation inexplicably turned to the importance of anvils and the manly men at the table took turns comparing the size, breadth and “swing” of the anvils they had in their garages. It was properly bizarre and I’m not sure if it has happened anywhere else in the world. I was lucky to be there.

Then the events proper began. A bunch of Scottish people (you could tell because the men wore dresses and the women had enormous calves that were, in some cases, the actual size of calves) marched about onstage with flags and instruments until they became bored and then dispiritedly wandered off.

Then it was time for the Haggis Ceremony. If you don’t know what Haggis is you are better off and should immediately close this page. Haggis is a Scottish dish composed of all of the parts of dead animals that can’t even be put into hot-dogs in the United States. The Wikipedia reports it is:

“sheep's 'pluck' (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally boiled in the animal's stomach for approximately an hour. It somewhat resembles stuffed intestines (pig intestines otherwise known as chitterlings), sausages and savoury puddings of which it is among the largest types. Most modern commercial haggis is prepared in a casing rather than an actual stomach”

Sheep’s “pluck,” eh? I might have started that word off a bit differently. Anyway, I snapped a photo, which you can see right over there…

Then it was time to eat. We had Haggis-Oon-A-Stick (Yes… “oon”.. you should hear how these farking foreigners speak); Haggis–Braised Haggis in Haggis Sauce; Haggis Soufle with Haggis-Whip Rampant, Haggis-Stuffed Butternut Squash on a bed of Haggis, and for desert; Haggis-Cakes with Confectioners Sugar and Candied Haggis paste.

And a bit of Whisky, purely for the sake of digestion.

The bandleader’s name was Rick James and he never even mentioned “Super Freak.” Brother in Law and I both failed to win the raffle for the sword (“There can be only one!”) which proves the whole raffle was rigged.

Taking pictures I noted the table I wished I had been at. As I was snapping photos (EVIL!!!! BIL had taken the best photo) I noted a table with 5 kids at it (meaning only 5 adults at the most) and alla that beautiful wine in the photo, empty whiskey glasses, and a couple of drained cocktails. Eff the Scotts, these were my people!

The celebration ended at about 9:30 and we went off to gamble all night, drink Pisco Sours, Whiskey Sours, and flirt with sweet, sweet, cocktail waitresses.

Actually, being old, we went home and went to sleep.

And then this last photo is of the boy we were all there to see...

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Everybody's Happy Nowadays?

The Program Director has officially signed off on my thesis proposal. My advisor, now in Paraguentina or somewhere, now needs to chime in and I'm off to the races...

In news from the musically unlikely, the AARP has begun using The Buzzcocks' "Everybody's Happy Nowadays" as theme music in their adverts.

Friday, January 26, 2007

proposal is in...

not very impressive as I'm more interested in archaeology than ideology.. and I'm sure I didn't spell one of those words correctly...

but no more writing til it is accepted. Off to up the hill and a weekend of natural this or that.. unless my propoal is accepted. Then I will type furiously, weeping over my keyboard, as I look outside at the big mountains.. ;-)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

WTF .. bonus work report

BAG wants daily reports now.... so here is some of dat..

The day started outstandingly as it was only on the way to get coffee and some foot that I realized I had left my wallet at home. So I had two dollars and some change. Aaah.. I could afford the “Sausage and Biscuit,” the sausage of which immediately began to work on my esophagus. Got to work and off to a meeting where I (accurately) commented that a competitor’s publication had several major problems, including a Black kid they had made look like an ape. This caused a little stir because the guy who chose the photo wasn’t in the room and I had mentioned the "ape" thing…. One of my favorite admins politely warned me never to say this around Blacks for historical reasons. I would have said, "don’t use pictures like that," but that’s just me. ;-) I don’t want to see any human looking like a fucking ape unless they are on the cover of “Neanderthal Man Magazine.” Then again that magazine went extinct eons ago.

Anyway, I had no money for food the rest of the day so I scavenged any old crud I could find by peoples’ desks, in shared areas, or in remaining but moldy xmas gifts. This means that while I was hungry all day, I also probably consumed 8,000 calories of stale cookies and candies that might once have been jellied.

Just another day at the office

creeping towards February..

13,175 words completed and my proposal a few sentences away from ready to send…

305 words per day.. this represents some slippage, but the numbers are getting small enough so that I’m less concerned about that then doing good analyses of the stories and novels. Once the rough draft is done that will happen anyway… a good re-reading and a crud load of analysis.

For now.. after having to do some actual work at home, I’m going to sleep..

Plenty of other amusing things going on.. but the thesis is consumed of my brainness...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

How did I get to Fifty Pages?

Just a little bit of boinking around (I’ve been a bit uninspired) and I’m up to 12,733 words and it occurs to my I might well go above 15k by a substantial margin. This thing is creepy…

To get to 15k I only need about 250 words a day… which will be written, but in chunks..

That’s less than 10 pages and this tumor of a thing won’t be done growing at that point..

Weird.. I feel wildly unproductive and yet I’m closing in on my first goal here..

It will be very funny if my advisor doesn’t like my proposal, since the thesis is essentially written.

For now.. with the stinking Patriots out of the SuperBowl, it’s off to sleep..

Sunday, January 21, 2007

12,000 words..

So 48 pages down... the first two chapters are really coming into focus, which is nice..

this number includes some paring down of initial bullshit I had tossed out there, so that is also always good..

back to the war.. that's what we're here for..

Hotel Medicine and the Writing

The lovely BAG asks what "Hotel Medicine" means, even though she has been directly privy to it. It has two meanings I suppose...

1) The moral and psychological calm that comes with responsibility for no practical details of life; The same calm as offered by the antiseptic and cocooned life you lead if you live in a hotel room.

2) The various chemical devices one might bring to a Hotel to accelerate or amplify that process of calm.

With that noted, this morning I cracked out a very few words and am now up to.. 11,754 words. I think this revises my weekend goal to something like 13,500, if that wasn't where I was initially aiming.

And I'd like to find 4 more silly article titles.

Maybe take a shower..

Hotel Medicine makes such necessities less.. well.... necessary..

Saturday, January 20, 2007

What I don't like about academic writing..

Trying to write in that shitty language they like.. "I will explore textual hybridities implicit in an narrative written in a dominant culture which intentionally includes unintelligibility to create a writer-reader praxis"

That and the insane names of journal articles:

Hooking the Nose of the Leviathan: Information, Knowledge, and the Mysteries of Bonding in the Gold Bug Variations

Dildos, Hummingbirds, and Driving Her Crazy: Searching for American Indian Women's Love Poetry and Erotics

“Swing Low Sweet Chariot”: The Scrotality of Afro-American Hymns and Bi-Cultural Resistance

Wild Strawberries, Cataracts, and Climbing Roses: Clitoral and Seminal Imagery in the Optimist's Daughter

Friday, January 19, 2007

Thesis.. Stasis .... Psoriasis?

No work tonight... beloved BAG is over...

this is made easier by the fact that the landlady has been hospitalized... I could tell something was wrong two days ago when she didn't bring her mail in. But I saw her toodling around in her kitchen that night, so everything seemed fine. Next morning she hadn't brought the mail in and the garbage cans were still out (I didn't pull them in the night before as it was pissing frigid rain onto my unprotected head - I felt like I was dating Rise again!). Weird. Last night I get home and her car is still in the driveway and the house is completely dark and I get in the house and there is this weird sound.

The HEATER is going!

Well, on and off.. since the thermostat is set at about 37 farenheit (she is a properly stingy Indian). But still... this isn't like girlfriend. And it goes on all night.. when the temperature dips to freezing, the central heat comes on for 45 seconds to pop it up to 37 degrees. Same thing when I wake up, and house is still dark... come home this evening and it's the same. So I wander over to the next-doors who take care of the mail when landlady is gone.

They report she's in the hospital with some kind of kidney failure/disease. Which is better than she is lying dead in bed, but it made my previous night's mental exercise of deciding what furniture I would sell if I had to move into a hotel a possibly non-academic exercise. Thank god it takes 60 days to evict a tenant around here. I mean, it's not that I want the landlady to expire, but she's in the hospital and my hypochondria has now externalized itself... ;-)

Oh well...

Hotel Medicine resumes tomorrow and I hope there is plenty of progress to report on the thesis.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

It Ain't the Kill, It's the Thrill of the Chase.....


Did I mention that the book of short stories I got is remaindered from the U.S. Army recreational center in Granite City Illinois? This means that every time I open it I am immediately surrounded by a cloud of 40 year old cigarette smoke. I mean the smell is obnoxious – and I’m not one of those pantywaists who want to ban smoking in bars or in public (I think it should be mandatory in birth-wards and rest homes – let’s get to the farking Darwinism!).

Anyway, I ground out some more tonight… I’m up to 11,516 words completed.. which leaves 3,484 measly little words to go.. This also means my daily word count only needs to be 268, which is getting to be quite reasonable and if I pound a couple thousand words out over the weekend I will be able to leave my computer at home when I go a-visiting in two weekends (or, conversely, bring it and really pound this thing into the ground).

I have also entered into a little reading/support group with some of my compatriots. In this group I learned we actually have six months after the end of the course to turn the thing in. I should be done well in time and suspect I’ll be of more use to the rest of the group than they to me – only because I’ll ready to edit their work with mine already in the bag. Well, advisor and Division Chair willing.

Anyway, it’s cold here and I am tired.. Had a lovely day at work – I caused the CEO to erupt violently at one of the VPs and anytime a slug gets hollered at it’s a darned good thing! Our numbers are still way up, and it’s at least partly due to my work, so it looks like this gig will continue to bankroll me until I leave for Korea, whenever that might be.

Thesis - Cranking Along

11,051 words completed after some dorking around last night... still narrowing in on my thesis, but this is getting much closer... the evolution of outsider's vision in the work of my boy.. something like that..

Also played around with my little proposal that is due by next week...

Hotel Medicine again, probably this weekend..

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

2/3 of a rough draft...

6868 New Words
3340 Old words

10,208 total words and .666 of the way to my draft…

The Hotel Medicine kind of worked… since I doubled my New Words and still have some of today to go… from now on all my new words need to be critical analysis though, no more literature research or context or blah blah blah...

When I got home I re-arranged my bedroom so that my laptop can go on my desk and I have a little table for papers right next to that.. certainly has already helped since I sat there for an hour or so and cranked things out… this new word count is in spite of the fact that I pruned out a couple of stupid things that I had in there… so I guess the editing has begun. I think I need to swing over to my course page and see if I owe any instructor type any instructional type thing…

When this is done I guess I’d better resurrect my “Who Is Michael Breen and Why Does He Hate the Koreans?” piece…

Monday, January 15, 2007

3/5 of the way to a rough draft...

9,000 words just now... so 36 pages... this thing may turn out to be longer than 60 pages by the time I hit my draft....

Well, I am sort of losing steam here.. I blame the fact that the Bears-Seahawks game hasn't been very interesting.. it's just starting to pick up so maybe that will get the old adrenaline going... and there's the holiday tomorrow. It would still be sweet to get to 10k pages today...

I can't imagine how anyone writes a freaking book.... ;-)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Thesis Watch -- Saturday at 9:30

So, with some writing done and the BAG in the hotel room watching Dr. Phil and other TV atrocities, I had a chance to pop open the last piece of important works that Kim wrote – well, that is the last piece that I received. It’s a book of short stories entitled and it coincidentally contains the first story of Kim’s that I ever read, “They Won’t Crack it Open.

The stories are short, elegant, and punch well above their apparent weight. The stories are all of small but heartbreaking losses and my lad was writing at his best when he did these. This morning (coffee, crackers and cheese, mmmm!) I read his last story and in it he overdoes all his traditional themes to the point that the story is obvious and overwrought. Interesting since he had been in the US for quite a long time when he wrote it and I think that shows.. the subtlety is gone … the Asian desire not to judge (publicly) and reduce “face” is gone from his writing and that reduces its charm substantially..

6,503 to go..

and that means just less that 2,000 words done in this bout of hotel medicine. Currently that means I need to do about 384 words a day, but if they next two days are productive that should drop substantially…

If I do another round of hotel medicine this long weekend I should hit my goal of 10K before the week begins…

Saturday, January 13, 2007

1:30 Thesis Update...

Had to run to a printer and proof something for work - which broke up the day. Also worked on my brilliant table showing all of the author’s work. Since I will have only one table , I need to make it a special one ;-)

came down to the Mexican restaurant and there must be a big community of Koreans around here somewhere because the drink refrigerator has cokes, agua frescas (?), coke and soju! I am now eating a veggie burrito, drinking a Heineken and swiping someone’s signal because the hotel wireless is no longer doling out IP addresses..

I have 4,836 words of new writing and still
3,340 words of the old
which means 6,824 to go and I sure would like to get to a total of 10k done before I leave this here place.. Still.. it is nice to see the halfway hump well behind me and the .666 hump ahead….

10 AM Update..

well.. now the research is beginning to pay off as I have written and cut and pasted from my notes on one of the novels and my count has hopped up..

I have 4,549 words of new writing and still
3,340 words of the old
which means 7,111 to go and I am more that halfway through my first cut at the thing..

And I think this means I will do the hotel thing again... spend all week reading and taking notes and next weekend assembling the brute... Heck, I haven't even really stepped to my theoretical approaches (read, "critical wankery") section yet.. that ought to be good for three or four pages of vapor...

The coffee seems to be hitting...

Friday Morning 9:30 Thesis Watch

Of course Hotel living meant drinking beer last night, so I woke up a bit soft-headed. It is also bitterly cold outside and I left my toothbrush at home. Ideal writing conditions, I think. ;-)

Went out and got coffee and a bagel and sat down to watch playoff coverage on ESPN. Fired up the Dolls on iTunes and finally did a bit of work.. as of 9:30 we are...

I have 3,718 words of new writing and still
3,340 words of the old
which means 7,942 to go and I am approaching halfway through..

Friday, January 12, 2007

When it's time to go BACK to writing yer gawdamned thesis

When you haven't done shit in 5 days and you wake up at 4:30 in the morning and have to jot notes down on your laptop.

Which it's why you're moving to a hotel for a few days, seeing your BAG at nights, and joining the typing classes during the day....

6 hours of writing tomorrow.. up to 40 pages would be nice...

3 more works to track down.. but I know where they all are...

now to sleep, tomorrow to work...

Monday, January 08, 2007

Stalling... stalling.. staaaaaaaaaaalling!

Reading the two examples they have given me for theses and getting cranky. One is ridiculously jargon-ridden piece arguing that Virginia Woolf was a great writer and not insane – certainly both are possible, but apparently you need to take sides. Worse, the second one compared Walt Whitman to Jim Morrison and somehow managed to avoid the phrase “bloated egotist.” I’m not sure how this is possible? The second one is even shorter than the first, not even making it to 13K words. So I still like my goal of 15k.

Did some research and found two more post-collection stories that may be available through inter-library loan. Have to check on that tomorrow. The Muse Project and MELVYL reveal no other folks who have done any criticism on the dude, so I am even more reassured that I may be the lone ranger

I think this week is to re-read all the pieces and take notes… so here we are..

I have 3,383 words of new writing and still
3,340 words of the old (added a few!)
which means 8,277 to go
(and I guess means that new words will surpass old ones over this weekend)

So I’m at about 345 words needed per day…

Thursday and Friday night I will be in a hotel with the Bizarre Alien Girlfriend and Friday morning she has to work.. so I will just sit there and type… It would be “An Excellent Thing” to be at about 40 pages by the weekend.

Took a lovely walk this afternoon.. intarwebs still down despite landlady’s attempts to fix her router… also did some work-work… so that’s a bonus type thing…

Saturday, January 06, 2007


Ho hum.

Got a new short story and a very slight biographical essay. Read both and finished the two things I hadn’t read. Took about 1,000 words of notes, but that doesn’t count for anything until it’s in the rough draft.

Got publication dates into my database which is very useful in tracking Kim’s development (If I get completely mad I may pop all this into a relational database with character traits, symbols, locations, etc, and see what pops up that my bloodshot eyes are missing.). Still waiting on the book of short stories which is the most important of the two pieces I have on order. Tomorrow I’ll order the last book I need.

Then it will be finishing up notes on all the books and a bit more writing. After that (Sunday night?) have everything printed out and hop skip and jump over it to nail down my thesis. Class does begin on Monday, after all… ;-) I’ll also have to print out the example thesis they sent me to steal a bit of structure, which I am currently in dire need of.

I have 3,021 words of new writing and still
3,304 words of the old
which means 8,675 to go
(and I guess means that new words will surpass old ones over this weekend)

But all that means in instead of 340 words a day I must now produce 347 (Interesting how this number slips incrementally – a little finger-based math seems to indicate that if I just whacked out 175 words right now I’d hold to the 340 line – amusing, when you consider this blog post is already almost double that 175 I’d need).

Also, to hit the “Just Barely Accredited Master’s Program” model I will need at least 11 more non-authorial citations, which won’t be easy to find for an author no one has ever heard of or written on (I have no idea how someone would have done this research before the intarwebs).

Doublin’ down on the “That Ain’t Gonna Happen” (from now on the “TAGH”) quotient!

Thesis and Thethat

After two days of hard work at Swamp Valley College I was able to return to the thesis tonight.

Like the asshole that I am, I have decided that I need 15,000 words, so now I am even more behind. ;-)

Received an anthology which included a more complete biography of Kim as well as an interview and a fragment of an unfinished novel. The bio also had some dates of writing/publication. So after a bit of desultory writing I made a lovely excel spreadsheet with all known books and short stories. Now I know what I have, what is on order, and the one book I apparently still need to get. I swear I already purchased it. Oh well, the spreadsheet has a lovely area from comments so I can keep better track of these things and how the interlace.

I have 2,516 words of new writing and still
3,304 words of the old
which means 9,180 to go

as well as a lovely database and the vague realization I had better print all this crap out over the weekend and come up with some kind of narrowed thesis for the thing. Maybe it’s time to write the initial abstract? That’ll add 150 words to the thing without even having to think about it.

Ah well.. now I need an even 340 words a day to hit my target of rough draft by February… never gonna happened kiddies. ;-)

Oh, Yeah.. also time to burn a backup CD just out of general feelings of paranoia.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Pimpin' Ain't Easy

One of the SVC coaches was about to pass a major milestone and in my role as SVC pimp I had lined up quite a bit of press coverage. The press loves our college and anything that tarnishes its mighty image would be a VERY BAD THING. Therefore it was the cause of much trepidation when police cars surrounded the game just as the TV crews arrived. And, when, a few minutes into the game one of our star players was mysteriously called out of the game, at which point our offense spluttered completely and the other team went ahead, it was, well, as I said, mysterious.

Turns out the player (“player!” get it.. he’s a player!) had his out of town girlfriend discover his in town girlfriend (and vice-versa) and she took it into her head to clock him with a household appliance. He pushed his way out of the house and to the locker room. Where out of town girlfriend busted in while all the players were dressing. In the meantime, in town girlfriend called the police who descended on the playing field and hauled him out of the game. Both sides were interviewed, and since the player had some major marks on him and the girlfriend none, he was allowed back into the game at which point our excellent coach was able to go on and win his record-setting game. Plenty of TV coverage, which was good inasmuch as it wasn’t of one of our players being hauled off to the hoosegow.

Interestingly, if the player and gf had lived together? Automatic ride downtown since here attack on him would have been domestic abuse. Probable loss of game and a different story for the press.

Take home message? Don’t move in with the biatch!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Master's Update

I forgot I had done 10 pages of work on the original paper... which means I actually have

2,239 new words
3,304 old words

5,543 total words which puts me at about .33 of where I need to be by the end of the month. No intarwebs connection at home last night so I pounded above 2k on the new words.

Also found the text I need to give the analysis of multicultural literature which will provide my measuring rubric. I plan to put this into "definitions" and work bits of it into the body of the thing. Still feeling my way towards my abstract, but I think a week more will bring this clear. Also, ordered the last existing piece of (known) printed lit for the man.....

I might even get this done... ;-)

Monday, January 01, 2007

Thesis Watch - Prelude

So here I am.... author in hand (Kim Yong Ik) and more or less of a topic (Vision/Divison Perception/Reception and how that works for Kim as a multicultural writer). Now it is to write the thing.

And I have a plan, oh, do I have a plan.

I have approximately 1,000 words written out of a proposed 13,000. 13,000 would be 50 good pages of text not counting all the other stuff involved in the thesis. That should be a good start.

Class begins on the 8th of January and ends on the 3rd of March.

So, I'd like to have my rough draft in place by the end of January which would give me a month for revisions. This means, if I write nothing else before the first, in January I will need to write 400 words a day.

Of course this will never happen in a million years, but what must it be like to have an entire month for nothing but revision? ;-)