Post Academic

Footnotes, with Our Standard Stuff

Posted in Absurdities by Arnold Pan on February 1, 2011
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Your latest Footnotes covers the stuff we usually blurb about, like indie rock and, of course, James Franco.  And, oh yeah, vindictive peeing-in-public profs…

Marking Your Math Dept Territory: Apparently, the way you settle a mathlete geek off is by peeing in front of your nemesis’s office door.  Last December, Cal State Northridge math prof Tihomir Petrov was caught in the act by a camera set up after “puddles” of urine were found in the hall.  According the CSUN Math Dept website, Petrov is an Asst Prof, so here’s hoping for he’s not pissing his career away!

Iron and Wine, Post Academic: So who knew that Iron and Wine’s Sam Beam was a kind of a postacademic?  (Not me, at least, though I’m not a huge fan or anything.)  That’s right, the indie troubadour actually taught film and cinematography at the University of Miami and Miami International University of Art and Design. I guess that adds some backstory that helps Beam stand out from all the bearded neo-folkies in the indie-verse — you know who you are — these days.  Check out his top ten films list from a guest post he did for the Criterion Collection, which is definitely chin-strokingly auteurish enough.

Last but not Least…Your Latest James Franco Update: So you’ve probably been seeing Ph.D. poster child James Franco a lot recently, what with all the awards shows and Sundance going on.  And you’ll be seeing even more of him once the Oscars come around, since he’s not only nominated for Best Actor, but he’s also hosting the thing.  Still, he doesn’t seem to be sweating it too much, since he told the AP (check out the vid on Yahoo!) that he wasn’t going to miss class at Yale in order to do PR for his likely Oscar nom.  But just as you start thinking Franco was earnest and not getting a big head, the latest, most-up-to-datest news search on Google unearths that he’ll be teaching a course about…himself!  That’s right, “Master Class: Editing James Franco…With James Franco” will be offered at something called Columbia College Hollywood, not connected to either Columbias in NYC or Chicago.  We knew Franco wanted to teach, but this seems like he’s just trying too hard!

Footnotes: Gleek edition

Footnotes is a semi-regular series that collects some stories and postings that are semi-relevant to the semi-academic focus of the blog.  This time around, we found a bunch of music-related things we’ve read–or, in this case, watched–online.  And, if you’re asking, no, I’m not a Gleek myself, but we did get snookered by the American Idol lead-in ploy into watching a few episodes.

"Glee premiere party" by Kristin Dos Santos (Creative Commons license)

Glee Club, Copyright Infringers?: I’m not an intellectual property lawyer (obviously), but this posting by Yale Law fellow Christina Mulligan on the Balkinization blog about Glee and imagined copyright infringement seems kinda humorless in an academic kinda way.  It is pretty interesting, though, that Mulligan uses the hit show as a case study for copyright law, surmising that if the fictional Glee kids really did produce that faux “Vogue” video of Sue Sylvester, they would be owing Madonna something like $150,000.  But by trying to carry over her hypothetical example over to real life, Mulligan overlooks the realities of the culture industry: I imagine the actual licensing of all the pop hits on the show is legally airtight and done with the permission of the copyright holders as cross-promotion that helps both the original artists and the show.  Put it this way: I’m betting that whoever licensed “To Sir with Love” and “Don’t Stop Believin'” for the season finale aren’t worrying so much about dreamed-up copyright transgressions, not when the soundtrack to the show is the #1 downloaded album on iTunes.

Or maybe Mulligan is just trying to become a Glee scriptwriter on the sly, because an episode with the glee club having to stage a fundraiser to pay off licensing fees after being caught for infringing on, say, Hall and Oates’s catalog sounds like it could work?

Librarians Gaga for Gaga: And if Mulligan had her wish, Lady Gaga would have to go after these U Washington information studies folks for some kind of violation.  Their geeky revamping of “Poker Face” into something about search databases and catalogs (see below) is clever enough, even if it’s not as impressive as the choreographed “Telephone” redux by the U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.  If there’s one thing Lady Gaga knows, any free promotion at the expense of a little copyright infringement is better than paying for it.

Classics Rock: There’s little chance that the band Glass Wave will be fretting about copyright infringement or piracy violations by Gleeks or YouTube amateurs, though they’ve been cribbing the classics–no doubt out of copyright!  That’s because the great books-inspired kinda rock made by this band of Stanford and UCLA lit profs is anything but the stuff of pop music, with songs that are supposed to turn “old stories into new forms” and “revitalize the source texts that inspire the music”.  According to that trendsetting tastemaker Inside Higher Ed, the band supposedly combines 1970s prog rock sound with the Western canon, evidenced by songs named after Ophelia, Mrs. Bennet, and Lolita.  For scholars invested in lit, they seem to take the music end even more seriously, as Stanford Prof Robert Harrison explains: “This kind of music really stands or falls on how much it translates into aesthetic pleasure,” he says. “It has to succeed musically first and foremost. The lyrics can be absolutely fantastic. But if the music sucks, it’s going nowhere”.  I’m tempted to put my music critic hat on right now, but you can judge for yourself if the music stands or falls on the YouTube below.

Footnotes, publishing edition

Posted in Housekeeping,Publish and Perish by Arnold Pan on May 1, 2010
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The now more regularly recurring “Footnotes” feature covers some things we’ve found online pertaining to some of the topics we cover here on the blog.  A lot of them are just funny tidbits that you may or may not be as interested in as we are.  Since we’ve been discussing writing and publishing so much this week, we figured it would make sense to offer some “Footnotes”

1. Making lemonade: An Inside Higher Ed piece on the journal Weber: The Contemporary West outlines some of the choices that journals have before them in an age of shrinking budgets, thoughtfully detailed in an interview with the publication’s editor, Prof. Michael Wutz of Weber State in Utah.  Instead of becoming an online journal, Weber downsized its schedule from 3 issues a year to 2, and changed its profile to one of a boutique publication that plays up, in Wutz’s words, “the material heft of print media.” What’s interesting, though, is that Wutz made the decision despite suspecting that digital formats are probably the irresistible wave of the future, arguing perhaps too wishfully that the online market will only make print more valued as a niche product.

2. On the other hand…: Self-proclaimed “thriller author” Joe Konrath offers a very different view about print media from Prof. Wutz, on his blog “A Newbies Guide to Publishing”.  Imagining a gathering of “Obsolete Anonymous,” the print industry meets VHS tapes, video rental stores, cassette tapes, LPs, floppy disks, among other artifacts in the dustbin of cultural history.  Hmm…maybe print could live on as a fetishized niche object, since people still do buy LPs!  (h/t Scholarly Kitchen Twitter feed)

3. What it’s like to be a professional writer: In the latest in a series of posts on “Common Misperceptions About Publishing”, pro author Charlie Stross explores whether being a writer is a lifestyle or a job.  He comes down on the side of the latter, but he explains how difficult being a writer is, whether you look at it as a lifestyle or a job.  Here are some key points he makes about the myths of writing for a living:

“So here’s the truth about the writing lifestyle: it sucks. It is an unstable occupation for self-employed middle-aged entrepreneurs. Average age on entry is around 34, but you can’t get health insurance (if you’re American). You don’t have to be a complete loner, but it helps to have a solitary streak (or a bad talking-to-cats habit). It also helps to be an inveterate optimist, because you’ll probably need to supplement your income (about 70% of the mean for someone in a skilled trade, never mind a professional job) by taking on other work such as teaching, journalism, or consultancy. As a business, it’s a dead-end: you can’t generally expand by taking on employees, and the number of author start-ups where the founders have IPOd and cashed out can be counted on the fingers of a double-amputee’s hands.”

There are also some interesting stats about the incomes writers make, though the numbers Stross provides pertain to the UK.  (h/t Scholarly Kitchen Twitter feed, too!)