Capturing

Female hostage-taking and male would-be rescuing is pretty common in films, which leads me to one of my pet peeves in fiction – the scene where the hero or the hero’s friend or love interest is captured.

In the hands of a halfway competent villain, this means the story is over.  Said captive(s) will be killed/maimed/broken in some permanent fashion.

But heroes typically avoid this. There is a big damn rescue scene where the villain is thwarted, enabling the story to continue, and completely draining the story of any real terror or consequence. The stories that do use capturing characters at all that interest me are the ones where the hero does NOT rescue his or her friends or dies or is broken in some fundamental way.

In short, we’re looking at a preponderance of super-competent heroes and moronic villains.

 

It’s in, and other news

Yesterday was the due date for my tenure file. Now that it’s in, I can concentrate on teaching and on other projects.

I haven’t been writing here much lately, partially because I have starting keeping a private journal on my iPad where I can let loose about whatever, whereas here I am more circumspect.

One thing I would like to share today, though, is that over the summer when I wasn’t teaching, I wrote a novel. I would loosely characterize it as a post-apocalyptic adventure. The idea for it has been in my head for a few years, but I didn’t make the time for writing it until very recently. I haven’t marketed it to agents or publishers yet, as I have some friends reading it over and I would like their input first, but I plan to do so soon.

So that’s exciting, and I’m thinking that since I was able to crank one out relatively quickly during the summer break, writing several thousand words a day, I could conceivably write another next summer.  It wouldn’t affect my scholarly output because I use the long semesters, regardless of teaching load, to write that stuff, anyway.

Also, an important date is coming up tomorrow. H and I will have our tenth anniversary together. We had our first date on Oct. 8, 2004.

Additionally, I would like to announce (though it was already announced on Facebook some time ago) that H and I are expecting our first child next spring.

 

 

Glum but cheerful

I moved offices at work. The new office was just fine until the ceiling started leaking sometime today before I got to work, soaking through stacks of current student papers and a pile of papers that I’d just scanned for my tenure file. Oh well. You can’t win every day. Aside from the leak, which is still dripping, I’m fairly cozy here with my new window (which also leaks, unfortunately).

Putting together my tenure file has gotten me into a quiet and reflective mood concerning the last five years.  I’ve taught ten different courses (two graduate) and forty overall, published five articles, one book chapter and an edited collection, with two articles forthcoming, and served on quite a few university and departmental committees, all on a 4/2/3 teaching schedule (the first year was 4/2/4). For the unfamiliar, these numbers refer to courses taught per semester, so 4/2/3 means 4 courses in the fall, 2 in the summer, and 3 in the spring. I always teach in the summer, through June, by choice.

So I’ve been busy and I think the tenure file, as it currently stands, reflects that. So far, it’s been an easier job of assembling the necessary files than I thought. Keeping everything is a minor obsession of mine – I have an overstuffed office full of papers to show for it – so I’m not missing anything crucial.

New publication

Well, the title here is misleading. I have a new article forthcoming on moderation (see the About page) but I co-wrote it four years ago.

It has been quite the journey to get it published. For a long time I considered it an example of how peer review occasionally doesn’t work, because I and my co-author are at that point in our careers when we can smell whether something is publishable or not. And this piece has always had that distinctive smell, but no one was biting. I’m glad that it will have an audience now.

Fall 2014

So I have four classes to teach this fall. Three are my bread and butter – ENG 3302 Business and Technical Report Writing – and the loner is ENG 3318 – Studies in English Grammar.

While I teach 3302 virtually every semester, I haven’t taught 3318 since 2010. It is a welcome return. It is a very meaty course, in the sense that there is a lot of material to cover in a very brief time, and it is a general delight for me to teach grammar.

I’m going to concentrate on teaching this semester, so some writing projects are going to have to rest on the back burner, as they say. But, you never know. Some of my most productive writing has been during semesters when I was managing a heavy teaching load and the mounds of grading that accumulate. It’s odd how that happens.

I hinted in my last post that I had done a lot of writing over the summer. That is true. I’m not yet ready to share what I did, though, so I’ll continue to be enigmatic.

Update

So the summer, at least for me, is winding down, and it is time to start thinking about the fall semester.

Sunny, one of our Boykin spaniels, torn her ACL about a week ago here in Memphis. As a result she’s had an operation to fix the issue, but the recovery period is very long; she will have to stay in Memphis for a time while we return to Houston.

Originally we weren’t supposed to be in Memphis this month, but H’s grandmother passed away, and we came up for the funeral, where I was a pallbearer.

In other news, I broke my usual rule of not writing during the summer in a spectacular fashion. More on the fruits of that as things develop.

Vacation almost over

H and I have almost completed our May vacation. We go see Eddie Izzard Sunday and then we will return.

I have read five books while on vacation, all by Joe Abercrombie. He has six; I read the first one, The Blade Itself, before I left. The strongest one of the lot was probably Best Served Cold, the fourth one, and the least impressive was the last, Red Country. I didn’t like it as much as the others because it tried to be both a western and a fantasy novel and didn’t quite succeed at either; leaning on all of the tropes of the western was an odd thing to do for an author who had been – successfully in my mind – getting around most of the stuffy tropes of fantasy in his earlier works. But overall I have to highly recommend Abercrombie to the fantasy buff – he’s a strong writer and probably will continue to be a strong writer in the future.

Summer teaching starts on June 2. The schedule is early in the morning – not my favorite time of day – but the classes are back-to-back and should go quickly.

Update

It has been awhile since I updated this site, so I should probably say something now that the situation has come to my attention.

I have two forthcoming articles now; the one in Rhetorica and another, co-authored, in Business and Professional Communication Quarterly.

This semester I’ve been working on a new article about Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca’s The New Rhetoric. It has been a very difficult piece to write, quite possibly the toughest I’ve encountered. Normally it takes me about a semester to write a new article, but as this spring is almost over, I will have to admit defeat in this case. The difficulty lies not in finding a line of argument, which I have found and I’m confident about, but in the supporting materials; there are very few people talking about what I’m discussing due to certain assumptions in the very core of the discipline of rhetoric. This translates into a disturbing lack of citations that I’m simply not used to. My first article had over 100 citations, and I’ve come to think that I need at least a decent fraction of that to proceed further. More simply put, I am feeling alone in the woods on this one and progress is slow. It may take me until the fall to finish, as I typically don’t do much writing over the summer for various idiosyncratic reasons.

In other news, this is the year that I go up for tenure. I turn in my application in early October. I have been pretty proactive in gathering up materials in the last year or so, so it should be a relatively simple matter of scanning documents (the file is completely online these days, as I understand it) and placing them in the proper order.

This semester is almost done, but I am scheduled to teach in the summer once again (June) for my usual two sections of Business and Technical Report Writing. They are both early morning classes, M-TH.

Thief

Concerning the new Thief game, Kotaku is flat-out negative, while RPS is more sanguine. Here’s another negative one. I can’t say I’m surprised it’s getting mixed-to-negative reviews. Anything more would be a miracle. But I’m in the mood where I could accept a flawed gem.

In any case, there is the Dark Mod to play, which I tried out last week. If the mainline game fails to meet expectations, I’ll be running through the fan missions that seem popular from the forum discourse. To be honest, I’ll do that anyway, regardless.

pay no attention to that man behind the curtain